2018 Best Toys for Kids
2018 Best Toys for Kids
written by Ahren Hoffman, director of education American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
Fred Rogers famously shared that “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” While children play, they are learning new skills, discovering their personalities, and practicing how to be a good friend. If play is the work of childhood, toys are the tools to lead the way.
Toy manufacturers provide a huge array of toys to choose from. It can be overwhelming to select the “right” toy. How do you choose which toys are right for your child? Here are some tips to help make the pick:
- It is important to keep the age and interests of the child in mind
- Consider the skills they are working on to help them expand or develop certain milestones
- Ask an expert to help you make a selection
Caregivers are always an excellent resource for selecting a toy, but if you want the gift to be a surprise, turn to your neighborhood toy store! Every year, independent toy store owners award the best of the best products in the Best Toys for Kids Awards.
The Best Toys for Kids Award is intended to share the value of creative, open-ended play and the role that independent, locally owned toy stores share in providing children with quality playthings that promote happy, healthy, and productive childhoods.
Below are some of the winners of the Best Toys for Kids Awards in 2018:
- Creativity for Kids Create with Clay Dinosaurs: This imaginative craft kit inspires open-ended play as kids bring dinosaurs to life! Fine motor skills can be engaged through molding and covering fossils with clay and creativity can be encouraged as kids pretend to play with their creations.
- Fat Brain Toy Co Dimpl: The silicone bubbles on this toy are hard to resist! Sensory exploration is engaged as kids poke the bubbles and hear them POP. Dimpl is easy to take on-the-go for keeping attention and encouraging exploration.
- Peaceable Kingdom Gnomes at Night: Teamwork and communication are the name of this game! Gnomes at Night is a cooperative game where players must communicate to get the treasures back to the queen. Kids must explore their directional language skills (ie: left, right, up, down) to win the game.
- HABA Kullerbu Construction Site Set: There is no wrong way to construct with Kullerbu! This set allows kids to use their imagination and creativity to build their own unique construction site. Sharing, turn taking and language skills can be practiced as kids explore together.
All of these products and more can be found at your neighborhood toy store! Find your local toy store on astratoy.org. You can view the full list of Best Toys for Kids Award winners at besttoys.astratoy.org.
Related: 2018 Holiday Gift Guide
Ahren Hoffman is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) as well as a Certified Play Expert (CPE) and began her career in the toy industry in 2007. In her past role as Manager of Industry Relations & Partnerships at the National Lekotek Center, Hoffman evaluated toys and play products beneficial for all children, especially those with disabilities, at AblePlay.org, a project of Lekotek. Hoffman also provided support services to members of the toy industry to share the developmental potential and possibility of toys and play products for children of all abilities. These collaborations allowed Hoffman to contribute to the creation of multiple toy guides and have the opportunity to be published in a manual related to the benefits of sensory play.
Hoffman is active in the lecture circuit presenting to organizations and professionals in the field of child development as well as within the toy industry creating presentations and webinars for retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives. Hoffman also regularly contributes to a variety of print and online publications to advocate for the power of play across the lifespan.
Hoffman received her Bachelors of Science in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Psychology at Central Michigan University.