To the Holidays and Beyond!
A movie that has become a childhood classic, and favorite for kids and parents alike, Toy Story, leads to a lesson in staying-power. The main character, Andy, etched his name on the boot of Woody – his go-to toy that accompanied him everywhere and became a part of whatever play Andy imagined. Sometimes toys are simple and forgotten quickly, while others inspire a child’s creative forces to drum up years of unique, inventive play.
As parents, we want to choose the WOW-toys that will be the big hit present, but we also want to make choices that have the staying power to encourage play and development long after the wrapping paper is gone.
Here are some questions parents may want to ask when they feel “wooed” by the WOW factor of the many toys touted over the holiday season:
- Can this product inspire imagination and creativity, and prompt kids to create stories that constantly evolve?
- Does this toy have more than a single action response and is the play somewhat unpredictable?
- Will this product continually surprise kids or help them to surprise themselves?
- Does this toy help make kids feel good, free, or accomplished?
- Does this play product span age ranges—can it grow with kids?
- Can this product be played with alone and with others?
- Is this toy tied to a fad that might fizz out?
Here are a few toys that provide the initial WOW factor, but also, pack a punch of staying-power with unique ways to use and enjoy them. Try some of these and let your creativity out to think up other ways to play!
Pop-Arty by B.Toys
Pop-Arty by B.Toys is a play product that promotes coordination and creativity at the same time. Young artisans can create a necklace one day and change the beads into a bracelet using new colors and combinations the next. Imaginative kids can use beads to decorate their dresser or as a prop for pretend play. These pop together beads can morph into everything from tight ropes to magical snakes. Parents will like the fact that these beads teach sorting and matching skills which are needed for math readiness along with counting, grouping and patterning.
Pacific Play Tent Me-Too Playtent
Pacific Play Tent Me-Too Playtent is a nylon pop-up indoor play tent that can take kids on countless adventures. Add a dash of imagination and this secure little structure travels to the middle of the wilderness or transforms into a rocket ship or animal cage with equal ease. Perfect little paradise for kids to escape to for quiet time, reading or just relaxation while slightly shielded from the outer world.
Pairs in Pears
is a cousin product of Bananagrams as well as a great game for cousin get-togethers over the holidays. Played traditionally, it’s fun and engaging. Concoct some make-believe “alphabet soup” by adding them to a pot and stirring with a wooden spoon. Or make up your own games by putting two letters together and then creating new words by adding a different first letter like “pot,” “lot,” and “jot.” This is a great way for little ears to learn rhythm and rhymes as well. These textured letters can even be used to imprint play dough, spell a name or craft a message!
Weighted Pocket Scarf
Look stylish and feel calm with the Weighted Pocket Scarf on your shoulders. Teens especially appreciate this fashion twist which is more flexible than most weighted clothing. Provides soothing proprioceptive input, and can be worn with almost any outfit. Irresistible to the touch, this weighted scarf also features two fidget pockets for busy fingers. Comes with 1.5 lbs of evenly distributed weight through the shoulders. Solid blue fleece fabric is very soft and comfortable year-round. One size fits all. Age 5+.
Selections available at www.funandfunction.com
Discover how your body moves in space! Step into the Space Explorer, made of comfortable resistant material, and feel the calming push as you move, jump, roll, dance or shape your body to look like different animals. Provides calming deep pressure, heavy work and proprioceptive input for the tactile defensive, sensory seekers and crashers, including children and adults with autism. Develops spatial and body awareness, strength, motor planning and creativity. Head can be placed outside or inside the Space Explorer. Made of four-way stretch Lycra® with a Velcro closure. Choice of solid or animal print in four sizes. Measure from shoulder to feet. Age 3 +.
Price $34.99 to $45.99
Kids Weighted Suspenders
Suspenders add fun to every outfit — and these are loaded with just the right weight for calming pressure at the shoulders. Covered in blue fleece for soft comfort, Kids Weighted Suspenders have stretchy elastic and adjustable clips to position the 1/2 lb of weight on each shoulder for the greatest benefit. Ideal for kids with sensory processing challenges. Elastic straps can be adjusted from 25” to 34”. For a perfect fit, measure from the top of your child’s pants in front, across the shoulder, to the top of the pants in the back. Ages 5-10.
Let’s Go Finger Fishing
Go Fish! Learn how to button, zipper and snap with the Let’s Go “Finger” Fishing manipulative. Set of 3 fish are designed with different closures: zipping, buttoning and snapping to develop fine motor skills and cognitive training. Use the vinyl hook and mesh bag for carrying your catch. Let’s Go Finger Fishing is perfect to take on a trip, use in your classroom, clinic or at home. They are ideal for children with sensory processing and fine motor challenges as well. Made of soft and colorful fabric, each adorable fish has furry and fuzzy textures for tactile fun. Hand wash. Line dry. Ages 4+
Playing with Kinetic Sand is a magical and mesmerizing experience, giving a moment of relaxation for both young and old. Sand play stimulates and develops children’s fine motor and creative playing skills. Kinetic Sand is the perfect material for open-ended, non-directed play. It looks like real sand, because it is 98% pure sand. It moves like dense fluid without making a mess. That’s the 2% of non-toxic polymer. It sticks to itself, so cleanup is a breeze.
by Becca Eisenberg
Have You Filled A Bucket Today?
by Carol McCloud
This book discusses how everyone carries an invisible bucket. Buckets are filled with good thoughts and feelings. When you make someone feel good, you fill their bucket and your bucket. When you make someone else feel bad, you are dipping into their bucket as well as your own. Bullies are bucket dippers.
That Is Not a Good Idea
by Mo Willems
The book begins with a hungry fox that invites a plump goose to dinner. Throughout the story, the reader thinks the goose is in trouble, but in the end, it’s the fox that winds up in hot water. This book is ideal for ages preschool to 3rd grade. I love this book because of the clear illustrations, funny storyline and unexpected ending.
Little Sweet Potato
by Noah Z Jones
Has your child ever felt left out? Like they don’t belong. In Little Sweet Potato, I love how the author explains a complex situation in such a simple manner that young children understand. This book teaches accepting others as individuals and not judging others and is an all around excellent book to have in your library.
Getting back to Toy Story, Woody’s main threat and best friend, Buzz Lightyear, was known to declare with a loud voice and passion, “To infinity and beyond!” I suggest parents demand with equal enthusiasm that their toy choices this holiday season take their child on thrilling adventures, “To the holidays … and beyond”!
For more information on these products, go to www.ableplay.org. AblePlay is a website sponsored by the nonprofit National Lekotek Center, an authority on products appropriate for children with special needs at www.lekotek.org. Find us on Facebook!
This Year’s Toys Selected by: Ellen Metrick, Director of Industry Relations & Partnerships, National Lekotek Center; Aviva Weiss, Founder of Fun and Function; Parenting Special Needs Magazine.
All ToyStory characters copyright/trademark Disney/Pixar Studios.