Thursday, November 20

The hardest people to shop for:

The one who has "everything" and the ones who you don't know what they have.
I hear it a lot...I just don't know what to get (fill in name here), she just seems to have everything!  OR I know he likes (fill in the item) but I don't know what he already has.

What are well meaning, loving friends and family to do?  There is always the safety net of getting a gift card but sometimes you want to have a more meaningful impact when giving gifts at the holidays.  The answer:  Lean on the knowledge and experience of your local toy guru.  Shopping in a specialty toy store gives you something you can't get elsewhere....actual help from people who know what they are talking about.  Here are a few suggestions we are confident will be a hit for some of those hard-to-buy-for people on your list.

For the newest member of the family:

You want to be looking for something the little one can play with now but will get them through the next few phases as well.  Look for something versatile and educational such as the NogginStik Developmental Light-up Rattle This category can be challenging because I'm sure this family has recently been blessed with lots of gifts but this one has won lots of awards, is very unique and even comes with an instructional guide for parents!

noggin stick toy for baby

Gold Winner of the 2012 National Parenting Publications  2012 Creative Child Magazine’s Toy Of The Year Award  The National Parenting Center 2013 Seal of Approval   AblePlay rating PAL Award

For the Preschooler:

These little bundles of energy need something to develop their gross motor skills.  Help them work on balance and coordination while burning off the energy we wish we all had.  Plus the suction action on these Teeter Poppers make it extra fun....and I'll bet even the kid who has it all doesn't have one!

headliner_Toystoys for kids

For the kid with every Lego known to man:

If getting more bricks or a mini-figure display case doesn't tickle your fancy consider other construction-type toys.  These kids love to build and create which makes Straws and Connectors perfect for them and takes it to a whole new level allowing the kids to get inside their creations!!
toys for kids

For the Only Child:

This one is near and dear to my heart since I was that kid.  I always wanted games but people were afraid to buy them for me because they were afraid I didn't have anybody to play them with.  My first piece of advice is not to worry.....parents, friends and cousins were always there ready to play!  I also know there is a concern because these kids tend to have more than the average bear but here are some great games that are 1-multiple players that are sure to please.

Set is one of our all time best selling card game and winner of 12 Best Game Awards.  This game helps kids identify patterns and develop visual perception.  The more you play, the more you learn so kids can practice on their own then show off their skills when they challenge others.
game of set - toys for kids
Doodle Quest is one of our newest and hottest games right now.  You study the illustration on one of 36 different challenge cards then follow the drawing instruction trusting your eyes to guide you on a separate transparent sheet.  Place the sheet over the card to score your success.  Great for developing spacial awareness!  My teenagers are hooked on this one right now.

The Teenager
I have come to realize that teenagers are looking to relive their childhood.  Now, I know they just came out of that period of their lives but for some reason they are just itching to escape the impending doom of adult life by being just plain silly.  Here are some games to scratch that itch....
Furt could not be anymore fun if it tried.  I have to admit, I have never won this game.  You have to make it around the board to the volcano by completing various challenges and I am ALWAYS the first one there....the problem is that once there, you have to win a 30 second straight-faced challenge.  Meanwhile, the other players are doing their best to make sure that does not happen.  I have no hope of ever winning this game but I play every time I am challenged by my teen aged kids and their friends....which is often.

Telestrations combines the telephone game with pictionary.  Super fun, super crazy and super easy to play.

JUST REMEMBER......No matter who is on your list, what they already have or how hard they are to buy for, it is why you are giving them the gift that counts.  It is to show them you care, you took time out of your busy life to think about just them.  You can come to us anytime and we will be more than happy to spend time thinking of your special somebody with you, find the perfect gift and wrap it with care.  But what remains after the ribbon, the wrapping and even possibly the gift are gone is the feeling you leave in their heart.  That you cared enough to think of them.

Tammy Richey

Wednesday, November 19

Open-ended and Creative hot right now!
As an educator I understand why the terms Open-ended Play and Creative Play are trending right now.  The younger generation needs help developing and increasing their problem solving skills, improving their self-esteem and creating connections.  These are the skills that will prepare them for a bright future and real-life. In today's age of technology, kids are sometimes missing out on the organic experiences we had as children.  These kids will be able to (and probably already can) spin circles around me when it comes to computers and technology but thinking outside the box is still our generation's strong suit.

Remember when you went to a relative's house as a kid and there weren't any toys (at least good ones) to play with so you would dig through their stuff, create something amazing and have the best day ever?  My kids used to go out in the yard, collect sticks and twigs then run in and out of the house a few times collecting random things to create the latest and greatest Fluefenflogen.  That is what my husband and I call those creations because, quite honestly, we had no idea what they were.  Those experiences cause the brain to grow, develop and make connections in ways that only organic hands-on play can.  They are learning and they don't even know it!
Today's toy developers are catching on to the fact that not only do kids crave that type of open-ended, creative play, but parents love it too because it reminds them of their childhood.  Here are some of my favorites:

~ Creativity for Kids has a line of Creativity Cans that are chalk-full of not only supplies but imagination.  They come in different themes too such as Music, Building, Stories, Art, Motion to help get the fun going. 
~ Fashion Plates....that's right, just like the ones you had as a kid but without the bell bottoms and fringe-lined skirts.

~ Spirographs have made a come back in a big way too.  They are great for those kids who are creative but also hit the mark for those linear thinkers who want order and structure to their creations.

~ Arterro makes a line of unique crafting kits that focus on eco-friendly projects and truly different materials.  Have you ever done Needle Felting?  Super cool.

The unintended benefit of these activities is that they create keepsakes, and provide family bonding opportunities.  Conversations take place that probably wouldn't have while playing a video game.  Parents and children are creating something together and it isn't just another Fluefenflogen.

Written by:  Tammy Richey