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IN CONSIDERATION OF TOYS
Disappointments at Christmas can be as hard for the parent as for the child. The child really believed that the siren strapped on a bicycle would make it fly. The talking doll is boring after 55 times. The cars don’t stay on the racetrack, much less make elaborate loops and jumps. Simple is better. Children’s play experts offer:

• Keep the equipment as open-ended as possible.- Various shaped blocks, snap-together plastic pieces, or metal construction toys offer unlimited possibilities. One of the most popular “works” for us is an assortment of plumbing pipes and joints.

• Begin with excellent quality so that you can add to it over the years. - A Brio train set will stay interesting until a child is 8 or 10 when you add more elaborate pieces each year. Lego blocks don’t become loose over the years like generic plastic blocks do. A good doll is beautiful years later when clothes can be made by a junior-high-aged child.

• Keep sexism as much at bay as possible. - This is the most insidious effect of toy advertisements. There is no reason for bicycles to be “pastel” versus “hyper”. Both sexes need books and music toys, toys that encourage questioning and exploration, and games that develop communication and social interaction.

• Real things are better. - A really fun gift to put together is an assortment. Try an old briefcase with various “office supplies”, a suitcase with various dressup accessories, a craft case with markers, glue, beads, and tape, or a tool box with real tools.

When you’re considering your child’s whole toy collection, consider a balance among these things: • “Loveys” - The soft, cuddly toys that can always be there in the dark and to which to tell secrets.

• Imagination toys - These include paints, paper dolls, sand toys, blocks, puppets. The simpler and less structured, the more your child can create with them.

• Dramatic props – Paraphernalia that lets a child pretend to be grownup, to be a pygmy, or to be an animal is a wonderful way to stretch the imagination.

• Action toys – This includes any equipment which encourages your child to run, swoop, bounce, or sway.

• Intellectual equipment – This category includes science (magnifying glasses, flashlights, magnets), music (instruments, voice recorder), puzzles and shapes of all kinds, and books, books, books.

Sometimes even the most wonderful things don’t go over so well or there’s too much or they’re outgrown. Encourage your child to recycle those things to a friend, a relative, or a child who might not have a toy. We have so much. There’s plenty to share.

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