Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Help: Finding Developmentally Appropriate Toys

The holiday season is upon us! Many of us are spending time shuffling through store shelves looking for the perfect gift for the little ones in our lives. Many times, this gift will be some sort of toy...but which one? With literally thousands of toys on the market, how do you choose which one(s) to purchase for that special child. Although I have some training in child development, I still find it difficult to determine which toys are the most developmentally appropriate for a certain age group. Just because the manufacturer has listed the age category on the toy, doesn't always mean it really is the most ideal item for a child that age.

So I've compiled a list of great resources that will hopefully help you in choosing the best toy for the children on your shopping list. One idea that these resources emphasize (and I strongly believe in) is looking for toys that are open-ended--that is, toys that the child has to use some imagination. Some electronic toys are great but I think some toys should just be the old-fashioned kind (blocks, wagons, dolls) that don't play for the child but that the child has to create a way to play with it.

- Education.com Gift Guide--this guide provides toy suggestions that are tested by kids and teachers. The list is categorized by age and price.

- Gift ideas from Tumblon--one of my favorite websites/parent resources provided this helpful list of gift ideas categorized by age group.

- Gift ideas from Playful Learning--one of my fellow bloggers posted this great list of gift ideas. These are hands-on, well-tested gifts that encourage learning and exploration.

- eBeanstalk.com--I discovered this website a few months ago and it looks great! All the toys are tested by child development experts, including child psychologists, speech pathologists and educators.

Lastly, here's a useful article from Creative Play Plus about what to look for when choosing a developmentally appropriate toy. Great stuff!

Enjoy the holidays with all the children in your life!

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