Yikes … shopping to find toys for tikes

Published 12:40 am Sunday, December 16, 2012

By Lisa Woolard



Just in case you are one of the world’s great procrastinators (and I know the feeling) and you still need a toy (or two) for a very young child —have I got the ticket for you. This advice is not only good for Christmas, but for birthdays and anytime you decide to give a gift to a youngster.
It’s a fact…children learn through play. Just watch a child as he or she plays. They are problem-solving,  they are discovering new ideas and words, they are building strong muscles as they run, jump, draw and write, they are tapping in on creativity and imagination as they paint, and are learning to socially  get along with others. The more they play…the more they learn.
As children thrive and learn over time, the types of toys and materials that facilitate their learning changes. Product labels are great guides for helping parents figure out which toys are the best fit for the individual little learner!  It’s important to follow age recommendations when buying toys for young children.
There are good reasons why certain toys are recommended for certain age groups. Some toys could present dangerous risks for very young children, such as choking.  A good rule of thumb:  If the toy or pieces of the toy can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is probably a choking hazard for children under the age of 3.
My wonderful (and incredibly knowledgeable) staff’s picks include:
1. Books: Choose board books for the infants (so they can hold them and chew on them).  Those with black and white pictures are best for them.   Children ages 3-5 who are at pre-reading stages enjoy rhyming books as well as bright, colorful books that tell stories in pictures. (Ever watch a child “picture read”?  It’s delightful! )  Introducing books to young children fosters a love of reading that is imperative to school readiness.
2. Blocks & Other Building Toys: Blocks for stacking and building toys that connect together (like Legos).  These open-ended toys  tap into a child’s creativity as well as build developmental skills like math, fine motor, cause and effect, science and literacy, just to name a few.
3. Theme Boxes that promote Pretend Play: Dress up box:  Costumes, uniforms, hats, shoes, clothes, accessories, household items. Veterinarian: stuffed animals, bandages, stethoscopes, lab coats. Grocery Store:  shopping cart, play money, cash register, empty food containers. Puppets:  purchased or homemade with popsicle sticks, socks and paper bags.
While dolls and stuffed animals are important in pretend play, (they are also known to frighten away those nighttime monsters), open-ended or educational toys can really spark children’s imagination and learning experiences.
Everyday play moments can be wonderfully enlightening to young children. Need more information on this?  Give us a call (975-4667) or visit our website at www.beaufortcountykids.org. We would love to help you.
Merry Christmas!