By Alexis Trass Walker
From a toddler climbing inside a box and pretending that it is a spaceship to a teenager enamored with the latest video game, kids love toys. Understatement of the millennium, I know. But isn’t it true that every child (and many adults) love to get their hands on toys and games to entertain themselves?
Toy-buying can be tricky. As a case in point, I need to look no further than my four children. I’ve bought toys I thought they would love and they completely bombed. They’ve asked for toys that I felt sure they wouldn’t want because of their simplicity, and as it turned out, they loved them.
I was curious to see how my kids would react when a box of toys and games arrived from Debbie Mitchell. She received them from this year’s #SweetSuite15, also known as the Biggest Night of Play which took place in New York City on July 16, 2015. Each year attendees are shipped home a giant swag boxes full of toys from the event sponsors. This year Debbie graciously passed the toys along to my family.
My twin boys–Devin and Donovan, who are four years old–quickly lost interest in the box’s contents and went back to watching Paw Patrol. However, Devin did come back and claim the little mouse pictured above. Bit Bit is one of eight stackable, plush animals made by Bun Bun. They are the perfect size for his hand and they’re soft and pretty cute.
Sophia (8) and Makayla (6) are at the ages where toys are magical and games that require higher-order thinking skills are not as difficult anymore. Here are a few of their favorites:
IQ Fit, a puzzle by SmartGames, was an immediate hit. The girls love it, I love it, and their dad loves it. IQ Fit is a 3D-puzzle. The puzzle pieces have to be fitted on the game board in such a way that it turns into a (flat) 2D-image. One of the protruding sides of each puzzle piece has one ball and the other side has two balls. Depending on how you turn a puzzle piece, you get more or less balls. When the puzzle is solved, all puzzle pieces will fit on the game board without any holes uncovered. IQ Fit has 120 challenges and five levels. Not only is it fun, but it also makes you turn things over in your head so you can do the puzzle correctly.
This Crayola Color Alive coloring book is the coolest coloring book I’ve ever seen. You can bring your child’s coloring creations to life when you download the free app. You simply scan the page your child colored, and you’ll get a 4D-image of whatever was colored. Sophia claimed this Skylanders coloring book, and after she colored a few pages I downloaded the app to my iPhone. As you can see, her creation popped up right on top of the table!
Qixels is a craft where you add little pixel bricks to a color-coded template. When the pixel bricks are sprayed with water, they fuse together and you remove the design from the template. The design we got was a sword. It started off fun for Sophia and Makayla, but they lost interest pretty quickly. The biggest complaint was that the pixels were too small. In fact, the template itself was rather small, measuring only three-by-three inches. Makayla has the smallest fingers, but even she had a hard time adding the pixel bricks. Maybe we had a sample size and the craft actually does come in bigger sizes.
DreamWorks Eye Found It! is a fun game of cooperation and teamwork that is supposed to build observation skills and attention to detail. The objective is for all the players to get to the movie premiere before all the movie snacks are gone. The board is six feet long and features scenes from animated DreamWorks movies such as Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, and Madagascar. Players move forward by finding as many of pictured items as they can. I think this is a game that you might really like or really not like because either everybody wins or everybody loses. On one hand, Eye Found It! does promote teamwork. On the other hand, people who like to work on their own may not get as much pleasure out of the game. Overall, I say the game is a winner because if nothing else, it definitely makes kids pay attention to small details. That’s a great skill to have in life.
Like IQ Fit, Riddle Cube is a game of challenges. Up to four players get a shape-shifting piece and they have one minute to fold, twist, and stretch their cubes into shapes that match the challenge card pulled for the round. There are 200 challenges–some are easy and others are rather difficult. It is a game of logic and reasoning. My girls didn’t like it as much as I did, but I admit that I’m partial to these kinds of games because you have to make sense of something that seems impossible. Speaking as a former teacher, students who did well in school were the ones who made mistakes but had developed the ability to look at a problem in a new way and come up with a solution. Riddle Cube is fun and challenges those neurological muscles.
And finally, meet Smoky and Ying in the top photo and Timber and Yang in the bottom photo. Wild Republic makes these plush animals, which are actually 2-in-1 toys. Smoky and Timber and Ying and Yang come one stuffed inside the other. If your child gets tired of playing with Smoky the bear, she can reverse the toy and play with Timber the wolf. These toys are soft and sure to bring a smile to the face of any stuffed animal lover.
If you still have some Christmas shopping for kids to do, there’s still time to order the toys and games here. They make good gifts that will be appreciated and used. For more of the great toys and games that were part of this year’s SweetSuite15 Biggest Night of Play check out bloggers unboxing their SWEETSUITE 15 SWAG BOX click on to the ToyInsider.com YouTube Channel
Hope you have a Happy Holiday!
Alexis Trass Walker is a freelance writer and copy editor. Connect with her on Twitter @alexistrass.
Emmy-nominated network television producer Deborah Mitchell is a veteran of ABC and CBS News, a member of the Producers Guild of America, and a board member of the James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee. Through Deborah Mitchell Media Associates, she will create your online personality with a customized website, book you on the right television show, manage your social media profiles, and connect you with the best and brightest digital influencers. Deborah is a weekly contributor for Entrepreneur.com and author of So You Want To Be On TV. You can follow Deborah @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com.
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