Is the toy appropriate for the personality of the child?
All children are unique individuals. Arm yourself with as much information as you can about the child, or just think about what you have seen them do. Does she love fantasy, or is she a junior scientist? Will he sit quietly solving puzzles, or is he always on the go? Look for something in the child’s area of interests, or ask for a “sure bet” for that age range. Neighbourhood Toy Store staff know what items have gotten the most “rave reviews” from families.
Is the age range appropriate?
Pay attention to the age suggested by manufacturer of the item – don’t fall into the temptation to get something that is too far from the child’s age range. Find a craft, for example, that is simple enough for a younger child to do mostly on their own. Likewise, a building project may end up being mostly a parent experience if it requires a lot of patience or fine motor skill. Very young scientists want an “oh wow” experience, while older ones want to find out “why”.
Are there any special considerations?
Tell your Neighbourhood Toy Store staff about the family. For a third or fourth child, we may recommend “consumables” � items that they can always use more of! For overseas, we have all kinds of uniquely Canadian items. We help special needs children find suitable items all year round, and can steer you to particular suggestions for various challenges.
Is the toy well designed? Is it durable and safe? Does it appeal to the senses?
Look for a manufacturer who will stand behind their product.
Is it good value?
Well made toys, that children return to over and over again, end up costing pennies “per playtime”. There is a reason that some toys are “classics” � they have stood the test of time and continue to appeal to virtually all children. All toddlers love pull toys and balls; all children love blocks; everyone needs a special cuddle friend. No batteries required!
Will it inspire?
Does it stimulate creativity, spark the imagination, and build self esteem? Instead of asking, “What will this toy do?” ask, “What can a child do with this toy?” We call these toys, “open ended”, meaning that the toy provides a starting place for the child to play in a whole variety of ways.
Is it fun?
Will the child enjoy receiving the toy? Are you happy to have chosen it? Sometimes kids are convinced by advertising that they want an item, which you haven’t heard of, don’t like, or are sure won’t last very long. Reassure children that while they might not get exactly what they asked for, they will get a present chosen with love and thoughtfulness.