How to Create Your Own Top Ten Toy List

by Donne Davis on December 9, 2011

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Today’s guest post is by Anna Chow, owner of Cheeky Monkey Toys, an independent specialty toy store in Menlo Park, CA.

Everyone has seen those “Top Ten Hot Toys” lists that run continuously this time of year. My recommendation — ignore them!

Each child, each family, is different. With the thousands and thousands of toys on the market, that top ten toy list is a really tempting short cut, but with just a little more thought, you can find the perfect gift that will last.

Here is a list of the nine qualities of a good toy that will help you create your own “Top Ten Toy” list:

Nine Qualities of a Good Toy

  1. Longevity: How many different ways can a child play with the toy?
  2. Scalability: How will a child play with the toy as he/she gets older? What ways can a caregiver add play value to the toy?
  3. Quality: How well is the toy made? How will it stand up to normal play?
  4. Creativity: How much imaginative input does the toy encourage?
  5. Peer: For school-age kids especially in the “trendy” toy category, stick to ones that have a social component with peers whether it is trading, collecting or sharing.
  6. Educational: What developmental milestones does the toy address? The educational value of a toy is much more than just ABCs and 123s. It also comprises such things as cause/effect, sensory exploration, negotiation with peers or siblings, fine and gross motor skill development, and spatial relationships.
  7. Expandability: Are there additional pieces or items that can be added on for additional play value?
  8. Play Patterns: Watch the child play and see what play patterns he/she is drawn to. Does the child have an affinity towards building things, an obsession with things with wheels, or the desire to paint and draw?
  9. Consult Knowledgeable Sales People: Visit your local, independent, toy store to help clarify the toy’s qualities and discover other unique alternatives.

Now go out and make your own top ten toy list!

Full disclosure: Cheeky Monkey Toys is a sponsor of this blog.

{ 1 comment }

Susan Adcox December 20, 2011 at 8:15 am

Good advice! I actually love those “top toy” lists, but just because they let me know what is out there. I do evaluate my purchases carefully, and your list gives me additional tools for doing so. For example, I might discount those that kids like to collect and share as not worthy of my money, but now I can see that the social component is worth considering.

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