OK, OK, I couldn't help myself. As a veteran toy designer (16 years!), I just had to share some of my favorite toys on the market this holiday season. Some are new and some have been around for a long time. Typically the LATEST TOY LISTS only share what's new to the market. Well, it doesn't have to be "hot off the presses" to be new to you, so I'll do my best to include some of each without overwhelming you with all of my picks.
FAMILY TIME PICKS
The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game While it is true that we love squirrels here at Backyard Yoga, that's not the only reason this game made the list. It is a great tool for pre-schoolers to reinforce matching and sorting skills, strategic thinking, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills. Educational Insights makes a lot of great games--this is just one that rises to the top of my list.
Have you heard of cooperative board games? I'm a huge fan, especially for the younger set. These are games where you work together, typically against an imaginary figure, to win the game. I could do an entire post just on our family favorites, but for now I will introduce you to Peaceable Kingdom's Friends and Neighbors: The Helping Game.
Designed for ages 3+, this is a matching game focused on emotions, empathy, and compassion. Each player gets a game card. Children reach into the "Helping Bag" and pull out a token. If the token can help someone on their card, it's a match. It's a great game to introduce conversation about recognizing feelings.
Dr. Eureka is designed for slightly older (ages 6 and up) children. Race to solve the formula by moving your molecules from tube to tube without dropping them. Great for logic and dexterity! I also like that this one can be played either in a group, or solo as a brainteaser.
Puzzles are another great choice for family time. One of the coolest concepts I've seen is from MadRat Games called Madzzle Puzzles. Once you build the puzzle, you can play games with it! It also includes a magnetic roll-up mat for storage, allowing you to keep the puzzle together so that you can play the game without rebuilding the puzzle each time.
TECH AND CREATIVITY COMBINED
Osmo is quickly becoming one of my favorite tech toy companies. I love the integration of tactile pieces with the technology of the screen. As a company, Osmo loves nothing better than to watch kids smile, gain confidence, and develop powerful minds. That's a mission I can get behind.
There are two games in particular that are catching my attention: OSMO Coding (for ages 5-12), and OSMO Creative Set for Monster. These games work with iPad Pro 9.7 inch, all iPad Mini, all iPad Air, and all iPad 2 & up.
*All games require the Osmo Game System, which can be found in any Osmo Kit.
Have a little one at home who wants to be programming just like their big brother or sister? The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar (for ages 3-6) is just what you need. Connect the segments to program the Code-a-pillar's movements.
FOR YOUR LITTLE EXPLORER -- ALWAYS STAY CURIOUS
These are favorites of the children in my life so I had to list them. They've shown up on many a Christmas list I've received. Whether growing your own crystals or exploring treasure-filled rocks, each activity promotes an appreciation for the wonder of nature. Both of these kits include learning guides.
BACKYARD YOGA'S SHINE YOUR LIGHT PICK
Go on "Secret Missions of Kindness" with these kits from Renegade Made (designed for ages 8 and up).
All kits come with everything children need to carry out their random acts of kindness. For example, the Random Acts of Flowers kit includes everything you need to make a dozen paper flowers, plus hanging vases to brighten someone's day. The Fairly Painless Tattoo Lounge kit includes everything you need to set up a pop-up tattoo lounge, where kids sell and apply temporary tattoos to raise money for their favorite charity. This takes lemonade stands to a whole new level!
I hope you have found some fun treasures on this list! There are a few of these items on Santa's list for our house this year-- along with Paw Patrol, Lego's and Monster High. HA!
Peace + Play
**I have received no incentive to promote the products mentioned above.**
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