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SMART BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPPING – making choices that are fun & thoughtful

It’s almost here….can you hear it? In my mind, it’s the sounds of doors opening to welcome family and friends, the fire crackling, the soft snowflakes quietly falling, and parents softly reading Christmas stories to the small ones tucked in the crook of their arms. Ahhhhhh…sounds nice doesn’t it? Might look like this..

The reality is that come Friday, after those delicious leftovers have been packed away, the noises surrounding many of us will be whizzing shopping carts, overheard blaring announcements of deals to be had, and wrapping paper galore dressing up those black Friday deals. Maybe something like this….

Hopefully, your reality will fall somewhere between those two scenarios! Whether you are a black Friday shopper or not (me? I will likely do some online shopping and a lot of yoga come Friday!), most of us make time shortly after Thanksgiving to do some shopping – many of us for children. I’m a big fan of trying not to overindulge my children at Christmas time, with the hope that one day when they off on their own, they’ll have a nice balance of feeling loved and really knowing the Reason we love at Christmas.  Shopping this time of year for children is a fun and exciting opportunity for PLAY in the months ahead. Toys are our children’s TOOLS OF LEARNING – when you think of it that way, choosing toys as Christmas gifts is kind of exciting. Instead of wondering if a chosen toy will end up at the bottom of the toy box, consider what your child might learn from it (and I don’t mean the alphabet all the time — there’s much MORE to learn through play. Want to know more? Click HERE).

Also – use our FREE PDF download from Medbridge Education. It’s a cheat sheet of sorts providing you the age/stage of development with suggestions for toys and activities. (simply scroll towards the bottom of the link and click the icon to download!).

As early interventionists, we get to be a “toy spies” in the homes we visit.  I always find it interesting when come February, I see the “must have” toddler toy in the corner of most homes, while the child I am playing with shows way more interest in a plastic water bottle (how many Christmas mornings have you had where your child just LOVED that box the toy came in?).  In fact, I’ve embarrassed my husband more than once by “helping” a confused grandparent in the toy aisle by providing suggestions of “what the kids really like!”

We decided to compile a list of “what the kids really like.” We arranged our list by suggested age and included toys that we ourselves have either enjoyed with our own children or have seen be consistent hits in the homes where we provide therapy. What was required to make our list? Here it is:

1. Prices varied, but the toys we chose were (in our opinions) a value for the quality.

2. Toys addressed more or one developmental domain of child development (Cognitive, Motor, Language, & Social skills).

3. These toys don’t “do it all” for the child. In other words, these toys leave room for the child to flex their own imaginative muscle, and add their own creativity to play.

4. The toys were consistent favorites with children we know (and continued to be long after December 26).

5. Toys are what we like to call “forever toys”  – toys that can be used in many ways for several years.  For more on this see our article in the months Child Guide Magazine.

Please note that we do not receive any compensation from any of these toy makers (but wouldn’t THAT be fun, though… FREE TOYS!).  We also have provided these as an example of ideas.  We certainly encourage parents to use these as a guide for suggestions, but by all means shop around! You just never know where you might get a better deal! Also, the ages listed are suggested, but as you know, many children play with toys at more than one age/stage — and often in a different way (how cool is that?!)

HERE YOU GO – OUR 2012 TOY IDEA LIST FROM SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO PLAY FOR A LIVING!

Side Note: ** Please see our PINTEREST Page to see a complete list of recommended toys by age and our FACEBOOK PAGE for our photo album of a months worth of FOREVER TOYS!

BABY:

1 YEAR OLD:

2 YEARS OLD:

3 YEARS OLD:

4 YEARS OLD:

5 YEARS OLD:

6 YEARS OLD:

 

7 YEARS OLD:

 

8 YEARS OLD:

 

9-12 YEARS OLD:

 

Likes these ideas? We have more! Specifically – ideas on WHY Play matters and HOW plays is intimately related to development in young kids. Check out 1-2-3 Just Play With Me — a thoughtful gift for parents of young children (plus FREE shipping). SOUNDS like a whole lot of FUN to me!