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Friday, December 7, 2012

Off To The Toy Store, What to Buy The Grandchildren?

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I used to own an educational toy business. It was many years ago, when the world was new and nobody had computers. I would go to the NYC toy fair, and find great reasonably priced toys. I carried a line of puppets, games, dolls, books. I had wooden puzzles, hand made trucks from Rumania, and manipulatives to promote dexterity and creative thinking. It was a happy business.

I explained the toys and made recommendations about age and use. My vendors were small businesses too, many worked from their homes, like I did. We would form relationships, and trust. I thought about restarting my business since so many of my friends are now grandparents, and are lost in the mystery of gift giving. It seemed like a good idea... It was not. If you want computer learning toys there are many. If you want the kind of educational toys I sold, good luck. Remember when children sat quietly and just played with toys?

I bought the baby a ring sorting toy and a Jack in the Box. It paled in comparison to the IPAD and video games. I went searching for the toys I used to sell, alas if they exist they are sold by the big chains, not me. It was depressing. Then I found "organic toys". Vegetable dyed, no nails no glue, beautiful, wonderful, unbelievably expensive... and not very interesting. So what did I buy for baby "P" this year? Her parents requested music classes.  Hmmm...another industry gone. Mom's help me out here any good ideas?


  1. Well said and definitely a problem if the parents are not on board about non-electronic games and inventive play. Computerized toys and videos free up parental time but can encourage short attention spans and passive thinkers who wait for stimulation and options rather than invent their own options.

    Unless Baby P's parents actively dislike the traditional toys, those can be kept at your house and made into an event when visiting grammy. Luckily you are crafty/artistic and could actually make some of the traditional toys. Otherwise, you'll have to purchase them at the big stores.

    One can create sock or paper bag puppets (look at the Fandango puppets) and create one's own game boards from oaktag or file folders, with spinners that you create from cardboard and one paper fastener. Inventing your own is cheaper and more fun, but requires time, imagination, and patience....But it's fun and can be a collaborative, although for now, Baby P is too young to direct the projects that much. Still, Baby P can indicate color preference for the player pieces (buttons or painted stones if nothing else comes to mind and construction of pieces is not a top priority), shape of the game board, and topics (animals, numbers, sounds,...whatever).

    I recently found magnetic trains/tracks and cars/roads for my friend's 3.5-year-old grandchild. But since they are Orthodox and totally non-computer and non-electric every Friday sundown until Saturday sundown, these kind of toys are welcomed. Therefore, Baby P's parents might consider going unplugged once a week to have a family night of board games, puppets, and inventive play, and leave the rest of the week to be plugged in?...Just a thought to have both worlds because they both offer positives for the baby.


    1. Thanks for your wise thoughts/ we will see....