With just a few days to go until Christmas, parents everywhere are hustling to find those toys on their children’s Christmas wish list. Each year there is that much-coveted toy that kids must have and parents will do anything to get it for their children. I usually get to find out what it is when the kids bring them into school after the holidays for show and tell. And every year I am always amused and intrigued as to how toy makers come up with ideas for toys that start a craze and a fad that every little kid wants to follow.
This year I got drawn into it early. A family member had to do some research on toys and wanted my help in this matter. Since I get a lot of requests from parents to suggest suitable toys for kids, I thought it wise to tag along and do some research of my own. Browsing the toy aisles of several big box stores, I noticed there is such a wide variety of toys for kids of all ages. Everything, from creative and educational to silly and downright ridiculous. Lego has new and interesting construction sets. L.O.L Surprise! which seems to be the latest craze among girls occupies the front shelves of the toy aisles. Nerf guns are still a rage among the boys and Hatchimals are as popular as when they first came out six years ago. Furreal, Pomsies and Fingerlings are selling fast and seem to be on every little girl’s wish list.
But what really got my attention was that this year toy makers seem to be fascinated with a certain bodily function. One that though important, is not very pleasant - pooping. Yes, pooping!! I was shocked to see a number of different poop-themed toys. There’s Don’t Step In It, Pass the Poop and Poop Fart Pet to name a few. There is also a toy-shaped bag called Pooey Puitton a spin on the famous Louis Vuitton monogram and the big one, Flush N Frenzy, where toy poop may come flying out the toilet! All these hot sellers do nothing more than provide cheap thrills and some bathroom humour.
Are toy makers running out of ideas and creativity that they had to sink this low?
I have always believed that toys serve multiple purposes. They stimulate a child’s creativity, imagination and thought process while also providing entertainment, excitement and fun within a certain moral framework suitable to different age groups. If parents are looking for such toys, there are several in the market that do just that.
Construction sets are aplenty from Lego, Magformers and Playmobil to Lincoln Logs, Straws and Connectors, and building blocks. Toy toolkits, easy bake ovens, cooking sets, and little vacuums/mowers will get kids emulating mum and dad and interested in household chores. There are all kinds of toy musical instruments, lab sets to perform experiments with, puzzles, books and a host of science and tech toys that will keep kid’s minds active.
Soft toys, dolls/action figures, toy trains, trucks etc. are always popular and there are some new, exciting and interesting ones out there which kids can collect and use creatively. Toys like Play-Doh, Kinetic Sand, crayons, markers, paints and beading/jewellery sets will bring out the artistic side in a child while also improving fine motor skills. And finally, there are board games. These get kids reading, counting, thinking, moving and more importantly socializing.
Toymakers, much like authors and filmmakers, play a big role in influencing kids. They have a responsibility to create new and innovative toys that will challenge, educate and entertain our children. We, as parents, family members and friends have to make an informed decision when purchasing toys for kids. This holiday season, let's consider a toy that will not only bring joy to a child but one that will also benefit them in the future.
Judy Castelino is a teacher with over 25 years of experience working with little kids. She has taught in India and Oman and now teaches at a Montessori school in Mississauga, Canada. In her spare time, she is part of a choir that performs at public events and she enjoys pursuing her hobbies of reading, travel, nature, art and dancing. She brings her vast experience from different parts of the world, her love of reading and shares her many talents and pursuits to enhance the learning experience in the classroom.