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Holiday Gifts

Learning Resources Offers Holiday Gift Givers Tips for Selecting Educational Toys

Vernon Hills, December 5, 2006 — Educational toys are a great option for holiday gift-givers, but selecting the right educational toy isn’t always an easy task. The education experts at Learning Resources offer some general guidelines for selecting appropriate learning toys.

“The key is to choose a toy that is appropriate for a child’s age and stage of development,” says Wendy Zachrisen, a former teacher and now educational marketing manager at Learning Resources. “If you underestimate or overestimate a child’s skill level, the toy will either be boring or frustrating. Toy companies, like Learning Resources, put a tremendous amount of effort into developing products that are targeted to particular skill levels and age groups.”

Zachrisen also has these recommendations:

·   Choose toys that are interactive, multi-sensory, and full of opportunities to  accomplish something or make choices. This applies to children of all ages, not just very young children.

·   Know the child’s personality and temperament. Does the child need lots of stimulation, or is he or she shy? A shy child might benefit from toys that require interaction with other people, such as Math Marks the Spot™, a game from Learning Resources. This type of interaction builds both language and social skills.

·   Select toys that have different kinds of play. Open-ended, creative, imaginative play is important for a child’s growth and development, and encourages self-confidence and problem solving. Multiple levels of play will often extend the length of time that a toy interests a child. An example of an open-ended toy is  the Pretend & Play® Snack Shop, which includes snacks, play money, write-and-wipe boards and other shop items — all in a sturdy, tri-fold carrying board.

·   Consider safety and durability. There should be no sharp edges, no toxic paint, and no little pieces that can fall off and become a choking hazard. A toy’s package will indicate if the toy is not safe for children under a certain age, but you may consider buying a toy for a slightly lower age range for a child who needs extra learning support or has special needs.

·   And, don’t forget that the toy needs to be fun. If the toy isn’t fun, the child will quickly lose interest.

“There are many and varied benefits of educational toys,” says Zachrisen. “By selecting the right toy, you create an environment that is fun and conducive to learning important skills.”

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