Educational (but cool) toys for my kids

Healthy Play Time is the Primary Goal with the Latest in Activity Toys and Games

The list has gotten longer; the price tags more expensive. It’s the annual adventure for parents around the nation this time of year—finding the ultimate toys that children want and “need” this holiday season. However, a new trend in the toy market is gaining in popularity, focusing on toys and games that encourage education and activity among its participants, whether child or adult.
Puzzles that can be built upward and games that introduce different careers to children are some of the new gift ideas that are bringing smiles to both parents and their little ones’ faces.
New Toys on the Rise
A quick spin through the toy aisle will show that more toys and games are focusing on socializing, activity, and broadening awareness in potential career interests.
Making a return to store shelves are the classic toys and board games, except that now they come with more modern and interactive features. One new toy, Waba Fun’s Superstruct building set, allows a child as young as three-years-old to put together different toy vehicles or animals while learning how to develop fine motor skills and follow directions.
To promote exercise, new products like Physical Apps’ TheO foam ball allows technology to be paired with exercise to encourage children to be active and interact with other children. TheO uses a parent’s iPhone inside the ball’s center to activate game apps on the phone, which create group recreation activities like Hot Potato and Bowling for children to play.
Toys that are aiding children’s early development and introducing them to certain careers are games like the Magic School Bus’ Science Club, which prompts interest in science through activity kits sent by mail. Other educational games are also introducing children to different professional fields such as fashion, artwork, cooking, and even architecture.
Group Play Time
The new trend in toys and games towards education and activity is encouraging to parents and pediatricians alike, as it brings with it the opportunity of a healthier lifestyle for children.
Dr. Natalia Wetterer, a pediatrician for Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center and mother of three boys, finds that interactive toys and games help children in more ways than one. “Playing is very important because it develops motor skills, social/verbal skills, and improves overall health,” she states. “Playing outside in more active play can help with social integration for children where they can connect with other children more easily, and unstructured play helps the development of a healthy kid.”
As a parent, Dr. Wetterer encourages her sons to lessen time in front of the television with video games and to play outside more, interacting with neighborhood kids and skateboarding.
A child’s activity level can be detected right away from vital signs taken by pediatricians, where inactive kids can sometimes have higher blood pressure and heart rates while active kids will have lower pulses and normal vital signs. Dr. Wetterer does make mention to patients about being more active outside and with other children but realizes that parents are just as influential in bringing those activity changes about in their children.
“If the parents don’t encourage their child’s need for outdoor and social activity, it is hard to change the habits. That’s why toys that also prompt time for parents with their children is also important,” she states. If the parent is playing the game, then it will more than likely also peek the child’s interest.
Parents should also be aware of toys and games that are age-appropriate for their children, as games that are too intense or complicated for their age might slow their development. The new toy trend of interactive and educational toys and games is focused on improving the health and development of children, something that pediatricians and parents both hope only continues upward into the future.

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