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Photo: N/A, License: N/A

So many toys and gadgets to choose from this holiday season. Where to start? Do you get that item that makes your child happy or are you the responsible parent? Or both?

First, keep in mind that most toys provide an avenue of learning for a child. Children love to play and play has been regarded as the most effective way of learning.

Children use their imaginations, they get creative and even problem solve while playing. Parents worry that they should supply them with the correct educational toys to help them grow. Do not think that leaving your child with a supposed educational toy is all there is to it. A parent should be involved with the play process as well. Be creative, re-learn how to play and ask open-ended questions to your child that pushes him/her to think or use their imagination.

With this in mind, here are some educational toy picks that this writer feels will be a great boost to a child’s learning process.

As an infant play is somewhat limited, stick with bright colors and patterns that interest a child. Fisher Price has many toys that have given hours of play to youngsters. The Fisher Price Silly Sortin’ Monster, the Spill-A Saurus, Laugh and Learn First Word Smart Puppy, Go Baby Go Poppity Pop it, 3-in-one Crawl Along Tumble Tower and so many more. Fisher Price has been supplying toys to young ones since 1930. Herm Fisher thought the world needed better toys that “appeal to the imagination, do something new, surprising and funny.” His mom suggested developmental toys and thus began the era of pre-school toys. When World War II limited so many businesses, Fisher Price kicked in to work on aircraft parts, ship fenders and medical supply charts. When wood was in short supply, the company turned to plastic.

The toys continued to develop and advance to meet the needs of new generations. Fisher Price Smart Stages technology transforms Laugh and Learn toys so they change as babies grow, getting smarter right along with them. Imaginext is a great line that first introduced roaring remote control dinosaurs and more.

Toddlers are little explorers who learn by doing. Leap Frog toddler toys give children great opportunities to develop and practice new skills such as vocabulary, action/reaction, letters, numbers, shapes, and colors at their own pace. These include the Scoop and Learn Ice Cream cart, Step and Learn Scout, Tad’s Get Ready for School Book, Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo, Leap Top Touch, Phonics Fun Animal Bus, the Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket and so many more.

In addition, Mega Blocks are a big hit for those young builders, while V-tech has developed fun and interactive toys and games designed to help children experience “Smart Play.” They include such favorites as its Touch & Learn Activity Deluxe Desk, Kidibuzz Toy Phone, Ultimate Alphabet Activity, Touch & Teach Elephant Toy, Light Up Baby Touch Tablet and Pop-a-Balls Drop and Pop Ball Pit, to name only a few.

As the children mature, do not underestimate the power of a good old board game. Some favorites include, Trouble, Sorry, Clue, Stratego, Monopoly, Connect 4 and Yahtzee. Children just love to interact during some of their playtime so playing a game with mom and dad is a great way to interact and of course talk to your child.

Lego has been a hit with children since its introduction in 1947 when plastic building blocks were introduced in the Ole Kirk Christiansen workshop. Children spend hours building and re-building intricate sets that will last a life time, with some care. Board games, video games, films and so much more have become part of the Lego legend and a creative way for children to learn.

So no matter what you choose, a key ingredient to tie into your purchase is the underlying thought of spending time with your children in their times of play. They yearn for the comraderie of their parents and learn from the many good things their parents teach them. Take some time this holiday season, kick back and enjoy the time with your young ones.