The holidays have always been a crazy time for me, but then five years ago I went and had a baby in December (smart thinking, me!), so now the level of gift-buying insanity is off the charts and hovering somewhere around Jupiter. When I was asked to check out a few of the season's hottest toys from Kmart's Fab 15 list, I jumped at the chance to have someone basically tell me what to buy that will rock my kid's socks off.
Here's what we're loving:
What kid doesn't love a remote control toy? This one not only drives the mean streets of your home but also flings little plastic sewer lids with the touch of a button on the remote pad. This toy gets my Seal of Approval for putting the "action" in "action figures," and it earns bonus points for nostalgia, since I'm old enough to remember the original TMNT series. This is great for indoor play during the cold and wet winter months.
Here's another remote control toy, although I've never seen anything quite like it before. Instead of directing the plane with a traditional joystick or control pad, your kid holds onto two wing tips, one of which has a power button and a motion sensor that makes Dusty "fly" according to how your kid moves his own "wings." (Breathe easy: Dusty doesn't actually fly but buzzes around on the ground.) The controls are easy for little hands, and the toy not only helps kids develop better hand-eye coordination, it gets them moving. This gets my son's Seal of Approval because "it's fun to imagine I'm Dusty, and I've never done that before!" and it gets my Seal of Approval because my one-year-old had just as much fun chasing it as my older son did "flying" it.
Play sets like this are my favorite because they're customizable and expandable, and they encourage the best kind of imaginative play-the kind where I overhear my son doing different voices and plotting elaborate storylines for his characters that involve them jumping from high places instead of him. This set is loaded with ActionTechTM technology, which means it recognizes certain play pieces and responds with fitting sounds and phrases. Super cool. This gets my Seal of Approval because it's good for hours of quality playing-by-yourself-while-mom-eats-a-cookie time, and you really can't put a price on that.
My preschooler is now the first member of the family to own a tablet, and now we're all hooked. The LeapPad Ultra gives us access to hundreds and hundreds of apps-all kid-safe-and it comes loaded with enough games, programs, and videos to keep the whole family entertained for...well, I don't know for how long because we haven't hit that point yet. It's education combined with recreation combined with the latest technology, and it's infinitely customizable to include apps with features and characters we love. (Apps make great gifts and rewards too.) My son loves this (LOVES IT) because it's just for him; I love it (LOVE IT) because it was built with him in mind-I'm talking solid construction, a stylus that's attached to the pad so it doesn't get lost, an auto-off feature, and parental controls. This gets my Seal of Approval because IT'S AWESOME, THE END.
Are you ready to get shopping? Which of these toys would your kid love?