Dec. 2, 2010 -- It's not always easy to get the right gift for the little ones on your holiday shopping list.
Fun and Educational
Q: What toys are best for toddlers?
A: Woodruff said you should look for toys that enhance toddlers' motor skills. Toys that demonstrate cause and effect also are good for this age group, so children learn that their actions can make things happen. As a bonus for parents, if the children are tired after playing, they'll sleep through the night.
Click HERE to read more from Parents magazine about the best toys for children in various age groups.
The Parents Stow and Go activity cart has knobs, beads and wheels that move, while the Weebles Musical Treehouse has a crank that moves -- and it makes music!
Parents Stow and Go activity cart, approx: $85
Weebles Musical Treehouse, approx. $30
Q: What about good toys for preschoolers?
A: Woodruff showed two video games that she says will engage children, sparking their curiosity and developing their fine motor skills. Leapster Explorer is a high-tech tutor toy that comes with fun games, the V Reader has books and lets kids imitate their parents, and Sky High Scoops combines old and new technology in a fun stacking game.
Leapster Explorer, approx. $70
V. Reader, approx. $60
Sky High Scoops, approx. $25
Q: What toys are good for children who are already in school?
A: For children who are 4, 5 or 6 years old, look for toys that encourage creativity but which teach sharing and focus, Woodruff said. Model Magic Presto Dots come with tools and dough so kids can make some fun critters. Perplexus is a 3-D puzzle that will encourage concentration, and Squaps is a cross between catch and Frisbee. It teaches sharing and fair play.
Model Magic Presto Dots, approx. $12
Perplexus, approx $25
Squaps, approx $25
Q: Big kids can get fun and educational toys, too, right?
A: Woodruff says children who are 7 years old and older really start to develop their personal interest and seek out information on their own. Their toys should encourage that discovery.
Scrabble Flash gets children practicing their vocabulary in a fun way, while the Paper Jamz guitar and amp allows them to indulge a love for music in a way that doesn't break the bank if that passion doesn't last.
Scrabble Flash, $30
Paper Jamz with Amplifier, approx. $40