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Toys That Make a Difference

Are there still toys that nurture creativity and thought? Share your favorites.

As I looked for a creative Christmas gift for my best friend's 5-year old this year, I couldn't believe the mind numbing array of games, gadgets and gook.  Apart from the toys  that actually celebrate violence, there are many that celebrate the nonviolent worst in us.  One such example is Doctor Dreadful, Alien Autopsy.  The product description  reads:

Eat everything you make with Doctor Dreadful's Alien Autopsy! Deep from within
Area 51 comes a delicious experiment in dissection. Create tasty alien eyeballs,
parasitic lung bugs, and then brew up some bubbling alien guts! Yummm! Discover the secret sludge of Area 51 as it comes to life, defying gravity and moving all  over the Alien's stomach! It's an autopsy your taste buds will never forget!   Discover flavors that are out of this atmosphere with Doctor Dreadful's Alien Autopsy Play Set!

I laughed in horror, and then I thought 'Somebody actually thought this was a good idea'.  That somebody is a company called Spinmaster, whose other toys seem to exude the same play philosophy.  Is this how we encourage kids to be more creative, resourceful and productive?  Hopefully, not. 

The only thing comparable I can recall from my own childhood is the Creepy Crawler bug toy made by Mattel. It was pretty gross, but at least our Thingmaker creations were not considered edible.

After hours of unilluminating searching on the web, I finally settled on a Hoberman sphere, which I rediscovered through a nice list compiled by the Lion & Lamb Project.  Though the Project is no more, the list lives on at

http://www.lionlamb.org/Top_20_2000-2001.html, and is worth checking. 

There are so many great toys that can edify as well as entertain--why would we even consider giving our children  Alien Autopsy?

Do you remember a favorite toy from childhood or have you found one this holiday season that made a difference for you or a child you know?  What makes it special?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Marian Larson December 26, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Etch -a-Sketch, Play Doh, jigsaw puzzles, scratch art, card games, Scrabble, Battleship, Jenga, Sorry, Trouble, The Memory Game, Scattergories,paint by number, color by number. Sit down and play with your kids. You won't regret it. Happy new year!
K. December 26, 2012 at 02:54 PM
The box that contained the expensive toy usually promotes more creative play than the toy itself.

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