Finding GREAT Toys for GREAT Kids! {Guest Post} ~Plus~ Master Kitz #Giveaway (8/11)


Finding GREAT Toys for GREAT Kids!
by James Geisen

So I always get asked for advice about gifts for kids. It’s easy to see why – there are two obvious reasons: 1) Because it’s my job to play with as many new toys as I can 2) Because there’s literally thousands of choices out there and unless you have a kid the same age and/or you are the host of a website ALL ABOUT kids toys, there’s NO WAY you’d be familiar with even a small fraction of them.

If you’re looking to buy something for someone special here’s how you do it:

Age? – When companies put an age recommendation on their packaging, it’s usually for safety and/or small motor skill level. For this reason – pay attention to them! Yeah, you can push it a year if you know the kid well, but in general, the recommended age on toys is a REALLY GOOD first step to narrow down the process. But don’t let this turn you off from toys that are ages 3+ if you’re buying for a much older kid. 3+ usually means there’s small pieces or corners – but PLENTY of really awesome stuff for 8, 9,10 year olds is rated 3+. Also, if there’s an older sibling in the house you can add a year – like from 2 to 3 – but adding more than a year will most-likely be pushing it.

Gender? – This is a tough one. Basically, all “boy” toys are really gender neutral and the only stuff that’s “just for girls” is the super pink, princess-y stuff. But still, whatever the kid’s into…  There’s PLENTY of girls that LOVE vehicles and building toys and TONS of boys that REALLY DIG arts & crafts.

Interest? – Stretch the kid’s interests – it may take them a day or a week to get into it, but toys with depth to them will have a REALLY GOOD chance of getting some time – even if they aren’t necessarily in line with that kid’s interests. If you’re buying a gift for someone you don’t know that well, it’s probably better just to go for something GOOD. But how to find that?

Resources? – Find someone who knows their stuff. Local toy store? Walk in, tell them you’re looking for a gift, and let them tell you what’s new. They know what’s good – it’s their job. AND it’s in their best interest to help you find something GREAT – then you’ll come back. No local toy store? Find an independent website that does toy reviews (obviously, I’m a bit biased, but still…). Opinions are what you’re looking for here, GOOD opinions that you trust. Also, keep in mind that “new” isn’t necessarily a good thing – there’s TONS of AMAZING toys that have been around for a while that you’ve never heard of and that the kid you’re shopping for would LOVE.

Open-Ended? – Finally, I always tend to recommend “open-ended” toys. These are things that aren’t once-and-done. Toys that aren’t pop culture, aren’t gimmicky, aren’t fads. These are things that enrich on some level, inspire, get kids to learn something new. Now, that CERTAINLY doesn’t mean “educational”. Far from it. Here’s an example: If a kid gets an action figure from that new superhero movie – they’ll LOVE it … for about 2 days. If a kid gets a skateboard, learns to ride it, learns to do a few tricks … now they’re getting active, learning new things, improving their coordination and confidence. The point is that those kinds of toys have a reciprocal relationship with the kids – the more they play, the better they get. That opens up more play options and prolongs the life of the toy. After all, the word “play” implies “practice” meaning that they’re practicing for “real life”. You wouldn’t practice baseball by buying a shiny, new bat. You’d get out there and take a few cuts, run the bases, play the game.

James Geisen is the Host & Toy Aficionado for and his favorite toy is currently Spooner Board:

Email James any questions you may have about buying toys and games at 

Signup for’s weekly toy emails at the top their homepage and follow on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute toy news and reviews.

About The New Toy
The New Toy is a website featuring high quality toys that have been handpicked, tested, and reviewed by the company’s toy experts. While operating two independent brick-and- mortar toy stores in Chicago’s suburbs, James Geisen and his father Mike learned that the key to success is developing customer relationships through extraordinary customer service. In building, the pair wanted to take that level of customer service to an online retail environment. Every toy featured has been selected for two reasons: because they are really high quality and two, they’re super fun.  Check out the weekly videos posted on Tuesdays for James’s review and, separately, how children respond to the play experience.

Win it!

Samples of the products mentioned in the review were provided for this review. No other compensation was received and the views and opinions are my own.

{If you enjoyed reading Finding GREAT Toys for GREAT Kids! {Guest Post} ~Plus~ Master Kitz #Giveaway (8/11) I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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