True Cost of a toy is measured as the cost per hour of
most affordable toy is the one your child plays with the longest.
Part 1 showed
how to evaluate toys using the criteria of Interactive,
Open-Ended, and Creative. But now you're in the
store seeing the thousands of Interactive, Open-Ended, and Creative
toys that we sell. How do you choose that one toy that will
most interest your child?
watch hours of TV to see the toy ads won't work. Television
is the Holy Land for toy companies to advertise their latest
versions of Tickle Me Elmo and other non-interactive toys with
really high true costs.
you're better off keeping the kids away from the TV. The creative
teams behind those toy ads can make anything look fun and exciting
for thirty seconds.
way to know what toys to get your children is for YOU to watch
THEM. Observe your children in play. Watch how they interact
with other kids, how they interact with the toys and what type
of play interests them.
are very active and always play a specific role in whatever
they have imagined. They don't just move the characters around;
they become one of the characters. Toys like dress-up clothes,
kitchens & tea sets, workbenches, sporting goods, and dolls
are good for these kids. The girl at the tea party, the boy
who becomes a fireman, and the children playing kickball all
are Participants in the play.
like to be the Director. They don't play a specific role as
in the previous example, but they control all the actions of
the characters in their play. Toys such as themed playsets from
Playmobil and Imaginext, dollhouses, action figures, and wooden
trains make great toys for these kids. The child isn't one of
the characters, like she would be at a tea party, but is still
fully involved directing what the characters do.
and construction toys such as Lego, K'Nex, Erector, Tinker Toys
and Lincoln Logs are also great Interactive, Open-Ended, and
Creative toys. Finding the right construction toy is easier
when you observe your children in play. Are they quiet, able
to stay focused for long stretches of time? Do they get frustrated
easily? Can they follow multiple directions? Are they more likely
to color within the lines or follow their own path?
toys like Erector Sets require more careful planning, following
of directions, and overall time to build the models. The same
holds true for some of the more advanced Lego & K'Nex sets.
Other building toys like SuperMag and Duplo are easier and quicker
to assemble the finished product. The key is to know your child's
skill level and being able to match the right building toy with
their ability. If it's too easy, they get bored quickly. If
it's too challenging, they get frustrated and walk away. Following
age guidelines and knowing your child's abilities helps you
pick the right level.
can be said about arts & crafts projects. Does your child
need a framework to work within, or can they create from a blank
canvas? Are they better suited for Coloring Books or Sketch
Pads? Thin pencils or thick markers? Finger paints or fine point
brushes? Create this specific item or Create whatever comes
to mind? The more you understand your child, the better your
choices will be for arts & crafts projects.
your child's play habits and you'll be more likely to find the
right toy that they will play with for hours and hours and hours.
thing to note: All of the toys listed above are Expandable toys.
Expandable means that there are add-ons to the original toy
- rooms of furniture for the dollhouse, small K'Nex sets to
go with the bigger K'Nex set, vehicles to go with the action
figures, track to go with the wooden trains, buggies for dolls,
and on and on.
in a toy is one of the greatest assets for parents on a tight
budget for three reasons.
don't have to invest a lot of money up front to gauge a child's
you have done your homework above and observed your child in
play, there is still a chance they might not take to whatever
toy you choose. By starting with a small set, you can test the
waters to see if the child has any interest, before investing
in lots of product. You can even start small with a variety
of different expandable toys to see what your child likes best.
add-ons make for great gifts from family & friends.
If you know
the toy will be a hit, having other family members buy add-ons
means your child can get the "big splash" of a toy
without breaking your budget. Although you know that you only
bought the "starter set", all your child knows is
that he got, "a whole lot of Lego!" Plus, you make
shopping easy for grandma & grandpa.
make the original toy (and original investment) new again.
thing about expandable toys is that it doesn't take much to
make the whole toy new again. If your child already has a dollhouse,
adding a new room of furniture makes the whole dollhouse new
again, and renews her interest in playing with it. The same
holds true for the wooden trains. Add a new building or a few
new pieces of track and the whole train set becomes a brand
new toy. New Playmobil brings the old Playmobil back out of
the toy box.
mathematical example. You have thirty dollars to spend on a
"big" item. You could spend that on a stand-alone
toy that is not expandable, or on an expandable toy. With the
non-expandable toy, the following year, you will need to spend
another $30 to replace that item with another "big"
item. But if you went with an expandable toy, just a $15 add-on
in year two will actually give you more "new" toys
for your child.
of you who want to see the actual savings, it goes like this.
in Year 2
wizards have already figured out that with the second example
you spend 25% less but get 50% more in play value. That is real
savings! That is Expandability!
how fast the savings add up when you account for the $30 that
grandma & grandpa spent on add-ons that first year. Now
your $15 investment the second year makes $75 worth of toys
your children in play and look for expandable toys - money savings
tips guaranteed to work!
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