“I want a flashlight for Christmas.”
This is what my kid blurted out on a routine visit to Home Depot. That comment made my brain hurt. I started thinking about all of the insanely cool toys I had growing up. I remember sitting down on a Saturday morning, and watching commercial after commercial of insanely cool toys.
Now, every time I head to Target to get my kid a surprise toy or something, it’s super difficult. Everything is garbage. I can’t tell you how many toys consist of a hundred tiny pieces that will get lost forever in my shaggy carpet the instant they are free’d from their packaging. I won’t lie, occasionally I’ll get so fed up cleaning the house that ill just grab a handful of bullshit accessories from random toys that I haven’t seen in months, and just toss them in the garbage. Not once has my kid said, “Hey Dad, where is that tiny comb that came with the stupid Pony.”
Stepping away from Target, or any of the other mega stores, you can find some really cool things if you think outside the box.
1) Probably my favorite toy for my daughter, is the “Kids Karaoke Machine” by KidzLane. I love music, and I take every chance I can get to introduce my 4 year old to the classics. Sometimes the music can be a little controversial, like Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” or “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett, but it hasn’t been an issue. This device is awesome. It stores up to 100 songs on its internal memory that you can add from your mp3 collection. It also works with Bluetooth, it has an AM/FM radio, and can work off a USB stick as well. With two working microphones (not the greatest), you and your kid can sing along to the Ramones for hours. I get the biggest kick out of watching my daughter clean her room while listening to her music.
2) The “Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit” by Elenco is a ton of fun. I remember owning a more archaic version of this toy back in the 80’s. This toy comes with a booklet featuring a hundred different things to build using circuits, resisters, motors, etc. It is awesome. Getting to see your kid’s face when she gets to see the fruits of her circuitry labor is priceless.
3) The “Magformers Intelligent Magnetic Construction Set” is another awesome toy. These things are pretty expensive, but sometimes you can catch deals on them. I think my wife scored a good deal on a set from Zulily. These things come with a little booklet outlining different things to build with these magnetic pieces and supply hours of interest.
Finding a cool toy isn’t too hard, you just need to think outside of the box. There is more to life then tiny plastic bullshit, pretty dolls with hair, or expensive baby dolls with stupid background stories. Science! Science will always be the most fun, and now more then ever there are loads of options to choose from.
One thing I do want to try soon is one of the many science subscription boxes. Just Google them, there are loads of them including one that Amazon does called, “STEM Club Toy Subscription.” They have them for different age groups, and basically you get a new science related toy every month.
Let me know if you have ever tried any of these and what your thoughts were on them!