Holiday Gift Guide - Page 4 - Toys for kids

Holiday Gift Guide
- Page 4
Toys for kids

Great toys empower kids of all ages


By Elizabeth Levy Malis, Contributing Writer


A museum in Rochester, N.Y., called The Strong, encompasses all things toys. Its mission remains to explore play and illustrate the ways that play encourages learning, creativity and discovery.


Also, toys illuminate cultural history. In prehistoric times children most likely played with dull arrowheads and pieces of clay. In contrast, today, technology has given us a never-ending selection of electronic games. Headquartered at The Strong, the National Toy Hall of Fame pays homage to toys from alphabet blocks to whiffle balls. Teddy bears, Tinkertoys, Tonka trucks and Twister make the grade here. Dollhouses, dominoes and Dungeon and Dragons earn their spot in the limelight. Fischer Price Little People, Frisbee, G.I. Joe and the Game of Life all take a seat of honor. In fact, a blanket earns status as a hall-of-fame toy here, too.


While any of its hall-of-fame toys remain good gifts, each season offers new items from the toy world. Sometimes the array is so vast, it’s overwhelming. So, this year, we asked informed sources at some Baltimore shops selling toys to recommend what they are stocking for the holiday season. Enjoy their picks for 2018.


Ages 6 months+


A motion-activated rattle in the shape of an adorable four-inch dog, named Hudson, responds to the way your baby shakes it. Lean the puppy’s green legs down to see it glow green; lean the red legs down and spots on its back glow red. The legs of this puppy dog are textured, so they are just right for teething babies, and the soft rattling sounds will both entertain and stimulate the senses. This rattle is from Kid-O, which promises its products are “not your everyday toys” and features “simple styling and a fantastic feel in the hand.” Available at aMuse Toys with two locations in Quarry Lake and Fells Point.


Ages 12 months+


From French toy maker Janod, this vibrant toy table 1 2 4 5 6 features four different areas full of stackable animals, mazes, gears, linking cubes and an abacus. Children develop concentration, dexterity and coordination while learning shapes and colors. Available at Greenspring Station’s Wee Chic, which sells selling modern clothing, gifts and toys for babies to tweens.


Ages 2-8


For kids who like building projects, stacking and free building, any combination from the HABA play system will do. These building sets with ramps and wooden marbles feature colorful ball tracks and play tracks for Kullerbu vehicles. Easy set up features a clever, non-slip click system. The large parts can’t be swallowed, so this heirloom quality toy works well for children as young as two years of age. HABA describes its products as “inventive play for inquisitive minds.” Available at aMuse Toys with two locations in Quarry Lake and Fells Point.


Ages 1-4


This 30-inch ride-on fire truck by Schilling features a vibrant red steel body with detailed chrome accents, working steering column, horn and rubber tires. A great way to keep a little firefighter moving for hours on end. Comes assembled when purchased at The Pied Piper located in The Village of Cross Keys, which is Baltimore’s longest standing (53 years) children’s store, selling clothes, gifts and accessories.


Ages 3+


The 19-piece set by Valtech allows for 3-D magnetic building with clear colored pyramids, triangular prisms, cubes, hexagonal prisms and rectangular prisms. Magnets encased for safe play. Available at Shananigans Toy Shop in Roland Park.


Ages 3+


Ignite imagination with this 3-D fold-and-go castle playset from Melissa and Doug. It comes with six play figurines, beds, treasure chest, drawbridge and dungeon. Knights in shining armor, horses, and thrones for king and queen included. Comes in two versions: gray or a pink princess castle. Available at The Pied Piper located in The Village of Cross Keys.


Ages 3+


Playing house helps develop fine motor skills and


Toys continued on page 22