Museum-Worthy Toys for Holiday Giving
Toys are terrific, for play and for learning. And some toys are so beautifully designed —in form and in function—that they’d be as at home in a design museum as they are on a playroom floor.
It is with great pleasure that we present the Parents’ Choice Awards Museum-Worthy Toy List.
Ages: 1 & Up
Manufacturer: Fat Brain Toys
This captivating twist on the traditional stacking toy features six brightly colored chunky gear shapes in graduating sizes, a reversible base (flat/rounded), and a spiral pole on which the shapes spin and stack. This inviting toy helps young children hone hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills and also aids vocabulary development (e.g, colors, up, down, turn, etc.).
Ages: 2 & Up
Manufacturer: Kid O
Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.
Manufacturer: Primo Toys
There’s a lot of learning here. And it’s not just “coding.” The set includes the star itself (the wooden robot), an interface board (its control panel), 16 tiles (its commands), a storybook, and a map (the world according to Cubetto) that serves as a playmat for learning. The beautifully designed set is approachable and welcoming, the pieces are easy to hold and to place, and the controller is simple (aka elegantly designed).
Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Chronicle Books
This imaginative mix-and-match game consists of 44 index-sized cards with black and white patterns on one side and modern colorful patterns on the other. The easy-to-understand instructions are brief primarily because the cards’ use is open-ended; children can play the games as suggested or make up their own.
Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Manhattan Toy
This playset is dazzling – in design and in function. The 41-piece deluxe set includes wooden blocks, planks, cubes, double-sided painted foliage patterns, two Mio beanbag people, a blanket, a pillow and a drawstring bag. The structure doubles as a storage box; playtime “windows” are built-in handles. The language and motor skills, creativity and imagination, individual as well as group play, are all inside, just waiting to be unpacked.
Ages: 3 & Up
Once in a blue moon, a toy comes along that’s as socially responsible as it is playful. Teaching young children to respect diversity and differences is important. Learning that through play in invaluable. The 48 piece set of mix-and-match wooden magnetic play pieces designed as heads, bodies and legs lets kids (and adults) create families that look like the families they know and see.
We don’t all have the same skin color. Not everyone has brown eyes. Some children live with only one parent, some children live in blended families. Not all members of a family look alike. Not all families are alike. But they are all families.
Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: Wonder Workshop
This a slightly alien-looking, one-eyed robot from Wonder Workshop, is a marvelous toy. When powered on, it wakes up, blinks its one, bright eye, and cries cheerfully, “Howdy-do!” From then on, the options are limitless. Wonder Workshop provides no fewer than five apps for controlling his behavior (a mobile device is required), four of them general-purpose and ranging from simple remote control to advanced programming with a Blockly interface. Dash is good for many, many hours of play and learning and serves as an excellent launch into the world of robotics for children of any age.
Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: Lux Blox
These blocks are the newest addition to the world of building sets. These flat, interlocking plus signs are designed for children aged six through sixteen, and the adults who play with them. The sets are available in three sizes small (88 pieces) medium (200 pieces) and large (450 pieces) with prices beginning at $29.99. Printed instructions are not included – and for a very good reason. The creators of these unique blocks have designed the Lux experience for open-ended free construction by putting the blocks together without a script or set of instructions.
Ages: 10 & Up
This scale model-building kit containing approximately 175 pieces that can be used to construct architectural designs. The pieces are brightly colored and each element has its own color for a visually appealing but consistent look overall. This kit is an ideal transition set for those who wish to move to more realistic model buildings than the classic LEGOs but who may not be ready for the stark look of the professional architectural models.
Ages: 12 & Up
Manufacturer: BRIGHT of Sweden
This game is an imaginative, and surprisingly fun math competition. In this abstract strategy game, each of the 2-4 players begins with a set of 10 three-dimensional plastic geometric pieces (red, black, white and gray), which are in and of themselves the first geometry lesson of this board game. Players will learn their names and what they look like: sphere, helix, cylinder, rectangle, cone, dodecahedron, prism, pyramid, tetrahedron, and hexahedron. Just playing the game, you effortlessly learn more about each of them.