Every year I have the same dilemma. Well meaning friends and family who rush out to buy holiday gifts are paralyzed into indecision. They try to do the right thing by my kids, skipping the hoochie dolls & cheap tv/movie character playsets du jour. They don’t approve of such things, and assume I feel the same.
marbleruns-collage.jpg So they point themselves directly down the educational aisle at Target or whatever mega store they have landed in, and invest heavily in the lastest learn and play system to hit the market. A couple of weeks later the green and blue “edu -toys” with insipid songs, flashing letters and persistant phonics for 6 month olds, begin pouring on in. Perhaps you are a fan of these cartridge and battery driven devices, but I must confess that I could do without. I find the phonics coming out of the cheap speaker on a plastic caterpillar, distorted and meaningless. I want my kids to learn from a human, whenever possible.
But that is not to say I am against toys that teach. I am all for toys that allow kids to express themselves creatively and hey, if they happen to get a little lesson in physics and architechture at the same time – fab. Bonus points if there are no batteries involved.
This year I am sending out links to Construction Toys, to all my friends and family. I love this site since it boasts the most impressive collection of blocks, erector kits, marble runs, and general building stuff that I have ever seen. My favorite is the Quadro. Not cheap but how fantastic is a kit that allows your kids do design and build their own sturdy play structures?
Hopefully the relatives won’t take it as criticism, but rather constructive gift-ism. Construction Toys is currently offering free shipping on orders over $200 and this deal includes items from their excellents sister sites. These affiliated sites are definitely also worth a peruse – you will find cool train stuff at The Rail Yard, stuff for your home at Aisle 9, and more great toys for imaginative play at ZauberZimmer.

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