Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Green Toys for the Holidaze

I know many of you probably already subscribe to Co-op America's e-newsletter, but for those of you who don't, you might want to check out their list of Top 10 Toys for the Holidays. I have two kids of my own, and can personally attest to the longevity of some of the toys on their list, especially wooden toys and musical instruments. Everyone from toddlers on up loves to play with wooden toys; electronic toys that "do stuff" are not only annoying to listen to, but they hamper children's creativity. When the toy only has one way to be played with (like most electronic toys), children let it do its thing. But when a toy just "sits there," children have to use their imagination to creatively invent a scene, complete with characters, setting, action, and dialogue. They allow children to do the acting, instead of being acted upon. Not only are these kinds of toys educational in that regard, but they're non-toxic, and FUN to handle. My children have loved their musical instruments from toddlerhood, and seven years later, they're still a favorite when we have friends over (for parades, shows, jam sessions, you get the picture).

If the child on your list is over age 4 or 5, the Family Pastimes board games are a real winner. Not only are they made and sold by a family business, and made of recycled paper, but they are cooperative games. That means that the players have to work together to win the game, and no one child's feelings are hurt when they "lose." Buyer beware, however: these games work best in the context of family play. You actually need to spend time playing them with your kids or they'll sit on the shelf.

While as an organization we promote alternative gifting, I haven't sufficiently evolved as an alternative gifter not to buy my kids presents. As long as you're buying (for your children, neice, or nephew), you may as well get gifts that you'll all be happy to play with for a long, long time, and support some great green businesses in the process.

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