A Guide to Great Toys for your Gifted Child

Toys that entertain most children for extended periods may not be as stimulating for gifted children. Gifted children may easily become bored with everyday toys. Gifted children’s toys must be entertaining, challenging, and thought provoking because gifted children are so smart they need smart toys.

Observing and talking to gifted children, or any child for that matter, can help in determining what kinds of toys they like. Obtaining this information can be useful when sifting through the myriad of colorful toys exhibited in stores vying for attention.

Shopping for toys at toy stores may seem as reasonable as shopping for groceries in a supermarket. After all, toy stores have toys. Supermarkets have food. However, some toys are hard to find, even at specialty stores, so in searching for great toys for gifted children, be prepared to purchase them from different sources. Many stores like department stores, drug stores, warehouses, and supermarkets don’t specialize in selling toys, but have toy departments. Sometimes these stores have toys you may not be able to find else where. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to check online shopping centers; in particular, your favorite manufacturer. Toy manufacturers provide as much, if not more, information about their toys on their websites as they provide on their toy’s packaging.

Quality counts. So when buying toys for gifted children, consider spending a few extra dollars when like items are available in order to purchase toys that are durable. Replicas of many popular toys i.e., dolls, cars, ponies, dinosaurs, tea sets, and so on, may not hold up if you get inexpensive ones. This isn’t to say you should buy the most expensive. But pay attention to the maker and examine toys you’re considering purchasing as closely as you can. If you cannot feel the toys because they are packaged, visually scrutinize the method in which its parts were assembled and the type of material the toys were made from to see if you believe they will be long lasting. No toy is good for a child if it breaks.

Ask yourself the following questions when seeking great toys for your gifted children:

What does this toy do?

Various toys like dolls, horses, race cars and such stimulate children’s imaginations simply by their presence. That’s because it’s easy for a child to befriend a doll, pretend to ride a horse (no matter how small), and speed a die cast car around an imaginary track.

Is it multifunctional?

Multifunctional toys, like Magnetic numbers and letters of the alphabet that teach a child numbers and letters, do other things. In case of magnetic numbers and letters, they teach colors, vowels, consonants, and spelling. A child with more than one set can learn to form words and short sentences. Magnet numbers and letters are great on the refrigerator because mom can teach the child lettering while cooking or washing dishes.

Is it intriguing to look at?

Appearance is the first scrutiny toys are subjected to by its potential users. If a toy’s appearance doesn’t intrigue a child, the child more than likely will not play with it.

Is it interactive?

Interactive toys are popular with kids from infancy to high school. High school you ask…to that I answer video games, cell phones, and iPods. If a child can manipulate responses from a toy, the toy becomes akin to an interactive, perhaps, virtual reality, friend.

How does it feel to touch it?

When touching a toy feels good, a child will want to handle it. Toy horses that feel like real horses are bound to receive more attention than plastic horses. Dolls with hair that feels real are bound to receive more attention than dolls with plastic hair embedded in plastic heads.

When you were a kid, would you have played with a toy you’re considering?

Determining whether or not you think you would’ve played with a toy shouldn’t be too hard since we were all children at some point. Think back to the kinds of toys that held your attention and toys that you explored for five minutes before tossing them aside. If you didn’t care for a certain kind of toy as a kid chances are your child won’t like that kind of toy either. The same is true for the opposite.

Below is a list of toys that are great for gifted children at different age levels. Some of these toys are actually games, and are great for the entire family.

For babies birth to twenty-four months

Mind-Shapes by Wimmer-Ferguson

These spherical, pyramidal, and cubical easy to grab soft shapes are easy for baby’s to hold on to, and can be connected to a car seat or stroller. This toy has won many awards including Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Educational Products, and Parenting Magazine’s Toys of the Year.

For babies six to eighteen months

Winkel Teether by Manhattan Baby Toys

This colorful looping assortment of tubes with encased rattle is a teether that can relieve baby’s gums and keep baby occupied for long periods of time.

Drivetime Mouse by Galt toys

This adorable machine washable mouse with a ringing phone attaches to a car seat or car window {has a suction cup}. It is colorful and has an assortment of textures for baby to feel. {Also good for babies over eighteen months} This toy received the Good Toy Award in 2002.

Playnest and Gym by Galt Toys

This inflatable activity gym is made from soft washable fabric. It adjusts to keep up with growing baby, and its individual toys may be rearranged to hold baby’s interest for longer periods of time. {Good for babies up to twenty-four months}

Twelve months and up

WaterWheel Play Table by Step 2

This waterwheel can provide hours of fun on a hot day. It’ comes with its own table and is made from sturdy plastic. {Great for toddlers too}

Six to twelve years

Cranium Cadoo for Kids by Cranium Incorporated
This is a great board game that combines aspects of “Name That Tune” and “Charades” drawing, sculpting and more. It was the Parent’s Choice Gold Award Winner in 2001. {It is a great game for the entire family.} There are all kinds of Cranium games for kids 6 to 12 available at Target Department Stores.

Rokenbok Construction Sets by Rokenbok

Kids can build miniature garages, elevators, and conveyors that actually work. Kids have a lot of fun while challenging their problem solving skills. {Great for kids over twelve too}

Capsela Construction Kits by Educational Insights

Working models made from these construction pieces are battery powered. Gears and see-through parts are fascinating to watch and teach children how things work.

Quarto! Classic Family Games

This game sends players racing to line up shapes sharing at least one characteristic i.e. color or shape. The game has received the Parents’ Choice Award, and Games Magazine Top 100 Games award. {Recommend age starts at eight, however, some younger gifted children may understand it}

Ten to Adult

Mad Gab Game by Mattel

This is a language game that involves speech sounds and pauses. {Great family game}

Twelve to Adult

Apples to Apples by Out of the Box

This is a great party game because up to ten can play at once. It’s great for gifted children because it is an academic game that involves the use of nouns and adjectives, and teaches judging skills. Awards the game has received include Family Fun Toy of the Year Award and Mensa Select Award.

Gifted kids enjoy making their own toys also

One of the toys my child enjoyed making in her GATE class was glow in the dark slime. There are a few variations on how make slime using school glue, borax, washable paint and water. Instructions for one of the variations can be found at http://chemistry.about.com/b/a/257835.htm.

Below are other great toys and games for gifted children for parents to consider.

Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception by Set Enterprises

Rush Hour Traffic Jam Logic Puzzle by ThinkFun

Kapla Stacks Set by Kapla toys

Home Planetarium {CD and illustrated book of universe} by Uncle Milton

Numbers and Operations Sand Molds by Learning Resources

The Mini Play Cube for toddlers by Anatex

Musical Hands Mat for Ages 2 and up by International Playthings

Geometric Stacker – 3 stackers in 1for ages 2 and up by Melissa and Doug

There are a great deal of toys available to stimulate and hold the attention of gifted children. Those listed above are only a few.

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