Top Toys: Bring Back Imaginative Play

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A child’s brain grows rapidly in early childhood, and that’s why experts say it’s essential to provide imaginative playtime for little ones who prefer their iPads. It’s important to give little kids toys that will inspire playing “house” and other fun childhood rites of passage at home. While gadgets are great, little kid brains need playtime without electronics for healthy development. Put down the tablets, turn off the TV and let’s play!

PRETEND PLAY

Homestyle 2 Piece Kitchen
KidKraft • kidkraft.com
Ages 3+ • $189.99
Kids can cook, clean and store play food in the fridge in this big kitchen set! And, because the fridge is detached from the stove and sink, you can easily rearrange this set to fit your child’s room more easily. All the doors open and close and the laundry basket is included.

Junior Ready to Build Workbench
Black+Decker • blackanddecker.com
Ages 3+ • $69.99
This sturdy workbench enables hours of construction-themed playtime. It features 53 tools and accessories including a motorized drill, bendable work light and a whirring miter saw — all providing realistic sounds and lights.

Honestly Cute Let’s Get Cleaning! Vacuum
Jakks Pacific • jakks.com
Ages 3+ • $24.99
This kid-sized vacuum comes with interchangeable tools, an adjustable head and a bright headlight. A push of the power button triggers simulated spinning and suction action. A broom and duster set is sold separately.

Pretend & Play Doctor Set
Learning Resources • learningresources.com
Ages 3+ • $39.99
This 19-piece set has all the tools your child needs to diagnose the situation. It comes with a battery-operated stethoscope and a cell phone that makes realistic sounds. A handy carrying case keeps everything intact.

Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart
Leap Frog • leapfrog.com
Ages 2 – 5 • $39.99
Little kids will love making your order as they pretend to scoop ice cream. The scoop talks and says what flavor you’re scooping, too! It’s a great way to learn counting and matching while having fun.

2-in-1 Food Truck
Little Tikes • littletikes.com
Ages 2+ • $159.99
More than 40 accessories come with this heavy-duty plastic food truck. The inside of the truck doubles as a mini kitchen with a microwave and fridge. There’s even a chalkboard on the outside to write the menu on.

Vintage Play Kitchen
KidKraft • kidkraft.com
Ages 3+ • $149.99
This kitchen is big enough for a “mommy” and “daddy” to play together. Store play food and utensils, and turn the clicking knobs. It’s made of wood, so it’s extra durable for longer-lasting play.

AirFort
AirFort • airfort.com
Ages 3+ • $54.99
All you need is a standard box fan to attach to this lightweight, polyester fabric tent — it fills with air and fills the room! Kids can crawl under and have hours of “fort” play. Don’t worry, there’s a barrier to keep fingers out of the fan. It’s the easiest and fastest way to make a fort — and to break one down. Available in pink or camo.

Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register
Learning Resources • learningresources.com
Ages 3+ • $39.99
Ring up fun with this solar-powered role-playing toy for kids who love to play “store.” It comes with play money and holds life-size currency. Also check out the neat Teaching ATM Bank (sold separately).

BABY DOLLS

Bitty Baby
American Girl • americangirl.com
Ages 3+ • $60
Before giving that American Girl doll, start your child with a Bitty Baby. The baby doll line of American Girl is just as impressive. Bitty Baby has a molded head and eyelids that open and close. She comes in a variety of skin tones and also boasts an impressive line of well-made accessories and clothing. Some of the “new” for Bitty Baby this year includes a changing table and a rocking cradle.

Emma
Feltman Brothers • feltmanbrothers.com
Ages 3+ • $149
A beautiful doll, Feltman Brothers celebrated 100 years in 2016 and, to celebrate, issued Emma as a limited edition. All of Feltman’s dolls, clothes and accessories are top notch. Emma has soft skin, gorgeous lashes and a full head of hair. Gift Emma when your child is ready to appreciate her!

Baby Alive Sweet Tears
Baby Alive • babyalive.com
Ages 3+ • $49.99
She comes with 35 different sounds and phrases, and if that’s not enough, she cries! Your girl will love tending to Baby Alive thanks to the included stethoscope, thermometer, tissues and more.

Baby Stella
Manhattan Toy Co. • manhattantoy.com
Ages 12 mos+ • $20
This little soft sweetheart is 12 inches with a cutie-pie face. Her pacifier’s magnetic so it has a gentle “tug” when you pull it away (just like a real baby!). Designed for ages 12 months and older, Baby Stella comes in different hair colors with lots of assorted accessories available, too.

Mine to Love Jenna
Melissa & Doug • melissaanddoug.com
Ages 18 mos+ • $24.99
This teeny tiny makes a perfect first baby doll for a one year old. Jenna has pretty blue eyes, closing eyelids, molded head, hands and feet and a pacifier. Time to cuddle!

Mon Bebe Classique
Corolle • us.corolle.com
Ages 3+ • $69
This premium 14-inch doll made by the renowned French dollmaker is perfectly sized for a child’s small arms. Cuddling and hugging are made perfect; Mon Bebe is made of soft vinyl and is vanilla scented. Part of the Mon Classique Corolle line, this sweet doll has her pacifier attached to her wrist.

CARS & TRUCKS

BMW Street Racer Pedal Kart
BERG • bergtoys.com/us
Ages 3 – 8 • $469
This pedal kart has an adjustable seat and steering wheel to comfortably fit your child. Kids will love pedaling it all over the place; they’ll be surprised at the ease of it, too!

Driven Crane Truck
Battat • battatco.com
Ages 4+ • $32.99
Push this crane truck around on its soft rubber wheels as you listen to the sounds of the horn and engine while the lights flash. Multiple moving parts on the truck include doors that open, a crane that swivels, a retractable hook and more.

Go! Go! Smart Wheels Press and Race Monster Truck Rally
VTech • vtechkids.com
Ages 1 – 5 years • $39.99
Using the Smart Wheels on this play set, the car stops at the “SmartPoint” locations for fun sounds, phrases, three sing-along songs and six melodies. Kids will have fun pushing the cars around the track and seeing them race down the slopes and through the catapult launcher.

Ride-On Grill N Go
Rollplay • rollplay.net
Ages 2+ • $179.99
Little drivers can spin 360 degrees to avoid pesky corners and walls making this ride-on easy to drive! Throw in the additional different sounds, a fold-out grill and play food set and you’ve got hours of fun for your little one. Suitable for riders up to 50 pounds.

Stretch FX Hot Wheels
Toy State • toystate.com
Ages 3+ • $9.99
You can pull the car to stretch it and then set it down to watch it race off! Or, you can just pull it back and watch the engine light up. Either way, you get lights, music and driving sounds as the vehicle pulls itself back together and drives away.

Pop-a-Balls Push & Pop Bulldozer
VTech • vtechkids.com
Ages 12 – 36 months • $24.99
Just learning to walk? This bulldozer has colorful balls that pop up through the smoke stack. Push it around and scoop up the balls to do it all over again, or have a seat and play with the buttons for educational fun with colors, numbers, construction objects and listening to music.

Tire Twister Lights
Little Tikes • littletikes.com
Ages 3+ • $39.99
It’s one big wheel filled with lights and sounds that flips, spins and more with a remote control. Kids can create their own light show in a dark room with its forward, backward and 360-degree motions. The car inside the tire even does tricks, too, and it’s also removable for even more action.

John Deere Deluxe Lightning Wheels Tractor
TOMY • tomy.com
Ages 3+ • $24.99
The faster kids push this big tractor around, the faster the lights change inside the tires! It’s equipped with motion-activated lights and sounds that are activated by rolling it.

RC Bumper Cars
Little Tikes • littletikes.com
Ages 3+ • $39.99
This is the only RC vehicle set that allows you to race, “bump” and eject your opponent! Your kids will be amazed at how easy these cars are to steer, too.

BOARD GAMES

Exploding Kittens
Exploding Kittens • explodingkittens.com
Ages 7+ • $19.95
This hilarious card game gives a slight nod to Uno. You want to avoid the Exploding Kitten cards by using a variety of action cards to cancel other players’ moves, steal their cards and see the future by peeking into the deck.

Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters
Mattel • shop.mattel.com
Ages 8+ • $34.99
Work as a team to get out of the house with eight Treasure Jewels before the rooms become haunted. Fight ghosts together along the way. There are basic and advanced play options.

Heads Up!
Spin Master Games • spinmaster.com
Ages 8+ • $19.50
It’s the party game version of the app made popular by Ellen Degeneres. Don a headband loaded with cards, then guess the words you’re wearing as other players give you clues.

Kingdomino
Blue Orange Games • blueorangegames.com
Ages 8+ • $19.99
The fun of dominoes with a kingdom-building twist! The game ends when each player completes a 5×5 grid. Points are counted based on the number of connecting tiles and crowns.

Rooster Race
RoosterFin • roosterfin.com
Ages 5+ • $24.99
In this simple card game, help your roosters gather corn by making educated guesses in predicting the high/low value of the card stack.

Soggy Doggy
Spin Master Games • spinmaster.com
Ages 4+ • $19.99
Race around the board taking turns giving the dog a bath. But watch out, because Soggy Doggy love to shake himself dry! Player who makes it all the way around the tub wins.

Trivial Pursuit World of Harry Potter
USAopoly • usaopoly.com
Ages 8+ • $19.95
A must for Harry Potter fans, this “bite-size” edition boasts 600 questions based on the films. Categories include The Dark Arts, Spells & Potions, Animals & Magic Creatures, and more.

Telestrations
USAopoly • usaopoly.com
Ages 12+ • $29.95
The classic game of Telephone meets Pictionary in this party game where sketches and guesses pass from one player to the next. When your play book comes back to you, find out if the final guess is accurate to your original drawing.

Watch Ya’ Mouth
Watch Ya’ Mouth • wymgame.com
Ages 8+ • $19.95
Players take turns inserting a mouthguard/cheek retractor then attempt to read words and phrases while others guess what you’re trying to say.

Word Slam
Thames & Kosmos • thamesandkosmos.com
Ages 12+ • $29.95
It’s like charades, but instead of acting, you can only communicate with word cards.

Yeti in My Spaghetti
PlayMonster • playmonster.com
Ages 4+ • $17.99
Place Yeti on top of the noodles on the bowl, then take turns removing one noodle at a time. If you make Yeti fall into the bowl, you lose.

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