Best Toys for Kids

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Modern Dad

News, reviews & trends for fathers – a contemporary parent’s perspective.

Researchers worldwide extol the benefits of play in the development of young minds. It’s a key part of a child’s social and emotional development, and something even grown-ups should do more of. These five selections are some of the best toys for kids currently available in 2012 and 2013, but we think the whole family could probably benefit from spending some time playing together with them.

Trunki – From Melissa & Doug, one of parents’ most trusted toy brands, comes Trunki, a multi-purpose suitcase and riding toy that can even be used for parents to pull their kids along.  Not only is there the obvious benefit that it’s perfect taking on a trip, but kids’ will love stuffing it with items even when they’re simply playing at home.  You can get a Trunki shaped like a ladybug, tiger or monster in six different colors.

Rory’s Story Cubes – The most important element in this game that can fit in your pocket is a good imagination.  In Rory’s Story Cubes, kids will roll up to nine dice, each with different pictures on them.  Once the pictures are displayed, kids must come up with a story that involves all the elements they’ve rolled.  Rory’s Story Cubes can be played alone, or with as many players as possible.  Available for less than $20, it’s a small, simple and completely brilliant way to unleash your child’s (and your) creativity.  There’s even an iPhone app which recreates the dice-rolling experience on your smartphone.

Hot Wheels Wall Tracks – We all remember playing with the iconic orange Hot Wheel tracks, but make sure to see how far track design has come with Hot Wheels Wall Tracks.  With a little bit of wall tape (such as blue painters tape), kids can now bring their tracks up the walls, upside down, and corkscrewing around all their rooms.  The starter set costs around $35 and comes with a diverter switch, a flap-ramp, a steep-drop ramp and a 360-degree loop, and is compatible with all other Hot Wheels tracks.

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Game – We wouldn’t feel right compiling a toy list that didn’t include some LEGOs on it, and this one combines two more things that kids love with the LEGO experience – Harry Potter and a competitive game.  In LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts, 2 to 4 players will build and navigate around Hogwarts castle as they play, using moving staircases and secret passages in order to be the first one back to the room.  With nine Harry Potter LEGO figures and 332 pieces are all, there’s a lot of Wizarding fun and value for $35.

Nerf N-Strike Maverick – Although many parents shy away from guns and gunplay, many elementary aged boys and girls gravitate towards Nerf guns as safe ways to play out their good guy/bad guy games.  The Nerf N-Strike Maverick is a six-shooter type pistol that shoots the recognizably soft Nerf darts from a rotating barrel.  Enhancements allow for a more futuristic feel to the N-Strike Maverick.  We love how this particular Nerf gun isn’t as overwhelmingly large as other N-Strike products, which makes it especially easy to store come clean-up time.  The N-Strike Maverick costs about $10 wherever toys are sold.

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About author

Johner Riehl

Johner Riehl is a freelance writer focusing on families, technology and online safety. As founder and editorial director for FamilyFriendlyApps.com and FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com, sites that provide reviews and recommendations geared towards families, he examines hundreds of family-friendly games and apps every year. He’s also host of Parent Savers, a podcast aimed at helping parents of newborns, infants and toddlers. TWITTER: @FamilyTechDad

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