Saturday, June 18, 2005

Learning Toys That Travel Well

By Christina VanGinkel

My grandson is coming for a visit the weekend of July 4. He will turn two a few days after. Ever since he was born, I have loved the idea of being a grandmother, just the thought of spending time with him, playing with him, and showing him new places and things. He is a toddler who truly enjoys company around him, and even the littlest task enchants him. However, as many grandparents will attest to the same, I also like to buy him presents, and if they have learning value, all the better. Earlier this year I purchased him a My First LeapPad Toy. It came with one book, and I bought him one extra.

At first, when we got it home and opened it all up, I was afraid that he was too young to use it, but he quickly mastered holding the attached pen and clicking on the hot spots in each book. Because my daughter and her family travel a great deal of time throughout the year for work, and much of that travel is spent in their car, I try to also pick out things that he can use in small areas. Another toy that he loves is his Fisher Price Doodle Pro. It also has an attached pen for drawing, and a small drawer built in to hold the included stamps. With both of these toys being self-contained, they travel well. They also keep him occupied for long lengths of time.

With this upcoming visit, I have decided to purchase him some new books for the My First LeapPad Toy. This way, he will not become bored with just the two books he has, though my daughter said he never seems to tire of them. I think it has something to do with children of his age loving repetition. The more they repeat a task, the more familiar and comfortable they become with it. My daughter said that she would enjoy a new book or two though, as she is tired of hearing the same ones repeatedly, even if he is not!

The Fisher Price Doodle Pro has one disadvantage as far as I can see. I noticed that different ones have different stamps. However, in order to get the different stamps, you have to purchase a completely new board. It would be nice if they packaged separately the different stamps so those of us buying these, could just purchase them as add-ons. As little as he is, he loves the different shapes, and I know he would love to have more of a choice, but I cannot see buying a new board just to provide him with a variety. Not to mention the wasted space in their already tight travel allotment his toys have been given. As the built in drawer is designed just for the included stamps, they could market add-on variety packs in plastic sleeves that snapped on, or were attached with double-sided tape, to their existing boards. I wonder if I wrote the company they would consider such a thing.

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