November 25, 2002 at 3:17 PM CST - Updated June 18 at 8:35 AM
"Ohhh! Barbie!" The first grade girls at Millersville attendance center are enthralled with our first toy. We substitute this dress-up dog in lieu of the impossible-to-find Fur-Real Kitty, and so far so good!
"The LeapPad," Amy Jacquin announces as she continues to pull toys out of bags. "How about this -- Spy Vision Goggles! Harry Potter Lego."
These Millersville first graders anxiously scamper to the toy of their preference. "We're going to have so much fun today!" exclaims one excited little girl. The crowd around tables, and crane their necks to get a better glimpse as they wait their turn.
Toys R Us generously donated all the toys we're testing... so Santa should have no trouble finding them! And these toys are all going to needy children when we're finished. So we thank Toys R Us for their partnership
The LeapPad has been around for a little while. But it's becoming more popular as an educational toy. And you can buy updated books. It seems to work one-on-one, yet is easily used as a "group" game. The $40 LeapPad always has a group gathered around.
"I think this deserves an A!" squeals another little girl, playing with Barbie's fashion puppy. The dog seems to keep the girls interested. And the biggest draw is that you can DRESS it. It's not mechanical... rubber pads on the feet give it the illusion of walking. The only thing this $20 toy requires batteries for, is to TALK to you... and that's not something these girls take advantage of.
At the next table, you see more boys than girls. This $70 Harry Potter Lego set thrills those who've seen the movie. But even if they haven't, it inspires creativity... And, if you're trying to duplicate one of the stages in the book, it requires lots of attention to detail. There are boys at this table who never even ventured to LOOK at the other toys we shared!
"I see a shark!" says a child reading a book with her spy glasses. Spy Vision Goggles are basically yellow sun glasses with night lights. The Manufacturer wants you to FEEL like you're using an infra-red headset.... Yea, THAT'S a stretch. But there's continually a line to take turns reading in the classroom's very shadowy tee-pee. So this $13 pair of "spy" wear could provide some fun... just be prepared to buy two, because we bet they won't want to play in the dark by themselves!
You could argue that any time a child gets to play with a new toy, they like it. At least at first. But we feel these toys have "staying power."
The spy goggles promote active play, and at $13, the price is right. But it's hard to get them fitted, and the plastic isn't extremely sturdy. So this gets an C. Lego is tried and true, and your child can really grow-up with this set, it's that intricate. But Harry Potter is also pricey, at $70. So for that it gets a B. All little girls need a stuffed toy, and this one is as good as the next. The $20 Barbie Fashion Pup gets an A. And LeapPad is fun... I caught myself wanting to turn the pages! But keep in mind each new book adds to the $40 investment. Plus, beware of battery use! The Leap Pad finishes with a B.