Monday, November 25, 2013

Pretend Play and Cognitive Development in Children

According to Doris Bergen of Miami University, there is evidence to support the connection between high-quality pretend play and cognitive development in children.  Specifically, there is evidence to suggest that pretend play facilitates perspective taking, abstract thought, social and language skills.  It may also enhance higher level cognition skills. However, more research is needed to specifically link pretend play to specific academic skills.

What is High-Quality Pretend Play?
Bergen's view is that it involves the following elements:

  • Transforming objects symbolically
  • Role-playing
  • Negotiating
  • Social interaction
  • Improvisation
  • Planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Seeking goals
There is research evidence suggesting a connection between pretense and cognitive strategy development, language development and social development.  For Bergen's full article, visit

Melissa and Doug Whittle World School Bus
Folmanis Lion Stage Puppet

How can Adults Encourage and Facilitate Pretend Play in Kids?
Melissa and Doug Grocery Basket with Play Food

  • Allow enough time for this type of play, which is more open-ended and much less structured than play with board games or software games.  Thus, more time is needed for play to be planned, roles to be negotiated, and social interaction to take place.
  • Provide children with toys, such as puppets, play food, or costumes, that encourage improvisation, role-playing and social interaction.
  • Practice being creative and improvising with kids.  Grab a banana or a big spoon and pretend to sing into your "microphone".  See how many different items a bowl (i.e. hat) can be or how many ways a pair of pantyhose can be used (i.e. strainer, belt, hair accessory, arm sling).
  • Embrace the unconventional view or different perspective.  A "hole" in a sock may well be an "opening" for the toe!
  • When emotions are part of the pretend play, help children to name feelings and understand feelings from different perspectives.
For more toys that may facilitate pretend play, visit our website at

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Educational Stocking Stuffers for Kids List By Age

It's the holiday season, and we know you're looking for stocking stuffers that are healthy, educational and that are not candy.  Let's face it, a little bit of candy is fine - a whole stocking of it is too much for little stomachs.  So, we have some great suggestions for small learning toys and educational games for kids that fit in a stocking by age to make your shopping easy and convenient.  They are easy on the budget, too!

Babies and toddlers will enjoy brightly colored toy cars and animals that make sounds when squeezed like this cute little lamb.  These gifts are cute, affordable, and can be played with in different ways as babies mature into toddlers - extending the life and value of these toys.

Wooden Toy Cars for Babies and Toddlers
Wooden Stacking Cars
Babies Toys (0 to 12 months old)
Gund Baaba Lamb

Sassy Baby Pop and Push Car

Melissa and Doug Penguin Stacker
Sassy Baby Bathtime Pals

For young toddlers, choose small gifts that focus on fine motor skills or bathtime play.  These Sassy Baby bathtime pals squirt out a stream of water when squeezed to make baths fun!

Preschool Stocking Stuffers
Folkmanis Mini Chipmunk Finger Puppet
Spot it Jr! Animals by Blue Orange Games

For preschool, kindergarten, and first grade children, look for stocking stuffers that help them develop language and social skills through pretend play, storytelling, and playing games.

Small Gifts for 5 and 6 Year Olds
Tell Tale Storytelling Educational Game

Magnetic Poetry Word Magnets

Give school age children stocking stuffer gifts that appeal to their curiosity, yet foster an interest in science, or give them an opportunity to practice skills they learn in school at home with fun educational games for kids.

Insta-Snow 100 gram Jar

Speedeebee Educational Game

For more Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids, visit  

Top Image courtesy of freedigitalart/

Friday, September 27, 2013

Preschool Activity for Kids - The Block Party

At approximately three years old, children begin to play and interact with other children and it can be more challenging to come up with new preschool activities to keep them occupied and learning. So, we propose "The Block Party Playdate".

Edushape Soft Textured Blocks
We love building blocks and other construction toys because they are "open-ended", which means that children play differently with blocks each time and there is no limit to their creativity and imagination. Block sets also come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures so mixing them together can be alot of fun, but not too difficult to separate back into the respective sets when it's time for cleaning up. Block play also allows kids to practice fine motor skills while having fun.  Even better, almost every kid has them, so there's no need to buy anything new for this engaging playdate idea that makes existing toys seem exciting again.  Our recipe for success is easy and fun.

Zoob Movable Construction Set

Kid's Block Party Playdate Ingredients:

4-6 children 3 to 4 years old
At least three different types of building blocks (try having each child bring a set of blocks to share)
Consider adding people figures, animals and other accessories for even more imaginative play
Lots of room for kids to spread out and build whatever they imagine
Healthy snacks for kids and adults
Plenty of time

Preschool Acitvity Playdate Tips:

  • Ask each mother to explain to their child ahead of "The Block Party" that they will be bringing their blocks to share with other children and they will get to play with other kids' blocks as well.
  • Be sure to talk about concepts such as sharing and what to do if they get frustrated rather than hitting, biting, knocking others' blocks down, etc. prior to getting together as well as when children first arrive at the party.
  • Melissa & Doug Farm Blocks
  • Designate an adult to help kids resolve conflicts that arise constructively.  When doing so, tell kids what to do; not just what not to do so they begin learning appropriate social skills.
  • Choose a good time for this get together so children are well-rested and ready to play and socialize. They also need plenty of time to play and be creative, so plan enough time that they are not rushed.
  • When the kids take time to have a snack, encourage language, social skills and an interest in them by asking them questions about what they are building.  Help them practice good table manners.
  • Plan for the adults.  Have cards, desert, maybe great coffee, whatever it takes to settle in and grab some social adult time while the kids are having fun.

ABC Nesting & Stacking Blocks

To purchase building blocks and block sets for toddlers and preschool kids, visit

Thursday, September 5, 2013

JumpStart Toys 10 Reasons to Love The Orb Factory’s Art and Craft Kits for Kids

Orb Factory Robots Mosaic Patterns
JumpStart Toys has added The Orb Factory’s Sticky Mosaics art and craft kits for kids to its product line!  We know customers are starting to think about holiday gift ideas for kids that focus on high quality, moderately priced and unique gifts for boys and girls, so we've researched arts and crafts for kids to find a brand that meets our quality standards, has several different themes, and provides a bonding opportunity for parents or grandparents.  Here are our top 10 reasons to love Orb Factory’s mosaic patterns:

Builds academic skills – These crafts for kids build math skills by reinforcing children’s knowledge of numbers, colors, and patterns. Just match the colors to the numbers for a beautiful mosaic!
Magical Flying Horses Art Kit for Kids

Enhances hand-eye coordination – Eye-hand coordination is one of the fine motor skills that's important for academic and life success.  Children build and enhance their abilities while having fun creating mosaic patterns!

Virtually no setup & cleanup time – No special knowledge or preparation is needed.  All children need is a clean surface on which to work on their mosaics. 

Reasonably priced – Sticky Mosaics are moderately priced and approximately four designs come in each box, which makes them very affordable. 
Notebook & Sparkling Pen

Theme variety – Kids have different interests, so we carry mosaic patterns for kids in a variety of themes - magical flying horses, pirates, robots, and more!

Makes a memory to keep – Kids love to give their creations to people they love.  These art and craft kits for kids build self-confidence and provide loved ones with a keepsake forever!

Builds conversational and emotional Skills – Start a conversation about the mosaic patterns to demonstrate your interest in the child.  It'll be enjoyable and can increase confidence and emotional security.  

Imaginista Duct Tape Jewelry
One-of-a-kind craft kits for kids make great gifts – The Orb Factory’s Sticky Mosaics funky notes and sparkling penduct tape jewelry, and curiosity kits pulsar powerballs also make wonderful Christmas gifts or birthday presents for kids because they are not easily found in large chain stores.  Thus, the gift is likely to stand out among other presents.  Duct tape craft kits and the pulsar powerballs are very popular with school-age kids and tweens!

Easy to start and stop – The multiple smaller projects included in each kid’s art and craft kit make it easy for them to begin and end work one quickly and easily without the hassle of a long setup or cleanup process.

Orb Factory's Curiosity Kits Pulsar Powerballs
Lightweight to mail/Simple to buy – The Sticky Mosaics box gives it the appearance of a big gift, yet these mosaics for kids are light and inexpensive to mail.  Finding mosaic patterns for kids is fast and easy at JumpStart Toys.  Items are shipped within 24 hours, so that means a great gift for kids is just a few clicks away!

To view available Orb Factory Sticky Mosaic designs, visit today!  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Preschool Activities to Prepare Children for Kindergarten

In the blink of an eye, your baby has grown up and will soon be starting Kindergarten!  So what can you do to get them ready for the big day?  Here are five free preschool activity ideas:

Familiarize Kids with the School -  Help preschool children recognize their new school by walking by it, pointing to it as you slowly drive by, and playing on its playground.  The more familiar a child is with the school building and playground before school begins, the better. Do it repeatedly, but keep it from being boring by going with a friend or taking a favorite plush toy!

Talk about a Typical School Day – Kids usually feel less anxiety, perform better, and have a more enjoyable experience when we know what to expect.  Going to Kindergarten is a big step, so the more preschool children understand school day schedule the better prepared they will be to embrace this new experience.  Social stories are excellent for this situation!  If it’s a full day Kindergarten with nap time, it’s a good idea to begin synchronizing your child’s lunch and nap time with the approximate time these activities are expected to take place at school so there is a reduced schedule adjustment.  Consider a new cuddle toy to keep your child company during nap time.

Explain Who’s in Charge – A school is filled with many teachers and administrators and it can be confusing for kids to know who is in charge.  If pictures are available, create a poster of who might be responsible for your child throughout the school day.  If photos or images are not available, consider giving your child a rule that adults at the school are in charge to help simplify the task of following instructions even if they do not recognize the adult.

Work on Life Skills –If your child does not have good fine motor, conversation, or social skills, work hard on these skills so your child is developmentally ready for kindergarten.  Your preschooler can be highly intelligent, yet be deficient in core life skills that could make kindergarten a frustrating and disappointing
experience.  Practice buttoning, zipping, tying shoes, and snapping so your child can be self-sufficient and confident during with school day.  Consult with experts if necessary, and practice key social skills and fine motor skills such as expressing needs, taking turns and sharing, listening and following instructions in addition to coloring, cutting and writing.  These are all foundational skills for academic and life success!

Discuss Bus Safety – Be certain preschool kids taking a bus understand where they get on and get off and meet the bus driver.  Help them learn how to identify which bus is theirs and what to do if they get on the wrong bus or miss the bus.  Encourage them to sit near children their own age and towards the front of the bus to reduce the risk of bullying from older kids.  If possible, pair them with an older child they know and trust until they can do it on their own.

Learn About Personal Safety  Perhaps for the first time, a preschool child will be interacting with adults and children outside of your vision and control.  Thus, it’s really important that they learn about their personal safety and what to do if they do not feel safe.  Discuss their private body parts and ensure they know these are off limits to anyone.  Help them meet the school principal and think of the principal as a “safe” or “go to person” if they need help at school.  If they walk home, find a buddy for them to meet after school for the 
walk home or establish a consistent meeting place where you will meet them.

To shop for educational games for kids and learning toys that support child development and academic success, visit our website at

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Global Allure and Educational Benefits of Wooden Toys

Wooden Toys from Finland
Wooden toys have been popular in the U.S. for generations, so I was interested to see that wood toys are also popular in other parts of the world also.  On a recent trip to Dublin, Ireland, I saw toys made of wood in the shop windows of children’s stores.  The German firm, Haba Toys, is recognized throughout the world for their handcrafted wooden toys.  And, in Helsinki, Finland, I took these photos of children's toys at Stockman's Department Store.

Wood Toys from Finland
So what makes these kid's toys so desirable?  The attributes are numerous and include:

Durability – Generation after generation of children can play with wood toys as they stand the test of time and rigorous play.

Melissa and Doug Wood Puzzle
Safety – Plastic toys have been found to include toxic chemicals such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Phthalates, or Bisphenol A (BPA). These toys can also break into small pieces that can be potentially harmful. Children's toys made of thick wood may be less likely to break into small pieces - but watch for toys with thin pieces of wood.  In addition, some plastic kid's toys have sharper edges.  

Motor Skill Development – Most wooden toys, including wood puzzles, require the use of fine motor skills.  Thus, playing with these toys can enhance dexterity and eye-hand coordination.  

Self-Correcting Wooden Puzzle for Preschoolers

Educational BenefitsBuilding blocks and other wood toys can help children develop spatial concepts as well as concepts such as size, shape and color.  Academic skills, problem-solving and puzzle skills may also be practiced through play.

Creative Toys and Imagination – Wood blocks are often excellent choices for stimulating creativity and imagination as they are open-ended and unstructured, allowing children freedom to experiment and explore. 

While these are all reasons for the global appeal of wooden toys, the biggest is likely that they are fun for children and kids develop fond memories playing with them.  Then, as adults, these happy childhood memories return as they choose birthday presents or holiday gifts for their children or watch grandchildren play with wood toys that have been in the family for generations.  

To view wooden toys available on our website, visit  Wood puzzles can be found at

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Select a Great Baby Toy

Sassy Loopy Ball
Sooner or later, it happens to you.  You’re invited to a baby shower.  Someone you know has a baby and you want to send a baby gift.  Or, you have your own baby or grandchild!  While the list of baby supplies is long and the potential baby shower gifts are numerous, we know you want the right baby toy.  What is the right baby toy?  There is no single answer to this question, but JumpStart(TM) Toys has these helpful tips for selecting a great terrific children’s toy:

Consider Versatile Baby Toys – Review toys that have multiple ways the toy can be played, can grow with the baby, or can be affixed to cribs, strollers, and car seats.  Sassy Baby has some excellent choices.

Contemplate Award-winningToys – Kid's Toys that have been reviewed and recognized with awards are a good way to narrow down the huge list of potential baby gifts.  Often, award-winning toys have been reviewed by parents or toy industry professionals and are developmental baby toys that provide good value for the money.  You can’t go wrong with an award-winning children’s toy.

Gund Crawl with Me Turtle
Shop for Multi-Sensory Toys – Toys that appeal to the senses are popular baby shower gifts, and if chosen wisely, can promote development.  Look for infant toys with more than one texture, that talk or make sounds, or contain bright and contrasting colors for sensory and vision development as well as holding baby’s interest.   

Select Cuddle Toys – Many best-selling baby toys are snuggle toys, and it’s great for children to have a special toy, pillow or blanket to take along with them everywhere.  Soft and cuddly toys may also provide a sense of security and promote emotional well-being in addition to being adorable presents!

Gund Philbin Bear
Go for the StuffedAnimals – Children are fascinated by animals, and you can’t go wrong with a wonderful stuffed teddy bear or other infant animal plush toy.  Stuffed animals are common presents, though, so look for one that is either unusual, has developmental benefits or is so cute that you just can’t resist it!

Regardless of the infant toy you choose, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Make sure the toy does not have small parts, ribbons, buttons or anything that can come off as babies suck, pull and drag it with them.  Check for choking hazard warnings.
  • Be certain to remove all packaging, including plastic anti-theft fasteners or other packing items with which the child could be hurt.
  • Check packaging to ensure the present selected is age and developmentally appropriate.
To browse our kids learning toys, visit

Monday, May 27, 2013

JumpStart Toys(TM) Teacher's Learning Toy Pick of the Month

Joanne Garross - Retired Elementary
School Teacher & Gifted Coordinator
For this JumpStart Toys(TM) blog we interviewed retired elementary school teacher and gifted program coordinator, Joanne Garross, and asked her to choose a kids educational toy from our inventory.  The hands down learning toy favorite - the Melissa and Doug Lock and Latches Board!  Here are Mrs. Garross' answers to our questions about this terrific educational and developmental kids toy.

Q:  Why did you choose the Lock and Latches Board by Melissa and Doug as your "Teacher's Pick of the Month"?

A:  This toy has multi-dimensional learning aspects to it.  As children develop, the activities associated with this toy can increase and become more complex - extending the learning value of it over time.

Lock and Latches Board Kids Educational Toy
Melissa & Doug Lock and Latches Board
Q:  What are some of the educational benefits of this toy?
A:  It helps with the mental processing of how to solve a problem.  It also enhances:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Finger dexterity, especially for kids with lax thumb muscles or weak hand strength
  • Left to right sequencing activities involving numbers and colors
  • Pattern, shape and animal identification
  • Line recognition (perpendicular, horizontal, parallel, vertical)
  • Math skills (counting, addition and subtraction, could create math story problems using this board)
  • Life skills for opening different types of locks and latches
Q:  Can the Lock and Latches board enhance language skills?
A:  Yes, an adult can help children build language and vocabulary in addition to using their imagination skills to create stories about what is behind the locks and latches, how they got there and how they were rescued.  Creative story-telling skills are important for kids.  Size concepts, such as "biggest" and "smallest" can be taught using the size of the windows and spacial relationships, such as "top", "bottom", "side by side" and "next to", can also be taught.

Q:  Are there additional reasons why parents, grandparents or teachers should purchase this toy?
A:  It's a good interactive toy for adults and children.  I really like the inclusion of parent activities on the back for easy reference.  It's also made of sturdy wood and all in one piece, making cleanup a breeze and making it a good travel toy for the car.  I also like that it has rounded edges instead of sharp edges at the corners.  I wish I were still in my classroom to use it.

JumpStart Toys(TM) Note:  Additional children's learning toys that enhance cognitivefine motor, and life skills can be found by shopping by skill on our website,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Kids and Science

Science and math - the keys to our future.  We know it, but many parents find these subjects intimidating, particularly science.  So, how do busy parents help kids with science fair projects or just promote an interest in science without having to become a science expert themselves?  We have these tips:

Let Children Explore Their World - Young children, in particular, explore their world using their senses.  Provided it's safe, let the touch, smell, taste and see the world around them.  If they pick apart a flower, let them so they can see what the inside of a flower looks like.  If they spot an ant pile, watch it with them and explain how the ants all work together to live.  Too often, we stop children from exploring.  Let them go!

Explore Science on Vacation - Many kids love nature and there are many ways to discuss science and nature together.  Explore a beach at high and low tide and discuss what causes the tides.  Look at the moon and talk about how the shape of the moon changes with the seasons.  Watch the ocean waves crash against the rocks and discuss erosion through wind and water.

Science Kits with Multiple Experiments - My favorites are the award-winning science kits by Steve Spangler.  These science kits include multiple science experiments in one kit and come with instructions.  The experiments range from simple to more complex.  These are perfect for parents and kids getting ready for science fair projects!  These kids science kits are also great for helping kids learn cause and effect, how to predict outcomes, form hypothesis, and practice communicating what they've learned.  See our website, for these science kits.  For one big bag of science, try the Big Bag of Science kit.  Need snow in the desert or Southwest?  Try Insta-Snow, which makes snow by just adding water.  Now that's simple chemistry!

Look for Free Science Experiments on the Internet - The Internet is a great resource for science ideas and experiments.  The National Science Teachers Association website has some great information as well as a list of awesome websites with age ranges so you can quickly and easily find sites with information and experiments that are age appropriate for your child.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Swimming, Development and Academic Excellence

Summer is coming, and many parents begin to look for summer activities for their children.  Swim lessons are one of the most popular options.  Swim lessons are valuable in general, but is there more value in swim lessons for young children than one might initially realize? 

According to a study by Griffith University's Institute for Educational Research, there is definitely a developmental bonus for kids who take swimming lessons early in their development, regardless of socio-economic background and gender.  The study's findings included:

  • Kids who learned to swim early tended to reach physical milestones earlier than non-swimmers
  • Significant differences were found in visual-motor development
  • Academic advantages were found in mathematics, reading and numerical literacy
  • Children who began swimming early also seemed to express themselves better than non-swimmers
The Griffith University study results are not unique.  According to the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential, swimming has these developmental benefits:

  • Swimming improves speech
  • Reduces stress
  • Increases blood flow to the brain
  • Enhances large or gross motor skills
  • Increases coordination

This blog post is brought to you by JumpStart Toys, a woman-owned, internet educational toy business focused on learning toys and games that may enhance child development and academic performance.

*Sources:   redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
and Super Swimmers Foundation

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Connection Between Crawling, Learning, and Toys

It seems that there is an increasing push for children to interact with electronics or toys that resemble electronics or have electronic components and less emphasis is put on physical activity and understanding the important connection that exists between physical developmental milestones and learning.  While much is known, much is also unknown about how the achievement of developmental milestones, such as crawling, impacts higher learning skills.
According to Heather Haring, OTR/L, benefits of crawling include stimulating cognitive development, hand-eye coordination, cross lateral movement, and binocular vision.    In a nutshell, when a baby learns to crawl, the baby develops many skills needed for higher learning – reading and copying from a blackboard, communication skills, comprehension, memory, hand-eye coordination for writing and other tasks, and the trunk strength to sit upright while learning.
How long does a baby need to crawl?  She suggests six months.  How do parents and grandparents encourage crawling and learning and how does this relate to toys?  We have these suggestions:
·         Be sure babies spend adequate time on their tummies to strengthen their upper bodies in preparation for crawling.  Introduce brightly colored toys to attract their attention and stimulate their desire to reach or move toward the toy like the melody snail.
·         Encourage babies to reach and scoot toward a brightly colored toy, such as our Sassy crib and floor mirror or our Edushape Hug-A-Bug cushion with brightly colored bugs that make noise and vibrate.
·         Purchase toys that encourage children to crawl, such as our fort or tunnel.
·         If your child is already past the crawling stage, consider toys and games that are entertaining and foster the development of memory hand-eye coordination, use of the upper and lower body independently, or that require coordination of both hands or both hands and feet to stimulate different parts of the brain.  View our toys in the fine motor skill and cognitive skill categories.
·         For older children, encourage physical activities that build upper body strength and hand strength, such as swinging on monkey bars or lifting small weights (be sure the weight is appropriate and the lifting is done correctly).
Suggested learning toys and educational games from our website,, include:

We invite you to share our blog with friends and families with babies and young children.  View Heather Haring’s full article about the importance of crawling and its connection to learning at 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2013 Toy Fair Trends

This week was a big week for children's toys at the annual Toy Fair held in New York where manufacturers from around the world showcased their toys and games.  Here are some 2013 toy trends we've identified to give you a jumpstart on researching and shopping for them:

Tech is Big - Everywhere we looked, manufacturers had found ways to incorporate technology into both new and traditional toys and games and/or link toys and games to iPads, smartphones, etc.  No way around it, we live in a world of technology that's reaching even our smallest kids' toys.

Duct Tape is all the Rage - Manufacturers like Creativity for Kids, Melissa and Doug, and Alex Toys have created all sorts of kits where kids use duct tape to make braceletes, totes, wallets, and anything else they can imagine.  For an example, see our Duct Tape Tote.

PlaSmart's Perplexus(TM) Epic - This award-winning, fixed-track, 3-Dimensional marble maze game was a best seller last year, and we predict it will be again this year.  It won the 2013 Game of the Year award by the Toy Industry Association and was also awarded the Parent Tested Parent Approved Media Seal of Approval.

Educational Toys are Hot - Educational toys LeapPad2(TM), Doc McStuffins "Time For Your Check-Up" Doll, and LEGO(R) Friends all won awards at the Toy Fair.  For value-minded parents and parents focused on development and academic preparation, these toys will continue to be popular.

Say Good-bye to traditionally defined Boys and Girls Toys - This year's toy fair saw building blocks in pink and packaging with little girls and baking sets with photos of boys, reflecting society's recognition of equality and the need for core educational and developmental skills for boys and girls.

Classic Toys Making a Comeback - As parents try to recover their lost youth and fond memories, classic toys are making a comeback.  Manufacturer's embraced tried and true toys again this year, so you'll see them on the shelves frequently.

Role-Play and Creative Toys - Toys that are open-ended and allow kids to role play real life or pretend they are making food, designing new fashions or performing are likely to be popular this year.

Building Toys See High Growth - Building toys saw significant growth in 2012 and that trend seems likely to continue in 2013.  These toys go beyond blocks and include licensed figures, new colors (like pink) and new sets that appeal to girls as well as boys.

Action Figures, Zombies, and Superheros - Leveraging a number of popular and recent movie releases and TV series related to superheros and zombies, action figures based on these licenses will be found in large numbers this year.

Watch for the Collectibles - These toys with their low price points and associated online games or TV shows are sure to attract children who like to build collections of toys.  These will be popular again this year.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Kids Under $10

This Valentine's Day, give your child a gift that fosters development, prepares them academically or promotes a healthy lifestyle instead of candy and sweets loaded with empty calories and sugar.  Here is a list of 10 kids toys that make great Valentine's Day gifts and are affordable.  Our top picks include:

For additional educational and developmental toy Valentine's Day gift ideas, visit