Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday: Smarter Boys, Lasting Toys

This is a special assignment edition of Works For Me Wednesday. We're all tired of toys that break, toys that clutter, and toys that both break, then clutter, then get moved from corner to corner, never making it to the trash can and never quite getting fixed. OR, even worse, toys that are in perfect condition, never get used, and we feel guilty for ever spending the money on them in the first place.

So, without further ado, I give you... (drum roll please? DRUM ROLL??!!!?)

Toys We Have Loved:

Legos - Hands down, an all time favorite. I have to admit, as a mother who never had brothers and is skeptical of small parts that could hurt my feet when stepped on, I was skeptical. But we have built our collection over the years and it has been one of the best investments we have made for our children. (In addition to school morning devotions and Sunday School.) I'm not saying that our children's IQ is directly related to their Lego building capabilities, but Taylor and Jordan are both in GATE (gifted/talented) classes, are excellent problem solvers, and love to read. I can see these qualities shaping up in Brittney, and Ian looks to follow in his older siblings' footsteps, too. I truly do attribute their success in these areas largely to the time they've spent reading lego manuals, putting together intricate sets, disassembling said sets and recreating something else, and working together on all of it. Best of all, Legos reach across the age span. From Taylor (12) to Ian (5), all four kids (Brit included) will sit and construct masterpieces.

Some Lego tips:

*Always keep an eye out for sales. We've scored castles worth $100.00 for $25.00 post-Christmas. Always do a run through at Target, Wal-mart and Toys R Us, especially in the early Spring and Fall. That's when they tend to clear some out by marking them down, to make way for new sets.

*If you find a super awesome deal, buy extra and save them for the inevitable, last minute, "Mom, so-and-so's birthday is tomorrow. What am I gonna give 'em?"

*Keep the Legos in clear plastic storage bins. Great for digging through, yet keeping everything in one place.

*Keep the manuals in a binder in plastic sheets. If they ever want to go back and use the original instructions, they're handy.

*If the kids want to dump them all out and have a marathon building session, lay a blanket down on the floor first. That way you can easily dump them all back in when you're finished.

*If you're lucky like us and have a play room, make a rule that all Legos are confined to that room unless special permission is granted. That way you're risk of stepping on spare parts in the middle of the night, waking everyone with some choice words spoken loudly, and then having to explain to the kids why you just used those choice words when they're not allowed to is greatly decreased.

Mexican Train: We love this game!!! A full session is 12 rounds and takes a while, but the great thing is you can stop it after any round and pick it up again later. It's easy to learn for visiting guests, and since the kids can play right along with adults, they really feel like a part of everything. It helps kids learn to plan ahead and solve problems. And even if they never use any strategy, they still might win! A hands down favorite in our home. Especially at Christmas, when they seem to like having some ongoing activity that we can keep going back to between cookie making and tree decorating.

iTunes giftcards: This one takes up NO space at all, and the kids have a blast going onto iTunes and picking out songs they love! Taylor can put them on his iPod (that he worked very hard for, thankyouverymuch), but the younger kids just like having them on the computer. We'll put on "their" music and we all dance around the house. It seems to make them feel important because their music tastes are valued. At we all get a work out dancing to "Bird, bird, bird. Bird is the word..."

A trampoline: I just had to throw this one in here, because it's the best darn $50.00 we spent. Yes, we bought it used off Craigslist, and *literally!* not a day has gone by since it came to our backyard that it hasn't been used. We've worn it out completely over the past 16 months and now need to find another used one to replace it. It's exercise and entertainment all in one. And, best of all, the kids love it when their Dad gets on with them! So I guess it's exercise, entertainment AND family time all in one.

For more great toy suggestions, check out Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer!
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MomOfDudes said...

I totally agree about the trampoline. Now that Cam is married and Eric is a teen Steve suggested dismantling it and both boys screamed NO!!!

Our other great toy investment was the Fisher Price Castle. Over the years we added a pirate ship and island, that toy was played with by both of the boys for many years and now lovingly preserved for future Millers.

*emmy said...

Oh how fun! I have always wanted to get a trampoline for my family but our yard is to small. I hear it's a great work out too! Happy jumping.

Life with Kaishon said...

Trampolines are awesome, aren't they? I love getting a good deal on toys too! Too bad I can never save things to give at Christmas. I get so excited to see the reaction I give it to them for no reason at all : ).