I saw it on Facebook and it made me laugh out loud. I want to use this in the invitations to our next Dinner Party. I’m sure everyone will know it’s a joke, right?
Now that I think about it, I’m not sure. Could be a touchy subject, I suppose.
I must admit that the humor of this meme quickly faded once I thought about it for awhile. People staring at their phones. It’s becoming the new normal.
And not just for big people. Little people are catching on to this pasttime, too.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against smartphones. I have one myself, although 99% of the time I don’t think about it and have no idea where it is; the other 1% I’m in a panic because I’m just sure I’ve lost it.
The thing about kids and electronic devices with screens is that it becomes an isolating factor. Kids check out, failing to engage emotionally with others or with their environment when they have an electronic device in hand.
Doctors are urging parents to keep smartphones and laptops out of their kids’ bedrooms, and limit the time they text and tweet. An influential pediatricians group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences.
All of which brings me to my 2017 Gift Guide: Toys for Kids for ages birth to 8 years, and beyond (you knew I’d get there sooner or later).
I am excited to tell you that all 16 of the toys in this year’s guide below are non-digital. Not one of them comes with a screen or battery charger. Each of these toys has been developed to stimulate kids’ minds toward science, technology, engineering and or math—S.T.E.M. for short—even those toys that are geared for infants.
BIRTH TO PRESCHOOL
I have identified the first eight toys in this 2017 Gift Guide: Toys for Kids to be the best for little ones from birth to preschool (please assess the age-appropriateness for your particular child as this can vary).
Each of these toys stimulates interaction, prompting the child to engage and solve problems. All have been thoroughly tested and found to be safe. And if it couldn’t get any better, today at least, and as I hit send, each is priced below $20.
1. Drop & Go Dump Truck. Child learns numbers as he or she drops a colorful rock into the top of this cheerful dump truck toy and watches it tumble into the bucket. A great early education toy for toddlers, this truck include colorful buttons that play melodies plus phrases teach tools and colors. Intended for toddlers ages 6 months to 3 years old; 2 AAA batteries are included for demo, use new batteries for regular use.
2. Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center. The spinning center pieces provide for visual tracking and strengthening of fine motor skills. The suction cup attaches to surfaces for frustration-free play.
3. VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker. This beautiful interactive learning baby walker has a removable play panel. An early learning center, it has 5 piano keys that play music and encourage creativity; wheels work on carpeted and hard floors. Features 2 colorful spinning rollers, 3 shape sorters, and 3 light-up buttons that develop motor skills. Pretend telephone handset and mechanical elements enhance role-play fun; 2 AA batteries are included. Over 70 sing-along songs, music, sound effects and fun phrases; meant for babies and toddlers 9 months to 3 years old.
4. Turn and Learn Driver. Your little one will love pretending to drive using the steering wheel toy that causes the cute dog character to move back and forth. Press the 5 colorful buttons on the learning toy and your child will be introduced to different animals and vehicles; great early education toy
The fun baby car toy design encourages imaginative play with a traffic light, a signal lever that triggers fun sounds and music; gear shifter that pushes and pulls to introduce opposites
Baby driving toy Includes 3 play modes so your little toddler driver can learn in animal, driving and music mode. Makes a great gift for a 6-month to 2-year-old boy or girl; operates on 2 AA batteries that are included for demo purposes only, use new batteries for regular use.
5. Dinosaur Toys Set of 4. I just adore these dinosaurs! A great gift for preschool boys or girls. The playset includes four dinosaurs all on wheels. Encourages imaginative play for ages 24 months and older.
6. Lil’ Critters Moosical Beads. Musical baby toy features a variety of fabric textures for baby tactile development; cuddle up with the soft cuddly stuffed animal cow. Music toy has an easy to grasp bead ring; bead ring has light-up buttons, and a spinning square for fine motor skills development. Talking and singing stuffed toy for babies comes with 30+ playful songs, melodies, sounds and phrases; allows kids to have a musical good time. The size of the plush cow toy makes a great crib toy, or even a diaper bag toy for babies. For babies 0 to 24 months. 2 AAA batteries included for demo, use new batteries for regular use.
7. Mega Bloks Trendy, 80 Piece Set. 80 building blocks for hours of play. Blocks are big and easy for little fingers to assemble. Encourages hands-on exploration as children imagine and create. Compatible with all Mega Bloks sets for endless building possibilities. Age 12 mos to 5 years.
8. Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy. This mesmerizing maze of safe, soft, continuous tubes is a perfect baby teething toy. Infant toy promotes clutching and two-handed play; middle cube contains a pleasing rattle sound. Multiple newborn toy award winner, including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Award. Safe, teethable plastic loops are BPA free. Suitable for ages 0-24 months.
AGE 4 AND UP
You may be familiar with Mike Rowe, the host of TV’s “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Got To Do It.” You may also be familiar with his new passion and challenge—to close the skills gap in this country, which is the reason millions of jobs in the U.S. are going unfilled.The skills gap is the chasm between millions of young people who are ready to enter the work force and the skills to need but don’t have to qualify for those jobs.
This fact begs the question: Who will be the electricians, mechanics, welders, plumbers and HVAC experts of tomorrow? Rowe is devoting his life to closing the skills gap by inspiring young people to learn how to do stuff, and how to do it well.
The next eight recommended gifts for kids ages 4 through 8 or older, would surely make Mike Rowe proud! These toys make taking things apart and putting them back together super challenging and superfun.
They make growing a garden magical and spelling words right very fulfilling—especially when you’re only 4 years old! But make no mistake, many of these toys will hit a bullseye with 5-to-8 year olds, and older. It depends on the child! In fact, at least one is rated for ages 6 to 96!
9. Take Apart Toy Tool Truck. This fun and colorful electronic toy truck with tools Includes 1 toy truck, 1 electric toy drill (with 2 detachable tool heads), 3 hand tools, 7 hexagonal/cross screws and nails, 1 truck driver, and 4 removable wheels. This colorful truck comes to life with front headlights, honking sounds, musical tunes (with an on/off button) and has a bump-and-go action to change directions when it hits another object or wall. Real working electric drill with interchangeable bits. So. Much. Fun!
10. LeapFrog Number Lovin’ Oven. The perfect recipe for number learning fun! From counting and cooking to serving and sharing, it’s preschool prep for little chefs—16 fun ingredients included! Easy take-and-go play—everything fits inside! Includes interactive oven, 4 pizza slices, 3 pieces of bread, 2 cupcakes, 1 fried egg, 1 skillet, 1 spatula, 1 baking tray, and 2 Plates. Nourish math learning: cut food into 2, 3 or 4 equal pieces. Delightful singing oven warms up counting, sharing and vocabulary skills; 30+ phrases and songs. Number Lovin’ Oven offers a fun and interactive way to explore early number concepts including recognizing numbers, counting along and sharing. 24 months to 5 years.
11. 3-Letter Words. Learning to spell becomes fun and easy with 3 Letter Words. These colorful three letter puzzle card sets provide children with a great introduction to spelling and will help to expand their vocabulary. They learn to spell by associating the object with the word and correctly assembling the puzzle pieces. The puzzle pieces are self-correcting so only the right spelling goes together! Set includes 20 puzzle sets. Great learning toy! For ages 4 and up.
12. Enchanted Fairy Garden Craft Kit. With a little creative magic, you can grown your very own enchanted fairyland. This open-ended fairy craft kit lets your child embrace his or her creative side by making a unique creation that’s all their own. Contains everything you need, just add water. Everything you need is included – just add water! Kit includes an 11″ diameter flower shaped paintable potting dish, enchanted flower house, gemstones, flowers, butterflies, paint, potting mix and seeds that grow like magic. See your child’s creative side come to life as they paint and decorate their fairy garden. Learn about botany and the life cycle of plants as your child watches their fairy garden grow! This kit includes non-toxic materials. Ages 7 to 97.
13. Sparkle N’ Grow Butterfly Terrarium. Perfect for the budding botanist, an aspiring artist of both! This kit allows you to craft, plant, water and grow your own beautiful butterfly terrarium. Comes with everything you need! Kit includes: plastic mason-style jar, decorative lid, potting mix, organic chia and wheat grass seeds, craft accessories and a plant mister to keep your terrarium watered. Make your terrarium sparkle and shine with butterfly wings, sparkling stickers, feather butterflies, flowers and more! Create your own eco-system and learn about botany and the life cycle of plants. Your habitat will begin to grow in as little as 3-4 days. Ages 6 to 96.
14. Dinosaur Toys Take Apart Toys With Tools. Love this construction, engineering STEM learning and toy building play set for ages 3 – 12 years. The take-a-part set includes 6 dinosaurs, 2 trex dinosaurs, 2 ceratops dinosaurs, and 2 brontosaurus, includes a set of 4 unique tools for assembly. Includes a total of 4 screwdrivers and a pack of 6 assembled dinosaurs, which can be taken apart and reassembled. Sturdy, quality made a perfect gift for all toddlers and young kids
15. Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit. Build over 300 exciting projects including an AM radio, burglar alarm and more. Contains more than 60 parts and requires 4 AA batteries, not included. This toy won The National Parenting Center-Seal of Approval. Comes with clear and concise illustrated Manual, which is also available online. No tools required. Age 8 and up.
16. 101-Piece Educational Construction Engineering Building Blocks. Engineering Blocks are built to develop your child’s science, technology, engineering and math skills. Challenge your kids to build creative designs, trucks, transformers , helicopters, robots and more! Designed to support a child’s creativity as he or she grows. Age 3 through 6+ years .