Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Kim Taylor

May is full of promise, with a hint of summer in the air and enough blue skies to offset April. For your days of rain or shine ahead, here are some amazing toys to occupy your brood, and perhaps even teach them a thing or two.

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All kids love pirate ships, and Playmobil’s is undeniably special. Easy and fun to assemble, it’s sturdy enough to withstand the hardy gale forces of kids at play and the storms of the shower. It moves on wheels, floats, and comes with colorful sails, cabins, 2 cannons, a working crane, a lookout perch, and furniture for the mateys below in the galley. The only thing missing is the fresh smell of salt water! Find this for summer beach fun (or in-room exploration) at www.playmobil.com.

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Kite season is in full swing, and there’s no better source for sky-scraping models than Go Fly A Kite, a part of the Jakks Pacific family. At www.goflyakite.com, you’re certain to find something that speaks to your child, whether it’s the dolphin, sea turtle, UFO spinner, new Sky Diver Jet kite with detachable parachuting guy, Bird of Paradise, Power Flyer, or Red Baron Tri-Plane. From single line kites to stunt kites, this is your source for all that flies. Water guns, distance disks and storm gliders can be found at www.goflyakite.com too.

Kids can craft their own chocolate, gummy candies and gum with the amazing, all-natural Glee Gum Kits. No preservatives, artificial flavors or artificial colors are used in these products, and the results are pretty tasty. The retro packaging lends an aura of old-world dependability, and the chicle used in the Glee Gum helps sustain the rain forest. Buy them at www.gleegum.com.

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Ugly Dolls have captured the hearts of American children for good reason: they’re cuddly, colorful and full of whimsy. With names like UglyDog, Ice-Bat, Ox, Big Toe and Wedgehead, kids will be enthralled. Available at Barney’s New York or at www.uglydolls.com in classic 12″ size, key-ring size, or the giant 6-foot UglyDoll, which is perfect for nurseries

Dunecraft’s Culinary Herb Garden is allows children to grow their own herbs in a terrarium, and since sprouts make an appearance within a week, your city kids will quickly appreciate growing things. Sage, cilantro, basil, parsley and dill can add flavor to your meals, and your children will learn about self-contained eco-systems. Herb decals, gravel, herb stakes and planting mixture help kids feel like gardeners. Visit www.etoys.com.

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There’s a new ball in town. The soft, star-shaped Yackle Ball flies farther than a football, higher than a basketball and is easier to catch than a baseball. Get your kids to yackle, and you’ll help them build hand-eye coordination while enjoying exercise. Order it at www.yackleball.com and try it out yourself.

The Klutz Chicken Socks Tree House Bugs book (which is really a kit) will keep little fingers occupied with making bugs for their treehouse for hours. No glue is necessary, and the kit is comprised of paper cut outs, fold-up furniture, colored pipe cleaners, pom poms, fabric, beads and the all-important treehouse home. Find it at www.Klutz.com.

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Schylling Toys evoke a nostalgic feel and can be handed down from generation to generation. Classic preschool toys include Jack in the Boxes, wood puzzles, and sturdy blocks. Pinball, juggling and bowling sets herald spring, and nothing beats blow soccer with a straw on a table top. Instruments, old fashioned coin banks, bubble toys, die-cast cars, balls, tents and costumes can all be found at www.schylling.com.

If your children have an affinity for puzzles and strategy games, then The Wizard’s Workshop will provide just the challenge they crave. With 8 puzzles than employ metal rings, wooden balls, twisting ropes and blocks, your DaVinci may be holed up in his or her room for quite a while. The toy’s beautiful wooden box is something you’ll want to keep. Find it at www.fgagames.100megs21.com.

Toddlers and the Pre-K set will love the Loaf of Fun Bread, a magnetized “loaf” of bread with individual slices imprinted with numbers and the ABCs. Serve up some ABC toast for breakfast, combining fun with learning! Available at www.brandneworld.com, where you can also find costumes and furniture for children.

Rocket USA’s Uncle Sam Bank will teach your child to count and save money, which is a superb way to bolster math skills. Parents will relive their childhood with these faithful reproductions. Other toys available at www.rocketusa.com include wind ups, tin toys, Bozo bop bags, mega-balls, spinning ballerinas, and much more; it’s truly a distinctive site for whimsical toys.

These toys will bring hours of fun into your home or local park – and parents will love them too, so perhaps you should double up when buying!

Originally published May 2007
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