Top Toys

Gary and Misti have been in the toy industry for close to 20 years. If you have any questions about which toys might be the best to suit the nature of your child, please email us at:    toycouple@toyjungle.ca

Wholesome new trend for kids of all ages!

Wholesome new trend for kids of all ages!

I have to admit something.... even though I own a toy store, I sometimes don't understand the attraction to some of the 'current trends' that make their way onto the playgrounds at elementary schools. Now, don't get me wrong,  I think Silly Bandz & Shopkins were great for what they did, but unfortunately I think they just encouraged parents to insist on more screen time for their kids so they wouldn't get involved with collecting those crazy things!

Ahhh.... but now we have Kendama!

Here on the North Shore (North Vancouver City & District and West Vancouver) I have witnessed a trend - maybe even a craze sweeping through schools and playgrounds called the KENDAMA. It's a traditional Japanese wooden toy you hold in your hand that has 3 cups, a ball and string and a spike. The idea of the Kendama is to perfect different ways of catching one object with another.

What originally started out as simply catching a ball in one of 3 cups or with the spike, has now incorporated a diverse range of skills including juggling, balancing, yo-yo-ing, spinning, flipping and even dancing! Kids spend time honing their skills on the basics (catching the ball in many different ways) then develop their own unique style using their creativity and imagination.

There are literally hundreds of ways to play and entertain, all the while developing coordination, balancing skills, finesse and patience. There's no wasted time sitting in front of a computer, unless they're looking for ideas and inspiration from the masters, which I encourage you to do as well! It's amazing and thoroughly entertaining what people can do with a Kendama! 

They range from $14.99 up to $79.99 and come in a huge variety of colours. Even though it's not uncommon for kids to have more than one Kendama, the money invested is much better spent on a wholesome activity than a fleeting fad!

Ask the Toy Couple: Crafts for Boys

Dear Toy Couple,

I have a 5 year old boy who loves crafts.  It seems that most of the kits are in “girly’ themes.  Can you recommend any craft kits for boys?

There are lots of wonderful craft kits that are in more “boy” themes for your creative 5 year old.  Creativity for Kids has a simple monster trucks custom shop where you can personalize your trucks with stickers and paints.  There is also something called a black light message board which is a 2 sided dry erase board that can be drawn on but that also comes with glow in the dark stickers.  If he has the dexterity and detail, I also love my childhood favourite Doodleart.  Who cares really if you stay too much in the lines anyway (at least that’s what my mom told me)

(Gary: I left my coffee cup on the table at work and it went through the ‘monster truck custom shop’. It Looks great!)

monstertrucksblbook

Ask the Toy Couple

Question:  My kids are 3 and 5 and I don’t like buying them board games because it always ends with a fight.  I know it is not always the best thing to do, but sometimes it is just easier to let them watch TV in peace

Answer:    Misti:  Yes, we sympathize at the age your kids are now.  They are just learning games and “winning” and it isn’t easy to lose to a sibling at the best of times, especially for the older child.  The solution is to get them a “cooperative game” These are games where your children play together against the game.  They can still master winning and losing, and even master some preschool skills—but they do so together.  What’s even better is that there is a great variety in our favourites by Peaceable Kingdom—but our best seller is Feed the Woozle.

Gary: Cooperative games are fun for dad as well. It has the word ‘cooperate’ in it that really impresses mom when she gets home. BTW. I love the word ‘Woozle’.

Feed the Woozle

Question:  My son doesn’t seem to be interested in toys any more (he is 10)—he only wants to play with his video games.  Any suggestions on a toy that he might like?

Answer:  Misti:  Yes, we all seem to be masters of playing by ourselves these days.  Something that would be fun for your son would be to find a board game that the two of you can play together.  Even though we have a toy store, we found that our family had to discipline ourselves into Family Games night.  We had to move it around and reschedule, but our best memories as a family are when we play board games.

Choosing the right one would be based on your likes—strategy? Logic? Light?  Party? Time to Play? But it is worth figuring it out (and we would certainly be delighted to help)

As for a traditional “toy”, some of our favourites for a 10 year old include great magic kits, cool puzzles, a stomp rocket and even a good old fashioned pogo stick.  Depending on the preferences of your boy, I’m sure we can find something to intrigue him.

Gary:  When I was 10 I liked to build things. I also liked to figure out how things worked. There are different kinds of kits that help one understand how radio’s work, how hydraulics work and even beginning electronics. The first video games (like Pong) were invented by guys dabbling in electrical circuits.  Try the robotic hand by a company called 4M or maybe their Dynamo Torch (generating light without a battery) 4M has really cool stuff. If that fails, maybe try a set of poker chips…..

hand

Travelling with Baby

Mom and Child on Beach

Whether it’s a couple of nights to the in-laws or 2 weeks in Mexico, travelling with baby can bring its share of challenges, but the potential rewards can be well worth it.  We easily found great information on creating a checklist  and some fantastic advice on setting up your space or hotel room, but what are the few toys you can bring to make the biggest difference?

  1. A good play mat.  Certainly it gives you the comfort of knowing your baby is lying on a hygienic space, but moreover it creates familiarity for baby.  We used to take ours everywhere—even to the beach!
  2. A familiar toy.  Nowadays you can rent a good stroller, but having that familiar stroller toy will put baby more at ease with their new surroundings.
  3. A multiuse bath toy.  We like the stacking bath ducks from Skip Hop.  BPA, PVC and Phthale free, they stack and float and direct water – very useful cleaning the sand out of baby’s hair!

Happy travelling!

(Travelling mantra from Dad: Happy baby, happy daily – happy wife, happy life!)

Gary and Misti
The Toy Couple

Tips from the Easter Bunny

Kooky Tooky and the Easter Bunny have been chatting about tips for hosting an unforgettable Easter egg hunt. Here are 5 fun Easter egg hunt ideas Kooky Tooky heard from the Easter bunny:

  1. Hide fun things other than candy.  Having great candy can be one of the highlights of Easter, but what are kids to do with all of that extra energy?  Plastic eggs filled with items like bouncy balls, stretchy slime or wind-ups can go a long way to entertaining kids throughout the busy day.   (Gary’s note: If you hide a gift certificate to your local hardware store you can get Dad involved as well.)
  2. Hide things that go together in multiple eggs for more egg searching fun. Most of the fun is finding the items right?  Imagine all of the plastic egg items dumped into a pile at the end of the hunt.  Several colours of rainbow loom bands or multiple plastic animals can then be played with together for great fun.
  3. Colour coordinate eggs.  Ever worry about younger kids not having equal opportunity or age inappropriate items in eggs?  Assign colours to each child (they can be multiple)  This way one can encourage a more cooperative hunt(Gary’s note: This might be a good time to help the male gender differentiate between the colours blue and green, or maybe learn colours like teal and salmon. It will not, however, teach the art of separating clothes for the washing machine.)
  4. Create clues for a greater treasure.  Other than the family time together, what better treasure is there to find on Easter than the Easter basket?  Write down the location of the basket on a piece of paper and cut it into pieces (like a puzzle).  If you are colour coordinating eggs, make these clues all one colour that anyone can find.  Enjoy yourself while the kids put the puzzle together and find their treasure! (Gary’s note:  Sounds to me like the Tooth Fairy had something to do with this!)
  5. Consider an indoor hunt with flashlights.  With our unpredictable weather, a hunt that takes place at dusk or in a dark basement with flashlights could create a hunt that you will never forget. (Gary’s note: better give dad a ‘heads up’ to make sure the flashlights are working! Gulp!)

  • Schleich animals or “toobz”
  • Great Pretenders hair accessories
  • Mini slinkys
  • Rainbow loom bands
  • Anything that is slimy or that grows!