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This Holiday Season, Look for Toys that Help Kids Learn through Play

(ARA) - By now, the kids on your holiday shopping list probably have lists of their own, put together with help from endless commercials featuring products that walk, talk, light up and more. While the ads may capture kids' imaginations, chances are the actual toys won't interest them for long.

Why? The answer is simple -- these toys don't leave anything to the child's imagination. Simple toys that allow children to decide for themselves how to play with them allow for much more creative play. And for young children, playing is learning.

Play is an important part of learning for children who do not yet read or write. It allows them to learn about new concepts by touching, feeling, listening, talking and smelling. Play is how children discover and make sense of their world.

This whimsical tree house by PlanToys features a trunk made of bent wood and felt leaves. It is sure to spark the imagination and inspire hours of creative play. Accessories include a rope ladder, clothes-line, swing, rocking chair, lamp and pulley.

Early childhood education experts agree that the years from birth to age eight are a critical learning time for children, and children need plenty of opportunities for creative play and creative thinking during this important stage. Parents should pay attention to play, plan for it and encourage it with age-appropriate toys. "Endless possibilities open through a child's imagination and play," explains Robin Lehnert, spokesperson for BRIO Corporation, a toy company known for its commitment to play value, quality and fun.

A recent survey commissioned by Civitas Initiative and Zero To Three, with financial support from BRIO, found that many adults believe that certain activities, such as playing computer programs, do the most to enhance a child's development. In reality, according to the survey, other forms of play offer greater benefits since they tend to give children a better chance to use imagination and think abstractly. For example, when a 10-month-old baby bangs on blocks, she practices motor skills and learns about cause and effect (in addition to having a whole lot of fun).

PlanToys, a line of innovative wooden preschool products distributed worldwide by BRIO, offers many examples of "open-ended" toys that help children engage in creative play. "All of the toys BRIO offers are designed to grow with the child, providing simple pleasures when the child is youngest, and more complex interactions as he or she matures," notes Lehnert.

PlanToys consists of five product lines and over 150 toys designed by teams who understand child development and how toys can stimulate that development at each stage of a child's growth. All products are made of high-quality and preservative-free rubberwood.

For younger children, the Developmental Play line starts with push/pull toys, pretend play and creative blocks. The Enjoyable Play line is not only fun, but also instills an appreciation of rules into children while encouraging them to have social interactions with others. The Imaginative Play line, for children three years old and up, will stimulate a child's imagination and creativity and is a wonderful way for children to discover new worlds.

The Plan City line includes many components: an airport, road system, gas and fire stations and a parking garage. Kids learn about social environments and leader-follower skills. The Miniature Play line allows kids to create their own "home sweet home" with miniature dollhouses and furniture. For example, the award-winning Tree House, a new addition to this group of toys, will delight kids and parents alike. The split-level wooden Tree House stands 34 inches high and will inspire hours of creative play with accessories including a rope ladder, clothesline, swing, rocking chair, lamp and pulley. Adding PlanToys dolls makes this play set even more fun.

"The 'magic' of the toys in our selection is truly realized when placed in the hands of a child," says Lehnert. By understanding the value of play, parents can choose toys that not only provide hours of enjoyment for their kids, but also enhance their learning and development.

PlanToys are available in specialty toy, educational and museum stores, and through select catalogs and Internet sites. For a list of retailers, call BRIO toll-free at (888) 274-6869 or visit the company's Web site at www.briotoy.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content


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