38 Gifts Your Kids Will Love - Family Times is an award-winning magazine with staff-written news, feature stories and artwork that inform and inspire Central New York parents and their children. Top Toys, Games, DVDs and Story CDs for All AgesJump-start your holiday shopping with these winners from the 2009 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) competition.
These make your own animal craft kits for children (or adults) make the perfect gift for anyone interested in learning to sew.
You can choose from eight different make your own animal craft kit designs - robin, kitten, rabbit, chick, bluebird, lion, piglet, or sparrow, or why not buy them all?! It comes beautifully packaged in the signature Clara style to make the perfect stocking filler.
Everything you need to make your gorgeous animal is wrapped in tissue paper and beautifully packaged in a 100% recycled box. Each kit includes: Luxurious wool felt, cotton on tiny wooden spools, stuffing, a needle, pattern, and full instructions. My daughter came home from her first friend birthday party with a puppy she'd adopted (thankfully not real) and a decorated dog house carrier to keep him in. Make two house shaped pieces for the front and back by cutting a triangle from the top corners of each.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams: A stuffed toy rabbit learns about the power of love in this classic tale. With 19 years of experience selecting the top children’s products, NAPPA’s team of expert judges—with help from parent and child testers—present you with their top picks, setting the gold standard in children’s learning and entertainment. Please note that due to the handmade nature of the craft kits contents may vary slightly from the photographs. I thought it was a really nice touch that along with the product the seller had included a handwritten note to say thank you and some gift tags.
I don't have a trick for making this easy but I punched the holes in one piece and marked it on the second piece before punching it so the holes lined up. This year’s winners reflect an evolution from traditional playthings to impressive, exciting tools for broadening knowledge, honing high-tech skills, and experiencing both challenge and delight. Assemble one for each guest to decorate and they also make a great DIY party favor and craft activity for a puppy or kitty themed party.
Children and adults can crawl through this mesh-sided play tunnel, decorated with photos of real jungle animals and cartoon counterparts. Bold buggy eyes and curled antennae capture baby’s attention, while the Flutterby’s water-filled wings soothe teething discomfort.
It comes with four cushy, colorful shapes that can be stacked, tossed or attached to baby’s arms and legs to increase interaction, exploration and discovery. Cuddly rag dolls come with a key-code to access online fun and games that follow school standards. Simple designs and faceless characters put imagination back into play with these two charming adventure playsets. Both prehistoric and aquatic sets are constructed from Sprigwood™—an eco-friendly material composed of recycled plastics and reclaimed sawdust.
Budding photographers can take up to 2,000 pictures and 10 minutes of video, then embellish them with stamps, frames, distortion effects, voice messages and animation. Adorn these three chenille-soft socks with self-sticking felt shapes, wiggly eyes and fuzzy fur. Fun accessories and animal body parts, such as ears and snouts, adhere extraordinarily well during the puppet show that’s sure to follow!
These step-on molded plastic stone shapes have non-skid patterns that add texture and grip.


Stones can be placed individually or stacked, so that stepping from one to the next is even more challenging.“It’s fun to pretend there are sharks and alligators and yucky seaweed in the river and we have to jump across without falling in and getting eaten.
The 2-inch LCD screen is crystal clear and the video is a high-resolution stunner that can be easily uploaded to Facebook or YouTube.TOP PICK! Like the familiar “Big Wheel” bike, the Rip Rider sits low and has a back-support seat, handle bars and pedals.
But every ride brings roller-coaster excitement as the Rider’s highly responsive casters help kids zip, swirl and make 360-degree turns!
Every child who rode it wanted it, and every adult who watched needed to know where to get it and wished they were small enough to take a turn! The unit gives verbal directions and identifies players by scanning their colored wristbands. Kids create customized cars by choosing a body style and then picking out wheels, rims, spoilers, running boards and sound chips to trick out their ride.
This new-generation skateboard gives a faster-paced, smoother ride on four in-line casters.
The unique dual platform is more responsive to movement and constantly tests the rider’s agility.“This is the coolest; it turns really easily! Board games bring friends and loved ones face-to-face better than TV, movies and video games do—and the price is right, even in tough times. Put game night on the schedule, zap some popcorn and play, because games make you learn and laugh.
Practice counting by moving various colored rainbow, sun, bluebird, squirrel and pot-of-gold magnet pieces on the magnetic board (included) or even the kitchen fridge. This tricky twist on the traditional tic-tac-toe game uses funny playing pieces that look like actual ticks (bugs), tacks (pushpins) and toes (toes)! Your play pieces, depending on their sizes, can be gobbled up by your opponent’s play piece—or you can gobble his! In this clever update to standard memory games, cards are laid in a circular pattern and dictate the direction in which Sherlock moves.
The Sherlock card itself indicates what you need to remember, which makes deduction “Elementary!”“I never played cards this way before. This game combines abstract strategy with a blissfully simple goal: Get four hexagonal tiles in a row on the honeycomb-like game board. In this dot-to-dot drawing game, the first roll of the die tells how many dots to draw; the second tells what kind of line to use to connect the dots. This hilarious game is played like the classic party game of “telephone,” in which misinterpretation down the line elicits laughs. Player 2 looks at the drawing, writes “soccer ball” and shows his word card to the next person. Quelf gives the idea of “random” new meaning with its combination of stunts, quiz questions, show-offs, custom rules and ridiculous topics. Despite the many titles we review each year, I’ve discovered a couple of new ones that will definitely be joining my personal collection. Adorable Olivia, of the popular children’s books, moves between fantasy and reality with contagious ease, imagining herself as a superhero, pop star or mommy. Perfect programming for toddlers, preschoolers and their mommies and grandmas.“What a fun way to introduce kids to book-based videos. I would share this with my grandkids.” —Adult tester and grandparent BEST BANG for the BUCK So Smart! Created by early childhood specialists, this video collection helps develop early language skills.


Edward, Iggy, Dee Dee and Larry introduce simple words about your home, your closet, the outdoors, pets and more, and then build simple sentences and stories around the words.“Absolutely one of the best educational series for toddlers.”—NAPPA judge“Love it!
Readers, such as John Lithgow, Susan Sarandon and others highlight some of the world’s greatest poems, from “The Owl and the Pussycat” to “The Wheelbarrow.”“I love this DVD! It reminded me of poetry I knew from my childhood, and now I can share the poems with my own children.”—Adult tester“I love this ‘cause it tells you what poetry’s about after they say one of the poems. This child-interactive video is on target with key preschool concepts, such as learning about colors, tying your shoes and facial expressions. This DVD will get eyes popping and toes tapping with bright, clear images of live turtles and tortoises and fun, bouncy songs. Your kids will get to brainstorm ideas and questions about the animals, including how to throw them a surprise party.“A great DVD to watch with your child. User-friendly DVD lets you choose an aspect of the rain forest to learn about through photos and videos. Children will love the fun animals, and parents will appreciate the ecological information and visual appeal. Beautiful underwater photography will captivate kids as they delight in solving riddles about animals, currents, tides, weather, and how moving water connects them all.“We laughed, we hummed along and, most importantly, we tried to figure out the riddle. A movie that made us think and discuss; it was fun!” —Adult tester and motherBEST BANG for the BUCK How’d They Build That…? The excitement of watching a fire engine, school bus or garbage truck being built and then following it out into a work setting cannot be duplicated. When Chrissa (Sammi Hanratty) moves to a new school, a group of female bullies torment her in class, on the bus, online and at the swim club. Realistically captures bullying, providing a conversation starter for parents about a subject that begs for attention.“We loved seeing Sammi Hanratty and Adair Tishler in this film!
Pop one of these winning storytelling recordings into your CD player and note the calm that settles over everyone (even in rush-hour traffic). The second installment in this wild-and-crazy series about mystery-solving kids on a worldwide hunt for clues teaches your children about the life and times of Mozart in an adventurous way. The story also moves online, where players collect clue cards and practice multimedia skills. A 15-year-old alien hunter must save the world from destruction by a super-villain in this fantasy-meets-cyberpunk story.
Kids get hooked on the short chapters, pop-culture references, current slang and snappy comebacks; they’ll be back for more in the series.
Families will love this cornucopia of African stories, introduced by Desmond Tutu and read by celebrities.
As the toy specialist and manager of business development for the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit focusing on accessible play for children of all abilities, she promotes the development and evaluation of high-quality toys.
NAPPA’s judge for board and card games, Peggy Brown, has worked for many of the world’s biggest toy companies as an inventor, designer, writer, creative director and consultant. She is a state liaison for the National Storytelling Network and has presented at national and regional conferences. She writes about storytelling resources and performs for audiences ranging from preschoolers to adults.




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