We all know that kids love to play with cardboard boxes, and sometimes the simplest toys are the best (there's a reason that rag dolls have survived from ancient times until today), but I for one am glad we're living in the 21st century, able to take advantage of all the technological advancements of our times and apply it to everything from the way we travel to the way we learn to the way we play. And that includes children's toys! I'm not talking about annoying toys that do nothing but flash and beep, I'm talking about electronic toys that use technology to really enhance a child's play experience, and in many cases, enhance their learning experiences as well. No doubt your child will be discovering lots of battery-operated toys under the tree next month -- let's hope his stash includes at least one of these:
Leapfrog's LeapPad has got to be the hottest electronic holiday toy of 2011. It's a great learning tablet for kids with rich graphics, touchscreen technology, lots of learning apps, a camera, a video, and so much more. Buy this, and your child might actually leave your tablet alone! Be sure to check out my LeapPad post for a more detailed review (and a giveaway for a LeapPad!)
Leapfrog Peek-a-Shoe Octopus
Toddlers can drop balls into the Peek-a-Shoe Octopus and guess which shoe the ball has landed under. As they lift each colored and numbered shoe, the octopus actually tells them which color or number shoe they are lifting! I'll be doing a more detailed review of this delightful toy (and giving one away) very soon, so keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned!
Cookie Monster's MP3 Player
When they were toddlers, my kids absolutely loved their electronic Elmo cellphone. But I doubt if any baby would recognize that clamshell phone design today -- so until toy makers can come up with a play touchscreen phone for babies, parents will have to let their 1-year-olds play on their iPods or MP3 players-- or give them Cookie Monster's MP3 Player. So cute!
Tonka Chuck & Friends Flip the Bounce Back Vehicle
A few years ago we reviewed this toy's predecessor, the Tonka Bounce Back Racer, so I can vouch for its entertainment value. The boys absolutely loved being able to race this car and flip it over! Just like the Bounce Back Racer, Flip the Bounce Back Vehicle is chunky and sturdy and able to withstand anything your little boys can dish out.
Nerf N-Strike Barricade RV10
We reviewed the Nerf N-Strike Barricade RV10 over the summer, and my boys love the way this Nerf blaster can shoot a continuous stream of darts with a single pull of the trigger. If you're uncomfortable with the bullet shape of the darts, try the Vortex Nitron Blaster, from Nerf's new Vortex line, which uses foam disks (much like the clay pigeons).
Mechatars are so much more than remote-controlled robots! It's an interactive toy that you can connect to your computer to download missions from Mechatar.com, so now you're not just making your robot go round and round, you're playing treasure hunt, with the Mechatar telling how how "hot" or "cold" you are from finding your target. You can play games online at Mechatar.com, and playing games earns you credits that you can use to download more complex missions to your Mechatar. This toy is so cool, and so much fun.
My Little Pony Pinkie Pie's RC Car
Who says boys have to have all the fun when it comes to remote-controlled cars? Hasbro's Pinkie Pie's RC Car has a heart-shaped control unit, and the antenna on the pink car is topped with -- guess what? -- a pink heart. If your girl isn't into My Little Pony, check out the Speedy Tails RC Vehicle for Littlest Pet Shop fans.
Lite Sprites glow with light and color when you wave the Lite Wand on them; youcan also use the Lite Wand to pick up any color from any flat surface, and transfer that color to the Lite Sprite! With all the pastels and fairies, this is obviously aimed towards girls, but even my boys enjoyed playing with the Lite Wand when we reviewed this toy.
Hope this helps you find that perfect electronic toy for the holidays -- and don't forget the batteries!
Disclosure: I have reviewed some of the products on this list in the past, but I did not receive any samples or monetary compensation for this post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.