Category Archives: Toys

Fidgets: They’re not just for kids

Nearly every day parents come in looking for fidget toys for their children. Teachers or therapists have recommended they find something to occupy the child’s hands so the child’s brain can focus in school.

It turns out children aren’t the only ones to benefit from having fidgets to play with. Far from idle diversion, fiddling with desk gadgets can have an impact on cognitive functioning, improving focus or sparking fresh thinking or faster learning on the job, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

WhatzitThe story describes research conducted by a doctoral student at NYU’s engineering school. When people feel restless or confined by computer work, they may get physical stimulation and stress release from playing with a small sandbox, stretching and bending a Slinky, clicking a pen, or shaping and rolling putty.

That, in fact, is how Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty got started. In 1998, designing websites for a living, Aaron convinced his colleagues to chip in and buy 100 pounds of bouncing putty. “Squeezing, stretching, and shaping…they didn’t even realize it was there! As it melted their stress away, their creative potential was unleashed!” he says on his website. People began stopping by his desk to buy more putty, he began adding colors, and the rest is history.

PoshballParticipants in the NYU study mention benefits they get from squeezing, stroking, flipping, twirling, stretching, clicking or fiddling with everyday objects.

Eni Puzzles, chew toys, Wikki Stix, Wacky Tracks, Whatz’it, Sands Alive, squeeze toys, Pop Toobs, Posh Balls and rubber band balls are some of the many fidgety toys that kids and adults alike find calming.Tangles

The NYU study is one of many in the evolving field of research called “embodied cognition,” or how physical movement and the environment may shape cognitive functioning. “Some studies show fidgeting may also be a coping mechanism for restless energy, stimulating the brain enough so a person can focus on mundane tasks,” the WSJ article said.

[Stump the Kazoodlers] Snow Days and Skype Play

Welcome back to another thrilling edition of Stump the Kazoodlers! After last week’s inaugural challenge, the Kazoodlers walked away unscathed, ready to tackle a harder shopping challenge. This week our customers up the ante with tough trials that test our toy talent. Will the Kazoodlers rise to the occasion? Or will they finally be stumped?

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[Stump the Kazoodlers] Button Pushers and Non-Girly Girls

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the greatest trial of toy knowledge Vancouver has ever seen! In this corner, wearing tentacle fingers and Shwings, are the Kazoodlers of Kazoodles (ooooo ahhhh applause!). In the other corner, represented by a veritable mountain of toys, is the frustration of not knowing what to buy for the kids in your life (boooo hisssssss). The contest is simple: The Kazoodlers will be given a hypothetical child to shop for and will then pick out a selection of toys they think works best. Ready? Let’s go!

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Shop Local on Neighborhood Toy Store Day!

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With Black Friday set to descend upon us like a Biblical plague, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to dodge the onslaught of newspaper inserts, TV ads and consumer gossip about all those obscene post-Thanksgiving deals. Big-box retailers promise door-busting sales the likes of which our humble society has never seen. I don’t know about you, but the nightmarish phrase “door-busting sale” is enough to convince me to stay home in the comfort of my turkey-induced coma.

For local, independent toy stores, Kazoodles included, it’s impossible to compete with million-dollar ad campaigns and mind-boggling discounts. But why should anybody be competing for the right to incite a crazed, late-night stampede anyway? In response to all the hullabaloo, the world of local toy stores united to bring a better holiday shopping solution: Neighborhood Toy Store Day.

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The True Cost of Toys, Part 3

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Part 3: An Expandable Toy Universe

Too many toys these days are expendable. We’re expected to shell out $40 for some piece of plastic that gets played with once or twice before our kids grow bored and we end up giving it away, or worse–throwing it in the trash. But instead of buying expendable toys, we should look at buying expandable toys.

When you buy an expandable toy you’re stepping into a massive universe of possibility. Dollhouses need new furniture and a bigger family. Train sets need more track and additional boxcars. LEGO, Playmobil and K’Nex have built extensive universes of their own, adding new sets all the time, growing almost infinitely, providing kids with endless opportunity to grow their toys into massive collections.

And while your head might spin with nightmares of stepping barefoot through minefields of plastic blocks, the concept of expandable toys can save headaches in the short run, the long run and every run in between.

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The True Cost of Toys, Part 2

Bruder makes a quality construction vehicle toys that last for years of play.

Bruder makes a quality construction vehicle toys that last for years of play.

This is the first of a three-part series that will examine the TRUE cost of toys in an effort to help you save money on those often expensive, all-important toy purchases. Don’t freak out, it’s easier than you think.

Part 2: Toys That Last

They’re two little words that punctuate the eardrums like a roll of warning thunder in the distance: “I’m bored.” You’ve bought hundreds of dollars worth of toys for your kids, you know they have active imaginations, and there’s always plenty to do outside, so why are they bored? We like to chalk it up to a number of excuses like laziness or even a case of attention deficit disorder. But what if the answer isn’t in their brain chemistry but in their toys?

Last week I talked about calculating the true cost of toys. The formula, as I mentioned, requires estimating the number of collective hours your child will likely play with a given toy before tossing it in the back of the closet for good. While it’s a very worthwhile formula, the nagging question that remains is how exactly you estimate, with any sort of accuracy, how well your kiddo will like that toy. That question can be answered by looking at “long-lasting play value.”

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The True Cost of Toys, Part 1

BrioPlay

This is the first of a three-part series that will examine the TRUE cost of toys in an effort to help you save money on those often expensive, all-important toy purchases. Don’t freak out, it’s easier than you think.

Part 1: Calculating the True Cost of Toys

If there’s one simple truth about kids, it’s that they will play. They don’t prefer to play, they won’t play if you insist, they WILL play no matter what. Since the dawn of mankind, adults have been giving children things to play with, whether it be polished rocks or Tickle Me Elmo. These things, what we in the biz call “toys,” are integral to a child’s development and therefore a matter of great interest to parents. But as toys get more extravagant (gone are the good ol’ hoop-and-stick days), they can cause more anguish for money-conscious parents trying to get the best bang for their buck.

The answer to the issue of finances is usually a hunt for good deals. And while Online Discount Warehouse or Big Box Store might save you $10 on that $50 toy, paying less at the register doesn’t necessarily mean you’re saving any money in the long run. This part’s important, so let me reiterate: Paying less doesn’t always save you money. Let me explain.

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