I have heard from several families that they are “cramming” before the opening of Toy Story 3. They are showing Toy Story 1 and 2 to their kids so they can remember the story and be ready for the sequel. I will admit, I watched number 2 last night to refresh my memory. What a lot of good, clean, clever fun for kids and adults.

The stores sure are ready with “exclusives” at places like Walmart and Target, featuring such items as figures, action sets, sleeping bags and even Adirondack chairs. What a craze.

Actually, you don’t have to buy all the toys. Be discerning. Which ones will provide many hours of new, original play and not be tossed aside as a “one event” type of toy? Certainly just a pack of figures will provide your child with open ended play as they re-enact scenes from the story and expand on the action. Sometimes less is more.  I will be reviewing what I think are the best ones in the next few weeks.

Simple toys and figures from a popular movie can be helpful to a child with special needs who is challenged with social skills. Kids in preschool and early elementary school are going to be talking about characters and phrases from the movie, acting out scenes and using themes in their pretend play. In order to participate with typical peers, children with special needs can learn from parents and therapists who model play with the figures and themes from the movie. In the same way, I have introduced topics like dinosaurs and insects with preschool boys with autism so they can “speak the language” of their typical peers who love to act out play on those themes.