One of the joys of having a toy award is knowing that I am helping kids by helping their parents and educators select great products to build language. But, I must add that I just love to find great toys, and watch how kids react to them. Seeing new products introduced at the  International Toy Fair in New York City in February, I requested samples of many products to review for the PAL Award. Each day is an adventure as boxes arrive with products to test and see if they really do spark language and creative play.

One such package arrived from HABA with their new Terra Kids Catamaran kit to assemble 50 pieces of pre-cut balsa wood into a seaworthy boat, propelled only by rubber bands and a paddle wheel. After my husband spent a few hours gluing it together we gathered a gang in the neighborhood to launch our catamaran in the pond. Kids helped us wind up the paddle, check the tether so we could pull our boat back in after its ride, and send it off into the water. With a quiet ripple behind it, the boat took off, as if on Mark Twain’s river. Our kid helpers were spellbound and started to offer variations to each new launch–let’s add an acorn man,  see if it can hold a big stick,  give Polly Pocket a ride, or travel all the way across the pond. This make and play model clearly sparked their imagination and sense of exploration as they sought to play with it in new ways. One little guy said under his breath, ” I need one of these!”

Ages 8 and up

Here is my full review: Click here