Huggles group shotOne of the best parts about going to the Toy Fair in New York City is finding fun surprises–by which I mean new companies with a story to tell.

My Friend Huggles are life-size rag dolls each assigned and wearing a tag with one of eight core social values: fairness, gratefulness, honesty, cheerfulness, generosity, courage, kindness and confidence. Their label explains the trait for those who don’t know what it means. I found that kids loved talking about what it means to be generous or kind and how that looked in their everyday experiences of sharing a snack, letting someone go first in a game or appreciating your toy even if you like someone else’s better. I found this to be a great social language lesson every time I introduced a doll and kids had to apply the value to their daily experiences. These dolls are a great tool for therapists and teachers to get the conversation going and build character. Here is my full review of this latest PAL Award winner:

When I was first introduced to Huggles, I think I had the same reaction as a little girl did today–she gasped in excitement and then giggled, “She’s so big,” she said. I also couldn’t help but sneak a hug with these life size dolls as they reminded me of a large rag doll I had growing up with elastic loops on the bottom of her feet so we could dance together! Classically timeless, these dolls have a relevant message. Each doll serves as a character building tool, representing one of eight core values. As an educator who works with children in their homes, I can say that we can all benefit from a discussion about fairness, gratefulness, honesty, cheerfulness, generosity, courage, kindness and confidence. These pretend dress-up dolls can spark a conversation more easily than parents. My little friend was fascinated by Rubi’s characteristic of  being “grateful.” When I asked her if she knew what that meant she said, “Even if somebody’s thing is better, you should at least be grateful you even have one.” She went on to teach me about being “fresh” and “that’s not nice!” Our mini-lesson spilled over into our game time as she was visibly trying to show more generosity in letting me go first. Thanks, Rubi, for leading us in a wonderful social language lesson today as we applied admirable values to our activities.

Available at My Friend Huggles