It’s been my mission for over 35 years to teach parents how to select the best toys for fun smart play, that inspire creativity and storytelling, building language skills. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Schleich's Croco Junge Ranger Station PAL Award winner

    Schleich’s Croco Junge Ranger Station PAL Award winner

    Several categories of props with accessories to inspire sub plots within the story. Schleich’s “Croco Jungle Ranger Station” is an excellent example of this as they have created a jungle ranger station theme with several directions the story can take: work at the ranger station on the computer etc., fixing the property with tools in the tool box, preparing dinner over the open fire, eating, sleeping, caring for sick animals, penning up dangerous animals or those they are observing, or hiding treasure or people in the large croc skull.

  2. Plenty of accessories within a category to expand the story. Playmobil’s
    Playmobil's "Camp Site," PAL Award winner

    Playmobil’s “Camp Site,” PAL Award winner

    “Camp Site” is a great illustration of this concept.  Vibrant hanging plants, postcards, magazines, maps, cash register (with Euros), soft drinks and your favorite frozen ice cream treat (with labels) help you ease in to your home-away-from-home. In case you failed to bring all your online casino plates, cups, toothpaste, brush, suntan lotion and bug spray – don’t sweat it, you can pick them up at the Quik-Mart, along with canned goods, milk and OJ – all with decals reinforcing the reality. Shower, use the rest room or camp out in the cute orange tent.

  3. Sequenced props that for add-on stories. Some toy or games provide
    "Tall Tales," PAL Award winner

    “Tall Tales,” PAL Award winner

    characters and objects or setting cards to inspire a story to be told. Tall Tales provides a bag of 50 cute rubber 3D objects and characters to draw out of a velvet bag to carry on the story. 24 beautifully illustrated story cards give options for settings as kids can change up the story according various backgrounds. Kids learn story elements as they sequence their tale.

  4. Plenty of characters whether people, animals or animated objects to lead the dialogue.