You know your kids are growing up when your Tween accompanies you to
a major toy store and walks out with the $20 you’d just given him still
tucked in his pocket. It’s not that nothing interested him; it’s just
that nothing under $20 interested him. As they approach full-fledged teendom,
kids’ wants and Moms’ wallets are often at odds. But don’t abandon hope:
there are some toys in the $20-and-under range that even discriminating
pre-teens can’t help enjoying.
“Mom, I want a laptop!”
Power of Two Clock
Right. My kids want things I don’t even know how to turn on, let alone
pay for. We compromised with a Powers of Two Clock that
tells time with an array of red lights and binary number code, a fun conversation
piece for a budding young programmer. I found one for $19.90 at the San
Francisco Exploratorium online store.
“Mom, I want (insert latest video game title here)!”
Binary Arts' LiveWire Puzzles
Video games usually list in the over $50 category, but specialty stores
offer challenging and fun puzzles that actually succeed in entertaining
Tweens. Mine enjoyed Binary Arts’ LiveWire Puzzles, a
wire-disentangle puzzle in the $10-15 range. Its Rush Hour
series of sliding-block games appeals to both daughters and sons (and
Mom and Dad). Also from Binary Arts is Smart Mouth, a
fast thinking, shout-it-out game played by sliding the “Letter Getter”
forward and back to reveal two letters. The first player to shout out
a word of five or more letters wins the round (under $20.00).
“Mom, I want something cool!”
Lego, knowing that Tweens consider themselves too mature
for building blocks, is making electronic, robotic versions of their popular
building sets, such as its popular Star Wars and Mindstorms™
Robotics series. But in the under $20 range, a construction set that still
draws them is Geomags from PlastWood,
utilizing magnetic rods and nickel plated spheres, Geomag allows kids
to create complex and durable desktop structures. Starter sets list for
Due for release in spring 2003 are Slap Message Bands
from Hasbro’s Tiger Electronics. A 21st century style
of note passing, this toy lets kids record a message, then slap it on
a friend’s wrist—who can listen, record over it and slap you back. Retail
is under $15.
Writer's Bio: Pennie, a graduate of Indiana University
School of Journalism, is a freelance writer and lives with her husband
and three children in Visalia, CA..