TDmonthly Magazine!
July 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 7


TDmonthly's Psychologist Mom

She'll Put Your Toys on the Couch

Dr. Wright doesn’t just look at toys; she analyzes them. In and out of the box, she scrutinizes them for playability, appropriateness and educational value. The latter quality is especially important to this psychologist/mother, who also homeschools her three children.

This month, TDmonthly Magazine’s Psychologist Mom packs up a fuzzy backpack, puzzles out an alphabetical dragon and more, rating each product with 1 to 5 TD stars (for TDmonthly!); 5 is the top mark.

Backpacks by FRECKLES & MAYA INC.
Gender: Girls
Category: Gifts

TDmonthly rating:

The Dr.'s Impressions: This seriously soft and touchable 19"X19" backpack is reversible. The outside (or inside!) is furry and the inside (or outside) is satiny. The pom-poms at the ends of the two top drawstrings make it easy for very little ones to close the bag.

Kids' Perspective: The candy colors of the fabrics in the backpacks are clearly meant for girls. I have been assured by our little neighborhood girls, 3 and 8, that the Freckles & Maya backpacks are perfect for sleepovers and can even be used as a soft pillow, "when you stuff it with clothes."

Recommendation: This sweet backpack would be cherished by most girls from ages 2 to 12. It would make a really nice birthday present, and would be sure to get lots of oohs and awwhhs.

Puff the Alphabet Dragon Puzzle by IMAGIPLAY
MSRP: $36.99
Age: 3 and up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill

TDmonthly rating:

The Dr.'s Impressions: Puff the Alphabet Dragon Puzzle features sturdy, hand-crafted and hand-painted pieces, each of which features a different letter of the alphabet. The pieces are made from environmentally friendly hardwood.

Kids' Perspective: Of the three kids — ages 3, 9 and 11 — who tried this puzzle, none could complete it before becoming bored. It took an adult about five minutes. Although the kids became agitated and irritated at how long it took to assemble the puzzle, they liked the way it looked and felt.

Recommendation: Puff the Alphabet Dragon Puzzle is much too difficult for a 3-year-old. The alphabet, of course, clues kids in to the order in which the dragon must be assembled, but the pieces are not easy to put together. Nonetheless, it is a very nice looking and aesthetically pleasing piece to have in any child's room.

Play Scene: Happy Camper by MUDPUPPY PRESS
MSRP: $11.00
Age: 3 and Up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Play Sets

TDmonthly rating:

The Dr.'s Impressions: Remember those reusable vinyl sticker sets from childhood? Here’s a slightly different version: Happy Camper by Mudpuppy Press is a portable playing board that has a handle and comes with more than 50 vinyl stickers. This set includes all that is camping, from a little first aid kit to an outhouse to an archery kit and little campers roasting marshmallows.

Kids' Perspective: The little ones (3 and 6 years old) had fun removing the stickers and creating little environments on the board. Many of the pieces were too small for the youngest child’s hands but the kids had fun changing what was going on each time they picked up this little set.

Recommendation: Co-playing became difficult for the kids so I would recommend this for an only child or for the car. I also think it is a little expensive for what you get. The colors and design are also a bit dull. However, the set still allows kids infinite possibilities for play, imagination and wonder.

Age: 10 and up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: General Games

TDmonthly rating:

The Dr.'s Impressions: Dynasties is a two-person game that requires strategy and skill as the players move through China trying to conquer the five main provinces. The game includes a board showing a map of ancient China that is divided into five regions. There are a limited number of armies available and both players have the same options from which to choose; thus, it is a game of skill in choosing when and where to assemble and deploy the armies.

Kids' Perspective: My 11-year-old boy liked this game and also appreciated its ancient historical aspect. He had a hard time figuring out the rules, but after I explained and we played for a while he had a good time competing to take over this ancient continent.

Recommendation: I do not recommend this game for children younger than 14 and then only if they like military, strategy and ancient history. If they do, Dynasties is fun, quick and requires thought and skill — two things not used in gaming much these days.

Touch It Bubbles / Burbujas Tocables by YOMAX INC.
MSRP: $1.59
Age: 4 and up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: General Toys

TDmonthly rating:

The Dr.'s Impressions: Touch It Bubbles is a little three-dimensional vial of bubbles. The vial that holds the liquid looks like something straight out of a Disney movie. The tiny bubble wand blows very small bubbles that can be touched and held.

Kids' Perspective: The kids loved this bubble kit. We had a party with girls and boys, ranging in age from 2 to 11, and they all loved it — the vial, the size of the bubbles and the fact that they could hold them on their hands.

Recommendation: You can't beat this bubble kit for the price. We all had a great time. It also features colorful, bilingual packaging!

i-gami – Color Harmonies by PLASTIC PLAY INC.
MSRP: $29.99
Age: 10 and up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Construction

TDmonthly rating:

The Dr.'s Impressions: I-Gami is based on the principles of Japanese art origami. It is made up of five different plastic pieces with up to six hinges that allow a child to bend, fold and snap them together into 3-dimensional objects.

Kids' Perspective: My 8- and 11-year-old boys liked the size, colors and idea of this kit. They found the instruction booklet to be almost useless and were consistently unable to snap the final piece in place for all of the objects they made. However, they have spent hours on this kit and enjoy it very much.

Recommendation: I-Gami makes excellent use of a child’s spatial and visual skills and imagination. The main problems we encountered were with the instruction booklet, which is unreadable and short on examples, and the fact that it was almost impossible to finish the 3-dimensional objects because we could not get a grasp to snap in the last piece. Therefore, most of our constructions are not finished. With that said, I still recommend this kit for any kids that like to construct objects with their hands.

Card Golf: The Golf Card Game by CARD GOLF
MSRP: $8.95
Age: 10 and Up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Card Games

The Dr.'s Impressions: We like golf in our family, so I was interested in how the sport could be transferred to a card game. The game is easy to learn and can teach non-golfers about the game of golf. The rules, golf clubs and even the courses are all in this little deck of 51 cards that start from the 1-yard putters up through 250-yard drivers. It is designed to be played by two people.

Kids' Perspective: My 11-year-old son did not like Card Golf. However, my golf-playing adult friend did, and found it to be "quite addicting."

Recommendation: I would not recommend this game to a child or non-golf player. However, for anyone who likes golf and card games, this is a fun and easy, but "addicting," game

Dr. Tiffany WrightWriter's Bio: Dr. Tiffany Wright doesn’t just look at toys; she analyzes them. In and out of the box, she scrutinizes them for playability, appropriateness and educational value. The latter quality is especially important to this stay-at-home psychologist/mother, who also homeschools her three youngest children. Her daughter attends UCLA. Dr. Wright earned her Ph.D. in personality psychology from University of California, Riverside. She is always on the lookout for toys and games that inspire creativity and impart knowledge while bringing fun and laughter to her home. Read more articles by this author


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