For playing pretend
Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Candy Cyclone
Hasbro, $20, ages 3+ Shop >>
Make colorful (pretend!) gumballs that roll down whimsical spiral ramps and create fun candies and lollipops.
Laura B. of Marlton, NJ, says that her daughter and friend, both 8, couldn’t wait to make the candies pictured on the box. “It’s a great product: fun, easy to store and entertains for hours,” she says. She recommends the product, but says more provided Play-Doh would be helpful, and that while her 8-year-old daughter could play with no assistance, a 3-year-old will need help from a grown-up.
Servin’ Surprises Kitchen & Table
Fisher-Price, $70, ages 2+ Shop >>
Cook pretend pizza and cookies, transform the stove into a tabletop and sing along to songs about cleaning up (while you easily store kitchenware inside the table). “My daughter is learning the concepts of how the kitchen works,” says Lauren W. of Wynnewood, PA. “She’s shown an interest in my cooking due to her use of the toy.” Lauren says the toy took 10 minutes to assemble and is easy to put away, with a place for all pieces.
Lauren’s daughter is a few months shy of age 2, but has no problem understanding the toy. “My daughter understands the clean-up feature, which makes me very happy!” she says. Once everything is put away, the toy can be used as an activity table. “We use it as a table to color and paint on and to eat snacks, along with the toy function,” says Lauren. “It’s a great kitchen toy for those that do not have the space for it.”
Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle & Castle Dragon
Fisher-Price, $50, $35, ages 3+ Shop >>
Prepare the castle for battle by locking the gate, barricading the windows and getting ready to fire weapons. Set up a ladder, flags, artillery and knights. The castle shouts phrases depending on what “attacks,” like a dragon with flappable wings and a snapping mouth, or a big, green, stomping ogre (these accessories are sold separately).
“It was easy for my 4-year-old to figure out how to use the cannons and catapults,” says Natalie H. of Garnet Valley, PA. “I didn’t have to tell him how to put the extra accessories on the knights.” Natalie says the toy is large, but can be folded to make storage a little easier. The toy was also a hit with Natalie’s 6-year-old daughter. “The castle keeps my kids interested and there are many different parts to play with,” says Natalie. “More than one child can play with it at the same time, with plenty of room to move around.”