Sinclair Cares: Give gifts that foster education

Toys that teach educational concepts are hot this holiday season. (WBFF)

Video games, action figures, princesses and ponies: toy store aisles and online searches can get exhausting for parents like Kim Curtiss who are trying to find that perfect holiday gift.

"I'm always looking at mom blogs to see what they're giving and what they recommend," Curtiss said.

This year, the hottest toy isn't one item.

"What's hot right now is math, STEM, anything that's teaching kids science," toy store owner Claudia Towles said.

Towles said toy companies are reinforcing science, technology, engineering and math in their products, filling toy aisles with education.

"The reactivity of the magnet is a very interesting idea for kids," she said.

Even though MagnaTiles are nothing new to store shelves, Towles said it's a classic favorite that promotes early math concepts. As a child ages, add to the collection so they can build more complex structures.

"Think about it, with Lego sets and other traditional brands. The more pieces they have the more they can build. These don't hurt though when you stand on them," Towles said.

It's never too early to start learning.

The Noggin stick is one of the hottest toys for babies.

"This changes color every time you shake it. It helps with visual tracking. It's educational," Towles said. "Does the baby know they're being educated? Of course not, but it teaches cause and effect."

Even Barbie is hopping on the STEM wagon.

"Barbie is something very familiar to kids. But the STEM and engineering aspect may not be. So this is trickery," Towles said.

And don't forget family game night.

Klask is a skill game with magnetic control.

"This is one we sell to college kids and to 5-year-olds," Towles said.

This holiday season the emphasis is on anything that fosters critical thinking and problem solving.

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