The second toy idea that we just love is games. By that I do not mean video games. I mean good old-fashioned no batteries required (okay, maybe one) turn off the television and spend time together games.
We have all the classics -- Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Sorry, Connect Four. We have raucous games like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and Whack-A-Mole, too. We play card games like old maid and go fish and king's corner. And we play strategy games like Mastermind, Mancala, and Stratego. Our kids are still young, so Monopoly, Careers, and Life are still up on the shelf.
Two old favorites that we *hope* Santa will be bringing in his sleigh are Perfection and MouseTrap. (Santa's Illinois elf just has to find them at the store. Keep your fingers crossed.)
It is always a challenge, though, to find games that all three of my children can play together, especially because they are aged 3, 5, and 7. Last year, we were given a game gift that did the trick. Our whole family can play it and have fun in the process. It is Cranium Hullabaloo.
Hullabaloo is a direction-following game with fun music and a healthy dose of silliness. To me, it's a little like Simon Says meets Twister. We have a great time with it, whether just two of us are playing or all five.
In January of this year, Cranium, a Seattle-based company, was purchased by Hasbro, Inc. By March, Hasbro moved finance and logistics jobs to it's Rhode Island corporate headquarters. But Hasbro makes a point of emphasizing it's corporate citizenship efforts. I usually only recommend products from corporations I can really back. For me, the jury is still out on Hasbro's purchase of Cranium.
I will say, though, that the Hullabaloo product is exceptional. It encourages movement and teaches listening and following directions. Moreover, it is fun. Sometimes gut-busting fun -- especially when you see your kids "do a funky dance" at the end of the game.
Hullabaloo has received several awards, from Parenting Magazine Toy of the Year to the 2002 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval. For more information, be sure to visit the Cranium website.