This year’s Gold Award-winning toys encourage children to understand their world, from basic skill-building and effective personal interactions to the environment and cutting-edge technology.
Musical Motion Activity Jumper
Children nestle in the swivel seat of this stationary learning center, surrounded by four activity areas consisting of a four-key electronic keyboard, a sunshine teether, a bead chase and an activity caterpillar. Favorite toys can be attached to arches on two sides to refresh the play with novel activities. Fabric-covered seat springs allow for bouncing with no risk of pinching fingers. Disney Baby Einstein, $79.99; www.babyeinstein.com; ages 6 months and up.
Crayola Beginnings Washable Triangular Paint Brushes
These four plastic paintbrushes already contain the paint, thus eliminating spills. Their triangular design helps young artists learn the grasp needed later for handwriting. Crayola, $4.99; www.crayola.com; ages 2 and up.
Swap ’n’ Go Snail
This friendly snail rolls to a toe-tappin’ tune while beads spin and clank with every wheel rotation. Two interchangeable snail shells can be played with independently or placed on the snail’s back: one has beads that spin and the other has pieces that can be taken apart and re-stacked. Press down on the snail’s tail and he begins a happy tune and slowly rolls, encouraging babies to crawl after him. International Playthings, $36.99; www.intplay.com; ages 6 months and up.
This rotating rattle has many attached shapes that spin and motion-sensor lights. The rattle can be secured on its suction cup base or hand-held. Sassy, $7.99; www.sassybaby.com; ages 6 months and up.
Not only is this soft bear cuddly, he recites up to four hours of songs and stories and plays games such as "Simon Says"—thanks to the electronics in his back. The bear’s responses can be customized with a child’s name, favorite music and stories using the included software (PC and Mac) and USB port. Kids can engage the bear in interactive games by pressing his hands and feet. Additional songs and stories in a variety of languages can be purchased online. Intellitoys, $79.99; www.intell itoys.com; ages 2 and up.