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Holiday Presents of Toys and Games TORONTO, Nov. 14 /CNW/

Holiday Presents of Toys and Games
TORONTO, Nov. 14 /CNW/
Item# holpresoftoy

Product Description

Holiday Presents of Toys and Games Give the Gift of Learning as well as Fun

    TORONTO, Nov. 14 /CNW/ - Toys and games are among the most popular
holiday gifts for children. But many parents may not realize that these gifts
can give much more than just fun; they can also contribute to children's
educational and learning development.
    "Play is how children learn," says Richard Bavaria PhD., Vice President
of Education for Sylvan Learning Centre, the leading provider of supplemental
education services to students. "Right from the first few months of life,
children play with the objects around them in order to discover how the world
works. As children grow older, the role of play becomes more complex --
stimulating imagination, creativity, logic, social skills, self-confidence and
role-playing. At Sylvan, we encourage parents to recognize the important role
that play holds in the process of continuous learning."
    Sylvan Learning Centre has worked with Zellers, one of Canada's leading
discount retailers, to identify the top toy and games for holiday 2002 that
can combine fun and learning.
    "We know parents understand the value of toys that are educational as
well as entertaining," says David Strickland, senior vice president of
marketing, Zellers. "At Zellers, we're proud to carry all the top learning
toys, available at every day low prices."

Top Learning Toy Selections for Holiday 2002 (all items are available at Zellers stores across Canada)

1. Reading corner - The Leap Pad(TM) Learning System marries learning with laptop technology. Children ages four and up can use their personal Leap Pad console to run a variety of learning software that teaches reading, phonics, and vocabulary. ($79.98)

2. Creativity starters - Every child can create their own personalized doll with the What's her face(TM) doll. Washable markers allow the child to create a unique face and look. Wigs, clothing selections and decorative stamps round out the options. For children ages five and up. ($24.96)

3. Imagination igniters - LEGO Bionicles(TM) let children ages seven and up play with collectible biomechancial characters in an evolving story of life in the fictional land of Mata Nui. Bionicles encourages storytelling and role-playing; activities that stimulate the imagination as well as logic and verbal skills. ($9.88)

4. Strategy stimulators - Strategic card games like Yu-Gi-OH(TM), based on the popular comic book that has spawned a television series and movies introduce children to safe competitive play and strategy. ($24.96)

"It is important for children to become comfortable in competitive activities," says Dr. Bavaria. "The reality is that they will be thrust into competitive circumstances throughout their lives so they need to learn how to compete well but fairly."

5. Pretend props - For children ages eight and up, Mega Bloks(TM) Dragons Sorcerer's Lair lets them create worlds of castles and dragons; great for storytelling and imaginations skills. ($39.97)

6. Group work - The Lite-Brite Cube(TM) builds on the original Lite-Brite game that parents will remember from childhood. But now it's a four-sided cube where children can work together on designs and pictures. For ages four and up. ($34.96)

7. Language learning - The Caillou(R) Doll and Storybook Pack ($14.97) makes learning French fun while the Dora the Explorer doll ($39.96), based on the popular television series, stimulates Spanish skills. For ages two and up.

8. Math magic - Continuing the theme of adult-inspired technology, Pixter(TM) Hand-Held Electronic Learning Aid gives kids ages four and up their own PDA with games including number and counting challenges. ($64.98)

9. Building blocks - A 70-piece Maxi Bag of colourful Mega Bloks(TM) will fuel a world of learning for children ages one and a half and older. Young children use toys to begin to understand the world around them: textures, colours, noises, and how objects interact. ($14.97)

10. Family fun - Classic board games are back Monopoly(TM), Monopoly Jr.(TM), Scrabble Junior(TM), Sorry(TM), Guess Who(TM) are back and so is the family game night. Playing a game together is a great way to encourage family time as well as learn about counting, managing money, spelling and strategy. For various ages. ($16.95-$18.95)

The Rules of Play

Sylvan Learning Centre provides the following advice to parents about the value of play for their children:

Pre-schoolers:

- Much of the play at the youngest ages (two years and under) will involve trial and error. Parents should let children repeat actions; this is how they learn.

- Three to four year olds will begin "symbolic play" - an empty box becomes a house or car.

- This is a great age for parents to play with children and stimulate their interest in different toys and games. But also be sure to allow children to play on their own so that they can make independent discoveries.

- Rotate toys regularly so that children develop a range of skills and perceptions.

- Set aside a safe, comfortable area where children can delve into the world of play.

Elementary students:

- As children pass the age of five, games become more central. Children begin to learn about rules and rudimentary strategy.

- This is also the age when children will begin more group play - at school and in play dates. This is where many social skills are developed; learning how to interact with different personalities, as well as compromise and competition.

If parents always allow their child to win, the child will be in for a rude shock when they start group play with other children," says Dr. Bavaria. "It's important for children to begin to understand that winning isn't automatic."

- Playing with children is a great way for parents to connect and generate family interaction. A family game night with the TV turned off can keep siblings of various ages connected with each other as well as Mom or Dad.

- Play can be a stress reliever if a child is undergoing many new experiences like new school classes or teachers.

- Sylvan advises parents not to over-organize play time. "Some children are on a regimented schedule that would exhaust a CEO," says Dr. Bavaria. "It's important to leave some unplanned time in a child's day for them to undertake the activities they want to do."

High school student:

- Most teenagers would roll their eyes at the thought of "playing." But sports, games and art still play a key role in development and self-esteem. Sylvan's Bavaria advises, "Just because Mom was on the track team doesn't mean her daughter or son will be, too. It's important to let kids develop their individual talents and interests."

- Ideally, young people should participate in a mix of group and independent play or games.

About Zellers

Zellers is the mass merchandise division of Hudson's Bay Company, Canada's largest department store retailer and oldest corporation. As Mom's store and an Imagine Caring Company, Zellers donates one per cent of its pre- tax dollars to charitable organizations through its Zellers Friends of Family Fund, providing financial assistance and employee involvement to charities that support the health, wellness and education of Canadian families. As part of the Hudson's Bay Company family of stores, Zellers helps its customers turn everyday shopping into rewards through the Hbc Rewards program. Customers earn points when shopping at the Hbc family of stores - the Bay, Zellers, Home Outfitters and Hbc.com - and at Esso stations and Travelodge hotels across Canada. Customers also earn bonus points when using their Hbc, Bay or Zellers credit cards.

About Sylvan Learning Centre With more than 20 years of experience and over 900 centres located throughout North America, including over 70 in Canada, Sylvan Learning Centre is the largest organization of its kind in the industry. Sylvan's trained and certified teachers provide personalized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, study skills and test-prep. At Sylvan, students develop the skills to do better in school and the confidence to do better in everything else. Sylvan Learning Centre is a division of Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc. For more information regarding the Sylvan Advantage(TM), call 1-800-31-SUCCESS or visit www.educate.com/info.




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