Match Winning Toys to Kidsí Abilities

Ellen MetrickBy Ellen Metrick, NAPPA Toy Judge

Technology is complicated and making it simple and user-friendly is no easy task, but many of the manufacturers recognized in the NAPPA competition this year did just that.  This trend of simplification can really benefit children of all abilities.

Kidizoom Digital Camera Plus by VTech Electronics has a winner with a rugged camera that captures 2,000 pictures, 10 minutes of video and allows for simple editing and fun embellishments. Also inspired to smartly simplify are several digital and video cameras by Digital Blue. Less steps to perform and more fun to be had lead to more memories to capture! 

Also helping children relate to technology this year are some exciting new “friends” to play with. The cast ranges from LEGO’s latest and mind stormsgreatest new Mindstorms set with a “brain” to program, using a drag and drop icon method on a computer, to the truly incredible Ultimate Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, by Thinkway Toys. Both have more fun and features than I can tackle here!

AliseMany products now have online worlds to explore. The Adorable Kinders Rag Doll Alise by Granza, Inc. holds your child’s interest from kindergarten to 12th grade with online school fun and games. Children gain practice in fundamental learning skills necessary for success in school – and they don’t even realize the work they are doing!

Finally, I was impressed by JAKKS Pacific’s EyeClops Mini Projector, which can project television, movies, video games and more onto any surface – even the ceiling.  For children who require specialized positioning due to physical disabilities, this opens up new entertainment options for them.

This year, NAPPA recognizes a hefty offering of technically advanced play products that both challenge and entertain. It is wonderful that so many of them can be used and enjoyed by children of varying abilities.

Ellen Metrick is NAPPA’s Toy Judge and toy specialist and manager of business development for the National Lekotek Center, which recognizes that toys and play help children develop and learn skills that will assist them in school and life. Lekotek is a nonprofit network of toy lending libraries that help children with disabilities have successful play experiences that lead to brighter futures. AblePlay™, a Lekotek service now in its fourth year, helps parents find and choose great toys that meet their children’s special needs.

For more information on toys and play for children with disabilities, please visit and