Some toys and games are ready to go right out of the box. Others take a little (or a lot) of work. Here are some delightful kits that you'll love doing with your young child. Plus, a little something for adults or older kids.
– Hidden Temple with T-Rex (Playmobil #9429)
You and your young explorers can embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure deep into the jungles of Dino Island. The Temple itself has all sorts of creepy features, like dangling vines, test tubes, and a variety of things that eerily glow in the dark when you shine the included UV light on them. There's also a heat-sensitive treasure map – rub it and the path to the treasure appears. Oh, and did we mention that you're not alone on the island? Fortunately, you've got a functioning laser gun to protect you from the T-Rex (what would you expect from a place called Dino Island?). Ages 4+. Under $60. https://www.playmobil.us/
– Barn with Silo (Playmobil #9315)
For kids who may not be up for the heart-thumping excitement of Dino Island, this playset is just the ticket. Comes with a nice selection of farm animals (cat, chickens, cow, horse, and rooster), two human figures, hay bales, and a lot more. You and your young farmers can start your day by feeding the animals, and when you're ready to hit the hay yourself, the barn is plenty big enough to house not only the animals and accessories, but also the season's harvests. Ages 4+ Under $70. https://www.playmobil.us/
– Camping Adventure (Playmobil #9318)
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, and this playset has everything you need for an extended family road trip. We're moving into the rainy season, so you'll probably want to sleep in the RV, but during the day, take the bikes for a spin, shoot the rapids in the canoe, conquer the dunes on the ATV, and, at the end of the day, fire up the grill and roast some hot dogs and veggies. But please clean up after yourself, otherwise those raccoons (included) will be digging through your trash all night. Ages 4+. Under $70. https://www.playmobil.us/
– Take Along Haunted House (Playmobil #9312)
For kids who want to keep Halloween alive (or at least undead) year 'round, this spooky playset has everything you need. There's the wild-haired scientist creating who-knows what in his lab, a vampire, a dangling spider, frisky mice, torches, skulls, coffins, and more. And when you've had enough, the Haunted House transforms into a carrying case, with plenty of room for everyone and everything (plus a few pieces of leftover Halloween candy). Ages 4+. Under $40. https://www.playmobil.us/
– John Deere Tractor Engine (Klein)
Do you have a budding engineer around the house – you know, one of those kids who likes to take things apart? If so, before you let him or her start dismantling your car (it's too late for your toaster), consider this tractor engine. At more than two feet tall, this tractor is just the right size for a young mechanic. It comes with more than a dozen removable parts, including spark plugs, wheels, wing nuts, and more, as well as some basic tools. There's also a very cool "repair function," where the lights and starter won't operate until the engine's components have been removed, reassembled, and reactivated. For ages 3+ About $100. https://klein-toys.com
– "Blanket Fort: Growing up Is Optional" (book by Grackle + Pigeon)
And now, something for the adults. Created by the Brooklyn-based wife-and-husband team of Jessie T. Kressen and Nathaniel Kressen, this beautifully illustrated book includes instructions for building 25 artisanal blanket forts. These are definitely not the blanket-over-two-chairs forts you built as a kid. We're talking a David-Bowie/outer-space-themed fort, a yoga fort, a library fort, a backyard fort, and many more. All are full functional, easy to build, cozy, and inviting. $18.99 at your favorite bookseller or https://www.harpercollins.com
(Armin and Samantha are the authors of the popular parenting blogs: http://www.mrdad.com and http://www.havesippywilltravel.com.
For more reviews of toys and games, visit http://www.parentsatplay.com/)