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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec 6, 2004 / 23 Kislev, 5765

Can we put some fun into the toys?

By Lenore Skenazy


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Here's a thought: Why not let kids be kids?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'm all for education. I'm all for toys. But educational toys? It's just hard to imagine a moppet jumping for joy when he tears the wrapping off and finds —


Measuring Monkeys.


Yes, that's a real board game. And in it, monkeys creep their way up a palm-tree-shaped ruler. Whooee! Quarter-inch by quarter-inch they go, the better to learn one's fractions.


But at least it's interactive.


Also crowding the toy shelves this year are such mind-boosting must-haves as a motorized solar system, a Fun With Your Cat science kit ("Give your cat a personality interview!"), alphabet beanbags for all those preschoolers who refuse to play with nonliteracy-enhancing soft toys and — for $40.99 — a talking telescope.


How did Galileo discover that whole Jupiter's moons thing with a telescope that refused even to peep, "Yo, Gali — nice work!"?


But perhaps the epitome of these games is the GeoSafari World Challenge, a battery-operated game complete with "high quality digital voice" that asks "over 7,500 fascinating questions about world countries, rivers, landmarks and more," according to the Web site.

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Forget why a game has to have a digital voice (chess seems to have enjoyed a rather long run without one) — what's with the 7,500 questions? How fascinating is that 6,784th query about the Pulap Atoll? And won't the kid be about 63 by the time the game is over?


All of which leads me to the biggest question: why? Why do so many parents think that normal toys and games aren't educational enough? Believe me, my sister learned plenty playing plain old Monopoly: adding, strategizing, bamboozling siblings five years younger than she. She played hard, paid attention — and now she owns a vast villa while I rent a modest apartment. Coincidence? I think not.


Similarly, any girl who ever played with Barbie learned an extremely crucial physics lesson: Wear heels all your life, and eventually your foot will freeze into the shape of an ice cream cone. That lesson alone is worth a year at Yale.


Boys who played with Mr. Potato Head learned lifelong grooming skills. (Need proof? Just look at the middle-aged men in your office.) Model planes taught them to think they could fix anything. MatchBox toys taught them to judge a man by the quantity of his cars. And anyone with Silly Putty learned how to read the comics backward.


Those are all important lessons, yet they did not come from educational toys. They came from what we used to call "fun." And it is precisely that silly, old-fashioned commodity I wish for all children this holiday season.

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JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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