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Toys to entertain both my 1-year-old and my 3-year-old
Q: I would like to know if you have any toys that my 1-year-old daughter and my 3-year-old son could play with together. I have purchased the Intelli-Table® for Christmas in hopes that it will be intriguing enough for both. My son is so eager to really play with his sister. They do play together, but my son tends to fizzle out with the baby toys quickly. Then he tries to play with her with his toys, but they either aren't safe for her or the play gets too rough. I'd like a toy that would entertain both. Sounds unrealistic as I type this, but who knows?
A: No, Tracy, it’s not unrealistic to expect to find a toy that would entertain both of your children. However, because of their age difference and current developmental needs, it might be a challenge to find one to entertain them both in the same way. There are many toys that will capture the interest of both of your children, but each of your children may play with the toys differently, based on their individual level of development. Take the Intelli-Table®, for example. Your daughter will most likely investigate all of its buttons and levers over and over again, just to see what reaction her actions have caused. She’ll be engaged in this activity and learn many things from her investigations…she might even have fun just putting and taking the Learning Rings in and out of the table. Now, your son will probably be most interested in and amazed by the interactions of the buttons and levers, the variety of things he can make happen and the endless opportunities for creativity. He’ll soon be able to skillfully operate all three of the Learning Rings, and might even compose a song or two. With your guidance, both of your children can enjoy playing with it together, and in the process, each of them will be developing skills and understandings appropriate for them.

Other examples of toys your children can play with together—at their own developmental levels—are the Little People™ playsets, such as the Farm, Garage or House. Your daughter will probably be fascinated with putting the figures and vehicles in and out and moving them around, perhaps even naming them, while your son will be busily engaged creating imaginative scenarios and conversations, complete with sound effects, that are based on the familiar. With your assistance, they can both experience the richness of such shared playtimes.

In addition to sharing toys, listening to music and reading books are other activities your children can enjoy together. You might even find your son trying to "read" to your daughter, imitating how you read stories to them!
Kathleen Alfano Ph.D. Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price®