OTTAWA - A colourful, peek-a-boo baby play centre, a tumbling top and a reversible costume set are among the top toys for 2010 chosen by the Canadian Toy Testing Council.
Most of the choices this year are educational as well as fun, says the council's Janet Heatherington.
"Obviously parents want to have toys that will educate kids and engage them, teach them good social values for example," she said.
"The kids, of course, they love just to play. What we found with our award winners this year is it was a great, great combination of educational value and just plain fun."
The battery-operated toy of the year is for babies aged six months to 18 months. It's called Songs 'N Smiles Sillytown and uses stacking blocks and a tumble-down slide.
Created by Fisher-Price, the multicoloured toy includes eight peek-and-pop action blocks and over 16 songs and goofy sounds.
For children less than a year old, there's Playskool-Hasbro's Explore 'N Grow Tumble 'N Twirl Top. The brightly coloured, pump-action toy was a hit with several children at a news conference Monday where the top picks were announced.
For three years and up, reversible costumes for boys and girls got a nod. One goes from dragon to knight, the other turns from Sleeping Beauty to Snow White.
One of the council's Best Bet awards for older kids, in the eight years-plus range, went to How To Draw Funny, a book that gives children tips on making comics.
It is perhaps one of the quietest toys going, allowing budding cartoonists to sit and hone their skills.
Parents this year asked that some environmentally friendly toys be tested, said Heatherington. What the kids flocked to was something most parents might consider a basic toy.
"One of our Best Bet picks is a very standard sand play set," said Heatherington, describing a pail, digging tools and a sandcastle mould, from The Original Green Toy company.
"What was interesting about it was it was made from recycled plastic," she said. "And parents are looking for those kinds of toys."
Another Children's Choice award winner also allows toddlers to have fun with natural elements.
However, keeping in mind the issues parents might have with their two-year-olds tossing loose sand or splashing water on indoor carpets, the council noted that the Sand and Water Transportation Station from Step 2 is "best enjoyed outdoors."
A book for babies called Dance Baby Dance, written by Andrea Spalding, was also named by the council as one of the top 10 books of the year.
For children, eight years or older, Keltie Thomas's Inside Hockey was a favourite read, along with the graphic novel Good-Bye Marianne, written by Irene N. Wattas and illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker.