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And Children's Toys

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'Tis the season to spend money, Fa lalalala, la la ... To many of us, Christmas has become little more than a capitalistic plot to encourage excess spending. Fortunately, many of us who celébrate Christmas still appreciate its humanistic aspects; getting some time off from work, and sitting together with our family and friends to exchange greetings, gifts, and good times. Young people especially get off on Christmas. To them, old St. Nick and Rudolph and the night before Christmas still hold a magical fascination. If you're still shopping for gifts for these young ones, say ages 0-10 or so, you probably have a few important questions. What about fad toys? Escapist or educational toys? Violent toys? Dolls for males and trucks for females? One good piece of advice is to stay away from fad toys, such as this year's Planet of the Apes and Evel Knievel kits. They don't hold interest long and will be forgotten by January. Other good advice includes these pointers; -The ideal gift is one which is both educational and entertaining. -Young people should be allowed to play with toys of violence only if they insist, and even then only after you've carefully explained the destructive nature of the real thing. But if you can't break through peer or tv pressure, it's better to give in, or else risk further promoting a desire for the toy in the child if he or she is forbidden from playing with it. Use cbmmon sense. With all of this in mind, begin your shopping by checking out such old favorites as Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, and Erector Sets, which are still as popular as ever. Basically CONSTRUCTION KITS, they stimulate one's imagination and coordination in building a multitude of figures and structures. And, they're also fun. More recent on the assembly scène is Creative Playthings, a toy group which contains building sets of plastic or wood in unique shapes, which snap or screw together to créate interesting items. Prices for most of these producís start at a few dollars for small sets, and gradúate. For the junior scientist, there are a number of good EXPERIMENTAL sets in electronics, chemistry and microscopy. The Ecology Environmental Action Lab, for example, includes experiments to detect pollution, recycle waste, and the like. Most run $10 and more and are recommended for ages 10 and above, with adult supervisión suggested for any younger. There are dozens of kits available which teach young people basic ARTS AND HANDICRAFTS, such as candle making, leather craft, pottery, woodcraft, and jewelry. Six or seven is the recommended lower age limit for most of these kits, and they range in price from under a dollar (for a popsicle stick kit) to around $8 or $9 (for a "Wall Rug" kit which has the materials and tools for weaving a 14" x 17" rug-) A fascinating visual gift is Wham-O's "Magie Window," a flat plastic container filled with millions of white and blue microdium crystals. As the Window is rotated, the little granules mingle with each other and créate all sorts of flowing effects, both beautiful and magical. Grown-ups dig this one too. It sells for about $6.00. On the cheap side, for 59 cents you can get Tim-Mee Toy 's 35 piece Farm Set, containing small plastic fences and farm animáis. For a quarter, Chemtoy offers and ball and jacks. Or for a few cents more, try a Wonder paddie ball. There are dozens of fun things under a dollar, just check around. If a young person is into BOOKS, this year offers a fine selection. One significant development in recent years has been the addition to the culture of anti-sexist books, in which male and female roles are interchangeable, and books in which boys and girls are encouraged to realize all their life potential free of sexual constraints. There are two new companies which are specifically viding literature of this kind. One is the Feminist Press, which is publishing a number of books about young girls and famous women, in order to balance out the heavily male-saturated young people's book market. One book by Feminist is Firegirl by Gibson Rich, $3.95, about an eightyear-old girl who yearns to combat fires, and who actually gets a change to aid a fireman in distress. The other company of this sort is Lollipop Press, a women's collective that aims to "libérate young children from sex stereotyped behavior and role models." In Exactly Like Me by Lynn Phillips, a young girl details "what a girl's all about." Jo, Fio, & Yolanda by Carol de Poix, deals with three young liberated sisters, and how they're alike as well as individually different in their own ways. One-parent homes is the theme of Lollipop's Joshua's Day, dealing with a young boy living alone with his mother, a photographer. Lollipop books are paper bound, and vary in price.. Check around, and you can discover other worthy "selfexpression" books for young peoplé. Free to Be . . . You and Me ($3.95) is an anthology conceived by Mario Thomas, and it features a wide variety of selectins by contemporary writers and artists, all dealing with young people's right to be themselves, whatever they may want to be. William 's Doll (3.95) by Charlotte Zolotow tells of a young boy who plays with a doll, and the subsequent harrassment which follows. In Dorothy Hass' Princess Book of Fairy Tales (4.95), the traditional "pretty, pink, protected" princess reverses role as woman saves the day in 9 different tales, and everyone lives happily ever after. Joanie (2.25) is a paperbound book featuring a selection of G. B. Trudeau's Doonesbury comic strips which spotlight Ms. Joanie Caucus' attempts to raise the consciousness of the young people in her daycare center class. Other books are just fun. The Woodstock Kid's Craft ($3.95) by Jean Young is for "ages 6-93!," and teaches the mechanics of basket weaving, tie dye, embroidering jeans, macrame, street theatre and more. Traditional children's favorites include the Dr. Seuss books, Peanuts books by Schulz, Sesame St. books, and the best-selling children's book, Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. Some of the volumes listed here may be difficult to find, but all bookstores in the campus area should have some of them. A good gift can be a good high for kids. Keep them flyin'