Looking for a toy? Here are ones that are fun and educational

Educational toys make up a popular category this holiday season. (Photo: Sinclair Broadcasting)

Video games, action figures, princesses and ponies.

Toy store aisles and online searches can get exhausting for parents like Kim Curtiss, a mother of two, trying to find that perfect holiday gift.

"I'm always looking at mom blogs to see what they're giving and what they recommend," she says.

This year the hottest toy isn't one item.

Let Claudia Towles, owner of aMuse Toys, explain: "It's a category. What's hot right now is math, STEM, anything teaching science.

Towles says toy companies are reinforcing science, technology, engineering and math in their products and. filling toy aisles with education.

"The reactivity of the magnet is a very interesting idea for kids," Towles says.

Even though MagnaTiles are nothing new to store shelves, Towles says it's a classic favorite that promotes early math concepts. As a child ages you can add to the collection so he or she can build more complex structures.

"Think about it, with Legos: The more pieces they have the more they can build," Towles says. "These don't hurt though when you stand on them."

It's never too early to start learning.

The Noggin stick is one of the hottest toys for babies.

"This changes color every time you shake it. It helps with visual tracking." Towles says "It's educational. Now does the baby know they're being educated? Of course not, but it teaches cause and effect."

Even Barbie is hopping on the STEM wagon.

" Barbie is something very familiar to kids, but STEM and engineering concept may not be. So this is trickery," Towles says.

And don’t forget family game night.

Klask is a skill game with magnetic control.

"This is one we sell to college kids and 5-year-olds. It's kind of like air hockey but without the danger. And it doesn't take that much space. I scored."

So this holiday season the emphasis is on anything that fosters critical thinking and problem solving.

Mom Kim Curtiss is hoping for a gift that will provide her children will have skills they will be glad to have later.

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