By Maggie Wolff Peterson
Bundles of energy they are, children shouldn't need a lot of persuasion to get busy -- just the right gift to help them to spring into action. From the humble rubber ball to the elaborate, electronic Wii game system, Santa has his pick of toys to get kids moving this holiday season.
Trey Cherry of Stephens City, owner of 2nd Time Sports in Winchester, said economy-minded Santas can shop his store for refurbished, second-hand sporting equipment at a fraction of the cost of new gear.
"You can buy a baseball bat for $7 as opposed to $30," Cherry said.
His sons, 7-year-old Ivan and 3-year-old Liam, also like to move the action indoors.
"We have a Wii," Cherry said. "They love it for the dance games."
Another family favorite is "Monster Mayhem" for Wii, which involves turning a steering wheel.
"It's more movement than just this," Cherry said, flicking his thumbs as if operating a video game controller.
Overall, he said, to keep kids active, "Sports are the thing to make them move."
A stroll through any toy superstore offers aisle after aisle of choices, and even toddler toys can provide action.
Play 5 Sports, a toy aimed at kids 3 and younger, combines soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey and golf in a toy with equipment for each. It includes a baseball tee and bat, a hockey stick, a golf club and a basketball hoop that keeps track of the number of times a ball goes through. A digital scoreboard, lights, sounds and music add to the experience, according to the toy's package.
"Your toddler will cheer at the chance to kick, shoot, swing, toss and putt for the first time," the package reads, also promising the toy will improve motor skills, hand-eye coordination, understanding of cause and effect and counting skills.
The classic Sit 'n Spin never ceases to give toddlers a thrill, requiring only arm power to move the rotating disc and give themselves a ride. Older kids might enjoy a scooter.
Online, specialty retailers such as SensoryEdge offer toys that promote balance and provide soft structures for climbing. This season, the website Parenting.com offers a "best-of" list of seven indoor energy-burning toys including the Little Jumper Trampoline. The classic party game, Twister, also gets kids moving.
Even the traditional rocking horse has undergone transformation. Electronic sensors in the Fisher-Price Rockin' Tunes Giraffe detect how fast a child is rocking and respond by increasing the pace of music emanating from the toy. The faster the child goes, the more quickly its light-up mane strobes.
Similarly, the Rollin' Tunes Zebra speeds up the action the faster a child propels it across the floor. And the Musical Lion Walker uses melodies and sounds to encourage babies taking their first steps.
But movement-promoting toys need not be elaborate. Hula hoops haven't changed much since their invention in 1958. Footballs remain footballs, and a game of catch in the backyard provides perennial enjoyment for families. However stick horses have gone high-tech, with battery-operated audio boxes inserted in their necks, producing the sounds of neighing and clopping hooves when a child squeezes the animal's ear.
And while bicycles are great for getting kids moving, they have also evolved. At Toys R Us, bikes for small girls, equipped with training wheels and streamers, a handlebar purse and fenders shaped like leaves also feature Disney fairies. A similar, more masculine version has a pirate theme.
And bike helmets are more stylish than ever, affixed with rubberized spikes, kitten ears, tiaras and fauxhawks. Other outdoor toys include skates and a skateboard.
Indoors, a bowling set or boxing bag can make things more interesting. A five-foot inflatable target bag loaded with sand at its base can be punched or kicked and will return to an upright position.
Imagination-based toys also get kids off the couch. Fully equipped play kitchens can have kids moving from refrigerator to stove to microwave. A Home Depot-brand tool bench uses up to 79 pieces, including a toy drill press and circular saw. And little kids might enjoy a mini Dyson ball or Dirt Devil toy vacuum to push around the living room floor. There are even child-size broom and dustpan sets.
For more information about Second Time Sports, 2625 Valley Ave., Winchester, call 540-450-8387 or visit www.2ndtimesports-winchester.com.