SKANEATELES, NY – One of the joys of being a little kid is making things move, and there’s no better place to start that locomotion than with a ball track set. Even the very little ones, 1 to 2 years old, will find hours of fun – not to mention hours of developmental learning – setting up a track, rolling a ball, and knocking down dominos. Of course, anything with “ball” in it is sure to delight in any case. A father of our acquaintance noted that, contrary to the popular belief that “Mama” is often baby’s first real word, “ball” was first in his son’s vocabulary and even now in his teenage years remains a centerpiece of his world. And while balls of every stripe are fascinating to the very young, maneuvering a ball on a track – actually having an active role (roll?) in the creative game – brings out the smiles like few other toys. He or she is having fun, repeating the steps and thinking up new ways to play the game, but parents, and toymakers, know that what’s really going on is skills building: hand-and-eye coordination, motor skills, problem solving. HABA has several new ball track items in its catalog this fall that will, as the saying goes, get the ball rolling. It starts small, then progresses in play complexity, and then get really big – and the beauty is that these ball track toys all work together so the child in your life can mix and match and play for quite some time as the skills development level increases. Start out, for the smaller kids, ages 1 to 2, with the My First Ball Track – Ball Ramp. This toy, made of beech wood, is basically a ball ramp that comes with three dominos for knocking over and a special effect ball that glitters, rings or rattles while rolling. On the top of the ramp there is a pivot point which holds the ball until the little one presses the squeaking button to get everything rolling. This game features the wonders of a rolling ball, cool noises as the action goes, and with the pivot point release button and the falling dominos it requires young children to reset the game and get actively involved. They will have a lot of fun and learn some great coordination skills in the process. Once the child has mastered that and had his or her fill of fun, the next level is the My First Ball Track – Basic Pack that adds in a level of constructive play and learning. Here it’s a ramp with six curved pieces that are held together with eight colorful connecting blocks. There’s also a finishing block with a bell where the rolling ball lands, and the kit comes with a regular wooden ball and a special effects ball that rings, glitters or rattles while rolling. The slightly older child, 1-1/2 to 3, here is challenged to construct the curing ramp, so they have to figure out how it goes together – a fun, problem-solving exercise that will keep a kid rapt for hours. Then you move up to My First Ball Track, which is the same sort of game only much larger – four ramps, eight curves, 12 colored connecting blocks, and then three dominos and three special effect balls. Mix and match the three sets and the child will have endless hours of play and creative problem solving right through the pre-school years. Now, you can also add in some other matching games from HABA to increase the fun – and the learning. Once again, the add-ons are games in and of themselves meant for slightly older children, but together with the ball track games they extend the life – and the fun – of all the games involved. The first one to consider is the Building Block – Starter Pack Domino set that comes with 61 domino blocks in bright colors, six natural wood blocks, a block clamp, two wheel clamps, an arched clamp with a bell, and one wooden ball. This is a rolling, knock-down game, of course, but think of the education the children will get in constructing the chain-reaction knock-down action. Then, of course, there’s the larger Building Blocks Basic Pack Domino set that adds in a couple of new items: two conveyor wheels, two metal rods with eyelets, and six marbles. Because of the marbles, this set is meant for the older children – 6+ -- who are beyond the eating-the-toys phase, and the set is designed to provide even more constructive challenges to engage the youngsters’ imaginations and creative skills. All of these ball track and domino toys are fashioned in Germany and primarily made of wood that is certified to be from sustainably harvested forests, as determined by PEFC, The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the world's largest forest certification system, based in Geneva, Switzerland. HABA, founded in the German forests more than 70 years ago, has a wide variety of toys and games for children of all ages, but wooden toys are at the heart of their heritage. These ball track and domino sets are centerpieces in the wooden toymaker’s artistry and they are made so well that your children’s children will enjoy playing with them as well 25 years or so hence. HABA toys are available throughout the US and the world at finer toy stores. To find a retailer near you use our handy Store Locator. Get the ball rolling today!
Leave a comment