Toys put to the ultimate test at Cascade Township school

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CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Toy makers put their creations to the test at a Kent County school with the help of the ultimate experts: children.

“We know what we think is fun, but their idea of fun might be something just a little bit different. And we can really take their thoughts and opinions into the process as well,” said Kellie Custer, owner of the Goddard School in Cascade Township.

The toy test is held at 50 Goddard schools nationwide to determine what kids like and how the toys are helping them learn and grow.

Toy manufacturers submit their toys for testing. Custer says the entries are then whittled down to a list of finalists that are then presented to the kids for some hands-on experience in the classroom.>>PDF: Goddard School suggested toys for testing

“We get a chance to observe them in action with it, to make sure not only are they educational and are they safe, but are they really fun to use? Do they inspire creativity? Do they encourage interaction with their friends?” Custer said.

For 4-year-old Charlie, Fat Brain’s Farm Alarm is a favorite.

In another classroom, Melissa and Doug’s Star Diner Restaurant Play caters to the imagination.

“It’s not just about the products or the toys they we might like to play with. It’s really about what the kids enjoy,” said Custer.

Two toys with “just add water” instructions were put to the test. One of them contains water beads called Orbeez.

Elliott, 5, says he likes Orbeez.

“Yes, because they’re squishy. And they’re really pretty and they’re so slippery,” he explains.

Families from the school will cast the final toy vote. At the end of the day, parents know it’s not the toy itself that matters, but the fun everyone has and what they learn while playing.

“(The) key is to spend a lot of time with your kids and talk with them; (get) good quality time (together), whether there’s a toy involved or not,” said Custer.

The Goddard School in Cascade Township will donate some of the winners of their toy test to charities in West Michigan just in time for the holidays.

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