17 Tips for Your Kidmin from the 17 Toys of the Year

Each year, the Toy Association presents the winners of the Toy of the Year Awards.  The event is like the Oscars of the toy industry.

For anyone who works with kids, the winning toys provide great insight into what kids like and why.  These toys won because they meet the inner needs, curiosities and aspirations of kids.

Let's look at the toys and see what we can learn that will help us be more effective at connecting and communicating with kids.

Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey
This little "pet" that wraps around kids' fingers, allows them to endow it with a personality and then interact with it.  Kids can collect them and create a family.  They can use them to act out scenarios.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • KidMins can create Bible character "finger puppets" for kids.
  • Kids can collect them and use them to act out Bible stories during the lesson and at home.
  • Get out your regular puppets and have some kids act out the Bible story while you tell it. 
L.O.L. Suprise!  Pet Series
These are small pet figures that come with stickers and accessories.  They come in a round container and kids don't know which pet they are getting until the open the "surprise."

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • The key element that makes this toy so popular is "surprise."  Kids love surprises.  Surprises bring excitement, wonder and possibilities.  
  • Bring surprises into your kidmin.  Surprise guests, surprise prizes, surprise teaching elements, surprise endings, etc.
  • Use surprises as cliffhangers.  An example is having kids come back to see what happens next week in a teaching series.  Let them know there will be a surprise ending. 
Funko Mystery Minis
These are small figures that kids can collect and use in interactive play.  Are you seeing a pattern emerge?  The first three toys are all small, collectible figures that kids can display and use to act out the imaginations and wonders they are thinking about.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids love to collect things.  What can you create that kids can collect?
  • Kids love to display the things they collect?  How can you use collectable things to extend your lesson into the home?
  • Kids love to use characters to act out their imagination.  How can you get kids involved in acting out the lesson?
Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Dancing Groot Figure
This is a figure that dances and moves to music.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids love to dance and move to music. 
  • Give kids lots of room and opportunities to move and express themselves to God when worshiping.
LEGO Star Wars BB-8
This LEGO kit features authentic detailing and wheel activated rotating head and opening hatch.  It also includes a display stand and decorative fact plaque.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids love to build things.  Provide them with lesson crafts that they can build. 
  • Kids love to display what they build.  Encourage them to take their craft home and display it for the week.  
  • Give parents lesson discussion questions that tie into the craft their kids build.
Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
This kit enables kids to invent their own droid and then control it through a smartphone app.  Kids give their invention a personality, teach it tasks and send in on missions.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids love inventions. 
  • Bring experiments and inventions into your lessons.  
  • Give kids hands on opportunities to create, invent and experiment.
Wonder Crew Superhero Will
This toy combines the adventure of an action figure with the emotional connection of a stuffed animal to give children a best friend.  It's 15" tall and comes dressed as a superhero with a cape and mask.  It also includes a matching cape and mask for the child to wear on their adventures.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids love superheros.  The Bible is full of superheroes.  Bring kids into their adventures.   How about a superheroes of the Bible series?
  • Kids love to pretend they are superheros.  Kids have an inner longing to be known, admired and feel powerful. 
  • Show kids that through Christ they can do great things and be a superhero in God's kingdom.
Soggy Doggy Game
This is an action-packed, suspense-filled board game.  Kids race around the board and take turns giving Soggy Doggy a bath.  The suspense builds as kids watch for the dog to shake himself dry.  Get soaked and you get sent back to the start.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids love board games.  Board games give kids the opportunity to talk, negotiate and collaborate with others. 
  • Have board games kids can play with each other and volunteers before service starts.
  • Create Bible board games for your small groups to play. 
  • Kids love games that bring risk, dare and suspense.  Bring these elements into your large group games.
Teddy Ruxpin
Teddy Ruxpin is back.  First introduced in 1985, this popular teddy bear is smart, innovative and cuddly.  Teddy gives kids the opportunity to experience interactive stories.  He moves, sings and talks.  And a free app allows kids to advance their reading abilities as they view digital books and read along with Teddy.
Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids get the most out of stories when they can have conversations about the stories and ask questions.  
  • Make your teaching conversational and give kids lots of opportunities to ask questions.
  • Provide parents with bedtime Bible stories they can read with their children.  Include discussion questions to spark conversation between them.
Jurassic World T-Rex Inflatable Costume 
Kids can put on the costume and act like they are a dinosaur.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids love to pretend they are characters.  
  • Provide kids with Bible costumes and have them act out Bible stories. 
  • Provide props and have kids act out Bible application scenarios.
Bunch-O-Balloons Filler Soaker
Kids can use this soaker to not only blast water, but also fill up self-sealing water balloons.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids love water play.  Bring it into your events, camps, etc. 
  • Kids love messy games.  Use messy games in your lessons.
Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage
Hot Wheels made their debut in 1968 and they've been a hit with kids ever since.  This Hot Wheels play set is over 3 feet tall and can store up to 140 cars.  It brings in several elements of play.  Kids can unlock storytelling with a motorized elevator that transports up to 23 cars at a time.  Kids can also test their problem-solving skills to avoid a giant gorilla that tries to swipe cars out of the elevator.  And kids can experience side-by-side racing action.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Use problem-solving to help kids grasp and understand Bible truths. 
  • Bring friendly competition into your lessons with review games, Bible memory games, etc.
  • Make sure all of your games have a purpose and end goal to teach kids God's Word.
Just Play Disney Junior Minnie's Walk and Play Puppy
This toy features Minnie Mouse and her dog Snowpuff.  Kids can use Minnie's clicker to teach Showpuff to bark, spin and dance.  They can also go on a dog-walking adventure together.  Minnie sings and talks to her furry friend and Snowpuff makes happy dog sounds.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Kids have very little control over their life.  They are told what time to get up, where to go, what to eat, etc.  This causes them to be drawn to any toy or activity that offers the opportunity to be in control.  
  • Give kids choices while they are at church.  They will respond to this enthusiastically.
PAW Patrol My Size Lookout Tower
This toy is based on the PAW Patrol television show.  Kids can recreate their favorite scenes from the show.  They can also keep watch of the citizens of Adventure Bay by using the rotating periscope located at the top of the tower.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • This toy gives kids power as they make-believe they are driving and controlling the bay. 
  • Give kids opportunities to "be in control" at various times in the lesson.  As mentioned previously, this can be done by offering them choices and options.
Antsy Pants Build and Play Kits
Kids can build their own train and pretend they are going to any destination their imagination can take them.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Have kids use cardboard boxes to build a "train" that takes them back to Bible times to experience Biblical events. 
  • Have kids build a time machine that takes them back to Bible times.
LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon 
This is the largest, most detailed LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcom ever created.  With 7,500 pieces, it has interchangeable sensor disks and crew, so kids can play out their adventures.
  • Kids love to build.  What can you give them to build?
  • Kids love to take what they build and use their imagination to tell stories with it.  Guide them to take what they build and use it as a teaching tool to help them learn the Bible by acting out the stories in it.
LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox
LEGO continues to make this list.  This kit contains over 840 LEGO pieces for kids to make a robot with.  It also contains a LEGO Move Hub, interactive motor and a color & distance sensor.  It can be controlled by a tablet or mobile phone.
  • The build, create and control elements continue.  
  • How can give kids the opportunity to build, create and control in your lessons?
Paw Patrol Sea Patroller
Paw Patrol makes the list again.  The Sea Patroller lets kids transform the vehicle from ship to land vehicle and take pups on new and exciting missions.  It has a moveable crane and attachable cage.

Takeaways for KidMin:
  • Another theme I see running through these toys is giving kids the opportunity to engage in make-believe play.  
  • Kids love to act out what they are imagining and dreaming about.  
  • Have kids act out the stories of the Bible. 
  • Place kids in different life application scenarios and act how they would apply the Biblica truth you taught them. 
Bring these ideas and elements into your ministry and you're sure to have a kid's ministry that is a hit with kids and families!