And the toy of the year is……

HARTFORD --  The holidays - a fun time for kids eyeing the gifts they want to find under that Christmas tree. But it is also a challenging time for both, parents and grandparents who want to buy a toy that inspires their imagination.

Here to help you out,  the annual TIMPANI toy of the year which stands for "toys that inspire mindful play and nurture imagination."

Now in its eighth year, the study investigates how young children learn as they play with a variety of toys in natural settings. 10 toys were selected this year for the study by teachers, faculty and student researchers.

The toys were placed in preschool classrooms at the University's Child and Family Development Resource Center. student researchers used hidden cameras to videotape children playing with the toys.

Researchers then coded the footage according to the study's evaluation rubric which includes four subscales:

  1. Thinking and learning
  2. Cooperation and social interaction
  3. Creativity and imagination
  4. Verbalization

For this year's study, researchers coded nearly 8,000 five-minute observations.​

The Animal Kingdom Mega Pack received the highest overall score in this year's study. It also scored the highest in three of the four subscales. It was the highest-scoring toy for both boys and girls. It also scored high for children from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

See how the research was done and other effective toys here.