I've written several posts with toy recommendations now- I had no idea I had so many opinions about toys! My earlier posts have had some ideas for toys to help even the most princess-obsessed girls grow skills that will set them up for future success in math and science classes, such as spatial reasoning and logic. But what about boys? I think they are also getting hurt by the current gender-stratified toy landscape. The overtly "boy" toys usually do a great job of growing spatial reasoning, logic, and other early math skills. They don't do such a great job of encouraging verbal development, interpersonal and caring skills, and artistic creativity- skills that the "girl" toys do a good job of encouraging.
In my perfect world, all toys would be fair game for all kids, and no child would be constrained in his or her interests or skill development by gender stereotypes. But we don't live in that perfect world, and challenging the gender-stratified world reflected by toys is a heavy load to ask our children to carry. I will stand up for any boy who wants to play with a baby doll (and yes, it is possible to find a baby doll that isn't all pink and purple), but I don't think it is fair to expect that every boy will want to challenge that stereotype, and just like I don't want our princess-obsessed girls to miss out on the chance to grow their spatial reasoning and math skills, I don't want our car-obsessed boys miss out on the chance to grow their verbal and interpersonal skills.
As the mother of two girls, I am obviously not the best person to make recommendations for toys that will help boys who insist on typically boy toys (or whose toys are purchased by people who insist on typically boy toys) to grow these skills. But I have a few ideas, based on my observations of the boys in Pumpkin's class and my thoughts about some of the toys we own, and maybe some of my commenters who do have boys will chime in with some more.
First up, I think that the LeapFrog Phonics Bus that both of our girls loved should appeal to vehicle-loving boys, and although I will admit that the phonics jingle gets stuck in my head and drives me nuts, I also credit the Leap Frog DVDs (which use the same jingle) with helping Pumpkin learn to read.
Dalmatian Vet Kit my sister got Petunia for her birthday would be great. There is a little dog and a bunch of plastic vet's equipment in a dog carrier. Petunia and Pumpkin both like to check up on the dog and their other stuffed animals.
I also like the Lost Puppies board game, which Pumpkin got for her 5th birthday- from one of the boyest boys in her class, who loved the game. It is a cooperative game in which the players work together to rescue lost puppies and deliver them to their homes.
We also got our Crayola spin art as a gift, and it is also something both of my kids love. I suspect it would be a good way to get some art into the life of a boy who thinks all toys must have motion.