Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

What If? Conversation Ring

What If? Conversation Ring

Spring 2012 Toys
Ages: 5 & Up
Manufacturer: SimplyFun
Price: $9.00

SimplyFun's "What If" is nothing much to look at - just a collection of 100 two-inch-long plastic-coated cards on a metal ring: but there's a lot to be said about this small package.

Each of the 100 cards is a conversation starter, posing a "What if" question that will prompt your child to consider important such as "What if I get lost in a store?" or "What I was blamed for something I didn't do?" While most parents have discussed many of the contained topics with their kids at one time or another, there's value in explicitly providing a stack of questions for those times when you're bored, can't think of something to talk about, or for when you want your child to initiate a conversation.

The conversation starters fall into three categories: safety, emotions, and social interactions. There are no "silly" questions - they are all meant to trigger serious discussions about serious topics. Within the first few days, we had several interesting conversations while driving around town. The water resistant key ring format is such that it's easy to throw into a purse or clip onto a backpack, making it readily accessible whenever you have a lull in conversation. We felt we needed to lighten the mood a bit, and ask some 'fun questions' in between these more serious topics. Of course, it's easy to talk about fun things, and difficult to have conversations about sadness, hurt feelings, and anger - which is what makes this product worthwhile.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

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