Some toys are hall worthy

With the Christmas and New Year’s holidays safely past, there’s a good opportunity to get caught up on some things that have been sitting on the corner of the desk for some time now, and, in the process, help to bring a little closure.

In case you missed it, this year’s inductees to the National Toy Hall of Fame have been named.

Located inside the Strong in Rochester, N,Y., the toy hall has followed a very simple set of criteria since it was founded in 1998: It looks to honor toys that have crossed generations, influenced the way toys are designed or played with and fostered learning or creativity through play.

The 2016 selections certainly lived up to those standards. They were Dungeons and Dragons, Fisher-Price Little People and the swing.

Dungeons and Dragons is one of history’s most popular role-playing games, and the people at the Strong called it “groundbreaking” in the way it encouraged older children and adults to become involved in play that helped to expand their imagination.

What was even more critical was that its gameplay was easily converted into the computer world. And that is the basis for the massively multiplayer online role-playing games that are so popular today, now through app-based play.

Little People have been around since 1959, and the imaginations of generations of boys and girls have grown by playing with the oversized little figures. The characters have even seen their make-believe world expand from the playsets designed by Fisher-Price to the world as they are carried from the playroom in the pockets of their keepers to engage in even greater adventures, something the manufacturer did not anticipate. More than 2 billion of the toys have been sold.

The swing, meanwhile, is important because it provides an understanding of kinetic energy, inertia and gravity, while also just being a fun way to spend an afternoon.

This year’s nominees included bubble wrap, Care Bears, the board game Clue, Nerf balls, Transformers, the Uno card game, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots and the coloring book. The 2016 selections bring the hall’s total to 62.

Members of our newsroom staff let their voices be heard after the nominees were released.

While Little People seemed to be among everyone’s favorite, our staff’s other top picks missed out this year — the pugilistic robots, Uno and bubble wrap.

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We’re less than a month into winter, and that means the competition has really started to heat up along the road to the Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee, presented by the Herald-Star.

School district bees got under way Wednesday when the Harrison Hills City School District Bee was held at Harrison Junior-Senior High School in Cadiz.

This week will be a busy one for district bees. On Tuesday, the Toronto City School District Bee is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Toronto Junior-Senior High School, while the Edison Local District Bee will start at 6:30 p.m. at Stanton Elementary. The Steubenville City School District Bee will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Harding Middle School, with the Indian Creek Local School District Bee scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Indian Creek Middle School and the Buckeye Local School District Bee scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 18 at Buckeye Local High School.

The top eight finishers in each of the district bees will advance to the regional bee, which will be held at 11 a.m. March 11 at Buckeye North Elementary School in Brilliant. Two alternates from each district bee also will be selected for possible participation in the regional bee. The winner of the regional bee will earn a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Presented by Kindle, which will be conducted as part of Bee Week, and that is scheduled to be held May 27 through June 2 in National Harbor, Md.

The local program has been a great educational tool since it was started in 1985, and we are proud to be able to continue to support it.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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