Talking Shop

What's fun to play with, interactive, educational and not made of junky plastic? The answer is simple: just about anything at Shop, Skip and a Jump, the tiny little nook of a gift shop tucked into the entryway at the Children's Museum of Denver. It's useful information this time of year: While your neighbors roam the big-box toy stores, punching one another out over the last of this season's must-have toys, you can easily bring the family for a swing through the museum and shop this uncrowded jewel in peace.

And so what if there's nary a Barbie Rapunzel doll to be seen? How about a classic bendable Gumby instead, or a plush raccoon's head disguising a pair of cool binoculars? This shop even has those very Whoopee Cushions once sold in the back pages of comic books. For proper little girls, there are Monarch butterfly and ladybug wings to wear, and for little tykes just figuring out how to put it all together, there are counting and vehicle-noise sound blocks that answer aurally when put together in the correct configuration. Bigger kids fresh from Treasure Planet will no doubt enjoy the Treasure Island Dig & Play set, replete with ducats and doubloons and a sand pit under which to bury them.

But it's the wooden toys that really rule here, whether they're unadorned whistles or block sets, interactive puzzles or tiny workbenches outfitted with tools. There's a clever wooden sandwich kit featuring hamburger buns, pickles, tomatoes and all the fixings, with Velcro fasteners to hold your creation together, as well as elaborate dollhouses and even a lumber-based outer-space adventure system.

There, now. Wasn't that easy? Shop, Skip and a Jump is inside the Children's Museum of Denver, 2121 Children's Museum Drive; for information, call 303-433-7444 or log on to www.mychildsmuseum.org.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd