STREETSBORO, Ohio, Oct. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With holiday shopping around the corner everyone is looking for the perfect gift that stimulates young minds, encourages fun and active play, and also has the durability to last for years. To help families get started The Step2® Company, the largest toy manufacturer in the U.S., kicked-off a national contest that aims to showcase how certain toys can spark a child's creative imagination. Beginning today, anyone with a child 10 years old or younger can enter the "Big Imaginations are Cooking" contest, where 10 finalists will win a Step2 play kitchen of their choice and have a chance to win the $5,000 grand prize.
Families can enter the "Big Imaginations are Cooking" contest by submitting an essay (150 words or less) that tells the story of their kids play imaginatively, in an unstructured way, to www.bigimaginationscontest.com. Entries will be accepted until Nov. 20, 2011. To demonstrate and inspire contestants, the site also showcases the full line of Step2 play kitchens plus four videos from top mommy bloggers across the country showing their own children playing on the newest Step2 kitchens, showcasing their belief in the importance of imaginative and creative play.
"We know that unstructured play is essential to a child's growth," said The Step2 Company president and CEO Jack Vresics. "This holiday season Step2 is proudly spotlighting toys that allow a child's imagination to run wild, such as our extensive line of play kitchens, so that parents, grandparents, or any gift giver can feel good about giving a toy that will boost their creativity for years to come."
After all essays are received, ten finalists will be announced and will advance to round two of the contest, where they will be given a Step2 kitchen and video camera and asked to create a video with their kids playing with the kitchen in an unstructured and/or creative way. It will then be up to Step2's Facebook fans to vote for their favorite video between Dec. 12, 2011 and Jan. 8, 2012 and determine the winning video. To encourage fans to vote for their favorite finalist video, Step2 has partnered with Saving tiny Hearts Society, a non-profit organization that raises research money for congenital heart defects, and will donate $1 for every vote received.
"We're thrilled to be partnering with Step2 on the 'Big Imaginations are Cooking' contest," said Francie Paul, founder and president of Saving tiny Hearts. "The generous donation that we will receive as a result of fans voting for their favorite video will allow us to continue our mission to put an end to America's #1 birth defect, raise more critical funding for lifesaving grass roots research of congenital heart defects and help change the future of medicine giving the more than 40,000 babies born each year with a heart defect, a chance to live."
In addition to the contest, Step2 has a number of new toys ready for the holiday shopping season. These latest toys offer a variety of play experiences, innovative product designs and new twists on classic play patterns to last for years to come. Available online at Step2.com and exclusive retailers nationwide, new holiday toys from Step2 include:
Kitchen Entertainment from a Trusted Brand
- Cozy Kitchen™; MSRP $59.99 - Your little chef will cook in style with this realistic compact kitchen with electronic stove top. The modern colors and styling features "granite counter tops," oven, refrigerator and sink with movable faucet. This kitchen also includes lots of valuable storage space for playtime accessories, multiple storage cabinets with authentic handle hardware and special frying pan and boiling pot with lid, which activate electronic frying and boiling water sounds in the stove's front burner. Ages 2+
- Lifestyle Legacy Kitchen™; MSRP $129.99 - A modern and fresh play kitchen with that fits perfectly in your playroom or kitchen. Sized for two kids, with realistic features like a multi-level counter tops, a fridge with water dispenser, microwave, oven with electronic burners and electronic stove, and working phone. The kitchen comes with full accessory set, reusable shopping tote and lots of built in storage, for easy clean-up. Ages 2+
- Prepare & Share Kitchen™; MSRP $89.99 - This kitchen and counter in one has charming girl touches and allows for several kids to prepare and serve. Realistic features include an electronic stove top that sizzles, an oven, fridge and pass through serving window, phone, swivel faucet and full accessory set. In addition to the pink burst of color and subway tile decals, the fridge is shown dispensing pink lemonade and the spice jars are all things sweet. Ages 2+
- Simmer & Serve™; MSRP $79.99 - A pink twist on a family favorite, this realistic kitchen comes complete with a stove top burner, phone, multiple storage drawers and cabinets, a sink with faucet and 17-piece accessory set. A special pan and pot includes frying and boiling water sounds for hours of entertainment.
Imaginative Play and Make Believe Fun
- Build and Store Activity Table™; MSRP $99.99 - A block and activity table with clear storage bins for Legos® / Mega Blocks®, supplies, books, etc. Includes storage trays and cups for crayons, blocks, paint, markers, etc. The size makes it perfect for two kids, or just one. It's made to last and easy to clean with a fresh design that looks great in your home and includes an adorable stool. Ages 3+
- Home Depot Big Builders Workshop™; MSRP $119.99 - Deluxe project center for pretend projects and real crafts. Authentic "particle board" work surface with working vice, storage containers, hard building surface, drill, and screw storage pockets. Comes with 2 large storage cabinets and shop refrigerator. Electronics include drill and overhead light, batteries not included. Offers realistic project Durafoam "wood" building set. 50 piece accessory set included.
- Art Easel Desk™; MSRP $54.99 - Unique desk and easel accommodates multiple artists! This educational toy has workspace for creative projects. The dry erase board includes a clip to hang paper and other projects. Plenty of storage to hold art supplies. Very stable base that ensures stability. Ages 2+
Just Like Mom (Or Dad)
- My Own Laundry Set™; MSRP $27.99 - This portable playset, perfectly sized for a preschooler, gives the real-life laundry experience with realistic washing sounds, lights and clicking knobs. The washer door opens to store the adorable accessories, including iron, spray bottle, hangers and dryer sheets inside. Batteries are included. Ages 2+
- My Own Grill Set™; MSRP $27.99 - Small hands can flip burgers, turn knobs and get grilling just like their parents. A portable playset, perfectly sized for your preschooler, offers realistic grilling lights, clicking knobs and cooking sounds. The cabinet doors open up and store all accessories inside for easy transport. As with all Step2 toys, My Own Grill wipes clean and is made in the USA. Batteries are included. Ages 2+
About The Step2® Company:
The Step2® Company is a family company with brands including Step2® and Infantino® that foster learning and development through creative play in children from birth to school-age years. Based in Streetsboro, Ohio, Step2 is the largest American manufacturer of preschool and toddler toys and the world's largest rotational molder of children's and home products, including children's play kitchens, playhouses, outdoor toys and ride on toys, as well as home products such as mailboxes, gardening aids and trash cans. Learn more at www.step2.com.
About Saving tiny Hearts Society
Since 2006, the Saving tiny Hearts Society (StHS) has been working to fulfill its mission of raising seed money for grossly under-funded, lifesaving grass roots research of congenital heart defects (CHDs). This seed funding acts as a bridge for this research to millions of dollars of extramural funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) or other outside funding. To date the StHS has raised over a half-million dollars and funded five (5) research projects. The StHS has no paid employees and our organization and board of directors functions with only volunteers who share the passion for helping to extend the lives of these children born with congenital heart defects. Learn more at www.savingtinyhearts.org.
SOURCE The Step2 Company