All I want for Christmas :

Experts have chosen the most popular toys for the holidays

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— Children's Christmas wish lists will probably have a few of the most popular toys predicted for the 2002 winter season.

"I think a lot of kids would want a puppy dog," elementary student Corinne Landy said. Many of Landy's friends agreed a kitten or puppy would be their first choice for a Christmas present. For children who are not going to get a live, furry friend to play with, experts have chosen this year's top toys. LeapPad, Chicken Dance Elmo, the 20th anniversary of Trivial Pursuit, Fisher-Price's Rock and Play Piano, Xbox and Game Cube are rated as the most popular toys.

Wal-Mart manager Mark Meade said the LeapPad has been the top-selling toy for the past two years.

"We couldn't get enough of it last year and we are hoping we will get enough this year," he said.

The LeapPad helps third-, fourth- and fifth-graders learn basic math, spelling, reading, history and geography skills while they play games and listen to stories.

Chicken Dance Elmo is the second most popular toy. It is made by Fisher-Price, who also created Tickle Me Elmo, and is a favorite among young children. Elmo, the Sesame Street character dressed in a chicken suit, dances to the chicken dance song.

Meade said with the recent West Coast blockout, certain toys were harder to get, but he doesn't anticipate any problem keeping the shelves stocked during the holiday season.

Meade said Wal-Mart employees stock the store and determine the most popular toys by tracking the sale of items.

Kmart toy department manager Alonso Trango said girls are crazy about Real Cats that imitate cats, and boys are interested in Spider-Man, radio-controlled cars and Avalanche Trucks. He said traditional Christmas toys such as Barbie dolls, small porcelain dolls and board games are also popular.

Parents consider numerous things when buying their child a toy, but children just want something fun to play with during the holidays.

Spencer Noel said the toy first on his list is a Playstation 2. He said there are many games he would like, too if he gets the Playstation. Many students share similar interests in toys as their friends at school.

Kim Kueber, director of Laurel Street Preschool, said many children like toys related to movies they have seen. She said "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" toys are popular among children who are in their kindergarten years.

"Overall, it is pretty much the same (from year to year); there's not one thing they are all raving over," she said.

Kueber said the younger children are into Clifford the Dog, Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer.

For parents wanting fun educational toys, the LeapFrog toys rate as one of the most popular.

"LeapFrog stuff is always really good," Kueber said. She said LeapFrog is available for all ages up to high school.

For parents interested in helping their child learn more about their local environment, Deborah Fuller of Yampatika said many books are available that offer activities for a parent to do with their child. She said there are also many books available about Colorado and Steamboat Springs that are fun for children to read.

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