Oh, my, has the Webkinz craze hit our house! My first description of these cute little animals is "Beanie Babies on crack" and I bet the Beanie Baby folks are hating life right now that they didn't think to add the computer component to their little guys. I mean really, are the Webkinz anything new besides the fact that they provide online access to children to play interactively with their Webkinz and even their friends' Webkinz? They are just stuffed animals, just like the Beanie Babies. It is AMAZING what people will think of just to get people to buy more stuff!
If you don't know what Webkinz are, they are stuffed animals that come with a special tag. When you get home, you use the code from your tag to register online, where your Webkinz gets a room, and where you can earn money to buy clothes, furniture, and other goodies. They are virtual goodies, and they are bought with "Kinz Cash." You can invite your friends' Webkinz over to your room, and even meet kids you don't know and play with them online. It is actually a really great learning experience for kids, and while I hate that it initially encourages consumerism, it really teaches them the value of things when they spend or save their Kinz Cash. It is also a way for kids to show their generosity. My son earns money and then sends gifts (virtually) to his friends or sisters. It's so sweet!
Here comes the mom in me.... I didn't just go out and buy my kids stuffed animals. They earned them. We developed a point system, and they got so many points for doing certain things. We were dealing with first time obedience, so every time they did something the first time I asked, they got a point. They also got points for feeding the dog, cleaning up, helping with dinner, and keeping their rooms clean. Once they earned 25 points, they could buy a Webkinz. They each received their first Webkinz "free" as a gift from their dad at the zoo. They also both received one as a gift. The final three were earned. They are not allowed to get more than 5, and they knew this going into it. Which is fine for them, because they got turned on to Build-a-Bear and now they want accessories for their animals! Yikes!
Anyway, if you haven't looked past the craziness of Webkinz, check it out as a learning tool for children. My daughter just turned 5 and is able to work with the website fairly well even though she is just in the beginning stages of reading. The website is http://www.webkinz.com/ and they make GREAT Christmas gifts. You can't buy them at the website, but you can see more about the process. You can buy them locally, on eBay, or Google "Webkinz" and I'm sure you will find some online stores! Here is our Webkinz family: