We discovered Zoobrellas when my daughter received money for a shopping spree ($30). The process of shopping with her was interesting. She walked around the store examining the most interesting toys. She was three and a half years old and able to pick her favorite things. I kept track of her total costs.
With a small selection of the most interesting items, I was able to say, "you have enough money to get this and this but not that." She went through several iterations of the things she would buy but when we got to the check out counter she decided to put many things back on the shelves so she could afford an umbrella of her very own.
I was very happy with her process of learning how to shop. How to make decisions based on how much money she had to spend. I was also very happy that she picked such an interesting item. The umbrella had "Preschool Engineering" written all over it.
Umbrellas are mechanically interesting. Opening and closing them reveals extending rods and an experience of three dimensional space that is as unique and fun as it is functional. The Zoobrella brand (the monkey below) is so good for young children. The designs are a beautiful blend of form and function. They look like animal heads. But they have the added bonus of a small but cleverly placed window so the child can see out from under the shelter!
A Zoobrella could be a wonderful Easter basket treasure or rainy day gift. Choose between a monkey, bee, owl, ladybug, dog, giraffe and butterfly. Find yours at their webpage: http://www.skiphop.com/zoobrella-little-kid-umbrella.
p.s. The Zoobrella didn't cost $30. She also got princess gloves and modeling foam.