I've decided, based on my limited experience as a first-time parent, which gives me great credibility (grin), that I should try to market dry dog food as the next must have toy for toddlers. Seriously!! We have been given some great, fancy, battery-requiring toys for our toddler, but few have kept her occupied as long and with such great concentration and interest as our dog's dry kibble.
Here's how it works: the child removes the lid from the 5 gallon bucket containing the dry dog food, reaches inside and removes the premeasured scooping cup (I got ours from the dog's vet to be sure I fed him less, so the dog would lose weight) setting it several feet from the original container. Next, the child returns to the bucket, reaches in and grabs a fistful of food, and carefully places it into the scooping cup.
Fun ensues when the household dog decides to join in the game. The toddler scrambles to pick up any dropped pieces of kibble and place it into the small scooping cup before the pampered pooch can scarf it up into his mouth.
I have it from a reliable source (a mom of two preschoolers with more experience than I) that transferring objects is a major milestone for tots this age. So, this could be marketed as an educational toy that teaches fine motor skills (picking up individual pieces dropped during the transfer), gross motor skills (walking from bucket to cup), problem solving skills (how to remove the lid from the 5 gallon bucket), math skills (you could have child count the pieces once the cup is full), and advanced skills like evasive manuevering (keeping the food away from the dog).
The advanced model could be sold the following year with a bungee cord included to increase the difficulty of removing the bucket's lid and a decorating kit for sprucing up the 5 gallon bucket so it will fit in with any decor.
Sounds like a winner to me -- and -- as an added bonus, this toy requires no batteries and no assembly.