Five Fun Learning Toys for 8's & up
Making Playful Connections to School Skills
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Posted: 2011-09-23 12:37:00 By:

 

 

 


2011 Award
I Spy Spectacular!
(Briarpatch $24.99 Score: )

A challenging game with an innovative playing platform. Built on the concept of the popular I Spy books, this is a fun way to develop visual discrimination--the ability to notice small details. There are two very different games with reversible images on the cards and rings of the spinner platform.

Game 1: Players take turns at spinning the rings. When the spinner stops an arrow points to a pie-shaped area. Players must then look for two cards that match the multiple images in that section. Players who find the two matching cards receive a token. The winner of the game is the first to collect 10 tokens. The game can be played co-operatively and we suggest doing that especially with younger players.

Game 2: Flip the cards and the images on the spinner rings. The center ring has the words And or Not. Spin the platform; if the middle ring says AND the players must find a card that shows the object on the top ring and the bottom ring. If the middle rings says NOT players must find cards that do not have either of the objects pictured. Game 2 may be visually easier, but the concept of looking for something that is not there can be daunting for young players. I Spy Spectacular is labeled 5 & up. We think 5's will like playing co-operatively or with a partner. There are a lot of very small images that may be tough going for many fives who still tend to look at the world more globally. They will need practice in noticing small details. In part, that is what makes this a good game for developing this kind of fine tuned looking--a skill needed for reading. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Smart Lab Squishy Human Body
(Smart Lab $24.99 Score: )

If you have a child interested in the human body and how it works, this is a must have kit. We love the  information about all the systems of the body in the book, as well as the model of the human body that comes with the set.  The skelton also has body parts for hands on exploration. Remember the first time someone told you how long your intensines are?  Could you visual it?  Here you get to see it!  Unlike so many science kits and books directed to kids, the folks at Smart Lab hit the balance of information just right!  It's this kind of science toy that makes us so happy-- it really celebrates science and encourages kids to learn more. They also have more specific kit and book on the Squishy Brain and a fun Extreme Secret Formula Lab for 20 science experiments to try at home.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Laser Pegs 3D Lite Board
(Laser Pegs $99.95 Score: )

Our testers enjoyed playing with this construction toy both in an open-ended manner and by following the instructions for building the 21 suggested models.  The set comes with a light board and 115 laser pegs (a satisifying amount).  The board comes with a AC adapter but can also be run on 3 AA batteries. To make the laser pegs light up, you need to make complete the electrical circuit by making the proper connection (the pieces have male/female receptors)-- so there's some science involved here.  The real fun comes when you turn off the lights and see your build aglow!  Our eight and ten year old testers found the instructions easy to follow.  Pricey--but well worth it!  We also recommend the company's new Bug kits. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Dabble
(Ini LLC $25 Score: )

An interesting new turn on word play. Each player has a five-tiered rack for placing letter tiles. Players take 20 tiles before the game begins and turns them face-down. The goal is to make one 2-letter word, one 3-letter word, one 4-letter word, one 5-letter word, and one 6-letter word before the timer runs out.

Hint: This will generally take several rounds, especially when you first play. We suggest putting the timer away..and play till someone needs to exchange some tiles. If you use the timer then 2-4 players vie to be the first to spell all 5 words before the 5-minute timer runs out. When the timer runs out players can trade letter with the slush pile if they need different letters. The first player to make the five words gets the points on any tiles that the other players have not used. You get double points for using an apostrophe. Object is to be the first player to win 100 points. The game can be played in English or Spanish with extra letters provided for the latter. We think this is a really new word game that will be enjoyed by older players more than the younger members of the family. If you are a mixed age group you may like to play this with teams rather than one on one. 10 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Scrabble Turbo Slam
(Hasbro $14.99 Score: )

If you liked our 2009 Platinum winner, Scrabble Slam, you are probably going to love the Turbo Slam version even more. Basically this is the same card game with an added electronic device that adds to the tension with its music, sound effects and slam button that is basically a timer. When you hear the turbo sound you must be the first to slam the big button and draw an action card. But wait - that card may have good news or the other kind. Oh, oh! You may end up with more cards (not what you want) or you may get to give some away. The word play itself is more like the game of Upwards than Scrabble. Players get to stack letters cards on top of the the cards on the table to make a new word. The object is to get rid of all your cards. It's a fast actions game with or without the sound effects. We still like the basic card game, but a lot of kids are going to like the electronic Turbo Slammer. 8 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
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