Early School Years

New Reviews and Articles

A conversation with LEGO Master Builder Erik Varszegi
Tags: Meet the Toy Makers, LEGO Master Builder
Posted: 2010-10-01 08:55:56 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

I'm often asked about my own journey into toyland.  After all, reviewing toys is quite different than practicing law.  So I started to wonder how other people ended up here too.  What inspired them to design and create the toys we review all year long?  If you've ever seen some of the amazingly large LEGO builds, chances are you already have seen the work of  LEGO Master Builder Erik Varszegi.  Read our interview.

Stephanie on NBC's TODAY SHOW
Tags: Today Show, Hot Toys, Toy Fair
Posted: 2010-04-16 14:52:43

Stephanie shared some of the early front runners for top toys of 2010 on NBC's TODAY Show on Friday, March 5th.  Click here to watch the segment. After attending the American International Toy Fair in New York last month, the toyportfolio.com kicks into gear for a new season of toy testing with their testers throughout the country. As the toys start rolling in, we'll be posting reviews as we go- rather than making consumers wait until the end of the year.  Toys that receive an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award during the Spring and Summer, will be nominated for the year-end Platinum AwardsRead Stephanie's blog for a preview of some promising toys.

Tags: Toy Fair, New Hot Toys, Mattel
Posted: 2010-05-06 19:51:31

Following the success of Rocky the Talking Truck, Mattel is rolling out Stinky the Garbage Truck. He sings, dances, eats garbarge and yes, he farts.  Take a look at his video.

Firestations, Handcuffs, Bubbles, Glow-in-the Dark and Things that go Splat!
Tags: Toy Fair, Hot Toys, Early Favorites, Playmobil
Posted: 2010-04-20 13:57:02

We had a busy day today!  In our travels we saw an amazing Fire Fighters Set from Playmobil (see the video below), Handcuffs and other Spy Wear from Wild Planet, adorable Huggables from Steiff,  a Cow  that blows bubbles from Little Kids, an assortment of glow-in-the dark toys from Crayola and just as I was leaving a toy that goes splat and then regains its shape, no joke.  Read Stephanie's blog for more details.

Dr. Carter G Woodson, Wouldn't He Be Pleased!
Tags: Black History, Books, videos, audio books, Carter G. Woodson,
Posted: 2010-02-22 16:13:59 By: Joanne Oppenheim

February is Black History Month, a tradition that began in the early part of the 20th Century. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves, became a scholar and was disturbed that black Americans and their contributions were ignored in history books.  Dr. Woodson, earned his Ph.D. from Harvard, and later became known as the Father of Black Month.

Hail to the Chief!
Tags: Presidents, White House,
Posted: 2010-02-18 19:29:28 By: Joane Oppenheim

Celebrate President's Day with a few good books and a great new video. Here are some good choices you will find in the bookstore or the local library.

Big Time Learning
Tags: dinosaurs, science, construction,
Posted: 2010-04-20 13:18:42 By: Joanne Oppenheim

What is it that fascinates children about dinosaurs? Is it their enormous size? Their monstrous looking teeth and claws? Is it their deliciously long complicated names that six and seven year olds take pride in mastering? Could it be that they represent a kind of safe scare kids can conquer by knowing what the prehistoric giants ate or when and where they lived?

Forget the Flashcards!
Tags: Beginning readers, matching skills, word games, visual discrimination, storytelling
Posted: 2010-01-10 20:17:08 By: Joanne Oppenheim

In our eagerness to help beginning readers parents often think that books that are harder will give their kids an advantage. With the best intentions, beginners get bogged down with flashcards, workbooks and are urged to "sound-it-out!" Instead of books being a shared pleasure, too often they become a source of tension. If you want to build a love of reading begin with books that build your child's fluency and ease with reading. Children need a sense of success and can-do power that comes with feeling confident. This is more important than trying to rush them to the next level. Bring home easy to read books with few words, even books with no words that your child tells from the picture clues. 

Perchance to Dream...
Tags: open-ended. creative play, child-centered
Posted: 2010-03-29 07:51:12 By: Joanne Oppenheim

So many parts of the day do not allow for creativity. Our children's busy lives are often shaped by daily routines that leave little time for daydreaming. Click here for suggestions that will spark your child's imagination.

Patience is More Than a Virtue...It's a Must!
Tags: patience, frustration, stick-ability
Posted: 2010-01-04 17:46:17 By: Joanne Oppenheim

Patience is one of those skills that does not always come naturally or easily. Yet, developing the ability to wait for an event or to deal with the frustration of working at a difficult task and bring it to completion. These are important life skills children need. Whether they are learning to read, writing a term paper, or baking cookies, patience is often the key to success. Unfortunately you can't teach patience by talking about it. Lectures don't help. Click here for ideas that do help!

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