Every year we see a lot of toys that are "refreshed" with just enough tweeking to make them feel almost new. We sometimes forget that to kids most things are new. It would be a shame if kids missed out on building blocks or crayons or trucks, just because they weren't invented yesterday. Don't be afraid to bring home some of the favorites you played with not so-o-o-o long ago. Here is a short list of some of this year's Blue Chip list.
If you prefer the classic look and feel of wooden toys, you are not alone. Most have a longer play life since they avoid the toy dejour stamp of licensed characters; they are not tied into the latest movie or TV hit. Classic toys can be passed from one child to another, even one generation to the next. Click here for some of the best wooden toys on this year's list.
There are lots of obvious choices for beginning readers. There are letter games, puzzles with the Alphabet, phonics games that help make connections between letter names and sounds. You can find many of the best on our lists. All of these reading game toys have their uses, but it's easy to overlook some of the most basic and fun activities that foster important language skills. These are the true underpinnings for launching a child on the road to reading. Read more
Posted: 2012-08-13 07:40:33
By: by Joanne and Stephanie Oppenheim
The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2011 Platinum Award winners were announced on the Today Show on September 27th. Watch Stephanie here.
We're delighted to announce the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Awards for 2011. (Click here to see complete list of award winners.) We congratulate the toy companies and their designers for producing award-winning products that engaged and entertained our toy testers. As always, we thank our dedicated family testers (all over the country) who take our process to heart. Once we have looked at toys in terms of whether they work, are fun, and are developmentally appropriate - the toys are then sent out to families for their feedback. These families join us in our mission: to take the guesswork out of finding quality playthings that will entertain your kids. With budgets tighter than ever, we know that no one wants to bring home a toy that is a waste of time or money. For those of you just discovering us, you should know that we do not take fees from toy companies. This has allowed us to be able to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly in toyland. You can click on the 2011 Award Page to view all of our winners including Platinum, Gold, Blue Chip and SNAP (Special Needs Adaptable Product) Awards.
The connections between play and school skills are real. Most of the games here build on reading skills and language for beginners. Our testers were delighted with the fresh and lively choices that made our list this season. Click here to find just five of our many wonderful learning toys for kids from 5-8.
If you would like a change of pace from your tried and true (and still great) Monopoly, Candyland, and Scrabble, have we got good news for you! This was the year of innovative games. Try these for now and stay tuned, more games to come. Click here to find some of the top picks of the season.
Tags: building toys build skills, dexterity, math concepts, eye hand coordination, creativity, imagination, language
Posted: 2011-09-22 12:34:16
By: Joanne Oppenheim
Construction toys are more than fun. They are basic gear for many important kinds of learning. Age appropriate building toys change as children grow from toddlers to teens. Click here to see the review.
I met with Bill Ritchie and Andrea Barthello, co-founders (and husband and wife) of THINKFUN games to discuss their new line-up of games for 2011. We've been reviewing their games since we started the Toy Portfolio. We were catching up - discussing our kids. Bill and I both went to Wesleyan (different years but both with very fond memories). I was really interested to hear that their son Sam is now developing APPs based on THINKFUN games. Try Rush Hour -- it's addictive. So I asked if I could interview Sam (in photo) about how it feels to be the second generation in his family's business and working with his folks. His answers would make anyone laugh (and make any parent proud). Read our interview.
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