The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Awards
Educator, parent & kid testing goes into each product considered for an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award. We don't accept ads or charge "review fees" from manufacturers or publishers, so you know you're always getting independent opinions.
 
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Blue Chip Choices
Tags:
Posted: 2014-06-08 13:06:52

Toy shopping is often a trip down memory lane. While looking for something new we often come upon something old that we loved as kids. In fact, toy store shelves are loaded with classics that have been loved by generations. We're not talking about Antique Roadshow toys, but the everyday playthings that you, your parents, and even your grandparents played with--back in the day.

Remember the smell of Play-doh? The thrill of building a ferris wheel with your Tinkertoys? Of getting both Boardwalk and Park Place in Monopoly? Ah, those were the days! But do you really know how old were you when you enjoyed these and other classics the most?

Classic toys are usually safe bets. After all, they have stood the test of time. But bringing them home at the right time is key. Here are some updated Blue Chip choices for kids with a guide to bringing them home at the right time.

Tags: games
Posted: 2014-04-30 14:24:59

Tired of the same old games you've been playing all winter? Good news! The new games for 2014 are arriving just in time for Spring.  Click here to see a list of our new favorites.

Tags:
Posted: 2014-03-27 14:16:03 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

Normally we review other people's books. Today it's my turn to give a huge shout out for Joanne's latest picture book!  The Prince's Breakfast (Barefoot Books) focuses on a story that so many families can relate to - the prince doesn't like to eat anything! Joanne takes the Prince and his royal family on a fun globe-trotting adventure to find a solution. The book is beautifully illustrated by Miriam Latimer.  You may remember the Prince, he had a hard time getting to sleep in The Prince's Bedtime.  And to make things even better, the audio that comes with the book is narrated by Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville. To order your copy click here.

a game plan
Tags: math games, math books,
Posted: 2014-02-25 07:54:41 By: Joanne Oppenheim

Math and Science skills--or the lack of them--continue to make the news. While educators debate what to do about it, what can parents do? First things first, avoid turning your child into a math phobic worrier with dreaded flash card sessions and extra workbooks. Forget about pre-teaching kids in hopes of giving them a leg up. Your way of doing math may involve techniques that are very different from current classroom methods. Click here for positive ways to help your child become a math whiz: 

Creator of BrickStix
Tags: BrickStix, Greyson MacLean, Meet the Toymaker
Posted: 2014-01-26 22:35:23 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

Meet Greyson MacLean, a toy industry veteran at the age of 14. Greyson is the creator of BrickStix.  If you have a child who plays with LEGO, you probably know about these removable cling stickers that allow kids to customize their creations.  The BrickStix also require and help develop fine motor skills while they're playing-  a huge plus.  Read my interview with Greyson.

 

Founder of A Girl for All Time
Tags: Meet the Toymakers, Dolls, Frances Cain, A Girl for All Time
Posted: 2014-01-23 16:28:10 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

How'd you get into toys? The number one question I'm always asked once I tell people what I do for a living. For me, it's easy-- it's all about my mother.  She's been writing about kids and play since the 80's, while I was in law school. Then I became a parent and toys took on a new importance. But it does make you wonder? Something so obviously playful about toys. Of course, it's a business - but it does take a certain sparkle in the eye to leap into a world where your target consumer is a child. So we started the Meet the Toymaker series to find out how other people found their way to toyland.

It's no secret, I didn't play with too many dolls as a child. My brothers' Hot Wheels were much more appealing to me. That said, I think I would have really loved having any one of the very special dolls from A Girl For All Time.  This newcomer to the doll aisle is a British-based company founded by Frances Cain. Read our interview with Frances to learn about her journey!

Featured on the TODAY SHOW
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Posted: 2013-12-16 13:28:10

Stephanie shared many of our top award winners with Matt, Savannah, Natalie and Al and a whole bunch of "elves".   Click here to read the reviews of the toys featured on the show. And before you go toy shopping, be sure to check out our complete Awards Lists - something for every age and budget.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Making STEM Toys fun and engaging
Tags: Meet the Toymakers, Roominate, Techbridge, STEM, Alice Brooks, Bettina Chen
Posted: 2013-12-13 08:09:01 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

Meet Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, the founders of Roominate - one of the new toy companies I'm most excited about this year. Alice and Bettina, both engineers by training, have joined forces to create a construction toy line that engages girls in building and introduces them to basic engineering concepts. Roominate is part of a larger and very exciting trend of  toy companies that focus on making STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fun and accessible for girls. Research supports that girls who are not exposed to construction toys and concepts like circuits are behind their male counterparts when they get to college level STEM courses. Playing with blocks is not just fun, but it can make a huge difference in the level of confidence young women have about STEM-related course work and ultimate career paths. We applaud Alice and Bettina's commitment to the next generation of what they hope will be full of female scientists, mathematicians and engineers.  We can't wait to see how Roominate grows as a company. Read my interview with Alice and Bettina.

The Best Games of 2013
Tags:
Posted: 2013-12-09 12:22:54

As you're gathering holiday presents, we suggest bringing home a game or two.  Click here to read the reviews of many of our favorites of the year.

Toys for Kids with Special Needs
Tags: SNAP Awards, toys for special needs,
Posted: 2013-11-25 15:24:40 By: Joanne Oppenheim

Finding toys for kids with special needs is not that different from choosing toys for all kids. Good toys match children's developmental skills, their interests, and most of all are really appealing. Click here for Top Toys For Kids with Special Needs.

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