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.
Posted: 2013-11-18 08:40:15
By: by Joanne Oppenheim
Worried about the reports that our kids are falling behind in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics? Recent studies by Georgetown University Center on Education indicate we need to be concerned and doing something to get our kids ready to compete in a technology-driven world marketplace. Want to know how the toys you choose can spark your sons' and daughters' interests and skills that lead to life-long STEM skills they need? Read more.
Posted: 2013-10-18 11:10:12
By: by Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim
After another fun year of testing for the best, we are proud to announce the 2013Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Awards. Click here to visit the Award Pageor you can navigate through the tab Current Award Recipients on the top of this page. Stephanie shared just a sampling of these outstanding products on NBC's TODAY Show (The toys featured on the segment are reviewed in the article below).
As we ramp up to the holidays, we will be posting videos of many of our favorites as well as useful lists to help you bring home the perfect presents! We thank all the wonderful families that participated this year in testing products for us. Their feedback is a huge part of our process. Congratulations to the design teams, authors, and illustrators behind the products that caught our attention and fully engaged our testers. Audio and DVD winners will be posted later in the month.
Many of the top toys of the year are not just fun, but they provide your kids with valuable play experiences that can help build their language skills, confidence, ability to weave stories, follow instructions, and stay with a challenging task. The good news is that many of these toys will not break the bank. Click here to take a look at just a few of our favorites for the year.
Posted: 2013-10-11 16:50:06
By: by Joanne Oppenheim
Licensed toys are often short lived. Many are more like souvenirs of a movie or TV series. Since the toymaker has to pay extra for the license, they are often a bit pricier and as the movie fades, like most toys de jour, they tend to lose their appeal. The truth is, a Mickey Mouse puppet is no more educational than any other puppet. It may be easier for a child to play scenes with characters they know, but a puppet made from a paper bag may invite more original story-telling, language, and imagination than premade characters. As with most things, we are not absolutists. We prefer to look at the toy itself rather than the license.
Tags: minitature settings, pretend play, construction sets
Posted: 2013-10-08 12:08:35
By: Joanne Oppenheim
Though some kids like to dress up and play pretend with their entire beings, others prefer miniature worlds where they can move figures and vehicles about. For them premade settings such as garages, barns, castles, doll houses, and roadways come ready for action. Others prefer the fun of construction kits with all the themed pieces for building a setting that can be used for pretending. Click here to see some of the newest settings that will launch your child's imagination.
Be sure to check some of the other choices by clicking on the age group on the left and then searching earlier award winners.
Now that the cooler days of fall have come, outdoor play takes on a new vigor. It may be too cold for the beach, but not for the sandbox. This is the season for active games of hopscotch, learning to balance on ride-ons, for raking and jumping in the leaves. It's also a great time take photos of the changing season...go on a hunt for five signs of fall. Here are a few good choices for outdoor fun.
Maybe it seems like yesterday when that baby first came along and filled a special place in your heart. Can it be a whole year has passed? Finding a toy that "fits" the 12-month old baby can be challenging. Some babies are already up on their feet and toddling while others are still considering the possibilities. Choose gifts that build confidence rather than pushing them. Here are some good choices to consider.
Tags: Meet the Toymaker, Debra Sterling, Construction Sets, Building Toys
Posted: 2013-08-20 11:01:29
By: by Stephanie Oppenheim
I'm often asked how I made the transition from practicing law to playing with toys. So I decided to start asking other people how they found their way to toyland. I was particularly interested in Debra Sterling, the founder of the new construction toy company GoldieBlox. Debra, already distinguished as a recent engineering graduate from Stanford, decided to focus on empowering and enticing girls to play at problem solving and building. Drawing on her own experiences, she hopes that such early play will lead more young women to careers in engineering. With her idea formulated, Debra then raised more than $250,000 onKickstarter - indicating that other people shared her vision. While overseas supervising the production of her first line, we interviewed Debra about her journey. Her line will be available later this year - we look forward to trying it with our testers! Click here to read our interview.
For your very own prince (or princess) that has trouble going to sleep!
Posted: 2013-07-29 11:24:20
We couldn't let this week go by without reminding you of Joanne's The Prince's Bedtime (which is appropriately being sold at the Buckingham Palace Gift Store!) If you have or know a little one that has trouble getting to sleep, this is a must read! Even better, you can order your paperback copy now (it also comes with a audio CD narrated by Jim Boadbent) for only $9.99 by clicking here.
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