Later School Years

New Reviews and Articles

Day Three: The Best Toys for Tweens (9-12)
Tags: Today Show
Posted: 2015-11-27 11:54:20 By: by Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim

For the final day of our toy series with the TODAY Show, we looked at the top toys for hard-to-shop for tweens! Those 9-12 year olds that often have one foot already out of toyland, but still up for a good game, craft kit and high tech fun.  For the past few months we teamed up with the TODAY Show to conduct a nationwide toy review. Families from all 50 states participated in the search for the best toys. We sent out 12 toys for each age category (babies-preschoolers, school-age kids and tweens). Each toy was tested by five families for a total of 180 play experiences with siblings, several sets of twins, and their parents - all engaged in our mission to find products that were worth their time and toy dollars. We looked at toys from both small and large toy companies, including those that are being heavily promoted for this holiday season.  Click here to read the reviews.


From Tots to Tweens
Posted: 2015-11-21 17:49:22

Readers often ask us if an old fashioned doll is still a good gift for kids who start playing with their parents cellphones before they can talk and moving the pages of ipads as if they were born with computer smarts. Let us reassure you, a doll is still a well-loved gift, even for the hi-tech kids on your list. The trick is finding a doll that fits. Click to find dolls for each age and stage.

For Christmas Stockings and the many nights of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa
Posted: 2015-11-21 17:51:05

Experienced shoppers have probably been putting aside the small gems that will make gift-giving simpler when Christmas stockings need filling and the many nights of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are upon us. We've grouped these by age groups.  Read More....

It's the Year of the Dinos!
Posted: 2015-10-02 12:12:27

Thanks to the new Jurassic World film, kids are going to have a wealth of fun dinosaur themed games, puzzles, and toys. Though the movie is for older kids, there are dino toys for preschoolers, early school age kids and far more complex ones for much older kids. If your child is already bitten with dino fever or you are planning a dino-themed birthday, here are just a few of the many great choices you will want to consider:

Designed for Summer Fun
Posted: 2015-09-27 09:53:02

Summer is an ideal time for encouraging kids to explore their creative powers. Some of our favorite kits this season provide the raw materials that invite kids to try their hands with new crafts. Big sidewalk chalk can be used for art shows, potsy games, or drawing elaborate mandalas. One of our tester's favorites, a set of sunglasses to decorate and wear on sunny days. Here are a few of the newest choices for creative fun.  

The Time Is Ripe Now!
Tags: STEM, Science, Math, Hands-on Learning, Experiments
Posted: 2015-06-10 12:15:40 By: Joanne and Stephanie Oppenheim

If you are hoping to spark your child's interest in STEM learning, the time is ripe! This season there are more new and fascinating kits designed to enhance their budding understanding and interest in science. Some combine art with science, others involve more reading and step by step problem solving. Kids are by nature curious about the real world and how things work. Providing tools that invite them to investigate and explore the natural world will keep that hunger for learning alive. We'll be adding more to this special list every few weeks; science, math and construction toys that build those interests. Check our age appropriate lists as well.

Here are some of the newest hands-on props for learning.

Send in the Grandparents!
Tags: Big Ticket Toys
Posted: 2014-12-21 08:18:14

Every holiday season we find some expensive but exciting gifts. Some are pure novelty items while others are toys that will go the miles to be enjoyed for years to come. If you're still shopping and not finding a significant enough gift for the grandchild, niece or nephew, son or daughter, here, in age order (from infants to tweens) are some top-of-the-line choices for 2014.

The Magic Number $19.99 & under
Posted: 2014-12-09 12:48:47

For several seasons now toymakers have created an impressive selection of interesting toys for $19.99 and less. Good news if you are shopping for multiple gifts for all those nieces and nephews. We found a number of our top picks of the year in this price range. You can use our search engine at the top of our home page; just enter the year 2014 and 19.99 to find dozens of winning choices, including many picture books as well as toys. Here are some of our favorites that won't break the bank for each age group :

How-To Hands-On Reading and Doing
Posted: 2014-12-09 11:35:18

School aged kids enjoy trying new crafts if the how-to directions are clear and come with the materials they need. With the holiday vacation days on the horizon, these are activity books that will keep kids engaged and using their reading comprehension skills along with their creativity. These are mostly for the 8-12 age group, kids who like making end-products they can display or use with pride. Here are a few 2014 books that do exactly that.

Today Show and Toy Review
Tags: Today Show, best toys, High Tech, tablets, activity watches, family games
Posted: 2014-12-09 11:36:27 By: by Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim

We finish off the TODAY Show/ 2014 Toy Review with a look at Hot Tech Toys for Kids and Family Games. We had over 215 children (incuding seven sets of twins) from 24 states including Hawaii and Alaska participate with their families to review the top new toys for 2014. Many of the toys have been heavily hyped. We wanted to know how those toys stacked up with our reviewers.  Click here to see the results.

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