Later School Years

New Reviews and Articles

 
Putting the Pieces Together
Tags: puzzles
Posted: 2014-10-28 11:31:59 By: by Joanne Oppenheim

In a world full of toys that talk, walk and practically stand on their heads to amuse, the idea of puzzles may seem a bit dull or old fashioned. What does it do? Nothing? No, look again. Puzzles are brain and finger food. They challenge kids to see parts of an image that fit together to form a whole image. Puzzles require patience, thought, and dexterity as well--important skills that are also needed to read, write and solve problems. Whether you are shopping for preschoolers or tweens, add some puzzles to the mix. In fact, with older kids, why not clear a table and create a family puzzle spot that everyone can work on as they have a few moments. Young children like to work their puzzles more than once. Keep it simple for building a sense of success. One piece puzzles teach toddlers about having to turn the pieces to fit them into the slot. Two-piece puzzles teach them about part/whole relationships. Giving preschoolers strategies such as looking for the straight sides to make a frame, looking for parts that connect a figure, using the image on the box to find clues--all of these are teachable moments that help kids get it together. Here are some of our top picks from this season and a few from years past, as well.

Posted: 2014-10-30 11:53:57 By: by Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim

School's back in full swing and you may be tempted to grab some flash cards...but wait, don't do it. We have much more playful ways to engage your kids in skills they need for school. Read the article here.

Posted: 2014-09-19 12:04:00

A preview of great toys...

Sharpen up those School Skills
Tags: school skills
Posted: 2014-08-23 09:32:49

As children return to the classroom they sometimes need a little time to reboot-- to wake up skills that have not been used for two months you may need a push of the restart button. Here are some entertaining ways to restore what was there.

The perfect gifts that won't break the bank
Tags: best birthday presents, Today Show
Posted: 2014-06-25 10:52:14 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

When you add up birthday party presents for all of your child's classmates, friends, teammates and relatives - it can get overwhelming and expensive.  Add multiple kids to the equation and it can put a real strain on your budget. On the other hand, you want to give a memorable gift. Here are some of our favorites and several suggested by our testing families. The idea is to give a gift that matches the birthday child's interests without breaking the bank. Click here to see our best birthday present picks. Stephanie shared many of our picks on NBC's TODAY SHOW on June 25th.

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Constructive Fun
Tags: summer fun, construction sets, dramatic play
Posted: 2014-06-12 14:43:05

Summer is often about family days at pools, beach, camping, and even going to a resort. But kids can do all of that without ever leaving home--click here to find out how 

Strategies for Holding onto Skills
Tags: Math, numbers, summer,
Posted: 2014-08-23 09:28:24

You don't need to bring home workbooks or flashcards to keep them nimble with numbers. In fact, either of those solutions are likely to be both dreaded and regretted. Giving kids comfort with math begins with everyday experience with numbers. Think of all the ways you use numbers; on the phone, prices in the grocery store, numbers on buildings. How about cooking together and using recipes that call for counting and measuring? Recipe too big, how abouot cutting it in half? Showing kids how math is needed in everyday life makes sense. Have your preschooler help with setting the table: how many forks do you need? How many napkins? Playing scrabble or monopoly with older kids? Give them the job of score keeper and banker. Along with classics like Dominos with young players and Yahtzee with school age kids Here are some more playful choices that will enhance their math skills.

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.

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!

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