Later School Years

New Reviews and Articles

 
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.

Featured on the TODAY SHOW
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.

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Choosing Dolls to Fit Your Child's Developmental Stage
Posted: 2014-09-19 14:46:07 By: Joanne Oppenheim


While the toy companies vie for the honor of introducing the Doll of the Year, for parents and grandparents, the best choice for that honor needs to connect to your child's age and stage. As I recall,  when Stephanie, your toy guru, was a preschooler she had--click here to continue.

The Best Games of 2013
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.

Ready Made or Ready to Build and Play
Tags: miniature settings,dramatic play, story-telling,
Posted: 2013-11-25 10:16:45 By: Joanne Oppenheim

Pretend play is often played with mini props that children move about as they spin their stories of make-believe. Though some kids prefer to dress-up and play pretend with their entire beings, others like playing multiple parts in miniature settings where they can move figures and vehicles about. Click here to see some of the newest settings that will launch your child's imagination.

Recycling 101
Tags: recycling, gift wraps, card making,
Posted: 2013-11-25 09:45:14 By: Joanne Oppenheim

Instead of buying packages of costly cards and gift wrap here are some craft items that kids can use to make their very own. How to turn trash to treasures...

Handmade Gifts Kids Can Create
Tags: gifts to make, craft kits,
Posted: 2013-11-25 09:24:53 By: Joanne Oppenheim

What's the best way to teach kids about the joys of giving? Get them involved in making small gifts they can bring to the teacher, a dear auntie, or other special people in their lives. Click here for kits and gift making ideas...

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Learning Takes Root
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.

Look at the Toy...not just the license
Tags: licensed items, familiar characters.
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.

This season we found quite a few well-known licensed toys that have play value. Click here to see some worth considering.

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