Smart Games IQ Stars

(Smart Games $9.99) With 120 different challenges this solo game should keep young players busy on long flights or rainy days stay at home days. There are sets of connected stars. Each challenge shows you how to place some of the sets of stars and then it’s the player’s turn to find a way to fit the other stars into place. It’s a game that takes visual skills as well as dexterity and patience. Unlike most of these kinds of games that are marked 8 and up and really are for 10 or more and up, this one is relatively easy—at least from the start and one that kids of 6 & up will be able to do with success with some patience and thought. Ages: Older Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal A

Hape 5-in-1 Beach Set

(Hape $14.98) It's easy to carry the three nested pails and two scoops since they all fit together as one under the handle. Each of the pails has a different function: the smallest has a sprinkler bottom, the mid-sized one will mold a castle turret shape. The largest will be handy for filling and dumping sand, water and whatever. With the two scoops, this is a nice set for siblings or kids on a play date to share. 18 months and up. Ages: Toddlers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2018 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

Mindware Nesting Blocks

(Mindware $12.95) A classic set of nesting blocks with handsome graphics will have long term play value as children go from knocking down the tower you build to figuring out how they can stack them in size order and nest them into the biggest block. The upward build comes before the nesting and in between time these are fun for hiding things under, for “reading” the pictures, extending vocabulary of knowing and naming the animals, numerals, colors, and eventually even counting the objects pictured on the face of each block. Now, there’s a lot of potential learning built into these simple looking blocks. It’s how you use them as your toddlers grows. Choose thee for developing spatial reasonin

Peaceable Kingdom Chugga Choo

(Peaceable Kingdom $17.95) A true beginners game with choo-choo trains and cargo as playing pieces. The rules are simple and so is the game play. Everyone wins as you play this cooperatively. Players take turns turning over the box cars and matching them to the four colored engines. Cars are attached like puzzle pieces and then the player gets to choose the cargo they want in their car. The game ends when all the box cars are attached and the cabooses are added. Marked for two and up, we think slightly older kids will enjoy this with two year olds in the family being able to play along with help from Mom or Dad. A good choice to pair with picture books such as Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo or the

Mindware Keva Color Pops

(Mindware $34.99) Our testers went to town with this set of 100 planks that can be built into tall towers or colorful structures and designs. The planks are all the same size and come in natural tones or in colorful hues. The newest sets come in Shades of Purple or Shades of Teal and vary from next to natural to deep dark purple. There is a color guidebook with tips and amazing structures that can be copied or used as inspiration. Some kids will take off with their own ideas at once, others seem to prefer the guidebook. Either way, these handsome blocks will lead to discoveries about balance, symmetry and creativity. 5 & up. Ages: Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2018 Cli

Mindware Cooking Kit

(Mindware $39.95) Cooking with kids is more than fun, it’s about math as in measuring, reading as in following a recipe, science as in how things change from solid to liquid with heat or cold, it’s about tasting and sharing something they created with the family. From the time they are preschoolers, kids like to pretend with toy kitchens and accessories but this is the next level up. The Mindware Cooking Kit comes with measuring cups, spoons, whisk, spatula, basting brush, wooden spoon, mixing bowl and star shaped mold that are working tools, not toys. It also includes an apron, a parent guide and several recipe cards. We would have liked more visuals on the recipe cards, since this is marke

Peaceable Kingdom Catch!

(Peaceable Kingdom $17.95) Sub-titled the Strategic Game of Cat and Mouse. A lively game with mouse, which keeps changing directions toward a colored fence (as dictated by the color die) and the cats moving to surround the tiny rodent. If the mouse makes it to a fence, the mouse wins the game. If the cats (that’s all the players together) manage to surround the mouse with their moves…the players all win. Nice! It's a game that calls for teamwork. Players take turns tossing the dice and moving the mouse and four cats on each play. A game can take 10-15 minutes and it may seem impossible at first that the cats can catch the mouse…but trust us. It does happen. Marked for 6 & up and that is the

Peaceable Kingdom Lemonade Shake Up!

(Peaceable Kingdom $15.99) It’s Lemonade season—perfect timing for this fun cooperative game that can be enjoyed by mixed aged groups ( and a pitcher of lemonade). It’s basically a game of chance with dice to roll and match to the recipes for lemon, strawberry, or limeade. You’re not playing against each other, everyone works together to fill the jar with quarters before you get hit with four sour lemons. Players take turns rolling the dice with fruit pictures on them. You get three rolls to match the recipe of choice and if you make the match you get to turn over a customer card and discover how many quarters you can add to the money jar. If you don’t have all the ingredients matched up aft

Hape Outdoor Adventure Collection Flower Press and Art Kit

(Hape $15.99) Just in time for capturing summer blooms and learning the craft of pressing them to enjoy later. This sturdy wooden press comes with an added treat—a collection of pages that can be painted and used as the base for the pressed flowers. Kit includes paints, book cover and pages, and flower press. Ages: Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2018 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

Hape Pop-up Toaster

(Hape $24.99) Kids are going to love making their own toast and spreading it with butter and honey, too. Hape’s wooden toaster has a dial for light or dark toast and a lever to lift the toast when it’s ready. Made of wood, this is a toy that adds a touch of familiar reality to their pretend play.The toaster has two slots for the two pieces of toast, a Velcro lidded butter box, a small honey holder, a knife and plate for serving toast. We like the fact that Hape puts both girls and boys on their packaging and uses gender free colors on the utensils, as well. Not only do all of us eat, all of us need to feel at home in the kitchen and that idea begins here with the toys we provide for role pla

Hape Gourmet Kitchen Starter Set

(Hape $29.99) Here’s a handsome 13-piece set of pots pans, cooking utensils and two place settings for serving. All made of long lasting wood, this is one of those toys that will provide hours of domestic dramatic play. Beautifully finished for the young chef; there are two serving plates with a fork and knife for each, a fry pan, a lidded pot, spatula, stirring spoon and for spicing things up, salt and pepper shakers. We like the fact that Hape puts both girls and boys on their packaging and uses gender free colors on the utensils, as well. Not only do all of us eat, all of us need to feel at home in the kitchen and that idea begins here with the toys we provide for role playing. Ages: Pres

Hape Mix & Bake Blender

(Hape $24.99) In the US we call this a mixer rather than a blender; American kitchens use a different kind of appliance as a blender. That said, this wooden mixer is ready for pretend chefs to use for making cakes, cookies, icing, gravy or whatever they need to whip up. It comes with flour and sugar and the mixer itself not only turns, it lifts and lowers into the mixing bowl. We like the fact that Hape puts both girls and boys on their packaging and uses gender free colors on the utensils, as well. Not only do all of us eat, all of us need to feel at home in the kitchen and that idea begins here with the toys we provide for role playing. Ages: Preschoolers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal

Hape My First Waffle Maker

(Hape $24.99) Who doesn’t love waffles? For their next tea party or family breakfast for the dolls, this waffle maker is perfect. With a dial on top for making the waffles dark or light, the set comes with four pieces of waffle, tongs to lift them with, a pot of syrup, and one plate and one strawberry slice to garnish the perfect waffles. We like the fact that Hape puts both girls and boys on their packaging and uses gender free colors on the utensils, as well. Not only do all of us eat, all of us need to feel at home in the kitchen and that idea begins here with the toys we provide for role playing. This is one of a new series of appliances and props for housekeeping play. 3 & up. Ages: Pre

Manhattan Toy Adorable Otter, Poppy & Llama

(Manhattan Toy $19.00 each) These three critters are from a new collection of textured plush huggables and their name Adorable fits them exactly. There’s a beige and white Adorable Poppy Dog with black snout and silky coat. The all white Adorable Opal Llama has a long-haired spiky mane and tail, and then there’s a sweet brown and white Adorable Tallulah Otter. Slightly under stuffed, these are easy to grasp and hold for comfort. All three have pellet fillings so that they can sit up at a tea party or lie down and take a snooze. They are safe enough for all ages, but probably best enjoyed by older toddlers and preschoolers. Ages: Toddlers, Preschoolers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award

Manhattan Toy Teethers

(Manhattan Toy $8.00) With chewy spokes, this blue wheel is both a teether and a toy for spinning and developing motor skills. Put it on the table and give it a twirl or hold it in one hand and give the disk a spin. Also, a good choice for teething babies, the Silicone Teether Elephant ($9) is one of a new collection of easy to hold comfort toys to hold and chomp on for teethers. Ages: Infants Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2018

Manhattan Toy Stellar Rattle

(Manhattan Toy $10) Looks something like last season’s Atom Teether, but different colors and instead of clacking rings, this one has rings that slide along bigger rings that wrap around the rattle. Knobby ends are sure to work for teethers. Use it early for tracking games and hand it off when baby can take hold and explore this with eyes, fingers and teething gums. Ages: Infants Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2018

Moulin Roty Moon the Musical Cat

(Moulin Roty $49) An ultra-soft musical doll covered in quiet grey and pink knit fabric. Pull the kitten’s tail and it plays a soothing music box tune for nap-time. With printed on features and nothing removable, this cat is safe enough for baby and makes a good take along for on the go naps away from home. The legs in this photo make the cat look deceptively long and large. In person, the cat is sort of puffy, small and cozy. It just about big enough to fill an adult hand...not more. Ages: Infants Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2018 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

Manhattan Toy Jazzy Ball

(Manhattan Toy $10) The half blue/half Yellow silicone ball is easy for little hands to grasp and toss AND to add to the fun, the ball inside has electronic silly sounds and a light that blinks when the ball is in motion. A perfect size for early back and forth roly-poly social games with a sitting up baby. Also, sure to motivate crawling babies to get on the move. Surface washable only. Ages: Infants Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2018 Click here to shop to toy on Amazon

Manhattan Toy Silicube

(Manhattan Toy $10) Baby will not be startled by the soft rattle sound of the red ball that’s semi-locked inside the three easy-to grab squares. There are finger holds on the corners and the soft silicone will eventually appeal to teethers. Use this for tracking with the lap baby. Be prepared to put this back together since the squares can be taken apart by older babies with their busy little hands—however, there is no way they will be able to put it back together. That will be your job. Surface Washable only. Ages: Infants Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2018

Blue Orange Kitty Bitty Game

(Blue Orange $25) Set up for this colorful game takes some fine motor skill, but kids who love cats are going to enjoy playing. The wooden playing pieces consist of two tone cat faces, knitting yarn playing pieces that are placed around the faces as the playing board, eyes (some with a kitten on the back and some without) and two-colored dice. Players put their wooden cat playing piece on a “ basket” disk and take turns tossing the dice. They must find the mother cat with the same colors as the dice thrown. Then, pick up one eye on that cat face. If there is a kitten on back the player cannot move forward. If the back of the eye is blank the player moves forward on the yarn balls. The game n

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Products reviewed by the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio are provided by the manufacturer at their cost. The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio does not require or accept fees for reviewing products.