Jabuka, a Twisting Letter Game

(Jabuka Games $19.95) If you like word games you’re going to enjoy the “twist” Jabuka gives to the fun. Players use “coffee bean” shaped tiles that are a little like the ones for Scrabble, Bananagrams and such...but here’s the big difference, the letters can be turned so a “b” can become “d” or a “p” depending on how you put them down. There’s no waiting for the other player to finish a turn, everyone plays at once, taking tiles from the central pile and calling out the word they make. Watch out, the other player can add an “s” or a prefix or ending and take the word you made or even change a letter by twisting it and take that word to his word bank. Game play continues until players agree t

Math for Love Prime Climb

(Math for Love $29.99) A clever game that not only reinforces math skills, it turns using those skill for an entertaining time shared with others. Players have the option to add, subtract, multiply, or divide to be the first to get their pawns to the winner’s place on the board—101. If your multiplication tables are a little rusty...not to worry, there’s a multiplication table included to help. The handsome board is arranged in a spiral from 0 to 101 and the color-coded circles indicate the factors. It’s a good family game that will challenge kids and adults to use flexible thinking by switching gears between operations. Players get to pick a prime card if they land on a red prime number; b

eeBoo 3-D DinosaursGlow in the Dark Triceratops Puzzles

(eeBoo $10.95 each) We started with the 3-D Glow in the Dark Triceratops Puzzle. Kids will like how the slender box that the puzzle comes in turns into a mini setting where their finished puzzle/dino can be displayed. But first, there’ s some serious punching out to do with the sturdy cardboard pieces...but be careful! Don’t toss the boards that are marked with the letters of the alphabet! They will help you see how the pieces are fit together with matching letters, alphabetically. We lost our way with the letters on the instructions but managed to figure it out anyway. It’s marked 5 and up. We think 5s will need a lot more help than the instruction slip. That said, we think kids who are cra

Math for Love Tiny Polka Dot Game

(Math For Love $ 14.99) In looking for games to support early math skills during this time of virtual school, we came upon Tiny Polka Dot Game for older preschoolers and early school aged kids. It’s not a new-this-year game, but it’s new to us and we think useful for families doing hybrid learning. It’s not one game, but 16 easy-to-learn math games that reinforce basic math skills all in one box. The brightly colored cards come with dots in various patterns, and numerals. Tiny Polka Dot is like bringing home an early childhood teacher with multiple ways of teaching early counting, number values, sequencing and more. Each game is clearly explained and easy to learn. Try just one game several

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Super Surround Batcave

(Fisher-Price $149.99) No doubt about it, Imaginext DC Super Friends Super Surround Batcave is going to be on a lot of wish lists and letters to Santa. Given the size of this not-so-mini setting, Santa’s going to need a stretch-sled. As pretend settings go, this is anything but mini. It’s over 4 feet wide and 2 ½ feet tall, so it’s not for cramped living spaces. On the plus side, it’s big enough for multiple children to use together and comes with plenty of play figures, props and stations for everyone. Based on DC Super Friends TV shows that are directed to younger kids, it’s a mission control center with 8 activation points, working Bat-Signal, spinning Bat-suit vault, helipad, 3 jail cel

eeBoo Koala’s Cozy Cottage Pop Up

(eeBoo $21.99) Who doesn’t love a pop-up book? Unlike a storybook with a tale told by others, Koala’s Cozy Cottage is a wordless little book that opens into a setting where children make up their own stories as they move the four stand-up play characters from room to room. Cleverly designed with pop up-furniture and flaps that open doors, windows, and cupboards—no detail has been forgotten. You’ll need to tie the ribbon that holds Koala’s cottage open and help put the stands at the base of Koala, Penguin,Tiger and Brown Bear. Some children may need a bit of modeling to get started, if so, share the fun, tell the beginning of a story with one of the characters looking for something, or celeb

Lego Creator 3 in1 Monster Burger Truck

(Lego $49.99) Our tester likes using his Lego builds for dramatic play and with this 3-in-1 kit, he has lots of choices. He can construct three different kinds of trucks: one with suspension, or as an off-roader, or a tractor pulling vehicle. With 499 pieces, this is a fun vehicle with a “giant” 3-D Burger sign that goes on the roof, steps that fold out, a dog and two mini figures. The finished truck is 7” high, 6” long, and sure to be serving up burgers wherever fast-food is needed in Lego City sites. 8 & up. Ages: Older Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2020 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

Lego City Space Mars Research Shuttle

(Lego $39.99) Our five-year old tester loved this 273-piece Mars Research Shuttle kit that he was able to build pretty much by himself! Once it was done he had good fun using it for dramatic play. The Shuttle is 9 inches long with a cockpit that opens, as do the cargo doors. A good-sized Mars rover has a grappling arm, a helidrone has spinning rotor blades and a scanner and the set includes two action figures. Our tester’s favorite —an astronaut with a golden helmet. The pictorial instructions introduce kids to the way of working step by step in small doable parts that add up to success. Important work skills learned in play. Marked for 5 and up. Ages: Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio

Craft-tastic Enchanted Forest Friends

(Anne Williams Group $16.99) Our tester thought these were very cute, although she found removing the double sided tape used to secure the pompoms to the animals' bellies a little difficult. So, for beginning crafters, you may need to help with this step. This kit comes with a Fairy Bear, Lucky Bunny, and a Magic Deer. It also includes 3 wands, a crown, a set of wings, and a flower headband, so they can add accessories to their creations for imaginative play.The three felt pre-stitched animals need no sewing. But assembling them will take time, patience, and fine motor skills. All the pom poms, stickers, elastic cord, stuffing, and tape are in the kit along with pretty clear directions. It’s

Hape Toddler Kitchen Set

(Hape $21.99 ) For beginning pretend play, a small tabletop play kitchen with be just right! Designed for toddlers, the small stove comes with a pot with a lid, a frying pan, a spoon and one spatula. Little chefs will like turning the knobs of the stove to make them click. Kids begin their dramatic play with familiar activities that they see adult engage in and cooking is a basic. We know there are big kitchens with all kinds of bells and whistles. This one is compact enough for a small apartment and simple enough for a toddler to enjoy making treats for you and their teddy bears and dolls. Ask for some tasty soup or a scrambled egg...then ham it up when they bring it to you. We like the pr

Craft-tastic DIY Charming Charms

(Anne Williams Group $16.99) Here’s an update to the popular DIY Puffy Charms Kits from last year. Kids can create necklaces, 10 stretchy bracelets, and three pins. Our tester reports that matching the two halves of the charms together takes patience and fine motor skills. That said, kids can make more than 111 charms— some are clear epoxy, metallic gold, silver or blue. They are designed with foods, catchy sayings, rainbows and more. Once the charms are created, the jump rings are easy enough to attach to the jewelry of choice. For an overnight party or play date, this is a kit that can be enjoyed by several children or for multiple solo craft sessions. Ages: Tweens and Teens Oppenheim Toy

Craft-Tastic All About Me Scratch & Sticker Journal

(Anne Williams $17.00) With scratch art, 551 stickers, doodle activities, personality quizzes and other activities, this interactive journal is going to keep your tween/teen niece, daughter, granddaughter, or neighbor, busy and happy for hours. It’s entertaining, the way magazines used to be, only this has more active doing involved. 36 pages that delve into their likes and dislikes and invites them to discover more about themselves in the process. Best of all, it requires no screen time. Ages: Tweens, Teens Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2020 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

Magformers Backyard Adventure

(Magformers $74.99) Magformers’ newest magnetic construction set comes with enough pieces for building a house with a light up fireplace and mantle PLUS lots of props for the backyard — a see-saw, a light-up flower, and elephant slide, a swing, a tree, and a boy, girl and yes, even a robot figure. Like all Magformers the magnets are safely embedded inside the plastic forms. It comes with an idea booklet, but we know kids will have their own ideas. These construction materials are open ended for multiple explorations and discoveries. In addition to the props above, the kit includes: x14 Triangles, x8 Squares, x2 Rectangles, x6 Square Inner Circle, x1 Pentagon Arch, x2 Circle, 8 Plate, x2 Wal

Les Deglingos Original Muchachos The Llama

(Triactiontoys $29.99) Muchachos the Llama has a sweet face with stitched features that seem to smile. A toddler size armful, 18” long with multiple textures—a corded plush body with velvety tan hooves trimmed with longer plush. Muchachos wears a lively patterned brown and white cotton poncho. Like the smaller Deglingos, this huggable has a flat bottom so he can sit without flopping over. Ages: Infants, Toddlers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2020 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

Mudpuppy Luna Unicorn Story Roll

(Mudpuppy $12.99) We usually avoid coloring book activities. We prefer a blank sheet of paper and crayons. paints, markers or colored pencils for art exploration. That said, this 8 foot long story roll could be fun for kids who are expected to develop pencil and paper skills that require staying inside the lines. This kit comes with five colored pencils and has a little reading embedded in the coloring activities. We used to suggest this kind of toy for long flights, but for long days at home, this just might give them a lift...with Luna Unicorn blasting off. It may also help them hone those fine motor skills needed for shaping their letters. Be sure they are holding the pencils right, so th

Teddykompaniet Comforter in Cow and Cat styles

(Triactiontoys $14.99 each) So soft and sweet, these toys are washable plush and ideal comforting toys that babies find so comforting. We love the pink Cat Comforter with stitched features that seem toe smile and little arms, and blanky body to clutch. If you want something more gender neutral, choose the adorable white and tan spotted cow. These would make a lovely shower gift. Ages: Infants Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2020 Click here to purchase Cow on Amazon Click here to purchase Cat on Amazon

Creativity for Kids Pom Pom Pictures

(Creativity for Kids $12.99) No glue, no cutting, just plenty of pom poms that can be used again and again with the three templates. Preschoolers will be using those fine motor skills to push the pompoms into place and to poke them out. There are big and little pompoms and big and little holes in the picture boards.Kids match their color pompoms to the spaces on the picture boards. They also match the size of pom poms to the empty spaces. Once the boards are filled up they can punch the pom poms out and do it again. Also fun, turn the boards over and encourage kids to make their own designs OR introduce them to making patterns with the colors. Start with simple red, blue, red, blue. Move on

Creativity for Kids Holiday Big Gem Diamond Painting

(Creativity for Kids $14.00) Ready to decorate windows, packages, cards, and other spots for holiday cheer! This is like last years award winning Big Gems kit only the stickers and sun catchers all have a holiday theme. The kit includes 12 holographic stickers with printed dots to guide their gem placement; plus two sun catchers that are more open-ended so kids can decorate both in their own unique way. This takes some of the dexterity and fine motor skills involved in pencil and paper tasks—but it's much more fun! Ages: Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2020 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

Mixy Squish Deluxe Texture Air Dry Clay Kit

(Horizon Group $26.99) What a goodie box! This is sure to make a big impression...pun intended. Each colorful pack has a different color clay with sparkles that won’t come off on their hands. The deluxe kit includes 20 different textured clay packs and 14 sculpting tools plus three double sided molds. Make a dinosaur, car or unicorn. Let it dry in 24-48 hours, but it will still feel spongy. Our tester loved the textures in the very soft and easy to manipulate clay. Along with creative messing around, this kind of art material helps develop children's fine motor skills. There are smaller sets, like the TableTop Creativity Desk (24.99) with 10 colors and 5 textures that includes tools and mold

Story Magic Paint Your Own Light-up Unicorn

(Horizon Group $14.99) An art project that will make a wonderful night light. A very cute plastic unicorn arrives with six paint colors so kids can add add their own unique design to their personal unicorn. Wait for dark and turn on the LED light that changes colors. It's quite a show! You'll need 3 AAA batteries (not included). A fun art project to light up the night! Marked 4 and up, but we'd say the sweet spot is on the upside...for 5-8s. Ages: Preschoolers, Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2020 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

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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.