Educator, parent & kid testing goes into each product considered for an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award. We don't accept ads or charge "review fees" from manufacturers or publishers, so you know you're always getting independent opinions. We have awards for the best toys, books, videos, and audio for kids.
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.
While educators look for ways to prepare students with stronger STEM skills (an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) parents and preschool teachers know that little children are natural scientists who love to explore how things work. Click here for ways to nurture budding STEM learning...
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.
Posted: 2013-10-18 11:10:12
By: by Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim
After another fun year of testing for the best, we are proud to announce the 2013Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Awards. Click here to visit the Award Pageor you can navigate through the tab Current Award Recipients on the top of this page. Stephanie shared just a sampling of these outstanding products on NBC's TODAY Show (The toys featured on the segment are reviewed in the article below).
As we ramp up to the holidays, we will be posting videos of many of our favorites as well as useful lists to help you bring home the perfect presents! We thank all the wonderful families that participated this year in testing products for us. Their feedback is a huge part of our process. Congratulations to the design teams, authors, and illustrators behind the products that caught our attention and fully engaged our testers. Audio and DVD winners will be posted later in the month.
Many of the top toys of the year are not just fun, but they provide your kids with valuable play experiences that can help build their language skills, confidence, ability to weave stories, follow instructions, and stay with a challenging task. The good news is that many of these toys will not break the bank. Click here to take a look at just a few of our favorites for the year.
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.
Tags: minitature settings, pretend play, construction sets
Posted: 2013-10-08 12:08:35
By: Joanne Oppenheim
Though some kids like to dress up and play pretend with their entire beings, others prefer miniature worlds where they can move figures and vehicles about. For them premade settings such as garages, barns, castles, doll houses, and roadways come ready for action. Others prefer the fun of construction kits with all the themed pieces for building a setting that can be used for pretending. Click here to see some of the newest settings that will launch your child's imagination.
Be sure to check some of the other choices by clicking on the age group on the left and then searching earlier award winners.
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