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.
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.
If you are a new parent, grandparent, or 1st time auntie or uncle--have fun! Finding welcoming gifts for the new baby has never been easier. Quite aside from the traditional stuffed bear there are so many colorful and interesting choices that will please the littlest player. Check our infant lists by clicking on the Infant image to your left. Click here for a few of our newest favorites.
Now that the cooler days of fall have come, outdoor play takes on a new vigor. It may be too cold for the beach, but not for the sandbox. This is the season for active games of hopscotch, learning to balance on ride-ons, for raking and jumping in the leaves. It's also a great time take photos of the changing season...go on a hunt for five signs of fall. Here are a few good choices for outdoor fun.
Maybe it seems like yesterday when that baby first came along and filled a special place in your heart. Can it be a whole year has passed? Finding a toy that "fits" the 12-month old baby can be challenging. Some babies are already up on their feet and toddling while others are still considering the possibilities. Choose gifts that build confidence rather than pushing them. Here are some good choices to consider.
Tags: Meet the Toymaker, Debra Sterling, Construction Sets, Building Toys
Posted: 2013-08-20 11:01:29
By: by Stephanie Oppenheim
I'm often asked how I made the transition from practicing law to playing with toys. So I decided to start asking other people how they found their way to toyland. I was particularly interested in Debra Sterling, the founder of the new construction toy company GoldieBlox. Debra, already distinguished as a recent engineering graduate from Stanford, decided to focus on empowering and enticing girls to play at problem solving and building. Drawing on her own experiences, she hopes that such early play will lead more young women to careers in engineering. With her idea formulated, Debra then raised more than $250,000 onKickstarter - indicating that other people shared her vision. While overseas supervising the production of her first line, we interviewed Debra about her journey. Her line will be available later this year - we look forward to trying it with our testers! Click here to read our interview.
For your very own prince (or princess) that has trouble going to sleep!
Posted: 2013-07-29 11:24:20
We couldn't let this week go by without reminding you of Joanne's The Prince's Bedtime (which is appropriately being sold at the Buckingham Palace Gift Store!) If you have or know a little one that has trouble getting to sleep, this is a must read! Even better, you can order your paperback copy now (it also comes with a audio CD narrated by Jim Boadbent) for only $9.99 by clicking here.
Posted: 2013-06-13 17:13:32
By: by Joanne Oppenheim
Stick-ability is a skill that does not come naturally or easily. Yet, developing the ability to wait for an event or to deal with the frustration of working at a difficult task and bring it to completion- these are important life and learning skills that children need. Whether they are learning to read, writing a term paper, or baking cookies, patience is often the key to success. Unfortunately you can't teach patience by talking about it. Lectures don't help. Click here for ideas that do help!
Posted: 2013-06-13 17:12:32
By: by Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim
Planning a family reunion can be daunting. It sounds fun in theory - but making sure the day is a success requires some advanced planning. Knowing how your family plays well together is also key. Are you like the Kennedy family that enjoys a competitive game of football on the lawn or is a calmer game of bocce more your speed? Here are some suggestions that will engage a multi-generational crowd with something for everyone. You can watch Stephanie's segment from NBC's TODAY SHOW below and Click here to read the complete article.
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