Later School Years

New Reviews and Articles

 
The perfect gifts that won't break the bank
Tags: best birthday presents, Today Show
Posted: 2014-06-25 10:52:14 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

When you add up birthday party presents for all of your child's classmates, friends, teammates and relatives - it can get overwhelming and expensive.  Add multiple kids to the equation and it can put a real strain on your budget. On the other hand, you want to give a memorable gift. Here are some of our favorites and several suggested by our testing families. The idea is to give a gift that matches the birthday child's interests without breaking the bank. Click here to see our best birthday present picks. Stephanie shared many of our picks on NBC's TODAY SHOW on June 25th.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Constructive Fun
Tags: summer fun, construction sets, dramatic play
Posted: 2014-06-12 14:43:05

Summer is often about family days at pools, beach, camping, and even going to a resort. But kids can do all of that without ever leaving home--click here to find out how 

Summer Strategies for Holding onto Skills
Tags: Math, numbers, summer,
Posted: 2014-06-01 09:11:07

Though we love summer there is a small problem of what you might call summer slippage...of losing some of the hard won skills gained during the school year. You don't need to bring home workbooks or flashcards to keep them nimble with numbers. In fact, either of those solutions are likely to be both dreaded and regretted. Here are some more playful choices that will do the job.

Tags: games
Posted: 2014-04-30 14:24:59

Tired of the same old games you've been playing all winter? Good news! The new games for 2014 are arriving just in time for Spring.  Click here to see a list of our new favorites.

Creator of BrickStix
Tags: BrickStix, Greyson MacLean, Meet the Toymaker
Posted: 2014-01-26 22:35:23 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

Meet Greyson MacLean, a toy industry veteran at the age of 14. Greyson is the creator of BrickStix.  If you have a child who plays with LEGO, you probably know about these removable cling stickers that allow kids to customize their creations.  The BrickStix also require and help develop fine motor skills while they're playing-  a huge plus.  Read my interview with Greyson.

 

Founder of A Girl for All Time
Tags: Meet the Toymakers, Dolls, Frances Cain, A Girl for All Time
Posted: 2014-01-23 16:28:10 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim

How'd you get into toys? The number one question I'm always asked once I tell people what I do for a living. For me, it's easy-- it's all about my mother.  She's been writing about kids and play since the 80's, while I was in law school. Then I became a parent and toys took on a new importance. But it does make you wonder? Something so obviously playful about toys. Of course, it's a business - but it does take a certain sparkle in the eye to leap into a world where your target consumer is a child. So we started the Meet the Toymaker series to find out how other people found their way to toyland.

It's no secret, I didn't play with too many dolls as a child. My brothers' Hot Wheels were much more appealing to me. That said, I think I would have really loved having any one of the very special dolls from A Girl For All Time.  This newcomer to the doll aisle is a British-based company founded by Frances Cain. Read our interview with Frances to learn about her journey!

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.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Choosing Dolls to Fit Your Child's Developmental Stage
Posted: 2013-12-12 22:00:54 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.

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