Choices That May Outplay the Big Box Treats
Posted: 2014-11-13 10:36:09
Is your mailbox full of catalogs? Have you noticed the holiday gift wrap, cards, and candy canes displays are full? While the kids are doing their lists, now is the time to look for small surprises they might not put on the wish list—things that are not necessarily being plugged on TV. Often the smaller treats have more play value than the big box hot toys of the season. Many of these will fit in a stocking or be the right scale for the many nights of Hanukkah or Kwanza. Click here to find some good choices.
Putting the Pieces Together
Posted: 2015-02-02 06:45:09
By: by Joanne Oppenheim
In a world full of toys that talk, walk and practically stand on their heads to amuse, the idea of puzzles may seem a bit dull or old fashioned. What does it do? Nothing? No, look again. Puzzles are brain and finger food. They challenge kids to see parts of an image that fit together to form a whole image. Puzzles require patience, thought, and dexterity as well--important skills that are also needed to read, write and solve problems. Whether you are shopping for preschoolers or tweens, add some puzzles to the mix. In fact, with older kids, why not clear a table and create a family puzzle spot that everyone can work on as they have a few moments. Young children like to work their puzzles more than once. Keep it simple for building a sense of success. One piece puzzles teach toddlers about having to turn the pieces to fit them into the slot. Two-piece puzzles teach them about part/whole relationships. Giving preschoolers strategies such as looking for the straight sides to make a frame, looking for parts that connect a figure, using the image on the box to find clues--all of these are teachable moments that help kids get it together. Here are some of our top picks from this season and a few from years past, as well.
Posted: 2014-10-01 08:18:54
By: by Stephanie Oppenheim
One of the best trends in toyland is the growing number of multi-cultural dolls. Playing with a doll that reflects the child is so important for positive self-esteem. Click here to see some of favorites.
More Than Your Old Lotto Game
Posted: 2014-08-23 09:11:55
Games the involve matching are usually the first we play with beginners, games of Lotto, Go Fish, and Concentration are still basic fare for preschoolers. What do they learn from such games? More than you might think. Matching skills are important for the kind of visual discrimination readers need. Instead of starting with letters, and the fine differences between letters like b vs. d or n vs. m, preschoolers do better with picture matching that ask them to match colors, shapes or objects. Slightly older children are ready to move on to more complex matching.
You'll find many other matching games among previous winners; check the age group games by clicking the group on the left. Here are some of the newest matching games.
Sharpen up those School Skills
Posted: 2014-08-23 09:32:49
Strategies for Holding onto Skills
Posted: 2014-08-23 09:28:24
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. Giving kids comfort with math begins with everyday experience with numbers. Think of all the ways you use numbers; on the phone, prices in the grocery store, numbers on buildings. How about cooking together and using recipes that call for counting and measuring? Recipe too big, how abouot cutting it in half? Showing kids how math is needed in everyday life makes sense. Have your preschooler help with setting the table: how many forks do you need? How many napkins? Playing scrabble or monopoly with older kids? Give them the job of score keeper and banker. Along with classics like Dominos with young players and Yahtzee with school age kids Here are some more playful choices that will enhance their math skills.
Blue Chip Choices
Posted: 2015-02-02 06:47:47
Toy shopping is often a trip down memory lane. While looking for something new we often come upon something old that we loved as kids. In fact, toy store shelves are loaded with classics that have been loved by generations. We're not talking about Antique Roadshow toys, but the everyday playthings that you, your parents, and even your grandparents played with--back in the day.
Remember the smell of Play-doh? The thrill of building a ferris wheel with your Tinkertoys? Of getting both Boardwalk and Park Place in Monopoly? Ah, those were the days! But do you really know how old were you when you enjoyed these and other classics the most?
Classic toys are usually safe bets. After all, they have stood the test of time. But bringing them home at the right time is key. Here are some updated Blue Chip choices for kids with a guide to bringing them home at the right time.
Posted: 2014-04-30 14:24:59
Posted: 2014-03-27 14:16:03
By: by Stephanie Oppenheim
Normally we review other people's books. Today it's my turn to give a huge shout out for Joanne's latest picture book! The Prince's Breakfast (Barefoot Books) focuses on a story that so many families can relate to - the prince doesn't like to eat anything! Joanne takes the Prince and his royal family on a fun globe-trotting adventure to find a solution. The book is beautifully illustrated by Miriam Latimer. You may remember the Prince, he had a hard time getting to sleep in The Prince's Bedtime. And to make things even better, the audio that comes with the book is narrated by Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville. To order your copy click here.
Choosing Dolls to Fit Your Child's Developmental Stage
Posted: 2014-09-19 14:46:07
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.