Top Toys for Kids with Special Needs: SNAP Awards Announced

Check out our Special Needs Adaptable Product (SNAP) Award List.

Since we started the Toy Portfolio, finding toys that could be used or easily adapted for use for kids with special needs has been important to both of us. When we started our company in the late 80s there were catalogs that were marking up products so much because they were for “special needs” kids. Many of these products could be found in regular toy supermarkets–so the added expense really struck us as taking advantage of a community looking for information and solid products to bring home. With that as our starting place, we were also committed to finding products that could be used that were the same as the toys enjoyed by siblings, friends and neighbors. A message of inclusion should also be possible in toyland. You’ll find an adaptation suggestion or activity with each product. on NBC's TODAY SHOW

Today was a fun day! I joined six really adorable kids and Amy Robach as we talked about some of our favorite Platinum Award Winning Toys. Click here to watch the segment. Right before we went on there were some tears…but everyone pulled it together when the cameras came on! You never know how that’s going to work out–but for me that’s part of the fun of doing live tv. One of my favorite toys of the year – Biscuit (an animatronic dog from Hasbro) was performing like a show dog through the teases for the segment. He ran through all of his tricks–but as soon as I got to Biscuit-he decided to take a nap! Oh well.

Today Show: Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards

I’ll be on the Today Show tomorrow with some of our Platinum Award winners. It’s always hard to select the eight or so products to feature. It’s a process we do with our producer each holiday season–but it always feels uncomfortable to leave so many of our favorites behind. The good news is that I’ll be doing another segment as we get closer to the holidays–which gives us a chance to showcase more of our award winners.

We don’t make these products, we don’t sell them–but in the end we get really attached to the ones that we love. Joanne’s personal favorite is the Trotter Pony from Lamaze. It makes a trotting sound when you move the pony around. It’s a running joke in our family since I missed the lesson about what a pony is when I was little. I was at an important meeting back when I was practicing law and ponies came up-not exactly sure how. It was at that moment that I learned that ponies are not little horses….so now when my mother trots the pony around our office, it’s a reminder of some early lesson I missed. Or as I like to tell it–sometimes when you get to the third child in the family, some things just don’t get there!

Anyway–so tune in or watch it on the web. I’ll be on in the 9-10 hour with a really cute group of kids.

Pick of the Day: Mega Bloks Smart Builders Piano

We’re often asked for recommendations in the music category. Most of them have such a terrible sound quality that we think the category should be relabeled “anti-music” toys…the kind where you can’t wait for your child to stop playing.

So we were really pleasantly surprised by the new Smart Builders Piano from Mega Bloks. At $34.99 it’s a middle range toy that our toddlers loved exploring. It is such an interactive toy that we have given it both our Platinum Award and our SNAP (Special Needs Adaptable Product) Award. There is a keyboard and then the added fun of Bloks that change the music. For a complete review, visit our website.

Pick of the Day: Brown Bear Brown Bear Puzzle

brownbearpuzzleMudpuppy is well known for their over-sized floor puzzles that feature storybook characters. This year’s new puzzle Brown Bear Brown Bear is based on the favorite Eric Carle picturebook. The 24 jumbo pieces make this a great puzzle for preschoolers–with a very satisfying end product. At $16, this is a good value. If you don’t have the book, bring them both home!


I just got back from the polls…the line was longer than usual but there was an excitement in the air. As always I walked away from the polling station feeling so grateful to my ancestors who had the courage to take the leap and come to America.

Hats Off to Amazon

If all of that hard to get off plastic on toys (not to mention the metal ties) really upsets you, take a look at this new initiative from Amazon. As much as we all complain about all that packaging (and with good reason)…I always think of the poorly paid person on the other side who spends hour after hour putting them on. ffp_gw-jeffletter_vert11c_v242822461_

Tag Reading System-Beyond the commercial

We really love the new TAG Reading System from Leapfrog.  After years of complaining that none of the electronic educational companies leveraged the great wealth of children’s literature for their platforms, Leapfrog really delivered.  The library of books includes many wonderful picturebooks by award winning authors and illustrators.  So the other night when I saw their commercial (which is pretty cute)…I understood, but was saddened that the marketing choice was basically “hey, your kid can read Sponge Bob with the TAG.”  True…but we hope you’ll also bring home a wider range of titles that include Chicka, Chicka Boom, Boom, I Spy, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type and The Little Engine that Could.