Zoom, Zoom! Creativity for Kid’s Cardboard Coupe and Cardboard Racer

Pretend play is really important to developing your child’s language skills and her imagination. Giving them props for pretend play can be as easy as a basket of your old clothes or some work supplies (post-its are always a favorite). Some kids like to pretend in the miniature (these are the kids that walk around with small action figures, animals, cars)…other kids LOVE using their whole bodies to act out their own scenarios.  These are the kids that rather be the superhero rather than play with a little plastic representation.

You know pretty quickly which kind of pretender you have in your house.

If whole body pretending is your child’s preference, take a look at two new craft kits from Creativity for Kids. There is the Cardboard Coupe (think love, peace and the VW Beetle) or the Cardboard Racer (bright red and ready to go really fast!).  Obviously you’ll have to help with putting this together–and the decorating will also be a joint project, but then you’ll have a car for your child to “ride” around in. We’re giving both cars an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award.

Reluctant Eaters? Checkout Constructive Eating

Constructive Eating Utensils

If you have a reluctant eater, this fun line of constructive eating utensils from Constructive Eating, Inc. may get your child to take another look at meal time.  Or if you have a child that refuses to use their silverware…this may also come in handy!

Constructive Eating Plate

I also love the plate that makes a meal into your child’s personal construction site.  Yes, some may think playing with food is a bad thing–but from my point of view, getting your child to take the time to eat–to make sitting at the table part of their daily ritual–is so valuable to a healthy lifestyle that it’s worth the tongue and cheek approach.

If you like word games, check out Word On the Street…

wordonstreetIf word games are your thing, you’ll enjoy the new twist provided by Word on the Street by Out of the Box.  Read our complete review. We’re giving this one an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award.  Loads of fun for the 12 and up crowd.

In honor of the House Vote on Health Care…Consensus Junior

Last night at eleven o’clock democracy was in action.  The House took a historic vote on health care reform–broadcast on all the cable shows. For a brief moment, the procedure of law making had spilled over from CSPAN to a larger audience.  No matter how you come out on health care reform, the picture of all of our law makers battling it out all day and finally taking the vote has to make you pause.  Warts and all, it’s a pretty amazing country to live in.

I’m not just feeling patriotic today–there is a toy connection here, I promise.


Consensus Junior Edition by Mindlogic

Consensus Junior Edition by Mindlogic is a fun, engaging game that is all about consensus building (with a little language thrown in).  How’s that for a concept in a nation that usually trumpets individuality?  Read our complete review of this newly award winning (Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award) game.

Great States! Game

We got an email from a family that bought the Great States! Game from International Playthings…in large part because our award seal was on the package (always nice to hear). We were really concerned that the family had a whole host of issues with this board game. There was a mechanical problem with the timer (which was replaced by the company). But the family also brought to my attention some concerns about the accuracy of some of the questions.
So we asked the company to send us another set–we first reviewed the game in 2004 and thought it was possible that it had been changed. We found that out of the 400 question cards there were six that were not completely correct.

The question: Name the three states that board the Pacific Coast?  Answer: California, Oregon and Washington.  Obviously Alaska and Hawaii have been omitted.

Where’s Alcatraz? Answer: On a small island off the coast of California.  Not really, really in the Bay.

The question: Close your eyes and name 7 states that Border Canada. Answer: Correctly includes 13 states but excludes Alaska.

Question: Which is the most Northwestern state? Answer: Washington.  Again…we’d go with Alaska.

Most of the questions have to do with a starting point that players are only supposed to include the 48 contiguous states. We agree with the family that complained that these questions should be adjusted.

We still think, after some debate here, that this is an engaging game that helps teach and reinforce American Geography and trivia.

We hope the company will address the questions we’ve identified (the family also took issue with the color of some of the state birds).

Perhaps because I grew up with many maps on my wall and a Dad that loved chronicling all of our journeys in the family Atlas…I have always liked games that work on these skills in a way that’s fun, not mean.

Top Pick of the Day: Curious George Discovery Beach Game

curiousbeachThe Curious George Discovery Beach Game is great fun (and even looking at a beach on a cold January day made us feel better).  The board is really innovative.  The board shows a seascape with puzzle like pieces that lift off. Now here’s the really cool part–below the puzzle pieces there is “blue sand” that is safely behind  clear panels.  Players actually shake the whole board (box) and when they do they redistribute the sand and the hidden treasures.  We found that shaking the box was a great hit with players.

The object is to collect six cards representing hidden treasure that you look for on your turn (the spinner tells you where you may look on your turn).  So it’s a really fun visual discrimination game that moves pretty quickly (also a plus with this age group).

The other GREAT aspect of this game are the directions…which are much clearer than my explanation I think….kudos to the team at I Can Do That! Games for making the directions so easy we only had to read them once and we were good to go.

Curious George Discovery Beach Game is the type of game your older preschooler and early school age kids will want to play again and again.  ($16.95).  We have given the game an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award–but we can already tell it will be a strong contender for our year end Platinum Awards.