New York Toy Fair 2019 Toy Trends, Learning Through Play

Just walking into the New York Toy Fair got my heart pumping to the beat of the drums as the parade of characters assembled to lead the opening of my 11th Toy Fair. You can feel the air charged with excitement, innovation, creativity and novelty as brands bring their newest and best toys, games and entertainment products to life. Each year it is gratifying to see more companies valuing language learning and therefore integrating it into games, STEM projects and play, calling out the language skills on their packaging.

I’m always interested in the toy industry’s trends (Unboxing, Compound Crazy, Throwback Toys) but I choose to look at the trends through a learning lens, providing parents, grandparents, caregivers and educators a peek at the newest products that inspire learning through incredibly fun play.

Here are my 2019 Toy Trends:

Fun Food Prep:  Combine food and pretend play to create a rich language learning environment as kids act out scenarios common to their everyday experiences,  whether selecting ingredients at a the Fresh Market, or creating in the kitchen, at a crepe cart or barbecue grill. Favorites this year include Hapinest’s “Make and Bake Cooking Sets”  as kids lead the playful learning in their little fox, snowman, bunny or unicorn aprons, roll out the dough to the perfect thickness and use the 5 themed cookie cutters. Kids can head out to Leap Frog’s “Smart Sizzlin’ BBQ Grill,” adding pretend corn or a hot dog to the rotisserie initiating a silly song, while learning colors, vocabulary and counting integrated into the play.  Add a message of kindness, and inclusion to your food prep with Plan Toys’ imperfectly shaped “Wonky Fruits and Vegetables.”  Carl Carrot, Adam Apple and Tommy Tomato Heart become wonky pretend play heroes in their campaign to fight food waste. Flag down your little friend at Janod’s Crepes & Co. as they roll the cart to offer waffles and donuts, my mainstays, as well as fruit and check you out at the cash register.

Take Note of Toddlers: Personally toddlers are some of my favorite little people to play with because of their curiosity, boldness and hunger for learning. Parents are often stumped when it comes to finding appropriate toys. Wonder Forge’s “Mickey’s Snuggle Time” game, designed for a bedtime activity, is a fun introduction to following directions and learning colors as kids move their animal down the path, arriving at the barn before the sun sets.  Fold and tuck the blanket game board  to make a pillow. Nite,  nite! Want a rich learning environment with no pick up? Oribel’s VertiPlay Wall Toys, are a series of cause-effect toys, “Slidey Spidey” (Itsy Bitsy) , “Old MacDonald” or  “Jack and Jill” that rely on gravity as they attach to the wall and move top to bottom, while kids can sing or narrate the rhyme. Rubber Ducky in the tub just got more fun with Yookidoo’s “Jet Duck Family”, as kids dress up their duck with 15 push in accessories to match their duck’s character, Pirate, Mermaid or Firefighter. Think Mr. Potato Head goes for a swim while firing his water cannon and charging around the tub. Perfect for story telling and creative play. Join 2 year-olds for a game of “Topper Takes a Trip” by Peaceable Kingdom, a company that knows their audience and kids love their games. Choosing the right clothes and items to pack in the suitcase for Grandma’s house or sledding etc. is a terrific language learning activity involving categories, vocabulary and story telling.

STEM + Story: I’m passionate about including literacy linked to STEM products because that is how kids are learning in the classroom. Science and math involve  problem solving, critical thinking, evaluation and drawing conclusions, all essential language skills. This trend is getting stronger as I see new STEM products calling out a story integrated in their build. E-Blox’s  “Story Blox” sets take kids on an island, city or cave adventure with Seymour and his robot Robyn, building models with circuit blox throughout the story. For the younger set, Thames and Kosmos’ “Robot Safari”  pairs a cartoon story book with 8 cute animal robot builds associated with the Omega family’s search to find their lost robotic teddy bear. Kids love building their setting with magnetic blocks while adding illustrated clips from the story with Geomagworld’s “Nursery Rhymes.” Their sets were favorites in the classroom last year. hand2mind’s “Air and Water Mechanics” led us through injecting air into a tube to power a K’NEX model digger with written questions to build critical thinking related to the project.

Tech-Free Learning: There was a buzz around the Toy Fair this year of “Where are all the drones?” In the past you had to duck to miss them. Yes, I believe there is a swing back to non-tech toys with classic play. Who didn’t hide in a home made fort of their own making (or a big brother in my case) when they were younger? A favorite discovery in the Launchpad section housing first time exhibitors was the Densters, a set of flexible rubber toy monsters, each with a unique personality and function (hooking, clamping, gripping, clipping, curling and tucking–hey that’s a great vocabulary lesson!) for holding kids’ play tents or forts together, attaching sheets and blankets to walls and furniture. Enter Schleich’s world of Horse Club where kids can act out living in the “Large Horse Stable” (a dollhouse for horse owners) and relax with a coffee or cupcake at the “Rider Cafe.” Crayola offers some of the most extensive and comprehensive science kits for kids. Their newest offering, “Color Chemistry Arctic Lab” takes kids through 50 winter science experiments. Thankfully dolls were one of the strongest categories last year as they provide pure child led play. National Geographic has collaborated with Mattel’s Barbie dolls to create a wildlife conservationist, astrophysicist, polar marine biologist, wildlife photojournalist and entomologist to inspire young girls to explore new professions.

Hide Away Play: This year we saw some ingenious toy designs that capitalize on utilization of space.  Sharingland’s cardboard playhouses have drawn kids into delightful pretend play worlds of space, castles, a farm and teepee. Now they offer a slightly downsized model that can easily be folded and put away after play. Sago’s “Pillow Playsets” have added a vet and doctor’s  office to their kitchen playset that unfold from a throw pillow to transform your couch into a scene from the office complete with scale, cast, eye exam chart and so on with plush accessories to give your teddy or pet a happy physical. When the story ends, fold up the office and pack it in the pillow for repeat portable play.  Short on room? Pull out a folding chair and slip on Kangaroo’s Pop oh Ver Ice Cream Shop filled with inspiring design to start our little storytellers. Hape’s “Pop Up Shop” opens up for play with plenty of room to display your products as well as a scanner and calculator for speedy purchases, then closes up for later play.

 

 

 

Posted in 10 and up, 12 years and up, 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Elementary School Age, Games, Language, Reading, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Playonwords.com Announces 2018 Top 10 PAL Picks, Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again to start your holiday gift list. I know a lot of grandmas and moms who take this with them when looking for a toy or game with lasting and enriching play value. Congratulations to the amazing companies who work hard to make learning fun. Here are the PAL Top 10 Winners 2018.

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Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs: The Pros and Cons

From time to time I like to feature guest posts by either Speech language pathologists or those in other fields working to positively impact kids and parents. Today I want to introduce you to Jackie Nunes, from WonderMoms.org. Jackie is a former pediatric nurse who has first hand experience educating her child with special needs through homeschool. Here’s her helpful advice:

There’s a special anxiety that comes with sending your son or daughter with special needs off to school. You hope more than anything that the other kids will be kind, the teacher will be firm but patient, and there will be plenty of resources and support. But that isn’t always the case. It can be gut-wrenching to see your child come home unhappy and know things aren’t going well – especially if your child can’t tell you why.

Homeschooling has a lot of advantages for kids with special needs. You can really focus on their strengths and weaknesses, design lessons that interest them, take breaks when needed, and create a comfortable, sensory-friendly learning environment in your home. Your child benefits from the individual attention and you can plan your school day around doctor appointments, therapy, or family obligations without racking up absences. Another huge win is waving goodbye to meltdowns during drop-offs and not having to worry about playground bullies.

Unfortunately, there are resources available in a public school system you no longer have access to if you teach your child at home. It’s hard to replicate the structure of formal learning, athletic fields, science labs, access to a full-time nurse, and the insights of an entire teaching staff in your living room. Many districts have full-time speech therapists and reading specialists who work with students who have disabilities.

Before pulling your child out of school, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of homeschooling your child with special needs. We’ll also look at the experience from the perspective of a child with cerebral palsy, blindness, autism or another learning difficulty. When daily tasks are mentally and physically challenging, it’s easy to see how frustration and other emotions can take over once in a while.

Advantages of Homeschooling Children with Special Needs

The biggest benefit of homeschooling is flexibility. While it’s important to have a routine, if your child is having a bad day, you can cut your lessons short. If a teachable moment arises, you can take advantage of it. It’s OK to double-dip in your parent and teacher duties. Go ahead and turn measuring ingredients for dinner into a science or math lesson. A trip to the dentist can quickly incorporate a lesson on different types of teeth and their purposes. Alternately, bring a reading book along so that you don’t lose the time. Here are some of the many benefits of home learning:

  • Reduced anxiety. Basically, homeschooling your child with special needs decreases anxiety thanks to a quieter environment in a familiar setting. Removing performance pressure decreases frustration and outbursts.
  • Hone in on strengths. If you’re used to reading remarks at the end of the day or week that highlight your child’s unusual actions, it will be refreshing to document progress from the perspective of their strengths. You are there for every win and can comfort them if anything goes sideways.
  • Set the pace. Spend as much time as you need on concepts or skills that are hard for your child.
  • Be creative. Children have different learning styles and sometimes music or movement are better than sitting still and listening. There are different teaching approaches you can use. Find the one that works best for your family.
  • Quality social opportunities. You can join local groups that encourage kids to related to one another on their own terms. One mom talks about her positive homeschool experience and gives 101 reasons it works for her child.

Disadvantages of Homeschooling Children with Special Needs

Of course, there are challenges to consider before deciding to homeschool your child with special needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Less structure. You probably won’t be able to replicate the structure of a traditional school environment. Children with special needs thrive on predictable routines and can become easily upset or frustrated over small changes. Some kids might benefit from remaining in the more structured public school. Unfortunately, the only way to find this out is to give it a try and constantly reassess what the best environment is for your learner.
  • Fewer resources. School districts never have as much money as they’d like, but they do usually have accessible facilities, art and music equipment, gymnasiums, sports fields, auditoriums, media centers, science labs, and more. They employ professional educators, coaches, special education experts, and school nurses.
  • Less peer interaction. Even if you arrange playdates and get-togethers on a regular basis, your child will have less contact with same-age peers. Those peers also will miss out on the chance to learn alongside a person with a disability and benefit from exposure to special needs.
  • Parental isolation and burnout. Parents who homeschool sometimes find that they never get a break. They are “on duty” from morning until night – serving as parent, teacher, coach, chauffeur, cook, therapist, referee, and more. It can be exhausting.

Focus on Things You Can Fix

There are things that you have much more control over, but you still can’t control everything that might go wrong in a homeschool environment. Instead of thinking about the resources that aren’t available to your homeschooled child, think about how you can fill in the gaps and gain valuable skills.

  • Go online. There is an astonishing abundance of high-quality lesson plans, curricula, and special needs teaching aids online – much of it free. You can also stock up on basic craft supplies and take advantage of Pinterest and YouTube to find art project ideas.
  • Network with other families. Check out homeschooling organizations and connect with parents in your area who also homeschool. Try to arrange joint field trips and perhaps partner for lessons.
  • Participate in after-school activities. Most communities have after-school art, music, and drama programs. You can sign up for karate, swimming, youth sports, or more through local groups or Special Olympics. Many homeschooled children also participate in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Although there’s no nurse’s clinic to send your child to, you can keep a well-stocked first aid kit and take a CPR class to help you feel confident in case of an emergency.

Create an IEP

Each public school child eligible for special education has an Individualized Education Program (IEP). As a homeschooling parent, you may not have to have one at home, but it’s a good idea to set goals at the beginning of the year and monitor progress over time. An IEP can also help you communicate with specialists. There are free tools that can help you generate your own.

Know Yourself and Your Child

Your child with special needs could thrive under your tutelage if you have the patience and courage to lead the way. However, not all children and parents are cut out for homeschooling. Take into account your own need for self-care and your frustration threshold in general. If you’ve thought it through and think it could work for your family, do it! If it doesn’t work out, you can always return to a traditional school setting.

Jackie Nunes is a blogger at WonderMoms.org. She is a former pediatric nurse and now a full-time homeschool educator. She and her husband have three children. Their middle child suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was 4. Now 11 years old, she is hearing impaired and uses a wheelchair. Jackie and two other moms created Wonder Moms as a project to share real talk, helpful information, and practical advice with parents of kids who have intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, autism, language and speech delays, deafness, chronic illness, and traumatic brain injury.

 

Posted in 12 years and up, 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Elementary School, Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Strategies to Enhance Language | Leave a comment

Toys to Play to Learn, Playonwords.com

Here’s my segment from today’s interview on FOX6 Milwaukee, “Being successful in school starts at home: Toys that will help you kids in the classroom,”

Being successful in school starts at home: Toys that will help your kids in the classroom

 

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Playonwords.com on FOX6, Real Milwaukee Today

I’m off to the FOX6 TV studio in Milwaukee to share my newest PAL Award winners that can help reinforce skills essential for classroom learning. Here are my Talking Points:

Play Your Way to Success in School

Background on Sherry:

Sherry Artemenko, Speech Language Pathologist and Toy Expert is here to share super fun toys to reinforce and build skills essential to classroom success, through creative play, games, drawing and interactive Today I am featuring some of the PAL Award’s latest winners that spark smart play. Information on all these toys is on my website, playonwords.com

Silly Street Character Builders by Mindware, 4 years and up, ($29.99)

  • Little actors stretch their story telling skills, learn elements of a story.
  • Little animals with different facial expressions front and back/ outfits
  • Add accessories like scarf, cape, apron, camera or canteen
  • Choose setting from treehouse, city, jungle, bedroom, or cafe
  • Language of emotion: is cat confused or content? Giraffe sad or excited?
  • Express their emotions through animal characters…can better relate to others and regulate their own emotions

Available at Mindware. Click here

Crayola Ultimate Light Board, 6 and up, ($24.99)

  • Kids love to draw so they can create art, write message, trace picture
  • Can help strengthen little hands for hand writing
  • Use special Mini Gel FX Markers
  • Turn on light watch the magic…LED’s built into frame make colors glow
  • Teacher wanted to use it for announcing birthdays as kids arrive to class

Available at Crayola. Click here

Fire Station by Hape, 3 years and up, ($99.99)

  • Kids fascinated with fire trucks so perfect scenario to get their story start
  • Heliport, basketball court, garage, office, pole to slide down.
  • Accessories to expand the story: hose, computer desk, dog, fire hydrant
  • Ring alarm bell, come down the pole, open the garage doors for quick exit
  • Several kids can play at once to increase language learning, collaborative

Available at Hape. Click here

Blank Slate by USAopoly, 8 years and up, ($24.99)

  • Simple directions to this fill-in-the-blank fun
  • Takes some critical thinking, word association and a dab of EQ
  • Match another’s answer and win points
  • pick a word less obvious or common…
  • roller blades had 1 match but not roller skates, basketball court won over
  • Apples to Apples, try to match another player’s thinking-experiences and interests

Available at USAopoly. Click here

Leapstart 3D Learning System by Leap Frog,

  • Added new feature to its amazing interactive learning system
  • Pop up screen with 3D animation
  • Kids learn through many modalities: auditory, visual, tactile
  • Used book, “Shine with Vocabulary Language and Communication Skills”
  • Sight words, descriptive, position, nouns, emotion words/ Princess Power

Available at Amazon. Click here

Touch & Discover Sensory Turtle by VTech, 3 months and up, ($19.99)

  • VTech’s new baby products designed for enriched play through discovery
  • So much to explore and discover on this turtle
  • Maximum opportunity for parents to describe actions and parts
  • Colors, textures patterns, Peek-a-boo with legs and head hiding
  • Opposites: push/pull, long/short, in/out
  • Ball for catch, rolling grabbing
  • Yellow button: vocabulary, playful rhyming songs, sing-a-long fun

Available at Amazon. Click here

Sharingland Cardboard Playhouse Kits, All ages, ($99)

  • Could barely get this Epic Castle out of the box fast enough while 4 year-old slipped on his armor, helmet and shield, “Stand back! Slay the dragons!”
  • Didn’t stop talking the whole visit
  • Crowned himself king in charge of protecting the princesses–sister, mom
  • Dry erase marker to personalize, practice reading and writing
  • Teacher mom thought it would be a great reading nook for her classroom

Available at Sharingland. Click here

Posted in 10 and up, 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Elementary School Age, Games, Preschool | Leave a comment

Toys That Teach to Avoid the Summer Brain Drain

Here’s the clip from FOX6 Milwaukee:

Avoid the summer slide: A look at the latest toys that teach

 

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Playonwords.com on FOX5 Milwaukee today!

Talking Points FOX6 Real Milwaukee 6-21-18

Toys to Inspire Storytelling to Keep Reading and Writing Sharp Over the Summer

Background on Sherry:

Sherry Artemenko, Speech Language Pathologist and Toy Expert is here to share super fun toys to build language skills through creative play and storytelling, keeping brains sharp over the summer break.

Today I am featuring some of the PAL Award’s latest winners that spark smart play. Information on all these toys is on my website, playonwords.com

Croco Jungle Research Station by Schleich, 3-8 years, $99

  • Carrying down hall to classroom to play and kids went, “Whoa!!”
  • Set it on the table and kids immediately began to collaborate in set up and starting a story
  • “The jaguar goes in here so he doesn’t make trouble
  • So many accessories that suggest different sub-plots of the story–treasure, trap door, ranger station, pens and animals, dangerous/sick, eating/ sleeping, cooking
  • Tired takes a nap in the “Hangmock”

Available at Amazon. Click here

Kruselings by Hape, 3 years and up,  ($28-$45)

  • Beautiful doll characters are Guardians of the Dreams.
  • Personalities: Vera, child of Grace, ballerina, waves wand, things dance
  • Sophia, Child of Nature, magic flower to speak in languages of creatures
  • Girls transformed their dolls from street clothes to wings and magic accessories
  • Ended up at teacher’s desk re-enacting their story, dialogue

Available at Fairhaven Toy Garden. Click here

Trap and Gap Baseplates by Strictly Briks, 4 and up, ($24.99)

  • Wisconsin company, CEO Dad remembers the fun he had playing with trap doors and extending ramps for escape, racing or parking
  • Strictly Briks are compatible with all major brick building brands
  • Their accessories and props add new dimension to story telling
  • Design best getaway adventure, house or  parking garage
  • Open ended play where child drives the story
  • Story changes as different toys are brought to the structure

Available at Strictly Briks. Click here

My Story Dolls by Faber-Castell, 6 and up, ($15.00)

  • These dolls just make me smile!
  • My little girlfriends chose to make Wishful, Goofy and Happy, unique fashion style, facial expression, mood and story to express through outfits
  • Chose mood, face, and clothes–floss hair, pom poms, rhinestones, fur
  • Conversation about choices, “Which face is wishful? eyes closed, dreaming?
  • Mixing conversation and crafting is rich experience
  • Kids learn to express feelings and recognize them in others, increasing EQ and building social language skills

Available at Faber-Castell. Click here

Frog Life Cycle by Folkmanis, 3 years and up, ($68)

  • I came into classroom, “Who wants to put on a puppet show?”
  • 2 boys came back and put on a show for me
  • Starts as the egg, lenticular printed patch with tadpole swimming->
  • tadpole-> frog
  • “In a few days I’ll be a frog to play with you!”
  • Puppets can bring out shy kids to engage in dialogue and story telling

Playful Chef Chocolate Studio and Shoppe by MindWare, 4 and up, ($16-$50)

  • Cooking is wonderful language activity: sequence directions, measure, learn fractions, and here set up display for a candy shop!
  • Boys loved making chocolate hearts from mom for Mother’s Day
  • Could write out menu, prices etc for writing practice and exchange play money
  • Kid tip: chocolates harden faster in the refrigerator

Available at MindWare. Click here

Pop Oh Ver Stove by Kangaroo Manufacturing, 3 years and up, ($39.95)

  • Unfold the canvas and slip it over a chair
  • Ready for the little chef
  • Perfect for parents, grandparents, teachers with limited space
  • Cleverly designed by a mom of 7
  • Building stories as they imitate adults in their life

Available at Amazon. Click here

 

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up | Leave a comment

Choosing The Best Toys to Inspire Storytelling

It’s been my mission for over 35 years to teach parents how to select the best toys for fun smart play, that inspire creativity and storytelling, building language skills. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Schleich's Croco Junge Ranger Station PAL Award winner

    Schleich’s Croco Junge Ranger Station PAL Award winner

    Several categories of props with accessories to inspire sub plots within the story. Schleich’s “Croco Jungle Ranger Station” is an excellent example of this as they have created a jungle ranger station theme with several directions the story can take: work at the ranger station on the computer etc., fixing the property with tools in the tool box, preparing dinner over the open fire, eating, sleeping, caring for sick animals, penning up dangerous animals or those they are observing, or hiding treasure or people in the large croc skull.

  2. Plenty of accessories within a category to expand the story. Playmobil’s
    Playmobil's "Camp Site," PAL Award winner

    Playmobil’s “Camp Site,” PAL Award winner

    “Camp Site” is a great illustration of this concept.  Vibrant hanging plants, postcards, magazines, maps, cash register (with Euros), soft drinks and your favorite frozen ice cream treat (with labels) help you ease in to your home-away-from-home. In case you failed to bring all your plates, cups, toothpaste, brush, suntan lotion and bug spray – don’t sweat it, you can pick them up at the Quik-Mart, along with canned goods, milk and OJ – all with decals reinforcing the reality. Shower, use the rest room or camp out in the cute orange tent.

  3. Sequenced props that for add-on stories. Some toy or games provide
    "Tall Tales," PAL Award winner

    “Tall Tales,” PAL Award winner

    characters and objects or setting cards to inspire a story to be told. Tall Tales provides a bag of 50 cute rubber 3D objects and characters to draw out of a velvet bag to carry on the story. 24 beautifully illustrated story cards give options for settings as kids can change up the story according various backgrounds. Kids learn story elements as they sequence their tale.

  4. Plenty of characters whether people, animals or animated objects to lead the dialogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Playonwords.com on FOX6 “Avoid the Summer Slide with Great Games and Puzzles”

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Playonwords.com on FOX6 Milwaukee Today! Great Games and Puzzles

Great Games and Puzzles to Keep Brains Sharp Over Summer Break

Background on Sherry:

Sherry Artemenko, Speech Language Pathologist and Toy Expert is here to share super fun games and puzzles to build language skills, keeping brains sharp over the summer break.

Today I am featuring some of the PAL Award’s latest winners that spark smart play.

Magicube Story Building by Geomagworld, 3 and up, ($34.99)

  • Dream product for a speech pathologist as it provides 143 characters and props for telling “The Three Pigs”
  • 5 pages of clips attach to the cubes to tell the story, changing characters’ faces as the story progresses
  • “Where is the wind blowing?(wolf’s huff and puff)
  • Builds understanding of important elements of a good story
  • Prepare for reading and writing

Bright Lights Soccer Ball by VTech, 6 months and up, ($14.99)

  • What’s summer without a game of soccer with your baby or toddler?
  • Toss the ball: encouraging phrases, songs, directions, activated by motion
  • Learn rhymes, vocabulary, concepts, opposites, counting, social language
  • Babies talk more to a face

Available at VTech. Click here

ARTributes by Simplyfun, 7 and up ($33.00)

  • Kids pick 2-3 attribute cards and draw image representing that word
  • players guess, my 7 yr. old drew “sweet” which we guessed, ice cream/strawberry
  • From jumpy, cold, gloomy, tall, busy to sparkling, wet or lazy
  • Learn vocabulary, all about adjectives and how word is associated with their drawing

Available at Simplyfun.  Click here

Acorn Soup by Peaceable Kingdom/MindWare brand, 2 years and up ($17.95)

  • Best beginner games for preschoolers encourage pretend play
  • Let’s get out our recipes and make some soup for squirrel
  • Follow the recipe, by category, counting, matching, sequencing
  • Stir it up for some pretend play

CODENAMES: Disney Family Edition by USAopoly, 8 and up, ($24.95)

  • Loved Disney movie illustrations in a grid for game board
  • Key Card shows location of their Treasure Cards to be guessed
  • Cluemaster gives clue that applies to several cards to be guessed by their teammates
  • “amber” “sizzle” “submerged”
  • “competitor “ described Merida from Brave and Lightning McQueen.
  • A mom said, “Look at the words you’ve learned!{
  • Vocabulary, association, description skills, critical thinking, all to crack the codes

Available at USAopoly. Click here

Ravensburger VW 3D Puzzle, 10 and up, ($29.99)

  • Kids couldn’t wait to assemble this puzzle
  • Wonderful opportunity for several generations to talk and assemble together
  • Play began to resemble a team as we gathered numbers by section, “I’ve got the 20’s”
  • Some were assembling by the numbers on the back of pieces while others were matching the illustration
  • All of a sudden strips of flap sections went 3D
  • Had fun as kids were surfers

Available at Amazon. Click here

 Otrio by Spin Master, 6 years and up, ($34.99)

  • Kids and adults quickly became addicted to this game
  • Seems simple at first but really requires concentration, critical thinking, strategizing offensive and defensive moves to build one of 3 configurations to win
  • Have trio of large, medium and small colored rings, ascending  descending order, 3 of the same size in a line, or 3 co-centric circles on one space
  • Players shocked when someone won, everyone started explaining their strategy–one Dad teamed up with his son when mom was the biggest threat
  • Tapping language, visual memory, spatial and critical thinking skills

Available at Spin Master. Click here

Long and Tall Puzzle 123 Rocketship by The Learning Journey International, 3 and up, ($14.99)

  • love puzzles because they have so much learning potential
  • draw the whole famiy together as being assembled
  • This 5’ rocketship was constructed by 4 year-old, siblings, grandma and mom
  • Calling out pictures from each stage associated with 1-10
  • Looking for astronauts’ feet, wrenches and “Where do the paint pots go?”
  • Identifying, naming and sequencing numbers, dscribing sections of the puzzle, using positional words: higher, top, under, next, last
  • Finished and said, “Blastoff!”

Available at The Learning Journey International. Click here

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