James Bond step aside– kids can now create their own spy world with Playmobil’s newest set, “Secret Agent Headquarters.” Agents can arrive at their office found in a mountainous, futuristic location by speedboat or multi-functional vehicle, adjustable for land, air or water. A secret control room, computers, “top agent” CD’s, command center LED board highlighting agent activity around the globe, and plenty of weapons accessorize their hideout. Don’t get too close or you might slip through the trap door and fall into the locked jail, get a shot from the laser plasma LED super weapon, get caught by the two-faced double agent or set off the motion detector. After playing with the headquarters and stepping away, kids loved the fact that they could turn on the motion detector and protect their property–just like a real spy.
The above is solely the opinion of the author. This product was provided for review by Playmobil.
Grab your weapons of choice–a rope, gun, or sword as you make your way into the treasure temple to steal the shiny, crystal treasures. The trick is to get past the evil guards in removable disguise, avoid the stake barrier that pops up, falling rocks and drop pit, designed for your capture. This Indiana Jones-style narrative was familiar to young children as they invented their own stories of adventure, overcoming the obstacles. The beauty of Playmobil is its independence from one set narrative, providing open-ended play with a starting theme. Kids reinvented their story each time, imagining a different fate for the explorers, guards, animals and crystals. The structure became a jungle ruin, extinct volcano, and treasure headquarters, all in a day of play. How did the creepy looking guards get there? What are they trying to look like in those disguises? What is the treasure worth? Creative play that builds language skills, keeps generating new direction to a story, expanding thinking and fun!
The above is solely the opinion of the author. Playmobil provided this product for review.
Get ready for a hike through the jungle, climbing vine ladders and slipping down the tail of a snake. The large game board grabs a preschooler’s attention with the inviting, simple artwork and clear counting fun as you make your way to the top of the forest canopy. What makes this game unique is that you create your own character before play begins–get a photograph, draw a picture or cut out a magazine illustration, slip it into your “picture frame” game piece and you are ready to play. Creative language learning comes into play as kids personalize their identity and pretend to take the adventure as different characters. I Can Build It! Games’ signature quality construction insures that this game will hold up to hours of play with your little ones. Free down-loadable pictures of jungle animals is available on their website.
Age 3 and up
The above is solely the opinion of the author. The game was provided for review by I Built It! Games
The possibilities are endless with Memory Match+Tic Tac Toe as kids create and customize their game before playing. Continually under construction, this set of games is flexible for endless fun and learning. Unscrew the 18 game pieces and insert your personalized pictures, drawings or stickers to set up for play. If you want to play Memory, be sure to draw in duplicate! A sample sheet is provided to jump-start your play. Extra free drawings–including 3-D Shapes and Numbers– are easily downloaded from their website or simply create your own. My testers started out coloring the pictures provided but wanted to customize the second round along their favorite theme, horses. Drawing duplicates of a horse, a stable, hay, and water in a bucket for a game of Memory, a little girl was actually doing an exercise in categories and vocabulary. I Built It! Memory Match + Tic Tac Toe is a must-have for parents, educators and therapists. The language learning potential is unlimited, as educators can adapt the pieces to teach vocabulary, facial expressions, concepts, opposites and so on. Sturdy construction and fun game pieces that fit together make for a lasting treasure of fun!
Parents and educators will appreciate the sturdy game board and well-made game pieces for repeated play.
Age 3 and up
The above is solely the opinion of the author. Memory Match + Tic Tac Toe was provided for review by I Built It! Games.
Want a little sunshine on a cloudy day? Pick up Maryann Cocca-Leffler’s “Rain Brings Frogs: A Little Book of Hope” to leave a smile on your face. In a story of contrasts, Mom hates rain, but Nate declares it brings frogs, Liz isn’t satisfied with her pile of toys, but Nate just needs one teddy bear, and while friends have nothing to do, Nate enjoys the view. A simple, optimistic tale of seeing the sun behind the clouds, this book can teach kids the joys of gratitude, not multitude. In a fitting end to the book, the frog is hopping along in big jumps of “hope.” Just enough to take in visually, this book provides a start to many conversations between child and parent about how to view life–in a kinder and gentler manner.
Age: Newborn-7 years
Step up to the next level of game playing as you enter the world of Gubs, paying careful attention to the characters, tools, hazards, traps, events and protection needed to build your colony of these treasured creatures. Don’t think you can start playing this game without studying the directions–take time to enjoy getting to know the Gub world, learning the cards’ uses and what negates their powers. Players need to study the intricacies of play–like reading a fairy tale–learning how to maneuver through the Gub world. Mushrooms, Toad Riders and Velvet Moths protect Gubs as a Barricade while Rings and Sud Spouts trap the Gubs until they are destroyed. Language skills are tapped as players discuss the background of each card, think critically as to plan strategy, call out moves and remember the specific uses of each card to play at the most opportune time. Be the player with the most Free or ProtectedGubs in play at the end of the game and you are the winner!
The above opinions are solely those of the author. Gubs was provided for review by Gamewright.
Jump right into this multi-colored pond of fun as you roll the die, drop the pebble into the collection of colored shapes and see if some splash out. The roll of the die determines how many chances you get to drop the pebble or if you get a free pick of a water drop. Match your drops with your board and be a winner as you fill all the colored slots. The bright colored illustrations entertain the kids as they try to collect their splashes. A definite test of eye-hand coordination, Splish Splash! tests kids’ ability to drop a small pebble into a little pond. Some players tried throwing it or angling the throw for better results. Simple but just enough fun for a preschooler, Splish Splash! is a great starter game to learn and match colors and discuss strategy.
Age 4 and up
The above opinions are solely those of the author. Splish Splash! was provided for review by Gamewright.
Intrigued that a girl her age actually created this game, my little toy tester jumped right into “Mermaid Beach” and loved it. There is no lying around on Mermaid Beach because you have to be on your toes to craftily play the right cards to empty your hand and possess the most high scoring shell cards at the end of the game. The colorful cast of undersea characters include Priscilla Pearls, Swirly Shirley, and Mussels Mark–a speech tongue twister in itself! Play your cards to win some shells, but watch out for Sneaker Waves who laps up an opponent’s shell card, or the yucky Seaweed that adds another card to your hand. Don’t be left with The Sea Monster or your tally will diminish. A wonderful game of vocabulary in the beach category, Mermaid Beach offers the opportunity to talk about a favorite summer fun activity–a trip to the beach.
Ages: 6 and up
The above opinions are solely those of the author. Mermaid Beach was provided for review by Gamewright.
A flash is literally all the time you get to create words with four or more letters with FLASHWORDZ. Players get a fun, rounded rack to display their two- sided letter cards so there is no peeking! With a different letter displayed on each side of the card, there is a little mystery to this task. The word-maker has to use one or more inward facing letters on his rack with at least one outward facing letter from only one other player. Racing against the timer, the word-maker shouts out his word before the time is up. If he runs out of time, it’s a free-for-all Flash Round, as other players race to form a word. Clever opponents are working on their words while the word- maker is forming his, hoping for a chance to jump in. Play until the letters run out and then add up the value of your letters you won. Quick thinking is required as you have to start putting words together and choosing which opponents’ letters to use quickly. You may have to adjust the time according to the age child who is playing this–perhaps turn over the timer twice for younger participants. I found myself in the slower category so I very slowly put up my new letter cards before my round so I could get a head start! Great for reading skills.
The opinions above are those of the author. FLASHWORDZ was provided for review by U.S. Games Inc.
“The Splendid Spotted Snake”grows on you as each page turned reveals an added link to our slithery friend. Kids love the magic ribbon technology as the smiling snake’s cloth body expands to teach a new color. The text of simple rhyming phrases–”He grew a little more…he had green spots galore!” is a backdrop for the clever enlarging snake while turning the pages reveals a new spotted section of his body. When his growing ended , the snake looked splendid and surprise–his spots were blended! A great choice for an interactive read-aloud for your preschooler, the growing, bumpy bright spotted snake gives readers lots to talk about and engage in with a child. Talking about a book can be as valuable as reading it to a child to develop language that later relates to reading ability.
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