Step2 play picnic tableI wanted to share some observations I made as I viewed my favorite booths, specializing in educational toys, books and games for the birth-8 year old set.

  1. In keeping with the economy, I saw some “downsized” versions of old favorites that are just as much fun but more affordable. Playmobil is introducing a pirate ship about 2/3 the size of the large version as a good price. 
  2. To add value to the toy, I saw companies advertising 2-steps to infant toys, giving them longevity as a child moves into the next developmental stage. Tiny Love’s shape sorting “Pelican” and “Pop ‘n Dance” can absorb a child’s attention at two stages. Likewise I saw older toys with multiple functions. Last year Step2 introduced the spectacular “50’s Diner” while this year one of their new items is a “Picnic Play Table” whose top comes off to reveal a play space divided into two–half for water play and half for sand.Their toys are so rugged that they last a kids’ lifetime.
  3. I saw PINK versions of treasured toys. Tiny Love has a new line of pink versions of old favorite. I am a fan of their activity mats, so now you can get one in shades of pink.
  4. I saw new versions of previous games. Wild Planet makes active learning games that keep kids scrambling. Last year’s award winner, “Animal Scramble,” got kids off their seats and following language rich directions, while this year, a math relative was introduced called “1-2-3 Stomp.” Kids stomp to scatter the numbers and follow the directions to place them back in the base unit. Primarily enriching early math knowledge, this game also builds language through reinforcing  concepts such as “before, between and after.” Multiple levels engage kids of many ages.
Stay tuned for full reviews of my favorites as they become available to the public.