I had a fun interview with Kerri-Lee Maryland today at NBC CT, announcing some of our Top Ten PAL Award Picks for 2012! These are the 10 best products in each of three categories–toys, books and games–that deliver great play while encouraging language development.

It is always an adventure but today was particularly interesting since the nor’easter started up while I was there. I got to see Bob Maxon deliver the weather several times perfectly pointing to spots on a blank green wall (which ironically was about the color of my shirt!) that were cities in Connecticut that appear as a map to us at home.

Today when we were setting up, I got permission to move around with the toys which was fun as it is always easier to describe how to play when I can be hands-on. Once again, one of the people working in the studio came up to ask about the toys. He wanted to know about the Hape Master Work Bench for his daughter.

Here are some of the Top Ten PAL Award Picks for 2012 that I shared today:

Neverland Challenge Game by Wonder Forge (3 and up, $20.00)

  • kids perform different challenges to win more doubloons than Captain Hook
  • with the sword on your head walk backwards around the vine
  • collaborative game that involves solving problems, following directions, language learning

Play House by Plan Toys (3 and up, $80)

  • Learning starts with the set-up as kids declared a reading chair and put lamp next to it
  • 3 levels of furniture to prepare a meal, entertain or sleep
  • Cloth overlay offers open-ended play as kids declared a garden, swimming pool
  • refreshing simplicity leaves details to  kids’ imaginations–one child turned over the bathtub as a diving board for a swimming pool!

Zingo! Sight Words by ThinkFun (pre-K to 1st grade, $20.00)

  • kids love the zinger which reveals 2 sight words to match on your Bingo-like cards
  • most common words in the English language that can’t be read phonetically so you have to memorize them
  • wonderful learning tool

Feed the Woozle by Peaceable Kingdom (3 and up, $20)

  • 3 levels of cooperative play as kids load up their spoon with wacky snack tokens (hairy pickle or worm pie) and feed the Woozle without dropping them
  • do the hula dance, go crazy or march to the Woozle
  • helping each other, offering advice, social and language learning game

Master Work Bench by Hape (3 and up, $120)

  • preschoolers learn language by imitating adult activities in their world-language, storytelling, problem solving
  • children’s “work” is really their play as they assemble projects with the tools and add their creative twist
  • 32 pieces including tools–wrench, saw, hammer, screw driver

Blossom Cottage by Bigjigs Toys (3 and up, $120.00)

  • portable dollhouse which opens up so kids can dive into play with both hands
  • front opens up, “Wow, we can make an outside house!” declared a little girl
  • props have enough detail but are open-ended for child’s imagination
  • “Maybe we can pretend the chairs are fishing poles!” said one little girl
All PAL Award winners are reviewed on my website with information on where you can purchase them.