Those of you who know me, know that it is part of my mission to get companies to call out the learning potential in their toys and games for parents and educators. Let’s face it. This also helps sell toys and games when retailers can be helpful to customers looking for the learning in their products.

The first company I saw to do this effectively and comprehensively was ThinkFun who originally had a chart (which I helped advise on) that checked off different skills for each game. Now you go to their products and sort by skill–Word and Language skills, Logic and Problem Solving, STEM and Creative Thinking, and Visual Perception and Reasoning. Their games are loaded with fun learning and they were innovators in having a former kindergarten teacher, Charlotte Fixler,  on their staff to advise on skill building potential in products.

Brackitz has a wonderful grid broken into 13 skills, including “Representation and Storytelling.” They get it. Language is an integral skill in STEM/STEAM activities as kids are solving problems, negotiating, reasoning and often creating a story or structure for later pretend play.

So many companies fail to identify the language learning in their toys and games. Is it just too obvious? Language underlies all learning but kids are are getting less opportunity to interact face to face, practicing these social and cognitive skills as tablets and devices are stealing time from free creative play.

Educational Insights has been my go-to company for great games to use in speech therapy over the years, Their skill breakdown is evident under the “Education” category on their website. I’ve played “Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco Game” with kids and they loved it, while according to their website, learning:

  • Practices identifying geometric shapes
  • Develops fine motor skills
  • Improves strategic thinking skills
  • Encourages social skills and turn-taking

I only wish these skills were identified for ALL of their games, not just those deemed “Educational.”

I’ll be at the International Toy Fair in New York City in a little over a week and be on the lookout for more companies making it easier for parents to find a great toy or game that can help build specific skills for kids who might need some extra practice or strengthening in an area.