It was only a prototype (and a buggy prototype at that)…but if it works the way it did during our demo, this promises to be one of the best games for 2010. Takes the play of Scrabble, Boggle…and marries it with fun technology. Take a look at our video.
Chances are you have a copy of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s Polar Bear Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
Here’s one of the games we recommend in Read It! Play It! with Babies and Toddlers that you play after you share the book with your child.
I Went to the Zoo
Borrow the refrain of “Polar Bear, Polar Bear…” as you pull your child’s toy animals out one at a time. Before long your child will be adding animals as you both say…”I went to the zoo and what did I hear? A little lion growling at me!”
Make a “zoo” for the animals with a collection of shoe boxes or blocks that your child can continue to play with alone.
(from p. 46, Read It! Play It! with Babies and Toddlers)
Yesterday I walked past a display of silverware that was in the form of the Empire State Building. It reminded me of a great game to play with your kids that will keep them busy on a cold winter’s day.
Challenge your kids to build the tallest building using their LEGO Bricks! For younger kids this will be about adding more bricks until the structure falls down. But for older kids this can also become a real hands-on experiment–how do you make the structure more stable? What do we need to add to the base to make it less tippy. If you’re really into the building why not make your own city of skyscrapers. What kind of buildings do they think should be in the city? A sports arena, a shopping mall, a grocery store…always fun to hear what they want on their list. Matchbox cars and trucks can also be used to populate the city. Be sure to take pictures–you’ll be happy to chronicle the challenge. You can also have them create a book with the pictures–something that can be sent to Grandparents or shared on-line. Either way, I like encouraging kids to create their own structures from materials they have around the house.
Get a box or a basket…and ask your kids to find things that are blue (or any other color that you’d like) and bring them to the basket. You can also make this part of cleaning up toys…can you find all the yellow pieces first and put them away? Making a game out of cleaning up is half the battle.
For games and activities to play with your child 4-8, check out the original Read It! Play It!
If you have a preschooler at home, you can play a mean game of sorting socks. Works best with kids socks since they tend to have more patterns. After you take the socks out of the dryer, have your child close their eyes. Distribute the socks around the room/house….and then challenge them to find the socks that match. How many pairs can they make. It will make this chore a little bit more fun for everyone.
While we usually like lists of five or a dozen, we realized today’s list of 13 Top Games Under $20 was meant to be! Happy Friday the 13th. Read our reviews at www.toyportfolio.com.
The games included are:
Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It Game (I Can Do That Games)
Rainbow Race (International Playthings)
Scrabble Slam Card Game (Parker Brothers)
Yamslam (Blue Orange Games)
Pairs in Pears (Bananagrams)
eeBoo Fairytale Game (eeBoo)
Ring-0 Flamingo (Gamewright)
Uno Moo! (Mattel)
Too Many Monkeys (Gamewright)
I Spy Flip 5 Games (Briarpatch)
Dr. Seuss Super Stretch ABC Game (I Can Do That Games)
Curious George Discovery Beach Game (I Can Do That Games)
I used to play Jenga all the time. It’s my kind of game–you have to be decisive and you’ll know within moments if you win or lose. So I was pretty psyched when I saw the new Jenga Max (Parker Brothers/Hasbro) at Toy Fair…it looked great. I then stopped thinking about it. My mind was quickly full of Barbie Nail Printers and toys that read your brain waves. Then about two weeks ago–I realized that we hadn’t received Jenga Max. Oh no! So we just got to try it out. Read our review and you can watch our demo.
Here are six great games to think about for the holidays. The complete reviews of these award winners are on our site, www.toyportfolio.com
Active Fun Games
Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABC Game (I Can Do That Games)
Pure silly fun
Feeding Frenzy (International Playthings)
Ring-0 Flamingo (Gamewright)
Concepts and Strategy Games
eeBoo Color Dominoes (eeBoo)
Double Shutter (Blue Orange)
Even though most of us haven’t even contemplated buying our Halloween candy yet (ok, I’ve contemplated but I haven’t bought any yet), the major box retailers want you to think holiday toy shopping TODAY! Walmart has expanded its offer of toys for $10 to 100 items…KB Toys saw that and raised it to 200, and Target is trying to match prices. There’s free shipping to be had…and if you’re really sharp, you can find certain Barbie dolls for as little as $5.
So what’s a toy consumer to think?
1. Toy prices are getting a much needed adjustment. All of that toy safety testing costs a lot –and if you’ve bought a toy recently you’ll know that the added expense has been passed on to consumers. While we don’t rate toys based on price, we have had sticker shock here as we’ve watched the prices just continue to climb for the past two years. So from this point of view toy wars are good, very good.
2. Less Inventory. If there’s something your child wants for the holidays, buy it early. Tight inventories is another way retailers have protected themselves this year.
One of the trends we’ve watched this season is shrinkage…which always makes me thing of Seinfeld’s infamous shrinkage episode with George in the Hamptons.
Toy makers are making many of the same type of toys they used to…but smaller…much smaller…and much less expensive.
For example, last year we featured Playskool’s $300 Kota My Triceratops Dinosaur. This high tech dino-wonder was big enough for your child to sit on!
This year, the same manufacturer is offering Kota & Pals Stompers – Triceratops. He walks on my desk. Watch the video. He’s very cute and he actually walks (something the big guy can’t do)…but still, this is what the price wars mean.
So does this mean you should buy only $10 toys this holiday season?
There are in fact lots of toys for $10 and under that are really great. We have many award winners that fit the bill, but buying lots of “stuff” seems like a mistake in the long run. Keep in mind that 60% of our toy dollars are spent this time of year…so bringing home toys that will have lasting play value makes more sense in terms of having toys your kids will play with after the holidays are over.
Open-ended toys and supplies are a better bet. I love novelty toys as much as the next guy…and there are some on our list this year. The holidays are about making dreams come true, but if you’re looking to make your dollar stretch…buying more open-ended toys is the way to go. Art supplies, games (that are played again and again), blocks, pretend props (toy kitchens, dollhouses), and toys for active play (ride-ons, sporting equipment)…all will be enjoyed for a long time and played with differently as your child grows.
Pool your resources. If there’s a toy that your child really wants that costs a little more, have your family chip in. Much more fun to get the present you wanted, then lots of little token gifts from aunts and uncles.
The olden days. There was a time when we didn’t go to the toy store with a shopping cart. We got fewer toys…not necessarily a bad thing.
Get Your Screwdriver Ready. One way to keep prices down…toy makers leave more for parents to do. Many toys don’t even come with the pre-drilled holes. If you’re handy with a power drill/screwdriver, you’ll be fine. If you’re not, we warned you.
Make it count. We started the toyportfolio with the tag..we test all the toys so that “you don’t waste your money or your child’s time.” So no matter what your budget, we’ve tried to take the mystery of finding a great toy. So take a look at our Platinum List!
Anyone who sends me a picture of themselves having a pillow fight is totally cool…