Tag Archives: toys

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

We have three children ages 1, 4, and 8. So, I’ve kept my eyes open for the best new toys and gifts for a range of ages. I attended a number of toy events, including the Toy Insider HoliDay of Play and Blogger Bash Sweet Suite, where I learned about new toys from product representatives and even tested many of the coolest toys you’re going to see in the stores this holiday season. Here’s a list of my favorites – a list that I should just forward straight to Santa!

For Our 1-Year-Old Girl

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We are big fans of Learning Resources toys. Each one is designed to build children’s education-related skills. The Ocean Wonders: Build & Spin is a set of interchangeable gears and colorful play pieces.
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Our 1-year-old already enjoys moving the pieces around and turning the gears by herself.

I know my 1-year-old will love playing with the Go Go Smart Friends castle, and I’m sure my 4-year-old will be happy to join her. Collectible Go Go Smart Friends interact with the castle and ride-on unicorn when placed on MagicPoint locations triggering phrases, music, lights, and motion.

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The Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe is an interactive desk that comes with five colorful pages for exploring letters, numbers, music, and colors.

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Expansion Packs for the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe

A 1-year-old really only needs a cardboard box to have fun on Christmas morning, so decor is a great gift idea for little ones. I ordered these beautiful prints from Zazzle. A click on the image will bring you to my review of Zazzle.

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For Our 4-Year-Old Girl

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Judging by the number of Elena of Avalor costumes this Halloween, she is a big favorite for 2016. This Elena doll sings “My Time” from the Disney Junior TV series.
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I’m so glad to see some STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) toys for younger kids this year. The Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set is for kids ages 5 and up. Kids can build a maze, then program the mouse according to the principles of coding to find the cheese.
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We tried out another early STEM toy from Learning Resources, the STEM Sink or Float Activity Set. My almost 5-year-old started grasping physics concepts like buoyancy and density using activity cards, weights, and a raft.
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The DigiArt Creative Easel teaches kids how to write with a magic pen and interactive board. It also allows can be used as a traditional easel with its dry-erase board, chalkboard, and paper-hanging drawing board.
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All the Shimmer and Shine merchandise! The Nick Jr. show is a favorite in our house, so I know the girls would be thrilled to play with these new toys.
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Shopkins now have a home for your little ones to decorate called, Happy Places.
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Each Gemlin has a name and personality and can be threaded with other Gemlins to make a charm bracelet.
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Magic Mee Mees come from different lands, such as, Seetsland and Berryland. They respond when fed special “food” and interact with other Mee Mees.
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We’re super-excited about this! Shopkins Kinstructions are buildable sets that are compatible with Legos. The Shopkins that come in these sets can be taken apart and mixed/matched.

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PJ Masks merchandise is out, and it’s everything the kids have been asking for. Collectible figures, Headquarters playset, costumes, and of course, masks!

For Our 8-Year-Old Boy

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My son’s number one Christmas list wish! We watched the popular ABC TV series, and now he wants the Hexbug Battlebots Arena to watch robots battle in real life.
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The Thames and Kosmos Magic sets teach kids how to perform magic tricks and help develop presentation skills, confidence, hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and reading skills.
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A new line from the makers of Shopkins, the Grossery Gang, is even luring the boys into the market. They’re gross and squishy, and my son loves them!
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Crayola Art with Edge coloring books, pencils and markers elevate coloring to a level that is fun and exciting for pre-teens, teens, and adults.
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The Bosebuild Speaker Cube allows people ages 8 and up to build and customize a durable, high-performance bluetooth speaker. It is an exciting STEM gift that my son would love, but it’s a big out of Santa’s budget at $149.
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The Meccano Mecasaur is a super STEM toy that kids can build and program. Then the Mecasaur interacts with you, responding to petting, answering yes/ no questions, stomping around, and roaring. Click on the picture to see our review of the Mecasaur’s predecessor, the Meccanoid.
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Our son is going to psyched about the Skypaper Paper Plane Launcher. He’s into origami and paper planes already, so super charging his creations and shooting them in the air takes it to another level.
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Remember hearing about 3D printers that were only used by scientists and the super-rich, because of the crazy price tag? The 3D Doodler Essentials Pen Set is made for kids ages 8+ and it costs $49.99!
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My son is a big fan of the Harry Potter book series, so he was thrilled to receive this cool Hogwarts t-shirt. I chose the shirt from tons of Harry Potter gift items on the Zazzle website. Click on the picture for more info.

For the Family

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Protect the Pride Lands is a unique game that is perfect for getting the family together on game night. All players work together to get Kion to the top of Pride Rock.
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The Nabi Elev-8 is the best tablet for a family with young kids because it combines superior technology, quality and learning features. Click on the picture for a review and video of the Nabi Elev-8 tablet.

Ready, Set, Woof! is a super-engaging board game for kids ages 3-5. It promotes important skills like recognition, concentration, memory, sharing, and turn-taking.

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We also tried out the Brownie Match game, another great family game that’s best for kids ages 3-6. It’s great for developing skills like memory, matching, number recognition, fine motor, sharing, and turn-taking.
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We also tried out the Brownie Match game, another great family game that’s best for kids ages 3-6. It’s great for developing skills like memory, matching, number recognition, fine motor, sharing, and turn-taking.

I’m sure you already know all about Kidz Bop, the group of young singers who perform G-rated versions of all the best new pop songs. We eagerly await every new album, so we were excited to receive a copy of Kidz Bop 33 and their new Christmas album.

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Holiday Gift Guide: STEM and Learning Toys

My favorite kind of toy is one that teaches my 3-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son something new, especially ones that encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning.

I received some toys to review and picked up a few from the store already. These are some of our family’s favorites. Some of the toys below have links to their full reviews, and I plan to continue reviewing and linking…so check back!

Tiggly Learning Apps and Toys

$29.95

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Each Tiggly set includes toys that interact with your Apple or Android devices. I’m a big fan of these sets because they are highly engaging and teach and reinforce academic skills. See my review for more details and for demonstration videos.

IQ Fit and IQ Twist

Age 6+; $9.99 and $11.99

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These are great stocking stuffers for kids AND adults. See my review for more details and demonstration videos.

Goldie Blox: Blox + Bits

Age 6+;  $9.99 and up

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Goldie Blox are super STEM toys created to inspire girls to have fun with construction and engineering. There are loads of sets with fun and interesting characters and challenges at all price points. We had a lot of fun trying the teeny stocking-stuffer-size Blox + Bits.

Gyrobot

Age 8+; $44.95

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Gyrobot made a bunch of “Best Toy” lists last year. What I love most about this STEM toy is that, along with the fun of constructing robots with the set, kids are learning about gyroscopes and how they’re used in many technological tools we use everyday.

Riddle Cube

Age 8+;  $19.99

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Players race each other to put their riddle cubes together according to puzzle cards. Too tricky for little ones, but great for exercising spatial-relations in big kids and adults.

Check out more in the School Psych Mom Series:

Holiday Gift Guide: Family Favorites

Holiday Gift Guide: Preschool Learning Toys

Holiday Gift Guide Series: Family Favorites

It’s November and that means Christmas is right around the corner! I’ve already started shopping for my 7-year-old and 3-year-old for the holidays, how about you?

I received some toys to review and picked up a few from the store already. These are some of our family’s favorites.

Crayola Color Alive

Age 4+; $5.99

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Download the free app to make your kids’ creations come alive. This was a hit for both my 3-year-old and my 7-year-old.

Eye Found It: Hidden Picture Game

Age 4+; $20

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Eye Found It is a great game for the whole family. Kids love to find their favorite characters in the Disney and Pixar themed editions.

Sky Rover Helicopter

Age 8+; $45

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The Sky Rover comes with remote control AND headset for voice command! My son thinks it’s so cool to wear the headset and pretend to be ground control. He could play for hours if we let him!

Glow Show

Age 5+; $20

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The Glow Show sticker launcher is pure fun. Kids can launch glow-in-the-dark stickers on the ceiling and walls.

Lite Brite

Age 4+; $25

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This was a purchase driven by nostalgia. I loved Lite Brite as a kid and now I’m playing it with my kids. Now the templates are reusable; remember when they were paper?

Hex Bug Inchworm

Age 8+;  $19.99 (with remote control)

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We love Hex Bug toys and we always have fun with remote control toys, so the Inchworm is a win-win!

Quixels

Age 4+; $9.99 and up

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Basically Beados for boys, Qixels are little plastic pieces that stick to each other when wet. My son loves that they come in designs that resemble popular icons from Minecraft and Ninjago. This little Qixel package is a great stocking stuffer!

Check out more in the School Psych Mom Series:

Holiday Gift Guide: STEM and Learning Toys

Holiday Gift Guide: Preschool Learning Toys

Learning Apps Review: Tiggly Words and Tiggly Math

We received the following products for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

Our family is pretty excited about the Tiggly toys and apps. My 3-year-old daughter tried out Tiggly Words and my 7-year-old son tried Tiggly Math; see them both in action below.

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Ever since I introduced the kids to these toys, they both often ask for a chance to play. Instead of denying them the screen time they desperately desire, I’m glad to let them enjoy these games.

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The toys are interactive, engaging, and relevant to their curriculum at school. The toys are great for kids with different strengths and weaknesses and are great for building reading and math skills.

Tiggly Words (Ages 4-8)

Tiggly Math (Ages 3-7)

There’s also a Tiggly Shapes toy for ages 2-5.

The Tiggly Learning Systems include interactive toys, 3 free apps, and a carrying pouch. The systems are compatible with all generations of iPad and iPad mini (except iPad 1), and leading android devices (Samsung, Kurio). Each system retails for $29.95.

Educators! There are Tiggly systems for the whole classroom, too. Check it out!

10% OFF Brainy Toys from Smart Games: IQ Fit and IQ Twist

I received a Smart Games IQ Fit in my swag box when I attended Sweet Suite at Blogger Bash NYC 15 and an IQ Twist when I attended Sweet Suite 14. We’ve been enjoying these little brain teasing toys ever since.  They’re both compact and portable, so they’re great for the car or for restaurants. I’m glad to hand one to my 7-year-old to keep him busy instead of the ipad or iphone!

IQ Fit

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IQ Twist In Action

See our video review of the IQ Twist!

Get 10% off using the code SweetSte when you purchase Smart Games and Toys from the Amazon Store! The promo code is good until October 30th, so act fast!

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Preschool Learning Toys

It’s time to start testing and reviewing toys for the 2015 holiday season and passing my favorites on to my readers. The two important things I look for in toys for the kids are: (1) How engaging are they and (2) Do they have some educational value, especially for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning. So, here goes the first in a series of Holiday Gift Guides for kiddos.

We received these toys from  Educational Insights to review. All opinions are our own.

Magic Moves RainbowJam

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My 3-year-old daughter is a little diva, so I knew she’d love a microphone, but this toy is way more than that. When she presses the microphone on a color (anywhere!), a sensor on the bottom reads the color. Then the microphone plays a different note for each color. It’s fascinating even for adults to try the microphone on colors around the house.

The RainbowJam comes with a 16-page activity book that includes a color-coded keyboard for composing, and several original songs about the colors.

This is a fantastic toy to help preschoolers learn colors and encourage creativity. Plus, it provides hours of entertainment.

Design & Drill Flower Power Studio

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I LOVE this toy because it’s basically a power tool that inspires STEM learning with little girls. It’s not just a pink pretend drill, it’s a battery powered drill with two drill bits and a case that unfolds to become a flower board for creating designs with the included bolts. The Design & Drill comes with a guide for creating 12 patterns.
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IMG_8625My favorite things about the Design & Drill are that it encourages STEM learning, hand-eye coordination, spatial relations, and problem-solving skills. Plus, this is another toy that was a hit with my daughter and kept her busy FOREVER!

GeoSafari Jr. Jungle Crew Lab Set

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This 6-piece, animal-themed chemistry set comes with 10 hands-on activity cards with directions for how to conduct mini science demonstrations. We tried out the slime-making activity and had a great time. We still have many more activities to try.

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This is another great STEM learning toy that introduces key scientific principles and processes, supports early math skills and measurement, and provides hands-on experience with physical science and the senses.

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What do you think of these preschool toys? Do you have any good recommendations for learning toys, especially in STEM areas?

Fun Indoor/Outdoor Toys for Boys and Girls: New Reviews

I received sample toys to test and review. All opinions are my own.

I first saw these toys at Sweet Suite during Blogger Bash NYC 2015 and knew they would be on my holiday must-buy list. The Firetek Zeon Bow from Zing and the Unicorn Popper from Hog Wild are great toys for kids like mine (7 and 3 years old, respectively).

Firetek Zeon Bow

The Firetek Zeon Bow is a mini version of the Zeon Bow, but it’s not so mini. It launches light-up mini Zartz arrows up to 35 feet, and will stick to most flat surface targets with soft-foam suction cup tips.

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An arrow is launched by hooking it up to two elastic cords on the bow. This mechanism ensures that the user can’t replace the safe soft-tipped arrows with something more dangerous.

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The Zeon Bow is available in two colors, green and orange and the arrows light up for fun nighttime play. It’s meant for kids age 5+ and it will retail for $14.99.

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Unicorn Popper

The Unicorn Popper is an adorable little ball-launching toy for kids ages 4 and up. It comes with 6 cute rainbow balls that shoot up to 20 feet just by squeezing the unicorn’s belly.

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It was difficult for my 3 1/2 year old daughter to squeeze the unicorn hard enough to shoot the ball, but she was able to to it a few times. With just a little more strength, I think it will be easy; and I like that she’s strengthening her hand grip just by trying.

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The Unicorn Popper is in stores now and retails for $9.99.

 

#BBNYC Blogger Bash in NYC #TheBigToyBook #SweetSuite14

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I went to my first Blogger Bash event, Sweet Suite 2014 at Location 05 in NYC.  It was like girls night for blogger friends (old and new), with drinks, music and entertainment… parent blogger-style.  Drinks were signature candy cocktails and Zipz Wine, a great new single-serve wine that’s packaged in traditional stemware-looking plastic. nAttendees learned about many of the hottest toys hitting the market before the holidays and had lots of fun playing with them too!

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And of course we snacked on lots of sweets!

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I previewed the Tinkerbell character for Disney Infinity 2.0 and saw the game in action. It’s thrilling for kids (and adults like me) to see our favorite Disney characters in action on our gaming console.

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My 6-year-old son’s  current favorite, Lego, displayed their newest collections including, The Lego Movie, Legends of Chima, Ultra Agents, and Fusion.  With the Fusion collection, kids can build a creation and see it come to life on their smart phones or tablets in an app game.

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Uncle Milton previewed these fun Wall Friends in our favorite Frozen characters.  They hang on the wall, light up, and talk too!

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Paw Patrol toys are finally here from Spin Master! There are cute plush toys and hard toys in all our favorite Paw Patrol characters.

IMG_4199Another product from Spin Master is Kinetic Sand, the best indoor, low-mess, sand-like toy I’ve seen.  It’s clean, dust-free, and never dries out.

IMG_4160We’re big fans of B Toys for their well-made, innovative versions of classic baby and preschool toys.

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Battat also displayed their adorable Li’l Woodzeez collection.

This was just a selection of the many toy companies who participated in the event.  Perhaps the best part of attending the  Sweet Suite event is the major swag sent directly to your door.  I can’t wait for mine and definitely will join again next year!