Just in time for the back to school season, Elizabeth Werner, a Toy Expert with years of experience testing various toys, gives us her picks of some of the best educational toys now on the market.
Games that teach...
MobiGo from VTech is full of fun learning games so back-to-school isn't so painful for young learners. It has a "kiddovative" touch screen so children can tap, swipe and flick, just like on "big kid" tech toys. Best of all, it uses VTech's Learning Lodge Navigator as a progress tracker so learning doesn't stop when the last bell rings.
Available at VTechkids.com, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us
Hone those fine motor skills...
Kids ages 4-7 can learn to write letters and draw basic shapes with the new Learn to Write & Draw set from LeapFrog, which helps reinforce writing skills through audio feedback with the Tag? Reader, the #1 reading system. This set mirrors the way kids are taught letters and shapes in school - teaching them how to draw horizontal and vertical lines, then diagonals, getting progressively harder with circular letters and retracing. Using sticker reinforcement and fun workbooks, kids are guided step-by-step as they follow the story starring LeapFrog's popular Mr. Pencil character. It even teaches kids "stroke order" to ensure they are tracing the letter correctly. The set includes 8-pieces: 1 hardcover activity book, 4 workbooks and 3 sheets of interactive stickers to help make learning to write fun and engaging.
Learn to Write and Draw Price: $19.99
Tag Reader Price: $29.99
Supercharge play time
DaGeDar?, a game of racing battle balls for an ultimate game of speed, skill, collaboration and collectivity. There are more than 100 balls each with a cool graphic and code, which kids can use at www.DaGeDar.com to learn more about its unique story. Best of all, collectors can have hours of fun launching the balls and having them race one another on a number of different tracks. Each dag has a steel-core center that requires the perfect combination of speed and skill to win. Awesome action here!
Balls, tracks, and spinners sold separately.
$4.99 - $19.99
Ages 4 +
Rev up the brain...
With more than two million games sold in Europe, Jungle Speed is set to capture America's imagination. Jungle Speed, developed by Asmodee, is the fast and furious game of quick thinking and lightening fast reflexes. Think classic car games Spoons or WAR, embellish the cards with abstract shapes and colors and add a call to action to race opponents to a totem. Each player must be spot-on to beat out their opponents. This is fun ? and good for the brain, too. Recent research shows that board games, such as Jungle Speed, have a positive impact on children's cognitive development skills and brain motor function.
Don't lose it...
Mabel's Labels is a leading provider of personalized labels for the stuff kids lose. The Ultimate Back-to-School combo has all the labels needed to label everything that goes to school. The sticky labels and clothing labels are dishwasher, microwave and laundry safe. They peel and stick to lunch containers, school supplies, clothing, shoes and more. Perfect for back to school, this limited-time combo offer ends at the end of September. Shop online at mabelslabels.com.
Appropriate for all age groups
Glam up the locker...
The metal school locker is about to become a place tween and teen girls are going to love. LockerLookz? are magnetic accessories that let them show off their personal style. No mess, no sticky stuff, easy to install. Each piece is sold separately and everything can be mixed and matched. This is perfect for "locker days" when kids get to decorate their lockers before school starts. Invented by two Dallas area moms, these decorative items have just received a 2011 Creative Child Award for Kids Product of the Year. LockerLookz promises to make the locker a little pad-away from home!
$6.99 to $24.99
About Elizabeth Werner
Elizabeth Werner worked for Worlds Apartand Spin Master to learn more about toys ? from concept, design, line extensions, PR and marketing before she ventured into her own business. Every February, Werner selects the best and hottest toys in the year. Werner attends toy industry conventions in Dallas and New York and meets with toy manufacturers year round. Werner is also a member of the Toy Industry Association's Toy of The Year Award Committee. Werner does not take compensation directly from a toy manufacturer for consideration or promotion.