Best Education Products: Playing & Learning
Look for products that offer more value to children. The products that add value will help the child with learning, creativity, pre-reading skills, math skills and learning more about the world. These are among the best for the year. See www.drtoy.com for more information on these and other products.
B. Dazzle, Inc., Philadelphia—Scramble Square Puzzles, $7.95, 4-12 yrs., 800-809-4242, www.b-dazzle.com, email@example.com
These little brain teaser puzzles are easy to play, but hard to solve. You have a wide range of puzzle choices depending on your interest. You can begin with the French Impressionist masterpiece by Renoir entitled: "The Luncheon of the Boating Party" painted in 1881. Other puzzle choices include Rodeo, Fairies, Philadelphia, Lewis & Clark and Primates. Each puzzle has nine 4" x 4" pieces with excellent artwork that will keep everyone in the family entertained. Scramble Square puzzles are easy to carry, beautifully produced and perfect for using at home or taking along while on travel. Each puzzle package includes a panel of fascinating facts on the subject of the puzzle, as well as trivia questions and hidden answers. Ninety-one styles of original art puzzles are available in easy-to-use travel pouches which you and your child can have fun collecting.
Briarpatch, Circle of Friends Matching Game, $14.99, 3-6 yrs., 800-232-7427, www.briarpatch.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a great new interactive book that will introduce your young reader to basic early learning concepts. It is a delightful classic toy transformed into a book.
Memo-Lingo takes the classic game of Memory up two different levels in a series of 6 new games. Your child will sharpen their memory skills while developing knowledge in different subjects. MEMO-LINGO: Animals & Their Young requires players to turn up the cow card and match it with a calf. A dog is matched with a puppy and a cat with a kitten. On each card, the name is written in three languages: English, Spanish and French and the games come with a CD that features the correct pronunciation of each word.
Quercetti & Co, Skyrail Suspension, $69.99, 6-12 yrs, 800-866-7863, www.quercetti.com
This product is created and manufactured by the Italian-based Quercetti & Co. and distributed by International Playthings. It is a marble run based on a central tower with cable-suspended tracks around it. The tracks (or rails) are suspended in mid-air through a series of ties and anchors—just like a real suspension bridge. The set stands over 3 feet tall when assembled and features 300 pieces with over 30 feet of glow-in-the-dark track. The different styles of marbles will allow your child to see how the different densities and sizes affect the way the marble runs down the track. Your child will have fun setting up this marble run as he/she will learn more about gravity, inertia, cause/effect problem solving and other principles of mechanics and physics. There are no batteries, flashing lights or loud music. The products that they develop are based on innovative and original concepts and are available around the world.#
Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D. is a San Francisco based consultant on toys and play. She is author of Dr. Toy's Smart Play (Educational Insights) and Dr Toy's Guide (www.drtoy.com)