By Keri Wilmot,
Walking the aisles and touring the booths on my inaugural trip to Toy Fair 2010, on a quest for the latest and most exciting toys with a development and learning focus, was both exhilarating and exhausting. Being an occupational therapist who has promoted children’s sensory and motor development through toys for the last ten years, I can definitely say the Toy Queen has died and gone to toy heaven! For three straight days we searched and found so many new exciting toys and games ready to make their grand entrance into the market for 2010. Here were some of my personal favorites:
IPlay Poppin Shapes Aquarium – International Playthings, $19.99, Coming soon!
These adorable little shapes fit inside an aquarium shape sorter. When you press the button on the front of the shapes, they pop out into a sea creature such as a fish, turtle, or crab. The sorter container has a nice open slot in the front that is easy for little children to open independently. This is a great toy to work on dump/fill play, hand eye coordination, as well as both shape and animal identification. Appropriate for children ages 2 and up.
Play-Doh Shape ’n Spin Elmo Playset – Hasbro, $19.99, Available Fall 2010
Loveable Elmo has two modes, Count Shapes mode and Find a Shape mode. In the Count Shapes mode, the child turns the dial to select a shape. Elmo will identify what shape it is and asks the child to make a certain number of that particular shape. In Find a Shape mode, Elmo will ask the child to find and make a specific shape. Play-Doh has been utilized for years in a variety of educational ways, but to me this is a fantastic concept to include making the shapes into a fun, interactive game that can be played as a family or individually with children ages 3 and up.
Stinky™ The Garbage Truck – Matchbox, $59.99, Available July 2010
Stinky™ was an unforgettable show stopper at Toy Fair and was the first toy to come to mind in terms of giving us the biggest smile and lots of laughter. Completely and utterly adorable! Stinky™ works like a regular garbage truck that children can push around. However, Stinky™ has other features that encourage children to interact with him. For instance, when Stinky says “Feed Me!” he wants to you put Matchbox cars inside his mouth, but watch out, he can also drop the cars out of the back of his truck! This a great toy that works on teaching children ages 3 and up how to follow simple directions, sing songs and play games in an interactive, silly, and playful way.
Pop Goes Froggio – Hasbro, $16.99, Available Fall 2010
In this game, children spin a spinner to find a corresponding lily pad that is hidden around the room. They then turn over the lily pad to find the match. If they do, they get to stomp on the green lily pad and send Froggio straight up in the air. This is a nice memory game that also includes elements of stomping, balance and hand eye coordination through catching for children who enjoy more interactive learning with their entire body. Don’t just spread the lily pad pieces around the game; hide them all over the entire room or a few rooms to make more of a memory challenge. This game can easily be played with a variety of preschool children at different learning and age levels.
Crayola Guess My Picture – Wild Planet, $14.99, Available Fall 2010
In this exciting new game for ages 4 and up, children create a picture with pre-cut circles, squares and squiggles from an image on a card. Other players try to guess what the picture is and stars are awarded to the person who guesses correctly. The player with the most stars at the end of the play wins. This is an excellent game for children who may become frustrated when they can’t properly draw a picture and is a great way to work on fine motor coordination and motor planning for design imitation, which are precursors to writing letters.
In honor of the Toy Story 3 movie, which premieres in June 2010, there have been over 250 new toys developed for this occasion. Aside from the creation of Toy Story Operation and Toy Story Kerplunk, this was one of my favorites:
Woody’s Runaround Roundup – Wild Planet, $25, Available May 2010
I am always a fan of games that involve thinking strategy and motor coordination. The characters are hidden all around the room and Woody will ask a variety of questions. When the child knows the answer they run to the correct character and “tag” them by placing Woody and Bullseye over them. This game teaches the concepts of names, letters, colors and can be played both indoor and outside by preschoolers ages 3 and up.
Sumo Ham Slam – Gamewright, Coming soon!
This interactive game involves simple math, but that does not require any reading. Roll the dice and feed your hamster chips to make him a stronger wrestler! Using a magnetic wand, challenge your opponent in the ring to see who the winner will be! Though this game is listed for children ages 8 and up, with some adult support, children as young as 5-6 may also enjoy this interactive, silly game that enhances fine motor development!
U-Build Connect 4, Hasbro $19.99, Available Fall 2010
U-Build Connect 4 is one game in a series of 4 U-Build games (Sorry, Battleship, Mouse Trap) recommended for children ages 6 and up, where children use bricks they attach to the game board that allows for novel game play each and every time. Bumper bricks are placed at the top of the board so kid’s can drop the checker into the board game to try various ways to get 4 in a row to win. Hasbro has worked very hard this year including different elements into all their board games to shorten play if needed, or allow for novel play so that everyone can be included in Family Game Night!
Rory’s Story Cubes – Gamewright, $7.99, Coming Soon!
Using Rory’s Story Cubes, children roll the dice and create a group story using a picture on the dice as a visual cue to craft the story. This game can be played individually or in a group, and is great for children who could benefit from practice with creative writing and have difficulty organizing their thoughts for written language activities. Why not take turns writing down your sentence along the way and after a few rounds vote on the funniest story of the day! Geared for children ages 8 and up and perfect for play at school, at home or when traveling by plane, train or car!