By GreatSchools Staff
Marble Run Vortis
What it teaches: engineering fundamentals around cause-and-effect relationships and interconnections
The magic of gravity and colored plastic are put to good use with this elaborate multifaceted marble run. Though kids will no doubt love playing with it, the real learning comes from putting it together and making it work. Kids of all ages thought this toy was exciting. One of our kid testers exclaimed before it was even out of the box: “Thank you thank you thank you!”
Be forewarned, though. For parents hoping for some leisure time, this toy may not satisfy. One of our parent testers confessed: “My child wasn’t the only one who learned something!”
Bottom line: The perfect family project that makes a big impression on little minds.
The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories
By Dr. Seuss, read by Neil Patrick Harris, Anjelica Huston, and others
Dr. Seuss’ lyrical, tongue-twisting stories deserve to be narrated by golden-tongued talent. The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories ($8.64), a brand new audio collection of early original works, pulls out all the stops, boasting an all-star lineup that includes Hollywood heavy hitters such as Neil Patrick Harris, Anjelica Huston, William H. Macy, and Joan Cusack. "This is a fantastic choice for kids who are just learning to read," says Jeanne Lamb, coordinator for the youth collections at the New York Public Library." They can relax, hear the flow of a wonderful story, and then make the connections to the page."
Bottom line: The pitch-perfect gift for the Seuss-obsessed kid.
Ages: 6 and up
Spot It puts a unique twist on matching games. Each of the 55 round cards has a symbol on it that matches exactly one symbol on every other card. The object is to be the first one to find the most matches from the cards you are dealt. Matching pictures on cards — how hard can that be? Harder than you think (sometimes the size of the symbols change), and it's all a matter of speed. You can play with up to eight people, and since there’s no reading involved, even kindergartners can get into the action. The game also includes instructions for four additional games. Packaged in a small tin and requiring little space to play, it’s the perfect travel game for the whole family.
Bottom line: This fast-paced game is great to take on the road and will grow with your kids.
Ages 6 and up, $15
Even some of the best toys out there become a snooze for parents eventually. Not so with SET, an addictive and challenging matching game in which players pick out patterns involving symbols, numbers, and colors. An excellent brain stretcher, good for long stretches of quiet fun, and an equally good time for grownups as well as kids.
The bottom line: You can't beat this addictive yet challenging game for ages 6 and up.
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