Smart Toys Kids Will Love

  • Smart Play

    Along with the frivolous and frilly toys lining store shelves, there are a number of educational games and other products that are on the market or on the way that might actually make kids eager to learn about science and math and build their vocabularies. We checked out the Toy Industry Association’s annual toy fair in New York and found a number of toys and games that may be worth the investment. Photo Credit: yummyporky
    T-Rex Skeleton Excavation Adventure
  • T-Rex Skeleton Excavation Adventure

    Tapping into kids’ fascination with dinosaurs is an easy way to encourage a sense of curiosity and the desire to learn. The T-Rex Skeleton Excavation Adventure kit from BSW Toy comes with a hammer and chisel needed to dig up a T-Rex replica. Once the excavation is complete, kids can snap together the dinosaur bones and paint the skeleton. Price: $24.99 at specialty retailers. Ages: 6 and up. Photo Credit: BSW Toy
    FridgiGears
  • FridgiGears

    This set of 20 moving refrigerator magnets is definitely a step up from magnetic poetry. One battery-powered driver gear turns all the other gears connected to it, allowing kids to set up various patterns and watch how the gears work together. Price: About $25 at major retailers. Ages: 6 and up. Photo Credit: Daphne Mavris
    4D Vision Great White Shark
  • 4D Vision Great White Shark

    Reading and looking at pictures may be an adequate way to learn about animals, but putting together a three-dimensional model of a great white, including bones and internal organs, is a more active way to learn about sharks. This kit from toy company Fame Master comes with an illustrated guidebook that walks kids through the setup. Price: About $26. Ages: 8 and up. Photo Credit: Daphne Mavris
    Ein-O’s I Know Guides
  • Ein-O’s I Know Guides

    Kids who are fascinated by the human body but aren’t ready for dissection just yet can learn about body structures and see how they work using Ein-o’s I Know guides with three dimensional models of basic human body structures like the heart, brain, eye and teeth. Price: $8. Ages: 3 and up. Photo Credit: Daphne Mavris
    Be A Detective: Forensics Expert
  • Be A Detective: Forensics Expert

    Kids who aspire to be the modern-day Sherlock Holmes would love this forensics set from BSW Toy. It includes a fingerprint kit, binoculars, a black light, tweezers to gather evidence, a badge, handcuffs to make an arrest along with several other crime scene items. There’s even crime scene tape to block off a secured area and evidence cards to mark the locations in which evidence was found. Price: $29.99 at specialty stores. Ages: 7 and up. Photo Credit: BSW Toy
    A Frog’s World
  • A Frog’s World

    NASA-designed biosphere eggs can be expensive and delicate, so kids might need a more affordable and durable product to learn about virtually self-sustaining ecosystems. The classic EcoAquarium with frogs from Wild Creations is just that. Gravel acts as a natural filtration system, so water doesn’t need to be changed for five or six months (making it much easier for kids to manage than a fish tank), and no aeration is necessary. Price: About $20. Photo Credit: Daphne Mavris
    Last Word
  • Last Word

    Child word nerds might like Last Word from Buffalo Games - it’s similar to but more interactive than Scattergories. It’s a board game in which subjects and letters are chosen at random, like “vegetables” and the letter “C” and kids shout out the names of as many vegetables starting with “C” as they can before a timer sounds. The player who shouts out the last word before the timer sounds gets to move ahead on the board. But the timer goes off at random intervals, so timing and luck are involved, in addition to word skills. Price: About $30 at select Target (Stock Quote: TGT) and Wal-Mart Stores (Stock Quote: WMT). Ages: 14 and up. Photo Credit: Buffalo Games
    Wordspin
  • Wordspin

    Wordspin from GeoSpacePlay is another fun word game for kids and adults alike that adds three dimensions and movement to your average, static crossword puzzle. Eight magnetic wheels stick together, and can be rearranged in any order to spell out the most words as possible. Each letter has a point value, and the player with the most points wins! Price: About $14. Ages: 8 and up. Photo Credit: GeoSpacePlay
    Monumental Moves
  • Monumental Moves

    This three-dimensional game of strategy from Family Games America teaches kids a bit about architecture as well. Players make moves to position each of their 14 detailed models of real monuments including the Great Wall of China, the Western Wailing Wall, the Zimbabwe Ruins and the Wall of Marrakesh, with the hope of conquering a territory. Price: About $57. Ages: 8 and up. Photo Credit: Family Games
    Pet’s Eye View Camera
  • Pet’s Eye View Camera

    Kids with pets often wonder what life looks like through the eyes of their furry friend, and Uncle Milton’s Pet’s Eye View Camera lets them see just that. This lightweight digital camera can be attached to a dog or cat’s collar. A self-timer can take a picture every one, five or 15 minutes, and they can be transferred to your computer via USB. Price: About $50 at toy stores nationwide, and many online retailers. Ages: 8 and up. Photo Credit: Uncle Milton
    Electricity Science Wiz
  • Electricity Science Wiz

    Future electrical engineers will love this book and kit which teaches kids the basics of electricity including how to build circuits, turn on lights and send coded messages. The book and kit, developed and refined by scientists, made the list of Good Morning America’s list of the Top Ten Children's Toys and has won a number of awards including the Scientific American's Young Reader's Book Award, the National Parenting Magazine Award, and the Parent's Choice Seal of Approval. Price: About $20. Ages: 5 through 10. Photo Credit: Science Wiz
    Fuel Cells
  • Fuel Cells

    Green technology is made a little easier with this Thames & Kosmos fuel cell car kit, showing kids that gasoline isn’t the only way to produce automotive power. This kit comes with all the parts needed to build a car that runs solely on water and sunlight. Once you add water, you can watch it separate into hydrogen and oxygen and the gases propel the car across the floor. Price: About $180 at specialty stores and online. Ages: 12 and up. Photo Credit: Thames & Kosmos
    Genetics and DNA Kit
  • Genetics and DNA Kit

    Parents might just shape their kids into little genetic engineers with this Thames & Kosmos Genetics and DNA kit which lets kids isolate the DNA from a tomato, breed bacteria for genetic engineering and learn about dominant and recessive genes and mutation. The kit comes with a 48-page manual with experiments and teaches kids about influential scientists. Price: About $35. Ages: 8 and up. Photo Credit: Thames & Kosmos
    Solar Cooking Science Kit
  • Solar Cooking Science Kit

    Kids who like to play with their food might like the Solar Science Kit also from Thames & Kosmos. With it, kids can learn about solar energy as a renewable resource by building a parabolic solar cooker which draws solar energy and focuses on a small cooking container. And it’s more humane than burning ants with a magnifying glass. Availability: This solar science cooking kit will be available this spring in specialty, hobby and educational stores as well as by catalog for about $14. Ages: 8 and up. Photo Credit: Thames & Kosmos
    Brainstring
  • Brainstring

    Brainstring might exercise the mind of kids and adults alike in ways you may never have thought of before. With this toy, players are challenged to move pegs attached to colorful elastic strings around the board without creating knots. Availability: Brainstring isn’t available in the United States yet, but it’s expected to launch here within the next few months. You can inquire about it here. Photo Credit: Recent Toys
    Triviathon
  • Triviathon

    Both trivia geeks and less savvy kids can play this board game together without anyone feeling left out. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to know the answers to win the game. “Triviathon will have players singing, dancing, arm wrestling, cheering, cheating, and more as they compete in a game that puts each player's unique cognitive, physical, and social skills to the test,” according to the game’s developer Jeezle Pete’s. Price: $30 at select retailers. Ages: 8 and up. Photo Credit: Triviathon.com
    Carnivorous Creations
  • Carnivorous Creations

    Kids can grow and explore the carnivores of the plant world with Dunecraft’s Carnivorous Creations terrarium, complete with seeds for Venus fly traps, pitcher plants, trumpet plants and cobra lillies as well as a book that describes how each plant catches and eats its prey.   Price: About $25 in stores and online. Photo Credit: Dunecraft
    Oomfy
  • Oomfy

    A bit like a cute animal version of the American Girl doll, Oomfy animals are soft and cuddly versions of real orphaned and rescued animals that have been nursed back to health and returned to the wild. The stuffed creature comes with a book about how the animal was rescued and taken care of, and the proceeds from each purchase goes toward the sponsorship of another animal. Availability: Oomfies aren’t yet captive in toy stores, but your favorite retailer can find out more about them here. Photo Credit: Oomfy
    Uberstix
  • Uberstix

    Parents who loved Lincoln Logs can have fun with their kids by building massive skyscrapers, aircrafts, boats and bridges with an Überstix set. A starter kit includes 450 pieces that are engineered to fit with other building toys including Legos and recycled materials like paper cups, straws and Popsicle sticks. Price: About $36 on Amazon.com (Stock Quote: AMZN). Ages: 8 and up. Photo Credit: Überstix
    Buckyballs
  • Buckyballs

    This strong little set of 216 rare earth magnets named after inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller can provide endless amusement for older kids and adults. That is, assuming players at the recommended age of 13 years or older have stopped putting toys in their mouths. And you don’t have to be a puzzle pro to play. Users can mold the magnets, named Rolling Stone magazine’s Toy of the Year, into an unlimited number of structures and patterns, stick them to the fridge or a filing cabinet and even combine them with several other sets to create a massive magnetic desk toy. Price: About $30 per set. Ages: 13 and up. Photo Credit: getbuckyballs.com
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