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Dr. Toy's Best Products - Spring 2007 Seal

Dr. Toy's Best Products List - 100 Best

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MEGA Brands Magnetix Rebuttal Letter to Safety Violation Allegations

Welcome to the final portion of the 2007 collection . . .

The Latest on Evaluating Toys and Children’s Products: A Challenge and an Opportunity to be of Service to Families and Schools.

by Stevanne Auerbach, PhD/Dr. Toy

As a natural, on-going part of our work as parents, teachers, early childhood specialists and others involved with children at home or elsewhere we observe children at play. This includes selecting the right products to enhance play and learning.

Before our eyes we see what works! And what doesn't hold up under tough testing - the normal barrage of active, inquisitive, and resourceful babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and older children.

We make buying decisions based on lasting play value and product applicability to children's active, creative, and educational experiences.

We can depend on the durability and versatility of such items as blocks, construction toys, games, puppets, and transportation toys. They stimulate the imagination, engage the player, have value and hold up over time.

We want to apply the same standard to all the choices we make.

Since I spend a great deal of time reviewing large quantity of products created by myriad manufacturers and designers, I want to be sure selections match criteria.

We often hear consumers describe their experience of making a purchase, but shortly after giving little Johnny the product it falls apart – a frustrating and expensive process. Products that do not match standards for production can be dangerous and can cause harm to children. We want to avoid these problems and always strive for excellence.

Parents and teachers look to us for advice. We consider many factors when making selections.

Certainly age grading, name recognition, company dependability, versatility of design, and place of purchase are factors to obtain the right product. Another aspect you can depend on is a warranty.

Rising costs for products require us to be wise consumers and to get extra lasting value.

Certainly durable products, designed properly, and developmentally correct are worth the money. Children’s positive reactions are worth the extra effort.

I utilize a complicated set of objective and subjective criteria to evaluate toys and other products.

Some questions I ask are:

I am pleased to have the opportunity to share my experiences with you to assist you in the selection process.

This timely report features information about l00 wonderful new toys and other products from large and small companies. The toys and products selected will meet your high standards for design, durability, quality, and price.

Let’s not forget that “play is children's work and should be respected and understood by all adults”. We all need time to play more.

We should be thinking: “What products can we obtain to provide wholesome experiences for children and provide plenty of positive play interactions?”

Please obtain a copy of Smart Play/Smart Toys: How to Raise a Child with a High P.Q. for yourself, new parents, your toy or book store, or for your favorite teacher.

I hope you will take the time to describe your experiences and ask your questions about toys and products by writing to me. Your comments are important. I look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Toy’s Programs FAQ's

1. What is the basis for the selections made?

2. What makes a quality product?

3. What value is this Product list to Directors? Teachers? Parents?

4. What are the prices of the products? Does high price mean high quality?

5. Why do young children need toys? books? video and audio cassettes? soft­ware? or the new CD ROMs?

6. Can a child do better in school later on if given these products when they are in preschool?

7. How do professionals or parents find or buy these products?

8. Is there an ideal age to be exposed to educational technology?

9. What should parents and professionals watch for when they are selecting toys and other products for young children?

10. How can I obtain a hard copy of the Holiday Gift Guide 2006?

11. Where can I find more of Dr. Toy's articles and information?

12. Dr. Toy's thoughts for Holiday Season 2007

 

1. What is the basis for the selections made?
In making the selections I look for quality in the design and production of the product, plus applicability to early childhood population, appropriateness of product for education, cultural, and social sensitivity, play value or the diverse uses of the product, price, and just plain fun.  Reviewing products requires objectivity to see the product in the hands of young children and visualizing their using the product within the context of the class­room, and of course in the home. I have a doctorate in Child Development, and Child Psychology, have been a classroom teacher, and have observed over 50,000 children at play during the three years of operation of the Toy Museum and in my studies of child care centers across the country.  I know what to look for when I evaluate a product. I am interested in large and small companies, the older, established companies, and the new ones with only one product. I evaluate based on product value, price, and reliability. I want to assist teachers with the enormous job they are doing on behalf of young children and, of course, help parents who are greatly in­fluenced by what they see their children playing with in school.

FAQ List

2. What makes a quality product?
A product is excellent if it is designed with the child in mind. Plus it should be easy for them to use, be completely safe, and interesting. Products should fit the child’s develop­ment, mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally, and, of course, be something they can have fun with. The product should be made to last for a long time and not break in the child's hands with reasonable use in active play. The company should be dependable and stand behind its product. It should have tested it with children to verify age appropriateness and to be assured of its usefulness for young children when it is packaged with descriptive information, age guidelines, and suggestions for use.

FAQ List

3. What value is this Product list to Directors? Teachers? Parents?
This list is valuable to anyone concerned about young children and interested in their education and growth. For directors of childcare programs, it helps them to plan purchases for the year ahead fo­cusing on products that are valuable to preschool children to enhance their success in their educational process. For teachers, it helps them to consider products that will assist them in their role as teachers. Childcare centers and schools should serve as models for families. Our lists are designed to help parents make good selections for their children. Parents will use the list to assist them to understand the types of products the child benefits from in school and at home. Also, they learn to be more selective in their pur­chases. They can add to products their child uses in the classroom. This is a suggested shopping list for consideration by any adult who lives or works with children. My goal is to create a valuable and much needed bridge between home, school, and the marketplace.

FAQ List

4. What are the prices of the products? Does high price mean high quality?
Prices range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. The school has a budget set for new products. (With unfortunate cut-backs schools would benefit from private donations.) Schools make their selections based on what is good for children and what they can afford. This is true for parents as well. I look for products that offer great value along with reasonable price. Often people buy things without realizing their money may be wasted or not used wisely. What I want to do is to help consumers find the best products for the money, the ones that provide real dollar value and expand play value.

FAQ List

5. Why do young children need toys? books? video and audio cassettes? soft­ware? or the new CD ROMs?
Children learn through play during their formative years. They need a good va­riety of stimulation. They need to be occupied with products that support them de­velopmentally. By using the right product children will have the best chance of learning and growing to their fullest potential. Products stimulate the child's mind, fingers, and whole body. It is hard to imagine a good classroom for young children without the wonderful basics that stimulate the child’s imagination, creativity, and learning process. Each product offers a distinct aspect of development. Toys offer a chance to act out roles, learn to make or construct something, take turns, figure something out, expand imagination, and much more. In this regard, we include art supplies and materials, construction toys, and play sets. Books of course are most important. Books help children discover the world around them -- opening doors that would otherwise be closed. Books aid children mentally and expand imagination. Books are one of the most basic tools for learning. The wise teacher and parent will offer many wonderful books to the child -- by reading to them regularly so they appreciate the value of the printed word and the pleasure of colorful illustrations. I have looked for books that are informative and open new ideas to the child. Video and audio cassettes bring words and pictures to life, encourage understand­ing and providing new visions, information and entertainment. Children benefit from stories, songs, and adventures. The programs help the child use their imagination and learn additional skills. Software and CD ROMs are the newest technology opening experiences to young minds. This technology offers the opportunity to extend learning far beyond the classroom and home. Children become the center of the learning universe and can more ef­fectively follow learning along their own path. It is possible with the tech­nology now available to finally individualize instruction as it was truly meant to be based on each child’s ability and interests and assist them to reach their own highest potential. That is not to say that play with non technological toys should be ignored, but there should be a good balance provided along with plenty of physical activity and creative pursuits.

FAQ List

6. Can a child do better in school later on if given these products when they are in preschool?
Yes! Most definitely! The child has great potential to learn at the earliest age. It is up to us to create the most responsive environment at home and at school to facilitate the learn­ing process. We have many tools at our disposal to bring into the home an educational envi­ronment. A good variety of appropriate products offer to the child unlimited pos­sibilities especially when the skillful parent or teacher creates the right balance of types of products and use.

FAQ List

7. How do professionals or parents find or buy these products?
Fortunately the Internet and other media reduce the amount of time it takes for adults to learn of great new products for children’s learning. They provide a very important service. So do the manufacturers who have spent a lot of money, time, and energy to enhance childhood with concrete and useful products. Now, immediately after seeing something in a magazine, adults can contact the magazine or company on line and locate more information about a specific product. They can visit their local toy or teacher store, call customer service, or easily write and obtain more information. They can order products directly. Ordering products can be facilitated by the depth of offerings and the responsiveness of a knowledgeable on line toy store. Parents can find these products in some stores, but they can also order on line. Parents can help their child’s school by donating products that can be used in the classroom.

FAQ List

8. Is there an ideal age to be exposed to educational technology?
Unlike most adults, children are not intimidated by technology. Some children learn best to read from typing words. Still others can learn quickly from hearing sentences. But almost every child can easily learn how to use the computer, and not just how to play educational games. They can gain information, understand how something works, be more creative, and have fun. Through the process of discovery children can enrich their mental and creative processes. It is an exciting time to be a child and have a world of learning opening up before your eyes. Adults need to disengage from their fear of technology and see it instead as an enormous tool for learning. – A real opportunity to finally provide children with the realities of individualized instruction. This is a long time goal, sometimes a dream of educators, where children can move at their own rate with unlimited po­tential to learn. Many excellent new programs exist to enrich children’s learning styles. Specialty stores, teacher stores, children’s museum gift stores, and others offer an enormous range of diverse resources for classroom and home. Children can benefit from exposure to a full line of personal computers, tape recorders, and many other new products that assist in learning.  There are many unique and exciting electronic products that offer information and learning and interactive excitement. I am enthusiastic about the major break through in technology offering new learning for the whole family along with great potential for classroom instruction.  Learning will be more fun and a lot more accessible both at home and in classrooms.  

FAQ List

9. What should parents and professionals watch for when they are selecting toys and other products for young children?
Some tips I offer to consumers are: To make a list of what the child may need. Let the child add items themselves to create their own personal "wish list." Observe the child at play. See what kinds of things they like to play with. Make sure the product is appropriate. Read the box and any other instructions. Ask yourself – Is it fun? Will it be right for the child? Will it endure? Be practical? Can I afford the product? Does it have a variety of uses? Let’s not forget that play is children's work and should be respected and understood by all adults. We all need time to play more. We should be thinking: “What products can we obtain to provide wholesome experiences for children and provide plenty of positive play interactions?”

FAQ List

10. How can I obtain a hard copy of the Holiday Gift Guide 2006?
Please print out the list or send a stamped, self-addressed #10 size envelope to:
Dr. Toy, 268 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94104

FAQ List

11. Where can I find more of  Dr. Toy's articles and information?
From 1985 to 2006 Dr. Toy has provided timely and valuable information on developmentally appropriate and educational toys and children’s products to parents and professionals. She has written for Family Circle, Parenting Magazine, Early Childhood News, Bottom Line Personal; on line sites (Club Mom, Pearson Family Education, KB Kids, The Toy Directory, The Looking Glass, and others); parent newspapers (Arizona, Houston, Atlanta, Southcoast); syndicated newspapers (King Syndicated Features - five years of weekly columns, The NY Times, Education Update, and others); and magazines (Old Schoolhouse, Games Quarterly, Knucklebones, Playthings, Woman’s Day, Hinduism Today,  and others).

FAQ List

12. Dr. Toy's thoughts for Holiday Season 2006
Dr. Toy has been at the forefront of bringing to the public the newest, safest, most educational and best resources. Dr. Toy has provided the first review of many products that rose to prominence and popularity. She maintains a balance in evaluations with products from small and large companies. Dr. Toy is pleased to see that many original companies from 30 years ago are still operating. 

She wishes all children equal access to a good variety of quality products regardless of where they live or their family’s economic level.

All children, Dr. Toy believes, deserve plenty of time for play and to have plenty of playthings for more learning and fun.

All toys reviewed for awards programs are donated to the US Marines Toys for Tots Program to provide joy to children.

FAQ List

 

Let's Play!

 

Products List

Company Item Type(s) Ages Price Phone
Company Item Type(s) Ages Price Phone
Action Products I Dig Bugs Beetle's Nest Excavation TY 8-12 19.99 800.772.2846
ALEX Color A Messenger Bag AC 7-12 19.99 800.666.2539
Alpha Spectrum Productions Wild Butterflies DV 5-12 29.95 800.543.3764
American Animation Studios Patrick Henry DV 8-12 19.95 866.401.4376
Around the World Around the World BG ES SR TR 8-12 26.99 206.605.3012
Aurora World Learn with Me-Activity Frog ES PL TY 6 m-3 y 29.99 888.287.6722
b. dazzle Teachers Scramble Squares ES NO PZ TR 4-12 8.95 800.809.4242
Blue Orange Games Bendomino BG ES TR TY 5-12 15.95 415.252.0372
Brain Party MathMosis Music CD ES ML 3-12 15.95 877.220.6284
Braincandy Touch My World AE CP ES SR TR DV 6 m-4 y 14.98 866.725.9070
Breyer/Reeves Intl My Dream Horse AC CP 8-12 15.00 800.444.4775
Briarpatch Newton's Apples BG ES 7-12 24.99 800.232.7427
Canada Group CONNECT'EM CP NO PZ TY 12-up 24.99 416.746.3388
Carrera Highway Patrol HO TY 9-12 79.99 609.409.8510
Carson Optical zPix Digital Microscope AC CP ES HO 8-12 99.00 800.967.8427
Center Enterprises Ready2Learn Mask Kit AC CP CS ES FP 3-12 11.95 800.542.2214
Chicco Ducati Grand Prix TY 2-7 59.99 877.424.4226
Colorforms/University Games Very Hungry Caterpillar AC CP NO TR TY 3-5 9.99 800.347.4818
ComfyWare Adventure in Numberland CD EG ES SW 3-5 19.99 866.372.6639
Corolle Interactive Lia AE DO FP PL TR TY 3-5 90.00 800.668.4846
Curious Toys Curious DragonBonz CO CP FP 4-7 34.00 212.674.1400
Duncan Toys Throw & Tell Talking Flying Disc AE OP TY 6-12 9.99 800.232.3474
DuneCraft Desert Hothouse AC CP ES NO SC SR TY 4-12 14.99 800.306.4168
East West Press Jadyn and the Magic Bubble BO CD CP ES ML SR 6-12 19.95 310.545.3730
Education Outdoors CAMP BG ES OP SR TR 3-12 24.99 989.493.0436
Educational Insights GeoSafari Talking Microscope ES TY 5-12 29.99 800.995.4436
Engino.Net Simple & Complex Machine CO 8-12 60.00 357821960
ETA/Cuisenaire Citysteps Growing Things TY 3-5 49.95 800.445.5985
Family Games Silly Stix ES GE OP 6-12 29.99 .
FamilyStories My Two Homes AC AE BO CP SR 3-12 17.95 800.367.9692
Fanny's Play House Down Syndrome Dolls DO SR 3-12 25.00 516.822.3752
Fat Brain Toy Dado Cubes AC CO CP ES TY 3-10 24.95 800.590.5987
Fisher-Price/Mattel I Can Play Guitar EG ES ML 6-8 99.99 973.470.0400
FLOAM FLOAM Picture Frame Kit AC CO CP FP TY 5-12 9.99 800.668.4846
Folkmanis Galapagos Tortoise Puppet CP FP PU SR 3-12 40.00 800.654.8922
Free Spirit Pub. Be the Boss of Your Pain BO 8-12 19.95 800.735.7323
Gemini Kaleidoscopes Carousel Musical Kaleidoscope CP ES ML NO TY 3-12 15.00 800.999.8700
Goldberger Doll 19" Mommy's Baby DO 3-7 25.00 800.452.3655
Green Baby Green Baby DVD CP ES ML SR DV 0-7 19.99 866.515.2229
HABA Land of Dragons Puzzle Game CP PZ TY 2-5 60.00 800.468.6873
Milton Bradley Game of Life Twists & Turns BG 9-12 34.99 888.836.7025
Hasbro Playskool Tonka Wheel Pals TY 9 m-3 y 39.99 800.327.8264
I Can Do That Games Cat in the Hat AE AP BG FP TY 4-8 19.99 510.326.0058
Idea Storm Products Yamodo BG CP ES SR TY 9-12 16.95 443.255.4792
Infantino My First Color Puzzle CP ES PZ TY 1-3 12.99 800.840.4916
Intellinitiative Game Word Sweep BG ES 10-12 29.99 866.752.9807
Jandie Jams Music Listen in Addition BO CD ES ML TR 4-8 16.99 800.391.2278
K'NEX 10 Model Speed Machine CO TY 5-7 9.99 800.822.5639
Kid Galaxy Scoop 'n' Shoot R/C Basketball AE EL GE 6-12 40.00 800.816.1135
Kids II Bright Starts Baby's PlayPlace AE ML 0-2 79.99 800.230.8190
Kimbo Catch a Brain Wave AE CD ES ML 4-9 14.95 800.631.2187
Learning Materials Dwellings 1 & 2 CO CP ES TR 5-12 19.99 800.693.7164
Learning Resources Jump 'n' Jam Jungle Mat EG ES TY 3-5 34.95 800.222.3909
LEGO Systems Ultimate Building Set CO CP ES HO NO SR TY 4-12 24.99 800.422.5346
Little Laureate My World Gallery CD ES DV 6 m-2 y 34.95 630.922.5488
Living Folklore Funny Bone Logic AE CP CS ES FP ML SR DV 3-5 19.95 928.925.3109
Magic Maestro Music Peter & the Wolf CD ML 6-8 16.98 866.432.7624
Maple Landmark Natural Classic School Bus CP ES FP SR TS 3-5 41.00 800.421.4223
MEGA Brands Brian the Brain CP EG ES NO TY 8-12 99.99 800.465.6342
MGA Little Tikes Kitchen CP FP 3-12 99.99 888.222.4685
Mic-O-Mic Shield Finger Guard SR 0-12 9.99 877.642.6642
Morning Star Games Slap Wacky! BG CG ES TR TY 7-12 11.99 888.304.4264
Nikko/Erector Speed Play Robot AE CO CP ES FP HO ML TY 7-12 129.00 800.776.4556
North American Bear My Own Monsters PL SR TY 3-5 16.00 800.682.3427
Northstar Games Wits & Wagers BG TY 10-12 16.95 301.313.0448
Ohio Art Betty Spaghetty CP DO FP 4-11 19.99 800.641.6226
okiedog ltd Cheeky Chick OP TR TY 12 m-24 m 39.95 800.631.1273
One Wee World One Wee World Celebrates Mexico DV 2-7 19.95 818.284.4711
Oregon Scientific SmartGlobe Junior EG ES TY 3-12 49.99 949.608.2848
Parents® by Battat Kitty Keyboard CP ML TY 2-5 30.00 800.247.6144
Patch Products What's Yours Like? BG CP ES 10-12 24.99 800.524.4263
Path to Math and Reading Path to Math Kit BG ES TR TY 6-12 20.00 650.348.6284
Peaceable Kingdom Alphabet Match Up Game CG ES 3-8 12.95 877.444.5195
Pictoria Records Ballad of Phineas McBoof CD FP ML TR 5-11 15.00 800.289.6923
Plastic Play i-gami AC CO CP ES 7-12 7.99 866.543.4264
Playhut 6 in 1 Action Zone AE CP FP OP TR TY 3-5 24.99 888.752.9488
Playmobil Hospital CO CP ES FP TY 4-12 159.99 800.752.9662
Poppo Brands Poppo BG CG CP ES SR TR TY 3-8 24.95 978.969.3011
Red Note Records Bebop Your Best! CD ML SR 5-10 15.00 800.824.2980
Rose Art/MEGA Brands Rose Art smART Easel AC CP ES TR TY 4-12 39.99 800.465.6342
Sababa Toys Dragonology: The Game BG 8-12 35.00 646.638.1240
Scientific Explorer My First Airplane Kit CP ES SC SR 6-10 19.99 800.900.1182
Shelcore Toys Groove 'N Go Music Maker CP ML TY 12 m-36 m 19.99 732.764.9000
SmartLab Toys Fashion Studio AC AE BO CP CS DO FP HO TR TY 7-12 19.99 800.722.6657
Smarty Pants Rap-n-Rhyme CD AE CD CP ES ML TR 3-5 12.99 888.893.7323
Sound Advice NoteNiks Respect Our Earth CM ES SR SW VG 5-10 19.95 800.522.3774
Spin Master Aqua Dots Super Studio AC AE CO CP HO NO TY 4-7 24.99 800.622.8339
Start Smarter Video Dance with Ballerina Jen AE ES FP VT DV 3-8 14.99 800.793.4970
Step2 Doorway Playhouse FP TY 18 m-5 y 59.99 800.347.8372
Steps4Kids Steps4Kids to Write Their ABCs ES DV 4-7 19.99 760.635.3501
Tangle Toys Baby Tangle TR TY 6 m-12 m 9.99 888.829.3808
Tinker Minds Aerobloks by Tinker Minds™ AE CD CO CP ES FP 4-8 109.95 877.237.6256
Tot Talk Placemat-Mexico! AC CP ES NO TR 3-12 12.99 800.380.3913
Treasure Bay We Both Read BO 4-7 3.99 800.476.6416
University Games Lego Tic Tac Toe AE GE TR 6-7 14.99 800.347.4818
VTech Whiz Kid Learning System EG ES 3-6 49.99 800.521.2010
Wild Republic Paint & Plant AC AE CP OP SR 9-12 18.00 800.800.9678
Young Scientists Magic School Bus Series CP ES HO SR 5-12 19.99 800.964.1320
Zabazoo RUKSHUK™ BG CG CO CP ES SR TR TY 8-12 24.95 877.528.5252
Zoppa Records Musical Verses Collection BO CD ES ML SR TR 1 m-12 y 16.99 503.774.6258

Key to Item Types:
AC - Arts & Crafts AE - Active Toy AP - Activity Product AT - Audio Tape
BG - Board Game BO - Book CD - CD CE - Entertainment
CG - Card Game CM - CD-ROM CO - Construction Toy CP - Creative Product
CR - Computer Related CS - Costume DH - Dollhouse DO - Doll
DV - DVD EG - Electronic Game EL - Electronic Product EQ - Equipment
ES - Educational Skills FP - Fantasy Play GE - Game HO - Hobby
ML - Musical MM - Multimedia NO - Novelty OP - Outdoor Play
OT - Other PL - Plush Toy PT - Pool Toy PU - Puppet
PZ - Puzzle RS - Rubber Stamp SC - Science SR - Socially Responsible
ST - Stamps SW - Software TR - Travel Item TS - Transportation
TY - Toy UN - Unique Product VG - Video Game VT - Video Tape
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