Showing posts with label Educational Toys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Educational Toys. Show all posts

Saturday, November 24, 2012

5 Educational Toys for Your Holiday Shopping List

Once a year I break away from websites and apps to check out some tangible educational games and toys for your holiday shopping list. I'm not a toy and games expert, but my uncle Christopher Byrne has been working in the toy industry for more than 30 years. Some of you may have seen him on Oprah, the Today Show, and other nationally syndicated shows. So when I want to find out which educational toys and games are popular right now I turn to his company's website, Time to Play. I spent some time exploring Time to Play this morning and found five toys and games that I think kids will enjoy playing with while learning at the same time.

LeapFrog has been popular for years. I just learned that they have a couple of interactive maps that look like fun. They offer interactive maps like LeapFrog Tag Maps: USA which allow children to use the LeapFrog reader to explore the map. They also offer the LeapFrog Tag Solar System Adventure Pack which is an interactive map of the solar system. Learn more about the solar system adventure pack in the video below.



For the children in your life that are just learning to write, Mead offers Letter Stories Dry Erase Flashcards. These flashcards have uppercase and lowercase letters for children to trace.



My family played a lot of board games when we were growing up. In fact, we still play them when we get together during the holidays. (My uncle Chris hates to lose at board games). Two educational board games that look good to me are Wise Alec Family Trivia Game and Flag Frenzy! see Flag Frenzy in action in the video below.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Educational Games & Toys for Your Holiday Lists

The holiday shopping season kicks-off in full force at the end of this week. To help those who will be shopping for children's gifts this year, I recently talked with The Toy Guy, Christopher Byrne about his picks of educational games and toys for the season. Fans of Regis & Kelly, Oprah, or the Today Show may recognize The Toy Guy. While The Toy Guy does love toys and games, he also recommends taking kids on a good old fashioned trip to the public library. The video of our conversation is embedded below.



Make sure you check out Time to Play Magazine for more games and toys reviews.

Here are the toys and games The Toy Guy mentions in the video.
vTech V.Reader Animated E-Book System
LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System
Hyper Dash Extreme
Woody's Run Around Round Up Game

This one is not mentioned in the video, but I found it while exploring Time to Play Magazine and thought it had potential to be good. LeapFrog Tag Maps

If you're looking for educational games and toys to add to your classroom, I recommend reading Gary Stager's recent post 'Tis The Season for Technology.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Free LeapFrog Systems for Kindergarten Teachers

LeapFrog, the maker of learning toys like the Tag Reading System, is offering Kindergarten teachers the opportunity to get the Tag Reading System and books for free. LeapFrog is looking to partner with Kindergarten teachers through the Tag Kindergarten Program. The LeapFrog Tag Kindergarten Program will provide teachers with nearly $3200 worth of equipment and books for their classrooms. In exchange, Kindergarten teachers offer LeapFrog feedback about how they are using the Tag Reading System in their classrooms and how it affected student learning. The deadline to apply for the program is November 11. To get all of the application details, please click here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Time to Play Again - The Toy Guy Part II

On Monday, I posted part of my interview with The Toy Guy, Christopher Byrne. In that interview Chris and I talked about the importance of play and the role of educational toys in the learning process. Chris emphasized two categories of toys that he says are important for learning; reading/ literacy toys and creativity toys. When talking about toys that promote literacy Chris emphasized that as fun as toys can be, they do not take the place of parents reading to their children.

The second half of the conversation I had with Chris revolved around the notion that kids learn best when they can control the learning experience. As Chris said, "when kids can control the learning, they stay engaged." On that note The Toy Guy recommends a couple of toys that give kids creative control of learning. Chris gives his endorsement to "anything from Crayola, from the basic crayons on up." On Crayola item in particular that those interested in buying educational toys should check out is the Crayola TaDoodles Scribble and Sing Art Station. Another toy company that The Toy Guy says produces toys with educational value is Mega Toys. Mega Toys produces the Easy Writer drawing board.

That wraps the conversation that I had with The Toy Guy about educational toys for this holiday season. Chris did tell me about an educational organization called America Scores for which he serves on the board of director. It is a great program that combines soccer and poetry in a fun after-school environment.

No post on Free Technology for Teachers is complete without the mention of something that is available for free. Therefore, I must remind you that Time To Play Magazine holds a daily drawing for free toys which you can enter here.

Disclaimer: In addition to being a recognized expert in the toy industry The Toy Guy, Christopher Byrne, is my uncle.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Time to Play - An Interview With The Toy Guy

On Saturday afternoon I had the opportunity to interview The Toy Guy, Christopher Byrne, about his recommendations to people looking to purchase educational toys for the children in their lives. Christopher Byrne has worked in the toy industry for more than 25 years. As The Toy Guy, Chris regularly appears on the national news networks, Regis and Kelly, Oprah, and in print publications sharing toy recommendations. Chris is also the director of content for Time To Play Magazine. No post on Free Technology for Teachers is complete without the mention of something that is free, therefore the "free" in this blog post is my recommendation to visit Time To Play Magazine where you can register to win free toys in their daily drawings.

I started the conversation with Chris by asking him about his thoughts on the role of toys and games in education. Chris, not a teacher although the son of two teachers, said two things that educators will appreciate. Chris said that "any play is educational" and "kids learn when they play." These thoughts guided the rest of our conversation. Our conversation and Chris' recommendations can really be split into two categories; toys for developing literacy and toys for promoting creativity. The part of the interview that I'm posting today focuses on toys that develop literacy. On Wednesday, I'll share Chris' recommendations for items that promote creativity.

One of the first educational toys that Chris recommends is the The Tag Reading System from Leap Frog. The Tag is designed to help kids learn reading and spelling skills while having fun in a video game style. Chris recommends The Tag because it's a great way for kids to "develop reading skills when parents can't be there to read to their kids." The Toy Guy loves toys, but stresses that parents reading to their children is much more effective than a toy. That said, another feature of The Tag is the built in option for parents to track their child's progress online at the Leap Frog website.

Another toy that Chris recommends to those looking for toys that can help develop reading and writing skills is the V-Tech V Smile Cyber Pocket. The V-Tech Cyber Pocket is a hand-held gaming device that offers a variety of overlays including writing overlays. V Tech offers a number of other great educational games and toys for children as young as nine months through age eight.

When I asked Chris what he recommends to parents who don't have much to spend, but wanted to buy educational toys for their children this holiday season. I gave Chris a budget of $35 with which to purchase two items. His recommendation was any book that parents can read to their child to instill a love of reading in their child. Chris also recommended interactive books from Publications International. When recommending the interactive books from Publications International Chris again mentioned the idea of interactive books and toys being valuable for helping kids learning and discovering on their own.

Those are the items that The Toy Guy shared with me as his picks for toys that can help develop literacy. For more toy recommendations for the season check out Time To Play Magazine where you can read reviews, ask questions, and enter into daily drawings for free toys. On Wednesday, I'll post The Toy Guy's recommendations for toys that promote creativity. Chris says, "it's important for kids to control the learning experience" therefore his recommendations put kids in the driver's seat of learning.

Disclaimer: In addition to being a recognized expert in the toy industry The Toy Guy, Christopher Byrne, is my uncle.