Archive for the ‘
Toys ’ Category
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Happy Earth Day! Over the years, we’ve looked at tons of green toys—items made from recycled materials or sustainably harvested wood and more. Here are a few of our favorites:
Green Toys makes what they say: toys from recycled milk jugs. They’re sturdy, which is key for a toy that gets played with over and over, and attractive, which is also good since you’ll be seeing them a lot! Our top picks: the Recycling Truck and the Tea Set.
Friday, April 12th, 2013
It’s rainy, gray, and just kind of blah here this morning in Western Massachusetts. Which somehow got me thinking about puzzles. Maybe because it feels like the kind of day to stay in your jammies, enjoy a cup of coffee, and work quietly and patiently on something—like one of the Puzzle Stix from Ceaco.
This isn’t your standard jigsaw puzzle. Actually, it’s not standard at all. Rather, there are 42 thin, colorful wooden sticks (hence the name stix) that you need to put together to make the picture—one side cats, one dogs. It’s a different kind of challenge, one that our testers and I really enjoyed.
Enjoy your weekend. At my house, we’ll be heading to the boys’ lacrosse game, to a friend’s for a bit of Magic, and probably enjoying a movie. More on that next week.
Monday, April 1st, 2013
Senior Digital Editor Samuel Mead is today’s guest blogger. He writes:
I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by the magical moment that is the before-school ritual of playing a deceptively challenging board game, Troy Extra Muros, with my third grade son before he rushes off to school (and me to work). After all, I love games, he loves games, and we both love playing them any time or any place.
At first, I didn’t think much of Troy—how fun or interesting could a game with a small playing area and 12 pieces be? But I was quickly proved wrong. My son, who had received the game as a birthday gift, explained the rules to me and we started to play at the kitchen counter. The game has never been put away.
Perhaps it’s watching him solve a particularly tough set-up that I am stuck on—Troy is a strategy game where you must solve 60 progressively more challenging game board situations using four sections of walls to protect blue forces from red forces. Or maybe it’s the quiet that accompanies minds at work. While playing, my son exhibits a patience that’s absent when he’s playing a video strategy game. There is no frenetic pace, no pumping of buttons, just the shuffling of combinations of pieces to see what will solve the problem.
One thing is for sure, it’s a blessedly peaceful part of the morning. Our middle schooler is long out the door to catch her bus, lunches made, breakfast consumed. It’s that 20-minute window when I could be plowing through bills, answering emails, or surfing the web. Instead, I’m on cloud 9, watching my son play a game that’s as challenging for him as it is for me.
I know this is a fleeting moment. We’ve been playing for 10 days and are through challenge #53. Troy must soon fall! Then again, perhaps more is going on than just the playing of a game, a ritual that we both value. So when #60 has been successfully completed, we will seek out a new challenge, or just return to challenge #1.
Thursday, March 21st, 2013
We first wrote about Puppet-on-a-Stick in our February 2013 issue. Since then, a new set of four creatures has swum onto the scene—The Sea Squad. Kids pull a lever on the stick to make the ocean-dwelling friends move their mouths (if you can call them that!). I’m particularly fond of the octopus, but Bob the Clam is right up there!
For more fishy fun, try making our faux fish tank.
Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
Research Chief Beth Honeyman writes about a LEGO piece that no LEGO-loving home should be without:
LEGO and DUPLO represent a nearly endless world of possibilities for young builders, but that very lack of limitations can pose its own challenge. My 2- and 5-year-olds enjoyed the classic toys from the get-go, but transforming loose bins of blocks into their own designs didn’t come easily. With the help of a few building plates, however, LEGO love now reigns supreme. The sturdy plastic surfaces give my kids a stable base and
large—but comfortably contained—space on which to unleash their imaginations’ creations, whether that’s “the tallest tower ever!” or a combo zoo/farm/apartment complex. They’re also a terrific add-on to any LEGO birthday gift, encouraging kids to craft new constructions long after they’ve completed a set’s instructed build.
For more LEGO fun, see our Toy of the Year (T.O.Y.) Awards.