It seems that "Top 10 Lists" and Cyber Shopping go hand in hand… and my inbox is stuffed this morning with questions from people wanting to know about my top picks for toys. I’m flattered by the inquiries, but at the same time I had to stop and ask the question, “What’s my criteria for selecting the best toys for this holiday season?” I have to admit that being a teacher helps to shape my opinion, but I also know that just because a toy is deemed educational doesn’t mean that it’s fun. I’ve struggled with this idea as a toy designer myself, and I realize that it takes a certain skill to create a toy that combines a cool factor with just the perfect amount of learning. You know that a toy is a real winner when kids can hardly wait to show it to a friend. The category of science toys continues to grow and flourish because kids are naturally inquisitive and want to learn the “secret” behind the gee-whiz. That’s why it’s hard to beat a good chemistry set or any interactive toy that gives kids the opportunity to explore and learn… and have loads of fun at the same time.
Now that you know my criteria for selecting cool toys, here are a few of my choices the best smart toys for 2007.
Chem 2000 Chemistry Set – Everything you want in a chemistry set. Great instructions, cool lab equipment and a sense of adventure.
Fuel Cell Car – Imagine building a model car that runs on water! It only took a few minutes for my son to say, “This is going to be my science fair project.” And it took me two seconds to scream, “Yes!”
Ice Cream Maker Ball – It’s a really novel way to make ice cream. It makes my top list because of the way I’ve seen kids respond to the toy.
YUCK! – The name says it all. Uncover the secret formulas to make some really cool and gross concoctions.
AntWorks Ant Farm – When both kids and adults are fascinated by the same toy, you’ve got a winner… and you really get attached to those little ants!
Insta-Snow – Okay, I’m allowed to include one of my own products in the list. The facial reaction says it all when the powder literally erupts into fluffy snow.
Great Geysers – Mentos and soda, anyone? Explore the science behind the exploding geyser and learn how to turn this cool reaction into the perfect science project for school.
Moon Sand – You have to touch this stuff to believe it. Looks and feels like regular sand, but it can be molded into any shape. Warning… you can’t keep your hands out of the sand.
Snap Circuit – A great interactive toy that teaches the basics of electricity and circuits. Very cool projects with buzzers, lights, motors and switches.
Enviro Battery – Who needs a battery when you have a potato? Power a light and sound a buzzer using a battery made from zinc and copper an enviro battery.
Oh, there's yet another benefit to finding Smart Toys… getting to spend quality time with your kids as you both learn and explore. Hopefully your home is filled with the sounds of ooohs & ahhhs this holiday season (and remember that the Mentos Geyser is an outdoor activity… unless you're at a friend's home).