Toys and Games Build Skills as Kids Head Back-to-School

August 8, 2011 | The long, lazy days of summer are coming to an end and that can only mean one thing for kids and parents – it’s time to gear up for the new school year! Getting back into classroom-mode will be easy with the assistance of a fun crop of educational toys and games that span every subject, enhance creativity and sharpen memory, retention and strategic thinking skills.

“Toys, games and play are the tools that keep imaginations active and get young brains back in focus after summer vacation,” says Adrienne Appell, spokesperson for the Toy Industry Association (TIA).

TIA’s top “Back to School” picks include products that were spotted at the Association’s annual Toy Fair in February 2011 and illustrate the “Camouflage learning” trend – educational toys that are so engaging kids don’t even realize they’re learning.   Examples include:

Kindergarten to Grade 3
Kids in the younger grades learn core subjects mainly through rote and repetition; memory games are an excellent way to exercise a child’s ability to retain information. Games that specifically teach young learners about language, spatial properties or math are also great ways to prep little ones for school.

  • Colorama (Ravensburger) teaches kids about shapes and colors and offers three levels of play. Young players will also learn to take turns, follow instructions, and win or lose graciously.
  • The I Spy Memory Game (Briarpatch) promotes visual, memory and reading skills. Appropriate for kids as young as four, it also offers advanced modes of play for older players.
  • Word Whiz (Learning Resources) contains electronic flash cards that challenge kids to build as many three, four, and five letter words as they can in 60 seconds.
  • Computer Cool School (Fisher Price) contains five learning centers with skill-building activities in reading, writing, math, science, art and music, and includes a tablet with an attached stylus for writing and drawing.
  • Magic School Bus Science Kits (The Young Scientists Clubs) are a fun, hands-on way to introduce kids ages 5 and up to the exciting world of science as they grow bacteria and fungi, test antibiotics, use yeast to inflate balloons, and more stimulating experiments.

Grades 3 to 6
Older kids will benefit from play products that challenge and excite them – from in-depth science experiments to fun-filled ways to expand their knowledge in subjects like history or math. Games targeted to older kids will also feature components that encourage critical-thinking and creativity.

  • Madeline at the White House Game (Briarpatch) teaches kids about Washington, DC, the White House and other famous landmarks through competitive or cooperative play, while Name that State Game (Educational Insights) helps kids ages eight and older brush up on their American geography.
  • Math Dice (ThinkFun) (and its counterpart for younger kids, Math Dice Jr.) is a 3D math game that makes different equations using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and powers lots of fun.
  • More than 100 Science and Energy Kits (Thames & Kosmos) teach kids about alternative energy sources, biology, technology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, earth science and construction sciences and inspire innovation, problem-solving and discovery.
  • PathWords (ThinkFun) expands the vocabulary skills of kids ages 12 and up by combining the best of Tetris and Word Search.

These are just a few examples of the many playthings that will help kids get into the swing of things before packing their book bags for the new school year.

For more toy trends and tips, visit TIA’s website ToyInfo.org, a year-round resource for toys and play.

About the Toy Industry Association (TIA)
TIA is the not-for-profit trade association for producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America, representing more than 550 companies who account for approximately 85% of domestic toy sales.  For more information, please visit www.toyassociation.org or www.toyinfo.org.