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The kindergartener on your list is no longer a tot. Somehow, moving into kindergarten helps kids express themselves more than ever before. So finding toys and games that help them build on the skills they are learning at school can also help them express themselves even more. From concentration games and early reading skills, to LEGO sets for boys and girls, here are our favorite finds for the 5-year-old on your list!
Remember Rock “Em Sock “Em Robots? Consider Marvel Battle Masters Super Hero Slam ($21, originally $25) the next iteration of the battery-less toy. The thumb-powered superheroes battle it out wherever kids want to take them.
Roominate — created by two engineers out of Caltech, MIT, and Stanford — encourages girls to learn to use circuits to make their self-built dollhouses more realistic with moving elevators, working lights, and anything else they can create. The company recently appeared on Shark Tank, where it received an investment from two of the top sharks. Given the publicity and hype, we”re pretty sure the company”s Roominate Studio ($30) will be flying off store shelves.
LeapFrog”s LeapTV ($150) is a video gaming system specifically designed for kids ages 3 to 8 years old. It fuses educational concepts with familiar characters and active play. With three types of play — classic control, where the controller acts in the traditional fashion; pointer play, where the controller converts into an LED pointer; and body motion, where kids are put into the game to interact with the characters — there are plenty of features to keep even the youngest gamers engaged. One of the most exciting features of LeapTV is the user interface, which is truly designed for young tots. Instructions are presented graphically and via audio, so nonreaders can learn without the assistance of a grown-up. They”re also easy to move between, so kids who are still working on their dexterity can toggle games on their own.
There”s plenty of talk about Barbie”s new fashion doll, which will allow kids to create and print clothes to outfit the toys, but we think the Barbie Endless Curls ($15, originally $25) is the one to get your hands on. Kids love playing with Barbie”s hair, and with this doll, they can twirl and twist her hair all they want (with a curling iron that does not need to be heated — it”s pretty miraculous) and then brush it out and start again. We predict hours of fun.
You”ve never seen a remote-control animal quite like the Zoomer Dino ($90, originally $110). With some work, your little one can actually “tame” this dinosaur. Onyx, who is exclusive to Toys “R” Us, can sense when his owner is nearby and actually interacts with humans. Pull his tail, and watch him get angry. Listen to him burp and fart. Teach him to dance, chomp, roar, and chase. Using special True Balance Technology, Onyx balances on two wheels and smoothly moves around the room, making him the newest member of your family.
Think of Laser Pegs ($50, originally $70) as Legos with flair. The building bricks (which are actually compatible with Legos) include Laser Peg pieces that light up when they”re connected.
Your budding superhero doesn”t conform to someone else”s idea of what a superhero looks like — he can create his costume himself with Seedling”s Design Your Own Super Hero Cape ($45).
A coloring book that nurtures an active imagination, Outside the Lines ($12) features one-of-a-kind illustrations from the likes of everyone from Keith Haring and Shepard Fairey to Jesse LeDoux and Logan Hicks. With a little guidance from some of the contemporary art world”s most renowned talents, your kids will have the confidence to get creative!
What looks like just a cube of blocks is actually one of the coolest robots your kids will ever encounter. Cubebots ($24) are actually connected blocks that can be twisted and turned into tons of robotic shapes.
Part bike, part scooter, the Sbyke P16 ($180) is a self-standing scooter that teaches kids to balance while rolling around town.
Who doesn”t love a good game of foosball? Pottery Barn Kids” Foosball Table ($50) is perfectly sized for tots to play with their friends or even Mom and Dad.
Mazes don”t get much more fun than the Perplexus Maze Game ($25), where tots have to guide a marble ball through a see-through globe.
If you ignore the color of the bricks included in the LEGO Friends line, the actual concept behind them is great. The line of toys includes five main characters, each with a backstory and a “set” that she can play in, including a salon, a horse academy, and a veterinary clinic. The LEGO Friends Olivia”s House ($75) is among my favorites with its furniture, characters and accessories that kids will love.
How many turtles can you stack? With Reptangles ($30), builders can create more than 1,000 items by snapping and sliding the colorful turtles together.
The Angry Birds rage is still going strong, and the game”s Star Wars products are their most popular in the line. Star Wars characters get an Angry Birds makeover and fight the still-angry pigs who now rest on an AT-AT in the Angry Birds Star Wars AT-AT Attack Battle Game ($30).
Kindergartners are starting to learn sight words — or words they don”t have to sound out to read. Pinhole Press”s Flash Cards ($25) are a great way to make that memorization fun. Simply upload the photos, add in the words, and watch as your tot has fun with this early-stage reading activity.
We”ve loved Kiwi Crate”s subscription-based boxes since they first came across our desks. Each themed crate (past themes include “color,” “dinosaurs,” and “gardening”) is designed by parents, reviewed by an advisory board of experts in child development, and tested by kids, so you know the contents are going to be good. Stocked with arts and crafts projects, science activities, imaginative play, and more, Kiwi Crates are filled with all the materials and inspiration you need to get started, so your kids are left to explore and create! The company offers one-off boxes — like the Fairy Fun kit shown here ($20) — in addition to monthly subscriptions.
The Star Wars Darth Vader Voice Changer ($35) is one of the coolest Star Wars toys on the market. Simply speak into the mask, and listen as the voice is transformed into Vader”s scary voice — including his signature electronic breathing sound!
Everyone loves shaking snow globes, but what about making your own? Seedling”s Make Your Own Snow Globe Kit ($30) is a fun way for kids to put their own touch on the classic toy.
Your tot is over “Old McDonald” and tired of “The Wheels on the Bus” — she”s moved on to top 40 music, albeit the cleaned-up versions on the Kidz Bop CDs. That”s why she”ll love the Kidz Bop Mic and MP3 Player ($40). The microphone hooks up to the MP3 player to play the songs she already loves — and five new ones that have not appeared on CDs before.
LEGO”s City line keeps growing, and each new set is better than the previous one. The LEGO City Fire Collection ($115), part of the brand”s most popular series, includes 752 pieces, 9 minifigures, and three vehicles for hours of building fun.
Your little Angry Birds fan has never seen anything quite like the Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods Star Destroyer Set ($40). Not only does the set include five bird figures and five pig figures in Star Wars characters, it has a Star Destroyer Set for launch-and-destroy missions. The characters can also be used in conjunction with the the app, allowing kids to pick which character is launched into play on their screens.
If your tot has ever said that they wished they could make their own race car, here”s their chance. The Hot Wheels Car Maker Playset ($50) comes with wax sticks and car molds (as well as stickers and wheels), so they can create the cars of their dreams. With parental supervision, kids can simply stick the wax in the maker and wait eight minutes for their car to be made. Lights flash, and music plays to help kids pass the time.
Marble runs are always fun and the
FS-USA/Mega Marbles Marble Fun Run 80 Piece Set ($35) is full of enough twists and turns to keep kids watching for hours.
The Razor Graffiti Chalk Scooter ($60) features sidewalk chalk near its rear wheel so kids can look back on their path after they”ve reached their destination.
It”s no secret that we love Lego Friends, and the adorable Lego Friends Stephanie”s Soccer Practice ($18), is a great gift your budding soccer star.
I love everything about Hape”s Quattro ($40) version of Connect Four. Made from bamboo, and designed to look like bamboo shoots, the eco-friendly toy helps teach tots about strategy, logic, and concentration. Best of all, it”s a fun game for adults and kids to play together.
Playmobil takes figure play to the next level with their Playmobil PopStars ($40). Not only can kids twist and bend the figures into the ultimate rock band, if they plug in an MP3 player, the set plays music on the built-in speakers.
Remember the Barbie Styling head we played with as kids? Well it received a makeover. The Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror ($70) converts your iPad into a makeup mirror. Using facial tracking, kids can dip a stylus-like makeup wand into a virtual palette and apply it to their faces. The screen shows them what they”d look like as they apply lipstick, eye shadow, and blush. There”s no mess, no clean up and no overly made-up little girls running around your home!