I practically just walked in the door from spending several days in New York City for one of the world’s largest toy events—Toy Fair.
And though my feet are sore and my brain is swimming with buzzing, moving, brightly colored puzzles, lovies, games and more–of every shape and size–the teacher in me really spent time seeking toys that had some sort of educational or creative thinking spin.
I saw a whole lot of classic toys ramped up–a lot of classic toys 2.0–so that kids got a bit more when playing. And this mama loved the extra educational value packed into most of what I saw.
So boy did I find what I was looking for.
The majority of my time was spent hanging with the good folks from Melissa & Doug, and I’m thrilled about what they’ve got coming this year.
What I found at Melissa & Doug were about 200 fab new products, but three things in particular caught my eye: classic toys with an educational spin. I loved the Skill Builder line, the expanded Craft & Create — line, and the new K’s Kids baby line.
Photo bombed by Doug at the Media Breakfast: Valerie, Doug, Anna of Melissa & Doug, and me
Thrilled to share a teeny bit of the ocean of excitement from Toy Fair 2013, the Melissa & Doug highlights for this New For Us Friday.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Classic Toys With an Educational Spin–Melissa & Doug at Toy Fair 2013: Though I do look forward to taking a closer look at these products once they’re out for the public to purchase, my overview during a few days at Toy Fair did provide me with a smart look into the awesome that is sure to be 2013 and toys.
Skill Builders: Tons of Melissa & Doug products could be considered ‘skill builders’ for dozens of reasons, but these new ones they’ve got coming? They made me want to dance.
Sort! Match! Attach! Nuts & Bolts Boards bring together puzzle challenge with fine-motor skill boost. I know that kiddos will love to tackle this set for the pure fun of it, but I am sure that the sneaky learning that parents can incorporate into play will give them more bang for their buck.
Clocks! Totally love the Turn & Tell Clock, which marries the analog and digital and makes learning how to tell time (so tricky!) a wee bit easier and a lot more fun for our little ones. This sturdy play clock has multicolored hands, numbers and a segmented color disk to help with ‘quarter past’ and ‘half past’ and double-sided time cards for practice. Love. It. Totallyneedtohaveit.
The Add-a-Fish Penguin Balance was also so cute–a penguin with outstretched arms who is trying desperately to keep the fish in his hands balanced and equal, I could see this used at home or in the classroom.
The whole Creative Classroom line was expanded to include some really awesome pattern and sequencing cards and some storytelling sets; these come in the wooden boxes and have a similar feel to some of the wooden manipulatives, but these were a whole new ballgame. It seemed that a lot of the media who I showed around our booth were really into these sets because the games offered not only a hands-on learning experience that children could use independently, but they also provided a world of learning in terms of storytelling, listening and speaking, sequencing, and specific skill-building: phonological awareness (even some identifying sounds in isolation games!), math, social studies, science, and more. Very cool.
My First Calendar? So want it. Similar to the layout of the Magnetic Responsibility Chart, My First Calendar is perfect for schools or home. I would love to have Maddy, Owen, and Cora update the calendar before or after we read the newspaper each morning at breakfast because it covers the month, day, year, date, weather, even today’s feelings. YES.
Melissa & Doug K’s Kids Toys: These toys promote skill-building in babies! Love. I especially adored the Pop Blocs Crocodile, but all of these products were really fabulous. This line was created to engage our tiniest ones in multi-sensory play, touch, sight, sound, and even smell. Though they may seem like simple baby toys, but these toys actually grow with the child by providing learning and play through multiple stages of development.
Melissa, sharing news about the K’s Kids line
The soft Pull-Back Vehicles really pull back and zoom! The Pop Blocs Crocodile is a set of four blocks that fit inside a crocodile, and depending on the number of blocks used, the croc is either short (with no blocks) or really, really long (with all four). The Musical Pull Behive is a sweet musical pull toy–sure there are many out there, but the sweet face on this bee and the quality of the piece are really worth checking, and I can totally see my tree littles having loved the Hungry Pelican–a plush toy that you can actually ‘feed’ with smaller ones.
Craft & Create Line: The entire Craft & Create line has been expanded (woot!) and I’m really loving what Melissa & Doug will be sharing in 2013. totally loved these because they are sets that include an idea book and all of the supplies kids need to create a cool final product.
One of the things that Melissa explained during the week was that she always wanted to create craft sets that allowed her kids to end up with something. She wanted to provide kids with something that was engaging and fun and then have, in their hands, a final product they could be proud of. And totally in line with her goal are the crafty products for 2013.
They’ll be sharing sets like Felt Friends Stickers, Face Painting, and Mixed Metal Jewelry among others–and I’m really looking forward to these. Love that they encourage kids to follow directions and offer choices for them to make along the way. And the final product? What’s not to love?
More on the crafty front are Magical Masterpieces, some really awesome Peel n’ Press sets, and stickers galore. We’re huge fans of all of the paint and stickers over here, so I look forward to sharing more as they are put out on the shelves!
We were thrilled to host a Media Breakfast on Tuesday morning, complete with a tour given by Melissa. Please check out our photos:
Val, Natalie of Twiniversity, and me
Lance and Matt of NYC Dads Group, lots of stuffed animals, and me
the whole media breakfast she-bang shoved into a teeny photo with Melissa & Doug
And that’s it–only the beginning of course, but such an incredible whirlwind of toys that are really. Worth. Our. Time.
It’s really exciting, and I’m sure that the parents and teachers in our worlds will be dancing in their classrooms (or living rooms) when these toys emerge later this year.
fyi: This was written as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program, but as always, all opinions are my own. Huge and happy thanks to Melissa & Doug for inviting me to attend Toy Fair with them and for making it a whole lot of fun to do so!
Please forgive me that many of the links here go directly to the Melissa & Doug site and not the individual products; I know it’s frustrating. However, many of the products are so new that the aren’t even up on the website yet! Will keep you updated!