The new school year is coming up soon, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t have fun while avoiding the “brain drain” of summer vacation. Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht spoke to CBS 2 New York at The Toy Insider’s annual Sweet Suite 2017 event about the smartest new toys and games to keep kids’ minds sharp ahead of the new semester. For more on the products featured in this segment, check out the notes below, and for more on the hottest new toys of the season be sure to view our Spring and Summer Toy Guide.
In & Out Activity Center (Simplay3)
- The In & Out Activity Table is multipurpose and can also be used for arts and crafts or snack-time fun.
- The unique design offers many imaginative play opportunities with three ways to play in one versatile center.
- It opens to reveal two deep wells that can be filled with any medium, like craft supplies and building blocks.
- Bonus, take the table outside and fill with water and sand for additional creative play options. When playtime is over, your play center turns into a perfectly sized table for snacks or other activities—making this a back-to-school must have.
- Age: 2+
- MSRP: $79.99.
LeapFrog Academy (LeapFrog)
- LeapFrog Academy is an interactive learning program for 3-6 year olds that they can play anywhere. It goes beyond the core subjects that are important to a child’s development by guiding them through a variety of fun Learning Adventures.
- Learning Adventures cover curriculum for preschool through first grade and include activities such as math, reading and science along with problem solving, creativity and social-emotional skills. Designed by award-winning educational experts, this program tracks your child’s learning progress.
- LeapFrog Academy then provides extra practice in subjects they need help mastering and serves up more difficult activities designed to keep them challenged.
- Age: 3-6
- MSRP: $7.99 per month, new users can try LeapFrog Academy free for one month
- Available: www.leapfrogacademy.com
Word Slam (Thames & Kosmos)
- In Word Slam, two teams each have a storyteller. The two storytellers are given the same answer term.
- Playing at the same time, they must give clues to their teams so the teams can correctly guess the answer. And they must do this quickly, because they are racing the timer and each other.
- But it’s not that easy. Speaking and acting is absolutely forbidden for the storytellers! They must tell their stories using only 105 cards, each with one word on it: a noun, verb, adjective, or preposition.
- The storyteller must be creative in using this limited vocabulary to tell the story. And the team members must think quickly and nimbly to interpret the story cards. The team that correctly guesses the answer first gets a point, and the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
- It’s like charades, but instead of acting, you can only communicate with word cards!
- Age: 3+
- MSRP: $39.95
- Available: Walmart, Amazon
Cranium Cadoo (Winning Moves USA)
- Original version back by popular demand and updated with new Challenge Cards!
- Kids will be puzzling, sketching, sculpting, acting and code-cracking with the Cranium Cadoo game.
- Gets kids thinking, creating, and giggling as they play!
- Good for the whole family!
- High quality components.
- Ages: 7+
- Players: 2+
- MSRP: $24.95
- Available: Amazon
LEGO Worlds (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
- LEGO Worlds is a galaxy of imaginative Worlds made entirely of digital LEGO bricks where players can explore, discover and create together.
- Create anything you can imagine one brick at a time, or use large-scale landscaping tools to create vast mountain ranges and dot your world with tropical islands.
- Drop in prefabricated structures to build and customize any world to your liking. Explore using helicopters, dragons, motorbikes or even gorillas and unlock treasures that enhance your gameplay.
- Watch your creations come to life through characters and creatures that interact with you and each other in unexpected ways.
- Age: 10+
- MSRP: $29.99
- Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart
Ultra Dash (Playmonster)
- A follow up to the popular Hyper Dash game, Ultra Dash provides a thrilling rush of excitement as kids race to match the color of the flashing light on their tagger to the color of the targets! Each time kids play it’s a different game because the order of color flashes randomizes, plus kids can rearrange their target course however they want.
- Ultra Dash has three game modes: Beat the Clock is a race to hit all five targets and see which player is fastest; Target Tally allows players to choose their time and then race to see how many targets they can hit in that time; and Relay Race is team vs. team, with each player racing to hit five targets and then passing their tagger to the next player. The first two games can be played as single player, with kids trying to beat their own time or target-count.
- Ages: 6+
- MSRP: $19.99-$24.99
- Available Fall 2017