Looking for some great toys for kids to help beat the brain drain ahead of back-to-school season? Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht stopped by Better Connecticut in New Haven to talk about some great toys to help kids transition from summertime to school time. For more on the items featured in this segment, check out the product notes below, and for our complete rundown of the best gifts for the season, check out our Spring and Summer gift guide.


  • Go for a friendly spin with the GearZooz GearBuddies Lion & Mouse.
  • Kids can connect the Smart Gear mouse and turn the handle to watch the gears spin. Placing the mouse on the lion’s back triggers fun phrases and stories. They can also turn the handle gear to hear a melody, then turn the handle faster and faster to speed up the melody.
  • Press the light-up button to hear fun stories, or roll the lion to hear playful sing-along songs.
  • Then, mix and match with other GearZooz playsets (sold separately) for more gear-rific fun!
  • Age: 1½ – 4 years
  • MSRP: $9.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart


  • Make learning the alphabet exciting with Tad’s Fridge Phonics!
  • This interactive toy introduces children to the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make, helps build vocabulary and exercises fine motor skills.
  • Kids can place one of the 26 musical letter tiles into the letter slot and press down for three modes of play that reinforce letter names, phonics and word skills.
  • Three frames can be customized with personal photos and images for a unique, personalized play experience. And, with its magnetic base, it’s great for fridge play in the kitchen.
  • Age: 2 years+
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart


  • Learn My ABCs with Highlights reinforces early learning fundamentals and gets kids thinking while they play with 48 pages of Hidden Pictures puzzles and games, inspired by Highlights for Children.
  • Use the interactive Hot Dots Jr. Light-Up Interactive Pencil to answer questions and get an immediate response.
  • Designed to develop motivated, confident learners, this set draws on the best from two educational powerhouses to provide a playful skill-building experience through brain-teasing fun!
  • Available in “Learn My ABCS” or “Learn My 123s & Shapes.”
  • Age: 3-6
  • MSRP: $12.99
  • Available: Amazon, educationalinsights.com


  • The Glow-in-the-Dark Jumbo board and stylus brings an exciting new dimension to nighttime play.
  • Erases with the tip of your finger, or by swiping across the beads with the side of the stylus.
  • Age: 3+
  • MSRP: $35
  • Available: Amazon


  • LEGO building sets inspired by Cartoon Network’s animated series The Powerpuff Girls.
  • Fans can build, create and save the day with their three favorite superheroes – Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles.
  • Two different sets will be available this fall. With the Bubbles’ Playground Showdown set (144-piece), The Powerpuff Girls defend the Townsville playground from Princess Morbucks, and in the Mojo Jojo Strikes set (228-pice), Mojo Jojo is trying to steal Townsville’s diamonds!
  • Age: 6-12
  • MSRP: $19.99 for Bubbles set, $29.99 for Mojo Jojo set
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart in August 2018


  • The best back to school item for anyone (like I) who spent way too much time doodling in their school textbooks and notebooks
  • Create anything in 3D, from boxes and frames, to cell phone cases, robots, famous structures, jewelry and much, much more. If you can think it in 3D, you can Doodle it in 3D.
  • For those looking for simpler, WOW projects, try doodling your name, a 3D box and a loop-de-loop. As you can attest, all three look pretty spectacular on-camera.
  • The 3Doodler Create+ includes more than 600 feet of plastic of Doodling fun right out of the box thanks to multiple packs of PLA and ABS plastic in each box.
  • As you know, we also have a bevy of kits that can be purchased along with the Create+ including purses and clutches, to engines, robotics, famous landmarks, vases, candle holders and much, much more.
  • Age: 12+
  • MSRP: $79.99
  • Available: Amazon, 3Doodler.com and a bevy of national retailers including Michael’s and soon to be Target and Walmart.com


  • Assemble an imaginative blaster with the VEX Robotics SwitchGrip Launcher. Fill your loader with ammo and perform the launcher’s signature pumping action to send projectile balls flying over 30+ feet!
  • Seven balls included.
  • 100+ snap together pieces.
  • STEM based construction, promotes basic engineering skills.
  • Age: 14+
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Hexbug.com


  • Send paper planes soaring through the air with the VEX Robotics Crossfire Airplane Launcher. This STEM kit promotes basic engineering skills through the process of simple snap-together assembly. Pump the handle and watch as your paper plane astonishingly soars over 30+ feet!
  • 35+ snap together pieces, 6 planes included.
  • Age: 14+
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Canadian MSRP: $25.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Hexbug.com