Looking for the best toys for back-to-school season? Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht stopped by NBC 5 in Chicago to talk about the best toys that teach. For more information on the products featured in this segment, check out the product notes below.


  • Take a spin through the GearZooz 2-in-1 Jungle Friends Gear Park and jam with the animals.
  • Turn the gears on the 2-in-1 activity center to strengthen fine motor skills and explore cause and effect relationships while listening to music, songs and animal sounds.
  • Place a friendly Smart Gear animal on the stage to hear playful melodies and responses while watching an exciting light show.
  • Five play modes keep your little one busy, and colorful piano keys introduce colors, numbers, instruments and more.
  • Turn the table over and use your creativity to connect and twist the gears!
  • Ages: 1 ½ – 4
  • MSRP: $39.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target


  • Beasts of Balance is an award-winning augmented reality stacking game of dexterity, strategy and creation. Thought of as Jenga for the 21st century, Beasts of Balance challenges players work together to stack a tower of “beasts” while scanning each piece through the play base into the connected app as they build.
  • Within the app, magical worlds of creatures are created, and the players must keep the world in balance as they reach new high scores. But they must be careful: if the tower is knocked down, then it’s game over!
  • New for 2018 are the first expansions to Beasts of Balance, including a competitive gameplay mode called Battles and new beast play-pieces such as a flamingo, angler fish, chameleon, and Legendary Beasts.
  • In Battles, players use augmented reality Battle cards to scan and fight against their opponents to become ruler of the digital world.
  • Ages: 7+
  • MSRP: $99
  • Available: Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble


  • Enjoy racing adventures with the Magformers Sky Track 44-piece play set! Equipped with a sky shuttle and multiple track accessories, kids can create loops, ups and downs, twists and turns for endless flight fun.
  • Watch as your shuttle does a 360 spin and climbs the lift elevator!
  • When your track is completed, the Sky Shuttle will go off-road in its Sky car!
  • Ages:  3+
  • MSRP: $99.99
  • Available: Amazon, specialty


  • Nintendo Labo kits offer interactive build-and-play experiences that combine the fun of DIY creations with the magic of the Nintendo Switch system (sold separately).
  • The Nintendo Labo Variety Kit includes the materials to build five different Toy-Con projects: Toy-Con RC Car (two included), Toy-Con Fishing Rod, Toy-Con House, Toy-Con Motorbike and Toy-Con Piano, plus the Nintendo Labo software for the Variety Kit.
  • Once each Toy-Con project is constructed, you can continue the fun by playing interactive experiences, including exploring the ocean’s depths to catch a fish using the Toy-Con Fishing Rod and the Nintendo Switch screen, or racing through custom-made tracks in Toy-Con Motorbike using a set of handlebars that you construct yourself.
  • You can even customize your creations, discover how they work and invent new ways to play with your Toy-Con creations using the Toy-Con Garage mode.
  • Customization materials and tools not included.
  • Ages: 6+
  • MSRP: $69.99
  • Available: Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Game Stop