SmartPhone Science

Every kid has an imagination. Combine that with a smartphone and SmartPhone Science and you’ve got a winner. And a Toy Of The Week!

SmartPhone Science by SmartLab

Turn an iPhone, tablet, or smartphone into a science lab! The 24-page book includes experiments that explore the science behind touch-screen technology, use optical filters to explore the mysteries of light, and much more. The clip-on, light-up microscope allows young scientists to point, click, and share extreme close-ups of microscopic images.

Kids can perform over 20 experiments on any smartphone or tablet, with nothing to download. SmartPhone Science helps kids discover other reasons to love their phone!

Cell batteries included. From Smart Lab Toys for ages 8-12 yrs.



Toy News

Bananagrams co-creator dies |

Abraham Nathanson, a Rhode Island graphic designer, photographer, children’s book author and illustrator who invented the popular word game Bananagrams, has died. He was 80.,

Publish Date: 06/09/2010 8:32

Eco-Friendly Toys — How to Go Green

The world we live in is going through dramatic ecological and environmental changes. The toy industry is growing more aware of the issues and is becoming more responsive to the changes in a wide variety of ways.

Publish Date: 6/15/2010 1:10:48 PM

Library Of Special Needs Toys, Equipment Offers Families Flexibility

Toys and equipment for kids with special needs can carry a high cost and incur quick turnover, oftentimes making such devices prohibitive for families. Now, a St. Louis group is offering specialized items on loan for no charge.

Publish Date: March 18, 2010

The Teaching Cash Register helps kids learn about money the fun way!

How many quarters does it take to make a dollar? Is a dime bigger or smaller than a penny? Just how do credit cards work?

The Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register takes playing store to the next level by helping children learn about money through play. This talking, interactive toy is one of our favorites here at The Learning Tree . From its real-size coins and bills to the working scanner, the register helps turn sometimes difficult concepts about money into tangible lessons.

Learning about money with The Teaching Cash Register

Play store, count the change, use the 4 interactive math games that come with the toy or weigh grocery items and learn about the value of items with this toy that we think is worth a million bucks, but doesn’t cost that much!

It sells for $49.99.

For Ages 3 to 9.

The Teaching Cash Register at The Learning Tree.

Electronics are a Snap with Snap Circuits Jr.

Snap Circuits Jr. is an amazingly fun way for kids of all ages to learn the basic principles of electrical and electronic circuits.

The projects are fast, fun, and sometimes noisy. You can make a light turn on and off with a switch or your voice. You can power a fan, make a doorbell, create light-controlled sounds like a fire engine, ambulance, a computer, and more. You can also play electronic games. And all with just 2 AA batteries.

The kit comes with a base grid, over 30 various types of blocks, and a booklet of instructions with 101 experiments to build. No tools needed, everything just snaps together.

It’s easy to follow the instruction manual for each project. All the experiments are illustrated in color and numbered so you know which parts to lay on the grid first, second, and so on.
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Toy Buying Tips – Or…right toy + right age = happy kid

We have a myriad of toy choices today – all designed for fun and teaching. But does every toy automatically offer a positive teaching experience?

My friend’s two year old is one smart kid but when her grandmother showed up with a dress-able fashion doll marked Ages 6+ – disaster was clearly in store. For an hour, Grandma sat on the floor frantically trying to teach the toddler how to manipulate the clothes and accessories. Baby preferred to throw the blouses, chew the tiny shoes off the doll’s feet and wander away to play with the packaging as grandma “corrected” her play. Not only was this doll and her wardrobe way beyond the two year-old’s skill level but most of the items were way too small for her to even safely have.

When recounting the tale to me, my friend was on the verge of tears. She described the frustration and eventual meltdown of both grandmother and baby. By the end of the afternoon the disheveled doll was boxed up, taken away and never mentioned again. Had this same child been introduced to this toy when she was ready, it might have been one of her most beloved possessions.

A much better choice would have been an age appropriate doll or a quality play set . Grandmother and baby could have played happily and safely, and spent a fun afternoon together. Taking time for a little realistic research and thought before laying down the credit card always pays off when buying toys.

It’s tempting to give children things that we care about, but it’s imperative to ask if this is truly the right toy, right now, for that child.

If you are unsure about buying a certain toy, here are some things to find out first

  • How safe and durable is this toy?
  • Does it have smooth edges and a sturdy feel? Check plastic toys for brittle parts.
  • Look out for small pieces like magnets or eyes that might easily detach, presenting a choking hazard.
  • What about lead? Lead, when added to paint, makes it stick better and last longer and it was used for years because of those properties. However, when ingested, the body mistakes the lead for calcium and absorbs it into the bones. That is especially dangerous for children under 6. Lead exposure can cause learning disabilities, hearing and speech problems even kidney damage and decreased bone growth. With all the concern, several companies now offer kits to swab toys or other suspected items for the presence of lead. These are available for around $20 on the web.
  • Is this toy season appropriate for my child? You never wanted to be the kid who got a sled in June. Your child doesn’t either. Save it for December.
  • Is this toy age appropriate ? Most quality toys offer age guidelines based on field testing and accepted skill assessment levels. They are generally very accurate.
  • Is this toy size appropriate? Trikes, bikes and scooters come in lots of sizes now. Do your homework here because the right size really maximizes your child’s enjoyment of ride-on toys.
  • What developmental or educational benefits will this toy offer? A toy doctor kit doesn’t ready a child to practice medicine but it does offer plenty of other learning opportunities. There’s role-playing as doctor or nurse. Logic is needed for knowing that the ailment must be diagnosed before the beginning the treatment. Language skills are needed to reassure the “patient.” And, of course, the motor skills to administer a shot or take the blood pressure. Toys like this also act as props that children use to bring their gigantic imaginations alive.

Excellent toys present kids with opportunities to expand their minds and their world through play. Toys are an important step in a child’s overall education. Providing the best tools of play for our kids definitely deserves our time and consideration. Author, Joseph Chilton Pearce, reminds us, “Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.”