Tag Archives: National Lekotek Center

Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

IMG 3278 225x300 Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

Cocktail dress + snow boots, good thing NY Fashion Week is over!

After a monster pre-Toy Fair snow storm (fittingly named Nemo!) threatened to derail months of careful planning, the ThinkFun team braved the elements, the train gods smiled upon the DC-NY route, and we successfully made our way to New York for the show… and what a show it was!

Things kicked off on Saturday night with the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards celebration at The Plaza hotel!  While probably not a ThinkFun-worthy puzzle, my first challenge of the show was a race against time to get ready for the TOTY Awards en route to the city, meaning a Superwoman-style change into a cocktail dress on board the Acela train… not my finest hour but it got the job done!

1TOTY 2013 194x109px Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year AwardsThe event was a wonderful celebration of some truly remarkable products – and we were thrilled to have three of our games (Roll & Play, Zingo Sight Words, and Swish) nominated for a record FOUR awards!

While we didn’t leave with any statues, it truly is an honor just to be nominated, and we were thrilled to have our games recognized in great company among this year’s winning games and toys.  Here are some highlights from the evening:

549316 984215003098 929563426 n Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

Zingo! Sight Words and Roll & Play pose with their fellow nominees for Educational Toy of the Year!

photo 300x225 Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

The ThinkFun team awaits the start of the show!

395692 10151447255274793 1953660913 n Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

Sweet! Hosts passed around popcorn and cotton candy to up the excitement

IMG 3319 225x300 Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

ThinkFun CEO Andrea Barthello presents a TOTY Award

But wait! We didn’t leave entirely empty-handed! ThinkFun was recognized with a Play Connects Award for our nomination of The National Lekotek Center, a  non-profit that supports children with special needs, for a $10,000 grant! We are thrilled to support the wonderful work they do, and this award represents much-needed funding that will go to a very worthy cause.

IMG 3294 300x225 Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

Andrea Barthello accepts the Play Connects Award

IMG 3336 300x225 Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

The Play Connects Award – fittingly constructed of Tinker Toys!

The TOTY Awards were a fabulous way to kick off a great show – a big congrats to this year’s deserving winners!

Roll & Play (bottom right) is featured in the new Toys R Us Guide

Toys R Us Differently-Abled Kids Guide features Roll & Play

Toys R Us has just published the newest Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids!  For over 20 years, this guide has served as a fantastic resources for parents, teachers, and therapists who work with children with a range of different learning needs.

 

TRUp49 screenshot 1024x800 Toys R Us Differently Abled Kids Guide features Roll & Play

Roll & Play (bottom right) is featured in the new Toys R Us Guide

The toys featured in the guide are assessed by the National Lekotek Center.  Experts screen hundreds of toys to make their selection, looking for specific skill-building traits to assign to each toy that appears in the guide.  The skills include auditory, creativity, fine motor, gross motor, language, self-esteem, social skills, tactile, thinking, and visual.

We are honored to have our newest toddler game Roll & Play featured in this new Guide!  The experts at Lekotek celebrate this new game for supporting 5 important learning skills, including Thinking, Visual, Social Skills, Language, and Gross Motor.

Browse the complete guide here:

Top 10 Tips for Buying Toys for Children with Special Needs

Zingo TRU 300x256 Top 10 Tips for Buying Toys for Children with Special Needs

For many, this Thanksgiving week kicks off the holiday shopping season.  As you prepare your shopping list, it can be particularly challenging to select developmentally-appropriate toys and games for children with special needs.  Not to worry – the folks at the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making play accessible for children with disabilities, are here to help!

Use these 10 criteria and guiding questions to help you navigate the toy aisles!

1. MULTI-SENSORY APPEAL
Does the toy respond with lights, sounds or movement to engage the child?  Are there contrasting colors?  Does it have a scent?  Is there texture?

2. METHOD OF ACTIVATION
Will the toy provide a challenge without frustration?  What is the force required to activate?  What are the number and complexity of steps required to activate?

3. PLACES THE TOY WILL BE USED
Will the toy be easy to store? Is there space in the home?  Can the toy be used in a variety of positions such as side-lying or on a wheelchair tray?

4. OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUCCESS
Can play be open-ended with no definite right or wrong way?  Is it adaptable to the child’s individual style, ability and pace?

5. CURRENT POPULARITY
Is it a toy that will help the child with special needs feel like “any other kid?”  Does it tie in with other activities, like books and art sets, that promote other forms of play?

6. SELF-EXPRESSION
Does the toy allow for creativity, uniqueness and making choices?  Will it give the child experience with a variety of media?

7. ADJUSTABILITY
Does it have adjustable height, sound volume, speed and level of difficulty?

8. CHILD’S INDIVIDUAL ABILITIES
Does the toy provide activities that reflect both developmental and chronological ages?  Does it reflect the child’s interests and age?

9. SAFETY AND DURABILITY
Does the toy fit with the child’s size and strength?  Does it have moisture resistance?  Are the toy and its parts sized appropriately?  Can it be washed and cleaned?

10. POTENTIAL FOR INTERACTION
Will the child be an active participant during use?  Will the toy encourage social engagement with others?

Looking for more recommendations?  The National Lekotek Center evaluated hundreds of toys to select those featured in this year’s Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids!