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Category Archives: Toys

2014 Holiday/Christmas Gift Guide: Best construction toys

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In a celebrated anecdote from his autobiography, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright credited his childhood maple wood blocks (similar to these Standard Unit Blocks) for sparking his creativity. Wright wrote, “The maple-wood blocks are in my fingers to this day. These primary forms and figures were the secret of all effects which were ever got into the architecture of the ... Read More »

2014 Holiday/Christmas Gift Guide: Best new toys of 2014

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While designating a toy as “new” can suggest all sorts of tech bells and whistles, most of what’s new is actually what’s old: variations on play themes that have kept kids busy and happy for time immemorial. The latest top picks from Magic Beans are mostly what Harvard’s Susan Linn describes as “90 percent child and 10 percent toy.”  This ... Read More »

Building skills with LEGOs: the developmental benefits of bricks

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LEGOs have changed a lot since we were kids, haven’t they? Along with all the basic City and Creator series, and the open-ended LEGO and DUPLO building sets, we have zillions of licensed characters (Star Wars and Disney and hobbits, oh my!) and even LEGO original licensed characters, including the LEGO Movie, LEGO Friends, and Ninjago. Kids can’t get enough of those irresistible bricks, ... Read More »

New game review: Battle Sheep from Blue Orange

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Battle Sheep from Blue Orange is a strategy game in which two herds of sheep try to conquer the most territory in a new pasture. It’s easy to play, and it’s surprisingly addictive: my husband and I got it down pretty quick and kept playing for hours! Part of the reason I couldn’t stop, I think, is because I wanted ... Read More »

The Road Trip Survival Guide: Our Best Travel Toys

Improv Electronics Boogie Board 8.5 LCD Writing Tablet

Kipling once wrote, “He travels the fastest who travels alone.” Traveling with kids can be a laborious process, since kids are even less patient with sitting in one place for hours than adults (let’s face it, you don’t enjoy it either). There are many tips and tricks for happy travel, so we’re just going to focus on our realm of ... Read More »

Object permanence: the purpose behind the peek-a-boo!

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The phrase “object permanence” was thrown around a lot when I first started working at Magic Beans a year and a half ago – “Oh, this toy? It’s perfect, it helps kids understand object permanence.” Cue puzzled faces! Object permanence is a key early developmental skill that babies typically pick up in their first year – but what does it ... Read More »