UNIONTOWN, Ohio - It's something all parents want for their children -- fun toys that will also help kids learn. But which ones will help your children the most?
"When it falls what does it look like?" asked a teacher at the Goddard School in Uniontown, Ohio.
"A sand castle," replied 4-year-old Eleanor. She was playing with Kinetic Sand. It looks like sand, but acts more like play-dough and squishes like slime without the mess. It's one of 30-plus toys kids at the school poured over, took for a spin like the Stack Up! board game that challenged the kids' strategic thinking, and popped into place with brightly-colored Squigs . The pieces have suction cups that when you put them together create endless sticky situations.
"So, what makes this fun?" we asked Eleanor, who was still shaping away with the sand.
"Cuz I'm making a chocolate sprinkle cake," she answered in her best little girl voice.
During all of this play time, teachers were writing down which toys take off with the kids.
"A lot of (the toys) are open-ended," said Goddard School Director of Education Laura Fogel. "So, it encourages them to keep playing and the teachers get to ask the questions."
But, it's not just the adults making the decisions and the observations. The kids have a voice, too. They pick which toy they like and they stuff the ballot box.
"With the children picking and choosing the ones they like and the ones that work the best and the ones that they'll learn from the most," said school owner Rick Beechy. "Then we're able to go out there and pick up and purchase the ones that we think will be the best in the classroom. Help educate the children the best."
And that education is one of the best things about the toy test.
"They think they're playing," said Head Pre-K – 1 Teacher Chelsea Swanson. "They think they're just having fun, but we're sneaky and they're actually learning, too."
Some toys missed the mark, but others made the 10 best this year.
THE 2013 GODDARD SCHOOL TOP 10 PRESCHOOLER-APPROVED TOY LIST
- Tobbles Neo by Fat Brain Toys (Suggested Age Range: 6+ Months)
- Go Go Friends Lady Bug by Chicco USA, Inc. (Suggested Age Range: 9+ Months)
- Musical Owl by ALEX Toys, LLC (Suggested Age Range: 18+ Months)
- Green Toys Rocket by Green Toys (Suggested Age Range: 2+ Years)
- Tinker Toy 100-Piece Essentials Set by K'NEX (Suggested Age Range: 3+ Years)
- Squigz: Fun Little Suckers by Fat Brain Toys (Suggested Age Range: 3+ Years)
- 100-Piece Building Block Set - Hot Colors by Citiblocs (Suggested Age Range: 3+ Years)
- Super WHY! ABC Letter Game by University Games (Suggested Age Range: 3+ Years)
- Kinetic Sand by WABA Fun LLC (Suggested Age Range: 3+ Years)
- Stack Up! by Peaceable Kingdom (Suggested Age Range: 3-5 Years)
As you can see, Squigs stuck to the list.
Tinker toys by K'nex kept the children's interest as their connected concoctions took on lives of their own.
Also landing on the list is the Green Toys Rocket. It's put together with 100 percent recycled plastic milk jugs, is BPA free, and is made in the USA.
Colorful building block by Citiblocs really scored well, too.
Also making the top 10, that Kinetic Sand that Eleanor loves baking her cakes with.
"Here comes the sprinkles!" she told us as the sand slowly dropped from her small hands.
Starting Nov. 1-26, you can vote on your favorites. Click here for more voting information.
On Nov. 27, the school will announce the No. 1 toy for the holiday season. Once you have chosen the No. 1 toy, the Goddard School will then buy 100 of them and donate them to Toys for Tots so children everywhere can enjoy the best of the season.