Nov. 16, 2011 at 7:42 AM ET
By Kara Reinhardt
Kids’ holiday wish lists these days practically require a pocket translator: Zoobles, Fijit Friends, Moshi Monsters Moshlings — and what in the world is a Squinkie? If parents have to master a new vocabulary, it might be nice if the kids learned something too. Educational toys are a budget-friendly antidote to zone-out-in-front-of-a-screen games.
An expert at Washington University in St. Louis recommends gifts such as chemistry sets and educational games for children 6 and older, who are far enough along in their development to learn specific subject matter. Admittedly, such toys may not be the most exciting things to open. That’s why we subjected highly rated educational toys to the scrutiny of our resident expert: an 8-year-old girl. In video reviews, we tested toys that target elementary-schoolers of both genders to see if they could hold our young reviewer’s interest and earn a spot under the tree.
Below is a primer on Cheapism’s top picks for educational toys under $20.
OK, so maybe even the most expensive educational toy isn’t going to buy happiness the moment the wrapping is ripped off. In that case, here are a couple of affordable toys that are more likely to elicit “Just what I wanted!” than “What is it?” First, a vocab lesson: Moshi Monsters Moshlings (starting at $6) are in demand among kids who play the Moshi Monsters game online. The tiny collectibles delighted our 8-year-old reviewer. Finally, the Nerf Vortex Vigilon (starting at $16) makes an impressive addition to any arsenal of foam-slinging firearms. It thrilled even our reviewer, who wondered aloud if it was for girls before gleefully peppering a patio cushion.
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