IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Smart toys help kids avoid spring break 'brain drain'

With spring breaks happening now and summer vacay not far off in the horizon, it's always good to be proactive about "brain drain," that phenomenon that happens when kids leave those textbooks and school assignments behind -- along with plenty of what they've learned. Consider this two-fer of an idea: smart toys that amuse and educate.The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, which does independent reviews of

With spring breaks happening now and summer vacay not far off in the horizon, it's always good to be proactive about "brain drain," that phenomenon that happens when kids leave those textbooks and school assignments behind -- along with plenty of what they've learned. 

Consider this two-fer of an idea: smart toys that amuse and educate.

The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, which does independent reviews of kids' toys, has compiled a list of top-rated games that specifically target the areas of math, science, geography and task-completion.

Stephanie Oppenheim points to the country's decline in world rankings of both math (25th) and science (21st) --  this is out of 30 Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development countries -- as reason enough to brush up on certain skills.

The key, according to Oppenheim, is to give kids confidence and competency in the educational areas where are lacking. And it sure doesn't hurt to make it fun.

Among some of Oppenheim's picks:

Math Gear Fast Facts (Innovative Kids, $7.99): "These fast facts gizmos allow kids to test themselves by turning the dial and lifting a flap to see if their answers are correct," says Oppenheim. "These are a lot more fun to use than flashcards and a good way to put the job of drilling in the child's hands."

Monopoly (Hasbro, $12.99): Oppenheim eschews newer electronic versions of this old-school game. "Where's the fun if you're not the banker and responsible for giving the right amount of money back on a  purchase?  The 'electronic banker' removes all of those great math skills from the game play," says Oppenheim.

Glow Rocks: Fluorescent Mineral Kit (Dr. Cool Science, $49.95): "School-aged kids love collecting and it's a great way to encourage your kids to do a little reading and research," says Oppenheim. "This is one of those kits that can inspire a long term hobby."

Check out the whole list here, and watch Stephanie Oppenheim of ToyPortfolio.com talk about smart toys on TODAY here. 

What are your favorites when it comes to games that boost brainpower?