We've just rounded the corner on Back to School Night 2011, but the winter holidays will be here before you know it. At Top Ten Reviews, we've combined our tech expertise with the hottest toys of the season to create a list of the best electronic gadgets for children this year. Our picks include toys that will not only entertain, but also educate.
Our holiday guide also includes toys that spur creativity, ensuring that the good boys and girls on your list will learn to express themselves while getting their gadget fix on. Get your orders in right away. These toys are sure to fly off the shelves come Black Friday.
1. The Sing-A-Ma-Jigs
These quirky, adorable stuffed animals may seem like nothing new: They sing, they chatter, they're cute enough to cuddle up with on a dark winter's night. But new technology makes these furry friends nearly irresistible. Sing-a-ma-jigs can communicate with one another wirelessly, like magic. When you get two or more Sing-A-Ma-Jigs together, you can push each one's belly to hear a conversation. Adults and children alike will giggle in delight. Then, push each critter's left hand to switch modes and press the bellies again to start the music. Alone, the toys sing classics such as "Oh, Susannah" and "Jingle Bells." Together, these toys sing in harmony. Get a group together, and it's the perfect mash-up of Beanie Babies and a barbershop quartet.
2. LeapPad Explorer
Leap Frog LeapPad Explorer
With the LeapPad Explorer, kids can have a tablet computer that s all their own. These white and pink or green mini-computers are sturdy enough to be dropped, shaken or smudged with sticky fingers. Each device comes with 2MB of storage, a stylus and a built-in camera. Right out of the box, you get four free apps. These can be books, which come in three different reading levels. You can also upload games, videos and more. There are more than 100 apps available. After a quick set up, the LeapPad will be ready for your child's eager hands. Thereafter, you can receive emails as your child completes stories and activities.
3. Mindflex Game
Forget outdated joysticks and paddle controls for your favorite kids this holiday season with the Mindflex Game. Instead, play this game with the power of your mind alone. It works by strapping sensors to your forehead and earlobes. Then, you control a small foam ball using concentration and mental relaxation. A light stream of air supports the ball. To win the game, you have to get the ball through obstacles such as loops and tubes. You can easily reposition these obstacles to make new mazes as your skill improves. You can also change the difficulty level on the game console and can compete with friends.
4. Paper Jams Guitar
Wow Wee Paper Jams Guitar
The boys and girls on your list can rock out with a guitar this year without years of lessons and hours of grueling practice. These toy guitars look just like the real thing, but have circuit-embedded technology instead of traditional strings. Your child will be able to play just by touching the real frets and strumming the image of strings. The toy comes with real songs that you can play in Perfect Play or Rhythm modes. Your child can also create his or her own songs with this inexpensive toy. Create chords easily by switching modes and touching a finger or two to the frets.
5. Snap Circuits
Snap Circuits SC-300
Children as young as 5 years old can create their own electronics with the Snap Circuits SC-300 by Elenco. This hot toy comes with more than 60 snap-together parts that can be designed into projects such as radios, doorbells and burglar alarms. No tools are required. You can find instructions online and in the included user manual to build more than 300 arrangements. This toy can be used either solo or with friends, and it's safe enough for unsupervised use. Snap Circuits is an innovative learning tool and is sure to be a great outlet for children with a passion for science and mechanics.
6. Loopz Game
This electronic memory and music toy takes hand-eye coordination to the next level. It's simple enough for kids to understand but addicting enough that they might have to wrestle it from their parent's hands once it's out of the box. The black toy is about a foot tall, with four open loops that light up and play music. Learn the lights' pattern and wave your hands in the appropriate loops to win. Seven games are available. You can also play in Freestyle DJ mode. Play alone or with up to three friends.
7. Kidizoom Digital Camera
Kidizoom Plus Digital Camera
Let your child's creativity run wild with the Kidizoom Plus Digital Camera. This durable device is just the right size for little hands and has only a couple easy-to-use buttons. The kids' camera can shoot still images and videos. It comes with games and easy-to-use editing software plus 256MB of storage, which is more than any of its competitors. It also has space for a 2GB memory card so you won't be running to the computer to upload images every few hours. You can also hook the Kidizoom up to your family television to play the included games and view photos and movies.
8. Learning Globe
MGA Bratz Adventures in Learning Globe
The Learning Globe combines technology, geography and pretend play all in one toy that your child will enjoy for hours. This version of the globe is branded with Bratz characters and voices and comes with a Bratz cookbook full of recipes from around the world. Your favorite little girls can use it by flying a toy airplane to one of dozens of world locations. Once the toy plane lands, your child will learn about cultural things such as music, food and landmarks, or geographic features such as population, highest elevation point and more. Six games are also available that require players to locate places on the globe before time runs out.
9. Scrabble Cubes
Scrabble Flash Cubes
Do you have a bookworm on your hands, or perhaps a would-be Spelling Bee champ? Scrabble Flash Cubes is the perfect portable game to keep your budding wordsmith busy. The game consists of five 2-inch cubes with SmartLink tiles that display letters. Combine the letters to make words between three and five letters long. Spell either backward or forward. You can also play with just four of the cubes. Your words and points are tracked automatically, and players' turns are timed. Three game modes are available, and you can play either alone or with up to three friends or family members.
10. Roll-up Piano
Hello Kitty Pink Rock N/Rollin Piano
This pretty, pink keyboard can start your child on the path to becoming a musical prodigy without the bulk or expense of a traditional electronic keyboard. This toy is a great way to see if music is a good fit for your child before purchasing a piano or starting formal lessons. The rubber keyboard rolls up for easy transport and weighs only one pound. It has 37 keys, which amounts to almost three octaves. With that range, your child can play with both hands. The roll-up keyboard has a built-in metronome, eight Rhythm Selectors, eight Instrument Selectors and pre-programmed demo songs that let your child play along with a full band or orchestra.