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December 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 12
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Top-10 Most-Wanted School Supplies and Learning Toys


Everyone knows parents and grandparents, at least, love learning toys. According to 26 specialty toy retailers, toys that teach verbal skills, dexterity and math are the top sellers. But what's really been tops for the second year in a row are the Pencil Grip  toppers and grippers that make all that calculating just a little more fun.

Here are the toys retailers told TDmonthly were foisted on the young'uns in 2010:




MSRP: $29.48
Age Range: 3 to 9
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Pretend Play
Award Winners



The lights and sounds of the Teaching Cash Register engages and entertains kids as they learn math and money skills. Features four interactive games and multiple levels of play.
— In autumn 2010, Marc Holcomb of Toys & Co. in Greensboro, S.C., said he sells 8 per month. “It's in our top 5 every year as far as dollars sold,” he shared with TDmonthly.
— ''It's a great way for the kid's to learn math,'' added Jeanne McCullough, owner of Children's Store Inc. in Boise, Idaho.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15632      (added 10/5/2007)
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MSRP: $8.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Specialty: No
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
School Supplies
Developmental Toys



This Brain Quest write and erase format is geared to give the earliest learners a leg up on writing, reading, and using number. Featuring an attached pack of 40 large, write-on, wipe-off cards plus a dry-erase pen, each deck teaches a critical skill to help children learn to read before kindergarten. These are practical lessons that are also fun, entertaining, and informative. Phonics teaches early reading with fill-ins for long and short vowels and basic consonant sounds, letter scrambles, complete-the-words, and more.
— ''We just got [the Phonics write & erase sets] in, and we sold 18 last month,'' said Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper for Kids in Springfield, Va.
— ''Brainquest work books and cards go the fastest,'' seconded Susan Blanton, owner of Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va.
— In a November 2011 survey 2 out of 12 retailers said that Brainquest was their best selling educational item. “Brain Quest (Workman Publishing) has always done well for us," Chris Lowe, owner of Beanhead Toys in Sandy Springs, Ga., told TDmonthly. Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Toys in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly that sell about 30 units of Brain Quest each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31225      (added 11/24/2010)
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MSRP: $14.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Gifts
Stationery
School Supplies



Set of 10 Gourmet Scented Pencils in reusable zippered pouch. Smencils are made from 100% recycled newspaper soaked in natural gourmet liquid fragrance. Scents include: Bubble Gum, Orange, Cinnamon, Grape, Root Beer, Watermelon, Black Cherry, Very Berry, Tropical Blast, and Cotton Candy. Each individual Smencil is packaged in its own freshness tube made from biodegradable, corn-based plastic. Smencils will retain their scent for up to 2 years and each time you sharpen your Smencil the scent is refreshed.
— "We sell about 50 per month. We're expecting this to be a big stocking stuffer,'' Christine Osborne, co-owner of Wonder Works in Charleston, S.C., told TDmonthly.
— William Meredith, owner of Learning Express in Cary, N.C., told TDmonthly in a Fall 2012 survey that they sell 100 Smencils a month, making them one of the store's best selling tween products.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26570      (added 1/5/2010)
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MSRP: $14.95
Age Range: 1 to 6
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs
Educational



Designed for children ages 15 months to 6 years, this DVD features more than 15 Kindergarten sight words — including of, I, have, said and is — to help little ones be able to recognize them while reading.
— Kim Pagliarini of Teach! LLC http://catalog.teachcharlestoncatalog.com/ in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., sells about 15 to 20 per month, she told TDmonthly in autumn 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21296      (added 11/12/2008)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill



Packed in a bright red latching box emblazoned with a painted stegosaurus, four individually bagged jigsaw puzzles offer different skill levels for young children.  At four, six, nine and 12 pieces, each puzzle assembles into a picture of a different dinosaur (a pterodactyl, tyrannosaurus, triceratops and the pictured stegosaurus). 
— In an August 2011 survey, 2 out of 12 retailers said that Crocodile Creek's puzzles were best-sellers in the puzzle category. Jeanette Lauture of Aunt Jean's Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., said that she sells 3-6 Crocodile Creek puzzles each week.
― “We have Crocodile Creek and do well with those,” Jeri Dorsey, buyer for Kits and Kaboodle in Carmel, Ind., told TDmonthly in June 2009 when asked about top-selling puzzles.
— "All of the Crocodile Creek products" for school do well, said Rick Henry, owner of Stellabella Toys in Cambridge, Mass., in autumn 2010. He sells approximately 50 pieces of lunch boxes, thermoses and the like per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 24706      (added 7/21/2009)
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MSRP: $6.95
Age Range: 7 to 10
Launch Date: July 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
Books
School Supplies



This workbook covers repeated addition, skip counting, multiplication facts to 10 x 10, the inverse relationship of multiplication and division, commutative property of multiplication, identity property of multiplication, zero property of multiplication, and patterns and sequencing. "Just like our popular pre-school workbooks, Kumon Math Workbooks are based on the Kumon Method, a learning system designed to help each child reach his or her full learning potential. These workbooks are also correlated to state and national standards in order to ensure that the content is appropriate for your child," Adam Hennessy, in marketing and account management for Kumon Publishing, told TDmonthly. Launch date: July 14, 2008.
— Though educational books are not a top seller in his store (he only sells about 12 per month), Kumon is the top line, said  Steven Levy, owner of Toy City in Keene, N.H.
— Gregory Sahagian, owner of Learning Express of Beverly in Beverly, Mass., told TDmonthly in a Fall 2012 survey that they sell 4-5 dozen Kumon books each month, making them one of their top-2 best selling educational products.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20174      (added 8/21/2008)
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MSRP: $11.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
Educational



This 200-piece puzzle shows a vast space scene and provides the names of the planets. Once assembled, it measures 19 1/3” x 14 1/4".
Main Street Toy Shop in Columbus, Ga., sells about 30 Ravensburger puzzles per month, Owner Gladys Griffin told TDmonthly in fall 2009 when discussing best-selling educational items.
— "Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles; a dozen per month" Linda Laramy, owner of Crackerjacks in Easton, Md., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26177      (added 11/24/2009)
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MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 7 and up
SKU or Item #: 00400
Launch Date: February 2010
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
Travel
Eco-Friendly



Crazy Cheese is both a puzzle and a brain-teaser, all in the same slice of cheese. With two levels of difficulty, the Crazy Cheese puzzle is designed to provide hours of entertainment for the whole family. "Beware, as simple as it appears, completing this puzzle without the solution key is a phenomenal feat of perseverance and brain power!" Bert Devort, Sales Department, Blue Orange Games, told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 14, 2010.
― Two of 40 retailers told TDmonthly in June 2010 that Crazy Cheese is one of their top-selling puzzles.
— Jeanette Lauture of Aunt Jean's Toys and Treats in Montclair, N.J. Sells about two to four Blue Orange games per month, she said in the fall of 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26955      (added 2/4/2010)
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The JUMBO Grip features the same shape as The Pencil Grip to place fingers in the correct stance for gripping, for both right- and left-handed writers. It’s about 40-percent bigger than The Pencil Grip, designed to offer comfort and support up to the second knuckle.
— Joan Machlis, owner of Wind Up Here in Olympia, Wash., told TDmonthly in fall 2009 that the store sells about 50 items per month by the Pencil Grip.
— ''We sell maybe 75 per month,'' Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Centre, Inc., in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26176      (added 11/24/2009)
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MSRP: $39
Age Range: 6 to 12
Launch Date: May 2010
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Kits
Science & Nature
Construction



These science construction kits are designed to allow young minds to build and understand Solar, Water, Elastic, Dynamo and Wind power sources while building kinetic models and vehicles. They are "well-conceived and comprehensive kits with many variations and high value," a representative of Perisphere & Trylon, Inc., told TDmonthly. Launch date: May 2010.
— John MacDougall, owner of Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., was impressed with the Wind Energy kit with giant turbine blades at Toy Fair 2010. "We love renewable energy education kits," he said.
— ''Science kits do well overall,'' Cheryl Richmond owner Punkin Doodles Havre, Mont., shared with TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26930      (added 2/4/2010)
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Alison MarekWriter's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ...  Read more articles by this author

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