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Article:    Neurosmith Electronic Toys

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Although computer programs can go a long way toward offering children the chance to benefit from new technology, sitting in front of the computer is not something we want our children doing for too long. Providing kids with classic toys--such as blocks, crayons, and other tactile items--is natural and important. However, toy companies are developing electronic toys that teach, and one company, Neurosmith, is coming up with truly unique and educational toys that kids can touch and feel, and that feature some of the latest computer technology as well. 

New Smart Toys

Neurosmith released some wonderful new toys, and we had a chance to review them before they came out. We were, and still are, impressed!

Musini is an ambitious toy that responds to children's motion with musical and visual surprises. Users select any of five musical styles (Basically Bach, Child's Play, Latin Jazz, Carnival, or Orchestral Overture) and start to dance or move! A sensitivity dial must be adjusted in order to maximize the toy's responsiveness in any given room. 

Each musical style includes four variations, played on different instruments.  Some features: Musini can be connected to your sound system; it has two volume settings; and it can accept a DC power adapter (otherwise it requires 4 'C' batteries). The results of our tests were not as exciting as we had hoped, simply because the toy's responsiveness was not as strong as it could have been. However, the concept is unique and fun.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Musini - MagicSensor at Amazon.com]

Expanding the "Jumbo" line is the new Jumbo Music Ball -- a large (although not quite as large as last year's Jumbo Music Block) plush sphere that features colorful flaps on each side. Each flap takes the form of a basic shape, such as a heart or an arrow, and is labeled with a set of uppercase letters of the alphabet. The learning component of the toy features four levels of challenge. Children begin with color and shape recognition and work their way up to letter and letter sound identification. The ball requires 4 'C' batteries to operate, and it features auto shut-off and two volume settings.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Jumbo Music Ball at Amazon.com]

Phonics Tiles is a play mat which can also be mounted on the wall, featuring letter tiles that can be placed on the toy's special slots. Whether or not the resulting combination actually spells a word, the toy pronounces it. With this electronic smart toy, kids learn to identify letters and the sounds they make, build words and hear them phonetically "sounded out", and play games. Our full review of Phonics Tiles can be found here

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Phonics Tiles at Amazon.com]

 

Last Year's Neurosmith Winners

Jumbo Music Block was introduced last year, and it quickly became popular with families with young children. This 14-inch plush block features lift-up flaps that come in assorted bright colors and shapes. When a child activates a shape, a song about that shape is triggered. A nice feature of this jumbo toy is that families who own the Music Blocks toy and its cartridges can insert a cartridge to change the musical soundtrack of Jumbo Music Block. This toy does "double duty" simply because it allows children to develop gross and fine motor skills while they learn about shapes, music, zippers, and buttons. Babies just learning to "pull up" to a stand particularly enjoy this soft but rather sturdy jumbo block. Uses 4 'C' batteries. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Jumbo Music Block at Amazon.com]

 

A great choice for babies is Neurosmith's Sunshine Symphony. Its attractive smiley face need only be tapped and the plush toy plays any of four classical music selections (Handel's Water Music, Mozart Piano Sonata in C Major, Peter and the Wolf, and The Nutcracker). The first touch or tap activates the first half of the musical selection played on a particular instrument (such as violin or flute); the second triggers the remainder of the selection; and the third touch activates the song to play complete with a full orchestra--a "sunshine symphony"! If parents so choose, the toy can play the musical selections continuously (this runs for several minutes). What's more, the toy features twinkling lights as the music plays. As seems standard with Neurosmith toys, the sound quality is excellent. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Sunshine Symphony at Amazon.com]

 

A Neurosmith Classic

A Neurosmith toy that we can safely call a "classic" is Music Blocks. Five blocks fit into the toy's base in a variety of ways--children get to choose how they'd like to arrange the blocks. The twist here is that each colorful block plays a different musical phrase, and each side of the block features an instrumental variation on that musical phrase! The featured instruments include woodwinds, violin, and more. The sound quality of this toy is exceptional, as are the opportunities for exploration it offers young children. Read our full review.


[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Neurosmith Music Blocks at Amazon.com]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2002/Updated July 2003/Updated March 2004/Updated December 2005
 

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