We had a lot of fun at the 10th Annual Chicago
Toy and Game Fair this year. You're really never too old to get
excited about the newest toys and games on the market during the
holiday season. After testing a few of the products ourselves and
talking to local kids, we've narrowed down our five favorites from
ChiTAG, plus two of our favorite games from young inventors.
A stack of cups might not sound like the hottest toy on the
market but Speed
Stacks had kids at ChiTAG mesmerized. Kids can play with the
cups at home, against their friends or even compete nationally. You
can buy a Speed Stacks kit in a variety of colors and get a timer
or mat to make things more competitive.
The Speed Stacks website also has a Kid's
Corner with tips for improving times and a calendar of upcoming
Pictured: Isyss Whittmon, 9, of Chicago, learns from a Speed
Stacks helper about how the game works.
Kids of all ages had fun driving Plasma Cars and
weaving through a chalk track. The cars are powered by natural
forces like inertia, so they're also a great way to teach your kids
some simple physics. Plus, your kids won't outgrow the cars
quickly. We saw everyone from toddlers to adults trying them out
during the fair.
remind us of a mix of Jenga and Lincoln Logs. The
blocks come in a few different colors and some kits come with books
filled with building ideas. This wooden construction toy now comes
with connectors, making it easier for small hands to build giant
Pictured: Akash, 7, and Sahil, 5, of Toledo play with Kapla
blocks. Their dad said the boys love playing with the blocks at
their local science museum.
Don't be afraid to get your hands a little dirty. Take the kids
to Penguin Foot Pottery in
Logan Square and they can make their own holiday gifts for the
family. Families were lined-up at the fair to take their turn at
the pottery wheels and had a lot of fun spinning some clay.
Penguin Foot offers a variety of classes, including walk-in
classes just for kids and parent/child classes.
Pictured: Elena Dunn, 8, of Plainfield takes her turn at the
wheel. Elena's mom said Elena had never tried pottery before but
seemed to love it.
We loved seeing some of the newest releases from Plan Toys, an
environmentally and socially conscious company. They had a lot on
display at the fair and we love pretending with their latest
Our favorite was a wooden flower pot and play planting set for
little gardeners (pictured) but the meal and kitchen pretending
sets are always a hit with the little chefs we know.
Walker Ahluwalia, 10, and Bryce Wiersma, 9, of Palos Heights
love baseball and they know other kids do, too. But baseball season
can't last all year so the boys have brought the beloved pastime
indoors and turned it into a board game.
Their game, Grand Slam, combines the classic elements of
baseball with a catapult (so cool!) for six innings of fun. The
player at bat catapults a die as far as they can to get on base, or
even a home run. Your opponent can place outfielders to try to get
you out though, so be careful where to aim.
Walker and Bryce say their game is best for ages 6 and up and
works well with two players.
Maggie Reed (pictured) and Elizabeth Gildea, 10, of Palos Park,
came up with their idea for Bakery Battle after a brainstorming
together for a class project.
"We were talking about what we really liked and we both thought
of baking," Maggie said.
In Bakery Battle, players begin in culinary school and learn
about what it takes to be a Master Pasty Chef. Once they travel
around each level of the board and reach the top tier, they answer
final exam questions to win.
Maggie recommends Bakery Battle for ages 8 and up, and says game
play works best with 2-4 players.