Avoid the summer slide: A look at the latest toys that teach

MILWAUKEE -- Are your kids staying sharp so far this summer -- or maybe just staring at screens? They can have fun while continuing to learn. Toy expert and speech language pathologist, Sherry Artemenko, joins Real Milwaukee with toys that inspire storytelling.

Croco Jungle Research Station by Schleich, 3-8 years, ($99)
• Carrying down hall to classroom to play and kids went, 'Whoa!!'
• Set it on the table and kids immediately began to collaborate in set up and starting a story
• So many accessories that suggest different sub-plots of the story--treasure, trap door, ranger station, pens and animals, dangerous/sick, eating/ sleeping, cooking

Kruselings by Hape, 3 years and up, ($28-$45)
• Beautiful doll characters are Guardians of the Dreams.
• Ended up at teacher`s desk re-enacting their story, dialogue

Trap and Gap Baseplates by Strictly Briks, 4 and up, ($24.99)
• Wisconsin company, CEO Dad remembers the fun he had playing with trap doors and extending ramps for escape, racing or parking
• Strictly Briks are compatible with all major brick building brands
• Design best getaway adventure, house or parking garage
• Open ended play, story changes with new toys brought to play

My Story Dolls by Faber-Castell, 6 and up, ($15.00)
• Chose mood, face, and clothes--floss hair, pom poms, rhinestones, fur
• Conversation about choices, 'Which face is wishful? eyes closed, dreaming?
• Kids learn to express feelings and recognize them in others, increasing EQ and building social language skills

Frog Life Cycle by Folkmanis, 3 years and up, ($68)
• Came in classroom, 'Who wants to put on a puppet show?'
• 2 boys came back and put on a show for me
• Starts as the egg, lenticular printed patch with tadpole swimming->
• tadpole-> frog
• Puppets can bring out shy kids to engage in dialogue and story telling

Playful Chef Chocolate Studio and Shoppe by MindWare, 4 and up, ($16-$50)
• Cooking is wonderful language activity: sequence directions, measure, learn fractions, and here set up display for a candy shop!
• Boys loved making chocolate hearts from mom for Mother`s Day
• Could write out menu, prices etc for writing practice and exchange play money
• Kid tip: chocolates harden faster in the refrigerator

Pop Oh Ver Stove by Kangaroo Manufacturing, 3 years and up, ($39.95)
• Unfold the canvas and slip it over a chair
• Ready for the little chef
• Perfect for parents, grandparents, teachers with limited space
• Cleverly designed by a mom of 7
• Building stories as they imitate adults in their life