Entertaining, educational toys that will keep your kids' reading skills sharp

MILWAUKEE -- Summer is a time to take the academic pressure off kids so they can have fun -- but that doesn't mean the learning has to stop. Speech Language Pathologist, Sherry Artemenko, joins Real Milwaukee with some games and toys that can sharpen kids' reading skills all summer long.

Here are some of Sherry's Spring PAL Award winners in the Pre-literacy/Reading category:

Gumball Words by SimplyFun (8 years and up) $34
• Who can pass up a gumball machine for learning spelling, vocabulary and reading?
• 2 stages: first move your coin tokens to collect gumball letters to build words--short term memory, spacial skills, spelling, vocabulary, reading
• Next build words maximizing the length of the words and using bonus high-counting letters

Eye 'n Seek by Blue Orange Games (6 years and up) ($13.99)
• Well known for their 'Spot It' games where you match images
• Everyone gets a fun picture wheel with 3 windows for matching images
• 6 possible games, one you turn over a card and look for image starting with the same letter...Pyramid/Pizza
• Other option: player describes a card and other players have to guess what picture she is describing, great for building vocabulary

LeapStart Interactive Learning System by LeapFrog (2-4 years) $39.99
• jam-packed with school and life skills--ABC`s, numbers, writing, science, math
• downloadable Parent Guide with tips on activities parents and kids can do together
• need interactive component with little ones to keep their attention
• comes with a book, others sold separately

Krazy Wordz by Ravensburger (10 and up) $19.99
• 'Making sense out of nonsense'
• Players pick 9 random letters and 1 topic card--super hero, yoga pose, insect...
• Create a word that doesn`t exist but fits the topic
• Reveal everyone`s topic cards plus a few fake ones and players guess your definition
• Use phonics and spelling skills to create a word that represents the meaning in how it sounds. 'Glug'= witches` brew ingredient, 'Glas' +luxury hotel

Bluebee Pals by Kayle Concepts (Pre-K-3rd grade) $64.99
• Where cuddle meets technology
• Connect Monkey to a Bluetooth enabled device--phone, tablet or laptop and they become a learning pal
• Gave some of these to a 1st grade classroom and they were the kids` favorite activity during 'Smart time' as the animals 'read' to the kids, lip synching the words to stories or learning apps.
• learning to read through many channels--auditory, visual, sensory, keep attention

Kalou Rouge Rabbit (birth and up) $32.99 and Ada`s Violin by Susan Hood
• Grab your lovey and cuddle up for a story.
• Important to read to our kids, even after they have learned to read because we can read stories with richer vocabulary and complex story lines than they are able to read