Announces Top 10 PAL (Play Advances Language) Award Picks 2013, Holiday Gift Guide: Best Toys, Games and Books That Spark Fun and Encourage Language

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Respected speech-language pathologist Sherry Artemenko announces her Top 10 PAL product lists by type and category representing the only industry recognition focused on encouraging language development through great play. Parents and educators trust Sherry’s recommendations and seek her advice through her popular blog,, private practice, media appearances and articles.

ABOVE: PAL (Play Advances Language) Top Ten Pick Seal BELOW: Quote, Charlotte Fixler, Communications Director, Wonder Forge

I value that Sherry as a credentialed speech therapist really gets the learning features of our games! Daily interaction with children guides Playonwords founder, Sherry Artemenko, to a unique set of the best toys, games and books that have the chemistry to develop language while delivering great play. Today, Playonwords is announcing the “Top 10 PAL Picks of 2013” by age and product category. Our Top 10 Picks take the guesswork out of gift giving for the holidays. Parents and grandparents are using our list to shop for smart toys with lasting play value.

Each product has been tested and reviewed by Sherry with input from parents, kids and educators. Observing kids in action, combined with her critical eye for language potential, Sherry awards products and writes insightful reviews offering practical tips on how to maximize the educational value in each winner on

Watch a baby discover, learn and vocalize inside a Wonder Whale of dangling sea animals, a child experiment with the properties of magnets as they construct and animate Tommy Train, escort a princess to the castle with Fairy Tale Blocks or produce a show with a Puppet Theater than can transform into a food stand.

Sherry’s expertise has been tapped by NBC Connecticut TV, The Chicago Tribune,, ASHAsphere, official blog of the American Speech Language Hearing Association, ASHA LEADER magazine, and ASTRA’s blog, The Whoo Hoo Factor.

For Sherry, great play is not just about fun, or cognitive development, it’s about going deep on both. Her expertise has been built on science and more than 15,000 hours of client experience. Each set of Top 10’s represents a breadth of themes and genres, but they all have one thing in common - they are trusted lists of fun products that educate through play.

Here are our 2013 TOP 10 PAL Picks:


  • Elf Grenadine’s Heart by Corolle
  • Grow-With-Me Activity Gym and Ball Pit by Infantino
  • Mighty Mini Band by Hape
  • NogginStik by SmartNoggin Toys
  • 1.2.3 Take Along Fire Station by Playmobil
  • See ‘n Spin Alphabet Rack by B kids
  • Stack ‘n Squirt Pals by B kids
  • Trampili Elephant Music by Steiff
  • Walk-Along-Snail by Hape
  • Wonder Whale Kicks and Giggles Activity Gym by Infantino


  • Bebe Bath and Accessories By Corolle
  • Easy Turn Coupe by Step2
  • Fairy Tale Blocks by Plan Toys
  • Fire Station by Hape
  • Puppet Theater by HABA
  • Little Hedgehog Puppet by Folkmanis
  • Racing Round Stacking Pyramid by Janod
  • SmartMax Tommy Train by Smart Toys and Games
  • Story Circus Baby Train by Janod
  • Take Along Modern Doll House by Playmobil


  • Alpaca Puppet by Folkmanis
  • Artzooka! Recycle Sticker Creations by Wooky Entertainment
  • Artzooka! Surprise Match Boxes by Wooky Entertainment
  • Base Kit by littleBits
  • Friends Heartlake City Pool by Lego
  • Nancy B's Science Club Microscope and Activity Journal by Educational Insights
  • NYC Christmas Puzzle by Ravensburger
  • Western Fort by Playmobil
  • Smaland Doll’s House by Lundby
  • Super Sized Floor Puzzle USA Map by Ravensburger


  • Animal Soup The Mixed-Up Animal Board Game! by The Haywire Group
  • Bugs In The Kitchen by Ravensburger
  • Disney Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Game by Wonder Forge
  • Disney Sofia the First Magical Tea Time Game by Wonder Forge
  • Disney Sofia the First Royal Prep Academy Game by Wonder Forge
  • Hello Sunshine! by ThinkFun
  • Loco Lingo Kindergarten by HABA
  • On The Farm Who’s In The Barnyard? by Ravensburger
  • Skunk Bingo by Gamewright
  • The Great Cheese Chase by Peaceable Kingdom


  • Doodle Jump by Ravensburger
  • Justice League Axis of Villains Strategy Game by Wonder Forge
  • Ooga Booga by Blue Orange Games
  • Qualities by SimplyFun
  • Rhyme Out: The Triple Rhyming Game by Educational Insights
  • Rory’s Story Cubes Voyages by Gamewright
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Clash Alley Strategy Game by Wonder Forge
  • That’s It! by Gamewright
  • What’s It? by Peaceable Kingdom
  • WordARound by ThinkFun


  • A Home For Bird by Philip C. Stead
  • Alphabet Anatomy: Meet The Capital Letters by Linda Ann Jones
  • Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  • Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet
  • Magic Forest Friends by HABA
  • Penguin And Pinecone by Salina Yoon
  • Pig Has a Plan by Ethan Long
  • Red Cat Blue Cat by Jenni Desmond
  • The Ant and the Grasshopper by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley
  • Up! Tall! And High! by Ethan Long

Each holiday season millions are spent on kids’ toys, games and books. These PAL winners above are not only great fun, but also encourage rich language development. Think “tastes like ice cream, fortifies like spinach,” optimizing your toy purchases to build language while maintaining every bit of fun. Now’s the time to be intentional about your child’s toy chest, game drawer and bookshelf!

ABOUT PLAYONWORDS, LLC was founded by well-respected speech-language pathologist, Sherry Artemenko, a 35 year champion of language driven play. Her esteemed PAL Award, popular blog, and helpful tips to parents set her apart as a leader advocating the language component in toys.

Over 15,000 hours working directly with children has shown her that a unique set of the best toys, games and books have the capability to develop language while delivering great play. Studies show:

  •      Kids with highest IQs at three, had the most words at one and two
  •      Language learning is cumulative – early words => early sentences => language and reading
  •      Most kids maintain their verbal advantage through childhood

Sherry established the PAL Award to identify unique toys, games and books that through their design, quality and character, encourage play that advances language. PAL winners in the hands of kids, spark fun and creative play with lots of talk. Such toys, recognized on the basis of her child development expertise, are complemented by practical coaching in her blog, showing parents and caregivers how to get the most from toys, games and books to build language and underlying cognitive skills.

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