Announces Top 10 PAL (Play Advances Language) Award Picks 2014, 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 QUOTE: Azi Jamalian, Ph.D. in early childhood development, founder and chief learning officer of Tiggly, a New York City-based ed-tech startup

Your experience with kids and expertise makes this award especially unique and important for us. Children and their learning are at the center of what we do -- we are most proud to have an expert like you approving the educational value in our products

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 2014” 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 toddler launch a boat through the high seas in a sand and water table, a child pull his cook ’n serve kitchen to a favorite spot to write out the Special of the Day, generate riddle clues to build reading skills, or connect illustrated magnetic panels to build an ever changing beach house for endless storytelling.

Sherry’s expertise has been tapped by NBC Connecticut TV, Parents Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle,,,, 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 2014 TOP 10 PAL Picks:


  • Balancing Circus by Lilliputiens
  • Enchanted Meadow Towel Doll by Kaethe Kruse
  • High Seas Adventure Sand and Water Table with Umbrella by Step2
  • Kitchen Set by Plan Toys
  • Miss Pink Star and Blanket by Corolle
  • Mon Premier Bebe Calin Maria by Corolle
  • My Take Along Train by Playmobil
  • NightBuddies by Napa Valley Toys USA
  • Speedy's Magical Shell by B Kids
  • Tolo Teatime Shape Sorter


  • Artzooka! Finger Peeps by Wooky Entertainment
  • Cook 'n Serve Kitchen by Hape
  • Counting Animals by Ravensburger
  • Dinosaur Floor Puzzle by Galt Toys
  • Doodle Magic Color Mat by Crayola
  • Great Outdoors Playhouse by Step2
  • My First Shop by Lego
  • My Friend Huggles Doll by Great Divide Corporation
  • Story Box-Safari by Janod
  • SMARTMAX Home Sweet Home by Smart Toys and Games, Inc


  • Camp Site by Playmobil
  • DIY Dream House by Hape
  • Fort Magic by Fort Magic LLC
  • Malia's Beach House by Build and Imagine
  • My Super Life Journal … By Me by PomTree
  • Paint a Tea Set by Galt Toys
  • Playful Chef Deluxe Cooking Kit by MindWare
  • Style Me Up! Sketchbooks Featuring Disney Characters by Wooky Entertainment
  • The Ostrich Puppet by Folkmanis
  • XL Graffiti Black White Board by Janod


  • Disney Junior Super Stretchy Game by Wonder Forge
  • Disney Palace Pets Royal Pet Salon by Wonder Forge
  • Doc McStuffins Spot it! Numbers and Shapes by Blue Orange Games
  • Dream Cakes by Ravensburger
  • Gone Shopping Game by Galt Toys
  • Magnetic Game Dress Up Lilli by HABA USA
  • Matching Game Who Lives Where? by HABA USA
  • Move and Groove by ThinkFun Inc
  • Spot it! Numbers and Shapes by Blue Orange Games
  • Tiggly Counts Interacting with Tiggly Cardtoons by Tiggly-Kidtellect, Inc.


  • Disney World of Disney Pictopia Game by Wonder Forge
  • GET4 and Score by SimplyFun
  • Letter Slide by SimplyFun
  • Over Under by Gamewright
  • Say the Word by Peaceable Kingdom
  • Tapple by USAopoloy
  • The Extraordinaires Design Studio by The Creativity Hub Ltd.
  • uKloo Riddle Edition Treasure Hunt Game by uKloo
  • Who Am I? by Janod
  • Zingo! Word Builder by ThinkFun Inc


  • Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre and Zac Retz
  • Baby Book Zoo Friends by HABA USA
  • Never Ever by Jo Empson
  • Our Day On the Town Sticker Storybook by PomTree
  • Rooting for You by Susan Hood
  • Smile, Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
  • SPLAT! Starring the Vole Brothers by Roslyn Schwartz
  • Splat the Cat: Up in the Air at the Fair by Rob Scotton
  • Squirrels on Skis by J. Hamilton Ray
  • The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen

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. Her 35 years championing language rich play, esteemed PAL Award, popular blog, and insightful tips to parents set her apart as the leading advocate of 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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