Our Grading Process
You’ve noticed the set of scores in the upper-right corner of each review. Our scores lets you know what we think of a toy at a glance. Here’s a description of those scores to help you understand what they mean.
Across the board, a 0 is the worst possible score, with 10 being perfect, and 5 being neutral. Neutral means the toy didn’t impress us in that category, nor did it have any notable problems.
Sometimes, a toy will have no score (N/A) in a particular area. That’s because we won’t knock down a toy’s score just because it wasn’t intended to be used in a particular way. For instance, books aren’t all that great at helping a child develop their gross motor skills, but that doesn’t make books a bad gift.
Our Overall score is like a cumulative total of how we feel about the toy in general. The Overall score is not an average of the other scores. You can think of this score as measuring how likely we would be to recommend this toy to our family and friends. If a toy really impresses us, we may give it a high Overall score even if it could be a little better in one of the other categories. A single-person jump rope may not get a very high Social score, but that won’t make us knock off Overall points.
The Replay score measures how desirable a toy is to children. We take into account things like how long children typically play with the toy, and whether or not they seek the toy out themselves or need adult coaxing to play with it. Toys get more points in this category if they are likely to be played with children of varying ages, meaning that a growing child will still enjoy it as they get a little older, or that siblings can play together. This only scores how likely children are to use this toy, not the toy’s quality.
Quality measures all the materials and construction processes that go into making the toy. Do the stitches hold together? Does the toy break easily, or can it survive heavy use? Is this a toy that can be passed down from one sibling to another, or is it only really good for a few years? Will it last through one birthday party or longer? If we think a toy is dangerous, cheaply made, or is just a huge waste of money, we’ll be sure to say so in either our Observations or Concerns sections of the review.
We also score toys regarding how Cognitively challenging they are for children. Looking at how age appropriate these challenges are, how hard a child has to think in order to use the toy, and how much room a toy gives a child to think creatively, we come up with a number indicating just how much thinking a child is likely to engage in with this toy. Toys will high scores will be fun and challenging, while also helping a child learn new ways of problem-solving.
Similar to the Cognitive score, our Motor score measure how many different ways a child’s coordination, body awareness, and reaction time. Some toys are meant for gross motor function, such as a ball, while others are good at helping fine motor skills, such as sewing. Either way, we give higher scores to toys that can help children develop physically.
Toys that encourage children cooperating or having friendly competition get a higher Social score. Just like toys that help with Cognitive and Motor skills, Social toys teach children how to function as they grow into adolescents and adults. These toys may help their communication skills, encourage sharing or negotiating, or even help children learn how to lose a game with grace. For some toys, having fun with others is more important than just winning.
For our baby toys, we use a slightly different set of grading criteria. Instead of a Cognitive score, we measure how much Visual and Audio Stimulation a toy provides, as well as how likely a child is going to develop their understanding of Cause and Effect. We measure how much a toy Holds Interest for children instead of Replay, since a baby does not dig through a toy box the same way an older child will.
Using all of our research, our team scores each and every toy to help you decide if a toy will be a good fit for a child in your life.
Want more information about our grading process? Want to suggest a toy for us to review? Want to give us feedback and tell us we’re awesome? That would be nice. We would like that. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!