(Toledo News Now) - There are a lot of laughs inside the first-grade classroom of Matthew Todd, but will it remain fun after weeks of toy testing?
Let's start with the craft items. Melissa and Doug offers a new spin on a classic: tracing. The girls mixed and matched, coming up with all kinds of outfits with the $15 Fashion Plates Set. Its price and hours of fun make it a good gift you might not have considered. We give it a top-earning 'A.'
The fun did run out at Melissa and Doug's Peel and Press Stained Glass. Kids matched the colors and numbers to make a fun plate for the window, but once that's done, you're done.
"Its price isn't bad, but it's a one-shot deal," said Todd.
The $15 set earns a 'C.'
In the meantime, we're still coming up for air after getting a whiff of Melissa and Doug's Scratch Art Studio.
"It was smelly," said one first-grader.
"It literally permeated the whole classroom," said Todd.
The black oil-based film on this set smells like petroleum and is probably made of it, too. Todd even put the finished art projects in plastic bags to keep the smell from taking over his classroom.
We like the concept: Scratch your designs and then light them up. However, once you've used all the black paper, it's not necessarily easy to quickly buy more refills. Plus, we just can't get past that smell.
"Overall I had to give it an 'F-,'" said Todd.
Talking Ben, inspired by the popular smart phone app, comes to life in stuffed animal form. Todd notes kids enjoyed playing in small groups where they could share the laughs, not alone.
"$15 is a good price," said Todd.
Ben the repeating dog barks to an 'A.'
Finally, the newest tablet so many of you are wondering about: Innotab 2 from VTech. It turns out the added features, especially the camera, spelled out hours of fun.
"It had games, video and pictures," said another first-grader.
Todd believes if you already own an adult tablet, like the iPad, your kids can do more with that than this tablet. If you don't, the $80 price tag is a great option. The learning games it comes loaded with are fun and educational.
"I gave it an 'A.' It's affordable. The kids like it. It has expandable memory," said Todd.
Innotab 2 easily clinches the top spot with an 'A+' on this Does it Work toy test.
Read more on earlier rounds of toy testing: