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K-5th Grade
5th-7th Grade
Dear Marianne:

How can you tell if these holiday "hot toy" lists are credible or just advertising?

Shelley, New York, NY, Mom of Luke (4) and Max (18 months)
The best way to approach a "hot" toy list is to read it for information and not as a shopping list. Most of these lists have little or no research behind them. To determine if a list is credible or not, look for these red flags.

1. The list is based purely on opinion. Anyone can have an opinion.
There are more scientific ways to evaluate toys.

2. Kids are billed as toy experts. Children are toy consumers, not toy

3. The list contains nothing but descriptions of the toys. That's a
hint there was never really any testing or evaluation.

World of Wonders
by Spencer Christian

  Where in the world do you live? I mean that LITERALLY – where, in this big space called the universe, do you live? Well, for starters, your "planetary" address is Earth. And how much do you know about the natural forces that are constantly at work on your planet? Do you ever wonder how clouds form, why the sky is blue, what makes the wind blow? Or, do you wonder what causes earthquakes, why volcanoes erupt, how lightning strikes?

  In this column called the "World of Wonders", I will regularly provide answers to questions like the ones above; and I'll describe experiments, which you can perform at home and at school, that will show you vividly how the wondrous and powerful forces of nature work to keep our planet "alive". And, from time to time, we'll venture out beyond our own planet to examine the awesome spectacle of the universe.

World of Wonders Columns

Build Your Own Erupting Volcano!
Hail – Rain That Really Hurts!

Spencer Christian's "World of Wonder" Books
available at

How To...

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