Michael’s Top 10 Favorite Toys of the Season!

by Playmatters on December 5, 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Playmatters owner Michael Ziegenhagen shares his

Top 10 Favorite Toys of the Season.

1. Balance Blox


Balance Blox is a popular Slackline concept by Brand 44. It improves kids’ motor skills, concentration and body control. This fun and challenging activity builds self-confidence and is fun! $99.99

2. Gravity Maze

Gravity Maze 2

Got a little chin rubbing think time? This gravity-powered logic maze awaits. Ten translucent towers, 3 marbles and 60 challenges for beginner to master. ~$29.99

3. Doorway Puppet Theater

Puppet Theatre 1

The Haba Doorway Puppet Theater allows children to enter the magical world of puppet theater through this doorway transformer! Wonderful detail includes a top porthole for the announcer, a vibrant red curtain with tiebacks and a little pocket window marquis that announces the act. ~$49.99

4. Robot Turtles

Robot Turtles 2
The most-backed game in Kickstarter history lets little kids boss around the grown-up and learn the fundamentals of programming in the process. Kids are the Turtle Masters and direct an adult how to move their turtles to matching colored jewels. ~ $24.99

5. Snap Circuits MotionSnap Circuits Motion 1

If you have a budding physicist, scientist, electrician or tinkerer, chances are they’ve wondered about the effect of electronics on motion. This gift says, “Wonder no more!” What can be built? A lighted fan that changes colors, an air fountain, a motion detector, siren sounds, a mini car…the project list goes on and on. ~$79.99

6. Teeter PopperTeeter Popper Blue

This unique plastic marvel has suction cups underneath that go “pop, pop, pop!” as kids stand, sit, rock, tilt and wobble. To kids, it’s “extreme” physical fun. They’ll have no idea that they’re improving core strength, stability, balance, coordination, concentration and motor skills. ~$37.99

7. SpirographSpirograph Deluxe 1

This classic design toy has been redrawn to be better than ever. What results is the potential for millions of stunning, intricate geometric designs.~ $29.99

8. Tegu BlocksTegu 24 Piece Set Tints 2

Wooden blocks and magnets make up this gorgeous set which is  brought to life with safe, water-based tints. Safely embedded are magnets that defy gravity, click the pieces together and unleash creativity. ~ $64.99

9. Turbo Twister

Turbo Twister- Red 27 MHz 2

Do you know a rough-and-tumble, unstoppable, no-fear kind of kid? Well, here’s the perfect remote control stuntcar! Patented 360° front axle rotation gives this fierce machine the power to perform dozens of amazing stunts, outside on the pavement or inside on the carpet. ~$27.99

10. Twinkling Fire Fly

Twinkling Firefly Frog 2
This cuddly frog is a prince of a companion, with fireflies twinkling in its belly and two good-night sounds: crickets in the rain or a sweet lullaby song. ~$32.99

All of the featured toys are available at any Playmatters location and online at www.playmatterstoys.com.  We offer FREE gift wrapping with any purchase!

We hope you have a delightful holiday season and invite you to stop in and play!


Staff game night: more than fun and games

by Playmatters on November 19, 2014

Everyone had a favorite game!

While I don’t always stay awake long enough to watch an entire episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, when I want to take a break during the day, I enjoy watching YouTube videos of Fallon playing games with his celebrity guests.  Fallon simply cannot control his competitive spirit.  He laughs.  He pouts.  He jumps for joy.  His enthusiasm for play is contagious!

Recently, Playmatters owner Michael Ziegenhagen hosted his annual game for the management team from all four stores.  The goal of the event is for staff members to learn how to play multiple games –nearly 20 games in one evening! – and to understand what audiences might enjoy playing each game.

While there were no celebrities present or cameras rolling, the competitive spirit among staff members rivaled that of The Tonight Show.   No matter that some of the games were geared toward pre-school aged children, we each still wanted to win.  We wanted to learn and follow the rules.  We took turns.  We worked together, and, if we didn’t win, we accepted our losses and moved on to a new game. All of those are great skills for children to learn.  Collaboration.  Good sportsmanship.  Communication.  One of the best ways children can learn those sought-after skills is through playing games at home among family and friends.  Whether you host a regular or impromptu family game night, Playmatters offers games designed for all ages and interests.

Stop in and talk to any of our staff members about new and classic games at Playmatters.  We’re happy to share our favorite games but equally enthusiastic to show you games that we think you and your family will love to play!

About the author: Hudson Integrated Marketing Owner Michele Kisthardt can’t imagine a job that’s more fun than coordinating marketing for a toy store.  Her favorite new game is Context, a board game where players try to guess words through the association of icons.  It is available at Playmatters in Solon.


outbackray1Come to Playmatters in Mentor or Shaker Square to see Outback Ray present his amazing animals in a fun and educational show. Your child will learn about and safely interact with pythons, lizards, tortoises, chinchillas, parrots and more from Ray’s personal collection of hand-raised and hand-fed pets!

Also, save 20% before and after the show on “anything animal!” For example: an animal themed puzzle, a stuffed animal, or an animal themed craft!
This is a FREE event, but please call now to reserve your places! Also, bring chairs along for comfortable outdoor seating!

Saturday, July 12 at 10:00 am
Phone: 440-266-1909
Shaker Square: 

Saturday, July 12 at 12:00 pm
Phone: 216-752-3595



Celebrate Teddy Bear Picnic Day!

by Playmatters on July 10, 2014

Teddy Bear Picnic Day is July 10! Grab your teddy bears and check out these steps for the perfect picnic!


1. Find your favorite bear and spruce them up for the party! Brown, black, soft, fluffy: pick your favorite and dress them up. Make your own accessories or use small items like hats and scarves to create the perfect look!


2. Grab the grub! Bear claws, teddy grahams, honeycomb, cub cakes; get creative! Use ingredients like honey to satisfy your bear’s sweet tooth, or try this sample menu:


Beary Good Sandwiches: Use a bear cookie cutter to cut sandwiches into teddy bear shapes. You can serve peanut butter and jelly, cold cuts, or grilled cheese. Add eyes to the sandwiches using raisins or peanuts!



Orange Honey Smoothie: Blend together 1-1/2 cups of chilled vanilla soy milk, 6 ounces of frozen orange juice, 1 large peeled, ripe banana and 1/3 cup of honey. Add 8 ice cubes and blend on high speed until smooth and thick. Serve immediately.


Teddy Bear S’mores: Make s’mores trail mix with graham cracker teddy bears, small marshmallows and chocolate chips. Serve in small paper cups.


3. Pack your basket! Grab a basket or large tote and include all your goodies as well as fun games! Bring a blanket, parachute, Frisbee, anything else you will need for a fun afternoon!


4. Let the party begin! Dive into the party by snacking on your foods and interacting with all the furry friends! Play some bear-themed games to keep the fun rolling all afternoon. Check out these ideas:



Place all the Teddy Bears in the center of a parachute or large blanket. With all players firmly holding the edges, toss them up into the air. Whose Bear is going to go the highest? (See ‘Parachute Game Category’ for other games)



Play like a traditional relay race.

1. Form two or more teams. Each ‘team’ is given a stuffed bear.

2. Children line up and one by one run from one end of the course to the other while holding their bear. When they return to the staring point, they give the bear to the next child.

3. If the bear is dropped during the run, the player must return to the beginning and start over. The first team to have all players finish the race wins.



* Papa bear takes big steps

* Mama bear takes medium steps

* Baby bear takes baby steps

* Brother bear hops on both feet

* Sister bear hops on one foot

* Polar Bear walks on all four


5. Bed Time! After an exciting day of fun with your all your “beary” special friends, it’s time for them to go to sleep! Tuck them into their beds and cuddle up for nap time or bed time. What a great day!


Outback Ray in Solon!

by Playmatters on June 8, 2014

Come to Playmatters in Solon to see Ray present his amazing animals in a fun and educational show. Your child will learn about and safely interact with pythons, lizards, tortoises, chinchillas, parrots and more from Ray’s personal collection of hand-raised and hand-fed pets!

Also, save 20% before and after the show on “anything animal!” For example: an animal themed puzzle, a stuffed animal, or an animal themed craft!
This is a FREE event, but please call now to reserve your places! Also, bring chairs along for comfortable outdoor seating!
Solon: Thursday, June 12 at 6:30 pm
 Phone: 440-542-7200



Play Ball!

by Playmatters on June 6, 2014

Baseball season is in full swing! This American past time is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you attend games together and cheer for your favorite team or actually get in the game, we have some great toy and activity recommendations for anyone who loves the sport!


Spot It! (MLB edition) plays just like the classic matching game, but features the logos of major league teams, and assorted images of baseball icons and images. Players race to spot matches between their cards and their opponents cards in this exciting twist on the classic game.


Super Stadium provides realistic baseball action on a smaller scale. Spring loaded figures allow you to get hits while your opponent tries to strike you out by throwing pitches at different speeds. Find an opponent, round the bases, and rack up the hits with this exciting game!



Whether you want to play a game of Go Fish, Slap Jack, or another classic card game, these playing cards are perfect for any occasion! Baseball themed playing cards are ideal for on-the-go fun and are a great activity for the whole family to enjoy!


Kaskey Kids Baseball Action Figures feature a fully adjustable scoreboard that keeps the game as exciting and realistic as possible!  Comes in a stackable container with attached lid and handle.


Lazer Pitch Baseball from Diggin Active comes with a 27″ bat, pitching machine and 5 balls and features 4 pitching angles from fastballs to lobs to a 90 degree position for pop-ups.


These toys are sure to score a home run with baseball fans and players alike!  Now, let’s play ball!


Summer Fun Craft Schedule

by Playmatters on June 4, 2014

By now, you should have received your Playmatters Summer Catalog featuring great outdoor toy ideas, a Playmatters coupon, and a pull out activity schedule filled with Create it, Make it, Take it! summer classes.

Here are all of the exciting classes your child can enjoy this summer at Playmatters in Mentor, Solon, and Pepper Pike (all classes take place at 11 am):

Fabulous Stepping Stones!
Solon: Friday, June 13
Mentor: Wednesday, June 11Fabulous Stepping Stone
Pepper Pike: Saturday, June 14
All ages, $10/child

3-D Sparkly Fun
Solon: Tuesday, June 17
Mentor: Wednesday, June 18
Pepper Pike: Saturday, June 21
Ages 4 & up, $5/child

Solon: Tuesday, June 24
Mentor: Wednesday, June 25
Pepper Pike: Saturday, June 28
Ages 4 & up, $5/child

Zooming Critter Creations
Solon: Tuesday, July 1
Mentor: Wednesday, July 2
Ages 5 & up, $5/child

Design Your Socks Off!
Solon: Tuesday, July 8
Mentor: Wednesday, July 9
Pepper Pike: Saturday, July 12

Ages 5 & up, $5/childcreation2hi-res

Volcano Alert: Eruption Today!
Solon: Tuesday, July 15
Mentor: Wednesday, July 16
Pepper Pike: Saturday, July 19
Ages 6 & up, $10/child

Space-tastic Mosaics
Solon: Tuesday, July 22
Mentor: Wednesday July 23
Pepper Pike: Saturday, July 26
Ages 6 & up, $10/child

Fit for Royalty! Crowns to Color
Solon: Tuesday, July 29
Mentor: Wednesday, July 30
Pepper Pike: Saturday, August 2
Ages 4 & up, $5/child

PixelPops-The Hedgehog Way
Solon: Tuesday, August 5
Mentor: Wednesday, August 6
Pepper Pike: Saturday, August 9
Ages 6 & up, $5/child

Create a Master-Plate! For your Grandparents
Solon: Tuesday, August 12
Mentor: Wednesday, August 13
Pepper Pike: Saturday, August 16
Ages 3 & up, $12/child

Please call in advance to reserve your place and materials
for any – or all – of these classes.

SOLON: 440-542-7200
MENTOR: 440-266-1909
PEPPER PIKE: 216-464-2424


Grab Your Shovels and Celebrate Earth Day

by Playmatters on April 21, 2014

It’s time to celebrate Earth Day on April 22! What better way to mark the occasion than by starting a garden.

Benefits of Gardening

22991_B_SP14According to a study conducted by Youth and Environments Center for Research and Design, gardening has numerous benefits for children of all ages.

#1 Research suggests that children who have gardens tend to eat more fruits and vegetables because gardening promotes healthy eating and nutrition.

#2 Additionally, children who work with their parents in a garden tend to develop positive interpersonal relationships, cooperative efforts, nonverbal communication skills, and improved self-esteem.

#3 They also learn basic cognitive abilities such as order, grouping, and counting. Children benefit from the structured organization and timelines, and enjoy a sense of accomplishment when it comes time for harvesting.

Reap the benefits of what you sow! Grab a shovel and get gardening!


Hop into Spring!

by Playmatters on April 16, 2014

Are you looking for a wonderful alternative to jelly beans and other candy treats for your favorite children during Easter or Passover celebrations?
At Playmatters, we have several recommendations that are sweeter than candy…and even more ideas to share when you stop by any of our four locations.
Think outside the box!  A bunny and 4 big wooden blocks come together to create 60 fun challenges that help teach logic, problem solving and spatial dynamics.  For ages 2-4 years.  $25.99


Bashful Bluebell Bunny is no hot cross bun – she’s more of a blueberry cutie-pie!  Snuggly and warm, with soft ears, this tumbly bunny loves to roll in the meadow! For all ages.  $20 and up


In the IQ game series, this one is a winner. Eight pieces-and the object is to fit them all on the board…sounds easy, looks easy…but each piece has two layers that overlap. Your challenge is to fit the right piece in the right space and in the right sequence. 120 challenges, perfect for travel. For ages 8 yrs-adult.  $10.99


6 Toy Trends for 2014

by Playmatters on February 21, 2014

Playmatters owner Michael Ziegenhagen recently returned from Toy Fair 2014 in New York City.  At the show, the Toy Industry Association announced its official toy trends for 2014!toy industry associ

The first is “Larger Than Life.” 2014 will feature a lot of large-sized toys that pack “big” play value. And not all come with big price tags, either!

The second big toy trend for 2014 is “Frightfully Fun: Zombies, Monsters and More!” Zombies, monsters and ghouls are all the rage with kids of all ages. A lot of toys for younger kids have a storytelling component, making characters relatable and less scary, while many products for older boys and girls have a fun “gross out” factor.

It’s “Full STEAM Ahead!” for 2014! Toys that fall into this hot trend teach concepts and skills related to STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. These educational toys encourage kids’ interests in these subjects in a fun and engaging way.

This year you’ll be seeing a lot more Retro and Back-to-Basic toys, our 4th official trend for 2014. Today’s parents and grandparents fondly remembers these toys and are excited to share with the children in their lives. There are also a lot of traditional favorites, proving that classic play patterns remain just as popular as ever.

Our next 2014 hot toy trend is “RC Rampage.” This is definitely the year of the RC. Not only has the number of available remote-controlled toys grown, but the diverse range of RCs speaks to the innovation in the category.

The last toy trend for 2014 is what we call “Custom Built.” This trend takes the construction toy trend to a whole new level, featuring toys that let kids build and customize their own playthings to reflect their unique styles and imaginations.