As your kids are getting ready to go back to school or maybe go to school for the first time, they're sure to be prepared for learning with many hours with an educational toy like LeapFrog. But toys and games that help kids learn while they play are nothing new. We look back at 5 classic educational toys that were actually fun to play.

  • Speak & Spell

    Speak & Spell was introduced in 1978 and was revolutionary due to the speech synthesizer that allowed the machine to talk to the children using it. Speak & Spell was used to teach commonly misspelled words via simple word games built into the device. The Speak & Spell may be best remembered in 'E.T. The Extra Terrestrial' as E.T. uses the Speak & Spell as part of a communications device.

  • Merlin

    What if a cordless phone and a Gameboy had a child? Perhaps it would have turned out like Merlin. The game, which was released in 1978, is considered the first true hand-held gaming device. What was educational about Merlin? It taught music via its Music Machine feature where the buttons were turned into musical notes. Other modules included tic-tac-toe and a memory game similar to Simon.

  • Speak & Read

    Another from the "Speak &" series from Texas Instruments is Speak & Read. As the name suggests, this game was the next step up from spelling as putting words in context for reading and comprehension. Speak & Read came out a few years after Speak & Spell and was intended for children up to age 8 who were beginning to read.

  • Little Professor

    Little Professor may be the most confounding calculator ever. That's because Little Professor was a calculator in reverse. Instead of solving math problems for you, it would present you with the equation and you get points for punching in the answer. Little Professor did basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

  • Speak and Math

    Another math teaching toy was the final Texas Instruments "Speak &" game, Speak & Math. Grey in color as opposed to the red and yellow of Speak & Spell and Speak & Read, and also included a keyboard that was geared toward numbers rather than word games. Speak & Math was an evolution from TI's Little Professor and Dataman calculator games.

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