Best Toys for 1 Year Olds + Diapers.com Giveaway

Even on the heels of Toy Fair, we always have toys on our minds. With a friend’s baby turning 1 soon, I was inspired to create a round up of the best toys for 1 year olds. I scoured Diapers.com to curate some of our tried and true favorite toys for 1 year olds.

From ride-ons to classic toys to techy toys, I gathered our favorites based on play value, durability, accessibility and whether my kids or kids we know loved them!

From ride-ons to classic toys to techy toys, I gathered our favorites based on play value, durability, accessibility and whether my kids or kids we know loved them!

1. Manhattan Toy Snuggle Bunny Baby Doll

ManhattanToySnuggleBunnyNKTTransitioning from baby to toddler, one year olds start to change their play patterns. According to KidsHealth.org, babies go from shaking and throwing toys to understanding functions of objects as a toddler. At one year old, kids start to play pretend, so toys that allow for nurturing and modeling behavior is always a hit. Manhattan Toy makes a myriad of interactive and beautiful toys such as the Snuggle Bunny Baby Doll ($17.) This soft and cuddly doll makes for a perfect first baby doll.

2. Plan Toys Sort and Count

PlanToysSortandCountStacking and nesting toys help toddlers develop hand-eye coordination, as well as cognitive development, according to an article on Cnn.com Simple, open ended stacking toys such as PlanToys’ Sort and Count allows kids to sort and stack the various pieces. This abacus-looking toy is made of Plan Toys’ planwood, organic rubberwood, e-zero glue, water-based dyes, recycled and recyclable materials, soy and water-based ink.

3. VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker

VTechSittoStandWalkerMany toddlers are learning to walk and toddling around at a year old, so walkers make a fun gift. This VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker offers a lot of play value with its many learning tools and interactive electronic features. VTech is so great at the electronic learning toys, but they’re also masters at creating toys that grow with kids. This walker can be used for kids in a more stationary pattern, as well as for those who are cruising and walking.

4. Melissa and Doug Large Shapes Knob Puzzle

MelissaandDougKnobPuzzleAccording to Learning4kids, puzzles help toddlers with important skills such as cognitive, fine motor, hand and eye coordination, problem solving, social and self esteem. Wooden puzzles from Melissa and Doug provide fun play patterns for toddlers to co-play and enjoy independence. I love the knob puzzles for toddlers, to give them extra help grasping these chunky pieces. Classic puzzles are timeless and perfect for curious problem solvers.

5. B Toys Fish Splish Boat

BtoysSplishFishBoatGood bath toys are the best for toddlers! I love the colors and creativity that B Toys inspires. This fun boat that can be used in the bath has a number of fun features that help toddlers explore bathtime and the environment around them. From the fishing pole, fish, captain and little rudder, this cool boat helpstoddlers with imaginative play while getting cleaned up.

6. Step 2 Whisper Ride II

Step2WhisperRideIIAs the winter starts to fade to warmer spring and summery days, ride-on toys will be all the craze. Step 2 are pros at the ride-on and outdoor toys, and the Whisper Ride II is one of my all time favorites. This push car is perfect for going on strolls in the neighborhood without the restraints of a stroller. Toddlers can pretend to steer while driving their ride, all the while mom or dad navigates with the handle. The Whisper Ride features a seatbelt, small storage compartment and cup holders.

 

 

 

There are so many awesome toys for 1 year olds on Diapers.com, and these are just a small sampling of their selection. Do you have a favorite toddler toy? What makes you and your kid love it so much?

Giveaway

Want to grab a few new toys of your own? We have a $50 gift certificate to Diapers.com up for grabs. Tell me what your favorite toddler toy is and why! Share your comment below.

For even more entries, check out the giveaway below to win a  Diapers.com gift certificate. This giveaway will be open for a week, so be sure to enter!

 

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Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post in partnership with Nakturnal, with a gift certificate as a prize. As always, all opinions on NKT are mine. Thank you for supporting The Next Kid Thing.

New Year, New Toys, New Toy Storage

Hi everyone! I hope your the New Year has been kind and generous to you thus far! I’m still reeling from the Holidays and our trip back home. 

To be honest, we’ve been home a week and I’m still wrapping my brain around purging BEFORE I can unpack completely. I’ve been pinning playroom storage, office organization and overall de-cluttering. I’ve bought several new containers to organize, but the fact of the matter is, I need to sit and figure out what we’re keeping, what I’m selling and what we’re donating.

Since I’m writing about it, it’s GOING to happen. ha! We’ll see about that! But, before I get to it, I wanted to post some of the ideas I’ve had about playroom organization.

IKEA Cubbies and Bins

I think the cubby and bin storage system is a popular one for many playrooms, possibly because it’s easy to maintain and affordable. We have something similar to Kallax from IKEA and I’ve put various Threshold bins to store toys.

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I’ve found that with this system, however, that my kids tend to “forget” about toys if they can’t see them. That said, I’m going to start labeling the bins with words and images or pictures. I’m going to try stock logos and images first to see how Josh does with this. Since he doesn’t read yet, and is the biggest mess offender, finding what works for him is the most important.

 

Nerf Peg Board Wall

As you may know, we are huge Nerf fans at our house. We had a big Nerf party and of course, these guns continue to be among the most played-with toys. Even though storage is limited, I still got Jack a giant Nerf gun for Christmas. Y’know, to add to the 30 other giant guns that litter our living room and playroom. 

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Source: Imgur
I decided a few ago to get the gun madness into control. I want Jack to enjoy the guns and invite him to play whenever he wants, but I don’t want to step all over them and continue finding rogue bullets in my kitchen cabinets. 

I’ve seen various ways of Nerf gun storage, but the peg wall is byfar my favorite. The above photo isn’t mine, but it was shared on Imgur. It looks accessible and streamlined. As with any organization method however, I’m sure it only works well if it’s actually implemented. I’ll report back when we finally put our gun storage together!

Closet Rack for Games

I’ve written about this before, but I like keeping our board games in the closet in a fabric organizer. I have to help with this storage method, but for the most part it works.Playroom I try to keep the older games up high and the younger games and puzzles down low so Josh can access those. Without fail, though, it gets messed up over time. But, when I do keep up with it, this system seems to work. I’m going to comb through the games today actually to donate and purge games that have missing pieces or haven’t been played with in awhile. We get so many games to review that I have to do this regularly.

Do you have any playroom organization hacks? What storage systems do you use? I want to hear ‘em!

It’s my hope that the kids can actually play in here again, rather than this being a storage room. In a perfect world, we’d have enough room to film videos for our toy reviews! Fingers crossed. I’m going to tackle the madness, so wish me luck!

Toy Fair 2016 Round up: Lion Guard toys and more

Toy Fair 2016 has, once again, come and gone. As always, I love seeing and enjoying all the awesome new and upcoming toys. As video continues to gain so much momentum in the blog/vlog world, I was sure to upload videos over there while I was at Toy Fair. One of my videos has gotten so many hits already, and of course, it’s one of the poorer quality videos. I think I uploaded it at 2am after walking the show floor all day. In my haste and exhaustion, I uploaded the non-HD version. boo.

But as promised, I wanted to share some better quality photos of Lion Guard toys from Just Play. This playset was one of my absolute faves.

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From the looks of it, Lion Guard toys is one of the more popular toy lines, as well as Paw Patrol and Shopkins. All the new toys are so fun, but according to the searched items on YouTube, those were the things people were searching for most. 

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and blind bags are always awesome! Too cute.

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I’ll share more photos as I upload them, but be sure to check out my Toy Fair videos on YouTube in the time being!

 

What to See and Do at Play Fair in NYC + ticket giveaway

For the first time ever, kids will be heading to Javits Center in NYC for Play Fair on Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14. Presented by Nickelodeon and Lego, Play Fair will allow kids and families to experience the latest and greatest toys, as well as meet fun characters and YouTube personalities. 

Play Fair, hosted by Toy Industry Association and Leftfield Media, will be taking place alongside of the International Toy Fair, the annual trade show for industry professionals. Because it is a trade show, kids are not allowed to walk the showroom of Toy Fair. Play Fair, however, was designed for kids and families to experience new toys and then some. Hasbro, Mattel, Marvel, Cartoon Network, Crayola, Bandai, Toys R Us and Warner Bros will be onhand at Play Fair showcasing the coolest toys.

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My family will be onsite with me on Sunday to check out all the goodies! Though we get to check out cool new toys regularly, fun experiences like this excite my guys to no end. My 8 year old will likely be in amazement of his favorite YouTubers. While my 4 year old will most likely go nuts over the entire thing! As for me, I can’t wait to let loose and check out the fun. Toy Fair is work for me, so I’m taking videos, tons of photos and taking notes. Play Fair with kids and families will most certainly add a totally different perspective to Toy Fair itself!

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So, here’s what you’ll get to see and do at Play Fair:

•       Check out the new Batmobile from Warner Bros. Pictures’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in theaters March 25, 2016

•       Slide down the exclusive PAW Patrol slide, snap photos with PAW Patrol costume characters Chase, Marshall, Skye and Rubble, and get an exclusive look at the newest PAW Patrol pup, Tracker, who will join the series this fall

•       Join Hasbro for the ultimate lightsaber training session! With the help of the Empire Saber Guild, get a hands-on learning experience about lightsaber forms and techniques

•        Build a LEGO car and race it down a ramp against other LEGO builders

•        Explore the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tunnels and mimic their favorite Turtle moves with Magic Mirror technology

•        Gross out with an epic booger battle, experience the slimy, gross play of Booger Balls for the first time by picking and flicking them at Booger Ball targets

•       Enjoy the interactive Thomas & Friends experience by Mattel

•       Create their own toy review videos and have chances to win Toys“R”Us gift cards

•       Test out the latest from NERF in the NERF arena

•       Test out the newest Razor rides, like Jetts, the new sparking Heel Wheels, and other awesome Razor rides like the Power Core E90, Crazy Cart and RipSurf

•       Purchase exclusive collectible toys

•       And every attendee will receive a gift bag with toys and fun goodies from event sponsors

 

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Play Fair’s live performances and appearances include:

•       Meet and take photos with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shimmer and Shine, SpongeBob SquarePants, the Miraculous Ladybug and Cat Noir, Chase and Marshall from PAW Patrol, Dora, Saban’s Power Rangers Dino Super Charge, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, and more

•       The cast of Nickelodeon’s hit show Game Shakers – Cree Cicchino (Babe), Madisyn Shipman (Kenzie), Thomas Kuc (Hudson), Benjamin Flores Jr. (Triple G), and Kel Mitchell (Double G) – will host a panel on Saturday to debut their new app, Nasty Goats

•       Jon Scieszka, best-selling author behind The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, will read from his Frank Einstein science book series

•       All-ages comic creators Art Baltazar, Franco Aureliani, Abby Denson, Dave Roman, Matt Loux, and Misako Rocks! will sketch and sign their books for fans

•       Meet Toys“R”Us mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, enjoy story time and participate in fun birthday-themed activities

•       Take in episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors, We Bare Bears, and Teen Titans Go! on a massive movie screen

•       Take photos with Shopkins mascot characters, including Strawberry Kiss and Lippy Lips, and color your favorite Shopkins characters

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•       LEGO Master Builder Erik Varszegi presents insider tips on creating LEGO masterpieces 

•       The girls of Make it Pop will reveal their new fashion doll series on February 14. Join them on the Toys“R”Us stage at 11:30 a.m. for an exclusive interview, live performance and a chance to meet the cast

•       YouTube personalities including DisneyCarToys, Mommy and Gracie Show, and KittiesMama will meet with fans and host toy unboxings live on the Toys“R”Us stage

Buy Tickets

Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at PlayFairNY.com/tickets Family packs with a small discount are available online as well. Morning sessions run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and afternoon sessions are open from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

 

Giveaway

And thanks to my friends at KidzVuz, I have a family four pack of tickets for Play Fair to giveaway! Make sure you visit my awesome friends at KidzVuz at booth #156 at Play Fair!

Enter below! Good luck! This giveaway will end on Friday night 2/12 so the winner can be notified.

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Be sure to follow my coverage of Toy Fair from Saturday February 13 to Monday February 15! I’m @jenrab on Twitter, Periscope and Instagram. I’ll have photo and vids up on the Next Kid Thing Facebook page, and I will snap some Snapchat photos too! I’m jen_rab on Snapchat

 

Coolest Star Wars Toys from Hasbro

Like so many of you, we are in total Star Wars mode these days. In honor of the long awaited debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I thought I’d share some of the new Star Wars toys from Hasbro. Back in September, my family was invited to the Global Day of Play where bloggers and other media were invited to play with all of the newly released Star Wars toys. I can’t even begin to describe how excited we all were to geek out with these awesome toys.

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Hasbro has a huge selection of Star Wars-branded toys, ranging from toys for preschoolers in their Playskool line to board games to role playing games to cool items for collectors. Because there’s something for Star Wars fans of all ages, my entire family loved being among the first ones to get a look at the Next Kid Things from Hasbro.  

 

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There was so much to see and try out, but our favorites include:

Playskool Heroes Star Wars Series

I love the Playskool Heroes Star Wars Series because of its chunky characters and easy to handle vehicles and accessories. Preschoolers like my little guy love these Star Wars sets because they’re more age-appropriate and perfect for open-ended creative play. ($4.99-39.99)

Blade Builders
My older Star Wars fan loved creating his own powerful Lightsaber with the Blade Builders set. By connecting and twisting various different weapons, young Jedis can create their own custom Lightsaber that boasts realistic sounds to be used in battle. ($49.99)

Play-Doh Can Heads

My Play-Doh fanatic can’t get enough of the Star Wars themed Can Heads. I love the way the cans become characters and can be included in open play patterns. Little Padawans can mold and sculpt their favorite Star Wars shapes with these fun sets. ($9.99-19.99)

 Kylo Ren Black Series Lightsaber
This super sleek lightsaber is geared to the collectors and die hard fans. It has solid features, light effects, movie sound effects, 3 blades and metal hilt. ($199.99)

Star Wars Mr. Potato Head
What better way to introduce Star Wars to the toddler and preschool set than with the iconic Mr. Potato Head toys. Mr. Potato Head takes on the Dark Side with all the coolest Star Wars accessories. Choose from Frylo Ren, Darth Tater, Spud Trooper and more. ($9.99-19.99) 

BB-8
Ok, so, like everyone else, we want BB-8 for ourselves. Biggie loved maneuvering the RC BB-8 and had a great time navigating the Dark Side obstacle course. This BB-8 boasts movie-accurate sounds and expressive droid sounds, just as one would imagine.

We absolutely loved getting our hands on all of these fun toys. To say we were over the moon with excitement at the Global Day of Play was a total understatement. Check out the highlights from the Star Wars Global Day of Play to see these toys and more in action! Biggie was so giddy to train with a Jedi and Littles, my Play-Doh fanatic, LOVES Can Heads!

 

 

 I truly can’t pick a fave, the whole day was such a treat. If you’re Star Wars fans like we are, I have no doubt that some of these fun goodies are on those wish lists. 

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Thank you to Hasbro for hosting us at the Star Wars Global Day of Play.

Kicking off the Holidays in Style with Momtrends

It’s been a yearly tradition to kick off my holiday season with my friends at Momtrends their Annual Holiday Soiree. This year, they celebrated their 5th annual event!

Nicole Feliciano, the trend-spotting and style savvy founder of Momtrends, has a true knack for gathering the most influential voices in the Tri-State and beyond. Every event is filled with fabulous brands and amazing products, and this year’s Soiree was no exception.

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Momtrends’ Holiday Soiree featured a myriad of brands who help make the season brighter, ranging from Cabi to Pom Wonderful.

Epson showcased their Ecotank printer that boasts high quality prints and photos, and an impressive printing capacity. Apparently, with this printer, you don’t have to change the tanks for 2 years! My blogger pals and I had a blast posing in the backdrop and we even took some Epson prints home!

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The Cabi fashion show was a highlight of the night. It was so lovely to see Cabi’s functional styles on real women, including my friend, Divina of DancingHotDogs.com. The cape and tailored skirt makes for a polished look for the holidays!

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Telaflora once again showcased their beautiful flowers, which would be perfect as centerpieces or hostess gifts. Among the beautiful red and white arrangements, I really loved the Peanuts collection!

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While hanging out with friends, we noshed on the various snacks dipped in Tessemae’s sauces and sipped on Pom-tinis. The all natural sauces from Tessemae’s has quite the back story. Some brothers began bottling the salad dressing upon realizing the true demand of their mom’s delicious recipes. Many years later, these dressings are available at Whole Foods, among other retailers.

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With pomegranates in season right now, it was great to taste various cocktails with this delicious fruit. After learning how to open this delicious fruit, I’m excited to include it in more recipes and snacks!

What are delicious beverages without containers to serve and transport them? I loved learning all about Igloo’s latest products, including that very cool party tub! As a major sports family, we use those Igloo coolers and containers incessantly!

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On to the baby and kid stuff:

I always love seeing my friends from Hasbro showcases their awesome toys. Hasbro was in the house and had their classic games to highlight. They have so many fun toys and games this holiday season, but it’s the classics that make family time so fun.

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I loved learning all about Bedgear and their very cool textile technology. This company makes waterproof crib sheets, wicking pillowcases, among other cool products. They were super cozy and perfect for napping after Turkey dinner.
 

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Perhaps one of my favorites of the night was Mudpuppy! As a kid product enthusiast, I loved the aesthetic and range of innovative books, games and other stationery product from Mudpuppy. IMG 0105

From the cool chalk board posters to the magnetic puzzle kits, I am totally smitten with this fabulous brand. And as luck would have it, I won a very generous prize kit from Mudpuppy as part of the evening’s raffle. Though I’m unlucky in so many other aspects, somehow, my luck balances out whenever I attend Momtrends’ events. So, thank you to the Momtrends team and to Mudpuppy for this awesome prize kit! After sharing a separate review on the products, I will be making a donation to the children’s hospital for kids to enjoy while receiving treatment.

Thank you, as always, to the Momtrends team for including me in such a lovely event. It’s always an honor to be included with so many smart and savvy women! Be on the lookout for more thorough reviews of more products spotted at the Holiday Soiree!

Top Toys of 2015

From Toy Fair in February to recent holiday media events, I’ve been scouting toys and trends all year for The Next Kid Thing. I have several lists in the works, but before the biggest shopping day of the year kicks off, I wanted to share some of the coolest toys that I think might be the big sellers this season.

I put this list together based on the play value, my kids’ reaction, price point as well as accessibility. I’ve been checking out the toys’ popularity online and in person and have compiled, what I think, might be some of the hottest sellers this season. Some obvious picks did not make my list because the supply is more accessible or the price is out of reach for many people.

Keep an eye out for more of our picks. Until then, I present The Next Kid Thing Top Toys for 2015.

 

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1. Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train

 This is the latest version of Vtech’s popular Alphabet Train. The multi-phase toy is intuitive and is perfect for tots who are sitting, toddling or already on the go. I love that this toy grows with kids and offers so many different types of educational play and function. On sale, I’ve spotted this great toy in the $40 range.

 

2. Bright Beats Dance and Move Beatbo

Beatbo first caught my eye at Toy Fair because of its bright and simple aesthetic. Beatbo dances, sings and has engaging educational games, perfect for curious toddlers. Beatbo can be found at major retailers for $35.

 

3. Paw Patrol Interactive Mission Chase

 Chase has all kinds of features, making him quite the hot commodity. Chase is bigger in size and has cool details for making missions easier. Paw Patrol toys, in general, are popular, so make sure to pick up Chase before he becomes hard to find later in the season. This Chase is #1 on my little guy’s list.

 

4. Paw Patrol Patroller

This Paw Patroller vehicle holds 3 vehicles when closed and several more when opened, making it an ideal gift for Paw Patrol mega-fans. This cool vehicle has multiple functions and landed on several top toys’ lists, and will certainly be another popular toy this season. Head’s up: Target currently has a 20% off Promo on toys. Head to their site to take advantage of this deal.

 

5. Shopkins

Just like it’s been all year, expect anything Shopkins to be super popular this holiday season. Right now, playsets and blind bags are in stock, but expect anything Shopkins to be a must-have for kids who appreciate these super cute collectibles. I love this Ice Cream Truck!

 

6. Clever Keet

Little Live Pets have been a favorite for animal lovers, and Clever Keet is no exception. This clever guy can chat and respond to your voice. He dances and even rides his little cart. 

7. American Girl Grace Thomas

The 2015 Girl of the Year Grace Thomas encourages savvy kids to pursue big ideas and embrace the business world. Available for only one year, the Grace collection includes an18-inch Grace doll featuring long dark-brown hair and blue eyes, plus several French-inspired outfits, accessories, and toys that reflect her interests, such as the premium French Bakery Set with more than 60 pieces.

8. Girl Scouts Cookie Oven

The very cool Girl Scouts Cookie Oven is making quite the buzz this holiday season. With this fantastic toy, kids can bake their favorite Girl Scout cookie flavors at home while learning how to bake. 

9. Interactive R2-D2

With the upcoming release of the latest installment of Star Wars: the Force Awakens, it’s no surprise that Star Wars toys will be among the hottest toys this season. One toy that made our list of hot toys is Thinkways’ Interactive R2-D2. He projects images, turns his head while he talks, is voice-activated, among other cool features. With over 1000 programmable action combos, this smart toy will be a favorite for kids and adults alike.

10. BB-8 Sphero

BB-8 Sphero has been a hot Star Wars item since Force Friday earlier this year. This interactive droid is app-enabled and has voice-recognition, and has been dubbed the coolest Star Wars Toy by various outlets. Another toy that’s expected to be a popular multi-generational gift, this guy might be hard to find later in the season.

11. Lego Dimensions

Lego Dimensions joins the market as the latest toy to life video game. But this time, this video game has the clout of its beloved Lego franchise and characters to back up its foray onto consoles. From fun characters from the Lego Movie to classic superhero and cartoon figures, Lego Dimensions is already popular for kids and families. Since spotting it at the Kidz Vuz Back to School party, this game is #1 on my older guy’s list!
Head’s up: Lego Dimensions is featured on Target’s Cartwheel for 35% off for two more days, which makes it around $65. Combine this with an additional 5% off if you have Target RedCard. To compare: Toys R’ Us has Lego Dimensions on sale for $64.99 on Black Friday at 7am. 

12. LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum

LeapFrog’s latest LeapPad Platinum has some of the coolest features yet. It features a faster processor and crisp screen. In addition to the popular LeapFrog games and easy-to-navigate interface, the LeapPad Platinum features the unique and cutting-edge ImagiCard technology. My preschooler is obsessed with ImagiCard and I appreciate how reinforces counting, colors, alphabet, as well as tactile manipulation.

As of today, all of these toys are available in stores and online. Be sure to take advantage of pre-Black Friday sales and coupons which are proving to be cheaper than schlepping out to stores in the wee hours later this week.

Stay tuned for more gift ideas with all of my NKT Holiday Gift Guides!

 

 

Video: Happy Dance Snoopy from Just Play Toys

As I’m busy getting prepping this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I thought I’d share a video of one of my favorite toys that I spotted in my travels. Just Play Toys, one of my favorites, has some of the hottest toys this Holiday Season, including Happy Dance Snoopy! This fun plush toy dances to the iconic Peanuts theme song, while moving its feet and flopping his beagle ears! If you give him a smooch on his nose, he responds with a smooch, a laugh, a howl or a belch. Silly dog!

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As a huge fan of this franchise and the latest release, I think Just Play did the Peanuts franchise justice with this fun toy. At just $29.99, Happy Dance Snoopy is such a reasonable price point for this guy. There are several other fun toys in the line, but I’m so smitten with Happy Dance Snoopy. In a complicated time, it’s refreshing to divert happiness and fun to beloved characters who exude a free-spirited life! Check out Snoopy in action!

 

Whole Wide World Toys Village Playsets Introduce Diversity and Culture

Unearthing new and innovative toys is our favorite thing to do around here. When it comes to checking out new toys that help my kids grasp different cultures and diversity, I get down-right giddy.

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As a multicultural family living in not-so-diverse town, playing with toys that allow us to have healthy conversations about race, culture and to examine what makes us different is rather important. Whole Wide World Toys sent us some a set of their new World Village Playsets—China, and we’ve been enjoying learning about China and a culture that isn’t very familiar to us.

The World Village Playset is multi-faceted; it comes with a fabric playmat, a chunky wood puzzle with 13 pieces, a My China Travel Journal and 14 story cards. The set encourages culture with creative play, and that’s exactly what I found my kids to do upon opening the set.

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My youngest was immediately drawn to the playmat and wooden puzzle pieces, whereas my older son was intrigued by the cards and journal. The playmat and wooden puzzle pieces quickly turned into a scene where they made up a story and were able to interact with one another. We learned English translation of each item from the puzzle pieces and enjoyed the story, which gave us more insight.

I appreciate that this set encourages curiosity about different cultures and serves as a wealth of conversation starters. The amount of open-ended play that the set allows is great for younger kids, as well as older grade schoolers. I especially found this set to be a wonderful way to engage in speech and language with my younger son who has a speech disability.

 

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I totally visualize that this beautiful set could be used within a classroom setting to complement a lesson about China or at home for kids who are genuinely curious about culture. I can also see this Whole Wide World Toys to be a great resource for multiracial families like ours, or in a blended family where a child is adopted from a China or another country.

Overall, this well-made playset is an excellent tool that encourages culture, creativity and conversation about the world around us. You can find Whole World Wide Village Playsets on Amazon or at specialty retailers.

TTPM Spring Showcase Gifting Suite Haul

A few weeks ago, I attended TTPM’s Spring Showcase, where the latest and greatest for spring and summer toys were revealed. It’s always great to hear the experts’ opinions on the hot toys of the season.

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And this time around, hot toys range from outdoor toys, to ride on toys from Razor, to movie-inspired gear and goodies. Be sure to check out TTPM’s full lineup of this season’s hot toys.

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Like their other showcases, TTPM hosted a gifting suite where press and influencers receive samples of toys that might be relevant for their outlets. I met with all of the exhibitors, but typically only grab samples that are a fit for us. I let the boys do a haul of the samples I brought home with my usual sidebar comments! Be sure to head to our YouTube channel to check out the video!