As I’m finalizing my holiday gift guides much later than I hoped, I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude. With Thanksgiving just a few days away and all, I have so much to be thankful for—our health and happiness at the top of my list.
We make it a habit to start AND end our days with books. Like many of you, books will always play a huge role in our family life, but unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone.
Did you know that over 80 percent of childcare centers serving low-income children lack age-appropriate books? And a recent study shows that the ratio of books per child in middle income neighborhoods is 13 to 1, while in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.
Things have been hectic around here lately. Besides my packed schedule of events, I’ve been working on my Holiday Gift Guide (WITH giveaways!) that will be revealed next week. In the meantime, I thought I’d post a quick gift idea.
Via Blogspark, Crayola sent us the 150-count Telescoping Crayon Tower to test out and review. At first I was reluctant about opening up this package because my guy is notorious for destroying anything that comes in large quantities. But surprise, he proved me wrong!
Because of the cool telescoping feature, my toddler was amazed at how the tiers could collapse. It’s easy to turn and reveal the tiers and just as easy to collapse to put them away. This set, which is a nice departure from the yellow and green cardboard box that seems to break down so quickly, includes a crayon sharpener on the top tier. The $15 set also includes 118 regular crayons, 16 metallic FX crayons and 16 glitter crayons making the largest set of Crayola crayon colors ever.
I love the easy storage and assortment of crayons. And better yet, I love how this set includes a code for printing accessibility for the Lights, Camera and Color online application—what a fun bonus! Thanks to the novelty of the telescoping feature, we’ve yet to lose or break any crayons, which is quite an achievement! This set would make a perfect gift, and is suitable for preschoolers and older.
Crayola and Blogspark is offering one reader a Crayola 150-count Telescoping Crayon Tower!
To enter, just tell me your favorite Crayola Crayon color! Feel free to enter multiple times by sharing your favorite colors and/or by sharing on any social networking site!
The spookiest time of year has finally arrived! Happy Halloween, everyone! As you put the finishing touches on the kid’s costumes (or if you’re like me, haven’t even started your own) let’s not forget the importance of safety. According to a report I read, statistics show that pedestrians are twice as likely to be struck by a car on Halloween night as they are the rest of the year. Not only are cars a concern, but so is the potential of getting lost.
There are plenty of sites and articles that offer advice on how to keep safe this weekend, but I thought I’d add my own two cents as well! Read More
A few weeks ago, together with some other parenting bloggers and members of the media, Earth’s Best invited me to attend a luncheon at Rouge Tomate in honor of their 25th anniversary. Even though I spent most of the luncheon being a mom since the kid was having a tough time in the childcare area, I missed most of the presentations, but did get to hear snippets of about Earth’s Best history and future.
Happy Music Monday, everyone! It’s a new week and Nickelodeon is rolling out fresh new episodes of the Fresh Beat Band starting today, Monday, October 19 to Thursday, October 22 at noon. As if new episodes aren’t enough, the preschool music series will also feature a new music video every Friday from Oct. 16 through Oct. 30.
Crayola had all kinds of fun goodies at the Holiday Showcase, but one simple and clever innovation in particular shows just why this company is associated with generations of creativity. With a new web application called Lights, Camera, Color, Crayola is once again thinking outside of the box—literally.
After uploading photos, the Lights, Camera, Color application gives kids a chance to print, color and customize their creations. Whether they’re photos from family gatherings, vacations, fun outings, field trips, birthday parties—you name it—kids can create their very own coloring pages.
Do you have a budding fashion designer at home? At the Holiday Showcase, I spotted the perfect toy/activity for fashion-minded girls. Ban Dai has recently introduced Harumika, which is an activity set that allows girls to play fashionista with a dress form, stylus, swatches of stylish fabric and accessories.
With the included stylus, girls can tuck and fold fabric into the dress form and accessorize as they please. It’s so simple and the possibilities are endless. I love that here’s no cutting involved, just pure imagination and creativity. It’s such a cool idea, I wish I had a set like this as a kid. We had fashion plates growing up, but Harumika is a fun way for girls to harness their creativity, and to use their hands to cultivate their designs and fashion ideas without all the mess.
Like many cool toys I noticed at the showcase, Harumika has an online and interactive presence. With the Harumika USB camera, you can upload images and have a runway fashion show! If your tween is all about being creative and into fashion, Harumika is definitely worth checking out!
Harumika can be found at Target and Toys “R” Us.
I have a really cute starter set up for grabs that I had the chance to check out for review! (The fabric set I have is different than pictured.)
Please comment below and tell me the name of any of the Harumika products. Each product counts as an entry. If you choose to share on any social networking site, that counts for extra entries as well!
I actually never saw the Zhu Zhu Pets at the showcase, and to be quite honest, that may have been on purpose. Besides cats and dogs, I’m just personally not a fan of small, furry things scurrying around—motorized or not. But that’s just me. Zhu Zhu Pets are cute little things and perhaps the next best thing to having a real live hamster around the house. Zhu Zhu Pets are motorized, interactive (they squeak and chirp among other sounds,) can play in their habitats and can enjoy fun accessories such as a wheel and skateboard. These are so popular that the Associated Press said that Toys R Us and Wal-Mart can barely keep them on the shelves. After a quick glance at the TRU website, as of today, it looks like they’re out of stock of the pets themselves but it looks like they still have a 3-count set of pets on pre-order that’s set to ship in early December. The pets, themselves, retail for about $8-10 and the activity sets and accessories are $10 and up.
Dora’s Explorer Girls
This new line of Dora toys were some of toys that I was most excited about seeing. I wanted to see for myself what all the controversy was about with her new look. I have to tell you, she’s still cute and sassy, and still age-appropriate for the range that she’s supposed to target. The thing about this line of Dora dolls is that she’s growing up with the kids who grew up watching her. The dancing Dora had on a dress that looked like something that she’d wear to a fancy party or Quincenera. She did a simple dance and got up on her tippy toes, as seen on the video above.
The other Dora doll that I checked out was Dora Links, which is a doll that, you guessed it, links to a computer. You can create and renew her look by just clicking a few buttons on the computer. I watched Dora go from a brown-eyed girl to a green-eyed girl, and from no lipgloss to all made up (though her lit up red “glossed” lips were a bit strange looking to me). In addition to being interactive, Dora Links is multilinguaI, diverse and pretty cool; I thought Dora Link’s interactive features was an interesting innovation to a favorite doll and character. I saw so many more techy type toys that were geared for boys that I think Dora Links stood out for me, being geeky and all.
If you read regularly, then you must already know how I feel about Battle Strikers from Mega. Battle Strikers made the list for good reason. We dig it! Oh, and so can you!
Check out my review and giveaway. I will be upping the ante and adding a second winner! Though I don’t have another Tournament Set to give away, I have a bunch of Battle Strikers for the second winner. Comment on the review if you want to win. As always, I choose the winners at random and will email the winners directly, so make sure you include a valid email!
One exciting toy that’s worth buzzing about is Battle Strikers by Mega Brands. This new toy, which was released earlier this year, is already being called a “breakout toy” by Chris Byrne, AKA The Toy Guy.
So, what is it? An updated and exciting version of the classic spinning top, Battle Strikers takes it to the next level with battery-operated launchers, unique and superfast Strikers and a tournament arena. After being launched, the lightning-fast Battle Strikers can be navigated by magnetic finger Controllers, adding even more excitement to the playing field. Battle Strikers is a simple concept that Mega Brands has revved up to offer a kid-controlled battle system
Mega Brands gave us the chance to test out the Tournament Set, so I enlisted the help of my 12-year old nephew who is no stranger to battle systems. The Tournament Set, which retails for $35, comes with two Launchers, two Controllers, two Strikers and a battle arena. Starter kits and single Strikers are also available.
Upon first impression, as a mom to a little guy, I balked at all the small pieces that Battle Strikers included. (The suggested age range is for 6 years and up) But once the actual Strikers were constructed, it all made so much more sense to me. The Launchers, Controllers and Strikers are all boldly colored and appear to be durable enough to withstand countless battles. The arena is a basic plastic square with walls that allow for enough room for the Strikers to battle, but still be controlled. There are a few great YouTube videos that showcase Battle Strikers in motion, but I love how candid this one is:
As I mentioned, the premise of Battle Strikers is simple, with new technology and engineering for a new generation. There are 12 different Strikers, which all have their own character and strengths, differing in attack, defense and control. Kids can collect and interchange the different Striker pieces to customize and enhance their battles. The Strikers easily click into the bottom of the Turbo Launchers. The Launcher, which channels a joystick of sorts, accelerates the Strikers by pushing a trigger on the handle. The Launcher releases the Strikers by bumping the opponent’s Launcher or tapping the top of your own. Once things are in motion, it’s pretty empowering to be able to navigate and strategize with the magnetic Finger Controller. (Don’t get let the Controller get too close to the Striker because the magnet will pick it up. I know this one firsthand!) The object is to keep your Striker in motion, and the last Striker standing wins.
One thing my nephew kept mentioning is that Battle Strikers reminded him of Beyblades, another battling top sort of toy. From the research I did, it seems like Beyblades has a very loyal following, many of whom seem to have mixed opinions of the new Battle Strikers. I remember buying my nephew a few Beyblades toys when he was into them, but from what I can tell now, they seemed to have fizzled since I haven’t heard much about them. With its powerful launchers and 12 different customizable Strikers and Finger Controllers, Battle Strikers will likely have its own loyal following!
Battle Strikers is a fun new game that involves imagination, competition, strategy and speed, and one that I think older boys will love. Battle Strikers is likely to land on a lot of Christmas gift lists this year, and don’t be surprised if you hear even more buzz on these soon!