Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review + MEGA Giveaway: LEGO StoryStarter and StoryVisualizer: Toys Tell the Best Stories

Use this curriculum and you will see less scenes like this in the classroom.
WHAT: LEGO Education's StoryStarter Core Set and StoryVisualizer and Curriculum Pack (Basically Everything)
DOES: Teaches storytelling and writing alongside Common Core Standards- dream curriculum!!!!
$115.95 for set and $124.95 (the curriculum need only be purchased ONCE by a school

AGES: 6+
EXPERTSAnnie Kim, Learning Expert Teacher at BASIS Independent Brooklyn, New York City (and the official Toys Are Tools Tutor!)

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: One extremely lucky winner will win both the StoryStarter Set and StoryVisualizer Program and Curriculum. Value $238!!!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review + Multi-Giveaway: Voice Dream Reader: The Must-Have Tool of 2014


Voice Dream Reader App -More Notes - an "after-show" following my article at Quartz

DOES: More photos, ideas, and observations about this incredible app.
$10, default voice included

AGES: 3+ ?
EXPERTS: Karen Janowski, Assistive Technology Consultant, & Nicole Kolenda, Speech and Language Pathologist,  Executive Clinical Director at the Atlas Foundation

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: There will be 10 winners!!! Woo-hoo! The first winner will get the On-Task On-Time Timer as well. (Giveaway is run by Toys are Tools- not Quartz)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review + Giant Giveaway: The Best Toys of Summer 2014

Looking for summer toys? We got you covered. Testers 1 + 2

WHAT: Preventing the Summer Slide- a follow up to my story at Forbes.com
DOES: More photos, ideas, and fun facts about my favorite top ten summer favorites.
$3 and up
AGES: these vary by product
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: One person will win pretty much everything mentioned here. I think its worth over $400... have to add that up soon.

BEFORE you read this, make sure you read my top ten list at Forbes.com.  I hope you come back because in this post, I'll be offering you more photos and commentary to help you make your picks this summer.

Do you believe that there exists something called the "Summer Slide?"  I wonder how real this problem is and what can be done about it.

All I know is that come September, I ask my eldest this question, "So what did you learn in school today?"  It's a typical September question, no? His response is also typical.  "We just review.  We are just reviewing this month."

This brings lots of questions to my head.

Are we really supposed to give kids 10-12 weeks off every summer?
Are average parents equipped to prevent kids from regressing during the summer months?
What is gained by children in the summer?
Are those gains, if any, worth the risk of allowing for an academic-free summer "vacation"?
Do parents ever use the summer to cement the learning that took place in the school year?
Why aren't standardized test scores ever used to help kids use the summer to catch up to their peers?
If kids are assigned summer homework, should the "review" part that takes at the beginning of the school year be taken out of the curriculum?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review+Giveaway: Managing Time is a Lifelong Skill- So Let's Get Started with Time Timer Plus & ZINGO! Time-Telling

WHAT: Time Timer PLUS  and ZINGO Time Telling

DOES: Excellent way to how time is always moving and to help measure that internally
INVEST: Game: 19.99; Timer: $37.95
AGES: Game 4+; Timer: Ages 2-102
TOOLS: Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Like An Executive, Flexibility is My Superpower
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: One Winner Receives Both the Game and the Timer!  Woo-hoo!

I think teaching time to kids is only half-done.  Time instruction mostly focuses on reading an analog clock and assess period in between two points in time. But why stop there?  Time is something that can help kids and adults be much more self-aware of their abilities and when people know themselves, they can stop comparing themselves to others and work on their own goals.

Do we ever ask kids describe what an hour feels like? And I'm so guilty of this: I tell my kids, "I'll be there in five minutes," but sometimes I'm not. Kids worry that a dreaded activity will go on forever because they don't really know what 45 minutes feels like but they may if you tell them, "That's like 2 episodes of Rabbids Invasion." Somehow, that is reassuring. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Guest Post: A Toy that Hugs is the Best Medicine

WHAT: Toys Are Tools First Ever Guest Post with Review
DOES:  Opportunity for us to get to know a very helpful book.
INVEST: $9-12 (depending on retailer); Chair: $85
AGES: For the Grown-ups

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: Get Your Own HowdaHug chair. 

From Jenn:
Seven years ago, I checked myself into the E.R. because I thought I was having a heartattack. It made no sense because my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were always good. But my chest was hurting and I could barely breathe.

But it wasn't a heart attack. Acutally, it was a panic attack. I think the stress of having Number 1 and Number 2 with all of the "not normal" and yet "advanced" things they were doing were making me crazy. I don't do well with mixed messages.  I started to wonder how bad were my kids' problems and was I good enough to deal with them? I decided to answer this question by writing a blog and through that I met others like me who wanted open dialogue on this issue.  With each blog post, we attempted to wash off all shame and fear and opened up our private lives in hopes that we'd be helped by being helpful.

One person I met on this journey turned out to be extremely helpful, building a support blog serving thousands of parents of children with ADHD.  She has since moved on to let her branches grow higher and wider.  The publication of her book is just one of many achievements she has made. Expect more from Penny Williams in the future, a woman I am so proud to call my friend.

A Toy that Hugs is the Best Medicine

My son, Ricochet, has ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Dysgraphia, and a high IQ. I’ve been searching for the right support tools and toys for him since his diagnosis in 2008. It’s difficult to find toys and tools that hold his interest and support his challenges. Science, geometric, and building toys are his top interests. But, even when he’s highly interested, it’s sometimes hard to sustain attention and stick with something for an adequate period of time. Part of that is his ADHD, but part of it is also his need for consistent sensory stimulation, due to sensory processing disorder. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Announcement: Your iPad Can See You Now- More Photos

Want to motivate a kid to pick up a pencil?

WHAT: More Photos Re: Announcing Crowdfunding Campaign: OSMO by Tangible Play
I rarely write blog posts about such campaigns or even iPad games but OSMO is different.  Read my post at Forbes but check out extra pictures below.

Read it right away.  You don't want to miss the incredible deal.


It's that simple.

Lucky kid gets to meet the co-Founder Pramod Sharma.

What, it's not S I N G E R? Think.... Think!!!!!

Not easy....

Former Google Engineers, now co-founders of exciting new ed tech game! Jerome Scholler and Pramod Sharma.

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturers of anything mentioned here for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised. 



Friday, May 16, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Faber-Castell: Upgrade Your Art Supplies for Less

WHAT: Faber-Castell's Premium Children's Art Products incl: Connector Watercolor Paints, Do Art Watercolor Pencil Set, Clic and Go Brushes, Collapsible Water Cup
DOES:  Can inspire your little one to learn the magic of watercolor and teach himself techniques!
INVEST: $6 to $15
AGES: 6+  
TOOLS: Express Yourself, Flexibility is My Superpower
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: You will get all four products being reviewed. How cool is that!?!

How often do you have your kids paint in your home?  I feel that we don't paint often enough. I think it's because we fear mess.  As the kids get older, we have less tolerance for mess (the paper towel kind). The mess we have now in our home looks like underwear, socks, and LEGOs on the floor.

But when they were little, we really liked them painting, didn't we?  I bet you might have even had an easel for them! But poor older kids, we never buy them easels now.  If you were like me, here is a post that may have you reconsidering the whole painting thing in your home.  You really don't want to miss out.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Latest at Forbes: How to Find the Top Ten Toys that Kindle Kids' Creativity

UPDATE: My latest blog post at Forbes.com Leadership Channel
WHAT: Top Ten Toys that Kindle Kids' Creativity
AND: Convenient Shopping Links to My Affiliate Retailers

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Remote Control Machines: Play Like An Executive

WHAT: Remote Control Machines by Thames and Kosmos
DOES:  Learn remote control machine functions easily with this kit and then make your own crazy contraption
INVEST: $84.95
AGES: 8+  
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Like An Executive
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: You will get your own Remote Control Machines Kit mailed to you!!!

There are only two times that I have actually apologized to my kids for not having bought them something.  The first was a book that I thought my son obsessed over way too much but he loved it.  (It actually ended up inspiring a lot of art work- some of it was sold!)

The second time was to Tester #1 and I did this last week.  I told him that I was sorry that I didn't buy this set for him sooner.  I thought it was out of my price range and now that I think about it, I have spent that kind of money before and on toys that are not even half as awesome as this set.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Roominate: Lighting Up the Building Blocks of Imagination

How do you inspire kids to go beyond the kit?  Answer: Get the right kit.

WHAT: Roominate by Maykah, Inc.
INVENTORS: Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen
DOES: revives old toys with fervor, builds skills in design, planning, tweaking, collaboration
INVEST: Basic $29.99 and Deluxe $49.99
AGES: 6+
TOOLS: Think Like A Scientist/Engineer, Express Yourself, Like An Executive, My Body Needs to Move
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: Get your very own glorious box of Kinetic Sand from my Affiliate at ARK!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Most Watched YouTube Video

WHAT:  THE Most Watched YouTube Video from Toys Are Tools and some other cool videos about entrepreneurs and kids!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Earth Day Review + Giveaway: Savor the Details of Life: LEGO Creator Animals and eeBoo What Do You Know Bingo

This is a BRAND New way to play with LEGO- Super exciting!
Building models will impart much learning in these animal kits!

So may ways to play and so incredibly beautiful
WHAT:   Forest Animals and Furry Creatures by LEGO Creator and What Do You Know Bingo by eeBoo (illustrator: Melissa Sweet)
DOES:  Celebrate Earth Day by examining the amazing animal details and other aspects of nature
INVEST: $19.99 for LEGO and $15.95 for eeBoo Bingo game
AGES: 7+ for LEGO; 5+ for eeBoo
TOOLS: Express Yourself, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Flexibility is My Superpower
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: Everything you see featured here!  Both LEGO sets AND the eeBoo game!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Celebrate Earth Day with Dirt and Sand: The Big Dig and Kinetic Sand

It's official. Sand is divine. Kinetic Sand by Wabafun

Didn't you always want one of these? The real deal is finally affordable. Thank you Reeves Toys for The Big Dig

WHAT: Kinetic Sand by WabaFun and The Big Dig by Reeves Toys
DOES: works on fine motor and hand-eye coordination skills AND gets you back in touch with earth in the most intimate and fun-loving way!
INVEST: The Big Dig is $44.99; Kinetic Sand is $24.99
AGES: 3+
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer,
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: One winner will get both Big Dig and the Kinetic Sand!  Wow!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review and Giveaway: MaKey MaKey: Think Less, Create More

Playing Mario Brothers on the computer has never been more interesting.  photo: JoyLabz

WHAT:  MaKey MaKey by JoyLabz
DOES:  the question really is "What DOESN'T it do?" 
INVEST: $49.95 usually sold at this price
AGES: 8+  (but... methinks with assistance, even babies can play with it) 
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Flexibility is My Superpower
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: You will get your own MaKey MaKey kit.  This is HUGE! One heck of a lucky winner you'll be!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ravensburger Puzzles Pt. 2: How to Be" You" When You're in an "Us"

Sometimes you have to put your piece down and it's not where you are sitting.  How would you do it?  And how would you respond if someone encroached upon "your space"?


WHAT: Ravensburger Jigsaw Puzzles
DOES: allows you to use and adjust your solving tactics, give you a chance to work cooperatively, must be courteous of other's "space" and their "projects,"  Stiff but smooth and high in quality, Ravensburger puzzles for young children are an EXCELLENT alternative to wooden puzzles if you want something slightly more complex but you don't want to give up the stiffness and quality you get from wooden puzzles.
INVEST:  some 100 piece puzzles cost $9 and up  (Pictured is $12.99 - Highlights: Amusement Park)
TOOLS: Express Yourself, Lose and Win Gracefully, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy, Flexibility is My Superpower

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