Saturday, December 31, 2011

Keep Your Games Forever

We can't even close it anymore so now it sits way on top of the bookcase placing it out of the kids' reach

DOES: Protects the shape and outer layer of the boxes that hold your games
INVEST: $3.99 per roll (less if you buy more)
TOOLS: Family Fix-it, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy

Monday, December 26, 2011

An Alternate Way of Displaying Creativity

Puzzle-making is a great way to be creative if you prefer puzzles more than open-ended toys like building blocks.

WHAT: Rush Hour Traffic Jam Jr. by ThinkFun
DOES:  Allows you to solve 40 fun puzzles, with one puzzle represented on each of the cards.  Cards are numbered thus as a child completes a puzzle, he moves onto to a slightly harder puzzle. Added surprise: this puzzle allows your child to create his own puzzle easily.
INVEST: $14- $18
TOOLS: Express Yourself, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Work Experience

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Making Toys is Just as Fun as Opening New Ones

Making toy accessories is always a lot of fun.
WHAT: Train Display Rack Made by husband of Toys are Tools' editor and Father of Numbers 1 and 2
DOES:  Allows child to see all his trains and not stuff them in a box on the floor, encourages dusting
INVEST: (Half a day's work with the wife watching the kids, actually no one watched the kids because they were playing with the new toys they got on Christmas) + $3 at hardware store + $4 worth of blocks from a large set of colored 1" cubes (costs of NYC subway trains are not included here but they generally cost about $11 per train)
TOOLS: Parent models the following skills and traits: Express Yourself, Family Fix-its, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brain Sharpening Series: Part 3 - The "Side Effects" of Memory Games

My favorite card is Myanmar.  He looks the coolest. 
WHAT: I Never Forget a Face Matching Game by eeBoo
DOES:  allows you to exercise memory skills by matching faces of children from different parts of the world, use with younger kids with less cards, use more cards as they get older
INVEST: $12-15
TOOLS: Remember to Learn, People are People, Social Scene Helper (if you have an awesome memory and need to feel confident around new people)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Minute Gift Idea - Brain Sharpening Games: Part 2

Being able to shuffle cubes is surprisingly more fun than just pressing buttons
DOES:  features 4 games including a visual memory game played by pressing buttons to repeat a sequence a player sees on the cubes; another memory game asks you to line up cubes to show the sequence of colors given to you, the other 2 games are more puzzle-like and require shuffling too.
INVEST: $17- $30 (last minute gift? see idea for how to get it fast by mail)*
TOOLS:  Remember to Learn, Social Scene Helper, Lose and Win Gracefully

Monday, December 19, 2011

Brain Sharpening Games: Part 1

You get help when recreating what you saw but don't be fooled, it's not easy!

WHAT: ThinkFun's Cartoon It!
DOES: allows you to work on your "working memory" (the memory that you use to complete tasks and more), lets you exercise your drawing abilities
INVEST: $19.99 ($17.50 on Amazon today)
TOOLS: Remember to Learn (if your memory is so-so); Social Scene Helper (if you're shy but can draw a little and you have an awesome memory)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pencils on Ice

Smoother writing means faster writing (and drawing) and less tired hands

WHAT: Bazic Pencils #2B
DOES: Let's you write more smoothly, less tiring to your hand, good for drawing too
INVEST: $4- $5 for a pack of 12 pencils
TOOLS: Express Yourself; Foment the Love of Language

Learn to Love Pencils Again: Doodle 101

Ed Emberley teaches you how to draw everything in the world (almost)

WHAT: Make A World by Ed Emberley
DOES: Give step-by-step instructions on how to draw just about everything.
INVEST: $6-$7
TOOLS: Express Yourself, People are People, More Make Believe Please

Click onto Pencils on Ice to read about on how we are using this book right now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Telephones that Help You Read and Speak Socially - First Toys Are Tools Giveaway

DOES: helps you listen to yourself and your friend more clearly as you read to each other, choral reading helps you remember what you've read, lets your child pretend to order room service  or a gluten-free pizza with fresh basil and soy mozzarella cheese
INVEST: $16-$17
TOOLS: Remember to Learn (new), Foment the Love of Language, More Make-Believe Please

Express Train to Your Brain

listening to yourself with more clarity and less outside noise does wonders!  photo courtesy: Harebrain Inc.

WHAT: Whisperphone
DOES: helps you listen to yourself as you read or speak new words; reduces noise in the classroom for kids who need to read this way in class, look cool at the same time
INVEST: Solo $8.99; Solo XL $9.99 (for bigger kids and grown-ups)
TOOLS: Remember to Learn (new), Foment the Love of Language, More Make-Believe Please

Friday, December 9, 2011

Painting for Kids on the Run

each child had his own try but later would share to get more colors

WHAT: Chennille Kraft Paint Rollers with Paint Trays
DOES: a more active way to paint, sometimes less threatening to those who avoid mess on their hands, can be a very social way to make art.
INVEST: around $11
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, Express Yourself (new), Social Scene Helper

Monday, December 5, 2011

Puzzles For Train Lovers -Subway Series Part 2

A goes to D, then back to A, then A, then B- but no unnatural turns!

WHAT: Metroville *     
DOES: a challenging puzzle that requires a child to create a path from point A to point B by turning tracks around to path. Great for subway lovers and puzzle lovers alike.
INVEST: $12.73 (most recent check on Amazon listed)
TOOLS: Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Family Fix-it

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Is it a Book or Is it a Train? - Subway Series Part 1

If you've ridden one of these trains then chances are, you are really old

WHAT: New York City Subway Trains: 12 Punch and Build Trains
DOES: Paper dolls for boys!  Punch out paper trains, fold them into their train shape, and then play! You can also read about NYC's subway history.   Trains themselves are a visual display of how trains have modernized over time.
INVEST: $13-16
TOOLS: More Make-Believe Please, Social Scene Helper, Foment Love of Language, Think Like A Scientist/Engineer? Actually no, it's more like People are People