Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Workbooks: Parental Relief for Hurricanes and Other Emergency No School Days

This is a big chunk of our collection.  Sometimes it's great to use a book instead of printing free sheets from the internet because I am not as smart as those mothers that know all the good free websites.  Keep forgetting to bookmark them!

Workbooks from School Zone, Flash Kids, Scholastic
DOES: provides some much needed structure on emergency-no school days
INVEST:  $3 or $4 and above  (varies depending on retailer)
TOOLS:  Family Fix-it, Work Experience (you can still play but workbooks give them time to collect themselves and strangely prevents boredom and appreciate any kind of recreation more - including board games!
AGES: 3+ (depending on workbook)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday MindFeed: A Year of Toys as Tools

Found this photo from ""  Joshua Baskin, Tom Hanks character says, "I don't get it."  A robot that turns into a building?  Well, what's fun about that?

Today is October 27, 2012.  Where was this website one year ago?  Basically, it had not been "born" yet.  But in a few days, Toys are Tools will celebrate its one-year birthday!   I have a big story planned for that day.  It's something you'll want to have in your family for generations!

First, please let me thank you from the bottom of my heart.  The fact that anyone is interested in what I have to say still amazes me.   (You should see how ignored I am in my own home!)  But seriously, with the one year anniversary of Toys are Tools coming, I thought it might be nice to share with you what I've learned.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Nanoblock Musical Instruments: Good Things Come in Small Packages

There are four instruments in this review.  Which one is your favorite?  photo: Nanoblock
photo: Nanoblock
photo: Nanoblock
photo: Nanoblock

DOES: educational toy: teeny tiny building blocks used to create miniature models of instruments;  pretty as one but incredibly beautiful as a set; no need to buy any living room art anymore
INVEST:  $12.99 MSRP for each instrument (drums, violin, piano, electric guitar)
TOOLS:  Express Yourself, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Holiday/Birthday Build-Uponner
AGES: 8+ (I have not tried with younger ages and hesitate to do so)
GIVEAWAY (over $50 value): One of each of the four GORGEOUS instruments featured here (four toys total for one winner).  Prize Ships to U.S. Only DETAILS BELOW  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Jeliku? Jeli-Cool? Jeli-Cute? Jeli-Creative? There Are NO Wrong Answers! ($225 Giveaway Value)

Believe it or not, this is made of five separate multicolored folding puzzles. Five lucky winners will have it shipped free to their home.  This is our first holiday feature story.  Thank you Kris Kringle!  photo:

WHAT: Jeliku by
DOES: Use unique folding structure to make a million things;  Fun as one or fun as multiples; Intriguing pretend play toy; Satisfying Fidget; Very Portable; Lightweight but sturdy 
INVEST: MSRP  $5-7 for Version 1 of Jeliku; $8-10 Version 2 of Jeliku
TOOLS:  Express Yourself, More Make-Believe Please, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Holiday/Birthday Build-Uponner
AGES: 3+ 
GIVEAWAY: 5 Jeliku "Pentagon" (each box of one Pentagon is a $45 value: 5 Jeliku Puzzles Are Folded into One Pentagon) complete with its own case.  (U.S. giveaway only)  A $225 total value!!!!  DETAILS BELOW 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Doodle Tablecloth Draws Many Mealtime Solutions

Kids can draw on it and they won't get in trouble.  photo: doodle by Stitch

WHAT:  doodle tablecloth by doodle by Stitch
DOES:  excellent tool for teaching and practicing socially appropriate behavior at mealtime; allows children to doodle while they wait and use visuals to aid them in conversations; helps them set the table more independently!!!
INVEST:  $54.86 (Medium 71 x 59 inches) and $62.61 (Large 98 x 59) (You can convert pounds to dollars onsite) Each tablecloth includes a set of 10 markers ($54.86 for an extra set of ten markers -it's worth it if you have a bunch of kids) ) Note- this company is based in the UK but packages are shipped from Boston via USPS; also available at Amazon
TOOLS:  Express Yourself, Family Fix-its, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy, Holiday/Birthday Build-Uponner, My Body Needs to Move, Social Scene Helper
EXPERT OPINION: Alison Berkley, Co-owner, Special Education Teacher, Emerge and See Education Center
GIVEAWAY: 1 medium tablecloth with a packet of markers (U.S. only)  DETAILS BELOW:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Zip-Bak Bow and Z-Curve Bow: Aim for the "Write" Target

The Zip-Bak Bow is a bit smaller than its older brother the Z-Curve Bow.  I think it's supposed to go as far as 90 feet.   photo: Zing Toys

WHAT:  Air Storm Zip-Bak Bow Air Storm Z -Curve Bow by Zing Toys

DOES:  opportunity to practice bilateral coordinatrion and crossing the midline
INVEST:  $19.99 and $26.99 respectively MSRP
AGES: 8 and up (can possibly be lower with some guidance)
TOOLS:  My Body Needs to Move, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Social Scene Helper (sports played along among like-minded folks help ease social setting), Lose and Win Gracefully
EXPERT OPINION: Aimee Prainito,Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Prainito Pediatric Therapy
GIVEAWAY: 1 Winner will choose between either Zip-Bak Bow or Z-Curve Bow!!!!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Pix Mix Uses the First Dimension to Train Kids' Brains

There are six images here.  Can you identify them in under 60 seconds?  GO!

WHAT: Pix Mix by Mindware
DOES: an educational game that allows you to modify the level of difficulty very easily, thus allowing more ages to play; helps a child practice skills in visual discrimination and part-whole relationships
INVEST: MSRP  $19.95
AGES: Suggested is 8+ ( it can go lower when play is modified)
TOOLS: Foment Love of Language, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Lose and Win Gracefully
EXPERT OPINION: Susan Schwartz, MAEd, Learning Specialist, Friends Seminary
Giveaway Details Below

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ginormous Giveaway (Over $230 Total of 11 Prizes!): Top Tools for Homework Success

I encourage my son to wear his Whisperphone during his entire homework period because you are reading for every part of your homework, not just for reading comprehension.

WHAT: Top Tools for Homework Success- a Ginormous Giveaway
DOES: an amazing prize package that includes awesome tools that we use to conquer the homework monster.  Eight items and all are yours if you win
INVEST: Valued at over $230!!!!
AGES: you have to be a grown-up to enter but the whole family can use it
TOOLS: Family Fix-its, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy, Flexibility is My Superpower, I Can Take Care of Myself
EXPERT OPINIONS: see respective reviews for awesome insights into these top tools

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review & Giveaway: K'nex Angry Birds: Sometimes It's Better Not to Fly Solo

K'nex Mission Mayhem was long awaited here.  photo K'nex

WHAT: Mission May'Ham and Hamming Around by K'nex
DOES: allows you to play Angry Birds in real life.   Brings about social enjoyment of a game that is usually played solo.
INVEST:  $30.99 MSRP
AGES: 5+  
TOOLS: Lose and Win Gracefully, Social Scene Helper, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer
INTRODUCING New Tester: No. 7, 1st grade boy from New Jersey

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

World Maker Faire 2012: Is This the Future of Making?: Amazing 3D Printers (psst.. I know of a giveaway)

Maybe this red man doesn't strike your curiosity but here's the thing:  This is totally made of plastic BUT it was NOT made in a factory.  Is that strange to you? I went to the Ultimaker Booth twice in one day.

WHAT: 3D Printers at the World Maker Faire New York 2012 at the New York Hall of Science
DOES:Faire's showcase of 3D Printers makes you think about new possibilities in everyday American homes
TOOLS:  Express Yourself- lots of chances to create, Family Fix-its - so much education in conservation/sustainability, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer- but of course, My Body Needs to Move, Inventor Profiles (Meeting Makers is a huge part of the thrill)
GIVEAWAY:  I don't have a raffle but I did find one for you...  Read below... This Afinia printer is worth $1,500!  OMG!  And they have awesome awesome colors!

Monday, October 1, 2012

World Maker Faire 2012 Coverage Part 2

Mechanical Thumb War?  What's next?

WHAT: 2nd part coverage of World Maker Faire New York at the New York Hall of Science
DOES: First sentence of their program reads: World Maker Faire 2012 is a showcase of creativity and cool technology that celebrates the maker mindset.  (And that is exactly what it is!)
TOOLS:  Express Yourself- lots of chances to create, Family Fix-its - so much education in conservation/sustainability, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer- but of course, My Body Needs to Move, Inventor Profiles (Meeting Makers is a huge part of the thrill)
One More Maker Faire feature story coming soon....