Thursday, December 26, 2013

GOT LEGO Gift Card?

#2 made out big this year with LEGO, #1 is trying to hold it in but he will soon burst which is why I am writing this post really fast because I have to do some S.O.S. shopping.

WHAT: What to Do with a LEGO Gift Card

Did your child receive a LEGO gift card and by any chance is he/she suddenly overwhelmed with what to do?  I have a couple of tips.

#2   Use this opportunity to teach your child to be strategic. (like an EXECUTIVE!). 

NOTE: This is not a review just because I know they are looking to spend those gift cards asap but I will be reviewing some of these items as I will be heading to the LEGO store as soon as I am done writing this post!  

Remember, if you are shopping online.  Clicking onto these links and shopping from there will bring smiles to Toys are Tools and help ensure more thoughtful toy reviews for 2014! 

Check out the sale for the wall stickers at $1.48 only!  crazy!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Happy Holidays Everyone! 

I hope the children in your lives will
 be playing with the most awesome toys and games 
this season and into the next year!

No More Shopping for Today! 

Oh, who are we kidding? 
 I may be headed to the LEGO store now... 
I just got an idea....

Pictured:  Our tree was made of using almost all of the pieces of the Standard Kit from Woodmobiel, a toy I reviewed in July 2013.  This tree was made after 8 months of owning the tree. It looks and works the same ways as the day we received it.

Don't forget that Woodmobiel is on sale right now.  25% off.  That is huge! 

code: holiday25

Read the full review on Woodmobiel here.

Good Tidings to You!

Disclosure: TAT received Woodmobiel from the manufacturer to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ridiculous Sale+ Extremely Thoughtful Last Minute Gift Idea $25 (Reg Price $99) Dragon 75-80% OFF

A Certificate to Download Dragon Naturally Speaking Home Version 12

WHAT: Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home for $24.99    REG PRICE IS $99 
Also Available:  Dragon Dictate for Mac 3
and Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium 

SHIPPING?  It's a certificate for a download so no worries there
Another Plus? If you are going to get it, you might as well get it from my link!  I am a proud affiliate of this very helpful dragon.

Last Minute Shopping Ideas: FOR YOU!

This could be me? Maybe? yes? no?

WHAT: Last Minute Shopping Ideas for YOU
WHY: Because if you don't get it now, you'll never get it
HOW: Anyway you can, except for stealing

Friday, December 20, 2013

Parents Are Buying Their Kids All the Wrong Toys

photo courtesy: Zometool which of course I think is one of the good guys.

WHAT: Just in case you didn't see it...  I had a story published at Quartz.  "Parents Are Buying Their Children All The Wrong Toys"   Please take a look.  Below is a snippet:

The highlight of my son’s speech therapy was always the bag of toys. Years ago, when he was a toddler and the therapist came to our house, he’d wait patiently as she took out one toy at a time and used each to help build language skills. Anxious to boost his progress, I watched her work and wrote down the name of her “tools.” I would then run to Toys R Us—and almost always, I would walk out empty-handed.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Zometool Meets Bam-Bam (a.k.a. #1)

made by #1 (Bam-Bam)
made by #2 (A different kind of Bam-Bam.... he just hides it better)

WITH: Zometool

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Deal Alert on Geomag KOR

WHAT: I just found out that they are now on MYHABIT.  The blue guy is only $25! 
AGES: 5+

Saturday, December 14, 2013

$25 G/C Giveaway + Best Books of 2013: The Favorites: Another Monster Holiday Gift Guide

WHAT: The Toys Are Tools Best Books List 2013 is HERE!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Updated Shopping Guide: Favorite Things at Different Roads to Learning

WHAT: Different Roads to Learning - Jenn's Shopping Guide
Updated 12/19/13

Saturday, December 7, 2013

$25 GC Giveaway! + Top Stocking Stuffers Under $10!!!

WHAT: Top Ten Under $10- Strategic Stocking Stuffers
DOES: These are no ordinary stocking stuffers! Strategically stuff these stockings to support more moments of inquiry and development- all disguised as fun.
AGES: 3+ (depends on the product)
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: An Amazon gift card, just for you! $25 dollars!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BIG SALE ON WOODMOBIEL- Crazy Coupon Code for YOU!

WHAT: DEAL ALERT: Woodmobiel
HOW MUCH: A whole 25% off!!!!  That is a $75 savings if you get a Standard Kit (recommended)
AND: I'm not an affiliate... I'm just telling ya so you can save big bucks!

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Favorite LEGO Books are 50% OFF until 11AM PST (2PM EST) Dec. 3, 2014!
I love homes that look like this. One day I will own one. I don't need the whole block.  One house would do....

Sometimes I ask myself....

Is it a coincidence that my favorite LEGO books are at O'Reilly Media?

or maybe you are wondering if it's a coincidence that I decided to partner with O'Reilly as an affiliate to bring people amazing books for kids?

My answer?  NO WAY! It's totally on purpose!

But please note that I was a fan of these books way before I ever had this blog.

Moreover, please know that I started reviewing these books over a year before I became an affiliate.

Lastly, I only became an affiliate late this year after realizing how totally pro-consumer they are. For example, did you know that O'Reilly treats their e-Book customers with total respect!

Giveaway + The Selfish Parents' Guide to Gift Giving at School (Part 1)

I eyed this for years before I bought my own.  Technology allows us all to have our own laminators now.  It's great!

WHAT: My list of things your teacher or school therapist may need but won't ask for.... (will also help your child in the process hence "selfish")
NOTE: Important! If you are a cash gift giver- I'm sending you my cyber high-five now. Still, you can't ignore a good deal when you see one. 
INVEST: These prices reflect some deals I found right now!

PROMOTIONS: Look for coupon and sales alert inside this story
GIVEAWAY: Do you have your own laminator? Well, you can now! Win best-selling Scotch Laminator (U.S. only) on Amazon!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Magformers: When They're Like $1 Per Piece... Don't Think.. Act

WHAT: A Sale Worth Blogging About...  Magformers Up to 50% Off

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sale on ARK's Buzzy Pencils

Update: 11/27/13   Ark is having a sale
ends 12/1/13 (psst.. if you are late a little, I think you'll still be okay if you shop on dec. 2)

discount only applies only to things labeled. "Ark's ____"  But you can fill up your shopping cart with other goodies to get that free shipping.  I think the lowest shipping at ARK is 4.75 but still, I love FREE SHIPPING and if they have those construction plates in stock and you want them, you should snatch them now.

Additional note:  Here is a link to a reader question about the pencils.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Best Toys and Games 2013 List- Vote For Your Favorite

Can you guess who the winner is?

See Laser Pegs Below*

Yup, this is a Woodmobiel Christmas Tree- Standard Kit with a few pieces left over to make an easel

WHAT: Best Toys and Games List 2013 (20 Categories! 30 Product Suggestions)
Superb gift ideas ranging from $10 to $300

GIVEAWAY PRIZE:$50 Gift Card to The Winner - But You Gotta Give Us A Piece of Your Mind!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parenting with Playdate Planet Interviews TAT, Young Inventors, & Links!
Click this photo to listen to the Parenting With Playdate Planet's story featuring Toys Are Tools! Hooray!

The coolest thing happened.  I was interviewed by Parenting With Playdate Planet about.... what else... toys as learning tools! 

I think a lot of the readers here know something about that!  My heartfelt thanks goes out to show host, Meryl Nieman, co-owner of Playdate Planet, who took a lot of my rambling about toys as tools and turned it into a smooth compact show.  In this program, I discuss the following toys: (you may or may not see them again in my holiday toy list lineup and giveaway coming super soon!)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reader's Question: Saving Money, the ARK Pencil + Other Writing and Math Helpers

WHAT: Reader Question: ARK Tran-Quill Pencil Kit

Greetings to everyone!
I hope to be sharing more reader questions on this blog so please feel free to send them in.  I'll do my best.  Here is one I loved answering!

Hi Jenn 

I always look forward to reading your reviews and advice on toys for tools, I recently read your toys for tools executive functioning piece and I think my son could really benefit from this. I wanted to know where I could purchase the Ark pencil. Can I get it on Amazon? Also do you have any other writing tools that can improve handwriting and also math tools as well? We recent purchased a Timex glow in the dark lizard watch for my 7 year old and it has helped him tremendously with telling time and understanding the concept. I'm open to anything you can recommend at this point.

Thanks a lot
(Ms. D)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review+Giveaway: Squigz and Twig: Toys That Feed The Senses

Toy Hit of the Year: Squigz, to me, is not exactly a toy, it's more of an experience or an idea
one of the best examples of plart

WARNING: You Will Be Very Tempted to Make A Purchase At the End of This Review

WHAT: Squigz and Twig
INVENTOR: Scott Baumann (Squigz) and Matthew Hiebert (Twig)
DOES: we're not quite sure, I think it's a you-fill-in-the-blank-thing
INVEST:  Squigz two sizes $24.95 (24 pieces), $49.95 (50 pieces), additional Squigz available for purchase, Twig $49.95
3+ (but we have let younger kids play with Squigz)
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, Express Yourself, Birthday/Holiday Build-Uponner, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer
EXPERT OPINION: David Wells, Manager, Creative Making and Learning, New York Hall of Science, AND Susan L. Roberts, Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Integrative Nutritionist; Author, My Kid Eats Everything
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: Squigz Starter 24 Piece Set

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Tribbit and Categories: Organize Your Mental File Cabinet

If someone insults you, can you shoot a snappy comeback? How good are you at this? I generally embarrass myself.

Are you one of those people who have these amazing comebacks.... about thirty minutes after the incident?

WHAT: Tribbit by Mindware and Categories by eeBoo
INVENTOR: Hank Atkins (Tribbit) and Saxton Freymann (Categories)
DOES: helps you organize the words in your head so you can use them when you need them and use them efficiently. 
INVEST:  $19.95 for Tribbit; $14.95 for Categories
8+ Tribbit; 5+ Categories
TOOLS: Foment the Love of Language; Express Yourself, My Body Needs to Move
EXPERT OPINION: Nicole Kolenda, M.S., CCC-SLP, P.C., Speech & Language Pathologist
GIVEAWAY: Win both of these awesome brain-building games!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Birthday TAT: Think of Fun When You Think of Me

I am so grateful to ThinkFun for their cutting edge approach to play and learning. Thank you for recognizing the importance of Executive Functioning.

WHAT: 2nd Annual Thank You Note
INVENTOR: Jenn Choi (me!)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Pre-Holiday Spotlight: Makedo with Abundance (Energy, Creativity, Resources)

This is the Windball by Tanaka Satoshi... and guess what.. there are instructions! You can find lots of ideas (with instructions) at

WHAT: Make Anything Kit for Three and Box Props (People and Pets) by Makedo
INVENTOR: Paul Justin
DOES: you can make anything you want- even pets (not alive though)
INVEST: Box Props kits are $10-15; Kit for One starts at $25 (prices vary depending on retailer)
If you're under 5, kids will need help.
TOOLS: Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Express Yourself, I Can Take Care of Myself, Like an Executive
Giveaway: Giving Away Kit for One- so you can make anything you want (U.S. only please)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review + Giveaway: What's It?: Do You See What I See?

Be Warned: Even Though It's Not ME-AGAINST-YOU, Cooperative Games are Tough and Competitive!  I love that!

WHAT: What's It? by Peaceable Kingdom
INVENTORS: Rosie Roberson and Joyce Johnson
DOES: work cooperatively as a team while still being competitive, be rewarded for knowing your teammate
INVEST:  $24.99
8+ (Can be modified to fit younger audiences without compromising on the fun)
TOOLS:  Flexibility is My Superpower, Express Yourself
EXPERT OPINION: Susan Schwartz, MAEd, Learning Specialist, Friends Seminary
GIVEAWAY Details Below: Win your own box of What's It? Wonder!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Executive Functioning 101 + the Chief Executive Toolbox Giveaway (Value $400+)

You can download for free this expertly organized, well-written E-book about my favorite subject this year: Executive Functioning.  If you consider yourself a busy person with a busy kid- this book is a must-read.

What is a learning disability? Seriously, what is it? On most days, I think I know but then once in a while I have questions.... like...
  •  If people with dyslexia can learn to read using multisensory techniques then why don't we ALL use those techniques to teach EVERYONE? Does anyone think that multi-sensory approaches like Orton-Gillingham is bad for non-dyslexic children?  
Yeah... I haven't figured that one out yet.  But that is the point of an Awareness month.  It's always a good idea to stop and start asking questions and learning even more.  This year, I feel like I'm learning a lot and it's all about executive functioning.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Disrupt Your Toy Box: DIY Plus Plus Clock

Our Disruptus game inspired us to become bolder in our creative play AND home decor too!

WHAT: DIY Plus Plus Clock
INVENTOR: Tester #2 and his mom, Jenn Choi (and of course the makers of the clock and Plus Plus)
DOES: Makes you happy whenever you look at it and it also tells time!
INVEST:  $5-$6 for the DIY Clock + Plus-Plus pieces from a 600 piece set (300 piece set can do it too).  To get you into the mindset, you should play Disruptus to boost your creativity skills
3+ for Plus Plus (hey that rhymes)
TOOLS: Express Yourself, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hey! It's ADHD Awareness Month + The "Be Your Best Executive" Giveaway!

Send this article to your friends and family- ADHD or not, they're good toys!

It's ADHD Awareness Month!  I'm a little late in announcing it but you'll let this one slide, right?

Can you name a better way to be aware and share your awareness of ADHD other than to spread my story within your circles? (of course you can but we're friends, right?)  Tell your friends and family all about ADHD and you can use my article for the preschoolers in your life.

Anyway, let's stay on topic: awareness:  The first we have to do is learn what it is and if we think we already know what it is then we must stay updated. Science does not stand still (and neither do our kids!)

Here are fave resources that I love for the topic of ADHD.

Well obviously, first on this list is the website and quarterly magazine that was forward-thinking enough to discuss which toys can promote good social skills in preschoolers with ADHD.  Learning to take another's perspective will not only promote good social interactions but it will do much to help a child in the future with his reading and writing. Go to to discover a vast treasure trove of resources developed to support everyone in your child's life. Right now, for this month, ADDitude is doing a 31 Myths in 31 Days- Debunked! where they are knocking out myths about ADHD. I love them all (not the myths, just the knock-out part).

Click this picture to go directly to the slides.

Understanding Attention Deficit: The New ADHD
I think I need to move to Connecticut because Dr. Thomas Brown is there and so is the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. I would just hang out in their offices like a groupie and soak up the knowledge. However, I am still in NYC, so in the meantime, I can read Dr. Brown's slides over and over again.  If you know about ADHD, then you really need to read this! They cover executive functioning here and I think I must have sent the Brown Model of ADD/ADHD over thirty times to various people this month.  And most of them thanked me for it! If you haven't seen it, you must!


Your Defiant Child
I love this book!  It looks like the 2nd edition was published this year! (but I read the 1st edition)  I think I read this when #1 was just four years old!  ARGH!  Wonderfully written and I think, it was rather easy to implement the strategies given.  I love the part where "special time" is discussed. I love the technique that Dr. Russell Barkley described where the adult narrates what a child is doing. The response is mysteriously magical.  I have received parent training that incorporated that technique.  It's really cool!  Dr. Barkley's work also gave me the idea to use the MotivAider on myself first!  BRILLIANT!

By the way, Dr. Barkley also did a webinar for and it is fantastic.  I was floored by his oomph and super-deep knowledge about ADHD.  Oh, and don't be fooled because it's a podcast. You won't be kicking back to listen and soak it up. No, you will be highly alert and paying close attention because he does not mince words here. This is a must-listen.  MUST.  Share it please.

My little square executive hero!

Le MotivAider- Superhero of Executive Functioning
We are giving one away and the winner will be quite lucky because it retails for $60!

Have you ever wished that you can be a fairy and whisper into your child's ear at any point in the day, even if he is at school?  I have something better than a fairy.  I have the MotivAider. I actually have two! One for me and one for my kid. Simply put, you are programming yourself to think of a self-prompting message every time the MotivAider silently buzzes on your person. Choose the phrase you would have wanted your fairy to say like, "Eyes on work" or "What am I doing right now?" or "Whole Body Listening" or "good, you didn't eat a cookie since the last time this buzzed."  Oh yes, folks, this is perfect for watching your weight because we can all use help to self-regulate! It's all about being your own best executive. Read my review featuring the interview of school psychologist Beverly Whalen-Schmeller, of Metro Nashville Public Schools.  I love her!

Easy to Love But Hard to Raise
A website dedicated to a community of parents who have kids they truly love with all their heart but nevertheless are very challenging to raise.  Buy the anthology that features the work of great writers (and my pals) Kay Marner and Penny Williams.  This website is run by co-editor of the book, Adrienne Bashista who also runs the website below.
features thoughts shared by parents of children living with ADHD.  The eclectic mix of opinions provides great perspective on how ADHD affects not only our kids but parents too. You will find everything from tips on discipline to toy reviews (hmmm... I wonder who wrote those).  More importantly, you'll find a community you can count on, especially on their Facebook page. Ask a question, and editor Adrienne will help you find answers. Wow, there are some seriously thoughtful parents out there.  I love it. 

The red part disappears as time passes. We compared it to kitchen timers and guess what? Kitchen timers were inaccurate with their measurement of time.  UGH! My kid figured this out. So guess who won't accept kitchen timers anymore.

Time Timer 8-inch
I could never ever talk about ADHD without talking about the Time Timer.  I know there are apps and watches but my favorite will always be the Time Timer.  I haven't tried the newest cutest one yet but I really do love my 8 inch. It's big enough so I can find it easily in the house. (I have about three 3-inch ones at home too). I can hang it up or it can just be the big red thing staring at my son as he does his homework.

This is truly an outstanding invention. I don't care if you have ADHD in your family or not, this is a wondrous time management teaching tool and what is the number #1 problem for pretty much every working person today?  Call it whatever you want, prioritizing, organizing, planning, setting goals... whatever, it's all about managing yourself -being a good executive. If you know that every adult battles this issue, why wouldn't we start training our kids while they're young. The Time Timer is an easy way to teach time management to kids. Read my super-fan review of Time Timer.

Distraction by ThinkFun 
Since I live in the land of toys and games, I would lose my street cred if I didn't at least talk about one game!  Distraction is a game that gives your working memory a real workout! But unlike other working memory exercises, this game uses the good humor of writer Patrick Matthews (author-Dragon Run) to seal the deal.  Read my review that includes input from child development expert and NYU School of Medicine professor Karen Hopkins.

Sesame Street's Year-long curriculum devoted to Self-Regulation
Saving the BEST for last.  I am so motivated by Cookie Monster! My kids have memorized his song.

Oh yes, these are precious LEGO pieces.  Hey man, fight fire with fire.
Cookie Monster has also said, "Me Self-Regulate" and "Me Functioning Like an Executive"

My kids and I made these bracelets to celebrate Executive Functioning Awareness- when's that month- I think that's this month- that's the point!  And I know it will take more than a song and a bracelet to teach kids better self-regulation but I am more optimistic now that Cookie Monster is my ally!

Okay-enough!  Time to Spread Your Awareness and win your Motivating MotivAider!  You will love love love it.  I have two and I guard them with vigor.  But they are tough- one has even survived a near-drowning experience.  A wholehearted special thank you to my little square friend for putting yourself up to be given away!

 educational toy, best educational game, best educational toy, learning tools, toys for learning, toys are tools, child development, therapeutic toys, special needs toys, gifted children toys, games for gifted kids, 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to get these amazing helpers on Amazon? Use my link to support Toys are Tools!

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer(s) for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.