Thursday, January 31, 2013

NYIGF Winter 2013- Part 2- Child's Play: American Style

Not your typical set of alphabet blocks.  Thank Heavens for that!

DOES: So you went on an international toy cruise (Part 1) and now I hope you are ready for a down-home tour.  There are many wonderful things that have been created right here in the U.S.!
NOTE: These are not reviews.  Just my invitation to you to gawk along with me!  These products look totally awesome.

Yesterday, I published a post about all the toys and other awesome family products that I found from outside these borders. However, the things made here are equally as exciting. The chief perk about these toys and products in this post? They are sold here or will be sold here when it comes out. We don't have to bite our lip reading wondering if they will ever arrive in the U.S.

Fly Grip  (New York)
Okay, I initially thought this was quite silly. Why it is necessary to put a grip on your phone? We already cover it with something so that it won't break if we drop it. Do we really need a grip? I don't know about you but having tried this on myself, I can only say one word: WOW!  I also can't stop thinking up some grand scheme that will help me to put it on everyone's device at home. (Big iPad can take two grips)  Literally, it let me hold my iPad mini and take pictures with one hand!  (The pics below!)  The Fly Grip is just like a guy you fell in love with! You had no idea he was your soulmate but then after you met him, you can't picture your life without him. Expect a review on the Fly Grip here including some good news ie. kid size availability AND the back story of the grip (Bethany Hamilton, professional surfer whose arm was taken by a shark when she was just a kid.)

Security comes in all colors and even kids' sizes!
I like these choices.  Nice and bright.

Definitely a lot of ways to express yourself!

Gryphon Design Collective  (Massachusetts) 
Sometimes I think my two kids will become designers. If there is one job in the world that will not be replaced by machines, it will be designers. Don't you think? It's all about ideas and the Gryphon folks have some excellent ideas.

For example, what could be more special than your child's face artfully placed into a storybook in which she stars. Okay, now imagine that you can create this book while hanging out in a bookstore and snapping your child's photo right at the kiosk. How fun! This not only says, "Awesome Grandparent Gift" to me but I also sense some therapeutic possibilities as well. Additionally, I need to also share with you that Gryphon also makes story cards. I love them. They are really beautiful and takes the wordless book idea one step further.

Can you see your child's face here? I can.

Like how Barkley doesn't put the new big brother/sister on the spot.  Kids are too smart!
Made by superstar kid inventor, Olivia Bouler, who's advocating for animals, one drawing at a time.

Change the sequence and you have a new story and new opportunities for language development and narration.

Eco-Kids  (Maine)
Okay, so maybe you have stopped buying styrofoam and started using more natural cleaners in your home. I know what you mean. That kind of happens when you have your first baby. However, I am so guilty of going backwards. I am not thinking about what is environmentally sound. It's nice to know about it but I haven't incorporated it into our family belief system. If you are like me, do not despair. If some of us can't be all-or-nothing-types then at least we can do what we can. Buying from the Eco-Kids brand will not only affirm to you and your family that you care but you will actually be buying some pretty good stuff too!

Did you see this video? All those boxes go into one box. That is such a terrific solution to cleaning up, not to mention it allows kids to easily pack up on their own. The naturally colored sprinkles are awesome too. Believe me when I tell you that it is not easy to find naturally colored sprinkles this pretty. Fellow gluten free bakers will know exactly what I mean!

Sprinkles and food dye sans yucky nasty stuff.
I used to make my own playdough using natural food dye.  It never looked this pretty.

Boogie Board
These are all the rage now, aren't they? At the booth, a retailer kept saying,"I can't keep them on the shelves." Well, I can believe that!  Talk about supporting the environment!  Scratch paper that will never be a miss when you try yet another pathetic basketball throw to the wastebasket.  But seriously, I also like how easily you can write with it. So smooth!  The cool part about this is that they are going to come out with a new product soon where you can save your scribbles into Evernote. I love Evernote!!!!  Can the Boogie Board and Evernote team up to save the most distracted family in America get it together?  Fingers crossed that we will be saved by the Boogie Board Man.

I didn't draw that anime drawing on the red one.  Mine is the big question mark. 

Uncle Goose (Michigan)
I usually dislike decorated blocks. After a while, alphabet blocks lose their appeal and you just get tired of them. But, Uncle Goose is changing my mind. He is giving the common alphabet block an image makeover and my goodness, has he done one incredible job.

Among his collection, you'll find number blocks that are shaped like koi fish. You will also find blocks displaying elements of the periodic table. And did you ever expect to see blocks displaying Chinese characters and even Braille? There are other countries too and if 200 years from now, an art historian wants to talk about the cultural changes that were happening in the U.S., he can point to the Uncle Goose blocks as evidence that America is a country that is interested in learning how everyone else in this world communicates.
Love the ants!

Braille blocks with Sign Language too?  Very cool.  Why settle for just ABCs when you have Uncle Goose?

Status Update Bands  (Florida) 
I like these cute rubber bands of expression.  Maybe kids can attempt to change from "grumpy" to "angry" by changing their status bands.  I like the self-awareness and affirmation possibilities here.  It's so simple too!  Check out the cute buttons to clip onto your bracelet. There are so many!

Could I exchange your grumpy for my happy?

BUTCH & harold   (New York)   
Goodbye scotch tape, hello lovely framed display of the faces I love most.  I like that kids can decorate their own rooms and if you think they made it a bit crooked, no problem!!!  Just wait until they fall asleep and then allow yourself to make those "adjustments" that you've been dying to make since they said, "Look mom, I put up all the pictures!"   The stickers looked rather simple and supposedly, you can re-peel and re-stick as long as your surface was clean.   And I totally dig the dry erase stickers too!

In our world of multitasking, we can never have enough dry-erase notes on the wall.  These are pretty so we'll look at them more, right?
See the coverage of the New York International Gift Fair Winter 2013 part 1

Disclosure: Toys are Tools has not been compensated by any of the manufacturers for the publication of this post.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tour the World via "Toy Planes": NYIGF Winter 2013

Kids no longer need to make toys that look like cars.  Now they can just make it and go for a drive in their own unique creation.

DOES: Go for a ride with me.  Check out what's new in the world of toys.... it is literally an around-the-globe adventure.
NOTE: These are not reviews.  Just my invitation to you to gawk along with me!  These products look totally awesome.

I love walking up and down the aisles of the New York International Gift Fair.   I can see works of aesthetically-pleasing play-based learning everywhere I go.  And aesthetically pleasing it really is because this is a fair that celebrates good design and toys from ALL OVER THE WORLD.  So fasten your seat belt because you just must embark on this trip on my International Toy Airlines! No passport necessary.

Domestic Tour Package Details coming soon in part 2 (I promise to show you awesome U.S.-based products too!)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Zipfy: Speeding But Still in Control? Yes!

Why do kids like it?  It's Fast!!  Parents like the safety!  Kids secretly will like the safety too.  photo: Great Circle Works

Zipfy by Great Circle Works (makers of Oblo)

DOES: FAST sled that lets you feel and be SAFER. 
INVEST:  $39.99 MSRP
AGES: 5+  (capacity up to 250 lbs.)
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, I Can Take Care of Myself
GIVEAWAY:  Win a Super Cool RED Zipfy (Canada and U.S. Addresses Only Please) Winner announced in a WEEK!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review & Giveaway: K'nex Connects Kids to the Next Level

Today I just realized that K'nex sounds like the word "CONNECTS."  My kid looked at me in horror.  I think everyone knew this but me.  photo: K'nex
WHAT: K'nex: Introduction to Simple Machines Series - (review of all three sets)
DOES: a tool for parents and educators to help guide a child's curiosity about building and engineering with relative ease and little expertise
INVEST:  $39.99 MSRP
AGES: Grades 3-5. Grown-up support and encouragement is advisable to get the most out of this kit. It may be possible to do this with a younger child, depending on interest and ability.
TOOLS: Holiday/Birthday Build-Uponner, My Body Needs to Move, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer
GIVEAWAY:  Win the Gears set! It's Super Cool! U.S. Addresses Only please. Sorry to my northern neighbors.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Which Magnetic Building Set is Your Favorite?

PROBLEM: New Reader perplexed over which magnetic building set to invest in for her child
RESULT: Awesome Readers of Toys are Tools Offer Their Wisdom Via Facebook
TOOLS:  This story pretty has every tool of the toolbox- Thank you to the readers!!!
See Jenn's answer here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Time Timer Watch PLUS: Be Fearless and Help Yourself

How are those New Year Resolutions coming along? Don't Give Up.  Time Timer Watch Plus Can Help!  photo: Time Timer LLC

WHAT: Time Timer Watch Plus - Adult by Time Timer LLC
DOES:  wearing your reminder gadget means seeing it and seeing it reminds you that you HAVE A GOAL!; model to your children (or your colleagues) that you help yourself too; now don't have to dig through your bag to find your timer app or find out the time.
INVEST:  $74.95 MSRP for sale only at  (check out the coupon code below)
AGES: For big kids and grown-ups 
TOOLS: Family Fix-its, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy, I Can Take Care of Myself,  
GIVEAWAY: Yes, one person is going to win this beautiful thing! U.S. Addresses only please

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Spanish-English Zingo: You Had Me at Hola!

I firmly believe that foreign language study can help many native English speakers become more fluent in their mother tongue.  photo: ThinkFun

WHAT: Spanish-English Zingo by ThinkFun
DOES:  educational game teaching youngsters basic Spanish and English vocabulary words; sometimes learning is more fun when variety is presented, sometimes it's easier to speak in your own language than it is in English!
INVEST:  $19.99 MSRP  
AGES: 4+
TOOLS:  Foment Love of Language, People are People, Social Scene Helper
EXPERT OPINION: Alison Berkley, Co-owner, Special Education Teacher, Emerge and See Education Center, Blogger, Breaking Barriers at Psychology Today
GIVEAWAY Details Below:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Readers Have Spoken: Sifteo is This Year's Favorite!

Is this a video game trying to make math fun or is this just a game that uses math to have fun? I would definitely say the latter.

I can't say that I'm surprised.  Thank you to the readers for voicing your opinions on these fabulous toys and games.    The new Sifteo cubes definitely did get the most reader votes but I must say that every toy and game featured on the Best of 2012 list received a reader's vote.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review & Giveaway: CUBU: How Well Can Your Eyes Pay Attention?

If I can find something affordable that is also interesting and new and DIRECTLY helping with visual perception, then I’m really happy - Amy Baez, OTR/L Founder, Playapy.  photo: Funnybone Toys

WHAT: Cubu by Funnybone Toys
INVENTOR: Julien Sharp
  Artsy squares entice the eyes to pay attention and sharpen visual perceptual skills that support academic skills; "action cards" in the game encourage strategic planning and taking risks
$14.99 MSRP
AGES: 8 and up 
TOOLS: Lose and Win Gracefully, Flexibility is My Superpower, Remember to Learn
EXPERT OPINION: Amy Baez, OTR/L, Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Founder of Playapy
GIVEAWAY: One Cubu game to one lucky winner. (U.S. only)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Five Resolutions for Play in 2013

Resolution Number 1: Manage my expectations

With the holiday season directly behind us, I wanted to take a week off from showing you the latest and greatest.  Instead, I thought I'd talk about a few of the resolutions I've made for this year.  I have made lots and some have to do with weight loss but I'm sure you have read enough weight loss stories so here are some related to play:

Resolutions for 2013