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

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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. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Design Tiles: How to Make Sense Without Saying a Word

WHAT: Design Tiles by eeBoo
INVENTOR: Saxton Freymann
DOES: allows your child to make complex designs without pen, paper, computer, or even a crayon
INVEST:  $19.95
TOOLS: Express Yourself, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Family Fix-it (create calm in your home)
GIVEAWAY: see details below

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Multiplication Slam: Extract Attention From Tension

Is this the cure for Table-itis or even Table-phobia?  Educational Insights decided to throw out the table and make slammable bubbles instead.  Works for us! For sure!

Multiplication Slam by Educational Insights

INVENTOR: Fred Lusignan
DOES: delivers math learning through different roads which may be better suited for your child's knowledge factory 
INVEST:  $39.99 
they say 8+ but if your child is starting to skip count then you might want to consider this sooner than that.
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, I Can Take of Myself, 
GIVEAWAY: Yahoo! One Winner will get ONE Multiplication Slam! Canada and U.S. addresses only.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

LOCKLACES: Free Ship Coupon Code Extended!


FREE SHIPPING CODE ---- Extended!!!  see below for details...

And a special thank you to Rachel for your comment on LOCK LACES' commitment to customers! 

"My son broke the tab off the top and I contacted lock laces about how I could buy just that piece and they emailed me right back and told me that they didn't sell this piece but if I wrote back what color we had they would send it to me ---

It thought they would send just that but they sent a whole new set! They didn't even ask where I bought them."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review+Giveaway: Social Thinking Conference: Cutting Edge Treatment for Kids with Social Smarts Deficits

"...Speech Pathologists, you should never write a goal: 'Will answer Wh-Questions'..." Watch this video to listen to her brilliant explanation for this advice.

WHAT: Social Thinking Conference Hastings-on-Hudson, NY OCT 2013
INVENTOR: Michelle Garcia Winner founded Social Thinking
DOES: completely changes the way I view teaching social skills and working on behavior
INVEST: Free Materials Online; Books for Sale, Conference Fees have Multiple Options
professionals and parents; some materials for children are also available
TOOLS: Think Like A Scientist/Engineer, Express Yourself, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy Flexibility is My Superpower, Foment the Love of Language

My OOPS- Forgot the Giveaway for Social Thinking Conference Review

I am so sorry about that.  The giveaway that accompanies the coverage of the Social Thinking Conference is now up!

The winner will get to choose between these three books.

I love how they make this a "detective" thing.  So positive.  So proactive!

Please go to the review and put your thoughts down.  I really really really really really want to know what you think about this one. Even if you don't care for the giveaway, I would still love to hear your opinion.  It's the best way I know that I am reviewing the areas that are important to you! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Great LEGO Storage Ideas Inspire Creativity

Could this be the final phase?

WHAT: IRIS 6-Case Craft Storage System and The LEGO Build-It Book Vol. 1 (actually many of the No Starch Press LEGO books are awesome for kids)
INVENTOR: LEGO Build-It Book: Nathanaƫl Kuipers and Mattia Zamboni
DOES: peace and quiet; more building and better building
INVEST:  $14 - 61 (Book is 19.95 with free e-book if purchased at No-Starch Press)
  3+ but material and needs are more geared for 6+, I would say
TOOLS: Express Yourself, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Family Fix-It, I Can Take Care of Myself