Educational toys and accessories under $25

16 Sep

Kids are officially back to school!
Earlier this week The Toy Insider Mom, Laurie Schacht talked about some of the school gear kids will love as well as some educational toys that will keep them thinking. And the best part? They of the toys on the list are less than $25!

To see full segment click here.

Penguin Young Readers (Penguin Books)
Penguin early reader books are offered in a variety of fun and loveable preschool character including- “Butterfly Girl, “Skippy Jon Jones”, “Corduroy” & more.

MSRP: $16.99 each for the books; $9.99 each for plush
Ages: 2+

I Spy Ready to Read Game (Briarpatch)
Get ready to read! Develops verbal, pre-reading skills and letter, shape and pattern recognition.

MSRP: $16.99
Ages: 4+

Time and Space Projection Alarm Clock (Blue Hat)
This rocket-shaped alarm clock projects a digital clock display against vivid galactic images on any wall or ceiling.
MSRP $19.99
Ages: 3+

Angry Birds Multi Pocket Backpack (Accessory Innovations)
Head to class in style with Angry Birds backpacks featuring smart details and spacious designs, including extra durable zippers, multiple pockets and organizers to keep everything close at hand.
MSRP: $24.99
Ages: 3+

Shains Notebook (Shainsware)
Personalize the cover with your name, class subject, or decorate and change it whenever you want.
Comes with 60 elements for personalization.
MSRP: $16.00
Ages: 7+

Uglydoll School Planner (Ugly Doll)
Makes it easy to get and stay organized!
MSRP: $14.99
Ages: 10+

Squinkies™ Bubble Packs (Blip Toys)
Squinkies are great as pencil toppers, too
Collections include your favorite Disney® Princesses, Barbie® and Hello Kitty®, as well as themed sets boys will love too; from monsters to aliens, to Cars 2, to Marvel super heroes
MSRP $9.99
Ages: 4+

Counting Money Jar (Summit Toy)
This handy jar will count your coins and digitally display your savings.
With Balance Guard ™, it remembers your balance…even if you have to replace the batteries.

MSRP: $9.99
Ages: 5+

Scruble Cube (RSV Entertainment)
Players rotate and twist rows and columns of the cube, with the goal to rearrange letters to create new words.
One word is formed per turn and can range from 3 to 16 letters spelled horizontally, vertically and, uniquely, around multiple faces of the cube. Each of the 96 letter pegs is assigned a point value.

MSRP: $24.99
Ages: 8+

20Q™ (Techno Source)
The new 20Q is an updated version of the best-selling electronic game of twenty questions.
Players think of any animal, vegetable, mineral or other object, and 20Q magically reads their minds by deducing the answer in twenty questions or less.

MSRP:  $12.99
Ages 6+

Inkoos (The Bridge Direct)
Inkoos are funky, quirky characters that are drawn to life with a little “Inkspiration”!
By using the Inkoos’ amazing washable markers, creative tweens can express themselves by drawing, designing and decorating their Inkoos into anything they imagine.
Then with a spin in the washing machine, Inkoos are ready to be designed all over again!
MSRP: $7.99
Ages: 4+


Who’s Your BFF? – Friendship Day Twitter Party

28 Jul

Did you know that this Saturday, July 30th is International Friendship Day?

Friends are an important part in all of our lives, they are our family whether it be by blood or in our hearts.

The international holiday dates back to 1958- just 3 years after The Lennon Sisters made their debut on the The Lawrence Welk Show on Christmas Eve 1955. Even before America embraced them, Kathy and Janet Lennon were inseparable. They were “Best Pals” in every way. They grew up holding hands and taking care of one another, and today they have a line of adorable plush dolls and play sets, fittingly called Best Pals.

This Friday we are celebrating Friendship day with a Best Pals Twitter Party!

We will chat about our first friendships, the importance of friendships new and old and also will be giving away amazing prizes during the party- you will not want to miss!

So join us!

When: Friday, July 29th 8pm ET

What: Friendship Day Twitter Party

Where: Twitter – hashtag- #BestPals

RSVP by leaving your Twitter handle in the comment area & qualify to win one of the below prize packs:

Mini Best Pals set  (Value $20)
These are two adorable miniature Best Pals dolls in a fantastic mini valise!  Super cute, very retro.
Best Pals Doll of YOUR Choice and a Best Pals Sing Together CD (Value $45)
Choose from one of the 6 Best Pals dolls (Kathy, Janet, Lily, Sofia, Isabelle or Danny), and enjoy the Best Pals Sing Together CD – a sing-along CD of classic children’s music featuring Kathy and Janet Lennon.
The Aqua Lennon Sisters Paper Doll Set (Value $65)
A reproduction of a set originally produced in 1958; along with the Kathy and Janet Best Pals dolls.  The dolls are reproductions of two handmade ragdolls given to Kathy and Janet Lennon in 1949.

**Grand Prize**  (Value $100)

Two Best Pals dolls (winner can choose from 6 dolls), a Best Pals Tin Tea Set and the Best Pals Sing Together CD.

Shape Up Sneakers for 7 year olds? Has Sketcher’s Gone Too Far?

16 May

Sketchers Shape Ups is stirring up quite a bit of controversy with their new Shape Ups for kids as young as 7 years old. Since Sketchers Shape Ups arrived ion the scene, their message was that their shoes would help tone legs and buttocks for woman- which begs the question- do 7 year olds really need to tone their legs?

A few months ago, I was also baffled when retailer Abercombie and Fitch started selling padded bikini tops for 7 year olds.

What is going on? What message are sending to our children? Why are 7 year olds being marketed to the same as 20 year old women?

We want to hear your thoughts-

Choosing a college: Back to square one?

4 May

I thought it was over, I really did. I picked a college, I put a deposit down, I had a roommate….and then I got accepted into somewhere else…..

So finally I am a senior, yay! right? Well, it wasn’t all fun and games. First I had to get through SAT’s, then the ACT’s,  then to make a list of schools, and begin my application process– which wasn’t actually as bad as I expected, mostly because I was so excited to move on that it was the first thing I did when I got home from school everyday. Call me crazy, but by early October I was done. Yes, I was done and I was done early, and I was excited! .

I began getting letters back from colleges early too- some acceptances, some deferred, and sadly even some rejections.  I remember opening that first letter.   I wasn’t expecting it at all, I just figured it was a letter saying that they received all my information. I opened the envelope not thinking anything of it. I pulled it out and called my friend saying “I think I just got into college!”  It was more of a state of shock than anything else, it was also a sigh of relief.  Getting those acceptance letters was a great feeling, but the best feeling is when your first school is an acceptance; it gives you that feeling saying “hey I’m really going to college.”

After that first letter, more letters came rolling in. It was fun to receive them in the mail even if it wasn’t an acceptance.

There was one school I saw while visiting that I fell in love with, I didn’t get in. I knew it was a harder school for me to get into so when I received my rejection letter- I focused on the other schools that I got into, and really felt fine with it. Obviously it wasn’t meant for a reason and this school didn’t even have my major.

When I began applying to schools, James Madison University (JMU) is one that I didn’t know much about.  My guidance counselor put this one on my list, because she saw it last year and fell in love with it. So I applied and was accepted!  After receiving the acceptance letter, I had heard that about eleven people from my school applied to and I was one of two who got in! So I decided I needed to learn some more about the school. I began talking to a graduate from my high school who goes there and loves it and another girl I met, slowly it began reaching to the top of my list.

When my Mom and I got to campus we walked around for a bit and said ehh, it’s pretty but not that big. We got into the car to find a hotel for the night when we crossed over the highway and saw that there was an entire other half of campus, we laughed about it and looked around, now the campus really became something. For me, the only down side of the university that I found was that it is 6 and a half hours away from home andthe transportation wasn’t the best… but over all the school is beautiful.

So I put my deposit down.

Then shortly after I began over thinking if I actually wanted to go there. I went to my guidance counselor and she told me that almost everyone begins to second guess their decision after they put a deposit down, this made me feel a lot better and I realized that there was no other school I wanted that I got into.

… Although there was one I didn’t hear back from. But it didn’t  matter. I wouldn’t get in anyway.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I received the letter from that last one, SUNY New Paltz, and it was an acceptance letter! I got in!!

New Paltz is the complete opposite of JMU.  I thought I wanted a big school with the “RaRa” life, but not filled with the crowd and personalities in my town, that’s what I wanted to get away from. I wanted people who were down to earth, I wanted to get away. New Paltz is a smaller school, without the “RaRa”, but still getting away from my town. And my parents think I should go see it.

Both schools are beautiful, but now I am back to stage 1, deciding where to go. This, is the hardest part of the entire process, I know you can transfer, but my goal is to pick a school where I am going to be happy and stay there for my entire college career.

 *sigh*  What to do?


Traveling with kids this spring break? We have tips!

22 Apr

With the weather warming up and the kids on break and looking forward to summer, many families are beginning to plan their family vacation.

Traveling with kids can be challenging- especially when the trip is long- but if you are prepared with all the right toys and travel gear your traveling experience can be headache free.

The Toy Insider visited “Money Matters” this morning to give her very best tips on how to occupy kids on the go!

Toy Insider Mom Travel Tips:

– Start with a great mom bag that keeps all of your travel toys and gear in one place,
always ready to go!

– Pack lots of healthy snacks and something to drink—no-spill cups and containers are

– Look for toys that are portable and small enough to throw in any carry on bag;
storage compartments are key if there are tiny pieces.

– Toys that make noise should have volume control

– Keep travel toys separate from house toys to make them new and exciting for kids

For families traveling on spring break, here are some great toys and games that will keep the
kids entertained without breaking the bank:
Graco Carina Flap Messenger (Baby Boom Consumer Products)
Spacious interior holds everything needed for your outings
Lots of pockets (7 total) to keep you organized and allow for easy access
Removable changing pad for on-the-go diapering
Adjustable strap for comfy carrying
MSRP: $19.00

Snack Catchers (Munchkin)
Easy access for little hands, with no spills
Holds 9 oz. of dry snacks
Protective bottom keeps tabletops scratch-free
A place to write child’s name on the bottom
BPA free
Top rack dishwasher safe
Ages: 12+ months
MSRP: $7.50 for 2-pack

Nûby No-Spill™ Easy Grip Cup (Love n’ care)
Valveless, leak resistant spout ensures no spills! Made from the same safe, soft silicone material as Nûby™ nipples, gentle on your child’s tender gums  Unique contour shape easily fits small hands
BPA free
Ages: 6+ months
MSRP: $2.99

Are We There Yet? Keep Me Comfy Neck Rests & I.D. Tags (Aurora)
Neck Rests: Makes long trips easier with soft & cuddly support for sleepy heads.  Ideal for napping on planes, trains, buses and automobiles
Ages: 18mos+
MSRP: $13
ID Tags: Clip on kids bags and backpacks, in case they get lost.
Ages: 3+
MSRP: $ $6.00

Beat the Parents (Spin Master)
Parents and kids go head to head in this fun filled family trivia game that puts your knowledge of the other generation to the test Adults answer questions about kids’ stuff, and the kids answer questions their parents should really know
A perfect travel card game for families to play in the car or while on vacation
Ages: 6+
MSRP: $5.99

Mini Games to Go (Briarpatch)
“Play’em, Clip’em, Take’em, Collect’em!  Mini Games to Go are compact card games you can play anywhere
After you play, just clip’em to your backpack or belt. Assortment includes: I Spy Memory Game, I Spy Shadow Match Game, Fancy Nancy Game, Dino Duel Game, Pirates Brawl, Princess Matching Game
For 1,2,3, – 4 players per game
Ages: 4+
MSRP $4.99 each

Fun on the Run Games (Hasbro)
Fun on the Run Games are compact, travel-size versions of the classic games we love
Assortment includes Connect 4, Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Battleship and more
For 2 players
Ages: 4-7+
MSRP: $5.99 each

SpongeBob SquarePants Clam Catching Game (Cardinal)
Mini fishing game perfect for the car, plane or bus
Catch the moving clams while the board is spinning
The player with the most clams wins!
For 2 Players
Ages: 4+
MSRP: $2.00

Elmo Travel Songs and Games on DVD (Warner Home Video)
Lots of travel fun starring Sesame Street favorites Elmo and Abby
Follows Elmo and Abby as they embark on a fun-filled road trip to the zoo with Elmo’s Dad
To help pass the time, they play stimulating travel games featuring the alphabet, counting, shapes and rhyming
Sing along with them to family favorites “Let’s Go Driving” and “The Bear Went Over The Mountain,” as well as the new “Are We There Yet?” song
Don’t forget to buckle up and go to the bathroom before you go on your trip, Elmo shows you why that is important!
On DVD May 3, 2011
MSRP: $14.98

Mad Libs On The Road (Penguin Books)
Help create car songs, spot some historical sights, even stop at a roadside diner–with a Mad Libs® twist, of course!
Includes 21 stories to fill-in-the-blanks – educates and entertains simultaneously
There is also an iDevice app edition that allows fans to email their wacky stores to friends from the car ride itself!
Ages: 8+
MSRP: $3.99

3D Dry-Erase Activity Set (Crayola)
Unique surface lets kids draw cool, eye-popping art and amazingly bright messages
Images appear as if they are floating without 3D glasses!
The board comes with Crayola Washable Dry-Erase Crayons in bright colors that burst off the board with boldness for doubly dazzling drawings!  Washable dry-erase crayon formula makes it easy to remove marks from walls, clothing and skin  convenient built-in crayon holder on front keeps contents organized
Includes: 5 Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons, E-Z erase mitt and crayon sharpener
Ages: 5+
MSRP: $12.99

Spring and Easter Basket Toys

21 Apr

The weather is finally warming up, the trees and flowers are beginning to bloom and spring is in the air. This week The Toy Insider Mom, Laurie Schacht visited ABC World Wide News to give her suggestions for some great spring time fun!

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Gardening Tools

Why we love them-

With these adorable tools, getting help in the garden just got easier!
The plastic tools are just right for little helpers and easy to keep
organized in this durable fabric tote with sturdy woven handles.

Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Tote Set
Ages 3+ MSRP: $14.99

Sunny Patch Be Good to Bugs Gripping Gloves
Ages: 3+ MSRP: $4.99

Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Watering Can.
Ages: 3+ MSRP: $12.99

GrowUms (by Preferred Commerce)

Choose from to grow a Taco Garden, Pizza Garden or even a Ratatouille Garden and teach kids how to grow their own food and help the environment.

It’s simple: just add water, plant your seeds and watch them grow! Gives kids gardening knowledge and shows them the skills it takes to become a successful gardener – no matter what their age.

Ages: 5+ MSRP: $9.99 each

Lazer Light Bug Vacuum ( by Backyard Safari™ Outfitters)

Become the ultimate bug wrangler by capturing bugs with more precision.
Find a light up bugs and suck ‘em,  look at bugs up-close with the built-in magnifying glass.
Ages: 5+ MSRP: $19.99

Are We There Yet? Keep Me Comfy Neck Rest (by Aurora)

Perfect for long napping on long trips via plan, trains or automobiles.
Ages: 18mos+ MSRP: $13

Zip-It (by Bananagrams)
Zip-It is a crossword race that can be played anytime, anywhere in as little as 20 seconds!
2 players
Ages: 7+ MSRP: $14.95

Chick and Bunny Easter Bags (by MEGA Bloks)

Let your child unlock her imagination and create charming Easter creations with detailed sticker sheet and 20 decorative pieces. When it’s time to go, put your creations away in your handy tote and continue the fun wherever you go!

Ages: 1+ MSRP: $9.99

Peeps Plush (by Commonwealth Toy)

Look just like the soft, squishy marshmallow characters – without the sugar! Peeps plus come in a variety of materials and sizes, sold individually and as 4-pack gift sets
Ages: 3+ MSRP: $3.99 to $12.99

Play-Doh Treat Without the Sweet Bunny and Chick Stampers ( by Hasbro)

These bunny and chick figures hold a couple of surprises just for you. Open each one up and you’ll find Play-Doh hidden inside! Then, look under their feet — you’ll find stamps for creating fun shapes! Stamp, mold and shape all kinds of imaginative creations with these two little pals.
Ages: 3+ MSRP: $3.99 (2-pack)

Wheel Pals Animal Tracks Spring Friends (by Hasbro)

Egg and bunny vehicles feature easy-rolling wheels so your little one can zip and zoom them all over the floor.
Sized just right for little hands, this squeezable pair loves to go, go, go
Ages: 12mos+ MSRP: $4.99 (2-pack)

Playskool Weebles Spring Basket (Hasbro)

Little ones will love the excitement of these two animal characters, who sway and wobble with glee — but never, ever fall down! Weebles 2-pack includes yellow chick and blue bunny figures in the classic, easy-to-grab shapes.
Ages: 12mos+ MSRP: $6.99 (2-pack)

I Spy Wonder Tubes (by Briarpatch)

A collectible game that’s self contained! Among the glitter and the sand swirl lots of items to find in order to
solve the different riddles that are included with each Wonder Tube. 6 different colors of Wonder Tubes, 3 different sets of riddles
Ages 5+ MSRP: $5.99 each

EggBods (by Bluw Toys)

Egg-shaped mix ‘n’ match collectible characters r.ange of characters for boys and girls including Captain Hard Boiled,
Egg Bot, Eggalina Ballerina and Fairy Tinkershell
Swap heads, arms and accessories to create new characters, wind up function, collect them all!
Ages: 4+ MSRP: $5.99 each

HOP Easter Basket

Assorted toys, apparel and candy based on Universal Studio’s new spring family movie HOP. Available exclusively at Walmart.

Douglas Toy Fuzzles Pass The Lovability Test

12 Apr

Having the unique opportunity to work with toys, my children are convinced that I have the coolest job in the world. And every once in a while I am reminded of just how right they are.

The other day, we received a box from Douglas Toys. Douglas Toys makes quality cuddle toys and this week I was being asked to review their fun, floppy and fuzzy Fuzzles line.

I opened the box in front of my 2 year old and before I even got to pick one up, my daughter squealed in delight and claimed one her own.

Was it was the bright paisley print that spoke to her instantly? Was it the cute faces of the characters? What ever it was-  The Fuzzles owl, whom she named “Ella”, quickly became part of our family.

Ella goes to bed with her every night.

She takes Ella to the bus stop to pick up her brother from school.

She even took Ella to The Cheesecake Factory with us this weekend for lunch- and shared her milk with her.

As a Mom reviewing the Fuzzles line, I could instantly say they are adorable- they are soft and 100% snuggable… but only a child can truly measure a toys’s love-ability.

And it is in the little moments like these

That I get a glimpse into just how priceless that love can be.