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Play on the Go

10 Mar

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“What toys can Mom’s keep on hand for sun and simple play-on-the-go?”

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It almost doesn’t matter how old your kids are..keeping them occupied is always a good thing.  My teens of course, are usually pretty happy with (what else) texting…but when I put the right toy in front of them, they are still intrigued- But let me back up from teens and let’s take a look at “play on the go” for smaller kids.
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First, some tips!

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-Keep it separate from what they are allowed to play with at home. Make it special…this is only for the long car ride…or the short supermarket run.  This way, they’ll anticipate the “on the go” play bag and won’t get bored.
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-Keep it compact and light! We all have enough to make our shoulders ache, so keep it small and keep the carrying weight to a minimum..

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-Don’t forget the Cheerios (with that great portable carrying case!) and the drink. Healthy snacks and something to quench their thirst will always be part of the grand scheme of happy children.

As for toys specifically, here are some new items that you can consider:

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For the wee-little ones:
(6months +)
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Crayola Jumbles- This item is a first building set from their Beginnings Baby line. What I really like is that you can take just 3 or 4 of these and drop them into the diaper bag.  They are made for baby hands…your baby will try to chew (don’t worry…non toxic) and it will only take a few for baby to be very occupied.  Pretty colors, great for small motor skills….  Ages 6 months and up!

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For the pre-schooler:
(ages 4+)
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Crayola Dry Erase travel Pack- This includes reusable activity sheets which kids put under that attached clear surface where they can write and color..when they are done, they can erase and try again.  Everything they need is included, 4 washable dry-erase crayons, 8 activity sheets, the dry-erase Case, an Erase Mitt, and a Crayon Sharpener…for ages 4+ (wait till you see just how compact this is)
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(I will be covering the pre-school age more in depth on Rachel’s upcoming Toy Guide… be sure to stay tuned!)
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For the school kids:
(ages 6+)
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Hasbro Sorry Revenge is one of my favorites and it’s the perfect game to play with your kids and can be played in about 15 minutes (think…waiting for food at a restaurant).
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Of course, at the restaurant- the quarter on the table works too. We still play that game and who needs a reminder of the rules for that one??… … …or did my Dad just make that up when we were little?
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Mighty Beanz are back from Spinmaster! Remember them? So many Mighty Beanz to collect and so many games to play.  This is an easy one to travel with and also to pull out new ones when you’re on the road.
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And last but not least is an old favorite with a new twist (literally)
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The new Rubiks slide from Techno Source… From 8 to 108, this game is fun and can be played alone or everyone can try to beat the timer.  The new technology is great (solving the puzzle by moving lights with a twist or a push) and best of all this game is inexpensive, light and compact.  All my requirements for a great “play on the go” toy.
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These are just a few suggestions. There are so many great items to choose from.  Toy manufacturers have offered lots of simple and inexpensive choices because of today’s economic times but also- don’t ever underestimate a good old deck of cards.  From magic tricks to building houses to playing a simple card game….a deck of cards will always go a long way.
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Enjoy and have fun with your children.
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-Laurie

Have a question for the Toy Insider Mom? Submit them here

Join us every Wednesday, where Toy Expert and site founder Laurie Schacht is answering questions from The Big Toy Book Community.

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Leap Frog Tag Junior- Is 16 Months really too young?

3 Mar

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Is there an issue with giving my 16 month old a Leap Frog Tag Junior? He loves books, but didn’t know if there was any reason not to give it to him, as it is recommended for 2 years +.

-Twitter Follower, Abby Winters

There are two key reasons that manufacturers of all toys list an age, first and foremost is safety.  On this particular item, I don’t believe that’s much of an issue (we always worry about small parts and choking for any child under 3….and sharp or pointy edges for all children…but that is not really relevant with the Tag Junior).

The second reason they age a product is because a young child can get very frustrated with an item that is too difficult or complicated.
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There’s an enormous difference in growth, physically and mentally from 16 months to 24 months.  For this reason, I do think that your child will enjoy this much more in a few months.
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That being said, Leap Frog‘s Tag Junior is a sensational item that will enforce your child’s love of books and I highly recommend it for the age intended. It could make a great gift for your little one’s 2nd Birthday! 🙂
-Laurie
Have a question for the Toy Insider Mom? Submit them here

Join us every Wednesday, where Toy Expert and site founder Laurie Schacht is answering questions from The Big Toy Book Community.

Hot Toys For Preschool Boys

24 Feb

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What are some hot new toys for preschool boys?

– Twitter Follower, Julie Davis from Finn & Tanner.
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Preschool is such a fun age for play, isn’t it?
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The Thomas line is a favorite among preschool boys and one of my favorites this year is a new line of Thomas and Friends by Mega Bloks. Thomas and Friends at the Quarry utilizes its box as part of the building, and I love the height and dimension that boys get to create with this line. The first of this new line will be available this spring (with plenty of additions in the fall!)

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Tonka’s Chuck & Friends is another well loved character for preschool boys. This year, you can be on the look out for Tonka Chuck by Hasbro for your preschool boy. There’s a great new track set for him to do flips on and a new talking chuck as well! Preschoolers are going to love them!
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Baby Genius has a full line of friends that sing and dance to both preschool boys and girls, with new DVD’s, flashlights with their favorite images lighting up the wall and even a singing broom.

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When it comes to preschool games, Wildplanet’s Flipper Frenzy available this fall, which is something I highlighted on the CBS morning showCBS morning show during Toy Fair. They also have a Woody’s Roundup  game due out this spring that preschoolers are going to love. Both games call for running and listening fun- which mean your preschooler gets to burn off lots of that never-ending energy we all envy.

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I hope that has given you some great ideas for you and your little boy!

-Laurie
Have a question for the Toy Insider Mom? Submit them here

Join us every Wednesday, where Toy Expert and site founder Laurie Schacht is answering questions from The Big Toy Book Community.

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Wednesday with The Toy Insider Mom: Toy Fair Trends

16 Feb

It has been one busy week with Toy Fair. So many great toys, 4 days hardly seems long enough to see them all.

Our very own Toy Insider Mom, Laurie Schacht highlighted some of the shows hottest trends this morning on The CBS Early Show and on Good Morning America! We’re very excited to share the clips with you for today’s Wednesday’s with the Toy Insider Mom post!

If you have questions you would like to submit for next week, please submit it in the form below!

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Wednedays with The Toy Insider Mom: The "Play with me" factor

10 Feb
Goldberger Toys

Photo credit: The Goldberger Company

Gearing up for Toy Fair next week- we are beginning to see some really cool toys being announced this year.

When I look at toys the very first question I ask myself is- will this toy call out to a child…’“play with me”?  If the answer is no,  I keep walking.

When I was a child my sister had a favorite- Little Lost Baby (anyone remember her??). We couldn’t go anywhere without her. Once we were on the road for close to an hour- traveling to upstate NY- when we suddenly realized my sister had forgotten her baby doll! The panic! So my Dad did what any parent in such a predicament would do-  turned the car right around to go back and get her.

So what made Little Lost Baby so special?  She called to my sister “Play with me!” You see, Little Lost Baby was both versatile and snugly– it was in essence what I describe as, yummy! She had 3 or 4 different faces that changed by a mechanism in the back of her neck.  She would cry or laugh or coo…or of course sleep and with the exception of her face… the doll was soft and snuggable.  My sister slept with her every night.

When it comes to plush toys– a child should be able to hug it, to love it, and to sleep ON it…even if it does cool things . This year you will see new plush items hitting the market, like Animal Planet’s endangered species line.  These plush animals not only move and make sounds… they are a great learning tool for kids, making them aware of the animals that risk extinction…and the best part is– they’re soft! (Yummy!)

I have some favorite Toy Story toys that will be on shelves this holiday season. Some will call to your child for the yumminess and some will call to your child for the down right “coolness” -Like the new Toy Story Mr Potato Head- No matter how cool Mr. Potato Head is (and he is awesome), he is still the real deal that you can take apart, put together and change his expressions. Kids love that.

We saw some cool trucks calling to our little boys this past holiday season. They sang, danced and rolled to you when called like Tonka Chuck and Matchbox’s Rocky the Robot Truck -but the greatest part of these trucks? They can also be played with just like a regular truck, so if the batteries aren’t them, or a child wants to fill the truck up with dirt or toys- they can! These kinds of toys provides imaginative enjoyment for years.

Building sets have called “play with me” to children for years because it is like finding a brand new toy every time it comes out of the box. My kids used to love the playmobil circus set when they were younger.  The big top would take quite a while to rebuild each time..but each time the kids would use the set to tell a different story. That’s the beauty of blocks- your child can build a castle one day and a city the next- changing out the characters & making their experience different time after time.

This year as our children get more computer savvy, we will be seeing more and more toys where kids can actually create and download their own apps! Manufactures know that computers are calling to our children each day, so they are finding new and exciting ways to incorporate that appeal into their toys.

So whether your child is engaging because of technology, creativity, or simply cuddling- the bottom line when checking out all of the cool new toys, like those being announced next week at Toy Fair is to make sure that toy screams “PLAY WITH ME”.

If the answer is “yes!”- don’t let it pass you by!

-Laurie

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