Gender and Toys- Does it really matter?

11 Apr

Today on The Big Toy Book Live! we talked about a bit of a hot topic- That hot topic? Genders and Toys. Does your son play with a doll? Does it really matter?

Below is a recording of today’s Big Toy Book Live in case you missed it.

Be sure to join us every Monday at 1pm ET to talk toys, play and parenting – and win some fabulous prizes too! Easy participation- sign in via Facebook or Twitter! Look for our Livestream tab on our Facebook page!

Hope to see you there next week!

Part 1

Watch live streaming video from thebigtoybook at

Part 2

Watch live streaming video from thebigtoybook at

The Big Toy Book Live! – Creating A Love For Reading

30 Mar

Today we hosted our very first Big Toy Book LIVE! Show on Livestream. This year the show will be where we meet with our community to discuss parenting topics, trends and of course- toys. Similar to how our Twitter chats ran last year, this year our Livestream show will have a slew of great toys for you to win each week.

The Big Toy Book LIVE! will be held every MONDAY at 1pm ET on Livestream

Livestream allows you to sign in and chat during the live show via Facebook and Twitter which is what we love most!  You can find a tab for our Livestream channel on the left side of our Facebook page {detailed instructions on how to participate to follow}.

Before March came to an end, we wanted to chat a little about some of the books and reading toys we love most.

Below is a recap of the cha and the products highlighted  (because the recording function didn’t work during the live show- whoopsie!)

Leap Frog’s Tag Reading System

The LeapFrog Tag Reading System brings stories to life like never before. Simply touch the Tag Reader to the pages of specially printed storybooks to instantly hear the voices, music and sounds within each story. Your child can also touch the pen to the words in the book to help them with word recognition and reading skills. 

Other educational skills include:

  • Consonants
  • Vowels
  • Vocabulary
  • Phonics skills
  • Word recognition
  • Phonological awareness
  • Listening and reading comprehension

Continue reading

DadStreet Talks On The Go Travel Play

22 Mar

I have two children. O will be turning 3 in 4 weeks and Jake is almost 19 months old. They’re close enough in age that they can share a lot of the same toys but just far enough apart that there’s certain things O has outgrown and that Jake just isn’t old enough to understand. With both kids at home we’re able to cater their activities and play toys to their developmental stages, and of course moods! They actually play really well together for the most part, sans the normal course of “it’s mine!” and “you’re a bad boy, Jakey!” Fortunately, that doesn’t happen often and in fact they love each other very much. It’s not uncommon, in fact, to see them holding hands in the back seat.

All of that is about to be put to the test in just a few short weeks. The entire family is about to embark on a trip across the country (starting out in CA), over the Atlantic, and on to Israel. My sister who decided to take up residency there some 4 years ago is now engaged to be married. So what’s the next craziest thing to getting married? (Just kidding honey!) Well, the answer is taking two kids, 2 years and under on a 10,000 mile trip! We’re going to be on the plane an ungodly amount of time and I haven’t even talked about the fact that there’s a 10-hour time difference once we land!

Oy Vey!

So how does on prepare for such a journey? Well, I suppose in many ways you don’t. However, we’re getting certain things in order. For starters our plane doesn’t leave until the evening so the hope is that they’ll sleep the majority of the trip. Assuming they can muster 7 or 8 hours of sleep (they’re actually great travel sleepers) they’ll only be awake for 3 or 4 hours. We’re still figuring out what to bring for the plane ride but for now we’re loading up on:

  • Paperback coloring books
  • Crayons
  • Tons of stickers
  • A Macbook with Dora and Sesame Street games
  • Two iPhones with kids apps/books
  • iPad with kids apps and books

I’m actually a little more concerned with Jake since O can keep herself occupied with games, etc. She also LOVES watching TV (we do limit this at home) so I’m not worried about her plopping herself down for several hours of Dora or Diego. Jake on the other hand doesn’t watch movies and won’t sit still for more than a few minutes. I’m thinking he and I will be making our rounds through the plane saying hi to everyone. Once we’re off the plane we’re facing a 10-hour time change. The wife and I can force ourselves awake but the kids? Different story. I think this one we’re going to have to play by ear and just go with the flow. Fortunately, we get there several days before the wedding. So, hopefully we’ll be able to all get acclimated in due time.

O and Jake are used to making 6 to 7 hour car drives to visit family but this is going to be a whole different story. I’ll be chronicling my journey on should you want to share in the craziness! Although, I do have a good amount of experience traveling with them (both have flown cross-country multiple times) I can always use advice.

Have any of you traveled with small children on such a long distance? If so, I’d love to hear what worked for you.

About the blogger:

Josh is an East Coast Transplant currently living in Monterey, California with his 2 adorable children, beautiful wife and their golden retriever. When Josh is not drooling over his adorable little ones, he enjoys drinking wine, taking pictures, playing with my iPhone, listening to an audio book, trying some kind of new food, surfing online, sleeping, watching TV, yappin’ on the phone, and last but not least trying to spend quality time with “The Boss”.

You can find Josh’s take on parenthood on his blog,

DIY CRAFT: Easy as ABC Child’s Room Wall Art

16 Mar

We’ve never had a guest blogger do a tutorial before, and this one is super cute and great for any party or child’s room.

Thanks for sharing Alecia!

-The Big Toy Book Moms

Decorating your child’s room doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; a few well-crafted accents can go a long way – especially when they’re this adorable!  This is also a great way to help easily divide a shared space – like an office / playroom.  Here is a really easy (and fun) project that you can knock out in an hour and hang immediately!

  • What you’ll need:

– Pencil

– Scissors

– Hold Punch

– Printed Letters or Numbers, cut out

– Construction or craft paper

– Ribbon

  • Step 1 –

I used our home computer and printer to print out numbers in the font and size that I wanted (make sure you use outline format to save on ink & pick ones that are fat enough to hold up when cut out).  Cut your numbers (or letters) out.  I chose to do 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 because my daughter loves to count right now.

  • Step 2 –

Trace your numbers onto the BACK side of your construction paper.  I used a different design for each number just to make it more ascetically fun – pick whatever colors/textures will work best for your space & child.  When tracing the numbers be sure that you trace them BACKWARDS and to the BACK side of your paper – so that once you cut them out, the printed side will show your number the correct way.

After you have them traced, cut them out.

* An alternative to Step 1 & 2 would be to combine the process and print your numbers directly to your construction paper, but I didn’t want the printed marks on the front of my paper and since I used scrap paper that I had leftover from other projects, my sizes were different and would not have fit easily into my printer.

  • Step 3 –

Punch two small holes in the top, center of each number.  Keep the holes far enough apart that you can easily string a ribbon through each hole without worrying about it ripping.  Sting your ribbon through the holes, slipping the ribbon from back to front for the first hole, then front to back in the second.  Repeat for the remaining numbers, in sequential order (of course).  Distance your numbers appropriately to fit your wall space and preferred amount of ribbon.

  • Step 4 –

Hang your new wall art!  I tied a bow on each end and used a small piece of sticky tack to adhere each end to the wall.  Stand back and marvel!

Because this craft is so easy, you could always incorporate the help of your kids or change the images you’re hanging to suite the seasons or your child’s interests at any given time (think using dinosaur images instead of numbers or going with a red & green theme at Christmas).

About The Blogger:

Alecia is a stay-at-home mom to two little girls, wife to an amazingly devoted husband, and an aspiring writer.  When she not sipping pretend tea, she shares savings tips, online deals, crafting ideas and recipes at Savings & Stewardship; helping the modern family survive, thrive, and live life fully.

Nickelodeon Upfront Announcements- Animation

10 Mar

Nickelodeon unveiled its future programming plans this afternoon during their upfronts at Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC.

From the pres release:

As part of the presentation, Nickelodeon announced an unprecedented roster of more than 400 new episodes of animation, live-action and preschool programming, including: four new animated series as part of the network’s biggest-ever animation order; a new super-charged look and feel to the network’s winning Saturday-morning animation block; an original primetime TV movie event that will bring the casts of iCarly and Victorious together for the first time; the addition of hit comedy series Friends and Yes, Dear to Nick at Nite; details about this year’s annual Worldwide Day of Play, in Washington, D.C., for the first-time ever; and the launch of “The ‘90s Are All That!,” a block of Nick’s iconic ‘90s series, to air on TeenNick. For first quarter 2011 to date, Nickelodeon is expected to close the quarter as basic cable’s number-one network in total day with kids 2- 11, kids 6-11 and total viewers and post its best quarter ever with total viewers.

Nickelodeon’s new line up includes current hits:

New to the animated line up:

  • The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra (Spinoff of Avatar)
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness
  • Robot & Monster
  • Winx Club

But for the child of the 80’s (eh-hem’ like myself), perhaps the most exciting of the animated announcements-

In fourth quarter 2012, Nickelodeon will premiere a new CG-animated version of the wildly popular franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Be There Bedtime Stories- Record and Email For Virtual Bedtime.

10 Mar

Whether you are a grandparent who lives far away from your grandchildren or a parent traveling on business- when children are young it is difficult being apart from them. We don’t want to miss any of the special moments- like tucking them in at night . While we are traveling on business, my husband and I we will often FaceTime on our iPhones to say good night to the kids and occasionally will leave them a little note or surprise under their pillow. The kids love it- their faces instantly light up.

Yesterday we learned of a great new service called Be There Bedtime Stories. Be There Bedtime Stories allows you to record a story with a web cam while providing a virtual flip page book with full illustrations. We played around with it yesterday, and it is genius. The books on average are $9.99 and you can try your first one free when you sign up.

Check it out-

What do you think of this new service? When would you use Bedtime Stories?


Loving Leapster Explorer

9 Mar

Children these days are already exposed to a plethora of technology. In fact, they are probably constantly trying to play with your touch- screen phone, tablet or any other electronic device that is lying around the house. My son is no different. That is why I jumped on the opportunity to get him a Leapster Explorer this past holiday season. Although it was quite the splurge for a 2 year-old ($69.99) it was worth EVERY PENNY!

I wish I would have investigated the setup before letting my son open it, but my husband said I shouldn’t play with his toys before he does. It’s just not fair. Well, we definitely paid the price. Once you get the Explorer you must plug it into to a computer to set everything up, and my son was not having it! So, I had to wait until he went to bed that night to really investigate all of the fabulous features of this touch-screen wonder.

The Explorer is portable, yet the buttons are large enough for children who are still developing their fine motor skills. It also includes a stylus that is ATTACHED to the game console so little fingers are less likely to lose. But, the best part about it is you don’t have to use the stylus if you don’t want. You can use the touch screen with your fingers. This was a must for my toddler, because he was used to playing on my IPod touch and Pop Pop’s IPad.

Leapster really did a phenomenal job of incorporating all of the familiar features of other touch-screen products and made them kid-friendly! They have an e-book feature using the Leaplet Learning Apps. We downloaded the Dinosaur’s Roar book, which is completely interactive, and the pictures on the page come alive with just one tap of a finger. The Leaplet Learning Apps allows you to purchase more reasonable games than the cartridges (which can run around $24.99/ cartridge), and they are just as fun! My son loves the “Jewel Train” game in which you have to rearrange the tracks so the train can get into the station. He struggled with this game at first, and originally I thought this way out of his reach (academically), but he soon came to successfully completing several levels!

My son’s favorite cartridge game is “Toy Story 3”, but it was a little challenging for him at first. It has an interactive board game layout, and your little learner can navigate through various activities on the board without having to complete or pass the level previous. This made for a happy mommy, because I didn’t have to go through and play the levels he couldn’t pass! It touches on skills such as letters, phonics skills, rhyming, word recognition, word building, spelling, and Physical Science. Of course, this is all the while that your little learner thinks they are Buzz Lightyear or Woody, which truly does give them a thrill.

All of the games, accessories, and console itself can get pricey, but they are worth it! I put all of the items on my little guy’s Christmas list and that helped a lot. So, I would definitely suggest making this a “big” gift and suggesting things for fellow family members or partygoers. Everyone loves to get a child a gift that is not only educational, but a gift they will love and treasure for many years!

About The Blogger:

In addition to running her own blog, Running on Empty Mom,  Rebecca Gillis is a full-time college student, job coach and teacher’s assistant for special needs children, wife—and, most importantly, a mommy. Rebecca started contributing to an online town newspaper for Collingswood and Haddonfield this past January for AOL, which has also kept her quite busy! She is finishing up her teaching and writing degrees at Rowan University and hopes to make a difference in the lives of her future students and readers.