Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Fisher-Price Learning Tablet - Time for Grandparents to Get Onboard

Fisher-Price Learning Tablet

When doing product reviews, I usually keep in the Grandma zone and stick mostly to non-battery and non-electronic items.  But Grandmas need to know about what is new, exciting and useful  for our grandchildren. Our grandchildren, however young, have some exposure to smartphones and tablets.  But all tablets are not created equal. Young children can have a more enriched and safe experience on a tablet that is designed just for them.  This one, by one of the most respected names in childhood play, is worth knowing more about. 

The Fisher-Price Learning Tablet has many features especially for young children.  If you are considering buying a tablet for a pre-school age child, this may be the one for you. Here are some highlights that are notable:

Protection – There is a custom bumper around the edges, PLUS there is a hard screen cover which protects the screen.  It easily attaches to the back of the tablet when the tablet is in use. My daughter- in-law especially liked this feature.

Learning Tool – Includes 35 pre-school learning apps featuring Fisher Price characters 

Storybook rhymes – sing along and enjoy the animation

Little People videos – Music videos featuring favorite pre-school toy characters

Kindergarten Readiness – Pre-K and K activities with parental tracking so you can keep abreast of your child’s readiness for Kindergarten

Babies too – Laugh and Learn apps will be enjoyed by babies while learning about cause and effect

Google Play – App store is child safe and does not have any inappropriate features available

Timer enabled – You can set time limits and bedtime shutoff times.

There are a bunch of impressive technical specs also but I’m skipping them in this review.

If you read the reviews about this tablet you will find that there is some set-up time patience required.  The parents who make it through that labyrinth are very happy with the content and controls. That was my daughter-in-law's experience. If the parent isn’t tech savy at all they can get frustrated.  This is going to be true with any product.  The more capabilities and controls there are the more complexity.  For parents who want their children to have both fun and learning activities on a tablet with secure parental controls and a sturdy casing, the Fisher-Price Learning Tablet can be an excellent choice.

Here is my grandson enjoying the tablet with his Dad:

Here is a close up of my grandson with the tablet

Note:  I was not compensated to write this review.  The opinion expressed is my own.  I did receive a product sample for review.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Look and Feel Baby Book by Edushape

Are you looking for a perfect gift for a baby?  The Look and Feel Baby Book by Edushape is a can’t miss choice.  If you have been to a baby shower you know that they will get lots of necessary equipment, clothes and diapers, etc.  But they are usually short on things that will stimulate a baby’s development and entertain him.  The Look and Feel Baby Book does just that.  It has been tested with my three month old nephew and he loved it.

The book comes in this attractive box and opens up to fit on the side of a pack and play or crib. It has two sides and each has six panels for baby to enjoy.  One side has smiling animals and the other has black and white shapes – more on that later.  It is washable and each animal panel has a different feature that will be entertaining for a baby – crinkles, ribbons, felt, strings and squeaking.

I am not a baby development expert but I knew that black and white are thought to be good for a baby’s visual development.  Since this item features a black and white side, I thought I’d do some research on this concept.  I read several articles and I recommend this one at the Ask Dr. Sears website if you are interested in this topic.   Basically, at birth, a baby’s retina is not fully developed. The retina is the back layer of the eye that detects light. An adult retina can distinguish many different shades of light and color, but a newborn retina can only detect large contrasts between light and dark, or black and white.  So all these years that we were using pale pink and blue for babies - this was not the best thing.  Who knew?  But NOW you KNOW so you will want to use this information in choosing items for a newborn baby.

Here is my three month old nephew enjoying the animal panels in his crib.

I took these pictures in the Pack n’ Play so you can get a close-up of both sides.

The animal faces side features high contrast pictures with crinkles, ribbons, felt , strings and squeaking for more sensory development.

The black and white geometric shapes and a mirror panel side will aid in visual development – and isn’t it cool.

Edushape is a 34 year old company that specializes in quality children’s toys which promote successful developmental learning through play. Their products are mainly designed for ages Birth to 5 years old.  You can see all of their products at their website here.
This review is my own opinion.  I was not compensated to write this article.  I did receive a free sample in order to complete the review.

The Look and Feel Baby Book is available at Amazon:

Other articles you may be interested in:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Favorite Puzzles and Games at Toy Fair plus a Giveaway!

This is the fourth in a series of posts about Toy Fair NY 2017.  The events span a week and I literally saw thousands of toys and took 1000 pictures.  And so I am organizing my reports in a series of posts as follows:

This post covers games and puzzles.   Both of these are popular in our house and so I had lots of fun checking out what’s new. I am including something for every age  and my favorite thing about this category – every item is something an adult (grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, friend) can do with children.  We keep games and puzzles at our house and both are on tap when my grandson visits.  Extra note - no stock photos - with one exception taken at Toy Fair.

I am delighted to offer a giveaway of the Zodiac puzzle featured in this article.  See the giveaway details at the end of the article.

Zodiac Puzzle by eeboo
Zodiac 1008 Piece Puzzle by eeboo
Most jigsaw puzzles have a top and a bottom.  If there are multiple people working on them only one person gets to work from the bottom up.  But the square Zodiac puzzle provides a family challenge with all sides being an equal start – no top or bottom! And – the symbols glow in the dark!  25” x 25” when completed.  As all eeboo puzzles, it is made of sturdy, colorful pieces.  I am very happy to offer this puzzle as a giveaway with this post.  The whole family  - all generations - will enjoy putting it together and then again when it is completed watching it glow in the dark.

Bunny Bedtime by Peaceable Kingdom
Bunny Bedtime by Peaceable Kingdom

I included this game on my Babies and Toddlers Toy Fair post but it should be here too.  This hidden gem is a game designed for 2 year olds and it would be an excellent grandparent gift.  How do you play?  It's time for bed, Bunny! Players roll a chunky die and move Bunny on the game path. Along the way, players help Bunny make choices about her bedtime routine. Which bath toy will she play with? Which pajamas will she wear?  I just love this game idea.

Hoot Owl Hoot by Peaceable Kingdom 

This is an another game by this award winning company of cooperative games. Hoot Owl Hoot is not new but it has won numerous awards and is still a best seller for Peaceable Kingdom. In these games, players work together to win the game rather than against each other.  In this game the players work together to get all the owls to the nest before the sun rises and then everyone wins.  Here is a short video that shows how the game is played.

Sneaker Puzzle - American Style by Ravensburger
My Grandson with his completed Sneaker Puzzle by Ravensburger
My 7 year old grandson loves puzzles and when I saw this 3D puzzle that can be used as a pencil holder at Toy Fair, I knew it was for us.  You can see my review blog post here.  There are 108 numbered plastic pieces that must be put together in order but it is very manageable and Zach completed it with his grandfather just watching.  Very cool.  Very fun. Gets an intergenerational A+.

And to All a Good Night Family Jigsaw Puzzle by Springbok
And to All a Good Night Family Jigsaw Puzzle by Springbok
This family puzzle features pieces in three different sizes designed with large pieces on the outside for the young ones, and small pieces on the inside for more experienced puzzlers.  We have completed one of these "family" puzzles with our grandson when he was younger and it was a lot of fun to work on together.  Springbok has other puzzles in this format including an state license plates one.

Star Wars Monopoly 40th Anniversary Edition by Hasbro

Can we ever have enough of Star Wars?  Simple answer is NO.  This is a special 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Monopoly game from Hasbro. 40 Years!  Do you believe it? Do you love Monopoly?  Do you love Star Wars?  This game is for YOU!  Star Wars lovers of all ages will enjoy playing this together.

Miss Bernard is a Wild Card (Weird School) Game by All Things Equal

That's me with Dan Gutman

The very first game based on the popular Weird School books is coming out in June.  Here is an advance look at the box.  At my very last stop at Toy Fair when I could barely stand up,  I made a command visit to this booth and met author Dan Gutman in person.  My daughter had seen on facebook that the game was coming out and she asked me to look for it at Toy Fair.  Here I am with Dan.  Impressed my grandson more with this picture that the one of me with the ghostbusters.  Who knew?  I plan to do a full game review when it is available.  Stay tuned.

Zodiac Puzzle Giveaway Details

It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:
Leave a comment here on the blog


You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: May 10, 2017 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sneaker Puzzle - American Style by Ravensburger

Sneaker Puzzle on Display at Toy Fair NY
This 3-D, 108 piece puzzle is fun to put together and fun to keep as a pencil holder.  The ages on the box says 8 - 99 and that is about right.  My grandson, who is “almost 8” put it together by himself with his Pop (My husband) sitting with him and prepared to help if needed.  There are 108 sturdy plastic pieces and each is numbered – they do have to be put together in order unlike a flat jigsaw puzzle.  So you may want to put the pieces in order before putting them together – that was my husband’s job.  Once the puzzle is put together there is a plastic insert which allows the puzzle to be useful as a holder.

This is a perfect gift to have for a grandchild visit – it is easy and fun to do together at any age.  It is cute and it is also cool.  Not too many things fall into both categories.

I first saw the Sneaker Puzzle at Toy Fair NY in February and I plan to include it in a yet to be written puzzles and games at Toy Fair post.  But I received a sample last week and as it was spring break week for my grandson, it was perfect timing.  Zach opened it and within minutes he wanted to put it together.

Here is the puzzle in its box:

Sneaker Puzzle in its Box

Here is the completed puzzle on my kitchen table

The Sneaker Pencil Holder Builder and Owner

 The Sneaker Puzzle is available on Amazon:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Traditions! Celebrating Passover and Holy Week Together with Young Children

When our children were young we had a tradition with our friends of having a seder with a Christian communion service. The Passover meal is considered to be the meal celebrated with Jesus and his Apostles on Holy Thursday.  Celebrating the Passover traditions and coupling it with Christian rituals is an enriching experience for people in the Christian tradition and connects us to our Jewish religious roots.  

Once our daughters had children, they were interested in reviving that tradition even though the children were pre-schoolers. The grandparents put our heads together and divide up the preparation tasks to make this all work smoothly.  I enjoy preparing a beautiful table laid out with everything needed for the seder.

Our friend, Joan was a kindergarten teacher and so she was in charge of a pre-service explanation and she used a flap book (kids love flap books) to describe the seder for them. I wrote about our first Seder with our grandsons in this 2013 post.

They are older now so this year Joan used an illustrated book of bible stories for children and read the Exodus and Last Supper stories.  Our friends have a new granddaughter and I just bought a board book – entitled “My First Seder” and so her parents flipped through that with her too.  We don’t want to leave anyone out as a seder is supposed to include the whole family.  The boys are old enough now to remember some of the aspects of the seder and look forward to participating in them.  Having this educational element before the seder makes it more meaningful for the children.

We have a script we use for the seder itself and the boys still enjoy opening the door for Elijah and finding the hidden afikomen. I am calling it a script rather than the Hebrew Haggadah because it incorporates Christian elements. The boys' juice is in stemware and so they participate in the four sips of wine.  My grandson reads when it is his turn (he is in second grade) and I am grandmotherly impressed with his ability to read words like horseradish without any assistance.

After the Seder service, we enjoy a meal together – 2 families, 3 generations celebrating and enjoying a religious and historically cultural experience together.

I encourage you to adapt your religious and spiritual rituals for the young children in your families and to establish traditions.  Our grown children love the traditions they experienced as young children and now I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate these traditions with our grandchildren.

Biblical References:

Old Testament:   Exodus 12:1-14

New Testament:   John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Friday, March 17, 2017

For Babies and Toddlers - My Favorites at Toy Fair

Toy Fair New York events span a week and there are toys suitable for infants through adults on display and being demonstrated. I had fun, saw thousands of toys, took a thousand photos and completely wore myself out. There is way too much to put in one blog post so I am writing a series of articles.  This is the third in the series featuring some of my favorites just for babies and toddlers.  Other blog posts about Toy Fair NY will include:

These are the “Highlights from a Grandmother’s point of view” so none of these toys work with appsapps.  There are some great toys with apps but I tend to the more simple straightforward toys.  The pictures are all my own from the displays I saw – no stock photos here – just the real thing.  For some of the items not out yet, this may be a prototype and the final may differ a little. 

Most of the toys at Toy Fair are for pre-school age and up to adult.  This is my first year writing a post just for babies and toddlers. There are three little ones in this group in my family so I guess I was looking at this category with them in mind.  Here are some of my favorites.

Beginning with newborns... 
Winky Lamb Baby Rattle by GUND

These super soft lambs with embroidered facial details (safe for babies) that are also rattles will make you want to cuddle up in a crib with them. At 4 1/2 inches, they are small enough for the youngest baby.  What a sweet Easter or Passover gift for a baby or toddler this would make.

Baby Papaya Bunny by eeboo

If your tastes goes more to the bright colors, this bright bunny by eeboo is an excellent choice.  There are beans in the bottom creating a crinkly sound. The stitched features and the soft velour make this an excellent choice for a the youngest baby also.  Another nice Easter gift for a baby.  At 7 ½ inches long, this is also sized right for a baby.

NogginStik Developmental Light-up Rattle by SmartNoggin

The NogginStik Developmental Light-up Rattle is described as an educational tool that helps promote visual tracking, auditory orientation, grasping, reaching and language skills.  The light up feature is unusual for a baby’s rattle.  Babies will follow the light. The textured midsection is easy and fun to grab onto.  And babies will like the soft rattle sounds.  The founder of this young company worked for years as an early intervention therapist and  teacher before starting SmartNoggin. This rattle is a winner of the prestigious Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum award.

Once Babies are ready for tummy time and sitting up here are a couple of suggestions….

Sensory Shapes and Balls by Edushape

I really liked this set because it is so much more than just balls.  The various shapes, textures and sounds when you shake them, will provide both fun and development opportunities for babies.  Look for this set in specialty stores. Recommend for babies ages 6 months+.

Press 'N Go Monster Truck by Fisher-Price

This cute little car rolls away when you press the top - but not too far. You can play with this with a baby without crawling across the room yourself to retrieve it. I can picture lots of giggling babies with this one.  Available if bright pink and green Spring colors. 

And for toddlers…..

My First Carousel by LEGO

Kids start on LEGOs early these days my friends.  And there is a lot more than the basic building blocks.  There are many themed sets.  The My First Carousel is the first DUPLO set to feature gears.  This is definitely a fun first DUPLO set.

Mod Blocks by HABA

Toddlers love to build and revel in their new found ability. These colorful blocks with different shapes and decorations provide the opportunity for endless designs.  The blocks are sized so that toddlers can easily pick them.  This may turn out to be one of those toys with a long life also.  I can see them used for more elaborate building projects with other building sets to create truly imaginative designs.

Trolls Branch and Suki Hug ‘N Plush Dolls by Dreamworks

These 12 inch trolls plush by Dreamworks will find homes with families who love trolls – and I know there are a lot of you.  If there were toddlers in my house I would be getting one of these (I may anyway).  These are actually on the market beginning March 22nd but you can pre-order today and be one of the first to have one.

Play-Doh Shape and Learn

We usually think of Play-Doh as a pre-school play item not a toddler one.  But Play-Doh has a new line called “Shape and Learn” designed for 2 year olds.  The tools are all bigger and easy to use. There are activity guides included in each set. This is a good adult and child work together set.  Grandparents – that means you too.  The sets include Colors and Shapes, Numbers and Counting, Shape a Story and Letters and Language.

Bunny Bedtime game by Peaceable Kingdom

I do plan to have a separate post about games but I wanted to include this one here.  For the first time this year I saw games designed for two year olds.  This is one of my favorites and it would be an excellent grandparent gift.  How do you play?  It's time for bed, Bunny! Players roll a chunky die and move Bunny on the game path. Along the way, players help Bunny make choices about her bedtime routine. Which bath toy will she play with? Which pajamas will she wear?  I just love this game idea.

Well don’t delay in checking these out.  Before you know it you will be in the pre-school toy market and that is a whole different thing.  If the items are on Amazon, you can just click below to see the Amazon listing.