Monday, January 30, 2012

Trunki by Melissa and Doug - Cool and Perfect for Sleepovers at Grandma's House

The International Toy Fair in New York is just a couple of weeks away and my email is full of invitations to special events for attendees.  I just can’t wait.  I’ll have things to write about for the next year!  As a warm up I want to do a few product reviews in the next couple of weeks.  Here’s the first.

In December I went into New York for a special event for bloggers at Melissa and Doug hosted by Momtrends.   We got to see the whole Melissa and Doug line.  At the end of the evening each attendee got to bring home a “trunki.”  They were all lined up in six different colors and there was a mad dash to get your choice of color.  I got this beautiful blue one for my grandson, Zach.  Well, I intended to use it as a Christmas present, but I left it on my kitchen counter and Zach saw it immediately when he visited the next day.  And so, I did just what he asked and took it “down.” 

The trunki is a combination ride-on toy and sturdy children’s suitcase.  (Perfect for overnight visits to Grandma’s house).  It took Zach two seconds to use it as a ride-on and then we showed him that it was also a suitcase.  Young children love containers that carry things.  He put his shoes in the Trunki and closed it up.  It’s a good thing we saw him or he would have gone home barefoot!

Zach enjoyed opening and closing the trunki and figuring how it locked. You can carry it by hand, pull it or use the shoulder strap.  His Mom, Fran, was thinking ahead to next year’s vacation.  Zach will be three years old in June.  He’ll be able to wear his backpack and carry Trunki….hmmm…one less trip for Mom and Dad from the car.

Grandparents – for some of us Melissa and Doug is not a familiar brand name.  Melissa and Doug was founded 23 years ago by Melissa and Doug.  That’s the name of the owners – not “characters.”  Melissa and Doug have 6 kids of their own and they know their toys.  Their philosophy is to make classic toys that help children develop their imagination.  When you see their whole line, you can see that they are true to this philosophy. They specialize in high quality toys.  M&D have a full line including food play, classic, puzzles, arts and crafts, games, trains, puppets, stuffed animals, and more. 
Take my word for it, All parents know the Melissa and Doug line.  It can be a little pricey and since sometimes grandparents get to make “special purchases" you may want to become familiar with Melissa and Doug.  They are sold everywhere from ToysRUS to upscale specialty stores and online at Amazon and at Melissa and Doug’s own website.  You can sign up for email specials at the website.
If you'd like to see a quick video, check this out:

If you’d like a trunki click below to see it at

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Connecting Across Generations on Martin Luther King Day

Monday is Martin Luther King Day. Last week I wrote about Martin Luther King Day for Preschoolers and that has become my most visited blog post ever. Today I am writing about MLK Day and older children.
There are three main themes and a grandparent can easily choose one and have a discussion or better yet, plan appropriate activities to do with your grandchild on Monday.  The themes are

Social Justice



Social Justice and Peace
What a great opportunity MLK Day presents to have a meaningful conversation about social justice and peace with your grandchildren. Will you be with an age diverse group of  grandchildren?   If you are as old as I am you can start with your personal experiences in the 60’s.  Last year I wrote about my conversation with my son when he was 7 years old.  Click on the title to see that article.

 MartinLuther King, Jr. –A Teachable Moment             

Social justice and peace are subjects of interest that can cross generations and talking about it can increase the respect you have for each other.  Conversation can lead to advocacy.  There are lots of ways to advocate for social justice and peace on MLK Day.  You can start with a discussion about social justice and identify causes and organizations that your “group” supports.  Do some Internet research and take action!.  Write to your elected officials.  Sign online petitions.  Print out articles for reference and further action – perhaps attend a rally or event.  You may even consider sponsoring each child to make a donation to their favorite cause.

MLK Day is now designated as a National Day of Service and there are volunteer projects being planned by nonprofits throughout the country.  It is easy to find one that suits you and works for you and your grandchild.  VolunteerMatch lets you do a search by area and check off Kids, Teens, Over 55 and groups as categories.  There are literally thousands of opportunities listed.  Check your local resources for local opportunities or create a new one.  Is there a day care center that needs painting?  Does your family sing and play music – visit a nursing home and entertain.

Many museums and libraries have special events for MLK Day.  Especially if you have elementary school age grandchildren you may find excellent programs to bring the kids too.  I know that the Newark Museum, near where I live has performance and interactive workshops planned for the afternoon.

Martin Luther King Day can bring the generations closer together.  Whether a child is elementary school age, a tween, teen or college  age there are opportunities to grow closer and for character building.  Don’t miss the opportunity.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Martin Luther King Day and Preschoolers

January 16th is Martin Luther King Day and it is a national day of service.  It is a good time for discussion and activity - no matter how young a child. 

Today I am just writing about preschoolers.  Later in the week I'll write about older children. Preschoolers are ready for themes such as volunteering, peace and getting along with others.   

There is a Sesame Street video on youtube that I have been enjoying with my two and a half year old grandson - over and over -  that is perfect as a discussion starter for pre-schoolers about volunteering. 

Nolan Gould, who plays Luke on Modern Family, is with Murray (He's a Sesame Street muppet) at the Los Angeles Food Bank.  There is a touching scene when Murray asks what is a volunteer and then if he has the heart of a true volunteer.  Next there is upbeat sorting of fruit at the Food Bank.

Most local communities, museums, libraries, etc will have  local activities and you should check out what is available and appropriate for young children to participate in.

I did some internet research on Dr. King and preschool activities and this is the best resource that I found. There are songs, games, stories and other resources.

Everything Preschool  

I’ll be writing about Martin Luther King Day and older kids next week, but I wanted to start with ideas for young children.  Please share with us in the comments any plans, past experiences, or ideas that you have that are appropriate for young children.