Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dr. Seuss Birthday and Read Across America

Every year the National Education Association Foundation sponsors Read Across America day on March 2nd – Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  All this week schools and libraries will have special programs and exhibits.  Like many schools, our local schools will take a half hour when everyone in the school will be reading at the same time.  Our town and nearby libraries have programs planned.  It's all about having fun and reading.

My husband, Hugh, and I will be babysitting tomorrow night and I have taken out a few favorite Dr. Seuss books to read.    Here are two of my favorites:

Zach is three and a half and so he doesn’t read.  He does know the alphabet and he is learning the sounds of letters and that they make words. He says that Zooey, a girl in his pre-school class has the same letter that he has. My husband is called Pop and so of course Hop on Pop is a favorite in our house.  He is learning to recognize Pop as Pop’s name.  Here is our copy of Hop on Pop.

For older kids a favorite of mine is The Butter Battle Book.  In this book two groups keep escalating their weapons in a war against each other.  They are warring because they disagree on how you should butter your bread.  Grownups should read this book.

A favorite for adults and kids alike is Oh! The Places You Go.   This book is frequently a graduation and retirement gift and provides a perfect lesson on where the path of life may bring us – as yet unknown.

You may want to celebrate Dr. Seuss birthday and Read Across America too.  If you have the opportunity to read with grandchildren let them know how everyone is taking time out to read and celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  Celebrate with a red and white snack or dessert.….I’m thinking strawberries and cream.  
If you live far away, how about sending a Dr. Seuss email or ecard.  Do you skype?  I know grandparents who read a book that a child has over skpe.  I know a grandmother who loves mysteries and she and her grandson read the same book at the same time.

So for my Dr. Seuss birthday celebration post this year I encourage you to find a way to share the love of reading with your grandchild and have a wonderful time doing it.

Here are some great Dr. Seuss books available at Amazon:

Many of the Beginner Dr. Seuss books come in sets and this one is the classic basic with five favorites - Cat in the Hat, Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish and Hop on Pop.  Every pre-schooler should have all of these!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Toy Fair Highlights – What’s New and Coming Soon

Ms. Frizzle and Me

Every year I go to the International Toy Fair in New York.  Toy Fair is one of the largest of its kind in the world with 1000 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors.  I spend days going through the emails I get from exhibitors deciding which are the must visit booths and organizing them in order.  Then I put a Day 1 and Day 2 itinerary together built around special events that I have been invited too.  Companies display their best toys and introduce new toys and prototypes that will become available during the year.  It is an exhilarating and exhausting experience and I LOVE IT!!!!!   

With this article I am sharing some of the highlights and trends from my perspective.  There will lots of detailed reviews in the future.

Here are some trends that I noticed:

  • More toys and kits featuring science
  • More toys featuring toys with positive images for girls including sports, healthy lifestyle and developing skills and interests for careers like engineering.
  • More toys have an online component - When you buy the toy you get a code to unleash a digital component to the play value of the toy.
  • Collectibles packaged at “Grab one anytime” prices

I’ll be writing individual reviews and offering giveaways on some of these items but here are a few of my favorites this year:

In the science area I loved the Clifford the Big Red Dog science kits for kids ages 3 – 5 and the Magic School Bus kits with Ms. Frizzle for older kids by the Young Scientists Club.  A brand new line of science kits from Educational Insights called Nancy B’s Science Club will definitely be attractive to girls.
Clifford The Big Red Dog Science Kits for Ages 3 - 5

The Magic School Bus Slime and Polymer Lab

Nancy B Science

LEGO Friends – The line featuring themes and color schemes to interest girls won the Overall Toy of the Year Award and the best toy activity category.  I am so happy about this because I think it is important for girls to enjoy and develop the skill building that goes with playing with LEGOs.  There are a number of playsets including new ones coming out this year.  Here’s just one:
Heartlake High - Builds up and/or sideways

 Madame Alexander introduced a new Magic Dragon plush and Peter Yarrow sang to celebrate.  It was the highlight of Toy Fair for me to be two feet away from Peter and singing along to Puff the Magic Dragon with him. Every gray haired person at Toy Fair showed up for this appearance.

Peter Yarrow Sings Puff the Magic Dragon

Here's the dragon complete with Jackie Paiper and a new CD

There were so many beautiful dolls at the Madame Alexander booth but this Fancy Nancy display really caught my fancy.
Many Fancy Nancy Dolls to Choose from - and Washable!

My favorite dolls at Toy Fair are always at Corolle.  It’s a French company and they were serving Perrier.  How cool.  Unfortunately the soft lighting in their booth works wonderfully for displaying the dolls but not so good with the pictures.  Here’s one anyway:
Cuddly Miss Grenadine from Corolle

I always enjoy visiting small companies making their debut at Toy Fair.  Oops caught my eye with their colorful backpacks, soft toys, wood toys and other novelties in bright colors.  They are a Swiss company and Niccolo told me they they have “Italian design and Swiss precision.”  I’ll be writing more about these products when they are introduced in the United States in a few months.

Backpacks from Oops

 As i said I'll be writing more about Toy Fair in the next few months but I wanted to get these highlights out now.  Here are some of the items available at Amazon now:

Shop Amazon Toys - Introducing LEGO Friends for Girls

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Some Hasbro Favs - Cookie Monster, Spiderman and Chuck

I'm getting ready for Toy Fair 2013 next week and my first stop will be a Hasbro event on Monday.  The Hasbro event has a huge display of what's new in their extensive line.   Here were some of my favorites from 2012 that I didn't get to write about this year.

Cookie Monster Kitchen Café
Every young child lives to play cooking.  If they are Sesame Street fans, this colorful one featuring Cookie Monster and Elmo will provide many hours of fun.

Just one of many Spiderman toys
The people with kids over 4 were ohing and ahing over the Spiderman line.

The display of Chuck Die Cast Tonka Trucks at toy Fair 2012

Die Cast Boomer the Fire Truck 
The Chuck line of trucks is very popular with preschoolers and toddlers and my grandson likes the big ones and small ones.  I particularly like these new die cast models.  Boomer - the fire truck shown here is one of my favorites.  Each one comes with a DVD and these are fun too.

Next week I'll let you know what will be new this year.   Check these out at Amazon: