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  marion@grandmachronicles.com.  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