A little bit in love…

Crayola's new Model Magic Presto Dots

We just got the new Model Magic Presto Dots and I’m in love.  I do have to own up to really enjoying the original Model Magic.  It’s fun to work with and it doesn’t leave your hands oddly moist like other molding materials.  So with the Presto Dots you use the little blue tool to cut out some of the model magic. They suggest using wax paper but if you just use the inside of the model magic pouch–it also works.  When you press the blue tool against the form for your animal, the model magic comes out like a little marshmallow — very satisfying. That said–be careful that smaller children don’t mistake them for candy!  There is a sheep and a puppy kit–as well as a larger multi-pack (comes with two forms) – and more alien-like creatures.  The sets start at $9.99. Not a big deal, just fun.  For other craft kits, visit our site at www.toyportfolio.com.

Three Gender-Free Fantastic Art Activity Kits

Rec_mmbanksFinding arts and crafts activities that will appeal to both boys and girls can be challenging since so many kits are so gender-specific.

Here are three from our Platinum List that will appeal to everyone!

Creativity for Little Kids Finger Paints (Creativity for Kids)

Crayola Crayon Maker (Crayola)

Money Monster Banks (Creativity for Kids)

Pick of the Day: Bejeweled Bead Chest from Bead Bazaar

beadsclose A truly special gift for school age girls who will love both the wood chest and the painted wooden beads that come with it. Read our review.  This company makes lovely sets that always appeal to our tween, teen and adult testers.


Bejeweled Bead Chest from Bead Bazaar

Dolls you draw on…Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar

Kids Preferred is introducing a new Very Hungry Caterpillar plush that comes with markers–so that kids can draw on the caterpillar. We asked one our testers to try it out this week.  Our preschool tester, a fan of the book, enjoyed decorating her caterpillar–and her mom was happy that the ink washed out completely in the wash.  The only downside, her daughter asked if she could draw on one of her bears. Many kids probably would not have asked!  The concept of draw here, but not there–can be rough for some kids. On the other hand, this is a fun color concept toy that makes a book connection.

Our tester trying out the new Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar Doll

Our tester trying out the new Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar Doll

For this age, I highly recommend (if you have the space) painting a wall in your house with chalkboard paint.  Growing up in our playroom my mom did this on two big cabinet doors.  I loved being in the middle of our family buzz–working on a new design, practicing my handwriting as I got older and even working on my early math skills (truthfully, there were a lot of flower designs!).  For my kids we painted an entire wall and left a basket full  of colorful chunky outdoor chalk at the ready. With kind of space you can use your whole arm to make big bold strokes…and work on your fine motor skills when your adding details to your creations.

If you can’t paint a wall, bring home an easel that has a chalk board side.  Such an easy access art opportunity puts the focus on the process, not the product.  As any experienced preschool teacher will tell you–find something to compliment  but don’t lavish too much praise on any one creation – doing so makes it really scary to try something new!

Pick of the Day: Crayola Window Crayons

My mother is giving a speech today at the University of Maryland  for her new book, Stanley Hayami: Nisei Son…go mom.  Apart from writing 50 plus children’s books and parenting books, my amazing mother has written this book–based on the diary of a young man who was sent ( along with 120,000 other Americans of Japanese descent ) to internment camps during World War II.  Stanley then served in the Army–and died serving his country.  My mother has taken this primary source and brought his story to life with such clarity and emotion, that people are moved to tears when they “meet” Stanley.  I recently heard her speak at NYU–and again I marveled at how my mother is such a gifted story teller.  I also highly recommend Dear Miss Breed–the story of a dedicated librarian who became an incredible and consistent source of support to so many children and their families sent to camps during WWII.

p91405bAll of this is by way of my saying that my mother and I usually play with window markers and crayons together.  So I’m proud that she’s off giving another speech–but I miss that she’s not here.  I have just tried out Crayola’s new Window Crayons. At first I felt a little awkward coloring on our office windows by myself–but I’ve loosened up…and have created a garden of flowers and grass. Try it, it’s liberating.

If you’re ok with kids drawing on windows/sliding doors–this is a REALLY FUN activity. At only $4.99–it’s a great buy. Comes with five colors.