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.
All 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.
If you’re fans of the I SPY series, you’ll want to take a look at Briarpatch’s new I SPY Flip 5. The idea is to match similar images that appear on the play pieces (disks that have images on both sides). The picture can be a photo or a silhouette of that image (a star fish, a horse, a panda, a ballerina, etc.)…At each turn, players take turns saying “1, 2, 3, 4, flip 5″—that player then flips five disks. Players then look for matches –call them and collect them. The player with the greatest number of matches wins that round. The player to win five rounds wins. Our game players liked looking for the matching images–and the pace of the game. This is one you won’t mind playing again and again. It’s a step above straight matching games–calling for a more developed sense of visual discrimination. You can introduce the game to a younger child by using fewer disks–making it a bit less overwhelming. At $12.95, it’s a good price for a game that you can easily take along if you’re traveling–all of the pieces will fit easily in a big zip lock bag. There’s also a Dino Flip 5 that we’ve sent out for additional testing–we think dino-fans will love it…same idea but with images of dinosaurs. Both games are marked 4 & up and will work with 2-4 players.
Deglingos are deliciously quirky — and were a welcome treat at toy fair. The rows and rows of collectable dolls were gone this year…the dolls that look like real babies (in a seriously creepy kind of way)…we were just commenting on their absence when we hit the end of a row and found these decidedly off beat (funky meets folk art) dolls that will appeal to both boys and girls. Probably because I have two boys–I’m always sensitive to finding huggables that have that gender free appeal. The Deglingos are a collection of animals – there’s a Cow (Milkos), a Wolf (Bigbos), a Bunny (Lapinos)…you get the idea. We’re looking forward to seeing the new line of Baby Deglingos and sharing them with our testers.
Recycling trucks are back–as they should be. Maybe we’ll have kids less confused by all those recycling bins! This one from Lego is $16.99 and available on at Lego.com or Lego brand stores. We haven’t tested it yet–but it looks promising.
With everyone cutting back on their expensive coffee habits, you can enjoy a pretend cafe latte or cappuccino with this new pretend setting from Step 2. The Cafe Barista looks like fun–we really liked the “steamed milk” sound effect. Looking forward to testing this one. Will be available later this year. Be on the look out for more and more toys that focus on food…both real and plastic.
We’re eager to test this new mini projector from Jakks Pacific that you can use with your DVDs, your MP3 player and Video Games. We like the idea of being able to create your own outdoor movie theater. With a suggested retail of $99– it promises to project up to 70″ and fit in the palm of your hand. If it works, it will be a hit with our tween testers.
If you’ve spent any time with a two year old, you know they love to do the same thing over and over again. It’s through that repeititive play, that they develop their self confidence and sense of their own abilities. The other thing you know about toddlers is that finding toys for them can be really challenging. They’ve outgrown their baby toys–and they’re not really ready for most preschool toys with all of those pesky small parts that pose a safety risk. They’re often more interested in seeing if they can climb on a toy at this stage rather than play with it. My son Adam did this with his first garage!
So just in case you’re looking for the perfect birthday present, I periodically like to recommend Edushape’s Rollipop ($24.95). We’re adding it to our list of Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Award winners – indicating that this great toy has been in the market place for more than five years and should not be missed just because it wasn’t invented yesterday! The balls are big enough to be safe and they move through the toy slowly enough so that they can be tracked. You can talk about colors as you play, but really just making something happen again and again is the biggest reward. We prefer this one to some of the other ball runs that have lots of noise–you really don’t need it! Your child will add their own sound effects–promise!
This 8″ soft fabric ball makes that lovely chime sound when it’s rolled back and forth. Just right for encouraging babies to crawl–and fun for back and forth games on the floor with older babies and toddlers. It also comes in pink and part of a larger line that also includes a very cuddly Sweet Chocolate Pillow Bear that opens up to become a flat pillow. When you connect the Velcro underneath the Bear, it looks like a regular stuffed bear. The ball retails for $19 and the bear is $49.
Last year we spent way too much time flying Spin Master’s little Havoc Helis around our office. We got pretty good at it too–so we’re pretty psyched that they have new flying machines! The Switchblade promises to take off like a UFO and transform in the air–into a hig powered aircraft. We’ll have to go outside for this one…field trip!