Archive for the ‘preschooler’ Category

Fisher Price iXL

Now, I’m not normally a big fan of electronics for little kids, but since I let them play on my iPhone, I agreed to let them try out the new Fisher Price iXL.  This sturdy little touch-screen device comes pre-loaded with a number game, a read-aloud story, and a doodling program.  The cute animations are of little monkeys that make us all laugh, and the story is appropriately paced for preschoolers.  I’ve enjoyed their interest in this iphone-sized personal electronic device (it’s significantly thicker than the iPhone, but approximately the same length and width.

What I didn’t expect was how much more fun we’d have with it when we put the CD in and customized it, which I finally did this weekend.  Now each of the boys have their own login, customized with their name, picture, favorite colors — and the included story picks up on the favorites that I entered, so the story is slightly different for each kid! 

I also spent a little time uploading some favorite pictures of family and friends, as well as MP3 files of our favorite kids’ CDs — and now the iXL is their very own digital picture frame (with full-featured doodle program for them to customize their own pictures!) AND MP3 player.  Which means we now have music whereever we go – and with a good speaker so that they (and only they) can hear their music in the backseat of the car, at Grandma’s house, or in the playroom, even if I forget to turn the music on!

Which I do sometimes.  Motherhood?  Is demanding.  This little device empowers my kids to flip through photos and play their own music — I’m sure we’ll be using it a lot this holiday season! 

Now, where did I put that Christmas music?

Disclosure: Fisher Price sent me an iXL to review after BlogHer. 

Playmobil take along tower

By the looks of things around here, our family has fully entered the Lego phase of boyhood. Legos are everywhere, especially in the little one’s hands, where he creates Jet Zoomer after Jet Zoomer, interrupted only by Boomers (which adults would call guns, but I swear I’ve never even told him the word).  My kindergartner outgrew Fisher-Price playsets long ago, and my preschooler went through the play people phase very quickly, abandoning them for Matchbox cars before he turned three.  But somehow, the Playmobil is still attractive.

Before I had kids, I had visions of perfectly arranged Playmobil sets dotting the living room – the veterinary office, the zoo, the fire station.  Then I had kids, and I saw how fickle a young child’s interest can be, and I satisfied this craving with a bag of secondhand Playmobil from the church garage sale.  But that bag contained two castles, just right for a battle, and the children and I put it together and play with it every so often.

Then the mail came on Wedesday, bringing two of Playmobil’s latest creations: the Knights Take Along Tower and the Pirates Take Along Dungeon.  My kids were hooked.  The littlest claimed the dungeon (“You’re in the dungeon!” being one of his favorite pronouncements) and my kindergartner was happy to take ownership of the castle and its knights.  They happily played for an hour, battling knights vs. pirates, putting the accessories on and off, and most particularly firing the cannon at each other (one comes in each set). 

It’s been four days now, and the mock battles continue.  The tower and dungeon each have a handle for easy carrying (by them, no less!) and all the pieces fold up inside for easy cleanup.  This is a great new addition to our playroom – and our travel kit, where they will surely go along to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, most likely with a couple of the Unicorn Take Along Castles for their girl cousins.  The easy cleanup and low price ($12.99) make these an attractive gift for any child 4-7 who likes battles, cannon, and/or lots and lots of small pieces and accessories.

Disclosure:  I received Playmobil’s Knights Take Along Tower and the Pirates Take Along Dungeon for this review. 

World Vision

Today’s mail brought a fancy pants catalog from National Geographic (alpalca sweaters! Pearl bracelets! Handmade Christmas ornaments!) and a catalog from World Vision. I surprised myself by spending more time with the World Vision one. I know, it sounds goofy to buy your brother a goat for Christmas, but what a fun present to give as a family —

I’m going with the sale — the school supply donation that is matched 10x by corporate sponsors. Because I can’t resist a bargain.

This year, I’m going to let my kids shop this catalog instead of the Toys R Us catalog that made its way into their hands last year. We’re going to talk about choosing to give instead of get. I wonder what they’ll choose — pigs? Ducks? New clothes for kids to wear to school?  I can’t wait to find out.

Disclosure clause: Not sponsored.

The Cat in the Hat – TV

A few weeks ago, my friends Elena and Robin had me over for a Cat in the Hat launch party that they were throwing as the leaders for Macaroni Kid: Fairfax.  We had a great morning doing crafts, coloring pages, decorating bags, and of course watching the new Cat in the Hat morning TV show.  I meant to write about it then but — well, you know how things go! 
I was very impressed with the new Cat in the Hat tv show, and my kids (a preschooler and a kindergartner) loved it as much as I did.  My favorite part, though, was something I didn’t even notice when I wrote my first review after a launch party with some librarians.
In the new “Cat in the Hat,” after the Cat says, “Your mother will not mind at all if you do …” the kids ASK Mom. Who of course says yes. Is it faithful to the original Dr. Seuss? No. Is it a change that I can believe in? You bet’cha!
I love this new science show for kids, and I hope you do too!
Find it on your local PBS channel, PBSKids, or PBSKids.org.
Disclosure clause:  I was not compensated for this post.  I did have a lovely time at Elena’s, and they sent me home with stickers and coloring pages.  And a bookmark.  But you know I don’t sell out for bookmarks (or really, anything).  I just like to recommend good (and educational) things!

Just plain Lego bricks!

Lego basic bricks 6177I don’t know about you, but I love Legos.  Not the fancy, branded sets that build one thing or maybe two, the latest $99 starships, $199 Harry Potter sets, or $399 kits to build the death star (what?).  I love the basic, red, green, yellow, blue, and white sets that are an open-ended invitation for children to use their imagination and play, building houses, bases, creatures, skyscrapers — where ever their imagination takes them that day.

My children are getting good at the kits (oh, we have ‘em), and they’ve always made their own “jet zoomers” to zoom around the house, but now they’re discovering the beauty of open-ended construction with the little bricks, and oh, it’s beautiful.  Widget and I spent yesterday morning constructing a “base” and some vehicles with his little guys and all of our blocky bricks, and it was beautiful.  Just the perfect way to spend the day with your kindergartner (and his 103′ fever). 

When he went to bed, I went online to grab some more bricks, so his next “base” could be more than a few bricks high, and we could build a skyscraper more than four bricks wide.  I thought it would be easy to find the basic sets online, the ones that we used to have, before they all got so specialized and intricate (which I do love, for older children, but for littles? bring on the bricks!).  It wasn’t easy, so I asked my twitter peeps.  And they answered — in spades!

Where have all the basic legos gone? 

There are two easy ways to find them, locally at your Toys R Us, Walmart, or Lego store, or online at lego.com.  The magic words are ”basic bricks.”  Here are two sets that I recommend if you’re looking for “just the bricks, ma’am”:  

The little set is $12.99 for 280 bricks.  I’m picking up a bunch for birthday parties.  (You’ve been warned.)

Disclosure Clause: This post was not sponsored or prompted by anyone or anything — it’s just too hard to find these things, and I wanted to help make it easier for others looking for the same thing.  This is for you, @yankeedrawl and friends — and a big THANK YOU for all the ideas to @mommy4cocktails @canape @minkymoo @angiekeenan @pgoodness @verybloggybeth @brandie185 @ejwillingham @bigbluemomma @squawky @nowseriouslykid @jodifur @centsiblelife @velma @thejesterman @joufy and @joeymom who made great suggestions, including legos.com, Toys R Us, WalMart, Target, Amazon, the Lego store, CraigsList, yard sales, and eBay.  Some of you are a lot more patient than I am. :-0

Originally posted on Toddler Planet.

Leapfrog TAG Coupon

Love the Leapfrog TAG books? I do too! Here’s a printable coupon good all week — there will be more in weeks to come, until September 27th! If you’re ordering online, it’s COUPON CODE 995TAG.

A New Generation of Guides

Things sure have changed since the must-have guides for parenting were What To Expect When You’re Expecting, Your Baby Week by Week, and The Happiest Baby on the Block. 

Now we have to worry about things like teaching children the value of money, bullying, and helping each of them reach their full potential.  Two new books are out to help with these worries:  Piggybanking and The Paranoid Parents Guide. 

Piggybanking: Preparing Your Financial Life for Kids and Your Kids for a Financial Life, by Jeff D. Opdyke, discusses the ins and outs of raising a child to be confident in dealing with money.  Opdyke wrote the “Love & Money” column in the Wall Street Journal for years.  While my experience has been more along the lines of Michelle Singletary’s “Color of Money” column in The Washington Post, I can’t deny that he’s an expert.  While my little ones are so little they’re doing chores for quarters, they’ll grow, and I want their financial savvy to grow with them.  This is a book that I’ll keep by my side for years to come.

The Paranoid Parents Guide arrived in the mail with a giant band-aid across the cover.  This worried me, I’ll admit.  But tucked inside was a copy of the new cover, which proclaimed “Worry Less, Parent Better, and Raise a Resilient Child.”  Whew.  That sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?  Christie Barnes, who calls herself the founder of Paranoid Parents Anonymous, wrote this book, chock full of worries and why they should — or shouldn’t worry you. The style isn’t really to my taste, as I tend to go to the source for the answers to my questions (the American Cancer Society for cancer symptoms, green sites on whether to buy organic, etc.), but if you want all your worries wrapped up in one book, this book is probably right up your alley.

Disclosure:  Both of these books arrived in the mail, at no charge, with a press release.  If you’d like my copy of The Paranoid Parents Guide, leave a comment and I’ll give it to you at BlogHer or a local event.