Play ‘n Learn Cash Register by Kidoozie

A good cash register is hard to find! That’s I was so excited to see Kidoozie’s new Play ‘n Learn Cash Register for checkout at the grocery store. I normally don’t recommend electronic toys with so many sounds that a child gets distracted in play, but this toy is actually two in one–a grocery scanner, scale and money drawer and then for the older child, a calculator to add up your purchases as well as ABC and number games. The clever design hides all the grocery items in a back compartment. Kids love discovering the basket of food trays, three cartons of drinks, mustard and ketchup all packed away out of sight. Ready for several levels of play by age, the cash register was in full use by an 8 year-old as she scanned the tomatoes, apples and eggs, punched in her make-believe prices and add

ed up the numbers on the calculator. Using her Kidoozie debit card she payed for her groceries and ordered her brother to get a paper bag so she could take them home. On another level, a 3 year-old enjoyed naming the groceries and counting the items on the numbered trays, pushing the scanner on each food item, and opening the cash drawer to pay. As I was packing up my toys, the 18 month-old younger sibling started exploring the cash register as a cause-effect toy, seeing what happened when she pushed a button or pressed on the scale. I knew this toy was a hit when I had finished role-playing with a 5 year-old  where I had been the customer and she was the cashier and she asked if I could back away and let her play both roles!

Recommended Age: 18 months and up

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. The Play ‘n Learn Cash Register was provided for review by International Playthings.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Preschool, Strategies to Enhance Language, Toy Reviews | Leave a comment

“Horse Stables” by Lego

Duplo sets by Lego are some of the best play sets for imaginative play and now we can explore horse country! Providing just enough to get the action going, but not enough to stifle flexibiity, Lego gives kids a stable with moving doors, a truck and trailer to take the horses on the road, fencing, two horses, and two people.  In a short time, my little friends had set up jumps, stacked the hay and transported the horses but soon used the props for varied purposes–the trough was a bathtub for a dirty rider, storage container for hay attached to the back of the truck, and a drinking fountain for hot and thirsty horses. Movable pieces take on new meaning as their purpose is changed. Flowers decorated the horse stable‘s roof, grew out of the ground and were stacked to sit upon.

Recommended age: 2-5 years old

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Strategies to Enhance Language, Toddlers, Toy Reviews | Leave a comment

“3-D Animal Homes” by Barbara Taylor, Silver Dolphin

A great resource on animal architects, insect cities, water homes and nest builders, this book introduces kids to the language of nature. With captivating photographs and illustrations, “Animal Homes” gives just enough text to teach a child the how and why behind the construction of animals’ homes. Pop-up scenes of a beaver lodge. honeybee nest, weaverbird nest and meerkat burrow are favorites as kids use the key to find the facts illustrated. Nature provides so many opportunities to discuss inference–why turtles dig their nests in the sand, or why are weaverbird nests at the end of branches? Compare the animal homes–who makes a new home yearly or who occupies abandoned homes and why? This book is packed with facts to start lots of conversation beyond the text and the pictures.

Recommended age: 5 and up
The opinions expressed are soley those of the author. This book was provided for review by Silver Dolphin.

Posted in 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Book Review | Leave a comment

“What’s In The Cat’s Hat?” by I Can Do That Games

Wait a minute, The cat  just left his hat behind with a little surprise inside. It’s our job to guess what it is. Kids love being the Hat Master who selects a household item, hides it in the hat and waits for you to guess. Each turn you choose two cards to ask questions of the Master –Is it round? Does it come apart? or carry out a clue–Lift the hat by the brim, or Feel the hat with your elbows. Little flaps open on the hat to give a smell, a peek (you only see shadows), or a feel of the object hidden inside. A language building game of deduction, “What’s In the Cat’s Hat?” gives kids lots of practice combining information, asking questions and describing the hidden object. After the clue to “Jiggle the hat,” my little friend said, “That gave me a clue, it’s heavy!” or after poking his finger in the hole he said, “It’s definitely hard.” Using things around the house gives endless variety to the game. Kids selected a train car, remote control, cotton ball and scotch tape dispenser. Children had so much fun with this game, after an hour of play, one said, “Do we have enough time for another round? Of course!

Recommended age: 3 years and up

The opinions expressed are soley those of the author. “What’s In the Cat’s Hat?” was provided by I Can Do That Games for Review.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Strategies to Enhance Language, Toy Reviews | 1 Comment

“ABC Animal Jamboree” by Giles Andreae

Celebrate the alphabet with this party of animals from an angelfish to a zebra with lots of fun in between. The bold, snappy illustrations pop off the page as you imagine “the boa constrictor’s a slippery snake who squashes then swallows his prey.” Through rhythm and rhyme, kids are taught animal facts in a playful poetic form, with a laugh along the way–“He knows that it’s not very friendly or kind, But they do taste much nicer that way.” “ABC Animal Jamboree “is a great addition to the family of books by this talented author-illustrator team.

Recommended age: preschool

The opions expressed are soley those of the author. This book was provided for review by Tiger Tales.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Book Review, Books, Preschool, Toddlers | 2 Comments

“The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark” by Diesen

Our friend, the Pout-Pout Fish, is back embarking on a new adventure of courage and friendship.  Author, Deborah Diesen’s power packed verse draws us into a delightful glide through the ocean of attentive, buggy-eyed sea creatures as Mr. Fish fulfills his promise to find Ms Clam’s pearl. Guided by Ms Shimmer, hidden on each page, he searches deeper along the ocean floor, over a slope and into a trench of darkness. He repeats his mantra to gather some courage. “I’m as fast as a sailfish, I’m as strong as a shark, I’m as smart as a dolphin, but I’m scared of the dark!” Just when he is ready to head back, Ms Shimmer declares, “You can do it, Mr. Fish” and they brave the dark as two instead of one. Mr. Lantern saves the day with a glimmer of light revealing the lost pearl. With the perceived recent decline in the popularity of picture books, parents would be wise to look into this gem of  life lessons told in rich vocabulary and rhyme to see the value of this genre.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Book Review, Books, Preschool, Reading, Strategies to Enhance Language | Leave a comment

“The Pirate Ship” Super Sized Floor Puzzle by Ravensburger

pirate ship puzzle24 large puzzle pieces link together to reveal a cut-away view of three floors and a deck of pirate activity. Preparing fish in the kitchen, writing in  the captain’s log, bathing in a bubble bath, operating the engines, or playing in the pile of gold treasure, these pirates are active and entertaining. Each room provides an opportunity to describe the action, with many clever details from a secret stairway to the floor below, to fish shaped rugs and toilet seat covers. Take turns describing the scene on a piece before you add it to the puzzle or follow the pirates through the finished ship to tell a story.

The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “The Pirate Ship” was provided for review by Ravensburger.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Preschool, Toy Reviews | Leave a comment

“Pirate Play Set” by Yookidoo

Ahoy mateys! The pirates have invaded the crib with Yookidoo’s newest addition to baby’s fun. Little one’s hands fit easily around the circular base of the teether rattle making it accessible for exploration. Multiple rings, a crinkle scarf, shiney tie, soft , chewable pirate’s hat and big engaging eyes and smile invite baby to play. Bring along his side-kick, the parrot, who sings or plays music to baby’s movement. I knew this toy would engage more than a baby. A toddler sibling took one look at baby brother’s new toy and called out,” I want that too!”

If you don’t want to be a girl pirate, the Giddy Up Gal Playset offers a cowgirl and musical pony.

Recommended age: baby and up

The above opinions are solely those of the author. The “Pirate Play Set” was provided for review by International Playthings.

Posted in Babies, Toddlers, Toy Reviews | Leave a comment

“The Junkyard Wonders” by Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco’s, “The Junkyard Wonders,” based on her life story, is an inspirational  picture of a child’s possibilities not disabilities. Young Tricia anticipated a fresh start at her new school. Her past reputation of being in special classes couldn’t possibly follow her all the way to Michigan. But on her first day, just her room assignment  elicited knowing glares from her peers. Mrs. Peterson, her teacher, skipped introductions and began the year letting each classmate know she is a genius. Divided into tribes, the kids banded together  developing a bond that even the bullies couldn’t sever. A trip to the local junkyard demonstrated that they weren’t “throwaway kids” but “Every one of you is a wonder!” Gathering junkyard treasures, each tribe collected others’ throwaways to make something new and amazing. Rallying around Gibbie and his restored airplane, the group worked to get it airborne. The class’s determination, bring this story to an end, but perhaps the most cherished part of this book is the last note, celebrating the amazing  success of each member of Patricia’s tribe.

Recommended age: 6-9 years

Posted in 8 years and up, Book Review | Leave a comment

Playmobil’s Furnished School

Going to school has never been so much fun. As one mom said, “This is nicer than most real schools!” As we assembled Playmobil’s new Furnished School, kids marveled at the science lab, complete with test tubes, a spinning globe, sink with soap, working magnifying glass, microscope, skeleton, and moving compass. They set up the computer lab with laptops with raised keyboards. The art room offered tubes of colored paints, a watercolor palette, paint brushes and a drafting table. Move on to music class and relax on the stairs while playing your recorder or tambourine. A favorite spot was deemed math class, as kids arranged and rearranged the tables, books, scissors, mini pencils, binders and chalkboard. It was fun to see what new groups of kids would discover. One found the pad of paper and placed a sheet at each child’s place as well as put one inside a binder. Another loved  writing on the chalkboard with the erasable “chalk” “pencil. She left behind messages like, “My teacher needs a laptop” and “Problem of the Day” for math class. You need little hands for such delicate work! And don’t forget the teachers–their lounge includes a coffee machine and plenty of mugs to commiserate or collaborate.

The school was big enough to accommodate my three friends, 6, 8 and 10 as they each played in an area that suited them. I didn’t realize that the 6 year-old had grabbed a sword from another set close by and had substituted it for the teacher’s pointer, until his brother said, “Teachers don’t have swords, Natey!” We had a good laugh.

I just sat back and listened to the dialogue, as the kids were lost in a place of learning, discovering new props for play, “That’s the vase so if you have flowers, it goes on the teacher’s desk.” “I’m playing with the classroom–I’m the teacher because I have the board.” “Wow, this math class is a real success.”

I would say this School is a real success, providing individual vignettes from classrooms, art studios and music rooms to bathrooms, giving kids an adventure in a safe place.

Recommended age: 4 years and up

The above opinions are solely those of the author. The Playmobil School was provided for review by Playmobil.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Strategies to Enhance Language, Toy Reviews | Leave a comment