“Taggies Activity Quilt” by Earlyears

Tummy time takes on new meaning with this ultra soft, fuzzy circle of friends. Even a fussy baby can be distracted with the pop-up ladybug mirror surrounded by baby’s beloved tags. Start in the middle with a sky filled with a smiley moon, cloud, star and sun whose rays are non other than taggies. Let your baby go head to head with the crinkly cow, squeaking pig, or musical lamb. Each animal has taggie limbs, sweet faces and multiple textures and sounds to engage your child. Describe what your baby is looking at to get the full impact of language building input. Two padded handles make this blanket easily portable for parents whose arms are already full.

Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Taggies Activity Quilt” was provided for review by International Playthings.


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“Muffin Doll” by Gotz

It’s no wonder that Gotz dolls is celebrating its 60th anniversary–continuing to create dolls like precious Muffin who perfectly cradles into a preschoolers arms for hours of huggable pretend play. A new addition to the family of Gotz dolls, this 13″ Muffin baby became the object of affection for preschool girls. Her hand painted face, baby bald head, and moving eyelashes say sweetness all over. Little girls cradled her in their arms and took off with pretend play, tending to her infant needs. Her bean bag body conforms to hugs while her hard hands and feet make outfit changes easier for little hands. This baby is void of all the bells and whistles common to the new generation of dolls, leaving the direction of play up to the child who is in charge. Little girls fed her, took her temperature and brought bandages for her skinned knee during playtime. Shouldn’t the mom be in charge anyway?

Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Muffin Doll” was provided for review by International Playthings.


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“Sensory Gloworm” by Playskool

Watch baby’s face light up when he sees the newest touchy-feely Gloworm. With added sensory activities, this playmate offers a perfect-sized teether snail, a crinkle flower to crunch, and bumpy, clacking rings to soothe your teething child. Gloworm’s lit face attracts babies as they babble up a conversation with its friendly face. One little guy sized up the face and tried to put the whole thing in his mouth! What a compliment to Gloworm. Enjoy the glow only mode or switch on the playful songs or calming lullabies for day or night accompaniment. To build your baby’s language, describe the opportunities for fun as your baby explores Gloworm–“munching on the smooth, yellow snail,” “”slipping the snail into the shiny, green pocket,” or “squeezing the soft, pedaled flower.” Don’t talk down to your baby using overly simple words, but feed him rich vocabulary that will strengthen language skills and eventually influence reading.

Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Sensory Gloworm” was provided for review by Playskool.


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“My Little Pony Family Convertible” by Playskool

Baby PInkie Pie is up from her nap and ready for some adventure. Snap her into her car seat and start the pink-hearted purple wheels rolling. Mom can’t leave without her coffee mug and brush, while a grocery bag and snack box provide story starters for the day. Girls went shopping, had a snack, planned a picnic and touched up their hair, when playing with this gang. If you want to add some punch to your pretend play, turn over the hollow grocery bag and snack box accessories and pack some Play-doh treats. We made sandwiches, apples and juice. The easy snap-on accessories provide flexibility in story telling as Mom and Pinkie Pie experience their day. What mom wouldn’t like four appendages to carry her equipment for a day out with her baby?

“My Little Pony Convertible” is part of the brand’s introduction of family play, featuring the adorable ponies accompanied by their loving mothers and siblings. Moms often ask me what toys offer families of animals for pretend play, since their child isn’t as interested in the miniature people. Now we have families of fun in ponyville.

Take note that your preschooler might need a stronger helper to snap baby in her carseat and into the car.

Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “My LIttle Pony Convertible” was provided for review by Playskool.

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

Cat in the Hat-I Can Do That! Game

Who let the Cat in the Hat back in the house? This sojourner of silliness has arrived to play a game guaranteed for fun and learning. Flip over a red, blue and yellow card to get your instructions for wacky maneuvers like, “Slide under the Trick-a-ma-stick with a fish under your chin!” Or, “Take four giant steps with the cake between your elbows!” Learn colors, numbers, prepositions, counting in order, problem-solving and following directions to complete your challenge. Announce if you think, “I can do that,” or toss back your cards and get an activity you feel confident to complete. Step, spin, crawl, walk, or tip-toe to success.

Inspired by the book and using game pieces from the story, “The Cat in the Hat-I Can Do That!” challenges kids while getting them moving, laughing at themselves, encouraging others to succeed, and playing independently. Every funny step involves learning–even putting the three instruction cards together is a mini-puzzle that has to be right for the directions to make sense.

Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-languge pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “The Cat In the Hat, I Can Do That” was provided for review by I Can Do That Games.  For more information about this product, please visit www.icangothatgames.com.

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

“God is With Me Through the Night” by Julie Cantrell

God is with me through the nightAfter family laughs, snuggles and kisses, going to bed alone in the dark is a little scary. Reading God is With Me Through the Night, arms your little one with spiritual principles in the face of fear.

Pairing a simple sentence, “I start to feel afraid,” with animals illustrating the same emotion–a little dog looking forlorn in the dark–each page builds on the reassuring spiritual truth, God is always with me, “Just like when God kept Daniel safe from the lions.”

Encouraging your child to declare God’s comfort and assurance, the animals insist, “I say out loud, ‘I am loved!’ or “I roar like a tiger, ‘I am safe!'”  Just enough language for a toddler or preschooler to master, each short statement comforts a child, reinforced by a  Bible verse, “Do not fear for I am with you. Isaiah 41:10

What to do:

Toddlers:

  • Name the animals and the sounds they make, describe their actions and feelings–snuggling lions, nuzzling seals.
  • Relate to God’s creation.
  • Repeat the comforting phrases: “I am loved,” “I am safe!” “God is with me through the night!” so your child can remember them.

Preschoolers and early elementary ages:

  • Describe the pictures using rich vocabulary.
  • Relate the pictured activities to your child–we played in the snow like the polar bears, our family likes to cuddle too.
  • Relate the emotions to your child–When do you feel afraid? What noises are scary? What do you do when you are scared? Model sharing by expressing when you as a parent are scrared  and how you rely on God to protect and comfort you. Do you sing a song or repeat a verse?
  • Have fun shouting out the comforting phrases: “I am not afraid” and “I am safe.”
  • Encourage emerging literacy skills–point out the words of the short phrases as you say them, “I am loved.” and “God” that is differentiated in bold color.
  • Memorize the Bible verse together.
Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Book Review, Books, Strategies to Enhance Language | 1 Comment

Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It! Game

Having raised my kids on Richard Scarry books, searching for Lowly the Worm, I am excited to see a new generation of children examining his delightful drawings, learning about communities of fun. “Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found it! Game” is a winner in innovative, entertaining, language learning games. Unfold the six foot game board and race  through the bustling town, busy airport, industrious construction site, and working farm, to board the ferry for Picnic Island to grab your lunch before Pig Will and Pig Won’t eat it. Spin a Goldberg Mystery Card and start the timer as all players work together to spot the most objects on the game board of the kind pictured on the card—construction cones, garbage cans, shovels, kites, or bicycles. Kids love to place their magnifying glass tokens on the objects when found, rewarded with a bonus move. Can you see why I hear squeals of delight when a bug card is spun?

This team game models collaboration, encouragement, patience and the satisfaction of “winning” together. Scarry’s detailed drawings teach the language of concepts, categories, association, and storytelling as little ones learn what objects, people and actions go together to build narratives. Where would we find shovels? Look in the construction site. Where would we search for letters? Check the town post office or neighborhood mailbox. What about garbage cans? Everywhere! Enjoy this game for a balance of talents and fun for kids and adults alike.

Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It! Game

Recommended age: 3 years and up

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

Cuddly Kid Mirror by Alex Toys

Kids love to cuddle and check out faces so why not get snuggle and face time in one toy? With outstretched crinkle hands, this half ball of fun is asking for play. Strap the “Cuddly Kid Mirror” in the crib for baby entertainment, or prop him up for tummy time and crawl around exploration. Showing off his bright colors, fuzzy textures, knotted strings and bean bag legs, this buddy encourages visual, auditory and tactile investigation and is just plain fun to squeeze.

Alex Toys

Recommendated age: Newborn and above

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“Flow ‘N’ Fill Spout” by Yookidoo

Toddlers are drawn to running water. Since the best part of bath time is playing with the stream as the tub fills up, imagine the investigating going on with the “Flow ‘n’ Fill Spout” as it keeps the water flowing after the tap is turned off. Submerge the little pump under the water and suction the spout anywhere in the tub for continuous streams of water play. Little ones quickly learn to start and stop the flow by pushing the face, and experiment with the three friendly-faced cups, spinning a propeller, creating a shower and revealing a surprise pop up friend. Teaching the language of empty/full, heavy/light, start/stop, on/off, up/down, and floating/sinking, this joyful distraction makes scrubbing a dirty toddler a little easier.

Yookidoo Flow ‘N’ Fill Spout

Recommended age: 9 months and up

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International Playthings Playdate Central Puppet Show

Pull out this puppet show in a box when the kids come over to play and watch it spark their imaginations. Mom or Dad can easily assemble the cloth, hanging theater to suspend in the doorway as kids make puppets, part the curtains and start the story telling. Before the show starts, kids create their own puppet characters with six fuzzy bodies and thirty stick-on ears, faces, tails, noses or outfits. Go traditional in making a prince, princess, lion, puppy, or dragon or combine the features to make an original character. As the story develops, kids can re-figure the puppets, ripping off the reusable features and attaching them to create new characters. Moms were amazed at how well the features stuck on the puppets during active play. My three-year-old puppeteers enjoyed presenting a show and then chased each other with puppets in hand. Language learning begins with selecting a character while devising and assembling the puppets, continues during the creation of the story and dialogue, and extends through open-ended play with flexible props to expand plot possibilities. Take a seat and let your children learn language through play.

International Playthings Playdate Central Puppet Show

Recommended ages 3-6

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