I’m excited to announce some of my Spring PAL Award winners on FOX6 WITI TV “Real Milwaukee” today on their 9:00 show. If you’re in the Milwaukee area, please tune in.

Today I am featuring some of the PAL Award’s Spring winners that spark great fun and can keep language skills sharp over the summer–encouraging Story-telling through pretend play.

Gombe Rainforest Camp by The Queen’s Treasures (priced by accessory)

  • IMG_0519They do a wonderful job of creating accessories for 18” dolls to re-enact periods in history—this set is inspired by Jane Goodall’s work
  • Amazed at my 8 year-old friend’s knowledge and excitement over Jane Goodall’s story. She knew it from her teacher reading books to the class and Mom sharing the story
  • Kids’ dolls observed the chimpanzees, using the camera and telescope, and then returned to her tent to type out and record her observations—
  • Pretend play can build confidence, social skills, language complexity through generating story, and inspire future leaders—all about girl empowerment theme, currently so popular in toys.

Janod the Fantastic Castle (4 years and up, $54.99)

  • Janod_Fantastic-Castle-1Comes in a case, opens up, kids let down the drawbridge, but watch out for dragons
  • Rooms in castle lead story down paths—bedroom, kitchen, jail, wizard’s lab
  • Accessories—archers, knights, kings, hop on horses along stone and grass path to make or flip it over for a moat with swimming creatures, boat or fish.
  • Props in many categories inspire turns in the story

 Baby Amaze 3-in-1 Care and Learn Stroller by VTech (2-5 years, $44.99)

  • vtech-3-in-1-care-and-learn-stroller-4-800x640VTech produces great toys that often have multiple functions to change up play: high chair->stroller->bassinet
  • eating/strolling/sleeping familiar in everyday life of kids
  • Short instructions “Let’s go for a walk,” sings songs, high chair mode-“Turn the book to learn about food”  Helps build focus, attention, auditory memory for school skills.

Space Rocket With Launch Site by Playmobil (6 years and up, $49.99)

  • PLAYMOBIL-City-Action-Space-Rocket-pTRU1-23288625dt3-2-1 ignition sound effects and lights
  • After several rotations in space, separated capsule, took off nose cone to give flight to satellite, unfolding solar panels/ return to Launchpad for maintenance
  • Playmobil’s signature detail to props: computer screens, phone, sensors, tools, monitors/ mobile arms
  • Stimulates story-telling within many categories: preparation, flight, landing, planning and maintenance.

Folkmanis Puppets: Monarch Life Cycle and Black Dragon (3 years and up, $39.99 and $69.99)

  • monarch_3073_3poses_rgb3 zippers reveal each stage of metamorphosis from caterpillar-> chrysalis->butterfly. Kids loved this, teacher excited to share this before unit in class
  • I worked a lot with kids in the schools, looking for intriguing materials to engage kids to inspire good writing and descriptions about the stages-multi-sensory experience
  • Slip hands into the wings and fly away
  • Black Dragon comes with story to inspire little story-tellers
  • Kids manipulate, add sound effects

Teepee Tent by Hape (3 years and up, $99.99)

  • e4307a-teepee-tent-red-with-child.jpgKids love cozy hideaways to call their own-teepee Tent is just that!
  • Kids make it their home, bring in props—food, books, dolls, cooking items depending on the direction of story, even play school
  • Mom told me, she considered a play tent in the play room a gift to her because it entertained the kids and she got a break!
  • Place some books inside for cozy spot to read