Tag Archives: toys
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The UnParent Guide to Shopping for Toddlers

Okay, so you’ve got a few toddlers to shop for this holiday season. You know – those little people who aren’t quite old enough to drum up a wish list, but are way past the “Oooh, it’s shiny!” infant phase. They’re about 2-to-5 years old and they like their cars and their dolls and that’s about all you know. Oh, you don’t have kids? No worries. You’re exactly the demographic I’m looking for.

Here’s my UnParent Guide to Shopping for Toddlers. For every aunt, uncle, Godparent or family friend who will be hitting the toy stores this Christmas, I’d like you to stop and take a peek at the following awesome information which is sure to help you find the perfect gift. Bonus: All the toys featured today are Fisher-Price, a brand that is universally loved by every child in the, um, universe.

So here’s the deal. In 2013 and beyond, the icons below will be displayed on all Fisher-Price packaging, so that parents can fully understand how that product can aid the individual areas of growth for their child. Think it’s beyond spectacular? I agree!

Now listen up gift-givers: I’ve taken much care to find a few examples of the perfect toddler gifts based on the Elements of Enrichment above. All you have to do is place a phone call to the parents, asking which skill they’d like to see developed. Does the child have trouble sharing with siblings? No problem – there’s a toy for that. Need to work on his/her gross motor skills? It’s almost too easy. Take my suggestions below – and Happy Shopping! (more…)

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Build-A-Bear Workshop: ANY Event on Now!

I’ve long wanted to visit Build-A-Bear Workshop with my boys, but always had an excuse ready when we passed the brightly lit store exploding with stuffed animals.

“Ryder’s outgrowing teddy bears so quickly. I don’t think he’d really appreciate it.”
“Reid is too young to know what the heck is going on. Let’s wait a year or two.”

Truth is, I secretly knew that both boys would adore the workshop… I just had reservations about dropping $50+ on a teddy bear. (I mean seriously! Over $100 for two bears? That’s a little much.) And, I was a teeny bit concerned that after their first bear, they would recognize the store and want another… and I simply have no patience for tantrums over stuffed toys.

Hence, I normally picked up my pace as we passed Build-A-Bear. Like, every single time.

But then, it was like the heavens parted, as Build-A-Bear contacted me about their “ANY” Event. It’s really simple: make ANY bear, choose ANY outfit, and ANY pair of shoes for just $34.99. In some cases, you can save $20 or more per bear – yes please! Sweetening the deal in my case, Build-A-Bear Workshop generously provided a gift card so we could allow little Reid to make a bear of his very own. (We also purchased a bear for Ryder separately, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll just be documenting Reid’s adventure.)

We arrived at Build-A-Bear at Square One, Mississauga to find it hopping. The ANY Event is a popular one, with good reason! Tons of shoppers were taking advantage of the mad savings.

(more…)

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Essential Summer Fun: Fisher-Price Bubble Mower

Only a few things in life are guaranteed. Fun with the Fisher-Price Bubble Mower? Heck yeah, it’s a sure thing.

The much-loved toy – which has been around for ages! – was recently treated to a design improvement: “The all-new one-touch refill system features a bigger bubble dispenser for less fill-ups—and a one-press, no-mess refill. Just press it once and you’re good to go for a yard full of bubble fun!”

Based on the boys’ giggles and gaggles of glee yesterday, I don’t know how we lived without it for so long. In fact, Reid actually woke up at 3:00am this morning, tugged on my sleeve and said: “Mow lawn.” 

(It’s under $30! Just go buy it now.)

I had a hard time capturing the bubbles on camera, but who can deny Reid’s utter concentration:

(Please don’t mind the less-than-pristine grass; we’re ripping it out to create a large patio in June.)

One bottle of bubble solution lasted about 1/2 an hour, so be sure to have refills on hand (you can currently grab the MEGA refill bottles at Loblaws for just $2.49). I didn’t mind the boys littering the lawn with bubbles (read: a mess of soapy solution) because the grass is on it’s way out; I would caution over-use of the mower on golf-like greens. Great news: the mower works on hard surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways, so the giggles can go on!

It’s like their lives weren’t complete before the Fisher-Price Bubble Mower. This is FUN 101, folks! Guaranteed enjoyment for the little ones.  The Bubble Mower is also available in pink – but c’mon, REAL mowers aren’t pink! I’d stick with the original :)

I am part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.
The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Tots and Their Toys: How Much is too Much?

Before I became a parent, I often wrinkled my nose in distaste at the messy, crowded, toy-infested living spaces of friends with children. “Surely their little brats don’t need SO MANY toys”, I’d think disdainfully. And just think about how spoiled they must be! Wanting for nothing and begging for everything.

And for the first few months after I had Ryder, for the most part, I kept my promise to keep him grateful and humble. We purchased only a few toys; a mixture of educational and silly, large and small, in a variety of textures. Ryder truly began to appreciate the intricate makings of each toy, which can only come from playing with it over and over. I held my head high and felt slightly superior to other parents who lavished products at will – which I deemed as vulgar and even detrimental.

Of course, then I started my little ol’ blog, and toys – just begging to be reviewed – were dropped off on my doorstep. And before I knew it, my house was overtaken with products. Big toys. Small toys. Cars, blocks and playsets. Toys as far as the eye could see!

(more…)

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Of Lessons, LEGO DUPLO and Little Boys

A little over a month ago, I accepted the #LEGODUPLO 30 Days of Play Challenge. In a nutshell, the boys were asked to engage in daily themed play, with a little help and guidance from me. Both Ryder and Reid immediately took to the challenges – rising to the occasion and putting forth their best efforts. Most of the time, they were receptive to mommy’s instructions and ideas; other times, they just wanted to build towers (daily challenge be damned).

At the outset of the program, I knew the boys would get a kick out of all the different places their imagination would take them. Just opening the boxes of LEGO DUPLO was alone enough to convince them that Christmas had come twice! But one thing I wasn’t banking on – profoundly taking me by surprise – was just how much they needed me as a buddy, playing along with them.

You see, before the LEGO DUPLO Challenge, I was happy to let them play amongst themselves. Ryder and Reid are inseparable, and as a general rule, enjoy each other’s company immensely. And so I had taken it for granted that I could just throw a few toys at them and leave them to generate their own entertainment. Of course, I couldn’t do this during the 30 Days of Play; it was necessary that I guide and teach them what was expected, and how to go about accomplishing it. It was a turning point: suddenly, I realized that they were flourishing under my lead, and perhaps they needed more structured play time with mommy. I began interjecting myself during other times as well, and found them craving the attention and reciprocating with bright, funny and creative bursts of play.

Hence, for us, the LEGO DUPLO 30 Days of Play was about more than just bringing blocks together – it was about bringing us (and our imaginations) together as a family. Now THAT’S time well spent :)

The 30 Day of Challenge is still going strong for a few more days – consult the play calendar, round up some LEGO DUPLO and share a special moment with your child! We’re still playing together every day, except now, Ryder creates some challenges of his own!

Click here to visit The 30 Days of Play Challenge.

I am participating in the LEGO® DUPLO® program by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Celebrate & Save (Your Sanity) with Fisher-Price

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

(I’ve always wanted to say that. Of course, I always thought it would be followed by earth-shattering news, and while Fisher-Price coupons are HUGE, I don’t want anyone sitting at the edge of their seat in anticipation. It’s just a silly phrase, I promise. Sounds pretty mysterious though, no?)

Here it is. We are just a few short months away from JAS-fest.

Confused? I’ll spell it out. Before we know it, July, August and September (JAS) will be here. And they happen to be the three months with the MOST births and birthdays in the entire year. Get ready for birth announcements, baby shower invitations and a slew of kids parties that will keep your social calendar hoppin’ and your children on a three-month sugar high.

(Unless the birthday kid’s parents aren’t serving sugar at the party. Skip those parties.)

So how do you make it through JAS-fest without losing your mind (and money)? Three words:

START. SHOPPING. NOW.

Honestly, it’s the best way to prepare. Look through flyers, clip coupons, find awesome sales and grab those prezzies at a great price now, to be gifted later. It’ll take much stress out of the busy birthday season, and you’ll avoid rushed day-before (or day-of!) purchases where you’ll likely pay full price or worse, end up grabbing the first overpriced item you see – thereby compensating for your lack of planning with an extravagant purchase.

Need some inspiration to get you started? Fisher-Price to the rescue! (more…)

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Cool Stuff for Tweens: BunkiMunki

I must admit that I’m a little nervous about the boys growing up. Apart from the obvious: money spent on looking “cool”, talking back and arguing with mommy mom, and the arguments over bedtime/curfew/mall-rat behaviour/etc…. I’m petrified at keeping up with all the STUFF they’ll be into. Hot Wheels? I can dig that. Virtual games, Surf One Longboards and “I Am T-Pain” microphones? YIKES.

However, never one to bury my head in the sand, I am always curious about what tweens and teens consider “hot” today. Enter BunkiMunki – a safe, meaningful virtual world aimed at providing kids with the motivation to become positive thinkers and ultimately, confident and well-rounded young adults. (I’ll take this over a T-Pain mic any day.)

I became interested in BunkiMunki after seeing buzz from fellow parents on Facebook – many seemed to be thrilled with the plush toys, wearable keys and of course, the online world of BunkiMunki. And who gives better advice than fellow parents?

“Kids can join BunkiMunki for free and immediately have fun by customizing their own alias in the likeness of BunkiMunki, the brand character. They can create their own home space with realistic décor to suit their own individual style and personality. With activities like journal writing, music creation, earning badges, and playing games, kids will be rewarded with Bunki Bucks, a virtual currency that can be spent at The Emporium, a virtual store. The website offers a Premium Membership allowing kids unlimited access to all social media features including B-Mail, Chat, Friends and much more.”

Since the boys are too young to fully appreciate the world of BunkiMunki, feel free to link over to My Organized Chaos, where Tammi’s daughter had a blast touring the website. (Like what you see? Save 50% off your membership with code L2LFE12.)

I love the positive and empowering message – and can only hope that as my boys grow, they’ll gravitate to toys and entertainment that encompass both. Of course, they’ll have a lot of guidance from mommy :)

To learn more about BunkiMunki, visit their websiteFacebook Page, or you can follow them on Twitter.

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The Incredible, Inevitable Thomas

When Ryder was a wee one, I had little knowledge about the toys he would eventually come to love. After all, I spent most of my time trying to prevent him from putting batteries in his mouth (yes, he could pry open every remote control cover known to mankind), and therefore was just happy with him gumming normal, FDA-approved toys.

But seasoned parents knew better.

“Is he into Thomas and Friends yet?” they’d ask.
“Not yet…” I’d respond with hesitation.
“Oh, he will be!” they’d cry with jubilation, rubbing their hands together in delight.

I later learned that their joy was not related to the prospect of my son having an enriching experience with toys, but rather that I too would be sent straight to the poor house trying to afford the extensive collection of trains, tracks and paraphernalia.

(True story: the first time I laid eyes on the $249 deluxe train table, I yanked Ryder so quickly in the other direction, he may have caught air time.) (more…)

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LEGO DUPLO: 30 Days of Play Challenge!

Now THIS is going to be a blast.

Some of the greatest perks of being a blogger is working with fabulous women who engage moms (Mom Central Canada), working with brands whom I trust and have trusted for eons (LEGO DUPLO), and participating in blog tours that are fun and help foster creativity with my little ones.

Oh, and when the swag makes their little jaws drop to the floor. (Thanks LEGO!)

Now before you get all “pshaw, that’s SO great for you” – there is DEFINITELY something in it for you too. Here’s what you need to know:

LEGO DUPLO has partnered with Today’s Parent for one of their LARGEST and MOST EXCITING campaigns ever. Each day, from February 27th through April 10th, LEGO DUPLO will be sharing one new way to play. Canadian moms: just check the Today’s Parent website each weekday to see a new “play challenge” that you can tackle with your little ones.

The awesome part: Moms will also be able to submit their own “play challenge” for the chance to win a trip for four to LEGOLAND Parks (Florida or California) and have their play idea featured in the calendar! The last five days of the 30 Days of Play Challenge will feature mom-generated ideas – it could be one of yours!

So if you’ve got some DUPLO on hand (chances are you do), have a few minutes to get creative with your children (which is much for fun than doing the dishes anyways), then submit your idea for a chance to win the ultimate family getaway! I’ll be participating in the challenges on frequent basis, but as the boys are still quite young, let’s just say that their creations will be a loose interpretation of the challenge, and will most likely require a little help from me :) (more…)

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Little Tikes Cookin’ Creations Kitchen #Giveaway

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

This is a true story: A few weeks ago, I had plans on a Friday night. When my girlfriend called to confirm, I waffled a bit.

“What’s wrong?” she demanded.
“Oh nothing…” I answered.
“Well what’s the problem then? Pick you up at eight?”
“The truth is… I kinda want to stay home and put together this Little Tikes kitchen that arrived today…”

Okay, I know that I may have issues. But I also knew that my boys – who spend a lot of time engaging in pretend play – would be absolutely enthralled with the playset. I was really torn, but in the end I decided to be a good friend… and blow off my plans. After all, why party with girlfriends… when you can do THIS on a Friday night.

Now don’t be scared. Yes, when the good folks at Little Tikes sent us the Cookin’ Creations Kitchen to review, I didn’t exactly realize that it would arrive in about oh, a hundred pieces. Maybe more. The above picture was taken after an hour of work; the entire assembly took four (4) hours and sometimes required two people. But most of the time, I drank coffee and poured over the instructions while my husband manned the screwdriver. And so before we chat about the actual playset, I have this advice to offer: (more…)

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STOP Cabin Fever! Tips for Keeping Tots Entertained

There are moms who stoically brave -10 degree weather to make snow-angels and forts in the backyard. They walk 22 minutes in 15cm high snow, pulling the kids in a wagon, to the nearest Mom & Tots play centre. There are moms who dress their child from head to toe and bring out the jogging stroller; counting laps as they push and pace themselves around the neighbourhood cul-de-sac. And to those moms, I salute you!

I am not one of those moms.

Unless it’s 5 degrees Celsius or warmer, you will NOT find me outside. Kids: let daddy take you out on weekends. C is for comfortable; that’s good enough for me.

And so I must do my best to ward off boredom, tedium, lethargy and the like – all symptoms of staying indoors during the cold winter months. Thank goodness I have two boys close in age – they honest-to-goodness do everything together. And I mean EVERYTHING – you can generally find little Reid tearing off two sheets of toilet paper for Ryder when he’s finished with #1. Too much information? You should see it! It’s nothing short of comical.

Even though they keep each other entertained, they do need a little help from me. And although I do my best to cycle through books, colouring activities, TV time and snacking, sometimes the routine does become monotonous and I require a bit of inspiration.

Thankfully, there’s oodles of ideas out there, especially if you know where to look. As a Fisher-Price Mom, I was introduced to this handy little resource: Play and Learn Family Activities. Full of great tips for keeping the little ones entertained indoors, once you click on your child’s age, the site provides you with a list of family friendly activities. (more…)

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Put a Bow on It: HEXBUG Nano

A few weeks ago, I was one of several bloggers contacted to review HEXBUG Nano, touted as “one of the hottest finds for both boys and girls ages 3+”. Not one to pass up hot finds, I agreed to receive a whack of HEXBUG toys.

Truth is, I had no idea what the heck HEXBUGs were.

So sue me. I’ve got toddlers, okay? They still play with toys that are shaded in primary colours. But, I had seen mentions of the micro-robotic bugs popping up all over the place. “Best Innovative Toy of 2011″. “Top 25 Toys for Christmas”. “Best Toy of 2011″. And my personal fave – from Time Magazine, “The 15 Smartest Toys for Young Geniuses”. Interested? You bet I was.

The box arrived. Inside, I found:

• 1 HEXBUG Nano 5-Pack
• 5 Glows in the Dark HEXBUG Nano bugs
• 1 Glow in the Dark HEXBUG Nano Habitat Set
• 1 HEXBUG Nano Spiral Starter Set
• 1 HEXBUG Nano Bridge Battle Habitat Set
• 1 HEXBUG Nano Elevation Habitat Set
• 1 Carton of “Bug Food” (batteries)

Still, I was unmotivated to set it all up. Call me crazy, but I worried that it was too complicated a concept for my two boys. So, I sat on it.

Then the blog reviews started popping up. Here, there, everywhere – the toys were universally adored. And I began thinking… perhaps I should really see what all the fuss is about. (more…)

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Mattel Gift Finder: Holiday Shopping Made Easy!

Quickly now! Do you have a child? Children?

If you answered “yes”, stop reading. Because this post isn’t for you.

(Please do not stop reading. I’m just being dramatic.)

However, if you’re…

an aunty, uncle, godparent, friend
don’t have children yourself
and are wondering how the heck to shop for children this Christmas… read on, friends, read on.

I’ll be blunt: there are two types of child-free gift givers. Those who get it: folks that ask parents for gifting advice, look for suitably aged toys and clothing, and remember the correct spelling of the child’s name on the gift tag. (Or, give cash. With 00′s.)

And those that don’t.

These serial offenders purchase toys completely unsuitable for a child’s age – or tastes. (Because it’s fun to watch Ryder pine away for a toy he can’t play with until next year, obviously.) They buy clothing 4 sizes too big… so the child can “grow into it”. (Great news! Reid finally fits that matching t-shirt and shorts he received in Size 18 months. Slight problem: it’s November.) Or  - will gift clothing in a size too small. (Curiously, I’d rather get just one use out of an outfit than pack it away until 2015.)

For those gift givers that sorely need a little push in the right direction – or busy moms who are looking to make holiday shopping simple – I present to you: the Mattel Gift Finder. (more…)

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Discovery Toys #Giveaway

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

It appears that I have been living under a rock.

(Allow me to dust myself off, please.)

Hello – Discovery Toys? How awesome are they? And thanks to my good friend Jeanne, I now have new ways to keep the kids entertained.. while learning. A match made in heaven, I know.

Just in case you’re peeking out from under your own rock, Discovery Toys:

- Was founded by an early childhood educator in 1978; today, they are the leader in learning toys for early childhood education as the foremost direct marketing company of its kind
- Design multiple layers of learning into every toy, while maintaining the highest safety and quality standards beyond the nationally published governmental standards
- Create highly engaging learning toys, books, games and music that help parents and others teach learning skills through play (more…)

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Fisher-Price: Let’s Pretend!

“How does Reid like his new present?”
“He loves it!”
“What does he love most about it?”
“Er… he’s still kind of playing with the box…”

How many times have you heard that children are more obsessed with the packaging than an actual toy? Before I became a parent, I marveled at how a child could give up a shiny, new toy in favour of a dingy old cardboard box. However, after repeatedly witnessing this phenomena in action, I can now vouch that exploration and discovery begins with the outer shell.

GET OUT OF THE BOX REID
OK SERIOUSLY YOU’RE CUTE BUT GET OUT
ONLY 12 MINUTES LATER…
TIME TO GO CHECK OUT THE ACTUAL TOY
Why is that???

Cardboard boxes are the ultimate blank slate for children; a box can morph into a number of objects only limited by the child’s imagination. In fact, a large banker’s box recently turned from a car to a fort to a garbage can – yes, Ryder found it amusing to sit in a pretend trash can – all within a matter of moments.

So why is “pretend play” so darned important? According to Dr. Kathleen Alfano, a widely-regarded expert in early childhood development, “Pretend Play is more than fun – it helps develop thinking and problem-solving skills and strengthens social and communication skills, as well. It lets your child ‘try on’ endless new roles and new ways of looking at the world, which helps build empathy and imagination.”

Dr. Alfano’s Tips to promote “Pretend play”:

Provide a collection of dress-up props for role-play
Plant seeds for imaginative thinking by reading lots of books together
Provide toys that encourage creativity and imagination
Make up stories with your child, building on each other’s additions
Arrange play dates with others to foster social and imaginative play
Listen to music with your child and act out how it sounds (sleepy, happy)
Take turns “being” things that begin with each letter of the alphabet
Sometimes be your child’s play partner, sometimes just observe
Use your own imagination and awaken your own inner child

Ryder and I love to make up stories. Sometimes I’ll let him take the lead; I’ll put a few of his favourite toys in front of him and let him create a scenario – at the moment, a recurring theme is taking mommy’s car to the grocery store to buy Ryder grapes. And it’s absolutely amazing to see how he incorporates making sure Reid comes home for a nap; how daddy must remember his money; even how mommy needs to make a list. At times he’ll sling a pail over his shoulder, calling it his “purse”, and he never forgets to grab a old set of keys that he keeps handy. In short, he takes mundane activities from our everyday life and weaves a brilliant tale that is funny, creative and always entertaining. This is the power of pretend play.

Does your child have a vivid imagination? What are some of the ways he/she engages in pretend play?

I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
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Fisher-Price: Stocking the Essential Toy Box

My boys have A LOT of toys. But that’s hardly news, is it? I know so many parents who’ve said, “Oh we keep it simple. We don’t want to spoil him/her.” And then before they know it, their living room has exploded with colourful plastic creations. Me too! In fact, it truly is my fault – sometimes, I’m actually more excited about a toy than the boys.

Sometimes, I’ll look at their toy box and think, “What IS all this stuff?” But if I separate the puzzles from the play houses, the cars from the cooking kits – I usually come to the conclusion that most toys play a pretty awesome role in the boys’ overall development.

But which toys should stay at the top of the rotation, and which toys should move on? According to Dr. Kathleen Alfano, Director for the Fisher-Price Child Research Department, a good toy:

Is safe, durable, interesting and fun to use.
Stimulates creativity and imagination.
Encourages inquisitiveness and resourcefulness.
Is a tool for learning (challenging, yet not frustrating).
Invites repeated use.
Involves child interaction.
Addresses developing needs and emerging skills.

For me, it’s the toys that make them think outside the box; the ones that can spark their imagination well beyond the standard (or “typical”) expectations of play. At the moment, Ryder is currently obsessed with the Little People Pirate Ship, a gift he received not too long ago. But it’s not the toy he’s drawn to per se; it’s the story surrounding it. The fact that ships float on water; the way pirates say “aaaarh!”; the emotions behind leaving mommy and daddy and sailing the high seas (it’s actually quite philosophical for a 3 year old). He is entertained for hours and I’m happy where this kind of play takes both his mind and his spirit.

And little Reid is learning by imitation. Fisher-Price generously sent us some of their most sought-after toys, including Zig the Big Rig - a talking truck that comes to life through speech, fun sounds, lights & animated reactions. Reid loves watching Ryder interact with the toy and then has his own little fun: making  ”brrrrr” noises with his mouth as he pushes it back and forth; giggling as the truck comes to life; even loading it with his own cargo (in this case, a food storage lid). It’s magical to watch!

Take a look through your child’s toy box and try to identify the “essential” toys. You’ll be surprised just how many of them can let little imaginations soar!

I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
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This Post is Brought to You by Fisher-Price

Or, more precisely, the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Fun With Friends Musical Table. It’s a dull, rainy day, the kids are trapped indoors, and I was running out of options on how to keep them amused. And it’s not even 10:30am. Yikes!

Thank goodness my husband assembled the Musical Table last week.

Busy, busy … there’s SO much to do! Friendly characters invite baby to play, encouraging movement and exploration all around the table. Four interactive learning centers help baby learn letters, numbers, counting, first words, colours, shapes, opposites, animals and much more! Musical fun includes more than 50 sing-along songs, tunes, and activities!”

The boys LOVE the table! The lights and sounds keep Reid captivated and Ryder has a blast singing along to the Alphabet Song, counting numbers and more. Since there are so many features to discover, and more than enough to go around, I rarely have to separate them or break up a fight. It’s coordinated play – the sane way!

Now since I’ve got a 12-month old and a 36-month old, exactly the demographic of this product, I can confidently crown it with the three e’s: entertaining, educational and essential for rainy days. In fact, I think this toy is best loved when two children play together – all I hear at the moment are squeals and peals of laughter coming from my boys as they learn, sense and discover. It’s the Power of Play!

I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Contests

Get Outside with Fisher-Price! ENTER TO WIN!

Every day, for the last few weeks, Ryder spends the first few moments of his morning pressed up against the sliding doors to our backyard.

“No snow,” he declares. “Go outside.” 

If you could only see the little finger and nose prints I have to clean off every night! But it’s all in good fun – he’s just so looking forward to getting outside! And I can’t blame him…

According to Dr. Kathleen Alfano, Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price, there are numerous benefits to outdoor play, including:

- Playing outdoors is a form of exercise that promotes wholesome physical development
- Playing actively outdoors also increases flexibility, fine and gross motor skills and is related to the development of a wide variety of physical skills
- Toys that require balance and coordination, such as skates, scooters and bikes, teach children new skills, encourage the development of self-confidence and satisfy their interest in exploration

Before the rain settled in this past week, the boys and I enjoyed many late afternoons playing outside. I am continually amazed at the coordination of my little ones – Ryder is able to bend, stretch and roll around with ease, and Reid seems fearless while cruising along the patio set. In fact, on a daily basis, I can almost see them master new skills as they happen; learning to hit a ball from a tee, peddle with coordination, satisfy curiosity of new surroundings.

I can’t wait for the warmer (and drier!) weather to roll in… lots of outdoor play on the way!

Do you have a little boy who’d love to peddle away in a cool Thomas & Friends Kid-Tough Trike? Visit my friend Tammi over at My Organized Chaos for a chance to win this rugged trike! It’s got all the features you’re looking for: a wide, stable wheel base, easy-grip handlebars, big foot pedals plus great Thomas & Friends styling. There’s even a secret storage compartment under the seat!

But what if you’ve got a little girl? Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered on this one…


One lucky Canadian reader will win a Barbie Tough TrikeTough enough for years of fun and adventure! The pretend key turns and clicks—there’s even a secret storage compartment under the comfort-ride seat for all her trinkets and treasures! Durable tires and rugged treads pair-up for “off-road” fun, plus it’s got all the essentials you look for in a trike: a wide, stable wheel base, easy-grip handlebars and big foot pedals.

To enter, simply visit Fisher-Price and choose your favourite outdoor toy (check off category to view), then leave a comment here telling us what it is!

You can also qualify for extra entries! Remember, you must leave a separate comment for each. You can:

(1) Follow my blog, Listen to Lena!
(2) “Like” Listen to Lena! on Facebook
(3) “Like” Fisher-Price on Facebook
(4) NEW Follow Listen to Lena! on Twitter
(5) Tweet about this giveaway (http://tinyurl.com/3m7kh4t). You may tweet daily.

I’ll draw for a winner on May 29th. Special thanks to Fisher-Price, and good luck!


I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Fisher-Price: The Power of Play

When Ryder was just a wee one, I worried that he wasn’t getting enough “educational” stimulation.

Shouldn’t he be watching those baby reading DVDs? What about trying that baby sign language stuff? Why is that child rearranging blocks while Ryder just ambles on by and throws them around?

Turns out, I didn’t fully appreciate the Power of Play.

Because when Ryder first reached for his Chatter Telephone, he learned to pick up the receiver. Later, through imitation, he discovered that he could use the dial pad to make a “phone call”. And lastly, chatting away with his friends fostered creativity, socialization and imagination. Not bad for a toy telephone, eh?

Fisher-Price realizes that when a child picks up a toy, it’s about more than just fun.; it’s about mastering milestones. Every child goes through milestone moments at every age and stage of development; therefore, Fisher-Price launched its 2011 milestones campaign to communicate to mothers the range of Fisher-Price toys available that help babies grow and develop in various ways, depending on what milestone they are experiencing at a specific time. The milestones are: soothe, sense, move, discover, socialize, learn, create and imagine.

And trust me, they know their stuff. Leading the program is Dr. Deborah Weber, a trusted voice in the toy industry. She is widely regarded as an expert in early childhood development, and is Senior Manager for the Fisher-Price Child Research Department, which is the toy industry’s most respected Center for research on childhood development and play. Plus, she’s a mom of two!

Here are a few of Dr. Weber’s tips for helping your child meet developmental milestones:

Soothe: Keep your baby close to you in a swing or bouncer when you are doing things around the house such as cooking or laundry. It will make them feel comfortable and confident to know that mom is by their side.

Learn: Encourage your child to play with toys in different ways. Be sure to join in the play with them and show them all of the special features of the toys including the lights, sounds, different shapes, colours and interaction, as seen with the Fun with Friends Musical Table.

Sense: Establish a routine with your baby by putting on a soothing mobile at the same time every night. When your baby hears a familiar Ocean Wonders tune or sees a familiar visual, they will know it is bedtime and will feel soothed and relaxed.

One of the most fascinating things I’ve seen lately is Ryder playing with toys that are meant for Reid. Even though he should have “mastered” the milestones associated with the toy long ago, he continually finds new ways to play with the toy and make it relevant to him. A school bus playing music becomes a ghetto blaster; toy rings become donuts that are frosted with paper confetti. I am continually amazed by his imagination, confidence and coordination, and it’s refreshing to see that Fisher-Price toys definitely do grow with him!

For more information on the power of play, visit Fisher-Price Play.

I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
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Build-A-Bear Workshop Spring Lineup!

Just in time for Easter, Build-A-Bear Workshop has released some beyond adorable furry friends! Come meet the latest additions to their Spring lineup – that’s Swirly Lamb and two of the newest Limited Edition Small Frys, Summer Hugs Bear and Happy Chick shown above! (How cute is that little chickie?)

And, Build-A-Bear is your one-stop Easter shop: Starting March 18th, you can make your own Beary Limited edition Daisy Bunny ($18) or Swirly Lamb ($18) at Build-A-Bear Workshop and buildabear.com. For a limited time, you’ll also receive a FREE basket and candy gift with a purchase of $20 or more while quantities last. (Do remember to personalize your gift with a Build-A-Sound message that you record for an additional $8).

When I was young, it was customary to give chocolate for Easter; every year I’d look forward to a large, hollow egg with a tiny prize nestled inside. Later, plush Easter bunnies became all the rage. So I’d say that this Build-A-Bear gift set combines the best of both worlds!

I’ve been to Build-A-Bear a few times, but I’ve never come across their Small Frys! They’re just 7-in tall, and arguably the cutest little animals I’ve ever seen. I’m particularly in love with the Camo Bear pictured below – I die!!

For more information, visit buildabear.com.