Monday, November 18, 2013

LeapFrog My Pal Scout & Violet


 LeapFrog My Pal Scout
Give learning a personal touch with this soft, cuddly puppy!  Scout or Violet connects to the computer so you can customize the music and personalize the learning with your child's name and favorite food, animal and color.  Your puppy pal comes with 5 pre-loaded songs, or you can select and download your choice of learning tunes and lullabies from an online list of 30 songs.*  Press a paw to play music, learning songs or games!  Parents can connect to the online LeapFrog® Learning Path for customized learning insights and ideas to expand the learning.

*Internet connection required to personalize Scout/Violet with your child's name and favorite items or to change songs.

Learning First Words
Learning common names for colors, shapes, animals, and so on, helps children understand and describe the world.

Learning about numbers
Children are introduced to number names and number order through counting games and activities.

Introducing Daily Routines
Learning about daily routines help children develop a sense of time and sequence.

Learning about Feelings
Even very young children can begin to recognize and express their feelings, as well as the feelings of others.
 Customer Reviews:
We got this toy for my one-year-old and she loves it! You can program in your child's name, favorite color, favorite animal, and favorite food. You can also select five songs for it to play and five different lullabyes (for a total of ten personalized songs). My little one's favorite song is the one that spells her name. The toy is just AWESOME!
 By S. Waldrop
We LOVE Violet. This is one of the best toys our daughter has ever received and nobody seems to know about it!!

As a proud parent of a 2-year old I didn't really think my daughter needed another stuffed animal, even one that could say her name. Violet was a gift just prior to a cross-country flight and I have to say I was wrong. She is amazing!!

Violet is easy to set up and Leap Frog has done a great job with their names database - my daughter's name, Maren, is not one that I'll find on keychains or cups throughout her life but it was a choice when setting Violet up (and also for Tag Junior as that is also a Leap Frog toy). Violet is a welcome addition to our life in the house and in the car. She has two volume settings both of which are pretty indoor-friendly (even airplane friendly) and she is not nearly as annoying as one little red $60 monster who constantly needs help getting up.

My daughter loves pushing Violet's paws to get to the song she wants to hear and I can't wait for her to learn how to spell her name with Violet's help. You can select 5 different songs, your child's favorite animal, food and color.
 By C. Bradley

LeapFrog Shapes And Sharing Picnic Basket

The Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket helps little learners explore shapes, colors, manners and more! Over 30 audio responses encourage pretend play, and the 14-piece set helps children build motor skills as they sort, match, stack, empty and fill.

Parents can connect to the online LeapFrog® Learning Path for customized learning insights and ideas to expand the learning. Appropriate for children ages 6 to 36 months.


Gross Motor Skills
As children learn to roll over, sit, stand, and even dance, they are developing the ability to coordinate their large muscles.

Pretend Play
Pretend play offers a creative outlet that strengthens a child's understanding of the world as he acts out stories he knows and situations he observes in the adult world. As imagination grows, dramatic play becomes more complex.
LeapFrog Shapes And Sharing Picnic Basket
Customer Reviews:
 This is a great toy! very durable, bold colors. everything fits into the basket so it's easy to store and not lose pieces. My 18 month old daughter loves playing pretend and this is a great toy for her. Plus, all the food is a shape that fits in it's on spot on the plates, like a puzzle. It helps her with shapes, colors and I can get her to clean up when she's done. And she loves carrying this around the house.
 By Heather J. Ethen
I have never written a review before, but had to for this toy. My 2 1/2 year old daughter and 11 month old son play with this toy constantly and fight over it so much so I am thinking about buying another one. We have more toys than anyone I know. I know the good, bad and easily broken ones on the market. This toy has everything you'd want for your kids.

1. Sounds effects
2. Container to store pieces in
3. Shape-sorter
4. Different healthy food items for your toddler to learn to distinguish
5. Promotes sharing (though my kids are still working on this aspect :)
6. Container has a handle for toddler to tote around (which all toddlers love to do)

I highly recommend this!
 By Mommaoftwo 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

9 Learning Toys Must Be Added To Toddler's Collection


Of course, your toddler will probably still want to play with most of the "baby toys" for a while but now she's also ready for some more "sophisticated" playthings. These toys will encourage your toddler to develop her new motor and mental skills!  I consider any good toddler toy to be an "educational toy" because young children learn through play.

Dolls: At some point during most toddlers' development, they will show an interest in a companion that looks more like a human baby. They'll still drag around their favorite plush puppy or bear but will also want to care for a baby doll--just like mommy and daddy take care of them. This stage may be even more exciting for toddlers who are expecting or who have a new sibling. I seemed to have skipped this phase but both my children love to change, feed, and cuddle their dolls. Doll play allows children to process their own emotions and also develop greater empathy--definitely worth encouraging!

Alphabet Toys: Toddlers will initially realize that letters have something to do with those neat stories you read them. Eventually they will connect letters to the letter names and then it is just a hop, skip, and a jump to the sounds letters make. The best way to encourage pre-literacy skills is to create a print-rich environment. This means that your toddler will have plenty of opportunity to interact with letters and words in multiple ways and formats. One of my favorite letter toys is the LeapFrog Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder. Along with the ever-popular refrigerator magnet letters, you get three modes of play for a toy that will grow with your child.

Ride-ons: What toddler can resist the allure of a ride-on? Self-powered locomotion is pure toddler excitement. We've purchased or been gifted or tested out so many ride-ons at our house but I can honestly say the kids have loved them all. My favorites are the sturdy ones and ones that adults or older siblings can push (without bending over--my aching back!) for younger toddlers or toddlers who just feel like a free ride. The kids love the ones that are shaped like any sort of car, train, or truck.

Counting Toys: Another basic skill toddlers begin to acquire is counting and number recognition. Every kid learns these things at his or own pace but fun exposure to the idea of counting will make it easier once your toddler is ready to embark on her first math adventure. We count everything--stairs, buttons, blocks--and numbers are everywhere! Toy telephones, like the LeapFrog Chat & Count Cell Phone build number recognition while allowing your toddler to play with an all-time favorite, the phone...without accidentally using up the minutes on your plan.

Kitchens: I have yet to meet the toddler who doesn't enjoy play kitchens. If you cannot afford a fancy new one, you'll probably be able to spot one at a garage sale. Or, go green and recycle yours out of cardboard boxes or wooden crates. Just the basic outline of some stove top burners, a bowl for a sink, and a few cutouts for a refrigerator and oven and your kids will be junior chefs in no time.

Shape Sorters: Older toddlers will begin to recognize shapes and maybe even correctly identify them. Shape sorters, boxes with holes for various shaped blocks, encourage spatial skills as well as shape recognition. Many of these also have brightly colored pieces that help children learn colors, another toddler skill.  The LeapFrog Fix & Learn Speedy is an interesting twist on the classic shape toy--this little race car is a push toy, tool set, and shape toy all in one. Following instructions, kids twist or press the correct shape-coded buttons to get vrooming again.

Play Tents: Now that your toddler knows you are not actually vanishing when you aren't visible (Thank you, object permanence! Mommy can shower alone again!), he will love his own hiding spot in a play tent. My mom would always get out the dining room chairs and a spare sheet--still an excellent and frugal option. I also love the convenience of a one-touch or pop-up play tent. My kids will play for hours in their "club house"--exploring caves, taking a rocket ship to the moon, or just relaxing and reading.

Role Playing Toys: Tool sets? Vacuums? Telephones? Mini laptops? If your toddler sees you using something, he is going to want to use it (or a reasonable substitute), too. The most popular option will probably be whatever you spend the most time with in the house. Just remember--he's going to copy EVERYTHING... not just the behaviors you want him to mimic.

More Books! Okay, you are going to see this on my list for every age group. Tag Junior is a great toy/book hybrid that will engage your toddler and encourage her love of reading. Books open up a whole new world and develop that skill that makes all play (and learning) possible--the imagination!

Shopping Guide for Buying Best Learning Toys for 2 Year Olds


Just like their slightly younger peers, 2-year-olds continue to be extremely curious about the world. In addition to improve motor skills allowing them to walk, crawl, run, jump and climb, many children at this age are equipped with blossoming language skills. They can now begin to ask questions, listen to stories and follow some very simple instructions.

With a more sophisticated mind, 2-year-olds are ready to explore some basic academic skills such as colors and shapes, as well as learn simple words and phrases. The best toys for 2 year olds will entertain and engage them while teaching basic skills, fun and educational.

Emotionally, toddlers are developing a sense of self and independence while still enjoying praise and encouragement from their parents. To support them, look for toys that allow them to master and show off new skills.

Shopping Guide Best Learning Toys for 2 Year Olds

Active Play Toys

Two-year-olds are constantly on-the-move, so the best toys are ones the can pull or tug behind them (bonus when they can give “rides” to their other toys!). As they become increasingly confident walkers, a whole new world of ball-based play patterns can emerge. Simple educational games that involve tossing or kicking a ball can provide hours of fun while building motor skills and coordination.

Pretend Play Toys

Toddlers are learning words that will help them communicate about common experiences in their environment. Dolls or stuffed animals they can “talk” to as they go about their daily routines, or familiar objects like kitchen utensils, will help children incorporate these first words and phrases into their ever-growing vocabulary.

Math Toys

Shape sorters, colored blocks and count-along toys further enhance a toddler’s vocabulary as they lay the foundation for important math concepts.

Social Play Toys

While play can be largely solitary at this age, you might see toddlers making small gestures or attempts to socialize with others. Children might begin to “share” by offering toys or objects to another child. Toys such as tea sets or train sets that allow multiple kids to play in parallel in a small group but do not require coordination and communication amongst them can provide room for early social experiences. When your child is ready, these same learning toys become materials to help foster more sophisticated and coordinated play among peers.

Creative Play Toys

As they grow, pretend play toys that inspire more elaborate scenarios can foster children’s budding imaginations. They may use a plastic stethoscope to listen to their teddy bear’s heartbeat, pull out the tea set to plan a party for their stuffed animals or write their aunts and uncles emails from their toy laptop. Creativity can bloom as children use crayons, stamps, and colored paper to design birthday cards for loved ones or pieces of art to adorn the refrigerator.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Open-ended", the best toys for children


There are so many toys out there, and juggling your child’s needs (and wants!) – along with advertising and peer pressure influences – can be tricky. But the best toys aren’t always the fanciest – they’re the ones that fire up your child’s imagination.

Toys and play

Toys can be a great way to kickstart your child’s play and support your child’s development. But your child might not need as many toys as you think.

The best toys for children are ‘open-ended’. These are the toys that encourage your child to play using imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills.

Open-ended toys include:

  •     blocks – one day your child uses them to build a tower, and the next day he might bring the block up to his ear and pretend it’s a phone
  •     balls – they’re great to bounce, look at, roll, hold and throw
  •     cardboard boxes – these can stand in for so many things, including pretend shop counters, ovens, cars, boats and doll houses
  •     dress-ups – with some hand-me-down clothes and bits of fabric, your child can become anything or anyone he likes
  •     crafty bits and pieces – coloured paper, stickers, crayons and washable markers can get your child started on a masterwork.

You don’t always have to buy toys from a shop – everyday household items often make great open-ended toys. Pots and pans, plastic containers, pegs, clothes baskets, blankets ... children can find a way to play with almost anything! One important note – any household items your child plays with should be safe, so avoid sharp objects, or small objects that could cause your child to choke.
Choosing toys

Many toys have age-range information on their packaging. This can be useful, but in terms of play, it’s only a guide. Your child’s interests and stage of development will probably give you a better sense of what to choose. Age-range information can be important for safety, however – for example, when toys contain small parts that could be swallowed by a baby. In these cases, it’s wise to follow the recommended age-range information.

For your baby, the best ‘toy’ and play partner is you, a carer or other close family member. Your baby will delight in watching your face, listening to your voice and simply being with you. She’ll also enjoy looking at a brightly coloured mobile, listening to a wind-up musical toy or learning to reach for a rattle. When your baby can sit up, she might also like things she can bang – a wooden spoon to bang on a pot is every bit as much fun as a purpose-built toy.

Toddlers love to play with boxes, and often find the wrapping a present comes in more fun than the present itself. Other good choices for toddlers include construction toys (for example, Duplo) and clothing for dress-ups.

Older children often like to solve problems and use their imagination. Puzzles or games that get your child playing with others are also good choices.

You don’t need to spend lots of money on toys – toy libraries are a great way to keep surprising your child with new toys. Most toy libraries charge a membership fee, but then you can borrow toys for free. You might like to read more about playing without paying.

Toys you’re uncomfortable with

There are some toys that might not sit easily with your family values. For example, some parents are uncomfortable with toy weapons such as guns, while others might not like the body shape or clothing of some dolls.

Toy weapons

Play with toy weapons often involves aggression and violence. And when children play together in aggressive ways, it’s not always good for their self-confidence and wellbeing.

But toy weapons can also be used in positive ways. It’s a matter of looking at how your child is playing with the toy weapon and working out what your child is actually doing. For example, your child might be using the toy as a prop in a make-believe game of cops and robbers. That’s probably fine. But if your child’s using the toy aggressively towards other children, he might need some coaching from you on playing with others. The gun might not be the issue.

It’s pretty common for children to make guns out of everyday objects such as sticks, celery, toast or Lego. This might not be something you want to encourage, but a gun made of toast doesn’t have the same power as a toy gun. A toast gun is a symbol, and is less likely to be used to scare others.

Sexy-looking dolls

Playing with dolls can be great fun for your child, but some dolls have a grown-up, ‘sexy’ look – for example, some female dolls come with clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings and high heels. This might seem fun and completely innocent, but it can also create an image of women that you might not want your child to play with – or imitate. In fact, a 2009 report from UK human rights organisation Object found that the ‘sexualisation’ of toys and product advertising can directly influence your child’s developing sexual identity, attitudes and behaviours.

Again, it’s worth watching to see how your child plays with dolls. If you’re concerned, you might want to offer dolls with more child-like features so your child is exposed to dolls of all styles and body shapes.

A relaxed approach to toy guns and sexy-looking dolls might be the best way to go – it’s probably a stage that will pass by itself. If it really worries you, you could suggest your child plays with something else.
Talking about toy decisions

You’re the person who decides what toys are OK for your child to play with in your home.

If you have strong feelings about certain toys, it can be a good idea to talk to your child, especially as she grows older. You could mention your family values. For example, ‘Guns can scare and hurt people very much. No-one in our family has a gun’.

Lecturing your child or banning toys isn’t effective. It can make your child want to play more with the toys you don’t like. Instead, you can use your child’s war play, for example, as an opportunity to teach your own values about weapons, war and violence.

Children can sometimes get mixed messages about toys. For example, if children are allowed to watch violent TV shows or play violent video games, they could get confused if their parents then want to ban gun play.

If you don’t want other grown-ups to give your child certain toys as presents, a short, calm explanation of your feelings should do the trick. In the end, it’s your decision.
The power of advertising

Lots of toys have ads and marketing aimed straight at your child. It can be really hard to resist when your child wants a toy because ‘everyone else has it’. You might like to read more about helping your child become ad savvy.

Advertised toys often promote a particular type of play because they’re based on a movie or TV program. This doesn’t make them bad toys, but they might limit the play options for your child. This can happen if your child uses the toys to imitate and replicate TV shows, rather than using his imagination.

The way your child uses a toy is often far more important than the toy itself in determining the toy’s effects on your child’s development. Thinking about how your child might play with the toy can help you decide whether it’s the right one for you and your child.