Record yourself reading to your kids!Read More
TOY REVIEWS FOR ALL AGES
Check out my boy and his love of the Rockin Rider Charger!
Toy Insider Kids Hudson and Boston (and their mom Joey Fortman of Real Mom Media) LOVE LOVE LOVE the Rockin' Rider Charger pony from Tek Nek Toys! Just look at Hudson's BIG smile! :)
Earth Day is April 22nd - are you ready?! If you find yourself lacking creativity this year, or just generally not sure how to spend your Earth Day, keep reading! Every year on April 22nd, people come together worldwide to celebrate the Earth, support green practices and environmental protection, and just generally care for the Earth! It's also a great time to raise awareness for things that are more environmentally friendly - like YOXO!
YOXO products are eco-friendly, cardboard connectors that your kids can play with. They connect to cardboard in various ways, coming in Y, O, and X shapes. This allows kids to be creative, innovative, and imaginative with toys that are friendly to the Earth! Additionally, YOXO products are made in the US - something only 5% of toys can claim, isn't that great? Not only can you support something eco-friendly, but something made locally as well.
It's important to find toys for your kids that are fun but also inspire creativity. Today, kids are playing with iPads, tablets, laptops, phones, and more electronics. Taking the time to unwind with some real thought-provoking construction play is a great way to keep your kids engaged and learning! The addition of the five new YOXO offerings double the current product line as the company continues to grow and foster creative play for kids. The new products will be available in summer 2015 at independent toy stores and retailers throughout the USA and Canada and at YOXO's website.
Besides YOXO, there are tons of ways to get involved this Earth Day! Visit the Earth Day website to find out how else you can get involved - including ways to pledge an Act of Green! Whether you plant a tree, recycle more, use less, or just get involved with some creative play and YOXO, celebrating the Earth and helping your environment is rewarding no matter what!
What are your favorite ways to get involved in Earth Day? How will you spend Earth Day this year?
A game that has really stood the test of time is Jenga.
I remember playing that game when i was in High School. I also remember playing that game in college. AHEM. it makes a very good drinking game - but I NEVER said that! ha
Anyway, this old classic returns with some BIGGER love! This game grows to about 3 feet tall! It travels well & it's hours of high energy fun! Jenga Giant is approx $139.
Jenga Giant can be built up to 3 feet tall. Can you imagine? Love this thing. In fact, this past weekend my family played Jenga Giant (I got one to review) and the one who lost had to clean out the dishwasher. ROUGH STUFF, right? ha.
Here are the specs on the game:
How Do You Jenga?®
- Jenga® Giant™: The classic Jenga® game, but MUCH BIGGER!
- Stacks to over 3 feet high!
- 54 Precision Crafted Polished Jenga® Giant™ Hardwood Blocks
- Sturdy box for easy storage and transport
- Jenga® Giant™ On-Box Game Play Platform
- Players: 1 or More
- Ages: 10 to Adult
I may be raising two little boys, but as a woman, I am all about sending positive, empowering messages to young girls. Spoiler Alert: I am a girl, and I am all too aware of the mixed messages young girls receive from media, culture and society. Even in my own childhood, there were plenty of disparaging messages that can really mess with a young girls mind and heart as she is learning about her value, worth and building her self-esteem.
So when a toy comes along that serves to embrace health and empowering young girls to appreciate themselves, I give it a big two thumbs up. If you have a little girl, this toy needs to be on your holiday wish list!
Go! Go! Sports Girls were created by Dream Big Toy Company™ as a fun and educational way to promote self-appreciation and the benefits of daily exercise, healthy eating and sleeping habits, self-esteem and overall healthy life-skills for girls ages 3-12. They are perfectly directed for this age, not encouraging an older or overly mature image for young girls. Best part? These dolls are properly portioned, not projecting the false image of the impossibly small waste and large bust many other dolls showcase in today's market.
The founder, Jodi Norgaard, was a Girls on the Run coach for many years. One day she realized, "...there was a need for a positive doll for girls that would be age appropriate, proportioned properly and send a positive message about a healthy lifestyle - physically, mentally and emotionally - through sports." Read more about Jodi and her vision for Go! Go! Sports Girls.
Each Read and Play set offers one girl and her story, which encourages creative play through sport while also sending a positive message self-esteem and self-worth.
With school in the air, it's hard not to think back to my own childhood. I still remember the school days I enjoyed: math, reading, gym class, lunch, music. It was so fun, and it's encouraging to see my boys feel the same way. One of the most magical places in an elementary school, though, is the library. Even as a little girl, I knew that a new adventure was just a few pages away.
Scholastic has been a part of my life as a reader and continues to be one of the leading resources in literacy now that I am a mom. I love that their tagline is, "Open a World of Possible." How inspiring is that! Today, as I work to support my boys in their love of reading and learning, Scholastic is putting out some of the best books and resources out there.
And, we are lucky that they are forward-thinking and up with technology. Did you know Scholastic offers apps for kids? THEY ARE AWESOME. These educational apps incorporate our favorite storybook characters in games that build reading skills. I recently checked out the Scholastic KidQ app. And let me tell you: it was fun for both my boys AND for me:
The KidQ app for iPhone and Android facilitates conversation via fun Q&A's about the things that kids (and parents!) are the most curious about, like Why do we get goosebumps? and How do the bubbles get in soda? Each day, users receive a playful question that serves as a conversation starter along with the official answer. Families will have a blast as they compare their explanations to the facts!
This app is a great way to interact with your kids and a safe way to let them use your devices. I felt good about handing over the iPad to the boys because Instead of playing a video game, they were enjoying a learning experience. We used the app on our trip to the shore. It was really fun to get my 6 year old's reaction to some of the questions.
I may be a boy mom, but I'm still a girl. And let me tell you, some of the facts we were learning blew my mind (and maybe made me react with a girly scream). For instance, we got the Question, "Why do mosquito bites itch?" Are you ready for this? The Answer: When they bite you, they inject their SALIVA into your skin! EWWW! The saliva prevents your blood from clotting so they can suck your blood. EWWWW! The saliva makes your skin itch. EWWWW!
Ok - girly moment over.
I was even able to be a cool sports mom when I knew the answer to why they freeze hockey pucks before games! (So they don't bounce!!) But did you know what the 1st hockey pucks were made of? FROZEN COW POOP.
You'll learn this and so much more with the KidQ app.
This app is FREE to download.
For more on Scholastic, visit their website at http://www.scholastic.com.
I am a contributor to Scholastic. All opinions are my own.
It's no secret that our country is struggling in the "being healthy" department. Obesity is a problem in America, built upon a foundation of bad habits passed down from generation to generation (as well as a food system wrought with GMO's, additives, trans fats, food dyes and more). We're fighting an uphill battle as adults, and if we don't fight hard, it will be an ever worse battle for our kids. ((DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THAT PART. LOL))
I'm working on my health, because I know I have 2 small sets of eyes that watch everything I do. From the words that come out of my mouth to the food I put into my body, they are watching. I need to be a good example. Healthy eating and physical fitness must be a part of the whole message I am sending to my kids.
One of the trends that I've seen hit the shelves this year in toys is the devices to get CHILDREN up and OFF the couch! I had a chance to show my kids and some of my mom friends that being fit can be FUN (and taste good too)! I got to throw a Fit Made Fun Party to celebrate Fit Made Fun Day with LeapFrog and CLIF Kids bars. LeapFrog, one of my favorite educational technology brands, sent us their latest gadget, the LeapBand to test out.
A LeapBand is a wearable activity tracker that encourages kids to get active with customizable virtual pet pals. The kids LOVED these little pet pals, and easily took on the challenges that were thrown their way. Boys love any opportunity to "earn points," so this group of kids couldn't wait to get enough points to unlock virtual rewards for their pets!
Seriously - it was amazing how these LeapBands got the boys (and one girl) on their feet and moving around. They didn't even know they were being "physically fit." The best kind of exercise is the kind that doesn't FEEL like exercise - it feels FUN, right?!?!
We played. Ran around the house, played some more, took turns with the LeapBands, fought over the LeapBands, played some more and then it was snack time. LeapFrog partnered with CLIF Kid Zbar protein bars for this event so we had those and some fruit. The CLIF Kid Zbars are are a delicious whole grain protein snack. You'll be floored with all the nutritional kid-friendly goodness CLIF packs into these babies! Loved by all.... INCLUDING myself. MMMmmm. (Don't tell them that I hid the peanut butter flavored box for myself, k?)
Learn more about how you can fitness FUN for you and your family! Connect with LeapFrog and CLIF Kid on Facebook! @LeapFrog is also on Twitter.
Now I'd love to hear from YOU:
How do YOU prioritize healthy eating and fitness in your house? In what ways do you work to be an example to your kids?
Leave a comment - inspire me!
LeapFrog, CLIF & others provided me with these products for review. Otherwise all opinions are my own.
I don't know what it is, but I love cute toys. Especially cute cuddly toys. My boys? My boys could care less about how cute something is. As I've shared in previous posts, my boys get excited over any toy that will pop, bang, beep or shoot. So when we find a toy that creates a middle ground, it's a win-win.
Hog Wild Toys has created the perfect toy for me and my boys: The Huggable Squeeze Popper. So, for me, these stuffed animals are huggable and cute. Yay! For my boys, they shoot stuff. Does it get any better than a cute stuffed animal that shoots balls foam balls? I think not!
What's more lovable than a Squeeze Popper? How about one that's soft and very huggable, but also shoots a soft foam ball up to 20 feet?! Now you can pet and love that Squeeze Popper, and then shoot a ball right from its mouth. The harder you squeeze, the further it shoots. Includes six soft foam balls.
20 feet. Can you believe that these cute little stuffed creatures can do that? To be honest, I'm not sure who plays with our Squeeze Poppers more: ME or the BOYS! So it does not surprise me that the Huggable Squeeze Poppers from Hog Wild Toys have been named to Walmart's Kid-Approved Holiday Toy List 2014. You'll also find them on the Real Mom 2014 Holiday Gift Guide.
Retails: $16.95 online.
One of the perks of my job is getting a chance to see up-and-coming toys from fantastic brands. As a mom of boys, any toy that beeps, blasts, or shoots (preferably all 3) get two thumbs up. Zing Toys makes some of the most fantastically fun toys that my boys have ever gotten their hands on! Boston and Hudson had a BLAST (no pun intended) doing "research" on one of the latest toys from Zing. The Air Storm Firetek Bow is tons of fun!
It comes equipped with a loop-and-launch technology and an LED-activated power grip for an action-packed, almost realistic playtime experience. Fire up the Zonic Blaze whistling arrows, hook them into the fast-load loops and get set to aim and fire. The long-range arrows of the Air Storm bow are made of soft foam and can zip through the air to over 125 feet and light up the sky. Even the bow glows with a bright green color, for action-packed fun, day or night. Each set includes one LED power bow and three Zonic Blaze whistling arrows. This bow toy requires two AAA batteries to operate. It comes in your choice of bold, bright colors
The Air Storm Firetek Bow was named to Walmart's Kid-Approved Holiday Toy List 2014. So you know this is one of the items that needs to go on your holiday list! You'll see this item in the Real Mom 2014 Holiday Gift Guide - so stay tuned!
Retails: $29.97 at Walmart.
We are loving the new building sets that K'NEX has released (and excited for the sets that will be released in the near future)! If you want a sneak peek on what K'NEX has to offer, here's a great startRead More
"Who would win in a fight: PLANTS or ZOMBIES?"
It's the age-old question that only K'NEX can answer! We love the previous Plants Vs. Zombies K'NEX building sets. They are fun and creative. This Fall, you can enjoy their NEWEST Plants Vs. Zombies building sets. And K'NEX has taken the Plants Vs. Zombies experience to a new level with mechanics!
That's right - the newest K'NEX building sets include motorized action, which adds a whole new dimension to the building experience. Here's a sneak peek at the newest Plants Vs. Zombies K'NEX collections:
Defeat the zombies and save your brains...with motorized the ConeMech Building Set from the Far Future level! This set includes 1 zombie figure plus a buildable ConeMech that walks with motorized action, just like in the game! Battery-powered motor included plus easy to follow building instructions. For ages 7+. Batteries not included. Available at amazon.com, toysrus.com and knex.com.
Defeat the zombies, save your brains...with the Football Mech Building Set from the Far Future level! This set includes 1 zombie figure plus a buildable Football Mech that walks with motorized action, just like in the game! Battery-powered motor included plus easy to follow building instructions. For ages 7+. Batteries not included. Available at amazon.com, toysrus.com and knex.com.
*I'm a BRAND AMBASSADOR FOR K'NEX. Nothing is better than enjoying and exploring Made in the USA products and sharing them with you! All opinions are my own.
It's no secret that we are huge K'NEX fans here. The people of K'NEX are always coming out with new and innovative playlets, which keep the creativity flowing as the boys play. But as a Mom? I love that playing with K'NEX builds hand-eye coordination and works on gross motor skills.
There are a TON of great new K'NEX products coming out this Fall, and I am excited to tell you about these fun play sets. There always seems to be something for every kid, and this season is no exception! The first set of K'NEX sets I will share is perfect for the up-and-coming pilot, ready for battle!
Titanfall IMC Pilot Strike Building Set item # 69498
Grow your army and establish the warzone with the K'NEX Titanfall IMC Pilot Strike Building Set! Use the IMC Pilot included to battle the Spectre in one-on-one combat. Includes 80+ pieces including an exploding wall to recreate the features of the Titanfall game. Combine with the Militia Pilot Attack Building Set to grow your K'NEX Titanfall collection. For builders ages 8+. Available at walmart.com, amazon.com and knex.com.
Titanfall Militia Pilot Attack Building Set item #69497
Grow your army and establish the warzone with the K'NEX Titanfall Militia Pilot Attack Building Set! Use the Militia Pilot included to battle the Spectre in one-on-one combat. Includes 80+ pieces including a wrecked wall to recreate the features of the Titanfall game. Combine with the IMC Pilot Strike Building Set to grow your K'NEX Titanfall collection. For builders ages 8+. Available at walmart.com and knex.com.
How fun are these?! Stay tuned for more coming from K'NEX!
*I'm a BRAND AMBASSADOR FOR K'NEX. Nothing is better than enjoying and exploring Made in the USA products and sharing them with you! All opinions are my own.
So, we tested out the adorable product names Snort. I love how cute and fun Snort is for the whole family. With my family being in a whole different part of the country - it's a fun way for them to send special 'email' to kids!Read More
Technology is everywhere. And our kids are in a tech-savvy world where kids and adults alike are "plugged in." I have my laptop, my smartphone and my tablet. In schools, kids are being introduced to the very same technology. So I appreciate products that are forward-thinking for kids in this techie world. I was introduced to Little Scholars Learning Tablet. This tablet is specially designed for kids and comes preloaded with more than 150 premium education apps.
But I'd rather you not take my word for it. Let Boston give you the lowdown:
To learn more about the Little Scholars Learning Tablet for Kids: http://www.schoolzone.com/little-scholar.
I am reveling in summer. I am loving the sunshine and the warm temperatures. And while it is trying at times (hey - I'm being real here!), it's amazing having the extra time at home with my boys. After the long winter we had (hello cold and snow!), they can't get enough time outside, running in the grass and soaking up the sun.
This summer especially, now that the boys are older, we are working on setting aside special days and nights for family time each week. These times are for quality time, whether it's a day trip to a local attraction or a movie night with popcorn.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a night with my boys is to have a Game Night. We grab take out and pick up fun snacks, then sit around the living room and play round after round of games. Sometimes it gets heated (we are a competative family) but it usually ends in a lot of laughter.
ALEX brand toys has an amazing assortment of toys perfect for Family Game Night. These are a few ALEX has given me a chance to do with my family:
The Storybook Game from Ideal® is sure to be a hit at family game night! It’s a card game of tall-tale telling fun! In this memory game, children create a different story each time they play. The story develops one card at a time! This game is excellent for challenging kids’ creativity and improvisation skills! This fun card game comes in a lunch box tin, making it easy to transport to picnics, family game nights, camping trips, and more! Designed for 2 or more players, ages 4 and up! (Retail: $10.99)
Scaventure Kids™ brings the fun of exploring into one great big party game. Find out who can come back to home base with the most activities completed. Find a fossil rock, or a sticker or a banana. Scaventure Kids has it all, whether playing with just 2 kids or in a large group. The fun and excitement never ends and the creativity will always be rolling. This is a great game for kids ages 7 and up and is designed to be played with 2 or more players. (Retail: $19.99)
Do you have a budding engineer or architect in the family? If so, this construction game from Ideal® is the perfect gift! A winner of the National Competition for the Mensa Select® Award, this is an educational game that is proven to be both fun and challenging. Teams must race to build the structures shown on the cards by using only the verbal instructions the Foreman of the team provides. Watch out, included on the board are Blind Challenges, Silent Challenges, Memory Challenges, and Clock Challenges. This educational game not only helps players strengthen their problem solving skills, it also helps strengthen communication skills as well – both important for all ages. Designed for 4 or more players, ages 8 and up!
So for under $60, you can have several Family Game Nights planned for your Summer!
Summer is almost here - and I am loving it! One of the things I love about summer is more time for fun adventures. Fun adventures means traveling! Traveling can be a lot of fun but also daunting with kids. I recently shared a post about the must-have travel products when traveling with kids. And these are important items to pick up before your next road trip!
But of all the essential things, kids need travel-friendly toys. Have you ever tried to play a board game or draw in the car?
Let's just say it can become a total mess and leave kids (and parents!) in tears!
I am excited that one of my favorite toy companies, Alex Toys, will be showcasing their travel-friendly toys at Sweet Suite this year! Attendees will get a chance to see the toys in person and get a feel for why they the best travel toys around!
Here is a snapshot of some of the toys to put on your list before your next trip:
Scribble & Doodle On-The-Go
On-the-Go Scribble & Doodle is a creative way to teach colors and simple words! This 10×10″ hard cover spiral book contains 50 pre-printed pages and 2 pages of stickers related to travel. Take it with you on the next road trip to keep your little one busy.
Desk To Go
On the go and need a sturdy surface to draw and color? Desk to Go is the perfect solution! It has a firm desk top for writing, coloring, and drawing. Side pockets hold art supplies, and then fold and fasten making it easy to carry. The beanbag-filled underside makes it comfortable for children to rest on their laps. Elastic straps keeps paper & pads in place. Best with a 9″x12″ pad but can also accommodate 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. Supplies shown sold separately. Use it wherever your child needs a desk to keep busy. A great toy when traveling – bring it on your next road trip or plane ride.
Turn ‘Are we there yet?’ into ‘Awww…so soon?’ The Car Valet is a art space and activity area for kids on the go! Play games, create art, or just keep gear within easy reach with a portable, adjustable, play center and organizer. Lots of pockets to store art supplies and paper. Attaches securely to the rear of the front seat and folds down for easy access to supplies. Fold and zip up when finished. The perfect bag for car travel.
These items (and more!) will be at Sweet Suite!
The LEGO Movie Books
My life will never be the same since watching The LEGO movie. My 6 year old: OBSESSED. From quoting the movie to talking about how #EverythingIsAwesome!!!
I love how LEGO has taken something as simple as building blocks and taken them to a new level of interactive. As a parent, I also appreciate the positive message the movie bestows to it's viewers. Ok. Let me totally come clean here. YES. I am personally obsessed with the movie too. And YES. When I did the segment on Fox 29 I did have LEGO pieces made out of KRAGLE. Whatcha gonna do now? Heh.
One of the things that Boston loves is connecting to his older cousin Tyler and talking LEGO's. Tyler and Boston are the only boys - so Boston really looks up to him! (So yes - we do have Hudson - but he's still in baby mode lol) Tyler sends Boston little packages of LEGO awesome often & one of the things he loves the most is the LEGO sticker books! They are fabulous! I'm always so amazed at how he knows who all the characters are.
With the new LEGO Movie - comes new LEGO books!
So, when I was asked to review the LEGO books, I was THRILLED about the opportunity!
“The LEGO® Movie: The Essential Guide,” ($12.99)
For fans of the movie, this essential guide is a must-have! Recommended for kids 6 and older, this book is jam-packed with illustrations from the movie. The book also explores the characters in-depth and provides behind-the-scenes information for even the littlest fans. Boston loved learning all the fun details of The LEGO movie!
“The LEGO® Movie: The Ultimate Sticker Collection,” ($12.99)
All I have to say is, "WHAT KID DOESN'T LOVE STICKERS?" Answer: NONE. This book is like a more compact version of the Essential Movie Guide (with information on characters, location spreads and vehicles), but also offers more than 1,000 reusable stickers! So kids can create their own LEGO adventures on the colorful pages throuhgout the book. A good way to use imaginations!
“The LEGO® Movie: Calling All Builders,” ($3.99)
As the mom of a soon-to-be First Grader (be still, my heart!), I am loving that DK publishers have released books that work on fundamental reading skills. These books are part of a multi-level reading program, which is perfect for my budding reader. Calling All Builders is great for fans of the movie, as it's a simple Level 1 reading book that follows the movie's storyline. I like that Boston can work on reading most of it, but there is still room for me to participate with him.
“The LEGO® Movie: Awesome Adventures,” ($3.99)
This book is the Level 2 counterpart to Calling All Builders. It also follows the movie storyline, but involves longer sentences and more challenging vocabulary. I like that BOston can work on the Level 1 LEGO book and once he has mastered it, has a new book to challenge him. And, my boys love LEGOS. So they are already instantly engaged and and Boston is eager and willing to read (YAY!)
I don't know about your kids, but mine are hooked on Paw Patrol! I bet you are singing the theme song as you read this. It's ok, I'm singing right along with you!
Spin Master Toys recently launched the full line of Paw Patrol toys to go right along with the show. I was able to preview these at Toy Fair back in February. I knew they were going to be a hit and I was right! Boston was so excited to dive in and play with his favorites from Paw Patrol.
The all-new product range includes a number of collectible items for children ages 3 years and up:
Action Pack Pup with Badge™: In every episode of PAW Patrol, the pups save the day with cool gadgets that pop out of their backpacks. Now, with the help of every Action Pack Pup, kids can transform their favorite character’s backpack with the push of a button. Every figure comes with a push-button transforming backpack and a kid-sized, snap-on role play badge. 1 “AG13” button cell battery required (included).
PAW Patrol Racers™: The youngest PAW Patrol fans are sure to love these free-wheeling vehicles featuring Ryder and his pup pals as they race to save the day in Adventure Bay. Each PAW Patrol Racer includes a pup or figure molded inside that hero’s signature vehicle, allowing kids to bring their favorite action-packed quests to life. No batteries required.
PAW Patrol Rescue Vehicles™: Kids can keep the entire PAW Patrol team racing to rescue missions together with the full assortment of Rescue Vehicles. Each signature toy vehicle includes simple features and accessories, such as a moving ladder or traffic cones, as well as an articulated pup figure. No batteries required.
PAW Patrol Pup Pals™: Little ones can snuggle their favorite pup with these soft and cozy plush pals. Each 8” pup features a detailed outfit and embroidered, expressive eyes, making them must-have for tiny tots that can’t wait to experience play time with their favorite PAW Patrol friends. No batteries required.
PAW Patrol Real Talking Chase™ and PAW Patrol Real Talking Marshall™: Preschoolers can bring home their much-loved pups from Adventure Bay with these high-quality plush toys. Each 11” tall plush features memorable catch-phrases straight from the show, including “These paws uphold the laws!” No batteries required. PAW Patrol Real Talking Marshall available beginning May 18. PAW Patrol Real Talking Chase available beginning in September.
PAW Patrol On-A-Roll Marshall™: Allowing kids to bring the magic of the TV series to life, On-A-Roll Marshall’s doghouse transforms into a deluxe fire truck, just like on the show. Fans can put Marshall in the driver’s seat and the vehicle extends, propelling him forward with siren sounds and phrases from the show. 1 “Button Cell LR44” battery required (included).
PAW Patrol Lookout HQ Playset™: The ultimate PAW Patrol toy – and a location featured in every episode – is The Lookout, the headquarters of the PAW Patrol pups. Complete with working elevator, slide, lights and sounds, this interactive playset also comes with a Chase figure and vehicle. No batteries required. Available beginning in September.
The PAW Patrol line will launch exclusively at Toys“R”Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com on Sunday, May 18, and will be available at additional select retailers beginning Sunday, June 22.