Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 Toy Trends to Watch

We went to toy shows in Dallas and Las Vegas this year, as well as researched the news releases, award-winning toys and releases issued at the New York Toy Fair.  It's an interesting industry.  While different individual kids toys and games come and go, the trends last for a few years, so some of the trends are the same as last year and some are new and different.  "Open-ended, personalized, classic toys, pink toys and STEM toys were generating conversation this year.  Here are the 2014 top toy trends we spotted:

Pink is THE Color for Girls Versions of Toys - We saw this trend start last year with toys, such as building blocks, emerging in pink to compliment those in traditional primary colors.  This year, we saw pink tool boxes, trains, sand pails and shovels and more.  Apparently, the toy industry thinks toys need to be in pink to appeal to girls.  While we know girls enjoy many colors - not just pink - we'll be carrying some of the new pink toys to make this additional color choice available for our customers.

STEM Toys (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are Hot - We continue to see a rise in toys associated with STEM and toys becoming more interactive through technology.  There are lots of new toys on the market and popular existing toys grounded in these core subjects.  We saw lots of science experiments for kids, robotic toys, and toys using science or technology concepts in how kids would play with them.  The technical and physical worlds are joining together more than ever in kids toys.  Even plush toys, such as Gund's Peek-A-Boo bear, have become somewhat interactive.  We even saw a teddy bear that works with your iPhone or tablet so this stuffed animal could interact using the Internet as a resource. Math games such as Double Shutter, Yam Slam, the Allowance Game, and Presto-Change-O Game are good choices.

Kids Arts and Crafts Get Personal - Art and crafts allowing children to be creative and personalize their The Orb Factory has a Plushcraft Personalized Pillow on which kids can put their initial.  Look for "do-it yourself" kids crafts, such as jewelry-making or other fashion-oriented kits.  Also, the Rainbow Loom, from Choon's Design LLC, won the Girl Toy of the Year, the Activity Toy of the Year, and the Specialty Toy of the Year.
projects were popular at this year's shows.  For example,

Classic Toys Appeal to Young and Old -Purchased by parents and grandparents with fond memories of their childhood play time, classic toys continue to be in demand.  Many of these are wooden toys, for pretend play, and construction toys that promote open-ended play.  Children can play with them in more than one way or differently as child development occurs.  The 2014 Preschool Toy of the Year was won by Just Play for its Doc McStuffins Get Better Check-up Center.

Custom Built for Creativity - These kids toys and games cross several categories - from building toys to children's arts and crafts to action figures - and allow kids to use their imaginations as they play.  According to the Toy Industry Association, this trend includes "mash up toys, which incorporate many uses or ways to play in a single toy or game, giving kids the freedom to choose how they play."  Blue Orange has several educational games that fit this trend, such as Trigger, Tell Tale, Speedeebee and Spot it Jr.! Animals.

To shop our wide selection of toys that fit into these trends and more, visit www.jumpstarttoys.com today!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2014 Top 10 List of Tips and Valentine’s Day Gifts for Kids

“Top 10” List Provides Valentine’s Day Ideas for Kids

Gund Message Bears I Love You
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and JumpStart Toys wants to make Valentine’s Day 2014 happy, healthy and affordable for kids and adults.  It is a big day for children as they learn to express their affection and friendship to others and receive it in return.  View our Top 10 tips and gift ideas for children to make this holiday affordable and fun.

Top 10 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

      Trade Candy for Small Gifts – Give the child in your life a small, inexpensive gift instead of sweets for a healthier treat.  Consider a sticker pad, coloring book or movie gift certificate instead.

Gund Pink Snuffles Large 10 inch

Reduce or Eliminate the Sugar – Substitute sugar-free or natural treats for those laden with corn syrup, artificial dyes and sugars and reduce the quantity given.

Give A Teddy Bear – Not original enough for you?  Name one person who does not fondly remember a special bear stuffed animal or a person who gave them a teddy bear in their life.  Gund bears are   affordable and of high quality, bringing extra value for the dollars spent. Some Folkmanis puppets double as stuffed animals as well.

Claire Stripes & Dots Baby Doll With Bear

Cuddle Toys for Valentine’s Day Gifts for Babies – Give a baby snuggle toy to the little one in your life.  It’s never too soon to offer comfort and love to babies! Douglas snugglers, sshlumpies, plush toys and soft dolls make great gifts for babies.

Start a tradition – Holidays are for making memories and building bonds with kids.  Choose an activity you both enjoy and make it a point to do it every year together.

Try a heart theme – For more unique gifts, try craft kits for kids that include heart shapes or that tie into a particular interest for a child.  Talk to children while they make the craft to share some special time together.

Go with a color theme – Valentine’s Day gifts for tweens and teens can be challenging.  Choose a red, pink or white item of interest and go with it. Better yet, take them shopping and let them pick it out! 

Stick with Fashion – Valentine’s Day ideas for girls that are fashion-focused are a sure way to win her heart this holiday.  Go for the bling and duct tape items that are so popular.  We like The Orb Factory’s Funky Notes Notebook and Imaginista Tape Style for bling and fashion for girls.

Race Cars for Boys and Girls – Finding a good Valentine’s Day gift for boys ages 8 and older is tough, but the Soda Geyser Car is a good option because it combines fun, racing and science into one.  Even better, it's an activity both girls and boys can enjoy for some family fun on this special day.  Find a parking lot and watch this car go!

To view more Valentine's Day Gifts for Kids, visit our website.  View our special offer, available for a limited time on our home page at www.jumpstarttoys.com.

Monday, January 27, 2014

JumpStart Toys Teacher Learning Toy Picks of the Month

Patricia Jordan, LISD Science Teacher
So soon after the holiday season, it can be tough to think about toys for most of us.  Yet, as winter gets colder and the days get darker, school resumes and we need to keep our kids excited and motivated about learning. So, we asked Patricia Jordan, a teacher of 23 years in the Lewisville Independent School District, to review a couple of our educational toys for kids from an experienced teacher's perspective.

Q:  Which toys did you review?
A:  I evaluated the Big Bag of Science.  As a fifth grade science teacher, I was curious to see what was in it and whether it would be a good addition to the classroom.  I also reviewed a math game.

Q:  What did you think of the Big Bag of Science?
A:  I was very impressed with the variety of experiments that this bag contains.  I loved the vivid colors that will entice the students to want to pick it up and explore it.  I really liked how many of the experiments can lead the students to want to investigate another avenue of science.

Q:  Can items in this kit be reused?  Will the parts get lost?
A:  I liked that the equipment in this bag is made of plastic and can be reused for several experiments and would be easy to clean.  I also liked the zippered, reusable plastic bag that makes it easy to tote the ingredients for the science experiments and the science equipment.  It reduces the opportunity to lose items.

Q:  What did you like about the Double Shutter educational game?
A:  This would be a great game for teachers to use in the classroom or for home-schooled children because the students can roll the number cubes (die) and count the value of them.  It seems to be enticing for kids because of the game element.

Q:  How do you think this math game might enhance learning and development?
A:  To play this game, students have to make tactical choices and process information in front of them to make a move.   This would help enhance student's abilities to think quickly when placed in a situation.  I also like the fact that this game helps teach probability and strategy.  In today's world, some students are not learning to make decisions on their own or thinking for themselves.  However, this game encourages them to think on their own, do mental math, and make decisions quickly.

Q:  You mentioned that this would be a great travel toy.  Why?
A:  It isn't too bulky, so it would fit easily in a kid's backpack or other carry-on bag.  The pieces are also attached except for the die, so parents and kids don't have too worry about losing the pieces of this educational game.  It is also light in weight and the tin keeps everything inside and protected.

To view more science experiments and learning games, visit www.jumpstarttoys.com.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pretend Play and Cognitive Development in Children

According to Doris Bergen of Miami University, there is evidence to support the connection between high-quality pretend play and cognitive development in children.  Specifically, there is evidence to suggest that pretend play facilitates perspective taking, abstract thought, social and language skills.  It may also enhance higher level cognition skills. However, more research is needed to specifically link pretend play to specific academic skills.

What is High-Quality Pretend Play?
Bergen's view is that it involves the following elements:

  • Transforming objects symbolically
  • Role-playing
  • Negotiating
  • Social interaction
  • Improvisation
  • Planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Seeking goals
There is research evidence suggesting a connection between pretense and cognitive strategy development, language development and social development.  For Bergen's full article, visit http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/bergen.html

Melissa and Doug Whittle World School Bus
Folmanis Lion Stage Puppet

How can Adults Encourage and Facilitate Pretend Play in Kids?
Melissa and Doug Grocery Basket with Play Food

  • Allow enough time for this type of play, which is more open-ended and much less structured than play with board games or software games.  Thus, more time is needed for play to be planned, roles to be negotiated, and social interaction to take place.
  • Provide children with toys, such as puppets, play food, or costumes, that encourage improvisation, role-playing and social interaction.
  • Practice being creative and improvising with kids.  Grab a banana or a big spoon and pretend to sing into your "microphone".  See how many different items a bowl (i.e. hat) can be or how many ways a pair of pantyhose can be used (i.e. strainer, belt, hair accessory, arm sling).
  • Embrace the unconventional view or different perspective.  A "hole" in a sock may well be an "opening" for the toe!
  • When emotions are part of the pretend play, help children to name feelings and understand feelings from different perspectives.
For more toys that may facilitate pretend play, visit our website at www.jumpstarttoys.com.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Educational Stocking Stuffers for Kids List By Age

It's the holiday season, and we know you're looking for stocking stuffers that are healthy, educational and that are not candy.  Let's face it, a little bit of candy is fine - a whole stocking of it is too much for little stomachs.  So, we have some great suggestions for small learning toys and educational games for kids that fit in a stocking by age to make your shopping easy and convenient.  They are easy on the budget, too!

Babies and toddlers will enjoy brightly colored toy cars and animals that make sounds when squeezed like this cute little lamb.  These gifts are cute, affordable, and can be played with in different ways as babies mature into toddlers - extending the life and value of these toys.

Wooden Toy Cars for Babies and Toddlers
Wooden Stacking Cars
Babies Toys (0 to 12 months old)
Gund Baaba Lamb

Sassy Baby Pop and Push Car

Melissa and Doug Penguin Stacker
Sassy Baby Bathtime Pals

For young toddlers, choose small gifts that focus on fine motor skills or bathtime play.  These Sassy Baby bathtime pals squirt out a stream of water when squeezed to make baths fun!

Preschool Stocking Stuffers
Folkmanis Mini Chipmunk Finger Puppet
Spot it Jr! Animals by Blue Orange Games

For preschool, kindergarten, and first grade children, look for stocking stuffers that help them develop language and social skills through pretend play, storytelling, and playing games.

Small Gifts for 5 and 6 Year Olds
Tell Tale Storytelling Educational Game

Magnetic Poetry Word Magnets

Give school age children stocking stuffer gifts that appeal to their curiosity, yet foster an interest in science, or give them an opportunity to practice skills they learn in school at home with fun educational games for kids.

Insta-Snow 100 gram Jar

Speedeebee Educational Game

For more Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids, visit http://www.jumpstarttoys.com/Christmas-gifts-for-kids-s/1907.htm.  

Top Image courtesy of freedigitalart/freedigitalphotos.net

Friday, September 27, 2013

Preschool Activity for Kids - The Block Party

At approximately three years old, children begin to play and interact with other children and it can be more challenging to come up with new preschool activities to keep them occupied and learning. So, we propose "The Block Party Playdate".

Edushape Soft Textured Blocks
We love building blocks and other construction toys because they are "open-ended", which means that children play differently with blocks each time and there is no limit to their creativity and imagination. Block sets also come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures so mixing them together can be alot of fun, but not too difficult to separate back into the respective sets when it's time for cleaning up. Block play also allows kids to practice fine motor skills while having fun.  Even better, almost every kid has them, so there's no need to buy anything new for this engaging playdate idea that makes existing toys seem exciting again.  Our recipe for success is easy and fun.

Zoob Movable Construction Set

Kid's Block Party Playdate Ingredients:

4-6 children 3 to 4 years old
At least three different types of building blocks (try having each child bring a set of blocks to share)
Consider adding people figures, animals and other accessories for even more imaginative play
Lots of room for kids to spread out and build whatever they imagine
Healthy snacks for kids and adults
Plenty of time

Preschool Acitvity Playdate Tips:

  • Ask each mother to explain to their child ahead of "The Block Party" that they will be bringing their blocks to share with other children and they will get to play with other kids' blocks as well.
  • Be sure to talk about concepts such as sharing and what to do if they get frustrated rather than hitting, biting, knocking others' blocks down, etc. prior to getting together as well as when children first arrive at the party.
  • Melissa & Doug Farm Blocks
  • Designate an adult to help kids resolve conflicts that arise constructively.  When doing so, tell kids what to do; not just what not to do so they begin learning appropriate social skills.
  • Choose a good time for this get together so children are well-rested and ready to play and socialize. They also need plenty of time to play and be creative, so plan enough time that they are not rushed.
  • When the kids take time to have a snack, encourage language, social skills and an interest in them by asking them questions about what they are building.  Help them practice good table manners.
  • Plan for the adults.  Have cards, desert, maybe great coffee, whatever it takes to settle in and grab some social adult time while the kids are having fun.

ABC Nesting & Stacking Blocks

To purchase building blocks and block sets for toddlers and preschool kids, visit http://www.jumpstarttoys.com/buildingblocks-for-preschoolers-s/1831.htm.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

JumpStart Toys 10 Reasons to Love The Orb Factory’s Art and Craft Kits for Kids

Orb Factory Robots Mosaic Patterns
JumpStart Toys has added The Orb Factory’s Sticky Mosaics art and craft kits for kids to its product line!  We know customers are starting to think about holiday gift ideas for kids that focus on high quality, moderately priced and unique gifts for boys and girls, so we've researched arts and crafts for kids to find a brand that meets our quality standards, has several different themes, and provides a bonding opportunity for parents or grandparents.  Here are our top 10 reasons to love Orb Factory’s mosaic patterns:

Builds academic skills – These crafts for kids build math skills by reinforcing children’s knowledge of numbers, colors, and patterns. Just match the colors to the numbers for a beautiful mosaic!
Magical Flying Horses Art Kit for Kids

Enhances hand-eye coordination – Eye-hand coordination is one of the fine motor skills that's important for academic and life success.  Children build and enhance their abilities while having fun creating mosaic patterns!

Virtually no setup & cleanup time – No special knowledge or preparation is needed.  All children need is a clean surface on which to work on their mosaics. 

Reasonably priced – Sticky Mosaics are moderately priced and approximately four designs come in each box, which makes them very affordable. 
Notebook & Sparkling Pen

Theme variety – Kids have different interests, so we carry mosaic patterns for kids in a variety of themes - magical flying horses, pirates, robots, and more!

Makes a memory to keep – Kids love to give their creations to people they love.  These art and craft kits for kids build self-confidence and provide loved ones with a keepsake forever!

Builds conversational and emotional Skills – Start a conversation about the mosaic patterns to demonstrate your interest in the child.  It'll be enjoyable and can increase confidence and emotional security.  

Imaginista Duct Tape Jewelry
One-of-a-kind craft kits for kids make great gifts – The Orb Factory’s Sticky Mosaics funky notes and sparkling penduct tape jewelry, and curiosity kits pulsar powerballs also make wonderful Christmas gifts or birthday presents for kids because they are not easily found in large chain stores.  Thus, the gift is likely to stand out among other presents.  Duct tape craft kits and the pulsar powerballs are very popular with school-age kids and tweens!

Easy to start and stop – The multiple smaller projects included in each kid’s art and craft kit make it easy for them to begin and end work one quickly and easily without the hassle of a long setup or cleanup process.

Orb Factory's Curiosity Kits Pulsar Powerballs
Lightweight to mail/Simple to buy – The Sticky Mosaics box gives it the appearance of a big gift, yet these mosaics for kids are light and inexpensive to mail.  Finding mosaic patterns for kids is fast and easy at JumpStart Toys.  Items are shipped within 24 hours, so that means a great gift for kids is just a few clicks away!

To view available Orb Factory Sticky Mosaic designs, visit http://www.jumpstarttoys.com/Mosaic-for-Kids-s/1889.htm today!  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Preschool Activities to Prepare Children for Kindergarten

In the blink of an eye, your baby has grown up and will soon be starting Kindergarten!  So what can you do to get them ready for the big day?  Here are five free preschool activity ideas:

Familiarize Kids with the School -  Help preschool children recognize their new school by walking by it, pointing to it as you slowly drive by, and playing on its playground.  The more familiar a child is with the school building and playground before school begins, the better. Do it repeatedly, but keep it from being boring by going with a friend or taking a favorite plush toy!

Talk about a Typical School Day – Kids usually feel less anxiety, perform better, and have a more enjoyable experience when we know what to expect.  Going to Kindergarten is a big step, so the more preschool children understand school day schedule the better prepared they will be to embrace this new experience.  Social stories are excellent for this situation!  If it’s a full day Kindergarten with nap time, it’s a good idea to begin synchronizing your child’s lunch and nap time with the approximate time these activities are expected to take place at school so there is a reduced schedule adjustment.  Consider a new cuddle toy to keep your child company during nap time.

Explain Who’s in Charge – A school is filled with many teachers and administrators and it can be confusing for kids to know who is in charge.  If pictures are available, create a poster of who might be responsible for your child throughout the school day.  If photos or images are not available, consider giving your child a rule that adults at the school are in charge to help simplify the task of following instructions even if they do not recognize the adult.

Work on Life Skills –If your child does not have good fine motor, conversation, or social skills, work hard on these skills so your child is developmentally ready for kindergarten.  Your preschooler can be highly intelligent, yet be deficient in core life skills that could make kindergarten a frustrating and disappointing
experience.  Practice buttoning, zipping, tying shoes, and snapping so your child can be self-sufficient and confident during with school day.  Consult with experts if necessary, and practice key social skills and fine motor skills such as expressing needs, taking turns and sharing, listening and following instructions in addition to coloring, cutting and writing.  These are all foundational skills for academic and life success!

Discuss Bus Safety – Be certain preschool kids taking a bus understand where they get on and get off and meet the bus driver.  Help them learn how to identify which bus is theirs and what to do if they get on the wrong bus or miss the bus.  Encourage them to sit near children their own age and towards the front of the bus to reduce the risk of bullying from older kids.  If possible, pair them with an older child they know and trust until they can do it on their own.

Learn About Personal Safety  Perhaps for the first time, a preschool child will be interacting with adults and children outside of your vision and control.  Thus, it’s really important that they learn about their personal safety and what to do if they do not feel safe.  Discuss their private body parts and ensure they know these are off limits to anyone.  Help them meet the school principal and think of the principal as a “safe” or “go to person” if they need help at school.  If they walk home, find a buddy for them to meet after school for the 
walk home or establish a consistent meeting place where you will meet them.

To shop for educational games for kids and learning toys that support child development and academic success, visit our website at www.jumpstarttoys.com.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Global Allure and Educational Benefits of Wooden Toys

Wooden Toys from Finland
Wooden toys have been popular in the U.S. for generations, so I was interested to see that wood toys are also popular in other parts of the world also.  On a recent trip to Dublin, Ireland, I saw toys made of wood in the shop windows of children’s stores.  The German firm, Haba Toys, is recognized throughout the world for their handcrafted wooden toys.  And, in Helsinki, Finland, I took these photos of children's toys at Stockman's Department Store.

Wood Toys from Finland
So what makes these kid's toys so desirable?  The attributes are numerous and include:

Durability – Generation after generation of children can play with wood toys as they stand the test of time and rigorous play.

Melissa and Doug Wood Puzzle
Safety – Plastic toys have been found to include toxic chemicals such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Phthalates, or Bisphenol A (BPA). These toys can also break into small pieces that can be potentially harmful. Children's toys made of thick wood may be less likely to break into small pieces - but watch for toys with thin pieces of wood.  In addition, some plastic kid's toys have sharper edges.  

Motor Skill Development – Most wooden toys, including wood puzzles, require the use of fine motor skills.  Thus, playing with these toys can enhance dexterity and eye-hand coordination.  

Self-Correcting Wooden Puzzle for Preschoolers

Educational BenefitsBuilding blocks and other wood toys can help children develop spatial concepts as well as concepts such as size, shape and color.  Academic skills, problem-solving and puzzle skills may also be practiced through play.

Creative Toys and Imagination – Wood blocks are often excellent choices for stimulating creativity and imagination as they are open-ended and unstructured, allowing children freedom to experiment and explore. 

While these are all reasons for the global appeal of wooden toys, the biggest is likely that they are fun for children and kids develop fond memories playing with them.  Then, as adults, these happy childhood memories return as they choose birthday presents or holiday gifts for their children or watch grandchildren play with wood toys that have been in the family for generations.  

To view wooden toys available on our website, visit http://www.jumpstarttoys.com/wood-toys-and-puzzles-s/1847.htm.  Wood puzzles can be found at http://www.jumpstarttoys.com/Kids-Puzzles-s/1842.htm.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Select a Great Baby Toy

Sassy Loopy Ball
Sooner or later, it happens to you.  You’re invited to a baby shower.  Someone you know has a baby and you want to send a baby gift.  Or, you have your own baby or grandchild!  While the list of baby supplies is long and the potential baby shower gifts are numerous, we know you want the right baby toy.  What is the right baby toy?  There is no single answer to this question, but JumpStart(TM) Toys has these helpful tips for selecting a great terrific children’s toy:

Consider Versatile Baby Toys – Review toys that have multiple ways the toy can be played, can grow with the baby, or can be affixed to cribs, strollers, and car seats.  Sassy Baby has some excellent choices.

Contemplate Award-winningToys – Kid's Toys that have been reviewed and recognized with awards are a good way to narrow down the huge list of potential baby gifts.  Often, award-winning toys have been reviewed by parents or toy industry professionals and are developmental baby toys that provide good value for the money.  You can’t go wrong with an award-winning children’s toy.

Gund Crawl with Me Turtle
Shop for Multi-Sensory Toys – Toys that appeal to the senses are popular baby shower gifts, and if chosen wisely, can promote development.  Look for infant toys with more than one texture, that talk or make sounds, or contain bright and contrasting colors for sensory and vision development as well as holding baby’s interest.   

Select Cuddle Toys – Many best-selling baby toys are snuggle toys, and it’s great for children to have a special toy, pillow or blanket to take along with them everywhere.  Soft and cuddly toys may also provide a sense of security and promote emotional well-being in addition to being adorable presents!

Gund Philbin Bear
Go for the StuffedAnimals – Children are fascinated by animals, and you can’t go wrong with a wonderful stuffed teddy bear or other infant animal plush toy.  Stuffed animals are common presents, though, so look for one that is either unusual, has developmental benefits or is so cute that you just can’t resist it!

Regardless of the infant toy you choose, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Make sure the toy does not have small parts, ribbons, buttons or anything that can come off as babies suck, pull and drag it with them.  Check for choking hazard warnings.
  • Be certain to remove all packaging, including plastic anti-theft fasteners or other packing items with which the child could be hurt.
  • Check packaging to ensure the present selected is age and developmentally appropriate.
To browse our kids learning toys, visit www.jumpstarttoys.com.

Monday, May 27, 2013

JumpStart Toys(TM) Teacher's Learning Toy Pick of the Month

Joanne Garross - Retired Elementary
School Teacher & Gifted Coordinator
For this JumpStart Toys(TM) blog we interviewed retired elementary school teacher and gifted program coordinator, Joanne Garross, and asked her to choose a kids educational toy from our inventory.  The hands down learning toy favorite - the Melissa and Doug Lock and Latches Board!  Here are Mrs. Garross' answers to our questions about this terrific educational and developmental kids toy.

Q:  Why did you choose the Lock and Latches Board by Melissa and Doug as your "Teacher's Pick of the Month"?

A:  This toy has multi-dimensional learning aspects to it.  As children develop, the activities associated with this toy can increase and become more complex - extending the learning value of it over time.

Lock and Latches Board Kids Educational Toy
Melissa & Doug Lock and Latches Board
Q:  What are some of the educational benefits of this toy?
A:  It helps with the mental processing of how to solve a problem.  It also enhances:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Finger dexterity, especially for kids with lax thumb muscles or weak hand strength
  • Left to right sequencing activities involving numbers and colors
  • Pattern, shape and animal identification
  • Line recognition (perpendicular, horizontal, parallel, vertical)
  • Math skills (counting, addition and subtraction, could create math story problems using this board)
  • Life skills for opening different types of locks and latches
Q:  Can the Lock and Latches board enhance language skills?
A:  Yes, an adult can help children build language and vocabulary in addition to using their imagination skills to create stories about what is behind the locks and latches, how they got there and how they were rescued.  Creative story-telling skills are important for kids.  Size concepts, such as "biggest" and "smallest" can be taught using the size of the windows and spacial relationships, such as "top", "bottom", "side by side" and "next to", can also be taught.

Q:  Are there additional reasons why parents, grandparents or teachers should purchase this toy?
A:  It's a good interactive toy for adults and children.  I really like the inclusion of parent activities on the back for easy reference.  It's also made of sturdy wood and all in one piece, making cleanup a breeze and making it a good travel toy for the car.  I also like that it has rounded edges instead of sharp edges at the corners.  I wish I were still in my classroom to use it.

JumpStart Toys(TM) Note:  Additional children's learning toys that enhance cognitivefine motor, and life skills can be found by shopping by skill on our website, www.jumpstarttoys.com.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Kids and Science

Science and math - the keys to our future.  We know it, but many parents find these subjects intimidating, particularly science.  So, how do busy parents help kids with science fair projects or just promote an interest in science without having to become a science expert themselves?  We have these tips:

Let Children Explore Their World - Young children, in particular, explore their world using their senses.  Provided it's safe, let the touch, smell, taste and see the world around them.  If they pick apart a flower, let them so they can see what the inside of a flower looks like.  If they spot an ant pile, watch it with them and explain how the ants all work together to live.  Too often, we stop children from exploring.  Let them go!

Explore Science on Vacation - Many kids love nature and there are many ways to discuss science and nature together.  Explore a beach at high and low tide and discuss what causes the tides.  Look at the moon and talk about how the shape of the moon changes with the seasons.  Watch the ocean waves crash against the rocks and discuss erosion through wind and water.

Science Kits with Multiple Experiments - My favorites are the award-winning science kits by Steve Spangler.  These science kits include multiple science experiments in one kit and come with instructions.  The experiments range from simple to more complex.  These are perfect for parents and kids getting ready for science fair projects!  These kids science kits are also great for helping kids learn cause and effect, how to predict outcomes, form hypothesis, and practice communicating what they've learned.  See our website, www.jumpstarttoys.com for these science kits.  For one big bag of science, try the Big Bag of Science kit.  Need snow in the desert or Southwest?  Try Insta-Snow, which makes snow by just adding water.  Now that's simple chemistry!

Look for Free Science Experiments on the Internet - The Internet is a great resource for science ideas and experiments.  The National Science Teachers Association website has some great information as well as a list of awesome websites with age ranges so you can quickly and easily find sites with information and experiments that are age appropriate for your child.