Monday, March 12, 2012

Favorite Toys These Days

 Between birthdays and Christmas, we've had a lot of new toys kicking around the house.  The fun educational kind!  It's always lovely to find new ideas on educational toys.  So, in case you're looking for gift ideas--here are a few.  When I was a teacher I got a PTA fund each year to spend on classroom items--and I usually spent those funds at Lakeshore Learning Company.  Thankfully, we have one located in Bellevue.  There are not a lot of the actual stores--but anyone can order from them online.  This year for Christmas and Ezra's birthday I headed into Lakeshore for some learning fun.  A big Tupperware of pattern blocks was my pick for Caroline.  Right now she can sort them by shape and color.  She also tries to fit them onto those pictures.  I got those from my mother-in-law.  You could probably do a google search and find some to print out at home.  As the kids get older we talk about the name of the shapes, the number of sides and angles each has, etc.  For now they are just good fun.  
 Unifix cubes are good for pre-school through mid-elementary years.  They can help teach about patterns, counting, one-to-one correspondence, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, estimation....the list goes on and on.  They were my best friend as a kindergarten and 1st grade teacher.  I bought these ones back when Ezra was a baby.  Amazingly we are only missing three.  They make great meeting toys as well.
 Plastic magnetic letters were purchased after Ezra's kindergarten teacher recommended it to us.  He can use them to spell out sight words and practice reading.  If you don't like having your fridge cluttered up with magnets, get out a cookie sheet and let your child practice with the letters at the kitchen table...or in the living room.  These come in upper or lower case. 
 Geo boards!  These were a gift for Ezra.  Fabulous tool and toy.  I bought this pack at Lakeshore.  It came with 6 geo boards and a bunch of rubber bands.  Geo boards can be used throughout the elementary years and even into junior high.  They are a great hands on way to learn geometry.  Of course, if you have tiny tots around the house, you want to be extra careful with the rubber bands.
 We love to play games around these parts.  Along with all the usual suspects of Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders and the other beginning board games we started learning Uno.   Target, Fred Meyer and Walmart sell various kinds of Uno.  We started out with a "Handy Manny" beginners version.  It has fewer cards, no "draw four" cards and the numbers are in large print.  After a couple months of learning the rules, we've moved on to the original version. 
 Spot it!  This is my new favorite game.  I was given a sample pack at a toy store at Christmas time.  The cards are round.  Each card has multiple symbols on it.  Each card has only one matching symbol to all the other cards.  The game helps the brain work at making connections.  It can be frustrating for Caroline.  Ezra finds it a lot of fun.  A little bit of age goes a long way in this game.  I looked for Spot it! at Fred Meyer and couldn't find it.  I'm not sure if Target or Walmart have it.  I did find it available on for $12 plus shipping.  If you have a local learning toy store you might try there.  This is a really fun game for adults also.  They call it a "party game".
There are more toys I could share with you--but I think this is enough for now.
A few words of wisdom to end on:
If you have rice bags in your house and if you like to heat them up, don't do it for twelve minutes and thirty four seconds.  That is too long.  And if you take a shower (how dare you take a shower!!!!) and if when you get out it smells like the house is on fire, and if you panic remember--rice bags are not meant to be heated up that long.  If you come downstairs and find that one of your munchkins was heating up a rice bag for the baby sister who got "an owie" and the munchkin happened to punch in "1, 2, 3, 4" for the time on the microwave, try not to blow a gasket.  The munchkin was only trying to help.  The munchkin will be horribly freaked out when you show him/her the smoke billowing from said rice bag and when you show him/her the scorched holes in the bag.  They will promise never to do it again--with real fear in their eyes.  A lesson will have been learned.  Don't forget to praise the Lord that the house did not burn down and that the kids are alive and unharmed--other than the small, insignificant ouchie the baby got while you dared to take a shower.  And also that you did not have to run out of the house wearing only a towel in front of all the neighbors and fire fighters.  And have to explain it to your husband later.  Ya know, if that ever happens in your house.  I'm sure it won't.  I'm sure you don't dare to take showers.


Cobblestone said...

Oh no!! Isn't God Good?!! Also, be sure to be extra careful with rubber bands if you have boys in the house. :)

Adkins Family said...

Oh man, I was just about to go take a shower! Thanks goodness my microwave is up high (that will only be a safety factor for so long though, they'll soon figure out how to move a chair over there).

Fun toys! ♥

Anonymous said...

R loves Spot It! His teacher has it in the classroom. As a profliate shower-taker and rice bag addict, I will take your advice very seriously...

NaomiG said...

Our kids got Spot It! from their Gramma and Poppa G this year. They love it, and I'm not much of a game person, but it is really fun. I'm trying to get in the habit of playing more games with them... I don't naturally lean that way, but it's SO good for them for sure. I need to buy Chutes and Ladders, I keep forgetting. Those Geo boards are really cool! My kids would love those. I love hands-on math stuff.

The one thing I'm currently puzzling over is how to store all this stuff so that it's accessible and also easy to put away. We're getting quite a collection of educational stuff-which I LOVE, but it's a careful balancing act to store it neatly, and keep it handy.

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry but the 1 2 3 4 is cracking me up majorly....but sooo glad all is well...oh my dear!!!!!!!!! :)) ~Cath

The Chatty Housewife said...

Check it out, Ree must read your blog. :) It was so surprised to hear of the game twice in such a short time. I'll have to check it out.

The Chatty Housewife said...

Oh I just saw that it wasn't Ree that posted that, it was OMSH.