Monday, November 28, 2011

My 1st Mommy Party ~ Winnie the Pooh & Oral-B Stages

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
I was so excited to host the Oral-B Stages MommyParties event at my house! We scheduled it for Monday, November 28th from 6 - 8 pm. It was a pajama party, so the children came dressed in their PJs with their blankets. I got all of the bags organized the day before. Each bag contained an Oral-B toothbrush (either Stage I or Stage II depending upon the child's age), a tube of Oral-B toothpaste featuring Disney characters, Disney baby wash, coupons, a fact sheet, and a balloon!

We had a total of 8 children attend. The party began with introductions, as not everyone knew each other. We sat around in a circle with the kids and talked about the flash cards we were given. Most of the children were able to identify toothbrush, toothpaste, and apple, but none of the children knew "dentist" so we talked about the role of a dentist. The mommies all discussed how they get their children to brush their teeth. Some children love to brush their teeth while others require some sort of incentive.

After our discussion, each child was given a container of popcorn and they sat on the couch to watch the Winnie the Pooh movie together.

When the Winnie the Pooh movie ended, we passed out the goodie bags. The children really enjoyed receiving "presents."

The children ended the party by hugging one another and saying "Goodnight!" Everyone had a blast! This was a great way to get the children to socialize with one another while the mommies watched them and chatted. The night ended with everyone ready to brush their teeth and go to bed!

If you would like to learn more about MommyParties, please visit their Facebook page.

You can learn more about Oral-B on Facebook and twitter.

*I was chosen by MomSelect and Oral-B to host this party. I received free products to keep and to distribute to my guests. All opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

As the carols began playing at the mall...

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
We decided it was holiday time in our home! One of the first things I do at the start of each month is switch out the books in our bookcase so that they match the new theme.

Then I placed new holiday items in our Discovery Bin. Lydia really loved the small cat dressed as a reindeer that plays music.

Then we made a handprint Christmas tree. This project really got Lydia using a lot of language. She described each pom pom we placed on the tree by telling me the color and size (little/big).

We were supposed to get a tree this weekend, but we got caught up doing other things, so we'll definitely have to get it one day this week. I'm excited to put up all of the decorations...and make some new ones!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Melissa & Doug Cyber Monday Giveaways!

Cyber Monday is Giveaway Monday on Melissa & Doug's Facebook Fan Page!

“LIKE” us on Facebook to be eligible to win! Answer the active giveaway’s question, to enter that giveaway. At least one random entrant will be chosen to win each giveaway.


We’ll be giving away terrific educational toys from 8am EST, right up until midnight!

Check out Melissa & Doug's Terrific Twenty Holiday Toys to see some of the great prizes we’ll be giving away!

Giveaway event ends midnight EST 11/28/11.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Guidecraft Educator GIVEAWAY ~ Three Sets of Blocks

I am so excited to be hosting this awesome giveaway just in time for Christmas! This giveaway is for three different sets of beautifully-colored wooden blocks:

Sand Blocks (RV $32)     Rainbow Blocks (RV $25)     Crystal Bead Blocks (RV $32)
The blocks come in a variety of shapes and colors. They can be used together as they are all about the same size. We often divide toys into "girl toys" and "boy toys," but classic building blocks are perfect for boys and girls! Blocks are great for preschool classroom use and home use. Playing with these Guidecraft blocks allows your children to explore their creativity while working on critical fine motor skills. Children can create different patterns. They could collaborate to build a structure together or play independently. Block play also allows children to incorporate lots of other toys. Blocks can be a farm for small animal figures, a castle for princess dolls, or a fort for soldiers. Young children begin to understand cause and effect relationships as they build different structures and knock them down. All three sets of blocks are durable and can easily be stored in a large lidded container for easy clean up.

Lydia loves to build structures and knock them down!

Lydia built a house.
She added different people & animals.
She loved knocking that one down...
...and starting all over!
But Lydia's favorite thing to do is use the rainbow blocks
as colored glasses!

BUY IT! You can purchase your own set of Guidecraft Blocks for your home or classroom. Guidecraft also sells mirrored blocks and shimmering water blocks.

WIN IT! What's great about this Guidecraft Educator group is that each month, one of us will be hosting the giveaway of a product that we have all reviewed. I am hosting the giveaway this month. Just look at how you can quickly enter below!  (This contest is open to the US and Canada.)

 * I received the aforementioned product for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hartstrings 20% off Black Friday Sale

Harstrings is having a great Black Friday sale ~ 20% off everything on the website (even sale items!) Harstrings makes beautiful boys' and girls' clothing in infant, toddler, and children sizes.

Here are some of my favorite items:

 To learn more about the Black Friday sale and to view all of their amazing clothes, CLICK HERE

Gallery Direct Review

I joined a recent twitter party, and the topic of conversation was Extreme Makeover - Home Edition. The episode was about a family who had children with autism. The makeover team did a great job creating a sensory room, bedrooms, and outdoor play area to accommodate the children's needs. During the party, Gallery Direct gave out several $100 prizes, and I was fortunate enough to be a recipient. The $100 prize was a credit to their website to purchase anything I wanted...but what did I want?

I decided to go with wall art for Bryce's room since he had one completely blank wall. There were lots of works of art to choose from - classic to modern, pop art to impressionism. Something for everyone! I wanted to stick with the outer space theme, so I chose Van Gogh's Starry Night. The bold colors are perfect for a child's room. They have several options to choose from in terms of materials to print on - canvas, wood, paper, mirror, acrylic, and aluminum. For something different and to capture a cool space look, I decided to get an image printed on aluminum. The great thing about this website is that although they may seem a bit high-end at first, they have so many great sales. I just happened to purchase my print on a day that they had 33% off and free shipping. Great deal! Our artwork was quickly printed and shipped within just days.

We hung it on the wall yesterday, and it looks beautiful against the bright blue wall color. What a great addition to Bryce's outer space room!

To learn more about Gallery Direct, you can visit their website or follow on twitter.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Imagine Toys Review #2 ~ a to z Magnatab

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
I'm so excited to be doing another review for Imagine Toys, an awesome website that features amazing pretend play, arts & crafts, and educational toys for children of all ages.  This time, I was sent the a to z Magnatab.

This learning toy comes in uppercase and lowercase letters. We were sent the lowercase letter Magnatab. This is a very unique toy. It comes with a stylus that has a magnetic tip and a board that is about the size of a sheet of paper. As you can see, the board contains all the letters of the alphabet written in light blue with arrows along the letters to show children how the letters should be formed. Each letter has small holes with magnetic balls inside. When you use the stylus to trace the letters, the small balls pop into each hole with a light clicking movement/sound.

The best feature of this product is that it provides a great tactile cue to your child, indicating that he/she is forming the letter correctly. If you go outside the "magnetic zone" and mis-form the letters, you do not hear or feel that click of the magnet going into the small hole.

This product is recommended for children age 3+. Whether the Magnatab is used at home or at school, children ages 2 to 5 should be able to use it correctly with adult modeling and guidance. When I initially gave it to my daughter without any instructions, she just wanted to "scribble" with the stylus to hear the clicking sound and to feel the small magnets moving around.

Once I showed her what to do, she tried to hold the stylus correctly and guide it over the letters. She is very interested in letters and numbers recently, so this is a fun way to motivate her to learn more. This shows us writing together hand-over-hand.

BUY IT! Interested in purchasing an a to z Magnatab for your child? It's just $24.99 at Imagine Toys! Imagine Toys offers many other awesome learning toys, like the Super Sorting Pie for $27.95 and Telly the Teaching Time Clock for $25.95.

You can also 'like' Imagine Toys on Facebook and 'follow' Imagine Toys on Twitter, where they host fun Twitter parties with great giveaways.

  * I received the aforementioned product for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moderating my first Twitter Party hosted by Ruckus Media Group 11/17

I am so excited to be moderating my first twitter party hosted by Ruckus Media Group this Thursday 11/17 at 9 pm EST. The topic for discussion is Screen Time and Our Kids. In order to participate in this party:

- Be sure to use hashtag #RuckusAppDivide

- Please follow the panel of moderators:
@huppiemama @momtdanielle @thechattymomma @davidbfox

- You might want to read this article before the party Screen Time Higher Than Ever for Children Study Finds”

- We will be having a giveaway every 10 minutes.  We have great My Little Pony prizes all generously donated by our friends at Hasbro. The prizes are:
Pony Pals Playland – valued at $24 each (TWO)

Canterlot Castles – valued at $24.99 each

Friendship is Magic Gift Set – valued at $22 (TWO)

Pinkie Pie – Learns to Walk – valued at $26.99

For more information, click HERE
In order to be in the running for these awesome My Little Pony prizes, RSVP HERE

Hope to "see" you all there! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at just for voting!


Imitation - A True Building Block to Learning

At Abi's Place, the nonprofit I co-direct, we work a lot on teaching the teachers and parents of our children the importance of imitation. Behaviorists believe learning is built upon imitation (although I'm sure people who subscribe to other theories may disagree). If children are able to imitate simple motor movements like clapping hands, raising arms, or stomping feet, they can learn more complex play activities, like Simon Says and Hopscotch. Eventually children are able to use their imaginations to create novel scenarios and activities.

Toddlers love being little mommies and daddies. They love watching what their parents do and imitating it. I often catch Lydia cooking in her kitchen like I do in the real kitchen or pretending to go grocery shopping. Since Bryce was born, she's really become a little mommy. She places her baby dolls in strollers and the baby swing. She wraps them in blankets and carries them around the house. Well, today she was playing independently in her room. I walked in there, and I found her on the floor, breastfeeding her baby doll. She looked surprised but happy to see me. I immediately grabbed my camera to film her. It was a beautiful bonding moment for us - It showed me that she watches what I do, tries to understand it, and is able to imitate it. It was very sweet!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Does this belong on the farm?

I decided to get out a train set, play farm, and bin filled with all different animals and people this morning. Lydia and I sat down together, set up the train around the farm, and played "Which do not belong?" using the people and animals. I would show her an object and ask "Does this belong on the farm?" If it did belong on the farm, we placed it around the farm.

 If it did not go on the farm, we placed it in the yellow bin. 

She really seemed to enjoy this activity and was able to get a lot of them correct. 

However, she was uncertain of a few. 

But it was fun to help her figure them out! Others, like Dora and Strawberry Shortcake, I allowed her to choose where to place them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Creative Lil' Hands

Not sure what she was thinking, but this is what Lydia did with her puzzle yesterday. I thought it was pretty interesting how she took the pieces out, paired like colors, and placed the person/animals on the board with the feet all facing inward and their heads toward the pointed areas.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tissue Paper Sensory Fun!

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
I tend to be a hoarder when it comes to gift bags and tissue paper. Each gift bag costs $2 or $3 and a pack of tissue paper is $2 or $3, so you can literally spend $5 just wrapping a gift (not to mention the cost of a store-bought greeting card - another $3+ each). This weekend, I could no longer deal with the mess in my garage, so I started by organizing all of my 'recycled' gift wrap. I found some bags that really weren't usable, and I sorted my tissue paper by useable and garbage.

So what do you repurpose tissue paper before throwing it out? Play with it, of course! We threw it all over the floor and let Lydia dive in.

She loved all of the different colors. 

She liked crinkling it all up. 

And then she balled up a blue and a green and put them in her stroller. She walked her "baby" around the house.

She's so imaginative! 

Guidecraft Educator Review #4 ~ Little Lectern

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
This month, the Guidecraft Educators are reviewing the Little Lectern. Made of walnut-stained birch plywood, the lectern stands 40" tall, has a shelf inside to hold presentation items, and comes with a carpet-covered riser that can be stored inside the lectern. It is for ages 3+. With each review, I like to provide practical suggestions for home and school, and this product really asked me to 'think outside the box' because it is unlike any other product I have reviewed before!

When I was in elementary school, I participated in a public speaking program called Toastmasters. We had to learn to respond to different topics, to engage in debates and rebuttals, to summarize the information provided by both sides...but most of all, we had to learn to get in front of our peers and talk about something that may not be so familiar to us. This was not easy for me, especially since I was one of the smallest kids in my class and had some self-esteem issues. I remember we had to stand in front of the class at the end of a table. Everyone could see if my hands were shaking or my legs were 'antsy.' If I had this Little Lectern to stand behind, no one could tell that I was so nervous, which may have given me the confidence to be a better speaker!

So first and foremost, the best use of this product is for teaching children to be more confident public speakers. This would be really important to practice at home with children who have speech-language disorders since they often feel self-conscious of their performance in front of peers.

Beyond the most obvious use, I thought of a few others:
  • Schoolwide competitions ~ This would be a great way to practice school competitions, such as spelling bees, math competitions, science fair presentations, or any other academic events, either at home or at school. 
  • Extracurricular activities ~ This little lectern would be great for activities outside of school, such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Children can stand at the lectern to present minutes from the previous meetings and important announcements. 
  • Pretend play ~ Have the children dress up and pretend to be different types of professions that may speak at a lectern - the president of the United States, teacher, lawyer, college professor, etc. Be creative!
  • Be really creative ~ Decorate the lectern to be a lemonade stand, host a magic show at the lectern, or do a pretend cooking demonstration. The ideas are endless!
BUY IT! You can purchase your own Guidecraft Little Lectern for your home or classroom for just $200.

WIN IT! What's great about this Guidecraft Educator group is that each month, one of us will be hosting the giveaway of a product that we have all reviewed. Visit Simply Stacie to enter and win. This contest is open to the US and Canada.

*I received the aforementioned product for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.