Terrific Toy Tuesday: Learning About Cash Can Register at a Young Age

2016-03-07 10.19.53“That’ll be five dollars, Mommy!” my daughter informs me as she presses the number five on her toy cash register. My-soon-to-be three year old loves shopping at Target and really enjoys pretending to be a cashier at home. When she was about a year and a half, I purchased her a little “Let’ Go Shopping Cash Register” from Lakeshore Learning. It comes with milk, juice, little fruits and vegetables, an area for weighing the fruit and a little basket, an even a scanner to ring up items. There’s a few coins and a little toy credit card she swipes to open the register drawer.

Cash RegisterWhat I love about this cash register is that it has multiple settings. One is for basic play, one that allows the child to add, divide, subtract and multiply, another presents questions, asking, “How many milks do you have?” or “How many strawberries are you purchasing.” It is a great toy to enhance Quinn’s vocabulary and to help her further understand the importance of a dollar. I wish I had a toy cash register this advanced when I was younger. Watching my daughter make decisions while “play” shopping and counting her change is awesome because I believe one is never too young to understand the concept of money and all that it encompasses.

All the best,

Tanya

Terrific Toy Tuesday: Not Too Puzzling for My Little Girl Has It Under Her Spell

 

As an educator and lifelong learner, I can’t help but want my daughter to have some educational toys that stimulate her cognitive development. What’s wonderful is when she has fun and embraces learning too. I stumbled upon the perfect puzzle that does just that at Five Below. It comes with picture puzzles that spell words. What makes this a great resources is that it not only promotes spelling but critical thinking by having just one letter on each puzzle piece with a portion of the picture. Though the box says for children four and up, my soon to be three year old has been enjoying doing these puzzles shortly after she turned two. Now, with little to no assistance from me, she is often able to complete the puzzle and will use the picture to determine what the word spells. I love observing her say, “C-a-r spells car! I spelled car Mommy!”

Some people may frown upon the idea of a child Quinn’s age learning to spell, but as long as she is interested I will encourage it and applaud her efforts as the proud mommy and teacher. I’m so grateful that my little girl will actually request to play with this puzzle and many others that are similar.

All the best,

Tanya

Terrific Toy Tuesday: Boy, Oh Boy! Race That Car Girl

“Dolls are for little girls, not toy soldiers” “You can get a mountain bike; dirt bikes are for boys.” Many children, including me, have heard phrases like this growing up.”So called boy toys” were off limits based on my father’s rules; luckily, my mother was more open-minded. I vowed that when I became a parent my child would be able to play with whatever toy he or she wants, regardless of what gender it is typically identified with.

Since before my soon-to-be-three year old was walking and talking, she developed a love for cars. So for her first Christmas, one of the gifts she received was a Vtech Go Go Smart Wheels race car set. Two years later, and she still loves playing with it. The cars can talk and sing little songs. She has a race car, taxi, fire engine and police car. The set is almost as tall as she is, and there’s even a pit stop to pretend to wash and repair cars and a fun loop that the cars can circle.

Though playing with toys is supposed to be fun, it’s a shame that even in 2016 some little girls are not permitted to play with cars or even dump trucks because they are considered “boy” toys, and some boys are not permitted to play with dolls or in the play kitchen area because they are considered toys for girls. I am, however, glad that both my husband and I agree that Quinn should be able to have fun playing with different toys regardless of the “target gender.” I love watching her explore the world without the constriction of fitting into the societal gender box. She’s got plenty of time for that struggle as she gets older, but my hope is that she will be prepared as a result of us not saying, this toy is “only” for boys.  It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve always loved playing with cars too.

All the best,

Tanya

Terrific Toy Tuesday: Let’s Shape Up and Have a Ball!

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Quinn Getting Ready to Insert Her Shapes into the Shape O Ball

My grandmother ran a daycare in her home, and when I was younger I’d come over often and play with the other children and toys too.  One toy I enjoyed playing with was a red and blue ball with yellow handles on the sides and different yellow shapes. I would challenge myself  and other kids to see who could get all of the shapes inside the ball the fastest, similar to the game “Perfection.”

When my daughter was not quite a year, we were at a “Home Show,” and low and behold, I saw that very ball I played with when I was younger at a Tupperware station. I had to purchase it for  Quinn. Initially, she would chew on the shapes or play around with the ball, but just about two years later, she will announce, “This is a square!” or “Here’s the triangle!” before inserting it into the ball. What really impresses me is that she will count the sides too. “The Octagon has one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight sides!” Then there’s times when she just wants to roll the ball back and forth, then empty the shapes and start naming them and counting the sides all over again.

Even though my little girl loves toys with all of the “bells and whistles,” it’s nice to know that she enjoys a basic toy from my childhood which is helping with her cognitive development.

All the best,

Tanya

PS. This toy is available on Amazon too.

Terrific Toy Tuesday: First You Crawl, Then Walk, Then Run, Then Jump & Then Skate!

Before you learn to walk, you have to crawl. After walking, comes running and jumping. Now that spring is finally here, my little girl and I can have some outdoor fun with running, jumping, skipping and skating too! One of my favorite activities when I was younger was skating, and now my soon-to-be-three year old is following in my footsteps, or shall I say “skate steps?” What’s interesting is that when I polled my students, many of them abashedly confessed that they don’t know how to skate or have only been once. Quinn loves putting on her unicorn “Radskullz” unicorn helmet, knee guards and Minnie Mouse glitter roller skates to practice around the house. The real test, in the weeks to come, will be going outside. While I’m happy that she loves “toys” that get her up and moving, I have a feeling that I’ll be more nervous than she is.

All the best,

Tanya

Terrific Toy Tuesday: What a Colorful Puzzle!

A little over a year ago, I posted a blog entry entitled  “50 shades The Complexities of Learning Colors Toddler Style “and how tricky it was teaching my daughter, who was not quite two, colors with the many different shades and combined hues. Now, a year later, she has mastered the many different shades and will even say, “This ball is a mix or blue and green” or “This shirt looks like red, but it’s a dark pink, right Mommy?!”

Though we’ve been going over colors since before she was two and even have a color of the week, I cannot take full credit for Quinn’s ability to distinguish colors. One of her favorite games has been an excellent teacher when Quinn wants to apply what she knows independently. I ordered Preschool Colors through Amazon.com, and it teaches more than colors. It helps Quinn problem solve and learn the names of different items. This is one toy we both really love, and I would recommend to any young child learning colors or who just likes doing puzzles.

All the best,

Tanya

Terrific Toy Tuesday:Let’s Role Play!

2016-01-10 13.41.15“Let’s go to the kitchen and make some food, Mommy!” My little girl excitedly says. But as she scurries off to towards the kitchen, she stops in her tracks, “First, I need to put on my chef outfit and get my supplies for cooking.”Quinn will be three in May, and she loves playing dress-up and pretend. Then again, most children do. There’s something terrific and just plain fun about playing dress-up. So for Christmas, Santa brought her a chef outfit by Melissa and Doug. This outfit comes with a chef hat and jacket, a name tag, wooden spoon and spatula, measuring spoons and an oven mitten.

Sometimes, she loves playing in her kitchen in the playroom wearing her outfit, but often she enjoys helping me prepare actual meals and special treats. I just love watching her face light up as she puts on her chef hat. I’ve also observed how her vocabulary has expanded. “What ingredients are we going to need, Mommy? Let’s check the recipe. I need my measuring spoons so that it will taste just right! How many teaspoons do we need?” she inquires. Imaginative play tends to become real-life play. Just the other day, we prepared turkey burgers, and she raced to put on her chef outfit. Though it is not the typical toy, she certainly does have fun, and it is giving her skills she will be able to apply for many years to come. I am tempted to purchase her a couple more of the role play sets or might even try to create my own little outfits for her using some of the old clothing and items we have around the house.

All the best,

Tanya

 

Terrific Toy Tuesday: A Civil Engineer in the Making (My Duplo Block Enthusiast)

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“Let’s build something, Mommy,” my little girls excitedly says. Three to four days a week, she puts in a request to build with her Lego Blocks. Well, they’re actually Duplo Blocks by Lego which are a little larger than standard Legos and easier for her to handle for her age. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved constructing my own buildings and looking at pictures of Lego constructions trying to recreate them. Now, Quinn is following in my footsteps.

For Christmas, one of her gifts was a Disney Princess Duplo Princess Collection set. At first, she wanted to recreate the buildings from the pictures. The Cinderella castle was her favorite, then Ariel the Mermaid’s castle and the Snow White’s castle. Within the past month, she has taken it upon herself to intentionally mismatch the pieces with the different castles to build her very own castle creation. “Mommy, this time Snow White is going to have a slide instead of Ariel,” Quinn informs me. I am also pleased that she is starting to build on her own without my assistance, other than asking me if I like her castle.

This is a terrific toy for kids from two to one hundred and two. I’m looking forward to eventually taking my little girl to Legoland or her first Lego exhibition. Who knows, maybe she’ll become a Lego enthusiast or even a civil engineer.

All the best,

Tanya

Terrific Toy Tuesday: Tea for Two Anyone?

2016-01-08 13.24.17“May I have two spoons of sugar please?” I ask. “Yes, you may.” My little girl says as she uses her little spoon and scoops the imaginary sugar into my teacup. I just loved having tea parties when I was a little girl, and now I get to enjoy them with my little girl.  It’s such a wonderful way to not only interact with one another but to improve her vocabulary, ability to follow directions and expand her imagination. Initially, she would just ask if I wanted some tea. Now, she will say, “What would you like with your tea? Do you want a heart shaped cookie or a round cookie?”

This activity enables her to practice counting and decision-making skills too. She sets up her  Fisher Price Magical Tea for Two Set on her serving tray all by herself, and says, “It’s time for tea!” Since the set only comes with two cookies, when she is serving her father, me and herself tea, she’ll inform me, “You had a cookie last time, Mommy. Now, Daddy gets a cookie.”

When we have our tea parties, I sometimes feel like I am holding up a mirror as my two and a half year old utters statements she has heard me say  or way in which she says these statements to demonstrate her good manners. One time, she commented on my sugar intake telling me, “I don’t think you need anymore sugar, Mommy. You already had three spoons! How about some milk or cream instead?” I can tell that she likes being in control and asserting herself. What I like is that she does it in a playful and respectful way.

Here’s to more tea parties with my little girl!

All the best,

Tanya

Terrific Toy Tuesday: Memory

One of my favorite childhood games to pass the day away either by myself, with my siblings and mom or friends was “Memory.” Now, it is one of my favorite games to play with my two and a half year old daughter, and it’s becoming one of her favorite games too. Though the game is for ages three and up, she quickly grasped the concept, and after dinner she’ll ask, “Can we play the Minions Memory game please?”

When I played it as a youngster, I did not think about the cognitive aspects of the game, like sharpening my memory and the critical thinking and strategizing associated with the game. I was just focused on winning and finding the most matches. That seems to be Quinn’s focus too as she sometimes sneakily and sometimes unabashedly turns over multiple cards hoping to find a match. But it pleases me to know that this is a wonderful game for her cognitive development and for us to have some mother/daughter bonding.

Playing games with children, especially with my young daughter is tricky because I am not only teaching her the game but want to help her develop confidence in playing it. Since there are nearly fifty cards, we usually do half so that the game is not too long and to ensure that finding matches is not too daunting of a task for her. Then, I hold back and allow her to win. When she does collect more matching cards than I do, her little face lights up, her hands start waving as she holds on to some of the cards, and she dances around cheering, “I won, Mommy! I won! Guess what, Daddy! I beat Mommy at the Minion Memory game! I must admit, however, that Quinn is getting better and better, and I have a feeling that she will be beating me at memory in no time without me “helping” her to win.

All the best,

Tanya