My position on toys is...
If you are interested in having me review your product on my blog please email me at thetoysnob(at)gmail(dot)com!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's all about the CROWN!

I've been a long time fan of Ellie Bellie Kids Capes, and now they've added these Crowns ($28) to their line! These are both so fun, I just love them!!! I love that the black one is masculine looking with the black, but bold and colorful at the same time. The white one reminds me of The Snow Queen for some reason. It's dainty and girly with just the right amount of pink. They're just perfect for the dress-up trunk!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Totally Rad Science

When I was in college I heard first hand from elementary teachers who said there was just not enough time for cool science lessons and experiments. They said a lot of kids grow up uninterested in science because the teachers don't make it fun and exciting. Most of the time I remember having to read a super boring text book then answer all the odd questions in the Chapter Review section. That was the extent of my "science lessons" in elementary. By the time I got to junior high and high school I was at the point where I'd rather be in my seat reading about it instead of doing it because I just didn't care. None of my early years teachers had ever made it sound exciting enough to want to learn more. The kids that did like it were the "nerds" and were singled out. Well, that's all changing with today's cool science kits. Have you seen them? They are literally everywhere! They are super popular right now. Your kids will love doing these experiments with you. At LEAST once a week I hear from my almost-five-year-old, "Moooom, can we do a science esspearimint?" We do one at a time and they don't take longer than 15 minutes or so each. Then, I let him play and "esspearimint" on his own for a bit with the materials we've just used.

This experiment taught about acids and bases. My son went around the kitchen and bathroom selecting different liquids to test.

He loved using the dropper and test tubes!

Mixing different ingredients to make fizz!

This experiment taught about magnets, and their north and south poles.

The first few experiments featured were from Scientific Explorer's Mind Blowing Science Kit for Young Scientists by Scientific Explorer ($19.99). I purchased this locally at Tutoring Toy.

The last experiment, the magnets, was from this set, Young Scientist Series - Set 1: Recycling (Kit 1) - Scientific Measurements (Kit 2) - Magnets (Kit 3). A big THANK YOU to Discover This for sending it for us to review!

Either of these or the many more out there would make a fun, entertaining, and educational Christmas present for the 4 and up set! There are a whole bunch of science kits out there just waiting to be "discovered." And who knows, you just might spark of love of science in your child!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Baby Einstein Update

Some of you have contacted me about the links in the previous blog not working. I've done it over and over, trying different things but it just doesn't like the link. Baby Einstein just doesn't want to refund your money ;] So, try this, go to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood website and click on the link to it there. It's right at the top under "The Latest," you can't miss it. At the bottom of the article, it says, "For information on how to obtain a Baby Einstein refund visit..." and that link should take you to the right page. Sorry for all the confusion!!! Let me know if this doesn't work.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

North Star Toys

North Star Toys is a family owned business that makes high-quality wooden toys that help foster creativity and imagination in children. I love their entire line of fine wooden toys. These are truly heirloom quality toys that look like the toys your grandparents played with.

For my first order (trust me, I will definitely be placing many more) I bought my 1 year old son the following:

This is the Animals of the Jungle Set ($15.00) and I think it's to die for! They even through in an alligator for free!

My mom got him the Happy Hybrid ($16.00) and I hope to complete the set with the People Mover and Busy Boat ($52.00 for the whole set).

This is the Big Rollie Flatbed Truck ($16.00)

and the Big Rollie Bug Car ($16.00)

also check out the following:
Camera ($23.00)
Little Rollie Vehicle Complete Set ($45.00)
Helicopter ($20.00)
and Animals of the Sea ($15.00) or Farm ($15.00)

North Star Toys shipped my order very quickly and even addressed a charge for tax before I even knew it was there. They emailed me personally to let me know of it and again to let me know it had been reversed. They even included a hand-written thank you card for ordering with them! And like I mentioned before, they said an alligator had gotten in with my order. I thought all this added a personalized, caring touch. Thank you North Star Toys!


We were sent some wonderful books to review from our friends over at Simon & Schuster. My kids have loved these books! Here's why:

White Noise: A Pop-up Book for Children of All Ages by David Carter is a very very intricate pop-up book. The description on the page illustrates with words what the pop-up is about. The neatest thing about this book, that I missed upon first reading, is that the words on the page tell what the sound is when you open the pop-up. You have to listen very carefully, something children need to learn to do. This book is fabulous and beautiful, a real piece of artwork!

Another book by David Carter, Snow Bugs: A Wintery Pop-up Book (Bugs in a Box Books) is cute for the littler age set. My 1-year-old just loves this book. It has a little bit of everything from lift-the-flap, pop-up, and pull tabs. It's perfect for this time of year.

And last but not least, Robot Zot! by Jon Scieska, illustrated by my favorite...DAVID SHANNON!!! Who doesn't love a good David Shannon book?! Think "Alice the Fairy", robot style. My 5-year-old was just getting into robots after his dad taught him how to walk around and talk like one when this book arrived on our doorstep. This cute little robot walks around the house thinking everyday household objects are enemies that need to be destroyed to save his robot girlfriend. Kids will love the humor hidden in this book.

Thanks for the good reads Simon & Schuster!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

this is what I'm talking about

CCFC Victory: Disney Offers Refunds on Baby Einstein Videos

CCFC’s ongoing campaign to stop the false and deceptive marketing of baby videos has had an important success. We’ve persuaded the Walt Disney Company to offer a full refund to anyone who purchased a Baby Einstein DVD in the last five years. The refund is only available for a limited time, so please help us spread the word now.

As a result of our 2006 Federal Trade Commission complaint, Disney stopped claiming that Baby Einstein videos were educational for infants, but the company made no move to compensate parents who purchased them.

We thought parents deserved better. So, with help from CCFC members like you, we kept the pressure on until Disney agreed to reimburse Baby Einstein customers.

The refund offer is a wonderful victory for families and anyone who cares about children. Recent research shows that screen time is not educational for babies. Now parents who purchased Baby Einstein DVDs, mistakenly believing the videos would make their babies smarter, can recoup their money.

You can help by spreading the word. Letting friends and family members know about the refund will help parents get their money back – it’s also the perfect way to start a conversation about babies, marketing, and screen media. After all, a screen-free babyhood is a critical component of a commercial-free childhood.

For information about how to obtain a Baby Einstein refund , visit

To read CCFC’s Federal Trade Commission complaint, visit .

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Peaceable Kingdom Press

Summer got under way, my computer was in the repair shop for a few weeks, but hopefully I'll be able to catch up soon with all the cool toys we've been getting!

Back in June we were sent some awesome toys from Peaceable Kingdom Press. They make games, puzzles, books, and more with the funnest, most whimsical pictures! Our samples included:

Dodge the Dragon Card Game
(Old Maid)

Crazy Mates Card Game
(Crazy Eights)

We love playing both these games as a family at night before bed. My son loves the pirates' funny names and lively illustrations. We love games at our house and I'll be buying their other card games to put in as stocking stuffers this Christmas. Another thing I liked about these was the packaging. They come in very sturdy boxes with an inner deck holder that slides in, making it even better. They call them Classic Card Games for Modern Kids because they're all the card games we grew up with but each have a new design and twist.

Big Puzzles for Little Hands: Mermaid, Princess, Fairy, Ballerina
In addition to this set they also have Guess How Much I Love You, Curious George, and Dinosaur sets and more. These are perfect beginner jigsaw puzzles because each one only has 4 large pieces and comes with a fun picture to place underneath for guidance.

My cute toy tester had fun with these!

and 'Get Going, America' Write & Wipe Activities, part of their Write and Wipe Activity Tote line. My son LOVES playing in this book! Anything he can write, wipe, and do again is always a big hit! My husband and I have even played a game or two in here by ourselves. They also have a Dr. Seuss, Fairy Mermaid Princess, and Pirates edition (see website for more). This toy alone has saved us an amazing amount of embarrassment at church, as my son sits there like the little angel he is while we get to enjoy the sermon. Nothing keeps the whining and screaming down like a really good toy. This one is highly, highly recommended. We have received many miles from this gem!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wonderworld Toys from Toys and Games Online, Part 1

Wonderworld Toys from Thailand are made from eco-friendly rubberwood. Toys and Games Online has a wide selection of Wonderworld Toys and they generously agreed to let us review some of the Wonderworld line. First up:

Sliding Town City Themed Building Blocks

This set comes with a wooden base, 20 blocks for the buildings, a car, and a tree. What I love about this set is that there are several different ways to combine the blocks. You can make all three buildings the same height or you can make some taller than others. Building sets are great for kids! Developmental benefits include: hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and critical thinking skills. This set is nice for the toddler set because the blocks slide in-between the green towers making it less likely to tip over as you're stacking. The car adds a nice touch and adds some play value after the city scape is put together.

My toy testers had so much fun with this. It's definitely a new favorite around here. They kept coming back to play with it all day. Thanks Toys and Game Online!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Green Toys Tea Set

I'm sure you've seen Green Toys around at places like Target. Green Toys are made in the USA from recycled milk jugs! They are BPA, phthalate, and lead-free. And since they don't have far to travel (they're made in California) they leave less of a carbon footprint. The packaging is 100% recyclable and they've made it super easy for small, eager hands to get the toys out quickly - no ridiculous twist ties or plastic covering! They are also dishwasher-safe, making clean up easy!

I love the softer colors they use in their toys. They are also reasonably priced for "green" toys. They vary from $9.99 to $39.99 and are worth every penny! They're well built, sturdy toys that will last a long time.

My toy testers loved using the Green Toys Tea Set ($24.99). We had chocolate milk and graham cracker bugs to celebrate summer. I spread out a "tablecloth," stepped back and let them play tea party. Along with the Tea Pot, Creamer, and Sugar Bowl, the set came with 4 Spoons, Saucers, and Tea Cups. It's perfect for pretend or the real thing!

Taking sugar cubes from the sugar bowl

Sipping "tea"

Even my son had fun playing Tea Party

Dipping daintily

Enjoying a yummy treat

"Can I pour you some more?"

"Yes, thank you."

Tea pot, creamer, and sugar bowl

What my toy tester had to say:
"This is so beautiful!"

Developmental benefits include:

Socialization: Playing in a pretend formal setting is a great place for kids to practice manners. Saying please, thank you, learning to serve guests first are all skills you can practice at your next tea party.

Motor skills: Children can learn motor skill and hand-eye coordination by practicing pouring tea, holding the small handle on a tea cup, and being careful not to spill.

Imagination: Dreaming up different settings for your tea party can be a fun way to practice creative thinking. You can also invite your stuffed animals or dolls and imagine what it would be like if they could talk, what would they say? Which leads to...

Language: The art of conversation can also be learned in a fun way during a tea party. Children can learn to take turns talking and asking questions of each other.

If your children get bored this summer, set up a tea party and let their imaginations run wild!

Green Toys also makes great outdoor toys for fun this summer. My favorite Green Toys include the Indoor Gardening Kit , the Recycling Truck, and the Cookware and Dining Set (a beautiful addition to the Tea Set). Be sure to check out the full line at the Green Toys website. You can buy them on-line at Target, Amazon, and other toy stores but they are on sale right now at Amazon.

Thanks Green Toys!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Piggy Paint Review

What a great idea! This new Piggy Paint nail polish is designed for kids and is non-toxic, odorless, and water-based. It was created by a mom who watched in horror as her girls' old polish melted through a foam plate after using it to paint their nails on. From that experience Piggy Paint was born!

Piggy Paint let us try their Girls Rule! Polish (.5 oz.) and their signature Piggy Paint Remover (4 oz.).
Girls Rule!

I first wanted to test out their "odor-free" claim so as soon as I opened the package I sniffed both the polish and the remover. While there is a scent to the polish, it's not chemically AT ALL! They claim that Piggy Paint is "Natural as Mud" and it sort of resembled a muddy smell, in a good way. It reminded me of puffy paint from when I was a kid. Next I tried the remover. This I found to have NO SMELL whatsoever! I was amazed!

I set to work immediately painting my nails. It dried faster than any polish I've ever tried! I skipped the recommendation that you blow dry the polish after it's dried in order to set it and make it more chip resistant. By that evening it had chipped quite a bit and 3 of my toenails were completely stripped of the polish. Granted, as a mom and daycare provider I have my hands in and out of water all day long with all the dishes and diaper changes. With all the chipping I took it off after only a day. The polish makes you work a little to get it off but since it's odor free I didn't mind the extra time it took.

Next, I waited for a good opportunity to try it out on my testers, my 2 nieces and my son. He just can't be left out. I've even been known to do his hair when it was longer.
Here's what they had to say:
"It's so pretty!"
"(With a giggle) It tickles a little when you put it on."
"Look at my claws!" (my son, obviously!)

Washed, dried hands ready for polish!

After the first coat

After the second coat we used the blow dryer to set the polish and make it more chip resistant

Beautiful! All done!

"Hey look, it matches my shirt!"

Showing off his claws to the girls

We had such a fun time playing "nail salon." With more fun colors like Glass Slippers (a sparkly topcoat), Mac-n-Cheese Please (yup, it's orange), and Forever Fancy (think Fancy Nancy pink) we'll definitely have to buy more to try!

Piggy paint has generously offered all my readers 20% off (including sale items) until June 30th with the coupon code PINK20L and if you spend $25 shipping is free! Order the Little Miss Firecracker set (red, white, and blue) in time for the Fourth of July! Piggy Paints also make a great birthday gift or stocking stuffer idea!!!

While you and your kids are having fun playing nail salon you can incorporate some developmental benefits and make it a learning experience as well as a fun one:
  • Your child can hone in on her fine motor skills by painting her own nails (my 4 year old snuck and did his own pretty well) or by letting her practice on you or a friend.
  • If your toddler is beginning to learn her colors you can work on one color at a time by painting her nails and letting her find objects each day that match that color.
  • Try painting her nails in a pattern, say red blue red blue red blue for the upcoming Fourth of July. This is a great math and pre-reading skill to master.
*Ideas taken from the Piggy Paint website.

Piggy Paint Prices:

Piggy Paint Nail Polish $9.99
Piggy Paint Remover $10.50
Nail Polish Gift Packs (3 Colors) - $26.50
Nail Polish (2 colors) and 1 Remover Gift Packs - $27.50

Thanks Piggy Paint!