Little kids are toy junkies. Make the presents under the tree
more than just a fad-driven fix with hot learning toys that set the
tone for a smart 2010.
Keeping the peace and a sense of calm can be hard
with all the whirlwind hustle and bustle of the holidays, which is
created a line of toys designed to let little ones 18-36 months
burn off steam while they learn. Their Jungle Gym series features a Ride & Learn
Giraffe Bike, Bouncing Colors Turtle (both are my kidlets' current
playroom obsessions), Twist & Learn Gorilla Pals (think
kid-sized barbells), and Monkey Moves Smart Seat (kind of like a
rower wannabe) that channel outdoor fun and bring it in, all while
teaching kids through counting, letters, shapes and music play.
And, while they entertain themselves with light-up LED displays and
hone their newfound coordination and gross motor skills, you can
take a minute to sit back and simply enjoy their merriment, surf
your iPhone, and potentially polish off an entire hot chocolate
while it's still hot, which is not only an impressive feat when
you're a parent, but really what the spirit of the
season is all about.
Want more ways to keep your kids learning during winter break?
The VTech Voices (Amanda Acuna, Jason Avant and Dawn Meehan) are offering up ideas and advice
all week long. Click a name to be redirected. Win a Jungle Gym Giraffe Bike or choose from three other prizes during the Give A Little
+ Get A Little TwitPic Giveaway, hosted by VTech and Cosmotot now through
Dec. 13 at midnight CST. To enter, share a photo link of your
family's holiday happenings on Twitter using #vtechtoys #holiday.
Entries must use both hashtags to be considered. One random winner
will be announced on Dec. 14 and will not only get one prize of
their choice, but also have opportunity to give a duplicate gift to
Cosmotot does not accept pay for play. However, I do have a
working relationship with VTech and am their official
social media brand representative. Though this is not a paid
placement, I do receive compensation for my VTech role.
Kids are tough customers. They expect, no demand, endless
adoration, not to mention attention, cuddles, feedings, changings,
amusement and all other general forms of room service 24/7, and not
only does Infantino get that, but they came up with a
flagship line of developmentaltoys like Jingle Gems and Dinosaur Noodle Teethers
to engage baby's cognitive and motor skills and generally keep her
happy wherever she might be holding an audience during the
Future rock stars, architects and farmers can find endless
imaginative play opportunties from Fisher-Price. Their Little Superstar Jammin'
Band Musical Microphone lightly amplifies baby's voice and
vocalization with encouraging phrases. Three light-up piano keys,
and an attached guitar and drum on the microphone stand have two
modes of play including ten songs, riffs, phrases and sound
effects. A detachable maraca and tambourine are included, and
volume control makes it parent friendly. Better yet, the
sit-to-stand option grows with baby.
The Laugh & Learn Learning Farm offers friendly-faced animal friends and a working
crawl-through gate that triggers sing-along songs, dancing lights,
music, sounds and phrases. There are veggie shapes to sort, chicken
eggs to count, a muddy piggy to play with (my daughter's favorite
part), plus lots of put-and-take, flipping, spinning, pressing,
sliding and turning discoveries to make. Two-sided construction
stretches the fun, and assembly doesn't take more than 20 minutes,
even with little helpers lending a hand or using the pieces to
swashbuckle. Free shipping through Dec. 11.
Kid- and parent-approved Learning Curve has everything your train
fanatic could possibly want, need or dream of for the holidays in
their award-winning collection of Thomas & Friends wooden and
take-along trains, playsets and accessories. New this year is a
Talking Railway playset, featuring characters straight from the
Hero of the Rails movie (think Thomas, Spencer, Cranky and
Hiro). Engine recognition technology makes Sir Topham Hatt fancy -
he recognizes each engine by name, while wooden track encourages
kids to exercise fine motor skills and spatial planning.
Enter Cosmotot's Jolly Holiday Learning Toys Giveaway now
through Dec. 12 at midnight CST for a chance to win your own Thomas & Friends Talking Railway "Farewell
at the Docks" set. Leave a comment below telling me your
child's favorite Thomas train. One random winner will be announced
Future Food Network stars can get their start with the Fresh
Market Kitchen from Step 2, which quite frankly, is fancier than
the real thing at my house. It's literally stocked with fun, and gives budding Mario Batali's
and Sandra Lee's 360 degrees of role play since the 3-in-1 style
not only offers up a full-size kitchen, but a market and dining
area, too. Modern colors and decals give the whole thing a
realistic feel, and though assembly's a bit of a bear, the end
result, which includes a baker's display case, stainless steel-look
appliances, sink, electronics, and 47-piece accessory set make it
worth the extra time spent re-drilling holes that are supposed to
Get the Little Helper's Grocery Cart to let the kids shop til
they drop. It's sturdy, durable and designed with a low, wide
shape, making it easy to manuever, even for early walkers. That
being said, if your kids are like mine, make sure the early walker
doesn't get a ride around the house in it. Sign up for 12
Deals in 12 Days to get one-day-only coupon codes via email through
Have plans to pack up the kids and travel to
far-flung places (or the grandparents' house one town over) for the
holidays? Bring along the creative comforts of home with the gift
that keeps on giving (parents love the gift of sanity) from TravelKiddy. Their travel activity kits, refill
packs and add-on options not only cram creative, brain-building fun
(think Melissa & Doug art pads, coloring books, stacking toys,
craft pieces, puzzles, baby board books, stickers and more) into an
age-appropriate pack (versions for toddlers, big kids, twees and
adults are available), but also include basics like travel tissues
and band-aids to cover little mishaps while going nomad. Bonus:
TravelKiddy is for more than just travel. Give grandma a break in
the entertainment department and leave one at her house for weekend
sleepovers. Freebie: Enter HAPPY TRAVELS in the special
instructions box at checkout and get six free sticker sheets with
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.
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