Talkatoo is a mini-recording device that comes in either a necklace or charm. You record a special message for your little one, which they can play back later. The necklace comes with a long rubberized cord; the charm has a clip. You have 30 seconds of recording time, and there is a lockout switch to protect your message. You can also re-record as much as you wish. The Talkatoo is geared for kids 3-9. It’s a sweet way to keep connected to your kids and let them know you are thinking of them even when you’re apart. $16.99.
The Technic Idea Books, in three volumes, offer visual instructions to help the builder create all kinds of LEGO models, including motorcycles and trucks and more detailed contraptions like catapults. The colorful pictures show the building process from varying angles. It would be helpful if the book were spiral bound to lie flat on the table. Each volume is sold separately at www.amazon.com or www.nostartch.com and retail for $19.95.
Megaball Ice Cream Maker turns simple ingredients into tasty ice cream. About the size of a soccer ball, it has two chambers. You fill one with ice and rock salt and the other with your ingredients. Then start shaking, rolling and tossing. Our kid testers thought the ball was heavy, and it took 35 minutes to get ice cream with a good consistency. You know exactly what went into the ice cream and though the kids complained about how long they had to shake, they loved the result. Megaball retails for $34.95.
The thinkSMART video game features puzzles, brain teasers and mental challenges to play on the Nintendo DS. Our testers had a blast playing everything from memory games to word searches to mathematical puzzles. There are three levels of difficulty and a multiplayer option, allowing everyone to get a chance to test their brainpower. The games, geared for kids 8 and up, retail for $19.99.
BioWish Technologies Healthy Clean Multi-Purpose Spray, a non-toxic cleaner, includes a reusable spray bottle and four cleaning tablets. Fill the water bottle, add a tablet, shake and let sit for about 15 minutes. It did a great job cleaning the kitchen counters, grease spots on my stove top, and a spot on my carpet. Store at room temperature for up to seven days or for four weeks in the refrigerator. The starter kit, $8.99, can be found at Menards, True Value or online.
The Sniffle Duffle has the basic necessities for cold-and-flu season covered. It features a small pack of tissue, an all-natural hand cleanser and organic lip balm and a pouch for used tissue. It also has a handy clip so you can secure it to a purse, diaper bag or backpack. The clip is removable so the Sniffle Duffle can be tossed in the washing machine and the dryer. It is available in several colors and designs and retails for $18.95.