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Boys Gotta Have It – Holiday Gift Guide

Happy Holidays everyone!  Babies Gotta Have It’s very own resident boy expert Kristin has compiled her picks for terrific, eco-friendly gifts for boys this holiday season.  With the effects of Sandy still being felt very strongly here on the East Coast, toys that don’t harm the environment are at the top of our lists this year!  Enjoy!

 

I would like to start this off by wishing everyone a happy holiday season!  Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, this list is full of great gift ideas for the whole year! And, we at Babies Gotta Have It love to focus on eco-friendly products, so I would like to point you in the direction of a number of great toy manufacturers who are committed to saving our planet.

 

First, Green Toys has developed an amazing line of classic children’s toys made from recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials! Plus, you will love that all Green Toys products are 100% made in the United States! Less transportation also equals less energy!  So, if you’re looking for a great selection of green toys, here are just a few of our favorites.  Green Toys Dump Truck, Green Toys Flatbed Truck and Race Car, or Green Toys Recycling Truck are great for those boys who love their vehicles (and they are SUPER STURDY)!  Or, if you want to encourage your kids to get some exercise, make it fun with the Green Toys Jump Rope.

 

Second, B. Toys is by far one of my favorite companies.  Their colors are a little crazy, their packaging is completely recyclable (and not ridiculously unnecessary), and their toys are absolutely the ones my kids come back to time after time.  I won’t bore you with the entire list, but our favorites in this house (and ones that we love to gift to others) include:  One Two Squeeze Blocks are soft blocks for stacking, throwing, squeezing, and floating (great for any age); B. Woofer Guitar comes with a volume knob (Hallelujah!), twenty sing-along favorites, and three play modes; B. Doctor is not your average doctor’s kit, but it still includes all the necessities like a stethoscope, syringe, and blood pressure cuff; and our absolute favorite, the B. Zany Zoo.  Both of my children have played with the B. Zany Zoo.  In fact, we keep it in our bathroom so that we can get ready in the morning without having to police the boys.  They both still love it (at 4 and 1), and there are so many amazing parts to it, that they rediscover something new all the time!  Seriously, I cannot praise B. Toys enough…we are buying MD a few new B. Toys this year for Christmas (now, if only I could choose)!

If you have been looking for a set of blocks for your child, there are a number of great eco-friendly choices out there!  I like Uncle Goose Wooden ABC Blocks because they are made in the USA, and because they are hand manufactured.

 

For more wooden toy, eco-friendly options, go to Maxim Toys.  All of their packaging is made using recycled cardboard and printed with all-natural soy ink.  The toys are made using wood from renewable forests and recycled rubber wood, and the paints on them are water color based that contain less chemicals!  To start, check out the Noah’s Ark Ever Earth Eco Friendly Wooden Toy and the Maxim EverEarth Work Bench.

While all Wonderworld toys are made in Thailand, they are committed to using only renewable materials such as rubber wood and tree sap.  Wonderworld designs, develops, manufactures, and distributes eco-friendly toys like this Hopping Bunny Walker for ages 11-24 months.

 

Another great company, Hape International, is the largest producer of wooden toys in the world!  They use bamboo because it is a renewable resource, and they attempt to minimize their environmental impact by analyzing their energy consumption and packaging options.  We have the Pound and Tap Bench and the Pull-Along Turtle Sorter.  MD can’t get enough of either one.  Both boys would enjoy the Park ‘N’ Go Garage or the E-Copter Bamboo Helicopter (I actually just purchased this for MD).

Although I’m new to Sprig Toys, they are committed to creating eco-friendly kid-powered toys!  And, I am always happy to encourage action-packed play!  Check out the Side Kick Vehicle.

 

I would be remiss not to mention Plan Toys, as they are the first company in the world to manufacture wooden toys using the renewable resource of rubber wood, and they are working to create a new process to minimize waste and energy consumption.  If you have a musically minded tot, you will love the PlanToys Musical Band.  If your boys are into vehicles of all sorts, look at the City series, including the City Series Airport or the Road System Deluxe.

 

Join me this year and attempt to buy more eco-friendly toys for your children.  Help them enjoy the planet for years to come by teaching them about the impact of reusable, renewable resources!  Happy shopping!

photo10 150x150 Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case: Protection from Our Hurricane Kristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and new baby brother MD.

As always, all opinions are Kristin’s and her boys’ and were not influenced by anyone. Babies Gotta Have It is an Amazon affiliate.

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Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case: Protection from Our Hurricane

There was a hurricane a few weekends ago, in case you missed it.  In the midst of imminent power outages and high winds and torrential rain, we headed west to attend my grandmother’s funeral.  Not great timing.  But, it did put my husband and kids at my in-laws’ house…a bit farther from the main part of the storm (although still in the rain and wind area).  What is one to do on a 3-hour car ride with a toddler and a 4 year old who have been cooped up inside for a couple of days already?  Movies?  iPad games?  Yes and yes.

 

Our 16 month old really likes the iPad, but he has not figured out how to navigate around like my 4 year old.  CW can play a multitude of games (mostly academic) all by himself.  MD, on the other hand, gets frustrated and throws the iPad across the car.  Luckily, earlier last week, we received the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case for iPad! If you have an iPad and you allow your children to use it, this is a MUST HAVE!!  The case comes with teething rings on one part (which my kids no longer need, but the handle is nice), rubberized corners, a screen protector, and a home-button blocker!!!  So, if you want to control what apps your child is playing, you place the iPad in so that he cannot push the home button and go back to the main screen.  If, as in the case of CW, you know he is fine to select his own games, then you rotate the iPad so that the home button is accessible (it’s still protected by the screen protector, but even little fingers can press it).  Oh, and did I mention that it has durable “easel-like” feet so that baby doesn’t have to hold the iPad, but instead he can prop it up on the floor!

 

The case is a complete iPad saver!  Not only does it protect the iPad from those grubby and sticky fingers, it allows MD to play safely on it without me worrying that he’s deleting our address book.  It also (as we found out) does a decent job of protecting the iPad from rain and falls from the car (when we arrived to eat, the iPad launched out the door and into a puddle…completely unscathed, although I would not suggest trying it).  Phew!

Put this case on your Christmas list, or don’t wait another second and order one today.  It is worth the $26.  Protect your iPad (compatible with iPad 1 or 2) with the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case.

photo10 150x150 Adventure on the Risky Rails with Thomas & FriendsKristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and new baby brother MD.

Kristin and her boys received the Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case for purposes of review.  As always, all opinions are Kristin’s and her boys’ and were not influenced by anyone. Babies Gotta Have It is an Amazon affiliate.


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Adventure on the Risky Rails with Thomas & Friends

Remember what a big fan CW is of Thomas the Tank Engine?  Here’s his review of the new Thomas & Friends Risky Rails Bridge Drop Train Set!  Enjoy!

Huge boxes mean fun surprises at my house.  And they are usually for the kids.  So, when this box arrived, both boys were eager for the box to be opened.  They hovered.  They hooted.  They danced.  They climbed (onto the box, of course).

And when the box was opened to reveal a brand new TRAIN SET, who could be happier than these two boys!  CW actually jumped up and down and said, “Ooh, is it for me?  Is it for US to play with?  Can we set it up now?”  Dinner plans went out the window, as setting up the Thomas & Friends Risky Rails Bridge Drop commenced.

 

As a word of caution, do not attempt to put this together while your toddler is around.  He will climb all over the pieces, take parts away, and crumple the directions.  I highly recommend putting this together while your children are asleep!  It has a lot of pieces, and although they are all labeled with letters (yay for labels!), it is still a longer process than I would have liked.  We actually had to tell the boys that it would be together in the morning and pushed them up the stairs to do something else instead.

 If you are purchasing this train set for a child who is three years old and older, you should be fine (the set is recommended for 36 months-7 years).  If your child has a younger sibling, however, be prepared to fix the train track about one hundred times daily.  While CW had a great time with the train and track, and he loved that the bridge dropped as the train went over it, he did not love that his brother would cause its constant destruction.  MD would try to push the trains along the track and the track would subsequently collapse.  Perhaps placing the train set in CW’s room would have been a better option, but MD absolutely loves trains and so it was difficult to keep him away.  And inevitably he would collapse the track and then chuck the train across the room out of frustration.

 The track is the tallest TrackMaster set available, and it has a drop-bridge and cranes to send boulders down a zip line to the bottom of the quarry.  Both boys loved the zip line, and it was easy to fix the tension on the line so that it would travel quickly and freely.  If your children love trains and they are above age three, then I would highly recommend the Thomas & Friends Risky Rails Bridge Drop.

photo10 150x150 A Letter Hunt in the Hundred Acre Wood and a Math Safari with the Cat in the Hat Kristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and new baby brother MD.

Kristin and CW received the Thomas & Friends Risky Rails Train Set for purposes of review.  As always, all opinions are Kristin’s and her boys’ and were not influenced by anyone. Babies Gotta Have It is an Amazon affiliate.


 

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A Letter Hunt in the Hundred-Acre Wood and a Math Safari with the Cat in the Hat

 

Here we are again, your resident app testers!  CW and I have been busy with preschool and practicing writing at home, so when Disney Learning offered to allow us to try their new Letters with Pooh app I was excited.  I loaded the app and then promptly forgot about it.  But the next day, CW was on the iPad and he immediately noticed the new app!

CW wasted no time – he clicked on the Pooh ABCs app right away and started navigating through the pages (without a single tap from me).  He would have spent an hour on there if I hadn’t been policing his time.  And, to be honest, I would have been fine with an hour spent with Winnie the Pooh.  The player follows Pooh through the Hundred-Acre Wood as he searches for honey.  He traces lines and circles to get Pooh to follow the bees to the hive.  These circles and lines are great as precursors to writing.  CW traces letters, reads along (he can choose to read himself or be read to), matches lower and upper case letters, and paints by letters.

So all of that is great, right?  The teacher in me wants more, though.  I want to have progress reports.  I want to know what he is playing and for how long.  I want to see the curriculum of each game.  Wait, what’s that you say?  This game HAS that?  As the parent, if you go to the Settings page, you can look at your child’s progress.  It tracks “Letter Tracing,” “Letter Find,” “Puzzle,” and “Letter Catch.”  It shows you the average time he spent on each item, when he last played, and how many letters he’s traced.

 

I love it.  I love that his letters are being reinforced and he’s following the highlighted words as the story is read to him.  I love that I can monitor how he is doing.  I love everything about the game.  I highly recommend the Letters with Pooh app.

 

While we are talking about technology and reading, I think it is worth taking the time to mention a MATH game! Now, you know that this former English teacher is not a Math lover, but I really enjoyed the Math Safari.  Check out The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That: Math Safari!  Although it is not an app (it’s a computer game), it is great for teaching math and computer skills!  Join the Cat in the Hat, Nick, and Sally as they match shapes, complete puzzles, follow directions, and use spatial reasoning.

The next time you have a rainy day inside and nowhere to go, download the Letters with Pooh app and play the Math Safari game.  Let the games begin!

photo10 150x150 Can I Get a WotWot!?   Stuffed Toy GiveawayKristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and new baby brother MD.

Kristin and CW received Letters With Pooh for purposes of review.  As always, all opinions are Kristin’s and her boys’ and were not influenced by anyone.


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muCan I Get a WotWot!? – Stuffed Toy Giveaway

 

Well, I might just live under a rock.  I had never heard of the WotWots; these dear, lovable, curious, Fraggle Rock-meets-the-Muppets-type-of-aliens flew onto our front doorstep and into our lives.  As usual, CW was super excited to see the UPS truck drop a package off at our door.  He immediately wanted to know, “Is it for me?”  He was a little annoyed that it was for MD and not him, but he took a liking to Spotty Wot as well.

 

I digress.  If you live under a rock like me, you can watch the introduction to the WotWots! here.  I guarantee that your kids will laugh hysterically.  Mine did.  And “WotWot” joins the handful of words in MD’s vocabulary (“apple,” “uh-oh,” “Daddy,” and “up” are his other favorites).  The WotWots are twins, Spotty and Dotty, who fly around making mischief!  I loved the use of real zoo animals with the WotWots.

But, best of all, they are now available in plush toys for your favorite girls and boys.  The soft eyes and fuzzy fur are safe for babies ages six months and up, and great for teaching your little ones about the parts of a face (MD loves the “eyes”).  Their furry antennae are adorable and springy!  More often than not, Spotty Wot can be found in MD’s crib nestled under his arm while he sleeps.  I have even watched him (on the monitor) rubbing the antennae with his hand while he tries to fall asleep.  Spotty Wot is blue and Dotty Wot is pink (for those of you who have children who like one color over the other).

Put these fun creatures on your children’s Christmas list this year!

The WotWots! can be seen on TV on the Hub. You can buy the plush toys on our affiliate Amazon…and one lucky Babies Gotta Have It reader will win a soft and fuzzy WotWot for their very own!  Want to enter?  Read on!

To Enter the WotWots! Giveaway:

  • MANDATORY ENTRY #1: Check out Spotty and Dotty WotWot on their website.  Leave a comment on this post sharing which one is your favorite! That’s it!  Entering is that easy!

***Want extra chances to win? After you have made your first entry as described above, do anything listed below and leave me additional comments for each one letting me know what you did!  Be aware that several of the bonus activities are worth more than one entry–leave two comments for those things worth two entries.  Maximum of  7 entries per person.

  • Like The WotWots! on Facebook – Click Here
  • Follow The WotWots! on Twitter – Click Here
  • Follow me on Twitter and tweet this giveaway. I’ve made it easy just cut and paste:  Can I get a WotWot? Win a snuggly WotWot! plush toy from @_the_WotWots and @BabiesGottaHavT http://snurl.com/25dowg4
  • Subscribe to my blog – click HERE!
  • “Like” Babies Gotta Have It on Facebook. Click HERE!
  • Email your friends about the giveaway and link to the giveaway post! cc me in the message (babiesgottahaveit@gmail.com)–I promise I will not spam you or your friends. Cross my heart.

Your email address will remain private and not be shared with anyone. Giveaway only open to those with U.S.  addresses. Must be 18 or older to win. Giveaway begins Tuesday October 23rd and ends on Tuesday November 13th at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. Very soon after,  Random.org will select the winner and  I’ll email them immediately. After my daughter called Larry the Cable guy the last time she did a drawing, we have decided to take a little vacation from her choosing the winner. Random.org is in no way as cute and unpredictable as my daughter, but it is much more efficient and does not use any pieces of paper, even recycled ones. I am sure you will understand. Thanks for entering!

photo10 150x150 Nomie Baby Has Got You CoveredKristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and new baby brother MD.

Kristin and MD received Spotty WotWot for purposes of review.  As always, all opinions are Kristin’s and her boys’ and were not influenced by anyone.

Babies Gotta Have It is an Amazon Associate.

Update!  Thanks to the amazing folks at WotWots! we were able to choose not one but two winners!  Random.org says “ 35″ and “ 189″.  Congratulations Jan and Janine! Thanks so much to everyone who entered!


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Family Game Night With Spot It Jr.! – Giveaway

I love playing games.  I love winning games.  I am a master of the party game.  I am unstoppable at Pictionary.  I have some Trivial Pursuit chops.  I rule Scattergories and Taboo and often have to throw games so as not to be a total jerk and look like I care too much.

I’m serious.

So hear me when I say I have found a game…(and this is hard to admit)…I have found a game.  Which I cannot win.  When I play against my five year old.

And it’s not just a roll of the dice or a spin of the spinner.  It is a game of skill.  And observation.  And speed.  And believe me…I tried!

Darn you Spot It Jr.!

(Yeah you heard me. I’m not even losing Spot It regular.  I’m losing Spot It Jr. Animals.)

Yes Spot It Jr.! Animals, you are environmentally friendly.  Yes you are ideal for children under the age of 7.  Yes you sharpen kids’ perception and cognitive skills.  But do you see this photo below?  A happy family joyfully playing you?

Yeah, that was me, Doc Hubby and the Bean.  Except I was hunched over and sweating, and desperately trying to “Spot It” before my Kindergartener did!  And Bean was smiling smugly with a huge stack of cards she won in front of her by identifying which animal appears on both cards.  And Doc Hubby was also smiling smugly at me.  Because finally, there appears to be someone in our family who can beat me at games.

Family game night.  In which you don’t have to throw games to your five year old can.  That’s something families definitely gotta have.

Spot It Jr.! will make a terrific gift this holiday season!  Look for it on our affiliate Amazon or…one lucky Babies Gotta Have It reader will win his or her own game of Spot It Jr.! Want to enter?  Read on!

To Enter the Spot It Jr.! Giveaway:

  • MANDATORY ENTRY #1: Visit the Blue Orange Games website and browse all their games.  Leave a comment on this post sharing which game other than Spot It you’d be most interested in playing! That’s it!  Entering is that easy!

***Want extra chances to win? After you have made your first entry as described above, do anything listed below and leave me additional comments for each one letting me know what you did!  Be aware that several of the bonus activities are worth more than one entry–leave two comments for those things worth two entries.  Maximum of  11 entries per person.

  • Like Spot It on Facebook – Click HereWorth 2 Entries
  • Like Blue Orange Games on Facebook – Click Here
  • Follow Spot it on Twitter – Click HereWorth 2 Entries
  • Follow Blue Orange games on Twitter – Click Here
  • Follow me on Twitter and tweet this giveaway. I’ve made it easy just cut and paste:  Get your family game night on with Spot It Jr.!  and @BabiesGottaHavT http://snurl.com/25bjat9 @spotitgame
  • Subscribe to my blog – click HERE!
  • “Like” Babies Gotta Have It on Facebook. Click HERE!
  • Email your friends about the giveaway and link to the giveaway post! cc me in the message (babiesgottahaveit@gmail.com)–I promise I will not spam you or your friends. Cross my heart.

Your email address will remain private and not be shared with anyone. Giveaway only open to those with U.S.  addresses. Must be 18 or older to win. Giveaway begins Tuesday October 16th and ends on Tuesday November 6th at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. Very soon after,  Random.org will select the winner and  I’ll email them immediately. After my daughter called Larry the Cable guy the last time she did a drawing, we have decided to take a little vacation from her choosing the winner. Random.org is in no way as cute and unpredictable as my daughter, but it is much more efficient and does not use any pieces of paper, even recycled ones. I am sure you will understand. Thanks for entering!

Thank you to Blue Orange games for sending us Spot It Jr. and Pengolo to try out.  As always, all opinions are my own and my family’s and were not influenced by anyone.

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Waverly Hits All the Sweet Spots

A glittery pink glowing seashell that reveals secrets.  The magical undersea land of Azarella.  Tiny three inch tall mermaids. A quest for magic pearls.  Cute squishy pearl pets. Lots of tiny pieces to collect and trade. Girls, meet Waverly and the Magic Seashells.

Yes, this toy is plastic and made in China.  And in general I’m not so much on board with filling my apartment with more plastic stuff.  However, sometimes a little girl wants some sparkle and glowing lights.  And if that’s on your little mermaid’s list, Waverly and the Magic Seashells will absolutely satisfy.

The Waverly and the Magic Seashell set comes with a battery operated magic shell, the Waverly mermaid doll, seaweed, a magic pearl, and the pearl-holding ring.  Once turned to the “on” position, the sea shell springs to life, revealing one of several “secrets” when the pearl is placed in the magic spot.  Waverly can swing in her swing, sit on her couch or slide down the slide.  Her five mermaid friends are available in separate sets, which come with unique hairbrushes (yes these dolls have HAIR), pearls, and a separate accessory.  Also available are Pearl Seashells with Pearl Pets included.  In addition to the big Seashell set, we received the individual Waverly doll set and Chip, the snail pearl pet.

Girls like tiny toys. Girls like sparkles.  Girls like mermaids.  Girls like collecting shells. Girls like pets.  Girls like battery operated toys that sparkle talk to them.  At least my girl does.

This toy has them all.

The Seashell Set is essential for the whole secret-revealing aspect of the pearls.  You need the set for them to talk to you.  So if you’re buying this toy you’ll probably want to start with that set (which is the most expensive set, at $24.99) and then add on.  And I look forward to meeting some mermaids with dark skin and hair.  All of the toys we received fit into the Seashell set and close up for storage.  And the miniature size means it doesn’t take up too much room on  your shelves.

But here’s the thing.  We received two Waverly dolls in our review package–one came with the seashell and one in her own set.  And when Cate opened them and discovered they were the duplicates, we thought about it, and we decided she could give the second doll to her cousin when we visited over the long weekend.  She packed the doll, and upon seeing her beloved older cousin, immediately gave the doll to her.  Just in case you were wondering, the 8 year old seemed pretty taken with the tiny mermaid as well.

And I think that’s what girls like.  They like to collect trinkets and then to trade them and even better, to give them away.   Yeah this toy talks at you.  It takes batteries.  It is plastic.  But it does allow for open ended, imaginative play.  It creates a neat new magical undersea world.  It believes in magic.  And these mermaid dolls have hips!

And that’s something babies definitely gotta have.

Look for Waverly and the Magic Seashells toys at Toys R Us, Target or Kmart.  Or enter to win the Seashell Set, A Mermaid Set, and a Pearl Pals set right here at Babies Gotta Have It!  Want to enter?  Read on!

To Enter the Waverly and the Magic Seashells Giveaway:

***Want extra chances to win? After you have made your first entry as described above, do anything listed below and leave me additional comments for each one letting me know what you did!  Maximum of five entries per person.

  • Follow me on Twitter and tweet this giveaway. I’ve made it easy just cut and paste: Swim with Waverly and the Mermaids of Azarella @BabiesGottaHavT and win one of the season’s hot new toys for girls. http://snurl.com/2529cr1
  • Subscribe to my blog – click HERE!
  • “Like” Babies Gotta Have It on Facebook. Click HERE!
  • Email your friends about the giveaway and link to the giveaway post! cc me in the message (babiesgottahaveit@gmail.com)–I promise I will not spam you or your friends. Cross my heart.

Your email address will remain private and not be shared with anyone. Giveaway only open to those with U.S.  addresses. Must be 18 or older to win. Giveaway begins Thursday September 20th and ends on Thursday October 4th at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. Very soon after,  Random.org will select the winner and  I’ll email them immediately. After my daughter called Larry the Cable guy the last time she did a drawing, we have decided to take a little vacation from her choosing the winner. Random.org is in no way as cute and unpredictable as my daughter, but it is much more efficient and does not use any pieces of paper, even recycled ones. I am sure you will understand. Thanks for entering!

Update!  We have a winner!  Random.org says “ 167 ” – Congratulations Stephanie Linza!  Thanks so much to everyone who entered!

 

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Big Boys Gotta Have It Part 2

And here’s Part 2 of Kristin’s list of Big Boy Must Haves!  Just in time for those end of summer sales and early holiday shopping!  Enjoy!

 

Mini Kick Scooter – CW started riding his scooter last year (age 3) and has not stopped.  Just make sure you have your child wear a helmet for safety.  We liked the Mini Kick Scooter because it has two front wheels for more stability, and it is easy to steer (just lean one way or the other).

 

Topeak Baby Bike Seat – Well, your baby can go in this too, but it goes up to 40 pounds, so CW is still (barely) able to fit into it!  He loves going for bike rides with A and I (we often bike to the playground).  Again, make sure you have your child wear a helmet.

 

Step2 Sand and Water Table – We spend all of our time outside (when not riding in the Cozy Coupes) at the sand table.  We chose to make our sand table only hold sand (until August when it’s super hot), and we create roads, castles, and construction sites for much of the day.  CW loves to drive his mini construction vehicles in the sand. Oh, and don’t forget that the umbrella for certain tables offers UV protection!

 

B Wheeee-ls – We received these a few weeks ago to review, and they are the BEST pull-back cars I have ever used!  The kids love them, they are colorful, soft, and fun!  They rattle, ring, and make other fun noises, and even MD (13 months) loves playing with them!

 

Park and Play Service Garage – Hours have been spent playing with this parking garage.  We send cars up in the elevator, and down the ramps.  Over and over and over again.  And now, MD plays with CW with the cars and the garage.  For hours.

 

I would be remiss in this list if I didn’t mention the many wonderful books that we love in this house of boys.  While we have WAY too many to list, a few of our favorites include: The Magic School Bus; Emergency Vehicles; A Child’s First Bible; Curious George;  and Good Night, Good Night Construction Site.

Happy playing!

Babies Gotta Have It is an Amazon Affiliate.

photo10 150x150 Big Boys Gotta Have It   Part 1Kristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and new baby brother MD.

 As always, all opinions are Kristin’s and her boys’ and were not influenced by anyone.

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My Kindergartener and the Castle

Well it happened.  Today is Bean’s first full day of Kindergarten.  I now officially have an empty nest from 8:30 to 3 pm every day.  I officially no longer have a baby.  Or a toddler. Or a even preschooler. I have a little girl.

But I do still have a point of view.  I have lots of opinions about what’s out there for our babies, toddlers, preschoolers and especially our girls to interact with.  And I have a bit more time.  And lots more great products to share with you.  So look for some changes around Babies Gotta Have It in the days and weeks to come. But expect the same attention to quality, love of fun, consciousness of the environment, and affinity for small mom and dad run businesses and products made in the USA that you’ve come to appreciate from Babies Gotta Have It.

Since I first saw the wonderful games, puzzles and toys from Smart Tangoes at Toy Fair, I’ve been wanting to share them with you! Having gone through the absolutely absurd NYC kindergarten application process which involved not one, not two, but three tests given to my four year old, I can assure you that the concepts and skills that Smart Tangoes helps develops are definitely ones that will be built upon in Kindergarten.

The classic tangoes are cool, but I especially loved the wonderful Castle Logix game by Smart Games for preschoolers ages 3 and up.  This would make such a terrific present at your next birthday party!  Especially if you’re invited to a knight, princess or castle-themed fete!  In Castle Logix, your little castle-builder arranges and re-arranges 7 different hardwood towers and blocks to create 48 neat structures ranging from very easy to super difficult.  A colorful booklet with the challenges and solutions is included with the block set.  I built a few castles at Toy Fair and was myself stumped by some of the very trickiest challenges.  But don’t worry, the easiest ones can definitely be mastered by your child.

Block work has long been appreciated for its ability to help children develop fine motor skills, spacial awareness and math skills.  And this castle set makes it all lots of fun!

And fun is definitely something babies gotta have.

You can find Castle Logix on the Smart Games website or our affiliate Amazon.com.

 

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Disney Classics Storybook Apps to the Rescue

Flight delays.

When we booked our return flight from Paris, we saved an exorbitant amount of money by not going direct.  We chose a flight from Charles DeGaulle to Philly.  And then a short jaunt from Philly to NYC. When we made our reservation I said, “If this all goes smoothly we’ll be happy we did this.  But if it goes bad, it could be a freaking nightmare.”

Cut to the impossibly elegant yet impossibly slow Air France agent saying (insert accent here) “You do know your flight is three hours delayed…?”  When I told her that we would miss our connecting flight, she shrugged her shoulders.

Once we made it to the gate we discovered our flight had been bumped back five hours.  I got in a really long line hoping to receive not just the free airport meal ticket but maybe seats on a direct flight to JFK. While I waited our flight was moved back another two hours.  I reached the desk at the gate the moment our flight was cancelled.

I stood there at the desk while the agents started making phone calls and people began scrambling and thought “In a minute, lines are going to be very important. Right now I am at the front of one.  I’m just going to stay right here.”  I smiled a lot.  I sympathized with the now harried employees.  I stayed at the front of the line and asked if there was any way we could get on a direct flight to New York.  I smiled some more. I enlisted my cute kid and told her if she behaved well it would help us get home sooner. We were switched to a flight direct to JFK that had itself been delayed six hours.  Putting us at JFK only two hours later than originally scheduled.  Begin many more lines and much more smiling resulting in three seats together in row 10 of a huge aircraft.

And then there was the six hour delay.

Can I say, when you are faced with a six hour delay and a preschooler, your iPad is a really good friend.  And apps that cost you a couple of dollars at home before you left, increase in value astronomically.

Before leaving for France, we installed a couple new Disney Classics apps we had been given to review.  How delighted was I to discover that not only did these apps pass the time, they were actually wonderful! There are several Disney Classics storybook apps available, designed for children ages 3- 6, and I love the two we played.  We explored the Peter Pan and Bambi apps for iPad (they are also available for your iPhone and iPod Touch) and let me say, they are gorgeous.  The art is whimsical and lovely.  The apps are interactive, but they don’t make my head hurt.  The storytelling is slow and gentle. To me they seem like pop-up books come to life.  The interactivity is limited.  The emphasis is on the storytelling. And Cate loves them.

On the opening page, your child can insert her picture and type her name to create a Golden Book-like nameplate.  The books are read by a single narrator, and tapping around on a page reveals little hidden sound and visual effects–horses hooves clop outside the Darling house, lights go on and off in the children’s nursery. Your child can choose to exit the book to do little coloring pages or puzzles or other simple activities in both apps.  They are just very very sweet.

 

And they will keep your child entertained while you wait six hours at an airport.  Or at least fill in the time between the free lunch and playing pretend restaurant with other kids in the little airport kids play area (hear that LaGuardia? An airport kids play area!).

And that’s something that Mama’s definitely gotta have.

 

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