Little Bits Modular Electronics for Kids

I am SO excited to share this new product with you! If you have a budding engineer in your family you are going to want to pay attention to this! Through my internet search to find a fun and unique toy that would spark the interest of my grade schooler, I learned about Little Bits. What are they you ask? Why only the most awesome electronic modules that snap together with magnets! They can be used for prototyping, learning and fun. Sound geeky? Good, it’s supposed to! I received the Holiday Kit in the mail. It was nicely packaged for gift giving in a compartmentalized box with a magnetic closure and a bow. What It’s All About “A special kit for the 2012 Holiday Season! The Holiday Kit is a great introduction to littleBits, and also includes step-by-step instructions to make special projects, like a Christmas Tree ornament, a Dancing Skater and a New Year’s Party Hat! This Kit features some awesome new Bits including the Light Wire and the Bright LED to help you make a splash during the holidays. And, of course, you can you can pack everything away in the snapp case if you ever stop playing. littleBits is a system of modular electronics that snap together with magnets for prototyping, learning and fun! Each bit has a simple, unique function, like blinking a light or sensing pressure. Just snap a few

The littleBits Holiday Kit includes:

  • A double sided instruction sheet with quick start guide and project suggestions
  • A custom-made 9V battery + cable
  • A 9V battery connector.
  • Custom plastic screwdriver

7 littleBits:

  • power
  • pulse
  • light wire
  • dc motor
  • bright led
  • wire x2

Winner of Awards From: parent tested, parent approved National Parent Publications Awards Maker Faire Dr. Toy Popular Science TED *littleBits is for kids 8+ and contains small magnets My Experience I am not electrically or mechanically inclined, but these things are FUN!! I unpacked the kit and immediately started on a project. I simply followed the “recipe” in the pamphlet, cut out a figure of an ice skater, attached it with a pipe cleaner and voila. I made a spinning ice skater!!! The quick start guide had me creating within minutes.

Not only is it rewarding to make your own creation come to life, but it’s a GREAT way to learn. Each component snaps together with magnets and labelled (power, pulse, dc motor, etc…) Through experimentation and play your child will quickly learn the cause and effect of each of these components. Little Bits are recommended for children aged 8+, but I am really excited about sharing this with my 7 year old (with parental guidance of course). He just loves building and creating with legos and other materials. This will help him take his imagination to the next level. Who knows, maybe I will have a budding engineer on my hands! Little bits come in a variety of packages, including: teaser, starter and extended kits. Individual components are also available for sale. All kits and products can be purchased at The Little Bits Holiday Kit retails for $49. A great price for gift giving! One of our readers will win their very own Little Bits Holiday Kit!!!!

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  “A sample of this product was provided to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.”

Educational Insights – Hot Dots Review and Giveaway!

Our monthly review and giveaway from Education Insights is here! We always look forward to our package from EI. They have such fun and engaging educational toys. My kids have such a blast trying out their products. This month we tried out their Hot Dots pen and cards. These were just perfect for my families LONG road trip to Florida.


“The Hot Dots pen works with dozens of Hot Dots card sets, providing instantaneous visual and audio feedback. Simply press the pen to choose an answer on any Hot Dots or Hot Dots Jr. card for an immediate response—cool, kid-friendly phrases for correct answers and gentle redirection for incorrect responses. Grades K+”

The Hot Dots system is a great way for kids to learn while they play.  Hot Dots offers card sets for every topic.  We tried out:

1.  Hot Dots Science Set:  Plant, Animals and Ecosystems: “ An interactive way for individual students to learn and practice key science concepts and vocabulary on their own. Six different science sets available. Grades 2+”

  • 36 double-sided illustrated cards (4.875” x 5.375”)—72 questions each!
  • Reinforces science concepts and vocabulary

2.  Hot Dots Laugh It Up!  Vocabulary Development Cards – Synonyms- “A rich vocabulary is critical for successful test-taking, particularly in reading comprehension. Hot Dots Laugh It Up! Vocabulary Card sets are a fun and interactive way to grow kids’ vocabularies. Grades 2+”

  • 6 Interactive vocabulary card sets in all, include synonyms (shown here), antonyms (2731), multiple-meaning words (2734), prefixes and suffixes (2735), context clues (2733), and homophones (2732)
  • 50 double-sided, illustrated cards per set (100 questions), featuring jokes, riddles, cartoons, and kid-friendly questions
  • Great way to familiarize kids with standardized test format

My son had a great time quizzing himself with this pen and card set in the back of our car this vacation.  He did need some help reading the cards (he is only 6), but was able to often choose the correct answer from the list.  I like how simple the pen is to use.  Simply press the pen to the card and either get a verbal or a visual response.  I like having the option of making this a “quiet time” activity, or allowing the pen to give a verbal cue.  The pen was not too loud, even when set to verbal.  The pen was larger than a regular pen, but has nice grips on the side to promote proper pencil grip.  The cards are nice and sturdy with interesting, bright graphics.  My son absolutely love the Plants, Animals and Ecosystems set.  Learning interesting science facts is right up his alley.  The Hot Dots system has dozens of cards sets to suit the needs of any child.  In addition, they have a Hot Dots Jr. for younger children too!

Deal Alert!!:  Educational Insights is offering a free Hot Dots Pen with the purchase of 2 cards sets!!!  The offer is good through August 11th, 2012 when you use the code:  HOTPEN

One of our winners will win their own Hot Dots or Hot Dots Jr. Pen and one card set of their choice!! (US and Canadian Residents Only)

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“A sample of this product was provided to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.”

VtechKids Switch & Go Dinos

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of VTechKids for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


My son loves transforming things.  He’ll spend hours each day making “creations” with building blocks, tape, crackers, his toys, his cars, his dinosaurs- it doesn’t matter.  He’s got a vivid imagination and a master plan for most of his play and loves to execute.  When I heard about the new Vtech Kids Switch & Go Dinos, I was immediately intrigued.  A dinosaur, a vehicle, a robot, in a sense….this promised to be a hit in my house.

VtechKids Switch & Go Dinos

I was right.  My son had one of his best friends over the day that Silver the T-Rex and Horns the Triceratops arrived, and the exclamations of “Whoaaaaa!” “Cool!” “Can I play with one too?” assured me that we’d have a busy afternoon of Switch & Go Dino play.  The kids have never eaten their lunches so fast and that was the last I saw of them for quite some time.  Instant hit.  The kids adore them.  They did take some time to don some superhero capes, have a snack, etc. but those Switch & Go Dinos were never far from their hands.

Switch n Go dinosWhat I like about these toys is that yes, they are cool and so much fun for kids, but there are educational compenents that help my child to learn and discover while playing.  Lots of cool facts about dinosaurs are programmed into the toys- over 50 of them, so kids won’t get bored quickly.

transforming toys

The transformation is easy to do by a 5 year old- I have seen other toys that promise transformation for this age group and they are either super baby-ish or far too challenging and cause frustration.  I have to give kudos to VtechKids on this one- they did a great job.

Silver the Trex

I love the eyelashes on Silver the T-Rex.  I don’t know why, but I they kind of make me giggle. The LCD screen has a different “face” depending if you have them in car or dinosaur mode. So cool, and oh so much fun.  (I have to note here that both of my daughters are enjoying these dinos as well).

So what do we think?  I LOVE this product.  Its fun, it’s engaging, it’s not too loud (this drives me nuts when toys are super loud, maybe it’s just me….the super loud toys tend to vanish in my house when people are sleeping…) and the price point is marvelous.  This is a GREAT gift for a holiday, birthday, or just because and won’t break the bank.  I’m actually looking more forward to my son’s birthday in early September because I’m hoping the new Switch & Go Dinos products will be out and I can surprise him…he’ll love it!!  I have some Amazon gift cards saved up and have every intention of grabbing a few of these to put in the gift closet- I think its a wonderful gift for any little guy who has the slightest interest in cars, or dinosaurs, or both.

What my son thinks: Cool.  He’s not put these down, he’s brought them up to his room and set them in his secret cubby on his bed each night.  They went into school with him for his sharing day (what we called show and tell…) on Wednesday.  He LOVES them.

 The four Starter Dinos: Sliver the T-Rex, T-Don the Pteranodon, Tonn the Stegosaurus and Horns the Triceratops will be on-sale beginning May 21 exclusively at for a suggested retail price of $15.99. Buy today on Amazon

Beginning June 18, each fo the four starter dinos will be be on sale at for a suggested retail price of $15.99!  Which will you choose to start?

boys and dinos

● VTech’s new Switch & Go Dinos combines two of boys’ favorites to create the ultimate toy for boys – dinosaurs uniquely morph into vehicles and back again to provide an interactive 2-in-1 play experience.
● Each Switch & Go Dino features electronic elements that bring the dinosaur and vehicles to life creating an innovative play experience.
● Each toy features an LCD screen for customizable animation. Kids personalize the toy by selecting animated dinosaur eyes when in dinosaur form, and driver faces when in vehicle form.
● Dramatic dinosaur and vehicle sound effects bring the toys to life, creating an immersive play experience.
● In dinosaur mode, action buttons trigger interesting facts about each dinosaur as they come to life, exclaiming up to 30 expressions.
● Parents can purchase two dynamic toys boys love for the price of one with

VTech’s new Switch & Go Dinos.
– Easy transformation keeps attention with no frustration.
– Both forms feature high quality electronics and engaging mechanical features, packing in a lot of play time for the price of one toy.

– All Switch & Go Dinos will be on-shelf at major retailers beginning in Fall 2012, including the four Starter Dinos, as well as Attila the Ankylosaurus (SRP: $24.99), Span the Spinosaurus (SRP: $29.99), Brok the Brachiosaurus (SRP: $49.99)

Which is your favorite: Horns the Triceratops  or Silver the T-Rex?  Which would you choose for a little guy in your life?

Educational Insights Sonic Sleuth #Giveaway

Our friends at Educational Insights have come through again!  Do you have a little sleuth in your house?  I know I do.   Mine is constantly going on “spy missions” and having super secret meetings with his friends.  When we saw the Sonic Sleuth toy from Educational Insights it was a no brainer.  This nifty little toy has headphones that attach to a device with a large cone to trap noise and amplify it.  It is super easy to set up and get going.  Once you have the battery installed, just turn it on, turn up the volume and begin sleuthing.  My son had me whispering little secrets from the kitchen and he was able to hear me from all the way across the house (I would tell you how far that is, but I am terrible at that kind of thing)!

Geosafari® Sonic Sleuth.
Ages 6 and up. This powerful, handheld listening device tunes in to sounds from over 300 feet away! The state-of-the-art Sonic Sleuth features a high-sensitivity microphone, parabolic sound collection dish, high-quality headphones, and sound targeting scope. Built-in frequency controller blocks out harmful noise above 85 decibels for super-safe sonic sleuthing. Young scientists and detectives can zone in on birdsong or buddies’ conversations. Perfect for science experiments and wildlife adventures. Its the ultimate eavesdropper!
This toy worked surprisingly well and my kids have had so much fun playing with it!  There is only one dial to adjust (no complicated switches and dials are great for the 10 and under crowd).  It is durable and the batteries have lasted FOREVER!  This toy has been used inside, outside and in the car.  You name it, we’ve taken it there.  If you are looking for a fun toy for your little spy this summer I definitely recommend the Sonic Sleuth!
One of our lucky readers will win their own Sonic Sleuth!
Javascript must be enabled to enter this giveaway. Learn how to activate Javascript by clicking here.
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“A sample of this product was provided to facilitate my review.  All opinions expressed are my own.”

Educational Insights Plankton Net

  Summer has arrived (almost)!!! Around here that means outdoor exploration, bug catching, fort building and muddy feet! That’s why I just HAD to try out the Plankton Net from Educational Insights. They never fail to stock the most fun and educational items for my kids! This fun little net has a handle so it can be “swooshed” through the water. A small bottle with a magnifying glass is screwed onto the bottom to collect the water. When you are done swooshing and collecting water, you unscrew the bottle and inspect your trappings.

GeoSafari® Plankton Net
They say you should never swim alone…
Millions of plankton live in ponds, lakes, and oceans. Take a closer look with the GeoSafari® Plankton Net! Toss the net into any natural body of water and sweep back and forth to collect plankton. Lift the net to examine them in

the transparent bottle underneath or remove the bottle and attach the lid to share your finds with friends! Grades 3+

  • Includes mesh plankton net with removable, transparent, magnified bottle with attached cap and laminated (waterproof) guide with plankton-identification chart
  • Can be used in ANY natural body of water—fresh or salt
  • Interactive activity encourages exploration and discovery
  • Can be held with hands or used with rope for docks and boats

My 6 year old waited by the door for the delivery man every single day until this net arrived. Once it arrived, we needed plankton, STAT! I lugged all three kids, with one on my back, down to the nearest pond. After a couple of hair raising slips, we had access to the water and began sifting for plankton (or fishing for plankton as my son likes to say). We stuck close to the bank and were easily able to fill our vial with pond water. We detached the container from the bottom of the net and voila! MILLIONS, and I mean millions of plankton! Luckily, this set comes with a plankton identification chart. My son carries it with him at all times, even to school. I guess you just never know when you may need to identify plankton! We were able to pick out 2 or 3 different types of plankton from our bottle on the chart. The plankton lived for about 2 days and then we did it again! This activity was so simple and fast, with an immediate pay off. It also fostered a lot of interesting conversations around the differences between fresh water and salt water plankton. We are getting ready for our beach vacation next month and plan on taking this net along with us to explore the differences! Two thumbs up for this toy, we love it!

“A sample of this product was provided to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.”

Educational Insights $50 Gift Card Giveaway!!

Educational Insights is our favorite store for educational games and learning tools. Their products make learning so much fun for our little ones!!

They offer everything from early skill development and imaginative play to flip charts for grade school children. Not only does Educational Insights offer fabulous toys and games for kids, but they offer resources for parents and teachers too. Check our current giveaway for their board game: “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids”. This is such a cute and imaginative game that helps teach your children great habits in a fun way!

Want to experience Educational Insights for yourself? They are offering one of our readers a $50 gift card!

GeoSafari® Jr. Laptop for kids Ages 3-7 Edition Educational Insights #Giveaway

GeoSafari Jr LaptopThe GeoSafari® Jr. Laptop Jr. Ages 3-7 Edition is a really fun way to add some educational time to your child’s play- for solo time or playing together with friends.  My older 2 kids are 4.5 and 6.5 and they really enjoy working together on several of the lesson cards as a team- my daughter is older and can read so she helps with directions but she loves helping her brother with things so they are frequently playing this together.  Without fighting.  This is a rare thing in my house so I try to let them play when they ask.

 I love as a mom that the learning cards for this laptop store INSIDE- there aren’t separate components to keep track of.  (Does this drive anyone else crazy, having to keep track of parts of things separately?) The handle makes for easy grab and go, and this is the new “go to” toy the kids want to bring with us when we go someplace that we may be stuck waiting around.  I have to be really honest too and say its nice that this comes in a fun, neutral, kid color- I don’t think that everything has to be geared towards boys or girls…its just a fun teal and purple and great for everyone.   The kids like this because it’s fun and engaging, and interactive.

Give little learners an early “download” of the skills and subjects they’ll explore later in school.

  • Includes 63 double-sided lesson cards that store inside the unit and explore reading and math readiness, beginning science and social studies, and more in laptop-style activities
  • Offers 3 modes of play: 1 player, 2 player and head-to-head
  • Features lights and sound that guide game play, track scores and provide feedback
  • Compact, durable game system requires 4 AA batteries, included
  • Grades PreK-2

I also like the variety of subjects/themes for the learning cards- there is a really wide range of activities and subjects covered so kids won’t get bored just working on one skill over and over again. The sound isn’t super loud which means the games itself don’t make me get a headache.

One lucky reader will win a GeoSafari Jr Laptop (arv $74.99) from Educational Insights!
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Learning Tower Review from Heirloom Wooden Toys

I have seen the learning tower in advertisements throughout the years but never payed them much mind.  However, as the weather has turned cool and I have taken to indoor crafts and activities with my children I have noticed that our kitchen time has become a little disorganized (And sometimes dangerous).  My two older children will usually scootch our big heavy kitchen chairs over to the counter when it is time for cooking or crafts (scratching my wood floor along the way).  Someone will inevitably fall off their chair or end up sitting ON the counter.  Not a good situation.  So when the VERY generous and extremely friendly folks at Heirloom Wooden Toys offered me the opportunity to try out their Learning Tower AND offer a giveaway to one of our readers, I literally jumped at the chance (yes I really did jump for joy).  They even sent along the play house kit to try out too !

Not only did I find the people at Heirloom Wooden Toys extremely pleasant to work with, my items were shipped promptly.  They arrived in perfect condition and oh are they gorgeous!

The learning tower comes in a variety of finishes.  After much deliberation I decided on the ebony color.  Since I assume that this item will become a permanent fixture in my kitchen it might as well match the appliances.  There are also natural wood finishes as well as some funky colors that could look really cute.

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Talking Hot Dots® Pen & Vocabulary Flash Cards (Giveaway)

Talking Hot Dots® Pen is made for ages 5-12 and gives them feedback in a fun way- at their pace.  Its a neat way to reinforce concepts learned in the classroom at home or in the classroom! 
  • Allows students to choose talking feedback, fun sound effects or both, and cheers for students when they answer correctly
  • Provides immediate visual feedback with red and green lights for incorrect and correct answers
  • Features child-friendly design that makes the pen easy for young hands to use
  • Works with Hot Dots® Activity Cards for phonics, reading comprehension, math operations, fractions, time and money—perfect for center activities
  • Requires 2 AAA batteries, not included
  • Grades K+ [click to continue…]

Play Money Coins & Bills Deluxe Set (Giveaway)

Learning money is hard for many kids, my oldest included.  Coins in particular are very confusing, especially since the larger coins aren’t always the greatest values.  Since my oldest will be needing to bring coins for part of her school supplies for first grade, and will be eating lunch at school this year, I thought that we should have some practice here at home, with play money that actually resembles the money we use every day. The Play Money Coins & Bills Deluxe Set from Educational Insights  is a wonderful play money set that will be  a teaching tool I use for many years to come- and something my kids are loving for playtime!! [click to continue…]