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Inspire Kids to Think Outside the Blox

goldie-bloxOne of the gifts that my wife and I invested in for our ten year old daughter this past Christmas that has gotten the most use is Goldie Blox. This concept is fantastic, and I absolutely got behind it when I heard about it. Of course, all parents want to teach their children about the things that interest them, and many feel that this opportunity is limited when the child is of the opposite gender. It need not be that way, though, and Goldieblox is one company that is helping to encourage the crossing of gender lines. Goldie Blox creates builder sets that encourage girls to take an interest in engineering. I love to build, and have written previous posts about building Lego creations with my daughters, even when they were fifteen months old or so.

Building Together and Bonding

Goldie Blox goes beyond the simple Lego constructs to teach girls about how mechanisms work and movement can be made possible based on the way things are constructed. The set comes with books that tell inspiring stories, as well as a peg board and plenty of building materials. Emma loves this set so far. She and I have spent hours building different constructs found in the instructions, on the website, and from our imaginations. I love the closeness that it brings when we successfully create a new build. Her mom is not excluded from these building endeavors, although she often watches the younger girls while we play. We don’t allow them to build with these yet, as some of the small pieces could be easily gobbled up. Emma takes good care of her toys, though, so I can see her teaching her sisters how to use these toys when they get a little older.

Franklin Kids Talking Dictionary

franklin-talking-dictionaryWhen I was young, I used the dictionary to find new words and try to figure out the spelling of words that I wasn’t sure how to spell. This always seemed like a paradox to me, because it is very difficult to find a word that you don’t know how to spell. The Franklin Talking dictionary eliminates this issue with the automatic phonetic spell corrector feature. That is not what the marketers advertise the most, but that is what has helped my daughter the most. She uses her Talking dictionary to help her while she is doing homework, and in just a few months I have noticed a marked improvement in her spelling and vocabulary. She will no longer skip using a word for a more familiar one because she is not sure how to spell it or she is concerned that the definition doesn’t quite fit. I am thrilled with this product.

Talking Dictionary Features

The Talking Dictionary was bought for use as a dictionary, but Emma uses it most often for the word games. I am okay with this, because she is having fun while learning new words. Besides the game, it has some other features that our old-school dictionaries did not. Instead of just having the phonetic spelling of the word printed out, this dictionary can say the word if you are unsure of the pronunciation. If this is too loud or quiet, there is volume control. The dictionary holds 44,000 words and their definitions and can say them. The talking feature is not used too much around here yet, but I can see that this would be especially helpful for those trying to learn English, or even when my younger daughters get a little older and are trying to learn new words. Since this is an electronic device made specifically for kids, it is also pretty durable and has a protective flip cover. So far, this product has been invaluable for my daughter.

Monster High Draculaura Original Basics Doll

draculaura-monster-highMy daughter that is ten is very into Monster High right now. She wants all of the dolls and all of the accessories, as every little girl who is into Monster High does. However, some of these dolls and accessories cost a lot of money. Thankfully, the original basics are not as expensive as some of the other models of these dolls. I bought her Draculaura because she is her favorite character.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Monster High, they are dolls that are modeled after the old-school movie monsters, but with cute little twists. Some of the Monster High characters include Spectra Vondergeist, Clawd Wolf, Cleo De Nile, and Frankie Stein. Not much of a girly-girl myself, I was thrilled to see dolls that have a more interesting theme.

Accessories and Diary Included

This particular original basics came with a pet, a diary, a hair brush, and a stand, which is fantastic for $20. The pet is a bat, which I thought was quirky but appropriate. The stand comes in handy when she is actually playing with the doll, as she does not have to hold the doll up the whole time, and it frees her up to be creative in her play. So far the doll has withstood hours of play, and is holding up better than some of her other dolls.

My daughter has actually had a lot of fun devising set-ups with the doll so far. She has incorporated vehicles and things that she uses for her other dolls. It is hilarious to hear her and her friends playing with the dolls and hearing “Draculaura” explain about being a vampire, and how she is not bad and is not going to eat the other dolls- “Or am I?” then laughter from the room. I really like these dolls because I think they break the girls out of the usual doll/house theme and give them a little more room for creativity.

Flexible Flyer Snow Block

snow-block-iglooWhen I was a child, I always had big dreams of making my own igloo in the winter. Many times I made a sloppy snow wall, but that was about as far as I ever got. I had all but forgotten my childhood desire until this snowy, snowy winter. I saw some pictures online of amazing igloos built by children and wondered how they did it. So I decided to investigate and discovered the Flexible Flyer Snow Block. It was well under $20, so I figured I would give it a try. I ordered one just a week ago and it came a few days ago, just in time for the new batch of insane snow storms.

Make Your Own Igloos!

This toy is awesome! Never would I have thought that such a simple thing as a rectangular mold could make such a difference in snow play. My daughter, her father, and I have spent hours outside making my childhood dreams come true-building an igloo! Although we haven’t quite finished our masterpiece yet, we are just about as excited about it as she is! We even dyed water in old Tupperware containers when we knew we were going to be inside for a little while and put them outside to freeze to make little decorative blocks for the igloo. This is such a fun project!

The block itself is very light, weighing under a pound and measuring 10 x 5 x 7 inches, which makes it very easy to use and transport. It is a pretty durable plastic that you can either pack snow into, or push into snow that is on the ground to make the blocks. We are actually talking about buying a few more so that we can each have one or two to use and so that other kids can help build, too. Love these blocks!

Peek-a-Blocks for Babies

peek-a-blocksPeek-a-blocks are perfect for babies. I got a bunch of peek-a-blocks from a friend when I was pregnant with the twins. The twins are now twenty-two months old and have been playing with these blocks for their entire lives! The great thing about peek-a-blocks is that they are safe for very young babies, but are interesting enough to be fun for a long time.

Variety of Peek-a-Blocks

There are tons of different kinds of peek-a-blocks, and almost equally as many different toys that are designed to use the peek-a-blocks with. If you are unfamiliar with these toys, they are blocks that are typically clear on four sides with a little scene, creature, or person inside. Some of the blocks are plain, other blocks do something when you move them. The toys that are designed to be used with peek-a-blocks have openings that babies can put the blocks into, and then do different functions. Some of the toys will make sounds or light up when blocks are put in, some allow the blocks to be dispensed or turn. These blocks are great for teaching babies to grab, push, and do different things. The variety that is available with peek-a-blocks is fantastic, because you can always keep it fresh by getting a few new blocks or a new toy to go with the blocks. It is an easy and inexpensive way to keep the kids entertained.

For all of these reasons, peek-a-blocks also make great gifts. Kids can use these blocks for many years, and keep finding different uses for them. They can also trade blocks with their friends for a fun “new” toy. Some of the scenes inside are really cute or funny, too. There are blocks with just about every animal that you can imagine, as well as cars, trucks, circus scenes, nature scenes, the list goes on and on!