Top Three Toys For My Traveling Toddler

As nice as it would have been to be able to avoid the 17 hours in the car, it just wasn’t going to happen. Knowing the trip was going to be long, we spent a little up-front money to make our trip more enjoyable, and it could not have been more worth it. We bought three toys for this trip and could not be more pleased with how well each of them worked in entertaining our toddler.

The list below is ranked with price and entertainment factored (number 1 being the most worthwhile investment).

3: Buckle Toy “Buddy” Backpack

B is all of a sudden all about buckling buckles, closing clasps, and opening/closing EVERYTHING. Though an at-home annoyance, it gave me a great idea for a travel toy. There are a lot of travel toys that have all different closures and buckling mechanisms on them, but most of the basic buckle toys were $20.00 or more. For just a few bucks more (we paid $26 for ours) we got a buckle backpack that worked as a great toy organizer and board-book keeper. This backpack has all different colors and types of buckles to keep a toddler entertained while also having something that we could spot easily in public. This came in super handy at the zoo, as most toddlers love to run. He enjoyed playing with different closures and had fun filling his backpack with books, snacks, and cars for his journeys. The only drawback to this toy was the frustration that came from not being able to re-open the buckles, so this toy required frequent intervening for B to actually enjoy it. There were many occasions where screaming was a result of the frustration derived from not being able to re-open the buckles. It makes a great toy and backpack, but may have been more age-appropriate had he been more skilled at buckles.

 

2: Magnetic drawing board

Here’s the link to the one we bought, but most magnetic drawing boards are very similar. We bought this one because it was inexpensive, had an attached magnetic pen, and had quadrants with different colors. I wasn’t sure if B was going to like this one, as he had never played with something like this before this trip. Sure, he’s drawn with colored pencils on paper, but his interest always seemed to be more aligned with chucking pencils across the room and watching the tips break. When it came to the magnetic drawing board, we scored big time. Not only is it $10.00 cheaper than the buckle backpack, but the action of being able to color, erase, and color again really interested B. I loved that the pen was attached so there was never a concern of whether or not we had to dig between seats to find the tool to make this toy work. It was self-contained and kept B pretty happy. There were no big drawbacks to this product for us. The one we bought is not terribly robust, but if it’s used only for trips, it really doesn’t need to be.

 

1: Magnetic fishing game

The third toy we got was not something we thought of beforehand, but rather a souvenir from our trip to the Miller Park Zoo. It was, by far, the best toy for the car. It seriously entertained B about three times longer than the other toys we brought with us. It’s a little puzzle with a magnetic fishing rod that allowed him to fish for the puzzle pieces. It was adorable watching him figure out how to get the magnet on the rod attached to pieces and was not complicated enough to frustrate him. It was entertaining to B, and allowed my husband and me to talk candidly without juggling snacks, books, or games. It also was very reasonably priced for a toy bought in a gift shop. We paid $13.00 at the gift shop for this game, but you can find it for cheaper online. Still, I would have gladly paid the couple of dollars more to have him entertained and help support this awesome zoo we visited. The only drawback to the magnetic fishing game was the loss of pieces. As you can tell from the picture above, we magically are still missing one of the ten pieces (Oops!). We seriously have not seen it since he initially started playing with the game. With that said, the game is still more than usable with the one missing piece, and it was well worth the price for its entertainment value.

With a trip as long as the one we were on, it was a given that extra money be invested in keeping B occupied. I prefer not to use electronics to entertain (just a personal preference) and the combination of these three, toy cars, and books did a great job keeping B happy. I hope for your next trip, you will keep these in mind, as they were HUGE life-savers for our sanity.

Book Review: You’ll Always Be Enough

When reading with B, I find that there are a lot of books that have the same message over and over again, but here’s one I think you will really like. Certainly, the message of embracing who you are is not a new topic, but I am just blown away by the delivery of this message of self-love.

You’ll Always be Enough, written by Laura Kuehl and illustrated by Pierre d’Arterie, is a new release taking the children’s book world by storm, offering a gentle message of self-appreciation combined with vivid illustrations assured to attract children of all ages.

 

Truth be told, I am good friends with Laura, but I guarantee my review is genuine. What impresses me most about this book is that Laura takes a complex topic most adults struggle with, and simplifies it for an audience of children, who otherwise could not articulate feelings of self-worth yet. In my opinion, this book does a beautiful job fostering confidence in differences that are so often pain points for developing children.

This book is geared towards children between the ages of six and nine, but B LOVES the colorful illustrations of animals. It is best for a household with siblings, as the message is received by the older siblings and the fascinating images are interesting for the little guys too. My niece has read this book to her brother and my son, and each child has taken away exactly what they needed at that moment. That’s the beauty of a book like this. Everyone’s image of self-worth looks a little different, so this book allows for a rudimentary understanding that will develop over time.

If you haven’t had a chance yet to check out You’ll Always be Enough, check it out here. To learn more about Laura Kuehl, the author, visit her website hereYou’ll Always be Enough has become a part of our nighttime reading routine and I strongly suggest you make it a part of yours. We love our children more than the world itself, so don’t forget to remind them that no matter what, they’ll always be enough.

The Runaway Bunny

 

The Runaway Bunny
Written by Margaret Wise Brown
Illistrated by Clement Hurd
Harper Collins Publishers, 1972
ISBN: 0061074292

Okay All. I know this one is an oldie, but it’s a goodie! My parents grew up hearing The Runaway Bunny, it was read to me, and now Little Man has the very same copy! The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, is a classic by all definitions. If you are not captivated by the sweet message, you will surely be stunned by the clever artistry poured onto every page.feature

I find this book most appropriate for toddlers since they are starting to understand verbal language. Little Man is a bit too young to grasp the meaning of The Runaway Bunny, but I think by the time he’s one and a half, this will become a bedtime staple. Sure, he already loves chewing on the thick, board pages and looking at the illustrations, but I look forward to when he can start to grasp the love the mommy bunny has for her baby bunny.

What I like about this book goes far beyond what is inside the covers. When I read this book to Little Man, I am thrown back in time to when my grandmother read it me in the light of her vintage, summit lamp on the bedside table. I can still remember how it felt as we read the book while we were all snuggled into the blankets with her stuffed bunny Beatrix (who was always invited to partake in bedtime stories). This book is powerful in stirring up memories of times passed and I only hope for Little Man to have the same.

Is this book the best book I’ve ever shared with our son? No, but the fact that it has been around long enough for several generations of my family to enjoy makes it stand out. There is no substitute for building beautiful memories and sharing family lore with little tikes and this book is a great way to do it! If you have since forgotten about this unyielding classic, click here to renew those memories for yourself and start passing them on to your sweet baby bunnies.

Mommy Danae

Gravity

GravityGravity
Written and illustrated by Jason Chin
Roaring Brook Press, April 29, 2014
ISBN: 9781596437173
Lexile: Beginning Reader

No kid is too young to start learning about science. Chin excellently takes a complicated subject and explains it easily for younger readers. Gravity is full of colorful and fun illustrations that will keep your young reader’s attention while they learn about gravity. The text is very simple for kids learning to read, and the illustrations are packed full for you to spend time talking about what you see with your child. The book concludes with a more in depth section about gravity and how it works, which will make the book more interesting for older kids who continue asking “how?” and “why?” after the story ends. The book even includes a bibliography (of ranging reading levels), so be sure to take the list the library if your family wants to explore more.

More about Jason Chin 

-Auntie Kelley

The Last Basselope

Growing up, we used to have nights where my parents, brother, and I would congregate and read stories together. A staple of these special occasions was always a Berkeley Breathed book, and it was usually my favorite,The Last Basselope!

Berkeley Breathed is my absolute favorite children’s books author and I am never disappointed when I pick up one of his books. They are creative, clever, and fun for the whole family. As I prepared to write this review, Little Man and I dove into the first couple of pages, but quickly put it down for the sake of maintaining the sanctity of its semi-gloss pages.  With that said, I would recommend this book to be read to children between the ages of four and seven, but it is really appropriate and fun for most ages.

IMG_3109 (2)What I enjoy most about this book is how it quickly throws readers into the action of the story. Readers become encompassed by the silly antics of Opus and his friends while they embark on their journey of catching the ferocious beast known as the “last basselope.” While on their quest, they quickly discover something far less terrifying and much more misunderstood.

Much like any good book, each character has quite a unique personality. For example, you will never find a character quite like Bill the House Cat or Milquetoast (pronounced milk-toast) the House Bug. In fact, we named our cat Milquetoast, but quickly changed it to Micah due to very confused looks from vet techs.

I could spend hours raving about how great of a book this is, but I suggest you find out for yourself. It very well could be the next book that becomes a staple for your family too! It is a book that I loved as a child and can’t wait to share with Little Man when he gets a bit older. Click here if you want to check out The Last Basselope!

Mommy Danae  

Big Bear Little Chair

20160628_144019For this, my first book review, I thought I would explain what I look for in a book. Although we’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, I think we can acknowledge that we do sometimes. I, however, do all the time. With kids books I’m all about the art, it’s what makes me pick up the book to begin with. With that said, I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve cried over a picture book because the story is so poignant.  

While at the daycare, it was amazing how children would gravitate towards certain books and plop down in your lap with them so they could eagerly turn the page (whether or not you had finished reading it to them). I’ve seen a variety of simple and intricate illustrations and stories. My favorites tend to have something for adults too. Be it the art or the story, there’s a little something for everyone in a children’s book.

Today I have the simple, yet beautiful, picture book by Lizi Boyd, Big Bear Little Chair. The book is a collection of charming illustrations featuring animals with either little or big objects. A great book for practicing words and laughing over a big zebra holding a little broom or a big penguin with a tiny hat. Published by Chronicle Books in 2015, this book is recommended for ages 4 to 6, but I think children beginning to learn animals names will enjoy it too.

-Auntie Kelley

Baby Loves to Rock!

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As a mom, I have the best job in the world. Some of the funof being a mom is being able to read a bunch of fun children’s books! For our first book review, I wanted to start out with a book that has been my son’s favorite for months and months. Considering that Little Man is only six months old, that’s a pretty big deal. Baby Loves to Rock, by Wednesday Kirwan, is perfect for children under the age of one because it is engaging on many levels.

For young babies, Baby Loves to Rock is appealing because of all the bright colors and contrast. From as young as seven weeks old, my son would just gaze at the pictures as I read to him, and as he’s gotten bigger still, he sits more attentive to this book compared to most.Ben Baby Loves to Rock

As Little Man has gotten bigger, he now appreciates the book for a whole new reason. Baby Loves to rock, but he also loves to chew! This may sound trivial, but Baby Loves to Rock is the perfect size for Little Man to pick up and maneuver while he experiences the world through his mouth. He has several books that are much bigger that have more elaborate pictures, but he is definitely partial to the roughly 6”x6” size of this book.

Additionally, what is really fun about this book is the word play and basic introduction to music genres that makes this book truly unique. Because of the word play, this book is also one of my very favorite of his.

So next time you are at a book store and you cannot handle having another book that counts ducks or talks about animal noises, check out Baby Loves to Rock, by Wednesday Kirwan. It’s a great book to add to your home collection or to give as a new baby gift.

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Mommy Danae