Guest Blog

GuestBlog

Guest Blog - Would you like to have a blog post on PittsburghMom.com? This is your chance! We feature some of our users-turned-bloggers on this guest blog. If you're interested in submitting a guest blog post, please email Heather at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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Any HABA toy can be The Toy of the Day

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in Guest Blog

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I love all HABA Toys. They understand children and that children play to learn. They must be good at what they do as they have been around since the 1930's.

They are a socially conscious company and very environmentally friendly. They use primarily indigenous maple and beech wood and water-based paints for our toys--so they feel nice in your hands, look nice, and are, of course, safe.

According to their website, "Our companies are focused on working for children. Our aim with our products and campaigns is to support their development, to make their life more exciting, more cheerful and more delightful in a nutshell, more what children deserve."

HABA blocks are my favorite. But I also like their rattles, shape sorters, stacking toys, OK just about everything. When you read parent reviews of HABA products, you will read rave reviews with the highest scores. Parents see quality when their child is playing with it. The one issue with quality is that it comes with a higher price, however, you will find a few HABA blocks in the under $20 category.

Go to their website and learn more about How They Develop a Toy and how they are
Naturally Environmentally Conscious! You will find the detailed they put into their work fascinating.

You will find most of HABA's blocks in the Block Category of the Let Kids Play Store. You will find some of their infant toys in the November 13 highlighted toy.

Tomorrow we move away from blocks, so stay tuned.

Mara

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45 Wonderful Books

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in Guest Blog

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I turned 45 years old yesterday, which is my excuse for not posting a toy. I am finding 45 a very hard birthday. It may have something to do with my dad turning 70 and my husband turning 50. Or it may have to do with the new Candace Bushnell's book which states within the first chapter or two that 45 is middle-aged. (I guess I should have picked another book to read on my birthday).

So in my reminiscing, I looked back at the time at spent with my daughter who is almost twelve and 5'2" and remembering all of the good picture books we read together. That led me to remember all of the great chapter books that I read in elementary, middle and high school--all of the books that I am now suggesting to my daughter that she won't read. After all, they are her mother's suggestions. : )

Therefore, in honor of my 45th birthday, my daughter and I made a list of 45 of our favorite picture books and I made a list of my 45 favorite chapter books. I hope these books will bring fond memories to you or give you ideas for the future. At the Let Kids Play website is also a list of chapter books my 12 year old recommends--these are probably the ones that will get smiles from your tweens this holiday.

I would love to hear what books you have enjoyed with your children or that you remember fondly.

Tomorrow, I promise a really special toy. The lists are belowe

Mara

Our Favorite Picture Books (with a few early chapter books thrown in)

  1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Giant hardcover edition
  3. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  4. The Going to Bed Book
  5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  6. The Giving Tree
  7. Love You Forever
  8. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  9. Moo, Baa, La La La (Boynton)
  10. Caps for Sale
  11. Junie B. Jones's First Boxed Set Ever! (Books 1-4)
  12. The Lorax
  13. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
  14. The Little Engine That Could
  15. The Napping House
  16. The Story of Ferdinand
  17. Olivia
  18. Olivia Saves the Circus
  19. Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild!
  20. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear
  21. The ABC Bunny
  22. Imagine
  23. Miss Spider's Tea Party
  24. Alphabet Adventure
  25. Red is Best
  26. On the Day You Were Born
  27. Blueberries for Sal
  28. Make Way for Ducklings
  29. One Morning in Maine
  30. Pat the Bunny
  31. Green Eggs and Ham
  32. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
  33. The Snowy Day
  34. Eloise
  35. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
  36. Harry the Dirty Dog
  37. Bread and Jam for Frances
  38. Amelia Bedelia Collection
  39. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
  40. The Twins
  41. The Princess and the Pizza
  42. Letter to Amy
  43. Jennie's Hat
  44. Queen Esther The Morning Star
  45. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

My Favorite Childhood Chapter Books

1. From The Mixed-up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
2. Harriet the Spy
3. Free to Be...You and Me
4. The Phantom Tollbooth
5. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
6.
Charlotte's Web
7 The Secret Garden
8
Johnny Tremain
9 Matilda
10
All-of-a-kind Family (entire series, except last book)
11
About the B'nai Bagels
12
A Little Princess
13 Mandy
14 Betsy-Tacy
15
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
16 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
17
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
18 Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
19 Deenie
20 Anne of Green Gables (entire series)
21
Little Women
22 Rose in Bloom A Sequel to Eight Cousins
23 An Old-Fashioned Girl
24 Eight Cousins
25 Little Men
26 Jo's Boys
27 Little House in the Big Woods (the entire series)
28
A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of
29 Where the Sidewalk Ends
30 First Term at Malory Towers (entire series)
31 The Twins at St.Clare's (entire series)
32 The Good Earth
33 The Chosen
34 My Name Is Asher Lev
35 The Promise
36 Exodus
37 Heidi
38 Pollyanna

39 Advise and Consent
40.
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective (Encyclopedia Brown) (all of them)
41. The Hundred Dresses
42 Gone with the Wind

43 Follow My Leader
44 A Light in the Attic
45
Forever . . .

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When can a Ball be a Block--When It is a Babal!

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in Guest Blog

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Here is another great innovative toy manufacturer, Active People. They make Babals. What in the world is a Babal you ask? Well, Babal is a ball. No wait, it is two balls. No wait, it's a block to stack. It can't possibly be all those things, but it is.

According Babal USA's website "Like much of what is most interesting and attractive to children, Babal is simple and also surprising. Developed by Swiss toy designer Alex Hochstrasser, it is one ball which is actually two balls. In a large ball of one color there is a recessed dimple which snugly holds a second small ball of contrasting color.

When the two are fitted together, Babal rolls and bounces just like all balls do. When the small ball is removed, however, unexpected things happen. When set on its dimple, the big ball becomes both stationary and stackable. Multiple big balls can be stacked to make a towernot something one expects to do with balls. The smooth, nestability of the small ball into the larger ball provides lots of fun simply fitting them together.

Nesting, bouncing, catching, balancing, or bowling Babal is designed to stimulate creative play, nurture hand-eye coordination, promote the development of motor skills, and spur the imagination. Provides hours of fun, for kids solo or in groups indoors and out. Multiple Babals multiply the fun."

Go to my website and check out the Babels, they are under balls. Each one costs less than $15. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about another amazing Active People toy.

Mara

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What in the World is Bilibo?

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in Guest Blog

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There is really no way to explain Bilibo (which as I promised comes from Active People), except to say it is the most open-ended toy I have ever seen.

Here is what it says on the Amazon product description, "Designed in Switzerland, this toy has won countless awards for design and play value. Its simplicity is deceptive and modeled after extensive study of children's play patterns. Bilibo is a completely open-ended toy that stimulates a child's imagination. It can be a helmet, sit and spin, doll cradle, train tunnel, shovel, water basin and much more! Let your imagination run wild! Nearly indestructible, suitable for indoors and outdoors."

So here is a video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYMWgazSrH4 Once you watch the video, you will be wanting to know where you can buy this great toy, go right to the letkidsplay website. The larger ones cost a around $28 and the mini's cost a little over $10.

More Active People toys tomorrow.

Mara

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More Active People Toys for Older Kids

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in Guest Blog

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Discover the wonderful toys of ACTIVE PEOPLE!

From their website "Always on the cutting edge with innovative concepts and surprising ideas, ACTIVE PEOPLE has been making and selling toys for over 20 years.Toys that get you moving, toys that engage your imagination and creativity – toys for mind, body and soul... "

Here more great Active People toys, some are available via Amazon, some are not. For the ones that are not you can visit Active People for further information. I have not personally used the websites that I have listed, so you will want to check them out. All of these toys are appropriate for children 5 and Up.

BOING magic light balls change color with a squeeze of the hand. Covered in an ergonomically designed ribbed rubber they are perfect for dazzling juggling shows, magic games or just as cool tactile mood lights. Choose from 3 light modes (constant color, slow phase and fast phase) and 7 colors, moving from one to the next simply by squeezing the ball. Available in two sizes with replaceable batteries. You can get this on the Letkidsplay website for $10.


KIWIDO, a game originally played by the Maori of New Zealand, beautifully combines dynamic motion, aesthetics and dancing elements.The swinging toy is easy to learn with spectacular effects right away. You can find this at http://yourstageinc.com/kiwido.html for $15.

PADDLEBALL is a fast, rhythmic game that challenges your reactions and coordination. Play it one or two handed, alone or with friends. Paddleball will always be dynamic and clever fun for kids of all ages.

ASTROJAX is a fascinating new game all about action, rhythm and your own personal style. Three balls with special metal weigths inside connected with a string is all you need to perform the most amazing tricks. Let them orbit around each other and try to invent new swinging patterns. At night it get's even more exciting with the light-up version SATURN. Astrojax are available at the letkidsplay website for $15-$30.

ASTROJAX AQUA – The next generation of Astrojax is based on a revolutionary fluid-flow design with a liquid core that provides even smoother orbits. The larger balls offer a unique playing experience and great visual impact. The balls glide almost frictionlessly along the new high-quality circular-weave strings. Sophisticated stringbuds let you easily adjust the length of the string and provide a whole new level of freedom when playing. This is available on the letkidsplay website for $15-$25.


[YO]² – ACTIVE PEOPLE has been the leading yo-yo specialist in Europe for almost two decades, offering a wide range of yo-yos and accessories for all styles and proficiency levels as well as learning tools like books and videos. They have now invested all their knowledge and passion for yo-yos into the design of a brand new line. [YO]2 is a quantum leap in the development of yo-yo technology. You can find these at http://yourstageinc.com/ygbyacpe.html for less than $25.

I'll finish up Active People's preschool toys tomorrow.

Mara






















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