March 18, 2008
The folks over at Olive Kids sent over some their great personalized products the other day. We've had a chance to check them out and we wanted to tell you what we thought. We received a set of 5 placemats, and 2 personalizable nametags.
The placemats come in a wide variety of designs. We received "Out of This World", "Under Construction", "Wild Animals", "Game On", and "Pirates!". These placemats are so colorful and engaging, they instantly give Anderson something to study at every meal. The placemats are all 12"x18", and are made from a heavy laminate. When we're done with our meal, we've been putting them right into a sink full of soapy water, and they clean up in a snap. You could probably just give them a good wipe if they weren't too messy. They've been standing up well to the abuse we've given them. The laminate is so think that they're nearly impossible to bend, so we don't have to worry too much about Anderson destroying them.
These placemats would be great for big families. Since they're personalized, everybody knows exactly where they're spot is, and who's responsible for the big mess after dinner is over!
We also received two personalized nametags. These nametags are made from the same heavy laminate as the placemats. So we know that they're nearly indestructible. They feature the same colorful designs, although in a smaller form. On the back is a place to write down your name, address, and phone number. Each nametag comes with a 9" lanyard, made from plastic. That wouldn't be my first choice, since i was able to break it with a strong yank. I would consider replacing the supplied lanyard with your own one made from a nice nylon rope or something like that. The lanyard lets you attach the nametag to your child's belongings. With a longer one you could even put it around an older child's neck, for the next time you go out to a crowded place.
Olive Kids makes a lot of great products. In addition to placemats and nametags, they personalize clocks, floor pillows, framed and unframed prints. They also carry lots of other products, including some great bedding and rugs. Be sure to check them out!
March 11, 2008
The folks over at ImageKind were kind enough to send over a Story Frame for us to look at. A Story Frame is a framed collection of 2, 3, 4, or 6 photos. These photos could tell a story, or they could just be a collection of your favorite photos. For my Story Frame, I chose two photos from the first few moments after Anderson's birth.
The process of uploading the photos to ImageKind couldn't have been easier. We keep nearly all of our photos at Flickr (but that's the subject of another post altogether), and ImageKind makes the process of grabbing photos from your Flickr account as easy as clicking a link. ImageKind even shows you all the "Sets" that you've already created over at Flickr to make it easy to sort through your photos. If you don't use Flickr, don't worry. Its just as easy to upload a few images directly off your computer.
After choosing my two photos I moved on to the next step. There I chose the frame color (Espresso) and then the mat color (Porcelain). ImageKind offered the option of cropping, scaling and rotating the photos, but I didn't require anything like that. However, that would be very useful to correct any composition problems you might have.
We received the frame a few days later. It came well packaged, with minimal chance for damage. The frame itself looks very well made. I can only see the slightest of seams in the four corners. The back is covered with brown paper, like you would expect to see from a high-end framing shop. There are even little felt pads at the bottom. If there was anything to complain about its that the hanging hardware is a 'saw tooth hanger' and not picture wire. However that is hardly a complaint and more of a personal preference.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the products from ImageKind. Creating the artwork couldn't have been easier, especially with ImageKind's Flickr integration. And the quality of the frame is comparable to a high-end framing shop.
If you'd like the chance to win your own Story Frame, then be sure to check out the contest that ImageKind is running for the next few days. You just have to send in a couple of photos that tell a story, and you could win one of these great Story Frames for yourself.
March 10, 2008
I am very excited to review Monkey-Toes as I am a huge fan of what I've seen on their website. Our loyal readers may remember that I wrote about them last December. They sell lots of adorable socks and shoes with cute designs, and all their shoes are even hand painted. Because they are so cute, children don't resist putting them on like they do other socks and shoes. Convincing Andy to get ready in the morning is a big issue for us at times, so I understand and appreciate how great any product is that helps us there! Monkey-Toes was started by a single mother who wanted to make putting on socks and shoes more fun for her children while also providing quality footwear. And of course she wanted her products to be super cute at the same time.
The package we were sent included Boogie Monsters in size 5, LUV Bug Mary Janes in size 4, Little Ladies Socks in 3T, and Leap Frog Socks, also in 3T. These products are all cuter in person than on the website if that's possible. Each pair of shoes came wrapped in a clear plastic bag and tied with a ribbon. Both are nice and sturdy with rubber soles and made from a hearty canvas. We think they'll hold up really well to the wear and tear of a toddler. They are definitely strong enough for rough housing! I really like that both pairs don't need to be tied too. I'm a huge huge fan of Mary Janes, and I wish I had a girl of my own to put in this pair! There are nine different styles of Mary Janes available on their site. The monsters on the shoes are named Ralphie Right and Lefty Lu to help them learn their left and right. The socks are a medium thickness we'd say, so they could be worn during most temperatures. The tops are double stitched, and they held up well in the washing machine. There are two other styles of socks available on their website.
We are very happy with these products and cannot recommend them enough. They make a great present for a new mother, but we suggest you splurge and buy them for your own children too. Because really, the shoes make the outfit!
Just for Super Cool Baby readers, get free shipping on all orders with the code SCB0208.
February 5, 2008
Believe it or not, it's quite possible to teach children as young as three to read with proficiency. When Lori and Michael Luke taught their son his teachers and other parents were amazed. Through this experience, they were able to create See Me Read personalized learning kits to help teach your kids to read too.
See Me Read uses a whole-word approach to learning. By associating words to your child's familiar possessions and family members, your child can instantly understand the connection between words and the physical world. The See Me Read products use personal photos of your child interacting with favorite people, animals, and items in his or her life.
We were sent a sample See Me Read kit which includes a set of labels (each with a picture and a single word), a set of reading cards (essentially flash cards with the same words and pictures), a writing pad which encourages your child to draw and write about the words and objects pictured, and finally two See Me Read books. This is the complete kit; the level 1 kit includes the labels, reading cards, and a level 1 book, and the level 2 kit includes a level 2 book and the writing pad.
The materials used are all very high quality. The books and writing pad are printed on thick glossy paper. The labels are large, and you must supply your own adhesive. You could probably just use a little masking tape, or painters tape to make sure you don't harm any paint or finishes.
Creating a kit of your own is easy. Simply go to the See Me Read website, and choose the kind of kit you'd like to make. From there you select the words you want to use. After that the website will prompt you for pictures for each word. It's probably easiest to choose your words ahead of time, make a big list and then go around taking all the necessary pictures before uploading them. Just make sure that when you take your pictures, you hold your camera correctly, as most pictures require a vertical orientation (as opposed to the more natural horizontal orientation). Once you're done, you can preview and order your kit!
If you're interested in getting this for somebody else, don't worry about taking all the pictures yourself. See Me Read makes it very simple to buy and redeem gift certificates for whole kits.
The See Me Read system seems like a great way to help your child learn to read. Each child learns a little differently, and this might help a lot of children who may be struggling with more traditional phonics-based instruction in preschool and kindergarten.
Updated! The folks at See Me Read are offering a special discount exclusively to Super Cool Baby readers. If you use the coupon code
SCBY2008, you'll get 20% off your entire order. In addition to that, See Me Read is giving away a free kit to a Super Cool Baby reader. If you're interested in winning, simply leave a comment before next Tuesday, February 12th. Good luck!
December 18, 2007
Recently, we received a sample of WaddaJuice here at Super Cool Baby. The word from the manufacturer is
WaddaJuice is a great tasting all natural beverage for kids that has half the sugar and calories of 100% fruit juice. We?ve blended pure fruit juice with purified water and fortified it with vitamins and minerals to create a better juice for kids. WaddaJuice is nutritious and simple - no added sweeteners, flavors, dyes, preservatives or additives - absolutely nothing artificial.
We received all three flavors to taste: Apple, Wild Berry, and White Grape. I tasted each before I gave them to the Official Juice Reviewer (our son Anderson). They definitely don't taste like your regular sugar-loaded juice. The added calcium seems to affect the flavor a little bit, but our Official Reviewer loved them nonetheless: the first time we gave it to him, he had finished the whole bottle within about 10 minutes.
Continue reading: "Review: WaddaJuice"
The Laugh and Learn "Learning Puppy" is a toy we've had for a long time, so I'm surprised we haven't reviewed it yet. A friend gave it to Andy, and it's been a great toy for him. At first he used it more as a stuffed animal because he was a little young to understand how to use it. But as he's grown, he's used it more and more. The puppy says different things when his nose, belly, feet and other body parts are pressed. He sings songs too when you press the note button on one foot. The songs include "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" as well as a number song and the ABC song. There's even a dog bone collar that lights up when the buttons are pressed. This is a good interactive toy for a baby, and Andy's gotten a lot of use out of ours. My only complaint is that it can be a bit of a ghost toy - suddenly coming on and saying something when you aren't near it. It's done this to me a few times in the dark which has spooked me out a bit! But besides that, it's a great toy and I recommend it to you and your baby!
December 10, 2007
Recently we heard from Diaper Cake Walk about trying out a baby diaper cake from them. I must admit that I know little of diaper cakes having never received one or even seen one before. They are quite cute, and they seem like such useful gifts, so I was happy to review one.
Continue reading: "Review: Diaper Cake from Diaper Cake Walk Plus a Contest!"
December 7, 2007
Some time ago, we received a copy of Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years in the mail. It's a book written by Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum, two directors of the 92nd St Y Nursery in New York City. They wanted to share their years of experience and wisdom to give parents of young children some guidance and understanding as they navigate this unique time of their child's life.
The book is written in two different parts: School and Home. In part one, we learn all about pre-schools. How to choose one, how to apply, what to expect on your first day, how to deal with the social life of your young child, and transitioning to Kindergarten. In part two we learn about discipline, teaching your children morals and ethics, encouraging (and dealing with) independence, and so on.
Anderson is still another two years away from heading to preschool, but I found many aspects of the book to be useful. First, it's nice to be prepared for when he does go to preschool. And second, there are many behaviors and situations that the book talks about that apply to younger children like Anderson.
The book itself is well written. Each chapter is broken down into sections with their own heading. The sections range from a few paragraphs to a couple of pages. The authors don't preach, they simply describe their experiences and what has worked for them in different situations. They definitely realize that every child is different, and don't provide one-size-fits-all solutions.
I definitely recommend this book for everybody before their child hits the preschool years. It has lots of information that every parent will find useful and helpful. So, if that describes your child, pick up your copy today!
December 5, 2007
Stories from Around the World is a new DVD released this fall from BookBox. It features 5 different Christmas stories for around the world: The First Well, The Boo in the Shoe, The Whispering Palms, The Little Pianist, and Elephant goes to the City. I wasn't familiar with these particular stories, but they were all nice enough. The animation style is simplistic, almost like a moving story book. Meaning, some of the elements of the
page move around, but things like faces aren't animated.
This DVD employs
Same Language Subtitling; a scientifically tested method to improve reading skills. Think of it like reading karaoke (which is exactly how its marketed). Below the animation, the words flash by, karaoke style.
The DVD can be played in English or Spanish, and can feature subtitling of either or both languages as well. This is a nice feature in bilingual households, or if you or your child are practicing a second language.
Stories from Around the World runs about 30 minutes, so each story is about 6 minutes long.
December 3, 2007
When I first saw the Fisher Price Baby Gymtastics Bounce and Spin Zebra, I knew it was a product that Andy needed. He loves movement, and this zebra twists and bounces. As Andy missed out on a lot of bouncers because he was so heavy, I was happy to find something that he could use. It took him a few months to warm up to it as he was a late walker and didn't understand how to get on it. But within the last month, he's figured it out and hops on it every chance he gets.
When the child bounces on the zebra, is plays one of five songs and the zebra makes horse like noises too. The zebra can spin 360 degrees, and there is an orange handle bar that has a spinning center that lights up and plays music. The write up on this product also states that it locks until the child is sitting properly on the seat. We haven't noticed that, but Andy has never had a spill when trying to get on, so that makes sense.
The zebra was easy to assemble, and the base is sturdy so I don't have to worry about it tipping over. The instructions do say to keep it on a carpet, which we do, and we've had no problems there. And while it's not a small toy, it takes up less room than I thought it would. And it's lightweight in case you want to put it in a corner when it's not being used.
We really like the Baby Gymtastics Bounce and Spin Zebra in our household, and we recommend it to your family too!