This Week’s Puzzlers…

Baby boy playing with puzzle pieces on sofa in the living room at home

Monday Jan. 25th-Friday Jan. 29th Celebrate Puzzles!

We’ll have an assortment of puzzles out to play with all week in the stores. Take a guess at the number of puzzle pieces in our Puzzle Jar and you could be one of our puzzle winners! On Friday the 29th, we’ll have all jigsaw puzzles 20% off.

Puzzles are a great activity for all ages and developmental stages. We have a big puzzle out in the family room all winter long. It’s a versatile family activity in that one person can walk by and add a piece or two with a few minutes or several family members can sit down for a longer session with everyone cooperating. Even younger family members can help with a many-pieced puzzle by sorting by color or shape.

Puzzled by what to do with the puzzles your kids have already played with and pushed to the back of the closet? Amy Mascot of Teach Mama, a website focusing on educational parenting tools, has some clever ideas in her “5 Cool New Ways to Play with Puzzles” blog post. The first one she suggests is so easy and simple.

To play Puzzle Mash-Up, pile the pieces of several large to medium sized puzzles in the middle of the floor. Shout “GO”! The person with the most completed puzzles wins.

Learn about four more easy ways to play with puzzles at:

http://teachmama.com/5-cool-new-ways-to-play-with-puzzles/

Want to know which puzzle is right for your child?

Check out this guide from Melissa and Doug.

[Read more…]

Y’All Ball is Toy Of The Week

Who doesn’t like a super bouncy, super durable ball designed for kids of all ages? Nobody, that’s who!

With a wide array of colors and patterns to choose from there is a Y’all Ball for everyone.

Officially for ages 5-10 yrs….but really, wouldn’t this be a great stress reliever for an adult at the end of a long Monday?Y'All Ball 28" diameter.

Shop Online at The Learning Tree

shop online for the holidays with The Learning Tree

Rather shop at home? Now you can! Check out our online interactive toy catalog. Just click the image or…

2013 Learning Tree Toy Catalog

Race To The Treasure is our Toy Of The Week

Race To The Treasure board gameWhat could be more fun than a race between kids and an ogre?

Nothing, except working together to get to the treasure!

Race to the Treasure board game uses cooperation to send players on a quest to gather up three of the keys and beat the ogre to the bag of treasure.

It’s a fun game that every household should take a look at. Recommended for ages 5 and older, you work as a team flipping cards and creating a path to gather up three of the four keys. Once collected, it’s time to make your way to the bag of treasure before flipping over 8 ogre cards. It’s simple, takes less than 5 minutes to learn, and about 20 minutes to play. We found that once you finish a game, it’s so easy and fun to turn around give it another go!

The way the game quickly promotes teamwork is one of it’s biggest assets. You don’t just place pieces randomly on the board, you naturally ask one another and reason out why the path cards should or shouldn’t go in certain places in order to get to the treasure quickest. Instead of competing against one another, you’re playing against the ogre cards, and their random order in the shuffled pile makes the game even more thrilling. You never know what card you’re going to pull next. We also found that leaving the cards in a messy pile to pull from at random added another level of fun and suspense to the game.

The playful graphics add to the visual appeal of the game, as does the completely eco-friendly packaging and game content.

It was an all around fun game to play, quick to set up and easy to learn. We played three games consecutively, and won as a team two out of three times! We didn’t get bored, and kept guessing and working together to beat the ogre to the end of the game.

Review by Learning Tree Toy Experts, Kitt and Elaine

Who wants gum? Now with instructions!

We do we do!

And now you can make it yourself!

Bubble Gum Factory is a unique hands-on product that introduces kids to not only the science of food, but the creativity as well! Kits like this are wonderful because the “I want to play by the rules” kids can follow the recipes  while the “I want to make something nobody has ever tasted before” kids can combine the included flavorings (including fruity, sour, and minty) into any combination they want.

The recipes include Juicy Watermelon, Sour Fruit Cocktail, Cool Candy Kiss, Junkyard Gum…and more.

Kids start by heating the gum base (Adult supervision is required. You will need a microwave to use the kit – it’s not for kids under 8). Then they add corn syrup, flavor powders and sugar and knead it like bread till all the ingredients are mixed in and smooth. The cool part is they can pop a small piece in their mouth before it’s done and adjust the flavor if it’s not to their liking. They can even maker it sweeter or more sour. That part may be more art than science.

Along with the ingredients for 8 flavor combinations, the factory includes an activity book with recipes, instructions, food science rules (keep it clean!!), the history of gum, some fun facts (like who holds the record for the longest gum wrapper chain) and even great ideas for kids to market their new gum creations! That’s if they don’t chew it all themselves, of course…

Bubble Gum Factory is a creative and educational make-it-yourself (and chew-it-yourself) kit that teaches kids the science of bubble gum. Got a science fair coming up? It’s great for that too.

Bubble Gum Factory is made by Scientific Explorer , a division of Elmer’s (the glue people, among other things). They make a ton of cool kits for kids including Tasty Science , My First Science Kit, Perfumery, and Mind Blowing Science .

Click here for more information or to buy Bubble Gum Factory.

Click here to see all the Scientific Explorer products we carry at The Learning Tree.

Update: Click here to download the Bubble Gum Factory instructions.

Employee Pick Of The Week – FantaColor Junior

FantaColor JuniorSarah, a toy expert at our Park Place store, chooses FantaColor Junior by Quercetti as her toy pick this week.

Fanta Color Junior by Quercetti

“The FantaColor Jr. is an excellent educational toy that is as appealing for a 2 year old as it is for the parents.  Use it to build hand-eye coordination, increase fine motor skills, and inspire creativity.  And the best part:  It’s completely self contained and easily portable!”
This award-winning kit includes 48 large chunky pegs and 16 large picture cards. Everything stores inside a convenient carry case with a handle. It’s made in Italy and is great for kids ages 2+.
With 60 years of experience creating educational toys, Quercetti has contributed to generations of children engaging in beneficial play that encourages creativity and stimulates intuitive reasoning.
Come see it at either store or check it out online.

Our Top 5 Toys for Spring

You kids go outside and play!

Spring is here and we can’t wait to play outside – but what should we play with???
Here’s our Top 5 picks for getting out of the house now that the weather is turning warmer and the flowers are popping up.
1 – Faux Bow by Marky Sparky – $24.99 for ages 8+
Sunshine is good for you. And hitting things with arrows is even better. The Faux Bow by Marky Sparky is a blast and you can shoot over 100 feet with the soft arrows – and nobody gets hurt!

2 – Djubi – $29.99 for ages 8+
Djubi is a new way to play catch. The specially designed racquets are made for the unique ball called…the djubi, of course. It’s pronounced Joo-bee and you can hook it, launch it, and catch it. The djubi flies 100 feet, and is great for playing outside in the backyard, at the park, or on the beach. 2 racquets + 2 djubis = Outdoor Fun.

3 – Sprig Eco-Dump Truck – $15.99 for ages 3+
Get that toddler out of the house and movin’ some dirt! This Sprig Eco-Dump Truck is battery-free for 100% kid-powered fun. The handles are easy to grab so kids can maneuver them easily through the backyard or the nearest sand box that needs some “toddler construction work”. Made of recycled wood and recycled plastic, this affordable, eco-friendly truck is $15.99 and is perfect for kids ages 3 and up. Sprig also makes a front loader and an excavator for extra construction power!

4 – 30″ Diamond Happy Dolphin Kite – $19.99 for all ages.
Go fly a kite! What better way to relax and have fun on a Spring day that to fly a 30″ Diamond Happy Dolphin Kite. This classic kite design that is great for all ages! This nylon kite will let you send the dolphins jumping high into the sky in a colorful underwater scene. Includes 300 feet of line for sky-high fun!

5 – Super High Performance Stomp Rockets – $19.99 for ages 16+
OK, now something for the big kids. This one combines 2 of our favorite things. Rockets and stomping. What better way to de-stress and have fun than jumping up and down on a launch pad that sends a very cool rocket up to 400 feet in the air? This kit is recommended
for ages 16 and up because of the velocity of the rockets, so be careful and read the instructions.

The kit includes 6 super high performance stomp rockets and the launch pad.

Now get out, get active, and enjoy Spring with The Learning Tree!

Classic Wooden ABC Blocks

ABC Classic Wood Blocks

ABC Classic Wood Blocks

We love these high-quality blocks! They are patterned after blocks from the turn-of-the-century with great animal illustrations along with the number and letters.

Made by Lindenwood, these wooden blocks are a big 1 3/4″ (44mm) cubed, and are finely crafted and painted with non-toxic inks.

Each block features a unique animal picture, a number or math symbol, and four letters (two embossed) for a total of four complete alphabets. Plenty for kids to learn their numbers and letters – and of course for stacking and building things!

Set includes 28 blocks.

These blocks are beautiful enough to decorate a child’s room as well as fun to play with and learn letters and numbers. For Ages 3+

Click here for more info or to buy.

Top 5 Reasons We Love The Slice & Bake Cookie Set

Serve up some fun with the Slice & Bake Cookie Set!

Serve up some fun with the Slice & Bake Cookie Set!

Everybody at The Learning Tree loves cookies…but we REALLY love Melissa & Doug’s Slice & Bake Cookie Set!

Here’s why…

1: No messy clean-up. This colorful wooden set with toppings, doesn’t crumble, smear or leave traces on faces or floors.

2: No burning of fingers on a hot oven, cookie sheet, etc. Pretend play has a lot of advantages when it comes to baking.

3: No calories. Need we say more?

4: No ruining your appetite before dinner. And no sugar highs (and lows) to contend with. Just good, pretend-kitchen fun for kids.

5: Children get to be creative and use their endless imagination! And who knows…maybe it will spark their interest in real cooking and helping mom and dad in the kitchen.

This colorful wooden pretend play set includes 12 wooden, slice-able cookies and 12 toppings, wooden knife, spatula, cookie sheet and a kitchen mitt for safe, “no-calorie” play. The cookies store in a durable dough tube to use again and again.

Dimensions: 10.5″ x 13.5″ x 3.25″ packaged. Recommended Ages: 3+ years. This set is a great addition to any play kitchen sets.

So…The Slice And Bake Cookie Set is The Learning Tree Toy Of The Week! And to celebrate, the Slice & Bake Cookie Set is 20% off this week only!

Hurry, sale ends September 6, 2009
Sale limited to quantity on hand.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO OR TO BUY The Slice & Bake Cookie Set by Melissa & Doug.

Swaddle Your Baby in Koala Kuddles

KoalaKuddles
The Learning Tree now carries Koala Kuddles swaddling blankets. The Koala Kuddles Baby Swaddles are 100% cotton woven in a quilted fashion to give them extra cushioning for added softness.

The blankets measure 39″ x 39″ which is significantly larger than most receiving blankets, making for a snug swaddle for baby. Each package contains 3 blankets.

Koala Kuddles were created by Diana Cregan when, coming from Australia to Kansas and having her first baby in 2006, her friends had never seen the swaddling blankets she had brought from Australia. She ended up giving hers away and decided to create and sell her own swaddles here in the US so American mothers could give their babies the same comforting, swaddling benefits that Australian newborns have enjoyed for years.

Now based in Austin, TX, Koala Kuddles wraps are available for your baby or as a perfect baby shower gift for a new mom.

Click for more info on these great baby blankets.