Raindrops Keep Falling….. 4 Fun Ways to Welcome April Showers

Here comes April!!  Sunshine and warmer days replace the gloomy grey of winter.   The trees begin budding with new green leaves and the muted colors of the winter landscape are washed away with each April shower.  Little girls and boys are antsy to get outside after being cooped up all winter long.  Here are five fun ways to celebrate spring and enjoy even the rainiest days April has to offer.

1. Reading and Raindrops

Pick up one of the great books for children about weather, rain, spring, or umbrellas.  Raindrop, Plop by Wendy Lewison is a great example.  Dress your youngster up in their galoshes and pop open the Dora umbrella or the Thomas the Train Engine umbrella as you read to them.  Encourage them to use their imagination and act out the story.  For older children, read the book together or have them read it to you.Dora Umbrellas

2. Chart the Weather

Make learning about the weather fun for everyone in the family and create a weather chart by having your children track the weather each day.  On rainy days, have them grab their favorite umbrella and set out rain collectors to find out how much rain falls.  On sunny days, focus on tracking temperature fluctuations over the course of the day.  For older children, they can track the forecast from the meteorologists against the actual weather conditions.  By the time May comes to call they may be making their own forecast.

3. Walking in the Rain

Decked out in raincoats and galoshes, take a walk in the rain together.  Make sure to bring along enough colorful, cute umbrellas for everyone and encourage puddle jumping.  To add another element of fun, sing fun songs about rainy days like “Singing in the Rain” as you walk.  Have each person on the walk make up a song or a story about their umbrella.  If they have a Tinkerbell Umbrella, they might sing about a fairy that only comes out in the rain.  If they have an Iron Man umbrella, they might sign about an action hero who gets stronger when it rains.

4. Play in the Puddles

With a couple hula hoops, two balls and enough umbrellas for all your players, you can invent your own rainy day game called Puddle Ball.  Find a spot ripe with puddles and select the biggest ones as your point puddles.  Lay a hula hoop around each of the point puddles and split into two teams.  Each team gets a ball and the object of the game is to have a tremendous amount of fun while splashing and laughing in the puddles.  Make up your own rules to create a custom made game just for your family.

No need to wait for summer to have a ton of fun outside, especially if you have the right equipment on hand.  Little ones love umbrellas, especially ones made just for them.  Look for umbrellas featuring their favorite characters like Disney’s Cars or Fairies.  For the littlest ones, try a Sesame Street umbrella featuring Big Bird or Elmo.  Splash away the rainy April days with galoshes, an umbrella and smiles all around.


A Basket Full of Bunnies – Make it a Max and Ruby Easter

Max and Ruby

Looking for the perfect presents for the Easter Bunny to bring your young child this year?  Look no further than the tales of Max and Ruby.   These lovable bunnies are the perfect additionMax and Ruby Dolls to any child’s collection and are sure to bring more than just fun and entertainment to your child’s life.  Centering on the relationship between two siblings, the Max and Ruby toys, books, and television show provide opportunities for learning and growth with every experience.

All About Max and Ruby

The stories found in the books and on the Nick Jr. television show feature Max, his sister Ruby, and their friends and family.  Max, who is three years old, is trying to learn to do things for himself.  He is very determined and offers children of a similar age an excellent role model for overcoming challenges.   Ruby, who is seven, is supportive of Max and tries to help him learn something new in each story.  The children are fortunate to have a wonderful, funny grandmother who lives in the house next door.  She offers guidance and support through all the children’s antics and models a positive relationship between young children and older family members.

Educational Messages

Each Max and Ruby story offers up a key message that is meaningful to children in this age group.  Some stories feature Max and Ruby playing together or interacting in positive, supportive ways.  Other stories focus on modeling respectful behavior by showing the bunnies being respectful to each other, to their grandmother, to their toys and their friends.  Often, the message of the story will be brought about through some conflict or issue that Max, Ruby and the other characters need to resolve.  As the bunnies overcome each challenge, learn each lesson and resolve each conflict, your child will benefit from the positive messages the stories provide.

Bringing the Books Home

Read one of the books together and then use the message in the story to spark discussion and interactions with your own children on the same or similar topics.  Use Max and Ruby plush dolls to act out stories from the books with your children to help make the message of the book stick.  If you are having trouble with sibling arguments or rivalry, use a Max and Ruby game or book to bring up the topic and offer your children role models on working and playing together.

There are also Max and Ruby books that take on specific issues in a fun and interesting way.  In Max Cleans Up, Ruby tries to help Max learn to clean his own room.  But Max doesn’t

Max and Ruby Backpack

want to throw his things away, even the clump of dirt from his floor.  Instead, he stuffs them all in his pocket and learns his lesson later in the story.  In Goodnight Max, Ruby helps Max through a series of mishaps, trying to get him to bed.

Bunny Filled Basket

Whether your children already love Max and Ruby or if you are bringing these loveable bunnies into your child’s life for the first time, Easter and bunnies are a perfect fit.  From a Max and Ruby backpack full of books to a basket full of games and toys you can use to re-create their many adventures, you are sure to find Max and Ruby merchandise that will bring a bounce to your child’s step this Easter.


Start Your Engines! Disney Pixar Cars 2 Racing into Theaters This Summer

The countdown has begun for the much-anticipated, long awaited sequel to the hit Disney movie Cars.  Coming in June, Cars 2 stars the original crew from Radiator Springs who find themselves a long way from home as they travel around the world participating in the first ever  World Cup road race.  Filled with adventure and intrigue, this movie is sure to be a summer blockbuster and THE movie your kids will want to experience again and again.  Don’t miss the opportunity to stock up on Cars 2 toys, games, and backpacks before the rush.

The movie features two parallel plotlines that keep our favorite Disney Cars twisting and turning as the story unfolds.  In the beginning, everyone’s favorite red racecar, Lightning McQueen, travels overseas to participate in the World Cup.  The race, which is actually 5 different races in 5 countries, features the best of the best from each international racing style.  Mater, McQueen’s trusty friend and the Tow Truck from Radiator Springs, accompanies him and becomes unwittingly entangled in international espionage.   Known for his tall tales and truth embellishing, Mater finds himself a key player in an international spy game befitting one of his stories.   This second plot line introduces several new characters including Finn McMissile, a British super spy, Siddely, his spy plane partner and Holley Shiftwell, a rookie agent with lots of cool gadgets but little experience.

With race locations in Japan, Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom, the adventure plays out across the globe.  Mater feels torn between helping McQueen win each of the races to capture the World Cup and completing the super secret spy mission he has been drawn into.  His struggle intensifies when Holley Shiftwell comes on the scene, overwhelming Mater’s simple sensibilities with her looks and know-how.    Conflicted, Mater works with the other secret agents, which includes America’s greatest spy Rod “Torque” Redline, to foil the evil plans of Professor Zundapp.

Disney Pixar Cars Crayola

The Professor, who schemes and plots to ruin the World Cup, is the bad apple of the movie.  Flanked by Grem and Acer, his henchmen, the Professor is bound and determined to keep Lightning McQueen from taking home the World Cup victory.  No one knows the Professor’s hidden motive for wanting to ruin the race.  Joined by most of the original cast including Sally Carerra, McQueen’s love interest, Ramone and Flo, Luigi and Guido and the Sherriff and Mack, McQueen and Mater are sure to be entertaining for kids of all ages.

The trailers and teasers leave us with many questions, but few answers.  Is Mater’s mission related to the Professor’s plot to ruin the race?  Who can be trusted and who is a double agent working for the other side?  With Mater distracted, does McQueen stand a chance in the World Cup race?  Will the Professor and his henchmen prevail or will the heroes save the day? Don’t miss this sequel coming out in June.  If you can’t wait, check out the great selection of toys already available including Cars 2 puzzles, luggage and backpacks featuring the main characters and die cast replicas of each of the Cars characters.


Caillou – More Than Just a Boy in a Yellow Shirt

Caillou, the small boy in the yellow shirt, has been entertaining and educating children for more than a decade.  Parents and children alike are fans of the small bald boy because the stories, as told in the books, on the television show and in the children’s DVDs promote communication between parent and child.   The series of books begins when Caillou is a baby, not quite a year old and go through his 6th year.  This allows children to grow up with him and offers them a friend they can relate to through each age and stage.

Caillou DollsThe stories are written from Caillou’s perspective – a key element to their educational value.  Because he mirrors other children in age and life experience, the problems Caillou encounters and the feelings he has are the same as his young fans.  This gives them someone to relate to and provides parents with a view into the world as experienced by their children.  He is seen as a real hero to them and many children love to carry their Caillou plush toy with them as they go about their day.

The stories were all written based on the work of Dr. Francoise Dorto, an expert in child development.  Her work centered on the premise that children do not have the carefree life they are thought to have, but come up against the same obstacles and challenges as adults.  The difference for children is that they lack the communication skills and problem solving experiences of adults.  She felt that in order to aid in the development of each child, they need to be respected as a person.  This focus on childhood development is why the stories are so popular with parents.

Although the series can be seen on TV, your child can still watch Caillou, his parents, sister and cat in their adventures with the Caillou DVD collection.  Each story takes on a problem or challenge that Caillou is facing andCaillou DVD Collection explains how the people in his life him to find a good solution.  Using an everyday scenario that children can understand and relate to as the basis for the story helps children understand what they are going through.  Watch the DVDs together and use Caillou’s adventures as a topic of discussion or to work through a challenging issue your child is facing.

The story of Caillou and the Missing Sock is a good example of how the books use Caillou’s experiences to teach children to problem solve.  In the story, when he cannot find his sock, he ventures to the basement laundry room and through a series of misfortunes winds up locked in the basement with his Dad.  His mother comes along and rescues them, providing a happy ending.  This story offers several key learning opportunities to children.   Caillou is self sufficient; he goes in search of his sock alone.  When the basement door handle comes off the door, he knows he cannot handle this problem alone so he calls for his Dad to help.  This also demonstrates trust and communication between parent and child.  Caillou also learns that Dad can’t always save him, and that sometimes you need assistance from someone else if you are stuck.  The way stories like this mimic real life situations and provide a possible solution from the child’s perspective, teach children how to handle similar situations in their own lives.

Aimed at helping parents and children learn to communicate and encouraging children to develop into their own unique person, Caillou provides both entertainment and education to children.  The books, DVD collection and companion toys make great gifts for children from babies through the start of school.


Rainy Day Fun

As we head into the first days of spring, make sure you are prepared to keep your little artistsbusy and active before the first of the April showers being to fall. Arts and crafts for kids are a wonderful way to spend a rainy day and provide your child with a chance to use theirimagination and creativity. Here are a few ideas for inspiring the artist in every age group.

Arts and Crafts for Toddlers

For the littlest Picassos in your house, stock up on Crayola color wonder sets. The magic paperallows each child to make their own masterpiece without making any mess. There is no need for newspaper or smocks with this craft project. Toddlers will love how the magic pens bring their favorite characters like Mater and Lightning McQueen from Cars to life.Disney Pixar Cars Crayola

If you want a no-mess activity that inspires more creative options, invest in an Aquadoodle mat.The ingenious toy comes in wall and table styles and has a reusable design that will allow yourchildren to create masterpiece after masterpiece. This unique arts and crafts activity for kids is fun for all ages.

Arts and Crafts for Children

Your elementary age crafters can create refrigerator art, posters for their room or special projectsto send to their grandma with one of Disney’s stamptastic kits. Offering a version for girls filled with princesses and a version for boys full of their favorite characters from Cars, these kits include pre-made scenes, stamps, ink pads and colored pencils. Your child can choose to color inside the lines or start from scratch and is sure to enjoy stamping the day away.

Looking for something a little less messy? Try a Magic Reveal Activity Kit featuring the characters from Toy Story 3. Complete with magical markers and 64 pages of fun, these kitswill keep your children so busy they won’t even realize they are supposed to be gloomy sincethey cannot go outside to play.

Arts and Crafts for Tweens

Put your tweens in charge of arts and crafts time and watch as they bond with their younger siblings while drawing on the wall style Aquadoodle mat or coloring a picture of Belle. TheAquadoodle pictures they create together may not last through the afternoon, but the memories of spending time together will stick around for a lifetime. Let them teach the smaller ones to paint with kid friendly paints and brushes designed for smaller hands. Or skip the brushes all together and challenge your group of Van Goghs to create a finger paint masterpiece. Make sure there are plenty of paper towels on hand and don’t be surprised if they turn each other into the canvas.

No matter their age, the sure cure for the rainy day blues is a colorful arts and crafts project your children can do together. As spring sets in, stock up on basic supplies like construction paper, water based paint, over-bake clay, markers, and glue in addition to specific kits and activity setsand you will be more than prepared for each and every April shower.

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