Learning Resources Attribute Apples Review & Giveaway

Posted by Jenna | Friday, August 31, 2012

Although my kids have plenty of toys to play with, there are many times throughout a day they ask me if we can sit down and do an activity. They love to take part in activities that teach them valuable skills and concepts...especially Kaelyn who is preparing to start Preschool! I love watching as they explore, discover and learning new things, which is why I'm always looking for new activities and toys that are fun and educational at the same time. Thankfully, I know I can count on Learning Resources for just that!

 Learning Resources is the leading manufacturer of innovative, hands-on educational products for classrooms and the home. They have been a trusted source for teachers and parents for more than 25 years and continue to grown and impress with their diverse product line of now over 1300 products!

I love the variety of hands-on activities offered through Learning Resources! When I taught preschool, I used them a lot with my students...and now do the same with my own children. My kids love their products, which is why I was excited to learn we were going to have the opportunity to review Attribute Apples!

  • Sort and classify apples by 5 attributes (size, color and physical features - stem, leaf, worm)
  • Includes 27 apples and Activity Guide 
  • For PreK+
When it arrived, I was already impressed with the way it is packaged. It comes in a reusable container which I love! That way we can keep all the apples in one place without worrying that we're going to lose them when not in use. 
Of course, it's what was inside that the kids and I were really interested in! Upon opening up the "apple basket" we found that there are 27 apples and an activity guide. Looking through the activity guide, I found it to be very helpful as it has suggestions for use with Venn diagrams and higher level thinking skills. This is great as the kids get older and helps me know that this is something we'll be able to use a long time with all three kids. 

It is suggested for PreK+, but my 2 year old was also able to use these as well...just in a different way than Kaelyn does. I love that it accommodates children at the level they are at. It's pretty open-ended which means it can be used in different ways depending where the child is at developmentally. I love that!! Both Kaelyn and Kaden are able to play with it and that's something I truly appreciate.

It's really great for Kaden, as he loves to tell us the colors of things. He enjoys spring them by color and telling us what each of the colors are. 

Kaelyn on the other hand, not only will sort in color, but also size and by physical characteristics as well. For instance, she'll put all of the ones with a stem in one pile or the ones with a worm in one pile. The fact that there are 5 different attributes makes it new and fun every time we get them out. The kids decide how they'd like to sort and classify and always find something new as they play. 

I've noticed that Kaelyn also loves to make patterns with them based on color and enjoys putting them in order from smallest to biggest. It's neat to see all the ways the kids have come up with to use these. The sky is the limit! 

I would definitely recommend Attribute Apples to anyone with younger children, as we've been very happy. The quality is great, and it's a fun and different way to teach valuable concepts and skills at a young age. 

Buy It: You can purchase Attribute Apples at Learning Resources for $21.99.

Win It: One very lucky reader is going to win Attribute Apples from Learning Resources! To enter, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. If you don't see the form, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 This giveaway will end September 20th and is open to US Only

**The products for this review and giveaway were provided at no charge. However, all opinions are my own.

 We don't get many months of nice weather here in the Midwest, so when summer hits...we like to spend time in the pool as much as possible! Whether it's at home, the local pool, or even on vacation...water play is an important part of any child's summer (or adult's for that matter!). That's why I appreciate toymaker Prime Time International!
Prime Time Toys understands that kids just want to be kids. They offer a selection of products that will help your kids get the most out of summer and water fun with active toys that keep your child mentally sharp and physically fit! With affordable prices and a variety of things to choose from like water guns, backyard toys and more, there's sure to be something for everyone.

I was introduced to Prime Time Toys last year and couldn't have been happier with their high quality products that keep kids blasting, diving and parachuting their way to some fun times during the summer! I was excited to learn we were going to have the opportunity to review another of their fun toys...The Sunken Treasure.
  • Sinks to the bottom of pool
  • Includes treasure chest and coins
  • Recommended for ages 5+
When the Sunken Treasure arrived, my kids were really excited to check it out! They have thoroughly enjoyed playing in our new pool this summer, and having a new toy to play with had them begging to use to it. 
Although the Sunken Treasure chest arrived on a week where the weather was too cold for us to be outside in our pool, it did come at a perfect time! We were just getting ready to take a mini-vacation and needed some fun pool toys for the trip. I had a feeling this would be the perfect choice. I was right!
As we opened the treasure chest, we found that it included fun coins. Of course, this made it even more intriguing to the kids! The minute we got to our motel, the kids were begging to take their Sunken Treasure Chest down to the pool so they could start playing. 
It's made to sink and rest on the bottom of the pool, then kids can dive in, crack it open and collect the treasures as they float away. I can see why it's recommended for ages 5+, as you have to be comfortable diving under water and swimming. Kaelyn did a great job with this and loved the challenge. Since Kaden (nearly 3 years old) was also playing, most of the time we modified the way it was used and played with it in the more shallow end.

Trying to find a good place for the treasure chest where she and her brother could use it
Both kids had a great time going underwater to collect the treasure coins (or money as Kaden says). It brought the fun of swimming to a whole new level! As they continue to play with this fun toy, I see their confidence in the water growing, not to mention all the fun they have! I love that it's an open-ended type of toy that allows for kids to use it anyway they wish. The sky is the limit!

Getting ready to find the coins under the water
We have found the quality of the Sunken Treasure chest to be top-notch and something that will last us a long time! I'm excited to pull this toy out for future vacations and summer pool fun and know the kids will love it just as much each and every time. 

Of course, the Sunken Treasure chest is just one of many fun water games found at Prime Time Toys. Imagine turning your pool water into a 35 foot blast of action! That's the power behind the new Hydro Blaster line of toys. There's also something for those with a little climber, the Big Jump Launcher which is thrown from the tree tops and parachutes safely back to earth. 

Buy It: You can purchase the Sunken Treasure for $14.99. 

Win it: One very lucky reader is going to win their choice of one of the following: Hydro Blaster, Hydro Blaster Max, Hydro Blaster Pro, Sunken Treasure, OR a Big Jump Launcher! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. If you don't see the form, click here

This giveaway will end September 14th and is open to US Only

*The products for this review and giveaway were provided for free. All opinions are my own.

Almost anywhere we go, I see small children playing with smart phones and tablets of some kind. My kids are no different! In fact, there are times they seem much more tech savvy than myself... even at nearly 3 years old and 5 years old! I don't blame them for being so fascinated with technology, as there's a whole world of learning and entertainment at their fingertips...but the problem with most devices like this, is that they are delicate and not very kid-friendly. They often don't offer the durability that a child's play requires or the multi-media entertainment to hold their attention either. That's why I love VTech and the fact that they've introduced the MobiGo 2, expanding on the original version.

Containing a wide array of interactive and educational updates and features, the MobiGo 2 is sure to entertain your child both at home and on the go. For those familiar with this device, you probably know that it's an educational handheld system for children 3-8 years old. With Kaden just a month shy of 3 years old and Kaelyn nearing 5 years old, my kids fall right within this range. That's why I was excited to learn we were going to have the opportunity to review the VTech MobiGo 2 Touch Learning System.

As I read and learned more about the MobiGo 2, I was even more excited to check it out and have Kaelyn and Kaden use it. Offering kids the opportunity enjoy on-the-go play, the MobiGo 2 handheld touch learning system is a multi-functional device providing fun and education in different ways (through games, ebooks, etc). Teaching basic learning skills like math, vocabulary, spelling, reading, logic, drawing and more...I knew this handheld device was exactly what my kids would enjoy.

We have never owned the original MobiGo, but know people who do and this one offers some new features such as a motion sensor and microphone, adding to great ways for kids to explore...and all for the same price! That means there are four ways for kids to explore with the MobiGo 2: the touch screen, keyboard, motion sensor and microphone! I don't know about you, but just learning how much the kids were going to be able to do with this had us all excited when it arrived on our doorstep.

When ever it comes to technology, I'm always a little hesitant not knowing how easy it will be to get set up and ready to use...especially with two eager children waiting to play with it. Thankfully though, VTech makes it very easy with step by step instructions. I began by inserting the Learning Lodge Navigator Installation CD and got it installed to my computer. I then connected the MobiGo2 to my computer with the included USB cord.
There were 3 free downloads available for this device, so I went in and downloaded three games I knew both Kaelyn and Kaden would enjoy. It was so easy to transfer them to the MobiGo 2, in no time they were on the main menu screen and ready to play.
On top of the three games I downloaded, there are many built-in apps as well (games, an art studio photo album and more!). Everything is conveniently located on the main screen which makes it easy for the kids to find the game they want to play.

My kids have had the opportunity to use the MobiGo 2 Touch Learning System a lot over the past couple of weeks. We have found it to be a great thing for them to do both at home and on-the-go. We took a couple of mini vacations and it was really nice for them to have something to do that engaged them in learning and fun...all while being kid-friendly and appropriate for their ages. Even their cousins got in on the fun!
The first thing I was impressed with is the user-friendly size. It's perfect for little hands and easy to slip in the diaper bag when we're out and about. It's my new go-to item when the kids are bored while grocery shopping, at appointments, etc.
Kaden at the motel enjoying his MobiGo 2
The quality is also top-notch and something I can tell will last us a long time. And, with over 100 cartridges and downloadable apps, available for purchase separately, I am certain this will be something they will be able to use and enjoy for many years!

Aside from the design, ease-of-use and quality...I have been most impressed with all that the VTech MobiGo 2 can do! Between the touch screen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard (which gets kids familiar with computer skills), they have a world of learning and independent play at their fingertips.

Both Kaelyn and Kaden have enjoyed all that the MobiGo 2 offers as well. Kaelyn's favorite feature is definitely the motion control and sound-activated games! Motion games allow children to shake, tilt pat or turn MobiGo 2 to play their games with motion sensing technology. For instance, with the built-in game Hamster Highway, they help Henry the Hamster win a race by tilting the device from side to side to help him stay on track and miss hitting anything in his way. It's such a neat, interactive way to get them engaged in these games. Even my nephews enjoyed them on a recent vacation we took!

The sound-activated games use the built-in mic to reveal clues and enrich game play as well. Children can blow into the mic to move objects or even speak commands. 

The MobiGo 2 also offers writing games, a photo viewer (where you can transfer pictures from your computer), and an e-reader! I'm looking forward to downloading some of these, as well as buying a few cartridges for the kids to use and enjoy.
One of my favorite features is the Learning Lodge Navigator. Now that it's installed on my computer, I can log on to purchase games or apps. I can also check the progress log which shows me their progress. How neat is that!?

Overall we've been thrilled with the MobiGo 2! The quality is fantastic, and this handheld touch learning system is multi-function and provides fun ways to play and learn through games, ebooks, etc. I appreciate that it teaches basic learning skills and concepts like letter names and phonics, basic math skills, reading development, problem solving, science concept, creative play, visualization/memory, etc and I can already see that both Kaelyn and Kaden are learning a lot! They both adore this handy device and ask to play with it daily. It's perfect to take along on road trips and vacations. It keeps the kids entertained, having fun and learning. We love it! 
I would definitely recommend the VTech MobiGo 2 Touch Learning System to any parent looking for on-the-go, independent play for their children between 3 and 8! It's something I am so glad we were introduced to and look forward to learning more about all that it can do and enhancing my kids' learning with all of the apps and cartridges available.

Buy It: The MobiGo 2 Touch Learning System retails for $59.99.

You can connect with VTech on Twitter and Facebook

**I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for VTech. I received product samples to facilitate my review.

Women's Naturalizer Shoes ~ Comfortable & Stylish! {Review}

Posted by Jenna | Saturday, August 25, 2012

With winter lasting a good part of the year here in the midwest, we're often ready to ditch our winter gear and put on our summer clothes. For me, that includes cute sandals! I love wearing sandals this time of year and enjoy having a variety to choose from. Whether it's a casual pair or something more dressy...I always look for style, quality, and comfort. Thankfully, I've found that with Naturalizer

For more than 80 years, Naturalizer has been known for creating stylish and comfortable shoes made just for women. They understand how comfortable shoes can help women throughout their busy days and are committed to designing beautiful shoes that feel as good at the end of the day as they do at the beginning! 
In learning more about Naturalizer, I was impressed to find that their shoes feature an exclusive N5 comfort system (five features that are proven to provide all day comfort): extra cushioning, breathable linings, balance with every step, flexible soles, and lightweight material. Browsing their great selection if found stylish options for every season and couldn't have been happier to learn I was going to have the opportunity to review one. 

I enjoyed browsing through all of their sandals, but I will admit it was not an easy just choosing one! Wow are there are a lot of great choices!! And the fact that they make it easy for women to find hard to find sizes and widths makes it even more fun to shop on their site. After browsing for quite some time, I decided to go with the Lulianna sandal and am so happy I did. 
 Shipping was really fast. In just a couple of days of placing my order, the package arrived on my doorstep! YAY! Upon opening the box, I was already thrilled with the feminine look of these sandals.

I love that they're more neutral in color, so I'm able to wear them with almost any outfit. Whether I'm in jeans or something more dressy...these add a touch of style to whatever I'm wearing. 

I also like the unique look of the fabric upper in a dress wedge sandal style with a round, open toe. It's cute and not something you see on every sandal. Having worn these many times already, I've received several compliments on how cute they are!
I have found that the heel sling strap helps keep them on my feet, and most importantly...the cushioning insole featuring the N5 Comfort System makes them the most comfortable pair of sandals I own! With a total height of 3 1/2 inches, you wouldn't think they would be comfortable, but I can wear them hours on end without any discomfort at all. I love it!! 
The non-slip outsole is also nice when wearing out and about. 
As I said, I've worn them several times and have nothing but good things to say about the quality, style and comfort! In fact, I love them so much that I've considered getting the same sandal in one of the other colors/prints offered. Aren't' these Lulianna Floral Multi Fabric sandals cute?! 
Having had such a great experience with Naturalizer and their high quality shoes, I will definitely be shopping there more in the future! Whether you're looking for fun summer shoes, or something for the upcoming fall weather...you're sure to find the perfect pair at Naturalizer.com!

Buy It: You can purchase the Lulianna sandals at Naturalizer.com.

**The product of this review was provided to facilitate this review. However, all opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.

Floaties: Pool and Water Safety Products ~ Review

Posted by Jenna | Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer is a time for us to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. With winter lasting a better part of the year, we are out the moment it gets nice out and soak it in as much as possible until cold weather returns. Aside from frequent trips to the park and walks around the neighborhood, we also LOVE spending time in the pool! With three kids it is not always easy to pack up everyone and go to the local pool, so this summer we decided to buy a larger pool for own yard. What a fabulous decision that was! We've been able to enjoy many hours swimming and relaxing all hours of the day. We love it and so do the kids!

Of course, along with summer water fun comes the important topic of water safety. I want to make sure my kids have the necessary gear to keep them safe while swimming in the pool. That's why I appreciate brands like Floaties™!

Floaties was born out of necessity in Australia in 1964 by a family who almost lost their 18 month old baby through drowning! It was then that they wanted to empower children and their parents through the invention of Floatation Armbands. In time, a complete water confidence range was developed by Klaus, all of which exceed the highest quality standards. They are the most recognized name for water confidence products in Australia and many other parts of the world and a brand I am so happy to have been introduced to this summer!

In learning more about Floaties™, I found that their products are not only designed to help keep children safe, but also build their confidence in the water. I appreciate that they help keep children safe while still allowing them to have fun. And, they recognize that all kids are different so Floaties offers a complete range of swimming aids and accessories to suit different sizes, weights, etc.

Since we spend so much time in the water during the summer months, I was thrilled to learn we were going to have the opportunity to review of their products. We were sent a Swim Seat, Armbands, and Kickboard.
When the products arrived, the kids couldn't wait to test them out in the pool. I took each out of their packaging and was impressed with the quality right away! They are made with the best quality materials to give parents peace of mind.
As I looked for the instructions, I found them located right on the packaging. They were easy to follow with helpful advice and clear warnings. Of course, once we had them out, the things the kids loved most was the eye catching fun yellow color. It not only makes them fun but it's also great for safety as they can easily be seen in and out of the water.

Each Floaties product suited my kids perfectly. Kaelyn absolutely loved the Kickboard. Designed for kids ages 2+ years and 33+ lbs, this is idea for both kick and stroke development. Kaelyn is still learning how to swim and this has been perfect for building her confidence and development in the water. There are built in hands for easy grip and most importantly, the durable construction ensures that she's safe while using it. It's definitely something I can tell will hold up well and will be used summer after summer!
Kaden is even newer to the water and liked being able to wear the Floaties Armbands. We got a size 2 which are designed for ages 2-6 years old/24-55 lbs....perfect for Kaden's age and size. He found them easy and comfortable to wear, and doesn't mind having them on while in the pool. This is a relief, because like most kids, he is particular about things like this and I was happy that he likes them. In fact, he often reminds me if I don't have them out yet when we're outside getting into the pool! The armbands also have dual air chambers with non-return safety valves. They're great for children like Kaden who just being introduced to swimming.
And of course there's our baby Caysen, who loves the water as well. Thanks to the Floaties Swim Seat, he is able to enjoy the water just as much as the rest of us. This Swim Seat features a dual chamber outer ring and non return safety valve for added security. I was amazed how well he liked it. It was comfortable and relaxing for him. My favorite feature is the sturdy back support on it and the fact that it allows him to sit in the water, not float on top of it.
We've been thrilled with all three Floaties products we received and would definitely recommend them to other parents with young children. They have made our water time fun and most importantly, safe this summer. I appreciate the dual air chambers, high grade vinyl and non-return valves that promote confidence in kids and peace of mind for parents knowing their children are safe while in the water.

Buy It: You can find out where to buy Floaties products on their website.

**The products for this review were provided for free by Floaties™. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.

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