Thursday, November 26, 2009


Mastermind Toys has generously donated a Leap Frog "Text & Learn" to a lucky SMMART ideas reader. Mastermind toys has been in the business of encouraging young minds since 1984.

"At we are all about carrying good toys; a good toy is well-made and high quality, has great play value, is educational, something that mom and dad can appreciate, and above all FUN! We feel our toys make great gifts, and we have free gift wrapping and personalized gift tags to make gift-giving that much easier!"

-Daniel Levy (Marketing and Store Operations of Mastermind Toys)

The Leap Frog "Text & Learn" uses the QWERTY keypad, so your child will become familiar with the order of the keys necessary for typing and developing computer skills. This learning toy hosts 3 learning levels (letters, games and pretend browser) and 6 games. This handheld toy will be an awesome learning tool for your child!

*To enter this giveaway,you have four entry opportunities:
1) Go to the Mastermind Toy site and drop me a comment (with your name) and tell me about which Mastermind toy you would wish to gift this Christmas. (

2) Become a member of Mastermind's Facebook page (separate comment- "name:Facebook member").

3) Follow Mastermind Toys on Twitter at "Mastermindtoys" (separate comment).

4) Sign up to receive the eUpdates from the Mastermind Newsletter (separate comment).

This giveaway is open to those living in the U.S. and Canada. The winner will be chosen randomly and winner's name will be posted on this site Thursday, December 3rd, 2009. The winner needs to e-mail their mailing address to me by Midnight, December 3rd, or another winner's name will be posted. Good Luck!

(Here is a brief rundown of why people should get involved with Mastermind Toys online:

-eUpdate subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers have access to special toy promotions that can't be found on the regular website.

-Use Facebook and Twitter to ask questions about their toys or specials, or even to help you find the perfect gift for your child, (they'll make suggestions if you're having trouble deciding!).

-Upload photos of your kid's Lego, K'Nex or arts and craft masterpiece on our Facebook page to share with other fans.)

You should check out the great toys and gifts at Mastermind Toys. Their Gift Guide highlights near 400 toys that are sure to bring sheer Christmas joy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Pilgrims, Wampanoag, Turkey and Tryptophan...

Here are a few fun activities for your little ones while you're busy baking the apple, pecan and pumpkin pies!


Help your child trace his hand on festive colored cardstock or construction paper. Make about 6-8 hands. Help him cut out his hand tracings and set them aside.

Set out a few Thanksgiving colors of paint and let your child paint the back of a paper plate. Help your child think about things that he's thankful for and encourage him to paint pictures of these things. Your child could color with crayons or markers, if preferred.

Fold the paper plate in half and have your children count as he drops in several pieces of dried corn, beans or rice. Your child can tell you something he's grateful for, for every corn kernal he drops into the paper plate. Place the traced and cut-out hands into the edge of the folded paper plate to look like turkey tail feathers.

Staple the two paper plate edges together and place masking tape over the pointy ends of the staples.

Now you have a turkey shaker.


You'll need an empty cylindrical an oatmeal cylinder, or a yogurt or cottage cheese container.

Wrap paper around the outside and secure it on the container with tape.
Let your child decorate the paper with markers, stickers, crayons or paint.

Cut out two felt circles that are slightly bigger than the top and bottom of your container.

Punch holes (1 inch apart) around the edge of the felt. Try to have the same number of holes in each circle. Be sure that the holes are not on the very edge, or else they will not be able to hold the tight yarn and rip.

Place one felt circle under the cylinder and one on top. Weave a piece of yarn from the top to the bottom felt circle, weaving through every other hole. You may wish to start the weaving pattern and then let your child help you finish. Tape the end of the yarn for easier threading.

Now you have a simulated Native American Drum for your child to keep the beat to the following songs and poem.


Now, let your little one shake his turkey to the beat of a fun Thanksgiving song! Practice shaking to the rhythm as you sing or recite. You can count out the beat first before you begin singing/reciting.

Have you heard this cute little song and poem from

In this song, you can shake/beat to a 1-2-3 rhythm or just the 2-3 (duh, dum) beats. ("Have you" is an upbeat, so start shaking on "ever" for the first beat.)

"Pumpkin Song" (3 Beats)
(tune: Have you ever seen a lassie?)

Have you ever seen a pumpkin, a pumpkin, a pumpkin,
Have you ever seen a pumpkin, that grows on a vine?
A round one, a tall one, a fat one, a small one.
Have you ever seen a pumpkin, that grows on a vine?

Recite this poem and have your child shake to the beat. When you say the words bobble-bobble or gobble-gobble, shake the turkey rapidly.

"Funny Turkey" (2 beats)

The turkey is a funny bird
Its head goes bobble-bobble;
And all he knows is just one word...
And that is GOBBLE-GOBBLE!

Now, try this little song...sung to the tune of "Christmas is Coming".

"Thanksgiving is Coming" (4 Beats)

Thanksgiving is coming,
The Turkey's getting fat.
Put a turkey feather in your pilgrim hat!
If you haven't got a feather, than a dried corn husk will do.
If you haven't got a dried corn husk,
Than God Bless You!

God Bless You!

SMMART ideas video segment link

Check out the SMMART ideas Thanksgiving Video Segment on the "Good Things Utah" site...
It won't be posted on their site very get on over there!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Mastermind Toys offers a wide variety of fun, educational and exciting toys for this holiday season.

My four month old was sitting in her papasan chair and fussing a little as I was preparing dinner. Then, I put the Lamaze Garden Bug Foot and Wrist Rattle Set on her little feet and wrists. I was hopeful, but not sure that this would do the trick, since she has a yellow duck wrist rattle that hasn't captured her full attention lately...and since she was already fussing, I figured that if these Garden Bug rattles soothed her, then they really would be great!

Well, well, well! Her little eyes widened as she observed the rattles' bright colors and she was instantly interested in lifting her legs up so she could grab her newfound Buggie friends.

What we Like:

-She loved the vivid, bright colors of the little Garden Bug Rattles

-I could tell when she grabbed a Buggie wing and heard the crinkles, she was wondering where that sound came from. It's nice that the Lamaze Garden Bug Foot and Wrist Ratttle not only rattles, but the wings crinckle.

-The Lamaze Garden Bug Foot and Wrist Rattles kept my little one entertained until dinner was on the table...she really does enjoy them!

Now, the Kiddieland Learn N Play Activity Box was a big hit among my older daughters. The 2 year old's attention was captured for quite some time....and it's no wonder why. The Activity Box is LOADED with things to do, music, lights, "bells and whistles". The bright colors were attractive and there were so many activities on each of the six sides of the activity cube.

What we Like:

-So many activities...sure, there are activities on all 6 sides, but there are even multiple activities on each individual side! You can twist, turn, push, pull, and blinking lights and play with a pretend CD.

-The Learn N Play Actiity Box does a nice job of playing a variety of musical pieces, as well as varying the style of music (jazz, circus). I love that the Activity Box showcases Classical Music and Nursery Rhyme tunes.

-The activities are easy to figure out, so a child can play on her own and doesn't need a parent helping her to know what to do for each activity.

...Now, the Leap Frog Text and Learn...

For a 4 year-old child who has never used a handheld, the learning curve was a little slow. This toy is suggested for 3+ years of age. She needed to be shown how to use the directional keypad, how to jump from games to letter play and text mode. But, once she was shown a few basics, she was able to play with the Text and Learn by herself. She did enjoy learning this new skill and liked playing with the Text and Learn.

What we Like:

-On "Letter" mode, the Text and Learn sounds out the letter that your child pushes. This is a good review of letter sounds. The little on screen puppy helps to animate the example word starting with that lettter.

-My four year old really enjoyed the two games on this handheld, 'The Map Game' and 'The Bubble Game' that nurtured the use of the QWERTY keyboard and incorporated shape recognition.

Possible improvements:
-This toy could use more game options. Really, the only "games" it has are in letter mode when you push a letter and hear the sound it makes and a word that starts with the sound, the 'Map Game' (maneuver to find shapes) and the 'Bubble Game' (Press the letter shown in the bubble to pop it before it leaves the screen) in game mode, watching the puppy dance to music and free form texting the puppy in text mode.

-Text Mode asks if you want to write a text to the puppy...This requires parental support to help spell the message correctly. My daughter played around in this mode for a bit, but there wasn't much exciting to keep her in text mode. Text mode needs guidance, such as asking the child to fill in letters of words or asking the child to sound out a letter and push the correct letter (QWERTY keyboard practice)

The Leap Frog Text and Learn's 'Letter mode' is great for any child learning or reviewing their letters. If it had more games, it would be a great improvement!

Friday, November 20, 2009



I am excited to present SMMART Music Thanksgiving Ideas on "Good Things Utah", abc4 after the Macy's Day Parade.

Yes! I'll be presenting on THANKSGIVING DAY! Gobble, Gobble!

Actually they are pre-recording on the prior Tuesday, so I will be at home Thanksgiving Day, putting the finishing touches on the orange-cranberry sauce before the big feast.

Be sure to stay tuned to abc4 and pick up a few SMMART Music ideas to keep the little ones entertained on Thanksgiving Day!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I thought I'd share a few little ditties with you so you can sing and recite these with your children before the big turkey day!

Pumpkin Song
(tune: Have you ever seen a lassie?)
Have you ever seen a pumpkin, a pumpkin, a pumpkin,

Have you ever seen a pumpkin, that grows on a vine?
A round one, a tall one, a fat one, a small one.
Have you ever seen a pumpkin, that grows on a vine?

Mr. Turkey
(tune of "Frere Jacque")
Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey

Run away, Run away
If you don't be careful
You will be a mouthful
Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day

Funny Turkey Poem
The turkey is a funny bird

Its head goes bobble-bobble;
And all he knows is just one word...
And that is GOBBLE-GOBBLE!


Try this little song out:

Thanksgiving is Coming
Thanksgiving is Coming,
The turkey's getting fat!
Put a turkey feather in your Pilgrim hat.
If you haven't got a feather, than a dried corn husk will do.
If you haven't got a dried corn husk,
Than God Bless You!
God Bless You!

Monday, November 9, 2009


So, when do you set the time aside to read with your kids? I am wondering what your schedules usually include, and what triggers help you to make sure you are reading with your children.

An automatic trigger in our family is that we read books before naps and before bedtime. When we get a new load of library books, we also read scattered throughout the day since we want to explore the new books and see what stories lie inside.

I also like to switch up the books that we keep in the car. New books make for semi-quiet car rides.

We keep a basket of seasonal books on the floor beside each bed...I update the books each season/holiday/birthday time so that they're easy to grab and we know just where those special books are so we can easily read them in anticipation of a special day.

I often lay a book out on my child's bed for her to find while she's playing in her room.

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


If you live around the Salt Lake City area, I thought you'd like to know about the KUED Reading Party to be held in January.

From Nov.4- Nov. 27, preschoolers to 5th graders are asked to fill out a reading time chart and log their hours onto (click on PBS Kids Club), or go to

You can print out the reading log here:

I'm going to request the afternoon party-hope to see you there!


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