Friday, December 30, 2011

Toy Spotlight - Plan Toys Dollhouses and Accessories

A Dollhouse is one of those classic toys that has been loved by children throughout the ages. I remember playing with my dollhouse for hours and would shut myself up in my room after school and enter an imaginary world that I created. In the past, dollhouses have been thought of as a 'girl' toy when it really should not be. Dollhouses are toys for all children as it is an amazing toy that really promotes a child's creativity and imagination. Promoting creativity in children is very important as it gets them using their problem solving skills and think of new things and ways to do things.

Imaginative play is also very important, it gives children the opportunity to make up their own stories, scenarios and games, it's a great way for them to make sense of their world. Dollhouses, as well as kitchen play allows them to take real world items and gives them the power to do with them as they want. If they want to have a bed in the washroom they can do that, or perhaps they want to have a toilet in the bedroom to make it easier to go, who knows, only they do.

Dollhouses have certainly come a long way from the very fancy and delicate ones of Victorian times to the flimsy, plastic ones of recent years. I would recommend that whatever dollhouse you get your child, it should be a strong one, as you don't want to be worried about them breaking them and they should be allowed to play with it in the way that they want to without fear of it being damaged.

I also feel really strongly that dollhouses are not just a girl toy, boys love to play with dollhouses and they should not be deprived of the great play experience, if it is a toy that they would enjoy. For this reason I love the Plan Toys doll houses, I love that they are not gender specific, they are not girly in any way. They are also extremely strong and sturdy and will certainly withstand a good play.

Though we have had the dollhouses for some time now, I saw a Plan Toys Chalet house built a couple of months ago at a friend's house. She has three children, two boys and a girl and they all love the house and given the state of the playroom it was very much played with. When I saw the house on a table, my mouth just dropped, I had not realized just how beautiful it was. I was taken aback by how big it was and how solid all the furniture pieces were. Plan Toys really cares about the quality of the craftsmanship and the attention to detail of all their toys.

At we carry three Plan Toys Dollhouses and many accessories that will complement any house that you may have.

The Chalet Dollhouse from Plan Toy consists of 2 units that can be arranged in a multitude of ways. This furnished version comes with 19 pieces of miniature doll house furniture so all you need to add is a family and the fun begins.

Hours of imaginative play await. This is a modern open concept dollhouse built to last.Link

Features of the Furnished Chalet Dollhouse by Plan Toy include:

- Large Doll House Unit with 3 levels for play

- Small Doll House Unit with 2 levels for play

- Skylight roofing

- 2 movable staircases

- Accessibility from all sides

Green Eco Dollhouse:

This award winning doll house's energy efficient design includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel and electric inverter for generating electricity, a rain barrel for collecting rain, a biofacade, which uses the natural cycle of plant growth to provide shading, and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation. Also, recycling bins are included in the set.

Playtime Ideas

The Green Eco Dollhouse is designed to help children learn how to live in harmony with nature. Children will learn how appliances in the Green Doll house assist their daily life without damaging the environment. They will also learn how electricity can be generated from alternative natural sources such as the sun and wind.

The dollhouse is divided into several rooms which children can customize with furniture and accessories.

Accessories for Kitchen and Tableware:

Accessories include a selection of different kitchen utensils to decorate the Plan Dollhouse.

The set contains 28 assorted play pieces, such as a microwave, a coffee maker, pot, pans, glasses, bowls, and more.

Modern Wooden Doll Family:

This Doll Family is constructed with solid wooden heads and soft wire bodies that can bend and flex into any position. With moveable arms and legs, these dolls are sure to provide hours of fun for your little one.

This is just a small selection of what we carry for dollhouses and accessories, we also have a complete furniture set, accessories for the Living room and bedroom which include little tiny lamps, plants, books and more, as well as other doll family sets. To see our complete collection just visit our Dollhouses category.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011's Weekly Toy Box

I am adding a new weekly section for the blog, it will go up every Monday and it will feature the three toys in our Toy Box.

A new set of toys will be added every week at discounts of up to 60% off!

Week of December 26, 2011:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Game's On - Introducing Board Games

I love family game night, I loved it as a kid and now I love that it is something we have incorporated in our family. We introduced board games to my daughter when she was four years old. We went all out and got Monopoly, Sorry, Mouse Trap, and Scrabble Junior.

Though I love board games, I feel strongly that not all games are created equal. When looking for a game to add to your collection there are some important things to keep in mind. This is specially true when the age range of the players is significant, say parents and their preschoolers. You want to make sure you choose a game that you will both enjoy playing after the 100th time, because unless there are other children who will be available to play the game, it will most likely be the parents who will be the other player. I made the mistake of getting Cherry Orchard for my daughter as a first board game and now I am quite over it to put it mildly.

A good board game will be one that will challenge your child, if it is too easy they will be bored of it quickly. It's fine if you have to modify it so that they are able to play it and enjoy it, this will mean that as their skill level increases the game is still interesting and challenging. A game should promote things like critical thinking, problem solving, basic language or math skills, creativity and imagination.

Games are also great tools to introduce the concept of winning and loosing to your child. At first, expect that they will be upset when they loose and though you don't want to get into an intense competition with your preschooler, it is important that they start understanding that in games there are those who win and those who loose.

As well, games teach young children about following rules, cheating, taking turns, cooperation. All very important life skills that they will certainly need as they go into school. As parents, this is a great time to start introducing certain vocabulary to our children around following rules, cheating and taking turns and its important to help them communicate and understand their feelings about each of them.

The most important thing about a game night is that you spend it together as a family and you can use it as an opportunity to be together and have great conversations with your children.

What are yours and your child(ren)'s favourite board games?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gift Guide - Newborns

I thought I would put together a very simple and easy list of great toy ideas to get the new baby in your life. Though you may think that your newborn does not really play at such a young age, they are in fact absorbing their surroundings and getting to know the new world they live in. This is why it is very important that you stimulate all their senses and promote exploration.

Newborns are only able to see up to 12 inches away and what they see is blurry, they are drawn to faces, as well as high contrast images and colours. They do not have control of their motor skills but at around two months they will begin to discover their hands and begin to grasp objects. Newborns have a great sense of smell, sound and touch.

Given what we know about the world of a newborn, there are great toys that will encourage their development and allow them to learn about their surroundings.

A Mobile is a wonderful first toy, as it is just the right distance for baby to see. It promotes the development of baby's eyes, their ears if they have music, and brain, as baby is makes connections between what they see and hear. A great mobile is the Wimmer Ferguson Infant Stim Mobile, because it has high contrast colour images which newborns find attractive and parents can switch images around to keep their little ones entertained and engaged.

A Play Mat is another great toy for newborns, as it can be used for tummy time which strengthens baby's neck and back muscles. You don't need to get fancy with their play mat and I would not recommend ones that have a build in pillow that is supposed to make tummy time more enjoyable. The best you can do is introduce tummy time as early as possible, for short periods of time, more importantly you want to do it when your baby is alert and engaged. A great play mat is the Wimmer Ferguson Crawl and Discover Mat, as it comes in the all important high contrast colours of black, white and red. It has a mirror which is another of the great toys to get babies and you can attach grasping toys to it for baby to play with.

Music, babies have great hearing and they have been listening to your voice and the noises that make part of your world during their stay in the womb. Whether you play lullabies, nursery rhymes, classical or hip hop, having music around and moving with your baby to the music promotes brain development and bonding. It's also a great stress reliever for parents.

Soft Toys, specially ones with faces on them like stuffed animals are very important. These are great for sensory and emotional development. Two great soft toys are the Whoozit and Tizoo from Manhattan Toy. They each have a face with high contrast colours which are easy for babies to see and they also have great soft grasping toys on the side that baby can practice holding onto.
Grasping Toys, whether they are made out of wood, cloth or safe plastics, grasping toys are essential in promoting both fine and gross motor development. At around two months of age babies will begin to reach out to objects that are held a close distance from them. They will begin to discover their hands and it is important for parents to spend time helping them mastering this new found skill. I would recommend soft grasping at the beginning, as babies are not in complete control of their movements and can hurt themselves with wooden ones. Great options are the Haba Wrist Rattles, they can be attached to baby's wrist if need be or not at all and are very soft and the right size for little hands.

All the toy suggestions I have given are tools that parents and caregivers can use to promote their baby's development, but the most important toy is YOU. Playing, dancing, singing, cuddling, kissing, feeding are the most important things your little one needs.

Let me know if their is a toy your newborn loved. Or perhaps one they did not.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift Giving Made Easy

I came across this article in The Globe and Mail this morning and it got me thinking about gift giving and toy gift giving in particular. Certainly at this time of year what toy or toys to buy your little one is one that comes up quite often and all parents want to make sure they get their child that special toy that will make this Christmas special for them.

But I am a big believer that not all toys are created equal and that there is such a thing as too many toys. I have a friend whose children get so many toys at Christmas that she hides some so they can open some in July because if she does not do this they will not be appreciated or played with. I look at the toys that my 6 year old daughter has gotten and I can tell you that only a few have been truly played with and enjoyed over and over again. And of those few not one of them was the 'It' toy of the year.

I would really encourage parents to first take a moment and look at what your child has, what are the toys that they always gravitate towards, is it their dollhouse, their train set, their Legos, their arts and craft. This will give you a great idea of what really interests them and get them something that supports that interest.

Certainly their interests will change from year to year as they grow and discover new things. With my daughter, this year she is all about arts and crafts, she told me the other day that she is an Artist. So this year, her big gift will be art lessons and we will buy her some art supplies for her to use at her lessons. Last year she loved dinosaurs and would get books and watch shows on dinosaurs, the only thing on her Christmas List was a T-Rex and so we got her a soft plastic T-Rex and Playmobil set of dinosaurs. She loved both things, in fact that T-Rex went everywhere with her, it even slept with her and was the guest of honor during playtime.

If your little ones are under three years, and you are not sure what they like yet, the best toys you can get them are the classic toys. You really can't go wrong with getting a nice set of wooden blocks, dolls, wooden cars, a ball, good quality wooden puzzles, play food and books. They will love these kinds of toys and will find many different ways to play with them and discover new things with them. If you are not sure how to choose a toy for your toddler, Zero to Three has a great article on this which is worth a read.

I hope that this will give you some ideas of what to get your little one(s) this Christmas and any other gift giving occasion.

Share with us your child's or yours most beloved gift over the years?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Toy Spotlight - Melissa & Doug Wooden Play Food

I am a huge fan of play food and Kitchen Play, as it is an amazing toy that allows children to express themselves, feel included in the world around them and promotes imagination, as well as social and language development.

Play food is also a great toy that can be played in groups or alone. I have not met one child who does not love having their own kitchen where they can make their own culinary 'creations'. To do this they need their special food and so that is why I am so excited to spotlight today the awesome wooden play food from Melissa and Doug.

Bake & Decorate Cupcake Set: This special set has three dry-erase markers shaped like icing tubes to decorate the smooth, removable, wipe-off cupcake tops.

With colorful baking cupcake sleeves and decorative wooden candles, these low-cal cupcakes will be the hit of birthday and tea parties!

Sandwich Making Set: This solid and smooth-sanded sandwich set with sliceable wooden bread, rolls, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, meats, and more makes an instant picnic for hours of imaginative entertainment!

Pizza Party: Served up in a brightly coloured wooden pizza pan, the six thick slices can be topped with playfully tasty choices of vegetables and meat, all held in place with an innovative fastening technique.

Includes a cutter, spatula, and over 50 toppings stored neatly in a wooden pizza box with see through lid.

Cutting Food Box: This solid wood set from Melissa and Doug includes more than 25 pieces including 1 child-safe knife and 1 cutting board, along with eight healthy choice selections for kids to prepare their own meals! Knives glide easily through each item, making a realistic “crunching” sound that kids love.

Cutting Fruit Crate: The wooden Cutting Fruit Crate play food set includes 7 smoothly sanded wooden fruits: a banana, kiwi, slice of melon, pear, orange, lemon and strawberry.

The wooden fruit are all sliceable with the wooden knife (included in the set) and they make a great crunching sound when sliced.

Sushi Slicing Play Set: This elegant 24-piece wooden sushi play-food set is packed in a beautiful storage box and includes sliceable sushi rolls, shrimp, tuna, easy-use chopsticks, a cleaver and more. Sushi rolls make realistic chopping sounds when sliced!

To see our entire collection visit our Kitchen Play section under Preschoolers at

You will find not only food but pots and pans, beverages, tableware and the most important thing kitchens!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Using Blocks to Teach

I came across this great article from about how blocks make great tools to teach children about social studies.

I am a huge fan of blocks and we have two sets of different blocks that my 6 year old daughter got when she was about 2 years which she still plays with and is now being used by my 1 year old. I also wrote a post back in October about why I believe that blocks are a must have toy for any child.

The author Angela De Vincenzo a first grade teacher gives tips on how to incorporate blocks into the classroom. These tips can also be used by parents and caregivers.

A great place to start is by visiting places, or buildings that the child or children are studying or are interested in. It could be an important building in your city, like city hall or a sports arena, a fire station, or even a bridge. They can then take pictures or do drawings which they will use to help them when building with the blocks.

As the author writes "These visual images keep the building work focused, realistic and grounded as the children aim to represent what they have seen."

Block building will also encourage social interactions. It will get them to talk about what they are building, to communicate with others what they would like done, as well as to problem solve and to negotiate.

As well, it promotes imaginative play, specially if they have been to the real life building and know more about it. The children will be able to image themselves there and what kinds of things they would do there.

With my 6 year old daughter, she likes to use the blocks to build race tracks, especially after we took her to see the Honda Indy in Toronto last year. She has also used blocks to build houses and buildings that her stuffed animals can live in.

It's also great to provide other materials such as cardboard, plasticine, stickers or fabric that the child can use to add to the block building experience and encourage some creativity on what it could be. They can make furniture out of plasticine or decorate their buildings and make them more to their style. My daughter has added stickers to her blocks because to her stickers make things special.

There is no doubt that the play and teaching possibilities with blocks is quite extensive and so much fun for all. If you are wondering what toy to add to your child's toy collection take a look at all the great blocks available.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Toy Spotlight - Melissa & Doug's Classic Wooden Toys

The Melissa and Doug collection of classic toys are designed to help toddlers and preschoolers learn important skills, from shape, colour, number, and letter recognition to sorting, stacking and fine motor development.

They are all fun, bright and colourful, with an attention to detail that is sure to keep your little one entertained while they learn to master the important skills.

Some of the favourites with the little testers include:

The Rainbow Stacker : With the colourfully painted rings, it's a great toy to teach about order, size, and colours. Great for ages 18 months+

The First Bead Maze: Helps promote fine-motor skill development, as well as colour and shape recognition. Ages 1 year+

The Take-Along Tool Kit: With twenty-four wooden pieces such as screws, bolts, nails, bolts, hammers, and screwdrivers, hours of constructive and creative fun will be had by preschoolers. Ages 3 years+

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Puzzle-ing - Melissa & Doug Puzzles are 15% off

With their hand-crafted, high quality, brightly coloured images, and fun themes the Melissa and Doug puzzles are unmistakable.

Whether it's their Jumbo Knob puzzles which are just right for beginners with little hands to their jigsaw puzzles for the more advanced puzzle builder, you are sure to find a one that your child will love.

At we have a large selection of wooden puzzles which are currently on sale for 15% off!

Some of my favourites are:

The Barnyard Animals Jumbo Know Puzzle - A fun way for baby to learn about their favourite farm friend.

The Construction Chunky Puzzle - For the little builder in your life.

The Jumbo ABC Chunky Puzzle - Learning the ABC's has never been more fun.

The Early Learning Peg Puzzle Bundle - You get 3 Peg Puzzles for hours of learning fun!

Stop by and check out our entire Collection of Melissa & Doug Puzzles and SAVE!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Today's Deal : Selecta Toys are 15% off!

I wanted to give a little information about our Selecta toys as they are today's deal in our 12 Days of Christmas Sale.

Selecta was founded in 1938 and to this day it remains a family operated company, their sole aim is to provide educational and high value toys which promote the development of children. Selecta toys are designed and manufactured in Edling, Germany from sustainable maple forests using environmentally-friendly and child safe paints.

The look of a Selecta toy is almost instantly recognizable; toys are done in bold primary colors, with the grain of the wood often visible underneath. Basic, identifiable shapes dominate the form of the toys, while faces are always sweet, simple and smiling.

We carry a selection of Selecta toys for newborns up to preschoolers and in between.

For the littlest one, we have the two beautiful grasping toys Arco and Tulpino, they are the perfect size for those little hands. To promote gross and fine motor skills we have the Filino pull toy which is a stacker and pull toy in one. We also have the fun and whimsical push toys, Trotto and Spedino. For the preschoolers we have Picco Duetto a fun game that will be enjoyed by all.

To see our entire collection of Selecta toys and to take advantage of today's discount of 15% off. Stop by

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Activities to Promote Emotional Development - Babies 6-12 months

A baby's social interaction with the world begins from minute one. Every moment they are engaging with the world around them, they familiarize themselves with the people who are in their lives and begin to express their emotions and interact socially.

Some great activities to do with your baby to promote Self Control and the concept of Self are:

1 -I can feed myself: As soon as your baby has started eating solid food allow them the opportunity to learn to feed themselves. While in their high chair you can give them pieces of food that are safe for them to eat, this is also a great way to promote fine-motor development.

2- Let's get dressed: At around six months, infants will begin to show an interest in what they wear. At this time you can start introducing them to the different articles of clothing that you put on them on a regular basics. They can spend time feeling each garment and you can talk to them and describe what they have in their hands. As well, when you dress them, talk through what you are doing with them, this way they learn that socks go on their feet, the shirt goes over their head and so on.

3- So emotional: Babies use emotions from day one to communicate, mostly it is crying to let us know when they are hungry, tired or wet. As the baby grows they also start to show happiness and excitement when they see something that they find interesting or they like. Parents can teach their babies about the emotions that they are feeling by verbalizing it. Saying something like, "Do you see that dog? I can see that you are excited, let's get closer to see the dog. Do you hear how it barks?".

4-What's my name: By this age a child will begin to recognize their name. It is important for parents to use the baby's name frequently and consistently. Make eye contact when you say their name and see if they respond when you call them.

The keys to promoting emotional development are observation an communication. It is important that parents observe how a child feels in order to be able to use that as an opportunity to teach them about the world around them. Talking to your child is also key, verbalizing what they see, how they feel, and what is happening. This will give them knowledge and understanding about the world around them and of themselves.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Toy Spotlight - Stroller Toys from Tiny Love and Manhattan Toy

As a mom of two, I am always on the go and trying to entertain a one year old while I run my errands is not fun. There are just so many Cheerios I can give her before she starts throwing them at people.

That is why a stroller toy is a life and sanity saver. Though not just any stroller toy will do, it has to be one they can't remove and use for target practice or to play the 'pick-up' game with.

This where the stroller toys from Tiny Love and Manhattan Toy come in, they will attach to your stroller and your little one will be entertained while you go about your errands or coffee break.

Whoozit Activity Spiral

This wacky spiral from Manhattan Toy wraps around almost anything and features toy attachments that squeak, crinkle and rattle dangling from satin ribbons.

With vibrant colors, stimulating textures and black and white patterns, all perfect for keeping your little one mesmerized.

Musical Nature Stroll

The Tiny Love Musical Nature Stroll is a colourful flexible stroller/infant carrier arch, with a variety of engaging activities for baby on-the-go, for two stages of baby's development: batting (0-3m) and pulling/manipulating (3m+).

Special angle adjustments and new easy attachment clips make Musical Nature Stroll truly unique.

Island Stroller Set

This intriguing Tiny Love stroller toy has a set of three one-of-a-kind activity toys for baby's stroller bar will keep baby busy and smiling, while fostering learning and enjoyment over several developmental stages.

The detachable toys may be rearranged to hold baby's interest -- like having a new set of toys each time.

Three great stroller toys that will keep baby entertained while on the go.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Plan Toys | Green Toys - Green Company

This week our Deal of the Week features toys from our Plan Toys collection, given this, I thought I would give some information about the amazing brand that is Plan Toys.

Plan Toys' vision is to create toys that inspire children's imagination, as well as promote their physical and intellectual development. Doing all this while ensuring environmental and social responsibility.

Their toys are made from non-chemically treated rubber wood and use safe non-toxic water based dyes, as well, all their packaging and promotional materials are made from recycled and recyclable materials.

This award winning brand of toys is also very dedicated to giving back and has many corporate social programs such as the Children's Museum, as well as the Plan Loves Forest Project which has seen the company plant 43,000 trees in the last five years. They also started this amazing initiative called Plans Brings Smiles, where they design and manufacture toys for children with special needs. These and many others are just ways that Plan Toys is giving back not only to the community but to the environment.

As you can imagine we are just so happy to have such a large collection of Plan Toys toys, from their fun and multi-tasking Sorting Bus and Stacking Clown, to their big world toys such as the Bulldozer and Fire Engine.

To see the complete collection visit and see all the toys that are on sale this week at 20% off!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Evolution of Drawing in Children

I came across this very interesting article on the developmental stages of drawing. I never realized that we as children go through very defined stages in what we draw.

First, there is the Scribbling we all know starting at 18 months which helps with fine-motor skill, cognitive, social and emotional development. Then there is Representational Drawing at around 3 years, where children begin to draw symbols for common items of things that they know of and are part of their lives.

At around age 6, children progess to Realistic Representation and begin to focus on drawing things in a realistic way, as they get older, if a child believes that they are not able to draw things realistically, they will loose interest in drawing all together.

Here is the article found in Earlychildhood News.

When Children Draw
By Sandra Crosser, Ph.D.

Jordan stands before a large sketch pad, takes a marker in hand and carefully uncaps it. She begins scrubbing...first slowly, down and up, down and up. Her motions settle into a rhythm and soon her entire body dances, mirroring the tempo of her strokes. Jordan is drawing. Her whole being is drawing.

To the casual observer, this two-year-old is just scribbling. Her marks seem to be random, meaningless. Sometimes she does not even look at the paper as she marks. But there is more going on. Jordan is using her mind and her emotions as she engages in the physical act of drawing.

Examining children's drawing may give us important insights into how drawing fits into the overall physical, emotional, and cognitive development of the young child. From toddlerhood through primary school, children choose to draw. What role does drawing play in the young child's development?

Around 18 months, toddlers become interested in scribbling. It seems to provide sensory enjoyment, but the child is also interested in the marks that are made. (If the drawing implement does not work, the child quickly loses interest.) The act of scribbling can serve several useful purposes for the young child. Small muscle coordination and control improve with practice, cognitive abilities are exercised, opportunities for social interaction arise, and the physical movements provide emotional release.

Because a toddler's small muscle control is not fully developed, he or she may approach the drawing task by grasping the marker with his or her fist, creating a bit of difficulty placing the marks exactly where he or she wants them. Movements are typically large, involving the entire arm with little finger or wrist control. This is because the pattern of physical development proceeds from the center of the trunk outward.

With practice, the toddler will naturally improve his or her control of wrist and finger movements. Full control, however, will not be achieved until much later. A few toddlers rest the forearm on the drawing surface to give them additional control. A rhythmic, repetitive, scrubbing motion is common among two-year-olds, providing sensory enjoyment and making drawing a very physical act.

By providing children with the materials and opportunities to scribble we can promote physical skills. Just as babbling is a natural way to gain language, scribbling is a natural gateway to muscle control and coordination. In fact, Cratty (1986) termed scribbling "motor babbling."

Intellectually toddlers are concerned with both the process and results of their art. They do not intend to represent objects at first. Instead, they are concerned with color and line. However, they may look at the marks and scribbles they have made and, in surprise, recognize a shape and name it. While they may not have intended to draw a dog or tree, the scribbles suggest the shapes. Children interpret, rather than intend. This is called fortuitous realism and becomes common as a child approaches three years.

According to Piaget and Inhelder (1963), a child is mentally able to use symbols to represent reality by 18 months. Therefore a child can engage in pretend play. This ability to pretend can be seen as a toddler uses the movement of the crayon or marker to depict an action in his or her drawings. Dots, for example, may be rain falling or animals moving about the page (Berk, 1994). Gestures are used to represent the action (Cox, 1992).

Kellogg (1970) described 20 basic scribbles children tend to use during their first, exploratory stage. Most children do not use all of these scribbles (Cox, 1992). Instead, children favor certain ones as they develop individual styles (Gardner, 1980). It also appears that scribbles are not placed randomly. After examining thousands of drawings, Kellogg (1970) catalogued 17 page placements toddlers use as they scribble. Scribblers, then, are decision makers.

The opportunity to make decisions contributes to the emerging sense of autonomy which is so important for a two-year-old's emotional development. Not only do children make decisions about line, color, and placement, they also exercise their sense of autonomy by using and gaining control over tools of the culture-crayons, markers, pencils, paper-to engage in an activity valued by the culture.

Twos like adults to "watch me." Watch me because I am proud of what I am doing; I am feeling competent; I am doing this wonderful thing by myself. Autonomy!

Children can engage in social interaction as they draw with or show their creations to others. As young children sit together, each drawing, they talk, share stories, and trade materials. This is a basis for prosocial interaction that is practiced in an authentic situation. Similarly, the child who saves his or her scribble picture to show daddy is demonstrating his or her use of drawing for social interaction as well as emotional support.

Extending the Scribble
Between the ages of two and three the child begins to form what Kellogg (1970) has termed shapes. The scribble forms a cross, an X, and enclosures resembling primitive circles, squares, triangles, and oblongs. Soon after, two of those shapes are used in combination. By age three the child puts together several shapes to form what Kellogg termed aggregates.

An important point is reached when the child converts the linear scribble into an enclosed shape. The enclosed shape seems to be the focus of the child's first attempt to make a realistic drawing. That first realistic drawing is frequently a primitive person. When lines are used as boundaries of objects we see a typical tadpole person, so named because it resembles a tadpole. One large circular shape with two lines extending as legs float on a page represents every man.

Tadpole guy becomes shorthand for every guy or gal. What economy!Tadpole guy may be embellished with facial features...or maybe not. He may have arms extending from the head but they are added last and may be forgotten unless arms are needed for holding or acting. The circle part may represent just a head, but it may also represent the head and torso combined into a sort of person lump. Children will often place a belly button onto the lump, indicating that it includes the torso. However, if the leg lines are longer than the lump, the belly button may be placed between the leg lines. It could just be that the person lump needs to be big to allow enough room to place the eyes, nose, and mouth. After all, it takes a lot of space to draw all of that.

The configuration of tadpole guy does not seem to indicate that children are unaware of body parts or how they fit together. They tend to add parts when reminded that something is missing. They can complete a partially drawn person correctly, and can "build" a person with both head and trunk when given blocks or tiles (Cox, 1992). Tadpole guy simply seems to be a symbolic, rather easy, and convenient way to convey the idea of a person. It isn't until the child is six that outlines replace single lines used to depict legs and arms. Shoulders don't usually appear until age nine, and body proportions begin to take some importance around age eight or nine (Cox, 1992).

Representational Drawing
Three- and four-year-olds develop other generic symbols for the repeated drawings of common objects like sun, dog, and house. As children begin to draw in a more realistic manner, they may oscillate back and forth between realism and earlier scribbling patterns but the general movement remains toward realistic representation of what they know of the world.

According to Piaget and Inhelder (1963) preschoolers draw what they know about the world, rather than attempting to capture a photographic mirror of reality. That is why we see drawings depicting both the outside and inside of an object at the same time (transparencies or x-rays). While approaching realism, drawings remain fanciful throughout the preschool years with imagination leading color, composition, and content. It is often just pretend, wonderful pretend where ground and sky never meet at the horizon and all of the action takes place in the air gap between. It is a place where we can see the front, profile, and bird's-eye view all at the same time. It is a place where trees and people can be the same size, where grass looks lovely when it is purple, where sun rays reach out to embrace us, and rainbows form without a drop of rain.

There is a lot to keep in mind when drawing. All at the same time we must think about the parts of what we are intending to draw, the overall plan of where to draw and how to leave room for the other parts, how to use lines to show things that in reality have no boundary lines around them, and how to control the physical elements to make what happens be what we really want to happen. It has been proposed that the number of things one can keep in mind to work with at one time is a measure of neurological maturity and intellectual functioning (Pascual-Leone, 1984). If so, the complicated, multifaceted nature of the task of drawing would appear to challenge the mind.

Realistic Representations
As the child moves into concrete operational thought after age six or seven we see a strong focus on drawing in a more realistic fashion. The concrete operational thinker sees the world in terms of what is, rather than what could be. Therefore, we see drawings reflecting the world in factual, realistic representations, leaving behind the wonderfully fanciful drawings of a year before.

The school-age child is focused emotionally on demonstrating skill at the tasks valued in the culture (Erikson, 1950). Artistic realism seems to be valued in North American culture, so realism is reflected in children's drawings. If children judge themselves to be good at drawing, they will likely continue drawing to see themselves as competent. However, there are some factors that seem to interfere with a child's ability to draw realistically. While younger children are not concerned with proportion and perspective, the older school-age child wants his or her drawings to look realistic (Winner, 1986). If he or she is able to solve the problems of proportion and perspective to his or her satisfaction, he or she is more likely to continue to draw (Gardner, 1980). Sadly, many children stop drawing when they are nine or ten because they do not feel that their efforts are satisfactory (Gardner, 1980). We know of no inborn ability that develops into the capacity to draw in three dimensions. (After all, perspective drawing was not part of the Western artistic repertoire until it was developed during the Renaissance.) It would seem, then, that the middle school years would be an ideal time for direct instruction in technical drawing techniques for those children who need that support in order to keep them confident enough to continue drawing.

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Ways to promote drawing:

1- Provide child with materials starting at 2 years old.

2- Show your child that you too enjoy to draw, it is important though that you don't influence what they should draw.

3- Praise what your child has drawn, talk about the colours, lines, shapes.

4- Ask your child to tell you about their drawing, try not to ask "What it is".

5- It is best to provide children with a variety of drawing and colouring materials as opposed to colouring books where all they have to do is colour in the picture.

6- Talk about the many concepts in drawing, such as: thick, thin, wide, narrow, shade, light, shape, contour, straight, curved, etc.

7- Show your child high quality art, take them to the art gallery or the museum.

8- Always the child the freedom to choose the theme, colours, subject of their drawings.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I thought I would share some Halloween stuff I found while looking around the Internet.

Last minute costume needed: check out these fun and easy costume ideas.

Turn your pumpkin into a Jack-O-Lantern: great stencils and carving tips.

Safety First: Keep your little trick or treaters safe.

Candy Fun: use candy to teach little ones sorting, counting and word play.

Halloween FYI: some Halloween trivia.

First Timers: Baby's 1st Halloween.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Toy Spotlight - Manhattan Toy's NooBoo Collection

I remember the first time I saw the Manhattan Toy NooBoo Symphonic Stacker, my eldest daughter was about 6 months and we were at the local Chapters. I fell in love with it. I loved the lush textures, and colourful whimsical patters of each ring.

When I was looking at which toys I would carry at, I knew that the Symphonic Stacker would be one of them, and was very excited to discover that Manhattan Toy had a large NooBoo collection. We currently carry four toys from the collection, all four are fantastic at promoting the development of your child's fine motor skills, like their hand-eye coordination and pincer grasp. They also provide visual, touch and sound stimulation which helps keep babies interested thereby promoting hearing and sight development.

Our Manhattan Toy NooBoo Collection includes:

NooBoo Ball: bold, bright and rewarding to baby's developing motor skills, this multi-activity ball is made with high-quality fabrics - stretch nylon, corduroy, fleece, terry cloth and satin ribbons - to invite tactile exploration. Stimulating young ears are crinkle paper, rattles and a squeaker.

NooBoo Pound-A-Sound: With each thump of the soft hammer, baby hears a variety of sounds or gets a pop-up surprise.

NooBoo See & Sound Mirror: Babies will see flashing lights and hear sounds when they touch this self-standing mirror. Mirror can also be attached to crib.

NooBoo Symphonic Stacker: A sensory extravaganza, this premium-quality fabric stacker develops motor and problem-solving skills. As each soft ring goes over the post, baby hears a different sound - a total of four sounds - to reinforce cause-and-effect learning.

Stop by to see the NooBoo collection as well as our great selection of toys from Manhattan Toy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Deal of the Week - Haba Wrist Rattles

Our Collection of Wrist Rattles from Haba are now 30% Off!

With four different wrist rattles to choose from, you are sure to find one your little will love. A toy that is sure to keep your little one entertained whether they are sitting down, lying down or on the go.

Visit to see and shop our Haba Toy Collection