Tag: Children

Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe | Perfect For Christmas

Gearing up our children for the start of school can be scary for both parents and child. I know that is how we felt before our little Nikki started school this year. But with all our prepping and teaching leading up to the first day made the transition a bit easier for the both of us.

VTech also recognizes the importance of the first day of school. To help preschoolers for this important milestone, VTech has developed the Preschool Learning series of interactive toys. One of these toys in the series is the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe and we are delighted to share our thoughts on it for all of you!

The Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe features an interactive desktop with activity cards that introduce letters, numbers, music, colors and much more. Extend playtime with additional activity packs that each focus on a specific curriculum (each sold separately). Flip up the desktop and create a masterpiece using the art station or chalkboard. For more fun, play with the toy telephone or listen to fun tunes on the music player. The possibilities are endless!


Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe Features

There are so many wonderful features that we briefly touched on above but now let us break it down for you. 😉

Mode Switch

You have two modes to pick from which are the Activity Mode and Music Mode. Activity Mode is where all the features will be accessible. The Music Mode is where the activity page area will become deactivated so you can use the desktop for reading or listening to music.

Toy Telephone Mode Buttons

In the Toy Telephone Mode, you can learn numbers and even Call A Friend Mode. You can also press the Number Buttons to learn and explore numbers.

LED Display

The LED Display is where you can see games, pictures or animations.

Cartridge Slot

Each expansion pack (sold separately) comes with a cartridge. To play an expansion pack, insert the cartridge, then insert one of the pack’s activity cards.

Music Player Controls

Press the “Play” button to Play/Stop the music, and press the ‘forward’ or ‘back’ buttons to go to the previous or next song.

Volume Buttons

As parents we can really appreciate and love this feature which is the volume adjust button. There are five volume levels. Adjust it to the way that works for you and your family.

Activity Card Slot

Insert one of the activity cards into this SLOT to play.

Activity Page Mode Icons

Use your finger to touch any of the Mode Icons on the activity page to play.

Activity Page Area

Follow the game instructions and use your finger to touch the objects on the activity page to play.

Art Station

The Activity Desk is not only a learning centre but you can flip it up and it transforms to an art station. You can use the clip to hold a paper for some drawing or use the chalkboard surface to chalk a masterpiece.

#MelAndNikkiReview

We absolutely love the Touch & Learn Activity Desk DeluxeThis activity desk has so much to offer little ones and it is a great stepping stone into the next milestone of learning. There are so many fun activities and options available to provide hours of fun. Nikki’s favorite part is the ability to transform the activity desk to an art station. We find it brings out her artistic side but also encourages her to try and write out the letters that she is learning. Nikki also loves using the activity cards to learn. We are delighted that with the activity cards she has learned so much more. The learning that she does with the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe gives her that extra confidence that every child needs. Therefore, we give the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe 5+++ stars out of 5!

We love it so much that we have placed the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe on our recommended list! It offers diverse learning with an interactive touch which makes it so much more fun for any child. VTech has truly developed an amazing toy that encompasses all that a child and a parent would hope for. It allows a child to have fun, learn and be creative all in one. Couldn’t ask for anything better!

If you would like to purchase one for your little one (highly recommended) you can click here for the purple and pink and click here for the red and yellow option.

We are sure it will light up the hearts and minds of your little one.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

* This product was given in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are solely of Momma Braga.

The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold | Book Review

I have heard many children question the belief in Santa Claus but what if Santa actually questioned the belief of your child?

Interesting concept, isn’t it?! It definitely was to me and our next book feature does just that!

I am delighted to present to all of you The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Cale Atkinson.

Synopsis

“I know this is going to come as a dreadful shock to all of you, but the truth is…I’ve stopped believing in Harold. I want to believe in Harold, I really do. But a lot of my friends don’t believe in him anymore. The handwriting on his Christmas list is suspiciously neat. And that Harold who sat on my knee at the mall the other day? Well, he looked AWFULLY different from last year’s Harold. Is Harold just a beloved story? A practical joke? A gift-stealing scheme? Who REALLY puts out the cookies and milk on Christmas Eve? This year, I’m going to find out once and for all. Sincerely, Santa.”

#MelAndNikkiReview

To say that we loved the book would be an understatement! What an amazing twist on “believing.” The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold is creative and very well written. From beginning to end the story was told beautifully with the illustrations bringing it to life. Nikki couldn’t help but giggle when Santa was questioning the “realness” of Harold and if he actually existed. Nikki exclaimed, “Santa is being so silly. Of course Harold is real. We are all real kids.” Great job Nikki! You sure are!

We loved how while Santa is questioning the existence of Harold, Harold is doing the same about Santa. How cute is that! We just adored it and we won’t spoil the end as we do recommend this book for your Christmas reading with your little ones.

Nikki loved the book so much that she took it to class with her which is always the big test for a children’s book. We are delighted to report that it was a hit in Nikki’s Kindergarten class and got the stamp of approval. It is truly the highest honor an author can get since it is hard to truly get a big classroom of four and five year old’s to enjoy a book.

Therefore for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold 5+++ stars out of 5! This is a new family favorite this holiday season.

If you would like to purchase this lovely book, click here. This would also make a great Christmas gift idea! We recommend this book for children four to eight but really it can be for anyone who wants a great Christmas story.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*This book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Haibu Lost in New York | Book Review

Stories are a great way to get an important message to children in a creative way. This is exactly what Haibu Lost in New York written by Blake Freeman with Tara Price does.

Synopsis

Everyone things Haibu is too little to do anything, but that’s not true. She can fish for food. She can protect her village from polar bears. Even when she gets lost far away in New York. Haibu believes she can find her way back home! All she needs to do is go to the circus and ask the polar bears for help. But instead she learns that the circus animals are trapped and in really big trouble. Can Haibu save them before it’s too late?

#MelAndNikkiReview

Haibu Lost in New York is a child friendly story that allows children to think on their own on some of our actions towards animals.

It raises awareness and starts the conversation for us as parents to have with our children. It is an important conversation to have in order to create a better world for everyone.

“They deserve to be different without accepting differences in others is, and will ultimately be, mankind’s downfall.”

Haibu Lost in New York tells a story that we all can learn from.

As a family who has donated to help the wildlife and by rescuing an abused cat from the shelter, our hearts were right in the book from beginning to end.

With a great and educational storyline with stunning illustrations. This novel would be great for young readers and this is why we give it 5 stars out of 5! We recommend this book for children seven years old and up.

Also make sure to visit www.haibu.love for fun activities, games, animals, merchandise, updates and more family fun!

About the Authors

Blake Freeman grew up in many Midwestern states but lived the majority of his life in Nashville, Tennessee. Since relocating to Los Angeles, he has been in the entertainment business for over 12 years as an actor, director, writer, and producer of film and television. The books he read as a child shaped his view of the world. With that in mind, he has always felt that wild animals need a voice, and therefore Haibu was created.

Tara Price was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and now lives in Los Angeles, California. She has experience in everything from sales and IT to acting and production. Tara is also the voice of Haibu; any time you hear Haibu speak on YouTube, television, or in her upcoming feature film, it’s Tara’s voice!

To purchase this lovely book, please click here.

Until next time… Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Unicorn Named Sparkle’s First Christmas | Book Review

A combination of Christmas and unicorns may sound like a dream come true for many children. In fact, it sounds extra magical to me.

We are delighted to introduce you all to A Unicorn Named Sparkle’s First Christmas written and illustrated by Amy Young.

Synopsis

What do you get a unicorn for Christmas? Lucy has an idea…or two…or three…Now what, do you get a girl who already has a unicorn?

#MelAndNikkiReview

A humourous story about a unicorn named Sparkle and her trusted friend Lucy. As they both prepare for Christmas, Lucy learns a very important message at the end as friendship is always the most important at the end of the day.

We liked the storyline as there were dashes of humor and we liked the message of friendship. It’s also not about a long list of presents either. 😉

The illustrations are fun, colorful and adorable. The story and illustrations compliment each other very well throughout the book. It was an easy and enjoyable read.

We recommend this book for young children between the ages of four to six.

For this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give 5 unicorns out of 5! It’s a really cute Christmas book.

To purchase this lovely book, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book & Media labels

Merry Christmas, Little Elliot | Book Review

Storytime this time of year is extra special when we get to read Christmas stories as we count down to the big day.

We are delighted to introduce, Merry Christmas, Little Elliot by Mike Curato. 

Synopsis

When chance blows a letter for Santa into Little Elliot and Mouse’s path, the two friends set out to discover what Christmas is all about – and make a new friend, too. A heartfelt celebration of the season of giving, perfect for sharing!

#MelAndNikkiReview

If you are looking for the perfect Christmas story then this is the one for you. We absolutely loved this book from start to finish! The illustrations are more beautiful with each page turn as it truly gives you the feel of Christmas. The story is heartwarming. The message of the true meaning of Christmas is captured beautifully and very simple for children to comprehend.

We loved this book so much that Nikki took it with her to class and her teacher read it to the whole class. We are happy to report that they all really enjoyed the book. It got the Kindergarten thumbs up which is the highest compliment you can get! 😉

We give Merry Christmas, Little Elliot 5+++ hearts out of 5! It truly warmed up all our hearts.


Meet the Author

Mike Curato is an illustrator who loves small treasures. He has illustrated many books for children and is the author and illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City, Little Elliot, Big Family, Little Elliot, Big Fun; and Little Elliot, Fall Friends. You can find him on any given day walking around the city, eating a cupcake (or thinking about it). You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Special Treat

The Merry Christmas, Little Elliot downloadable activity kit is sure to get you in the holiday spirit! Complete with mazes, coloring pages, and more, this kit is the perfect holiday treat. Click here to download it.

To purchase this lovely book, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book & Media labels

How to Throw a Superhero-themed Birthday Party?

Written By: Claire Adams

Some things never change and one of them is the fact that almost every child has a favourite superhero. There are many reasons why having a superhero in life is important and beneficial. Kids look up to characters who are always ready to stand up and fight for what they believe in, even in situations when odds are definitely not in their favour, which is an important life lesson.

While still young, children simply love the fun and excitement brought about by their favourite character and their superpowers. So, why wouldn’t you throw your child a superhero-themed birthday party and make that day truly memorable? Here are some tips you can use if you want everyone to rave about your kid’s party.

Make sure you know enough about the superhero

If you’re not sure which superhero your child currently adores, try to talk to them and find out as much as possible about the reasons they like that particular character. This should help you prepare better and the avoid humiliation of throwing a party around the wrong superhero.

Then – the special gift

This is probably the most important part of the entire scenario – the birthday gift. When you find out who their favourite superhero is, one of the best things you can do is get them one of those amazing, superhero-themed hot toys. Vinyl pops are quite effective and sure to leave your little one speechless. It will most definitely become one of their most treasured toys and always remind them of their special birthday party.

Photo credit Pexels

Invitations

When your child’s friends receive their birthday party invitations, they should get a good idea about what the party will be like. The invitation is the first signal that it’s not going to be just another party, but a carefully prepared and fun event. Luckily, there are so many templates you can use to design perfect invitations that you only need to choose the best one. Make sure you check with your youngster what kind of invitation they find the most appealing.

Include everyone

It won’t be a real superhero-themed party if only the birthday kid is dressed up as a superhero, while their guests are wearing ordinary clothes. That’s why you need to ask everyone to come dressed up as per the theme of the party. If they don’t feel like wearing the same costume, they might choose some other character or even the superhero’s nemesis. Remember, the more diverse and colourful the costumes, the better the atmosphere.

Decorations

Again, it’s a great thing we’re living in the world where you can get some amazing birthday party decorations without breaking the bank. You can get cut-outs of the superhero and his/her friends and enemies, for example. Just imagine your son or daughter and their friends having a whale of time amongst the images of Batman, Robin, the Joker or Poison Ivy.

Photo credit Pixabay

The cake

One of the most important features is surely the cake. Kids expect a superhero-themed party to have a cake to match the hype, which is why you need to do your absolute best to amaze everyone. This means you have to visit several cake shops in your neighbourhood, looking for the most breathtaking cake you can find. A wrong choice in terms of the birthday cake can really spoil the party, so be careful.

Games

You don’t expect a bunch of superheroes to be sitting around, looking at their mobile phones or tablets, do you? So, organise several games and prizes for the winners. For example, put stickers with superheroes on balloons and do the same with images of villains. Divide the guests into teams and ask them to burst the balloons with the villains. To make the things more entertaining, ask the kids to use only their feet to burst the balloons.

Superheroes are fun, birthday parties are fun, so why not combine them to make the ultimate birthday party for your little one? All the effort you invest will be worth it once you see the smiles on kids’ faces. Such parties don’t have to be very expensive, either, but you’d need to use your imagination and try just a bit harder to throw an amazing party.

 

About the Author

Claire Adams is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. She enjoys life to the fullest in the healthiest way possible and loves to share her insights into parenting, education, and entrepreneurship. Feel free to reach her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Christmas Magic In A Letter | The Belief In Santa

The Christmas season is upon us and it is my favorite time of year. It seems that there is a little extra magic in the air as the spirit of giving surrounds us.

My heart is always extra full this time of year as I try to make each year more magical then the next for my daughter. Part of the Christmas magic is the belief in Santa Claus. A jolly man who makes a list of who has been naughty and nice. Then travels all over the world to deliver toys to the nice kids on the list.

The excitement to write to Santa and to receive a letter back helps keep the belief alive and one that we have done yearly with our daughter, Nikki.

In previous years we have sent our “Santa Letter” to a free service offered by Canada Post. Their special elves help Santa answer all the letters in time for your little ones (*there is a deadline date to watch out for). The first two years the letters back where cute and a personalized touch was added which made the letters extra special.

However, last year the letter was standard and no personalized touch was added. There was nothing special about it and what should I really expect from a free service, right?! So why not to do it myself?! 

One night as we were hosting a family playdate with my cousin and her boys. We both talked about how disappointed we were in the letters from Santa. I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

So I pitched the idea that we should do the Santa letters for one another and my cousin Chantelle loved the idea!

Christmas Magic In A Letter

We now get to share some Christmas magic between family by doing Santa Letters to one another. The best part for us will be to see our children’s faces when they get a very personalized letter from Santa. 

Nikki and her adorable cousins John Lucas and Connor at our last playdate.

This is how we are doing it this year.

Writing “Dear Santa” Letter

Our child writes their letter to Santa (depending on their writing ability, it may be the parent writing most of it). In our case, I write Nikki’s letter but she adds her artistic flare to her letter.

Mailing Letter to “Santa”

Child mails the letter out to “Santa” (if they are young they will not notice the address so this wasn’t an issue for either one of us right now). 😉

Mailing a letter to Santa is serious business 😉

Highlights For Santa Reply Letter

Send some points (max of 3) of your child to the family member writing the Santa letter that you would like highlighted. For example, I wanted to make sure it was noted that Nikki started her first year of school; becoming more independent and her good manners.

Handwriting the Reply Letter

Once the “Dear Santa Letter” is received, the family member can now hand write the letter in response with the highlighted points and reference to any artistic touch done on the letter.

Mail the Santa Reply Letter

Family member mails the Santa response letter and add any other little touches that they may want to add (my cousin thought of adding an “Elf Report” indicating if they made it to the nice or naughty list – so cute!).

Open the Magic of Christmas

Child receives their magical and very personalized letter. The belief continues with much love.

We just started the process and we can’t wait to see our children react to their very special letters. A little extra that we are doing is keeping the “Dear Santa” from our children in little boxes. This way when they are older we can give them their letters so they can see what they said and did in their belief of Christmas magic. I think that is my favorite part of all this.

I am really excited to keep the belief going and doing this exchange between family. A more personalized, heart and love in our quest for that little extra spirit this holiday season.

How do you carry on the Christmas spirit in your family? Would love to hear from all of you in the comment section below.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

An Amazing Toy Center For Little Ones | Product Review

We appreciate toys that offer more than just bells and whistles. 😉 We love the toys that bring loads of fun and learning. This is why we love the toys from LeapFrog as they ensure their toys encompass all that and more.

We are delighted to share an amazing new toy that will have your little one learning in leaps! We called on my goddaughter, Adriana for her baby expertise to help us with this review.

Little Office Learning Center

Imagine a mini version of your office desk that fits for your little one. That is exactly what the Little Office Learning Center is. The major difference is that this interactive desk is fun!

The Little Office Learning Center includes eight role-play activities including a globe, laptop, clock, book, phone, piano keys, desk lamp and storage.

Product Features

As we mentioned the Little Office Learning Center offers eight features and we will break them down for you as you will be able to see it offers so much for your little one.

It also offers three play modes which are explore mode, learn mode or music mode.

Light-Up Globe

Spin the Light-Up Globe (middle of  the learning center) to explore music and greetings from around the world and hear phrases with light-up color effects.

Light-Up Crayon Piano Keys

Press the Light-Up Crayon Piano Keys to hear color names or musical notes. In Learn Mode, occasionally Scout will ask you to look for another feature on the table in that color to practice listening comprehension.


Clock

Rotate the Clock hand to hear time of day, daily routines, fun clock sounds and music.

Detachable Phone

Pick up the Detachable Phone and shake it to rattle the beads. Press the number pad or call button on the table for role-play fun.

Storage Tray

Flip the Storage Tray lid open and closed to practice fine motor skills. Place items in the storage tray for hide and reveal fun.

Book Page

Turn the Book Page to hear learning songs about the alphabet and emotions, melodies and phrases.

Light-Up Lamp Switch

Slide the Light-Up Lamp Switch to turn the lamp on and off and hear opposites, phrases and fun musical sounds.

Light-Up Laptop Screen and Shape Buttons

Press the three Shape Buttons to light-up and reveal hidden animal friends in the mirrored screen and hear shape, color and animal names.

#MelAndNikkiReview

The Little Office Learning Center is ideal for babies six to 36 months and this is why for this #MelAndNikkiReview we got our adorable goddaughter, Adriana, to help us out. 😉

As soon as I introduced her to LeapFrog’s Little Office Learning Center, her eyes just lite up! Adriana was so excited to give it a try. We used the Little Office Learning Centre in the standing up position as she loves to stand up. That is a feature that we love about this toy as it gives you the option to have it on the floor or in a standing up position. It’s great as it literally grows with your child. 😉

Adriana loved every activity on the Little Office Learning Center. However, if we had to pick her top three features it would be:  The Light-Up Globe, Light-Up Crayon Piano Keys and Detachable Phone. The activities are all educational from learning colors; shapes and so much more. It also helps build your little one’s fine motor skills which we love the best about this toy.

For parents who are concerned about “noise” as we all know how much toys can make, this toy has a feature to adjust the volume. #ParentWin

For all the reasons above, we give the Little Office Learning Center 5+++ Globes out of 5! We know that Adriana will continue loving this toy for months to come. In fact, she loves playing with it so much that she even gives her grandpa lessons on how it works!

We know the Little Office Learning Center would be a hit for all the little ones on your holiday list. If you would like to know where to purchase one, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

Tough Cookie | Book Review

‘Tis the season for Christmas books! It is our favorite time of year and we will be introducing some great new books that you will all adore.

Our first book up for review is Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story which is written and illustrated by Edward Hemingway. This book would make a delicious part of your reading line-up!

Synopsis

Once upon a time, while Fox was visiting the Land of Holiday Treats, a little cookie, still warm from the oven, burst out the bakery door looking sweet and delicious.

But as it turns out, Cookie is not as fast as he thinks, and when Fox finally catches him, they’re both in for a big surprise: Cookie does NOT taste delicious – and he’s certainly not fit to be eaten. What’s an unsavory cookie to do?

#MelAndNikkiReview

The classic tale of the Gingerbread Man takes a humorous new twist in Tough Cookie: A Christmas StoryAs we read the adorable storyline, we couldn’t help but giggle along the way. We loved the friendship that was built between Fox and the Gingerbread man. Their quest to find out what Gingerbread Man was meant to do was heartwarming.

We especially loved the recipes in the back of the book – amazing touch! This book will be in our reading line-up all the way to Christmas as it is so much fun to read. By the second time that the book was read to Nikki, she had parts of the story memorized which was awesome. That was the key sign that the book must be great if she had her favorite parts memorized. 😉

Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give this book 5+++ Gingerbreads out of 5! For its creative and humorous storyline, illustrations and the recipes in the back.

This will make the perfect holiday gift this season! To purchase your very own, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

How Sara Josephine Baker Saved The Lives of America’s Children | Dr. Jo

Teaching history to children in book form is a magical way to tell the story.

We are excited to introduce our readers to Dr. Jo How Sara Josephine Baker Saved The Lives of America’s Children which is a new book that does just that; telling history in a child friendly way.

This book is written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Julianna Swaney.

Synopsis

Sara Josephine Baker was a strong girl who loved adventure. But growing up in New York in the late 1800s was difficult. When she lost her brother and father to typhoid fever, she became determined to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. In Jo’s day, people did not think that women should be doctors, but times were changing, and Jo was at the forefront.

Jo persisted and attended one of the only medical schools open to women. After graduating in 1898, Dr. Jo took a job with the New York Public Health Department. She was sent to a neighbourhood called Hell’s Kitchen, where many poor immigrant families struggled to survive. She focused on treating the most vulnerable patients: babies and children. Dr. Jo was determined, compassionate and full of innovative ideas to improve the health of inner-city families. Her successes made her famous across the nation for saving the lives of thousands of children.

#MelAndNikkiReview

We were very intrigued with this book in our reading line-up as we haven’t heard of Sara Josephine Baker or the amazing impact she had in the American history books. We loved everything about this book! From the easy to read story, illustrations and to the empowering history lesson – it was a perfect combination for a great book.

I loved how I was able to read the book and educate my daughter at the same time. Best part was how easy it was to explain since the book was child friendly. Not only did the book provide an inspiring women to know but it helped educate myself as a parent too. This is why we give Dr. JO 5 stars out of 5!

To purchase your very own copy, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga