New STEM Toy: brackitz

(Disclosure: My family received this toy for review but thoughts are my own.)

When I taught preschool, almost every child loved playing in the block area. Each day they used wooden blocks to create towers, houses, roads and lots of other creative things. The one downfall to plain blocks though was that you could only stack them. Enter brackitz, an award-winning construction toy system.

These newly evolved blocks helps lay the foundation for high-level cognitive thinking, reasoning and problem solving that kids will continue to benefit from long after childhood. Standard sets include interlocking 4-inch wooden planks, and 90° and 120° angle connectors, which can be pieced together to form a wide variety of models and architectural structures.

What makes brackitz different?

  • Educational – brackitz proudly promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) techniques for young children to learn as they get older. Perfect for classroom use too!
  • Affordable – Choose from sets including 50, 100 and 200 pieces, with prices ranging from $29.95 – $99.95.
  • Build Up AND Out – brackitz can be used to construct innumerable creations; the one-of-a-kind connectors can interlock at different angles and directions and allow children to build circles, corners and bendable masterpieces.
  • Durable – While traditional stacking blocks collapse under pressure, brackitz allow children to build structures as big as they are without falling over. You can even move them around the house and your pets can roam free without causing a falling mess.
  • Safe – brackitz have been tested and are compliant with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for ages 3+.

brackitz sparks the idea of innovation and the opportunity to engage in creativity with trial and error. The connecting system allows children to instantly build strong and durable masterpieces. My kids and nephew loved playing with them and exploring the things they could design with them.

We have the small “creator” set but I think, if I were buying them, I’d purchase one of the larger sets so they can make larger creations. What could your child build with brackitz?

Buy them here.

Top Ten Pretend Play Toys For Preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

This week I’m sharing about my favorite toys to help preschoolers imaginations grow during pretend play. Props can take children from their homes and magically turn them into everything from Doctors to cashiers at the store to veterinarians.

One of my fondest memories of school when I was younger was when my teacher made a make-shift grocery store with old food boxes we had all brought in from our homes. We then used pretend money, pushed around shopping carts, and “shopped”. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s what created my love for shopping :)

While many items can be found around the house, some specially purchased items can enhance pretend play for preschoolers. Here are my ten favorite pretend play toys for preschoolers:

Fisher-Price Medical Kit


 Learning Resources Pretend & Play Sliceable Fruits &Veggies


Playhut Lil Explorers Big Red Fire Engine


Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register


Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart


Community Helpers Gear (and any costumes you can find)


Baby Doll (Any doll will work. Don’t forget the accessories and gear)


Kitchen Set (My favorites are made by Step2)


Black & Decker Junior 25 Piece Tool Set (and a toolbench if you have room)


Melissa & Doug Birthday Party Set


Looking for more pretend play favorites? Check out these posts:

Pretend Play Toys for Boys and Girls {Top Ten Holiday Lists} from Something 2 Offer

Top 10 Pretend Play Toys for Toddler Boys from Stir the Wonder

Top 10 Lists: Pretend Play Toys for under 3 year olds from Powerful Mothering

Top 10 Gifts to Encourage Pretend Play for Preschoolers from Makeovers & Motherhood

Top 10 Pretend Play Toys for Preschoolers from P is for Preschooler

Top 10 Pretend Play Toys in Our House from Creative World of Varya

Top 10 Preschool Pretend Play Toys from Little Bins for Little Hands


Our Favorites From The Chicago Toy & Game Fair

(Disclosure: My family attended the Chicago Toy & Game Fair as media and received some free toys and games. I also purchased some items there. All thoughts are my own.)

Last Saturday morning we spent time playing at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair. There were lots of great games and toys, some that we had seen before and many that were new to us. Here are some of our favorites we found:

Tenkai Knights

Tenkai Knights are small bricks that turn into figures about the size of LEGO men. My boys both loved these even though they are a bit too young for them (the package says 6-14). There are also larger sets to build that go with these Tenkai Knights.

Chuggington Trains and Track Sets

We love Chuggington at our house and have many of the trains and sets. The folks from Chuggington set up this tall track by hooking together multiple sets and all the kids went wild over it. These trains and track sets would make a great gift for preschoolers!

Pokemon Battle Arena

Jacob, my 5 year old, has just gotten into Pokemon lately. He enjoyed playing with the characters that went along with this Battle Arena but the arena itself was a little too advanced for him. This would make a great gift for the Pokemon lover who is about 7-9 years old.

Pop The Pig

Pop the Pig is a fun game for preschoolers that both boys enjoyed checking out. It will be under our Christmas tree this year.

Crazy Forts

Crazy Forts is the perfect activity for a rainy day. Kids build a structure with the pieces and then use a blanket or sheet to create a fort. Lucas loved sitting inside the igloo fort they made.

 Overall, we had a ton of fun. So many new games and toys were added to our Christmas list!

Top Ten Building Toys For Preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

Blocks are the first toy that probably comes to mind when you read the title of this post but I want to share some other fun building toys that are on my list of top toys for preschoolers.





Bristle Blocks


Trio Building Set


Magna Tiles


LEGO Bricks (these ones for 4+ and larger bricks for 3s and Under)


Lincoln Logs


Waffle Blocks


Gears Building Set


Wooden Blocks

Here are some other posts from bloggers sharing their favorites:

 Building Toys for Boys and Girls {Top Ten Holiday Lists} from Something 2 Offer

Top 10 Building Toys for Toddlers from Stir the Wonder

Top 10 Lists: Building Toys for under 3 year olds from Powerful Mothering

Top 10 Building Toys for Preschoolers from Makeovers & Motherhood

Top 10 Building Toys for Preschoolers from P is for Preschoolers

Top 10 Preschool Building Toys from Little Bins for Little Hands

Top 10 Building Toys From Our Childhood from Creative World of Varya

Gifts for Future Female Engineers from Afterschool for Smarty Pants

 What is your favorite building toy?

Mattel’s Easter Toy Basket Giveaway

Mattel’s “Save the Chocolate Bunny” campaign is promoting “toys instead of chocolate” to encourage creative, healthy, sugar-free play for kids! Visit Mattel’s Save the Bunny website where you’ll find more giveaways and coupons.

Enter below to win a Mattel Easter Basket with Hot Wheels, Barbie, Thomas & Friends, Fisher Price, Monster High and more! PLUS there are 10 second place prizes of either a Hot Wheels multi-pack or Barbie Madison! (And keep an eye on this site because I’ll be having another Mattel giveaway in the next week that’s just for Making Time For Mommy readers!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: This is a compensated post.)


$350 Melissa & Doug Toys Giveaway

$350 Melissa & Doug Toys Giveaway

Sponsored by Melissa & Doug

From puzzles to puppets, plush to play food, magnetic activities, music and more, Melissa & Doug® is one of the leading designers and manufacturers of educational toys and children’s products. We have a number of their items and they have withstood lots of rough play from my two boys. Their chunky puzzles are my favorite and were one of the most played with toys during the toddler years here in our home.

Here’s a little about the company in their own words:

Over 23 years ago we started our company in the garage of the home where Doug grew up — we had to be careful not to disturb Doug’s parents who were still living there! Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to move into a real office down the road, a building that actually has separate ladies and men’s bathrooms! Our philosophy has remained the same over the years–to make each and every customer a happy and permanent member of the Melissa & Doug family, while offering products with tremendous value, quality and design. Our line offers something for everyone with over 1,000 innovative products for children of all ages! We’ve always welcomed customer suggestions, and we continually strive to make improvements to our products. We’re honored by the faith you place in us and view it as our responsibility to continue to earn your trust in the years to come!

Read Coupon Gator Mommy’s Melissa & Doug Toys Review.


Three lucky winners!  Grand Prize: $250 in Your Choice of Melissa & Doug Products1st Runner Up: $50 in Melissa & Doug Products2nd Runner Up: $50 in Melissa & Doug Products

This giveaway ends Feb. 26, 2013 at 11:59pm EST.
Open to US and Canada residents.
Good Luck!



(Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Making Time For Mommy is not responsible for shipping prize to winner, nor did I accept any compensation for this promotion.)

Wonderworld Toys Bakery Set Giveaway {Shake, Rattle and Roll Event}

Check out my giveaway below and then don’t forget to enter to win the Shake, Rattle, & Roll Grand Prize sponsored by Tommee Tippee! You will have the chance to win a Closer to Nature Audio Baby Monitor valued at $149.99! Visit Formula Mom to Enter the Shake, Rattle, & Roll Grand Prize Giveaway!!


‘My Bakery Set’ by Wonderworld Toys {$40 ARV}

This eco-friendly, wooden set is not only adorable but was a big hit with my boys. It kept them busy for over an hour, which is normally something only cars and trains can do. What I loved most about the set was that it wasn’t just a box of play food. The “food” actually came in multiple pieces with a set of picture directions of how to make the two recipes. I thought the strawberry and orange garnishes that were included were a nice touch. It amazed me to watch my little two and three year olds pretending to cook just like mommy and daddy do and it was cute to watch them pretend to read the directions and put the desserts together step by step as the recipe showed.

Look what my boys “baked” me for breakfast :)

I thought the quality of the bowl and the utensils were very good. The only thing that I would have changed would have been to make the container, box, and recipe sheet out of heavier paper or even laminated paper. While the paper items didn’t rip the first couple times this toy has been played with, I am afraid that it may soon. Other than that we absolutely love this set and would recommend it to any parent or grandparent who has a little baker of their own :)

Another cool thing that Wonderworld Toys does is that they plant two trees for every one tree that they use. They have planted over 60,000 trees so far!


{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win this bakery set for

2) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Like Wonderworld Toys on Facebook

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow @WonderworldToys on Twitter

6) Share this giveaway on a social network

7) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

Giveaway ends June 5, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US only.

(Disclosure: I received a bakery set to review but all thoughts are my own.)

(Disclaimer: Formula Mom, Tales From the Nursery, and the Shake, Rattle, & Roll bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that fail to fulfill their prizes.)

Find more infant, toddler and child giveaways at the link below!

Melissa & Doug Giveaway {Christmas Letdown Giveaway Hop}


The day after Christmas sometimes feels like a letdown.
All that preparation, then BAM it’s over.
You’re left with a hundred boxes and three garbage bags of torn paper.
Didn’t get what you wanted? You’re not alone.
This will cheer you up!
The Christmas Letdown Giveaway Hop,
hosted by Planet Weidknecht and co-hosted by Going Crazy! Wanna Go?
runs from December 26 @ 12:01 a.m. EST to December 30 @ 11:59 p.m. EST.
Each blog on the linky list below has a giveaway worth at least $20.00.
You can hop from blog to blog and enter to win prizes on every single one!

Good luck and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


(Code expires the 31st so you will have to use it right away)

(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each you do)

1) Leave a comment telling me what you would buy from Melissa and Doug.

2) “Like” Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Share this giveaway on a social network

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Enter another one of my giveaways (found here)

6) Subscribe via email or RSS (look in the upper right corner)

Giveaway ends on December 30th at 11:59pm EST.

(Disclosure: I received this $25 gift code for writing about Melissa and Doug previously.)

Best Toys For Kids {2011}

Looking for some gift ideas?

Here’s the “Best Toys For Kids” list from the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association:

Active Play

Freestyle Spooner Board
by Spooner Inc.
For ages 3+
Using the Spooner Board, riders of all abilities can pretend they are catching a wave, riding the slopes, or burning up the asphalt without leaving the comfort of the family room. Designed for beginners, kids 3 can simulate spins, twists, slides, and wobbles, while getting a workout, stabilizing their core and improving their balance and coordination.

Z-Curve Bow
by Zing
For ages 8+
The ultimate foam arrow shooter for high tech archery, Zing’s Z-Curve Bow uses safe, soft arrows that can soar 100 feet! Set includes bow, two long-range arrows with holder, and a stick-anywhere Zartz-tip dart for accurate target practice.

Classic Play (0-7 Yrs)

Teaching Cash Register
by Learning Resources
For ages 3+
Cha-ching!! Playing store comes to life with this talking, interactive cash register that rewards transactions with lights, sounds and voice messages. Holds actual-size money and includes a built-in scanner, scale, coin slot and volume control. Engaging play helps kids practice basic math skills and recognition of coins and bills. Requires 3 C batteries, not included.

Classic Play (8 Yrs+)

Potholder Kit
by Harrisville Designs
For ages 6+
Children love to weave, especially with this easy metal loom from Harrisville that helps kids understand spatial relationships while developing fine motor control and builds self esteem. It’s a great way to produce something useful. Make handmade items to sell at fundraising events or to give as gifts!

Constructive Play

by Ohio Art/Kawada
For ages 8+
You don’t have to be an engineer to build with nanoblock from Ohio Art! Watch in amazement as 3-D buildings are erected with micro-sized building blocks. With assorted size and colored pieces, create a detailed replica of France’s Eiffel Tower, India’s Taj Mahal and others that fit perfectly in the palm of your hand.

Tegu Blocks
by Tegu
Tegu angle blocks from Tegu allow geometric building possibilities for gravity-defying play! Constructive play reaches new heights with the Explorer Set, which includes 40 blocks in seven shapes and a booklet of building ideas—all packaged in a beautifully designed box large and rigid enough to store the blocks for many years to come.

Creative Arts Play

Happily Ever After Jewelry Box
by The Orb Factory
For ages 5+
Bring a little Happily Ever After to any girls’ room with this beautiful new jewelry box from The Orb Factory. The whimsical tale of a Princess and her Frog Prince is illustrated all around this sparkling box. Follow the numbered legend and mosaic over 750 sparkling tiles and jewels… and watch this magical story spring to life!

Safety Pin Bracelets
by Klutz
For ages 8+
Super-simple, fully illustrated step-by-step directions by Klutz for Safety Pin Bracelets shows how anyone can craft an entire collection of brilliantly sparkling jewelry out of garden-variety safety pins. The book includes 12 unique bracelet designs. You pick the colors and patterns so each bracelet is uniquely you.

Early Play 0-3 Year

Early Melodies Pound and Tap Bench
by Hape
For ages 12 months and up
This sturdy wooden toy from Hape gives babies lots of ways to have fun with sounds. They can pound the balls with the hammer to make them roll down the xylophone, making a beautiful scale of musical sounds or pull out the xylophone and tap directly on the keys to make an original tune!

Pic ‘N’ Pop
by International Playthings
For ages 18 months and up
Pic N Pop by Tomy gets children moving! With the click of the button, kids launch a ball from the chute, then roll over the ball and magically pick it up! With five balls, you can use this indoors and outdoors.

Game Play (3-7 Years)

Fast Track
by Blue Orange Games
For ages 3 to 7
Ready, aim, score! With Fastrack from Blue Orange Games, the action is non-stop and the fun is plentiful. Using the elastic cord, be quick and aim well. Be the first to send all of the disks zooming across the other side. WARNING: you may find it difficult to stop playing!

Perplexus Rookie
by Plasmart
For ages 4+
6.5 Inches in diameter, the Perplexus Rookie by Plasmart is filled with layers of detailed maze structures. It’s a brainteaser puzzle with facets kids and adults find both fascinating and mind-bending. Flip, twist and turn the sphere to solve the puzzle. Easy to play but challenging to complete. Great for improving eye-hand coordination and spatial relationships.

Game Play (8 Years+)

by Thinkfun Inc.
For ages 12+
Exercise your brain with PathWords from ThinkFun, the exciting new game that combines the best of Tetris® and Word Search! Place the puzzle pieces onto the selected challenge so the letters under each piece spell a word. With 40 challenges from beginner to expert, PathWords appeals to word game lovers AND puzzle game fanatics.

by Blue Orange Games
For ages 8+
You won’t believe how many laughs are packed into the game of Trigger Blue Orange Games. Players answer “true” or “false” to statements as quickly as possible by slapping the target. Right hand is true and left hand is false. With humorous statements in a fast pace atmosphere, the game is always full of surprises.

Pretend (Doll Play)

Tidoo Raspberry
by Corolle
For ages 18 months and up
Designed for bathtime fun, Corolle’s 12-inch Tidoo Raspberry doll is soft, posable and so light it floats! Filled with polystyrene “beads” that dry quickly, Tidoo is a favorite playmate out of the tub, too. Tidoo’s eyes open and close so Tidoo can take a nap — just like a real baby!

Baby Stella Playtime Potty (doll not included)
by Manhattan Toy
For ages 12 months and up
Teach Baby Stella how to use the big potty with the Manhattan Toy Playtime Potty chair! This charming little toilet can be a helpful tool in the potty training process. It encourages your little one to be a “big kid” and encourages social and emotional development through nurturing the Baby Stella doll. (Doll sold separately.)

Pretend (Fantasy Play)

Falcon Knights’ Castle
by Playmobil
For ages 4 to 10
Activate traps and prepare the knights to guard the Falcon Knights’ Castle from intruders. The castle comes with a drawbridge, breakout wall, drop-down ladder, and a trap door. The set also includes four Falcon Knights, horse, functional cannon, and many other accessories to provide hours of entertainment.

Shrinky Dinks Fairy Garden
by Creativity for Kids
For ages 7+
Color and bake these Shrinky Dinks from Creativity for Kids and transform a pop-up garden into a fun fairy hide-away. 50 pre-cut Shrinky Dinks come ready to color and shrink. Decorate the playscape with 3-D fairies, flowers, forest friends and sparkling glitter glue accents. Includes Faber-Castell Colored EcoPencils and a sharpener.

Pretend (Role Play)

Calico Critter Caravan Family Camper
by International Playthings
For ages 3+
Calico Critter families can spend happy vacations together travelling in their very own Caravan Camper from International Playthings! Includes over 35 accessories: round table, plates, cups, utensils, pots, pan, sleeping bags, maps, “board games”, iron, soap, towel & much more!

Healthy Gourmet Salad for Green Eaters
by Hape
For ages 3+
Imaginative play gets nourished when children create a tasty salad with these vibrant wood vegetables. This 36-piece set from Hape includes the bowl, the vegetables, and dressing—oil, vinegar, and pepper—plus utensils for tossing up some healthy play.

Scientific Play

Big Bag of Science
by Be Amazing
For ages 8+
This giant kit by Be Amazing whets the appetites of budding young scientists. With more than 70 hands-on science activities, it guarantees hours and hours of science fun. Make water disappear or flow uphill! Create a soda geyser or grow fake snow! Science is fun with activities using chemistry, physic, magnetism, weather, biology, geology, and flight.

Remote Control Machines
by Thames and Kosmos
For ages 8+
Use this exciting Thames & Kosmos kit to build your own motorized machines, then control them with a unique six-button infrared remote. Control three different motors simultaneously, moving each of them forward or in reverse, with easy-to-activate touch sensors. Includes 3 motors, remote control unit, battery holder, and building blocks.

(Disclosure: I received many of these toys at an event I went to at Building Blocks Toy Store but was not compensated or asked to post this list.)

Top Ten Toddler Toys


For Top Ten Tuesday today I decided to write about my toddler’s favorite toys at the moment. He is 21 months old.

#1 Thomas and friends

#2 Crayons and other art supplies

#3 Puzzles

#4 Playdough

#5 LEGOs

#6 Shopping Cart

#7 Police Rocker

#8 Jack-in-the-box

#9 Laugh and Learn Pony

#10 Blocks