Tag Archives | Pedagogy Toys

Less Is More Theory and Experiment

I’ve noticed with interest that dollar stores in my community are going out of business.  You would think in this economy where people are trying to save money that the dollar store business would be going strong.  Could it be that consumers, especially parents, are realizing that less is more?  I believe so.  Back-to-basics, sustainability, quality, craftsmanship, safety are words that parents are willing to pay more for.

From toys, to beauty products, and even our produce ~ I would rather buy organic, pesticide-free for my children.  Shopping in smaller amounts, rather than filling up my cart, without thinking through what I’ll truly need to use.  There has been much buzz about pesticides to avoid with food and mainstream press is starting to write about how toxic most personal care products are.  From organic food, to organic shampoo/soap, to safe toys made from natural or stringently tested materials come at a higher cost.  As a parent, I’m willing to pay a few extra dollars for products I know are coming from business that care and source products with the safely of my children at the forefront.  Most bios from mompreneurs include the fact they were deeply unsatisfied with answers, product selection and product knowledge from traditional stores.  I challenge anyone reading this to an experiment we’ll call the ‘Less-Is-More Theory’.  Walk into your local department store and ask the store clerk or manager questions about their toys, bath toys, personal care products, produce, water bottles, etc.  I myself started doing this when I noticed most store chains have started branding their store label on stainless steel water bottles; Old Nay, The Bay, London Drugs, Superstore, even Dollar Stores.  Not one of these retailers could tell me anything about their store branded stainless steel water bottles.  They had no idea what stainless steel grade they were or that there were different steel grades out there.  I hear about dollar stores that simply ‘dip’ the outside of water bottles to coat god-knows-what material underneath.  I’m not saying these retail stores are doing this, but from a quality issue, I’d like to know more about the grade I’m purchasing so I know how to care for it.  If you are nervous about purchasing bath products (personal care or toys), food or water containers, or plastic toys and the store cannot answer simple questions I would not purchase them.  Here are some basics that they should be able to answer:

What grade of stainless steel is this?
What type of plastic is this made from? Where is it manufactured?
Does this product contain phthalates, parabens, fragrance, BPA?
Is this toy (bath or not) PVC free?
What pesticide is used on this produce item?

If the person cannot answer your questions ~ don’t buy it.  Now finish this challenge.  Contact any of the store owners from this list of businesses and ask them the same questions.  I would bet a lot of money, they can answer your question, plus give you more than you expected:

Green Planet Parties
Healthy Kitchenware
H2Ox2
Kai Kids
Natural Pod
Nayla Natural Care
The Tickle Trunk

The list goes on, but you start here and receive top notch customer service and product knowledge.  You will never think again that getting Dollar Store bargains for these types of products is a good idea.  Dollar store priced stores have their place for certain types of products in my opinion; however, the health of your family is not an area they where they specialize and no price tag can be put on the future health of your children.

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3 Cool Gift Ideas Kid’s Won’t Already Have!

There are just SO many awesome eco-fabulous products out there for Christmas!  Very unique, nature based, eco-friendly, wonderful things that come to my attention via Etsy surfing or from talented mompreneurs.  Looking for gifts for children that have everything or maybe have too many commercial based toys?  Here are three wonderful products ranging in very affordable prices that they don’t already have – but would LOVE to receive!

1) The wonderful Nature Bag.  This product was created by two New Westminster Moms who noticed a void with encouraging children back into nature, trying to reduce the ‘nature deficit disorder’ that author Richard Louv described in the book ‘Last Child In The Woods’ that is one of the inspirations behind what called these moms into action.    In an attempt to re-connect children with our beautiful environment, the co-founders Katharine and Sylvie produced a wonderful concept: The Nature Bag.  Filled with what you might expect..binoculars, magnifying glass, bug box, and notepad, the true magic of this bag are the booklets inside that inspire parents with new ideas with re-introducing kids back into appreciating and learning about nature.  I also loved the simple idea of ‘leaf viewers’ and cards where you can stick treasures found in nature to bring home.  The price point makes this a very special gift – the perfect gift recommendation for a grandparent or Santa present.  Really, at $34.99, if your child becomes re-stimulated with nature and spends less ‘screen time’ at home, that cost seems very low.

2)  Ring ring!  What child wouldn’t think they own customized bike bell isn’t the coolest?  Check out these adorable bicycle bells from the Etsy shop Dring Dring.  They use eco-friendly paints without solvents or toxic fumes.  They are weather resistant and the company is always creating new designs.  They also charge depending on where you live (US or Canada) because they are a Canadian based company…that is so nice!  Check out this picture from their Etsy site.  What child wouldn’t appreciate their very own uniquely made bell for their bike?!

3) Last (but not least) have you ever heard of Fabkins?  What a great little gem for gift exchanges with little friends, stocking stuffers, or ‘greening’ up your party ideas.  They are wonderful cloth napkins with different embroidered themes to please any child.  They help promote environmental awareness by reducing paper waste and are totally adorable.  I know my girls especially, love to dab the corners of their mouth at mealtime and think these are a very special addition to meal time.  Fabkins come in sets of 5 and the cute designs make this a very unique and wonderful gift AND kids are learning about reusing products rather than always opting for the easy solution of disposable napkins.

I hope these and other Mommy Footprint ideas help inspire some gift giving ideas that promote some old school, sustainable values.  There is no better gift than a product that stimulates and educates a child’s mind.

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Mommy Footprint News

After spending 5 months of writing daily articles, the Mommy Footprint pace will slow down over the next few weeks.  I need my ‘real’ life organized to gear up for the amazing month of Fall and Halloween activities.  I will be back full force to write about my favorite month (October) and the magic it brings to children.  But before I sign off, there are some topics I need to mention – read on and save money!

A quick mention that our latest contest has wrapped up for the 3-tier stainless steel container and the winner, Jackie, has been contacted.  Thank you for the entries and Healthy Kitchenware for donating the prize.

Over the next few weeks, I will be getting my Christmas shopping completed for my kids.  There are sales happening over the next month that I’ve been waiting all year for!  My boys and I also set a goal of marking all the storm drains with fish decals on our busy street–and it’s a long street!   Besides being on count down mode for the Laity Pumpkin Patch to open, I am excited to start begging a very talented photographer to come out of semi-retirement to photograph my family at the pumpkin patch.  I can’t imagine a better backdrop to capture the wonderful ages of my children.  Her name is Heidi and she is the talent behind my banner photo and any of the black and white photos posted on the Mommy Footprint site.  I can’t believe it’s been 1 year since the last photo session at the beach…it was a wonderful experience and she managed to capture expressions on the faces of my children I could only dream of…not to mention the candid shots.  I promise to post a few after I ‘convince’ her it’s a good idea.  She is talented beyond anything you’ve seen – you can check out her pictures from a beautiful blog she’s created called The Space Between.
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Timing Is Everything! Safe, Non-Toxic ‘Green Toys’

Timing is everything right?  With parents concerned about plasticizers, chemicals, and just a little paranoid about their children mouthing plastic toys, along comes a company called Green Toys. Being a toy company, the words that describe their adorable product line are music to concerned parent’s ears:

“Made in the USA”
“Made from 100% recycled products”
“Contains no BPA”
“Contains no phthalates”
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Making Math Fun – Easy Tips For Young Children

My friend Jackie is an elementary school teacher and a fireball of energy with great ideas.  She shared a few teaching tips because Francesco has shown such an interest in math lately.  Also, since I purchased a calc-u-colour book for Francesco at Pedagogy Toys, he has been adding and subtracting like crazy.  These tips and his calc-u-colour book have really kick-started a love for math. I wanted to share these ideas which have worked so well for him.

Tips for Introducing Math:

Counting by 2s
Counting by 5s
Counting by 10s to 100.

Learning even and odd numbers.  To help a child understand which numbers are even, have them say the number 1 in a normal tone, then number 2 very loudly.  Repeat with number 3 (in a normal tone), then number 4 in a loud voice.  It helps them distinguish a difference in the number sequence.  Switch the tones and have them repeat the odd numbers loudly. 

Counting by 10s.  Don’t just encourage your kids to only count by 10, 20, 30, 40, etc. try starting at 13, 23, 33, 43, etc. so they learn that it’s just the first number that is changing when counting by 10s.

Learning when adding two numbers in their head or on fingers to always start with biggest number.  So if you ask “4+8= ?”, so which number do you put in your head?  The child would visualize the 8 and then tap out 4 or put 4 fingers up and proceed to add on the 9,10,11,12.

Cut out numbers from scraps of paper, mix them in a hat, then ask your child to put them in order from smaller to largest.  Then start again and try largest to smallest.

Working with math squares.  You can print off a 100 square chart like this and ask your child to highlight all of the even numbers from 1-100. Next day re-print and try all of the odd numbers. Count by 5s, etc. A great tool on this site for practicing writing letters and counting is this chart that have fill in the blanks or this one that counts by 2s. They have loads of free printables, especially for grades Grade 1-4.

This site also has a blog called Homeschool Math Blog and I loved the categories where a parent like me that doesn’t have a teaching background can check what level (based on age) a child should be at.

If you are highly dedicated to working on math at home with your child, there is this site with a membership fee ($9.95 per month or $79 per year) and your child can complete practice drills and the questions will even increase in difficulty as they improve. That’s pretty cool although there is a cost, but worth it for a child that’s keen on the computer and math. Here is a link to this site. ** If any teachers have tried this site and would like to comment, please feel free using the comments feature of Mommy Footprint. **

Francesco is really enjoying a calc-u-colour book by Buki that I picked up at Pedagogy Toys. This is one of the best workbooks I’ve seen for the 5-7 year old range. It is a picture broken up into small shapes with math problems and based on the answer, you color that section of the picture a specific color. Each number from 0-10 is a different color and when you’re finished with the math problems and coloring, you can see what the picture is. Just fantastic! A great purchase if you are going on a road/plane trip this summer. Locally, you can try the Village Toy Shop or Pedagogy for Buki work books. I found one on Amazon called Calc-U-Draw – Fun with Arithmetic, but it was hard to source them on-line. We’ve also tried their dot-to-dot and maze books..my kids love them!

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