discovery toys blog of billie elias
Tips for parents who play with their children or who want stay-at-home income.
Toys for special need, autism, gifted and typical kids.

December 20, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

On January 1st many of us make our resolutions for the year ahead: lose weight, write a book, learn to drive, start a business. If starting a work-from-home business is something you've been dreaming of doing, this is the perfect time to take a look at Discovery Toys. Starting at the beginning of the year will certainly help you to earn the fabulous incentive trip to Costa Rica in early 2011. The sales you make between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 will help you qualify. The earlier you start, the better the chance you have!

Many legitimate home-based businesses involve direct sales. The Direct Selling Association tells you who are the established, ethical companies. You need to do your homework before joining one. I’ve personally been associated with Discovery Toys, one of the DSA members, since 1995. We have an unparalleled product line of educational toys for children, birth to age 10, making us an ideal company for stay-at-home moms (or dads). What’s great about us is, you get everything you need to run your business at a nominal start-up cost ($99, presently) … catalogs, product, packaging, bookkeeping, order forms. It would cost someone a fortune to start even a small business from scratch and be able to offer 200 products, many of which have won awards. If you’re interested, and you’re reading this, you need to contact me!

December 19, 2009

Discovery Toys start-up kit reduced to $99

Have you been debating for years about whether the time is right to join us? This special offer won't last long. Our $125 kit is reduced in price to $99 until 1/31/10. You only need a $35 deposit to get started. Fill out an easy application and email me at for further information.

Start the New Year off earning income and working towards our incentive trip to Costa Rica in 2011.

Winter Sale starts 12/26

Get a Jump Start the Discovery Toys New Year sale. Sale begins the day after Christmas. If you see something you want, don't wait! Our best deals often sell out in the first few days. Email me at or shop with me at my Discovery Toys website. Click on either image below to see an enlarged view.


Discovery Toys donates $500K to Toys for Tots

Discovery Toys Steps It Up! to Make Sure Deserving Kids Celebrate with Toys this Holiday Season!

Discovery Toys, longtime Sponsor and Partner of Toys for Tots, was in the midst of readying their annual toy donation last week when members of the Concord, California, Marine Reserve Unit arrived at our warehouse and related the toll that the economic crisis has taken on the local Toys for Tots area drive this holiday season. With many businesses shut down this year and many more not able to support the annual T4T drive as in years past…they needed over 20,000 toys in one week to meet their goal…it looked as though the Holidays were likely not to be so jolly!

Every year Discovery Toys makes a firm commitment to donate at least 2500 toys or $50,000 to Toys for Tots! This year the dock was loaded with over 3000 toys at the time of pick-up! Upon hearing this story, though, Discovery Toys leaders and staff made a very quick decision to do more…

This year we literally opened our warehouse to giving…and loaded palettes of toys, books, games, and more, to exceed the Toys for Tots need! Monday, December 14, 2009, over 27,000 products left our company warehouse with a retail value of $500,000 - ten times our customary donation!

At Discovery Toys, we believe in giving back to our communities and partnering with causes that bring education and joy to children everywhere. Thank you, Toys for Tots, for doing what you do to help us contribute our share!

December 03, 2009

The Play's the thing

When I first moved into the neighborhood, Union Square was riddled with homeless people, addicts and rats. By the time my son was born, the park had been cleaned up and refurbished, thanks to the folks who built nearby Zeckendorf Towers. They pumped a lot of money into the subway station beneath them, and the immediate area, in an effort to make their building desirable. This started the domino effect of the entire neighborhood gradually changing, and the area now sports a Barnes and Noble superstore, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, a 14-screen multiplex cinema, 3 Starbucks, Cosi, and the super cool ABC Carpet and Home. When we started using the playground inside the park, there were 2 distinct areas: one for toddlers, one for older kids. Woe be the mom who had to have one foot in the east playground and her other foot in the west if she had 2 kids a couple years apart. That all changed today when the Union Square Partnership declared,
"We are pleased to announce that Manhattan's newest showpiece, the 15,000-square-foot Union Square Park playground, opened at 12:00 PM today to the delight of neighborhood kids. The playground consists of three outdoor "rooms" dedicated to children of different age groups, and features state-of-the-art play equipment and beautifully landscaped gardens designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Open year-round from 8:00 AM to dusk, the play space is three times the size of the previous bi-furcated play areas, and is accessible at several points along the repaved and landscaped 16th Street transverse. Special thanks to our partners at the Mayor's Office, the City's Department of Parks & Recreation, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Architecture Research Office, Hill International, and Padilla Construction as well as Community Board 5, area elected officials, the project's donors and countless supporters for bringing this exciting new amenity to fruition for our littlest constituents.

In other North End Project news, the transverse, which opened earlier this month, includes new asphalt pavers and crushed bluestone, which allows the stately elm trees along the transverse to thrive while removing the previous trip hazard, and the entrance to the center lawn is now ADA-accessible. Work at the site will now focus on the restroom facility and the Pavilion in order to open these structures as soon as possible. The new restrooms, including the dedicated playground bathroom, are nearing completion as all plumbing and most interior finishes have been installed. Crews are awaiting the fabrication of doors, screens and stainless steel fencing to enclose the structure before opening to the public. Over at the Pavilion, the difficult task of graffiti removal finally bore fruit as the building's limestone facade now looks practically brand new. Plumbing, electric and heating systems are in place, leaving interior finishes to be completed on both the basement and ground floor levels. The bulk of remaining work on the building involves substantial structural repair and restoration work to ceiling beams and three of the exterior columns."

Playtime will never be the same!

November 25, 2009

How to join Discovery Toys

Are you looking to earn some additional money this holiday season? Despite the downturn in the economy, things are rocking at Discovery Toys. My sales were way up in 2008, and 2009 has been strong, too. This is no surprise. Babies are born everyday and birthday parties still require gift-giving. Parents make children their priority and will buy quality learning materials for their kids even in tough times. You may know people who have lost jobs or need a second income. We offer something special.

When you join the company ($125 plus shipping + tax) you'll get a sample kit of toys, catalogs and order forms worth over $390. You'll want to use these as samples to gather orders. If you sell $500, for example, you would earn a commission of $125 (plus an extra $75 if you do this in a single month during your first 3 months in the company). Read more about Success Start below. You'll also have the ability to sponsor others, and earn a percentage on their sales.

Besides sample toys, you receive catalogs and the Sourcebook, which explains the policies of the company, its compensation plan and more. A private area of our website becomes available to you, as well. The company has been around for 31 years, and has a compensation plan that is competitive with other direct sales companies.

People who host Discovery Toys parties for you will earn free products of their choice equivalent to about 16% of what's sold, while you're earning cash!

Host a Grand Opening party.
Anytime you host your own party, you earn free toys just like a hostess, in addition to your commission! For example a $500 party gets you $90 in free toys plus your $125 commission.

Success Start
There are bonuses galore in your first 3 months...Success Start rewards range from $75 (when you sell $500 in one month) to earning a refund on your $125 kit or a free New Products kit!

When you promote in rank by building your team, you earn bonuses, depending on your rank, structure and your sales goals. There are team bonuses, too, and monthly and quarterly structure bonuses. Until you're up to speed, I will always hold the hand of anyone you recruit to help them. It's in my best interest and yours to help those beneath us to flourish and grow.

Independent companies that review thousands of toys have honored DISCOVERY TOYS with many awards (Dr. Toy, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, etc) Child development experts handpick the toys that go into our catalog to be suitable for specific ages and developmental skills. The toys provide open-ended play: that is, there's no right way or wrong way to play with them...there are usually many different ways, depending upon the level of the child and his imagination. Often multiple sets of rules are provided for different ways to play the same game. We also give most info in 3 languages. As a Discovery Toys consultant you'd be provided with a wealth of information to help you better sell the toys.

If you have more questions, I'm happy to answer them. If you're ready to join, you can download the application and fax to 270-447-2656. Feel free to explore my personal site or

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November 10, 2009

No recalls

Discovery Toys: 31 years and no recalls.
Maclaren recalls 1 million strollers. Get the free repair kit and read the news here.

November 07, 2009

Discovery Toys Holiday Gift Sets

Halloween is over.
Next stop Thanksgiving.

Be the winner at your Turkey Dinner when you bring out the toys and games for the kids at your family gathering. Choose from one of these 4 specially priced bundles:

Baby's First Discoveries #8543
Toddler Discover & Play #8544
Preschool Discover & Play #8546
Family Games #8547

<<< click to enlarge image.

Visit my Discovery Toys shopping cart or click on the links above to purchase.

Happy Holidays!

October 20, 2009

Once Upon a Time

Beware! If your child comes home telling you
where T=time, stands for "once upon a time," he may have played with too many Discovery Toys! Take a look at the time pieces my son identified:

Mathematical Clocks

Okay, this is scary!

October 18, 2009

Literacy for children

What is literacy?

It's the ability to communicate in a variety of forms: reading, writing, listening, speaking, thinking.

Many parents don't realize that when a child works a puzzle or assembles a sequence of parts, he's learning visual discrimination (how things look alike or different), a fundamental concept in being able to differentiate one string of letters (a word) from another.

Stacking toys, like Measure Up Cups, or My Busy Day teach about sequencing...a progression from small to large.

Lacing/threading toys like Giant Pegboard or Shapes and Laces, work on fine motor skills that build the muscles that will soon develop the ability to hold a pencil.

Sorting toys like Sunshine Market or Place and Trace also help with eye-hand coordination, how the eyes and hands work together.

Patterning toys like Playful Patterns help children recognize and analyze patterns in words like endings or prefixes.

All of this will be helpful to a child learning to read.

It's never too soon to get started. Even holding the youngest child on your lap for a short reading session sets up a positive association with being read to. They can learn about how a book opens, that it must be held right side up, that we read from left to right, that the symbols on the page have a meaning.

You will probably want to have a home library, one that includes a variety of genres, from rhyming books to picture books, to activity books, story books, reference books. There should be a range of authors with different writing styles and an array of illustrators. Even the font styles should vary so that g is still recognized as g.

Baby board books like Frog's Friends, Ladybug's Lesson and Baby Bear's Bedtime, and soft books like Animal Baby and Busy Baby, have interesting textures to hold baby's attention.

Once Upon a Time and My First Fairy Tales are two storybooks, and there's the What am I? series of non-fiction with interesting die-cut pages in our reference section.

We also have CDs to cultivate good listening skills, like Sounds Like Fun and Bilingual Songs -English/Spanish.

Refer to my prior article on reading aloud to your child for 15 minutes a day. It is one of the best things you can do for your child.

October 14, 2009

Mother's Guilt

This summer I had the privilege of meeting Suze Orman at the Discovery Toys convention. She admonished me, and many of the other women in the audience, about not putting ourselves first, taking care of our own well-being before children, spouse or aging parents. She reminded us about what the flight attendants tell us on airplanes, "In the event that oxygen masks drop down, please adjust yours first, then help your child." You may find yourself feeling less guilty when you realize if you burn out, you won't be able to be there at all for the people you love.

October 05, 2009

OHNY: It's Time to Play

This weekend marks the return of openhousenewyork for its 7th year of free access to NYC's best architecture and design venues. There are many kid-centered activities, but as your toy lady, I'm most interested in telling you about "It's Time to Play" at the Queens King Manor Museum on Jamaica Avenue and 153rd Street where kids will be able to play games from the 18th & 19th centuries. Subway: E, J or Z train to Jamaica Center or F to Parsons Blvd. AirTrain to Jamaica Station, walk one block north to Jamaica Ave. 4 blocks east to 150th St. Visit for more info.

Oh, and after you're done playing old-fashioned games, step back into the 21st century and try our new board games: Friendship Island, Play to be Safe or Labyrinth.

Halloween Fun

October 03, 2009

Out with bake sales!

Yahoo! New York City schools have outlawed most bake sales! That's a million kids who won't be raising funds in an unhealthy way anymore.

The New York Times recently reported that the Department of Ed will use a variety of ways to limit how much sugar and fat students consume while they're at school. Not only are bake sales out, but vending machines that have sugar-laden drinks and high fat snacks will also be swapped out for those carrying low-sugar granola bars.

It never made sense to me that parents would bring in doughnuts and muffins at 9 am for kids to celebrate a class book reading party or completion of a project. Have you ever seen the cafeteria food? Or looked at what's available in the vending machines? No wonder 40% of the kids suffer from overweight or obesity. I'm glad Mayor Bloomberg and his school chancellor are paying attention. (I hope they'll soon begin to look at curriculum more closely, too.)

It is my hope that more preschools and elementary schools will look to have healthy toy and book sales now, as an alternative to unhealthy bake sales. (shameless plug: contact me to do a fundraiser).

September 29, 2009

We've come a long way, baby

It's astonishing to discover what women used to think about and reflect on. One need look no further than F. Scott Fitzgerald's jazz age tale of Bernice Bobs her Hair in which someone says, "If she looks like a million dollars she can talk about Russia, ping-pong, or the League of Nations and get away with it."

September 26, 2009

Put the mitzvah back in Bar Mitzvah

I recently stumbled upon an article about putting the "bar" in Bar Mitzvah. Kosher beer maker, Shmaltz Brewing Co., brews up He'brew--"the chosen beer", fig- and date-infused Rejewvenator and Genesis Ale. Funny, because for years I've been thinking, "why not put the "mitzvah" (good deed) back into the Bar Mitzvah festivities.

The bar (for males)/bat (for females) mitzvah is the celebration of the passage into adulthood for Jewish teens at age 13 (that's why those Shmaltz beers are 13% alcohol). It's a time when the child is asked to consider what has brought them to this day and how they will project good deeds into their future. But, often with parties as lavish as weddings, the ceremoniousness of the occasion is lost. That's why kids like Sarah Rodriguez decided to ask attendees at her bat mitzvah to make hospital donations in lieu of gifts to her. She raised over $4000 with which she and her friends made comfort kits of fun stuff for the pediatric patients at the hospital.

Mitzvah Market is a website that offers many examples of mitzvahs for the occasion, including some involving Discovery Toys. Take a look....and let me know if this is something that interests you. I can customize toy chests or large donation baskets, or even a basket of children's books for your child to give to a worthy charity of their choice.

This is my son reading some of the books he donated with kids in the hospital waiting room.

September 24, 2009

Baby Shower Ideas

Surprise Baby Shower
Invite the mom to your house for a Discovery Toys party. Have a DT consultant give her usual presentation, with a huge display of everything the guests have secretly pre-ordered.
After the presentation, play "Whispering down the lane" (where one person whispers something to another, continuing around the room to see how much the message gets messed up).
Be sure to position the mom as the last person to get the message : "This isn't really a
Discovery Toys party, it's a baby shower for ___!"
Then ask her if she likes the items the consultant presented. (Of course she will; they're Discovery Toys!) Tell her "Well that's good, because it all belongs TO YOU!" Watch her gush!

Mommy/Baby Icebreaker

Print out stick-on address labels in a large font with the words in parentheses on the second line:
Marge Simpson (The Simpsons) Maggie Simpson (The Simpsons)
Olive Oyl (Popeye) Swee'Pea (Popeye)
Mrs. Pepper (Blues Clues) Paprika (Blues Clues)
Betty Rubble (The Flinstones) Bam Bam (The Flintstones)
Carol Brady (The Brady Bunch) Cindy Brady (The Brady Bunch)
Wilma Flintstone (The Flintstones) Pebbles (The Flintstones)
June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver) The Beaver (Leave it to Beaver)
As you greet the guests, put a sticker on their back with the name of a famous baby or a famous mother. Each guest tries to figure out who she is by asking yes or no questions. A small prize is given out to everyone who figures out who they are. (note: a couple Discovery Toys Boomering Links would be a practical, affordable prize.)

Baby Grooves/Hot Potato Game
Give the Mom-to-be the music CD included in the Baby Grooves musical instrument set as your gift to her. Give one of the instruments to the person on her right. Make up a silly story that includes the mother's name and "baby." Everytime you say her name or the word "baby", the instrument passes to the right. The person holding it when you're done, gets to keep it.

How many Boomerings?
Ask guests to write down a guess of how many Boomering Links it would take to go around the pregnant mother. Have the dad-to-be or the hostess do the measuring.

Measure Up Cup Race
Divide cups by color: red/blue and yellow/green. Have 2 volunteers race to stack them up. The winner and the mom-to-be then have a stack off.

Read a Story Competition
Have 2 volunteers compete for best story reading. Use Frog's Friend and Baby Bear's Bedtime.

Scavenger Hunt
Arrange toys from the Discovery Toys catalog on a large tray and have the mom try to memorize them. Then hunt through the catalog for info about each toy that you can remember.

More Baby Shower Ideas

Someone you know is about to become a Grandma. Well, as we all know, this is practically as exciting to most women as becoming a mother. All her friends are so excited for her, constantly asking her when is the big day? Is it a boy or a girl? When will you get to go see him/her? etc. Since her most important job is to play with and spoil her grandchildren, why not help her get all the right toys, books and games to do just that. Get her friends together and let them throw her a Grandma Shower. Find a local DT rep (I can help you with that), tell her your idea, plan a special day for the event, and VOILA! -- lots of new toys are presented to Grandma for the new arrival. Now, Grandma can either keep all of these toys at her own home for baby's visits, or she can choose to share these with the baby at its own home. Either way, Grandma is introducing the baby, its mother, and ALL of her friends to DT products and our philosophy. What could be more fun?


Do your friends live far away? In the military? "Long-distance baby showers" are good for college friends and/or family members who all live too far apart to get together for a shower. It also eliminates the hassle of each person standing on line at the Post Office to mail their gift.

Your Discovery Toys consultant (ask me if you don't have one) "registers" the expectant mom by sharing a catalog with her, just like you would sign up for a registry in a store. Then invite people, and share the registry list and catalogs with all the long-distance "guests". Your consultant will take everyone's orders and will ask each guest to mail her a card for the new mom, to be included with each gift which she will gift wrap. All the gifts will be hand delivered to the new mom if the consultant lives close enough. When she writes her thank-yous, she can include a snapshot of her opening the gifts.

Tough Times call for Fun & Games

"So, how's business?" I'm asked this question virtually every day, either by customers or friends. I'm happy to report, "Business is fine, despite the recession." Direct selling services usually survive tough economic times. We can provide a level of customer service that is unparalleled in retail because we're like the mom & pop store of yesteryear, small and friendly. Plus, our products are irresistible to new grandparents who want to hold that grandbaby and see them react to a rattle or soft toy. Moms still want to sit on the floor and help their preschooler assemble a jigsaw puzzle. Dads know how important it is to help their 5 year old build with a construction toy.

For those who are temporarily out of work, opportunities like ours are a godsend. There's a low start up cost (usually $125), and voila, you're in business. We'll even train and coach you.
Watch the video of the Chairman of Discovery Toys, Jeremy Hobbs, being interviewed on the ABC News affiliate in Denver. He talks about how Discovery Toys has revamped its compensation plan to give consultants more cash right up front, where they need it. Anyone concerned about separating scams from legitimate companies, can research our 30 year old company online and check the website of the Direct Selling Association, which has a tough code of ethics for its member companies.

And, by the way, playing games is a great way to take your mind off the stresses of the uncertainty of today's economy. Play on!

September 23, 2009

Color blindness

Being able to distinguish the color purple from the color blue is one way to determine if your child is color blind. The classic Discovery Toy, Hammer Away is in the form of a toy tug boat. It has 4 colored balls for a child to bang on, while they explore cause and effect, hand-eye coordination and object permanence. A byproduct of matching the color of the ball to the color of the ring around the opening is that you'll quickly see if your child is matching purple to purple or purple to blue.

September 17, 2009

Autism journey of Leslie & Joe

Leslie St. Jean had joined Discovery Toys as a consultant several years back. One year at the Discovery Toys convention she shared her story with us, which she gave me permission to share with you. I wanted you to hear it in her own words: Discovery Toys helped her child!

"Our Journey with autism began on June 24, 2004. My husband and I spent our 9 year wedding anniversary in a neurologist’s office looking for answers.

This is what we shared with the doctor:

'Our 2-year-old son Joseph is as cute as a button and a joy to be around, but we cannot overlook his odd behaviors. For example, when we call his name, he does NOT look at us. He does not seem to hear us. We had his hearing tested and the results were “normal”. Why does he walk on his toes? Why is he not aware of the world around him? For example, he does not acknowledge a new person walking into the room. Joe cannot play with toys appropriately no matter how many times we show him. Whether it is a ball, car, shape sorter or book, he does the same thing, spin them. When I sit down next to him to read a book, he immediately stands up and walks away. Why doesn’t he talk? Why does he not seem to understand me? He cannot follow any direction. Even simple ones like “Where’s Mommy?” Why does he jump up and down and flap his hands when he is excited? Why does he cover his ears to certain noises? Why does he make high pitched screams when he is “playing”? If kids are playing on the left side of the room, Joe moves to the right side of the room. Why does he laugh uncontrollably at nothing?'

The answer to all these questions and behaviors was AUTISM.

Autism impacts 1 in 166 children. 4 out 5 children diagnosed are boys. There is no known cause or cure for autism. It is, in my opinion, a silent epidemic. Maybe Discovery Toys can help, not just by supporting parents of children with autism like me, and children with autism like our Joe with wonderful products, tips and testimonials, but by helping us to feel able to talk about it. That’s why the foundation, Autism Speaks, must have selected its name, to bring autism out into the open.

From the moment DISCOVERY TOYS® products began arriving at my door, the door to my son’s mind began to open. But these products mean more to my family than most would ever understand.

Did Joe immediately begin to use the products like they were meant to be used? No, not even close, but at least he was interested. And interest goes a LONG way for children on the Spectrum. Because he was interested in the products, he was motivated to learn how to use them. A BIG positive!

Whenever I meet a parent who has child on the Spectrum I recommend the following products, BUSY BUGS, ROLL & PLAY and IT’S A MATCH!

BUSY BUGS was the first DISCOVERY TOY® product I opened from my Rocket Start Kit. Every child with autism has their little quirks or “stims”. Joe’s is picking up items that are the same and dropping them one by one. It actually is very impressive. Even his Occupational Therapist (OT ) has marveled at how many objects Joe can fit into his cute little hands. As I opened up the box for the first time, he screamed in excitement. His hands literally dove into the box as he picked up bugs and began running around the house dropping them. I brought him back to the table, this time only giving him 6 red bugs and the all red square card. With my hand over his, (known in the autism world as “full manual guidance”, or “hand-over-hand”), I showed him how to match the red bug to the red square. For 3 months I worked with Joe on this skill and one day he just did it; independently. He can now independently complete up to card 3!

In my opinion, ROLL & PLAY is the best “floor time” therapeutic product for children on the Spectrum. Most young children with autism are unable to talk and have audio processing issues. This means they are unable to decipher or decode what we are saying. However, many are successful at understanding and interpreting a picture. For this reason, many children on the Spectrum begin communicating through PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). When my son was younger and wanted a drink, he was unable to verbally express his need in the form of the spoken word, “drink”, “cup” or “juice”. Instead he removed a wallet sized picture of a sippy cup from our refrigerator door and handed it to me. He was “exchanging” a picture for the item. He was communicating through pictures. ROLL & PLAY is “PECS in a box”. We have used ROLL & PLAY to teach Joe the parts of the body, gross motor skills imitation and how to follow directions, (“find something yellow”). Gross Motor Imitation is a prerequisite to expressive language (spoken words). This is also a game Joe’s big sister Renee (age 5) can play with him. Imagine having a brother very close to your age (they are 17 months apart) who has no idea how to “play”. With this product it is bridging that gap and providing a means for my children to interact!

I recommend to EVERY FAMILY of autism IT’S A MATCH! When Joseph was completely non-verbal and we had no idea what he was capable of in an academic sense. Well, through IT’S A MATCH! we found out he knows his letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and animals. It also reinforces matching, which is a HUGE educational program for children on the Spectrum. From that moment on, we changed the programs in Joe’s therapy, we kicked it up a notch and that has made all the difference. He has progressed more in the last 18 months than I thought was possible. Joe not only can identify his letters, numbers, shapes, colors and animals through matching, but he can SAY THEM!

SPLASH ROCKET has become Joe’s favorite DISCOVERY TOY® product. Therefore, it has become Joe’s “most preferred reinforcer”. What is a reinforcer? A reinforcer is the reward that Joe earns for doing what is asked. Most of this summer you could find me in my back yard with flashcards and a SPLASH ROCKET. I would show Joe a flashcard, if he was able to identity the object and say the word, (“expressive label”), I would blast off the rocket. It is his reward for doing something he finds very difficult to do. Through the efforts of Joe’s dedicated teachers and SPLASH ROCKET as a reinforcer, he is able to identify and verbally express close to 200 words!

I share my stories today to give you an opportunity to learn how autism can affect a child and how important it is to support the child and their FAMILY. [If you sell Discovery Toys] you are making a difference! You are providing these families with affordable educational products, potential reinforcers, and fantastic therapeutic tools.

Are you providing the families with a cure? No. But we are showing them that we care and we want to make a difference in their lives. And this means more to the Autism Community than you will ever know!

So how is Joe today, 2 years after his diagnosis? Well, he is a different kid. He is a child that all the preschool girls and teachers fight over. He is a quiet cute, kid with the “all teeth showing” smile. He is no longer considered to be non-verbal. My son has words, however, he is still considered non-conversational. He is just starting to put 2 words together. My favorite is “Luv Ya.” His favorite is “Sit Down!” And why is he asking me to “sit down”? …to play. And what do we play with… DISCOVERY TOY® products. Because playing with Joe everyday is the best investment I have ever made in my son’s life."

Today, Leslie is the Director of Finance of Huge Possibilities, Inc. a 501(c)(3) charity that helps teach parents and caregivers of children with autism about the huge possibilities for their child who's been diagnosed on the spectrum. Visit their site to donate.

How to make a smarter child

With educational toys, of course! All kidding aside, information enters the brain through the five senses, making the use of multi-sensory toys beneficial to hardy brain development. Products like a bright- colored, textured ball that squeaks and has a scent (Tangiball) or building blocks that double as rattles (EZ Blocks) help to wire the brain's neurons and dendrites, the pathways in the brain. This is particularly true during the earliest months and years of a child's life when the changes in the brain are most dramatic.

There are windows of opportunity for certain skills to be cultivated (e.g. learning a second language without a foreign accent needs to take place before a child turns 9). A child who is in a body cast when the window of opportunity is open for learning to walk, may eventually walk, but will not likely have a natural gait.

My advice: expose a child to as many different situations and stimuli as possible, and read to them every day.

September 11, 2009

Early Language and Intercultural Acquisition Studies (ELIAS)

What a hoot to find out they named an early language acquisition study after my husband's family!

Science Daily reports findings from a European study (which we at Discovery Toys already seemed to know) that children as young as preschool age can learn a second language through immersion teaching.

It was because of a Discovery Toys seminar that I attended at one of our conventions, that my husband and I chose to send our child as a 3 1/2 year old to just such an immersion program.
You can read about Monsieur Thibaut's method and his schools in the NY Times article.

Please refer to my post on second language from March 2009 for more.

September 10, 2009

Agassi Prep serves up lessons

With the US Open Grand Slam Tennis Tournament in town, New Yorkers are engulfed in tennis for a fortnight. I happened to catch Andre Agassi on t.v. and heard him speak about the goals and vision of his highly acclaimed Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy (K-12). I was impressed to see a short clip of the children taking their pledge to be respectful. Respect, character, motivation and self-discipline are deemed important at the school. These traits are enhanced while the children are taught skills and knowledge necessary to be prepared for college. Can you imagine longer school days and a longer academic year? Small classroom sizes? A culture of discipline and respect? Teacher accountability for student performance? Required parental and community involvement? It sounds ideal to me. Perhaps if his model works well enough, the rest of the country will take note. Wishing you luck, Andre!

Fall 2009 Discovery Toys Product Introductions

Many new Fall products are now available.
Click on >>> Shop Products >>> New! Fall 2009

Look for
Baby Grooves (musical instruments for infants)
Try-Angle, a durable plastic activity center for sensory & motor development
Match Up Ride and Go! or Match Up Hide and Seek! magnetic puzzle books
Caterpillar Shape Sorter Wooden puzzle
Busy Farm and Busy Pets, companions to Busy Bugs
Jam Session, music for preschool
Motor Works Truck and Motor Works Train, add ons to Motor Works
A to Z Jr.
Word Flip

several new board games and books

September 04, 2009

Tracking your child's development

Keeping a written journal of your child's milestones and health information can be useful. It's a good idea to track as much information about your child as you can. You'll find it's not only practical when school wants a medical form filled out in conjunction with an overnight class trip or sports club, but also for checking which vaccines your child has already had. One day the sad news came home from school that a student had died of bacterial meningitis. A quick glance at my son's records calmed me when I saw he had received the Menactra vaccine to guard against this.

Paula Parker in her article on keeping a medical journal for your child, gives a step-by-step list of what to keep and what to record. I cataloged all those "firsts"....first tooth, first word, first haircut..., and all the "favorites" ...favorite food, favorite toy (Measure Up Cups), favorite t.v. show... on an adorable calendar. I also have a graph of how his height and weight progressed. These records, combined with the teeth he's lost, a lock of hair, his hand and footprints, his first shoes will all serve as a keepsake for my son to reflect back on when he has a child of his own! (I was horrified when my own mother showed me some of the records she had kept about my earliest days. The recipe the pediatrician had given her for baby formula, back in the time when breastfeeding was out of fashion, included Karo syrup and evaporated milk!! Yuck!)

It's never too late to get started.

September 03, 2009

"Women as the guardians of children...

possess great power. They are the molders of their children's personalities and the arbiters of their development."
-- Ann Oakley, born 1944, English sociologist

Moms everywhere know that we are our children's first and most important teachers, even while in utero, according to an article about fetal memory,

"A team of medical researchers in the Netherlands combined sonogram technology with sound and vibration stimulation to discover that 30-week-old fetuses demonstrate short-term memory. By 34 weeks, these babies in utero are able to store and retrieve that information up to four weeks later, according to the study published in the medical journal Child Development."

So, moms, be selective with the music you listen to, the words you speak, the foods you eat, the examples you set. Your baby is absorbing it all.

September 01, 2009

Need suggestions for special child

I received a note from someone seeking advice as the home school teacher of an 11-year-old boy. He writes,

He was born with an extremely rare genetic disorder that makes him a fairly unique case. He's not mentally retarded, but he's very far behind in his language development because he was unable to hear until about age 8 (he hears fine now with hearing aids). He's at a mid-fourth-grade math level, but a mid-first-grade reading level because he started learning to read just last year. He has somewhat short stature, a somewhat large head, large eyes and a small nose---other 11-year-olds might describe him as funny-looking, but I wouldn't say he's desperately so. His voice is very nasal and he has an odd speech impediment, but he's talkative and can be understood relatively easily.

He's outgoing, kind, humorous, well-behaved, and well-adjusted.

Since he's home-schooled, I want to find opportunities for him to socialize. I suspect that groups of non-disabled 11-year-olds would tend to disinclude or bully him because of the way he looks and sounds, so I'm most interested to find groups or activities for kids with special needs. (Or, if there were a "mainstream" venue for socialization that could assure he'd be meaningfully included, I'd be interested in that too.) Sports and music come to mind as good activities for him, but I'd be open to other ideas.

If you have any general ideas, please comment. Specific ideas for lower Manhattan are especially welcome.

Creative/ Imagination Toys: Pyramid, part 4

Today we're talking about the fourth layer of our healthy play pyramid: Creative/ Imagination Toys, toys that will encourage dramatic play and social as well as emotional development.

Our new game, Friendship Island, helps a child think about how we make friends, become good friends, and resolve disagreements.

Fashion Friends allows your child to learn about sequencing and construction through over 200 combinations of shoes, accessories, hairstyles and outfits for four 5" dolls.

With Shapes & Laces you and your child can build a story around the 45 colorful shapes as you string them onto coordinating laces. "One day while roaming through the strawberry patch, I saw a beautiful orange butterfly."

August 31, 2009

School readiness

As many children are about ready to experience their first day of school, we look at what parents can do to help smooth the way.

Before your child starts school they should have held a pencil and written some upper case letters of the alphabet, possibly their first name. They should know the alphabet and also have been read to enough at home to be able to sit through their teacher reading a story to the class. Ideally they should be ready to play with the other children in the class, engaging in role-playing or imaginary play.

The child will have great success if their parents have taught them a few key things at home, such as sharing their toys, putting their toys away, taking turns and having played with a variety of materials like dough, paint, glitter, crayons, colored pencils, markers, finger paints.

Jennifer Houck suggests that "it is crucial to your child’s emotional development that they express their fears and insecurities and feel that they are acknowledged." She recommends reading some books together about starting school to help allay any fears.

Some Discovery Toys products such as AB Seas alphabet fishing game, Zingo (a picture matching game), and Playful Patterns will further help prepare them.

New thinking

On their dynamic learning website several pioneers in "new education" tell us that "21st century learning and educating requires big and wonderful shifts from the 'fit the norm', mental approach of 20th century education." They aim to transform learning and make lifelong learning an exhilarating activity.

As an educational consultant with Discovery Toys, I am continuously interested in developments in brain research and how the mind starts getting wired at birth and makes millions of connections by age 2. I am also awed by how much of an impact playing with good, basic toys can have on that process. We believe that play is a child's work...children play to learn, to grow and to experience the world around them.

Play is, after all, one of the purest methods of learning in children because through it they get to explore, experiment, build self-esteem, develop muscle control and more. It stands to reason that with information expanding as rapidly as it is, that just being able to memorize lots of facts will no longer be effective. Our children will have to be able to synthesize the glut of information that will be at their fingertips, which will require different skills than what have traditionally been taught in our schools.

August 30, 2009

Big Apple for little kids

I love my city and am glad MommyBlog and her family enjoyed it, too. People don’t realize what a great place it is for kids to visit. Even though I sell Discovery Toys, I often send people to the Times Square ToysrUs where there’s an indoor ferris wheel and American Girl Place where you can dine with your dolly and have her hair styled. You can rent model sailboats to sail in Central Park, rent rowboats or borrow free fishing poles at the Harlem Meer at the northern edge of the Park. Plus we have that Lady in the Harbor, and Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes. Please tell all your friends to come and visit the Big Apple, the city that doesn’t sleep.

August 29, 2009

"I was not a classic mother....

...but my kids were never palmed off to boarding school. So, I didn't bake cookies. You can buy cookies but you can't buy love."
-- Raquel Welch, born 1940, American actress

August 28, 2009

Thinking/ Problem Solving Toys: Pyramid, part 3

The third layer of our healthy play pyramid is Thinking/ Problem Solving Toys.

Manipulative toys like Marbleworks (seen here)
and EZ Blocks help build problem solving skills and abstract thinking skills. They also teach about logic, balance, gravity.

Construction toys that have multiple ways of assembling and no determined play pattern such as Motorworks, Fashion Friends, and Zip Track are also useful in building cognitive skills.

August 27, 2009

Discovery Toys Opportunity Session

Discovery Toys Brings Opportunity and Play to Central Jersey Sept. 12

Discovery Toys, the foremost direct sales / network marketer of educational toys, is offering an opportunity for those passionate about children and education and a desire for extra income. A refreshed company with new learning products, a new engaging website and a new compensation plan to stimulate immediate earnings, all designed to help their Educational Sales Consultants reach more consumers and create more viable job opportunities than ever before. The goal: to help parents help their children learn through play, and help parents, grandparents, and teachers supplement their current income or even start a new career.

In Central New Jersey, Discovery Toys Fall Kick-Off is opening its doors to the public. All are invited to come discover an income opportunity in a friendly community environment, meet the company Chairman and others who work with DT, and get more information about becoming part of the Discovery Toys team.

Saturday, September 12
Public invited: 9:30-11:30AM. Information session begins promptly at 9:30.

Clark, NJ

Public RSVP:
Advance RSVP required to: Billie
Please email for additional details.

For over three decades, Discovery Toys has been the most trusted and respected direct sales company for quality, award-winning educational toys. It all began when an early childhood educator first brought together a group of dedicated teachers, mothers and parents to take on the important topic of early education for children through play. Today they remain the premier home-based business for those wishing to balance family life with a fun, flexible career that encourages families everywhere to spend time playing with their children.

From President Obama to TV personalities, everyone is raising awareness on the need for parents to engage young children in the love of learning from early childhood. Discovery Toys creates a unique opportunity in the current economic climate for new income and career opportunities while it helps further the education of the coming generation.

The tagline Teach. Play. Inspire. reflects the company’s core beliefs and very reason for being: teaching and inspiring through play every day.

How to Host a Discovery Toys Baby Shower

CONGRATULATIONS...You're expecting a new baby!
Because we know you want the very best for your growing family, we're proud to introduce .....


Discovery Toys offers the highest quality, most durable and versatile products available. They encourage physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth, which are the core components of a child's development. They have been thoroughly tested and meet or exceed safety regulations. And, our products carry a full satisfaction-or-your-money-back guarantee!

Now your friends and family members will be able to find just the right gift for your new bundle of joy right at your shower! All they have to do is show up ready to have fun and shop. You'll earn FREE PRODUCT CREDIT based on their purchases to use any way you like!

Note: Guests can purchase toys for older siblings or for themselves, too, racking up additional free toy credit for the mom-to-be. Sibs can feel left out when a new baby arrives. It makes them feel good to receive something, too.

August 26, 2009

Mark Twain on parents

"We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them; but the most precious gift, our personal association, which means so much to them, we give grudgingly."

Do you agree with this? I'd love to know my readers' comments.

Active Play: Pyramid, part 2

Because physical development is an important component of your child's growth, you'll want him to play with some toys that encourage hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.

Toys like
Hammer Away, teaches object permanence (now you see it, now you don't) while lining up mallet with 4 different color balls and rings on an adorable tugboat
AB Seas, go fishing with your magnetic pole for the letters of the alphabet in a bingo-style game
Puzzle Ring Toss, like quoits, you'll toss the colorful rings onto a puzzle of base pieces that are numbered to help you keep score.
6 in 1 Play Center toss the ball, shoot hoops, pitch like in baseball, pitch or putt the soft golf balls
Flip Flop Faces toss the bean bags into the matching target bowl in an effort to flip the bowl (look for a new design when our Fall Season begins September 1).

August 25, 2009

The Base of the Pyramid

Yesterday we talked about the play diet pyramid and I promised to walk you through some products for each level.

At the base we have books: books that have marvelous illustrations that engage a child's eyes, a variety of font styles, and rich vocabulary are recommended.

"Shiver me timbers," he said. "I see a helicopter in the sky!" is a sentence from Ahoy, Pirate Pete which can be changed each time you read the story.

"Will o' wisps glow and twinkle, bringing light to Fairyland," the tooth fairy's poster tells Holly in
Dear Tooth Fairy.

In My First Fairy Tales that "when he heard the story of the sleeping princess, he took his sword and hacked through the brambles."

How will your child recognize that this g is the same as this g and this g if you don't read from books with a wide variety of typefaces?

More tomorrow....

Lemonade from Lemons

One of the most special things about being a stay-at-home mom is not having to miss any milestone your child achieves. This concept was hammered home to me in a blog post by Hill Robertson entitled, "Which is more important - job or lemonade stand?"

As I read Robertson's post, it reminded me of the summer day 7 years ago when my son asked if he could have a lemonade stand. We live around the corner from a landmarked office building where thousands of people work. There's a bank and a health club (with thirsty weightlifters and treadmillers) on the ground floor of the building as well. Even though it wasn't right outside our front door, it was the ultimate spot for us, and I used the occasion to explain the real estate broker's motto: "location, location, location."

Our pitch was "Fresh squeezed, ice cold lemonade!" Never one to miss an opportunity to teach some math, I explained to him how to calculate the ideal price. Together we decided how many lemons and how much sugar was required, and what those materials cost. We added the cost of the plastic cups. Then we measured our pitcher to see how many cups it held. We saw that 25 cents per cup would earn a small profit. When people learned that he had made the lemonade himself, by hand, from his own recipe, they gave him $1 and said, "keep the change." I enjoyed the comments his customers made: "smart kid," "enterprising young man." People were assuming this money was going into our college fund and they were throwing $5 and $10 bills into his cup. Periodically, I'd run home to refuel and to cache the money. Each outing, we increased the price because demand was so great. He learned the concepts of "supply and demand" and "what the market will bear." (Economics 101).

Today, I am proud to say, my son continues his entrepreneurial pursuits, and I attribute this to my being there to help with his first attempt at capitalism.

August 24, 2009

Why is Play Important?

Lane Nemeth knew that play was critically important when she founded Discovery Toys over 30 years ago. "Play is child's work; children play to learn, to grow, to experience the world around them" was the motto of the company for awhile.

Early childhood education expert Dr. Michael Meyerhoff tells us that "for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, having fun and learning are one and the same." Children are naturally inclined to be explorers, investigators and experimenters, and with the right toys in hand they are empowered to do what they are built to do. And guess what...while they're doing that, they're learning. When they build with blocks and the blocks tumble, they're learning about gravity and balance. When they line up a row of cars in size order, they're learning about size relationships. Completing a task, like assembling the pieces of an age-appropriate puzzle, brings a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem to a young child.

Play is like food...the diet must be balanced and you want to limit junk toys as you limit junk food. A healthy play diet should include books, active play, thinking/problem solving toys, creative/imagination toys, games, puzzles/patterns, and sensory/exploration toys. Parents must be there as partners in the process, putting the right toys on the plate, and offering guidance, encouragement and enthusiasm.

Come back tomorrow for suggestions of toys from each category of the healthy play diet.

August 23, 2009

No Parent Left Behind

United Way of New York reports that "New York City is home to the largest number of preschool-aged children living in poverty of any U.S. city. New York also has a high concentration of young children born of first generation immigrant parents. With poverty and lack of English-speaking proficiency at home posing major risks for school failure, New York's preschoolers are especially likely to benefit from high-quality early care and education.

Research shows that children in high quality early learning programs are better prepared for academic success when they enter kindergarten. In addition,

  • They are 50% less likely to need special education and 25% less likely to be held back at the end of 3rd grade.
  • They are also less likely to experience teen pregnancy or commit crimes, and they have better literacy, math and social skills than their peers.
  • It is estimated that for every $1 invested in high-quality early care and education, $7 is saved in unnecessary welfare payments, uncommitted crimes, decreased use of special education, and reduced unemployment."

This last statistic is particularly startling.

It is my hope that many issues could be addressed even before a child is born...I call it, "No Parent Left Behind." We need parenting programs that will help unwed mothers, teen moms, high school dropouts and college grads alike. Isn't it strange that we get more instructions with our DVD player than our new baby? And that many parents simply don't know that they need to talk to, read to, sing to and play with their babies? It is part of what drives the work I do in helping parents and preschools acquire the types of educational toys that help children develop a love of learning through play. I meet parents everyday and am doing my small share in changing the world, one child, one parent at a time. (If you'd like to join me, contact me at

August 21, 2009

Toddler's Second Year

Most parents are concerned about whether their child is hitting the appropriate developmental milestones for their age. Here are some things to look for during your child's second year:
  • Walk without help, usually between 9 and 17 months.
  • Approximately 6 months later, your toddler will be running!
  • Able to climb furniture and stairs (with railing)
  • Kick a ball -- requires a complex set of abilities including physical coordination, plus thinking skills to understand cause and effect. (Once your child discovers that balls can bounce, he'll probably toss toys, food and other objects to see if they bounce, too!)
  • Scribble using crayon, and develop fine motor skill and muscle control to hold spoon
  • Play make-believe (snap a photo of her feeding her dolly!)
  • Babble becomes real speaking...short phrases by 24 months
  • Play with friends is beginning

August 18, 2009

Early Learning Challenge Fund

President Obama in his remarks to the NAACP on July 16 issued the following challenge for early childhood education,

"And we should raise the bar when it comes to early learning programs... Today, some early learning programs are excellent. Some are mediocre. And some are wasting what studies show are – by far – a child's most formative years.

That's why I have issued a challenge to America's governors: if you match the success of states like Pennsylvania and develop an effective model for early learning; if you focus reform on standards and results in early learning programs; if you demonstrate how you will prepare the lowest income children to meet the highest standards of success – then you can compete for an Early Learning Challenge Grant that will help prepare all our children to enter kindergarten ready to learn."

His administration was prepared to offer grants totaling $10 billion over a ten year period, but the House Education and Labor committee recently authorized $8B over 8 years. You can read about the requirements of model systems and the two tiers of grants (one for states that are already on the right path, and another for states that have been lagging in this area) that are planned at The Early Learning Challenge Fund on the Department of Education's website.

National Journal online invited comments from experts such as Chester E. Finn, Jr. President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute and David L. Kirp, Professor, University of California (Berkeley), on whether this "standards based, outcome driven" method was the way to go. Most agreed with the method, particularly the 2-tiered approach, but some were a bit skeptical. You'll want to read what the education experts had to say for yourself.

You may remember in a previous article I lamented the slipping math and science test scores of our high school students and how it all relates back to early childhood education. This is the time when the brain is developing at its most rapid rate and why more attention needs to be paid to this critical period. Acting early can save society later on in terms of costs of unemployment, crime and lack of productivity.

Many organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have done research showing the cost to society later on if we don't beef up the early education for our most disadvantaged children. Dr. James Heckman, the Nobel Laureate, in his paper with Dimitriy Masterov entitled, "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children. Working Paper No. 5. Invest in Kids Working Group. 4 October 2004. Committee for Economic Development." tells us that "Three of the best documented studies of interventions directed toward children in low-income families with long term follow-up find that participants experienced increased achievement test scores and high school graduation, and decreased grade retention, time in special education, crime and delinquency... The estimated rate of return on one such program is 16%, much higher than any other type of program targeted at low-ability children that has been carefully evaluated.... Extending the program to all of the 4 million children under 5 who are currently living under the poverty line would yield an estimated private net benefit of $4.6 billion for boys and $97.8 billion for girls. For the general public, the estimated net benefits are $254.4 billion and $154.8 billion, respectively."

About Discovery Toys

As astonishing as it may seem to those of us who have been working at building this brand for many years, there are still a couple of people who don't know us. This is for them.

Discovery Toys is an educational/developmental toy company that's been around for 30 years (I've been with them for 14, since my son was an infant). There are no stores; toys are sold by moms (and a few dads) like me who work from home. We build teams of educational consultants who we coach and train (and also earn on). There are educational consultants in all 50 states (and Canada), but we can each sell anywhere we choose. Many consultants have home parties. I, personally, sell product at church/synagogue boutiques, in hospital lobbies, private schools and daycares and wherever children, parents, occupational therapists are found. I hand deliver gift baskets (I ship, too) and also make house-calls and do personal shopping appointments for busy executives at their offices. In other words, I bring the "store" to my customers and offer unsurpassed customer service. The company stands behind each of us with their unconditional guarantee and quality safety/testing procedures.

These developmentally appropriate toys (for birth to age 10) build self-esteem, cooperative play, social and emotional intelligence, while being wholesome and fun. Many of the toys are not language specific (e.g., a French child derives the same play value as a Chinese child). They encourage a love of learning and literacy that lasts a lifetime.

Established in 1978, Discovery Toys has received over 165 awards from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Dr. Toy, and other highly recognized educators and parenting organizations, for its original products such as Marbleworks and Tangiball. In addition, many products have been acknowledged by Dr. Patricia Krantz, of the Princeton Child Development Institute, as being useful in addressing the six weakest developmental areas in children with autism.

We are having an "opportunity session" at a hotel in Clark, NJ on Saturday, September 12, if you would like to meet us. We'll be explaining how it all works and signing people up on the spot. Our starter kit, usually $125 (+shipping&tax) is only $99 right now (August). You get $370 in product and business tools, 60 catalogs, and can start with as little as $25 down. Contact Billie at

August 16, 2009

Why have a home-based business?

Much has been written about stay-at-home-moms. They had to make the tough choice after child birth between going back to work or putting a career on hold. Some, in fact, forgo huge salaries for the chance of a lifetime: to watch their baby crawl, sit up, walk, talk, put together a puzzle, attend school ... all for the very first time. But, this doesn't mean you have to only speak in parentese, and cease all interactions with other adults. Even the best mom, with multiple kids, who finds herself busier than she ever imagined possible, should be entitled to a little time for herself each day and a girls' night out once every lunar cycle.

Having a home-based business [like Discovery Toys, wink, wink!] enables you to toss one more glass ball into your juggling act, but it's incredibly worthwhile. Besides being available to your child, you learn skills you never dreamed possible, like getting a child to play quietly while you're on a business call, or making prioritized "to-do" lists. My list includes much more than "defrost the chicken," and "vacuuming" takes a place low on the list (sorry, Hoover). (I love this quote from former First Lady Barbara Bush, "The darn trouble with cleaning the house is it gets dirty the next day anyway, so skip a week if you have to. The children are the most important thing." She had her priorities straight.)

Starting a business in order to stay home with your children not only enables you to go on many class trips when your children are young, but it provides your children with a window into what the business world is like. They see you talk on the phone with customers, arrange events, ship packages, manage your finances, wear a wide variety of "hats." The entrepreneurial bug might even bite a child who sees it played out everyday before his eyes, and in our case, happily, it has! With the current economic situation forcing many into unemployment, it's comforting to know you won't be fired. That would certainly be an unpleasant situation for a child to witness, wouldn't it?

If this concept appeals to you, and you would consider a Discovery Toys business, August is a perfect time to start. We're offering our $125 starter kit for $99 (+ shipping & tax). We're moving into Back-to-School season followed by Holiday season, two of our busiest times of the year when people are particularly focused on children and gift-giving. This business is as recession-proof as it gets.
Babies are, after all, being born everyday, and kids are still having birthday parties. There is a constant demand for rattles and teethers, stacking toys, puzzles and other toys and games that help children reach their full potential. Grandmas always seem to have a few extra dollars to spend when the grandchildren are coming to visit. We are there for you to train, coach and help you get your business off the ground, so you're not left on your own to struggle or fail. What could be more fun or more important than playing with toys, and helping other parents help their kids get a great start in life???

August 11, 2009

Nobel Prize winner on Early Childhood Education

This Fall, Congress will be debating a range of proposals designed to bolster early childhood learning. A current hot topic is how critically important learning is, even before children get to the classroom. One of the nation's leading proponents of early childhood education is Nobel Prize winner James Heckman, the Henri Schultz distinguished service professor of economics at the University of Chicago. He's an expert in the economics of human development and has written extensively about the benefits of early childhood development. Heckman believes that investing in children from birth through five years of age is essential and pays enormous dividends.

In a recent National Public Radio interview, Professor Heckman talks with Michel Martin about some of his studies on poverty, race, education disparities and their cost to society. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

"If you start looking at how human beings develop and diverge and you start realizing how poverty really gets created and you start tracing the origins of poverty back, it's hard not to go back, back, back to the earliest years in the lives of people. And as a result of a series of studies over my whole lifetime, actually, I found that the effectiveness of early intervention is much, much higher than many of the interventions that American society has traditionally adopted to try to remediate, to patch up, to fix the problems that arise from disadvantaged environments.

... the family plays a fundamental role, we know, in shaping the lives of children. But in addition, we know that even before the children are born, the conditions, the way the mother takes care of herself has strong dramatic impact on the well-being of the child. And we know that the family in support of the child, whether it's in preschool or in school, plays a critical role. And I think anybody who looks at the statistics of American family life has to recognize that it's in trouble. We've had serious decline in the quality of many, many American families over the years. And we know that that creates situations of risk and disadvantage for the children born into those families....

... it isn't just a matter of income and it isn't just a matter of the education of the mother. But it's a matter of parenting and motivating the child. And so you see here in Chicago, in some of the worst projects, over the years, we've studied some very successful people who emerged from those environments, simply because their parents or in some cases just the mother have been so effective."

When asked about the inequality in educational resources due to race, he had this to say:

"I think partly because the resources of the larger society are strapped, partly because in the past, we've committed so many resources to other activities, not recognizing the value of education. I think it's not just a matter of race. I think race is very important. I think generally speaking, we've [got] to face the general problem, which is that we are seeing more children coming out of families which simply don't give them adequate resources for their development. So we have really two Americas, you know, you can think of two Americas going side by side, living next to each other, even driving on the same roads.

But on the one hand, we see a group of people who are essentially doing better than ever before, in the sense we have more people graduating from college, more people who are going into situations of advantage, going into the larger society, never mind the current economic downturn. At the same time, properly measured, the U.S. high school dropout rate is increasing. And it's not just for African-Americans, it's true for Americans of all ethnic background. And we have to understand that what's happening then is we're creating two different cultures, two different societies. The level of inequality is actually increasing at a fundamental level.

And it's this inequality in early conditions which perpetuates inequality into the next generation and the generation after that. So I think that American society - I think the current emphasis in the Obama administration towards the long run, which I dearly hope President Obama continues to emphasize, is a very important one. Because in the long run, when we really understand how to solve the problem of poverty, we're going to understand that disadvantage in the early years and disadvantage through childhood is increasingly playing a role in producing the two societies that America is becoming."

August 09, 2009

Teaching Kids about Money

More and more, money seems to be in the news: government deficits, Wall Street swindlers, mortgage foreclosures. Business schools are starting to require graduates to take an oath of ethics, much like MDs have to take the Hippocratic Oath. Teaching children about money can seem daunting in light of all that, but it needn't be. Learning about money can be fun.

From the very earliest years children see us handling paper money and coins. The coins are different sizes and colors with detailed bas-reliefs of people, date of minting, symbols and more. Copper pennies (you can visit the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia where they are made) can be oxidized and showing a green patina like the Statue of Liberty, or they can be shiny and new. This alone can be fascinating. Pennies are the smallest unit of our currency. Five of them have the same value as a nickel. But two of those "large" nickels are equivalent to that "tiny" dime. And 100 cents = $1. We can also say each cent has the value of 1-one-hundredth of a dollar. That's like slicing a pizza pie into 100 skinny slices and giving your child one thin slice. There's a lot to learn right there: fractions, decimals, word representations of mathematical values.

You can even mix in a little science experiment: Soak a penny in vinegar until it is bright and shiny. Then just let it air dry on a towel. Soon it will oxidize, leaving that green patina. What makes that happen? What happens if you soak a nickel? dime?

Mix in some history, too. Did you know that starting this year, the reverse of the penny will have 4 different designs, chronicling the career of Abraham Lincoln? Did you know that 1.5 million pennies were minted in aluminum in the 1970s because the value of the copper in the coin had exceeded 1 cent? Which famous Philadelphian said, "A penny saved is a penny earned"? (Hint, he's the only person famous enough to be pictured on our paper currency who was never a U.S. president!)

There's much more to learn about pennies. But there's a slew of other coins, as well.

Quarters: Just when you thought you were done collecting a different quarter for each state, Congress passed legislation to create an 11-year program introducing at least 56 of America's beautiful National Parks. This campaign is in an effort to increase awareness and interest in our rich parks system.

Did you know that there used to be real gold coins that circulated?

$500 bills that circulated? What about a $100,000 bill?

Look forward to future articles about what your children should know about saving and spending.

August 01, 2009

List of Hot Topics

How to Host a DT Baby Shower
The Importance of Touch
Toddler's 2nd Year
Language Development: Banana-fana-fofana

Why is Play Important?
Toy Play in Early Childhood
Healthy Play Diet pyramid
Made in China
Toy Safety
Books in the Home
Measure Up Cups video
25 Uses for Boomerings
Electronic Toys instead of Parents?
Recipe for Modeling Dough

Nobel Prize Winner on Early Childhood
When to learn a Second Language
Obama's Early Learning Challenge Fund

Sleep Begets Sleep
Healthy Happy Zzzzz
No Parent Left Behind
Journal of Economic Perspectives:Parental time
Teaching Kids about Money
Why have a home-based Business?
Raising decent, happy solid-citizens
Character Education
Tips from Real Parents
Single Mom
Single Mom, part 2

Meet Discovery Toys
Why Start a Discovery Toys business?
How to start a DT business?
How to order Discovery Toys

PiTTi, the pied piper of Jam

On July 16 at the Discovery Toys toy fair/Denver convention, a new musical toy set called 'Jam Session' was launched. It includes easy-to-grasp castanets, hand drum with mallet, tambourine, and a guiro with mallet. There to take us through the range of sounds and methods of using each instrument was this "wild and crazy" German, PiTTi, seen in the video. It may be a toy, but you can really make percussion like the big boys. This product will be available to order in September.

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