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.

March 25, 2009

Second Language?

Q. When is it appropriate to introduce a 2nd or 3rd language to my child?

A. It's never too early to introduce additional languages. It's best if they can be spoken by a native speaker. For example, if your nanny were Chinese and spoke Mandarin to your daughter, she would get the true pronunciation. The window of opportunity to speak with the authentic accent closes by age 9, before we start teaching a 2nd language in our schools. Some children experience speech delays if they are learning multiple languages, but it all gets sorted out soon enough....don't worry. This is an important ingredient of brain development, and most of us miss the opportunity.

Find cool Latin-rhythm music for kids on Bilingual Songs CD English-Spanish, item #2332 at

March 24, 2009

A Spanking from F.D.R.

My, how times have changed.....

Elliott Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, found that paternal spankings were not always painful. In an interview with Bela Kornitzer, he gave an example.

"Father spanked us rarely, although we were a rowdy bunch and did everything in our power to provoke our parents. I remember when I did get punished. Mother used to take me to Father's study, sit me down, and say, 'Franklin, this has gone far enough. You have to teach Elliott a lesson.' After Mother left, Father would instruct me to yell while he beat the daylights our of his desk with a ruler. Soon Mother, hearing my anguished cries, would run back in, begging Father to stop."

~~from "Moments With Father", C. Merton Babcock

March 22, 2009

Mike & Juliet Show

Discovery Toys will be featured in a 4 1/2 minute spot this Thursday morning, March 26, on Fox's Mike & Juliet Show, 9 to 10 am in the New York market.
If you've been seeking information about direct sales companies and want to know more about why these are great alternatives to corporate downsizing, please tune in.

March 16, 2009

'No Picnic for Me Either'

This Op-Ed Column appreared in the New York Times on March 13, 2009

In his education speech this week, Barack Obama retold a by-now familiar story. When he was a boy, his mother would wake him up at 4:30 to tutor him for a few hours before he went off to school. When young Barry complained about getting up so early, his mother responded: “This is no picnic for me either, Buster.”

That experience was the perfect preparation for reforming American education because it underlines the two traits necessary for academic success: relationships and rigor. The young Obama had a loving relationship with an adult passionate about his future. He also had at least one teacher, his mom, disinclined to put up with any crap.

The reform vision Obama sketched out in his speech flows from that experience. The Obama approach would make it more likely that young Americans grow up in relationships with teaching adults. It would expand nurse visits to disorganized homes. It would improve early education. It would extend the school year. Most important, it would increase merit pay for good teachers (the ones who develop emotional bonds with students) and dismiss bad teachers (the ones who treat students like cattle to be processed).

We’ve spent years working on ways to restructure schools, but what matters most is the relationship between one student and one teacher. You ask a kid who has graduated from high school to list the teachers who mattered in his life, and he will reel off names. You ask a kid who dropped out, and he will not even understand the question. Relationships like that are beyond his experience.

In his speech, Obama actually put more emphasis on the other side of the equation: rigor. In this context, that means testing and accountability.

Thanks in part to No Child Left Behind, we’re a lot better at measuring each student’s progress. Today, tests can tell you which students are on track and which aren’t. They can tell you which teachers are bringing their students’ achievement up by two grades in a single year and which are bringing their students’ levels up by only half a grade. They can tell you which education schools produce good teachers and which do not.

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has data showing that progress on tests between the third and eighth grades powerfully predicts high school graduation rates years later — a clear demonstration of the importance of these assessments.

The problem is that as our ability to get data has improved, the education establishment’s ability to evade the consequences of data has improved, too. Most districts don’t use data to reward good teachers. States have watered down their proficiency standards so parents think their own schools are much better than they are.

As Education Secretary Arne Duncan told me, “We’ve seen a race to the bottom. States are lying to children. They are lying to parents. They’re ignoring failure, and that’s unacceptable. We have to be fierce.”

Obama’s goal is to make sure results have consequences. He praises data sets that “tell us which students had which teachers so we can assess what’s working and what’s not.” He also aims to reward states that use data to make decisions. He will build on a Bush program that gives states money for merit pay so long as they measure teachers based on real results. He will reward states that expand charter schools, which are drivers of innovation, so long as they use data to figure out which charters are working.

The administration also will give money to states like Massachusetts that have rigorous proficiency standards. The goal is to replace the race to the bottom with a race to the top, as states are compelled to raise their standards if they hope to get federal money.

In short, Obama hopes to change incentives so districts do the effective and hard things instead of the easy and mediocre things. The question is whether he has the courage to follow through. Many doubt he does. They point to the way the president has already caved in on the D.C. vouchers case.

Democrats in Congress just killed an experiment that gives 1,700 poor Washington kids school vouchers. They even refused to grandfather in the kids already in the program, so those children will be ripped away from their mentors and friends. The idea was to cause maximum suffering, and 58 Senators voted for it.

Obama has, in fact, been shamefully quiet about this. But in the next weeks he’ll at least try to protect the kids now in the program. And more broadly, there’s reason for hope. Education is close to his heart. He has broken with liberal orthodoxy on school reform more than any other policy. He’s naturally inclined to be data driven. There’s reason to think that this week’s impressive speech will be followed by real and potentially historic action.

March 13, 2009

Baby's fingerprints

"What makes dermatoglyphics [the ridge patterns of skin on the inner surface of the hands and feet] important as markers for disease and traits is the fact that they develop at specific times in the foetus. Fingerprints, for example, begin to form at around the 13th week and are completed around week 18 - the same time that critical growth in the brain is taking place."
Roger Dobson; Scientists Say Palm-reading is True Guide to Intelligence; The Sunday Times (London, UK); Dec 9, 2001.

March 11, 2009

Give a book

The statistics on access to books highlight the need to significantly increase the availability of books in low-income neighborhoods. According to Susan B. Neuman in the Handbook of Early Literacy Research, while there is an average of 13 books for every child in middle income neighborhoods, there is only one book for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods.

March 01, 2009

Super Service

Q. What super customer service did you provide during this past holiday season?

A. Temima K replied, "A new customer mentioned that she remembered we had a great matching game but couldn't remember the name. I posted it on Starnet, found out that it was Matching Mania and had it sent from Albany - all within a week or so. She was thrilled! "

A. Simone W wrote, "I had several clients who needed their toys ASAP. I almost never ask my husband to help me with any DT related business other than letting me use his car when he’s home, but he was the driver when we went on a Santa Run together. We had a very nice time driving around the various neighborhoods in Manhattan where my clients live. I received several emails from clients thanking me for delivering the toys sooner than they’d expected."

Welcome February Pearls

What a month this has been for the PEARL TEAM! Welcome to our newest PEARLS:
Deb K, Michele L, Laura R, Tina Y....4 count 'em 4!!! all from NJ and all sponsored by Karen J
Diana S of NY sponsored by Simone W
Lydia P of NJ, Latonda S of OH sponsored by Lisa S
Cheryl A of NJ sponsored by Rachel T
Kristen M of NY, Barry E of NY, Debra M-S of AZ sponsored by Billie

# 2 Top Selling Team company-wide in January: Lisa S!!!!
# 2 Recruiter in the company in January: Lisa S!!!

Rocket Starters in SALES:
Level 3 - kit refunded!! Angela H, Karen J
Level 2- 2nd $50 coupon - Olga B, Linda R
Level 1- $50 coupon -Julie N, Sue M, Kathy M, Lisa L

Success Starters in SALES:
1st month: Karen S, Jenny J
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