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.

July 31, 2009

Introducing the new tagline of Discovery Toys and what it means to you, the consumer.

•How to Learn
DT products teach children “how to learn” and not just “what to learn”, preparing children
for success in school.
•Engage the Senses
Studies show that children engage more fully in the learning process through the use of
multiple senses.
•Parent Interaction
DT products encourage parents to interact with their children and instill in them
the love of learning.

•Never‐ending Play!
Children want to play with our toys over and over again.
•Parent PLAY
We build in FUN for parents to play with their children everyday.
•Open‐Ended Play
Imaginative, creative play teaches children to “think”.
•High Quality & Safe Play
Our toys meet or exceed all industry quality & safety standards.

•Levels of Learning
DT products are designed to grow with your child, to stretch their thinking and imagination.
•Love of Learning
Playing with our products inspires confidence and passion for learning!
•Parents Learn Too
Our products not only inspire children to learn, they inspire parents to teach and learn along
with them.

200th birthday of Alfred, Lord Tennyson

For all my literary readers in NYC, check out this performance, Thurs. Aug. 6. Details at

Audrey St. Gil, pianist ; Paul Hecht, actor
Enoch Arden with text by Tennyson and score for piano by Richard Strauss.

We have reason to believe this is the only celebration on this side of the pond of Alfred Lord Tennyson's 200th birthday.

"Enoch Arden" is a poem published in 1864 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, during his tenure as England's Poet Laureate.

The hero of the poem, fisherman turned merchant sailor Enoch Arden, leaves his wife Annie and three children to go to sea with his old captain, who is offering him work.

He finds upon his return from the sea that, after his long absence, his wife, who believed him dead, is married happily to another man, his childhood friend Philip, and has a child by him.

The story could be considered a variation on and antithesis to the Classical myth of Odysseus, who after an absence of twenty years at sea found a faithful wife who had been loyally waiting for him.

July 30, 2009

The Discovery Toys opportunity

If you've ever had an interest in making money while staying home with your children, this is the ultimate time to consider selling Discovery Toys. I will help you start your own business selling award-winning educational toys that make a difference in the lives of children. Our compensation plan is changing in a few days to become the richest in the industry. New consultants can earn 45% on their sales while in their Success Start period (first 3 months), and our party hostesses get approximately 17% on top of that. There are bonuses galore under the new plan. I will help you set goals and strategize about how to earn the most you can in your own home-based business. If there's a certain amount of money you want to earn, $5oo/mo., $1,ooo or $2,ooo per month, let me show you what you'll need to do to make that a reality. Email me at

July 29, 2009

Learning Styles

When shopping for toys, it helps to know your child's learning style. Does he learn through what he hears (auditory learner)? Through touch and movement (kinesthetic learner)? Or through his eyes (visual learner)? Once you identify that, you can match your child's toys to his particular style, or complement his style by choosing toys that help develop his areas of weakness. The Discovery Toys catalog indicates A,K or V for the style(s) a particular product addresses to help you choose the "just right" toy for your special someone.

Examples of toys for various learning styles:
Toy instruments (coming to Discovery Toys in September!)
Squeaky ball (Tangiball)
Music CD's (Sounds Like Fun, I'm Going Green, Bilingual Songs CD)
Rattles (Twisty Bug, Rainfall Rattle)

Hammering toy (Hammer Away)
Shape Sorter (Sunshine Market)
Construction toys (Bright Builders, Marbleworks)

Puzzles (Place & Trace, Progressive Puzzles)
Matching games (AB SeasNumber Hunt, Zingo)

July 27, 2009

"Einstein Never Used Flashcards"

Although I am in the business of selling educational toys, I am proud to say that the toys I sell are DISCOVERY TOYS. If you don't know us, because we're not as big or famous as Fisher-Price or Playskool, we exemplify much of what Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and her co-author, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff talk about in their book, Einstein Never Used Flashcards: parental involvement and low-tech play leads to learning rather than memorizing. (Note: The New York Public library owns 16 copies. To put this is perspective, they have 20 copies of Albert Einstein's book Relativity).

Lane Nemeth, the founder of Discovery Toys, Inc., was also an educator, well-versed in early childhood development. In 1978, when Lane started Discovery Toys out of her garage, she complained of not being able to find in stores the kinds of toys she wanted her own child to play with: toys that were safe, non-violent, engaging, fun, able to stimulate a multitude of senses and learning styles, non-gender specific. She brought in various consultants like Dr. Mike Meyerhoff (Harvard Preschool Project) and Jim Trelease (Read-Aloud Handbook) to make sure that her sales field understood what set us apart from other toy companies. When I read about Dr. Hirsh-Pasek's research, I could almost hear Lane preaching to the Discovery Toys field years ago about what makes a good toy.

Several years ago Hirsh-Pasek visited CBS' The Early Show and talked about four simple things you can do to help develop your child's creativity and further their learning. Read more about that interview at

Won't you join me in helping parents and educators to get toys that will help children thrive? We need people all across America to carry these award-winning toys into the homes of others through our party plan because these toys are not sold in stores. It's a big job, with money to be made, even during a recession!

July 26, 2009

Sounds Like Fun

Here's Barbara Milne, the creator of Discovery Toys classic product Sounds Like Fun, singing to a small group of us before our convention began last week in Denver. (over 1 million sold). Her CD is great for naptime and bedtime, with over 60 minutes of soothing voice and guitar music that will calm your child. Use it in the car or at bath time, too; an invaluable tool for auditory learners. The tempo is slow and non-frustrating, allowing children to hear and learn more easily. There is plenty of repetition, which may bore adults, but provides comfort and security to children. Follow along on the ABC chart when playing "Alphabet Sounds," and see the letters in lower case. This product promotes pre-reading skills, math skills, and auditory and language development.

July 25, 2009

"Give a man a fish...."

Empowering a child to find his own way through life is a critical key to his development. You know the expression, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you've fed him for a lifetime?" Read as, "A child whose hand is held forever won't be able to cross the street by himself."

Since a child's environment plays a key role in his development at every stage of his young life, we as parents have a responsibility. We need to make sure their environment is pleasant, including the space they're living in, the behaviors of the people around them, and the toys that they have access to. What they are exposed to, inside and outside the home, molds who they will become. Further, it shapes the kind of parent they will grow up to be.

Visits to the park, playground, museums, concerts, exposure to books, games and music...all of these can be beneficial, and need not cost a lot. Many museums have some hours each week where admission is free. Your local library is another spot for free programming and free loans on children's books. Look for outdoor summertime concerts in your local park. Please write in your comments on things you do that other parents may wish to share.

July 24, 2009

When is a child too old to play with sand toys?

Many people think that playing in the sand is child's play, but the truth is, we're never too old to enjoy a day at the beach. The older the child (or the adult), the more interesting their sand creations can be. It took a Discovery Toys product called Measure Up Cups (see video demo) to teach me that. It's made of 12 graduated cups, the largest being 8 ounces (don't mix your beach set with your kitchen set, though!) and is easily transported to the beach in your beach bag. When my son was pre-teen, he and I were using them to build a sandcastle so complex that the lifeguard on the beach asked us if we had a building permit!

Sandy Feet's book, "Sandcastles Made Simple" offers invaluable tips for making extraordinary sand sculptures. For example, the sand must be very wet, requiring you to dig down deep. Just remember to fill in the hole so no one falls in.

Q: How can I get two 2-year old boys to play together nicely?

A: There are some age appropriate toys that have multiple sets of things, which they can both play with at the same time without fighting. Or a project that they both contribute to assembling...something big enough that they can work on it without getting in each other's space. May I suggest Place & Trace by Discovery Toys...a set of three separate puzzles geared to their age? Give each boy one puzzle with its 4 pieces. They can complete their individual puzzle, use the puzzle pieces to cut out Play Doh, or even cut out cookie dough and bake cookies in fun dinosaur shapes or transportation or house pets (each puzzle has a different theme). Often, an open-ended toy will be played with in different ways by different kids. That's what you need to look for.

Asperger's conference in NY set for 10/19/2009

The YAI/NIPD Network will be holding a full-day conference in October featuring Dr. Tony Atwood, entitled, “The Complete Guide to High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome: Making Friends and Managing Feelings”

Attendees will have the rare opportunity to hear one of the top minds on Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism.

This conference will be on Monday, October 19, 2009 from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m at the McGraw Hill Auditorium located at 1221 Avenue of the Americas in New York City (entrance on 49th Street, close to 6th Ave.)

Visit the Conference Website to register on-line. Please note: There will be no on-site registration and seating is limited.

July 23, 2009

NYC Nursery School madness

Have you seen the parents lined up on the sidewalks at 5 a.m. waiting for the private nursery schools to open their doors and begin accepting applications? If you're a Big Apple parent, you're in luck, as New York Family is sponsoring a panel discussion on Tuesday evening, July 28, to help you through the process without pulling your hair out of your head.

July 22, 2009

18.5 million children under age 5

40 years ago this week a man stepped on the moon. Evidently, back then we had the American ingenuity and scientific know-how to achieve this feat. Today, the top engineering schools are compelled to fill their seats with students from all over the world because American high school students can no longer compete internationally at the highest levels in math and science. Test results of the last Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2006 showed our 15 year olds ranked 17th in science and 24th in math relative to the top 30 industrialized nations. Finland ranked tops in both math and science.

Representative Dina Titus, Education and Labor Committee Member and Member of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education says,

Dina Titus.jpg
"We know that children’s experiences in the first five years of life greatly influence brain architecture and chemistry in ways that can have lifelong impacts on learning, behavior, and health. And we know that the knowledge and skills gap between children from less advantaged families and those from higher-income families is evident before elementary school. A high-quality early education – one of the most important opportunities we can give our children – will ensure future generations’ success in school and beyond."
Education budgets are being cut at the local and state level, virtually as we speak. Some communities are taking action. Early Head Start, Head Start and Universal Pre-K programs are important, but much can be done in the home before the child begins school during the earliest, most impressionable years, before age 5.

Please share your comments on what is being done in your community or school district to address early childhood education.

July 21, 2009

Now on Twitter @billietoy

I am now on Twitter!
Follow me @billietoy to get updates of my blog entries.

Suze Orman speaks at DT convention

Once a year DT educational consultants from across the U.S. and Canada gather to learn about our industry, attend seminars and preview the toys for the coming season.

How exciting it was to have THE Suze Orman (financial guru and 6 time Emmy Award winning host of the Suze Orman Show on CNBC) at the Discovery Toys convention in Denver, CO last week! She helped us see the importance of our mission of helping parents connect with their children through play, and told us there's never been a better time to be your own boss. Because education is being cut from state budgets, our products are more important to parents than ever before.

Healthy, Happy...zzzzz

So many moms ask about baby's sleep issues. Doesn't it drive us nuts when our kids are crying because they simply can't drift off into slumberland? Here's an informative video in which sleep expert Dr. Marc Weissbluth talks about sleep. He is the author of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." Read more at sleep begets sleep.

New mom Melissa Hines has great ideas at her blog, too.

Children with Special Needs

Many parents and teachers of differently-abled children enjoy using Discovery Toys. They are beneficial for children with a variety of delays because they are multi-sensory. No matter which sense needs improvement...sight, hearing, touch, speech/ of our products may be helpful in the earliest years. Occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech pathologists utilize DT products. Read more here: Discovery Toys and Special Needs

July 14, 2009

"Just Right" Toys

When children play, it is their work. It is how they learn. Since parents are their child's first and best teacher, it can be useful to know how to choose "just right" toys.

A good toy should stimulate all the senses so that every part of the brain gets wired. Sensory, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving, language development, social and emotional skills and creativity are all developmental goals that can be reached through the right toys. [If your child has a weakness in any of these areas, your OT, PT, speech pathologist or an online search can help you to select toys that will help.] A good toy should also encourage the natural process of discovery and create a positive learning environment. A toy that provides open-ended play -- no right or wrong way to play with it -- will build your child's self-esteem.

Stage by Stage
Infants learn through their senses. Sight, sound, scent, color, taste and texture are all new stimuli in a brand new world. Talk, sing and cuddle with your baby as you share each new experience. Since it's never too early to read to your baby, you can start bonding by snuggling your baby in your lap and looking at a fabric book or board book together. (e.g. Baby Bear's Bedtime of Ladybug's Lesson). Say the words that go with the picture you see. Use inflections in your voice to make each picture come alive for him. This will create precious moments for both of you and start him on the path to becoming a lifelong reader.

Starting at about age one, you may introduce letters, numbers, and basic skills such as matching and stacking. (Go Go Caterpillar shows baby just a few numbers and letters. Measure Up Cups are numbered from 1 to 12. Toppling and stacking, dump and fill, learning size relationships of big or small, color sorting are all activities that your child is ready for at the toddler stage. (Again, Measure Up Cups to the rescue...they do it all!) Object permanence is also learned around this time through games like peek-a-boo or a jack-in-the-box. That teaches toddlers that although mommy may leave to go out shopping, she's not gone forever, and she will come back! (Use something like My Busy Day to play the shell game).

Some toddlers are frustrated by not yet being verbal. You may recall the young child actor who played opposite Grandpa Robert DeNiro in "Meet the Fockers." He had learned "Baby Signs," sign language for babies to use. There are products on the market today to teach your young child the way to communicate that he is thirsty even before he speaks. I still have a couple Baby Signs in stock. Email me at

Toys that encourage and provide exploration/experimentation build a strong foundation for thinking, learning and problem-solving. Building blocks, shape-sorters (Sunshine Market), beginning puzzles (Place & Trace) are all good choices for enhancing early math confidence.

Typically, children will begin speaking at around age two. Engage your child in conversation as they begin to explore new concepts and develop logical thinking skills. Introduce animals, letter sounds, and feelings at this age. Visual discrimination and pattern recognition developed through puzzles and sorting games will lead to pre-reading.

By preschool, your child will be creating and building with construction toys and other manipulatives to enhance their math skills. Imaginary or pretend play with puppets and costumes is starting at this time. Storytelling and social skills go hand-in-hand. (Topsy Turvy dolls) Playing games that involve taking turns also enable social skills to form.
(AB Seas, Number Hunt, Zingo)

July 12, 2009

All About Billie

I grew up in Philadelphia, living with a single mother who sent me to parochial school (great start, education-wise) so she could be out all day working. She was, and still is, a great mother, an Auntie Mame type, who made childhood fun, taking me to visit every relative, exposing me to culture, tirelessly reading me my favorite stories over and over again. In my twenties, it was mom who drove cross-country with me, pumping gas and reading maps.

My dad remarried and became a college professor

while I was very young, so I guess you could say education was, and still is, important to my family. He and his new wife took advantage of the academic calendar, traveling to exotic locales during the summer or the Christmas break. Sometimes their kids got to go with them, and the joy of travel was piqued.

By fifth grade, I transfered to public school, graduating from the top all-girls high school in Philly. My college years were spent 100 miles away from home, in New York City, followed by graduate school in engineering on the west coast. Those years saw a 9-week summer adventure backpacking around Europe with a friend, and 2 cross-country car trips with stops at hundreds of points of interest including National Parks, campgrounds, Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls and several Indian Reservations.

The mom of a college pal hooked me up with my first job as an Industrial Engineer for what was then the world's largest paper company. Thirteen months into my career, there was a giant re-organization with, you guessed it, 400 employees cut. I had the unpleasant experience of being highly credentialed, yet unemployed, and was lucky to find another position after a 6 month search.

I spent the next 7 years on first in banking operations and later in the controllers department of an international money center bank. As a bank officer, I had 4 weeks paid vacation each year, which I always used to further explore the world.

One day it hit me! My boss was not "in" politically, he had a big mortgage, 2 kids in private schools and was barely making ends meet after giving the corporation 25 of the best years of his life. After deciding that this was NOT what I was aspiring to, I tendered my resignation. I was off and running...first stop Africa.

I knew that I wanted to have my own business, make my own schedule, laugh and enjoy life while I was still young enough.

Out of the Africa trip grew a costume jewelry import business, which I started and ran. I wore every hat: negotiating purchases, handling passage through customs, marketing, opening accounts, shipping, invoicing, exhibiting at trade shows. I learned a lot and enjoyed my work. But something was missing....

I wasn't married and I didn't have a child, two large personal goals. In time, I married

and conceived. I knew I was fortunate to be pregnant, and during my first trimester feared that my physically demanding work could jeopardize my pregnancy. I put my business on hold, enjoying the sleep-filled nights and the enhanced hormones of a beautiful pregnancy. Silly me, I imagined bringing my baby to sales calls with me after his birth. Wrong! Breastfeeding + Blake +Billie were 3 B's that didn't add up, and I found myself nursing the day away, unable to get back to work.
Enter Discovery Toys in the form of my sister-in-law in Georgia. Lauren, as a Discovery Toys educational consultant, had sent a spectacular basket
filled with these wonderful toys to our baby on the occasion of his birth. I noticed how my new baby loved the squeak and the scent of Tangiball, and the elephant teether with the "peanuts in the belly" that I would tell him about in high-pitched parentese. I was personally so impressed with the toys, that I offered to circulate several catalogs at my mommy's group at the local hospital. My first day out, I garnered orders from many of the new mommies, intending to pass those orders along to Lauren to help her build her growing business. She cajoled me into signing on to become a DT consultant, convincing me that I had room for the sample kit in our tiny Manhattan apartment. Over the past 14 years, as my child has grown,
my business has grown and grown alongside him. I was able to go on many class trips and take him to school and pick him up everyday. I have been able to help many other women like myself do something they enjoy, something that helps them continue to grow personally while they help support their families.

Education still plays a big role in my family as we send our son off to MIT this fall.   Ponder this:  was it the immersion in Discovery Toys that made our child so smart?  One thing we know for sure:  it didn't hurt!

As you will learn when you read my blog, it is more important now than ever before that parents help their babies off to the best start from birth until they begin school. Having toys that insure purposeful play is a must in every household.

How to host a Discovery Toys catalog party

One of the facets of a Discovery Toys business is the party plan. People host parties to introduce the products to their friends (and to earn free toys!) A Discovery Toys consultant comes to the hostess' home and gives a short presentation, allows the guests to play with sample toys, and then takes their orders. The hostess earns free toys based on the total value of those purchases. (Some hostesses choose to give that portion to charity.)

If your friends and family are scattered all over the U.S. and can't come to your house when you host a party, you can host a "catalog party." We send you catalogs to circulate and order forms to write their orders and credit card info on. You mail or fax us the lists of what each person wants to order, and we take care of shipping the toys. Toys are sent by UPS either to you, the hostess, or to each "guest", if they don't live nearby. Your least expensive shipping option is when all toys are shipped to a single address. Added shipping costs apply if individual parcels are required.

You earn generous hostess rewards of nearly 18% of what is purchased. You may also select a toy at 1/2 price if someone books a party and your sales reach $200. Additional $200 increments entitle you to more 1/2 price toys. No limit!

Contact me at to inquire. See email link under teddy bear >>>

July 10, 2009

The no-gift baby shower or birth announcement

Q: I will be giving birth soon to my second child and will be sending out birth announcements. I do not want or need any gifts because I have everything from my first child. How can I let people know?
A: Try sending something like the sample card here, which suggests your friends and family donate Discovery Toys to a charity of your choice. We'll take care of everything for you if you provide us with the name and address of the charity.

Discovery Toys promotions July-August 2009

Join Discovery Toys July 1-July 31 and place orders totaling $250 or more by August 31.
You'll receive a $40 coupon toward our Exciting New Fall Products coming out September 1.

Customer Appreciation July 16 – August 31
With a $40 order (at a party only), you'll receive a $10 coupon redeemable toward DT New Fall Products in September

For our Party Hostesses with parties July 16 – August 31
Choose Motor Works OR Fashion Friends for FREE with total party sales of $400 or more

July 09, 2009

Bathtime fun

Q: My 16 month old used to love bathtime. He had been bathing in the same bathtub in the same location since he was a baby. We recently remodeled our bathroom and now the new tub is strange to him. Bathtime has become a nightmare. What should I do?

A: It's time for a distraction, such as a new bath toy, maybe two. Bathtime Bugs or Measure Up Cups are both age appropriate suggestions. Make bathtime fun again.

July 08, 2009

"To talk to a child....

to fascinate him, is much more difficult than to win an electoral victory. But it is more rewarding."
--Colette (1873-1954) French writer

In our fast-paced world, we often neglect to take time to "smell the roses." We're so occupied with our careers and our computers, that we sometimes overlook the all important face-to-face communication with our kids. Did you know that the children whose families have dinner together (and talk over dinner), have higher SAT scores? Playing word games like ABSeas, Pick Up Words, Zingo, or Brain Game, or reading books like Puzzle Island, gives you an opportunity to communicate with your child and engage her. Playing with construction toys, like Marbleworks, gives you an opportunity to converse, too. Try it and experience the results!

July 02, 2009

I can't get my child to talk

Q: Our 7 year old son is not very talkative, and when we ask him about his day at school he tells us he doesn't want to talk about it or he doesn't remember. We want him to share his feelings and learn how to communicate with us, but are not sure of the best way to handle this. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Most experts recommend playing board just seems to flow over a good game. Your child is old enough to play Clue, Jr. Scrabble,'ll find him talking in no time...and then he may casually weave in what you're really wanting to know. You can find more games like Wiz Kidz, Think-it-Through Tiles or Marbleworks at

July 01, 2009

"Loving a child....

doesn't mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult."
--Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) French musician and teacher
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