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Authors and Businesses: Creative Kids Ideas Wants You!

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Calling all authors and businesses! We want your help. Creative Kids Ideas is interested in connecting with authors and companies interested in sponsoring contests and giveaways for our Creative Kids Ideas readers in 2012. CKI’s readers are awesome and really deserve some cool goodies! Plus, we promise to give you lots of great publicity. (We’re also willing to provide reviews of your books and products.)

Please keep in mind that Creative Kids Ideas features content about kids, children’s crafts, parenting, teaching, and other kid-related topics. Those are also the types of products we are interested in reviewing and giving away.

Anyone interested can reach us at admin@CreativeKidsIdeas.com, use the Contact form on our site, or reply in the comments section below.

Creative Kids Ideas Readers: We’d also appreciate your help in spreading the word! Thanks and a Happy 2012 to all of you.

(3-4 years) Preschoolers (5-8 years) Kindergarten - 3rd Graders (9-12 years) Tweens Reviews Toys

Review: Soft Kitty Plush Toy from the Hit Show The Big Bang Theory

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Photo courtesy of: Big Bang Theory and Stylin Online



Photo courtesy of: The Big Bang Theory and Stylin Online

“Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr!”

Fans of the CBS TV comedy, The Big Bang Theory, will recognize the “Soft Kitty” song that an ill Sheldon teaches to Penny and convinces her to sing to make him feel better. This cute and snuggly plush kitty sings the soothing song (in Penny’s voice) when the paw is pressed, and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your child’s face, whether she is sick or not!

Parents who may be concerned about giving their child a collectible item from The Big Bang Theory, which is a show that sometimes contains more “adult content”, can rest assured that there is nothing inappropriate for kids with the song or the plush toy. But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Here’s a short video to give you a better idea:

Photo courtesy of: The Big Bang Theory and Stylin Online

Here are the details you’ll need to know about the Soft Kitty Singing Plush Toy:

 

  • This plush is a trademark The Big Bang Theory product.
  • The kitty is 10-inches long.
  • The plush toy is gray and pink.
  • It requires three 1.5V button-cell batteries (included with the toy).
  • It plays “Soft Kitty” when the button on the paw is pressed.
  • The kitty is made of polyester fiber and is all new material.
  • The plush is not machine washable. Surface cleaning should be done with a damp cloth.
  • The toy is recommended for children (and adults) over the age of 3.
  • The Soft Kitty plush is now available on Stylin Online for $29.99.

**I received no payment for this review, but did receive a free Soft Kitty Plush toy in exchange for an honest review on Creative Kids Ideas.**

Creative Parenting Creative Products Holidays Reviews

Visit Shutterfly for Creative Holiday Cards and More!

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Are you sending Christmas cards this year?

Email, Facebook, and the many other online social networks are great for keeping in touch with long-distance family and friends, but I still prefer cards and letters send via the post office (snail mail). Call me old-fashioned if you will, that’s okay. Getting a holiday card or newsletter over the computer simply isn’t the same for me. There’s just something special about Christmas cards – both sending and receiving them, getting caught up on how loved ones are doing, seeing current pictures of their family and kids, and displaying them throughout the holiday season. For years, I’ve bought Christmas cards, spent days writing personal messages in each one, signing all our names, addressing envelopes, licking stamps, etc. And I love the entire process!

The one area I’m ashamed to admit I sometimes slack on is including current photos of the kids or family. It’s not for lack of wanting to share, it’s simply way too expensive. I send cards to over 50 people every year. Do you know how expensive it’d be to buy that many photos to stuff in the cards? Let’s just say, it’s a lot! That’s why I’m thrilled to have found Shutterfly and their large selection of photo cards. You get a beautiful card and photo all in one!

Shutterfly offers a large and attractive variety of photo Christmas cards. You select the color, size, design, number of  photos to include, type of paper it’s printed on, price range, and more. You also have the choice between flat or folded cards. I love that there’s a wide selection, so there is something to please everyone’s tastes and needs! I have to say I was impressed with how easy it was to search the site to find what I was looking for. Here are few examples of what you can find at Shutterfly:

Photo courtesy of: Shutterfly

There are 199 different styles of folded cards like this one.

Photo courtesy of: Shutterfly

You can also find 188 flat photo cards like this one to choose from.

Photo courtesy of: Shutterfly

There are 352 different designs for flat stationery cards, such as this adorable card.

This year I have an adorable picture of my two girls hugging that I’m excited to share with our family and friends. It has a black background, so I was searching for a card with a simplistic design and a bright border that would not clash (preferably red, just because it’s my favorite color). I also wanted a card that opened from right to left and gave me room inside to add my own messages to my loved ones (I am a writer, after all!). This is the one I chose. It’s called Scarlet Script Frame:

Photo courtesy of: Shutterfly

Shutterly also has party invitations, baby announcements, Christmas tags, and address labels. And you can use your own photos to create some great, personalized gifts for the holidays, such as photo books, calendars, mouse pads, mugs, and other photo gifts! So while you’re there making your Christmas cards this year, be sure to look around the whole site.

DISCLOSURE: No payment was provided for this review. I will, however, receive a promotional code for complimentary cards from Shutterfly in return for sharing with you about their great products.

(0-12 months) Babies (1-2 years) Toddlers (3-4 years) Preschoolers (5-8 years) Kindergarten - 3rd Graders Ages Contests Creative Parenting Creative Products Reviews Toys

Win Your Own Zubels Character – Review and Giveaway

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Win your own Zubels character!

Giveaway - Win Your Own Zubels character! Photo courtesy of: Zubels

Creative Kids Ideas is always on the hunt for great products for kids, so when I was contacted by Zubels, I was more than happy to pass the information along to my readers. Even better, one lucky reader will win an adorable hand knit character from Zubels!

So here’s the lowdown. What are Zubels?

Zubels are  fun, affordable hand knit characters, made with 100% organic cotton yarn and eco-friendly dyes. Zubels, brought to consumers by Renzo Company Inc., offers quality made dolls, hand puppets, rattles, and baby teethers in a variety of styles, sizes, and characters.  They provide kids with safe, creative characters such as “Cow-leen”, the cow who love to eat mac n’ cheese, Ricky “Rotten” Banana, the rockstar monkey who loves to rock-a-bye, and “Arr-Nee,” the treasure-hunting pirate.

Caty with "Twirly Cute" Bella, "Mr. Claus" Santa, and the football rattle all from Zubels

Zubels provided Creative Kids Ideas with a few sample products to review. We received “Twirly Cute” Bella, “Mr. Claus” Santa, and a football rattle. Both of the dolls in the picture to the left are the 7″ ones. (By the way, they are the perfect size for stocking stuffers this Christmas!) So, my five-year old and I decided to put them to the test. We tugged (Because, let’s face it. There will be tugging and pulling on dolls when more than one kid is involved!), we hand-washed, and we played. And this is what we found:

What we didn’t like:

  • Nothing! We loved them. In fact, I had to pry them away from her just to get a closer look! Santa has slept with her every night since he arrived in the mail. :)

What we liked:

  • The quality and durability of these hand knit characters are excellent! We pulled and tugged on these dolls and the stitching never even budged. If they can hold up to my five-year old (who’s still learning about gentleness with her toys — and sometimes with her sister!), Zubels products have my endorsement for durability.
  • The bright colors and attention to detail make every character unique and get your child’s attention. I also love that the doll held up great to a handwashing test! None of the colors bled, the yarn looks the same as before it was washed, and it’s still soft.
  • "Cow-leen" the Cow. Photo courtesy of: Zubels

  • They are eco-friendly and safe for kids of all ages. The dyes Zubels uses are low impact and don’t contain harmful chemicals. They also don’t add small pieces or plastic materials, so the products are suitable for ages birth and up.
  • They are affordable. Zubels offers quality toys at very reasonable prices. The majority of the products range from about $7-17. And you’re getting a very nice item that’s well worth the price!
  • They encourage creativity in kids. Zubels provides children with cute characters and leaves the rest up to their imaginations. They’re a nice, quiet toy for kids to snuggle or pretend with, without all the distracting bells and whistles.

Now for the fun part! You can win a Zubels character of your own!

Zubels has agreed to send one lucky reader an adorable Zubels character (12″ or smaller). Take a look at the Zubels online catalog and choose your top three favorites. If, for any reason, none of those choices are available, a suitable replacement will be sent. Zubels will do their best to provide the winner with one of their three favorites.

Here’s how to enter:

Post a comment on this post including your name and email address. For each one of the items listed below that you do, I will add another entry with your name into the drawing. Be sure to also let me know all the things you do in your comment!

1. Become a fan of Creative Kids Ideas on Facebook. Are you already a fan? Well, thanks a bunch! Let me know that in your comment too.
2. Share Creative Kids Ideas with your friends using the “Suggest to Friends” option on the left side of the CKI Facebook page.
3. Share the link to this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook.
4. Become a Google friend of Creative Kids Ideas.
5. Add Creative Kids Ideas to the blog roll on your own blog. Post a link in your comment!

The contest begins as of now, October 15th, and will end at 11:59 PM on Saturday, October 23rd.

Ready. Set. Go!

Disclaimer: Creative Kids Ideas was provided free samples for review from Zubels. I received no payment for this review and was under no obligation to write a positive review in exchange for the items. This review was solely on my own experience and opinion of the products.

(9-12 years) Tweens Books Creative Parenting Creative Products Creative Teaching Reviews Teenagers

Book Review: Bubba Goes National is a Blue Ribbon Winner!

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Photo courtesy of: Jennifer Walker


Photo courtesy of: Jennifer Walker

Bubba Goes National, the debut novel of Jennifer Walker, is a compelling story about a girl, her horse, and the journey they embark on together. Although the book is written primarily for preteen and teen readers, the storyline will appeal to horse lovers both young and old. Anyone who has ever dreamed of owning a horse or ever loved a pet, will feel an instant connection with Leslie, the main character of Bubba.

The insightful and talented Jennifer Walker manages to get inside of the mind of a 13-year-old with the skill of a seasoned professional. The result is a novel  packed full of adventure, drama, interesting horse facts, important lessons, and believable characters. Through Leslie’s example, young readers are reminded that anything is possible if you want it enough and are willing to work hard for it. Jennifer cleverly weaves in accurate details about horse care and competitions, teaching young readers while telling an entertaining and realistic story. The conclusion leaves her readers wondering what will happen next and longing for more adventures with the kids at Green Stables. Read my full review of Bubba Goes National

Note from Jo: I love the clever way Jennifer created an entertaining story for kids, while managing to teach them information in a fun and non-condescending way. My 9-year-old daughter couldn’t put down the book, and neither could I. (I’m a 9-year-old plus thirty! ;) ) Although the book is written with tween and teen readers in mind (most suitable for ages 12 and up), horse lovers of all ages will love this story and its characters!

I happen to have it on good authority that the second book in the Riders of Green Meadow series is written and now in the editing phase. Jennifer and I just completed our novels together in the LAFFN challenge (Let’s All Finally Finish a Novel), which is Jenn’s brainchild.

About the author, Jennifer Walker:

Photo courtesy of: Jennifer Walker

Jennifer is the author of Bubba Goes National and Budget Horse-Keeping for the New Horse Owner. Her work has been published in several horse magazines, including Arabian Horse World, Modern Arabian Horse and Sierra Style. Ms. Walker also has short stories that appear in the anthologies, Elements of the Soul and The Ultimate Horse Lover. She is a freelance writer and editor, who also works in a dressage barn in California and is the proud owner of two Arabian horses.

Fans will be happy to know that Jennifer is already working on two sequels to Bubba Goes National, part of the Riders of Green Meadow series. To read more about Jennifer Walker and her current projects, please visit her at Jennifer Walker Writing Services. You can also read more of what Jennifer has to say on her blog, Jennifer Gets Bloggy.

Bubba Goes National is available for purchase on Jennifer’s website. Click here to order your autographed copy from the author. Bubba can also be bought through Twin Trinity Media (Windswept Destiny is an imprint) and is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and booksamillion.com.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION:
The book reviewer is a friend and colleague of Jennifer Walker, the author of Bubba Goes National. An author-provided copy of the book was provided to Creative Kids Ideas for the review.

(5-8 years) Kindergarten - 3rd Graders (9-12 years) Tweens Creative Parenting Creative Products Reviews Teenagers

Ramona and Beezus Movie Review

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The wild imagination and crazy antics of one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature come to life on the big screen in Ramona and Beezus. Based on the Beverly Cleary’s book series (including favorites like Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Great, and Ramona the Brave), this family film appeals to old Cleary fans – the series began in the 1950s – and introduces the characters to a whole new set of fans from the younger generation.

The adorable and hilarious newcomer, Joey King, stars as Ramona Quimby. Her big sister, Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby, is played by multi-talented teen star, Selena Gomez (star of Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place). Also appearing in the movie are John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Robert Quimby (the girls’ father), Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot) as Dorothy Quimby (the girls’ mother), Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk the Line) as Aunt Bea, Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas and Transformers) as Henry Huggin’s Uncle Hobart, Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) as Mrs. Meacham, and Hutch Dano (Disney’s Zeke and Luther) as Henry Huggins.

Ramona and Beezus is a compilation of plots from several of the books in the Ramona series, leaning heavily on Ramona and Her Father, Ramona Forever, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona’s World. While many of the scenes focus on the amusing situations Ramona finds herself in, one main theme resonates above all others in this film: positive family relationships. Although the Quimby family certainly has its shares of trials and frustrations – such as job loss, sibling rivalry, death of a pet, and financial stresses – the importance of family replays throughout in the supportive relationship Ramona shares with her Aunt Bea, the meaningful “daddy time” spent with her father, the way her mother lovingly allows Ramona to explore who she is, and the tender bonding moments experienced between the sisters.

This film is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, and walk out with a renewed outlook on family. With a G-rating, tons of hilarity, and first-class performances from the cast, kids and parents of all ages will enjoy this one!

Note from Jo: I had the privilege to attend – and take my kids to – a prescreening of this movie a few weeks ago. I have been a huge fan of all Beverly Cleary’s books since I first starting reading on my own. I was a little nervous of how the movie would compare to those books in my mind. Let’s just say, I was pleasantly surprised. Not every single part of the movie was the same (did you seriously think it would be?), but it stays pretty true to the original stories. My kids (4 1/2 and 9 years old) and I truly enjoyed this film, and it was nice to watch a movie with my girls that I loved as much as they did! My favorite scene: I have two. The hilarious water scene and the touching bedtime scene between sisters. That’s all I’m saying. You’ll have to check out the movie to find out more.

Oh, and I also had the honor to speak with both of the leading actresses (Joey King and Selena Gomez). I was impressed by these young ladies!

Disclaimer: This reviewer received free admittance to a press prescreening of Ramona and Beezus in exchange for an honest review of the film.

Creative Parenting Creative Products Food Reviews

Product Review: GoGo squeeZ Applesauce

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Families looking for healthy, yet fun, snacks will love GoGo squeeZ applesauce. Kids will enjoy the tasty fruity treat packaged in a cool squeezable container with a built-in straw. Parents will be thrilled to know that the delicious snack their family is eating is made with all-natural 100% fruit (one pouch is equal to one daily serving of fruit) and includes no sugar, artificial flavors or preservatives. It’s also gluten free, dairy free and kosher certified.

What is GoGo squeeZ?

GoGo squeeZ is the first resealable, squeezable and mess-free applesauce available on the market. The tasty and all-natural treat, created by the French company Materne, comes packaged in a handy pouch that makes it perfect for an on-the-go snack or lunchbox item for school or work.

GoGo squeeZ applesauce offers flavors sure to please everyone’s taste buds. It is available in five flavors: apple apple, apple banana, apple cinnamon, apple peach and apple strawberry.

Where can GoGo squeeZ applesauce be bought?

GoGo squeeZ can currently be found in over 2,000 stores in the United States. The products are stocked in Whole Foods, the natural section of Stop & Shop/Giant, Shaws, Jewel-Osco and select Toys ‘R Us/Babies ‘R Us stores. To find the retailers near you, visit the Where to Buy page on GoGo squeeZ website and insert your city and state or zip code. A 4-pack retails for about $2.99 and single pouches can be purchased for around $.99.

GoGo squeeZ applesauce products may also be purchased on Amazon.com and MyBrands.com.

For more information about GoGo squeeZ, check out their website at http://www.materne.us/.

Thank you to GoGo squeeZ for providing free samples for Creative Kids Ideas to conduct their own taste test. Great product!

Photo courtesy of: Materne and GoGo squeeZ

(1-2 years) Toddlers (3-4 years) Preschoolers (5-8 years) Kindergarten - 3rd Graders (9-12 years) Tweens Creative Parenting Creative Play Creative Products Reviews Toys

Toy Review: Activity Bus from PlanToys

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Finding toys that both parents and children are happy with is not always easy to do. Creative Kids Ideas recently teamed up with a toy website called ebeanstalk. Ebeanstalk is dedicated to selecting quality and safe educational toys and learning baby gifts. The first toy to review was the Activity Bus from PlanToys, a company that makes eco-friendly wooden toys. Here is the scoop on the toy…

Toy Review: Activity Bus by PlanToys

 

Product Description
The Activity Bus is made of solid wood – chemical-free rubberwood – and creatively designed to turn into a classroom when opened up. Included with the bus are two action figures, three wooden desks, a teacher’s/bus driver’s seat, a chalkboard/map, and school books. All of the items can be conveniently stored inside of the bus for storage.

Here are the details:

  • The school bus (closed) measures about 8 1/2″ long/ 5 1/4″ tall/ 4 1/2″ wide.
  • The action figures are about 2 1/2″ tall.
  • The recommended age is 3 years and up. There are small parts, so I’d advise parents to adhere to this recommendation.
  • The product number for the Activity Bus is 7503.
  • The toy is reasonably priced at $25-35.

Education, Learning and Development Value
The Activity Bus is great for individual role playing or for building social interaction with other children. Kids can pretend to be the bus driver taking the students to school or park the bus and open it up for class time. However the kids choose to use the toy, it offers excellent opportunities for sparking their imagination and thinking skills.

Quality & Durability
The adorable bus and all of its accessories are made from a durable rubberwood. The quality of the items is top-rate and environmentally safe. And there’s no need to worry about lead paint or other toxins with the product. All of the products provided by PlanToys are made from chemical-free rubberwood and toxin-free glue and dyes.

Fun Factor
Creative Kids Ideas believes this rating is best determined by kids, so the creator put the Activity Bus to the test with her four-year-old. The toy was a big hit! One who is typically ready to move on to another toy after a few minutes, she has spent countless hours on the floor playing with just the one toy. That proves the fun factor for us.

Would we purchase this toy or other PlanToys products for children in the future? Yes, without a doubt. This is a toy both kids and parents will love!

The Activity Bus can be found on Amazon.com, Only-Toys.com, Gifted Imaginations, KangarooBoo, and various other online locations.

Thanks to PlanToys for providing a free sample of this excellent product for Creative Kids Ideas to review.