Happy Kwanzaa from all of us at EI!

Psst! 25% Off All Sale Items Today Only!

Head over to www.educationalinsights.com to take advantage of our amazing Christmas eve sale! Get an additional 25% off all sale items for today only! Hurry up—this deal won’t last forever!

Mommy Mondays: Gift-Giving

I just read an article about being a great gift-giver. Basically, it said to give what the person really wanted, or had even asked for, instead of what you THINK they’d like.
As a parent this is always a challenge for me. I think Emma should love Lalaloopsy Dolls – I mean seriously, those outfits! And the swingy little legs! And you can set up all their little packages and make a little village! And she likes them, a little.
What she loves is Lego Friends. We’ve got a few sets. Christmas would be the perfect time to give her the super expensive, gigantic Lego Friends house, right? But which Lego set is on her list? The Monster house! I guess I collect deep and she collects wide?
And the top of her list… an American Doll. Now, she has baby dolls (four to be exact) but they don’t get played with too often. And she has Barbie dolls, but they don’t get much play either. So why would I buy her an (expensive!) American Doll? Except that it’s what she asked for. Twice. I had her write two lists to Santa, just to be sure, and I’m glad I did because at the end of the second list, she added a “neklis” for me and a “gitar pedl” for my husband. And, as a friend pointed out, she isn’t a baby or a Barbie, but she is a little girl, just like an American Girl.
Now if only I hadn’t waited so long for her to change her mind… guess it’s a trip to the American Doll store for me, since it’s too late to order online.
Next year I’ll know, and start at the top of her list. Happy Shopping and Happy Holidays to you all!

Giftable Goodies under $20: Teachers

‘Tis the season to treat our teachers. Here are some great gift suggestions (all under $20!) for educators in class and at home!

SpinZone® Magnetic Whiteboard Spinners– $19.99

Spin some fun into your home or classroom with these three giant 11″ spinners! Use it for custom games or activities on the whiteboard for the whole class. Simply draw a circle, write in content, attach a spinner, and play!

Get your spinners here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/spinzone-reg-+magnetic+whiteboard+spinners.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search

ReMARKable™ Magnetic Write & Wipe Pens– $7.99
These 2-in-1 dry-erase pens are a must-have for any educator. Built-in erasers on each pen cap allow anyone to write and erase with the same tool! Better yet, the magnetic backing will never allow you to lose markers ever again! Sticks to magnetic whiteboards, filing cabinets and much more. They also make great stocking stuffers for office friends!
Check out the ReMARKable pens here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/remarkable-trade-+magnetic+write+-amp-+wipe+pens.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search You Rock™ Student Hall of Fame– $19.99Give a whole-class shout out to your Rock Star of the Week! Spotlight your star of the week with this jammin’ new chart! Included templates provide space for “Get to Know Me” responses like “Check Me Out,” “My Faves,” “My Family Rocks,” and “Awesome Appearances.”  Reuse this chart year after year and let your students shine!

Check it out here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/you+rock–8482-+student+hall+of+fame.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search

<br><i>Cheer for successful student work with stamps!</i><br><br>

Positive Reinforcement Stamps– $12.99

Cheer on successful student work with these 6 illustrated positive reinforcement stamps! The set includes a stamp pad built into a convenient, compact desk set. As an educator, you can never have enough!

Get your stamps here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/positive+reinforcement+stamps.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search

Class Scrapbook– $14.99
Teachers take hundreds of photos each year! Quickly and easily display them in this adorable wall-hanging Class Scrapbook. It’s another great pocket chart to use year after year!

Check it out here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/class+scrapbook.do?from=Search

<br><i>Deliciously scented pencils are made of 100% recycled newspaper.</i><br><br>

Smencils®, Set of 10– $14.99
Draw student attention with these gourmet-scented, environmentally friendly pencils. An alternative to wooden pencils, Smencils® are made from 100% recycled newspapers! Individually packed in their own freshness tubes, the ten “scent”-sational fragrances are guaranteed to keep their wonderful aromas for two years. Includes 10 Smencils®, one of each scent, in a handy zipper storage bag.
Get your Smencils® here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/smencils-reg-%2C+set+of+10.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search

Naughty or Nice, Make a List and Pin it Twice!

It’s the holiday season and we’re kicking it off right.
With a special contest: “Make a List and Pin it Twice.”
Go to EducationalInsights.com to get a start.
Find the toys and games you love with all your heart.
Pin them each and mark with #EIWISHLIST.
We’ll choose a lucky pinner whose shopping we’ll assist.
On December 14th a winner will be named.
So scurry on over, your pinning need not be tamed!

Mommy Mondays: Getting Crafty

Hooray for Pinterest! Even though I think I use it wrong (as in I don’t follow anyone and have exactly 2 boards: arts & crafts ideas and pictures of bed frames I found online while shopping earlier this year and I’m always surprised when I get an email notice that one of these has been repinned…), I have found so many great craft ideas there!

Check out the fingerprint and hand print turkeys Emma and I made as Thanksgiving cards for the grandparents – so cute!

Our next project – and I might even go the extra mile and make it a Christmas arts & crafts play date for a few friends! – is painting these awesome Santa rocks…

Have you done any awesome arts & crafts this year? Lemme’ see!

From Inspiration to Conception: Puppet-on-a-Stick

EI toys and games manager Brent Geppert has something up his sleeve — a puppet! Raised on The Muppet Show®, this former college radio DJ and longtime puppet lover puts on nightly puppet shows for his two sons, complete with voices and sound effects.  Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at his award-winning invention: Puppet-on-a-stick!

All kids love puppets, yet most puppets are difficult for kids to operate. I set out to make a puppet that was suitable for little hands: a puppet that would inspire instantaneous puppet show fun.

 

I experimented with various form factors like dry erase, Mr. Potato style pieces, removable hair, fixed hair, bendy arms, no arms, etc. But, after I presented my idea to the team, we all felt that a standalone puppet with no removable parts would be best.

This is the original idea I presented to the team in December 2010.

[First working prototype, January 2011]

I eventually made a second working puppet out of a solid wood ball I purchased at a furniture parts store. After that, I applied a clay skin, added googly eyes, then “bada-boom-bada-bing”: Puppet-on-a-Stick was born!

[2nd prototype, February 2011]

The new prototype was an instant hit with the team.  My manager said, “Make two more faces—and we’ll have a set of three.” So, after some internal “clay-storming,” I came up with two more faces.

These are the final clay and wood prototypes that I sent to our factory for production.

Here are the internal mechanics that we have under “patent pending” status.

[“gray hand samples” from the factory]

These are the puppets that the metal injection molds would be made from.

[Final production images]

Psst! These puppets make great stocking stuffers!