Archive for the ‘ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS’ Category

JTB Holiday Pop-Up Event Calendar

November 30, 2011

Join us at the Jade’s ToyBox Holiday Pop-Up now through December 28 for these great holiday events for young kids & families:

everyday, anytime…
Santa Letter Writing. From paper and stickers to stamps and stencils, we provide all the eco-friendly materials so kids can create their letters for Santa and mail it to the North Pole.
The ‘Not A Box’ Contest. A childhood idea of transforming a brown box into a TV set was the impetus for the JTB product box and the installation at the JTB Pop-Up Store. Show us your ingenuity. Transform a simple brown box into the invention of your choice, explain it and enter to win a $150 Jade’s ToyBox gift card.
Holiday StoryTime, By Kids, For Kids.
Bring the kiddos in for holiday story time and hear special guest kid ‘authors’ share an excerpt of their favorite prose too. Check JTB Blog for Schedule and Sign-Up.
saturday dec 3
Holiday Craft Workshop. 2 p.m. Using recycled and found objects, we’ll transform simple items into beautiful holiday gifts for family and friends with a little help from our in-store staff and visitng artists.

sunday dec 4
Organic Gingerbread Cookie Workshop with ButterBeans. 11:30 a.m.

Join ButterBeans for homemade organic gingerbread cookie decorating and hot cocoa fun!

tuesday dec 6
The P.A.L. Workshops @ Jade’s ToyBox presents Supporting Early Giftedness Through Play: A Hands-On, Play-Based Workshop for Parents.  Just in time for the holidays, this play-based session will help parents support their child’s strengths, with games and strategies to help toddlers and preschoolers develop a love for learning, and get ready for kindergarten.6:30 p.m. $Register @

saturday dec 10
Holiday Cookie Swap with MiniMunchers. 2 p.m.
Join MiniMunchers for an organic twist on cookie making! They’ll teach the kiddos how to make healthy, yummy homemade cookies for a holiday cookie swap.

sunday dec 11
Organic Gingerbread Cookie Workshop with ButterBeans. 11:30 a.m.

Join ButterBeans for homemade organic gingerbread cookie decorating and hot cocoa fun!
The Sock Monkey Workshop. 2 p.m.
Bring in your non-stinky, recycled socks and let’s put them to good re-use as a great holiday gift. We will have classic sock-monkey socks for sale on-site too.

saturday dec 17
Holiday Craft: Musical Instrument Workshop. 2 p.m. Using recycled and found objects, we’ll transform simple items into awesome musical instruments that make great holiday gifts for family and friends.

sunday dec 18
Holiday StoryTime, By Kids, For Kids. 2 p.m. Bring your kiddos in for holiday story time and hear special guest kid ‘authors’ share an excerpt of their favorite prose too.

and more…
Holiday Dining Classes with socialsklz:). Check dates and Register @ the JTB Pop-Up
Studiotime with Hudson Soundlab. Sign-Up fast to record your original music, poem or book reading. Makes great gifts for family & friends. By appointment. Several packages are available until Dec 12.

Sign-Up at the JTB Holiday Pop-Up Store or call 212.343.8881 to guarantee a spot for our great line-up of holiday fun.
Location: 124 Hudson Street, between N. Moore & Ericsson Place in Tribeca
Hours: Monday and Friday from 9 am-7pm, Tuesday through Wednesday and Saturdays from 11 am -7 pm, and Sundays from 11 am-5 pm.


The Jade’s ToyBox Holiday Pop-Up Store is Back

November 30, 2011

  Join us now through December 28 for great prices on toys, books, games and gift items for the kiddos this holiday season at our 4th Annual Jade’s ToyBox Holiday Pop-Up Store in New York City.

The Pop-Up Store is filled with a great selection of eco-friendly and educational toys, unique gifts for kids and expecting mommies, and family activities held weekly throughout the holiday season. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to support children’s non-profit organizations including The Speyer Legacy School Scholarship Fund and The Children’s Storefront School in Harlem. The grand opening of the store, located at 124 Hudson Street near N. Moore in TriBeCa is this Wednesday, December 1, 2011. Store hours are: Monday and Friday from 9 am-7pm, Tuesday through Wednesday and Saturdays from 11 am -7 pm, and Sundays from 11 am-5 pm.

Stay tuned for our event schedule, featuring Holiday Craft Workshops, a Holiday Organic Cookie Swap, a Sock Monkey Making Workshop, Santa Letter Writing, Storytime for Kids By Kids, a Holiday Talent Show, the JTB ‘Not A Box’ Contest and much more!

The Jade's ToyBox Holiday Pop-Up Store is Back

Doing Disney

December 3, 2010

"Mommy, it made my belly feel funny...I want to ride it again when I get bigger."

Disney…The dreaded trip for us; the perfect trip for our daughter’s fifth birthday.

The last thing a New Yorker wants in a vacation are lines, uncontrollable kids and bad food. So the idea of going to Disney for four days during Columbus Day holiday weekend wasn’t up there with Turks & Caicos, or even staying in NYC for that matter.

But what a pleasant surprise. We stayed at a Disney property for two days, the Grand Floridian and an offsite hotel for two days, the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, near EPCOT, that shared many perks of a Disney resort like convenient transportation and Magic Hour benefits.

We went back and forth on the idea of having a Disney tour guide. I know, I know…And although the thought of a $250 per hour guide (minimum 4 hours) to take us around to skip lines and show us the Disney ropes was tempting, but I thought it sent the wrong message to my kid. And then she’d always expect such luxury and extravagance. Truth be told, I was probably considering this for the benefit of my husband and me– selfish reasons, so I turned it down. Well, until 2 days before the trip when I thought “you only turn 5 once, and Disney is supposed to be magical for little girls, right? ” so a friend shared her insider unofficial guide who charges $85 an hour with no minimum. And we went for it… Again, sort of… Until he called the day we arrived in Orlando with unfortunate news of a death in the family so he was not available. But he did an amazing thing… He gave me the keys to the castle. Or close enough.

And here’s how we did Disney’s Magic Kingdom in a day…

First, bring your own umbrella stroller with everything you and your kid need when you travel. You know what that is, and clearly wet wipes are high priority, although Disney has nice clean bathrooms everywhere, so you’ll be fine. Next, have a plan of action or you’ll be wandering aimlessly for hours. Lastly, allow for spontaneity and enjoy every minute of it.

Most Important Tips:

If you have a young kid who may not ride the faster or scarier rides, Disney has a switch-off program that couldn’t be cooler. There was no way my husband and I were leaving the park without riding Space Mountain. It was his first trip to Disney too. So my daughter and I waited while he rode it, and when he got off, he and my daughter waited while I ran back up the employee exit- I guess- to have my turn. It’s a great program.

The other super important fact is the FastPass. These passes allow you to get a reservation for a ride that is available at a certain window of time so you have to plan a bit. Secret is, even though the FastPass gives you a window of time in which to ride, you really have until the ride closes to take your ride. So we grabbed a FastPass every chance we could. And keep in mind that once you get one, you can’t get another for a little while, so bank them and use them when the lines start getting longer.

Take advantage of the park the moment it opens, have one spouse or teammate go get the first FastPasses, while the others get in line for another ride with no line; but a ride that may fill up quickly as people arrive at the park.

Breakfast with champions, or Disney characters anyway– Apparently people sign up months and months in advance to have breakfast with the Disney characters. We were told that if you arrive the second they open at the Grand Floridian you actually have a great chance of being seated. And we did. At both hotels we did this and it was a complete surprise that our daughter- who often snubs her own grandfather- couldn’t wait to get the autograph and a photo with every last one of them- Mary Poppins, the Mad Hatter, Goofy, Pluto, you name it…

Tigger and friends at the Grand Floridian character breakfast

Ok, the rides:

The riders, we’ll say, are Sally (mom), Dick, (dad) and Jane (the 5-year old daughter).

Sally, Dick and Jane wake up at 7am, get to the Grand Floridian character breakfast when it opens at 8 am, and spend the next 45 minutes eating a decent buffet while getting photos and autographs of a number of Disney characters, including Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Alice in Wonderland and more.

Sally, Dick and Jane take Jane’s umbrella stroller and head by monorail to the Magic Kingdom the moment it opens. Dick bee-lines it straight to a FastPass ride, Splash Mountain in Frontierland, while Sally and Jane head to Fantasyland to ride the starter fun rides like Peter Pan’s flight that doesn’t yet have a wait. Next up, Dumbo the flying elephant or It’s a Small World, though the classic was closed when we were there. By that time, you can probably get your next FastPass, so have a member of your entourage grab the Buzz Lightyear FastPass while you mosey over to Mickey’s Toontown Fair to enjoy a snack and walk though the Mickey and Minnie’s country houses, and then ride the Barnstormer rollercoaster, a great ride for little kiddos.

Use the Splash Mountain FastPass before heading back to the hotel for lunch and a rest or swim in the hotel pool for an hour or two. This is the saving grace of this whole thing… The park is packed and now is the perfect time to refuel. The kids love it, you’ll love it, and everyone wins. And don’t leave the park without grabbing one last FastPass for later. Sally and Jane grab an ice cream cone on Main Street while Dick grabs a FastPass for Space Mountain.

The afternoon parade on Main Street

After your relax, head back to the park, and catch a bit of the parade down Main Street. If your kids want more Disney character visits, take the time to go to Toontown Hall of Fame while the parade is still going to avoid long lines. Have Dick grab one more FastPass as you head to Toontown, consider the Big Thunder Mountain train coaster, or another ride your child liked a lot. Meanwhile use your Space Mountain FastPass and do the switch-off so both parents can ride it if the kids aren’t up for it, or tall enough.  Jane wasn’t ready to ride it, although she rode Splash Mountain twice, but we did notice some other 5-year-old kids on it.

Next catch the Carousel of Progress or Tomorrowland Transit Authority-still a favorite chill-out that snakes through Space Mountain and Tomorrowland. The Astro Orbiter let’s you fly outside in a spaceship, and despite being a bit loud, was a fun way to end the day. If your kids are a bit older or more adventurous- translation, they’re ok with faster roller coasters or potentially scary rides, you can also consider ending the day with Big Thunder Mountain railroad.

Even on busy holidays, it’s pretty manageable, or at least it was for Sally, Dick and Jane.

Other rides and shows to see if there is time or you need a chill-out:
• Jungle cruise
• Mickey’s Philharmonic
• Monster’s Inc Laugh floor
• Walt Disney World Railroad

Don’t waste your time with:

Tomorrowland Speedway. The steering was hard and the ride super duper slow. Boring!

Resources and Tools:

• The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2011


•  the IPhone App, Walt Disney World Park Hours

The Damage: $2223, family of 3 for 4 days at Disney (exclusive of airfare, meals, souvenirs and snacks)
Grand Floridian- $400/nt x 2 nts = $800
Walt Disney World Swan Hotel- $229/nt x 2 nts= $ 516
AAA membership= $48
Disney tickets with AAA membership= $859.
For 2 adults, 4-day base ticket with park hopper and one child, 4 day base ticket with park hopper

That was one expensive trip for a theme park. I cannot imagine how the average family of 4 can afford this even with a hotel that’s half the price.

The Takeaway: Despite the cost, it was a great time and the October weather was excellent. We couldn’t believe how clean and organized it was. We were expecting the worst and instead had a wonderful 5th birthday celebration. Dare I say we’re considering another trip again soon!

It’s Here…

December 1, 2010

And don’t miss our Holiday workshops and events for kids throughout the month of December, including:

Holiday Craft Events for the kiddos throughout December

Storytime for Charity,
Check out a slew of great authors at our Storytime for Charity every Saturday at 2 pm in December. Following the reading will be special Holiday Activities for children ages 2-6, with parent involvement. FREE

2:00 pm SUNDAYS
Santa Letter Writing Workshop,
A story is followed by a letter writing workshop for Santa Claus. We’ll help kids create their letters for Santa and we’ll even help mail it to the North Pole. Stickers, letter fun and writing helpers will be on-hand. Don’t forget to tell Santa Claus what you want for Christmas, like a greener planet, cleaner oceans and healthier toys! FREE

DECEMBER 1 at  4 pm-
JTB kicks off our Holiday Craft Wednesdays with a special gift for all attendees.

DECEMBER 3- Santa arrives! Free Portraits from 3-6 pm

DECEMBER 4-5- Santa is here! Free Portraits  11:30- 2:30 pm

DECEMBER 4- at 2 pm, Storytime for Charity with Ole Saint Nick, himself.
We will have a special guest reader, Santa Claus himself. And with a $20 suggested donation, you can sponsor the story. Just bring in your child’s favorite book or let us choose the story and use your child’s name as the character of the book, as Santa presents Storytime for Charity on December 4 at 2 pm. Call ahead to sponsor, or come and hear him for free! FREE

DECEMBER 4- at 3 pm- Holiday Dining Classes for Kids with socialsklz:-) tools to thrive in the modern world. FREE

For kids 4 and up, prepare for the holiday season’s frenzy of fancy dinners 
and festivities during a 25 minute session covering how to set 
the table properly, how to eat and use utensils, mealtime 
manners and more.  NYC based socialsklz:-) offers interactive workshops for children and young adults featuring social interaction and communication skills, or what was once known as manners and etiquette! RSVP to

DECEMBER 6- drop-in from 11 am- 2pm. The Photo Project Workshop $45/hr

Have your baby and kiddo photos runneth over? If you are like me, with four years of pictures and memorabilia in boxes, now is the time to get it together. This ain’t no scrapping workshop! A former magazine picture editor will work with you to edit the best images and discuss ways to organize into traditional albums, digital photo books, 3-dimensional shadow boxes, framed art objects or other unique storage ideas. RSVP to

December 8, 4-5 pm- Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop with Taste Buds & MiniMunchers FREE

Join Taste Buds and MiniMunchers for Gingerbread Cookie Decorating! We’ll have yummy Gingerbread Cookies, Icing and Sprinkles to help you celebrate the Holidays in style. RSVP to

DECEMBER 11- at 3 pm- Holiday Dining Classes for Kids with socialsklz:-) tools to thrive in the modern world. FREE

For kids 4 and up, prepare for the holiday season’s frenzy of fancy dinners 
and festivities during a 25 minute session covering how to set 
the table properly, how to eat and use utensils, mealtime 
manners and more.  NYC based socialsklz:-) offers interactive workshops for children and young adults featuring social interaction and communication skills, or what was once known as manners and etiquette! RSVP to

DECEMBER 12- at 12-3 pm- Care for the Critters Workshop FREE

Parents and kids can drop in anytime between 1 and 3 pm to learn about different breeds of animals, their temperaments and what to look for in the right pet for your child. The Animal Haven Mobile Adoption van will be on-site for pet adoptions, and those less inclined for the real deal, can always adopt an OOMFY, one of our endangered species, of the plush variety! Lots of fun free activities learning fun for kids 2-6 years, including a perfect pet checklist, an adoption certificate and animal activity handouts.

DECEMBER 15- at 4 pm- Alfabeticos Workshop FREE

The Bilingual Arts sampler for kids ages 1-5  incorporates music, art and storytelling aimed to develop social skills, cognitive and fine-gross-motor skills and Spanish vocabulary.

DECEMBER 17-19- by appointment- A Rare Opportunity for your Child to be Photographed with the 20×24 Polaroid Camera – One of only a handful of such cameras in the world, the 20″ x 24″ Polaroid camera produces large format instant photos and will be available for a fee, $1500 for 3 prints. (that’s $1000 off normal pricing!)  RSVP to

DECEMBER 18- at 2:30 pm- A Surprise Musical Concert by our Emmy nominated favorite band FREE

DECEMBER 19- at 2:30 pm- Holiday Craft Workshop with NatureBag.

Create a one-of-a-kind gift inspired by nature with NatureBag and NatureRocks. For kids 3-6+. RSVP to

DECEMBER 22- at 3 pmThe Last Minute “I-Forgotta-Gift-for-Blah-Blah” Holiday Workshop FREE
Forgot to make a gift for gramps or your nanny? No worries. We’ve got a great last minute holiday craft activity guaranteed to put a smile on, well, Blah, Blah. Perfect for kiddos ages 2-6.

DECEMBER 22- at 4 pm- Architecture Workshop for your lil Green Builder with brinca dada.

Your kid love to create, construct and build structures? Be sure to join us for our free architecture introduction for kids ages 5-9 by brinca dada,  and see how the Emerson Dollhouse was created. RSVP to

Other Fun By Appointment:

And All That Jazz!: Sign-up for a unique one-on-one recording experience, with studio time at Hudson Soundlab. Kids and adults can perform original music, or read from their own or favorite story, with back-up from Emmy-nominated musicians, Robby LeDoux and JZ Barrell Call Jade’s ToyBox for more details @ 212.343.8881.

The Kitty Cat Curriculum: Transitioning from Picture to Chapter Books

August 16, 2010

My 4-year-old daughter loves books so much that I can merely threaten to dock a book at bedtime and I’ve done something worse than “1-2-3ing” her. Feeding a child’s hunger for books and reading is easy at first, but once the picture book genre starts to lose its challenge, finding age-appropriate content in chapter book form is not so easy. Bridging the gap from gorgeously illustrated stories to sparsely illustrated black and white pages is a task that not even I am up for now that I’ve become immersed in the picture book format, but it’s transition time.

Frankly I’d like to see a defined genre of books that perfectly combines both formats into one. Actually, there are some out there, but I want more! In the meantime, starting with your child’s favorite topic: cats, dinosaurs, princesses, etc., use the picture book as a springboard for diving into deeper content-related reading materials that provide an opportunity for transformation, while maintaining continuity and a continued love of reading.

The following list is an example of what can be achieved when you branch out a bit, but stay consistent with the topic or theme your child loves. It is meant as a guide for parents, teachers, caregivers or grandparents of 4-6 year-old early readers, and includes a collection of simple picture books, fiction and non-fiction books, biography, chapter-based and reference-style books. The format and relevant themes of the book are noted as well, as is an author website if current.

And if your child loves animals, it’s a great reading list for the transition from picture to chapter book.

The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell. 2005. Hachette.
author website:

In my book, this is one of the best children’s stories of all time. A story of friendship and love between an unlikely couple, a cat named Mooch and his best dog friend Earl. Simple illustrations and text make this story by Patrick McDonnell, author of the Mutts comic strip, a classic. Mooch treks all over to find the perfect gift for his friend, and what he finds is the best present of all. (Picture Book; friendship, giving)

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. 2004. Harper Collins Publishers. New York. NY
author website:

A simply illustrated picture book about a little kitten who mistakes the full moon for milk…  “still there was a little bowl of milk, just waiting.” A story of persistence, Kitten’s First Full Moon epitomizes my daughter’s favorite- and only quote, “Mommy, if you don’t get it the first time, keep trying.” The book is a 2005 Caldecott Medal winner by Kevin Henkes, author of Chrysanthemum and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse(Picture Book; persistence)

My Cat Copies Me by Yoon-Duck Kwon. 2005. Kane Miller Book Publishers.

A colorfully illustrated picture book about a young girl whose cat copies her every move. A visual depiction of the closeness of a child and her pet, through the eyes of a Korean illustrator who gives us glipses of her culture as the story unfolds. “When I get scared, I hide under my blanket, and my cat hides with me. She snuggles in, and purrs. My friend, my cat, copies me. But from now on, I will copy my cat.” And she becomes adventurous, following the cues of her feline friend. (Picture Book; Korean culture, pet ownership, overcoming shyness & fears)

Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley. 1992. Marsh Media. Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

Piccolo the Venetian stray alley cat is all about adventures, but when he finds two baby kittens who are without their mother, he considers being their parent. Breaking from traditional stereotypes of mothers and women as nurturers, the author challenges the idea that only mommies are capable of being great caregivers. Through Piccolo’s journey of self-discovery, the illustrator takes us on a beautiful tour of Venice, Italy.  (Picture Book; gender roles, same sex couple-related issues, stray cat populations, travel/Italy)

• Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein. 2008. Little, Brown and Company. New York, New York.
author interview:

A little cat named Wabi Sabi is determined to discover the meaning of her name. Along the way, WOW! Vertically oriented illustrative collages and the writer’s  combination of words are mixed with haiku, Japanese characters with more than one “lesson” at the end. An unexpected treat, and a great way to explore Japanese haiku, a short traditional Japanese poem in which meaning is usually expressed through details of the senses and of nature, with a seasonal reference and a transition of some kind. Its form takes writing the first line of five syllables, a second of seven, and a third of five again, as in: Meigetsu ya ike o megurite yo mo sugara: “the full moon—going around the pond, all night long. (Picture Book,  language arts, poetry, haiku, Chinese and Japanese culture)

Comet’s Nine Lives by Jan Brett. 1996. The Putnam & Grosset Group. New York. New York.
author website:

A cat with nine lives?  ‘Splain that to little Ricky… but Comet the cat of Nantucket Island goes through eight of his lives pretty quickly, with a ghost-like image that fades with every new feat gone bad in this beautifully illustrated picture book. It’s an odd conversation starter about death, but a great way to explore the issues of stray cat populations, pet ownership and myths—just don’t have your kid explore the myth online without vetting sources first. It’s a mixed bag! (Picture Book, fitting in, death, 9-lives myth, travel, adventure/Nantucket)

Big Cat, Small Cat by Amy Rubinger. 2008. Abbeville Publishing Group. New York. NY.

“This cat is down low, this cat is up high… this cat is wet, this cat is … “ Your child will delight in knowing the rhyming endings of each page. Opposites and simple, cute kitty cat illustrations abound. Just a fun little book in the spirit of Dr. Seuss. (Picture Book, language arts/opposites & rhyming)

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel. 2005. Roaring Brook Press. New York, NY.
author interview:

For the verbally voracious… an ABC picture book with a twist on fruits and veggies, animals and opposite concepts. “She Ate my homework, Bit grandma, Clawed the curtains, and more.” You’re in for a ride – four times- around the alphabet with each time focused on a different topic kids will enjoy. (Picture Book, language arts/ABC style book with food, verbs and animals)

The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. 1960. Barnes & Noble Publishing with Harper Collins. New York, NY.

Pickles the cat is a troublemaker with some behavioral issues, until he discovers his passion in life: being a fire cat. “Pickles is a cat who wishes to do big things. And someday he will do them.” With that little encouragement and faith from his friend Mrs. Goodkind, Pickles finds his way in life in this simply illustrated beginner chapter book. (Picture/Chapter Book; careers, strengths, personality)

The Case of the Cat’s Meow by Crosby Bonsall. 1965. Harper Collins. New York, NY.

If the little rascals formed a private detective agency and had a whiny little brother with a pregnant cat, that would be this book. A cute story of sleuthing and mystery, that touches on my childhood dream of being a private “eye.” If you can get past the “Tubby” and “Skinny” stereotypical nicknames and a few examples of name calling, it’s redeeming quality is the message of friendship in the end (Picture/Chapter Book; careers, responsibility, friendships)

Three Stories You Can Read to your Cat by Sara Swan Miller. 1999. Sandpiper.

Three-stories–in-one with a unique perspective: a read aloud from child to cat. “Would you like to sit on my lap? One day YOU woke up early, you were ready for fun.” An enjoyable set of stories to encourage young kids to read aloud to their pet (or a stuffed animal), and it’s filled with illustrations that keep kids engaged. I’m already envisioning learning extensions–a first person diaristic account of your cat’s day based closely on the book- with journal entries or drawings or a performance about things your cat thinks about. (Picture/Chapter Book; pet perspectives)

The Cat on the Mat is Flat by Andy Griffiths. 2006. Holtzbrinck Publishers.
author website:

The crook who wrote this book stole it off my nook. Not really, but I should have written this book. Literally the night before I found it, my daughter and I were playing a bedtime game of turning three rhyming phrases into a sentence, and viola! I kid you not, this book appeared. A great easy read for your avid young reader. (Picture/Chapter Book; language arts, rhyming words)

• Raining Cats and Dogs: A Collection of Irresistible Idioms and Illustrations to Tickle the Funny Bone by Will Moses. 2008. Philomel.

While I would have preferred larger full-page illustrations of each idiom, the idea of this book is great. The illustrated idioms for children are a good example for extending the activity into a classroom setting, but the book needed more background and detail about idioms as a part of speech and in connection to their origin. Nonetheless, a cute visual reference for introducing a young child to idioms. (Picture book; language arts, English-language idioms)

The Kitten’s Tale by Darrel & Sally Odgers. 2010. Kane Miller, EDC Publishing. Tulsa, OK.

A fictional chapter book, with few illustrations, about a homeless kitten who hangs out at a vet clinic, and her dog friend’s determination to help her get over her fears and find a home. (Chapter Book, friendships, fears, careers/vet)

• Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel. 2008. Square Fish, McMillan Books. New  York, NY.

Somewhere between a graphic novel, picture book and chapter book, this heavily illustrated chapter book is a great foray into the world of chapter books. The glossary at the back is also a great way to introduce kids to vocabulary without the trek to the dictionary. For a cat lover, it offers truthful and sound advice for bathing your kitty cat. So much in fact, that I was encouraged to follow the books methodology and bathe our cat after reading it. Bad Kitty Gets a Bath also includes a Q&A with the author at the end. I wish more books had the elements of this great little gem for animal lovers. (Picture/Chapter Book; pet ownership; humor)

• Happy Birthday Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel. 2009. Square Fish, McMillan Books. New  York, NY.

A combination of graphic novel, picture book and chapter book, this heavily illustrated chapter book is the follow-up to Bad Kitty Takes a Bath (see above), with a similar format. The glossary is substituted with an equally useful appendix that details the brief history of the different cat breeds mentioned in the book. (Picture/Chapter Book; pet ownership; cat breeds, humor)

Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog by Cynthia Rylant. 1994. Harcourt Children’s Books.
author interview:

We stumbled upon the Mr. Putter and Tabby series while at the library recently, and what a find. These heavily illustrated chapter books are separated into simple chapters: The Lollypup, The Nightmare and The Dream Dog, for example. An easy read for an early reader, with humor, friendships, examples of figurative language  and engaging stories for anytime. (Picture/Chapter Book; series, humor, language arts- figurative language, relationships )

• All About My Cat by Philipp Keel. 2003. Broadway. New York, NY.

Let your child be the biographer with kitty cat checklists and fill-in-the-blanks for describing your friendly or ferocious feline. Memorable to say the least… as in this example…“Why do you have a cat? (Ok, Kleenex time) “because I really wanted a cat because my other cats died,” Spoken like a true 4-year-old.   While not all of the keepsake book is at level for a 4-6 year-old, it is something you can come back to as your child- and cat, get bigger. (A Biography of sorts)

• What if My Cat…? by Claire Arrowsmith and Francesca Riccomini. 2008. Interpet Publishing.

A great quick reference guide to understanding your cat, his development, his habits and annoying problems, like #50: What if my cat is determined to lick plastic objects? Apparently our kookie cat’s mannerisms are “rawther” common. Presented in an easy to read format that has short passages and accompanying photographs or illustrations of cats, it’s easy enough to follow for a young child, but not all in one sitting. Of course it doesn’t hurt that my daughter’s breed of cat is pictured multiple times throughout the book. (Reference)

• The Complete Cat Book by Paddy Cutts. 1992. Smithmark.

Everything you needed to know about felines but were a ‘’fraidy cat” to ask.  This compendium of the cat includes detailed information about care, breeds and topics related to health of cats and kittens. It’s a must have for anyone considering a cat or like mine- any child obsessed with cats. (Reference with great photographs)

Other cat-related books to consider:

• Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. 1997. Blue Sky Press. (Picture book; pet death)

• Hemingway’s Cats: An Illustrated Biography by Carlene Brennen. (biography)

The Dog Who Rescues Cats by Philip Gonzalez. (non-fiction)

• Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones by Judy Schachner (picture book)

Dancing with Cats by Burton Silver. (dance)

• Impressionist, Cats & Dogs: Pets in the Painting of Modern Life by James Rubin. (art)

A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco. (poetry)

• Warriors: Cats of the Clans by Erin Hunter. (fantasy/fiction chapter books)

The Abandoned by Paul Gallico. (novel/ fantasy)

90 Days of Summer Fun: Enjoy the Rain

August 14, 2010

Growing up in Alabama, I used to love the all day rain storms. But living in Texas, not so much…because within just an hour you could have a flooded home, golf ball size hail- or larger- and a permanently dented car. But in New York, the rarity of a long rain makes you really appreciate its presence.

And we do. So next time it rains “cats and dogs” use it as an opportunity to teach two things: one, idioms!
And two, quiet contemplation as you enjoy quiet time with your child. Look at life beyond your window. Count the umbrellas. Notice the different colors. Listen to a great cd, or best of all, grab a copy of Yellow Umbrella by Dong Il Sheen and Jae-Soo Liu. It’s an amazing collection of musical pieces that lets the rain uplift your mood.

Or you could just sing, “It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring…”

The Kitty Cat Curriculum, Part 1

August 13, 2010

Kitty Cat math... what better way to add and subtract then with a familiar buddy, real and stuffed

I often get asked if I am or was an elementary schoolteacher. And although I have taught college level kids and adults, I love to teach little kids… to see the light bulb turn on when they have made a connection.  Jade’s ToyBox was founded on the idea of engagement and helping children make connections within their HEALTHY world. So the approach I have always taken is to find something that strikes a cord, and run with it.

If your child loves dinosaurs or trucks or vehicles, or KITTY CATS then surround them with those items, and find extensions to create interest in other areas. That’s the premise of The Kitty Cat Curriculum. It can be used with ANY item your child is passionate about and it can become a vehicle for exploration.

So watch this upcoming new category- “The Kitty Cat Curriculum, because you will see great resources, booklists, activities, online resources, lesson plans, and extra curricular activities for your child.


The Back-to-School Schultütes Are Here!

August 11, 2010

The Cat Schultüte, (minus the kid in costume!)

At long last… all the way from Germany…Drum roll, please… the Back-to-School Schultütes are here!

The schultüte (pronounced “SHOOL-TOO-TAH”) is a 200-year-old German tradition to celebrate a child’s first day of school. Parents present young children with a cone-shaped gift filled with back-to-school goodies and eco-friendly school supplies. Jade’s ToyBox updated the tradition with eco-friendly materials and non-China-made supplies, available in multiple languages too, including Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, German and Hebrew.

The 27" dinosaur schultüte is perfect for your lil dino lover, and almost as big.

See Jade’s ToyBox Exclusive Products and order one for your first-timer or back-to-schooler and make the first day of school super special.

See the JTB Exclusives for more details, and order while the limited supply lasts.

Our Original Schultütes are filled with great back-to-school fun!

90 Days of Summer Fun: Wash Me!

July 21, 2010

This summer, we’ve washed ourselves, we’ve washed our cat, and now, we’ve washed our car. Amazing how the first experience my daughter wants to have once we grab our hybrid rental car is the mystical, transcendent car wash.

So for almost $10, we have all the fun you’d think was reserved for amusement parks or carnivals. Step-by-step we watch each new layer scrub away bug parts and bird poo. What more fun could be had with a preschooler besides pillow fights or blowing bubbles?

So remember entertainment comes in all costs and forms, but don’t forget the simplest ones… The relatively inexpensive gas station car wash.

90 Days of Summer Fun: Experience Another First

July 12, 2010

It’s been a whirlwind…summer travel to Greece, Turkey, and now Austin, Texas…each place had it’s special memories like swimming in a pool that overlooked the Bosphorus Sea in Istanbul, riding on a slide at a playground in Kusadasi, Turkey, watching my husband and daughter play in the waves in Mykonos, Greece.

But of all the new experiences, it wasn’t the exotic travel or new flavors that left an indelible mark- though the gelato in Greece was close- instead it was my daughter’s first bike ride.

While in Austin, we set out on a mission to finally get a bike for our almost five year old. That’s old for most suburban kids, I suppose, but for a New York kid, whose been riding a scooter for a while, it’s typical. She’s had versions of bikes, but this is the real deal… With training wheels, a basket and a bell of her choice. (You have to test a lot of bells to find the perfect bell for your first bike, I’ve learned. Oh, and the bike ain’t pink!! She changed her mind after seeing a nice purple and green version of the same bike.)

So before we were even to the car, she was riding her new wheels with the confidence of a teenager, making her mommy so proud. Another first to add to the list… July 2010, rides her first real Bike, Austin, Texas…

So this summer, no matter the age of your kid, and no matter where you are, go enjoy some “first” with your kiddo too!