Archive for the ‘EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION’ Category

Rethinking Gifted Education

January 12, 2012

Ever feel like you’re at the front of a revolution, watching it unfold and hopeful that more people will join in because they realize the benefit of that change? A recent article in Psychological ScienceRethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education: A Proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science,” is more proof that education has reached its tipping point and change is imminent.

Be sure to check out the article by Rena F. Subotnik, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius and Frank C. Worrell. And if you are in the New York City area, don’t miss a rare opportunity to join P.A.L. [Parents of Accelerated Learners] and The Speyer Legacy School for a Conversation with Dr. Rena Subotnik on Shifting from the Best of Gifted Education to Talent Development: Implications for Identification, Education, and Psychological Support Inside and Outside of School

Her talk is the first session in the Spring 2012 P.A.L. Workshop Series in New York City. This Spring 2012, P.A.L. [Parents of Advanced Learners] Workshop Series returns with a new blog, a listserv for parents to connect with one another and discuss resources for advanced learners, and our P.A.L. Workshops Speaker Series for Parents, with more locations to hear great speakers. January includes a Conversation with Gifted Education Expert Rena Subotnik on Shifting from the Best of Gifted Education to Talent DevelopmentSupporting Early Giftedness Through Play in February is for parents who have noticed advanced abilities in their young children and want concrete activities and games to support and encourage their strengths.  Special Topics in Gifted Education, in April and May will appeal to parents of elementary and middle schoolers; and a great Spring wrap-up with Preventing Summer Slide: Engaging Math, Reading, Science and other Activities to Prevent Summer Learning Loss will help keep your kiddo on track through the school break.

See the P.A.L. Blog for more details,

Registration is open, but space is limited, so sign-up soon for Spring 2012 PAL Workshops.




Drum Roll, Please…The P.A.L. Workshop Series Returns

September 13, 2011

After a successful  Spring 2011 lecture series launch for parents of advanced learners, the P.A.L. Workshop Series is back, better and bigger with more resources, more speakers, more topics for all age ranges and a gifted education listserv for New York City parents too!

Jade’s ToyBox is pleased to be the founding member of the series designed to help parents of accelerated learners understand issues relevant to their child’s cognitive, social & emotional development. The P.A.L. Workshops, co-sponsored by  NYC Private Schools Blog (, ( and NYC G&T Blog (, will feature experts and practitioners in the field of gifted education and parent advocates in a dialogue with parents about educating and nurturing these unique learners. The Fall series will start September 20, 2011 and will again be held at the Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center in TriBeCa, NYC.

“Parents of advanced learners now have a voice and a dialogue for discussing key issues and concerns, plus they will hear excellent speakers, find great local resources and programs for gifted kids and children with specific needs or talent areas,” says Angelique LeDoux, founder and president of Jade’s ToyBox. “We are looking forward to our Fall series, featuring some amazing educators, authors and parents and we are hard at work for a unique Spring 2012 series that will appeal to parents with kids in kindergarten through 12th grade, so stay tuned.”

The Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center is located at 120 Warren Street between Greenwich Street and West Street in TriBeCa. The workshops start September 20, 2011 and will run through December 2011. Cost for the series is $10 per workshop. Downtown Community Center members are admitted free of charge, and a scholarship is available for those in financial need. The five-part series includes:

 September 20, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pmP.A.L. Session: Positive Discipline & Your Advanced Learner: Ending the Great Debate with Your Little Lawyer

Experts offer parents the tools they need to get the school year off on the right foot. Best-selling author and parent educator Nancy Samalin headlines the Fall 2011 opening session of P.A.L., offering parents tips to avoid the nagging, manipulation, bribes, yelling and the ensuing disagreements with their spouses that often arise over the kids. Donna Vaupel helps parents of advanced learners distinguish between typical discipline issues, and understand the characteristics and issues specific to gifted kids. You’ll walk away with practical and concrete tips to end the great debate with your little lawyer once and for all.

October 25, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pmP.A.L. Session: The Gifted &Talented Process: Admissions and Testing for Public & Private Schools

Whether your set on Hunter, private, city-wide, district-wide or your local public school, don’t miss P.A.L. partners Karen Quinn, the best-selling author of the Ivy Chronicles and Testing for Kindergarten, along with NYC Gifted and Talented parent expert Michael McCurdy, as they share advice and insider secrets to get your child into the school of your choice. Topics will include a general understanding of the tests required for the various G&T programs including the ERB/WPPSI, OLSAT, BRSA & Stanford Binet, and which tests are required for each program. Karen will discuss her 7-Abilities every test assesses and your child must have to succeed in kindergarten and beyond; public and private school processes and procedures, timelines and deadlines. A not-to-be-missed session for all parents exploring kindergarten options in NYC!

November 15, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pmP.A.L. Session: What’s the Right Fit for My Child? Options in the Gifted Arena

A panel of parents offers their perspectives on district-wide, citywide, public and private options and the approaches to G&T Education in NYC.

December 6, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pmP.A.L. Mini Session: Supporting Early Giftedness Through Play

Just in time for the holidays, this play-based session will help parents support their child’s strength areas with games and strategies to help toddlers and preschoolers get ready for kindergarten.

The Downtown Community Center
120 Warren Street, New York, NY 10013
; 1 block south of Chambers
Between Greenwich Street and West Street

For more information contact Angelique LeDoux at 212.343.8881, or email

To Register, go to:

The April P.A.L. Workshop Series

April 15, 2011

Thanks to all those who came out on a rainy night to join us for our P.A.L. Workshop Series this week. As promised, links to all our our speakers are below.

A Dialogue about Education for Parents of Accelerated Learners

WORKSHOP #3- TUESDAY, April 12, 2011, 6:30-8:00 pm

The Accelerated Learner Part 1-
Parenting the Accelerated Learner

From initial signs of giftedness and strength areas to a deeper look at their shared characteristics and common issues, experts and parents will share tips for parenting the gifted child.

Additional topics will include:
 early advanced ability;
• the developmental spectrum from early childhood through adolescence,
• family support and talent development;
• being a minority within a minority;
• the young gifted boy in a culture of red shirting;
• encouraging our girls to explore STEM fields;
• a glimpse at studies on gifted education- gifted under No Child Left Behind (NCLB); the groundbreaking “A Nation Deceived”; STEM report highlights


  • Dr. Razel Solow is Director of the Center for Gifted Studies and Education at Hunter College, the coordinator of the graduate program, and a partner with the Hunter College Campus Schools. Most recently, Dr. Solow has been collaborating with a research group from the Yale Child Study Center on alternative assessments of intelligence. She also provides professional development about gifted education and organizes meetings for the Coalition of Gifted Schools.  Her book on exceptionally gifted girls, tentatively titled Lives of Purpose, will be published in November 2011 by Great Potential Press.

    Connie Coulianos, head of the Speyer Legacy School for gifted children in Manhattan, has devoted the past two decades to the education of precocious preschool children, their teachers and parents. Through her work with this population at the Hollingworth Preschool, Teachers College Columbia University, she developed the child-responsive curriculum that serves as the core for Speyer Legacy School. She has presented various aspects of her work locally, nationally and internationally.

    Dr. Ranu Boppana is an Adult, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and a Clinical Instructor at the NYU Child Study Center and the NYU Department of Psychiatry. She is a graduate of MIT and the NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Boppana is the mother of an accelerated learner, and is married to a mathematician who is an innovator in math education.  She has been active in the parent associations of private and public schools in Manhattan.  She has experience parenting a gifted child and advocating for her child’s needs through high school.  She has also heard the concerns of many other parents of children who are accelerated learners.

    Alina Adams writes the NY Gifted Education column for She has been navigating the NYC school system and enrichment options on behalf of her three children and their diverse talents for over a decade.

    The Workshop Series

    The P.A.L. monthly workshop series helps parents of accelerated learners understand important topics relevant to their young child’s cognitive, social & emotional development. Experts and practitioners in the field of gifted and talented education and parent advocates will join our panel for a dialogue with you about educating and nurturing these unique learners.

    Presented by

    Jade’s ToyBox
    NYC Private Schools Blog
    NYC G&T Blog

    in Partnership with Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center

    For more information click herethe P.A.L. [Parents of Accelerated Learners] Parent Workshop Series  or go to

The P.A.L. (Parents of Accelerated Learners) – PARENT WORKSHOP SERIES

March 14, 2011

Presented by

Jade’s ToyBox
NYC Private Schools Blog
NYC G&T Blog

in Partnership with Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center

INVITE YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN A Dialogue about Education for Parents of Accelerated Learners

Register today at: Eventbrite

The Workshop Series
The P.A.L. monthly workshop series helps parents of accelerated learners understand important topics relevant to their young child’s cognitive, social & emotional development. Experts and practitioners in the field of gifted and talented education and parent advocates will join our panel for a dialogue with you about educating and nurturing these unique learners.

WORKSHOP #2 (for description of additional workshops, click here):

#2 – TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2011, 6:30-8:00 pm
Gifted & Talented Admissions & Testing: The Straight Talk – A look at G&T testing in NYC, admissions (both private and public schools), and the process children and their parents will undergo. We’ll discuss issues of identifying traits of gifted & talented children and the multiple criteria perspective for those often underrepresented.

Panelists include:

  • Janet Jackson, Ph.D.Dr. Janet Jackson is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice in New York City since 1986. She has worked with children and families providing neuropsychological testing, consultation and therapy. After twenty years evaluating children for admissions to Hunter College Campus Elementary School and sixteen years working with the Hollingworth Preschool (at Teachers College Hollingworth Center), she has gained insights into a range of remarkable children and had the privilege of watching their lives unfold across the school years. Dr. Jackson is a graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College.
  • Robin Arnow, Ph.D.
    Robin Aronow has her Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work and was a clinician in private practice and a school social worker. Dr. Arnow has visited all the private schools and most of the public schools to which families in Manhattan apply. She has developed positive working relationships with private school admissions directors and administrators at Hunter College Campus Schoolsthe Anderson Program, and administrators in theDepartment of Education. She is an advisor to Manhattan Media’s (West Side Spirit andOur Town, among others) Blackboard Awards which honor excellence in education.Dr. Arnow consults with numerous private nursery and elementary schools, and individual families looking for ongoing schools pre-K through high school. She has written several articles about the process of applying to schools and conducts workshops entitled “Life After Nursery School” including workshops on applying to private and public schools. Dr. Arnow also maintains an email updating service. She finds it extremely satisfying providing information and support to families to help make the process less daunting. She also loves returning to school settings, and having a chance to tour so many schools and observe best practices.

Additional Keynote Speaker on Reading/Literacy for Accelerated Learners:

  • Marion Blank, Ph.D.Dr. Marion Blank is the director of the A Light on Literacy program at Columbia University in NY. She has spent over forty years studying how children learn to read and is recognized by her peers as one of the world’s top experts in literacy.Dr. Blank obtained her Ph.D. in Medical Psychology from the University of Cambridge in England. Among her many achievements, she has lectured extensively around the globe, serving as a consultant to governments in many different countries, receiving awards and commendations, created the Phonics Plus Five Reading Program and wrote “The Reading Remedy,” a book that Kirkus Reviews describes as “an invaluable resource.”Dr. Blank recently started writing for The Huffington Post where she provides expert insights on the topic of literacy and education for children. Dr. Blank has devoted her life to helping children learn to read, and she has used her innovative methods to help literally thousands of kids. Now, with her groundbreaking new reading program,, she is making her system available to every parent who wants to teach their child to read.

    The Downtown Community Center,
    120 Warren Street between Greenwich Street and Westside Highway in Tribeca (Across from the Whole Foods side entrance in Tribeca)

    $10 per workshop*

    Free to DCC members.

    *We believe that all children deserve an education appropriate for their learning style and ability level to reach their fullest potential. So if you are unable to pay for the P.A.L. series, please don’t let it stop you from attending. Contact us and request a P.A.L Scholarship application to attend for free.

    Registration: Eventbrite

    To register by phone, or for more information about the series,
    please contact Angelique LeDoux, 212.343.8881 or email

    Supporting Organizations, among others:

    National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC)
    Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE)
    * Twice-Exceptional Children’s Advocacy (TECA)
    Center for Gifted Studies and Education, Hunter College
    Rutgers University, Gifted Education Certificate Program

    For media inquiries, please contact Kirk Green: Gonzo Communications 949.292.1331,

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)

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: Alarm Your Kid this Summer

June 12, 2010

Fire Hazard!

My daughter wasn’t quite two when I almost burned our home to the ground. Now, it wasn’t as bad as that sounds, but to sum up, our dishwasher was broken, I was boiling bottles a la my grandmother’s technique, and my cat with cancer had just returned from surgery. The husband was asleep, and clearly I had a lot on my plate. I went to bed without turning off the boiling bottles.

Lesson learned…I’m a firm believer that that sort of thing only happens once to you. At least I hope. So anyway, after the smoke cleared–literally, we added a few more smoke alarms and set out to be more diligent about fire safety. My daughter, though she was tiny, still remembers the “beep, beep, beep,” of the smoke detector as she was being whisked off to my neighbors apartment. She brought it up again this week, and so we made a lesson in safety of it.

Things you can do this summer to jump start the safety talks:

1- Talk about safety. Discuss natural disasters and emergency situations, and be sure to answer any questions your child may have. Help them understand that you are there to protect them and so are many other people, like firefighters, police officers and more.

2- Make an Escape Plan and practice it with your child at least quarterly, if not more frequently.

3- Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure batteries are changed twice a year, test them too.

4- Check your home for fire hazards and remove them. Are there too many plugs in one outlet? Is there a rug too close to the fireplace? Does the fireplace have a screen in front of it? Are there items too close to space heaters? Are there items blocking your escape plan path?

5- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.

Here are some great resources for exploring fire safety with your child:

1) Your local Firehouse: Most firehouses LOVE kids and are happy to let them explore and talk to them about fire safety. It’s also a great first step to help them feel safe, and understand a firefighter’s role is to protect them.

2) Be FireSmart for Children: a great interactive website with a video to help kids understand the garb firefighters wear and why. It explains hazards that can be found in the home, so they know what not to do and how to help prevent common fire hazards. Plus games, a coloring book and more.

3), a great website for little ones with videos about fire safety, games, activities and more.

4) A Fire Museum: If you are in a city like NYC, go visit the local Fire Museum, with old vehicles and a history of how fires were handled a century ago. The NYC Fire Museum is well worth the visit, and apparently many cities have one, so be sure to explore it!

5) And for more on personal and fire safety, check out the JTB Safety Box, with great books, toys and games to help your child understand the importance of staying safe.

Jade's ToyBox Safety Box

So don’t wait until fire safety week, and don’t count on your child’s preschool teacher to cover it, make it a priority for the safety of your family.

90 Days of Summer Fun: Ready to Read

June 9, 2010

At Jade’s ToyBox, we believe kids are born ready to read. They love hearing the rhythm and sound of our voice when we read rhyming Dr. Seuss books. They love the pictures and the adventure of each new story. They love to finish the sound or the word in each new phrase. They love to correct us when we substitute a silly word for the word they’ve come to expect.

Many of us start reading to our child the day they are born, if not sooner. So why wait until kindergarten to explore book lists with your child?

This summer, let your kiddo pick out his or her favorite 5-10 books at the library or bookstore. Write the titles and authors down on a sheet of paper or chart, and make that your child’s summer reading list. Encourage and reinforce the reading adventures with rewards, but make those rewards tied to the reading. For example, if your daughter is like mine and reads books about kitties, let the reward for finishing all of the books on the list be a stuffed animal from the reading, or a new book about cats. Keep the reward connected to the excitement of reading.

Here are GREAT READING RESOURCES to get you started this summer with book lists for your toddler or preschooler:

1- Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2010

2-The Children’s Book Review

3-NYPL- Children’s Books 2009- 100 Titles for Reading & Sharing

4- NYPL- 100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know

5- National Education Association’s Kids’ Top 100 Books

6- Hunter College Elementary Summer Reading 2010

7- ALSC- Association for Library Service to Children- Building a Home Library

8- ALSC- Newbery Medal, Caldecott Metal & Recommended Booklists

9- The Book Hive, animated stories and book lists

10- The Horn Book, reviews, author & illustrator interviews

11-CBC & International Reading Association, Children’s Choices Booklist

12-  CCBC- Cooperative Children’s Book Center, more resources!

13- Database of Award Winning Children’s Literature

14- Teaching

15- Teaching Guides for Children’s Books (see individual publishers for other titles)

90 Days of Summer Fun: Be Inspired By Literature

June 8, 2010


For little kids, sometimes interests turn into obsessions… trains, stuffed animals, cats. For my little one, kitty cats are her world. She collects them, “talks” them, dresses as them, reads about them, knows who their cousins are at the zoo, and just recently, can identify numerous breeds.

I encourage her fondness of felines by getting her books about them. We’re been trying to move her toward longer stories and chapter books. Her daddy started with a classic, Winnie the Pooh, but I like to introduce topics she loves too. So what better choice then a comical book about her favorite subject, Bad Kitty Gets a Bath, by Nick Bruel.

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel

We read it, a couple times. And it’s very visual and funny. But I thought we’d take it a step further. We talked about the story and made connections to its message and humor, and while my daughter watched, and bathed her own toy kitties, we gave our lil “Bad Kitty” a bath too.

Our "Bad Kitty" Got a Bath

So read a book with your child, and find a part of it that you can pull out and safely mimick with your child. It makes reading fun and brings literature to life.