Archive for the ‘Educational Tools’ Category

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


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:

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)

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!