Sunday, January 31, 2016

How to Build the Best Toy Box for your Child

Toys are not cheap! Well, of course you can buy plenty of cheap and frivolous toys. Most likely they will get played with once, teach a child nothing or break easily. Been there, done that. I'd rather build a toy box for my child that is filled with less, but more focused on high-quality, high play value toys.

The longer I have been in business as the owner of FUNdamentally Toys, the more I believe that toys really are an investment in your child's future. While there's been a lot of hype and focus on playing on tablets and phones, when it really comes down to it, the REAL DEAL is toys kids can physically experience - games, puzzles, dolls, Legos, arts, crafts, balls, books and more. Stuff they can grab in their hands, see, feel, hear, smell and even taste.

Physically playing with toys is one of the most important ways that kids learn about life. They explore and expand mental, physical, social and emotional skills and abilities - all while having FUN!

At FUNdamentally Toys, we take our role seriously in helping parents make smart toy choices for their children. That's why we have introduced SPARK - a monthly selection of eight great toys and games that meet a criteria to teach, encourage and support Seven Major Areas of Childhood Development.  
1. Physical Development encompasses fine and gross motor skills - hand-eye coordination, strength, balance, control, coordination and patience - from baby’s first grasp to riding a bicycle.

2. Cognitive Learning involves conscious intellectual activity (thinking, reasoning, memory).  Cognitive learning skills are the building blocks of life that help children develop their mental muscles and confidently manage everyday tasks and problems from basic to increasingly complex. Skills in this category are: recognition of color, shape, size; the ability to count, sort, sequence, match; pay attention to details; solve problems; develop memory, concentration, focus; and much more! Older children and adults can experience Cognitive Enrichment through playing with toys, puzzles and games that keep their brains sharp and nimble. 

3. Language & Communication Skills are gained when children play and interact with toys and others. They develop communication skills in speaking, listening and picking up social cues.  Look for toys, games and books that offer opportunities for vocabulary and sentence development, storytelling, reading, listening and cooperative play. Open-ended and pretend play with dolls, puppets or dress-up clothes sparks the imagination and helps children express their emotions and feelings. 

4. Creative Expression results from curiosity, exploration and discovery during play. Exposure to arts, crafts, science, music, movement, building or nature through toys and games paves the way for individual creative expression. Not just limited to the artistic sense, the development of creative expression in terms of ideas and imaginative thinking are necessary in all walks of life.
5. Sensory Awareness:  Life is viewed, heard, tasted and felt in many ways and from many different directions. Playing with toys develops, refines and nourishes the senses of sight, sound, small, taste and touch. Tactile, hands-on, interactive play is extremely important to childhood development and learning about the world.  Sensory toys such as teethers or stuffed animals can provide physical comfort, help children cope with stimuli and be of therapeutic benefit, especially for special needs children.

6. Social & Emotional Interaction:  Toys that require playing and interacting with others teach important life skills such as taking turns, listening, cooperating, working as a team or learning to handle conflicts.

7. Relaxation & Fun during play is necessary for the release of energy and reduction of tension. Play can be independent or with peers, siblings or the whole family. Time spent playing provides entertainment, laughter and bonding, in addition to learning.
We look forward to helping you build the best toy box for your child with SPARK toys and games. Buy five FUNdamentally Toys SPARK items during 2016 and get $25 off your sixth SPARK purchase. We'll automatically put your name into our SPARK CLUB and keep track of your purchases.
Debbie Scholl, Owner
FUNdamentally Toys

Thursday, November 26, 2015

FUNdamentally Toys: 20 Toys that Top the Most-wished-for List, Holiday 2015

FUNdamentally Toys
FUNdamentally Toys in Houston, Texas, is filled this Holiday 2015 season with a fantastic selection of educational and entertaining toys.

We realize it can be difficult to choose the perfect holiday gift for all the kids on your list, so our Top 20 Toy Picks narrows it down to what we think are this season's greatest hits.

You'll find toys and games that will make your kids laugh while they learn, improve their game, and teach them how to build cool stuff - like a wacky lizard robot. A great holiday gift can inspire a masterpiece, blend technology with creativity, and have all ages flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

And you ... you'll shop with the greatest of ease as you find something for everyone on your list - from newborns to kids of all ages and the young at heart.

Check out FUNdamentally Toys Top 20 Toy Picks --  shop online & in-store!
  1. Munch Mitt—The “handiest” teether around: $22.95, 3-8 months
  2. Noggin Rings—Grasp, reach & play for babies: $19.95, birth–12 months 
  3. myPhone—Talk just like Mom & Dad: $24.95, 6-12 months
  4. Domino Train—Get on board for chug-chug-chug fun: $22.95, 3+ years
  5. SpinAgain—Colorful stack & twirl fun: $34.95, 12+ months
  6. Tegu 14 pc. Set—Cool magnetic wooden blocks: $39.95, 1-3 years
  7. “Welcome to the Symphony” Book— Tune-up interactively: $24.95 4-8 years
  8. ‘Lil Fairy Door—Invite fairies into your home: $24.95, 4-8 years
  9. Collages for Little Ones—Beautiful Djeco creativity: $24.95, 3-6 years
  10. Dreamland Fairy House Kit—Make a magical place: $29.95, 4+ years
  11. Passback Junior Football—Learn to throw like a pro: $29.95, 8+ years
  12. Modarri 3-Car Combo Pack—Build & rebuild cool cars: $54.95, 8-adult
  13. The Swurfer—Fly through the air outdoor fun: $139.95, 6 years-adult
  14. i-loom—Use your iPad to create & share bracelets: $44.95, 8 years-adult
  15. Enchanted Forest & Secret Garden Coloring Books: $15.95, 8 years–adult
  16. Kingii Dragon—Build a wacky robotic creature: $49.95, 10 years–adult
  17. Very Silly Sentences—Learn grammar the funny way: $12.99, 4-7 years
  18. Bellz! Game—Simply nerve-racking fun: $22.95, 6 years–adult
  19. Tracer Racers—Infinity Loop $119.95; Twin Loop $99.95, 6 years-adult 
  20. Aaron’s Thinking Putty Mixed by Me—Mix-it-up fun: $19.95, 8 years-adult
Happy Holidays!
Debbie Scholl
Owner, FUNdamentally Toys
Houston, Texas


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Change your Brain - by Coloring!

Remember getting a brand new coloring book as a kid? And even better yet, a new box of crayons to go with it? I sure do. Those were some of the most fun memories of my childhood. Simpler times. I sat coloring quietly and my only worry was trying to stay between the lines!

Today, as owner of FUNdamentally Toys, a specialty retailer in Houston, Texas, I worry about keeping enough coloring books in stock for grownups, not kids! Adults are choosing to take their fingers off their computer keyboards and wrap them around a colored pencil instead, in a quest to relax and de-stress by coloring. They’re also having nostalgic fun like they used to when they were kids.

Adult coloring books have been topping US bestselling book lists in 2015, following on the heels of wild popularity in the UK and France since 2013. It’s a phenomenon that shows no signs of abating. 

The brains behind the fun 

While coloring may seem like all fun and games, behind the scenes, the human brain is doing some serious work. As you color, you don’t realize it, but you are de-stressing, relaxing and rejuvenating your mind. 

Simply focusing on the color and movement of the pencil on the page quiets your mind. You find you stop thinking about what happened at work during the day. Instead of worrying, you’re making creative decisions about which colors to use and how you want to logically fill in a pattern – all while staying between the lines! You are also stimulating your senses and fine-tuning your motor skills.

Neuroscientists are finding that the human brain can actually change as a result of practices such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and yes – even coloring!  It’s called neuroplasticity. Just as we can physically exercise to keep our bodies healthy, so can we do certain creative and mental activities that benefit and change our brains for the better. 

How the adult coloring craze started

Johanna Basford, a young Scottish commercial illustrator, is credited with starting the adult coloring book craze. She never dreamed that the intricate black-and-white designs she enjoyed creating in her spare time would become so popular. At first she posted a few online and found that adults were responding by coloring them in.

In 2011, Basford was approached by Laurence King Publishers to create a children’s coloring book.  Instead, Basford convinced them to publish a coloring book for grownups. In 2013, Secret Garden, An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book was published as 96 pages of charmingly intricate black-and-white drawings of flowers, trees, birds and other garden objects with hidden surprises. Its initial printing of a mere 16,000 copies sold out quickly. Secret Garden became a runaway bestseller, now having sold over 6 million copies worldwide.

Basford followed her first coloring book with Enchanted Forest and just released a new one called The Lost Ocean. She’s not the only player in this game. Many other artists have turned their attention to this developing market.The phenomenon appears to be here to stay with hundreds of themes to choose from. There is something for everyone from prim to punk. 

Make a party out of it 

FUNdamentally Toys started hosting adult-only coloring nights and has had a great response.  People are clamoring to come to our coloring parties to kick back, chit-chat and reconnect with something of their childhood. 

Even adults who don’t consider themselves creative or artistic can easily participate in coloring. It’s not competitive. It’s your own personal expression. Everyone can feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as their pictures come to life with vibrant color.

This holiday season give yourself, friends or family members a gift that adds a little color to their lives. An adult coloring book and colored pencils make a great gift. 

Some fun ideas might be to schedule a family coloring night, invite a few friends over for a relaxing coloring party at your home or attend an adult coloring event or meetup. Watch for future coloring nights.

Make a New Year’s resolution to have fun and do something good for your brain with coloring

Debbie Scholl, Owner, FUNdamentally Toys, Houston, Texas

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Children's Book Week 2015 is on, May 4-10, at FUNdamentally Toys

Children's Book Week is an annual celebration that has been going strong since 1919. At 96 years old, it’s the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country with a goal of connecting young readers with books.

Once again, FUNdamentally Toys is proud to participate in Children’s Book Week, May 4-10, 2015, with a host of incentives and fun designed to instill the joy of reading in young children.

First up: Children age ten and under can cast a vote for their favorite children’s board or picture book from FUNdamentally Toys’ top 14 best sellers. Just for filling out a ballot, young voters will receive a FREE Little Golden or I Can Read book.

Here’s a look at this year’s Top 14 Best-selling Children’s Board & Picture Books at FUNdamentally Toys:

Fundamentally Toys' Top 7 Children's Board Books: Vote for One
Elmer by David McKee
Little Bee by Edward Gibbs
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Freight Train by Donald Crews
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
Swing Like a Monkey by Harriet Ziefert
Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle

Fundamentally Toys' Top 7 Children's Picture Books: Vote for One
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Animals Home Alone by Loes Riphagen
Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier 
BackHoe Joe by Lori Alexander
Paddington by Michael Bond 
One by Kathryn Otoshi 
Ocean: A Photicular Book by Carol Kaufmann 

How to Vote: Come to FUNdamentally Toys to fill out a ballot, cast a vote for your favorite board book and picture book, then claim your FREE Little Golden or I Can Read book. You can also download a ballot from our website and bring your ballot in. Votes are due by Sunday, May 10.

Stock Up on Books: Children’s Book Week is a great opportunity to replenish your children’s home library with some fun new titles. Buy any three children's books and get a fourth one (of equal or lesser value) FREE!

While you’re at it, take a few minutes to clear out some old titles from your child’s bookshelves and bring them in for our Books Between Kids drive. We’ll donate your gently read books to children in need so they can build their own personal libraries.

Great children's books entertain, teach reading skills and calm young minds. The benefits of reading go far beyond these obvious facts. Reading at an early age:
  • Strengthens bonds with parents
  • Increases vocabulary and language skills
  • Teaches new ideas and concepts
  • Helps with concentration and focus
  • Establishes logical thinking patterns
  • Develops communication skills
  • Primes children for academic success
If you read to your children, they will literally hang on your every word. If your child sees you reading books, he or she will be be inclined to do the same. Make it a habit to read to or with your child every day, as well as taking some time for yourself to relax and read.

If you need book suggestions, look no further than Fundamentally Toys for our expert help. We offer a carefully selected assortment of some of the best children's books to help your child grow up with a lifelong love of reading.  

Children's Book Week is administered by Every Child A Reader, a 501(c)(3) literacy organization dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. The Children's Book Council, the national non-profit trade association for children's book publishers, is an anchor sponsor.

Debbie School, FUNdamentally Toys