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Friday, December 8, 2017

Children's Unrealistic Gift Lists by Trisha Roberts

As the Holidays approach, many parents get anxious.  They want to make Christmas or Hanukkah special for their children but are often faced with the dilemma of what to buy, how to avoid taxing the budget, and satisfying their children's "Wish List", which is often extremely unrealistic. For fear of disappointing their children, they often buy mountains of presents, which may or may not eliminate the temper tantrums.  I am presenting an article I wrote last year that is very appropriate this month and contains information for teaching values throughout the year.  "Things" are not what ultimately satisfy--developing a giving, generous, compassionate spirit in your child is far more valuable.

One of my daughter’s favorite Christmas tunes is, “Oh, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”.  You’ve probably heard it if you listen to the radio in the month of December. The first line is, “Oh I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do”. You may not have a child asking for a Hippo, but many children have a wish list a mile long or containing toys that are totally inappropriate for their age or their parent’s budget. We’ve probably all known a child (or been that child!) who throws a tantrum because they did not get what they wanted.

We love to give our children special gifts for Christmas, Birthday, Hanukkah or other special occasions.  Our children come to expect gifts and then to request (read, “demand”) gifts, often prompted by adults asking, “What do you want for Christmas?” 

Take the focus off of receiving gifts. I recommend having a discussion several months before a holiday about the reason we give gifts.  Things like:  this is a token of our love, to celebrate or commemorate a special event, to make a person feel special.  We sometimes give a gift to stimulate growth (like a book). We give because God first gave to us—the gift of Life, of Health, of Salvation.  We give to bring joy to others.  We want to encourage a spirit of giving and thankfulness. This discussion can help children develop a better understanding of gift giving. It is not an exhaustive list of demands. It is a demonstration of love and should be appreciated as such whatever the gift might be.

Change the emphasis to giving rather than receiving.  Make a list of people your child would like to give gifts to; discuss what things that person likes and note what type of gift you could give. Try to add someone to the list who will probably not give you a gift in return—maybe your mail carrier or bus driver.

Help Children be Creative

Children can be given extra chores to earn money to purchase gifts, but I think a gift that is created by the child is more meaningful and takes the emphasis off the “commercial”.  A special card, a book of coupons for hugs/kisses/special help around the house, a framed picture, a video montage, homemade cookies or flavored Chex Mix.  Write a creative story, have it typed, illustrate it, and give it as a book.  Read a favorite story to a grandparent.  Perform a puppet show. 

If your children are musical they could play or sing a song for a loved one; if the person lives far away, it could be video-taped and e-mailed or performed on Skype. Whenever possible, the child should wrap the gift and deliver it in person.  Watching a person open their gift and seeing the joy that it brings will help your little ones gain a better understanding of gift-giving and will begin to develop a spirit of generosity. Make sure that your children see and hear your gratefulness when you open a gift. Model thankfulness by your words and actions—a phone call or hand written note to the giver is always appreciated.

Children should not be encouraged to make a long list of “wants”.  An attentive parent usually knows what a child likes and what they have been looking at in stores. If a child comes to you with a list you should take the list but say to the child, “Remember our conversation about gifts.  We love you. Just because you have made a list does not mean that we are obliged to get you the things on that list.”  You will have a great Christmas/Birthday/Hanukkah whether or not you get the things you have listed.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, December 1, 2017

ImaginOak Play Mats

This week I feature a terrific product that encourages creativity and imagination--the ImaginOak Play Mats

ImaginOak Play Mats are designed to engage children in open-ended adventure and creative story play, using the toys they already have. The large vinyl mats provide three unique environments for kids to make believe their own exciting stories. 
ImaginOak Play Mats Encourage Creative Play

The brightly printed play mats are big enough for excellent solo play, but also large enough that 2 or more kids can play together. The best stories are relational, and when several children are engaged in imaginative self-scripted play, magical things can happen. The play can be different every time depending on the feelings of the day or the toys they bring to the play mat.

What sets ImaginOak Play Mats apart are the three stylized designs featuring more realistic buildings and landscaping, more interesting details, the large scale of the vinyl play area, several different play mats can lay side by side in any configuration, and the mats encourage stimulating group play. The painterly look gives these artisan play mats a style like no other.

ImaginOak Castle Play Mat

Some years ago designer Craig McDowall, had the idea of introducing a new play mat into the children’s market. After visiting many toy shops he saw that there were a number of fabric play mats or rugs aimed at pre-school kids. Preschool play mats have chunky graphics and are intended for larger toys. There seemed to be no play mats aimed at elementary school kids, aged approximately 4-11, and the small figurines they’ve collected. He also saw that parents are becoming more interested in finding ways to keep their school age children away from ‘screens’, including electronic devices such as computer tablets, game consoles and television. Child education experts are also sounding the alarm about the amount of time children spend alone, playing games with pre-written scripts and predictable outcomes.

ImaginOak Horse Farm Play Mat

ImaginOak Play Mats encourage imaginative play which is not predefined by characters; there are no people, animals or vehicles printed on the mats. Children may use action figures or other movie and television characters, but the kids are able to reinvent the story line, and design their own narrative. By allowing the children to be their own story tellers, ImaginOak hopes that children will engage in more meaningful play. Children are capable of working out some of their problems by imaginative experiential play, and these play mats might help them in that process. Home school parents are able to convert the story play into written formats which children can continue to work on. These large play mats allow two or more children to take part in parallel play, and interact with friends and siblings. Several play mats can be laid side by side to increase the possibilities.

ImaginOak Village Play Mat

The original three designs, Caravan Village, Quest Realm, and Horse Haven are available in both LARGE 4x5 and SMALL 3x4 sizes. Large size is 45.5" x 59". Small size is 36" x 47”. The great part is that the play mats can be laid together in any configuration

ImaginOak Play Mats Can "Connect"

ImaginOak Play Mats are practically indestructible and are waterproof. The scrim vinyl is printed with safe water-based latex inks which are the optimum choice for use in hospitals, restaurants and schools. These inks are Greengaurd Gold UL certified, odorless, and meet LEED standards. They roll up for storage, and are easily cleaned with a mild detergent and moist sponge.

ImaginOak Play mats are available in two sizes to fit most families needs:
Small 3' x 4' for the price of $55.00
Large 4' x 5' for the price of $75.00

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, November 24, 2017

5 Family Fun Fitness Activities by Brent Frayser

Forty years ago, it was a nightly battle for parents to get their children inside for dinner or for the night. Today, it is hard to get them outside and active. The advent and hypnotic pull of technology has drastically changed the way we live our daily lives. In the last twenty years we've seen an alarming rate of obesity and other health problems in children and young adults due to sedentary lifestyles.


The foods we used to eat were prepared at home and we ate our meals as a family around the table, which meant we spent time digesting and conversing. We played on the playground, at school gyms, around our neighborhoods. We were active from morning until bedtime.

The opportunities for physical activity today as it existed yesterday are still there but the opportunity has to be acted upon. Laptops and smartphones are the leading cause of inactivity, surpassing television as the leading cause, not only for children, but most adults. The fast food industry has taken hold of our culture and it has become rare to see families sit together at meal times with home-cooked meals.

As parents, we set the foundation for many aspects of life for our children, from values and work ethic to outlook and lifetime fitness habits. Staying active for yourself and your family and making
fitness a family affair, will not only lead to healthy adults but happy ones who are able to bounce back quicker from injuries and illnesses, and live longer lives.

The results of a research study on children and obesity published in children's health journal Acta Paediatrica, have revealed startling results regarding children and their sedentary lifestyles. The findings report that children's arm strength dropped by 26% and their grip strength by 7% since 1998. The research also found that in 1998, 1 in 20 children were able to hold their own weight when hanging from a bar but only 1 in 10 children can do the same today.

How To Get Started

If you and your family haven't been active, there might be some resistance at first, but experts say both the body and the mind can be re-programmed in only a few short weeks, so sticking with the plan to get healthier and more active until it becomes habit, is the key. Start slow.

You can start with 10 or 20-minute walks. Or start with an activity that you like to do such as basketball or volleyball. The time spent on these activities will gradually increase. Staying healthy as a family requires the whole team's involvement. Here are five family activities that you can begin with to get your family to an optimal state of health:


Walking is one of the easiest and low-impact exercises there is to stay fit and healthy. The good thing is that we already do it so well. Gather the family and take long walks in the park, at a local campground or just around your neighborhood. This is an excellent bonding activity as it allows for conversation and is good both before dinner and after. At a later time, you can incorporate small hiking trips as your energy levels increase through exercise. 

TV Fitness Breaks
If you can't cut out television altogether, when you are watching television make every commercial break a fitness break. For every commercial, the family jumps up and does an exercise of someone's choice. Everyone gets a turn choosing an exercise. Make it fun. When commercials are over, the exercise is over. You'll feel the benefits immediately.

Roller Skating or Rollerblading

Roller skating is an excellent outdoor activity that the whole family can participate in. Not only does it improve mood, but it is easy on the joints and you can create skills games and baton races to add to the fun when skating as a family. Roller skating is excellent for gliding along in conversation as well and is a wonderful way to get the family together on the weekends.

Obstacle Course

You can easily create an obstacle course in your backyard. When mom and dad participate in activities with their children, the children are more involved and willing to get active. Obstacle course help move every part of your body and help children develop motor, emotional and social skills. Your obstacle course can have a multitude of different activities built in such as: throwing, kicking, jumping, sliding, balance, and hopping.


One of the lowest impact, cardiovascular exercises is bike riding. Not only is it healthy for the whole body, but it boosts brain health as well, which means it’s a perfect health routine for the whole family. A recent study revealed that brain scans show an increase in the brain's white matter when a person exercises using an "overlearned skill" like bicycling.

It is up to adults to teach children the healthy habits of activity and exercise. We must break the cycle of sedentary lifestyles and the resulting obesity and disease which is shortening our lives. Creating the foundation for healthy habits for the whole family is easy and rewarding.

Make an activity jar. Let the whole family come up with healthy activities that the whole family can do together. Write them on strips of paper and place the strips in the jar. Draw from the jar every day or make it a weekend jar. The main goal is to get the whole family active and healthy. Every activity you do, whether indoors or outdoors, helps to create a love for health and wellness which leads to a long life.

Brent Frayser is a media relations representative for Pure Barre, who is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree of Business Administration (Major in Marketing, Minor in Management).  He was born and raised in the south, is very outgoing, with a strong sense of determination.  In his spare time, he enjoys: reading, writing, coaching baseball and football, and spending time with family and friends.  

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Today's Children by Guest Blogger Matthew Reisberg

This week's featured Guest is Matthew Reisberg, Principal/Administrator Carroll Christian School in Westminster, Maryland where my Chinese Foreign Exchange student attends High School.  This article is adapted from the weekly newsletter of Carroll Christian School and succinctly describes a major issue with America's children today.

While there are many great and wonderful things to say about our children, there is an alarming trend across American that Mr. Reisberg addresses:

Have you noticed that today's kids are ok with a mess? They believe that you consume what you want and just leave the trash for someone else to pick up. They are ok with making a mess with food and wasting it. Watch a group of young people sit together and then get up and go somewhere. It looks like a war zone. The chairs are a mess and trash is everywhere except the trash can. Who will volunteer to clean it? Who will have the character to stop and say that this is not the way we found it?

 After a ball game at Carroll Christian School (CCS) last year, I literally carried three armloads of trash out of the student section.

Have you been in the locker rooms? Have you checked out the lost and found? Today's kids just throw their belongings around and, many times, leave them. You can tell them that one of their items is in lost and found, but they don't even come to retrieve it. They think, “Why bother getting it when mom and dad will just buy me something new?” Do you ever wonder why this is the case? Are they expecting someone else to do it? Have they been taught to do it? Did we just teach them to get up and leave it because we as parents will always pick it up for them? Yes, society teaches them to not care and leave it, but we need to teach them to respect the land. They need to learn to take care of what God has blessed them with.

The last generation was taught by our parents to respect property, to not litter, to leave things better than we found them. If we did not follow those rules, we had more work or a lesson applied to the seat of understanding. It may not be what we wanted, but it was what we needed. I wonder how America will look 20 years from now if we continue to have a generation that does not value anything.

I encourage those of you with little ones to start early. Teach them to work and not accept everything given. Teach them to pick up after themselves.

I once had a student who literally could not wash the lunch table. When I asked him why he was not able to do it, he respond that he did not know how because his mother always did it for him. This was a high school student. I followed up with mom. She said that she never lets him clean because she wanted him to enjoy his childhood.

Make them clean. Teach them now. Don't let the opportunities pass. When they leave your home, they will be dependent on you and unable to do anything.

Teach them to work and to value a dollar. Don't just give them everything. I know, you want them to have everything that you didn't have growing up, but you turned out okay, didn't you? You learned to work for things and value them. Giving children everything they want will only make them want more and not appreciate what they have. In other words, they don't appreciate you. Why? Because they expect it. We have trained this generation to have a sense of entitlement.
We need to change it soon or our nation will pay the price.

Matthew Reisberg graduated from Pensacola Christian College with a degree in History and Coaching in 1996.   He taught History and Coached at Carroll Christian for 12 years before moving to Administration. He has a Master’s in Christian Education from Patriot University and has credits toward a second Master’s in General Education from Liberty University.  Mr.  Reisberg built the High School Program at Mount Airy Christian Academy while he served in Administration there for 5 years before returning to be the Administrator at Carroll Christian for the last 5 years. Along with Administrating he also coaches several sports teams and teaches Economics to the Seniors. 

Matthew Reisberg

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The 30 Best Science Toy Stores--Part 2 by Guest Blogger Andrea Cunningham

We continue this week with Part 2 of the 30 Best Science Toy Stores in America, by Guest Blogger Andrea Cunningham.

 This original article was presented at, a great website that is composed of  (in their words!), "a group of science-loving nerds who hand-pick some of the best products on sale today." 

Now, in Andrea's words:

New Hampshire

 G. Willikers! Toy Shop

13 Market Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Why kids love this store: Lots of toys to play with and fun events to attend
Why parents love this store: Elite customer service, wide selection of quality toys, gives back to their community
What’s sciencesy about this store: Embraces all kinds of technology including green technology
Must have toy: Snap Circuits Electricity Kits
G. Willikers! Toy Shop’s inventory of science toys is massive. Their favorite toys are “open-ended.” In other words, children are free to create without having to adhere to default endings.  G. Willikers also believes that playing with toys helps children understand their world.  G. Willikers came into this world in 1978.

New York

 Kidding Around

60 West 15th Street
New York, NY
Why kids love this store: Wooden model of the Staten Island Ferry
Why parents love this store: Huge selection of $5 (and under) toys
What’s sciencesy about this store: Big supply of science toys and a staff who knows that supply
Must have toy: Mountain of Doom Volcano Kit
Kidding Around doesn’t kid around when it comes to service and value.  Their expertise and hard work has earned them praise from kids, parents, and the press.  Can’t make it to West 15th street?  They have two other locations: one at Grand Central Terminal in New York and another in Montclair, New Jersey.


 iSpark Toys

925 Northeast Orenco Station Loop
Hillsboro, OR 97124
Why kids love this store: Can play with toys before mom and dad buys them
Why parents love this store: Owner knows and cares about kids, science, and learning
What’s sciencesy about this store: STEM toys comprise a majority of their inventory
Must have toy: Happy Atoms
iSpark Toys started when a mother wanted to buy fun and engaging products for her offspring.  Realizing there wasn’t such a place, she founded iSpark Toys.  Today, her store sells commodities that help kids create, build, and dream.  In addition to science toys, iSpark offers robotics, coding, and engineering toys.

Storefront of iSpark Toys.  Photo courtesy of toy store’s Facebook page.

 Piccolo Mondo Toys

Bethany Village Centre
4768 Northwest Bethany Boulevard, #C5
Portland, OR 97229
Why kids love this store: Always has the newest and awesomest toys
Why parents love this store: Believes in education and strongly supports local schools
What’s sciencesy about this store: Sells toys that are innovated and cater to the imagination
Must have toy: Test Tube Adventures
The family-owned Piccolo Mondo Toys has two Oregon locations.  Besides their store in Portland, they also have a shop in Beaverton.  “Piccolo Mondo” means "Small World" in Italian.  Every month, PM features toys and books from a different country.  It’s a great way for your kids to learn more about other cultures.


 Spectrum Scientifics

4403 Main Street
Philadelphia, PA 19127
Why kids love this store: Cool science toys and cool science equipment
Why parents love this store: Staff is passionate about science
What’s sciencesy about this store: Every square inch—also sells telescopes, minerals, and magnets.
Must have toy: Tornado Tube
Located in the Manayunk neighborhood, Spectrum Scientifics is Philadelphia’s go-to-retailer for science toys and science equipment.  Don’t let that last part deter you from visiting.  Your child will thoroughly enjoy their visit to Spectrum.  Their toys will cement, or further inspire, your progeny’s fascination with science.

South Carolina

 Wonder Works

624 Long Point Road
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 849-6757
Why kids love this store: Thousands of toys to sample and try
Why parents love this store: Wonder Works supports toys that are locally created
What’s sciencesy about this store: Carries products that promote science and foster creativity
Must have toy: Talking Microscope
Christine Osborne and Dan Morrisey founded Wonder Works in 1990.  Today, their one store has turned into four (the other three are in Charleston).  Wonder Works is widely regarded as one of the best toy stores in the South.  Their claim to fame is always being the first store to stock the “coolest new specialty toy items.”


 Fundamentally Toys

2401 Rice Boulevard
Houston, TX 77005
Why kids love this store: It’s humongous and frequently hosts cool events
Why parents love this store: Specializes in toys that hold a child’s interest
What’s sciencesy about this store: Oodles of terrific STEM toys in their coveted Science Center
Must have toy: Dig It Up! Dinosaur Eggs
Fundamentally Toys opened in 1995 and moved to their current location in 2011.  Billed as a "full-service, specialty toy store," FT wants children to learn, grown, and have loads of fun.  Their highly-regarded Spark program promotes toys that offer value to both parents and kids (see their websites for more information).

 Terra Toys

2438 Anderson Lane
Austin TX, 78757
Why kids love this store: Bright, colorful, lots of candy
Why parents love this store: Espresso bar
What’s sciencesy about this store: Stocks fun, challenging, and educational toys
Must have toy: Solar Mechanic Science Kit
The products inside Terra Toys are beautiful, classic, and fun.  It’s a magical place to visit if you’re young or young at heart.  Their sales staff is second to none and they’re happy to help you pinpoint the perfect toy.  Besides the aforementioned espresso bar, Terra Toys also houses an art gallery.

Storefront of Terra Toys.  Photo courtesy of toy store’s Facebook page.

 The Toy Maven

6025 Royal Lane #225
Dallas, TX 75230
Why kids love this store: Staff always makes them feel celebrated
Why parents love this store: Texas-size selection of toys, welcoming atmosphere, all the top brands
What’s sciencesy about this store: Bevy of toys that enrich and entertain young minds
Must have toy: VorteX 3.0, a Techno Gears Marble Mania machine
A “maven” is a trusted expert.  No toy store has a more appropriate name than The Toy Maven in Dallas, Texas.  They are toy experts you can trust.  Their justly adopted motto is “Bringing the Finest Toys to All Girls and Boys.”  The Toy Maven’s second haven is in Southlake.

 Toy Werks

923 North Loop 1604 East, #106
San Antonio, TX 78232
Why kids love this store: Plenty of toys to test drive
Why parents love this store: Cordial staff who’s adroit in selecting toys for tots
What’s sciencesy about this store: San Antonio’s largest selection of science kits
Must have toy: 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot
There are three things you need to know about Toy Werks.  One, they are family owned and operated.  Two, they are a "real toy store."  And three, regardless of your age, it’s difficult to leave their store.  Their shelves are teeming with volumes of cool stuff including books, crafts, dolls, stuffed animals, and science kits.


 Kinder Haus Toys

1220 North Fillmore
Arlington, VA 22201
Why kids love this store: They have everything from books to puppets
Why parents love this store: “Service, selection, and style”
What’s sciencesy about this store: Entire store caters to a child’s intellect and imagination
Must have toy: Kidz Labs Balancing Robot
Sue Pyatt and her family have owned Kinder Haus Toys since 1982.  They like to think of themselves as an old-fashion toy store.  Besides their assortment of educational toys, KHT also stocks books, clothes, and sporting goods.  Their toys, many of which are made from wood, don’t take batteries.  They run on imagination.


 Math 'n' Stuff

8926 Roosevelt Way Northeast
Seattle, WA 98115
Why kids love this store: Lots of science and math things to see, touch, and enjoy
Why parents love this store: Educational toys galore
What’s sciencesy about this store: Everything!
Must have toy: Chem C2000
The owner of Math ‘n’ Stuff identifies as a "Math Evangelist."  That’s music to the ears of parents looking to get their offspring excited about numbers.  Be warned, Math ‘n’ Stuff is packed to the rafters.  Don’t be surprised if you can’t see everything during your first visit.  Oh yeah, they carry Magic: The Gathering!

 Top Ten Toys

120 North 85th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
Why kids love this store: Bundles of classic and unique toys to appraise
Why parents love this store: Low-violence policy—that means you won’t find toy guns or swords (unless they’re miniature and part of a themed set)
What’s sciencesy about this store: Toy selection is science-oriented, ecological, multicultural, and imaginative
Must have toy: K’Nex

You can’t have a list of the top 30 toy stores in the U.S. and not include the largest one in the Pacific Northwest.  Top Ten Toys’ mission is “keeping healthy play alive.”  This highly touted retailer also deals in wooden toys, classic toys, and collectible toys.  TTT opened in 1987 and they currently boast more than 25,000 toys.

Staff celebrating Top Ten Toys’ 30th anniversary.  Photo courtesy of toy store’s Facebook page.

Andrea Cunningham is from Boston and holds a science degree in biology. She interested in things that affect her children's educational lives, like schools, children's TV programming, and toys that promote learning. She loves going to new toy stores when she travels and has been to many in America and Europe. Andrea lives outside of Boston with her husband, three children, and two Labradoodles (a mixed lab/poodle dog).

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.