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About Eric Cooper

Here are my most recent posts

Clothespins Captures and Challenges Your Child’s Mind

With over 250 awards for product excellence, Briarpatch aims to capture and challenge your child’s growing mind. The game, “Clothespins” focuses on teaching children how to match using various criteria, from types of clothes to patterns.

To play the game, a player must collect at least three matching laundry cards. They may be matched by style (example: all three laundry cards are boxer shorts) or by pattern (example: all stripes or all polka dots). Cards may be snatched away from your opponent by using a Bird card and in order to finish the game, the final card of each line must be the finishing pole.

For ages 5+ and 2 – 4 players

Pros:

•    Educational – teaches how to match using unspecified criteria (the child has to pick what goes together and why)

•    Game play is moderately paced

•    Quality cardstock and board pieces

•    No reading involved

•    Made in the USA

Cons:

•    Until the game is played several times, the rules can be difficult to master for some children

In the end, this game will rely completely on how the child reacts to the challenge put before them – they will both really take to the game and love it or they will become frustrated and the game will cease to be fun. If you do purchase the game, I would recommend playing with your child a few times, and if the understanding just is not there yet, put it away and wait for awhile. A simpler game for older children, a young one may find difficulty in place of entertainment.

Indulge Your Child’s Methodic Side with Beddy-Bye

In a world where a lot of games for children are based on fast paced action (example: Hungry, Hungry Hippos), Briarpatch’s Beddy-Bye Game aims to indulge a child’s more methodic side. Although it won’t actually put your child to sleep (shucks!), it will entertain and delight each player, whether child or adult.

The object of the game is to collect pajamas, a bottle, and a teddy bear in order to make sure baby is happy in bed. But watch out! If baby gets fussy, playful, or sleepy, you may need to use one of your collected items in order to placate the little one.

For ages 4+ and 2 – 4 players

Pros:

•    Colorful, large pictures on both the cards and the board

•    Heavy cardstock insures quality, lasting materials

•    Die sounds like a rattle – which delights little ears

•    Quick game play – each game lasting about ten minutes

•    Easy to understand rules

•    No reading required

•    Made in the USA

Cons:

•     None

With exceptionally easy to understand rules, quick gaming speeds, and bright colors, the game seems to excite children that enjoy playing games. Stepping away from the traditional memory games and taking a break from the classics, like Candy Land, Briarpatch’s Beddy-Bye Game will enchant and amuse every member of the family.

Review: Xeko Pals Plush Toys

Toys and social consciousness rarely work together: the toy is either inherently anti-environmental (use of synthetic fibers, for example) or they are so outrageously costly that they seem to be more of an investment than a toy. Not so with Xeko Pals.

Based on characters from the Xeko Trading Card game, Giant Panda, Sumatran Flying Squirrel, and Hairy Eared Dwarf Lemur are the three plush toys available as the Xeko Pals. The cute animals are tied in with the Xeko game website as well. Matter Group, the makers of Xeko Pals donate 4% of sales to Conservation International.

Created with soy fabric and stuffed with soy filling, Xeko pals are soft to squeeze and hold. Each pal comes complete with a tag that’s filled with fact, a mission statement to the Xeko Agent (for the game website), and a Mission Code which can be used on the Xeko Game website in order to unlock a secret game or item.

    

Pros

•    Amazingly soft and squeezable

•    Raises Earth and Endangered Animal awareness

Cons

•    Advises for use by 4 year olds or older only

Neutral

•    Made in China – but considering the use of soy, this is not too surprising

•    Amount donated to Conservation International

In the end, raising awareness for animal causes is great and very important, but buy the product to raise awareness within your own home, not the amount of money that goes to Conservation International. The math roughly comes to 80¢ per Giant Panda bought. That is something, but it does not tip the scales heavily in one direction.

 

Review: Moonman Plush Toy

Moonman Lovey is a comforting character from Nana Star and the Moonman, the second book of the Nana Star Series.  His big yellow head, sleepy eyes, and sweet grin top a soft, snuggly body. A single press on the star in his tummy and a 16-second version of the Moonman theme begins to play and his face lights up like the moon. The theme can be heard playing in the background of the oral version of the story read on the CD that accompanies the book.   

Pros

•    Sweet to cuddle and soft to the touch

•    Children identify the Moonman with safety and bedtime

•    Battery pack inside Moonman’s back has on/off switch

Cons

•    Once the music is started, it cannot be stopped

•    Music is rather loud and plays from Moonman’s head, where child is probably snuggled

•    Velcro patch on back where battery pack is stored often leaves a strip of scratchy side of the Velcro exposed, creating rough patch

The Moonman plush looks as sweet as sweet can be. With him accompanying the book, he’s sure to be a hit. If Moonman is strictly a bedtime companion, disabling the music or playing it before the book is read will decrease most of the cons listed above.

Nana Star and the Moonman

Nana Star and the Moonman (2008) is the second book in the Nana Star Series. In this book, Nana Star continues her journey to return the little star back into the heavens. Scared when night comes and the world has gone to bed without her, Nana Star meets the Moonman,who promises to watch over her whether it is day or night! Comforted by the fact she has a friend looking out for her, she continues on her journey with Moonman pointing her toward a sailboat that’ll help her bring the baby star home. Book comes with a 2-track CD: the story being read and a song.

Pros

•    Wonderful illustrations by Linda Saker

•    An appropriate amount of large words per page

•    Entertaining storyline

•    Cute song on CD with leave children to fall asleep to

•    CD pouch in front cover can be resealed

Cons

•    Must buy the first book, otherwise story starts abruptly

•    The reading on the CD lasts only 4 minutes

The book brings many positives to nighttime, including the message that your little one is being watched over by the Moonman, even if they cannot see him. The adorable song on the CD will leave children drifting off to sleep into a warm, safe world. Nana Star and the Moonman is a good addition to any children’s bookshelf.