Great Toy Find: The Stomp Rocket Rocks

…Three…two…one…

It’s been the greatest toy find since last year’s Strider bike (see “Look Ma, No Pedals!”). The rockets DO glow in the dark, as advertised. They DO go really high–it looked like 100 feet to me–as  advertised. And most important, when shot point blank at Mommy’s booty, neither the rocket nor the booty experience damage.

Launch preparation: No knowledge of physics, engineering, or how to make sense of assembly manuals written in poorly translated Mandarin necessary.

The only design flaw is at the point where the three legs of the launch stand fit together. They fit, but easily spring apart. I fixed the problem just as easily by wrapping the juncture with three inches of polka-dotted duct tape.

The Stomp Rocket Junior Glow Kit with four extra rockets, $22.42 on Amazon. Amazing fact: they are as fun as the kids on the box make them look.*                                                                        *This blog is not financially compensated by Stomp Rockets in any way, unfortunately.

The key to their success, I believe, lies in the simplicity of their design. It’s nothing that I couldn’t have made a crude version of myself, out of a whoopee cushion, a length of garden hose, a sawed-off snorkel affixed to four rulers strategically taped together, a few tennis balls with holes cut in them and, of course, the polka dotted duct tape.

In fact, the only improvement I can think of that would make them even more attractive to the bot-aged set is if the air reservoir did make a fart sound when you jumped on it, in addition to sending a rocket flying up into the air.

Keep your eyes open for the new and improved version.

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Introducing the Love Child of Picasso, Euclid, and Martha Stewart

Dot-to-Dot: The love child of Picasso, Euclid, and Martha Stewart!

Yes, it’s an old-fashioned connect-the-dots game, brought into the twenty-first century by Husbot with an unmistakeable you-can-do-this-at-home! vibe.

I mentioned to him last night that I’d like to see Mbot trying to focus more on the shapes of numbers and letters, and so this morning he Mbot on his lap and drew some impromptu pictures, just faintly dotted outlines with numbers (in order, of course) at strategic points around the periphery.

And this perhaps is an alphabet-outlined sea-monster (C monster?) that’s been caught on a fishing line. Abdominal spikes added by Mbot.

I thought Husbot, although neither Picasso nor Euclid nor Martha, was pretty ingenius. Husbot asked Mbot to say the numbers or letters aloud as the tip of his colored pencil reached them. And you know, it kind of worked. But the big lesson for me was that customizing a silly connect-the-dots game makes it more interesting for the weebots, which means they actively engage, which means they learn more.

It was perfect for just-turned-four year-old Mbot–not so engaging for Gbot, not yet three. When I drew him a hamster (not shown, in order to retain my dignity), he claimed that hamsters do NOT have whiskers, and when I wrote the number 1 on top of his head, Gbot was so upset that I covered it up with a fire hat. “Let’s pretend he’s a Wonder Pet!” I cried, but it was in vain.

“I do not WANT a hamster in a fire hat!” cried Gbot back.

So, as with everything in parenting, even great ideas, there are potholes, and you will fall into them. But at least we’ll all go down counting.

Buck-toothed shark. Will he get you? It’s a number’s game.

Eye-Found-It!

This is a picture of three children enjoying Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye-Found-It! Game instead of watching TV. The game includes ten miniature fake magnifying glasses, nothing more than a hoop on a 3/4″ handle, that toddlers love to hold up to their eyes and squint through. It makes them laugh and laugh. This picture does not show anyone sticking the little magnifying glass in their ear to see how far it goes.

We have played this game several times (“played” used in the loosest of terms) instead of watching TV. Now, I realize the instructions specify the game is for ages three and up. But I have been fortunate that up until several hours ago, my children have shown no interest in discovering how far they can shove objects of any size into any of their orifices. Several hours ago, Gbot discovered how far he could put a miniature fake magnifying glass into his ear, and the answer was: far enough to draw blood (a little) and cause howling (a lot).

I dialed our trusty pediatrician and listened to calming words about eardrops and scratches that heal quickly and with no consequences. The howling had been replaced by periodic sniffling. I bundled the Midgets into the car for a drive to the pharmacy window. By this time, Gbot was giggling about the impromptu evening spin and playing footsie with Mbot across the gap in the back seat. An hour later he would be sleeping peacefully.

I was not smiling. I was thinking about how fragile we all are, how time can break underfoot like ice on a pond.

Tomorrow night we will watch TV.

What’s the last thing you discovered the hard way?

* picture of children playing Eye-Found-It instead of watching TV from http://www.examiner.com