Thursday, November 29, 2007

Color Bug Coloring Toy

Can you tell what time of year it is by the theme of my post? Well here is a toy that I have been waiting for since I saw it on Oprah last year. It is called Color Bug Coloring Toy. I am very excited because this toy opens some fun doors for children and adults (if they like to color). This is idea can be improved upon if they changed the remote to having IR capabilities. If it had IR capabilities because then people with disabilities could control the Color Bug with their communication devices. As of now you have a standard radio controller to move your Color Bug around the paper which still makes it possible to work on skills.

There is no doubt once I get my hands on these little bugs that I can figure out a way to adapt the toy so more of my students can have fun with the toy. I just see so many possibilities for this little toy. Taking a skill that the student is bored to tears of doing, this would change up the activitiy so that the student is motivated to do the task again.

For example: You can have Color Bug Draws a straight line. Or you can see who can make it to the end of their paper the fastest. You can also work on stop - go - left - right. You can work on identification of objects or pictures by placing three pictures on a pieces of paper and the student has to move their color bug to the correct picture.

Where to purchase:

If you have one of these new toys - let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kookey - Interactive Web toy

I am sure you have heard about Webkins. The cute little plush toys that come with a secret code which unlocks a virtual play land. Well there is a new kid in the block and they are called Kookey's.

Kookey's are cute, plush toys just like webkins but the big differences are on their website. Unlike Webkins Kookey's were designed with an educational purpose in mind. There is KooCollege. KooCollege has a curriculum of 18,000 questions and six varying grade levels, which were designed by a former Teacher of the Year. You can adjust the curriculum for your child to allow focus on their specific needs for improvement in certain skills. Challenging problems are offered in such classes as History, Math and English. KooCollege earns 3 times as much money as playing the games or getting a job.

The site will be available to all on December 1st. Until then, anyone who pre-registers their purchased Kookeys before November 24th becomes a member of Kookeys exclusive KooFounder's Club! The Founders are so important that they will receive an automatic 10,000 KooCoins, other prizes and their name listed in the KooFounders Club for everyone to see. In the meantime, you may browse the neighborhoods in search of your perfect home.

I am sure these toys will struggle to pass Webkins. The age group that is targeted is 5-12 age group. As an educator, I like the concept of this toy because it is going to reinforce academics something that so many virtual toys don't. Because it has an educational piece to it, once Kookey land opens up and I can see how it works and if the educational pieces are there that reinforce curriculum this might be the purchase I make for my niece and nephews teachers to give out as prizes. (Back door into getting technology into the classroom and leveling the playing field for all students). Just an FYI: The opening music is annoying. I suggest turning it off.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Duck - Duck - Duck - Goose - who is the right candidate for me?

When I was growing up I couldn’t wait to I was old for my first right of passage to adulthood. Most are probably thinking it was the right to get a drivers license but that wasn’t it. I couldn’t wait for real adult passage, the ability to vote.

We are now getting our ducks in order to find the goose. There are so many candidates that are running for the office that how can you tell which one is the right candidate for you? It is so hard to find out where the candidates stand on the issues that are important to me. There are two websites that help you find the candidates that have similar view points as you. The first website was

Connect2Elect is a website that allows to widdle down the candidates that have similar views on topics that are important to you. So often American’s stay within their party affiliation. However, just because they are part of the “party” does it mean that they really feel the same as others and more importantly you? The key issues are in four categories: candidate attributes (time served in office, religious beliefs, etc), social issues (global warming, stem-cell research, etc), political issues (health care, social security, etc), and core beliefs (stance on taxes, foreign relations, etc).

In this day and age we need help guide use to candidates that are like us. I feel lost in the sea of candidates that don’t always speak from the heart. They speak from the polls and what they think others want to hear. If they aren’t listening to the citizens of this country which is obvious with the mess we are in. Then start talking about what you really believe. Try being honest. You have one shot to make an impression.

I tried another program that also helps widdle down the candidates. I have to say that I like
Glassbooth better for its ease of use. Not because of the information that is offered but for the ease of use. The information that is shared is equal to the information that Connect2Elect.

I liked that I didn’t have to sign into the site to start the process. You start your rank of the issues that are important to you. How you use your points indicates what issues are important to you. When you are finished a list of 3 candidates will appear with your number one candidate that is closest to your political interest. You want further information on the candidates’ click on their name and read the information. There is also a list of quotes and how they voted on issues in the past.

These sites are not about giving you a final choice it is about helping you work your way through the candidates and giving a snapshot into where they stand so you can do further research.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Scriptovia - Student collaborative tool

Do you remember ? It was a tool for students to collaborative on their writing assignments. Well the creator of Thinkessay has grown up (he is now 18) and now has a new space that is called About us

"Scriptovia is an online community for students to collaborate and receive feedback on their academic work. This includes essays, notes, lab reports, presentations, and everything else students create to advance their knowledge." It reminds me of a portal of information. Students can turn to this site help on any subject that they may need support in. This site is new so the bulk of literature support.

The more the students participate the higher their ranking. The member rating system can be found at
Scriptovia . Members are awarded different colored apples based on their involvement in the Scriptovia community. Apples are awarded based on the amount of member points that each user has accrued.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Karito Kids - A wonderful new product

My nieces’ birthday is coming up and she wants something special for her birthday. Her idea is a new laptop so she can play Webkins without being in my office. Sorry to say, “This is not going to happen.”

So now we are onto her plan 2. She wants an American Girl Doll. This plan sounds like a better then the first one she thought of (at least cheaper). The only issue that I have is that I can’t convince myself that another doll is something she needs. The biggest conflict that I have is that my mission to have my gifts be gifts that give back to the community. The American Girl Doll company does not fit into my mission of giving back to the community. So it is my job to come up with an alternative plan that would meet her need to have a doll and my mission to give back to others.

You would have thought this journey would take many hours of searching on the internet but in reality it took only 2 different google searches and I found this article “Doll teaches kids about responsibility, charity”. I couldn’t believe my luck. I found exactly what I was looking for in Karito Kids.

Karito Kids is the mastermind of two women that wanted more out of the toys they were giving to their children and make a difference in the world we live. It is a doll with a storybook just like American Doll but it has a Webkin features. This is a win-win for me and for my niece. She loves Webkins, wants a pretty doll and I want her to learn to be responsible for the community. As soon as she logs on she needs to pick a cause from the four offered. The four causes are growing up healthy, learning, habitat or livelihood. The child receives an e-mail updating them on what progress they have made toward their project goal.

The dolls are a little more expensive then American Dolls but the little extra is worth the benefit of giving back to the world we live. It also is worth the little extra money because it is teaching her about the world she is living and making a small impact while having fun.

Here is the doll that she has picked


When you look at the device to the left, I am sure you are trying to figure out what it is. The first time I saw it I wasn't sure if it was a little video camera, some type of toy gun or just another toy that would land up collecting dust.
The Eyeclops is a single 200x magnification setting microscope. This little green hand held device allows you to turn your TV into a large view finder. The Eyeclops cost only $50.00. It runs on five AA batteries. Accessories include a holder for examining live bugs.
I am very excited about this device because it now makes a powerful microscope available without a hefty price. But it also allows teachers to demonstrate what students should be seeing in a microscope viewer in real time.
For more information:


Have you seen this? You may think this is a printer for your computer but you would be mistaken. This is a printer that doesn't need a computer. Yes, you have read that correctly. No computer needed. The Presto from HP allows you to receive emails and photos like you would receive a fax. The difference between a standard fax and this printer is that your friends and family send information via an email address that is set-up through the Presto mail server.

One of the questions that you may have is about SPAM. Since you set up a safe list of senders unless an email address is pre-approved, you won't receive SPAM via your Presto email address.

Another neat aspect is that you can decorate your email to your loved ones or friends. Presto has various styles of borders, special announcements and even calendar formats that you can add your photos to.

In this day and age you maybe asking yourself why would you need something like this. The simple answer is for members of your family that does not have access to a computer because of where they live, they do not know how to use a computer or the cost is prohibitive.

I recently purchased one for a nursing home as a gift of giving. I set it up so the residents could receive special messages from loved ones. I paid for one year of email service for a general email address for the whole nursing home. So far the residents are loving the Presto. They feel in contact with their families. They are getting emails from their grandchildren, photos and artwork that otherwise would never be seen by them.

Learn more :

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Voice Activated Grocery List Organizer

SmartShopper Voice-Activated Grocery List

This device was designed to make your life simpler so you can keep track of your errands, grocery list as well as other things. The device has a library of 2,500 items that can be deleted so you can create your own custom list. The device comes with a thermal printer that doesn’t require ink cartridges. The description says that the LCD is bright and easy to read. I will have to go to the Sharper Image store to see it in person.

For students and adults that struggle with keeping track of their assignments, activities or things they need to bring this device might be the tool that can help them moving forward and being independent. The price is a little high $149, depending on the student or person this might be worth every penny that it cost.


Ok it doesn't look like much. But if you love to read this is just a very cool gadget. The Thumb thing fits on your thumb like a ring for the first joint and simply used spread the pages of the book open.

I purchased my thumb thing at a small book store. I found it a great little tool for reading while in bed. I can hold the book and not worry about the pages folding over while reading. I also found it immense help while tracking while reading as a line reader with my niece. When you are done reading it is an awesome bookmark. (Wholesale only) You can contact them to see where you can purchase them in your area.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ear Muff Headphones

For the person that loves their music but hates the cold these are the ear muffs for you. For this product I was thinking a little more outside the box of just the cold. I work with children that one their heads are too small for a standard headset or they don't tolerate the headsets these ear muff headphones might be the solution I have been looking for. I found them in two places on the Internet the first was Urban Outfitters. I really like the way the quilted ones look like. They look warm but not so warm that the poor kids ears would melt off in the classroom.

The other place I located a set is at Hammacher Schlemmer. This set looks very warm for the outdoors but I would say too warm for the classroom.
Both sets of Ear Muff Headphones cost $30-$35 without shipping and handling. With the holidays you might not have S/H. If you want to save a little more cash, you can look at how the Urban Outfitters constructed their Ear Muff Headphones it might give you an idea how to create your own. I am not very handy with a sewing machine beyond a simple stitch so I would purchase the pre-made ones.

Portable Reader

There is a new portable readers market. Sony recently updated their reader which can be purchased for $299. So now a competitor has entered the market. Amazon is releasing the Kindle on Monday. There has been some buzz about this new device but most has been speculation. Amazon has kept this device close to the vest. Information would be "shared" here and there but for the most part Amazon has been tight lipped.

The Kindle will retail for $399. There are a few differences between the two devices. The first is that the Kindle will have WiFi capabilities, a headphone port and it's own email address. The Kindle owners are expected to be able to select from a long list of publications for automatic download (50 and 100 newspaper publishers). Amazon has the larges e-book collection and the bundle that your device comes with is impressive.

E-readers have not been the hot ticket Sony thought it would be. In the area of technology the device really was a dust bunny catcher. I am not sure the Kindle is going to feel any increase in the success. If this device was meant for the road warrior there are some major flaws:

1) Wifi Really? But again like the IPhone, I have to go with a specific carrier. Sorry, I already have my cell phone carrier; why on this graying earth would I want yet another carrier.
2) Thank you for email address but why do I need another email address.
3) It has no capability to highlight, make notes on the book I am reading or book marking. At least if I am using my computer, I have the capabilities.
4) It is OMG ugly and bulky. I am hoping the picture leaked from the FCC is just a pro-type and the thing is going to nice and shiny for it’s coming out party.
5) I am not sure if you can zoom into to make the text appear larger.
6) The cost of the device. The device is expensive no matter how you slice it.
7) External light - why didn't they do back lighting. It just seems like something that will get broken when sliding in and out of my bag if I was planning on getting one.

Price is a huge factor for me. I can purchase a high end Palm to read e-books and have all the additional features that I would like to have in one device such as my calendar, email, web access, music and address book. If I am going to spend $399 for this device it needs to offer me something more then an alternative reading format.

The other red flag for me is that the storage of material. If I purchase from an online vendor, I want a storage vault with them. The old saying is Not if but when technology fails. If I am traveling with my device and for some reason I want to re-read a book or share the book with a friend, I don't want to have a back up on my home system or laptop. If I am using an e-reader, I want to be able log on and swap books. These devices are for convinces, so make it convenient for me the user.

I hope that I am wrong about this device. But I have a sinking feeling that this is another dusty bunny babysister.

Make your list .... check it twice .... send a card to a solider

With the holiday’s fast approaching, I ask that you take the time to remember the men and women that are recovering at the medical centers around you. Even if you disapprove of the War / conflict in the Middle East, these soldiers have injuries that were sustained while they were at work.

As you make out your holiday cards take a few minutes and write a letter to a solider recovering at the hospital. There is nothing more depressing then being in a strange place, being in pain and not knowing what the rest of your life may bring. Allow your hopes, wishes and appreciation to shine through during this time of year. Let the men and women that allow you to still have your freedoms that we take for granted everyday know that someone is thinking of them and wishing them well.

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Feeding the World is a website that was designed by a gentleman from Minnesota to help support feed people in third world countries. To date this gentleman with the help of the internet has given 1,897,053,670 grains of rice to I love the fact that we are helping the world with the basic necessities of life while helping use practice build vocabulary. I like this dictionary because it will pronounce the word for you.

I have found myself using the each day. It is my task avoidance tool. I allow myself to do 5 words before I go back to work. I then allow my niece and nephew to work on 10 words together using SOLO or Ultimate Talking Dictionary from . The purpose of them doing the activity is not about learning the words for them. But it is about learning to use a dictionary and sharing with others.

Another site that helps feed the world . For shopping with this site, I have donated over 200 cups of rice for doing Christmas shopping that not only helped others but also helped me give gifts that have meaning.

Here is another great site or store. This website has some unique items that make wonderful gifts. You have to read the write-ups on the artisans.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Storytime Theater

How cool is this? A unique storytime projector for literacy time.

The projector shines the story on the wall for easy viewing and reading. You can control the projector with a remote. The projector has 3 settings: Story Time, Read Along and Bedtime mode, which plays the entire book before automatically shutting off.

There are a limited number of stories at this time but this is a great little device. I can't wait to see if I can adapt the device for switch users.

The projector is $39.99 and $14.99 for a story. With the purchase of the projector you get 1 book and 1 cartridge.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Wifi Rabbit

This is my type of pet. You don't have to walk it, you don't have to pet it and you don’t have to worry about feeding it. You also don’t have to worry about the bunny multiplication.

The rabbit communicates by lighting up using upwards of a 100 different colors, wiggling its ears and singing or talking. The Rabbit is always connected via Wifi so you can place it anywhere in your home.

Now I am sure you are saying WOW that is cute but why do I need another gadget? There are a few cool things about this little bunny.

  • How about spoken and musical messenger (Incoming messages sent via the web, email, SMS, phone, spoken messages, MP3 music clips, Text-to-speech, rabbit-to-rabbit communication through ear movements). You can actually have your emails read to you without having text to speech software.

  • Ability to create and program your own content and events. You can create your own channels and broadcast them to other rabbits; application programming interface.
    Some fun free things to keep your bunny happy:

  • Talking Clock: Forget about your alarm clock, the Nabaztag will speak out the time on the top of every hour and will sing you awake to your favorite MP3 or sing you lullabies at bed by.

  • Taï Chi:You think that your Nabaztag is a little static? That he needs some exercises and needs to relax his ears? Offer him some Taï-chi classes.

  • Wake-up rabbit: Just select your favourite MP3 and Nabaztag will sing it to wake you up. You can ask Nabaztag to send you to bed too.

To learn more go to :