Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Making Work at Home Work - December 2009

Making Work At Home Work: Holiday Strategies
by Mary Byers

As you may remember, I recently partnered up with Making Work at Home Work as a blogger.

As I look ahead to the approaching holiday season, I thought I’d share a few suggestions for you to consider for your business.

Give yourself a break. Most employees get time off for Christmas. Sometimes I give myself time off, too. But I'm not always intentional about it. This year, I'm going to actually mark off a couple of days that I'm gifting to myself. I'll turn on my auto reply and get myself out of the office. I know it will feel good and will be rejuvenating for me.

Make a list of office supply and equipment needs. I know it is difficult to spend money on work when you need to spend money on holiday gifts. But there are two great reasons to make work related purchases this month and next. One, there are great sales. Two, if you've had a successful year in 2009, you can reduce your taxable income by purchasing things you need (and want) for your business.

Consider developing a one-page plan for next year. I spend one morning each December writing a one-page business plan for myself. I simply identify four or five initiatives that would help my business. I capture them on paper, jot down my action plans, and post it on my wall. This helps keep me focused throughout the year.

• Set a financial goal (unless it will make you a slave to your business). I set financial goals for myself early in my business. But I abandoned them when they became the be-all and end-all for me even though I had two preschool aged children. Instead, I focused on taking the work that came my way. No more, no less. Now, however, I've started setting goals again. And I'm pleased to report that I had my best year ever in 2009! Don't be a slave to a goal. But consider setting one if it will motivate and encourage you or if you have something special you're saving for.

• Take time to be thankful. I am grateful I get to work from home. Sometimes I forget my gratitude when I'm overwhelmed or behind in my work. But I don't want to lose sight of what a privilege it is to run my own business. I plan to keep this in the forefront of my mind as I approach this holiday season.

Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. Sign up for her work at home blog at

Posted by:
Cara Retz, Educational Leader
Discovery Toys

Sunday, December 27, 2009

DT News - Jump on January Sale

    It's the most wonderful time of the year!  Christmas has been here and I'm sure you had a great time getting together with family and friends.
    It's also a wonderful time to be a Discovery Toys customer, hostess or consultant with exciting promotions starting oover the next few days.  Read below for all the details.  i If you have any questions about any of it, please let me know and I'd be happy to help.  Feel free to call or send me an email.

Merry Christmas!
Jump On January Sale
- Limited Time Only -

December 26th through February 6th

26 past, current and new products at 10% to 50% off
Pre-order now to get everything you want to stock up for the new year.
Call or email me to place your order now.

 Discovery Fun Play House
Sale $90.00
Reg. $100.00
Wipe Clean Primeras Palabras
Sale $5.00
Reg. $6.50
My Busy Day
Sale $15.00
Reg. $20.00
Busy Bugs
Sale $16.50
Reg. $20.00
Playful Letters
Sale $12.50
Reg. $18.50
Playful Numbers & Shapes
Sale $12.50
Reg. $18.50
Flip Flop Faces
Emotions in Motion
Sale $18.50
Reg. $22.50
Play to be Safe!
Sale $15.00
Reg. $20.00
Motor Works Train
Sale $10.50
Reg. $12.50
Motor Works Truck
Sale $10.50
Reg. $12.50
A to Z Jr.
Sale $25.00
Reg. $20.00
Playful Patterns
Sale $18.00
Reg. $22.50
Wiz Kidz
Sale $9.50
Reg. $12.50
Zip Track
Sale $32.50
Reg. $40.00
Lullabies Around the World
Sale $7.50
Reg. $15.00
Twisty Bug
Sale $5.00
Reg. $8.50
Sunny Sounds
Sale $15.00
Reg. $17.50
Baby Bear’s Bedtime
Sale $6.50
Reg. $10.00
Ladybug’s Lesson
Sale $6.50
Reg. $10.00
Traffic Jams CD
Sale $8.50
Reg. $15.00
My First Fairy Tales
Sale $8.50
Reg. $15.00
Shapes & Laces
Sale $10.00
Reg. $18.50
Dear Tooth Fairy
Sale $8.50
Reg. $16.50
Number Hunt
Sale $10.00
Reg. $20.00
Juggle Toss
Sale $10.00 
Reg. $18.50
Snappy Ducks
Sale $10.00
Reg. $20.00

January Hostess Special
- Limited Time Only -

December 26th through January 31st
Book and hold a party of $200 or more, select 1 FREE Sale item up to $20.00!
Hold a party of $500 or more, select a bonus of $50.00 in FREE products!
This is all in addition to regular hostess benefits!  So, with a party of $500, you earn more than $160 in free and half priced products! Call or email me today to book your party.

$99 Kit Sale
- Limited Time Only -

Now through January 31st

Join Discovery Toys for only $99! The kit is packed with over $390 worth of toys and business supplies to get you started and you can earn over $1400 in cash and toys in your first 3 months as a consultant. Call or email me today for more information about joining this heart base company and our heart based team.

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys
(765) 461-7989

You can also find me at:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome To Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability--to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you are going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip--to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands, the stewardess comes in and says "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would have never met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest fo your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

The pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

written by Emily Perl Kingsley

Posted by:
Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Shall We Give the Children?

What shall we give the children?
Christmas is almost here.
Toys, and games, and playthings,
As we do every year?

Yes, for the magic of toyland
Is part of the Yuletide lore
To gladden the heart of childhood.
But I shall give something more.

I shall give them more patience,
A more sympathetic ear,
A little more time for laughter,
Or tenderly dry a tear.

I shall take time to teach them
The joy of doing some task.
I’ll try to find time to answer
More of the questions they ask.

Time to read books together,
And take longs walks in the sun,
Time for a bedtime story
After the day is done.

I shall give these to my children,
Weaving a closer tie,
Knitting our lives together
With gifts money can’t buy.
 - Author Unknown

Each Discovery Toys toy comes with a conversation about the importance of play. It’s not buying a toy that makes a difference. It’s understanding how playing WITH your child is such a powerful tool for their success not only academically but socially and emotionally as well! Discovery Toys does that! No other catalog or retail store offers that heartfelt interest to help families connect.

Cara Retz

Friday, December 4, 2009

DT News - December 2009

Merry Christmas!
The Christmas season is here! The decorations are up and gifts are being purchased and wrapped. I am so excited and hope you are too.

As you finish preparing for Christmas Day and all the parties and celebrations you will be going to, take some time to think about why we celebrate Christmas. Look around you for was to spread some holiday cheer, whether is buying the person in line behind you their coffee, shoveling the show of the single mother next door, or maybe baking some cookies for the elderly neighbor. Whatever you do, do it from the heart. And especially take some time out to spend some quality time with those whom you love the most. Let them know just how much they mean to you.

I would like to take this time to each of you. Thank you for allowing me to make a difference in your life as well as the life of your children. I am so excited that I can do that. As a special gift, call or email me with an order and you will get a 15% discount.

Don't forget, December 13th is the last day to place an order and have it by Christmas with regular ground shipping. If you would like other deadline order dates, please email me.

Have a very Merry Christmas,

Stay In The Know!
There are several ways you can keep up to date on things happening in Discovery Toys. Check these out:

Follow: Play Smart Blog

Become a Fan: Facebook Fan Page

Follow: Twitter

Product Spotlight

Meet a loveable giraffe with happy colors, fun-to-touch textures, and attention-getting sounds. Jangles hangs, rattles and swings with colorful, countable rings for teeing and a squeaky belly for squeezing. Jangles can be attached to a diaper bag or stroller to keep baby stimulated with mulit-sensory learning. Colors may vary. 12 1/2" tall.  from birth - toddler  #1286 $18.50

Measure Up Cups
Hand your toddler a set of Measure Up! Cups and watch natural learning in action. Your little one will automatically use the cups to scoop, dump, fill, nest, stack, and tumble. After all the fine motor exploration, you can use these volumetrically correct, sequentially numbered cups to introduce important preschool concepts related to volume, size, color, and measurement. Expanded Parent Guide included. Colors may vary. From 1 7/8" x 2 1/16" to 3 5/8" to 2 7/6".  from 12m - primary  #1971 $12.50

Bright Builders
These 24 textured, star-shaped connectables are sized for little hands, and interlock easily in three ways for endless design possibilities and fine motor development. Handy 8"x8"x6" storage bucket doubles as a play station.  from 3y & up  #2290 $25.00

A to Z Jr.
This fast-paced game strengthens vocabularies and sharpens quick thinking skills. To win, players must focus, follow directions, recall alphabetized vocabulary words that satisfy each category, then respond with lightening speed. Includes 4 letter boards, 56 category cards, 100 discs, timer and die.  from 5y - adult  #3019 $25.00

Santa's New Idea
by: Anonymous

Said Santa Claus
One winter's night,
"I really think it's only right
That gifts should have a little say
'Bout where they'll be on Christmas Day."

So then and there
He called the toys
Intended for good girls and boys,
And when they'd settled down to hear,
He made his plan for them quite clear.

These were his words:
"Soon now," he said,
"You'll all be speeding off with me
To being the Christmas joy and cheer
To little ones both far and near.

Here's my idea,
It seems but fair
That you should each one have a share
In choosing homes where you will stay
On and after Christmas Day.

Now the next weeks
Before we go
Over the miles of glistening snow
Find out the tots that you like best
And think much nicer than the rest.

The toys called out
"Hurrah! Hurrah!
What fun to live always and play
With folks we choose - they'll surely be
Selected very carefully.

So, children dear,
When you do see
Your toys in socks or on a tree,
You'll know in all the world 'twas you
They wanted to be given to.

Sales & Specials
Bundles of Learning Joy
Choose from one of four discounted bundles with a $55 purchase through December 13th! (One bundle per family):
Playful Letters, Numbers & Shapes Bundle Regular: $37 Now: $27
Game Play Bundle Regular: $40 Now: $30
Craft Play Bundle Regular: $45 Now: $35
Farm Play Bundle Regular: $32 Now: $25

Discover & Play Gift Sets
Don't miss out on the $99 gift sets, a savings of 10-15%. Sale ends December 31st. A great deal on gifts for Christmas, birthdays or just to stock your gift closet. Email me for details.

Winter Sales
Be on the lookout for information about our Winter Sales. Find great after Christmas deals on great Discovery Toys products.

Join My Team and Get a Head Start on 2010!
Make today the day you take charge of your life - become an educational consultant for Discovery Toys!

You want to go back to work, but you love being at home. Why not become your own boss and enjoy a home-based business that's fun and easy to run? You'll meet new friends, earn extra household income, and get discounts on toys you're already planning to get!

New Team Member Promotion: Join Discovery Toys by December 31st and earn $20 in FREE products with a qualifying first party of $350 by January 15th, 2010.

Let Discovery Toys show you your path to a successful future!

Your Success Start Kit is a minimal investment, and you can earn it for free with our Success Start Rewards Program. The kit includes a great selection of our exclusive, quality learning toys, plus training and business tools to let you hit the ground running!

Call or email me now to join my team!

Cara Retz
Educational Leader
(765) 461-7989

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting Ready to Shop

Getting ready to shop for the holidays or giving your "wish list" to someone else to do the shopping?

Here are some helpful hints to assist you as you think about gift ideas for your children, as well as ideas you might want to pass along to others who puchase gifts for your children.

1. Many toys today are labeled either on the box or on the store shelf to give you an idea of the appropriate age of the child that would enjoy and be able to correctly use the toy.

2. Books are always a good buy. If you are buying for a child that can already read, be sure to know the reading level of the book as well as your child to make sure it isn't too difficult and frustrating to understand.

3. Avoid toys with small parts, sharp edges, detachable parts, cords longer than 12 inches, electrical toys, stuffed toys that could loose glass or button eyes, balloons, and some riding toys - for children under 4 years of age.

4. Look for items that children can "do something with", be creative with, use in different ways.

Check out my website: for age appropriate, safe, and educational toys for kids of all ages.  If you would like help picking out the just perfect toy for your child, please contact me.  I'd love to help!

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why Play Games?

HOW MANY OF YOU have memories of playing games when you were younger?

Tag? Kick The Can, Four-Square? Monopoly? Candy Land? Hide And Seek?

How do you feel when you think about playing those games? Do you remember the people you played with? Do those memo¬ries bring smiles or tears? Do you have that same intensity of emotion and recall about the books or homework you did in say 3rd Grade?

Today I want to briefly address why playing GAMES is important, whether they be physical games, board games or unstructured and even role-playing games.

An incredible amount happens at the same time when children are playing. They learn to reason, negotiate and problem solve. They develop large and small motor skills. They broaden their language skills and vocabulary. They learn to take risks and develop confidence and competence.

Do you think children today have shorter attention spans than in the past? Can you agree that this is NOT a good thing in a learning environment? Do you feel it is our mission to find toys that lengthen the attention span, not cater to its brevity? Children who are over exposed to electronically-activated toys, television, video and computer games, and dolls that wet themselves probably will have shorter attention spans and less imagination than children whose time with these activities is limited.

Increased attention span is one important benefit of playing games so what are other reasons to invest time in playing games? By playing games, children can learn to: take turns, pay attention to others, be considerate, follow the rules, predict outcomes, determine consequences, think critically, get along socially with others and use their imaginations. Do you think these skills would be useful to them for success in the classroom? How about in their personal and professional relationships?

Social Skills are one of the 4 CRITICAL AREAS OF LEARNING: People skills are probably the most highly sought skill today and are essential to satisfying adult relationships. Give your children a more successful present AND future by providing playthings and play experiences that encourage INTERACTION, CONVERSATION & NEGOTIATION. Board games are excellent in all 3 of these areas.

What is the #1 reason most people are fired from their jobs? It’s their inability to get along with others. Sometimes this is referred to as not being a “good fit” for the job.

What are the old sayings, “ A family that plays together, stays together.” “You don’t grow too old to play, you grow old because you stop playing.” I could go on but I think you know that these aphorisms have been around for a very long time.

Children love playing games. They love it even more when it means spending time with you. Playing games promotes personal interaction and helps create opportunities for open communication. While you play together, your child may start conversations they may not have felt comfortable with otherwise, and you might do the same. Plus, turn-based games introduce and encourage social skills and help children (and adults) learn to win and lose gracefully.

Game playing is not passive like watching TV. A regular game night gives your family a positive structure and an opportunity for connection and communication. Good communication during a child’s early years builds confidence, accelerates learning, and promotes a positive influence that extends through adolescence and beyond.

Use games, competitive or otherwise, in your family to help your children release tension in a safe, acceptable way. Play games together that allow opportunities for expressions of antagonism in a safe context. Play cooperative family games together. Almost any game can be played so that the goal is a collaborative one, be it a board game or a physical outdoor game.

Part of the mission of Discovery Toys is to help parents raise children as peacemakers. I also believe that our company chooses and designs toys that are non-violent, and intentionally create a cooperative game version for most of our games that encourage children to work for a common goal. In this very complex, rapidly changing world, the development of positive social behavior – the ability to deal with others effectively – may be the most important task for parents and for others who care for children. Part of the social competence we want for our children is that of sensitivity, personal concern and empathy for others in a world that in many ways, encourages the impersonal. A child’s ability to be a peacemaker include that sensitivity, that desire to understand and care about another person’s point-of-view, as well as the ability to deal creatively with conflict, make and keep friends and work cooperatively with others.

Games can also be used to teach math, reading, history, science, social studies, geography and almost any other subject you would like…but most of all, GAMES ARE FUN!! This brings us to the next three critical areas of learning—Mentally, Physically and Creatively.

Discovery Toys' skill labels help us understand how our products help develop children Mentally. Thinking, learning, knowing, recognizing, organizing, remembering, problem-solving, drawing references and the list goes on and on. The higher-level thinking a person can do will dramatically affect how many doors will open for him throughout life.

Games and activities with items to sort, classify, compare, contrast and match further children’s learning of simple math concepts and ready them to begin recognizing written numerals and letters. Game play, with turn-taking and use of simple logic skills (such as dominoes) are valuable for recognizing same and different characteristics. Board games and card games also become attractive as children become more comfortable with decision-making and the use of rules.

Games are a great way to learn and practice skills. A well-designed game introduces learning in an exciting, interactive way and is fun for both the child AND the parent. A well-designed game also provides several ways to play including a simple way to get started and alternative options to increase the challenge and fun.

PHYSICALLY: Physical activity is a healthy way that the family can spend time together. Hard exercise lowers kids’ bad cholesterol. Even moderately intense exercise in childhood may reduce the risk of developing heart disease in adulthood. With a firmer grasp on reality, play will no longer be an attempt to create the world in order to understand and learn about it as it does for the preschooler, but rather will take on more of the aspect of recreation and relaxation – as it does for adults.

The 4th CRITICAL AREA OF LEARNING is Creatively: This is not just about being artistic. Expressing one’s originality & imagination are major parts of it but it also includes the ability to problem solve. As our world gets more and more complex, this skill becomes even more important to encourage and develop in our children.

What kids really need is balance in their lives and that includes RELAXED DOWNTIME. It really helps them (and us) unplug from stress and allows them to imagine and dream those “what ifs”. If you can’t dream, you can’t be an effective leader. Anyone can handle the nuts and bolts of running a business. But you’ve got to be able to imagine a better future or way of doing something to find joy and success in what you do.

All these skills however pale in comparison to the real benefit of playing games so let me be very clear about this next statement which is: THE MENTAL HEALTH of our children is related to their ability to play.

So I encourage you to play games with your children – whether they are outdoor-indoor-board games-unstructured play – whatever!

by: Teri Potter, EL (Experienced Mom), from: DT Consultant Connection, Nov. 2009

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Friday Sale

Get your Black Friday Shopping done from the comfort of your own home!

Call or email your orders for these offers.

Check out my website:

Friday, November 27

12:01am - 5:00am
order $25 or more = Choice of Eco Tote or Choke Tube

5:01am - 12:00pm
order $100 or more* = Free Shipping and Crate to Organize you new Toys and Choice of Eco Tote or Choke Tube

12:01pm - 5:00pm
order $25 or more = Choice of Eco Tote or Choke Tube

5:01pm - 12:00pm
order $50 or more* = Crate to organize your new toys and Choice of Eco Tote or Choke Tube

All Day - Power of 3 Sale
Buy 3 Toys = 3% Discount
Buy 6 Toys = 6% Discount
Buy 9 Toy = 9% Discount

*Special DT Home Office Promotion: Place an order of $55 or more and get a Bundle of Learning Joy package at a special price.

If you live within a 10 mile radius, I will deliver your order.
Cara Retz

Educational Leader, Discovery Toys
(765) 461-7989

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Joys of Open-Ended Play

President: Marilynne Eichinger - Written by Kara Bowman, Educator

Consider this: The Children’s Discovery Center in San Jose, California had a problem. They had a 1,200 square foot open space for changing exhibits, which was empty for a month this fall between the departure of one show and the arrival of the next. A museum staffer had an idea: she taped up some discarded boxes and threw them in the exhibit area. After adding a few dozen more boxes, some crayons, masking tape and safety scissors, the museum found they had one of their most popular exhibits of all time: Box City. Given that the museum has had exhibits costing up to a million dollars in the same space, what makes Box City one of the most popular attractions in the museum?

Before we get to that question, consider this: The National Toy Hall of Fame inducts toys each year based on specific criteria including the toy's icon status, the longevity of its popularity, how the toy encourages learning or creativity, and innovation. Past winners have included Legos, the Barbie doll, crayons, Tonka trucks, the jigsaw puzzle, and other usual suspects. Based on their criteria, in 2008 the Hall of Fame’s judges inducted … The Stick. "It's very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price -- there aren't any rules or instructions for its use," said Christopher Bensch, the museum's curator of collections. "It can be a Wild West horse, a medieval knight's sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. ... No snowman is complete without a couple of stick arms, and every campfire needs a stick for toasting marshmallows. This toy is so fantastic that it's not just for humans anymore. You can find otters, chimps and dogs playing with it."

The box? The stick? What is it with open-ended play that makes it so appealing that kids will put down the several hundred dollar video game system to play with a ball of silly putty? It could be that our children’s brains know what they need to develop optimally, just as their bodies know when they're hungry. Research has shown there are several advantages to a child's development if they engage in play that has no defined expectations or outcomes.

Open-ended play develops the imagination. Imagination is the ability to form a mental image of something that is not there. Starting around age two, children can understand the symbolic nature of one thing standing for another, such as a box for a boat and a towel for a sail. The abilities to think symbolically and abstractly are the basic building blocks of creativity and intelligence. Albert Einstein even said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge," and he's no slouch in either department!

Creative play also helps children develop their social and emotional abilities. Kids will try on adult roles and test out ways of acting and being. In this way, they can develop their 'what-if' abilities, which is one way to strengthen their understanding of consequences. Children solidify their learning by not just taking things in passively, such as with screen time, but by mimicking and recreating what they have seen. They can also express themselves emotionally under the guise of being a character and children who playact are known to develop their ability to empathize. Creative play has also been linked to increased cooperation, problem-solving skills, leadership skills and behavioral control, such as using words to express oneself and waiting one's turn. Hmm… Maybe we should have time-outs to play house in Congress. It couldn't hurt.

Spending a lot of time in creative play also helps build cognitive skills. According to a National Public Radio report, "While... play might look a lot like time spent doing nothing much at all, it actually helps build a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of elements, such as working memory and cognitive flexibility, but perhaps the most important is self-regulation - the ability for kids to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline. Executive function - and its self-regulation element - is important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child's IQ." (Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control, February 28, 2008)

So how can we give our children this elixir of all good things? Unlike most parts of parenting, it's very simple: 1) provide a safe space, either in the house or outdoors, 2) provide open-ended materials that will help spark creativity, and 3) provide the gift of time. (Why Creative Play Matters, Zrinka Peters, Children who have ample opportunity for creative play will be comfortable with it and find occasion for it everywhere. For example, when my daughter was in kindergarten, I received a note from her teacher one day that said, "Would you please talk to your daughter about pretending to be a dog at lunch and eating her meal with her hands behind her back? It was okay for the first week, but now everyone is doing it and they’re not all as neat as she is."

You can provide materials that will spark the creative drive in your child. Toddlers love to mimic so you can provide them with toy household goods or dress-up clothes. Other items that can stimulate creativity are stuffed animals or other figures, and large building blocks. Preschoolers also enjoy creating whole small worlds, such as dollhouses, airports, or towns. They also enjoy dolls, dinosaurs and other representative playthings. Elementary aged children add to the repertoire with puppets, play-dough, adult-style dolls, and more sophisticated building blocks and construction materials. All children love age-appropriate art supplies such as specialty papers, pens, paints and scissors. To encourage creativity, just make sure there are lots of uses, rather than one correct outcome such as with a coloring book or painted figurine. (Structured play is fine at times, too, and can teach skills such as following rules and sequencing.) One caveat regarding encouraging creativity is to stay away from TV show and movie character costumes or props since playacting things seen on the screen is often an act of re-creation rather than creation. What you want is to inspire their own imaginations, like the kids who were given a bunch of rubber gloves in their preschool class. One said, "I'm a doctor." Another pronounced, "I'm a scientist." And a third one exclaimed, "I'm a mommy changing her hair color!"

Giant Pegboard
#1562 $18.50
From 19m-preschool

This has endless possibilities for learning disguised as play! Stack as high as you can! Use the pegs as bubble blowers! Great for learning colors and shapes! How about patterns and math? Turn it over and you have a geo board!

Playful Numbers & Shapes
#1098 $18.50
From 3y-primary school

Set of 52 numbers, math symbols and fun shapes. This great for learning colors, shapes, numbers and so much more! Trace them, do crayon rubbings, link them together and more! What will your child come up with?

Marbleworks Starter Set
#3875 $30
From 5y & up

Here’s the toy that is totally different each time you play! 46 colorful tubes, chutes & bases to connect together to create infinite raceway designs!

Want more ideas? Just ask me 765-461-7989 or or check out my website at the possibilities are endless!!!!!!

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

Friday, November 13, 2009

Product Spotlight - Labyrinth

#4872 $30.00

A family game where players move through a series of evolving, challenging mazes that are full of opportunities to think ahead, make decisions, and take action.  Players must plan and execute game strategies, develop observation skills, and predict outcomes.  With easier and more challenging rules, it's a perfect game for family night!
(K, V)   c d
Learning Pathways: 7y to adult
Strategic Thinking

Key Benefits:
Focus and following directions
Plan and execute game stratagies
Develop observation skills and predict outcomes
Generate critical thinking skills
Take turns and listen to others
Provide ideal entertainment for family game night!

To learn more or order this and other games, click here and then click "Shop Online".

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Can't find the hot new toy? Blame the economy.

Where's my hamster? With inventories thin, holiday shelves are already going empty

NEW YORK (AP) -- Robotic toy hamsters, the latest Barbie dolls and stylish boots are disappearing from store shelves as holiday shoppers start to get serious. But don't confuse this with the days of Tickle Me Elmo.

Instead of a throwback to great buying binges of the past, the empty shelves are just another sign of bad times. The shortages come from stores that are terrified of ordering too much and are keeping their inventories thin.

"I guess if you see it, you should get it," said Martha Frey, who was surprised when she couldn't find a specific style of boots in a popular size for her 17-year-old daughter recently at a Top Shop in Manhattan's SoHo district

Shoppers are spending a little more these days, but they aren't going on buying sprees. Stores, remembering how Americans snapped their wallets shut last holiday season, didn't order big piles of merchandise in the first place.

The result, with seven weeks to go before Christmas, is that popular toys are already hard to find.

In fact, the holiday season's early hit -- the Zhu Zhu Pets hamster is being compared to Furby a decade ago -- is almost impossible to nab.

"Stores just under ordered across the board," said Jim Silver, an analyst at, who predicted shortages of the top 100 toys by early December. In a typical year, only the top 15 are in short supply that early.

In recent weeks toy makers have dispatched executives to China to make sure they get enough products to keep shelves full, Silver said. But production times can be long, and chances look slim that people who put off buying a coveted toy until Thanksgiving will be able to get one by Christmas.

Shoppers are starting to notice.

Tami Megal, a 36-year-old mother of girls ages 5 and 9 from Melville, N.Y., had to go to Toys R Us five times before she got her hands on Zhu Zhu Pets a month ago. But she's having a hard time finding the accessories.

"It's no use to just get the hamsters. You need the habitat," she said. Megal noted that overall worry about shortages has made her start her holiday shopping early. She's almost finished.

The barren shelves are in stark contrast to last year, when stores ordered too much and had to slap big discounts on merchandise as soon as it hit the floor. Holiday sales posted their biggest decline in at least three decades, and the results cascaded into poor profits and even the closings of prominent stores like Circuit City.

This year, inventory is 8 to 13 percent smaller for mid-price clothing, and 10 to 15 percent smaller for home furnishings, said Antony Karabus, CEO of Karabus Management, a retail advisory firm.

Stores would rather be out of stock than stuck with lots of leftovers. But they also know that merchants who carry goods shoppers want will have an edge.

"No one wants to leave money on the table," said John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon Associates. "No one wants to disappoint customers."

October sales results showed that lean inventories have helped raise profits for stores, but they're also limiting sales. And many reported slower sales toward month's end as they ran out of clearance merchandise.

Inventory is one of the biggest challenges stores face this holiday season, said Carl Steidtmann, an economist at Deloitte Research. Nevertheless, they're reordering only the best-selling items.

Even then, they may be out of luck. Manufacturers, particularly small ones, matched production to orders and don't have extras ready to ship.

Base Camp Adventure Outfitters in Basking Ridge, N.J., which sells outdoor clothing and gear, has sold out of a few styles of fleece jackets. The store can't get more until April.

"Folks are coming in, and we are trying to reorder," said Nick Marotta, a sales associate. "But there is nothing to get."

So, what can you do?

Get to a Discovery Toys Party quickly this holiday season!
With classic award-winning toys that never go out of style, now is the time for DT to take on Big Box stores and sore!!  Now is the time to attend, or better yet, host a Discovery Toys party! We provide the service, the toys, and the stress-free season people love.

Call me today to set a date. I still have a few available! (765) 461-7989

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Skill Focus: Visual Tracking

What It Is: Visual tracking is the ability to fixate on an object and follow the object as it continuously moves through a space. To acomplish this our eyes must follow the object with accuracy and have coordinated movements whether the object moves left to right, top to bottom, or in circles.

Why It’s Important: Visual Tracking is a visual behavior that is critical to reading success. The mechanics of reading demand that we be able to shift our eyes left to right from word to word as well as move our eyes from the top of the page to the bottom of the page.

Visual system development and maturation occurs after birth and is largely complete by 5 years of age. The visual experiences infants and children encounter after birth are essential to develop normal vision. This is an important concept for parents to understand. We are not just supporting development or skill building here. We are responsible for giving infants the optimal experiences necessary to develop normal vision at the appropriate stages in their development.

At birth infants can track an object in a 180 degree arc horizontally with their eyes, but they must move their heads to accomplish this. As infants approach 1 month of age, they develop the ability to track objects horizontally, without moving their heads however, their eyes are not able to move beyond their nose. They will develop the ability to track an object beyond the nose (in a 180 degree arc) without moving the head when they are closer to 6 months of age. At 2 to 3 months of age an infant develops the ability to track objects vertically and in circular motion.

Toys That Develop The Skill:

GO-GO CATEPILLAR: Great for horizontal tracking watch her go from left to right or right to left, quickly or slowly. (Item# 1341 $15.00)

Click here and then click Shop Online to see this and all of our products.

CASTLE MARBLEWORKS: Combines horizontal and vertical tracking. The balls travel from left to right, top to bottom, right to left, top to bottom until the balls exit the door at the bottom of the castle. (Item# 1756 $38.50)

Click here and then click Shop Online to see this and all of our products.

GIANT PEGBOARD: is the ultimate tracking toy. Building tall stacks in predictable patterns such as blue/yellow/blue/yellow provides practice with top/bottom visual tracking. After placing pegs randomly on the board, start at the upper left hand corner, point to the individual pegs (left to right). You and your child can “read the board” as if you were reading a book. For example, star, triangle, square, square, circle at the end of the first horizontal row of pegs, drop down to the second horizontal row of pegs and begin with the peg that is furthest to the left, continue until you and your “reading partner” have completed all five horizontal rows of pegs. This activity combines left to right tracking with top to bottom tracking. (Item#1562 $18.50)

Click here and then click Shop Online to see this and all of our products.

To see these and all of our toys go to!

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You Are Invited...

to a One Stop Christmas Shopping Party!

Get your Christmas shopping done in an afternoon of fun!

November 21st from 11am-6pm
At First Friends Meeting Place, 1801 Zartman Rd., Kokomo, IN
The following representatives will be on hand to sell and take orders.

Cara Retz from

Aubri Colescott from

Leia Beedham from

Joni Laughlin from

Robyn Whaley from

Denise Savage from

Pam McCrumb from

Amy Sefton from

And Others!

Good Food, Fun Games, and Big Prizes!
Bring a friend!

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

Monday, November 9, 2009

November Bloggie Give-A-Way

Winner's Choice November Bloggie Give-A-Way!

The winner of this month's give-a-way can pick either Ahoy, Pirate Pete or Once Upon a Time!

Ahoy, Pirate Pete #2277
Nothing can rattle Pirate Pete in this entertaining, changeable sea tale. Read aloud story comes complete with press-out pieces that fit into the pages so your young pirate can make up the action as you go along. Early reading and vocabulary skills get a boost with the storytelling. Book measures 9 3/8" x 8 3/8."
from 4 years and up (K, V)

Once Upon A Time #2054
A fairy tale your child can create and re-create over and over. Your child chooses from 36 interactive, changeable, story elements resulting in a different and imaginative adventure every time. Story crafting and retelling also builds vocabulary and early reading skills. 9 3/8" x 8 3/8" book.
from 4 years and up (K, V)

These books are fun for both boys and girls to make up their own story.  They can change it each time they read the story.  Have fun reading to your child!  Check them out at!

Ways to Enter:
-If you follow my blog, leave a comment that you are! (1 entry)
-Follow my blog and leave a comment that you are a new follower. (1 entry)
-Post my give-a-way on Facebook, Twitter, etc and leave a comment with the link. (1 entry each)
-Post on your blog about my give-a-way and lave a comment with your link. (1 entry)
-Subscribe to my montly newsletter and leave a comment that you did. (1 entry)

*You have until November 23rd to enter. Winner will be drawn on November 24th.

Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys