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The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Toy Tips & Parenting Hints Review by Heidi Strawser

Toy Tips Inc.
Box 541
Greendale, WI 53129
http://www.toytips.com/

Toy Tips & Parenting Hints is a new magazine that made its debut with the Spring 2007 issue. I will admit, when I first heard of the magazine, I was a bit skeptical. Aren't there enough parenting magazines already on the market? Why would I want a magazine about toys? Then I received the magazine and was pleasantly surprised!

This magazine is full of useful information for parents, grandparents, and educators. Some of the things you can expect to find in each issue are "News You Can Use" (information on current toy news, including recalls, etc.), "Ask Marianne" (a column where readers ask questions of the Founder/Editor), "Toy Report Cards" (reviews of toys for all ages and interests), "Focus on the Child" (articles focusing on a particular aspect of parenting--the Summer issue I received for review contained articles on parenting autistic children), "Smart Nutrition" (the name says it all), "Crafts for Kids" (clever craft and toy-making ideas using around-the-house items), and much more. In addition, to the regular features, you'll find special articles of interest in each issue.

I read through the entire magazine. I am not a huge fan of toys, but the ones featured in this magazine are top-of-the-line, quality products. One thing the reviewers "grade" on is educational value, which is very important to me as a homeschooling mom. Other criteria the toys are tested on include movement (does it involve physical activity?) and social interaction (are sharing and taking turns promoted?), among other things. There is also a section for science-related toys and toys for the whole family. I was impressed that not all the toys featured were high-ticket items. (I saw prices as low as $2.99.) The back of each magazine contains a quick reference of websites where the toys can be purchased (if you can't find them at your local retail/department store).

Two more things really impressed me. First, the magazine is full of quality content and is completely free of advertisements. Second, the reviewers are encouraged to donate the toys to needy families or charities (when they are finished with their reviews). The absence of advertisements suggests to me that the items featured in the magazine are there because they deserve to be and not because the manufacturer paid for them to be. And donating toys to needy families and charities is a great way to promote a spirit of giving, as opposed to selfishness, within children.

Despite my initial skepticism, I thoroughly enjoyed this magazine. The price per issue is $4.99 (US), $5.99 (CAN). I would recommend considering the yearly subscription for $20. Now, I need to go start on my Christmas list!

Product review by Heidi Strawser, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2007

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