Wednesday, August 31

This Just In: Fastrack Game

This just came in yesterday... Fastrack. Here I show you how to play the game. After I made the video I played the game with Monique and it was more challenging than I thought. I was shooting my pucks at her and she was shooting hers at me. Sometimes mine would block hers and vise versa. Lots of silly fun.

Monday, August 29

Contest: Win a Double Shutter Game!


Only 3 days to enter (enter by Thursday at 9pm) and you could win this Double Shutter Game, a double tile version of Shut The Box.

Entering is EASY... just leave a comment on our blog, facebook page or in twitter: @redwagontoys and you will be entered. You can tell us how much you love our store, or just just say "hi". It doesn't matter what you say as long as you keep it nice!

We will ship the game to anyone located in the continental US for free (but if you are local we would prefer you to pick it up at the store).

The winner will be chosen at random. We enter all the entry names in a hat and pull one out. Good luck!

Game Spot: Math Games


In honor of all of my dumb math mistakes this week, today I am reviewing some educational kids games that help improve math skills.

First up: Shut the Box. In shut the box you roll the dice and use mathematical equations to turn down the tiles. If you roll a 9, you can turn down the numbers 8 and 1, or 7 and 2, or 2,3, and 4, or just 9. You get a point for each tile you flip down. When a roll produces a number where no tiles can be turned down then the round is over. This game can be played using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division or all of them.

Double Shutter is a variant of the classic game shut the box, but adds a second row of tiles nestled behind the first row. You can't use the second row until the tile in front is turned. Both games can be played alone or with 2 to 4 players.

Sumoku is a newer game in which each player gets 8 numbered tiles. You roll the dice to get your key number and build a line of tiles (without repeating colors). The line of tiles needs to add up to a multiple of the key number. Here is a video of how to play..






Friday, August 26

Why Play Matters: Blocks

Starting a new series called "why play matters". We'll discuss how play helps kids build better brains, fine tune motor skills, learn mathematics and learn how to be creative (just to name a few).

So let's start with what many child development specialist would call the foundational toy and play tool. Unit blocks are found in any great Kindergarten classroom and should be a part of every home toy box. Here is a quick little list of what kids learn from playing with blocks...
1. exploration of sizes, weights, shapes, distances and proportions
2. mathematical concepts (bigger than, smaller than)
3. counting, sorting, classifying, matching
4. experimentation, manipulation, problem solving
5. stimulation of imagination and creativity
6. small and large muscle development
7. coordination of muscles (lifting, bending, reaching)
8. hand eye coordination
9. learning a sense of balance
10. visual spacial awareness
(1)

Unit blocks are a standardized size (5.5 inches long, 2.75 inches wide, and 1.375 inches thick). They help teach proportions because they consist of full blocks, 1/2 size blocks, 1/4 size blocks and so forth. Studies support that "a child’s ability to create complex block constructions can predict mathematical ability". (2) Next time you see a child playing with blocks, take some time to observe. You can almost see the little gears moving in their heads.


(sources: 1. http://resources.metapress.com/pdf-preview.axd?code=p532328728k14235&size=largest 2. http://www.communityplaythings.co.uk/resources/articles/block-play-math-literacy.html)

Tuesday, August 23

Meet the Staff



We decided to blow the dust off this blog and open it back up again. We will be blogging on a regular basis once again. I thought I would start with a series introducing you to our staff. We have a fun crew, each with a unique story. There are only a few of us, myself (Michelle), Penny, Monique, Jenna (who will be moving into our Kent store), Ariel, and Julia (our book and sanity keeper!). So we will start with me, and follow up in the next couple weeks with more on the rest of the staff.

I'm a mom of 3 kids, and wife of another one! At home I spend my time working mostly. Either I am cooking, cleaning (and that is spotty), taking care of kids, or I am on my computer for work. When I can carve out a few minutes I like to read out on the patio.

My Dad had bought My Little Red Wagon from Dick Franz when it was located in Quaker Square, downtown Akron in 1991. We had a lot of good memories in Quaker Square and really learned the toy business there. Around 2003 we moved the store to Stow into a huge store on route 59. Then about 4 years later around 2007 we opened a second store on Main Street in Hudson Ohio. Through all of our changes we came to believe that historic Main Streets offer a unique setting for the independent retailer that let's us shine. We slowly have shifted our thoughts and locations to reflect this. Now we are no longer in Stow, but only on Hudson's Main street with other independent retail shops. We also have a second shop that is different in concept, called Off the Wagon, on the historic Main Street in Kent. With smaller stores we are able to spend more time catering to the customer.

Recently my Dad passed away, and now it is me at the helm. He had a great business mind and taught me a lot. He is missed and well remembered. I had been working in the business since I was a little tot. When I graduated from the University of Dayton, I soon headed back up this way to help run the stores. I spent lots of time computerizing the operation and eventually adding a website. I learned all the ropes about advertising, promotion, ordering and the zillion other details that go into running your own business. Now I have been working in the toy business for 20 years. I've made mistakes (and expect to make more) and done a few things right as well. I LOVE IT. This is the best job (most of the time!).