Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for August, 2007

Toy Safety

Monday, August 20th, 2007

I was reminded this morning, from an email sent by one of our Advisory Board members, about the small things that parents can do to address toy safety. With the recent toy recalls, these safety concerns have jumped to the forefront of our minds. Here is a dozen easy things that Dr. Toy recommends for toy safety:

1. Specifically for parents with children under the age of six: Observe what the child is currently playing with in the home. (Particularly if there is an older sibling in the home.) The younger child may want to try products that are not age appropriate or have small parts. The child may also want to play with other small objects and put them in the mouth.
2. Look through your current toys at home. Get rid of any broken, chipped, or discolored products. And if a child loves a product so much that it is over used and dangerously worn-down, consider replacing it. Make sure the toys are kept in good repair and are cleaned regularly.
3. There are thousands of wonderful, safe products on the market that are made in the USA, China and other countries. You need to be mindful of the parts and components that are in the products you are selecting.
4. Watch for clutter in your child’s play areas. Are there products that are not being played with right now? Think about taking some items away for a month or two and then bringing them back into circulation. We call it “recycling the toy box.” Children will feel like they have new toys. Current items get good use and other items return as new finds.
5. Know your toy stores. Most retailers are very well informed and can be your best advocate for appropriately aged products that would fit a description of your child’s interest.
6. Knowledge of your toy store also helps in cases like recalls because they can be your best information on exactly what product or products can have a problem. They can also assist in a return policy if necessary. Toy store owners have a vested interest in protecting children and keeping their customers happy. They will try to help the consumer.
7. Read the labels on the packages. If clear information is not there, you should be wary. The information should be upfront and clearly visible about the age group and any other issues that may limit the use of the product to different demographics.
8. You can teach your children to use their toys appropriately; not to break them, or misuse them. Toys are designed for reasonable use. Beyond that is when hazards can occur. Children also need to learn to put toys away carefully and to use them safely.
9. Look for products that are appropriate for your child. In addition to the age range, many parents buy products that are higher ages than their child because they want their child to be more advanced. This can be its own hazard in that a frustrated child can act out and not perform to proper age appropriate behaviors, not just age appropriate skills.
10. Research for guidance, such as this list, and other product recommendations from reliable sources. Look for protection seals, award testing, and reputable organization’s recommendations.
11. If you have any doubts, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission http://www.cpsc.gov/
There are available to help. See http://www.drtoy.com/ for the CPSC site and other resources
12. Most importantly, if you have a child with a tendency to put things in the mouth, you must be extra, extra vigilant. Make sure toys with small or loose parts are either not used or carefully monitored. Also be sure that products are cleaned and disinfected, especially if your child attends childcare, babysitting, preschool or playgroup on a regular basis.

Thanks to Dr. Toy for these great suggestions. For more info, visit her website: http://www.drtoy.com/.

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GRANDParent of the Year Award

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

As a grandparent and grandparenting activitist, I wanted to call to your attention GRAND Magazine call for nominations for their annual GRANDParent of the Year Award. GRAND Magazine is one of KIDS FIRST!’s media partner and they are just super people.

Christine Crosby, founder and publisher commented, “Last year’s contest made such an impact on all involved that we decided to make this an annual event. One of the joys of this project for me was that so many of last year’s nominations were by grandchildren on our kid-safe site http://www.grandcontest.com/.”

GRAND magazine is a national publication and online resource for today’s active and community-involved grandparents. For the 2007 GRANDParent of The Year Award, nominations can be made by anybody. Nominating forms are available in GRAND magazine and available online at http://www.grandmagazine.com/.

Pay attention to this: Deadline for nominations is Wednesday, September 5, 2007. Ten finalists and The GRANDParent of the Year will be announced in the Nov/Dec issue of GRAND magazine. The GRANDParent of the Year honoree will receive a seven-night Caribbean Cruise for two from Royal Caribbean International. The Top 10 finalists will receive a $100 gift certificate and their photos and essays of nomination will be published in GRAND magazine.

In addition, every grandparent nominated will receive a free subscription to GRAND magazine.

Please click on this link to nominate a special grandparent:

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Back from Vacation, Catching up with Media News

Monday, August 6th, 2007

I just got back from two glorious weeks in Costa Rica – a place I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys traveling in Latin America. What wonderful people we met! Wonderful beaches, volcanoes, jungle, food and – my favorite – coffee.
So now, to catch up on the media news while I was away.

1. Did you read about Walt Disney announcing that it will no longer portray smoking in Disney branded movies? They are the first company to take such a stand. This ammouncement comes out two months after the MPAA introduced a new ratings system taking into account the use of tobacco when rating movies. Bravo for the Mouse folks!

2. Leonardo DiCaprio is coming out with a new movie on the perilous state of our planet and how to save it called 11th Hour. It’s a stunning documentary, packed with facts we human beings need to know to save our planet. It is the ultimate horror movie, action flick and feel-good movie all wrapped up into one. My dear Quaker friend, Arthur Kanegis, has written a review of it posted at http://www.scene4.com/. At the end of the article you can click on a link to read his interviews with the directors – the outstanding Conners sisters – Leila and Nadia. If you like the article, please feel free to forward it to your own list.

3. Sesame Street introduced its new Season goals with a strong emphasis on vocabulary. Sesame Street launches its 38th season on August 13, 2007 on PBS Kids. Every season focuses on a research-based curriculum to address needs of today’s children. This season’s curriculum is children’s literacy and language development.

Vocabulary is a critical element of language and literacy development that is often overlooked in early childhood education. Young children develop language and literacy skills during the early years mainly through language rich experiences such as meaningful conversations with parents and caregivers. As a result of many disparities between low-income and middle/upper-income families, there is a growing gap in literacy skills between children from these different economic groups. So, be on the lookout for it – starting next week.

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