February Fun!

New Classes plus a new set of  Tuesday Treats! We had so much fun in January that we’re doing it again in February! Have a suggestion for a class or treat you’d like? Leave it in the comments and we’ll see what we can do :)

Puppet Theater, Mondays 1:00-2:00   
Make a puppet, then stage a puppet show! Each week kids will make a puppet and then create a puppet show to perform for you at the end of the class! We’ll draw a script together so kids can remember what comes next in their play — and so they can start to learn the basics of good story-telling.

Math Mania, Wednesdays 1:00-2:00 
It’s an hour of numbers fun for kids who love math. Designed for kindergarteners, Math Mania will feature tons of playful games that help kids move beyond memorization to really understand how numbers work and interact. Each week we’ll offer several different games based on the skills and interests of the kids in the group.

** All classes are $12.00/in advance or $15.00 at the door Class registration includes playground entry so kids can come early or stay late and play. Sign up in our online store at www.toys2try.com so we know you’re coming!

Tuesday Treats 5:30-7:30 (free with playground entry)
Late nights at Toys2Try! Have an early dinner and join us for a super fun evening! Each Tuesday we’ll have a different theme, but don’t worry kids will have lots of time to play, play, play. Here’s this month’s schedule:

February 4th: PJ story-time. We’ll read When a Dragon Moves In, color dragon pictures and eat nut-free dragon treats!

February 11th: Valentine’s Day Treasure Dig
 Not sure what to do for Valentine’s Day? How about digging for some inspiration! We’ll have special treasures to find in the sand box and hearts to decorate on the art table!

February 18th: PJ story-time. We’ll read Scaredy Squirrel at Night to earn your Scaredy Squirrel Good Night Sleep Certificate, create comforting crafts and snack on special nut-free squirrel treats!

February 25th: Family Game Night
 Join us as we learn some new games to play together! We’ll have games for kids as young as two and as old as six. Plus, we’ll have prizes for everyone (not just winners) and peanut free snacks to enjoy while we play!

What’s New at Toys2Try?

Yea! Classes & late Tuesday play with stories and treats. Here’s the schedule for January. We’d love your feedback for things you’d like to see us add for February :)

Read it – Write it- Draw it, Mondays 1:00-2:00 
Based on the fantastic book series, this class helps new readers understand what they read and build on it with imaginative story extensions. Together we’ll read a story and then each child will use art and writing to retell it (emphasizing comprehension) and then expand it with a what happens next sentence or picture. Hidden behind the silly fun is a multi-modality lesson plan designed to help your child use his or her learning style to truly embrace reading.

Math Mania, Wednesdays 1:00-2:00 
It’s an hour of numbers fun for kids who love math. Designed for kindergarteners, Math Mania will feature tons of playful games that help kids move beyond memorization to really understand how numbers work and interact. Each week we’ll offer several different games based on the skills and interests of the kids in the group.

Preschool Storytelling Class, Thursdays 11:00-12:00
 Designed for pre-readers, we’ll create a silly story together, illustrate it and compile it into a book. We’ll copy them so each child can have one to re-read and enjoy. Shhh, don’t tell your kids that storytelling helps them learn about language and effective communication and is an important pre-reading skill.

** All classes are $15.00/class or $50.00 for the four week series

Tuesday Treats 5:30-7:30 (free with playground entry )
Late nights at Toys2Try! Have an early dinner and join us for a super fun evening! Each Tuesday we’ll have a different theme, but don’t worry kids will have lots of time to play, play, play. Here’s this month’s schedule:

January 7th: PJ story-time. We’ll read When a Dragon Moves In, color dragon pictures and eat dragon cookies

January 14th: Pirate treasure Dig 
Uh oh, someone buried treasures in our sand-box! We’ll decorate treasure bags and then dig for treasure in the sand-box!

January 21st: PJ story-time. We’ll read Scaredy Squirrel at Night to earn your Scaredy Squirrel Good Night Sleep Certificate, create comforting crafts and snack on special nut-free squirrel treats

January 28th: I-Spy Treasure Map
 Fill in your treasure map by spying things hidden around our playground. When you fill up your map, we’ll give you a special treat!

We’re Open!

 

We’ve been open in our new location for three weeks now and are really excited that so many of you have found us! We’ve celebrated some great birthdays, had some super fun play dates and welcomed some wonderful Christmas  shoppers. We are so thankful for all of you and hope that you’ve enjoyed the new space as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it. Stay tuned for our newest addition! Hint (PJs, stories, games and treats are all in store for you).

All of us here at Toys2Try wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

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Ready for a Fun Contest?

imageAdd some sparkle to your next party! Our new glitter tattoos are made in the USA of safe, non-toxic materials and the glitter is so soft I couldn’t stop myself from playing with it! Plus, they last for up to 7 days so your child’s guests will have a lasting reminder of the fun they had celebrating with you.

If you’re celebrating with us, we can add glitter tattoos for $1.00/tattoo to your party package. We’ll do all the work and, as always, you only pay for what you actually use — so if three guests don’t want glitter, you don’t pay for tattoos for those guests. If you’re celebrating at home, we have lots of glitter tattoo kits for you to choose from.

And now the contest: We’re offering your choice of free glitter tattoos, an autograph pet or a dozen free balloons to the lucky winner. All you have to do to enter is post a comment here on our blog or via email (info@toys2try.com) telling us what your favorite party add-on is! We’ll select the winner at random on Friday, July 19th.

Coming Soon: Bridgeville

We are soooo excited to announce our newest project!

Our new space in Bridgeville will have both indoor and outdoor playgrounds! Imagine sitting on our covered, heated patio sipping coffee and surfing the web while your kids play in the snow, or sitting in the shade sipping ice tea while they play with water and bubbles. Not in the mood to sit outside? Never fear! We have amazing plans for the indoor play area too.

Here’s a picture of the cute little house that is soon to be our new store. Sadly, we have some construction to do before we can open but we’re hoping you and your kids will enjoy photos of the process. Right now the architect is busy drawing up wonderful plans. As soon as construction starts we’ll post pictures for our friends who love trucks and building projects.

Of course our current location will stay open while we build so you’ll always have a place to celebrate, play and shop. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section. We’ll do our best to keep what you love and add what you wish we had.

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The Toys2Try Story

Many, many years ago, when our family was just the two of us, Ron was happy playing trombone and I was happy working as an early interventionist encouraging little ones to talk and play with others — in Los Angeles. Then Ely joined us and all I wanted to do was be at home with her so I left work to do just that — well, mostly, I also went back to school part time to get a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. What does that have to do with Toys2Try you ask? Well, a few years later we realized that Ron’s home-town of Pittsburgh, with it’s fantastic schools and family-friendly communities full of children was where we wanted to raise our two beautiful kids. But I didn’t want to go back to work as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Ron wanted to semi-retire from music so we reinvented ourselves when we moved here.

One of my favorite things about early intervention was finding the perfect toy and using it to spark a desire to communicate and play imaginatively. I especially enjoyed working with local pre-schools and day care centers to create wonderful environments that inspired kids to reach out and develop to their fullest potentials. Combining those two loves into a play space and toy store seemed like the perfect solution. I can shop for toys and modify the play space to keep it new and fun and I get to work with my family as we create what we hope is a great experience for lots of little Pittsburghers and their parents.

What about your name? E2 (E Squared) is a family joke. Our children are named Ethan and Elyana and we’ve called them E Squared since Ethan’s birth — “E” stands for energy and raising two takes so much more than raising one! So we wanted to include that in the name of our store both to honor our kids and to honor the energy all of you expend raising yours. Toys2Try is more self-explanatory since you can use our play-space to see which new toys your kids are inspired by before you buy them.

Moving here has been an amazing experience for our family. Beyond the beautiful neighborhoods, fantastic schools and welcoming community, we’ve been able to create a truly family-owned and operated business to share with all of you. Thank you so much for allowing us to do so with your enthusiastic support!

You’re Invited!

November 10th is the third annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day and our 4th birthday!

You know what a birthday is, of course, but what about Neighborhood Toy Store Day? Three years ago the American Specialty Toy and Retailing Association (ASTRA) created it to celebrate the unique brand of fun that independently owned toy stores bring to their communities. On Saturday we’ll join with thousands of stores across the county to thank our customers for letting us be a part of their lives. We love the look on your kids faces when they see our Bruder truck display, or fill their own tubes with Safari Limited animals — or play on the pirate ship for the first time! As an independent store, we have the freedom to buy the toys we like and avoid the ones that don’t meet our standards for fun, healthy play. Thank you for supporting us!

But what about the party, you ask! We’re celebrating with fun crafts and a great dance/pizza party led by Ashely. It all starts at 1:00 with $4.00/child playground entries and treasure boxes to make and fill with treats. At 5:00 we’ll have pizza and dancing ’till your kids are willing to go to bed without a fuss. We’ll end with a great cake, since it’s our fourth birthday too. Hope you can join us!

Are Wooden Teethers Safe?

If you’ve looked for a baby toy recently, you’ve noticed that we have a wide selection of wooden teethers and rattles. I love these baby gifts. Not only are they bright and beautiful to look at — which stimulates baby’s growing brain — but they are interesting to touch and manipulate. Plus, I’ve seen babies that are grumpy and clearly teething instantly relax as soon as they start to chew on one.

“Are they safe” is the question I’m most often asked. I actually think that well-made wooden teethers are safer than their plastic counterparts. Most of our teethers come from Haba’s German plant. They are made from wood grown in renewable forests and colored with water-based, non-toxic paints. Our teethers not only meet US and European safety standards, but they pass food-quality tests as well. Plus, Haba subjects each product run to “destruction tests” where their designers actively try to break the toys to test for the possibility of choking hazards breaking off or sharp parts endangering kids.

Care and cleaning are also frequently asked questions. It’s true that you can’t put wooden teethers in the dishwasher, or soak them in the sink, but you can clean them. Haba recommends wiping them with a soft cloth and warm soapy water. At the store we use organic cleaners and paper towels and they come clean without damaging the finishes and without introducing toxins to your little ones.

Any other questions? We’re happy to answer them here!

First Birthday Party Tips

When our oldest turned one we gave her a larger than recommended party. Against all advice, we invited both playgroups and tons of relatives — and she had a blast. Our daughter loved being the center of attention and she toddled up to each guest, showed off her pretty new birthday dress and chatted as much as anyone would listen. Our son, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with parties. He took one look at the friends and relatives gather to celebrate his first year on Earth, cried for a few minutes and then went to sleep — an act which he repeated at each party we took him to for the next year! Since then, we’ve hosted tons of first parties and we’ve learned a few things.

Keep it Simple

Even the most social child can easily become overwhelmed by lots of people and fuss. Our daughter may have reveled in walking from person-to-person but even she ignored the craft I put out, despite the fact that she usually loved crafts. At our parties bubbles usually work the best with one-year-olds since interested kids can come by, pop a few and move on at will. Play dough, dot art and stampers, available but not required, are also often welcome.

Keep it Small

Although our daughter enjoyed her big party, the happiest one-year-olds we’ve seen have been in small groups of very familiar kids with lots of doting adults. After all, grandma will usually give up the pink tea pot without a fuss while the neighbor kids might not.

Trust your Gut

No matter how well researched the studies are, no one knows your child like you do. If you feel like he will love a big party try it. You know how she responds to structure, sharing and schedules. Think about when he is at his happiest. If new things in the morning make her happy, try a morning party in a new place. On the other hand, he might be happiest with familiar surroundings after a good nap.

What about you? We’d love to hear about your experiences!