Saturday, September 26, 2009

We're a Real Toy Store!

Last Friday we received a huge delivery from Playmobil. A truck dropped a pallet of these amazing little toys outside our back door. We brought Playmobil in with some trepidation. It's a perfect toy, lots of play value, clever, creative, not based on existing story lines (like much of Lego now days). Pretty much a match made in heaven for an educational toy store. So why did we wait so long to bring it in?
The answer isn't simple, but to make it simple, let's just say we made it 30 years without carrying Playmobil, why start now? It's not hard for parents to find elsewhere, the company is a bit of a bully when it comes to telling you how and what to order, and we had no clue how to get started.
As with any decision like this, all we did was close our eyes and jump! And guess what, we just had a week of customers ecstatic over our decision! We've sold bunches, we've handed out dozens of the catalogs and we've even had customers thank us for bringing it in - they're excited that they can start buying it from us now. Now we just have to figure out what to re-order!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lük Learning Systems are cool

We've been featuring this product since spring, a new way for kids to build creative thinking and problem solving skills. I love products that are absolutely different from any other kind of toy, and Lük Learning Systems is very different. We have found that when playing with this in the store, kids literally light up. They understand how to use it, understand the challenge, and find it addictive. I copied this how to play from their website. It's very simple, and not one of their more interesting challenges - basic matching, but you can see how the system works:

Top-Notch Teachers Found to Affect Peers

From Education Week:
Teachers raise their games when the quality of their colleagues improves, according to a new studyRequires Adobe Acrobat Readeroffering some of the first evidence to document a “spillover effect” in teaching.

Authors C. Kirabo Jackson and Elias Bruegmann based their findings on an analysis of 11 years of data on North Carolina schoolchildren. The study is due to be published in October in American Economics Journal: Applied Economics, a peer-reviewed journal.

The authors and some independent experts said the study results are important, because they carry implications for school staffing practices and debates going on now at the national level over how to structure merit-pay plans for teachers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy Lunches

I have a Laptop Lunch Box. It's an item we've carried for a several years now, and we sell quite a few over the internet. A Laptop Lunch Box is a "bento box" that I pack my lunch in, usually left-overs. I do not make kittens out of rice or any of the other cute ideas listed in the article in the NY Times about this "new" fad. What I like about the Laptop Lunch Box is the size and convenience of the box system, and that I can bring food I made myself for lunch. Although it's not for me, I heartily endorse parents getting competitive in creating elaborate designs for their school lunches. Send me pictures of your best efforts and I'll post them!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Best Sellers for Back to School

We've always made lists of the things teachers loved most during our back to school rush. Everyone likes to know what's popular, and this year, through the magic of social media we are able to post our best seller list for the world to see, or at least a few more teachers than we see in the store on a regular basis. We've added these items to our web store, but keep in mind that some of them were so popular that we sold out - the Multi-Color kids for example. They'll be back in stock in a week or so. The partial list in no particular order:

I left off the old favorites like All-About-Me posters and Happy Birthday Charts. Teachers were in a good mood, despite the junk that got thrown at them this year. We're hoping this school year brings a little balance back to the curriculum - and allows teachers some job security and freedom to teach.