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The Toy InsiderAs of this writing, we're closer to May than April and it's currently snowing where I sit here in Illinois. From what I've heard, it's not much better for my friends on the east coast, like my colleagues at The Toy Insider who've just launched their 2018 Spring & Summer Gift Guide. Technically, it's spring, and here at Rock Father™ HQ we have some of the items featured in The Toy Insider Gift Guide... we just haven't had the proper weather to use them just yet. Never separated by gender, the Toy Insider’s gift guide is broken down by age group and play category - with each category featuring a variety of products across a wide range of price points. Check out the links and details below!

Although it's still too cold for my liking here in Illinois, it's spring, and that means that it's time to start thinking about gardening... and our insect friends. There's a lot of helpful bugs that inhabit the landscape, and for years the folks at Insect Lore have been helping kids learn all about the life cycle of butterflies, praying mantises, ladybugs and ants. We've raised butterflies here at Rock Father HQ in the past, and right now I've got a praying mantis egg and some youthful ladybugs hanging out with me in my office. This Friday, April 6, 2018 - you're invited to join The Toy Insider, Insect Lore and The Rock Father™ for a fun-filled Twitter Party in which we'll be showing off all of the fun kits from Insect Lore while giving YOU a chance to win! You must RSVP to play along! Check out the video below to learn more...

Published in Home and Garden

At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, one of the most buzzed-about toys was front-and-center at the JAKKS Pacific booth. In fact, you couldn't walk by without seeing someone making an attempt to ride the MorfBoard, the innovative all-in-one board system that lets riders skate, scoot, bounce and balance. I know that my own kids are gonna be all over this, and to celebrate the wide launch of this awesome new toy, The Toy Insider and JAKKS Pacific have teamed-up for a Twitter Party in which YOU could win a MorfBoard to share with your own family. The Rock Father™ will be there alongside other members of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board as we all talk spring toys and about all the action sports goodness that the MorfBoard will be bringing home! You MUST RSVP to be eligible to win at the party, which takes place Friday, March 9 from 11am-12pm EST. Want a taste of what the MorfBoard experience is like? Take a look...

In addition to my work here on The Rock Father™ Magazine, I veer off in many directions. As some of you may know, I am a member of The Toy Insider's extended family - contributing to their website as a member of their Parent Advisory Board, and a frequent participant in their excellent toy-based Twitter Parties. When it comes to the holiday season, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Holiday Gift Guide as expansive as the one that The Toy Insider puts together, one that exists in print (together with Family Circle) and online, with selections chosen by a team of experts and sorted by age and interest. Even I chip in with a "Rock Father Pick!" Now, despite the fact that we're often swimming in toys here at Rock Father HQ (much of which we donate), my girls do have a small "wish list," and with that The Toy Insider sent a surprise. In fact, all of the Toy Insider parents received a mystery box, and with ours we did a little early preview of Christmas morning here at home. With just four items, the response from all girls is all that a parent could hope for - and one that makes me really think about the "less is more" approach to Christmas. A few well-targeted gifts will beat the "piles of stuff" any day, and the video below shows just that. Take a look at the video, and then read on for some thoughts on these four Hot Holiday Picks!

I've been talking-up Disney Junior's Vampirina for months, and now that the series is officially out, families have quickly fallen in love with The Hauntley family and their adventurous daughter, Vee (Vampirina). Perhaps learning from past experience in which fans of a hit series have to wait months (sometimes years) as their kids constantly ask "when are the toys coming out?," Vampirina launched with a full line of fun products, and at the center of that is a fantastic line of toys from Just Play. On October 13 - yes, Friday the 13th - I will be joining The Toy Insider for their first-ever #Vampirina Twitter Party! We'll be giving friends and followers chances to win some of these incredible new toys! To participate, you must RSVP, so be sure to do that now!

The Toy InsiderWe've all been there - a smiling child looking up at you, basking in the pride that comes with a job well-done as they show off their latest masterpiece. Then you see how much of the paint has made it not onto the paper, but onto the table, the floor, the wall, their clothes... and perhaps the family pet. It's adorable, yet maddening, and in the past the reaction has been to just shake it off while heading for the Magic Eraser and whatever spray cleaner might be nearby. Crayola Color Wonder has been tackling some of that mess for a bit, particularly with their markers and travel kits, which we've used often. Now there's the Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush & Drawing Pad - a painting set that refreshes an idea that painting doesn't have to be a huge mess. My colleagues at The Toy Insider sent us a set for review here at Rock Father HQ, and this is one of those things that I had to break into and try out before the girls even got a chance. 

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