And the Award Goes to…..



I think that it is only appropriate that a radio program dedicated to helping foster learning sets aside an entire set of programs to the best products available to students, parents and educators.  July 21st will be the first of these shows with our focus on STUDENT CHOICES!  The products have been pitched.  The students ages 4-21 have made their selections and reviews and now we have THE BACK TO SCHOOL 2010 AWARDS TO ANNOUNCE.

NOTE-  products are being DONATED to children and school programs.  I received ZERO compensation for endorsing or reviewing these products.

Here are the details and the photos!  ENJOY!!

TEXAS INSTRUMENT TI-NSPIRE – The coolest calculator on the market with the EASY GLIDE Touchpad!

My son begged me to break my rule about not keeping these cool products- because he flipped when he saw the great TI-nspire!  What a super multifunctional calculator that caught the eye of half a dozen of our teen reviewers, many who are college bound.  They loved the touchpad functionality and the USB connector was a hit. The fact that saving and printing their work was a breeze also received high praise.  Our reviewers also were excited that they could “share” work with others, including their teacher, without leaving the comfort of their home or dorm!  This product was popular and the price tag – $150- didn’t seem to phase these kids (“Cheaper than many of my college books and they are not at all cool like this!”, said one reviewer)



Grasshopper Preschool Kit- This series is a three parter.  We previewed the comprehensive Following Directions and ABCs – Simple Shapes container.

Adorably presented with a bright plastic box with a handle that was easy for the four year olds little fingers to grasp.  Inside the kit included a book with easy directions for kid friendly activities.  Their eyes locked on a series of LETTER fish of different colors.  There also was a fishing pole that I am sure would have been hours of endless entertainment.  The goal- pick up a fish with the magnet on the pole and then follow the directions to complete the letter game.

As an educator, I liked that the game was interactive, fun for both the kids and myself and not too pricey.  Families that homeschool and preschools may really enjoy that this kit has a lot of activities and seemed to meet many preschool goals for basic pre-reading and shape identification.  The cost was not too bad- $49.95  I am sure it was that much due to the durable construction of the kit and the materials used.  If I had a preschool child at home I would buy this in a flash.



I am a HUGE Eric Carle fan.  Always loved the books and was truly grateful to his kindness when he agreed to write our daughter, Natasha, a note to help commemorate her becoming a Bat Mitzvah.  (Actually he sent her a note and a whole pack full of goodies!) So, when Canson approached me about these products I said yes, without asking any of the kid reviewers.  The one and only time.  I KNEW that these drawing pads would be VERY POPULAR!  I was right!  Nearly had to stop a war between a set of siblings!!  The older elementary kids loved this product, too!  And if you are a fan of Eric Carle, visit this website

EVERY KID I SHOWED THESE PRODUCTS TO RAN TO OUR DESK AND STARTED DRAWING! Each pad was made with eco-friendly paper and kids loved the Eric Carle recognizable drawing on the cover.  All sizes for all aged kids.  Here are some smiling photos to prove that these very inexpensive pads are worth the investment.


SCHOLASTIC STORYBOOK SERIES :  (This product will be detailed for a future show)  OR

Featuring stories in sign language for these classic favorites- A POCKET OF CORDUROY, GOODNIGHT MOON and FIVE LITTLE MONKEYS

Each DVD comes with vocabulary, comprehension and fine motor skill lessons.  And of course, American Sign Language is effortlessly taught during these videos.

Frankie (below) and I previewed the GOODNIGHT MOON DVD.  Two hands waving in ASL affirmation for BRAVO!


KIMOCHI -Toys with feelings inside! Price $25 for the Kimochi with feeling packets extra at $12

As a person who has conducted countless hours of  therapy with children, especially with kids who had difficulty with language, this is a great product.  Another winner by our team of panelists!  Each doll (character) has a pocket.  Little “faces” can be inserted in to the pocket which identify feelings such as JEALOUS, HAPPY, SAD,  LEFT OUT… and so on.  Squishy, fun and fabulous!  Or in the words of one of our young reviewers “Cool!”   We have one photo in ASL below, too!)  Buy this very reasonable addition to a classroom or your home on     Age range varies, but I can see Kimochis being very applicable to the special education population to help to identify and role play feelings and social stories.




These lunchboxes are FUN!  Made of durable plastic with containers for a sandwich and two smaller for foods such as crackers, cheese, yogurt or raisins.  A great addition was the ice pack made with a fun shape that added to the flair of this interactive lunchbox.  You see… the front inserts could pop out and be interchangeable.  Our little reviewers loved it and Mateo managed to carry it with him almost EVERYWHERE the day of our product photo shoot.  High praise from a first grader!  Check out your smile for yourself!


BioME5 ECO- FRIENDLY  T-shirts

Ok- I have a small complaint about the bioME5 t-shirts.  They do not come in large adult sizes.  Truly, when the t-shirt arrived at the door I was hoping (fingers crossed kind of hoping) that it would be in my size.  Sadly no.  But my loss will be a great treasure for a child who wears a size 4T.  Check out our model- Frankie- sporting this gorgeous and educational shirt (learn letters and animals)!  And of course, it was very comfortable to wear- according to Frankie (“No scratchy tags”)  Prices vary depending on shirt sleeve lengths and size.  BIG SALE on NOW–  check them out at


OFFICE DEPOT I love shopping at OFFICE DEPOT.  Reasonable prices and lots of selection.  Which is good during the Back to School season.  They were kind to send a selection of their  products including the ATIVA 4G USB FLASHDRIVE with exceptional designs.  I loved their green series with trees), GAMER CALCULATOR from Swinton Avenue Trading and PROJECT BACKPACK – a winning design from seventeen year old Jerry Delgado. ( We hope to have him on to ask how he created the winning design).  All very cool and reasonably priced.



Carolina Pad-  You have to LOVE a company that gives back to the community- big time.  These folks make quality products for Girls (and as it happens to be, also guys!) Many of our student reviewers loved their pads, notebooks,  journals and ring binders.  I loved the colors.   We enlisted our older elementary school reviewer,  Sam, to make a great little video about how he wished for a set in GUY COLORS!  Available EVERYWHERE  ( I saw them at  Kmart in a remote town in Upstate New York!)  Their motto for their GIRLS ON THE RUN SERIES: learn. dream. live. run  Go to to learn about their philanthropic arm of their company. Their products were perfect for the older elementary, middle school or high school student.  (Or adult radio show host)

Roll the video….



I have a son going off to college in a few weeks.  I am really concerned about the integrity of his dorm mattress.  Then in my list of pitches this past Spring came one from PROTECT – A – BED.  I wish I could find a way for all of you to FEEL this mattress protector.  It has parts that are terry cloth and cozy.  Other portions are smooth like silk.  And the fit on the TWIN XL beds was perfect.  Designed to create an anti-allergy sleep zone.  Available at  $59.99  And the son-he approved!



Teens girls who had cell phones and college students with ID cards and bus passes that needed to be “on them” all day and night- were thrilled with PORTA-POCKET.  Another hit with our reviewers! (And nurses who loved the ability for the Porta-Pocket to hold an epi-pen discretely or important ID info- discretely)

The company provided this synopsis: “PortaPocket is a streamlined, lightweight system that keeps small valuables and other essentials ON the body without risk of theft, loss and inconvenience. Versatile as designed for use on thigh, calf, ankle, arm or waist and under/over the clothing. Detachable; interchangeable. Ideal for IDs, cash, cards, keys, cell phones, ipods, small cameras, passports, lipstick, tampons, inhalers, insulin pumps, Epipens, more. Don’t necessarily ditch the separate purse or bag…just don’t put anything you can’t afford to lose in there! Keep your purse/bag for fashion; use portapocket for valuables-safekeeping function.”

See the photo of  this busy mom, who wanted to carry her phone with her to the bus stop without dragging along all her purse items. (And you know that moms often carry the kids backpacks and lunchboxes, too!)

Note that PortaPocket offers peace of mind & convenience for working out, going out, traveling, and everyday. Inexpensive, too. Kits range $8.95 to $24.95 and are available at select retailers, on amazon and at And they were “cushy” and comfortable- first hand experience says so!



I must admit that for the past few weeks I have been writing (when I am not typing) with my new fave mechanical pencil – the CADOOZLE.  I also have a really cute Z-Grip Daisies pen in purple!  Then I  recently found this great display with all three products.  And our reviewers- well the girls went nuts for the Z-Grips and the Cadoozles were GONE before I could stop them (yes, I managed to grab one and I had to buy more for our GIVEAWAYS!)  The REGAL ROLLERBALLS were saved for donation.    Go to for more info!



Who doesn’t have a memory involving their MASTER LOCK.  I used one throughout school for my main locker and gym locker.  And my bike was always secured with a MASTER LOCK.  Now that was back in the “dark ages” before cool styles and colors.  We got to check out two different models.  The Precision Dial and the Speed Dial.  The pitch was as follows: The Precision Dial and Speed Dial let your little student CREATE THEIR OWN PASSWORD (or big students as they’re great for high school and college), making it easy to remember. The Speed Dial also features technology (first of its kind) that opens with directional movement (up, down, left, right) – making it even harder to crack.”

Now this is what our team liked-  if you have a learning challenge- such as Learning Disabilities- the Speed Dial allowed you to remember direction or motion versus a set of numbers.  This was very well received!  I liked the Speed Dial so much that I will reiterate my endorsement during our August 25th show dedicated to products for classrooms and students with exceptional needs.  The Website is easy…

The SPEED DIAL lock which was a favorite!



OMG- World War III also started when the reviewers found out that this backpack was to be donated to a local middle school and not up for grabs!  They LOVED it.  Here were some words used to describe the TARGUS – CRAVE LAPTOP BACKPACK-

“Cushy”  * “A lot of room for all my stuff”  *  “Straps are really comfortable”  * My large laptop will fit in here – no problem”  * “Outside side-pocket great for dorm swipe key card and my college ID” *  “HUGE!”

Sam liked it too- see this cute promo video that he did as an ad lib!


There are a few products that will be reserved for future shows other than this weeks July 21st show on Toginet Radio.

Here they are and the date that they will appear:

PROJECT NADINE and Windell Smith Jr. have developed a sensational DVD for advanced ASL learners: Idioms! Do You See What I’m SAying?

HONOR STUDENT MAGAZINE – Inspiring kid and College Scholarship information.  Rick Lyons will be joining me on August 11th.

ROSETTA STONE- LANGUAGE SERIES-  Most of our August 18th show will be dedicated to this amazing language learning company.  Lane Sutton- KidCriticUSA will be joining me at the end of the show to announce a few more “must haves” for BACK TO SCHOOL, also!

Texas Instrument TI-NSPIRE CALCULATOR- the newest technologies for high school and college level math.  Great touch screen- amazing capabilities.

How to Pay for College Without Going Broke- by Reecy Aresty  We will chat about this fun and informative book that many parents should read YEARS BEFORE their kids are applying to college.  Available at the author’s website:

We will have two copies for GIVEAWAYS!!   Show date will be August 3rd.

August 25th we will be talking to the people who offer the Intel (R) READER.  Brandon Gillespie will be discussing the applications of this amazing piece of technology within regular and special education classrooms.  I must admit- this is a MUST HAVE in my book for every classroom!  Go to

5 thoughts on “And the Award Goes to…..

  1. Louise-

    Looks like a lot of great products. Have to agree – love Eric Carle and both my girls love anything to do with drawing. Good luck with your shows – even though I don’t look forward to going back to work – Back to School time is such a great time of starting fresh for everyone!


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