Desoto is a large ride-upon dragon made from a variety of colorful fabrics. The material is durable for use with multiple children. In our testing groups, most of the children sat and jumped on it while adult reviewers encouraged this as a prop for story time. The ride-upon action (this does not move) allows for creative and imaginative individual and group play. Many times Desoto became everything from a dog and horse to a character in a fairy tale. Most testers incorporated other toys into their imaginative adventures. It’s best to wash often with a wet cloth after use.
Tester’s Tip: “Once the child is no longer interested in play, wash it well and use as decor. It makes quite the conversation piece in any room!”
Gymini My Nature Pals by Tiny Love
Age 2 months and older
Toy Tips: B+
Social Interaction: B+
This round, soft fabric activity mat is styled to look like nature. Activity mats are used for entertaining baby and provide a soft place for supervised baby play. Activities allow for baby discovery and parent and child social interaction. A detachable caterpillar toy hangs from the arches and features lights and music that can play for up to 20 minutes, although a baby should never be left unsupervised or not attended to while the toy is entertaining. Lights, which stimulate gazing, hand-eye coordination, grasping, reaching and thinking skills, can be activated by baby’s touch. Other removable toys that hang on the arch provide self discovery and additional independent or social play. The arches can be repositioned in a variety of ways for baby’s comfort and growing size. They can be lowered to accommodate tummy time play. A crawling infant may escape, so it is best to monitor which ages and stages are best for baby. Be sure to wash the mat often as well as clean the detachable toys.
— Recommendations from Marianne M. Szymanski, publisher of www.toytips.com, Toy Tips Magazine and co-author of “Toy Tips: A Parent’s Essential Guide to Smart Toy Choices.”
The holiest plant of the Christmas season may be a raggedy shrub with peeling bark that seems to grow best in a dusty backyard in Tempe, Ariz. This is Boswellia sacra, better known as the frankincense tree. The shrub’s gum resin is one of the three biblical gifts that the wise men bestowed on the infant Jesus. Until recently, Americans who wished to cultivate their…
FRESNO, Calif. — Federal law now allows visitors to carry guns in national parks, but you can’t just slip a loaded pistol into your backpack and take a hike. Pay attention, because this is a little complicated. You will need a concealed weapons permit to carry the loaded gun in the backpack. But you don’t need any kind of permit if you just want to…
Move over, large lap pools. Smaller swimming holes are making a big splash. Sure, the economy is playing a role in making this luxury littler: Smaller pool equals smaller budget. But it's more than that, says Brett Berry, owner of Landscape Renderings, a Missouri business that designs and builds outdoor living environments. “You can create a fantastic sense of intimacy and atmosphere with a small…
A few weeks ago, a reader sent me an eloquent email complaining about a story in which I'd suggested paddling on the northern branch of Sparks Lake as an alternative to more crowded portions of the popular lake. The writer said that over the decades, he'd seen Central Oregon “loved to death. ” Now, powder is tracked out in 30 minutes, Sparks Lake is always…
A barred owl that drew crowds of onlookers while swooping around at Farewell Bend Park earlier this year may well be dead. The owl was seen from mid-January into last month, regularly hunting for mice and voles along the Deschutes River just upstream of the Old Mill District. It then disappeared about a month ago. Two photographers found a dead owl March 3 about 10…