Arizona – The Grand Canyon State

We are up to the third state in our know your state series.  It is Arizona which was the 48th state admitted to the USA on February 14, 1912 – Valentines’s Day – exactly 50 years after it was recognized as a US territory.

State Capital:  Phoenix

State Flower:  Saguaro Cactus Blossom

State Bird:  Cactus Wren

State Butterfly:  Two-Tailed Swalloe

State Fish:  Apache Trout

State Mammal:  Ringtail

State Reptile:  Ridge-Nosed Rattlesnake

State Gem:  Turquoise

State Tree:  Palo Verde

State Nickname:  Grand Canyon State

State Motto:  “Ditat Deus”  God enriches

State Song:  “Arizona March Song”


Most of Arizona is not privately owned, about 85% is made up of Indian Reservations, forests, parks or land held in state trust.  The dry climate of Arizona makes it a desirable place for retirement.  The first old-age home for Seniors opened in Prescott, AZ in 1911.

Arizona’s claim to fame is the Grand Canyon – one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.  It is more than a mile deep and stretches 18 miles wide in some parts.  It was formed over a million years ago when the Colorado River, wind and ice carved it out.  John Wesly Powell was an explorer who first called it the “Grand Canyon” when in 1869 he led a group of 9 people on a 1000 mile trip down the Colorado River.  This was particularly amazing because he only had one arm as he had lost the other one fighting in the Civil War.  An amazing man to have accomplished so much!

When you think of Arizona, you probably envision sandy deserts with lots of cactus.  The Cactus you most often see is a giant one with a few arms growing upward.  This is called a Saguaro and the tallest one in Arizona is almost 58 feet tall.  They live for well over 100 years and the arms you see don’t start to grow until the cactus is 65 years old already.  The flower blooms only once at night.  Birds also like to make holes in the cactus for their nests.

Arizona has a large Native American population.  The Navajo reservation covers 27,000 square mile in the Northeast part of the state.  The Apache and Hopi also have smaller reservations and together, it is the largest Indian Reservation area.

A beautiful site in the state is the Painted Desert.  Its layers turn red, pink, orange and purple from the mineral and decaying organic matter.

A Little trivia for you – what is the difference between a tee-pee and a wigwam?  A tee-pee is a cone shaped structure of stripped tree saplings covered with cloth and a wigwam is a dome shaped and usually covered with grass, brush, bark or reeds.


Plan Toys Balancing Cactus
Plan Toys Balancing Cactus

PlanToys values have been rooted from embracing Mother Nature.  They have grown their green values into values of Sustainable Play.  Sustainable Play is the foundation of how their toys cultivate creative minds and bring children closer to nature.  PlanToys has gained global recognition through their philosophies and beautifully crafted wooden toys.  Check out the entire PlanToys line at



Moon Journal – Keeping Track of the Moon Phases

Today we use a calendar to keep track of the days of the week, but in years gone by, they didn’t have calendars to do this.  Native Americans used the moon as a guide to track the time of year and season.  The Moon makes one orbit around the Earth about once every 27.3 days but since the Earth is orbiting around the sun at the same time, it takes about 29.5 days for the Moon to show the same phase to the Earth.  The Moon phases are from a New Moon to the First Quarter to the Full Moon to the Last Quarter and back to a New Moon.

Keep a Moon Journal and keep track of the phases of the moon every night for the next month.  Draw pictures.  Record what you observe – is the moon close or far?  Is it big or small?  What color is it?  Where in the sky is it?  Is it bright or dull?  How well does it illuminate the night sky?  Can you see the man in the moon?

Goodnight Moon Game
Goodnight Moon Game

Goodnight Moon is a beloved children’s book that has been read to children for generations now.  For family night, try playing the Goodnight Moon Game for a good time. 

Chicken Wraps – Kid Will Love This Hot Lunch

Kids just love pigs in a blanket – is it because they like hot dogs, or maybe they think the name is silly or perhaps because it is so different than your ordinary sandwich for lunch.  What ever reason, it is always wonderful for parents when their kids eat a good lunch without complaining or picking it apart.  Here is a twist on the Pig in a Blanket recipe that I am sure your kids will eat up and enjoy every bite.

Chicken Wraps


  • Dipping Sauce

                   1/2 cup sour cream

                   1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • Wraps

                     1 oz. envelop ranch salad dressing dry mix

                     2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

                     1 can refrigerated flaky biscuits

                     grilled chicken strips (either freshly grilled or pre-cooked )

                     2 Tbsp. butter


  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray
  3. add 1 Tsp. ranch mix and oil to a bowl and mix well
  4. separate the biscuit and put on the cookie sheet
  5. using your fingers, shape each of them into a 6″ oval
  6. spread ranch mix on the top of each
  7. place about 3 chicken strips crosswise on each biscuit
  8. bring the ends of the biscuit over the chicken so that they overlap
  9. pinch them together to seal
  10. melt the butter and brush the top of the biscuits with it
  11. measure 3 tsp. of the dry ranch mix and sprinkle over the biscuit tops
  12. bake the wraps for 18 to 22 minutes or until light golden brown
  13. while they are baking, make the dipping sauce – put sour cream, mayo and the rest of the dry ranch mix into a bowl and mix well
  14. serve the chicken wraps  with the dipping sauce

You can experiment with the seasoning – perhaps your kids like a Mexican flair and you can use taco seasoning instead of ranch.  Mix it up – it is always fun to try something new.  As they used to say in an old commercial – “Let’s get Mikey to try it!”.

Green Toys Divided Plate
Green Toys Divided Plate

Try serving the Chicken Wrap on this divided plate by Green Toys.  You can use one of the sections for the dip, one for the wrap and the other for a piece of fruit.  The Green Eats children’s dinnerware is made of 100% recycled milk jugs right here in the USA.  They are free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, melamine, and external coatings.  They are dishwasher safe and come in a choice of 4 colors – orange, yellow, green and blue.  Check out the entire line of children’s dinnerware by Green Toys at




Do Dogs Look Like Their Owners?

What do you think?  Do you think dogs begin to look like their owners after awhile?  You know when you stare at something for long enough, you see something different.  Or when you say a word over and over again, it begins to sound funny?  Well, I guess it is a matter of opinion or in the eye of the beholder. 

Dogs are very smart animals and some breeds are much smarter than others.  Dogs can be trained to work with people doing all sorts of tasks – from sniffing out bombs to helping someone cross the street.  Collies are trained to herd sheep on farms and they also protect the sheep from the animals that might hunt them such as foxes and wolves.

Some dogs love to swim.  We all have heard of the doggy paddle – right?  When dogs swim, they are actually moving as though they are running underwater – hence the term “doggy paddle”.  Our neighborhood pool has a dog swim on the last night before they close for the season.  It is such a hoot to see all the different breeds of dogs swimming in the pool that was full of kids earlier.  Some dogs won’t come out and others won’t go anywhere near the water.  I can’t imagine what the filters look like with all that dog hair!

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing Puppet

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing Puppet

Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf?  Folkmanis has a stage puppet perfect for re-enacting this story.  Check out this Stage Puppet at

Alaska – North to the Future

State Capital:  Juneau

Largest City:  Anchorage

Major Industry:  Oil

State Flower:  Wild Forget-ME-Not

State Tree:  Sitka Spruce

State Sport:  Dog Mushing

State Nickname:  The Last Frontier

State Motto:  North to the Future

State Song:  Alaska’s Flag


Alaska was the 49th state to become part of the USA on January 3, 1959.  It is the largest of all the 50 states and it also has the highest point in the USA – Mount McKinley is 20,230 feet tall above sea level.  Alaska also is surrounded by more than 6,600 mile of coastline – that is alot of water!

Alaska is not part of the continental US – meaning it does not border the rest of the states.  Hawaii is the only other state that is not also part of the “lower 48″.  The entire state was purchased by William Seward who was the Secretary of State then for about 2 cents an acre.

The state is so remote that you can’t even drive to the capital city of Juneau.  You can only get there by airplane or boat.  Why is that you might ask?  Well it is on the water with a huge mountain behind.

The Alaskan flag was designed by a 13 year old boy named Bennie Benson who was living in an Orphanage in 1926 when he won a contest.  It consists of 8 gold stars forming the big dipper and the North Star on a dark blue field.  The Big Dipper is part of the constellation Ursa Major which symbolizes a bear which is native to Alaska.

Oil is a major industry of the state.  In the 1970′s, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was built to transport the oil from the North Slope.  It pumps about 400,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

The Iditarod is a big sled dog race held every year in Alaska.  A team is made up of 16 dogs.  They race for 1,161 miles from Anchorage to Nome.  It takes them about 2 weeks.  What an amazing race!

Fishing and crabbing is another big industry in the state.  Most of the Salmon,Herring, Halibut, and Crab come from the waters of Alaska that we eat in the US.  The bears also love to catch and eat Salmon.  It fattens them up for the winter.

Alot of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle which explains why it is so cold up there.  The northernmost city is Barrow and the sun never sets for 82 straight days.  It is also dark for 51 to 67 days.  If you want to see the Northern Lights, this is a good time to do it.  Canada separates Alaska from the continental US and parts of Russia & Asia are actually closer to the state than any US state.

The first explorers to Alaska were the Russians in the 1700s.  They came as hunters and trappers and opened up trading posts.  In 1896, the Klondike gold rush began and people for all over the US came to the state seeking their fortunes.

Kodiak Bear

Kodiak Bear

The Kodiak Bear occupies the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago in South Western Alaska.  It is the largest subspecies of the Brown Bear.  Females weigh from 500 – 700 pounds and males can weigh up to 1500 pounds.  A male can be 8 feet in length and stand 4′ 4″ at the shoulder.
Manhattan Toy has a wonderful little plush Kodiak Bear in their line of soft toys.  Nothing fierce about this little guy – he just wants to cuddle.  Check him out at


Make Your Own Frosting Bag

You don’t need a pastry bag from a store to decorate your cakes, cookies and cupcakes, it is real simple to make your own.  It is disposable, very inexpensive and can be made from items you probably already have in the house.  Make your sweet treats extra special with your own special decorative touch.

Items Needed:

  • new letter sized envelop or parchment paper
  • scissors
  • frosting
  • food coloring


  1. For an envelop pastry bag, use the scissors and cut off part of the lower left corner – the smaller the opening, the finer the line
  2. For a parchment paper pastry bag, cut and 8.5″ x 11″ sheet or parchment paper in half diagonally, roll it into the shape of a cone and use the scissors to cut off the bottom, again, the smaller the opening, the finer the line
  3. To decorate your sweet treats, color the frosting with food coloring, fill the pastry bag you made, press lightly until the frosting starts to come out of the tip
  4. Hold it above the treat and gently squeeze while making your design

It will take some practice to get the right amount of pressure on it to make the desired lines.  But that is okay – it will still taste great!


Cake Set
Cake Set

Play along with Plan Toys wooden cake set.  The set includes a cake with toppings, a cake turntable, a cake server and an icing bag.  The cake can be cut into 6 slices.  Perfect for imaginative play or teaching fractions.


Creamy Egg & Bacon Pita Pockets – A Good Sandwich for Kids

Looking for a different warm sandwich to serve your kids on a cold or rainy day?  Try stuffing a pita pocket with this recipe for a creamy egg & bacon sandwich.  The flavors are great, it is easy to make and it will get your kids attention as a special treat for lunch.  Mom and Dad will like it too! 

Creamy Egg & Bacon Pita Pocket


  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup Alfredo Sauce from a jar
  • 1/4 cup real bacon pieces
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • pepper
  • pita bread pockets


  1. place eggs in a pot with cold water, bring to a boil
  2. cover pot, turn off heat, take off the burner and let stand for 18 minutes
  3. take the eggs out of the shell , chop and put in a bowl
  4. add Alfredo Sauce, bacon pieces and onion powder
  5. mix together well
  6. rinse parsley and chop the leafy part
  7. add to mixture and stir in
  8. if pita pockets do not have an opening already pre-sliced, then cut one
  9. spoon egg mixture into each pocket
  10. optional:  you can wrap each in plastic wrap and heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds or until warm

The colors alone in this sandwich make it very appetizing.  Enjoy – it is a good thing!


Pita Pocket

Pita Pocket

Yum!  Fill a pita with favorite fixings.  Share one with a friend!  The Pita Pocket by Hape Toys is playfully delicious!  Check it out at

Litters of Puppies

When a mother dog has puppies, the group is called a litter.  It takes about 2 months for the puppies to be born and the litters contains generally 3 – 8 puppies.  They are born with their eyes closed and nurse for the first few weeks until they are introduced to solid food and weaned from their mother at about 4-6 weeks of age.  Puppies are like babies, they take their features from both parents and you never know what will result.  So if the parents are not the same breed, the puppies will inherit some features and characteristics of both parents.

Dogs by nature want to please their owners.  They are very helpful in many ways.  Dogs can be trained to be guides for people who have difficulty seeing, hearing or walking.  They warn their owners of danger and then guide them to safety.

Dis you know that dogs have even been in space?  In 1960, two dogs were sent into space.  Their names were Strelka and Belka.  They landed safe and sound.


Nursing Nana Dog

Nursing Nana Dog

 Children will adore this unique soft toy that celebrate the joys of caring for little ones.  Each pet comes with 3 little puppies that attache to their nursing mothers with magnets.  Made from ultra-soft contrasting fabrics and hand stitched details.  10″ x 6.5″ x 6″.  Made by Manhattan Toy.

Gourmet Grill & Copy-Kids DVD Giveaway

gourmet grill

gourmet grill

Enter the GIVEAWAY at

to win the gourmet grill with food and a Copy-Kids DVD.

Double-sided grates, a collapsible side table, moveable wheels and an open-and-close hood makes this grill a gourmet’s dream.  Watch out for the hot coals!  Includes:  ketchup bottle, mustard bottle, tongs, a pair of skewers, and lots of fixings to make Shish Kabobs.  This grill encourages collaborative play.  Use the toy grill to teach kids about safety around a real grill.  22 pieces.  Made of wood and water-based paint.  Adult assembly required.  27.56″ x 14.96″ x 24.8″.  $140 value.


Because children learn best from other children.  A joy-filled video and an innovative tool for parents who want to get children to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables.  Produced for children aged 6 months to 5 years, Copy-Kids innovative video is fun and compelling for both children and parents.  The DVD features 12 x 7 minute chapters, one for each of twelve fruits & veggies:   bell pepper,  bananas, oranges, carrots, strawberries, avocado, raspberries, tomatoes, apples, broccoli, cucumber and blueberries.  Each chapter features several adorable and entertaining children aged 9 months to 4 years, eating with joy and delight. It’s a simple but revolutionary tool for parents who want their kids to develop a life-long habit of healthy eating. The DVD includes an on-camera discussion about healthy eating with renowned pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon, plus a section of delightful outtakes.  Total Running Time: 115 minutes.  $20 value.


Know Your States – Alabama

State Capital:  Montgomery

State Bird:  Yellowhammer

State Game Bird:  Wild Turkey

State Flower :  Camellia

State Wildflower:  Oak-Leaf Hydrangea

State Tree:  Southern Longleaf Pine

State Fruit Tree:  Peach

State Fruit:  Blackberry

State Mammal:  Black Bear

State Horse:  Racking Horse

State Nut:  Pecan

State Nickname:  Heart of Dixie, Yellowhammer State

State Motto:  “Audemus jura nostra defendere”  (“We Dare Defend Our Rights”)


Alabama became a state on December 14, 1819 and was the 22nd state of the USA. 

What famous Baseball Player was from Mobile, Alabama?  Hank Aaron.  He was the first baseball player to get 3000 hits and 500 home runs in his career.  He held the major-league record of 755 home runs for more than 30 years.

What unusual festival does Alabama celebrate?  Mule Day.  In the town of Winfield, they celebrate Mule Day.  It started back in 1885 when Montgomery started a trolley system where all the cars were drawn by mules.  The next year, they were the first city in the country to electrify the cars.  Winfield now has the celebration of Mule Day when thousands and thousands of people come for the mule events.  There is a parade, a beauty contest, food, dancing, crafts and much more. 

Who is the big college football archrival of University of Alabama?  Auburn University.  The annual football game between the universites is called the Iron Bowl.  It is called that because there is a lot of iron ore near Birmingham.  The ore is used to make cast iron and steel and is one of Birminham’s natural resources.  Steel production  is also one of its biggest businesses.  Fans cheer on their state university by shouting “Go Crimson Tide!”

What famous author is from Alabama?  Harper Lee is from a Monroeville, Alabama and is famous for writing the book “To Kill A Mockingbird” in 1960.  It is about a little girl named Scout who encounters racial injustice during the 1940′s.  This was the only book she ever wrote.

What famous black woman is from Alabama?  Rosa Parks was from Birmingham who became famous when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person in 1955.  She is a hero among the civil rights movement.

What crop was Alabama known for back when it first became a state?  Cotton.  There were many big cotton plantations with slave labor that made up most the of economy of Alabama in the old days.  After years of cotton growth, the soil was of poor quality.  George Washington Carver wanted to help the slaves learn how to be farmers so he taught them to plant peanuts.  He also found hudnreds of ways to use peanuts in food, medicine, drinks, makeup and more.

What is famous about Tuskegee University?  Booker T Washington and George Washington Carver were two black men born into slavery.  They made this all-black college the pride of African-Americans all over the country back in the 1800′s.  Booker T Washington was the University’s first President who hired George Washington Carver to help him.