Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If it’s Tuesday it must be toys and tours

"Brown Teddy Bear" by Lydia Jacobs

Welcome to the newest edition of, “If it’s Tuesday it must be toys and tours.” Like our sister columns, Wednesday’s “Book Report,” Thursday’s “Musical Notes” and Friday’s “Popcorn Report,” which respectively features information on books, music and movies, this weekly post highlights the best in product offerings in the world of toys, games, puzzles, crafts, sporting goods and vacation specials for children and teens, as well as industry news and up-to-date product recalls from United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Be sure to check back each Tuesday.

This week, with the launch of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee, we’ll take a look at games that are not only fun but help promote literacy and spelling competency, and we’ll also provide you with ticketing information for attending this exciting nationally televised event.

Bee Week 2011, officially began on Sunday, May 29 and runs through Friday. June 3 at the Gaylord National Hotel near Washington, D.C.

This year’s crop of 275 spelling finalists, ages eight to 15-years old hail from all 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and also  represent such diverse global locales as Japan, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Canada and the Department of Defense Schools in Europe.

Spellers have been sponsored by various organizations, and will be vying for financial prizes in addition to the distinction of being the top young wordsmith of the English language.

Each of these young people began their spelling journeys months ago and participated in various levels of the competition that began in their home or school classrooms and went on to school-wide and regional finals.

Getting a child interested in an event such as this can be rewarding as well as fun and entertaining. Below are some ideal games to spark enthusiasm and provide high levels of academic achievement with skills that are transferable to a number of educational settings.



The granddaddy of word games that has been on the scene since 1946, Scrabble is the crossword style game played with tiles on a board. The object is to create as many words as you can with the tiles you receive. The more complex the words you create, the better your score.

Over the years, Scrabble has seen many new versions introduced to the public, including now one for Kindle, which retails for $0.99 through Amazon.com.
Amazon also offers the traditional Scrabble for $19.16, with best pricing through Amazon Marketplace at $15.75.

This is a fast paced and competitive card game that can be played with one to eight participants with the object of the game to create as many words as you can from the hand you are dealt.

Amazon.com offers Quiddler for $11.58, where you can also read product reviews. Best available pricing is through Amazon Marketplace at $9.34.


One of the most unique and primarily word-of-mouth promoted games, Bananagrams has taken the country by storm, and now it’s gone global with international editions. 

As a word formation game, it is slightly similar to Scrabble but it is fast-paced, portable and almost addictive as you can play in groups or solo. The game has simple rules and is very affordable.

The video embedded at the end of this post, provided by Mastermind Toys gives a good idea of how much fun the game is to play.

Amazon.com offers Bananagrams at $14.85 along with product reviews. Amazon Marketplace has best pricing at $10.60.

“Bees" by Petr Kratochvil

If you and your family are in the Washington, D.C. area over the next few days, tickets are available for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is being held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, in the Maryland Ballroom.

All seating for the Bee is open and available on a first come basis, and if you are driving to the event, parking is adjacent to the Maryland Ballroom.

Tickets are priced at $25.00 per person for all of the preliminary rounds which run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and include a break from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, 2011. (Seating will begin at 7:00 a.m. EDT).

Tickets for the Semi Final Rounds Thursday June 2, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. are $25.00. (Seating will begin at 9:00 a.m. EDT).

Championship Final Round tickets for Thursday June 2, 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. are priced at $40.00 per person. (Seating will begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT).

To learn more about The National Spelling Bee and purchase tickets online by connecting to this link at spellingbee.com.

If you’re unable to attend the actual Spelling Bee in person, ESPN 3 and ESPN will be broadcasting the event live at the following times:

Preliminary rounds ESPN 3, Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. EDT and online live streaming at 1:15 p.m. EDT
Semifinal rounds ESPN Thursday, June 2 at 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EDT
The Championship Final Rounds ESPN, Thursday, June 2 at 8:30 p.m to 10:00 p.m. EDT

Round results will also be posted in real time at spellingbee.com


The following is a compilation of notices from the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
Below you will find the most recent recalls and product news updates from the CPSC for the last 7 days.

In case you happened to have missed any of the announcements, just click on the following links for complete information on each of the items and breaking news.




If you are searching for other consumer product items such as household, outdoor products, utensils, furniture and clothing that may relate to all family members, please review additional listings at the CPSC’s search page.

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