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July 06, 2007

How to Put Fun and Learning into Family Summer Travel

Family trips invariably lead to the familiar back-seat question "Are we there yet?"  To help cut back on the chants of anxious traveling children, Learning Resources, a manufacturer of hands-on educational toys, has developed several new toys that keep kids engaged during long trips while also reinforcing learning skills. How cool is that?

Regardless of whether they are in the back seat of the car, or flying alongside you on an airplane, here is a collection of toys that can help you keep your traveling little ones occupied and educated at the same time:

World_traveler_3 Prepare kids for real summer trips or pretend ones with Pretend & Play World Traveler. A world of adventure comes packed inside a sturdy suitcase, including play camera, binoculars, passport, maps, postcards, and write-and-wipe crayon pen to write home. The kit teaches about diverse cultures, natural wonders, geography, architecture, languages, and more. Ages 5-7. Retail price: $32.95.

Animalcrackups Younger children will be preoccupied building their own unique animals when playing with Smart Snacks Animal Crack-Ups.  Color-coded pieces let kids mix-and-match animal parts to create a dorse (duck + horse), pog (pig + dog) or any animal of their making. Ten different two-piece puzzles help children learn to recognize colors and animals while developing fine motor skills. Ages 2+. Retail price: $15.95.

Sweet_heart_sayings Stringing together a little sweet talk will keep kids entertained. Smart Snacks Sweet Heart Sayings are lacing hearts that feature a word or picture on each side. Kids can create colorful designs and cute messages while improving fine motor skills. Set includes 28 plastic hearts that lace together vertically and horizontally, three laces, scoop and storage jar. Ages 2+. Retail price: $15.95.

Color_play_penguins_sail_away_sha_2 Smart Splash Color Play Penguins  and Sail Away Shapes can be a car, plane, train or water toy. Each Color Play Penguin sports a patterned top hat that matches one of the 6 removable inner tubes. Kids learn colors and shapes and practice fine motor skills. Sail Away Shapes include a colorful set of eight sailboats. Each detachable sail features a uniquely shaped mast that fits only in the boat of the matching color. Sailboats float alone or can be linked together. Ages 2+. Each sold separately. Retail price: $15.95 each.

These and other Learning Resources products can be found at toy specialty stores nationwide and at

by Brandy Schaffels
Contributing Editor and survivor of many long summer travel sagas

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