However, I would feel remiss if I didn't let you know about the Best Flash Cards in the Entire World.
That's right- flash cards. Those things you use to drill information into your children's brains like a tapeworm through your large intestine (I would apologize for that analogy, but that's sometimes how I visualize the learning process- and now you will, too). I know, I know, children learn best through play and experience and blah blah blah. I'm all for hippie learning crap, okay, but I also see nothing wrong with reinforcing what they're learning and helping to make some knowledge automatic, like letters and times tables.
Enter Eric Carle Animal Flash Cards, which are approximately 8.4 billion times better than any other flash cards that have walked through the door of this house. First of all, do you have any idea how many flashcards I've thrown away? Because I sure don't. Dozens and dozens, at least, because most of them are flimsy and ugly and get buried at the bottom of the toy box, where they get bent and torn, not that our children care, as they wanted little to do with them in the first place.
Eric Carle flash cards, on the other hand, are made of some kind of reinforced cardboard, the same material board books are made of, perfect for resisting children's destructive little paws. Each one is also a small work of art, with an illustration of an animal by Carle on one side, and the capital and lower case letter on the other (he uses a xolo for "X," in case you're curious, which I was when we first opened the box, and urchins for "U," dashing my hopes for an illustrated flash card unicorn). The letter side is my favorite, as each one also features a bright, graphically illustrated background. They're just pretty.
I have to admit, they're a little pricey, as you saw if you clicked on that link I included above. Well, maybe not pricey to some of you, but for me, who's used to garage sale prices, $15.00 is a lot to spend for flash cards. But maybe there's some kind of holiday coming up and friends and family members are asking things like, "What should I get Junior for his birthday/Christmas/Hannukah/President's Day?" and ANYTHING BUT STUFFED ANIMALS isn't actually a helpful answer. My mom got these for one of our children for some holiday or other a year or two ago, and we have used them to death (oh, hey, Mom- did you know Eric Carle also apparently makes number flash cards? Aren't they pretty? Did you see that helpful link I just provided? Did you know Caedmon's birthday is in September?). Or maybe you don't have small children yourself- these are a great gift idea for toddlers and preschoolers; it helps them learn and won't make their parents hate you for bringing another worthless piece of plastic into their children's lives. Just saying.
[Note: I'm not being paid or reimbursed or anything for telling you about these flash cards. I just think they're awesome flash cards. I'm also wondering how many times I can say flash cards in one post. Flash cards flash cards flash cards.]