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Friday, November 04 2016 07:46

#NTSD16: Neighborhood Toy Store Day is Coming - Kick-Off the Holiday Season & Shop Local!

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NTSD logo 2016THE ROCK FATHER™ is a paid 2016 Neighborhood Toy Store Day Ambassador.

On Saturday, November 12, 2016, the seventh annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day will take place - a tradition in which families can come together to kick off the Holiday shopping season, while celebrating the good that local toy stores (find a location here) bring to their communities. Shopping local has many benefits, but when you shop a Neighborhood Toy Store, you're supporting folks who care about play, and spend countless hours working with children, and carefully curating the perfect mix of toys for their shoppers. Sponsored by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting local toy shopping and creative, open-ended playtime for children, stores participating in Neighborhood Toy Store Day will be playing host to special events like face-painting and live music, in addition to highlighting some of the best toys of the year - many of which you won't find elsewhere.

Being in the Chicagoland area, there's a few great toy stores that come to mind here in the North 'Burbs (Snickelfritz in Vernon Hills, Beanstalk in Highland Park), but I want to shout-out Building Blocks Toys in Chicago proper, who not only have activities at both locations, but GRAMMY-nominated Kindie superstar Justin Roberts performing live at their Wicker Park store during Neighborhood Toy Store Day.

best toysLooking for a great gift? Check out the Winners of the 2016 ASTRA Best Toys for Kids Awards:

ACTIVE PLAY
  • Kidoozie Counting Pogo Jumper (International Playthings)
  • Slackers Ninjaline Intro Kit ( b4Adventure – Brand 44 LLC)
CHOOSE YOUR OWN CATEGORY
  • Rock and Roll It! (Piano - MukikiM Toys)
  • Sneaky Cards (Gamewright, a div of Ceaco)
CLASSIC PLAY 0-7 YEARS
  • Rat-A-Tat Cat (Gamewright, a div of Ceaco)
  • WOW Flip ‘n’ Tip Fred (Reeves International, Inc.)
CLASSIC PLAY 8+
  • Snap Circuits Jr. (Elenco Electronics)
  • Rubik Cube 3x3 (Winning Moves)
CONSTRUCTIVE PLAY 0-7 YEARS
  • Robot Engineer (Thames & Kosmos)
CONSTRUCTIVE PLAY 8+ YEARS
  • Geckobot (Thames & Kosmos)
CREATIVE ARTS PLAY 3-7 YEARS
  • Craft-tastic Kindness Kit (Ann Williams)
  • Fuzzeez™ Husky (The Orb Factory)
CREATIVE ARTS PLAY 8+ YEARS
  • Peacock Silk Painting (Hotaling / Djeco)
  • Sew Mini Treats (Klutz)
EARLY PLAY
  • SpinAgain (Fat Brain Toy Co.)
GAME PLAY 3-5 YEARS
  • Little Red Riding Hood (SmartGames)
  • Balance Beans (ThinkFun)
GAME PLAY 6+ YEARS
  • Happy Salmon (North Star Games)
GAME PLAY 8 YEARS+
  • Dr. Eureka (Blue Orange Games)
LEARNING PLAY
  • Code & Go™ Robot Mouse Activity Set (Learning Resources)
PRETEND—DOLL PLAY
  • Folkmanis® French Bulldog Puppet (Folkmanis® Puppets)
PRETEND—FANTASY PLAY
  • The Irish Fairy Door (The Irish Fairy Door Company | License-2-Play)
PRETEND—ROLE PLAY
  • Calico Critters Seaside Ice Cream Shop (International Playthings)
SCIENTIFIC PLAY
  • Hot Ice Crystals (Thames & Kosmos )

To find a participating Neighborhood Toy Store in your area, check out this handy locator, and be sure to shop local on November 12th!

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, and serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. Current special projects include promotional campaigns for PJ Masks (eOne/Disney Junior) and Beat Bugs (Netflix). 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for Napalm Records' PRODUCT OF HATE.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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