Anders Ruff Workshop

Pineville and Davidson, NC

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Rock Hill, SC

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kids Keep Creating with YOXO Toys

It's TV trance face. You know - when your kiddo's eyes glaze over and pupils dilate to allow as much TV in as possible. Ugh, I hate TV trance face - but many times it's a necessary evil when looking for a quick fix to keep them entertained while I get dinner ready, or try to - God forbid - go to the bathroom alone. I tried the unique looking YOXO toys in an attempt to avoid TV trance face, but keep the kids entertained and playing independently while using their imaginations.

At first I wasn't sure how much of a hit they would be, they didn't have a power button and seemed relatively simple - but the simplicity of the toy is where it's beauty lies. The toy requires the child to engage with it, not the other way around. We had the two two-year-olds and my six-year-old at the table. I did have to initially show them how the pieces fit together, but after a quick how-to they were off and creating. Before I knew it they were having races to see who could build the tallest, the widest, the one with the most circles - and the google eye stickers were a hit. I liked that the pieces were easy to pick up and that if you did step on one it didn't send you through the roof. That night I was able to get our baked chicken and potatoes on the table without too many interruptions. 

If you're looking for parent-child interaction there are several instructions that can be followed to create the robot, dragon fly and several other creations. YOXO toys are neat because you can use every day items around the house as your expansion pack, string, paper towel rolls, a cereal box - all these items can be incorporated for play. I also loved that they were made in the USA - a badge that can be hard to come across in any form of toy. The two-year-olds (who are closer to three) did quite well with them, but my six-year-old really took off with them. YOXO has won several awards including the 2014 Creative Play of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine, and was a Gold Winner in the National Parenting Publications Awards.  It's a gift I plan to buy for our next birthday party and you can pick up YOXO at Target, the kits we used cost around $20.

Ruby The Octopus May Be As Smart As Your Five-Year-Old

Meet Ruby. She's the Giant Pacific octopus and resident at the 26,000 square foot indoor aquarium SEA LIFE in Charlotte-Concord that may be as smart as your five-year-old!

That's right, a Giant Pacific octopus can develop the mental capacity of a five-year-old with proper engagement. SEA LIFE has designed an Octopus Enrichment program for Ruby that will include her solving puzzle-type activities with a trained team of SEA LIFE aquarists. Her first enrichment program has her tentacle painting on paper using positive treat reinforcement. Check out her work below -she's a regular eight-tentacled Picasso! 

The SEA LIFE in Aukland New Zealand partnered with Sony and were able to teach their Giant Pacific octopus, Rambo, to take pictures of visitors using a specially mounted camera in her tank. How cool is that? Next thing you know she'll be fighting with her sibling octopi over whose turn it is to play Minecraft on the iPad. 

You can meet Ruby and watch as she engages in SEA LIFE's Octopus Enrichment programs each day at 2:15PM in her tank in the Shipwreck area of the aquarium. To plan your visit or learn more about SEA LIFE you can go to