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When You’re Shopping for Toys, Play it Safe

Toys may look innocent enough, but lately they’ve been the subject of frequent news coverage. Most recently we’ve read about lead in the paint finish. But even before that we heard about other hazards that have been linked to impaired learning, liver toxicity and even cancer. It seems that our children’s toys can be a minefield of chemicals.

Here’s a few tips to help you navigate through your local toy store during the holiday season.

” For starters, avoid toys Made in China. Since we don’t always know what they’re made of and we have so little control over the manufacture of them at this point, just avoid them altogether. There are other options that I’m sure will make your baby just as happy.

” While avoiding toys from China, those made in Western Europe are usually a good option. They have some of the highest regulations in the toy business. And don’t forget the toys made here in the USA.

” Avoid soft plastics unless they display a “phthalate free” label, especially when you’re buying for infants and toddlers. The phthalates that make these toys flexible have been linked to hormone disrupters.

” To be certain there’s no Lead in the toys you buy for your baby. You can test it yourself with a home testing kit. Lead is so toxic that just a littlest bit can be extremely harmful especially to an infant or toddler who will usually put everything in their mouth.

” Be wary of any costume jewelry. The pieces are small enough for babies to swallow and are often made with lead.

” Try shopping at a small toy store rather than one of the big box stores. Although their prices may be a bit higher, they generally sell higher quality toys.

” Finally, read the label carefully. There may be language that indicates how it’s made.

If you want to check to see if one of the toys in your house is laced with toxin chemicals like lead, arsenic or mercury go to:

http://www.healthytoys.org
” Consumer Products Safety Commission at Toy Hazard Recalls http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html,
” U.S. PIRG at uspirg.org/issues/toy-safety

These companies test more than 1,500 toys as well as other children’s products. But they can’t test them all. So, the responsibility falls on us as parents and grandparents when we’re purchasing anything for our kids.

I think the best toys are not only fun but also safe for our kids. Have fun shopping!

Start a Kid’s Entertainment Business! No Special Skills Needed!

There are an infinite number of ways to make extremely good money by entertaining children, without any special skills at all. Thousands of people in this country do it every day. Many do it full time. Many make over $100,000 a year doing it too. It’s unbelievably easy to entertain kids as long as you love children. There are dozens and dozens of ways to make money and have a great time doing it. Plus, you should be making anywhere from $50 to $150 an hour.

Plus, you don’t need any special skills such as being a magician or clown or juggler. I’m not talking about being an entertainer. I’m talking about bringing supplies and materials or equipment to an event and just showing the kids how to have fun with them. What you bring to the kids is what provides the entertainment.

You may choose one idea or several different concepts to pursue for your kids entertainment business. For example, there are dozens of different kinds of birthday party services for which you can provide entertainment. Let me give you an example of a service that will make you money at festivals, company picnics, birthday parties and many other applications. Combine this service with a few other services and you will have a fabulous package of kid’s entertainment that will make a lot of easy money for you. And anyone can do it. Let me show you just one idea.

SPIN ART – Kids love this! Spin Art is where kids squirt a few drops of paint onto a spinning card and create a one of a kind work of art. You stick the card in a frame for the child to take home and keep. There are two ways to go with spin art machines. One is you can spend about $225.00 to $395.00 for a more professional, heavy duty, electric ready-to-go commercial spin art machine. The cards slide into the holder quite easily – a good piece of equipment. These commercial grade units will also allow you to put spin art onto Frisbees. You will be told later in this book where to buy the machines.

Another route is to buy a non-commercial toy spin art machine at a toy store that is battery operated. There are several brands on the market. You will find them in the catalogs you will be ordering or at toy stores (Toys R Us, etc.) They are about $16.00 to $20.00 each and you definitely need to get three, using two at a time and one as a backup spare. For larger crowds, use as many machines as is warranted.

Whereas the commercial machine mentioned above has a card holder that the card slips into easily, the non-commercial toy version has little tabs that the corners of the cards have to slip into. This slows down production. You also have to clean each toy machine before putting them away being very careful not to get even one drop of water down in the hole with the spindle in it in the center of the machine. One drop of water will rust out the tiny battery driven motor and you’ll have to throw the machine away.

The pros and cons are: The commercial versions are bigger than the toy version, which is a major consideration in the startup phase of your business. It’s also heavier and mildly cumbersome by comparison, depending on whose version you buy. Some are the size of a large toy box or a footlocker type trunk. You don’t have to clean anything when you are done because the paint splatters against a cardboard insert or garbage bag that lines the insert. It certainly looks more professional. You don’t have to worry about getting water in the hole. It’s twenty times more expensive than the toy version. It has much faster production because the card slips in and out of the card holder so much faster and it spins faster because of the more powerful motor.

The toy version is far less expensive, twenty times smaller and more lightweight, is more of a pain to operate because of the tabs the cards have to be slipped into and is a pain to clean after every use. They are certainly not going to last nearly as long as the commercial version. They are slower production than the commercial model. They look less professional, but do the job just fine. This is what I started with. My vote would be to start with the toy versions unless your budget and transportation/storage situation is no problem. Either way will work fine.

You are only supposed to let a child squirt a few drops of each color paint (red, blue and yellow) onto the card. You have to tell this to the child before they squeeze the paint bottle and make sure they adhere to it. If they squirt too much paint onto the card, it creates several problems.

As children approach, have them form a line in front of each of your two operating machines. Turn the machine on before the child squirts their paint. After children have squirted their paint onto the card, turn the machine off. The toy versions take a while to slow down. Don’t wait for it. It slows down the whole process. To slow it down right away, put your finger on the edge of the spindle to make it stop. Remove the card and put it into a frame. Staple the frame. Slip another card into the tabs on the spindle and let the next child take their turn.

Your startup spin art supplies consist of the cards and frames and the paint. The cards and frames are sold by a company that sells them in sets of 1000 for about $125.00 at the time of this writing. You can get them for less if you order 5000 or more. The paint usually costs between $3.00 and $5.00 per quart and is available at craft stores and school supply stores. You have about 15 cents invested in each finished card and frame. Two dollars for this at festivals is an easy sale and a huge mark up and profit!

Too many colors slows down you production because the kids will take forever to make up their minds what colors they want to use. (This also applies to flavors of snow cone syrups, if you get into that business.) The only reason I might expand on this is if you are having individual customers pay for the spin art themselves. At company picnics where everything is already paid for, stick to four colors. One quart of each will get you through several events. (Unless they’re large events.) Always take extra paint, and extra everything, for that matter. The paint is safe, non-toxic and water based.

Spin art is very versatile for almost any kids event. I would heartily suggest this activity for any kids entertainment business. You just can’t miss.