Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Something very special is headed to JAKE's

NAO is coming to JAKE's.

In May 2016 we will be moving to the nearby Westwoods Shopping Center at 64th & McIntyre. Inside our new location will be the first ever, that were aware of anyway, Maker Space in a Toy Store.  In addition to all this great news, NAO will be joining us in the Maker Space.  

Who is NAO?

NAO is a 58-cm tall humanoid robot. He is small, cute and round. You can't help but love him! NAO is intended to be a friendly companion around the house. He moves, recognises you, hears you and even talks to you!
Since his birth in 2006, he has been constantly evolving to please, amuse, understand and love you. In short, to one day become your friend.
Aldebaran created NAO to be a true daily companion. He is the little creature who helps you be your best. His humanoid form and extreme interactivity make him really endearing and loveable.


While waiting to be ready for home use, NAO became a star in the world of education. In more than 70 countries, he was used in computer and science classes, from primary school through to university. Thanks to NAO, students can learn programming in a fun and practical way. They can program him to walk, catch small objects and even dance!
He then conquered communities of developers, who recognised him as a powerful and incredibly expressive medium for creating applications. Imagine all the things you can do with NAO! A new world of applications has been opened, and the next step is to make him available to everyone.


Speak, and he answers!
Ask him to do something and he does! For example, ask NAO to teach multiplication tables to your children, wake you up in the morning, monitor your home during the day or teach you new things whenever you want. You no longer need a keyboard, computer or mouse to communicate with technology. All you have to do is talk to it, and it responds!
A new member of the family
Now, imagine that he can learn to read your moods, so that he always knows the right thing to say; that he can recognize your family members and call them by their first names; that you can teach him your musical, food and film preferences.
This is the goal of Aldebaran: create an engaging, interactive companion and partner. His humanoid form transports you into a world of emotions and caring, his sign language gives him life and makes him endearing, and his capacity to interact makes him a new member of the family.

Inside the Maker Space at JAKE's and beginning in June 2016, we will be offering an opportunity for you and your kiddos to work with and learn from NAO.  Some of the classes will include;

SDK, Simple software for developing your robot

A comprehensive, accessible software development kit
Aldebaran puts a user-friendly, documented software development tool kit at the disposal of everyone. This kit allows users at all levels to create behaviors for their robots.
It also lets you integrate the modules you developed into your robot and use them to create elaborate behaviors.
The software development kit also contains the required compilation and debugging tools.
This multiplatform development kit is compatible with many languages and robotics platforms, including Java, JavaScript, C++, Python.


Program incredible applications by creating sequences of predefined behavior boxes or coding your own behaviors.
Entirely designed and developed by Aldebaran, Choregraphe is the programming software that lets users of our robots create and edit movements and interactive behaviours easily. Its intuitive graphical interface, library of standard behaviours, and advanced programming functions will meet the needs of beginners and experts.
Anyone can create behaviors simply by dragging and dropping actions from the library or creating customized boxes and saving them to custom libraries. Explore programming by sequential or parallel events. Regarding chronology, Choregraphe allows you to program temporal logic.
The boxes of preprogrammed behaviors are easily configurable, but you can also create your own by using the Curve Editor to edit movements or writing them in Python scripts.
The combination of these approaches opens up great programming possibilities for our robots; you can dabble in the code's complexity or bypass it as you wish.
Choregraphe accepts the Urbi and Python languages and can therefore directly call the C++ modules developed separately.
It is supplied with many detailed examples that simplify the learning process.


You can also test your program creations in a 3D environment.
Webots for NAO is the perfect simulation software to assist your lessons or educational research. Interfaced with Choregraphe, it allows you to test your programs in a virtual environment before inserting them into NAO in real conditions.
Our Webots for NAO simulator, designed by our partner Cyberbotics, allows users to test their algorithms in a virtual world governed by real physical laws.
Users can alter the simulated environment at will, inserting and editing objects of different weights and shapes.  


Monitor is an application that allows you to see what your robot sees and perceives. It allows you to access accurate data from its sensors and motors easily.
With the Camera module, you can receive data from the selected camera.
You can then use the Memory module to access and analyse, in a user-friendly way, all the data provided by the sensors.
Monitor also lets you test the vision algorithms on recorded extracts.
NAO will be just one of many Family Friendly activities planned for the Makers Space at JAKE's! Absolutely thrilled we are to have NAO joining us and, if you are interested in learning more, please be certain to sign up for our mailing list and share this with someone you know.

Watch a video of these French engineering students working with NAO to drive a car.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

First Bank Elevator Pitch Contest Submission.

Sorry for the delay in-between blogs however, take a look at the video below and you'll get an idea of some of what we've been up to. Thanks to an amazing staff for coming together and making this video happen.  We hope to win First Bank's $20,000 Elevator Pitch Contest 

The other BIG NEWS is that our website now synchronizes daily with our store so if you see it in our on line store, we have it in stock at the store albeit a couple BERG pedal karts remain special order.   

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A reason to shop with JAKE's even if you don't have kiddos in your circles.

2016 Holiday Toy Drive

Duane - Arvada Santa House.
It's not unheard of for people to think, because they don't have children they have little reason to shop with JAKE's.  On the other hand, we are blessed to have more than a few generous benefactors whom only purchase from us during the holidays.  This year were looking for a few families to help us hand select thousands of dollars worth of Toys, all of which will then be given to: Toys for Tots, Family Tree, Hope House, Arvada Santa House, Boys and Girls Club of Denver and more.

Now through Nov 22nd, we will be asking for and happily accepting monies that we apply 100% toward the selecting of inventory provided by JAKE's at wholesale (our cost).  In an effort help us choose the very best, we need some volunteers to help us go shopping within our store during the weekend of Nov 21st. (Weekend before Thanksgiving)  The place should be packed in anticipation for the following weeks up to Christmas.  We plan many tie ins' with social media including a video during the selection process, so be forewarned.    

If you're interested in sharing the good feelings associated with helping to pick out some really cool toys for some really great organizations, simply reply to dan@jakestoyboxonline.com.  Consider too the really great feeling you'll get in becoming one of our 2015 toy drive holiday benefactors.  More about that be found by clicking the link or please, use the social shares with someone you may know.  Thanks in advance! 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Toys from the 50s 60s and 70s

History Colorado Center, now though Oct 4th.

Toys from the 50s 60s and 70s


I rather regret waiting so long to visit this really fun exhibit at the History Colorado Center.  Why? Because there is limited amount of time left for you, should you feel so inclined, to visit.  Please click on the image above or HERE to be taken to the Flickr photo album of my journey.  

I've heard it said that a picture is worth a thousand words so this blog is going to be short.  Many of the photos have captions and many do not.  How many bring back fond memories for you?  You'll probably notice my enjoyment of the exhibition layout almost as much as the toys themselves.  Hope you enjoy and please share if ya do.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Die-cast P51, an Educational Toy?

How is a Die-cast P51 educational?  

I am glad you might not have asked yourself that question so please read on.  
Tuskegee P51 Mustang
The young man occupying the cockpit is Hunter Call, who works with us at JAKE's.  The man standing beside him is Bill Shepard and he works with the CAF Red Tail Squadron.  The photo was taken during the recent Rocky Mountain Airshow in Broomfield.  It was especially neat to watch Hunter and his colleagues learn more about the Red Tail Squadron before the show.  Both Hunter, and in particular myself, thought we already knew a little about the Tuskegee Airmen; however, neither he nor I would understand the full importance, not just because the sheer rarity of being allowed to sit in that plane, but because of who sat in it before him.

In great part to my Hollywood influences, I somehow missed the importance of not just the pilots themselves, but also the Tuskegee Air Core itself.  At one time representing over 13,000 men and women mostly comprised of what some said were "colored" people.  This was 1940's and segregation ran so rampant that many people mistakenly thought less than or inferior too simply because of skin pigmentation.  

Daniel L. Haulman, PhD Chief, Organizational Histories Branch Air Force Historical Research Agency 

As incredible are the story's of the Red Tail Squadron, is also how close they became to drifting into relative obscurity had it not been for the efforts of so many.  One in particular, a man named Don Hinz, the very mustang he helped to restore and fly while working with CAF is the one Hunter is pictured setting in from the beginning.  

I was able to learn a number of things about our history with applicable relevance today. Of equal importance to me was an opportunity to meet the coordinators behind the Red Tail Squadron's Traveling Exhibit.  As a result, they extended a rather unique invitation that I am so fortunate and thrilled to share with you.  

Unlike the abbreviated version used during air shows there is also a 30 minute film explaining in even greater detail the Tuskegee History.   They have already setup at many many schools nationwide.  QUESTION?  If we bring this to Jake's, say about this same time-frame next year, would you come a see it?  Would you bring a friend?

CAF RedTail Traveling Setup

The rig setup is somewhat like a transformer triple wide.  One side extends out to become the almost 180 degree curved screen and the other side extends out for small bleacher type seating.  Easily hold 20 - 30 kiddos at a time.  There would be no charge for this either.  All attendees would also depart with red alloy metallic dog-tag etched with:  Aim High, Believe in Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready to Go, Never Quit and Expect to Win.  Please watch their video and learn more.

NO, not unless there is an adjacent runway, the Mustang does not or will not join us at Jake's or any other facility that is not an Airport.      

How can we make this a reality?  If you have enjoyed the information here and the links, please share this with others or add comment in support of the idea.  Simply for doing so, many of you will randomly be chosen in receiveing a FREE a Diecast Tuskegee P51 Mustang Replica pictured below.

Help with shipping costs, if applicable, requested.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pink and Dolls - A misplaced gender bias?

Circa 1800, Men's Suit

"We think of pink as such a girlish color, but it's really a post-World War II phenomenon." Michelle Finamore, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, interviewed by Susan Samberg, NPR about an exhibition from 2014 entitled Think Pink. 

4256 FREE w/Purchase, Ltd. <-CLICK
Near closing time one night a couple years ago, a family came to visit us after having dinner next door.  I specifically remember what seemed the grandfather almost taunting his grandson by repeatedly presenting him with what many people would identify as a toy meant for a girl.  I did my best to re-direct, but the old man seemed almost to enjoy the game.  The young boy was at not all amused and visibly became more upset with each successive toy the grandfather brought to him. The family was in from out of town and after purchasing a couple toys, they headed back to wherever.

Our founder loved the color pink.  One of his favorite things to do upon entering a Toys - R- Us was to make a beeline for the back of the store where they kept the motorized cars.  His personal favorite, the Barbie Pink Escalade of course.  The word PINK was one of his earliest sight words too. 

Ryans Room - Out of Production.
Another misunderstood gender bias is in dolls/play figures.  Both boys and girls gain valuable social skills from role-playing their home lives and more.  Some of the most humbling and positive feedback to our work as parents was in overhearing Jake play independently with his little fire department and more specifically the characters within it. Using that limitless toddler imagination, one became mommy, daddy, and, of course, Jake.  The 4th pictured is our good friend Gerald.  I recall also him saying kiss, kiss, hug, goodnight, good-morning, I love you, and more while he played independently with the figures.  

In this article from KQED entitled "Why it's Imperative to Teach Empathy to Boys" you'll find a thought provoking read how playing with dolls can be of tremendous importance later in life.  Both from observations as a parent and even some at our store, I have found that children seem to role play what they are around the most.  You should not be too surprised to hear exact copies of your most frequently used expressions or words.

Again, our son of four absolutely loved the color pink and he literally never once seemed to notice differences in skin color.  Everyone was "friend".  Jake reinforced in my mind that holding a bias about colors or dolls is a completely adult construct.  It also goes both ways in the branding we see associated with some toys and dolls/action figures "for boys".  

"Thanks to marketing, Disney princesses and profits, the color pink has spread like measles."  Susan Stamberg NPR.

As a child of the 70'/80's, it would go without saying that David Bowie's "Pretty In Pink" comes to mind as bumper music for this blog however, please take a listen to this 1955 Hit, Perez Prado  Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.  Try it with a pink lemonade before summer's end too.  

So what has changed since that grandfather's visit? When a father's son picked out the Beanie Boo pictured right and he mentioned his perplexity in that, out of everything in the store his son of four chose something pink, purple, white...  I was able to share with him that pink has some interesting history behind it and it is after all only a color.  

If you enjoyed the read, please feel free to comment on my grammar and thanks for the feedback on the Links.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Haiku Poetry, in a toy store?

Poetry?  "I did not enjoy that unit in school."

That was my judgement on poetry.  I can recall one of my high school English teachers talking of Iambic Pentameter and cadence and..... Que audio - Chalres M Schultz - Charlie Brown's Teacher. 

It was a whole poetry unit and sadly what I remember most was our teacher telling us that we had better not use lyrics from various songs in our writings, because "he would know."  In my foolish youthful rebelliousness I thought, yea right this guy is really listing to SAGA Worlds Apart - Wind him up. (For that matter it's questionable if I should have been either)

Although my teacher did not recognize the song, I wound up receiving a B-.  After plagiarizing various parts from the work of others, combined with my misguided rebelliousness in refusing to listen to direction, I forgot to add the refrain if you will.  The song has one but way too long.... My teacher solved it with two words under each plagiarized section, "Spinning Spinning".

Anyway, this is the background for my introduction into Haiku, another individually unique poetry style.  A game called Haiku You in particular.  This is where I told myself to drop my aversion to poetry and learn about the game.  The simple fact that one of our employees is related to the games creator had nothing to do with my new-found willingness either, wink.  That said, I am glad that yet again by dropping my preconceived misconceptions, it has allowed me to share on this GREAT BRAIN FOOD!

Haiku You is a local Colorado company and you'll find this game, for a short while longer anyway, in only a select group of locations of which JAKE's is currently one of them.  This is a first class game for learning about syl-la-bles', improving vocabulary, creative problem solving, art, team building, sometimes even spontaneous laughter, and so much more. Rather than try to detail out how to play I have the unique pleasure of presenting a series of Haiku's as completed by our staff.

The instructions were to write one Haiku about "I love Jake's Toy Box" and one about Summer.  For your enjoyment.

I love Jake's Toy Box                             A summer breeze flits
Seeing A Child Smile                              Through the green leaves of trees
Is the best feeling.    Grace D.                 Quiet and peaceful.    Grace D.

Unique toys fill the shelves                     I love Jake's toy box
and children play with fun toys               Jakes is where I find peace.
smiles are made here.  Rhyse F.              live, love, Jake's toy box.   Zlata T.

It's about darn time                                The sun shines so bright
This heat has got me all like                    Children play for hours on end
It's about darn time     Zlata T.               Three months of great fun.    Mary B.

So joyous our time                                Come to Jake's Toy Box
Among the toys & delight,                     Where the laughter always rings
Where fun never ends    Kylie                and the children smile.     Hunter C.

Know this game is just one of the many games available for checkout in our Game Library Program. What is that?  Please ask while joining us for Family Game Night or anytime your in for a visit.

All ages all abilities always welcome!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

STOP and put some brakes on the balancing. 

Many parents may disagree with our choice but, it was ours to make.  You see for me it was more important for my son to learn how to stop his bicycle, than it was for him to ride one without training wheels.  So, I purchased a bike with training wheels and not a balance bike.  

Jake had global developmental delays, thus just pedaling took maybe more work than others however, between three and a half and four and a half, he became quite talented at leaving skid or what he referred to as "squish" marks.  I was thrilled because he knew that if things became dicey, all he needed to do was slow down if not outright stop.  

Fast-forward another five plus years and, we now own a toy store that carries balance bikes and much more.  Balance bikes, Strider in particular, have been fantastic teaching tools for balance and shown to be helpful with kiddos, both with and without special needs.

Many of you are already aware of our BERG Track and pedal karts.  BERG Pedal karts are another ideal toy for targeted developmental needs and just like many a bike or balance bike, plain old fun. 

After having the track setup, pictured above, at almost a dozen events with audiences from 1,500 to 60,000, we can't help but notice that kiddos are consistently putting their feet down to stop when they get into difficult situations.  This even after instructions about the kart, not to put your feet down, safety, blah, blah, blah. 

Resulting from informal polling of the parents nearby, I believe I have found a reason to be suspect of kiddos learning on balance bikes that have no breaks. I am wondering about learning balance without addressing control, specifically how to stop.  Could it possibly be reinforcing kiddos to put their feet down to stop in other areas too.   This could/will become problematic later in life, I promise.  Do you recall or did you ever experience first hand one of the more common/non life threatening injuries associated with the now banned motorized three wheelers?  This was long before balance bikes too. During our polling we also found parents claiming their child knew how to or, "could stop their own bike back at home without putting their feet down", yet the kiddos would continue to put their feet down to stop.   

My father's criteria for my obtaining a driver's license was making a skydive, as he was heavily involved with the sport.  His rational was to have me experience intense fear, keep my wits' about me and thus be able to pull my own ripcord.  Now, I don't expect anyone to follow that logic or teaching methodology however, it did help me to understand that when the proverbial poo poo goes down, you can react, you can overcome fear and react in the moment.  Something as simple as hitting the breaks, steering to avoid the head on collision, pulling a ripcord, even hitting the accelerator, can all be viable solutions to escape a serious injury. 

What's the review in all this or where is he going?  Don't stop short in teaching your kiddos not just balance, but almost more importantly, how to be in control of their ride.  How to stop.  I believe it will help in facilitating a self awareness for them, which in turn can be key in reacting effectively in a dicey/split second situation.  Strider bikes, along with others can be ordered with simple brake systems or purchased directly from JAKE's.         

Our neighbor has three boys with the eldest just under four.  They have a couple ride on's and a balance bike.  After explaining my theory to his parents, and leaving a buddy for them to play with, Levi (oldest) was quickly able to operate the brakes on the Buddy.  "He was so excited that after very little instruction, he figured it out and wanted to tell you" expressed Brian his enthused father. 

Be it a balance bike, trike, regular bike, Berg kart or whatever, teach your kiddos to be in control of their ride because, not all of us want to be strapped into a Flitz?"  Imagine trying to walk that up a hill when it's 32 Celsius outside.   

  My 5 year old was born with developmental dyspraxia and struggles with balance and coordination. Even though he can ride a "big wheels" like bike and use the pedals, he could not use the pedals on a bike with training wheels and make it go. Since the STRIDER 16 is made for a bigger child, he can still have practice with handling a big boy bike without the hassle of the pedals and not lose heart that he can't ride and make his bike go--so now we can put the focus on balance and coordination where he really needs the most important practice. It is motivating for him to have this big boy bike compared to a 3 wheeled bike because it resembles a big bike like his mother (myself) has and because he can maneuver it and make it go, when he could not do that with the bike with training wheels. It may take him a while to "get" the coordination and balance due to developmental reasons, but the beautiful thing is that he is motivated to do so with this bike.      - Proud Strider Mom
 Quote courtesy of Strider Bikes website 07 14 15  http://www.striderbikes.com/special-needs-testimonials

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Teaching Cash Register - Review.

Pretend and play Teaching Cash Register by Learning Resources.

The Teaching Cash Register with its lights and sounds will keep children entertained as they learn math and money skills.  It has a coin slot, large LCD screen, a scanner for credit cards and coupons, big buttons for little hands, and a drawer full of realistic looking play money.  The scanner will pick up any item with a bar-code and make up a price for it.  When kids put a coin in they will hear its name and the LCD screen will display the value.  The Coin key will give the total amount due and the Change key releases the coins so they can play over and over.  The cash register also includes interactive games such as "Coin Quiz" and "Money Match" in order to work on their addition, subtraction, coin values, counting money and making change skills.  This toy would be recommended for ages three and up.    

Review by Analise P

Identified Special Needs Challenges:
AutismDevelopmental Delay 
"We bought the product to help teach our child the value of money and reinforce what she's learning in school regarding math and money."   Courtesy of another terrific resource, www.fatbraintoys.com  07-08-15.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cauldron Quest - Game Review

TOY:  Cauldron Quest, a cooperative game by Peaceable Kingdom.

DESCRIPTION:  A cooperative game where players face a Wizard and obstacles instead of one another.  The object is to get the correct ingredients into the cauldron before the paths are blocked.  The quest is to find the ingredients.  The game is good for the age requirement of six plus, but younger children can play it as well. 

This game aids development in that it helps to teach strategy, communication, cooperation and problem solving.  This game can be beneficial to those with targeted developmental needs throughout the spectrum.

Why kids love this item:

Cauldron Quest a game where everyone plays together, no one is left out, and everyone has fun! Traditional games tend to have one winner and one (or many) losers! In a cooperative game, the players work as a team against a common obstacle, not against each other.                            Peaceable Kingdom website 7/2/15

Game Review by, Brie D and Jake's Blogger.

Beginning a useful blog.

Hello fans of JAKE's Toy Box and welcome to our first Blog!  Long overdue however, in flattery of others in the business, we did not want to start blogging until we found quality content to blog about.

Our goal in using the forum is; to provide you with some helpful Toy reviews based upon the criteria of; Educational Toys for All Abilities.  We strive to be a resource, and not just for parents with kiddos at various development levels, we strive to give you a reason to come back and visit, spending fun times in the family friendly environment that is JAKE's Toy Box.    All ages, all abilities always welcome at;