All Posts by Dana Gorman

About the Author

Dana Gorman is a wife, a mother to three amazing sons and a full-time Speech Language Pathologist. She works in the school setting with students aged 4-18. She loves her family, her job and toys!

Sep 09

Fun Games For Rainy Days

By Dana Gorman | Toyology Toys Contributors

Rain rain, go away. Come again another day?

Well, we really don’t want it to ever come back, but it will, so what fun things will you do when it does?

There is a small piece of me that actually loves rainy days! It allows me the time to stay inside and not feel guilty about it at all.  My youngest loves to do puzzles which is a perfect low-key way to start the morning. Sometimes we do a small puzzle and sometimes we make it a family event and do a puzzle with 1000 pieces.  No matter the size, the puzzles are a fantastic way to work on fine motor skills, visual perception, basic concepts (example: above, below, next to) and more! Once the puzzle is finished, the picture(s) you create provide another language-rich activity.  We love the Traffic Jam Floor Puzzle and talking about all of the vehicles that are pictured. We use it to work on categorizations and associations by taking about each vehicle, who would drive it, what other things go with each vehicle, where you would find it and how they are used.  There are so many activities that come out of doing just one puzzle together.

Although I have all sons, they’ve always loved to make bracelets and necklaces.  Who says boys can’t enjoy jewelry also? It’s super easy to make jewelry with string and beads, but the letter beads make it extra special.  The kit from Melissa & Doug comes with little wooden beads in many different shapes, all of the letters of the alphabet, and tons of string. How cute would a necklace be if it had a fish with the words “glub” on each side.  My personal favorite would be “I Love You”, but a fish necklace would be super cute also.

After a morning of puzzles and crafting, the kids are bound to get hungry.  My middle son always loved to color and draw. While we always had crayons, colored pencils, and markers, he LOVED using Kwik Stix and the jumbo drawing pad from Melissa & Doug to create all sorts of masterpieces.  Honestly, I’m not sure who loves the Kwik Stix more, me or him, but the fact that he could create a project that looked like he painted it, and it was immediately dry, was amazing. Often, he would draw pictures of foods (mostly desserts) and create his own restaurant menu.  Each page was dedicated to a food item, and sometimes, we would use his “menu” to decide what we would make for lunch. I don’t know about you, but lunch consisting of French fries, cupcakes, cookies, and milkshakes were just what we all needed on a rainy day!

Eventually, mom (or any grown-up) needs downtime of her own, so that’s when STAX comes in handy.  The magnetic pieces can be put together an infinite amount of ways to build anything your child’s imagination can dream of.  Maybe they will create a house? A garage to park their cars? A rocket ship? Anything!

Rainy days can be dreary, but they can also provide many opportunities for children to learn and grow while allowing you to join in on the fun.  So look forward to the days when you can stay in pajamas all day and drink coffee or hot chocolate while doing some puzzles, creating some unique jewelry, creating masterpieces, and magnetic fun!

Kwik Stix

Jumbo Coloring Pad – Animal


Traffic Jam Floor Puzzle 2’x3′ (24 pc)

Aug 26

Preparing For Back To School

By Dana Gorman | Toyology Toys Contributors

Just like everyone else, my family LOVES summer break!

We take vacations, spend time at the pool, beaches, outdoors, and just lay around. While my kids are on break from school, we do make sure they are still reading, and exercising their brains, so they don’t become victims of the dreaded summer slide. Once we flip the calendar page to August, we start transitioning from “Hooray for summer” to “Oh boy, school is starting soon”. That’s when we really start to focus on more academic activities to get them ready for the beginning of the school year.

Even though it’s summer, my older kids still have a busy schedule with their hockey teams. As much as the youngest would love to be outside in the sun, sometimes he has to sit in the cold rink being a spectator. I’m always looking for things for him to do besides watching videos on our phones and to keep him occupied. He has really good number sense, so it seemed logical to build on his strengths. He loved My First Dot to Dot, which provides 50 opportunities to work on his number sense (Ex- what is the highest number, which number comes after, which number is 10 more) predict what the picture will be, and identify missing sounds/letters in the written word. This book has been a lifesaver and a great summer activity to practice math skills in a super fun way!

Another favorite of ours is the Boogie Board. Don’t get me wrong, old fashioned paper and pencil is great, but having a surface to write on then erase- over and over and over again is amazing! My son likes it best when he writes the word and I have to guess what is, but I like it best when it’s the other way around. Either way, he’s either reading, writing, predicting, or inferring (guessing what I drew based on my clues) and the Speech Pathologist in me couldn’t be happier!

Since I work in a school, I am fortunate to get to enjoy my summers with my kids. I always try to fill the days up with activities to make sure we are getting the most out of this time together. We have a calendar in the kitchen that gets flipped each month, but for the summer, it isn’t used the same way it is during the school year. This calendar is a favorite because it lets my youngest be more involved in his day, especially during the school year. He loves to know if it’s a “Gym day” or an“Art day” so he knows what to expect. This magnetic calendar lets him help personalize it to his monthly activities so he feels like he is just as involved as his big brothers.

As our summer has gone on, we are always talking about what we are doing next. My youngest (6-year-old) constantly ask “what time” or “how many more minutes” so he knows when to expect the next activity. Since all of the modern technologies have digital clocks, I made sure to have an analog clock in our house. I know it isn’t the norm, but I want to make sure he’s able to read an analog clock if he ever encounters one.

I love this Telling Time Mat by Melissa & Doug. The blank space allows you (or your child) to draw a picture of an event, and then you can display the time on two different types of clocks. It’s a great visual to allow the child to see what time an event will happen in two different formats. My youngest son is only 6, and still too young to tell time on an analog clock, but I get super excited when he asks if he should be looking at the big hand or the little hand to know when we are leaving. During the summer, he often asked when his friends were coming over, or when we could do a lemonade sale. Now that school is starting soon, his questions will most likely be about what time he has to go to bed.

Summer is definitely a time to take a break and recharge- both for the parents and the kids. Still, it is super important to keep the learning going in a fun way so when school starts, there isn’t a drastic change in academic expectations. Having some fun learning activities in place now helps us plan for a successful back to school for everyone!

Boogie Board – Jot 8.5 (Blue)

Boogie Board – Scribble N Play

Melissa & Doug – My Monthly Magnetic Calendar

Melissa & Doug – Telling Time Write-A-Mat

May 13

Crafting and Creating Memories

By Dana Gorman | Power Of Play

Our youngest son just had his birthday party and he received tons of nice gifts.

He received remote control cars, tons of LEGOs (which happen to be his current favorite), books, action figures, and more. We’ve spent much time creating LEGO masterpieces with the directions provided, and he takes turns playing with the other toys he’s received also. When night time comes, the toys get put away, and there is almost no sign of what the day was all about. Who am I kidding? Nothing really gets put away but you know what I mean, right….

As I walk around my house, I see the vases, the picture frames, the flower pots, all the treasures that he made at school. I also see the treasures that we’ve made together. Some of my favorite times with my children are the times we spend creating a masterpiece and making lasting memories that we can remember and actually see around our home.

Empower Poster Kit

Dana's son creating his Empower Poster ?: Dana Gorman

Finished product. ?: Dana Gorman

At the top of my favorite projects list is the Empower Poster Kit he received. As a six-year-old, it is definitely a project he needed help with, but that was the perfect opportunity for us to talk about all of the amazing characteristics he has and demonstrates in all aspects of his life. Talking about such powerful words, such as, empathetic, witty, and courageous provided many opportunities to build his vocabulary while identifying examples of his behavior that makes him such an amazing human being. He now has a super powerful and visually appealing poster in his room that we created together and be a constant reminder of his greatness! This has also made it to my list of “great graduation gifts” because what teenager can’t benefit from reminding themselves about all of the great characteristics they portray!

Comic Book Kit

Speaking of teenagers…even though they still like toys, many also enjoy reading. There are so many ways to create a book – good old paper and staples can create a perfect way for anyone to create an original story, and if you add construction paper, then you have a colorful masterpiece. To get a more official book, check out the Illustory or the Comic Book Kit to help with the project. It’s a great way for you and your child to work together to create their own story or comic book for you to read together for years to come. Children are master storytellers; why not let them become authors of a book that can get published and become a reality.


As the weather is getting nicer, and we are outside more and more, I look forward to making memories outside. Each new day is a chance to do something fun with your child that will build a new memory. There are so many amazing ways to create memories with kids through experiences and moments that are etched in your brain, caught on camera or video, and through crafts and projects that you do together that find their way into that special spot in your home.

Nov 18

Gifts That Keep On Giving!

By Dana Gorman | Toy Guides

I’m not sure about your children, but mine absolutely LOVE getting gifts.

It doesn’t seem to matter what they get, they are just thrilled to open a box, play with whatever they got for a day or two, then it gets added to the container of toys that is already overflowing.  The best was when the boys were little, and they didn’t even care if there was anything in the box, the box was all they wanted (and needed) to entertain them for hours!

As I sit around looking at all the things I have, I realize that some of the best gifts are the ones that keep on giving.  Don’t get me wrong, my kids will always revisit the toys they’ve received as gifts, but some of our favorites are things like SpinArt, or a paint your own porcelain pot, or a paint your own plate.  

We LOVE SpinArt at our house.  The kids create masterpieces, and then we use those works of art as birthday cards for our friends.  A store-bought birthday card is great, but a handmade birthday card is even better. Sometimes, we even frame the masterpieces and it becomes art on our wall.  Imagine seeing your child’s face when they realized their work of art is just as important as that store-bought print you purchased at the store. Priceless!

Painting your own porcelain pot is another great gift.  So often, my kids would bring home seeds from school, or a bud from a plant, that we needed to quickly plant so we kept the growing going.  What better place to plant that seed then in a pot that your child painted. Sure, you can buy a pot, but watching a flower, or plant, grow in a pot that they created would be nothing less than exciting!

We also love painting our own plates and bowls.  My kids have done this every year since my oldest was two, and 12 years later, they still eat off of those plates!  It’s fun to hear them say “I want the pizza plate”, or “I’ll take the ice cream bowl”. It is important to make sure the dishes are safe for eating, but even if they are not, using them as serving pieces (with a doily separating the food from the dish) would be a great addition to any family dinner!

Children always look forward to opening gifts and watching their faces as they open the boxes is exciting.  While it is entertaining to watch them play with their new toys, even if it is for just a few hours (or days) after they’ve gotten them; think about how you can make some gifts last longer just by picking one that keeps on giving.

Make Together Family Bowl Kit

Paint Your Own Stone:
Mosaic Flower Pot

Paint Your Own Stone:
Mosaic Orb

Paint Your Own:
Picture Frame

​Pottery Wheel

Mini Glitter Bowls

Make & Give Heart Bowls

Aug 18

What Tools Do You Have In Your Toolbox?

By Dana Gorman | Power Of Play

Carpenters have use hammers, nails, screwdrivers, saws…
Mechanics have screwdrivers, wrenches, flashlights…
Plumbers have pliers, hose cutters, snakes…

What do YOU have in your toolbox?


Teachers have a “toolbox” full of ideas on how to engage and encourage student learning.  They have many ideas and tools ready to go so when students are ready to learn they are ready to teach.   Students all have different learning styles and teachers need to be ready to differentiate learning to meet all of their needs.  Parents have an infinite number of opportunities to help their children grow, and learn, and having a toolbox of your own can make it fun, and easy, to engage your children in learning while playing.  

Some of my favorite things are Play-Doh, markers and crayons, but that is just the beginning.  Mad Libs are my all time favorite! Kids of all ages can enjoy these and get hours of laughs. They reinforce parts of language, and while older kids can fill them in all on their own, younger kids can help their parents and then hear a hilarious story that they created with their own ideas.  They are great for road trips, car rides, and rainy days. Brain Quest is another company that makes fun learning tools that can be used in a game format for kids of all ages. The cards are connected so they can be taken in the car, on an airplane, to the doctor office to pass time while waiting,  or simply to your comfy couch where you can ask questions like “what word is the opposite of yes”, or “how many days in a week”. It’s a great way to encourage social interactions, practice asking and answering questions, and building your child’s confidence and knowledge as they respond to the questions.  

A great tool for your child’s toolbox is a diary! Writing is talk written down, so after a vacation, or an exciting day or activity, have them tell you about their favorite part and then have them draw a picture and/or write about it. It will create a hard copy of their memories that they have created themselves.  

Everyone, no matter what your job, needs tools. So grab a bag, fill up it with some “tools” and be ready for fun no matter where you are!

Jun 23

How To Avoid The Summer Slide

By Dana Gorman | Toyology Toys Contributors

School is over and summer is finally here!


School is over and summer is finally here!  Yippee! Well, as far as your children are concerned, it’s time to play.  As a parent, it is important to make sure your kids are having fun, but, it’s equally important to make sure they don’t become victims of that dreaded summer slide.  Kids spend all year growing and learning while at school and it is so very important to review learned information in order to maintain it. Studies show that kids benefit from repetition and review of information in order to commit it to their long term memory.  Summer is a time for kids to recharge, but taking 3 months off, without any review, can actually cause them to forget some of the great skills they learned.

Ogodisk Mini - Toyology Edition

There are so many fun ways kids can review, and practiced what they’ve learned, without even realizing it!  At some point, you will probably play catch with your child. How about playing a “name game” while playing catch. Each time the ball is caught, you have to name an animal starting with a letter from the alphabet starting with A.  Or, maybe you can name foods, or things you would find in school. These kind of activities will help build vocabulary which is super helpful for reading and writing.


It is also super important that you continue reading over the summer.  Carving out 20 minutes a day, a few days a week, will remind your child about the importance of reading, and keep them on track for success.  The best way to be a better reader is to keep on reading. Reading is so important as it is a way for us to get information, as well as, use our imaginations.


Language, Reading, and Writing are all connected, so whether you are staying at home or going on vacations, talk about the activities your family is doing and add in some journal writing.  Writing is talk written down, and everyone loves to read a good story! Have a super fun and safe Summer, and help your child create a written masterpiece that he/she can share with the teacher when they get back to school.

Djubi Jr.

Jun 18

Meet Dana Gorman – Toyology Toys Contributor

By Dana Gorman | Toyology Toys Contributors

Toyology Toys: Tell us a little about yourself.

Dana Gorman:  My husband and I have three super terrific sons.  Max is 13, Jack is 12 and Ty is 5. We live in Novi and I work in Farmington Public Schools as a Speech Language Pathologist.  I love watching my older boys play hockey and my youngest play T-ball.

Dana's three sons; Jack, Max and Ty.

Toyology Toys: What is your occupation?

Dana: I’m a Speech Language Pathologist

Toyology Toys: Why are you interested in contributing to Toyology Toys?

Dana: I am always playing with toys!  At home with my kids, and at school with my students. I am always looking for ways to use toys to build and enhance language skills.  I would love to demonstrate different ways to use toys for that purpose.

Toyology Toys: What do you love about toys?

Dana: EVERYTHING!!!  They encourage language development, encourage creativity, movement, interactions…

Toyology Toys: What does the “power of play” mean to you?

Dana:  Kids learn best when having fun, and playing is fun.  My students will often tell their parents that all we do is “play” during speech.  They are right, but they are also learning new language skills. While playing, you are engaging in learning social language (following directions, playing by rules, exchanging information, gathering information…)

Toyology Toys: What specific topics would you like to contribute to Toyology Toys and the Power of Play?

Dana: I would love to talk about toys and how parents can use them in more ways than just one.  When you pick out a toy, your first inclination is to read the directions and rules so you know how to play the game.  That’s exactly what should be done. What I would like to do is point out the benefits of the games they are playing and encourage them to add more to the game by adding another skill.  

There are so many toys available and so many different ways to use the same toy.  So many language skills can be developed and enhanced while playing and I would love to give tips on how toys can be used, and the language that can be used, while playing to have fun while learning at the same time.

Toyology Toys: Where can people follow you?

Dana: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter