Thursday, September 13, 2012

Toy Review & Giveaway: Hot Dots® Jr. and “Ace” the Talking, Teaching Dog by Educational Insights


Based in Southern California, Educational Insights, is the manufacturer of playful products with serious educational value, including subject-specific classroom products, teacher resources, educational toys, and games. Our products are designed by seasoned educators and parents who know that, first and foremost, learning must be fun.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent or a teacher, Educational Insights make products that would be great at home and at school. We received the Hot Dots Jr., Kat the Talking Kitty, and Ace the Talking Dog.


Ace and Kat are chunky, 6" long electronic pens (3 AAA batteries required, not included), which are designed for little hands.

The cards come in sets of 36, and we received 5 packs in the Getting Ready for School to review which includes Shapes, Uppercase and Lowercase Letters, Colors and Patters, Lets Learn Numbers, and Learning the Alphabet.

Each of these packs have their own instructions at the top and are each color-coded so that you can easily separate the packs if they get mixed together. At first, we were only opening one pack at a time because I was afraid that they were going to get mixed up- until I noticed the color coding on the bottom.

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This is a very innovative thinking on the companies part. Not only are they helping kids to learn- but they make it easy on the parents. My son started Kindergarten this year, and he has been having issues learning his alphabet and numbers.

This isn’t just “teaching” the kids, this is making the kids WANT to learn because it is fun and engages them. Each card has it’s own set of instructions at the top- so I read it to them and then we go through each one..

The pens are SO adorable. They buzz with excitement when you press them down on the paper. When the kids get the answers right the eyes on the pen will light up and it will encourage the kids.. When they get the answer wrong the eyes will light up red and say “Try again” or something along the lines. This way they know it’s wrong but yet don’t get discouraged and want to quit.

Both the cards and the pens are made with extremely high quality. The company knows that kids can be rough when using items; whether it’s playing or learning.. so this isn’t some cheap cards that are going to tear or a cheap plastic pen that will fall apart. My kids LOVE both the cards and pen, and so do I.

They love them because they’re fun, I love them because they are teaching my kittle munchkins while we have fun! Each pack of cards are packaged individually, so that multiple kids can play if they wish.

Before we got the Hot Dots Jr., it was really hard for me to sit down with Aidan and teach him stuff. He wouldn’t pay attention and he would eventually start to get tired and bored.. because it was just words on paper to him. The Hot Dots Jr is more like a game to the kids then a learning device.

It is well known that kids will retain information if it stands out to them. AND I know that this is true. When I was a kid- it was easier for me to learn something that was hands on then it was to cram notes and listen to lectures and so on..

About the Cards:

Learning the Alphabet Card Pack:

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The first 26 cards (which are front AND back) has “Choose the letters that are the same as the first one.” Then it has A, a, A, a, A.. and in the row—it’ll have random letters and you match the letters that are in the row to the letter at the beginning.

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The other 6 cards have a box with both the uppercase and lowercase letter in it- For example: Aa and then it has pictures of apples with A, A, a, c on the apples and you match both the upper and lowercase letters to the ones in the box.

Uppercase and Lowercase:

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The first 28 cards of this pack have the kids match the uppercase and lowercase letters to each other. As you can see in the picture, It has The letter, a picture that starts with the letter and then two dots with lowercase letters beside them.

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The last 4 has a picture to the right and 2 sets of uppercase and lowercase letters beside it. They look at the picture and choose the set of letters that go with the picture..

Colors and Patterns:

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These cards are random. They either have a colored circle or crayon, or a non-colored animal or item. When it has a colored circle or crayon, the kids match up the color on the right with the color of the circle or crayon. When they have non-colored items or animals, the kids have to choose which color the item should be: Such as a pumpkin should be ORANGE.

They also have colored items and animals, where the kids have to match the worded color on the right with the colored animal or item on the left.

Let’s Learn Numbers:

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The first 10 cards in this set have the kids to match up the same numbers that are in the row. If there are two 1’s in the row, they choose both one’s. Kat or Ace congratulate on both set of 1’s.

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The last 20 cards have items such as animals, coffee cups, and basketballs. Some cards have each one separate such as 1 pig and they name 1 pig. The others have (as shown in picture) all the items at the top and the kids look at the picture at the top to determine how many items are in it.


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These cards are random as well. Some have pictures of a shape and it will say find the circles, have a square and they find all the other squares at the bottom.

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The others in the pack have which are the same and have 2 squares and a circle and the kids have to choose the 2 circles. The others (as shown in picture) have like a riddle to it.. green square, green square, blue square, green square, green square and then they choose the blue square. This is mixing shapes with colors. Winking smile

I have seen tons of improvement from Aidan since we started the Hot Dots Jr. Learning. At first he wouldn’t want to sit down and learn the alphabet or numbers, and now he will come straight home from school and ask to play with his “Doggy Pen.”

I am very grateful to Educational Insights for sending Adisyn the Kat Talking pen as well. She and I sit and I teach her when Aidan is in school. She is only 3, so she only knows a few colors, shapes, and numbers—sometimes she would get them confused.. but as with Aidan—she has learned almost all her colors and more shapes as well.

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So-as this “learning fun”, my kids adored it. They thought it was more of a game, which made it less hard on myself to get them to want to learn. Now it just comes naturally to them. It helps that the pens tell them whether they are right, or need to choose more carefully.

I am SO loving this. These are the packs for the younger kids, but if you have older kids who also need help- the packs show which kids would benefit from them. I really like that you can shop by age on the site! I have tons of fun just looking at all the cool and amazingly innovative products they have.

Here is the development plan of the pen (which I think is interesting.) Early sketches by Riley Wilkinson, the Creative Director at Educational Insights.







They even have an awesome Iphone app for Hot Dots Jr. So that your kids can play on the go!

Request a Catalog to see all the fun things they have!

Visit Educational Insights at their website or connect with them via

Facebook or  Twitter.

WIN IT: One lucky Made.By.Jess reader will with their very own Getting Ready for School Hot Dots Jr. Pack and choice of Ace or Kat.


Disclosure: This isn’t a sponsored post, all products were sent for review purposes only. The opinions in this post are completely honest and not influenced in any way.


Thanks for dropping by,



This post was written by:

Jess is the creator of Stylish Southern Mama + Southern Rambles. She is a freelance writer + designer, Social Media Marketer, and Journalist. She has 2 amazing kids, Aidan and Adisyn, and has been with their dad Adam for 12 years, and has 2 amazingly adorable dogs; Harley + Cheyanne! :)

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