Category: Activity

A Better Way to Have an Indoor Easter Egg Hunt

Posted on Apr 8, 2014 by No Comments

Easter is most often associated with the start of spring, but Iowa weather can be unpredictable. There have been several years where my husband and I have resorted to hiding eggs indoors because it was too cold outside or there were still snow drifts to deal with.

I think the new Wonka Indoor Hard2Find Egg Hunt Kit is pure genius. This kit includes 12 eggs designed for clever hiding inside your house.

The orange eggs have suction cups that stick to your furniture, the green eggs have strings for dangling off coat hooks or light switches, the purple eggs have flat bottoms so they stand upright, and the blue eggs have 3M command adhesive on the back so you can stick them to your walls.

All of the eggs are made from high quality plastic and generously sized for filling with treats.

As an added bonus, you also get 12 candies and 12 stickers to fill your eggs with. The candy is an assortment of Wonka favorites, including SweetTarts, Laffy Taffy, and Nerds. The stickers are Easter eggs, butterflies, worms, frogs, and rabbits. So, this is a one-stop solution to taking care of Easter.

I don’t think I’d recommend using the hard to find eggs with toddlers or preschoolers, but this is a great way to add a challenge to your Easter egg hunt if you have older children. The suction cup eggs are full of possibilities!

If you’re lucky enough to live someplace where it’s always nice at Easter, Wonka also has an Outdoor Hard2Find Egg Hunt Kit that includes eggs camouflaged to blend into grass, rock, or flower beds.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: Target

The Grade 1 Math App Is Educational, Free (or Paid), and Fun

Posted on Apr 4, 2014 by No Comments

We still have the free version of the Grade 1 Math app for iPhones and iPads right now, but my daughter’s irritated by the 20 question limit per day because she loves it so much. We’ll be upgrading soon to gain access to the full version. The full one doesn’t give you access to all grades, unfortunately, so each year, you’ll need to purchase a new app.

This app has a cute sea theme that makes kids want to explore it more to play around with the starfish and other fish. The app lets the parents choose the number of questions and the number range (so you can only include single digit numbers, for example).

My daughter has learned so much from just the free app, her teacher was really impressed when it was time for the parent-teacher conference. She grasps the addition and subtraction concepts very well and will be moving to more advanced work soon.

She’s always liked math to a degree, but she gets very excited to play this game. The colors and graphics are great and you can customize them to make the problems harder over time.

If you purchase the whole app for $10, your child can branch out into additional (no pun intended) categories:

  • Place Value
  • Count and Compare
  • Add with Models
  • Addition Facts
  • Subtract with Models
  • Subtraction Facts
  • Advanced Addition
  • Advanced Subtraction
  • Time
  • Money
  • Measurements
  • Geometry
  • Data and Graphs
  • Mixed Operations
  • Two Digit Operations

I recommend this app to parents of first graders or kindergarteners who are a little bored with what they’re learning in school and looking for more of a challenge. I’m guessing the preschool, kindergarten, and higher grades are just as good, too, so it’s at least worth giving the free version a try.

Photo credit: iTunes

Dunecraft Sprout ‘n Grow Coffee Science Kit Is a Fun Idea for Kids and Parents (If It Works)

Posted on Apr 3, 2014 by 1 Comment

You know those things that sound like a good idea at the time, but then in hindsight, you realize they weren’t so great after all? This kit may be one of those, but maybe not. It seems like it all depends on your luck.

I’m all for an educational kit for kids that results in a coffee plant (that is said to produce about a pound of coffee) for the parents. That sounds like a total win-win.

As intriguing as it sounds and as educational and fun as it may be, you may be disappointed with the results if the seeds don’t sprout. A few reviewers have reported that their seeds never sprouted, even after waiting two months for something to happen.

The website says to give it more time if that happens, up to six to eight weeks longer, even though the product description says they’ll sprout in three to four weeks. Other reviewers say that their plants are going strong.

When the plants are growing as expected, keep in mind that they can be six to fifteen feet tall (or taller!). Make sure you have the space and the ideal location aesthetically for a plant like this. Three to 16 weeks is also a really long time to wait when you’re a kid (or heck, even a grown-up. I would have trouble waiting and would probably forget about them by the time they were ready to plant).

The kit is $10.93, so you won’t be out too much money even if it doesn’t work (I’ve planted plenty of flowers and other plants that never grew), especially since the kit comes with everything you need. If you’re willing to take the chance on some coffee beans you can proudly say you grew yourself, this might be a fun kit to try with your kids (it’s for ages four and up).

Photo credit: Amazon

Candy Maze Kit Is a Great Easter Basket Addition

Posted on Apr 1, 2014 by 1 Comment

If you’re looking for an activity kit that even non-crafty kids will enjoy, I think this Reeves International Red Toolbox Junior Candy Maze is a winner. With your help, your child can build a wooden maze that sends jelly beans or other small candies rolling through a series of ramps and out into a dispensing tray. Wouldn’t this be a fun addition to your child’s Easter basket?

The kit includes 22 high quality wooden parts, five foam rubber balls, a rubber band, nails, sandpaper, and illustrated instructions. A hammer and wood glue are required for assembly. You’ll also want to buy some jelly beans or gum balls to send rolling through the candy maze. I’d suggest buying a few different kinds of candy to see what rolls through the maze the best.

Your child can leave the candy maze plain or personalize it with his own decorations. I’ve found that Sharpie permanent markers are less messy than paint for projects like this, but you could certainly decorate the maze with acrylic craft paint if you prefer.

This maze reminds me of the larger plastic candy maze dispensers you sometimes see at shopping malls. Our local mall had one of these mazes when my son was younger and he was crushed when it was removed. I think he’d get a kick out of making a maze for his room.

You can purchase the Reeves International Red Toolbox Junior Candy Maze on the Fat Brain Toys website for $12.95. The site has a flat rate $3.99 shipping fee.

What do you think? Does this look like something your child would enjoy?

Photo credit: Fat Brain Toys

The Melissa and Doug Suspend Game Is Fun for Everyone

Posted on Mar 31, 2014 by No Comments

I’m always on the lookout for fun games for everyone to play together. After days of Candyland and Chutes & Ladders, we were ready to graduate to LIFE, Battleship, and Trouble.

Those are great, but we’re big fans of variety around here, and the Suspend game from Melissa and Doug was intriguing when I saw it for the first time at Hobbytown. It reminds me of a cross between Jenga and those games for kids from the 80s and 90s where you had to stack things, like plates, on a flat but unsteady surface, hoping they wouldn’t fall on your turn.

This game is for one to four players and consists of 24 wire pieces with rubber on the ends. They’re all notched and you have to hang them from one another, carefully balancing them so the whole thing (or even just part of it) won’t come crashing down.

Each time you take a turn, you have to reevaluate and possibly change your strategy, because with each piece added to the “sculpture” the balance changes.

The game is for ages eight and up, but my six-year-old has been beating me in games like this for at least a year, so I think if you have a child who’s mature for his or her age (and one who has quite a bit of patience!), you’ll be fine with this game.

It’s $16.99 and can be personalized for $1.99 more if you order from the Melissa and Doug website. Personalization allows you to add a name or a brief message to the supporting block at the bottom.

Photo credit: Melissa and Doug

LeapFrog’s New LeapPad Ultra Learning Tablet Provides a Kid-Safe Introduction to Tablet Usage

Posted on Mar 27, 2014 by No Comments

I have mixed feelings about the trend of letting young children use electronics. On one hand, I think it’s important for them to play with coloring books, blocks, dolls, and other traditional toys. But, I can also see the appeal of electronic gadgets from a child’s perspective. Kids naturally want to imitate what they see the adults in their lives doing.

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly alternative to letting your child use your tablet, check out the new LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra Learning Tablet. This product is designed for kids ages four to nine and provides a durable, kid-safe introduction to technology.

The tablet has a 7″ backlit touch screen with built-in Wi-Fi, a digital camera, and a video recorder. It includes a small selection of apps, such as an interactive drawing studio, but you can easily access LeapFrog’s library of more than 800 games, ebooks, videos, and apps to get additional content for your child.

The LeapPad Ultra’s built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery is advertised as offering up to nine hours of battery life. In my experience, gadgets like this seldom provide the maximum battery life level. But, even seven or eight hours of battery life should be plenty to keep your child occupied on long car trips.

The LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra Learning Tablet is sold for $149.99 on the Toys “R” Us website. It’s available in either pink or green.

My son is on the upper end of the age range for this toy, but it’s something I’d definitely consider buying for him if he was a few years younger. Every LeapFrog toy we’ve purchased has been a hit and I think this is probably a better alternative to letting your child play endless games of Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja on your smartphone.

Photo credit: Toys “R” Us

Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace Is the Perfect Gift for Young Princess Fans

Posted on Mar 26, 2014 by No Comments

I think any Little People set is adorable, but the Fisher-Price Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace is especially cute for toddler or preschool girls. This elaborately designed play set has seven different castle rooms for girls to play in.

The really neat part, however, is that the princesses can dance across the ballroom floor with a turn of the fountain level. They can also say select phrases and sing songs. For example, the Cinderella figure says “Oh, I lost my glass slipper!” and sings A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes when she is placed on the ballroom floor.

The Disney Princess Songs Palace comes with Little People Cinderella and Snow White figures. Other Disney princess figures are sold separately. The two-pack that includes Belle and the Beast is my personal favorite, although I don’t think the boy characters say anything when placed in the Disney Princess Songs Palace.

The Disney Princess Songs Palace gets four out of five stars from Fisher-Price reviewers and has similar high reviews on the other websites I checked. The only potential downside to this toy is that several reviewers online say it’s a little tricky to put together.

It’s estimated that you’ll need 30 minutes for assembly, so this is something to keep in mind if you decide to get it as a birthday or holiday gift. Waiting 30 minutes to play with a cool new toy is going to seem like a lifetime for a little girl, so it would be a good idea to put it together ahead of time.

Suggested retail price for the Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace is $55. You can check out a video of the play set in action or purchase it directly from the Fisher-Price website.

Photo credit: Fisher-Price

The Newest Imaginext Batcave Is a Great Way to Introduce Your Child to the DC Super Friends

Posted on Mar 25, 2014 by No Comments

I wholeheartedly recommend Fisher-Price Imaginext toys to any parent I meet. My son started playing with these toys when he was three. He’s almost nine now and they still make a fairly regular appearance when his friends come over to play.

The DC Super Friends line is my son’s favorite Imaginext collection. We have one of the older versions of the Batcave, but the new model featured in this post looks like a winner for anyone just starting to collect Imaginext toys.

This play set  includes details such as a Batcomputer, Batwing, and a launcher that can fire projectiles at the bad guys. There is also a free app that you can download for use with your iPhone that adds a high-tech element to your child’s play. The app gives you access to mini games and videos featuring Batman and his friends.

If desired, you can buy a separate Batwing iPhone case to protect your phone from damage while your child is playing.

Another cool thing about the DC Super Friends line is that they now offer figures featuring female characters like Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, and Harley Quinn. Since only Batman and Robin come with the Batcave, you’ll definitely want to pick up a few extra figures to complete the Imaginext experience. Get Wonder Woman with her invisible jet to show your son that girls can be just as strong and brave as his favorite male superheros.

Suggested retail price for the Imaginext Batcave is $40, but many stores offer good deals on Imaginext toys during the holiday seasons. When my son was building his collection, we took advantage of several buy one, get one half off promotions at Toys “R” Us.

Photo credit: Fisher-Price

Can a Puzzle Have More Than One Solution?

Posted on Mar 25, 2014 by No Comments

Putting together puzzles is a great way for kids to develop their problem solving skills. But, since most puzzles only have one solution, they are limited in their replay value.

P’kolino Multi-Solution Puzzles are unique because they have double sided pieces that can allow for dozens of design possibilities. For example, a robot can be happy or sad depending upon how the pieces are arranged.

Aside from the uniqueness of the design concept, I love that these puzzles are made from wood instead of cardboard. My son was very hard on puzzles when he was a toddler because he’d get frustrated and try to jam the pieces together if they didn’t fit easily. Wooden puzzles were the only type of puzzles that held up to his rough play.

The P’kolino Multi-Solution Puzzles are recommended for children ages 2 to 6. You can choose from robot, owl, bug, monkey, and spaceship designs. The robot design is my personal favorite, although the monkey puzzle is also really cute.

The puzzles sell for $19.99, which is a little pricey for a puzzle. However, this would easily be the type of toy that could hold up well enough to hand down to your younger children if needed. The designs are also cute enough to be displayed when your child isn’t playing with them.

What do you think of P’kolino Multi-Solution Puzzles? Is this a toy that your child would enjoy?

Photo credit: P’kolino

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