Category: Activity

Play in Color and Black and White Provides a Canvas for Your Child’s Creativity

Posted on Nov 27, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re looking for an activity book to inspire your child’s creativity, Play and Color in Black and White is an excellent choice.

This 96-page book features a minimalist black and white palette that kids can decorate with crayons, markers, colored pencils, or the more than 100 fluorescent neon stickers included with the book. A die cut, flexi-plastic binding ensures that the book holds up to hours of creative play.

Some of the activities included in Play and Color in Black and White are:

  • Decorate the windows of an apartment building
  • Create a paper cage for a tiger
  • Show what a wolf ate for dinner
  • Trim a pirate’s beard
  • Color in a delicious holiday feast
  • Complete a cute underwater scene

Play and Color in Black and White is recommended for children ages 5 to 8. I think this book is perfect for any child who likes to “color outside the lines” and come up with unique ways to create a work of art.

My son has never been a big fan of traditional coloring books, but he loves open-ended activity books like this.

Author Marie Fordacq is a co-founder of Tourbillon Books who lives near Paris with her two children. Illustrator Aki lives in Australia and creates comics and cartoons that tell stories about her life.

You can purchase the Play in Color and Black and White activity book on the Chronicle Books website for $12.99. The website also has a video preview showing some of the activities that kids can enjoy.

Shipping is free on orders of $25 or more. Most items ship within two to three days.

Photo credit: Chronicle Books

Hess Toy Truck Makes a Classic Christmas Gift

Posted on Nov 24, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re looking for a timeless classic gift for a special little boy in your life, the 2014 Hess Toy Truck and Space Cruiser with Scout is a great choice. This truck marks the 50th anniversary of the Hess Toy Truck.

In the US, Hess Toy Trucks are one of the longest running toy brands on the market. This year, the National Toy Hall of Fame named the Hess Toy Truck as a finalist for a spot in the Hall of Fame. Induction is based on four categories: icon status, longevity, discovery, and innovation.

To give back to those who are less fortunate, Hess Corporation has donated more than 740,000 Hess Toy Trucks to Toys for Tots, as well as to families living in areas struck by disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy.

The 2014 Hess Toy Truck has lots of fun light and sound effects to spark a child’s imagination. The truck itself has three push-button activated sound effects (ignition horn, ramp hydraulic, and launch alarm).

The space cruiser has three button-activated sounds (ignition, fly-by, and land) and three motion-activated sound effects (climb, dive, and turn). There are 41 lights on the truck and eight lights on the space cruiser.

The truck itself feels fairly substantial, so I think it should hold up well to a child’s active play. (Do your boys like to send their trucks crashing into the wall? This was my son’s favorite activity for about three years!)

The 2014 Hess Toy Truck and Space Cruiser with Scout sells for $29.99 plus tax, so it’s a very affordable toy as well. The trucks will be sold at Hess gas stations for the last time this holiday and online only in future years.

Visit the Hess Toy Truck website for details.

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

Photo credit: Hess Toy Truck

LEGO FUSION Is a Great Gift for Tech Savvy Lego Fans

Posted on Nov 20, 2014 by No Comments

If you have a little Lego fan who also loves playing video games, LEGO FUSION looks like the best of both worlds.

Kids build creations with real Lego bricks and snap them onto the set’s special capture plate. Then, with a few clicks, their real-world creation is transformed into a virtual world that can be explored as part of a special mini game filled with various missions and activities.

The LEGO FUSION lineup includes:

  • LEGO FUSION Town Master
  • LEGO FUSION Battle Towers
  • LEGO FUSION Resort Designer (Part of the Lego Friends line)

A smartphone or tablet is required for playing LEGO FUSION. The app is downloadable from the App Store, Google Play, Samsung Galaxy Apps, or the Amazon Appstore for Android.

The Town Master set was listed in the December issue of Good Housekeeping in its holiday “Best Toy Awards 2014″ section. However, I’ve seen several online reviews saying that mastering the initial process of getting the LEGO FUSION app to recognize what you’ve built can be tricky for some children.

I would plan on needing to spend a bit of time teaching your child how to transfer real-world Lego models into the game.

What do you think of this idea? Does LEGO FUSION look like something your children might enjoy?

Photo credit: Lego

Cra-Z-Art My Look Color Your Own Messenger Bag Encourages Little Fashionistas to Be Creative

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 by No Comments

If you have a crafty daughter who already owns more purses than you do, the Cra-Z-Art My Look Color Your Own Messenger Bag is a wonderful holiday gift idea.

This craft kit includes a trendy messenger bag decorated with a print that girls can customize using the five fabric markers that are included. If your daughter likes a little sparkle, the set also includes a package of gems that can be added to the finished design.

The Cra-Z-Art My Look Color Your Own Messenger Bag is recommended for girls ages six years and up. The only thing you should need to watch out for with this project is making sure that your daughter doesn’t take the markers and use them to doodle on outfits you don’t want customized. (Fabric marker designs can be a great way to camouflage spills and stains on older clothes, however!)

The Cra-Z-Art My Look Color Your Own Messenger Bag is a Target exclusive item that has earned a spot on the store’s list of Top Toys for Christmas 2014.

The Cra-Z-Art My Look Color Your Own Messenger Bag is $10.39, which makes it an extremely affordable holiday gift. I don’t have a daughter of my own to buy one for, but I’m picking one up to donate to a local holiday toy drive.

I think this craft kit would be an especially appropriate donation since it’s something the recipient could use on a daily basis once the actual activity had been completed.

Photo credit: Target

Link Round-up: Christmas Wreath, Floral Drawer Sachets, a Snowflake Light-up Marquee, and More

Posted on Nov 18, 2014 by 1 Comment

Today’s link round-up has a covered button Christmas wreath, an easy no-sew floral drawer sachets, a giant snowflake light-up marquee, and more.

Olivia Cleans Green shared a tutorial for an easy no-sew floral drawer sachet.

Kids’ Activities Blog showed us some ideas for DIY toys.

How Does She shared a Thanksgiving Mad Lib exclusive free printable.

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A Beautiful Mess showed us how to make a giant snowflake light-up marquee.

Pizzazzerie shared some ideas for Christmas hostess gifts.

Crafts ‘n Coffee showed us a way to make a button ornament.

Create Craft Love showed us how to make a covered button Christmas wreath.

Photo credit: Olivia Cleans Green and A Beautiful Mess

Oregon Scientific SmartGlobe Makes Learning Geography Fun

Posted on Nov 17, 2014 by No Comments

My son really struggles with geography in school, but the Oregon Scientific SmartGlobe Discovery makes learning about the world around you a fun and enjoyable activity.

This unique educational toy for kids features three activity panels and an optical smart pen. When you touch an activity panel and use the smart pen to touch a country, you can learn about its capital, currency, area, highest point, population, or language. You can even hear the country’s national anthem being played!

The amazing facts section is my personal favorite feature of this toy. Here are some of the tidbits my family learned from the SmartGlobe:

  • Americans spend about 6 months of their lives waiting at red traffic lights.
  • There are more than a billion people in China, yet there are only about 200 family names in common use.
  • The national flower of Mexico is the Dahlia.
  • About half of the residents of India are under 25 years old.

For kids who are looking for a bit of challenge, there is a series of mini-games that ask users to touch different places on the globe to see how fast they can locate different cities, countries, and continents. Most kids should find this much more exciting than being drilled on facts via flash cards!

Overall, I think the SmartGlobe is fairly user friendly. We had a few cases when the pen didn’t want to quickly pick up the right location on the globe, but feedback was instantaneous the majority of the time.

The volume can be adjusted up or down as needed, which is a definite plus if you hate children’s toys that always seem to be blaring full blast.

The SmartGlobe is recommended for children ages six and up. Three AA batteries are required for operation. Retail price is $59.99.

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

Photo credit: Oregon Scientific

Li’l Woodzeez Introduces Kids to the Farmer’s Market

Posted on Nov 14, 2014 by No Comments

Does your little one love going with you to the farmer’s market to pick out fresh produce? If so, this Li’l Woodzeez Farmer’s Market play set is sure to be a hit.

The Farmer’s Market includes 90 pieces of plastic play accessories, including all the fruits, vegetables, and baked goods you’d find at a traditional farmer’s market as well as retail essentials like a shopping basket, shopping cart, welcome sign, food scale, and price cards.

Since the Farmer’s Market contains small parts, it is recommended for children ages 3 and up.

Li’l Woodzeez is a line of woodland creatures who work together to take care of each other and their environment.

There is are several different families in the collection, including rabbits, owls, squirrels, mice, raccoons, turtles, and hedgehogs. Each family of figurines comes with a collectible storybook that explains how they contribute to the Li’l Woodzeez community.

Li’l Woodzeez play sets are a Target boutique brand exclusive item that has arrived just in time for the holidays. In addition to the Farmer’s Market, there is also a Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery, a Honeysuckle Hollow General Store, and a Walk-in Health Clinic. All three play sets earned a place on Target’s list of top toys for  Christmas 2014.

I love this line of figures because it reminds me of the Mapletown toys I had growing up in the ‘80s. I wasn’t a huge fan of traditional dolls as a kid, but I remember spending hours playing with all the Mapletown animals.

Photo credit: Target

Need a New Winter Hobby? Try This Knitting Loom Kit.

Posted on Nov 10, 2014 by No Comments

I’ve been on a knitting kick lately, but I’m not very good at it. I’ve been loving the idea of slouchy knit hats, so I picked up a set of looms to make it easier on myself. This kit from Michael’s was only $14.99 for four circular looms.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with the two smaller ones (maybe one would be good for making a hat for newborns), but the two bigger ones have and will see a lot of use.

I love that this kit has everything you need—other than yarn—to knit hats of any size. You get the four looms, which seem incredibly sturdy, a metal hook for flipping the loops over, a plastic needle for stitching the ends in when the project is complete, and a carrying case to keep it all together.

You need to use medium to bulky yarns with this loom because the pegs aren’t very close together, but that just means you’ll have cozier hats for the winter.

I love that the looms are so easy to use—much easier than fumbling around with needles and knitting guidelines I’m not even aware of yet (I can make scarves with knitting needles, but that’s about it so far, so these are appropriate for beginners!).

If you ever played with the square looms that made potholders back in the 80s or 90s, this is similar. Instead of weaving, though, you’re just doing that final step—flipping bottom looms over top loops—for most of the project. There are so many simple projects out there that require little to no counting of stitches.

I’m looking forward to working on these all winter.

Photo credit: Michael’s

Link Round-up: Savory Foods, Elderberry Tea, a DIY Garland, and More

Posted on Nov 6, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has savory foods, immune-boosting elderberry tea, a mitten and snowball garland, and more.

A Beautiful Mess showed us how to make delicious roasted sweet potatoes and black beans.

Growing Up Gabel shared 20 avocado recipes.

A Life in Balance showed us how to make a mini pizza bar for family game night.

link ru making the bed

My Joy Filled Life shared why she doesn’t make her bed.

Crafts ‘n Coffee showed us how to make a paper mitten and snowball garland.

Create Craft Love taught us how to make washi tape ornaments.

Wellness Mama taught us how to make immune-boosting elderberry tea.

Photo credit: A Beautiful Mess and My Joy Filled Life