WallPops Maps Encourage Kids to Love Geography

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WallPops by Brewster Home Fashions is a line of peel-and-stick wall art for every room in your home. They make a variety of cute products for your child’s room, including dry erase decals that add an interactive element to your home decor.

One of my favorite WallPops products is the dry erase United States map featured in this post. I think this would be a fun addition to your child’s bedroom or playroom to encourage a knowledge of geography. You can use the map to study the states and their capitals. There are also colorful symbols on each state to help your child remember a unique fact about each of the 50 states.

I think it would be fun to write the names of different family members and where they live on the map or to jot down different places your family has traveled recently. Since the map is a removable dry erase decal, you could even let your kids help you plot out a course for your next family vacation.

The dry erase United States map sells on the WallPops website. This decal measures 36″ x 24″ and a dry erase marker is included with your purchase.

WallPops also makes a dry erase world map, if you’d prefer to work on learning about countries around the world. The world map has the same dimensions as the United States map and also includes a free dry erase marker.

What do you think of the WallPops dry erase maps? Would they make it more enjoyable for your child to learn about geography?checkprice

Help Your Child Change the World

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If you have a little one who loves to put together puzzles, Caryn West has designed a beautiful alphabet puzzle that any child is sure to enjoy.

The Teach the Children, Change the World puzzle promotes a message of peace, freedom, equality, and hope through the use of 26 compelling pictures accompanying each letter of the alphabet. The colors are rich and vibrant, inviting children to use the puzzle to develop a better understanding of the world around them.

The floor puzzle has 48 chunky pieces that are perfect for little hands. The assembled puzzle has an easy to clean surface and measures 24 x 36 inches. The box is beautifully designed with the message, Teach the Children, Change the World. The suggested age range for the product is 3 to 7.

In 2008, Ms. West wrote a book, The Trouble with the Alphabet. This compilation of art, poetry, short essays, and informational resources addressed some of the world’s toughest issues facing children. Not merely a book, The Trouble with the Alphabet was the start of a campaign to raise awareness, promote understanding, and inspire action through a unique brand of educational products. The Teach the Children, Change the World puzzle is a follow up to this mission.

Does your child enjoy putting together puzzles? If so, what do you think of this option?checkprice

Hidden Pictures Activity Pad Provides Hours of Entertainment

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If you’re looking for a fun way to encourage your kids to be more observant, Squiggle Spin and Seek hidden picture activity pads are an excellent choice.

The premise of this activity is quite simple. Pick one of the black and white square “squiggle” sheets. Spin the wheel and challenge yourself to find the objects you land on in the activity sheet’s various squiggles. Mark them off with the included highlighter as you find them. Once you’ve found all 24 hidden pictures, tear off the paper and play again!

Even as an adult, I thought this was a genuinely fun activity. My son and I had a blast taking turns trying to find the different shapes, so I’d highly recommend this for any sort of quiet time activity. It would be excellent for use in a “busy bag” if you’re planning a family road trip this summer.

The Squiggle Spin and Seek hidden picture activity pads are recommended for children ages 4 and up. However, I’m positive my son wouldn’t have had the patience needed to find the images at 4 years old.

The hidden pictures are quite small, so the exercise requires strong attention to detail. At 9, he finds it pleasantly challenging. At 4, he would have been very frustrated. There are several different themes to choose from, including fashion, sock monkeys, Halloween, and Christmas.checkprice

Let Your Child Paint a Spirograph Canvas

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Over the years, the Spirograph has inspired millions of young artists to develop their creativity. This paint your own canvas kit from Kahootz Toys takes the appeal of the Spirograph one step further by letting your child paint a canvas with a Spirograph inspired pattern.

The set includes one 8 x 8 preprinted gallery wrapped canvas and six additional panels for your child to decorate. The lines on the gallery wrapped canvas are raised and embossed to make it easy to paint all of the intricate details.

A brush, paint, and mixing palette are also included, although I imagine that you might need extra paint to complete all of the projects. I know when my son tries mixing paint, we end up with a lot of rejected colors in his quest for the perfect shade of blue or red!

I like this craft kit because I know many children have trouble making detailed designs using the Spirograph. The Spirograph was one of my favorite toys as a kid, but it took lots of practice for me to be able to create the sorts of intricate designs I wanted.

I recently purchased a Spirograph for my nine-year-old son and found that he also struggles with the patience and fine motor skills needed to turn his ideas into actual artwork. I think he’d love being able to paint a Spirograph inspired canvas to hang in his room or give as a gift. I know his grandparents would love to be able to display something like this in their home!

You can purchase the Spirograph paint your own canvas set on Amazon. It’s recommended for children ages six and up.checkprice

A Spirograph-Inspired Coloring Book

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If your children like to color, the Spirograph coloring book from Kahootz Toys looks like a fun treat. The set includes an 8 x 8 coloring book with 24 different Spirograph inspired designs, eight colored pencils, and a built in storage tray.

Although it’s hard to beat the fun of the original Spirograph toy, I can see this being an appealing alternative for kids who lack the patience to make the gears in a Spirograph rotate for the more complex designs.

I loved my Spirograph as a kid, but it’s definitely frustrating when you mess up in the middle of a design. And, in many cases, I enjoyed coloring in my finished design more than the process of making the design itself.

You can purchase the Spirograph coloring book from Kahootz Toys on Amazon. It is recommended for children ages four and up. I think a four year old would probably have trouble coloring in the detailed designs, however. I would suggest buying this for a slightly older child and saving the cartoon character themed coloring books for your preschooler.

Since the pages in this book are 8 x 8, which is a common scrapbooking size, you could frame them or put them in a small album when your child is done coloring. I think they’d be cute as the backdrop for a scrapbook filled with pictures for grandpa and grandma!

Does this look like a product your child would enjoy?checkprice

A Fun Way to Master the Periodic Table

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If you have kids who enjoy puzzles and science-themed toys, The Elements looks like a winner. The puzzle is of Theodore Gray’s photographic periodic table and is based on the bestselling The Elements book. It measures 36″ x 16″ when fully assembled.

Each element in the periodic table is illustrated with a picture that provides insight into the characteristics and properties it has. For example, carbon is represented by a photo of a diamond because diamonds are made from the exposure of carbon-bearing materials to high pressure.

I think this is a visually appealing design that is sure to be a hit with science fans of all ages. I never managed to get very far in studying the periodic table myself, but my son has already shown some interest.

In my opinion, the only downside of this puzzle is that it has 1,000 pieces. Despite loving anything to do with science, I know my son doesn’t have the patience to put it together. We’d have to make it a family project and work on it over the course of several weeks in order to get it done.

When finished, I think this puzzle would be awesome if it was sealed and framed as wall art. What do you think? Does this look like something your children would enjoy?checkprice

A Clever Way to Teach Children How to Spell Their Names

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Personalized books are a great way to encourage young children to read. Lost My Name makes unique personalized books for boys and girls that tell the story of a child who wakes up to realize that his or her name has gone missing.

The child goes on an adventure to gather the letters of the name. Different characters are assigned to each letter, creating a unique story for every child.

For example, a child with the name Amber would visit an aardvark, mermaid, bear, elephant, and a robot before regaining the letters that are needed to spell her name. A boy with the name Logan would visit a lion, ostrich, giant, aardvark, and nabarlek before his journey was complete.

If you go to the Lost My Name website, you can get a full preview of what your child’s book would look like by typing in your child’s name and selecting a boy or girl’s book. I tried a few different name combinations as a test and I thought every name ended up with a memorable story for the child.

Lost My Name personalized books are $27.99 with free shipping. You can add gift wrapping and a personal dedication for $4. If you want to order more than one book, there is a 5% discount for multiple purchases.

Lost My Name books are listed as being suitable for children ages two to six, although the site says they are most likely to appeal to a child who is just learning how to spell his or her name.

What do you think of this idea? Would your child enjoy a personalized Lost My Name book?checkprice

Would a Balance Bike Help Your Child?

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Teaching my son how to ride a bike was one of the hardest parenting tasks I’ve faced so far. He struggles with hand-eye coordination and was terrified of falling.

He refused to even attempt to ride a bike with no training wheels until several of the kids in our neighborhood started to tease him.

He can ride a bike fine now, but it was quite a struggle. The day he rode around the block without falling was the happiest day of my life, aside from the day when I purchased my last pack of baby diapers!

If I even end up in the position of having to teach another child how to ride a bike, I will definitely be looking into getting a balance bike. This is a bike with no pedals or training wheels that helps your child develop the balancing skills necessary for riding a real bike.

I only recently learned about this type of product, but it seems like something that would be helpful for kids like my son.

There are apparently several different versions of the balance bike available, but Smart Gear seems to be a popular seller of the bikes on Amazon.

The classic balance bike in this post has several positive reviews from satisfied parents. It’s more money than a regular toddler sized bike with training wheels, but anything that would keep other parents from going through the same disastrous teaching experience I had seems like a great idea to me.

Have you ever used a balance bike to teach a child how to ride a bike? If so, do you think this method is helpful?

Photo credit: Amazon

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Wonderopolis Nurtures Your Child’s Curiosity

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Do your kids ask a ton of questions? My son comes up with a stumper for me at least once per day. I have no idea how parents handled curious children in the days before easy Internet access!

If you’re looking for a way to nurture your child’s curiosity, Wonderopolis is a great place for young trivia fanatics to visit. It answers questions over 900 questions, including :

  • Can you tickle yourself?
  • How big is your carbon footprint?
  • Where is the biggest castle in the world?
  • What is a monsoon?

Each question is answered in kid-friendly terms. There are also features like experiment ideas and lists of new vocabulary words to help enhance the learning experience. If you’re a homeschooling mom, this seems like it would be really helpful resource for independent learning projects.

If your child comes up with a question that isn’t already featured on the site, there is a form to nominate it as the “Wonder of the Day.” Your child can get credit as the source of the idea, which would be cool for kids who want to have their “15 minutes of fame” in a positive way.

Wonderopolis is a creation of the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) that is supported by the Verizon Foundation. Additional support comes from The Annenberg Foundation, Better World Books, and Humana.

Wonderopolis was named one of TIME Magazines Top Websites in 2011.

Personally, I’m thinking this site will be handy during summer vacation so that I can keep my son from complaining he’s bored every other minute.

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“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” Shows the Lighter Side of Parenthood

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When I was pregnant, I threw away my copy of the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book because reading about everything that could possibly go wrong in a pregnancy totally freaked me out.

But, if you’re looking for a great movie to watch with your girlfriends, I highly recommend renting the What to Expect When You’re Expecting DVD. This comedy follows five couples as they prepare to become parents.

The all star cast of this film guarantees nonstop laughs. I enjoyed watching Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz, although my absolute favorite performance was from Elizabeth Banks. Her character Wendy runs the Breast Choice Boutique and tried to conceive for over two years before getting pregnant. Once she’s pregnant, however, she discovers that pregnancy is a lot harder than she thought it would be.

Another really enjoyable part of the film is the “Dude’s Group” – which is basically a group of fathers who get together to talk about the struggles they’ve had adjusting to becoming parents.

Chris Rock is hysterical in his role as the head of the group. At first, the dads come off as bumbling buffoons. But, as the story progresses, you see that they are all quite devoted as parents.

In an effort at inclusiveness, the film has couples who are married as well as those who are dating and those who become pregnant after a one-night stand. There is an adoption and a miscarriage too, so you have to give the film’s writers credit for realizing that the path to motherhood is different for every woman.

Have you seen What to Expect When You’re Expecting? If so, what did you think of this movie?

Photo credit: Amazon

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