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

Zoomer Is Almost as Cute as a Real Puppy

Zoomer Kitty

I’m not a fan of real puppies, but Zoomer is adorable. He can be trained to lay down, speak, sit, roll over, and play dead just like a real puppy, but he doesn’t poop, pee, or shed all over the furniture. That makes him a winner in my book!

Zoomer is appropriate for children ages 5 and up. However, since you have to train Zoomer to do tricks, I think he might be frustrating for younger children. My son would get the concept of training a dog now that he’s almost 9. But, when he was 5 or 6, he would have expected Zoomer to do everything you see in the commercials fresh out of the box.

Zoomer can understand English, French, and Spanish. For older kids, I think it would be fun to practice French or Spanish vocabulary words by teaching Zoomer tricks in another language.

Zoomer needs to be recharged by using the included USB cable. I’m not a huge fan of toys that need to be recharged this way, since I normally have a ton of other gadgets plugged into my USB ports. But, I suppose this method is preferable to having to constantly replace his batteries.

The original Zoomer is available at Walmart, Target, Kmart, Toys “R” Us, Amazon, and Kohl’s. For girls, there is a purple version with leopard print paws sold exclusively at Toys “R” Us. For boys, there is a varsity jacket version sold exclusively at Kohl’s.

What do you think of Zoomer? Would this be a toy you’d consider buying for your kids?

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You Might Not Have to Pretend to Lose at the Lets Go Fishing Game

LetsGoFishin

I remember playing a smaller version of this game with magnets when I was little. Its the same idea: a wheel spins while holding a collection of little plastic fish whose mouths open and shut as they go around. Players have fishing poles that they use to catch the fish with, and the winner is the person who has caught the most fish by the end.

Let me just say that I remember the smaller version with the magnets and strings to be much, much easier. This version is larger (about eight inches in diameter, Id guess), and the fishing pole lines are made of plastic, not string like they were in the games from the 80s and 90s.

There are no magnets here; the fish have teeth that catch on the line and you pull them out that way. I feel like the wheel moves much too quickly, and by the time the fish youre trying to grab finally opens its mouth, someone elses line is in the way, so you miss way more often than in previous versions.

My daughter always beats me at this game. I dont know if its because as an adult, my skills for that type of game have gone downhill or what, but I never have to consciously lose the game to make her feel better about her skills. She legitimately beats me every time.

The game says its for players ages four and up, but its enjoyable well past age four. I enjoy it, even though Im embarrassed by my lack of skill. I also like that this is a quick game we can play (mostly because shes so good at it) in the morning before school when we have 10 minutes to kill, or right before bedtime if I promised to play a game but were pressed for time because dinner took too long to cook and eat.

The description on Amazon says theres music, but Ive never found a way to play it, and it also says you need two AA batteries. You actually need one C battery instead.

All in all, this is a fun game, though it could be slightly frustrating for parents who played the older version.

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Whoonu Offers Quick and Easy Family Fun

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If you’re looking for a quick and easy family game idea, I highly recommend Whoonu. This Cranium game challenges players to guess each other’s favorite things. Color coded point chips are awarded for the right answer and the winner is the person with the most points at the end.

The last time we played this game, my son had a blast trying to decide if Mom likes email or chocolate cake better. He was shocked when I knew he liked to color red over having a pet goldfish. My husband and I did a decent job of guessing each others favorite things, but we still managed to learn a bit about each other. (For me, this was impressive since we’ve been together for 15 years.)

Whoonu is recommended for players ages 8 and up, but any child who is old enough to read fairly well should be able to play. Each card has a word or short phrase on it and you need to be able to read the cards to decide what the player who is “it” likes the best.

Aside from the fact that it takes less than 10 minutes to play the game from start to finish, I like how Whoonu encourages players to talk with each other. I think it would be great for family reunions or group parties with lots of shy children. It’s a much better icebreaker than simply asking each other “What’s new?” or “How have you been?”

Whoonu is one of the older games, so you’re unlikely to find it in stores. However, there are several online sites offering both new and used copies.

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Which Team Hot Wheels Driver Is Your Son?

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It amazes me that Hot Wheels keeps coming up with so many different play set ideas for kids. My son has a ton of different Hot Wheels tracks already, but he was thrilled when we had a chance to test out the new Team Hot Wheels Stunt Devils Action Arena.

My son says this is one of his favorite Hot Wheels toys because doing stunts is much more fun than racing on a regular track. He was able to assemble the set by himself and he was impressed by the car jumping through the hoop with faux flames.

We did have a little trouble with the loop stunt that works off the blue launcher, however. The car that was included only made it all the way around the loop about half the time. We actually had better luck using a different Hot Wheels car from his collection.

I love that this play set is quiet. My son’s other favorite Hot Wheels product is the Wall Tracks set, but this can be very loud at times.

If you’re not already family with the Team Hot Wheels drivers, the company has created a fun little quiz to help you figure out what your son’s Hot Wheels personality is. (My son is Team Blue all the way!)

From Fearless to Fast: Which Team Hot Wheels Driver Is Your Son?

What personality trait best describes your son?
a) Calm and in charge
b) Wild and a little bit of a daredevil
c) A pint-size perfectionist
d) Unpredictable and full of energy

When your son plays with Hot Wheels, hes most likely to:
a) Sets up two-lane speedway down hallway
b) Accept friends challenge to jump cars over fine china
c) Line them up by color and/or vehicle type
d) Set up the track set down the staircase

Whats your sons favorite outdoor activity?
a) Tag
b) Climbing trees
c) Hide & Seek
d) Skateboarding

Whats your sons favorite color?
a) Green
b) Red
c) Blue
d) Yellow

A – Team Green
Team Green has a need for speed!
Personalities: Confident. Cool. Calm. In Charge.
Driving Style: Fearless. Drive fast, think fast, never hesitate, and never lose control.
Stunts: Corkscrew Jump

B – Team Red
Team Red will do any stunt and take any dare!
Personalities: Daredevil attitude. Wild. A little bit crazy.
Driving Style: Show-stopping stunts. The bigger the better, higher, harder, farther, faster!
Stunts: Jumping planes, riding walls, and breaking rules.

C – Team Blue
Team Blue executes a plan with zero margin of error.
Personalities: Precise. The ultimate perfectionists.
Driving Style: Skillful. With equal parts precision, timing and nerves of steel.
Stunts: Wall Ride

D – Team Yellow
Team Yellow likes to go really big!
Personalities: Unpredictable. Impulsive. Up for any challenge.
Driving Style: Pump up the power. Rely on instinct. Push the limits.
Stunts: World Record Jump at 2011 Indy 500, crushing a house with a monster truck.

Disclaimer: A sample Team Hot Wheels Stunt Devils Action Arena play set was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

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