Toy Blog - Toys, Parenting, and Kids

How high can you stack your pigz?

A New Game called PigzUp™

It is time to find out how quick and precise your fingers are in this hilarious stacking game of PigzUp.

Players quickly flip cards, looking for a match. As soon as two players reveal matching cards with the same color and number, they race to build a tower of piggies.

There’s a catch! Roll the die and find out how to stack up your piggies. There is more than one funny way: using only one hand, both pointer fingers, or using only the piggies’ ears!

Are you ready for some edge-of-your-seat action? If you are the first player to complete your tower, shout PigzUp! and get rid of your flipped cards. The first player to run out of cards is the king of the pen!

Skills developed in this game:
This game is great for small motor development and dexterity. It also develops number and color recognition.

Family Fitness – Keep Your Kids Active

With the weather warming up and school about to come to a close, we’ve been looking at ideas on how to keep our family active and fit this summer. After reading 5 Practical Tips to Encourage Your Children to Get Into Fitness, I decided to get my ideas down in black-and-white, so I can refer back to these ideas when my memory and creativity take a vacation day. Hopefully you can use these ideas with your own children this summer as well.

  1. The Swimming Pool – If you have frequent access to a swimming pool this summer, you have an easy way to entertain the kids and stay in shape at the same time. Practicing strokes and doing laps are great exercise, but even just a fun afternoon splashing around in the water gives you and your children opportunities to use muscles in different ways that you use them on land. Water games like Marco Polo and water volleyball also offer different ways to play at the pool. No pool? Try a sprinkler in the yard or a Slip N Slide, which gets kids outside but keeps them cool and refreshed. No matter what, don’t forget the sunscreen. And we have a great selection of Water and Sand Toys for play in the yard, at the pool, or at the beach.
  2. Jumping Rope – A jump rope represents a great chance to improve both your cardiovascular health in your coordination skills. There are lots of different ways to jump rope, from one person with a single rope, to two people using the same (longer) rope, or three people where two turn the rope and a third jumps in the middle. Use two ropes for double-dutch jumping! Also, combining the basic jump with fancier skills such as hopping on one leg, handstands, and more will build additional skills and confidence. JumpRope.com offers great videos, teaching materials, and ropes. Plus we have our own adorable Carrot Jump Rope and, for a different twist, a Solo Chinese Jump Rope with stakes so it can be used by a single person.
  3. Family Walks – Taking a walk with our family is one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day. It’s a great alternative that gets the kids outside instead of watching a cartoon for 30 minutes. Our walk may be as simple as one-time-around-the-block, or on days when we have more time, we walk to one of the neighborhood parks and let the kids play on the playground before we walk home. Walking is easy on your joints, usually allows for easy conversation, and it a great way to get some fresh air, observe wildlife, and greet your neighbors.
  4. Gardening – While caring for plants may not be as aerobically effective as the previous ideas, I love the way it combines nurturing, science, and activity. Plus, indoor container gardening is impervious to rainy days. Children learn the responsibility of caring for a living thing, and gardening offers opportunities to talk about plant parts, pollination, insects, and more. Consider planting a vegetable garden, which has the added benefit of providing healthy food that kids may be more interested in eating, since it represents the “fruits” of their own labor!
  5. Family Yoga – Ever since we invested in a Wii Fit gaming system, the yoga exercises have been one of our kids’ favorite activities. We take turns using the balance board, but everyone can participate at the same time. It’s perfect for stretching tired muscles and calming down frazzled nerves (mine and the kids’!) So many of our activities involve shortening our muscles, so good stretching activities like yoga and Pilates help balance that by working to lengthen muscles. The focus on breathing is also great, particular in its calming effect.

I hope that these ideas will give you some inspiration to stay active over the summer break. If you have other good ideas, please share them in the comments!

Valentine Card Fun

In one short month, Valentine’s Day will be here.  Giving someone a Valentine is a wonderful way to show how much you care, and when these Valentine’s are handmade, the message is that much more special.  Here are a couple of easy homemade Valentines for your kids to make – for neighbors, friends, relatives and classmates!

  1. Cut hearts from red or pink construction paper, about the size of a 3×5 index card.  Cut two slits in the heart, large enough to slide a stick of gum (such as Big Red) through, much like Cupid’s arrow through a heart.  On the Valentine, write “I ‘chews’ you to be my Valentine” and sign it!  These are always a huge hit with friends and classmates!
  2. As in suggestion #1, cut hearts from red, purple or pink construction paper.  Cut two finger-sized holes in the lower portion of the heart (you can start a hole with a hole punch then use scissors to increase the size).  Decorate the heart with a face, wiggly eyes and cute smile, then pen a message on the back, such as, “You make my heart dance!”  Viola!  A Valentine finger puppet!

Around The Blogosphere – Holiday Activities

I came across a great little site that will be full of oodles of activities to get you in the holiday spirit.  Heather created this site for the holiday season based on our 50 Days of Summer Fun.  How fantastic is that?  Check out what Heather is coming up with this week, and check back each week for a new batch of activities!  She’s quite crafty, too, so be ready to have some creative fun!

Reaching Across The Miles

We were very blessed to live close to our extended family for the first four years of my older son’s life.  He grew up among grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so many other relatives that a village really and truly raised him.  When he was four, though, our family made the decision to move several hours away.  It was a GREAT move, but we sorely missed our family.

There are several things we have done to keep in touch with our family.  And, when kids are young, it is important to keep those communication lines with family open and moving.  Children can benefit greatly from the influence of positive role models and close ties with family.  Children can learn how families and communities work and rely upon each other by being a part of an active and close family, even when they are physically miles away.

  1. Pick up the phone – especially if you have a great calling plan!  Use cell phones or land lines, whichever has the best “deal” and make it a point to talk at least once a week.  Grandparents and other relatives will love hearing about school and friends, and kids will enjoy remembering the great things that have happened during the week.  Another great phone idea is to put everyone on “speaker”.  Kids can be part of the greater conversation, and you can help nudge kids past the “Uh huh” and “fine” answers. 
  2. Smile!  Put a camera in the hands of your child and have him or her document a day.  Maybe a picture of breakfast, the school bus, or even a walk around the block are just the things the family wants to see.  Photos can be emailed or mailed; have your child either dictate or write a description of the photos to share with others.
  3. Go online – create a family website for family members to log on and check in with the family.  There are several hosting sites that are private.  Myfamily.com is a good source, and blogger.com can be set to private as well.  This is my personal favorite; my family has a blog, and it has been an invaluable way for our parents to share in the lives of our children.
  4. Encourage the grandparents (and other relatives) to reciprocate!  Relatives can read a favorite book over the phone to share with your child.  Or, ask them to send a note or postcard from time to time.  Children of all ages love getting mail, and a note every now and then will let your child know that they are thought of.
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