Blocks are a basic toy, but the wooden, cardboard or fabric cubes can inspire a love of learning for little ones. Kids use them to count, to read, to learn. The toy box staple also allows them to design, construct and work with their hands. Check out these five sets that will get your child building.
Once you give birth, shopping is never the same. Whether you're buying groceries or hitting the store for a new outfit, your carefree days of perusing the aisles and racks are numbered...unless you leave the kiddos at home! Every woman thinks that her offspring will be the exception, but eventually just about every tot throws up, pitches a fit, or climbs into a clothing rack. Here are some pointers on how to deal with the dreaded mall trips.
Most mothers think their children are crack-ups, but some things that come out of the mouths of babes are funny or offbeat enough to entertain the masses. I've compiled a few favorites that my own kids have said in the last month. Share your tot's utterances in the comments section!
- "I don't want to have a naked head when I grow up." — 4-year-old son on balding.
- "We're playing dinosaur, chimpanzee, and yodeler." — 6-year-old daughter when I asked what she and her brothers were doing.
- "I have to take a bath, fly a plane and eat a coconut to get rid of these hiccups!" — 4-year-old son.
- "This song makes my mouth dance!" — 4-year-old son when Pink's "Raise Your Glass" came on the car radio.
- "Did you know Santa is St. Nick? Kinda crazy how he never died, isn't it?" — 6-year-old daughter on why Santa is real.
- "I'm going to marry a guy who LOVES to clean!" — 6-year-old daughter on how to get rid of a big mess.
- "There's a little man inside me and when he giggles, I hiccup." — 4-year-old son.
- "He's going to be an actor. He looks just like Brad Pitt!" — 6-year-old daughter on her baby brother's future career.
- "I love using the word touche!" — 6-year-old daughter while reviewing her spelling words.
- "I don't want to break your heart, but I have to go to school now." — 4-year-old son getting out of the car.
There's nothing like watching your baby sleep, but what happens when he ends up in your bed — all the time! Whether parents should allow their child to lie with them is one debate, but the bond created from doing so is another. Even mothers who are against co-sleeping or the family bed often admit that there's nothing sweeter than seeing their youngster in the slumber state. What's your opinion?
Get your nose out of the books! Everybody and their brother is touting preschool and kindergarten readiness programs, leaving many parents wondering how much prep a tot needs before stepping foot in class. Brain Quest's ($9 each) decks of 300 question and answer cards disguise the learning as language, math, and social skills challenges that have my preschooler begging for "card time" (as we call it) rather than the TV.
Who is this toy designed for? The Brain Quest decks begin at the preschool level and go up to age 13.
What sets it apart?The Brain Quest decks are fun. The three-question-per-card format, animated illustrations, and variety of subjects turn the challenges into a game, rather than memorization. The size of the decks and their grommet closure also make them handy for toting around and using during waits at restaurants, in lines, and in the carpool line.
How long did it entertain my child? I'm usually the one who ends our "play" session due to dinner's arrival or bed time, but we've used them for anywhere from five minutes to 45. Though the questions get progressively harder, my tot loved flipping to the next card to see if he could answer it. We've found them to be the perfect distraction during long waits at the airport too.
Would I buy it? We've already "mastered" the first deck, and I found my son checking the mailbox for the next to arrive. The sets came highly recommended by his preschool director and more than a few friends have caught us doing them on the bus on our way to school each morning.
Before food fights even begin, parents need to figure out a way to keep their tots seated at the table. Most moms have a bag of tricks or an exhaustive lineup of distractions to keep their children glued to their chairs during meals, but the process is more about eliminating whining than dining. Why not integrate a few items into the table setting that will hold a youngster's attention and keep them engaged during dinner? Here our five of my favorite products that cater to kids.
Continue to fill lil noggins with information. Children can lose up to two months of knowledge over their Summer breaks, but moms can reverse that trend with their favorite piece of technology. The iPhone's sleek design masks learning opportunities as entertainment, and these fun educational apps will teach tots a few new things.
Gathering around the table isn't just something in Norman Rockwell's pictures. For generations, families have been bonding over board games. And we've got one to keep both parents and kids busy! What's in Ned's Head? ($20) is a bit of a gross game that invites tots to reach into Ned's fleece head in search of objects pictured on playing cards — the first one to find the object wins. Ned's mushed-up head is filled with plastic dirty Q-tips, insects, and a lost lunch, so lil ones delight in the ick factor. We put the game to the test and here's how it fared:
Who is this game designed for? Playing cards feature both photos and words, so tots don't have to read to play the game. It's best for children ages 4 and up.
How long does it take to play? Each round takes about three minutes, which was quick enough to keep everyone's attention. To clear all of the objects from the head took about 20 minutes including a lot of laughter as we compared our finds.
What separates it from other games? A simple hidden object game, the "gross-out" factor steps it up a notch and makes it exciting for kiddos who love bathroom humor.
Would I give it as a gift? Definitely (two boxes are already wrapped up for birthday parties this weekend)!
Did the kids play again? We play several rounds of Ned every night before bath time, and my son brags about it.
Picture books inspire a love of books in infants that only grows stronger once tots are old enough to sit through an entire story. Once a lil one outgrows her board books, it's time to upgrade with a collection of texts that contain vivid characters and engaging stories. From the tomes she can grow her vocabulary and pre-reading skills. Here are 10 books that will stand out on the bookshelf.
Before families can gather around the table to complete a true jigsaw puzzle, lil ones must master smaller versions designed expressly for their hands. Chunky, five to 10 piece puzzles can be constructed quickly to stay within their attention span. Here are six versions that may inspire wee ones to start building.