Fun Indoor Toys

As fall turns to winter weather for many states, lots of children will be spending more time then usual indoors as the temperature drops.  If last winter was any predictor for this year, it’s going to be a cold one, and you wont’ want bored minions in your ears all day (and night) long.  Here are a few of the latest fun toys that are perfect for quelling cabin fever.

10 29 14 004With Disney’s new movie, Big Hero 6 about to be released (November 7th), there are a slew of toys on the shelves that your kids will be begging for.  This was one of the cutest movies we have seen for families in a long time, (press screening) even if it was a bit sad at times.  Of course, the main characters Hiro and Baymax are nearly everyone’s favorites, with the silly and huggable (also inflatable) robot Baymax stealing the show for children.  My son loved dressing up like Baymax with the Baymax Rocket Fist and Mask (from Bandai), available for about $23 on Amazon. This mask looks just like the one Hiro made for Baymax, but it’s not a full helmet so it is easy to take on and off (and less likely to get stuck on). The Rocket Fist actually works as well, so use it outside or away from breakables.  The fist is soft, so it won’t hurt anyone, but safety first.  Launch it at the bad guys while you save the day!

11 04 14 products 047Check out the Baymax (Armored) Figure toy as well- which is also on special right now at Toys R Us for only $10.  This is a really cool toy, not only is it sturdy and articulated, but it also has retractable wings for when you feel like flying around the house.  OK, so it doesn’t really fly.  It’s still super cool, and really looks like Baymax (which is very important- just ask any kid!)
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Preoccupied With 1985? It’s OK, So Are We

It would be hard not to notice that our favorite toys from the 80’s are making a comeback- some of them really never went away, but are suddenly popping up everywhere, some are back seemingly from the grave.  Either way, this 80’s baby is now giving her child the same toys she grew up with (and usually getting a kick out of doing so).

product 10 12 14 001Lets start with Care Bears – a personal favorite of yours truly, and happily they didn’t distort the bears too much when they brought them back for a new generation.  So many times, you see the new versions of the toys and they are tall, way too skinny, with super long legs, big heads, and giant eyes.  Thank goodness some bears know how to “keep it real”.  The new bears are ultra plush, extra soft, and come in several sizes. The Care Bears continue their mission to teach kids responsibility, caring, sharing, empathy for others, and being a good friend. This is a big job for a little bear- good thing they still have magic “belly badges” should they need a little help from Care-a-lot. Available from $3-$25 in stores like Target and Amazon.com

product 10 12 14 018Doodle Bear was a favorite of nearly every kids I knew- I never had one, but always coveted them. Now that they are back again, you bet your bottom dollar I was ready to check them out and see how my own child liked them.  Doodle Bears are sweet and cuddly bears that you can create your own artwork on, then just wash and have a brand new canvas. When you wash the bears, place them in a pillowcase or “delicates” bag, and hang to dry. You can get the original Doodle Bear in three colors or the Glow Doodle Bear (where kids can doodle with light).  Doodle Bears each come with special washable markers (meant ONLY for Doodle Bear), Glow Doodle Bear also includes a magic light pen and stampers. Available for $20 and up at stores like Target and Amazon.com
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Little Hands On Play

When little hands are not kept busy, they get into trouble.  Keep those hands (as well as minds) busy and stimulated, as well as bodies active while you get ready for fall fun.

pic5Get outside and play with the new Mini Golf Set from Alex Toys. Perfect for even quite small kids, this set is easy to set up and play.  The set is circus themed, and can be used indoor or outdoors- but for me, I would never recommend playing with sports equipment or balls indoors, seems like an accident waiting to happen- even if they are foam. It comes with only 2 putters/golf clubs, so you might need to share or get two sets if you want to play with everyone at once. The clubs are made for small hands, so they are easy to use and swing, which is great for hand-eye coordination. The set comes with 4 balls, 2 clubs, and 6 different circus themed “”holes”, as well as a carry bag (which can also keep your golf game from losing pieces until the next round).

Available for $37 at http://www.alextoys.com/product/mini-golf-set/

pic4Does your little miss think she is the next Donna Karan?  Let her get her fashionista on with the new Barbie Fashion Design Maker Doll.  Your child can design and create fashions that her doll can really wear- and yes, the Barbie is included. Use the prints and accessories that are in the included software, and even add photos for extra personalization. Eight sheets of printable fabric is included, just peel them off like a sticker and trim with glitter, ruffles, or other included accessories for any look she can imagine. Your child can even store each design in a portfolio like a “real” designer or student. This set includes one Barbie doll, shoes and necklace, eight sheets of printable fabric, fabric ruffles, glitter trims, glitter accessories, and the portfolio. Refill packs are available. About $50 on Mattel.com or stores near you.
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Fun With Superheros

With great power, comes great toys.  That’s how it goes, right?  Let’s go with it.   If you are looking to power up, check out these fun new playthings that have recently hit the stores.

seal stuff 012If you have a little one, chances are you have seen or heard of Paw Patrol- the hit TV show aimed at Pre-K and kindergarteners.  The show revolves around 6 puppies, Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Zuma, Rubble, and Skye. They have a human companion, a ten year-old boy who likes technology, named Ryder. They work together as a team, solve problems, and help creatures and the environment while showing kids cooperation skills. Now the pups are available as toys, from plush to action figures and even vehicles (which play a large part in the show).  The “Racers” are also lots of fun, because they each come with one vehicle and one pup, and have real working wheels that even small kids can use for push and race fun.  If your child is a fan of the show or of animals in general, these super-pups will be a fun treat for them.  Available for $7.99 and up at Amazon, Target, and more.

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It’s always a good time for LEGOS. Some of the latest superheros variety include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Lego Movie- full of heroes.  Some of our current favorites include the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Knowhere Escape Mission and the Guardians of the Galaxy Starblaster Showdown, both featuring the characters from Guardians Of The Galaxy. The Knowhere Escape Mission is a fairly large set, great for bigger kids or collectors. It has 433 pieces, and comes with 3 minifigures and weapons- Rocket Raccoon, Nebula and the Sakaaran, as well as a Groot figure.  Star Blaster Showdown comes with 196 pieces, 3 figures, weapons, and more (features handcuffs as well, which is pretty cool and somewhat unique). About $40 and $20, respectively.
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Sometimes, You Gotta Get Away. Take these with you!

Disclosure- I received the below in order to facilitate my reviews. All opinions are my own and honest.

So you are taking a trip with the kids.  Whether you are taking a road trip or hopping on a plane, you will need to keep the kids , safe, occupied, and at least a little bit quiet if you plan on staying sane.  Here are some fun new take-alongs for your next trip.

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First up comes the packing.  If you are like most parents, you become a pack mule, dragging luggage, laptops, and lovies all over creation.  Do it as easily as possible with something lightweight and durable, like the Delsey Helium line.  In 3 sizes, with 4 wheels that pivot and turn in all directions (which makes the lugging oh so much easier) it is “featherweight” luggage.  This is easier on your back, as well as great for packing, since we all know the airlines are fairly evil about the weights of baggage and trying to get every nickel out of you that they can.  Take that, TSA!  In both standard and brightly colored styles, it is quite durable.  My bag made it on 16 flights, 9 boats, and almost 20 trains and still looks pretty good.  The split book opening makes packing easy, and it comes equipped with a TSA approved lock.  From $160 and up on http://shop.delsey.us

Norway, Packing, Products (canon small cam) 215The Day Traveler line from Eagle Creek is and has been a favorite of mine- durable, lightweight, and easy to tote around, there are tons of options and your money is well spent- these bags LAST.  My new favorite, won’t leave without it bag is the Site Seeing Tablet Courier, which you can pack a surprising amount into.  Water resistant, so no worries about spilled drinks or rainstorms, lockable, and with RFID blocking technology ( which protects your personal information), it makes it so easy to travel light.  It has 3 pockets that zip of various sizes and depths, and can carry phones, tablet, wallet, sunglasses, and more.  It’s just a perfect size bag for all your travel needs. $45 at http://shop.eaglecreek.com
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Seek and (Maybe) Ye Shall Find

What’s more fun than a good, old-fashioned game of Hide and Seek? This week we take a look at three fun, new twists on that timeless classic.

education outdoors snipe huntSnipe Hunt (Education Outdoors, Inc.)
If you’ve ever been to an outdoors camp, you probably spent some time hunting for snipe. Counselors and experienced campers would talk about the elusive creature, hand out sacs, and take newbie campers out into the woods to hunt. We’re not completely sure what the purpose of snipe hunts is, except to give the older campers a chance to laugh at the wide-eyed naiveté of the younger ones who, of course never catch anything. But now there’s a way to make snipe hunts a reality. The Snipe Hunt kit comes with two snipes (named Biela and Smartin) and a “nest.” If you play with teams, each team hides their snipe, and the first team to find the other’s and get it back to the nest wins. Alternatively, one person could hide one or two snipes and everyone else hunts. If they haven’t been found 2.5 minutes after being activated, the snipes start beeping. After five minutes, the eyes start to blink.  Can be played inside or outside, day or night. A fantastic family activity. Retails for under $25, batteries inlcuded. Ages 6 and up. http://www.educationoutdoors.net/

usaopoly treasure traxTreasure Trax: The All in One Scavenger Hunt Game (USAOpoly)
This is one of the most engaging games for the preschool set we’ve seen. The idea is pretty simple: scatter a series of clues that ultimately lead to some kind of reward (what that means is completely up to you). Treasure Trax comes with 60 brightly colored, illustrated, thick cards: 30 depicting locations, 18 with clues, and 12 with animals. There are several ways to play. One person (most likely an adult) can set up a step-by-step hunt. For example, you might start by giving the hunter(s) a card with a picture of a kitchen table. On the kitchen table, there’s a card with a picture of a bookcase. On the bookcase is another card leading somewhere else. For older kids, you can incorporate the color and animal cards and make a matching game. Start with an orange card and send the child off to find a card with a picture of something orange (a tiger, for example).  Treasure Trax is great for matching, focus, and memory. But we especially loved how flexible it is. You can have as many or as few steps as your child’s attention span will allow—but be warned: this game is so fun that attention spans have a tendency to get longer. It can be played with teams or as a one-on-one parent-child activity. You can play it indoors or out, and it’s a wonderful way to turn rainy days into adventures. For ages 3-5, but slightly older kids will have fun too. Retails for under $20 wherever you buy your toys or at http://usaopoly.com/
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Avoid Summer Brain Drain

Now that summer’s here and the kids are home, parents are looking for ways to keep their little one’s minds sharp over break. While activity books, worksheets, and reading are all important to keep learning locked in, there are fun toys you can add into the mix that kids will enjoy playing (er, learning) with.  Hey, as long as they go back to school ready, willing, and able, that’s all that matters.

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Telly the Teaching Time Clock is perfect for kids learning to tell time.  No matter if your child is just starting, or trying to perfect his or her skill, this cute clock will be a fun teaching tool.  You can teach your kids both analog and digital time, which is hard to find on the same teaching clock.  There is also a “quiz mode”, where Telly will ask children to match the time shown on his face by moving the hands on his (literal) face. Bonus- Telly is a real, fully functional, working clock, making him perfect for a child’s bedroom.  He comes with three AA batteries, and sells for $28 on http://www.tlji.com

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Use the Magnetic Spell and Learn Board to teach your kids letters, sounds, and spelling- this is a good tool for a variety of learners and abilities. Some of the  magnets have short words and pictures of the words on them, which encourages children to sound out the word, and spell it for themselves using the magnet letters. Grow their spelling as well as phonics skills while also developing early vocabulary abilities. The board and interlocking magnets make putting words together easy, and since there is a storage compartment, keeping it all together until next time is a breeze.  No one likes lost pieces, and and most parents love things that are easy to clean up and keep track of.  Available for $20 on http://www.tlji.com
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Keeping Kids Occupied in the Kitchen

 

Got little kids?  We all know that making meals can be one of the hardest time of the day- both because the kids want all your attention, all the time, and because keeping kids clean and participating in meals is never an easy task.

One of the best ways to keep kids busy in the kitchen is to give them something to keep them occupied- if you are cooking, why not let them “help”?  You could give them a real pot and put some water and etc in it, but that can be messy.  If you have smaller kids, you can give them pretend food to “cook” with at the kitchen table while you make dinner at the counter or next to them.  There are some great and realistic sets available now, made in felt, ceramic, plastic, and wood.

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Melissa and Doug make many varieties, in both wood and felt. You can choose not only the set(s) that you prefer, but the material as well.  Some of the sets include a sandwich making set, which will keep kids entertained with the variety of items they can make.  The pieces (available in felt or wood sets) are stuck together with either bits of velcro, or the felt sticks to itself.  It comes with a wooden knife (that isn’t sharp, of course) and items like bread, rolls, lunchmeat, pickles, hamburger, and more.  To make sure your child gets their pretend fruits and veggies into their diet (and maybe encourage eating them in real life and at mealtimes) check out the Cutting Fruit Set.  The food makes a fun “crunch” noise when kids “cut” it with the included wooden knife.  Included are seven pieces of various fruits that can be sliced into seventeen pieces.  Of course, putting them together (or mixing them up into their own creations) is just as much fun as making the fruit salad for dessert. The sets come in their own wooden storage crates, for $20 on http://www.melissaanddoug.com
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