Brayden has been spending a lot of time with me at the store since school got out, and it is often a struggle to balance activities for him with screen time. Obviously, running the store, I don’t have a lot of quality time to spend with him, so unfortunately I resort to screen time too often. Yesterday was a long 8 hour day, and I did not want him to have THAT much screen time. So, after he did some “dusting” I let him have the new Melissa & Doug 3D pirate puzzle to put together. It was a great activity that kept him interested and busy for quite some time. He is only 5 years old, and the 3D puzzle says it is for a 6+ year old child. So, he did need my help, but he was able to do a lot more than I expected by himself. First I had him punch out all of the pieces, which came out easily. Then he and I worked together to fit the pieces. It came with great instructions, that an older child could have easily followed, but since I helped him put it together I really did not even look at them. It was very self explanatory. Each piece was number and had the coordinating piece numbered so you could easily follow where they all went. It was a great activity for him to search for and recognize his numbers, as he is entering kindergarten this fall. There were a couple times we had to take something apart to add a piece we forgot. Had we followed the directions I am sure that wouldn’t have happened, but we are not very good rule followers, LOL. Brayden has also really enjoyed playing with the pirate ship now that it is built. It comes with several little pirates, some moveable cannons, a lifeboat and an island that are great for imaginative play. In addition to the pirate ship, Melissa & Doug have a Medieval Castle, a Pink Palace, and a Pretty Purple Dollhouse 3D puzzles.
We have two super cute sprinklers at Dungeness Kids right now. My daughter being the sparkly pink all things “cute” girl, wanted the “Pretty Petal” sprinkler by Melissa & Doug. She had so much fun on those hot days in May, she has wanted to run through the pretty petals on the cool days of June as well😀.
I always like to intentionally incorporate learning with play, but this time it was my husband that made up a fun game for Emma to help her brave the cold water. We call it the “Sprinkle the Alphabet” game. We toss plastic letters around the sprinkler and then call out letters for her to grab. She tries to stay as dry as possible, but has lots of fun getting wet too. This helps to reinforce the letters she learned last year in preschool before she heads off to kindergarten this fall.
The sprinkler is easy to attach and remove from our hose and has about a 10ft radius.
If you were to ask my 8 year old daughter what her favorite card game is, she would answer without hesitation “Spot it!’ This award winning game, created by Blue Orange has many variations, from “Spot it Jr” (ages 4 and up), to “Spot it Freeze” (ages 8 to adult), with other themes geared toward travel, parties, and story telling. And, Dungeness Kids Company carries many of them! Although the recommended minimum age for “Spot it” is 8 years old, my daughter has been playing this game (and beating me more often than not!) since she was 6 years old. Had I known about it before that, I would have invested in one or more of the “Spot it Jr.” games that encourages learning geometric shapes, numbers, and letters, (to name a few).
It’s been a beautiful spring around here! With all the sunshine and extended daylight, we’ve been spending so much time outside! April and May have been all about the garden, which is a super exciting project with the kids! Planting, watering, weeding, and lots of dirty toes! The Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Pretty Petals Watering Can was such a fun find for my almost-3 year old! She’s gotten very good at watering “her” plants each day as the can is super light, just perfect for her to lift, even full of water! She’s also made a pot of dirt-soup inside of it! Yum!
While she loves being outside and helping, sometimes I’m working longer than she thinks is fun, so we’ve gotten lots of other outside activities to play around with.
Bubbles have always been her favorite outdoor, and on very special and busy afternoons, indoor activity! We’ve tried so many different wands and even a couple electric bubble machines. But it’s always more fun to do it yourself; especially when 2 is turning into 3 and a favorite phrase is “I can do it myself!”
The Bollie Bubble Set from Melissa & Doug has been a blast! Addie is able to wave the lightweight wand herself and found that running with it worked even better than blowing! We’ve been spending the warm evenings outside chasing bubbles this week, and I think as the weather continues to heat up, we’ll be doing more and more of this! I can’t wait! Happy Spring!
Melissa and Doug put a lot of thought and care into their products for children. My 3 year old daughter could not wait to open up the Melissa and Doug Triple Layer Party Cake. It is vibrant, festive and includes a pretend candle, cake slicer and serving plate. All the pieces velcro together making it so fun for my daughter to slice into. It took her a couple of tries to figure out how to slice the cake apart but once she got the hang of it we dinned on cake for a half an hour. I would highly recommend this product and truly enjoy watching my daughter play and use her imagination with this party cake.
Children learn through play. That is something I have heard my mother say often. She is a former Early Childhood educator and definitely filled my early years with lots of learning through play. Thank you Mom! So I was inspired last year by a video game where Daniel Tiger hosted a virtual tea party, to teach manners.
What a great idea, to practice over and over, please, thank you, and giving compliments to the hostess, etc. How to think of conversation starters and answer questions… brilliant, learning manners through play. So I was excited to purchase a Green Toys Tea Set from Dungeness Kids, that way my daughter and I could have a “real” tea party having fun while learning good manners and polite chit chat (which I have a difficult time with, so it is good practice for me too.)
Now for the product “bonus” features: because my daughter insists on using real food, hands down my favorite part of the tea set is that it can go in the dishwasher. Yay! The tea set is also safe (no BPA) and environmentally friendly (made out of recycled milk jugs) and made in the USA. We’ve had the tea set for about a year now and I haven’t seen any signs of wear and tear. Thank you Mom and Dungeness Kids for helping my daughter (and I) to learn through play.
Packing lunches is always a struggle, especially towards the end of the year when you’ve lost inspiration. What can you feed them that is healthy, but that they will eat in the short amount of time they have for lunch? It always feels like we throw away too much food at the end of the day. Was it because the drink leaked on the food and made it soggy? Or just that they didn’t like what you packed? Plus, how do you pack their lunch without wasting a ton of plastic & packaging each day?
At our house, we use straw bottles from Green Sprouts and Skip Hop for water each day. The Green sprouts bottle we have had for at least 4-5 years. The straw comes out of the top pretty easily to be washed. They also sell extra straws with a little brush to clean them if need be. The Skip Hop water bottle is super cute, but the straw does not come apart easily, so I just wash it with the cap on in the dishwasher. We usually don’t have problems with the bottles leaking as long as the kids slide the cap back on, or keep it upright if they don’t. But like with anything kid related, there is potential for messes.
To eliminate having to use plastic bags, we use the Sugarbooger bento box which has 3 compartments to pack food in. The larger compartment is more than big enough to hold half a sandwich and can hold 2 halves stacked on top of each other. In the smaller two compartments, I usually pack a fruit and/or vegetable, and sometimes chips or crackers. The divider sections of the compartments on these bento boxes is raised to provide a seal so the food does not mix. I have never tried it, but it is probably not good enough of a seal to prevent yogurt from seeping through. We have had these bento boxes for a couple years, and they are still in great shape.
My boys are huge LEGO fans, as most 5-9 year old boys are. They picked out these LEGO lunch bags (with matching backpacks) by CarryGear, before the 2014/2015 school year. We are going on 2 years, and they are still in really good shape. They clean up easily. They also hold the bento boxes, straw bottle and a flat ice pack. It is a little tight to zip it up, but I do it every morning and my boys do it after lunch each day. Occasionally they stick their water bottle in the front pocket instead, but that is another alternative. The other nice thing about their size is they are not too big to fit in the boys backpacks, but they can also be attached to the outside of their backpack with the velcro strap on top. I have been really impressed with the quality of the CarryGear LEGO lunch bags & backpacks. How often can you find bags that survive 2 school years?
As a preschool teacher and mother, I know the importance of teaching fine motor skills to my daughter and students. Melissa & Doug have created fun cutting pages for your kids to practice these skills with. Each page is bright and colorful with a creative picture on it. The pages start with basic straight cutting lines and progress to more difficult cutting lines like zig zags and spirals. The added bonus is the pack comes with a pair of scissors that will only cut the paper!! Learning how to hold and cut with a pair of scissors can be nerve wrecking as a parent, but with this product I knew my daughter was safe and would not hurt herself. If you are looking for a product that is safe, fun and will help teach fine motor skills this is the product for you. My daughter loved this product and kept her busy at work for almost 45 minutes!
Laundry, it never ends! Day after day, it keeps on coming. Some may find it therapeutic and satisfying as they work the task of doing the laundry into their schedules. I usually find it overwhelming, I am never finished with the task, there is always more to wash!!!