Kids’ Activities – Frugal Novice
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Kids’ Activities

Strider Bikes are the Perfect First Bike for Your Little One!

Note: We received a Strider bike to facilitate this review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post; all opinions are honest and are our own.

We have a 5- and 7-year-old that love riding their bikes, and they have a little sister who’s two and thinks she needs to do everything her big brothers do. Because of this, Brian and I have been thinking about getting E her own first bike for quite a while now.

With both of the boys, they had a hand-me-down little bike with training wheels, but Brian and I have wanted – for years, literally – to get a balance bike for the kids to try. With E being at the age she is, a Strider balance bike is the perfect fit.

But even though the bike will be for E, we plan to let our five-year-old use it too so he can gain a sense of balance and confidence to learn to ride his other bike without training wheels. That’s right – our five year old can use the bike that we’re giving to our two year old.

Since we’re planning to surprise E with her Strider bike for Christmas (it is a pretty perfect holiday gift idea… what child wouldn’t want to wake up to a great bike on Christmas morning?) I had our 7-year-old help me with photos. You can see that he’s at a quite comfortable height even for how tall he is, and this is with the shorter of the two provided seat bars:

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And although J probably wouldn’t go with pink, E will be thrilled with the vibrant pop of color – Striders are available in seven different colors, though, so you can find one perfect for your child. Here are a few other things we love about Strider bikes:

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Unique, frame-integrated footrests are properly positioned directly below the saddle for natural bike balance. This position also fosters the advanced ability to stand while gliding.

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EVA polymer (industrial foam) tires are super light and durable yet offer a smooth ride. Best of all, they never need air and will never go flat.

 

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As I mentioned before, the seat height is incredibly easy to adjust. The durable, all-weather mini-saddle is designed specifically for beginning riders and their tiny hips. The Sport model, which we received, also includes a padded XL saddle and long seatpost to fit kids over 3 years and allows seat height adjustments up to 48cm (19”). The bike is high quality, which makes me feel good since I know it will get a lot of wear over the years.

I love the story behind Strider bikes, too. Ryan McFarland created the first Strider bike after seeing his young son struggle with propelling the weight of a standard bike. I have a lot of respect for products created by parents for kids, because parents understand best what kids really need.

We can’t wait to give E her Strider bike, and if you’d love to give your little one a first bike, head over to check out the options here. Strider also offers larger bikes for older kids, and even a bike for teens and adults learning to ride (ideal for special needs riders, as well).

 

 

 

Skylanders Trap Team Game Review: A Whole New Level of Fun!

Note: We received a copy of the Skylanders Trap Team game to review. We were not compensated monetarily and all opinions in this post are honest and our own.

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What you see in the photo above is the faces of two very excited little boys.

I have been hearing about Trap Team for months, so I was really thrilled when I got the chance to review the game. I didn’t tell them it was coming, and just surprised them when it arrived. I heard “best mom ever!” many times that day after school, especially since they got to play it on a school night.

For those of you not familiar with Skylanders in general (I’m sure there are maybe 3 of you), it includes a portal that hooks up to the system and allows kids to bring characters into the game by placing figurines on the portal.

The Trap Team game takes the fun even further by introducing traps, which allow kids to “trap” bad guys and play with them later in the game as good guys.

Starter Pack we received  retails for $74.99 and includes:

• Traptanium Portal™ – Place the Skylanders on the NEW Traptanium Portal ™ and bring the Skylanders to life
• Trap Master Skylanders – Trap Master Skylanders are the ultimate trappers with powerful Traptanium™ weapons
• All New Skylanders – The Skylanders each have their own unique abilities and powers
• Traps – Defeat and capture villains in the Traps and then use the villains on the side of good
• Character Collector Poster – Build the ultimate Trap Team – Over 60 Skylanders to collect and 40+ villains to capture
• Sticker Sheets with Secret Codes – Enjoy stickers of your favorite Skylanders. Place the names and codes on the Character Collect Poster to track your collection. The secret codes can be used in the Skylanders Lost Islands ™and Skylanders Collection Vault ™Apps.
• Trading Cards – Learn more about each Skylander’s powers and abilities

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The Trap Team figures are on the left, the portal is the large round center item, and the traps are the blue and green pieces on the right.

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Here’s the game packaging – our five year old actually hugged the case!

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The Trap Team poster – I can’t tell you how much time our kids spent talking about all of the characters on this!

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Tray to house your traps. The boys, of course, decided we need to fill the tray entirely.

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This portal glows when plugged in, and even has a speaker to hear the trapped characters talking!

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As you can see in the photo above, the characters sit on the portal; if you notice the little hexagonal hole in the portal, that’s where you put your trap when you’re playing with that.

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The boys had so much fun playing with this, and our two-year-old even enjoyed sitting and watching!

We’re really pleased with this game. The boys have hours of fun on it, and there’s a lot of room for expansion with the various characters and traps. The game is available on tons of platforms, so you should be able to find it for one you own – it’s available for the XBOX 360, XBOX ONE, PS3, PS4, WiiU, 2DS and 3DS, and the Kindle Fire, too. The starter pack, like I mentioned above, retails for around $70-$75 depending on which platform you purchase it for. That’s a little pricier than a standard Wii U game, but it comes with all the extras of the portal, characters, traps, and poster, so I feel like it’s a good value for your money.

I know our boys will each be getting a Skylanders character and trap in their stockings this year (character pricing starts at about $9.99, and traps are typically just $5.99), and if you’re looking for a great gift to put under the tree, you won’t go wrong with Skylanders Trap Team. If our kids’ reactions are any indication, you’ll be parent of the year when they open it up!

Tiggly Shapes & Apps – Educational Fun for Your Littlest Ones

Note: I received a set of Tiggly shapes and a gift card to facilitate my review. All opinions in this post are honest and entirely those of myself and my family. 

Our boys, who are 5 & 7, love to play games on our iPad. And of course Brian and I like to get our fair share of game-playing in, too. But baby E, who’s almost 2, has been left out of all the iPad fun – until now, thanks to Tiggly shapes & apps.

Tiggly creates hands-on educational tools that work together with free Tiggly apps on the iPad to create an exciting learning experience that combines physical play and digital fun.

When we first pulled out the Shapes and our iPad, E just sat and held the shapes while she watched the animation of the app, but then she quickly realized she could interact with the app using the shapes and she had a blast playing.

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Then our boys came in to see what she was doing, and they started playing along with her. It’s nice to have something all three kids can enjoy together.

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About Tiggly Shapes:

  • Tiggly Shapes incudes a set of four easy-to-grip colorful shapes that are inspired by the classic wooden block. They’re easy for little hands to grip – E loved holding them, and she liked the bright colors, too.
  • Little ones place Tiggly Shapes on the iPad to make Tiggly apps come alive. Each Shape is specially designed to be safe for kids and iPad screens.
  • Tiggly Shapes helps little ones learn about shapes and fundamental geometry concepts, improve their language skills, and develop their motor skills, spatial thinking, and creativity – all while having fun!
  • Each set of Tiggly Shapes also includes a felt carrying pouch for easy storage and fun on the go.
  • Tiggly Shapes is great for toddlers age 18 months to 4 years old (I can attest to the fact that our 5 & 7 year old thought the apps were fun, too!).
  • Tiggly Shapes is compatible with all generations of the iPad and iPad mini.
  • Tiggly Shapes has a retail value of $29.95 and can be purchased online at tiggly.com.
  • Tiggly Shapes includes three free TIggly apps designed by education experts and approved by parents. With their bright colors and fun games, little ones will have hours of fun while learning with Tiggly apps.

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About Tiggly Apps:

  • Tiggly Stamp: Kids explore the seasons while creating their own scenes and stories. Parents and children can use the camera and voice recorder to save the fun tales they dream up.
  • Tiggly Safari: Children use Tiggly Shapes to create friendly animals from the jungle, farm, and sea.
  • Tiggly Draw: Time to use your imagination! Kids use their iPad as their canvas and Tiggly Shapes as their tools to craft their own works of art.

Stay connected:

  • Be sure to visit http://tiggly.com for the latest on Tiggly and to find tips and advice for parents on the Tiggly blog.
  • Friend Tiggly on Facebook at Facebook.com/Tiggly and follow Tiggly on Twitter @TigglyKids
  • Don’t forget, you can buy Tiggly online at Amazon.com!

Six Flags Pokemon Trainer Challenge

Note: I received Pokemon toys to thank me for my post. I was not compensated monetarily for the post, and all opinions are honest and are my own.

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My boys LOVE Pokemon. Their favorite activity this summer has been taking Pokemon cards to day care and trading them with their friends.

Did you know Six Flags loves Pokemon, too?

Join Six Flags on Sunday, August 10 at 3 p.m. at participating Six Flags parks (Chicago, NJ, Dallas, Atlanta and LA) for the Pokémon Trainer Challenge and a chance to win FOUR Six Flags season passes PLUS a Pokémon toy prize pack!

Guests can visit the Pokémon Trainer Station tent* inside the park beginning at 11 a.m. for contest info and to sign up.  You can also practice your trainer skills, check out some of the hottest new Pokémon toys and take your photo with Ash!

At 2:45 p.m., 10 lucky guests** will be selected from the eligible contest entry forms to take the Pokémon Trainer Challenge for the chance to win four 2015 season passes to Six Flags, and over $250 worth of Pokémon toys!

Pokémon Trainer Challenge – Contest Details

Date: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Location: Next to the Pokémon Tent inside participating Six Flags parks
Schedule: 11:00 a.m. Pokémon Trainer Station tent opens
2:45 p.m. Contestant selection
3:00 p.m. Pokémon Trainer Challenge begins!

For more information on the Pokémon toys, check out www.tomycollections.com(link is external)

*Tent locations vary by park. Additional details will be available inside the park on the event date.

**The contest is open to guests age 8 to 13 at the park on August 10. All guests must submit a contest entry form by 2:30 pm to be eligible for participation. Entry forms and contest rules are available at guest relations and at the Pokémon tent inside the park on August 10.

Entrant selection begins promptly at 2:45 p.m. and all guests must be present at the designated Pokémon tent at this time to for a chance to participate. The contest will take place at 3 p.m.

Participating Six Flags parks include:
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Over Georgia
Six Flags Great Adventure

One prize will be awarded at each participating park. Click here for Official Rules.

Skylanders Premium Toy Line Eon’s Elite to Come this Fall!

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My boys, who are 5 & nearly 7, love Skylanders. I mean, love Skylanders. All I’ve been hearing about for the past several weeks is how they can’t wait for Skylanders Trap Team to come out, and now I know I’ll be hearing a lot about Eon’s Elite, too.

Yesterday at San Diego Comic-Con plans were announced to  bring “Eon’s Elite,” a new set of premium toys, to Skylanders fans worldwide this fall. The limited edition Eon’s Elite will introduce eight must-have collectible versions of fan-favorite Skylanders characters, beginning with Spyro and Chop Chop.

The heroes  in the “Eon’s Elite” roster hail from the original Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and have been carefully selected by Master Eon for displaying undaunted courage and commitment to defending all of Skylands.  Eon’s Elite features a never-before-seen decoration with a distinct, metallic finish and a golden base that sets them apart from other Skylanders toys.  Each of these special edition toys will be offered in premium foil packaging and also features a display case with a 3D lenticular background. Additionally, when played in-game, Eon’s Elite will be up to three times as powerful over other characters, which represents the biggest in-game boosts ever incorporated into a Skylanders toy to date.

“Eon’s Elite represents the most iconic characters from the original Skylanders game that started it all,” said Josh Taub, senior vice president of product marketing at Activision Publishing. “These eight toys are not only premium quality but also honor the characters’ strength, courage and commitment. We’re excited to extend our fans’ collections with this new line.”

Eon’s Elite characters will be available in limited quantities at GameStop and EB Games stores in North America, Australia and New Zealand, and select retailers in Europe this fall while supplies last.

And in case you’re not familiar with Trap Team, here’s a little about the upcoming game that will be launching in October (seriously, my boys can. not. wait.):

Launching in October, Skylanders Trap Team brings a ground-breaking innovation to the Skylanders franchise by reversing the magic of its signature Toys-To-Life play pattern to let kids bring life-to-toys for the first time. With Skylanders Trap Team, Portal Masters seek out and defeat the most wanted villains in all of Skylands, pulling them out of the game and into living rooms by capturing them in magical Traps. Players can then send villains back into the game where they play as them to fight for good. The game will include the Traptanium Portal, a new ring of magical energy that enables kids to not only bring their Skylanders to life, but also magically capture villains using the new Traps. Once they’ve defeated the villains, kids will be able to place a Trap into the new portal to capture them. They will also be able to hear the villains inside the Traps, an innovation that truly brings life to toys.  Skylanders Trap Team will be available on Xbox 360 and  Xbox One  video game and entertainment systems from Microsoft, PlayStation  3 and PlayStation  4 computer entertainment systems, Nintendo’s Wii  system, Nintendo’s Wii U  system, and a completely unique adventure available on the Nintendo 3DS  hand-held system.

Kindergarten Diploma – Free Printable!

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I’m a sucker for memorabilia, so it made me a little sad when I realized our son’s school didn’t give out diplomas for “graduating” kindergarten. My mom still has mine hanging in the hall, and I love it! I decided to make a simple diploma for each of the kids in his class, and then I went to Dollar Tree and bought a frame for each of them. SO easy and inexpensive, and hopefully it’ll be something the kids are proud to receive.

In case you’re like me and would like to have diplomas for your child’s graduation, I’ve created a free printable for you to create your own. It’s a PDF file with text fields, so it should be easy for you to add your child’s name, the date, and the name of the school. There are five color options, too!  Just click here to download the PDF, and open it with Adobe Acrobat to edit the text.

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#HealthyEssentials make every day Earth Day

Note: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. All opinions are honest and are entirely my own.

Earth Day is this month, and it’s a great opportunity to talk with your kids about how we’re stewards of the resources around us; you can teach even the youngest of children about recycling – I know our boys both have learned about recycling at school and think it’s really cool when we repurpose items for crafts rather than throwing them away. Taking small steps for yourself and with your kids is an important move toward having more mindfulness overall about taking care of the Earth.

Another easy way to teach your kids about recycling is to buy products with recycled packaging, or with packaging that can be recycled. Johnson & Johnson Family of  Consumer Companies includes many brands with recycling-friendly packaging, so I can feel good not only knowing I’m buying products that work well for my family, but also that are good for the Earth. In fact, you can even find great Earth Day ideas on their Healthy Essentials site, along with great coupons and opportunities to save money on quality products – it’s easy to click and “clip” coupons for all sorts of essentials you need for your family.

On the Healthy Essentials site, you can also learn more about a great way to get involved and make a difference with their Donate a Photo app. Just download the app for your smart phone, and:

For every photo you share, Johnson & Johnson donates $1 to a cause you want to help – which does things like fix up a public park, get medicine for an infant, or help kids play sports safely. You choose the cause you want to help, Johnson & Johnson makes it happen.

You can donate one photo a day, every day. With a photo a day, you’ll make a difference by raising money and awareness for causes you care about. Share with your friends and you’ll help your causes meet their goals faster.

I know I’ll be sharing photos – I take a ton as it is, and it’s such an easy way to make a difference each and every day.

I hope you’ll take part in Earth Day this year – don’t forget, you can find tips and suggestions at the Healthy Essentials site to help get you started.

DIY “Message in a Bottle” Pirate Invitations

Note: I received items from OrientalTrading.com to facilitate my craft/invitations. I was not compensated monetarily for my post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Our middle son’s birthday is right around the corner – next week! – and he’s been excited about his party for a month or so now. He decided to have a pirate theme, and we immediately started looking for ideas on ways to make it special.

Of course, the first item on party prep is invitations, and as a graphic designer it’s always one of my favorite things to do. It’s a fun way to set the tone for your party, and it’s a great way to get creative without it taking too much time or costing too much money.

We went to OrientalTrading.com to look for invitation and party favor ideas, and we found SO many great items perfect to go with our party theme… and we found awesome DIY message in a bottle kits that we just had to get for invitations.

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I created a 4″x8″ invitation for us to roll up and put inside the bottles, along with one pirate coin.  The top of the invitation reads, “Ahoy Matey! Here lies one piece of pirate gold. The rest of the treasure is missing, & Captain Colin needs your help to find it!”

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The bottles open easily from the bottom so you can stick whatever small items in them you’d like – you could do seashells, sand, or any other beach/nautical items that go along with your theme.

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Here are the finished invitations – I used double-stick tape to adhere a label to the outside, and it reads:

Argh Matey! You’re invited

Open this bottle and you will find, a chance for adventure (the very fun kind)

We hope you can join us as we hunt treasure and play,

And help us to celebrate Colin’s 5th birthday!

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The best part about these invitations? They’re SO inexpensive. We printed the invitations ourselves. Twelve bottles just cost $13.50, and it’s $5.00 for 144 coins (the rest of the coins are going in goody bags). Our son took the invitations to school and handed them out, so we didn’t even have to pay shipping.

Aren’t the invitations so fun? I can’t wait to show you the rest of the great party favors we found at Oriental Trading – be sure and keep an eye out for my post-birthday write-up coming in the next couple of weeks!

Free Printable: “Dino-Mite” Valentine’s Card Tags

My son C wanted something fun for his Valentines this year, and we decided to do something a little different than our standard cards – we sent his friends dinosaurs! I found these for $1 each at Walmart, but you can also often find bags of dinosaurs at the dollar store – and I found a batch of 72 dinosaurs for just $10 on Amazon. Either way, I’ve got an adorable tag ready for you to use along with the dinosaurs. I’m kind of in love with these!

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Just click here to download a free printable PDF. The file has two pages. The first has 8 tags laid out. The second page has a repeating dinosaur pattern that looks really great printed on the back of the tags. We typed friends’ names on the tag, but I’ve left space on these for you to write in the names (and your child can write his or her name at the bottom of the tag, which is what we did).

Want another fun Valentine idea? Check out our free Pop Rocks Valentine printable

Free “You Rock” Valentine’s Printable for Pop Rocks

If you’re looking for an easy last-minute Valentine idea, look no further! Simply print out this adorable tag, fold it, and tape it to the top of a Pop Rocks bag. Voila! Here’s how cute ours turned out:

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Just click here to download a free PDF file of the tag (just one single tag), or you can right-click and save the JPG below. If you’d like a whole sheet of the tags, click hereOh, and the hardest part for us was finding where to buy Pop Rocks (Target and Walmart had none!). We finally found them at Dollar Tree, where you can get a pack of 3 for $1. You can also find them online.

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Need another Valentine idea? Why not use our Dino-Mite free Valentine printable?

You Can Win Big at Chuck E Cheese’s!

Note: We received guest passes to facilitate our trip to Chuck E Cheese’s. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

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Our kids adore going to Chuck E Cheese’s, so they were thrilled when we told them we were going to meet some friends there this past weekend. They think the pizza is really good, and of course their favorite part is playing games and winning tickets.

Right now Chuck E Cheese’s is running a “Let the Good Times Rip!” in-store game where parents can get excited about winning prizes, too! To play, just peel off the game piece on your 18-ounce adult-size cup to see what you won. You could win a $5,000 Disney® Cruise Line Vacation, XBox One™ Console, Razor Crazy Cart™, PlayStation® 4 Console, Chuck E. Cheese’s gift cards, board games, tickets and more. This in-store game is going on now until March 31st so don’t miss out!

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The kids had fun peeling off their game pieces to see what they won – we all got extra tickets, which is always a good thing!

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Be sure and pop in to play the game before March 31 – don’t forget, every cup has a prize! And of course, while you’re there you and your family can get in some great quality time and good food.

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Kidoodle.TV

Note: I participated in a Blog Blast program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Kidoodle.TV. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

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Kidoodle.TV is a great site – and app – to let kids pick entertainment in a safe environment that parents can choose specific settings for. Both the boys thought there were a TON of cool shows to pick from, and I loved the “Parents Room” where I could set what shows the boys are able to pick from. It’s great, too, because I could set profiles for each child, letting them see shows I feel are appropriate for their different ages.

Right now you can try Kidoodle.TV for FREE… and enter by December 31, 2013 to win 1 of 10 tablets or 1 of 10 Kidoodle.TV year-long subscriptions!
To enter the giveaway, go to Kidoodle.TV to sign up for a free trial. Follow the on-screen directions and submit!

Check out the Kidoodle.TV site, and follow Kidoodle on Twitter & Facebook, too!