Four Tips Before Diving In For The First Swim Lesson

by Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of the “Luca Lashes” app/ebook series

LL has his First Swimming Lesson_Book CoverTaking your child to a swimming pool to learn to swim is a fairly common experience for parents. Getting a child comfortable in the water can give a child confidence to handle a lot of new experiences. Here are a few tips to help make a toddler’s first pool experience a happy one for you and for them!

1. Getting ready!

Many toddlers are not potty-trained, or just learning how to go the toilet. To be on the safe side, until your toddler is completely toilet-trained, use a swimmer diaper underneath the swimsuit, so that you keep the pool as clean as possible. Also, it is important to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device that fits properly. Toddlers should wear these any time they are near water until both they and you are comfortable with their ability to swim.

2. Is there tech support?

Luca Lashes and his First Swimming Lesson is a great eBook/app that can walk a child through their first time in the pool! Children can get the look and feel of the pool, take a shower before getting in the pool, and have a lesson with a swim instructor. Luca and his daddy have fun in the water, and your child can join in!

3. Follow the Rules.

Every public pool has a specific set of rules. These can include “No Running,” “No Splashing,” etc. Be sure to follow these rules yourself, and teach your child how important rules and safety are in the pool area. The pool rules are there for the safety of every one involved, and should be read and paid attention to by every parent!

4. Be Safe.

Parents need to teach their toddlers that never go into the water without an adult, and parents also need to practice “touch supervision.” This means that an adult should be within arm’s reach of a toddler at all times near a pool or any body of water. For particularly early swimmers who are being carried by their parents in water, parents need to stay at a comfortable depth where a firm footing can always be maintained.

Remember to always ask your children both how they feel about the swimming pool both before and after their time in the water. This is a great time to have a “teachable” moment with your little ones! Laugh with your children; enjoy these moments, as some of the happiest times in a person’s life involve being in a pool!

 

Nicole & Damir Fonovich are co-creators of Luca Lashes,” an eBook and app series that turns “fear of firsts” into fun. The series is aimed at kids ages 0–4 and is available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese. The first app, Luca Lashes: The Brown Eyed Boy with the Magic Eyelashes, is free on iTunes, and the other apps can be downloaded for $1.99 at all major marketplaces and at www.LucaLashes.com.Nicole and Damir both have backgrounds in teaching, writing and publishing. Together, they have 17 years of experience in the education field, in both teaching and administration. They live in the Phoenix area.

5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe

By Eric Long of kidsport GPS (www.kidsportgps.com)

 

lostAccording to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year. That’s over 2,000 a day. Shocking, isn’t it?

When I was a kid, my friends and I spent our hours after school meandering the neighborhood. Mom and Dad had no idea where I was or what I was doing. In summer…sun up; I’m gone. I was a racecar pulling in for a PB&J pit stop around noon, and dinner was just a distraction. I was gone for hours upon hours. No big deal. Today? Different world!

My daughter is almost 10. If she is three minutes late from a bike ride, her mom and I are freaking out. We lose sight of her at the park and we panic. On vacation? When I am not playing with her, I am a CIA agent scanning the crowd for suspicious characters.

So how can we keep our kids safe in today’s modern world? No tool or device will keep your kids safe 100% of the time, but here are five things you can do to mitigate the risks:

  1. Family Talk – Take time to talk to your children about safety and abduction prevention. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has an excellent campaign called Take 25 (http://www.take25.org/) that provides free tools such as safety tips, conversation starters, and mini-lessons to help trusted adults begin conversations with children about safety.
  2. ID Card – Create and give each child a laminated ID card with his or her name, date of birth, address, phone numbers, etc. If your child is too young or otherwise unable to speak for him or herself, consider writing the information somewhere on his or her clothing in permanent marker.
  3. Child ID Kit – Prepare an ID kit for each child in the event that he or she is missing. The kit should include a physical description (nickname, date of birth, height, weight, gender, fingerprints, hair and eye colors, etc.), any identifying features (glasses, braces, scars, birthmarks, piercings, etc.), any medical information (conditions, disorders, diseases, medications, etc.), and, most importantly, an up-to-date, good quality digital photo. Be sure to take your kits with you on trips and vacations.
  4. Emergency Hot Spots – Whether you are at a playground, amusement park, ski slope, vacation resort, or any crowded location, always identify the nearest help and information centers, emergency stations, and police posts. Inform your children where to go and what to do in case of an emergency or if they get lost.
  5. kidsport GPS Tracking Device –The kidsport GPS band is a GPS tracking device developed specifically for kids that allows parents to locate their kids on their cell phones, iPads or computers. It will be available this fall, but families can pre-order now. To find out more, visit www.kidsportGPS.com.

No parent I know can imagine what it is like to have a child go missing. It is our greatest fear. But by educating a children and taking safety precautions, we can help reduce the chances of that ever happening. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (www.missingkids.com) has a lot of excellent information on child safety and what you can do as a parent or guardian.

safetytatAnother great tool My Good Parenting found is a product called SafetyTat. They are fun and functional temporary tattoos that detail emergency info.  SafetyTats read ‘If Lost, Please Call’ and list a parent or guardian’s mobile phone number. Designed to be worn on a child’s arm or hand, SafetyTats are easy to apply and are perfect for amusement parks, water parks, shopping at a crowded mall, or even while traveling through a busy airport. It is a great solution for small children that cannot carry around an ID card and cannot remember this important information. www.SafetyTat.com

Gardening with Kids

By Christy Wilhelmi, www.gardenerd.com

little-gardenerSpring is when nature appears to come back to life. Flowers push up from the soil, and with it comes the curiosity of children. It’s the perfect opportunity to plant a spring garden. Encourage your little ones to dream big; read together about children’s gardening, and spend time plotting out veggies that will become mid-day snacks this summer. Watch the excitement build as you start seeds, whether indoors or outside. Here are a few quick veggies that provide nearly instant gratification and are kid-friendly crops to plant:

Radishes – the ultimate instant-gratification vegetable.  They sprout in days and can be harvested in a very short time.  Perfect for impatient little ones!

Lettuces – not only will you see sprouts emerge quickly (10 days or so) but you’ll be able to harvest the outside leaves in a little over a month from the time they sprout.  You’ll have salads through spring and into summer.

Beets – okay, kids might not like beets, but they are really easy to grow, have virtually no pests or diseases, and bring a lot of color to the garden.  Their red-veined leaves and stems might actually convince kids that beets are tasty, too.

Arugula – this green is a little more sophisticated in flavor, but much like radishes, it sprouts in days.  Your kids may not like it but you will, so tell them that kids can grow grown-up vegetables to share.

Peas – nature’s snack food rarely makes it in from the garden.  Peas take longer to germinate, but given a place to climb, they will thrive.  Kids will enjoy watching peas reach for the sky, flower and form tiny pea pods.  Practice patience by waiting for the peas to plump up and then pick and eat them right in the garden.  These are the things that make lasting memories.

Christy Wilhelmi is founder of Gardenerd.com and author of Gardening for Geeks. She offers classes, consulting and food garden design in the Los Angeles are, and grows 70% of her family’s produce in under 200 square feet. For more information on growing your own food, visit Gardenerd.com.

Children’s Book about Misbehaved Mutt Teaches Key Values

By children’s author Lana Schneider
http://sheasheasheananigans.weebly.com/about-the-author.html

 

sheasheaHow many times have we seen or been the parent of a child who has suddenly ‘run off’ from a playground or grocery store isle? As our hearts pound with panic and our faces turn pale we find them, hugging them and reprimanding them at the same time.

 

In the children’s picture book series, “Shea-Shea Shea-na-ni-gans”, Shea-Shea is a rambunctious German Shepard mix whose mission is to create as much mischief as possible. In the first book of the series, “Shea Runs Away”, the dog demonstrates her unrelenting urge to leave the safety of her own yard and explore the neighborhood. She hops a fence and wanders the streets alone.

 

In her time away from the safety of her loved ones, Shea-Shea meets a sweet old woman, a butcher, and a firefighter. She even finds time to take an afternoon nap in the local park. However, her curious ways put her in the ‘doghouse’ when her owner catches up with her.

 

Parents can use Shea-Shea’s examples to teach their children the dangers of running off with no supervision. As parents, we don’t want to use scare tactics with small children, however, we do want key safety points to be embedded in their minds. Reading a short picture book with fun, entertaining illustrations, with realistic outcomes is the perfect way to get the point across to your little ones.

 

All the books the Shea series are meant to teach important lessons or highlight milestones in child’s life. This was my thought process behind the second book, “Shea Goes to the Doctor”. We all remember that childhood milestone for ourselves don’t we?

 

Not every kid is brave enough to undergo such a taunting first time experience. Shea-Shea goes through all the basic motions of a checkup and even gets shots! It’s my goal that after you reading the book with your child that they can walk into that doctor’s office with confidence.

 

Later, in the Shea-Shea Sheananigans series there will be subtitles such as “Shea Goes to Preschool”, and “Shea Get’s a New Puppy”, however, no matter what the content of the lesson, you can count on Shea-Shea to represent the situation well and get your child through that daunting childhood milestone.

 

I realize that childhood is an important time for teaching and the development of young minds. I hope that my work can assist parents in the upbringing of wonderful children.

Digital Media Tips

By Sherry Maysonave, Author, EggMania: Where’s the Egg In Exactly, www.maniatales.com

kid-laptopDigital devices are kid magnets. Fascinated by smart phones, iPads, tablets, and gaming devices, today’s tech-savvy kids can easily get overloaded by digital media.  One of the pitfalls of too much technology is the loss of imagination time which is key to keeping the genius factor alive and well in kids. Recent MRI studies show that the use of imagination activates multiple areas of the brain with increased blood flow, which is associated with neuronal activity. Interestingly, it was found that narratives were a primary imagination trigger, and this included stories in eBook format as well as traditional books and even oral story-telling.

 

Parents can employ the advantages of imaginative journeys by using “interactive” eBooks to satisfy their kids’ digital cravings.  Narrated and enhanced eBooks typically incorporate the three primary learning modalities—visual, audio, and kinesthetic—simultaneously. Multi-sensory and multi-dimensional experiences are like brain vitamins, by significantly increasing imaginative components and learning potential.

 

How can parents optimize and ensure that their children’s screen time, even with eBooks, is a beneficial experience?

 

Tips for using interactive ebooks to engage your kids:

1. Multi-Sensory Components — Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic

Visual: To fully engage children visually and to stimulate their imaginations, select illustrated ebooks that are visually-rich, those having artful and colorful graphics beyond typical kiddy art.

Audio: Sound enhanced ebooks that have two modes of reading are best: a) Narration with music and sound effects; b) Read Myself. To optimize audio integration, allow children to enjoy and explore the narrated version with enhanced sound. Then, to practice oral reading skills, set up auditions for “the best narrator.” Use recorders or smart phones to tape children’s versions. Allow kids to create fun sound effects and add music to their narrations. For younger children who are not yet reading advanced vocabulary, parents may record for them. Involve them though in the nuances of your oral expression. Include their voices on the recording by having them read, speak, or repeat after you, some of the words or short sentences.

Kinesthetic: Encourage tapping and touching of the screen to activate kinesthetic and interactive components. Ask them to zoom in and out on art images, tap for duplication or animation of images, and tap words for definitions. iPad users can take screen shots of illustrations, then print them in black and white for kids to color, paint, trace, or copy. Hands-on activities such as these extend the digital world into their real world and offer more opportunities for kinesthetic application.

2. Emotional Elements

A. Discuss stories and illustrations with children; ask questions, “What is their favorite illustration? And why?”… Their favorite words, fun facts, etc. Avoid asking, “What did you learn?” Host a live chat or set-up mock television interview to make this more fun for kids and show you value their opinion. Allow them to express without making any answers wrong. This is an opportunity to learn more about what your children are thinking.

B. Support the hero in your child. Develop their subjective thinking skills by helping them analyze the subtler life lessons typically inherent in children’s narratives. Kids do not always integrate what we think they will. Help them come to positive conclusions by asking them questions about the main character or characters, asking what they liked about them/him/her and didn’t like about them. Ask how they would respond to the dilemma or conflict if they were that character. Set up a stage effect for kids to act out these components or the entire story. Family participation encouraged.

3. Language Development

Give kids a choice of two illustrations from an ebook or have them select two favorites. Then have them write a new story, poem, or song lyrics based upon the illustrations and what the images inspire in their imagination. Older kids can be required to have a lexical humor slant to their story, poem, or song. They may also want to choose a genre such as comedy, drama, true crime, romance, memoir, etc.

4. Family Fun

Extend the subject matter into family time to further develop and enhance kids’ imaginations. Play games, such as charades, using vocabulary-rich phrases and words from ebook narratives. A family/friends version of “Who’s Smarter than a Fifth Grader” can be played using the Fun Facts that some ebooks provide.

Real Reading, Real Kids: The Who, What, and Why

By Susan Straub, Rachel Payne and KJ Dell’Anotonia

reading-on-the-porchReal reading, with real children, is rarely a picture-perfect process. Even a baby who loves to be read to isn’t going to curl up in your lap every time. Toddlers tear books. Twos throw them. Trying out an ebook or app? She’s all over every button or swipe of the screen, including those that shut the whole thing down or email your boss.

You may think books are for reading. Your baby sees that books are almost infinitely useful for playing peek-a-boo, experimenting with Newton’s Law of Gravity, and forming a bridge to allow the giraffe to walk into the plastic barn door.

It seems as if there’s an enormous gulf between what the two of you are trying to achieve: you’re trying to get to the end of Harold and the Purple Crayon, and your baby is trying to taste the book cover. You want to read; she wants to experience. Her experience, though, is really akin to your reading. She’s learning about the book: as an individual book, a part of a larger set of books, as a hard object, a soft object, a paper object, and, finally, something that causes you to make a given set of sounds.

Whether she’s mouthing Harold’s cover or using him for a hat, she’s happy. Isn’t that what you really want—creativity, experimentation, imaginative play, talking and laughing and doing something together? Let go of the goal and savor the experience. You probably already know how it ends, anyway.

The Classics

Twenty-five Picture Books for Every Child’s Library

These are great books—books you’ll find in every library, every preschool, every bookstore. You’ve probably heard of many of them; some you may remember from your own childhood and some you may read to your grandchildren someday.

1.     Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey. This simply illustrated glimpse of the past resonates with any child who’s lost sight of Mom as Sal does during blueberry picking.

2.     Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle (illus.). Many kids can “read” Martin’s predictable and comforting text before they even learn their letters.  Carle’s simple animal collages are iconic.

3.     Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business, Esphyr Slobodkina.  A wonderful, timeless tale of copying and cleverness.

4.     Carrot Seed.  Ruth Krauss, Crocket Johnson (illus.).  For more than half a century, this beanie-sporting boy has had faith that his carrot would grow, despite his family’s doubt.

5.     Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom,  Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert (illus.).  In arguably one of the most memorable and playful alphabet books ever, lower case letters and their parents, the capital letters, cavort up and down a coconut tree.

6.     Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell. Yes, it’s a television series; yes, it’s a franchise…but the original books are really good and perfect for babies and toddlers. Big, red dog. Need we say more?

7.     Corduroy, Don Freeman. A lovely story of a little girl’s kindness and empathy for a teddy bear who needs a home, with realistic illustrations.

8.     Curious George, H. A. Rey. The story of the little monkey, so like a toddler in his curiosity and impulsiveness but so much more capable, is one kids love. You’ll probably notice now that George’s removal from the jungle isn’t the most politically correct thing ever written, but your child won’t mind.

9.     Freight Train, Donald Crews.   This multicolored train has been crossing trestles, going by cities, and going through tunnels for over thirty years.  Now there is an app that was created with Crews’ input.

10.  George and Martha, James Marshall. The hippos have an admirable friendship, so real that it’s full of pranks, hurt feelings, and make-ups. Marshall produced tons more brief stories about them, but this is the first. Arguably the story “Split Pea Soup” is a legend all by itself. Fun for the whole family.

11.  Go, Dog. Go!, P. D. Eastman. Simple books meant for beginning readers can make great books for beginning talkers.

12.  Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (illus.). The old-fashioned setting, the simple rhymes, and the cozy illustrations make this a nighttime must read for many toddlers.

13.  Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram (illus.). Big Nutbrown Hare can one-up Baby Nutbrown Hare’s declarations of love every time, but this baby doesn’t give up.

14.  Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson. You may remember Harold, but you probably didn’t think of him as a book for babies. In fact, he works very well—simple illustrations and many moons.

15.  Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion, Margaret Bloy Graham (illus.). Harry needs a bath—and after he’s run away from one, he gets so dirty his family doesn’t recognize him. His ultimate return and his family’s recognition make for a very satisfying resolution.

16.  Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss. A wonderful introduction to rhyme.

17.  The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper. This tale still resonates, and always will. The original illustrations are fun, and if the words (definitely a little on the sweet and cloying side) begin to get to you, you can always edit a bit.

18.  The Little House, Virginia Lee Burton. Most of us remember the poignant illustrations in this story of a little house in the country that becomes surrounded by city before sympathetic owners move it to the country again.

19.  Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt. The mother of all interactive baby books.

20.  The Napping House, Audrey and Don Wood.  In this fun, cumulative tale, a nap goes awry due to the antics of a “wakeful” flea.

21.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle. Kids love putting their fingers through the holes and pulling the pages to watch the hungry caterpillar eat his way through an uncomfortable assortment of food.

22.  We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen, Helen Oxenbury (illus.).  A family, a journey, a bear, and lots of great sound effects from Rosen and lively watercolors from Oxenbury make this read aloud irresistible.

23.  Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak. Sent to his room for being a wild thing, Max travels to the forest and conquers even wilder things before realizing that home is best.

24.  Where’s Spot? Eric Hill. Plump, yellow Spot and his wonder at discovering the world around him have spoken to children for decades.  Also available as ¿Dónde está Spot? in Spanish, and in many other languages.

25.  Whistle for Willie, Ezra Jack Keats. A whistle will call Willie the dog, but Peter can’t whistle until practice finally pays off.  Refreshingly warm collage illustrations.

Excerpted from: cid:image004.gif@01CE4C07.68260FD0Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos: A Guide to Laughing, Learning & Growing Together Through Books (Sourcebooks; ISBN: 978-1-4022-7816-7; Parenting; April 2013; $14.99 U.S.; paperback)

Make The Potty Training Process Easy and Enjoyable With These Five Tips

When it comes time to say goodbye to diapers, it is important that little ones are developmentally ready for success.  Once parents are certain their children are prepared for this milestone and they, themselves, are willing to devote the necessary time and energy it takes to potty train, it’s time to start the process.  Lilly Cueto, spokesperson for SoapTime®, an action-packed hand soap dispenser and SmartBase™, offers the following tips to help transition children from diapers to the bathroom:

potty chartPotty Charts:  Potty charts are very helpful during the training process.  Before you begin teaching your child, set up a chart and hang it in the bathroom.  Personalize the chart by letting your child color and decorate.  Once completed, explain that every time they successfully use the toilet, they will be given a sticker to put on their chart.  Knowing they will receive a fun sticker after each potty break will encourage them to go more often.

Incentives:  One way to conquer potty training is to offer incentives to your child.  Fill a reward bag with small treats and once your child has finished using the bathroom, let them choose one item out of the bag.  Providing children with small rewards and positive verbal encouragement will stimulate ongoing use.  When praised for their achievement, they will begin to recognize the importance of using the toilet.  As children begin to accomplish each stage of potty training, parents can slowly reduce the amount of praise and incentives they give.

soaptimeSoapTime®:  A great way to coach children to use the potty and also to teach them proper hand washing habits is to provide them with SoapTime for hand clean-up after they are finished.  This electronically enhanced product encourages children to use the bathroom more often because it gives them a fun and engaging experience at the sink.  SoapTime’s hand washing system consists of three uniquely shaped bottles: ABC, Earth and Elephant set in a SmartBase®.  Each bottle is recognized by the SmartBase and has a distinct educational theme narrated by its own Professor Goodhabits.  The themes include unique songs, factoids and LED light shows.  To use, a child simply pushes the dispenser and for 20 seconds they wash their hands while learning and enjoying their time at the sink.

Four-piece kit including a SmartBase, ABC, Earth and Elephant bottle is $16.97 each.  Visit mysoaptime.com.

Water Colors:  Turning potty training into a fun game can further entice little ones to use the toilet.  One way to do this is to dye the toilet water with blue or red food coloring.  This way, once the toddlers use the potty, they turn the water into an orange or green color.  Children will get a kick out of changing the color and will be more eager to join parents in the bathroom for potty training time.

Books:  Giving children books to look at on the potty will help them feel more comfortable sitting for a longer period of time.  After your child is sitting down diaper-free, provide him or her with a potty training book, as many have been written on this topic, along with any other favorite books of their choice.  Potty training books available on amazon.com include A Potty for Me by Karen Katz and Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel.  They start at approximately $5.

It is important for parents to remain patient as they go through the potty training process.  Taking the time each child needs to learn this new skill is essential and with these engaging tips, it can be a fun learning time, too!

The Root Word of Discipline is Disciple

by Muriel Drake Ryan, author of The Innkeeper’s Wife

Are you a toaster parent? You watch your child approach something or do something and hope they don’t get hurt.  You hop up to get involved at the last second while you are a little hot around the edges.

Are you a teakettle parent? You keep whistling in their direction and slowly your tone gets louder and then you find yourself boiling over with anger.

Are you a remote control parent? You keep speaking in the child’s direction from a distance and hope that they will instantly do what you want. You keep sending the same message without moving in their direction.

Do you ever find yourself parenting like a microwave?  You count on saying something briefly and only once as you hope you can teach them instantly.

The good news is that by looking at these bad habits we can learn new, stronger parenting skills. The toaster parent waits too long to get involved. You should know where your child is, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. From toddlerhood to teen years, this is a must. Rushing to rescue at the last minute is not good parenting. Be vigilant at all times. Set boundaries which contribute to a safe environment. This includes everything from baby proofing the outlets to setting a curfew for teens.

The teakettle parent waits too long to communicate those warnings and expects anger to communicate. Make your rules clear in your house. They look to you to set the standards. Give the warnings in a strong calm voice.  Make sure you can look eye to eye. Hold those shoulders, but no shaking. Don’t blow. Take control.

The remote control parent thinks once is enough and that shouting orders from a distance works. Much more effective is that eye to eye communication. Children have lots to learn and need direction. Sometimes they need the same direction over and over. Inconsistency in your example or applying those rules undermines that learning. Sticking to the rules lets them know what is expected. Children need a clear picture of what is expected. The clearest picture of how to behave in your family should be you.

The microwave parent thinks parenting gives instant results. Children need guidance and direction every day. They need years of discipling and direction. The good news is that with ingredients of time, patience, guidance and good role models of Godly behavior, children are rich blessings.

It is said that from birth to age five, effective parents get 50 percent of the work done in terms of setting their child on a positive forward course in life. The next 45 percent of the work is done in the years from six to 12.  So start early and stay the course. Effective parenting is worth the effort. Each day, disciple your child.
About the author
Born in Terre Haute, Ind., Muriel Drake Ryan grew up on a small farm with working parents. She attended Indiana State University and graduated from University of Indianapolis, IUPUI, Indiana University and the University of Minnesota with honors. She served in public education as a teacher, principal, and superintendent. After retiring in 1992, Ryan founded Families by Choice with her husband, Bernard Ryan in 2006. Families by Choice provides basic needs to people who are at a distance from their family, either geographically or emotionally. The homeless shelter Ryan and her husband started now has three locations in Indiana and all net proceeds from her books will go to the work and expansion of Families by Choice.

iPhone Fun for Your Little Ones

tech pet

Almost everyone has an iPhone or an iPod Touch these days…and our kids love to play with them! You have surely downloaded plenty of Apps for your children to play on your device, but we found a “toy” that takes it one step further. An App and a different way to interact with the device, in pet form!

TECHPET was named one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2012 by TIME Magazine. TechPet from Bandai is a virtual pet that comes to life with your iPhone® 3/4/4s or 4th generation iPod Touch®.  Just download the free TechPet App from the App Store and your pet comes to life with the following features:

  • Voice/Motion recognition:  Moves, sings, dances and has voice playback in your voice and in a fun puppy voice
  • Nurturing:  Feed, play and groom; the better care you take, the more features are unlocked
  • Customize: Accessorize with digital bows, glasses and more
  • Face Morph: Upload any photo to create fun on-screen morphs
  • Games: The more you play, the more games are unlocked
  • Play Music: Play from your iTunes® playlist and your TechPet virtual pet sings and dances along
  • Bluetooth® Compatible: Up to six TechPet virtual pets can sing and dance together

My 2.5 year old had fun playing with our TechPet, but an older child would be able to get even more out of all of the App’s features. This is a great “toy” for your child to play while using your iPhone or iPod (and you can even feel comfortable that your device is safe). For tech savvy kids and families, this is a perfect addition to your App collection!

A New Game of Hide & Seek

snipe hunt gameYour two year old might not be that great at playing hide & seek. My daughter can’t stay hidden long enough for me to find her! It’s so much more fun to play when there are more people so someone can always be on your kid’s “team” to help them out. Well, I found the perfect game to accomplish this! It is called Snipe Hunt and it is a super fun game of Hide & Seek. My daughter LOVES the game (and loves the snipes themselves, which are her “babies”).

This game actually came from the traditional campfire story of the elusive creature of the forest, the Snipe. It is usually nothing more than a campfire prank, but Education Outdoors has transformed the story of the Snipe into a new family board game called Snipe Hunt. I am outdoorsy, but I had never heard of the Snipe story. It doesn’t matter if you are familiar with it or not, though! The game is just plain fun!!

A tradition passed down through the generations, the Snipe Hunt originated as a tall tale told by parents and teens to younger children. Inexperienced campers are told about a bird or animal called the Snipe and the usually preposterous method of catching it, such as running around the woods carrying a bag or making strange noises such as banging rocks together. As children set off in search of the Snipe, their elders take in the antics and try to contain their laughter.

A twist on this fruitless quest, Snipe Hunt is an indoor or outdoor game of hide-and-seek where players try to be the first to find their opponent’s Snipe and return it to its nest. To play, the teams choose an area that will be the Snipe nest and two areas to hide their Snipes.

Each team turns their Snipe on and disappears to find the best hiding place for them. In five minutes the Snipes will begin chirping and their eyes will start flashing red so teams must hurry to get back to the nest before they giveaway the direction their Snipe is hiding. Once both Snipes are hidden, the hunt begins! The first team to return their opponents Snipe to the nest is the winner.

One of the great things about this game, however, is that you don’t have to just play it the way it is intended! So, when it’s just me and my two year old, I hide the Snipes and she has to find them. The noises they make help her find them and keep her interest! If you have more people to play, and older kids too, you can amp up the difficulty and play it the “right” way!

Each game comes with two snipes, (named Biela and Smartin) and a Snipe nest. The packaging tells the story behind the legendary campfire animals. For more information on the game, including rules, visit www.educationoutdoors.net. Snipe Hunt retails for $24.99 and can be purchased at Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, Books a Million stores and specialty retailers nationwide.