Monday, September 29, 2014

The Best Backyard Playgrounds in 2014

One of the best things about being a kid is summertime. The sun is shining high – the weather is oh-so-warm – and there are more things to do. This could apply to adulthood as well, but being a youngster is simply better.

How come? Well – think about it. It might seem a little out of the ordinary if a grown woman started jumping for joy because her local park had a swing set.

But kiddos can delight in the small things without being judged. And one of the best parts about summertime IS that aforementioned swing set – and those get better every year.

An example? The following 3 of the best backyard playgrounds in 2014:


Naturally Playful Adventure Lodge Plastic Play Center with Glider

The Adventure Lodge is my personal favorite! I love the treehouse style of the little attached playhouse – alongside a duo of regular swings, a 2-seater glider, and awesome, curvy slide. Plus – this one is designed for kiddos from a young age (3 years) to slightly older (around 8 or 9). And a climbing ladder assists youngsters with getting to the hide-nook at the top – complete with windows and an easy-open door.


Lifetime Big Stuff Adventure Playground Set

One of the great things about these playgrounds is the coloring – as each one is slightly different. The Big Stuff comes in 2 shades – for backyard matching (there are people who do that) – and the entire structure is free-standing for almost-immediate playtime.

This playground takes kiddos on a sliding, climbing, swinging adventure of exploration – across a curvy slide, awesome miniature rock-wall, stepping rope-ladder, and a duo of high-flying swings. Additionally, there is a small, canopied treehouse at the very top where youngsters can hide away – and a nook under the slide for an impromptu sandbox.


Little Tikes Clubhouse Playground Set

In my experience – toddlers can sometimes feel intimidated by a playground that seems to loom over them. And when you think about it like that – then, yeah, the thought is pretty daunting. Which is why the Clubhouse is SO awesome. It is completely toddler-sized with toddler-sized everything.

There is a miniature treehouse that is canopied and perfect for youngsters ages 2-6. And a climbing ladder helps kiddos get there! Plus – there are double toddler-safe swings and a curvy slide that is settled low to the ground for fearless fun. Additionally, the entire playground is comprised of expertly molded plastic – so you can assemble it in minutes.


Find the current top-selling playgrounds for the backyard:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Intex Swimming Pools for Baby's Backyard Fun

Image Credit: Baby Pools @ Amazon
One of the most amazing parts about having a youngster in the baby stage was their reaction to water for the first time. Summers were captured with Polaroid pictures and framed or pasted into albums. Oh – the memories!

Now – not only is the process of memory-making and sharing those memories an easier task – but backyard fun for babies is more entertaining than ever. Especially with the best kiddie pools in 2014 – each comprised of high-grade materials from Intex; a brand dedicated to safety, security, and fun.

Based on a general consensus from parents seeking peace of mind – these pools are cozy and perfectly safe for your baby. And those 3 Intex beauties are:


Intex Mushroom Baby Pool

So adorable! This miniature pool makes me long for a baby again – kinda. Almost. Maybe not – but it IS really cute! And babies would go gaga for the gorgeous colors and fantastical designs. Their eyes would simply light up!

The interior is padded and soft to protect baby’s bottom from the rough-and-tough terrain beneath. And a built-in mushroom overtop sprinkles drizzling of cool water over your youngster’s head. Plus – smaller mushroom accents around the rim give baby something to play with while getting playfully spritzed from head to toe.


Intex Rainbow Ring Pool

I am a HUGE fanatic when it comes to rainbows and rainbow-colored everything. And if these colors are dazzling to me – then they are sure to be twice as stunning and beautiful to the bright, curious eyes of a toddler.

This ring-shaped pool features a nifty wading area, a slippery (kid-sized) slide, and water sprinkler. There are also 4 rings and an inflatable pole that can be used for an awesome game of ring toss. Plus – a bonus ball offers quick games of toss-and-roll.


Intex Summer Sunset Glow Baby Pool

For multiple toddlers – or just one – this baby pool is simple and sleek in a colorful ring that resembles the lovely hues of sunshine setting in summertime. The composing fabrics are durable, reliable, and strong – made from a mixture of vinyl – for no shredding, scraping, or scratching. This means your baby’s new swimming pool will stay new, clean, and in-commission throughout summer.

The soft interior is padded to support and comfort a baby’s sensitive bottom. And to get kiddos used to the water, you can use this as a wading pool – but be sure to change the water every 2-3 days and keep it covered when not in use.


Here is a cute little video "short" - the best swimming pools for the kiddos this year:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Swimming Pool Toys That Double as Great Games

I love the summertime and all that this season entails – especially when my youngsters start getting antsy about spending their sun-shining days outdoors.

With that in mind – I have conveniently hand-picked a "top" list of swimming pools toys for kids. And each of these double as a great game that kiddos can play underwater. Where we might have had Marco Polo, children these days have a plethora of awesome, swimming pool playtime options.

Without further ado – here are the 3 among the best swimming pool toys I chose:


Melissa & Doug Maritime Mates Memory Game

The idea behind this little game is brilliant! Kiddos distribute these bright-yellow seashell-shaped clams across the water – where they float until someone scoops them up again. Inside each shell is a picture of a quirky, friendly little sea-creature – and the object of the game is to find the matching pair of shells with the same creatures inside. Hence the name Memory Game.

All of these are chlorine and fade resistant! And they are perfect for either the swimming pool or bathtub.


Stream Machine Swim Thru Rings

Before the controversy of Sea World this year – you could see dolphins and whales flipping through rings in their aquariums. Now – there are made-for-TV movies with the same content – but mermaids are included and the rings are usually worth points. This is where these swim-through rings come in.

Youngsters can play their own games of aquarium-dwelling sea-creatures. Or they can be the point-awarded mer-people who attempt to wiggle through the rings to earn a few seashells. Or, perhaps, your kiddos can use their imaginations to come up with an entirely new game with these collapsible rings of awesomeness.


Melissa & Doug Undersea Treasure Hunt

Admittedly – I would love to have this one for myself! Not only is this treasure box oh-so-much fun – but it can help with underwater abilities, such as holding breath or diving. A nifty treasure chest has 6 coin and diamond-shaped sinkers within – all guarded by a friendly-looking Octopus. And there are multiple ways to play.

One swimmer can dive down to hide the treasure chest – complete with booty – at the bottom of the swimming pool. And then unleash other swimmers to find it. Or swimmers can scatter the gems and coins across the surface, wait for them to sink, and then retrieve them for points.


Here are more suggestions - an updated "top 10" list of swimming pool toys for the current year:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The 3 Must-Have Kids' Wagons of 2014

I very rarely categorize anything as a must-have, but I truly believe that there are some things that simply make a childhood better and more memorable. Therefore, those things are must-haves, like the best wagons for kids in 2014.

These wagons, although marketed for this year, are a mash-up of timeless concept and modern ingenuity. Each listed among the list of the best kids' wagons is perfect for summertime pull-alongs and neighborhood strolls. And they all have at least 2-person seating for siblings or friends.

With that said, I have carefully chosen a selection of 3 that would make any youngster squeal with absolute delight...


Radio Flyer Classic Red Wagon

This wagon is exactly like the one I had growing up! The design has been revamped to incorporate safety features for modern kiddos, such as: sturdier steel, all-rubber tires, and complete turning radius with no-scratch edges.

The wagon is colored in classic, shiny red that is rust-resistant and easy to maintain; however, children will need to stow-away their wagons (out of the elements) when they’re not playing with them. This keeps the wagon in like-new condition for generations of playtime.


Step 2 Neighborhood Wagon

I loved the concept of this wagon because neighborhood friends are awesome. And riding along in a huge wagon with those aforementioned pals is even better.

Perfect for preschool playground or daycare backyards, this wagon is equipped with a cozy interior for 2. There are small cup-holders for juice boxes and sippy drinks, as well as a stow-away compartment for small toys, sunglasses, or snack-filled baggies. Toddling tykes can have their picnic in a roll-around wagon with their nearest and dearest friend!

For storage, the handle folds away, making the wagon more compact to nestle into nooks and crannies.


Radio Flyer Ultimate Comfort Wagon

A luxurious alternative to the steely classic, this wagon is all about comfort and keeping your kiddos cozy. The smooth seamless exterior is a deep-red, contrasting the plush beige interior – with a matching UV-protective canopy. Plus, the handle is easy grip and shaped to accommodate smaller hands.

The harshness of mid-day sunshine can be tough on your toddler’s skin, which is why this safe, secure wagon takes an extra step forward in comfort with a fold-away canopy. The non-tip axels and seat belts ensure 3 times the safety of a traditional wagon, and kids can have on-the-go picnics while a designated adult pulls them along.


The vid!  2014's top 5 picks in wagons for kids:

Monday, September 22, 2014

3 Skateboards Designed for Sidewalk-Shredding Tricks

True to history, skateboards were around in the mid-1970s, and they have fluctuated in popularity ever since. Then – in the late 1980s to mid-1990s – there was a huge influx of skateboarding teens, and the pre-teen kiddos who longed to follow in their footsteps.

Add years of modernization, pro-skateboarders, and upgrades – there you have the perfect combinations of coolness for youngsters these days.

Which brings us to the best skateboards in 2014. Years of trial-and-error have revolutionized the following boards – and while some of them may have classic concepts, each one has been updated with the latest-and-greatest in safety precautions. They are still absolutely perfect for side-walk shredding tricks, but now Mom can have peace of mind.

And 3 of those bests are:


Penny Complete Skateboard

Penny Complete is one of those aforementioned classics with revamped style to ramp-up safety features. Originally created in the 1970s, the design is almost an exact replica of the original board – one that was made with tricksters and professionals in mind.

The compact 22-inch deck nestled on 3” trucks with expert bearings – this equals a naturally effortless, smooth ride. And for those skaters looking to express their individuality, there are 28 awesome colors to choose from.


Stereo Vinyl Cruiser Plastic Complete Skateboard

I love the Cruiser simply because the aesthetics are flawless and beautifully colored with neon wheels. The deck is riveted black vinyl – reminiscent of the surface of a rougher vinyl record – and there are sticker packs included with each purchase. Which means customization is only a unique decal away.

Also included are a free pair of Stereo sunglasses for cruising on the Cruiser with style. Where safety is concerned, this board is perfect for either amateurs or professionals. The materials are molded with reinforced vinyl on a sturdy, quick-stop frame. No worries, Mom!


Punisher Cherry Blossom Complete Skateboard

My personal favorite – the cherry blossoms on the base of this complete skateboard are beautiful and vivid.

Blooming in vibrant pink and red with branching details, the base is the star here – but the deck is a riveted, flawless black that is made from Canadian Maple; one the strongest skateboard materials you could possibly work with.


Find more skateboards - a list of the top 10 for this year:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Best Arts & Crafts Sets for Colorful, Creative Kids

After spending so much time around all kinds of kids over the years, I have drawn the conclusion that youngsters are naturally creative, imaginative, and prone to using tons of color in anything they create. Why? Because they realize from a young age that the world is anything but simple black and white.

Nature and their lives are bursting with rainbows, dazzling and vivid, and most kiddos could rattle off a dozen different colors that they have declared their favorites.

What is most amazing is when those kids delve deeper into their imaginations, using their colorful favorites to create astounding, personal works of art with some of the best arts and crafts toys.

Such as:


Kinetic Sand – Sandbox and Molds

Sand and molds are classics – whether kids have ventured to the beach, or are crafting in their backyard sandbox. Only this “sand” is a little different. Instead of being grainy and hard to manage, this blend is 98% sand with 2% polymer – a squeezable, squishy, moldable combination.

The molds are colorful in seashore patterns, such as a seahorse, sea turtle, and (of course) a sandcastle. Also included are a pound of Kinetic sand and a plastic sandbox for easy clean-up. And parents, pay attention! The sand is uniquely designed to stick together, rather than sticking to the hands, feet, or face of your curious kiddo.


Cra-Z-Art Shimmer ‘n Sparkle Cra-Z-Loom Bracelet Maker

What do you remember most about your time as a child? When you were amidst gaggles of schoolyard friends? If you said ‘friendship bracelets,’ then we are definitely on the same wave-length. This set brings back the tried-and-true tradition of handcrafting jewelry for best buddies.

In an array of beautiful colors, there are over 600 latex-free bands to weave across a convenient, easy-to-use loom. From there, young artists can close their bracelets in loops, making bracelets likewise easy to wear.


ALEX Toys Craft My First Sewing Kit

Admittedly, sewing is something that not many people have taken the time to learn how to do. When seams rip, they simply buy a new pair of pants, or invest in glue-on patches. However, this crafty set teaches kiddos that sewing can be something fun to do on those just-because occasions.

There are pre-cut patterns and shapes to make velvety, stuffed animals, and a collection of other interesting items. This is an excellent craft for rainy days!


Updated video - popular arts and crafts toys for kids for the spring and summer of 2015...