Gardening Goodies for Kids

Spring is finally in full bloom, and I couldn’t be more excited to see the trees, plants and flowers come back to life.  And hello, meet my new garden that the kid helped me grow, of course!
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Along with the changes in scenery, I love that Spring also brings lots of new and interesting toys.  Last week, we were treated with a glimpse of some of the season’s latest and greatest at Time To Play’s Spring and Summer Showcase, and I love that good ol’ fashion outdoor play remains a trend.

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A few companies are honing in on kids’ ongoing affection for gardening and getting their hands dirty. Afterall, gardening with kids isn’t just a great lesson in a plant’s lifecycle and nourishment, but it’s also a rewarding and engaging experience for parents and kids.  Gardening is a great way to get kids and parents to disconnect, and in the end, it gives them a sense of achievement.

In general, you don’t need much to garden, other than some seeds, dirt and gardening tools, but check out these great goodies geared to make gardening even more fun for kids.

Miracle-Gro Kids

Miracle-Gro Kits from Peachtree Toys is a new line of gardening kits for kids.  With starter kits like the 3-n-1 Gardening Set, Terrarium and the Mini Greenhouse, among others, where kids can grow their own flowers or veggies with the Miracle-Gro Gro Mix.  We’re typically organic and old school when it comes to gardening, so I’m a bit apprehensive about the fertilizers involved in Miracle-Gro.  Nevertheless, I do appreciate the nifty kits in this line of gardening sets from Miracle-Gro Kids.

Growums


Growums are one of my favorite gardening kits for kids, yet.  This new line of gardening kits includes six different sets: an Herb Garden, Pizza Garden, Salad Garden, Stir Fry Garden, Taco Garden and Ratatouille Garden that include coco or peat pellets that make these sets a bit more kid-friendly.  Kids add water to the pellets and put them in a shallow dish.  Once the peats are expanded, they add seeds and put the dish in the sun and wait for the seedlings to grow.  And from there, the kids can plant their herbs and veggies in their garden.  But what makes Growums so unique is the online element that engages kids by giving them tips and info from quirky characters like Elvis Parsley. (haha!) I love these sets, and can’t wait to see more from the Growums.

Buddy B Children’s Gardening Tools


Kid’s gardening tools are all over the home improvement stores, but if your kids are going to be doing some serious digging, much like mine does, I can’t speak highly enough about Buddy B Children’s Gardening Tools.  These tools are scaled down replicas of the “real thing,” and they work so much better than the plastic kiddie versions you see everywhere.  We have the hand trowel and kid’s shovel and I have to say, I probably use both of these tools as often as the kid himself.  These tools come in handy and they’re great quality.

Burpee


Burpee gardening products are staples for many beginning and/or experienced gardener.  The biodegradable seedling cups are great for kids, but I’m also a fan of their great selection of organic seeds and other gardening supplies.  It’s my first season gardening on my own, and I’ve had great luck with the flowers so far and we’re crossing fingers on the the vegetables!

Royal Wedding Fever

Despite the excessive media coverage of Will and Kate’s nuptials, it was hard not to ignore the elaborate details that came together for the whole world to see.  I originally had this post scheduled to post yesterday—before the wedding.  Obviously, that never happened.  And since the wedding happened today, I thought I’d share a few kid-related items that gave a nod to Prince William and the now Princess Kate’s Royal Wedding.

Kate Middleton Paper Dolls

As a little girl, I can barely remember Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ Royal Wedding, but what I do remember was THAT dress.  And perhaps, just like many of us thought of Will’s beloved mother in her gown 30 years ago, I’m willing to bet a generation of little kids will forever remember just how beautiful Princess Kate’s dress was today.

Princess Kate’s dress was a secret leading up to the moment she stepped out onto that Royal red carpet.  The Wedding watchers of the world let out a collective gasp when she revealed that lace and satin gown designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. I thought she looked demure and elegant, with the classic lines and modern details.  As one of the many people gawking at Kate’s dress, to get kids on the dress action, I particularly love Disney Family Fun’s paper dolls that you can print out online.  It’s basically the Disney princesses’ dresses with a brunette Princess that looks somewhat like Kate. Grab the glitter pen, crayon and help the kids create their versions of Princess Kate’s wedding dress.  If only there was a Wills Paper Doll to go along with Kate!



Lego Royal Wedding

Speaking of Wills…have I ever mentioned how much I love when people create Lego Art?  Or my love of Lego Mini Figures?  Check out the creativity of this Lego Royal Wedding featured over on BBC.  My favorite is I Thee Wed, although the real church scenes were much more romantic!  Be sure to check out the rest of the scenes!

Playmobil Special Correspondent

Playmobil has been cracking me up over on their FB page. They’ve had “Sarah” as a special correspondent covering the Royal Wedding all week.  Hilarious!

Crafts Go Green: Eco-friendly Art Supplies for Kids

Crafts are a fun family activity, and one that we love doing outside on our deck.  When we’re painting and doing messy crafts outside, the little artist’s canvas seems limitless, and thankfully, cleanup time is much easier—or so it seems.

Many of my favorite eco-friendly crafts are of the DIY variety.  The kid and I are fans of repurposing old household items and painting scraps of wood from our ongoing remodel.  Even better than recycling the medium is making your own tools.  Aside from DIY crafts, there’s a myriad of eco-friendly and kid-friendly art supplies that make craft time safe and colorful.

Here are just a few of my faves:

Glob Arts and Crafts Paints

Glob Art & Crafts Paints are botanically-based paints that also have fruity scents. These paints are colored naturally with pigments from fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices with natural food-grade ingredients. I love the Glob paints that come in packets; all you do is add water when you’re ready. Whether you and the kids are more watercolor painters or gauche painters, you add water and can determine the desired consistency. Glob also comes in Easy Shake jars, paint sets and other kits.

The color palette that’s offered is pretty basic, but after mixing and matching the paints, the spectrum of colors is seemingly endless. Glob can be used for paints, as well as for coloring DIY play dough, coloring eggs and more.

P’kolino

P’kolino, the makers of gorgeous modern children’s furniture and toys, also have a great line of art supplies.  Through a collaboration with Jovi, P’kolino offers kid-friendly, non-toxic art supplies that includes, Triangle crayons, fingerpaints, markers, colored pencils, dough, creative dough and poster paints.  P’kolino recently introduced their new line of art supplies which are inspired by famed Pop Artist, Romero Britto.  And a coloring book inspired by Romeo Britto?  Yes, please.  The sustainability, bold colors, combined with the modern influence of P’kolino’s products make these art supplies ones to check out.

Stubby Pencil Art Studio

Stubby Pencil Art Studio is the mecca for eco-friendly art and school supplies. This online shop has a plethora of kid crafts and a great selection of supplies that are non-toxic, recycled, fair trade, educational, sustainable or environmentally responsible. I love perusing all of the different crafts and unique supplies, many of which you’d be hard pressed to find at your local big box craft store. Of all the green crafting goodness, however, I’d have to say my personal favorites are the cupcake crayons (!) and the colored Smencils. Ideal for birthday party gifts, the colorful, hand-poured cupcake crayons come in a 4-pack and are made of soy. The Smencils are made from 100% recycled newspaper, sharpen just like wood pencils, and have delicious scents like watermelon, bubble gum and cotton candy!

Magnetic Alphabet Sets: Easy on the Eyes and the Noise

When we first bought our refrigerator, I pretended that we’d be one of those families that would keep it sleek and clean from any kid-scribbled artwork or other child-like paraphernalia.

Yeah, right.

Fast forward a few months later, and our fridge is graffitied with photos of our own kid, other people’s kids, said artwork and now, those ubiquitous magnetic alphabets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love LeapFrog’s Fridge Phonics, but just a few minutes at a time. So, out of personal preference, we opted out of the popular plastic ABCs in lieu of a set of the wooden (and quiet) kind.

As with most families of young ones practicing their ABCs and 123s, the magnetic alphabet has been an invaluable learning resource. Here’s a slideshow of our picks of alternatives to the more popular magnetic alphabet sets, and ones worth checking out.

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Gag-Worthy and Gross: Dino Poop and Dr. Dreadful

Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone.  I’m not one for pulling pranks, but I do enjoy laughing at clever gags—from a distance.

For April Fool’s Day, I thought I’d spotlight a few new toys that are sure to elicit a few gags and giggles for those who appreciate the gross factor.  And yes, these are real toys!

Dino Poop

Uncle Milton has a great lineup of new Dinosaur Train toys, but one that definitely caught my eye is Dino Poop.  This pliable dough that looks like, well, poop, lets kids discover what a dino had for lunch.

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Goodies and Gear: Opening Day

Citi FieldIt’s that time of year again; it’s Opening Day, a day that celebrates the Boys’ of Summer’s reemergence from the offseason and time to play ball again. If your family is anything like ours, reality and kiddie shows are happily swapped for 6 months of  America’s Pastime streaming on the tv—that is, when we’re not outside enjoying the outdoors ourselves.

With snow in our forecast, it may not be the most ideal weather for this time of year, but that’s not to say we can’t celebrate Spring and Opening Day with some of the latest and greatest in baseball fun for the kids.

This morning, while I was reading the news online, I was pretty disappointed to read about the decline in kids playing baseball over on WSJ.  To be quite honest, despite what the studies show, you’d never know there was a decline from the plethora of great toys and gear that are aimed to share the love of the game.

Here are just a few of my baseball picks in honor of Opening Day:

Melissa and Doug All Star Sports Fill and Spill

Baby can’t throw or catch quite yet, but Melissa and Doug’s All Star Sports Fill and Spill helps to familiarize tiny fingers with ball shapes.  Each of the four balls rattle, jingle or crinkle and are suitable for 6 months and up.

Grand Slam Baseball from Step 2


Spotted at Toy Fair last month, Step 2’s Grand Slam Baseball is an electronic auto-pitch machine that encourages hand-eye coordination, not to mention, promotes outdoor play. Geared to the smaller baseball fans, Grand Slam Baseball gets kids fielding balls and a chance to work on their swing.

EA Sweet Spot Baseball Bat


For the bigger kids, EA’s Sweet Spot Bat incorporates a little crowd cheer every time the batter hits or holds the ball in that sweet spot.  Ideal for beginners, it features a soft bat, and helps the rookies to refine their accuracy and hand-eye coordination.

SKLZ Sweet Spot Youth Training Bat


Beyond the tee-ball phase, SKLZ makes the top-rated Sweet Spot Youth Training Bat.  The training bat features an all-wood barrel and handle, as well as a fiberglass rod, and provides instant feedback and “stings” if hit too far off.
Looking for training tools for entry-level players? SKLZ Hit-A-Way Jr. is something that I’m going to check out for batting practice and hand-eye coordination for our not-quite Tee Ball-aged little guy.

Sports Illustrated Kids: All Access


And to better understand and appreciate America’s Pastime, Sports Illustrated Kids has a new book that delves into the inner sanctum of baseball.  Sports Illustrated Kids: All Access grants readers a behind-the-scenes look into cool findings, including favorite stadiums, the story behind the Green Monster and something that I want to know more about: Lousisville Slugger’s journey from big trees to the big leagues.

Go Mets!

And Speaking of behind the scenes look at baseball, did you miss our family’s adventure at Citi Field last season?  If you’ve been reading NKT for awhile now, you must already know that we’re Mets fans–in good times and in bad.

It’s always been my husband’s dream to sit in our beloved Mets’ Clubhouse, and thanks to a fun media invite, we had the chance to learn more about the Mets’ new stadium.  Be sure to see where our exclusive behind the scenes tour took us at our beloved (and sometimes beleaguered) Mets’ CitiField.

Citi Field Tour

Hooray for a new season!  And yes, even for us Mets fans, it’s a brand new ball game!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

“Wake Up! For today is your Day of all Days!”

Today, the world celebrates Theodor Seuss Geisel, best known as Dr. Seuss, one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors.  For what would have been Dr. Seuss’ 107th birthday, surely, many will celebrate his birthday in their own favorite way.  In fact, courtesy of PBS Kids’, we hosted a small screening party to preview The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That’s new episodes in preparation for Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. (more on that soon!)

But really, Dr. Seuss’ birthday and celebration should be about the books that still line our kids’ shelves.  According to an article I read, during his lifetime, more than 200 million copies of his 46 memorable books for children were sold. His stories have been translated into 20 languages and continue to touch kids’ lives.

And to commemorate the late author’s birthday, students, teachers and Dr. Seuss fans will honor his legacy with Read Across America Day.

After a trip to the library this morning, we will be having our own mini-party to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday!  In the name of Dr. Seuss, we have a fun day planned, which includes reading our favorite Seuss titles, playing our favorite Cat in the Hat game from WonderForge, craft time and catch a few episodes of Cat in the Hat, too.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, whether it’s watching The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That marathon on PBS, reading Dr. Seuss books all day or having your own little party, be sure to make it a colorful one.

Check it

The Cat in the Hat marathon is on PBS today.  Check your tv listings for the time.  In NJ, it starts at 7am; NYC 8:30.

Want to do some crafts? Seussville has a few fun Dr. Seuss printables in line with Read Across America Day.  PBS’ Cat in the Hat site also has a good variety of games, as well as printables.  Thing 1 and 2 finger puppets? I think we will, thank you very much!

Happy Birthday Elmo!

It’s everyone’s favorite fuzzy red guy’s birthday today, and we here at NKT wanted to send happy wishes to Elmo.  Sesame Street and the gang have touched many families in a myriad of ways, but it’s Elmo that always finds a way to the little ones’ hearts.  Maybe it’s the cutesy talk, Elmo’s World or the fact that he’s just plain cute, there’s no doubt about it, Elmo is well loved by kids young and old.

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Through this blog and beyond, I’ve been so fortunate to recall quite a few fun and surreal Elmo experiences, including an unforgettable tour of Sesame Street, the kid listening to Elmo “read” to children on the White House Great Lawn for the Easter Egg Roll and most recently, visiting Sesame Place for opening day and visiting Sesame Workshop with the kiddo.

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Jack at Sesame Place

Elmo is well loved in our home, and naturally, he’s a fixture in it as well.  In fact, two Christmases ago, the kid got not one, but I think three Elmo dancing toys.  One can never have too many Elmos, right?

Do you guys have any favorite Elmo memories?  If you do, make sure you check out Elmo’s Facebook page and share your memories over there, too!

Be on the look out for my next post about cool Elmo gadgets and goodies worth checking out.

Designing with DwellStudio at CMOM

In the NYC area and looking for something fun to do with the kids tomorrow? Check out this fun Meet the Artist program at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.  Kids 4 and older can enjoy an art lesson on Still Life by DwellStudio Founder/Creative Director, Christiane Lemieux.  In the lesson, kids will explore shape and color through painting/drawing everyday objects in nature.

I can’t get enough of DwellStudio and I love nature, and I’m sure this fun program will be a hit with the kids!

Meet the Artist: Designing with DwellStudio will be held at 2pm, Saturday, January 29 at Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd Street, New York, NY 10024.

Cooking Connections Launches Today

As you all know, food has become a significant part of my coverage on NKT.  The foods we eat and cook and the eating habits we display, ultimately, help our kids to make healthier choices.

For me, cooking resources on the internet and tv help me to navigate in the kitchen.  I’ve always been big on cooking, baking and eating, but online sites, magazines and shows underscore just how much I enjoy being in the kitchen.  I could seriously watch Food Network for hours and daydream about these professional cooks and chefs coming to my house to cook for me!  But good news, though these fantastic chefs can’t come to my house, but there are “real” parents who can—well, sort of!

TheMotherhood’s Cooking Connections, an awesome and innovative eight-week series of virtual cooking classes is launching today.  In this series of virtual cooking classes, “real” moms and dads will lead us in their kitchens, to help us learn more about topics relevant to parents.  The conversations, led by some of my favorite bloggers, will leverage social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and TheMotherhood.com.

Sponsored by ConAgra Foods, Cooking Connections is launching today, actually at 1:00 pm at the Blissdom Conference that’s going on right now in Nashville.

I love, love, love TheMotherhood and all the wonderful things that they’re doing around our community.  Cooking Connections will, no doubt, be just as successful as their other projects.  I’m excited to be participating in the cooking class that focuses on picky eaters.  “Placating Picky Eaters” will take place in a few weeks, and I’ll be sure to share more about it soon.  By the way, TheMotherhood, Emily McKhann and 77Kids by American Eagle got a nod in Forbes for the inspiring Do Good Day campaign that tapped bloggers around the country to pay it forward.

Join the conversation!  Want to learn more about Cooking Connections and/or register to participate?  Be sure to sign up here at TheMotherhood.

Check out Cooper and Emily’s announcement video for even more details!