Tiny Green Mom’s Top Toys for 2018

We’ve searched high & low the past few months to compile the latest and greatest toys for a variety of ages… from toddlers to elementary school-aged children. These our our top picks… and yes, some are still available to order in time for Christmas!

bbluv Mülti Reversible Playmat

Super-soft, cushioned and big enough to grow from baby to toddler, the Mülti Reversible Playmat is an ideal playspace for your little one. Roll it up for on-the-go or leave it open for hours of fun at home. It is waterproof, reversible and made from non-toxic and easy-to-clean material. My two-year-old LOVES this mat… he can stretch out and play with all his vehicles on the roadways for hours.

Veggie Farm Sorting Set

Encourage a love of vegetables (and growing them!) through this adorable Veggie Farm Sorting Set! From Learning Resources, this educational and engaging playset encourages the development of matching, color recognition, sorting, and early counting skills. My daughter loves to help her little brother sort and count through the vegetables… such a cute and educational activity. It’s not too big, so can be tucked away easily, too! Order today on Amazon.com and it will arrive before Christmas!

1,2,3 Build It Rocket, Train, Helicopter

Have a little one obsessed with vehicles? Then this toy is perfect! Best for ages 2+, the 1,2,3 Build It Rocket, Train, Helicopter helps to develop fine motor skills as your child builds and rebuilds three different vehicles with a kid-sized wrench. Colorful and easy-to-handle, the set encourages both creativity and matching skills. This set is just adored by my son, who needed a bit of help at first to use the wrench and put the pieces together. Once together, he likes to play with the helicopter the most! Order today on Amazon.com and it will arrive before Christmas.

Green Toys™ Ambulance & Doctor’s Kit

Eco-friendly, imaginative play… what’s not to love!? The Green Toys line is a must-have in our home, especially since the vehicles are incredibly sturdy and durable! So much to our excitement, this popular line recently introduced an Ambulance & Doctor Kit that comes with everything needed to play doctor, nurse, EMT – or all of the above! Made in the USA from super-safe, 100% recycled plastic, this 10-piece set encourages motor skill development, imaginative play, and pro-social behavior, while also helping to ease anxiety about doctor visits by making the components of a check-up familiar and fun. The ambulance has the features, size, and durability of a classic Green Toys truck, as well as lights that flip-up into a handle to create a unique carrying case. All the pieces included in the set – a stethoscope, reflex hammer, syringe, forceps, thermometer, and otoscope, as well as a doctor’s notepad and two sheets of assorted stickers – can be stored in the back of the ambulance for quick, eco-friendly transport to the next emergency. No BPA, phthalates, or PVC. Dishwasher safe. Packaged with recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks. For ages 2-8… and definitely popular with our 2 year old son. Best part? Order today on Amazon.com and it will arrive before Christmas!

Green Toys™ Elmo & Friends Dough Activity Set

What’s not to love about dough? For your Sesame Street obsessed little ones, the Elmo & Friends Dough Activity Set comes with everything needed to create your favorite furry faces – out of dough! Use the tools to create the shapes and figures, then finish off your creation with the pop-out features. The safe, non-toxic dough is made in a food-safe facility from organic flour (which we love!), and easily wipes off the activity card. This 12-piece set promotes sensory exploration, develops fine motor skills, and encourages creativity and imagination. The set includes 1 star extruder, 1 spaghetti extruder, 1 scraper, 1 knife, 1 roller, 1 rolling cutter, 1 scissors, 1 two-sided activity card, 1 pop-out features sheet, and 3 dough tubs. This set is simply adorable and we love that the dough is made from better-for-you materials! Want it before Christmas? Order on Amazon.com.

Lakeshore Take-Along Train Station

So… Lakeshore really gets it right with this Take-Along Train Station! Whether you fold it up for on-the-go or set it up for play at home, this durable wooden set boasts all the features of a lively travel town! From a bank and post office to road signs and trees, your future engineer will adore this train station! My son loves any and all things that have to do with trains, so this is a tried & true favorite currently!

Lakeshore Precious Ponies Playset

Have a budding equestrian on your hands? Here’s everything your little one need to feed, groom and train 2 show horses, including a feeding trough, a grooming brush and 2 jumping gates. Exercise the horses in the corral, or put them in stalls with real-working doors. All 13 pieces even fit inside the stable for on-the-go fun! This set is just too cute… and my 6 year old has been really enjoying it!

Clicformers 25Pc Set h

Do your kiddos love to build and create? Then Clicformers is a neat option for truly endless building possibilities! The Clicformers Car 25Pc Set racecar lets you design race cars and trucks with the 18 building blocks and 7 accessory pieces… or simply come up with your own designs! All Clicformers sets are compatible. When playtime is over, we love that you can simply stack and store!

Kanoodle Head to Head Game

My 6 year old daughter is obsessed with games… and winning! So, to challenge her a bit, we checked out the Kanoodle Head to Head Game where you go head to head with friends or family in the Kanoodle puzzle challenge for two! Challenging for her… but fun for mom and dad to get in on the action, the game enhances problem solving skills, develops spatial reasoning, and encourages critical thinking. For the ultimate check-mate, with the simple press of a button, you can launch your opponent’s pieces! We love that this packs up easily for travel, too!

PlayFoam Pals

Voted as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Toys of 2018, it is no secret why PlayFoam Pals are super popular! Kids get to dig and search through foam material to discover a tiny hidden collectible inside! Then, you can play with the foam, molding new shapes and designs. With so many sets, your kiddos can create a collection of figurines pretty quickly! Best for ages 5-10. These are a hot item right now for my 6 year old daughter! The Snowy Friends set is perfect for the holidays, and is still available on Amazon.com with delivery in time for Christmas!

Break Away Ballz™

From Alex Brands comes a new take on the ‘surprise inside’ trend! With Break Away Ballz™, each 5” ball consists of 8 identically sized foam pieces that break apart when thrown against a hard surface, revealing a 2” bouncy ball surprise inside. We know how much kids love bouncy balls! The identically sized pieces allow your child to easily piece everything back together…and even hide something else inside! There are 6 available to collect. Amazon.com still has some available to ship in time for Christmas.

Cupcake Surprise Series 3 Minis

Like the regular sized doll, the Cupcake Surprise Minis transform from cupcake to a tiny beautiful doll. They are available in many new styles and 6 different delicious scents, such as strawberry, vanilla, and lemon… and come with their own hairbrush! Your little one will want to collect them all! They are perfect companions to the regular sized Cupcake Surprise dolls. Ages 3 and up. There are a variety of Cupcake Surprise Dolls available on Amazon.com with delivery before Christmas.

Razor Berry Kick Scooter

So… my daughter made the cutest little video for Santa and she said she didn’t want much, just a skateboard and a new scooter! The skateboard threw us for a loop, but she’s in luck because The Razor Berry, with its skateboard-style plastic deck and vibrant color combo, will be making an appearance under the tree this year! Available in a variety of bold colors and at a price point that is extremely affordable, this is a hot ticket item this year!

Razor Jr. Lil Kick Scooter

Now little brother can kick it with his big sister! For junior riders, Razor Jr. Lil Kick Scooter offers larger urethane wheels and a wider deck, made especially for little riders learning to balance and steer. The Lil’ Kick Scooter is designed for stability, and will give your little one hours of fun in style.

Cuddlekins Unicorn Plush

Plush & adorable, your unicorn-obsessed child will love the latest addition to Wild Republic’s popular Cuddlekins line. Irresistibly soft, the Unicorn is perfect for snuggles and cuddles. The plush is available in two designs, white starsor pink hearts.

Li’l Fairyland Cuties

These make an ultimate stocking stuffer…especially since they are already wrapped so beautifully! Another super cute take on the surprise trend, Li’l Fairyland Cuties, is a line of cute collectible fairy dolls wrapped in three layers of shiny foil for the ultimate “surprise” fairy fun. Your little one will love unwrapping each layer of foil to reveal all-new surprise accessories to decorate the fairy doll. There are 14 fairies to collect and trade with friends. Discover the 7 surprises featured in each Fairyland Cutie, including the doll, wand, gemstone stickers, fairy hair accessory and collector sheet with stickers. Appropriate for ages 4 & up. Want it before Christmas? They are available on Amazon.com!

The World of Eric Carle Let’s Feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game

A bright, beautiful board game based on Eric Carle’s best-selling book, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, children ages 3 & up will love to transform their caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly with this fun game of counting, collecting, and building! For 2 to 4 players. There is still time to order this educational game on Amazon.com in time for Christmas delivery!

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Who knew that becoming an adult meant that you have to figure out what to eat for dinner every single night for the rest of your life? Add in a spouse and kids, and meal prep takes on a life of its own!

To make things less stressful, and to share a few of our family’s go-to options that don’t include pizza, I have compiled a list of awesome meals, snacks and more for you. Let me know what you decide to check out in the comments!

Nurture Life

We have found our new favorite meal service… and it’s for kids! Nurture Life offers a wide variety of healthy Baby, Toddler and Kids Meals that can assist with the busy back-to-school routine. If parents don’t have time (or the energy!) to create well-balanced lunches or busy weeknight dinners, Nurture Life’s nutritious ready-to-eat meals for kids is a convenient option. Grab the meals right out of the fridge to get the nutrition and quality of a homemade meal in just 1 minute. Heat it up to serve for dinner or pack it in a thermos and your kids are ready to go! Kids will enjoy the delicious meal and parents will enjoy the no-prep, no-stress mealtime win. My kiddos absolutely loved the Chicken Dumplings with Edamame!

Nurture Life also has school-safe, cookie-inspired snacks with little to no added sugar that are made with plant-based protein and other nutritious ingredients. A quick breakfast, an easy snack or a satisfying dessert. Mighty Bites are yummy and delish. Yes – I might have eaten quite a few myself, lol!

Fry’s Chk’n Nuggets

Have plant-forward kids at home? These plant-based nuggets from Fry’s are the perfect easy weeknight dinner option or plant-based protein after-school snacks! Each delicious Chicken-Style Nugget is carefully shaped into a bite-sized chunk and evenly coated with crumbs before pre-cooking. Serve with a green salad or steamed veggies for a simple, healthy meal.

True Made Foods

The Fry’s nuggets also pack well in a lunchbox, so you can add them into your child’s lunch for the day at school. Pack a few favorite dipping sauces, such as True Made Foods Mustard, Veggie Ketchup or BBQ Sauce, and you’ve even added some hidden veggies in for the winning combo!

Keen One Foods

Quick cooking quinoa cups from Keen One Foods are healthy, simple and satisfying… making lunch & dinner a breeze! Ready in just 7 minutes, each cup provides plant-based protein and a nourishing, hearty meal. These are great preparing the night before and adding into a lunchbox, too, when everyone is bored of sandwiches. Choose from 6 unique flavors, such as Garden Medley, Pesto Pasta (a kid favorite!), Jamaican Jerk, Chipotle, Harissa Red Pepper, & Thai Coconut Curry. An ideal pantry staple, Keen One Foods quinoa cups are Gluten-free, Non-GMO, Certified Organic and Vegan.  

B’Free’s Family Faves Bundle

All of BFree’s products are gluten-free, wheat-free, non-GMO and vegan-friendly! The Family Faves Bundle includes all family favorites that make back-to-school lunch and meal prep a breeze. The bundle includes Pizza Crust, Bake-at-Home Demi Baguette, Burger Buns, Panini, Pita and Sweet Potato Wrap. It’s easy to get the kids involved when making pizzas, wraps or sandwiches, too. You can check out their recipes section for tons of inspiration!

Maple Hill 100% Grass-Fed Organic Milk

Perfect for breakfast, tucking in lunchboxes or serving with an after-school snack or dinner, Maple Hill’s shelf-stable milk boxes make mealtimes so easy! Available in Whole Milk, 2% Reduced Fat Milk and Chocolate, the single-serve milk boxes don’t have to be refrigerated. We love that the no spill screw cap can be placed back on if kids don’t finish it all, so no worries about spills in the lunchbox or wasting food. The container is also 100% recyclable.

FILLO’S

If you love Latin American food but haven’t found the time to find the perfect recipe for pinto beans or black beans, we have found a delicious solution! FILLO’S is a line of vegan non-GMO beans and grains flavored with real sofrito that offers a shelf-stable, ready-to-eat meal option that is traditional, nutritious, and convenient. Inspired by family recipes to bring the traditional foods of the Americas to your table, the dishes are delicious on their own, paired with an avocado, served as a supper side, or with rice, which is how we enjoyed the Cuban Black Beans. The seasoning and spices are pure perfection! There are a large variety of flavors to try, including Cuban Black Beans, Peruvian Lentil, Puerto Rican Pink Bean, Tex Mex Pinto, Mexican Mayocoba Bean, Panamanian Chickpeas, Peruvian Quinoa & Lentils, Cuban Congri, Puerto Rican Arroz con Gandules, and Carolina Peas & Rice. The best part is that we can grab these easily at our local Publix when meal prepping for the week!

*Companies generously provided samples for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Without a Trace Foods

Healthy, allergy-friendly snacks to pack in your kid’s backpack or lunchbox that are free from the top 8 allergens! Without a Trace offers a mouthwatering variety of plant-based, gluten-free Chewy Granola Bars, Power Bites and Cookies. Perfect for tucking in lunchboxes or as a grab-n-go snack for everyone in the family. Their Rad Raspberry Power Bites & Strawberry Surprise Chewy Granola Bars are truly phenomenal and a favorite in our home!

Undercover Snacks

Healthy ingredients… in disguise! Undercover Snacks are made with carefully sourced all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO, simple ingredients and Rain Forest Alliance Certified chocolate. Undercover Snacks are made with crispy quinoa, which is naturally gluten-free, packed with protein, fiber and nutrients, and has an incredible crunchy texture. Made in a dedicated facility that is free of the top ten food allergens. Certified Nut-Free, Certified Gluten-Free and Kosher. Comes in 8 decadent varieties. For lunchboxes, tuck one of their single serve packs in as a treat. These are so good that they actually might not make it in your child’s lunch!

Sun & Swell Foods

Delicious, sustainable and healthy – Sun & Swell Foods offers delightful grab-n-go snacks that are the ideal snack size for lunchbox packing or after school snacking! Your kiddos will love their date bites or cookie bites in perfectly portioned snack-size bags. Sweetened only with dates, and 100% Organic, Gluten-Free, Vegan, and with no added sugars, flavors, or preservatives.

Jax’s Monster Mix

A fun and tasty snack for your little monsters, Jax’s Monster Mix is an all-natural, gluten-free, peanut-free snack mix for kids. Unlike most snacks on the shelves, Jax’s is free from added sugars, contains a delicious mixture of sesame sticks, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, dried fruit such as mango & papaya, and coconut chips, and will give your little ones the fuel they need to get through soccer practice, dance class, or playdates. Tuck a bag into their backpack or lunchbox for a snack you can feel good about giving your children!

Pop Bitties

Move over, potato chips! Pop Bitties are light, crunchy, air-popped chips made from 100% whole grain sorghum, brown rice, quinoa, and chia….and kids (and adults) LOVE them! They’re perfect for snacking on their own or serving alongside a healthy lunch. The Vegan Sour Cream & Onion and Hickory BBQ were devoured by the family within hours, so looks like we will be picking up quite a few more bags before school starts in 2 weeks!

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

2020. Can you believe it is on our horizon? Just saying it seems a bit surreal! As we look ahead to new beginnings, let’s cozy up with our little ones while reading these exciting new children’s books that are perfect for a chilly winter day.

Disney Stories for 3 Year Olds

By Studio Fun International

From Peter Pan to 101 Dalmatians, three-year-olds will be introduced to wonderful Disney adventures in Disney Stories for 3-Year-Olds! This treasury includes fourteen classic Disney stories retold and simplified for a younger audience. With the same spirit as the extended versions and paired with colorful illustrations, this book is perfect for parents introducing their children to classic Disney adventures or retelling favorites With fourteen stories to choose from, your little ones will love to snuggle up to a favorite Disney classic story anytime!

Yum Yummy Yuck 

by Cree Lane and Amanda Jane Jones

In their hip and often humorous Instagram accounts, Amanda and Cree Jones invite the world into their life with two young kids. Now, the Joneses are sharing another experience–the struggle to keep their kids from putting everything they see into their mouths. Using simple, bright illustrations, irresistible colors, gentle repetition, and a lighthearted tone, this stylish board book teaches babies and toddlers what they should and shouldn’t put in their mouths. Delectable treats like an ice cream cone, a pear, and a donut are interspersed with not-so-yummy things kids find irresistible–like coins, boogers, and sand. Facing pages display the correct use of these items– boogers go in tissues, coins in a piggy bank, and sand in a bucket. Designed to appeal to modern parents, this durable and attractive book will have kids and their parents going back to it and sharing in the fun of all the delicious and disgusting things kids like.

Taxi Ride with Victor 

by Sara Trofa and illustrated by Elsa Klever

This sci-fi inspired taxi trip will have kids roaring with laughter. Victor is everyone’s favorite extraterrestrial taxi driver, but he has a big problem. His memory is terrible! He can never remember his way around the galaxy. When he drops off his passengers at the wrong locations, there are some unexpected and hilarious high jinks. Elsa Klever’s wonderful drawings incorporate every day experiences–like going to the dentist, the library, or the post office–into otherworldly scenes with friendly aliens, talking clouds, grumpy ghosts, and an enormous octopus. The book offers gentle lessons about friendship and opportunity, and children will want to join Victor again and again on his funny, mixed-up, and carefree rides.

A Dragon on the Roof 

by Cecile Alix and illustrated by Fred Sochard

A brave young girl, a whimsical house, and a ticklish dragon help young readers see the world through Gaudí’s eyes. Set in Casa Batlló, one of Antoni Gaudí’s most renowned buildings, this joyful story introduces young readers to the architect’s work, inciting their curiosity and imagination along the way. While her nanny is sleeping, young Paloma hears a noise. She climbs the stairs of her house until she reaches the roof, where a dragon is perched. Unafraid, Paloma reaches out to pet the dragon–but he is ticklish, and as he laughs, he spews a myriad of sea animals that he had unwittingly swallowed. The house is transformed into a dreamy aquarium and the dragon settles into a deep sleep on the roof. Cécile Alix’s playful story and Fred Sochard’s boldly graphic illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Gaudí’s exuberant vision. As readers make their way through Paloma’s home, they are introduced to its fabulous elements–columns shaped like elephant legs; marine-inspired tiles, glass, and ironwork; and of course the spectacularly undulating, iridescent roof, which resembles a sleeping dragon. The end of the book includes a brief history of Gaudí’s career and provides helpful background to Paloma’s story. Kids will want to linger over the pictures and imagine what their own house would be like if a dragon were living on their roof.

What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street 

by Felicita Sala

This delightfully illustrated children’s cookbook offers a global menu of dishes to share with friends, family, and neighbors. Something delicious is cooking in the old apartment building on Garden Street! Pilar is mixing gazpacho, Monsieur Ping is stir-frying broccoli, Señora Flores is preparing a pot of beans, and Josef and Rafik are rolling meatballs. Other neighbors are making mini-quiches, baba ganoush, dhal, and peanut butter cookies. When they’re all finished cooking everyone gathers in the garden to enjoy a delicious meal and each other’s company. Each inviting spread in this storybook offers a recipe from a different culinary tradition. Dishes that kids love, like guacamole, spaghetti, and banana bread are interspersed with others that include less familiar ingredients, such as mirin, tahini, and turmeric. The recipes explain how each dish is made and come with fun and detailed illustrations. Combining simple, fresh flavors with recipes from around the world, this book will nourish and inspire budding cooks while whetting the appetites of their more experienced helpers.

Frankie’s Food Truck

By Educational Insights and Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti

Frankie’s Food Truck serves a different shape of food every day. On Mondays, Frankie serves squares. What kinds of foods are shaped like a square? Lift the flaps to unveil all sorts of tasty treats, learning about shapes and days of the week as you go. From a square piece of toast to a slice of watermelon in the shape of a triangle, readers are invited to see how many shapes and foods they can find on each spread.

Peg + Cat: Up a Tree

By  Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson

Peg has a BIG PROBLEM. She is up in a tree with her yo-yo and can’t get down! Luckily, Cat is down below and eager to help. He finds two long poles and some short pieces of wood and ties them all together. But when his makeshift ladder sways and falls, Peg has to pull Cat up, and now they have an even bigger problem. Can their friend Ramone make the ladder’s vertical sides go up and down and the horizontal steps go straight across so they can get down safely? Could Peg’s yo-yo skills come in handy after all? What goes up must come down — somehow — as Peg gets stuck high in a tree and Cat and Ramone try to come to the rescue.

KeeKee’s Big Adventures in London

by Shannon Jones

Join KeeKee, the globe-trotting calico kitty, on her latest brilliant adventures in London. Along with her friend Willamb Sheepspeare, she whisks readers through the majesty of England’s capital city—from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace to a proper English tea. Explorers big and small will have a jolly good time trying out fun British expressions, peeking into royal culture, and navigating London’s beautiful streets on a double-decker bus.  What’s meaningful to me is that I have been to London many times, so sharing this book with my children has been incredibly exciting as we pore over the pages. Plus, the author lives in our current city!

BigFoot Activity Book: Wacky Puzzles, Coloring Pages, Fun Facts, & Cool Stickers

by D.L. Miller

Have a BigFoot fan in your home? Following the success of D.L. Miller’s BigFoot seek-and-find books, publisher Fox Chapel Publishing, under the imprint Happy Fox Books, is proud to introduce a new BigFoot activity book aptly titled BigFoot Activity Book: Wacky Puzzles, Coloring Pages, Fun Facts, & Cool Stickers. The author notes, “It’s not just an activity book—it’s a way to teach children about the world through recreational learning.” 

Ultimate Slime: Extreme Edition

by Alyssa Jagan

Yes, your kids can take their slime to the next level! In Ultimate Slime Extreme Edition, you’ll find 100+ new, awesome, borax-free slime recipes and projects from slime master Alyssa J of @CraftySlimeCreator!

Frozen 2: Make Your Own Bath Bombs

by Jennifer Malone

Frozen fever is real again after the hit movie came out a few weeks ago! Learn formulas, practice ratios, combine chemicals, and use the scientific method to form bath bombs that are uniquely Frozen 2 and uniquely yours!

Learn to Draw: Frozen 2

by Walter Foster Junior Creative Team

So simple and fun, the step-by-step drawing exercises in Learn to Draw Disney Frozen 2 will have you drawing Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven, and the new characters from Disney Frozen 2 in no time!

*Books were generously provided for review. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Need an exciting last-minute gift for a special little one this holiday season? Any of the brilliant subscription services below for kids will make an excellent stocking stuffer, and can be ordered today or even tomorrow for easy peasy gift-giving.

GIRLS CAN! CRATE

I’ve got a strong, fearless 6 year old daughter… and I want to encourage those traits as she grows. One awesome gift idea for girls ages 5-10 is GIRLS CAN! CRATE, a subscription box that celebrates bold, fearless women who have helped to make our world a better place. I love that each crate teaches my daughter that if she puts her mind to it… she can do & be anything!

Each GIRLS CAN! CRATE includes a 20-page GIRLS CAN! Activity Book telling her unique story, 2-3 hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities related to her field, a creative play prop, a featured character trait that helped her succeed and 2-3 practical tips for parents to easily foster that trait.

What makes this an even more throughful gift is that GIRLS CAN! CRATE donates 10% of the proceeds from every crate purchased to nonprofit organizations working to empower women and girls.

Any gift subscription ordered now through the 31st will start with the January CRATE. You can order a gift subscription to GIRLS CAN! CRATE at https://www.girlscancrate.com/.

Little Passports

Perfect for ages 3-12, this subscription service brings the world home to your child! Encouraging the love of travel and opening their eyes to the world around them, Little Passports has been a favorite in our home for a few years now. With 4 exciting, unique and creative ways to explore the world, there is something for everyone!

Choose from Early Explorers (3-5), World Edition (6-10), USA Edition (7-12), and Science Expeditions (9+)… all come with creative, hands-on activities to encourage learning. We have tried both the Early Explorers kits and the World Edition kits, and both have kept my little ones busy for hours.

Little Passports be ordered now and you will get a printable gift certificate to place in a stocking or under the tree. Visit https://www.littlepassports.com/.

KiwiCo Crates

For difficult to shop for teens, KiwiCo launched a new line of monthly projects called Eureka Crate. Getting kids off of their screens and devices, Eureka Crates are designed to inspire them to think about the engineering behind the objects all around them. Made for ages 14+, each Eureka Crate engineering project is functional upon completion including a desk lamp, electric pencil sharpener, and working ukulele. Check out Eureka Crates here.

There is something for everyone from KiwiCo from ages birth on up! My two year old loved creating an adorable farm & vegetable garden with his Koala Crate… and keeps calling it his ‘farmo.’ Additional DIY ideas can be found for each crate on the KiwiCo website.

My six year old is into anything craft-related, so the Kiwi Crate is perfect for her! She loved making the Arcade game with her crate! While she did need a little assistance from Mom & Dad, she was able to read the directions with ease.

KiwiCo’s crates are subscription-based and you can choose 1, 3, 6, or 12 months of deliveries. These make excellent gifts for anyone, whether for the holidays, a birthday, or just because! Learn more at KiwiCo.com.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Falling For All Things Pumpkin

I went outside this morning and guess what? There is actually a (slight) coolness in the air here in FL! I am hopeful it is the start of Fall! But even if the weather doesn’t cooperate with my vision of cooler mornings & evenings or an end to the humidity… I’ve got my mind on all things pumpkin! Halloween is just around the corner, everywhere you look you see pumpkin spice…it’s time!

To celebrate the changing of the seasons and yes, all things pumpkin, I have included a few of my favorites to enjoy this time of year!

Barbara’s Pumpkin Puffins

Now that Fall is here, Barbara’s has debuted their Limited Edition Pumpkin Puffins! A combination of real pumpkin, corn, and whole grain oats and rice makes these crunchy pillows absolutely irresistible. Not to mention, these Puffins are non-GMO, gluten free, whole grain, and only contain 5 grams of sugar! Delicious and flavorful, Pumpkin Puffins can be enjoyed anytime of the day, whether starting each day with a bowl of cereal comparable to pumpkin pie, or needing a to-go snack for all of your autumn adventures. The kiddos and I really enjoy this yummy cereal!

siggi’s Icelandic-Style Yogurt – Pumpkin & Spice

Move over pumpkin spice latte! What’s not to love about siggi’s Pumpkin & Spice Yogurt?! Made with real Pumpkin, Spices such as Cinnamon & Nutmeg, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla and packing in a whopping 15 grams of protein… this is one pumpkin spice snack you can feel good about indulging in this season!

Carrington Farms Organic Pumpkin Seed Oil

Made from cold pressed pumpkin seeds, Carrington Farms Organic Pumpkin Seed Oil can be drizzled on salads or used to craft salad dressings, mixed in smoothies & soups, or even enjoyed on ice cream! High in Oleic and Linoleic Acid. A light oil, it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids.

Perfectly Pumpkin Cake Mix with Cream Cheese Frosting from King Arthur Flour

Guys! This is THE most amazing cake mix for Fall! Everything is included in King Arthur’s Pumpkin Cake Mix with Cream Cheese Frosting… making it a breeze to bake bread, muffins or cupscakes with a delightful pumpkin spice flavor topped lovingly with cream cheese frosting! It’s an ideal mix to bake with the kiddos this Fall that shows off pumpkin and aromatic Fall spices. Kosher.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Simple, healthy, and affordable – here’s a kid-friendly recipe for PB & J Overnight Oats from Registered Dietitian Jessica Cording for our back-to-school series on nutritious meals the whole family will love.

PB & J Overnight Oats

Ingredients

3/4 cup frozen DOLE® Mixed Berries, divided
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup 2% milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk of choice (“Mom” prefers organic unsweetened almond milk)
1 tablespoon peanut butter or your favorite nut or seed butter (“Mom” prefers No Nut Butter from The Sneaky Chef)

Preparation

1. Mix 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries, oats, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, cinnamon, vanilla and milk in a container with a lid.

2. Cover mixed oats and store in the fridge overnight.

3. When you’re ready to eat, uncover and enjoy cold or heat in the microwave 1-2 minutes on high.

4. Top your overnight oats with peanut butter, fruit preserves, and remaining berries, which can be enjoyed from the freezer or thawed for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Note: Add your favorite fruit preserves for extra sweetness. For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free rolled oats.

Makes: 1 serving
Prep: 5 min.

*Recipe and image courtesy of RD Jessica Cording.*

Ashley Pettit shared one of her favorite kid-friendly recipes, Chocolate Banana Pancakes, as the kids head back-to-school. It’s a healthy, flavorful recipe that little ones will have a hard time saying ‘no’ to!

Ashley says, “My biggest challenge with my 3 ½ year old daughter is getting her to sit down for breakfast. The only thing I can do is make it impossible for her to say no! These banana-chocolate pancakes are a great incentive, while healthier than regular pancakes, so parents don’t have to feel guilty or worry about plying their kids with sugar first thing in the morning!

Chocolate Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

2 cups oat flour, gluten-free
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened hemp or oat milk (“Mom‘ prefers Banana Wave Bananamilk)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 bananas, sliced (wait to slice them for when you serve the pancakes so they do not brown)
1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips, to top
Coconut oil for pan – tip: to save on fat, use the coconut oil spray!

Preparation

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, salt, + cinnamon

2. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients: yogurt, milk, egg, + vanilla.

3. Mix the wet ingredients slowly into the dry- mix well.

4. Heat a skillet over medium heat + spray with the cooking oil.

5. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour the batter into the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip + continue until lightly browned. Continue to cook the entirety of the batter.

6. When ready-to-serve; top with 1 TBSP chocolate chips + some banana slices!

Makes 8 pancakes.

Ashley’s Tip: Make the pancake base plain so you can change toppings throughout the week. Double the recipe, save half fresh + freeze the rest for the following week. Parents need more free time outside of the kitchen after all!

*Recipe and image courtesy of Nutritionist Ashley Pettit, of Living with Ashley.*

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Exciting Ways to Encourage Learning at Home

Now that school has started, we are finding new ways to bring lessons to life at home! We are learning and growing together with a little help from some fantastic companies who make learning engaging, interesting and FUN for everyone!

Teach My Learning Kits

Whether your little one is headed off to preschool or kindergarten, or still at home with Mom or Dad, Teach My Learning Kits help little ones to be academically ready! Screen-free and designed for specific developmental stages, each set in the kit is fully coordinated to encourage matching, repetition and parent engagement… all in 20 minutes a day.

We received the Teach My Toddler Kit for our two year old son, and he has started to master his letters, numbers, shapes and colors with ease using the sets in the kit! We’ve had a blast bonding, playing and learning together with the simple, straightforward lessons in each set! The teaching tools included are fully coordinated to encourage repetition, interaction and make learning fun. According to the website, Teach My Toddler is designed around the concept of matching to encourage pre-reading skills.

The Teach My Toddler set includes 4 Board Books, 4 Full-Size Posters, 5 Foam Puzzles, 50+ Flashcards, Teaching Guide, and a handy Storage Case.

For ages 6 months to 6 years, the Teach My Kits are available nationwide online at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond and Teach My.

Edushape Magic Shapes

Let your child’s imagination run wild with Magic Shapes! Small pieces featuring magnetic edges stay together allowing little ones to build, design and create with ease. The platform included in the set makes it like doodling in 3-D! Magic Shapes are fantastic for developing gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and logic & reasoning in little learners, and I love that STEM is being encouraged through play. My kiddos have had so much fun stacking, building and more with this open-ended play set!

What’s neat about Magic Shapes is that they pack up easily for use while traveling or visiting grandma’s house, too!

Little Passports

Have a budding globetrotter at home… or want to instill the love of world travel in your children? It’s easy to introduce your little ones to geography, science, world cultures, the arts and more with the monthly educational subscription service, Little Passports. Bringing these lessons home, Little Passports is simply ingenious, encouraging children to learn about the world around them in a fun and engaging way. My 1st grader loved receiving the adorable suitcase in the mail with her first lesson from the World Edition, and now that she is reading, she has had so much sharing the lessons and activities with her younger brother!

In this subscription, your child will explore the world with new pen pals, Sam & Sofia. The first month, an adorable blue suitcase arrives, packed with everything needed to take off on an exciting adventure, including a passport, wall-sized world map, stickers, photos, activity sheets, and more! A different country is featured each month, with more activities, photos, stickers, souvenirs, and games to pique your child’s interest… and a fun new adventure to look forward to receiving!

4 affordable Little Passports subscriptions are available, depending on your child’s age and interest, including Early Explorers (3-5), World Edition (6-10), USA Edition (7-12) and Science Expeditions (9+).

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

It is back to the busy school season routine, with homework, activities, lunch box packing and dinner planning in full swing! I don’t know about you, but time seems to go quickly at this time of year, and I find myself stretched in so many directions! It is so important that I provide my family with healthy meals, but meal planning can be tough. Luckily, I was recently introduced to Dinnerly, which is perfect for busy families like ours, and it’s the most affordable meal kit on the market!

At only $5 per meal, DINNERLY is half the price of other meal kits, making it particularly attractive to young families who want to cook more at home or who want to try meal kits but find them cost prohibitive. Dinners are quick & simple, with only 5 steps and a maximum of 6 ingredients per recipe. Plus, Dinnerly is paperless, and you simply go to their website to view the recipes that you were sent that week!

We had so much fun trying 3 unique and healthy recipes with Dinnerly during the first week back-to-school… Red Pepper Flatbread, Za’atar Chicken, and the Beef & Broccoli Noodles.

Our favorite was definitely the Za’atar Chicken! Accompanied by a fresh cucumber and tomato salad and toasted bulgur wheat, it was flavorful, tender and healthy! Best part – it only took 30 minutes to make from start to finish! It reminded me of all the delicious Za’atar bread I enjoyed growing up as an expat in Saudi Arabia.

Each week, you choose the menu items you wish to make that week with your family. They have so many interesting choices that it was hard to pick only three! You can view more menu items here: https://dinnerly.com/menu

*Dinnerly generously provided a week’s worth of meals for this article & review. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*