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4 Green Fall Activities for the Whole Family

As the nights grow darker faster, the temperatures drop a little more each day and the leaves turn golden all around, the sure signs of fall are almost impossible to miss. As you gear up for a new season and prepare for the winter ahead, now is the perfect time to take advantage of long afternoons with some activities for the kids that are both fun and green inspired. If you could use a few more ideas for filling in these lovely fall days, maybe one of the following will catch your eye!

Create Homemade Door Draft Stoppers!
This project is so much fun and so beneficial for your house too! Conserving energy means taking advantage of every opportunity (Lesson #1), no matter how small, to seal in all the precious heat and keep all the drafts out. You’ll save on your energy bill (and dollars too!) by ensuring that all your doorways are securely blocking out cold air with a door draft stopper. All you’ll need is some extra long tube socks, a thick filler like sand or rice and all of your crafty stuff like googly eyes, beads, felt scraps, buttons, etc. The limit is the imagination, so let your kids go wild.

Arts & Crafts with Leaves!
Get the whole family out in the yard for some fun raking up the leaves for the compost bin (#2) and then have them save some of their favorite leaf finds. You can frame them for artwork, use them as stencils, or even use a pencil to press on top of them and transfer the leaf vein patters for very cool art. Arrange leaves in fun patterns on thick cardstock and then laminate for instant fall placemats! Use with clear crafting glue to make a collage or place on a small cardboard box and decoupage. Cut cardstock in half and glue leaves on for quick, homemade cards that are perfect for sending to grandma and grandpa!

Make Homemade Jam!
Buying the last of the local seasonal fruit now and making jam out of it is one of the best ways to teach a lesson (#3) about buying locally and seasonally and making it last throughout the winter. Rather than buying raspberries shipped from far, far away in December when you’re all craving something sweet, you can pull out some of your frozen homemade jam! In the meantime, your kids will get a kick out of squishing the berries and stirring in the sugar. And, of course, you’ll likely really encourage jam making if you serve fresh biscuits and jam for dinner!

Go Crazy with Pumpkins!
Pumpkins have many lessons to teach and are good for so much more than just carving! That’s not to say you shouldn’t carve by any means, but after you’re done, consider giving your pumpkin another use! (#4: recycling and upcycling!) Take the insides of the pumpkin, the “guts” and make yummy foods like pumpkin smoothies or pumpkin breads, muffins, pancakes, cookies, etc. Take the seeds and roast them for afternoon treats (they can be sweet or salty or even plain to meet your all tastes). You can also dry the pumpkin seeds and use them for fun counting games, or poke holes in the center and paint them to create strings of beaded necklaces and bracelets. A hollowed out pumpkin also makes an excellent pot to plant flowers in. And when you’re all done, you can put whatever is left of the pumpkin in your composting pile or feed it to the birds (zoologist approved).

About the Author

Freelancer Jocelyn loves to help inspire families to go greener in any ways that she can. When not writing foodie or craft pieces, you’ll find her writing about energy efficient air heaters for fall & winter use.

Image Credit: April Farnum via Flickr

Hugs just make the world a better place! That is why B. Toys has recently introduced the new Hugs 🙂 Links to their line of kid-pleasing educational toys! 24 individual links feature a rattle inside for little teethers and droolers, and older toddlers will enjoy linking them up to make a huge, 3-foot chain! Shake, rattle and roll the Hugs 🙂 Links – they are colorful and practically indestructible – kids ages 3 months to 3 years will love to play with these entertaining links!

Mom’s” little one loves to take them all out of the container and put them back in again, providing curious fingers a lesson in dexterity and coordination! Features of the new Hugs 🙂 Links include:

  • 24 clickity, colorful links
  • Each is a happy rattle
  • String together a 3-foot long chain!
  • Smooth plastic loves little hands

We are lovin’ the new Hugs 🙂 Links at “Mom’s” house, and hope we never run out of hugs! To locate a store near you that carries Hugs 🙂 Links, or other entertaining toys by B. Toys, visit justb-byou.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

 

Eco-Friendly Games for the Whole Family

The green living movement, defined by environmental responsibility and sustainable living, has swept the nation in recent years, becoming an integral aspect of everyday life for many Americans. Today children can participate in going green by playing one of the many eco friendly games designed which are designed for the whole family. While the standard manufacturing practices of many family games still rely on environmentally harmful products like plastic and rubber, these eco-friendly games are comprised of 100% recycled and biodegradable products and their production causes no damage to the natural world around us. By taking the time to research environmentally sustainable games for your family, you can easily provide amusement and entertainment in a package that is beneficial to the environment.

A quick online search will provide curious parents with a wealth of eco friendly games that are designed for the whole family. For example, the PlanToys Plan Preschool Eco Recycling Game, Game and Puzzle set is a fun filled game that teaches kids the value of recycling in a simple to play format. Coming complete with a pair of dice, four playing figures and 16 recyclable waste tokens, this game promotes the concept of recycling to children and rewards the player who recycles all of his tokens the fastest. PlanToys is a leading manufacturer of eco friendly games and they utilize only biodegradable, chemical free and recycled materials in all of their products. Another recognized figure in the eco friendly game market is Late for the Sky, a company which produces the popular Garden-opoly and Earth-opoly games. A sustainable take on the classic Monopoly game, Garden-opoly enables children to purchase and stock their own greenhouses, protecting them from dandelion outbreaks and aphid infestations. The Late for the Sky line of Monopoly-themed nature games teaches environmentally sustainable lessons to children in a fun and accessible format.

While the concept of eco-friendly games may be a relatively new one, many of the most environmentally sustainable games for children are actually classic versions which have been played for decades. An old fashioned game of hide and go seek is interactive, challenging and exciting for a group of youngsters, and yet the game requires no parts or set-up and does not contribute to environmental degradation in anyway. Tag, duck-duck-goose and red rover – red rover are all examples of simple games for children that require nothing more than an active imagination and the seemingly limitless energy afforded by youth. For parents seeking eco friendly diversionary activities for their children, a visit to the park and a bit of creativity will result in a fun filled day that poses no threat to the environment. Identifying eco-friendly games that are fit for the whole family is a matter of keeping an open mind. If you are willing to try new things and keep an adventurous spirit, you will soon find that environmentally conscious games can provide your children with entertainment while still upholding your family’s responsibility to preserving the natural world.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for Download Games Free where you can find games like 18 Wheels of Steel and many others.

Things are getting whacky around “Mom’s” house! B. Toys sent over their Whacky Ball game for children ages 1 to 3 years old, and this little game has been providing quite a bit of action the past few days! The hammer squeaks as the balls are hit into the hole successfully and down they come – one by one into the tray at the bottom. Developing hand and eye coordination is fun with this toy that provides hours of entertainment! Get the whole family involved in a “whacking” session – pun intended, of course!

Features of Whacky Ball include:

Four beautiful balls
Mirrored background
Hammer squeaks, wheels spin, balls bang
Pretty tray catches balls
Etched patterns & sensational colors make B. toys a work of art. Don’t hide this toy away when company comes!

To learn more about B. Toys and their entire line of educational and just plain fun toys for little ones, visit justb-byou.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

Have a toddler or preschooler who wants to do homework just like their older siblings now that school has started? Check out the new H2-Whoa! from B.toys! This reusable, two-sided drawing board uses pens filled with water to write and draw – with absolutely no mess! The water just dries and disappears for your little one to draw a new picture or practice letters & numbers! “Mom” loves how the pens slip easily into the four holders on the side of the drawing board when not in use, and there is a convenient handle to carry it when on-the-go, making it an excellent, mess-free option for car trips! Did we mention that there is no mess to clean up?!

The drawing board features two sides to draw on, so your child has a choice of color for their masterpiece, and the pens can be easily refilled with water when dry, whether at home or away. H2-Whoa! will be your child’s favorite pick for drawing and writing, and you will love that there is absolutely no clean-up involved! Long trips to Grandma’s, here we come!

To locate a Target retailer near you that carries H2-Whoa!, visit justb-byou.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

 

Spark creativity and bring out the ooh-la-la in your children as they make and design their own fashionable jewelry with the help of Pop-Arty! by B. toys! This fabulous jewelry design kit was made for children 4-10 years of age, and includes 500 pieces of snap-together jewelry for endless combinations! With 12 rings and 6 bracelets, plus pieces that can be strung together to make necklaces of any length, your future fashionista will delight in making new jewelry to match outfits or dress-up clothes.

The 500 pieces are packed in a reusable container with a tag containing instructions and inspiration made from recycled paper. This all-in-one packaging makes gift-giving a breeze, too! What “Mom” loves is how easily the pieces snap together and come apart for little fingers. There truly is no end the amount of beautiful creations that your child can design – this is a toy that will grow with your child, as well!

What will your budding artist or fashion designer make using Pop-Arty!? For more information on B. toys, or to locate a retailer near you, visit justb-byou.com.

*Company generously provided images and samples for this review.*

Kids Animal Croquet Set

Throwing a birthday party for your little wild child? Set up this charming wooden animal croquet set in the backyard or at the park for some excitement and fun! Featuring six hand-painted wooden wickets in the shape of different animals, such as a cow or parrot, four wooden mallets and four wooden balls, the set is perfectly sized for tiny hands. On rainy or snowy days, it can even be set up indoors on carpet for some entertainment and to beat the wiggles! “Mom” thinks this set is just too, too cute! It is easy to set up and take down so little helpers can assist, as well!

The Animal Croquet Set includes:

•6 hand-painted wood wickets with indoor/outdoor stands, 4 wood mallets, and 4 wood balls
•Animals include: frog, cow, leopard, turtle, alligator, and parrot

To learn more, or to order, visit www.onestepahead.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

Stave off the wiggles and inevitable crankiness on a stormy day this summer with some fabulous finds for rainy day fun! “Mom” has selected her top picks for helping kids stay busy and entertained when inside this summer. No TV required!

Top Picks for Rainy Day Fun

Moon Dough Magic Zoo

Perfect for sparking creativity and engaging children ages 3+ on a wet, rainy day this summer, the Moon Dough Magic Zoo will definitely be a hit! Wheat-free, which is great for those with allergies, this magic dough never dires out! Soft, squishy and easy to mold into any shape, the animals actually walk right out of the Magic Zoo with their self winding feet!

It’s simple – just place the Moon Dough into the magic molding zoo and watch as the animals magically come to life and walk out!

The Moon Dough Magic Zoo Package includes:

• 1 Magic Molding Zoo
• 2 Winder Walkers
• 3 Animal Molds
• 1 Fence Mold
• 3 Colors of Moon Dough

Moon Dough refill packs are also available. Visit www.moondough.com.

Animal Planet™ Cahootie

How about a little trivia fun? Filled with wild questions about animals & creatures and cool fortunes to uncover, Animal Planet™ offers 4 versions of the Cahootie, including Endangered Creatures, Sea Creatures, Cats Rule and Dogs Rule.

Cahootie is a reinvention of the beloved classic cootie-catcher games (remember making them out of paper?) and encourages kids to unplug the computer, turn off the television, put away the video games and get their imagination going. The Cahootie is great for car trips and airplane trips, too!

Available in local retailers and online, the Animal Planet™ Cahootie is a great way to get your kids chatting and learning all about the animal kingdom this summer. Check out www.cahootie.com

Growums

Get kids excited about eating vegetables and herbs by planting their very own garden with Growums! Plant the seedlings while inside on a rainy afternoon, and as soon as the weather clears, head outside to put the mini garden in the sun.

Kids can choose from six fun kits including Herb Garden, Pizza Garden, Salad Garden, Stir-fry Garden, Taco Garden, and Ratatouille Garden to grow a real garden with virtual world fun. Each garden kit features unique, magical coco or peat pellets that make planting and growing practically foolproof.

How to start?

It’s easy! Kids start by going to www.growums.com to register their garden and follow the colorful characters in a virtual garden world that shows them how to care for their vegetables. This animated step-by-step series of mini videos are updated every ten days with tips on what to expect next and how to care for the seedlings.

With a little help and information from Tomicio the tomato, Frank Cilantro, Belle Peppa, Ice Berg the lettuce wrapper and, of course, Elvis Parsley and more; in a matter of weeks kids will be able to harvest fresh vegetables and herbs to create nutritious meals. Weekly emails also alert children to next steps and explain topics including watering, weeding, growth cycles and more.

Growums are available online and at independent garden centers across the country. Learn more at www.growums.com.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article.*

Outdoor Family Fun in the Sun

These long, warm afternoons are perfect for quality time with your family. These tips will help you make the most of outdoor family fun in the sun all summer long!

Special Toys for Outdoors Only

Playing outside is messy, which is why it takes place outside of your tidy house. Make outdoor family fun more special by providing a variety of outdoor-only toys for your kids to use. Although fun, outdoor-only toys go beyond skateboards, bikes and scooters, and can include any combination of the following:

*Sidewalk Chalk
*Water Balloons
*Squirt Guns
*Hippety-Hops
*Pogo Sticks
*Jump Ropes
*Basketball Hoop
*Trampoline with Enclosure
*Bubbles
*Ping Pong

And last but not least, don’t forget the green hose coiled up on the side of your house. It might sound simple, but there’s really no end to the fun kids can have with a simple garden hose.

Outdoor Water Games

A summer afternoon with your kids might require more organized games, especially during hot, sweaty afternoons. These are two favorite games to cool everyone down and provide outdoor family fun in the sun.

• Bucket and Sponge – Make two even teams, and supply each with two buckets and a sponge. Fill one bucket about halfway with water for each team, leaving the second bucket empty. In relay-race style, each team must use the sponge to empty the full bucket into the empty one using only the sponge. The first team finished wins.
• Toss Across – Fill water balloons and provide one to each set of partners playing the game. Have each person face their partners with about three feet of distance between them. One player throws a water balloon to his or her partner. Once the water balloon is caught, both players take a step back. The water balloon is tossed again – once caught, each person takes a step back. Repeat until the water balloon breaks, soaking one of the players.

Outdoor Chores = Summer Family Activities

Being outdoors during the summer can be a combination of fun and chores – instead of calling them “chores,” tell your kids that you’d like them to join you in one or more of these “Summer Activities.” Doing these activities together will provide many hours of outdoor summer fun for your family.

• Designate a section of your garden plot “For Kids Only.” Give them the responsibility and freedom to decide what to plant, then teach them how to get started and maintain their garden all summer long. Offer fun suggestions, like sunflowers or a pumpkin patch of their very own.
• Assign your kids to wash different sections of your car, then hand out prizes or offer extra allowance money for a job well done.
• Give each child a bucket, then have a contest regarding who can pick the most weeds in an area of your yard that needs it.

Make the most of these long, warm summer days for extra fun with your family!

About the Author

Kelly Wilson is a busy mom and freelance writer. For a refreshing meal after outdoor summer fun with your family, head to kid-friendly BJ Willy’s, a restaurant in West Linn, Oregon.

*Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Trendy and hip, these oh-so-adorable 100% organic cotton animal pillows from Fauna are too cute for words! Petite and sized just right for little hands, you can select one favorite animal to coordinate with baby’s nursery, or you may be tempted to arrange a small menagerie in your child’s play space!

A bold, graphic design is placed on 100% organic cotton, and filled with natural cotton. These teeny playthings will soon become a child’s favorite, doubling as a “lovey” or a stuffed toy. Plus, Arte Bebe offers matching onesies, so they make great gift sets, as well!

To learn more about Fauna, or to visit the entire Arte Bebe collection, visit www.artebebe.com .

*Company generously provided images and samples for this review.*