My (Kids') Favorite Things: February 2018
This month, I'm sharing the love with my kids. February's Favorite Things features "stuff" my boys are really interested in at the moment. They are currently 4 and 2 years old. However, some of these items would be of interest to different ages, even and including adults! I've re-learned to enjoy playing and being silly while also making fun of myself at times. I've also learned that looking at the world through a child's eyes is sometimes the most beautiful perspective there is!
1) Pop The Pig
When we first saw the commercial for this game on TV, my kids were very interested. I, on the other hand, thought to myself, "That looks obnoxious!" ... stuffing hamburgers into a pig's mouth until his belly pops. Well, after repeated requests, Santa ended up delivering Pop the Pig to my youngest son for Christmas. And I'm here to tell you, my initial thoughts couldn't have been more wrong.
The way the game works is that there are four colors of hamburgers. Each hamburger has a number on the flip side (1-4). The player rolls a die and picks up the color hamburger shown on the die. For example, if the die lands on purple, the player picks up a purple hamburger and flips it over. On the reverse side is a number. If the player gets a "4", they place the burger into the pig's mouth and press down on the pig's head 4 times. The next player rolls the die, selects the colored burger shown, and presses down the pig's head the number of times shown on the burger. With each pump of the pig's chef hat, his belly enlarges. The game continues this way until the pig's belly finally bursts, and his belt opens.
For my son Adam (who is two), this has been a great game. It's taught him how to take turns; it's reinforced his knowledge of colors; and it's taught him to recognize his numbers through 4, which he could not do before. For Nathan (age four), it's taught him patience (for his brother), and he's become an excellent encourager, cheering others on. This has become a fun family game for us!
2) Little Tikes Crazy Toaster Game
This is another game that looks super silly ... and it is ... but it's actually really fun. My boys received this for Christmas from some family members. We'd never heard of it prior to that, but we've been having a good time with it since then.
This plastic toaster comes with four open slots at the top. Inside of each slot, pieces of cardboard toast are placed. There are 40 pieces in all, so about 10 toasts go into each slot. Each player gets a placemat and a frying pan. After the toaster handle is pushed down, several pieces of toast pop up, and the goal is to try to catch the toast in your frying pan. You keep pushing down the handle until all pieces have popped out. The toast has different varieties ... jelly, peanut butter, bacon, eggs, cheese, etc. The goal is to collect toasts that match the pictures on your placemat, but beware of the stinky fish! If you get one of those, you lose a piece of toast.
Technically, this game would help with hand-eye coordination and matching skills. However, I will tell you that we do NOT play by the rules at all. First of all, it's difficult to even catch a piece of toast. Those suckers can pop up several feet into the air! Secondly, it seems you don't often get pieces that match your placemat. Plus, Adam ALWAYS gets the bacon pieces. Everyone in our family knows that rule! If you get a bacon, you better give it to him or he'll steal it anyway. But despite the craziness and disorganization of this game, it is hilarious. I have belly-laughed more playing this game than I have in years!
It's taught all of us to just go with the flow. There's no skill involved, so no one is better than another. Sometimes the boys design new rules. Sometimes we play with no rules. But every time we have fun and laugh a lot.
3) Trampoline Park
We've recently discovered Get Air, a trampoline park near our home. (There are others in our area too like Urban Air.) Going to Get Air has been a really nice way for my boys to burn off some energy, especially during the cold winter months when we can't get outside. There is a twice weekly "Toddler Time." It's a chance for kids (under 46") to take over the whole trampoline park and bounce everywhere and anywhere they like. During normal hours, young kids are required to stay in a special toddler area. The park also has foam pits in which you can do tricks and flips and fall into a padded, cushiony area. There are also basketball and dodgeball trampoline areas for extra fun and games. Kids of all ages love trampolines. I've also had a blast jumping and feeling like a kid again. And it's good exercise!
4) I am Grateful: Kids Gratitude Journal
This item and the next are books I bought for my oldest son for Christmas. I wasn't sure if he was ready for reflective-type books, but I hoped it would be a nice way for me to connect with him. I wanted to begin to instill in him a sense of gratitude for all he has and all he's able to do. Turns out, this is has become a very nice way for us to bond. PLUS, it's really helped me focus on my own gratitude ... something I'd let fall by the wayside. I personally have kept a gratitude journal for years, but have only sporadically written in it. Now, my son and I will sit down with his books and write in them. And then, occasionally, I'll pull out my own journal and allow him to see what I'm writing in mine.
This particular journal is very open ended. Each page looks the same, and there are three sections in which to write. One section says, "Today I am grateful for ...". Another says, "One awesome thing that happened today was ...". The final section is "My Happiness Scale" in which you circle the happy face, sad face, blah face, etc. that best matches your mood. On the back of each page is a blank framed area for drawing a corresponding picture.
Because it's so open-ended, sometimes my son needs help reflecting on his day or thinking about everything that happened. But more than likely, he'll find a little gem of a story or occurrence to write about. Sometimes his responses are heart-warming, and sometimes they are down-right silly, but I let him say whatever he likes so that he has ownership of the thought and will continue to enjoy being reflective. Because he's only 4, I write in the book for him, but he likes drawing pictures on the back.
5) "Q&A" A Day for Kids
This is another daily journal. I'll be completely honest and tell you that we do not write in it daily. It's more like a weekly experience for us. However, sometimes that's nice too because we'll write on several pages at a time to get caught up, and that creates some interesting conversations and memories.
The book is organized by date (January 1, January 2, etc.) and allows an entry for each day of the year. In fact, it's actually a 3-year book that gives room for three separate entries per date. So, next year, we can go back and read his responses from the previous year and add the new reflection below it.
The questions to ponder are really creative and cute. Here are some examples:
If you could buy anything, what would you buy?
What sounds do you hear around you?
How do you feel about babysitters?
Do you believe in aliens? Explain.
Describe your favorite snack and the place you like to eat it.
We really find this funny, and I love to see Nathan's creative side coming out. Again, I do the writing, but he does the talking. I don't edit anything either. Whatever he says goes into the journal. I think this will be such a treasure for years to come ... something we can both look back on and laugh (or cry) about.
Thanks for reading February's list of "My (Kids') Favorite Things." Drop me a line and let me know what your favorite products or activities are!
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