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While this post isn’t sponsored, many of the toys, games and tech included in the attached Holiday Gift Guide were provided to us for review or promotional purposes. As always, the opinions expressed herein are our honest thoughts and strictly our own. Affiliate links are included, as this is one way to support this blog and content.
The magic of the season is upon us again. Bring on everything glitter and sparkle… and wine. This year we are particularly excited to share our best holiday gift finds for children because many of these brands have already passed the test of time. Klutz, for instance, has long been a Spalding Family favorite brand. Their kits and projects keep expanding the boundary of creativity and learning.
In previous years, we’ve featured Magformers… still going strong with their Police Set. Great for younger learners, this playset offers 50 builds in 1 kit. Children can make a variety of vehicles plus a police pistol, walkie-talkie and many other police themed transformations.
2019 is our best year for stocking success
We mixed it up with sock-size science, crafts, music, and games. Twelve amazing stocking ideas including another family favorite company: Worlds Smallest Toys. Check out their most adorable, on-the-go Crayola line with a crayon keychain to clip to a diaper bag, backpack or purse and their adorable color pencil kit, which comes with two mini coloring books… all in pocket-size perfection. And SLIME… hello? We’ve got ya covered with galaxy inspired slime products. And then there’s coding kits to fit in your palm. Code Car and Code Piano pack huge learning fun in the tiniest boxes. BIG creativity in tiny packages, perfect for sock stuffing.
A Guide to Tech Toys
We provide six tips for picking out cool tech toys, beyond “don’t forget the batteries”. Technology is one of the trickiest gifts to consider but it’s among the most requested. Want a stand out gift that gets used and appreciated vs shelved and forgotten… check out page 4 of our Holiday Gift Guide.
No Holiday Gift Guide of ours would be complete without GAMES…
We highlight 16 incredible family learning games for all ages. Familiar themes like Jeopardy, in a card game version and newbies like Otrio and Poop Tracks. We turned a charades-like, activity challenge game into a family learning night with Root Beer Float Challenge, highlighting the science behind all the foam. Dice games, trivia, card games, and coding… we have something for everyone in the family.
Disclosure: We are excited to be partnered with The World’s Smallest and The World’s Coolest brands to bring you this review. As part of this collaboration, we’ve been provided with samples of the below items in exchange for our honest feedback and review of the items. The opinions and thoughts expressed herein are strictly our own and represent our honest opinion of the products. Affiliate links may be included in this article.
Sometimes you come across the smallest things that offer such a huge impact… and that’s exactly how we felt about The World’s Smallest toy line. While some of the items are just darn right adorable… some bring you back to your childhood and there’s nothing to compare to that feeling. For instance the World’s Smallest Lite Brite reminds me of time spent with cousins getting creative. The World’s Smallest Tinker Toys or Magic 8 Ball, Uno and Lincoln Logs are among some of the other “throw back” pieces. Check out the entire line with Super Impulse. As kids, we’d play Uno for hours… it was easy.
These little reproductions are fully functional, with buttons, game pieces or lights & sounds to make it an authentic experience and reproduction. Imagine playing Space Invaders or Frogger on the tiniest arcade. Super cool but what’s even cooler is describing these things and sharing our childhood stories with our kiddos. It was a different time and much to be learned from sharing these stories.
Speaking of learning… the Crayola sets are fantastic for sparking on-the-go creativity and learning fun. Love the fact that it comes as a key chain, so you can clip it on a backpack or lunch tote. Kids are obsessed with all the backpack clip on accessories… in my opinion the Crayola set beats them all out. The fact that they come in sturdy cases, means they will hold up at the bottom of your purse. These little carry-ever creative kits… as well as mostly the entire The World’s Coolest line… are the perfect “emergency” kit when at the emergency room, or soccer field or DMV.
Family Scholastic Adventures is thrilled to partner with Comcast regarding Internet Essentials for this back-to-school season. While this is a sponsored post, the thoughts, opinions and content expressed herein is strictly our own, as always.
With summer vacations wrapping up and Back-To-School sales popping up, it is easy to get lost in the flood of 1st Day of School pics and 49₵ packs of crayon deals. Returning our kids to class comes as a barrage of emergency forms, health physicals, club selections, classroom supply lists and fundraisers. And while we are printing schedules, emailing teachers, downloading registration forms, selecting classes, setting reminders, browsing coupons and pinning lunchbox ideas, it is clear to see how essential the internet is for the rituals of returning our kiddos to school.
Toward the end of last school year, our household PC died… which meant I no longer had printing capability. Mind you, I still had my smart phone, a tablet AND my laptop… but in all my genius, I couldn’t figure out how to print from any of those to my household printer, which left me running back and forth between the library and community center just to print things like my resume or the summer camp registration form. And while I had full access to my email, research, job banks, social connections… those few months left me highly frustrated, feeling like I was at such a disadvantage. I can only ½ imagine how difficult it must be then, to not have home internet at all. Fortunately, for six million Americans, they no longer have that frustration thanks to Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which offers highly subsidized internet connectivity and laptop/PC’s to low-income families across Comcast’s footprint. That’s millions of families who now have access to all things internet… healthcare options, job boards, email, government websites, and news. Students gaining access to school sites, research, tutoring and academic enrichment. YOUTUBE!!! Seven years ago, Comcast established the Internet Essentials program, which was designed to close the digital gap for low income families. This program has enhanced the lives of school-age children, families, those receiving HUD housing assistance and, as of recently, veterans, marking Comcast’s 2nd largest eligibility expansion.
As we head into the new school season, think of the academic paths for those children who qualify for this program. David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast calls us all to action by saying, “Awareness of this program is the secret sauce.” By visiting http://internetessentials.com to learn more about the program and by sharing this article and link… we can help make a true difference in the lives of neighbors, students, single-parents, , veterans and more.
It was a great honor to meet and sit with Mr. Cohen as well as U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando to learn more of their partnership and aligned goals in working with Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. Having Monique and Jocelyne join David Cohen on a multi-city tour spreading awareness about Internet Essentials continues to drive home the twin’s collective message of “fighting for equality, in sports and life”, as stated by David Cohen during our media event.
There are millions of individuals, families and vets still without the same convenience of connectivity, the access to information we so readily have. Please share this information including the link to apply for this service at http://internetessentials.com/apply.
$9.95/ month plus tax for home internet service
No installation fee
No term contract
No credit check
Highly subsidized laptops/PC’s for purchase at affordable rates
Free learning resources (topics include online safety, employment resources, education)
With such an amazing platform and mission, it is of no surprise that over 3,000 Comcast employees and counting have joined together to serve as volunteer Internet Essentials Ambassadors. During a recent Ambassador’s Appreciation employee event, four ambitious and dedicated ambassadors were honored for their excellence in spreading awareness and helping their local communities take advantage of the program. In honor of their recognition, they each received 10 laptops (along with 6 months of free Internet Essentials access) to distribute within their own local communities. While the ambassador program as it stands today is made up of Comcast employees, we can each be local contributors by raising awareness, sharing the link, and requesting the free printed materials to distribute within our own communities at no cost and with no shipping fees. It’s almost an unofficial extension of the ambassador program, whereby we can make a big difference in our small communities.
This post is sponsored by Just Between Friends of Mercer County & Western Gloucester County. And while we were provided compensation for the article, the opinions contained herein are honest and strictly our own. We have been long-standing fans of the JBF franchise and below is an account of our personal experience.
Easter is quickly approaching and I don’t know about you but this soon after Christmas, I’m kinda looking for simple, inexpensive (preferably non-edible) basket fillers. We do practical stuff like socks, bath bombs and lip balm… but isn’t it fun to jazz it up a little too? The Western Gloucester County Just Between Friends consignment sale, early March is our perfect solution to finding and filling an affordable, fun Easter basket. This is what I will be seeking specifically:
- Calico Critters
- America Girl or Journey accessories
- Bath salts, bath bombs or bubble bath
- Socks – they always need socks
- My Little Pony mini dolls/ponies
- A journal
- Chapter books
Navigating the JBF Sale
Here are my BEST suggestions for a successful shopping experience:
- Get the pre-pass!! Yup, it’s worth it to pay the admission ticket price or better yet, become a consignor with volunteer hours and get in early. Just be there EARLY.
- Dress comfy. I wear a jacket that easily holds my phone and keys and debit card. No purse.
- Know what you are looking for. There is SOOOO much and it is easy to get distracted by an awesome deal that wasn’t on your watchlist, so know what you came for… and get it first.
- Budget your time. Expect to spend more time than you would a department store. With shoes, clothing, games, toys, sporting gear, outdoor play, infant supplies, furniture… this is kinda a “pop-up” department store. I would not expect to be able to adequately take advantage of the sale on a lunch break.
- Don’t forget the big ticket items. It is easy to see all the toys and clothing and not think ahead about the potential big ticket or bulky items until you walk in. Have a back-up plan in case you come across a must-have heavy piece.
- See something unique, priced too good to be true, or just calling your name… grab it… chances are it won’t be there by the time you walk back through. That being said, there are many items that are in multiples with lots of selection… for these I would consider the 1/2 off sale on Sunday. For instance, I look for shoes immediately but return on 1/2 off Sunday for costumes and books.
- Make sure your trunk is empty – sounds silly but I’ve easily bought 3 trash bags full of stuff and thankfully had the room in my trunk but not because I thought ahead. I just got lucky.
Mark You Calendar
Not one… but two local sales. This means double the savings, double the shopping!
Comparing Sales… there is NO Comparison to JBF
More options, better finds… less stress – JBF wins in my book. That’s not to say I’ll won’t shop Facebook yardsales, flee markets or consignment shops… of course I’ll be curious from time to time to stop by. I love the thrill of finding an incredible bargain, but I also know not to hold my breathe. With JBF, I can almost certainly count on being able to find new with tag items, which could be gift ideas, and terrific clothing selections, working toys and so much more… all under one roof that accepts credit cards and offers a holding station.
From Shopper to Consignor
Interested in making money instead of just spending money? Here are my top tips for consigning with JBF:
- Designate a space to hold items you organically come across that no longer fit or are no longer needed/wanted
- Review the JBF price guide
- Invest in stain remover for all your children’s laundry – I seriously saved many, many clothing items from horrible stains, which then meant I could resell them.
- Price and print 9-18 tickets at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed with tickets. Start tagging weeks in advance.
- Invest in a couple of oversized totes to store items from season to season/sale to sale.
- Invest in batteries – toys and baby gear must be in working order which includes working batteries. Shoppers look for toys that they can turn on – it totally makes sense.
- Consider donating all or any of your unsold items to the charity Mercer County & Western Gloucester County JBF partnered with, The Unforgotten Haven. This is designated on your tags through the tagging system.
- Consider using the Valet Tagging Team if you don’t have time to tag. This is a great convenience for those consignors on a time budget. Valet consignors make 45% of their sales (after a $20 consignor fee). The items are dropped off to a VIP tagger who does all the tagging work and brings them to the sale.
- Volunteer and make a higher percentage of your sales… plus work along side the pros of the business.
Whether you are gearing up for spring sports, looking for Easter basket fillers, or just looking for a feel-good bargain… Just Between Friends of Mercer County & Western Gloucester County IS totally the place to be. Mark your calendars, set your reminders and invite your whole Facebook fan club. There truly is something for all kids. Grab a neighbor, friend or coworker and find me at the sale.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post whereby we received product in exchange for an honest review. As always, the opinions expressed herein are strictly our own. This post contains affiliate links.
During playtime, there’s something really cool about dressing the part. I remember playing teacher when I was little and wanting to wear extra long skirts and pretend glasses to imitate my favorite elementary teacher. I would line my dolls and bears up on the bed and give them instructions. Of course it took me three times as long to complete my homework this way… but I was in my happy place.
When introduced to Aeromax Toys, it immediately brought me back to my childhood. My brother and I would race our bikes around and around the house pretending they were race cars. How cool would it have been to be dressed as an actual race car driver or the mechanic… and yes even the occasional police officer pulling us over? LOL. These are some of my favorite memories with my brother. We would circle the house for hours, tying things to our bikes, making up story lines and the whole bit. It was the perfect scenario for childhood cosplay.
I look at my little scientist, Victoria, and see how dressing in her astronaut suit lifts her imagination. It’s perfect while she’s working on a kit or just playing. There’s something magical that happens to play when you can dress the part.
Aeromax has so many authentic looking costumes and play wear. Kids can be anything from a ladybug to a doctor, flight crew and magician. Costumes are also available for infants and adults… so everyone can join in the fun. Look for their accessories too, or perhaps be inspired to create your own.
Disclosure: We were provided sample product in exchange for honest reviews. As always, the opinions and content shared within is strictly our own. This article contains affiliate links. #Sponsored
You know that space between “I can’t eat another cookies” and “my fingers are numb from wrapping”? Indulge in a break from it all and try a Holiday Game Night. Maybe expand it to include some friends, neighbors, coworkers… or maybe just keep simple with your immediate clan. Either way, this season brings some fantastic (and fantastically easy) games for such an occasion. Let’s take a look:
Crozzit, for example, is a piece of cake to set up, explain and dive in. No stress. This is a 2 player game that plays pretty fast (15 mins) and perfect for “in-between” moments. Object: Each player races to build a path to the opposite side of the board, which crisscross each other. Simple. Fun. Done.
Turnspell is another quick game (20-25 mins) geared for ages 10+ with elements of Scrabble and elements of Boggle. A turnstile board center piece is placed in the middle with four alphabet tiles facing each player (2 to 4 players). Each participant selects a tile from the four directly in front of him/her to place on their individual tile grid platforms. The turnstile spins, participants select another tile in an attempt to spell four four-letter words on their grid.
Mousetrap, an oldie but goodie because it is so hands-on. If I’m being honest… I’ve passed on this game because of my PERCEIVED setup requirements, however… you build the trap as part of the game. I dislike games with complicated setups and assumed the mousetrap needed to be assembled in advance of game play. WRONG. So… this game is suddenly more appealing and perhaps other parents had the same misconception that I had. Mousetrap is a Mensa Award winning game… and now I better understand why, as children are assembling the contraption that is supposed to capture opponents mice. Colorful, active, and hands-on… Mousetrap is highly recommended.
Exit Game is a “one & done” game, meaning that you play it once, use the pieces, puzzles, materials and then discard. The Exit Game is an escape-the-room type of game with clues and a variety puzzles, a decipher wheel and solution cards. It includes riddle cards for puzzles & activities, help cards, 2nd help cards and solutions for each puzzle or activity in case you get stuck. This is a group game, best with four or more players. It is a cooperative game, whereby everyone is working together to solve the puzzle. There are three distinct variations including The Secret Lab, The Abandoned Cabin, and Pharaoh’s Tomb.
Not Parent Approved is a fast pace, kid-friendly card game sure to get the giggles going. This card game was inspired by Cards Against Humanity, which is strictly adult oriented. Not Parent Approved has kid-appropriate content without stripping all the hilarity away. The game consists of blue question cards and red answer cards. Taking turns, a question card is drawn and read allowed. Each participant holds 3 answer cards and must choose one to best answer the question posed each turn. The person reading the question is the judge of the best answer offered and that person gets points. It play fast, it plays fun… and it packs up easy for on-the-go fun.
Let’s talk about Blurble. First off, it’s a fun title for a game, silly in and of itself. Blurble is another party game, whereby each participant has a small stack of cards and go against each other player individually by flipping the top card and quickly shouting out another word that starts with the same letter. Sounds simple enough… but offers enough tongue twisting challenge to be entertaining. There are additional educational games and activities suggestions provided as well.
Lastly, we want to bring to you Who’s The Dude. This is a family charades game… with one additional family member: The Dude. We’ve adopted our blow up friend and named him Stan. Stan hangs out more than just playing Who’s The Dude (he’s watched movies with us, crafted with us… we just have fun with him where we can). However, the game is surely entertaining enough because it comes with plenty of objects and activities that players act out with the dude for the other team to guess. Victoria got a huge kick out of using Stan as a fly swatter during one of her rounds. Silliness and laughs… isn’t that what it’s all about in the end. A great family game and perfect for any kid-friendly New Year’s party too.
Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide for more gift suggestions… and subscribe to our mailing list and/or YouTube channel to get updates when new game reviews are posted. Happy Holidays.
Disclosure: We are pleased to work with Great Pretenders to provide reviews in exchange for product samples. As always, the opinions and content expressed herein are strictly our own. This post contains affiliate links. #sponsored
Love the customizable Colour-In-Collection by Great Pretenders! Between capes, crown, aprons and more, your child can design the look of their dreams. Each article comes with washable fabric markers. For more fun, consider beads, buttons, glitter and gems… but do keep in mind they may come off in the wash… so I recommend hand washing if you jazz it up.
We overlapped colors to make purple and different effects. It is really wonderful to be able to design the pattern. I remember growing up coloring with my mom, something I now enjoy doing with my daughter. This apron was a special coloring project because it isn’t just a page we signed in a coloring book, but something she can wear, actually use in the kitchen… or pretend with in her own “kitchen”.
Great Pretenders really know how to put the wow factor into pretend play. And while so much of our children’s world is plugged in… it sure is a breathe of fresh air to find them running around with capes and crowns and wands in hand.
You will find both the Colour-In-Collection and Reversible Super Hero Cape set in our Holiday Gift Guide. Give the gift of imagination this holiday.
Disclosure: We were provided a sample in exchange for an honest review. As always, the opinions and content expressed herein are strictly our own. This post contains affiliate links.
Adorable bug characters, called the Beat Bugs, are introducing a new generation of kids to The Beatles and their iconic music. Beat Bugs is a Netflix original series, starring 5 adventurous bugs friends. As they explore their environment and curiosities, Beatles songs are woven into the storyline, creating a catchy and innovative way to keep The Beatles alive. Just as innovated, are the creative playset for children to make their own adventures with the Beat Bug friends. Playsets play 3 different Beatles songs and have a variety of characters to play with.
Below, check out Victoria’s review of the Yellow Submarine toy, which you will also find in our Holiday Gift Guide for this year. There are several playsets, each playing different songs from the famous band, covered by other famous sings such as Rod Stewart, Pink, Sia and more. The Netflix original series is surely one to check out.
For more holiday gift suggestions, please visit our Holiday Gift Guide by clicking below: