Posts Tagged “Barbie”

Fool Proof Solutions For Managing Toys & Avoiding Missing Pieces

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We are very excited to be partnered with Pley, as this is a sponsored article. As always, the content expressed herein is genuine and of my own opinion. This article contains affiliate links.

Fool proof solutions for managing toys

The holiday season was a blast and with it, especially this year, came a variety of new toys and games. I think this was the most exciting toy year in a long long time. If you hadn’t seen our toy guide, be sure to check it out… it still makes a great resource for birthday gift ideas and such. So with the New Year started and that holiday toy rush behind us, now we must think about ways for managing toys and stay organized.

Regardless if you are a traditional “big” Christmas kind of family or one that keeps it simple, we can all agree that containing the “bits and pieces” can be something of a challenge. Taking a poll… how many new toys or games are already missing pieces???  We methodically plan our shopping lists, carefully stash the gift surprises, capture the unwrapping on four different devices, spend hours untwisting ties (not to mention reading instruction manuals, inserting batteries, etc) and then… misc pieces end up in the dryer, back seat of the van, my sister’s house, the sock drawer and goodness knows everywhere little bits and pieces are destined to make an appearance (and that’s if you’re lucky enough to find them at all).

We have a couple of solutions and so far, they have held up pretty darn well. (Disclaimer: We make no guarantees, as from time to time we still find items in a random shoe, under the couch and did I mention my sister’s? How did that get there?) Anyway, nothing is completely fool proof but nonetheless we think we’re onto a couple good ideas… check them out below and head over to our prior article on managing toy overload.

The Tray Rule

When my daughter opens or plays with a toy collection that has the tiniest of pieces (Mega Bloks Barbie) she must do so on a tray. It is easy for the pieces to get swallowed up in our shaggy carpet, or accidentally kicked across the room. The tray makes it easy to carry the toy to another room and makes for easier clean up because everything is forced to stay together. So far this trick has worked terrifically for a couple of years. Lego building sets are wonderful for this purpose, especially when you are just opening and assembling the kits.

Collector Tins

Fool proof solutions for managing toys.Lunch box tins make an ideal storage system when specifically selected for toys. My daughter has a variety of toy collections; everything from Spider Man to Monsters Inc and Strawberry Shortcake to Star Wars. We’ve found lunch box tins in each of these themes to hold those specific toys. Not only does this system make clean up super easy but also allows my daughter to very easily decide what she wants to play. We’ve found these tins at flee markets, Amazon, Hot Topic and department stores. Because they are rectangular in shape they stack nicely or sit side-by-side depending how you have them stored or displayed. Oh yeah, and they can double as playroom decor in your child’s favorite playtime themes.

Pley

Fool proof solutions for managing toys

Photo courtesy of Pley

Ok parents, here’s your chance to take all those little bits and send them away!! Okay okay, that sounds slightly mean, but truly Pley is a tremendous resource when it comes to containing clutter and keeping toys organized. Here is a company that rents out toys for a monthly subscription. Seriously. So once your child is done playing with or constructing a toy, you pack it back up and send it back with a new one on it’s way. Super easy to set up and super affordable, OH and no worries if you kiddo completely falls in love with something, you are purchase it through Pley and keep it (and all it’s little bits) forever. And PS, I would still suggest using the tray idea to contain all of the rented pieces and keeping them separate from other collections you own. Pley offers over 400 Lego, Knex and other building sets with more inventory added all the time.

Despite these pretty decent suggestions, we still have a few stray Barbie brushes, dishes and lost shoes, and as such we are always on the look out for more organizing tips. What solutions have you implemented to contain the eensie-weensie pieces? Please share below… you might just save the vacuum from another unnecessary toy meal.

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How to Encourage Creativity with Playtime Using Barbie and Other Toys

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Barbie Playtime Profile PicNothing like dedicating a whole Saturday to play and by play I mean… all.day.play with Barbie and my daughter.  And by Barbie, I really mean like 115+ barbies, princesses and Ken dolls. Yeah, we’ve got quite a collection but it allows for some serious creativity.

Barbie

The creativity and play is mostly in the set up when we pull all the barbies out. It’s not the same experience as playing with a Barbie and a few friends in the Dream House. In the past, when we had a mega barbie play date, we just dumped all the pieces out into the middle of the floor to see what theme grabbed us. This last time we thought about it over dinner and decided on a play theme, although that changed the next day.

(One of our previous and most popular Barbie videos below…)

Creativity comes in many varieties and although my child loves the traditional Crayola type of creative activities, she certainly loves building our play sets together as well. We treat it like a project, where we kind of come up with a game plan. Sure we could just “willy-nilly” our way through but by providing some structure our play date moves in the right direction and ensures we’ll actually get to play in our newly created scene. (Nothing like building and then having to go to bed! Bummer.) So as the parent, I help keep track of time and make lots of suggestions along the way… this isn’t a one-person party. If left alone, Victoria would play with barbie and friends and all the “bits” as I call them… but together I encourage her to think outside of the hot pink plastic pieces and see what we can use around the house to enhance our play set and therefore experience.

Barbie

Yesterday’s experience didn’t require a whole lot, as she changed the theme from a movie premier with the red carpet to a Broadway show of Peter Pan. (Also new and interesting: she decided she wanted the movie to play in the background and we acted out the parts on set. I would have preferred an audio book version of this idea but Peter Pan was not in our audio library.) In any event, instead of having to make tons of tiny tin foil cameras and piecing together a red carpet, we used a book shelf and some small boxes to create the theater seating. Since the beginning of Peter Pan starts off in Wendy’s room, we used one of the Barbie houses as a major set back drop. We had a film crew and directors on staff as well. It didn’t turn out to be my favorite play set but this time it was all Victoria’s vision… and in the end, that’s what I want. I want her to have the courage and creativity to think outside the obvious and to show others her vision.

BarbieI will say, in this case most of the “set up” was dressing 85 or so naked barbies. Some were dressed in casual attire but most weren’t dressed at all. We have a fair share of barbie clothes but since most of her barbies are older… you just never know what is going to fit the older barbie mold vs the newer barbie body style. But now that these dolls are dressed to the nines… we’ll continue with our other formal wear ideas… Kentucky Derby and Carnival Cruise perhaps?  We brainstormed a few extra ideas and now I’m glad we did because goodness knows I don’t want to have to go and undress this formal wear anytime too too soon. I’m sure we’ll get to the movie premier as well.

Barbie

Broken down, this is how I encourage parents to enhance creativity during play time:

1. Pick a toy (or several if they work well together). We like Barbie and American Girl for these type of play dates. Transformers, Lego, Dinosaurs will also work.

2. Pick a theme… what’s the story line? Are dinosaurs being rediscovered? Are they magically coming to life in museums? Is Optimus Prime running for President? Is the Macy’s Day Parade coming to barbie town? Think bigger than the play sets your child has, bigger than the pieces.

3. Encourage creative design and thought for the scene and story line. Think of Andy in Toy Story… he used boxes for buildings and his sister’s crib as jail. Clever.

4. Search the house, garage, yard for nontraditional items to make your theme set work. Perhaps rocks from the garden, laundry basket tilted on its side or card board creations. We make this into a little game. For me this is the best part…watching Victoria look at objects differently and the “oh, how ’bout this…” moments.

5. Remember that the set up is a major part of this play activity. Make sure your child understands this before starting or they will “check out”. Let him/her know that we’re going to take some time to set everything up AND THEN we’ll play the scenes out.

6. Watch the clock. Don’t make it such a project that no one wants to play in the end or worse, its bedtime or time to leave and you don’t have time to immediately enjoy all the work put in.

7. Snap a couple photos. It’s not likely you’ll want to keep the card board creatures or fancy displays for years from now… so grab a couple keepsake photos during play time.

8. Most importantly… stay with your child for the actual play time… you’ve spend all this time creating together, don’t skip out on the best part. He/she has been looking forward to this part all day.

9. If you can help it… DON’T TEAR IT DOWN right away. Let the kids come back to the play set for “round two”.

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Lego, Mega Bloks, K’Nex & GoldieBlox

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A Construction Christmas Wishlist… by Greg Wolbert

Ho ho ho, Christmas is on the way and with that come wish-lists and letters to Santa. This year, one of the most sought out toys are creation toys such as Lego, Mega Blocks, Goldieblocks, and K’nex. These toys allow children to enhance their critical thinking and creativity.

Lego pieces

Lego was founded in 1932 and has since become the largest block building manufactures in the world. Lego has manufactured over four thousand sets, all of them ranging from stand alone boxes to blockbuster movie recreations. Lego has even created to scale models of the worlds most magnificent wonders. Examples of their finest sets include Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Disney Princess series, as well as the White House, Taj Mahal, and the Big Ben bell tower. Lego sets can all be combined to allow an unlimited amount of re-usability and creativity.

 

Mega Brands/Bloks is one of the most direct competitors of Lego. Mega Bloks, while they have a very similar brick building system as Lego, have more detailed accessories within their play sets. Their mini figures have articulated joints for a wider range of poses and movement. However, they don’t have the same interchangeability as the Lego mini figures. Mega Bloks has a variety of play sets and series such as the every popular Barbie and Hot Wheels. They also have building sets around Hello Kitty, Skylanders, Sponge Bob and Power Rangers.

 

A relatively new toy is Goldieblox. Goldieblox is a girl focused creation building play set. Goldieblox are designed to inspire girls to become builders and engineers. There are a number of sets from zip lines to cars to spinning machines, and each set contains a set of challenges for the girls to complete using only a set number of pieces contained in the set. These sets help shape young girls critical thinking skills. Watch Victoria’s video review below from a sample sent from #SweetSuite14 of Blogger Bash NYC.

 

K’nex are a free flowing building series that use rods, orbs, and magnets to construct imaginative works. This is an award winning intricate construction building system, established in 1992. K’nex come in a variety of box sets, featuring different characters and/or functions (Super Mario, Angry Birds, roll-coasters, raceway, etc). In distinct fashion, K’nex building play sets offer flexibility in creation and design allowing unlimited engineering and innovation during play time.

 

Children, both boys and girls enjoy the satisfaction of creating play sets, especially those partnered with favorite characters such as SpongeBob or Barbie. Any of the above brands would make excellent educational toys for this holiday season.

 

We’d love to hear which building sets are your favorite; leave us a comment below. Send us a picture of your son or daughter’s creation at Barbara@HomeroomAtHome.com and we’ll select a few to be featured on our Facebook page.

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Beauty and the Beast Live on Broadway

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Beauty and the Beast cardDisney’s Beauty and the Beast is such a beloved story, and what better way to relive it than live on Broadway.  Join  Belle, Gaston, Maurice, Beast and the whole castle staff in this Tony Award winning musical set a quiet French village.

You and the family can enjoy this tale at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia from November 26 through December 1st.  For show times, tickets, parking info and more, visit the Academy of Music here.

The show runs 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 15 min intermission. Beauty and the Beast is appropriate for all ages.

Nothing takes the place of a live theater audience and full on-stage production of a favorite story.  With every detail in the costumes, props, orchestral music and stage sets, it’s living art unfolding in front of you scene by scene.
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Update: Dec 1st my daughter and I had the pleasure of attending the Beauty and the Beast musical at the Academy of Music… and it completely lived up to our expectations. Character after character sang beautifully well and the set design was a masterpiece in itself. My daughter, being 3 years old, wanted to dance in the aisle and eventually whispered in my ear that she wished to be on stage. I love how Beauty and the Beast held her attention and provided this unforgettable glow of excitement.

Live theater can provide more than an afternoon of entertainment; it can ignite a passion for the arts – whether creative writing or production set design or any number of artistic avenues. Broadway musicals and theater unlocks the door to a child’s imagination. I saw this first hand, when my daughter decided to play Beauty and the Beast with her Barbies and Disney princess dolls – setting them up like the Beauty and the Beast show. My husband and I took advantage of this opportunity and helped her play this story out. Here’s our video below. Two days later, with Barbies in every space of her room, I found that she had set up yet another “production” on her own with a much smaller audience. She designed a run-way stage and said it was Cinderella’s turn. Thanks to Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, my daughter as a fresh idea in playing with her Barbies, accessories and things around her to expand her imaginative play. I love that.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post – we were either compensated or given product for review. The opinions expressed within this article are strictly mine.

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How to Beat Kid's Summer Boredom

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Sure there are so many things to do for the summer, and every child anxiously awaits the last day of school.  But nonetheless, they experience days of total summer boredom and with that comes nothing good, including the messiest play, mischief, migraines for parents and constant whining.  So here are a few simple suggestions to shake those days up and avoid the pitfalls of overly boring, super hot-n-sticky days of summer.

1.  Catch the sunset.

Sunset on the Delaware River

 

Catchin The Suns Rays

We are fortunate to live close to a park situated on the Delaware River… making an amazing backdrop for the day’s end.   The playground provided plenty of entertainment while we waited for each stage of the sun setting.  For my toddler is was a great lesson in colors as well, as we watched the sky transform from blues and greens to oranges and purples.  Just an amazing summertime thing to do.  We didn’t stay long after, but you could certainly take advantage of the light evening darkness for catching fireflies.  For more educational ideas, look for shapes in the distance and clouds.  For us, the bridge provided angles and triangles.  Talk about the different types of clouds, fresh water vs salt bodies of water, and perception of objects (like will that barge fit under the bridge when it looks too large?)  Test your little one to find the best angle to go down the slide or why sneakers might make you go slower.  And be sure to just sit back and enjoy nature’s beautiful daily artistry. 

Pillow Tower Fun

2. Build a tower of pillows.

Pillow Tower Tumbling

Almost like building blocks but bigger and softer.  Bed pillows, sofa pillows, even the decorative throw pillows add a different dimension to your child’s creative structure.  How high can they stack?  How about tunnels or geometric shapes?  Of course they are fun to climb and topple on top of.  The bravest moms might allow sofa cushions in the mix and/or pillow tosses and fights.  (Confession – I wasn’t that brave mom!)

3.  Themed play… in our case it was Star Wars.

These light sabers totally distract kids (and big kids) from unpleasant storms, heat waves or any boredom.  Part of the charm is that these toys rarely get played with, especially for the young one… so I encourage parents to dig deep for something that the kids rarely get to lay their hands on.

Everything Barbie

Another suggestion: clear a play area and pull out ALL of something for a huge focused playtime activity.  By example, we’ve done this with Barbie… lots and lots of Barbies, furniture, clothes, pets, etc and had one big community of Barbie.  Same idea with Little People making a large platform with all the different pieces arranged to create an interactive community (city, farm, circus).

Catching Some Quiet Time

4. Take a trip to your local library.

We enjoyed a variety of picture

Quiet Time At the Library

books and then had some quiet reading time to ourselves.  Unfortunately we missed the children’s story hour by 30 minutes but now we know better.  Be sure to check out the schedule of events at your library since most have programs for families, especially during the summer.

5. Break away from routine.

Find an opportunity to break your schedule.  Enjoy your breakfast outdoors or perhaps an informal dinner on the deck.  Put on a bubbles parade with music and dance.  Consider summer rain showers as natures sprinklers… and dance in the rain.

Picnic With My Brother

Picnic With My Cousins

6.  Create a Fort.

Sharing Our Fort

Pillows, blankets, cushions and large stuffies enable some cool creations.  Once complete, grab your flashlight for some shadow fun.  Pick out some favorite books and read by flashlight in your new cool hiding place.  Challenge your kids to build a tunnel, multiple entrances and hideaways within the structure.  For added educational fun, consider discussions around the pyramids and ancient castles that were cleverly designed with tunnels, secret spaces and defense in mind.

For more ideas visit Kelly Whalen’s article “25 Frugal Ways To Keep The Kids Busy This Summer” at blog.ableBanking.com.  She includes handy tips like finding free camps, discount museum admission, garden tours and so much more.  Share with us:  What’s your coolest boredom buster?

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