Education, Gift Guides, Kids, Reviews by Anthony, STEM Learning, Video Reviews by Anthony

Playing with Mega Construx Despicable Me 3 Building Sets

Thank you to Mega Construx for partnering for this feature. Opinions are all my own

Playing with Mega Construx Despicable Me 3 Building Sets

Are you excited for the June 30 debut of Despicable Me 3 movie? We will be in the theaters that weekend seeing it because my husband is a bit of a minion fan. To get into the spirit, Mega Construx has a line of Despicable Me 3 building sets. full of building and learning with characters we all love.

Very similar to other building sets you get the pieces in bags and an instruction booklet with picture guides. It was easy to build. We love building and construction sets as they really require many skills to complete the build and your kids hardly know they are learning while they play.

Mega Construx is a branch of of Mega Blocks and have sets in the familiar characters we all love. Find sets for American Girl, Barbie, TMNT, Halo, Monster High, Pokemon, Spongebob and Power Rangers to just name a few. You can see all of the building set themes on their product page.

 Let Anthony show you about all of the Despicable me 3 sets he built below:

Find Mega Construx on Amazon and other retailers near you.

Education, Healthy Living, Kids, Spring 2017

How Children Learn While at the Playground

This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own

how children learn

As parents we have no doubt that children are growing and learning through play. It is the type of play that determines the level of learning. My son is 8 and loves video games and I am OK with him playing. These games teach strategy and problem solving. But, there is no better learning when it comes to outdoor, physical play. There are so many levels of learning so lets look at how children learn while at the playground.

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With playgrounds located outdoors in most cases it takes your child away from the distractions of TV and video games. The most important health habit of playing outdoors is movement. They are moving their bodies. They are flexing, bending, reaching and working their bodies for the benefit of overall health.

While playing at the playground is healthy on their bodies, it is as healthy on the mind. As they climb and join with other kids they are using instinct and strengthening social skills. They climb and judge distance as they decide to jump or slide down a play structure. They run and join other kids in games of hide n seek or other games they creatively make up to enjoy their time.

” I see leaders, advocates, creators…I see decisions being made..I see people working together and helping each other…we learn, we grow…we imagine together…”-the video above reminds us that not only are our children pushing their own limits in play they are building themselves up. It is in play that our children try and fail until they try and succeed. Our children can create a better tomorrow in their play today. So watch the video above, share it with families and think about all of this the next time you sit back and watch your children at the playground.

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We recently spent the day at a Boeing Museum near us and ended with lunch at the local sports complex. Here they have 2 play structures by Landscape Structures. Their play structures are located in parks and schools nationwide and are made for all ages and abilities. They combine plastics and metal to make the structures and your child provides the imagination and adventure.

What playground games are our favorite?

Kids, Parenting, Reviews by Anthony, Video Reviews by Anthony

Pacific Play Tents Bed Tents Makes Bedtime Less Stressful

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My son is 8 but when I think back to him as an infant I remember one Sluka rule I established right from the start-he will not get used to sleeping in our bed. My nephew is 18 months older than Anthony and I remember hearing the unpleasant bedtime stories about him refusing to sleep in his crib and I did not want to start that habit. So, from 3 months on I had a child who fell asleep great in his own crib and he has always been a great sleeper. I know many of you do not have that ‘great’ sleeper-I am well aware I should count my blessings. I have a solution that I hope will work for you-Bed Tents from Pacific Play Tents.

Kids love forts and hiding places. Not only do hiding spots give them a sense of security but it gives them a space all their own to create and imagine ad that was the goal for Pacific Play Tents when they designed these Bed Tents.

bed tent camp out

Anthony thinks the fort idea is so cool. He has already brought neighbor kids up to show off his sleep fort and at 8 they think it is so fun. He has books and his blankets in there.

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The bed tents come in 6 designs and 2 sizes for twin and full beds. Set up was so easy and only took minutes. So far he is highly enjoying it and I can fit just fine sitting inside as we read at bedtime together. Here is more in his video below…

What do you think? Do you feel this can be a fun tool to encourage your child to sleep in his or her own bed? I think it may be worth the try and if you travel it comes with a storage bag and is as easy to take down as it was to set up.

Gift Guides, Infant Toddler Products, Kids

New PLAYMOBIL 123 My Take Along Farm Toddler Toy

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New from PLAYMOBIL 123 for your toddler on-the-go is the 123 Take Along Farm. This new play set is recommended for ages 18 months and up.  The set includes one figure, cow, pig, dog, car, bird, and other accessories.

PLAYMOBIL 123 farm

As your child begins to imagine and play, make sure they pay attention to which shape fits in which spot within the farm. They can feed their animals and keep the supplies in the farm loft. When they need to go or clean up, just put all pieces in the farm and close up. The carry handle makes it easy to take their adventures anywhere.

playmobil

My PLAYMOBIL 123 Take Along Farm went to Miss I. A friends daughter, The bright colors and large rounded pieces were so captivating to her. Right away she identified the animal, practicing her words and animal recognition as she pointed them out on the box.

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In one play set your child will learn animals and shapes. It becomes another toy that makes learning fun for your toddler from PLAYMOBIL. Visit their website to find all of their toy selections.

Healthy Living, Parenting, Spring 2017

9 Reasons Why Adults Benefit from Play

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Play is vitally important during one’s formative years. Spending uninterrupted time playing can improve a child’s mood and health, and help them develop important social skills. Moreover, research claims that children learn best when they play. However, there is an abundance of research that indicates adults also benefit from periods of unaltered play.

Dr. Stuart Brown from the National Institute of Play claims that individuals should define “playing” according to how it applies to themselves. Play is a state of mind rather than any specific activity. Ultimately, it is a voluntary activity a person engages in solely for fun. Whether you’re participating in a board game, playing cornhole, or clearing levels in a virtual dungeon, when you take the time to enjoy yourself, your mind and body reap the benefits.

1. Play Relieves Stress

Perhaps the most obvious of the benefits of play is stress relief. Balancing work, responsibility, and social engagements as an adult is difficult and can garner a lot of stress. Exposure to stressful stimuli increases your cortisol levels, which can have lasting harmful effects on the body. Long-term exposure to stress factors can result in various issues including anxiety, headaches, fatigue, and sleep problems.

Engaging in fun activities lowers cortisol levels and releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals that help relieve pain and can induce feelings of euphoria. Playing also encourages laughter and levels of happiness, both of which are antidotes to the negative effects of stress.

2. Playing Helps Develop Social Skills

While play can be a solitary activity, you benefit more when you engage with others. Ample amounts of play help develop communication and cooperation skills in children and young animals. Young crows play tug-of-war or swinging on tree branches, and dogs and cats teach their young how to fend for themselves through mock battles or wrestling.

In fact, studies show that forgoing playtime causes dysfunction in animals. The social impact of playing in a group isn’t lost on adults. Playing a game of cards with your co-workers or even something as simple as hangman during breaks can improve workplace relationships and communication.

3. Play Stimulates Your Brain

Research into children’s learning habits indicates kids learn better while at play. The results of one such study show that learning names for colors is linked to increased gray matter in the brain. During the experiment, participants received colored cards with nonsensical names and memorized the new monikers over the course of three days. Afterward, MRI scans of participants’ brains indicated the growth of new gray matter.

Solving number puzzle games such as 2048, Sudoku, or chess stimulates brain activity. They help you develop decision-making and critical thinking skills. If you don’t enjoy logic puzzles, there are a variety of games available that have a similar effect on the brain. Simple matching or other memory games are just as stimulating and are available in many phone or tablet app stores. Word games such as Scrabble, word searches, or crossword puzzles also stimulate the mind and encourage brain growth.

4. Play Improves Relationships

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Just as play at work can help improve workplace communication and cooperation, it can be beneficial for the vitality of other relationships. Research suggests that individuals who play together, stay together. Whether you’re playing video games, poker, or a round of Uno, playing games with friends fosters a sense of trust and increases camaraderie.

Play is also important for romantic relationships. One study showed that couples who reminisced regularly over enjoyable or funny experiences were happier than those who did not. Taking the time enjoy an activity with someone helps develop a sense of intimacy between the individuals. Sharing fun experiences leads to greater relationship satisfaction.

5. Playing Improves Your Health and Prevents Disease

Taking time out of your busy schedule is good for your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. When you play outside with friends, children, or pets, you engage with nature, which can improve your mood. You also reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency. If your playtime includes at least 30 minutes of physical or aerobic activities like yoga, it can lower your blood pressure, reduce arthritis pain, encourage weight loss, and lower your risk for diabetes.

If you aren’t a fan of rigorous exercise like biking or running, or don’t have access to a gym, physical play is an excellent way to become more active. Walking your dog burns roughly 230 calories per hour. Dancing burns around 320 calories, and a game of Frisbee can burn anywhere from 105 to 765 calories every half hour, depending on how much you move.

Moreover, activities like ballroom dancing, checkers, or playing a musical instrument are associated with preventing or stalling the development of Alzheimer’s disease. By releasing neurotrophic factors (biomolecules that support the growth and survival of mature neurons), these activities encourage neurons to grow and make new connections.

6. Play Increases Productivity

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The phrase “work hard, play harder” is a great way to approach completing your assignments. If you’re working on a long project, try taking regular breaks to stretch, play a short game, and disengage from your task for a few minutes. Taking a break to play might seem counterintuitive, but it’s beneficial to your overall work progress.

Playing and setting aside time to have fun increases your motivation to work. Taking short breaks from focusing for long periods can result in greater problem-solving skills because you allow your mind to rest and commit to memory information you’ve internalized.

Furthermore, research from the University of Nebraska and VU University Amsterdam states that fun activities such as telling engaging jokes at work can help break down barriers of communication, which is vital to successful group projects.

7.  Playing Increases Your Energy

According to playwright George Bernard Shaw, we don’t stop playing because we grow older. Rather, we grow older because we stop playing. Physical play is good for your overall health, as it can combat many factors that affect your physical and mental well-being. However, play in general boosts your vitality and energy levels. The more you play, the more relaxed and healthy you’ll feel.

8. Playing Can Heal Emotional Wounds

When you participate in fun social activities, you engage in the same behavior that positively shapes the minds of children. Fun activities promote emotional health in children and help them grow into well-adjusted adults. For emotionally insecure individuals, playing regularly with a group or a partner can help replace negative notions and behaviors for positive ones.

9. Playing Boosts Creativity

In addition to helping you feel healthier and stress-free, playing refreshes the mind and boosts creativity. Whether your designated play time involves reading, watching funny videos, playing outdoors, or solving a puzzle, playful activities will stimulate your imagination and expand your innovative psyche.

Gift Guides, Valentines 2017

Sparkler™ LED Jump Rope with Kinetic-Powered Lights

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On Valentine’s Day I like to have small gifts or treats on hand for the kids. My son will wake up and love coming to the breakfast to see what is waiting for him and then will get packed a treat in his lunchbox and then we typically have a fun dessert after dinner.

jumping rope led

My husband and I celebrate Valentine’s Day for each other but I don’t forget about the kids. They are our greatest love. The Sparkler™ LED Jump Rope with Kinetic-Powered Lights is a fun gift for the special day.

Geospace jump rope

The Sparkler™ LED Jump Rope with Kinetic-Powered Lights works without any batteries. It lights up as you jump creating energy that powers the LED lights.

jump roping jump

The jump rope is built with a durable design. The first thing I noticed when I took it out of the box besides it not being your typical jump rope was that the material is rugged and will last a long time. Geospace has a lot of fun toys that encourage active play.