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Top Apps for Kids Includes Angry Birds

By dadsplay at June 11, 2011 | 11:11 am | 0 Comment

Top Apps for Kids Includes Angry Birds

Angry Birds.  Have you heard of this app for kids?  Actually it’s not only for kids, adults love it too and it is really addictive.  The premise?  Shoot birds from slingshots and try to get the bad green pigs that have stolen their eggs.

Yes, it’s a mindless game, but a cute one.  And it is sooo amazing that even little 3 year olds can figure out, intuitively, how to play all these mobile apps and kids online games.  It really blows my mind.  What were you doing at age 3?  Certainly not anything tech oriented!

But check it out … there’s a reason Angry Birds is so popular.

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Make Monsters with the Kids with PaperToy Monsters Book

By dadsplay at March 5, 2011 | 4:19 pm | 0 Comment

Make Monsters with the Kids with PaperToy Monsters Book

If you haven’t seen the PaperToy Monsters book from Workman yet, you are in for a treat.  It’s a really special book loaded with 50 die-cut templates, in full color, of Monsters that both big and little kids can make.  All you have to do is pop out the Monster pieces, made from heavy cardstock, then use a glue stick to attach where indicated.  We made three fun Monsters last night and they were really fun to create.  Now they’re setting on my desk looking at me while I type.

The Monster graphics are colorful and fun, combining the look of anime with a touch of Uglydolls.  Each character has it’s own little story.  Kids, especially the boys, are going to love this book.  It’s a perfect birthday or Christmas gift, so put it on your list of “must haves.”

This is a very impressive book and the value of hours of play, having 50 fun Monsters to play with when all are put together, is quite amazing.  We recommend this book highly … 5 stars from us!

PaperToy Monsters Book$16.95

By Brian Castleforte, an artist and graphic designer, who has created graphics for Nike, Sony, Warner Brothers and MTV.

A book was provided by the publisher for review purposes only.  All opinions are those of  Dads Playbook staff.

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10 Tips to Prepare Preschoolers for Kindergarten

By dadsplay at March 4, 2011 | 1:31 pm | 0 Comment

10 Tips to Prepare Preschoolers for Kindergarten

10 Steps Parents Need to Take to Prepare Preschoolers for Kindergarten Success

One consistent piece of advice Kindergarten teachers give to parents of preschoolers is the importance of introducing kids to a school setting, when possible, to acclimate kids to the social and formal setting of a classroom.  As one retired kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Miller noted, “Children who have not been to preschool or who have not been taught preschool basics, such as writing, cutting, letters, and following directions,  at home, often begin the school year, academically and socially, behind their peers.”

Many parents ask what they should be doing to prepare their child for school.  First, it is important to note that it is the responsibility of parents to prepare their child for school even if the child is attending preschool classes.

In order for children to be prepared for Kindergarten, children should be capable of the following skills.

Strong Communication Skills

Children need to be able to communicate their needs, verbally, in class and also follow the process in order to communicate, such as raising a hand and waiting to be called on.  Children will also have to share in small groups.

Ability to Listen

Children will need to be able to be quiet and listen to the teacher throughout most of the day.  If children have not learned to sit still and listen to directions,  the child will have an adjustment period.

Follow Directions

From the time children are very young, they learn to follow basic directions, but once they reach their preschool years, they will need to be able to listen to several step directions and then follow the steps.  This is a skill that is easily practiced at home and during play.  Following directions will allow children to finish their work, learn the proper steps to doing an activity and how to order things.

Work with Peers

Most Kindergarten classes have time during the day when children will work in small groups or at stations.  As an example, there may be several reading groups in the class and small groups of children may work at the computer station, or on a science activity together.  Kids will need to be able to take turns, speak to other children, and be patient.

Work Independently

Throughout the day, kids will need to work independently to get specific work done.  This will require children to listen, follow directions, and ask questions if they are not sure how to proceed.  They need to be able to write, practice tracing, cut/paste, or even use the computer on their own.

Fine-Motor Skills (pencil grip, cutting skills, picking up small items)

Children will begin using pencils in Kindergarten and will need to be able to cut with scissors, pick up small objects for counting, and begin writing every day in class.  The more practice a child has had cutting, holding a pencil, marker, or crayon, drawing, and picking up small objects, prior to beginning Kindergarten, the stronger his/her fine-motor skills will be for the the increase in writing and fine-motor tasks they will be asked to do each day.

Basic counting

Although counting to 10 or 20 is not required to enter Kindergarten, knowing how to do some basic counting and manipulating of number objects will set a child up to begin the school year more prepared.  A child does not have to know a lot, but some very basic math concepts is a good starting place.

Basic Number and Letter Recognition

Children should be able to recognize all or most of their letters and numbers and write their name.  Those children that know their letters and numbers when they begin Kindergarten will be able to move onto reading much sooner than children that begin the year with no letter or number recognition.  If a child can read prior to kindergarten then he/she will be in a position to advance beyond many other kindergartners.

Basic Life Skills (put on and take off jacket/backpack, zip jacket, put on gloves, hang up items)

Children who go to Kindergarten being able to put away and take on and off their jackets, hats, gloves, and backpacks will be more independent.  Also, if the majority of the class is able to do these basic things, the teacher will have to spend less time on getting kids started in the morning and ready to leave in the afternoon and be able to spend more time on valuable teaching opportunities.

Basic Computer Skills

Today, most classrooms have a handful of computers available for students to use.  Children are beginning to use computers even as toddlers, so children going to Kindergarten with basic mouse skills already have a beneficial skill that will set them up for school success.

One comment I have heard, over and over again, from parents whose children attend strong academic preschools is, “I pay the preschool to teach my child.”  The concern here is to assume that because a child attends preschool he/she does not need additional help and guidance at home.  Preschool can help socialize children, teach them to follow directions, work with other children, and follow the routine of a school day, but it is in the home that children are encouraged to reach, learn, be creative and follow directions on a daily basis.  Parents need to understand just how important their role is in preparing their children for school and learning success.  It is the foundation parents lay down in the early years that will help shape the type of learner and student the child will become.

In an effort to help parents and preschools to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten, the National Kindergarten Readiness Initiative was developed to provide the tools and list the  recommended skills and knowledge preschoolers should be introduced to prior to kindergarten.  You can learn more at NationalKindergartenReadiness.com

by Kristin Fitch at www.NationalKindergartenReadiness.com

Kristin Fitch is co-founder and editor of ZiggityZoom.com and a network of family-oriented websites, including CuriousBaby.com, Mommie911.com and HamptonRoadsParents.com.  Kristin’s first inspirational parenting book, which she co-authored with Sharon Pierce McCullough, Parenting without a Paddle: Navigating the Waters of Parenthood has just been published.

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Irish Wishing Rocks Game to Make

By dadsplay at March 4, 2011 | 1:00 pm | 0 Comment

Irish Wishing Rocks Game to Make

Here’s a fun game you can make with the kids for St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the year.  We made ours green but you could use any color.  It’s a fun original game created by our ZiggityZoom creative director.  Easy to make and easy to play…. for kids and adults.

Need:
MAKING the GAME :

What You Need:

  • 12 smooth stones/rocks (or make 12 smooth rocks out of clay that you bake)  You can also use plastic disks or make Cardboard disks.
  • Green paint (optional)
  • Brush
  • Marker or stick on Letters

What to Do:

  • Gather the 12 items you have chosen for your Wishing Rocks.
  • Paint green, if so desired.
  • Using marker (or stick on letters), put 2 letters each for I – R – S – H (you will only have 3 i letters).
  • Leave 2 Rocks blank and draw a Shamrock on the other 2 remaining rocks.
  • Put Rocks into container or Sock to start the game.
What To Do:
The object of the game is to get all the letters that spell Irish.  I-R-I-S-H The first person who can spell Irish, by “wishing” and choosing, wins the game.  Fun for kids of all ages.

RULES :

  1. Each player is given a piece of paper and pencil.  For ease of play with young children, draw the letters I-R-I-S-H on their paper, spaced apart just a bit.  When a player gets a letter, they can then just circle that letter.
  2. Put Wishing Rocks into a container that is deep enough so players can’t see the rocks.  Or use a large sock.
  3. Starting with the youngest player first, player will first say his wish …for example, “I wish for an H”
  4. Player then pulls out a Wishing Rock.  If they got their wish then they can circle that letter.  The rock is then put back into the container.
  5. Play contines as each player takes their turn.
  6. If a player pulls out a Shamrock they can circle any letter that they still need.  If a player pulls out a blank rock, the player must skip his next turn.
  7. The first player to circle all the letters to spell Irish is the winner.

For more St. Patrick’s Day activities

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New USDA Food Guideline: What does it mean for your children?

By dadsplay at February 10, 2011 | 4:23 pm | 0 Comment

New USDA Food Guideline: What does it mean for your children?

The federal government released its Dietary Guidelines for Americans earlier this week, a process it goes through once every five years to keep the public informed about the nutritional choices they should be making to stay healthy. And as the nation’s obesity crisis continues, our culture’s need for dietary change was reflected in the unusually blunt tone of the latest edition. Instead of vague terms and polite suggestions, federal regulators are being more direct than ever, explicitly saying that Americans need to consume less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day, get no more than 10 percent of our total caloric intake from saturated fats and reduce our daily calorie consumption, especially the “empty” ones often found in heavily processed, prepackaged foods. Some items on the chopping block are sugary soft drinks, fried and processed food, refined grains and processed meats that are high in saturated fat.

Do you find all these percentages confusing? You’re not alone.

The new guideline also urges Americans to eat more vegetables (as an easy visual guide, it suggests half your plate at every meal should be vegetables) and calls for a drastic reduction in the amount of salt people are consuming. The average American gets up to 3,400 milligrams of salt a day in his diet, nearly 1,100 mg above the recommended limit. It’s suggested that children consume even less salt, so parents should monitor their children’s sodium intake to make sure they’re getting no more than 1,500 mg a day. When talking about salt, it’s important to note that your daily dosage goes far beyond what comes from the shaker. A good deal of the salt we eat is hidden as a preserving agent in packaged food and beverages, especially frozen and canned ones, so it’s important to always check the label to see how much sodium is lurking inside, even if the product in question doesn’t taste particularly salty.

Much of the information in the 2010 guideline may seem obvious, but singling out certain foods as unhealthy, and telling Americans to eat less in general, is actually a big step forward. Previous guidelines have called for less sugar, solid fats and salt, but failed to target the specific foods or let people know which ones had unhealthy additives hiding inside. In contrast, the 2010 guideline clearly defines foods that over-contribute to empty calorie consumption among children ages 2 to 18 (sorry pie, pizza and soda, but according to page 10 you’re the worst offenders), and offers easy to understand advice on making healthier choices for adults and their children.

As obesity continues to lead to more and more health problems—becoming a bigger and bigger drain on the country’s health care resources—eating less may seem like common sense. But believe it or not, this the first time the Dietary Guideline for Americans has recommended that Americans eat less overall, indicating how serious an issue poor nutrition and over consumption has become in our society.

So now that we have a clear understanding of what we SHOULDN’T feed our kids, what can we give them? Fortunately the new guideline has good advice in that department as well. Here’s a brief wrap-up of their suggestions.

More veggies; more variety. Not only do we need more vegetables in our life, (remember the half the plate rule), we need more types as well. Dark leafy greens like spinach, arugula, romaine lettuce and broccoli tend to have the most nutrients, but red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, as well as beans, are also packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. If you think of your plate as a pie chart, the dark green slice should be big, but save space for other colors as well.

Whole grains over refined grains. At least half of all grain consumption should come from whole grains. This means no white bread, no “white wheat” bread and far fewer white bread bagels. Often in the refining process, which is what happens to grain before it becomes the flour used in most white breads, the bran of the grain (the fiber-rich outer layer) is removed to make it easier to turn into mass produced food. In this process a lot of the nutritious elements of the grains are lost. By letting grain keep its natural plant chemicals, they promote better overall health than grains that are stripped and bleached.

Milk does a body good, assuming it’s the right type. Milk is a great source of calcium, which is essential for growing bones. But whole milk and milk products (cheese, yogurt, etc…) can have a lot of saturated fat. When picking milk and dairy products, the guideline says you should stick to fat-free or low-fat options or try products that use soy as a dairy alternative. For parents with very young children it should be noted that cholesterol and fat are thought to be important for brain development, so kids under 2 may benefit from their consumption. Please talk to your child’s pediatrician about what the recommended levels are for your child.

Eat high quality protein. Protein is very important to help young children grow, but excessive amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol found in some animal products can be problematic. Seafood, lean meat, beans, eggs and poultry are recommended, while parents are urged to avoid feeding their children processed meats like ground beef, cold cuts or hot dogs and sausages. When cooking it’s also important to use oils like olive and vegetable oils, which are healthier alternatives to solid cooking fats or butter and margarine spreads, which contain high levels of saturated fat and partially hydrogenated oils which can be very unhealthy.

An improved Dietary Guideline for Americans can’t hurt in the fight against childhood obesity, but eventually the responsibility is in the hands of parents. As adults it’s up to us to prepare healthier food for our children, model healthful eating habits at home and educate children about how and why making better food choices are so important. We still have a long way to go, but additional support from the White House, school systems and Federal government may indicate that the dinner tables are turning, and it’s time for parents to heed their call.

By Tripp Underwood, Children’s Hospital Boston, used with permission.

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Vary Exercise for Physical & Mental Development of Your Child

By dadsplay at January 28, 2011 | 3:56 pm | 0 Comment

Vary Exercise for Physical & Mental Development of Your Child

Did you know that the more physical exercise your child gets, the more his brain develops?  Studies have shown that exercise actually helps further develop the areas of the brain that affect learning and memory.  Another good reason to limit time sitting around watching television or computer games.  Exercise also continues to help brain development in adults, so be sure to join in the fun.

For preschoolers, there are many different types of exercises you can encourage:

  • Play hopping games, hopping on one foot, then on both feet.
  • Teach your child to swing.
  • March to music, inside or out.
  • Walk up and down steps. Walk a straight line.
  • Run.  Have races in your backyard.
  • Practice playing with a ball.  Bounce, throw, kick and catch the ball.
  • Play on climbing equipment at the playground.  Go to a rock climbing center.
  • Dig holes in the sand or dirt.
  • Learn how to swim.
  • Ride a bike.
  • Practice balance.  Walk on the curb.
  • Do a crawling game.
  • Play Hot Potato
  • Dance to music.

There are so many fun types of exercise.  Try to vary them and incorporate some form of exercise on a daily basis.

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Letting Your Kids Learn Through Failure

By dadsplay at January 9, 2011 | 9:16 pm | 0 Comment

Letting Your Kids Learn Through Failure

It’s tough being a parent. It’s tough trying to figure out parenthood throughout all of the
different stages our kids go through. Whether it’s helping them to walk, starting school,
discipline issues, driving, or college, we are continually faced with new challenges and
even with multiple children; the same stage has different challenges as each child can
be so different. One aspect that is often overlooked is letting your child fail. I’ve found
this to be an extremely volatile topic for different parents. I knew one parent that did not
allow her seven year old son to cook anything, even with her supervision. I’ve let my six
year old daughter get out a drill to install a shelf. A shelf!! When looking at why each
parent made the choice they did, the common theme was the same…failure.

Cooking mom said she was afraid her daughter would mess up dinner (fail) or get hurt by
the stove or a hot pan. I used a stud finder and verified no electrical wires were anywhere
near the drilling site and showed my daughter how to mark a stud by marking the first
one for her. I felt she would learn more from trying it herself and build her confidence if
she succeeded and she would learn a lot even if she messed it up (failed).

Each parent had very different approaches to thoughts about their child failing. Should
you let your child fail? If so, how do you know when it’s appropriate to let them do so?
As your child goes through life, they WILL fail. You can’t always be there to stop it, but
you can teach them how to prepare to mitigate the failure as well as help them cope with
failure when it does occur. When letting a child fail, the one thing we all must remain
alert to is dangerous situations that can cause serious harm to our children. Bumps and
bruises are part of growing up as evidenced by my youngest daughter who has taken
a long time to learn that you can’t run in one direction while looking in a completely
different direction…

I tried to mitigate the danger (by checking for electrical wiring near the drill site) and
preparing my daughter for success by also showing her how to find the stud for the
second brace. She will still have to learn how to drill straight, make the holes even in the
stud for a level shelf and screw everything into place. My daughter had ‘helped’ me do a
few other projects with the drill and had shown an excellent understanding of the drill, so
I felt she should have a chance to try using it. While she was making the attempt, I had
to step in twice (at her request) to assist, but you should have seen the look on her face
when it was done and the pride she exuded that SHE had done that. From the pure adult
perspective, the shelf was too low to the ground, it wasn’t level and one of the screws
may have missed the stud (or only partially in due to the angle of the screw hole), but it
didn’t matter, even if it’s not perfect, it’s HER success more than anything else. Now
the purist in me asks, why not let her fail by not stepping in, but as long as I don’t step in
ahead of the request from my daughter, I’m allowing her the ‘opportunity’ to fail.

Cooking mom’s concerns, about her son getting hurt, are completely valid. No one
wants to see their child hurt, but the question here becomes how long does your child
need to prove they’re capable of accomplishing a task before we let them attempt the
task on their own? I know to watch out for a burning stove and hot pans, but have still

burnt myself. Odds are her son will get burned at some point in his adult life as well. I
asked her if he had ever helped with the cooking and he had on a number of occasions.
If cooking mom has taught him to be aware of the hot pans and he has shown this
awareness, what’s the harm in letting him fail at cooking dinner? She can be available to
him by staying in the kitchen or nearby, she has a great opportunity to let him succeed,
but also can also help him learn to cope with the failure if he does fail.

None of us like to fail and we certainly don’t want to see our kids fail either, but they
will….just like we do on occasion. You can’t stop failure from happening all the time,
but you can teach your children how to prepare to minimize failure. You can teach them
to be aware of the challenges/dangers of attempting something new and probably most
important, if they do fail, that it’s ok. The world won’t end, the failure doesn’t define
them, most likely they’ll be able to fix whatever went wrong. Your children want to try.
Let them. Encourage them….and if they fail, teach them that it’s ok.

RS Pierce

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Make a Personal SNOWMAN Pizza with the Kids

By dadsplay at January 2, 2011 | 2:01 pm | 0 Comment

Make a Personal SNOWMAN Pizza with the Kids

Kids love pizza whether it’s a holiday or any other day of the year.  Why not make pizza night into a “make your own snowman” night?  And a favorite food just got healthier!You can use our “healthier” version for the dough or buy ready-made pizza dough but, either way, this is a truly fun family dinner idea.

Let the kids help to roll dough, make snowman and add sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

What you need:

Dough

3 ½ Cups whole wheat flour

1 Cup white flour

2 Tsp. active dry yeast

1 Tsp. sugar

1 ¼ Tsp. salt

1 ½ Tsp. olive oil

¼ Tsp. garlic powder

2 Cups water

¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese

Other Ingredients

Tomato sauce

Mozzarella cheese

Pepperoni

Capers

Carrot

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Slowly add water, a little at a time, knead until dough is firm and smooth.  Using olive oil, grease bowl and place dough ball in bowl, turning once so all surfaces are oiled.  Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until double in size, usually about 2 hours.

Place dough on a well-floured surface and roll dough to about ¼ inch thick.  Cut out three different sizes to form each snowman, by hand or using pastry cutters.  Assemble snowman on baking pan, attaching “balls” by pressing together.  Add sauce, cheese and Snowman decorations.  Cut pepperoni into scarves, piecing two pieces together, if necessary.  Make noses by cutting tiny carrot triangles.

For more ZiggityZoom fun food ideas.

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Letters from Santa

By dadsplay at December 7, 2010 | 1:07 pm | 0 Comment

Letters from Santa

As a single dad, I’m always looking for fun things to do with my daughters or ways to really
brighten their day. We’ve done active things like geo-caching (hiking for ‘treasure’),
roller skating, and rock climbing. We’ve also done playful stuff like playing doll dress-
up or make believe or painting their fingernails (and occasionally mine). But I’m very
excited about a new (new to me) endeavor we’re going to do for the Christmas holiday.
The girls are going to ‘write a letter’ to Santa Claus and he’s going to send one to them!!
IMPORTANT – Letters have to be submitted by December 10th in order to arrive before
Christmas (according to the websites below)

I’ve reviewed several different sites and two that I really like are
SantaClausHouse and SantaSentMeALetter. Both place specific information about your
child in the letter from Santa and each site even allows for you to customize text.

The SantaClausHouse allows for a paragraph (254 characters) of custom text and they
simply replace one of the paragraphs in the stock letter with your paragraph. The cost is
$10 per letter and is mailed from North Pole, Alaska. It also includes several items in the
letter, but this really wasn’t the selling point for me.

SantaSentMeALetter allows you to type a complete letter, which you can obviously
customize with whatever details you like. This is the option I am going with as I wanted
to reference how much Santa loves the cookies they bake for him and how well they’ve
been sharing with each other. The cost is $7.95 per letter and is “postmarked with a one-of-
a-kind NORTH POLE POSTMARK” The paper they use ‘feels’, to me, to be more like Santa’s
paper. I also noticed they have a $9.95 option if you don’t want to write the letter, but
want your own customized details that the stock letters can’t include.

The one drawback to both of these is you don’t actually see the output of your
customized letter, which has me slightly concerned that it won’t fit or look right. I’ll
update this post once we’ve completed the letters and received them back from Santa.

Merry Christmas!

Randy

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Reindeer Pancakes Are Easy to Make with the Kids

By dadsplay at November 27, 2010 | 3:51 pm | 0 Comment

Reindeer Pancakes Are Easy to Make with the Kids

Make breakfast into a fun activity over the Holidays. Dads, here is a fun food that you can serve to your kids during the Christmas break .  Make some colored pancake mix and let the kids have fun making and eating their creations.  We made these cute Reindeer pancakes, but you can also try some colorful ornaments and snowmen. It’s super easy using plastic squeeze bottles.  Find them in a kitchen department of most stores.  You can find the clear kind or ones designed for use with ketchup or mustard.  Be sure to get one one for plain cake batter besides the colored batter you will make.

Let the kids help make their own pancakes with parental supervision.  Our kids enjoyed making their own creations and so will yours.

What you need:

Pancake mix

Eggs

Vegetable oil

Milk

Red food coloring

Green food coloring

Plastic squeeze bottles
Make pancake mix according to directions on package.  Prepare batter using directions for 2 cups pancake mix.  Divide batter into containers.  For reindeer, mix ½ cup batter and 5 drops red food coloring.  For green batter, use ½ cup mix and 4 drops green food coloring.  Leave remaining batter as is.

Pour each color batter into a squeeze bottle.  Heat griddle to medium heat.  For reindeer, make a dot for eye, then add plain batter on top of eye to form a 2 inch circle.  Add a red nose and a red collar.  To form antlers, make a thin line touching head and then make a small branch coming from first part of antler.  Antlers will spread, so only make a fairly thin antler.

For more fun Christmas foods check out ZiggityZoom.com

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