Browsing Tag kids

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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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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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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How to STOP your child from wanting to read with you….

By dadsplay at November 24, 2010 | 3:58 pm | 0 Comment

How to STOP your child from wanting to read with you….

This is not what I set out to do, but it’s what I effectively accomplished with my first
born daughter. I’m a hands-on dad who loves teaching my daughters and assisting with
their homework (which includes reading with them). When my oldest was first learning
to read, I would sit and read with her. I would let her read some ‘sight’ words (simple
words that they learn to recognize, such as “the” or “I”) while I read the rest of the story.
This actually worked out well, as I would praise her constantly for remembering various
words. Each reading, I would try to introduce or re-introduce sight words and continue
to praise her as we read. Everything was going great, until….I tried to teach her HOW to
read….sounding out words/letters.

Well, to be clear, it wasn’t that I’d chosen to teach her to sound out words/letters, it
was the way I would correct her
. When we were working with sight words, I’d simply
remind her of words, if she couldn’t remember the word, and praise her when she got it right. When
she would attempt to sound out a word, I would quickly (or sharply sometimes) correct
her and, I’m fairly certain, I probably said “no, it’s this….”. It’s the “No” or negative
feedback that I did for a long time that shut her down and pushed her to not want to read
with me. While I would still praise her when she’d get it right, the ‘no’ was coming way
too often. Eventually, she would cry or put her head down if I asked her to sound out a
word and she couldn’t get it right.

I’m not sure when I realized what I was doing, but once I did, I completely changed my
approach
. I still correct her, but I make it a point to give her positive feedback first, then
say something like “try changing the sound of this vowel” or “make the ‘c’ have this
sound”. We now have lots of fun reading and she isn’t afraid to read with me anymore,
but it took a lot of self awareness and control, on my part, to ensure I wasn’t beating her
down, but rather praising her up. Reading SHOULD be fun, focus on that always and the
rest will work itself out.

By R.S. Pierce

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Geocaching Is A Fun Fall Outdoor Activity With Kids

By dadsplay at November 10, 2010 | 12:32 pm | 0 Comment

Geocaching Is A Fun Fall Outdoor Activity With Kids

Fall is officially here in most of the country.  With leaves changing colors and crisp mornings and early sunsets, it’s hard to miss.  Now that the weather has shifted and we’re all bundling up a bit more, finding outdoor activities to do with kids becomes more difficult.  One activity my daughters and I like to do is “geocaching”.  Just last weekend, we hiked through Seashore State Park in Virginia Beach, VA for about 2 hours, with a nice picnic break after we found the ‘treasure’ and swapped out some of the girls own toy trinkets for new trinkets in the newly found treasure.  Treasure found, treasure traded, bellies full, we headed home talking about all the cool stuff we found/did along the way.

Taking the definition from www.geocaching.com, geocaching is: “a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.”  “How does a geocache get created?” you ask.  A new geocache comes into existence when an individual (anyone that would like to hide their own container) hides a container in a public place, where geocachers are allowed to travel, then logs the container’s GPS coordinates at www.geocaching.com along with a description, size of the container and other miscellaneous details.  Then, would be searchers log on, identify the area they would like to hunt and identify the various geocaches they are interested in hiking to.

Here are some basic steps I go through prior to our adventure.  First I identify what area we’d like to explore and pull up the map of that area (Here is a map of one area we explore in Hampton Roads area of Virginia.)  Once I have the map, showing geocaches in the area, I mouse over each cache looking for our search criteria.  Criteria 1) Cache must be medium size or larger as this improves probability of toy trinkets (largest criteria for my girls).  Criteria 2) Difficulty and Terrain shouldn’t be greater than medium, as I don’t want my girls stressing over the trip.  As they get more experienced, we may change the criteria, but for now this works for us.  If a cache meets our criteria, I will click on it and upload to my GPS device.  While I am doing the research, the girls are packing the backpack with picnic items and toy trinkets as well as fall gear (hats, gloves, compass, flashlight).  Once they are packed and I have identified 3-5 caches, we head out the door for our next adventure.  Often Lola our dog accompanies us as an added bonus the girls really enjoy.

As a side note, geocaching.com has an iPhone app and probably apps for other smart phones.  The one issue I had using my iPhone was the signal would ‘bounce’ when I was in deep woods and could not hone in on the actual GPS location.  One moment, I’d be 10 feet away, 2 steps later, I’d be 50 feet away… in low wooded areas, I’d suggest using the phone app, but not for any serious woods geocaching.  Happy Hunting!!

By R.S.. Pierce

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Halloween Pumpkin Carving Fun for Dads & Kids

By dadsplay at October 28, 2010 | 6:31 pm | 0 Comment

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Fun for Dads & Kids

Remember helping mom bake around the holidays or shopping for a Christmas tree with the family?  I do.  Another one of my favorite memories is when my brothers and I would carve pumpkins at the kitchen table.  Mom and dad would clear the table, lay out newspaper, place the pumpkins on the table and we’d stand on chairs in front of our pumpkins ready to dig it.  The memories are still vivid and bring a smile whenever I think about the fun we had.  Build the same memory for your kids and it will be memories that will last a lifetime!

My daughters, Nannie (my mom) and I recently visited the local pumpkin patch to track down the coolest, biggest (this is my eldest’s criteria) and strangest pumpkins we could find.  The girls were so excited to get to pick out their own pumpkins and took a careful look at various pumpkins, examining bumps, which side would make for a good face or even the cool stalk coming out of the pumpkin.  After several trips around the patch and several selection changes, we finally found the pumpkins they wanted and headed home.

Once home, the girls insisted that they carry their pumpkins into the house, which was a chore for the older one, as her pumpkin was HUGE!  Somehow she managed to get it inside without making squashed pumpkin our newest Halloween decoration.  Then I prepared the table while the girls raced to our storage area and found the pumpkin carving tools and designs from the prior year.  Each one also donned one of my ‘grunge’ shirts for the messy moments ahead and within minutes was at the table, chairs in position hovering over their pumpkins ready to start.

Luckily I recalled a mistake I made last year where I neglected to cut the lid out using an angled cut.  The angled cut allows the lid to be placed back into position once the carving is complete.  Once the lids were removed, the ‘gross’, ‘cool’, ‘yuck’ comments started as each dug in pulling out pumpkin guts and seeds.  While they were busy at work, Nannie copied their selected designs to their pumpkins using a Sharpie marker.  (You can tape the design to the pumpkin, but I’ve found the design gets pretty beat up as carving continues).  After all the guts were out and the girls had taken several ‘opportunities’ to apply guts to my face, the carving began.  I’m far from a master carver, but have learned you do all of the interior work first, while the pumpkin walls are stronger.  Once the girls (with Nanny and daddy’s assistance) finished their pumpkins, we took them outside and found the perfect place to show them off, with lit candles and all.  The girls were so proud of them and I’m certain will cherish their pumpkin carving memories for years to come.

A few notes: 1) You can find carving kits at most super stores and probably even at your local supermarket.  Have these already purchased as the kids will be most into the carving when you first buy the pumpkin.  2) Be careful with the really big pumpkins, if the walls of the pumpkin are too thick, it can make it more difficult to carve.  3) if you will be using candles inside your pumpkin, make sure you clear all the stringy pumpkin matter from the inside of the pumpkin (particularly the top) as this can dry out and burn, creating an awful smell.  I’m not sure whether it catches fire, but know you don’t want it smelling from the burning.

By R.S. Pierce

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