Play Right: Plan a Family Vacation to Remember

At New Jammies, we know the benefits of traveling with the kids to new, and familiar, places. We see the wonder in their eyes of seeing special landmarks. In the diverse cultures they experience. And in the memories made together as a family.

“Vacation is essential to strengthen personal relationships, inspire creative thinking, improve professional performance, and promote better heath,” says Project: Time Off, a leading national movement to transform American attitudes and change behavior about taking vacation time.

“We aim to shift culture so that taking time off is understood as essential to personal well-being, professional success, business performance, and economic expansion.​“

Although Project: Time Off sees the value of vacation time for close relationships and work growth, the movement says Americans still fail to use 662 million vacation days annually.

“The stockpile of unused vacation is creating a spike in worker burnout and even larger balance sheet liabilities that directly affect a company’s bottom line,” the movement reports. “What’s worse—employees forfeited 206 million vacation days in 2016.”

And Project: Time Off says 51% of Americans still skip the one step that could help them vacation: planning.

”Individuals who plan are more likely to use all of their time off, take more vacation days at once, and report greater levels of happiness in every category measured,” Project: Time Off reminds us. “A majority of parents believe that family vacations are worth the time and money because they ‘give my child experiences that they will remember years down the road.’”

To encourage parents and caregiving family members to do so, the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off initiative established the last Tuesday of January as National Plan for Vacation Day in 2017.

This day is ideal to start planning ahead and declare vacation days at the start of the year. Project: Time Off says the first-ever National Plan for Vacation Day saw organizations implement creative activations for Americans to take time off to reunite with family and friends and rejuvenate.

“In its inaugural year, more than 600 organizations, representing all 50 states, came together to encourage Americans to plan for vacation,” Project: Time Off says.

This year’s National Plan for Vacation Day, on Jan. 30, 2018, is a day to encourage Americans to plan their vacation days for the rest of the year. The registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed National Plan for Vacation Day to be observed annually in 2018 as an opportunity to come together at a single moment to rally around the importance of planning for a vacation.

Learn more at ProjectTimeOff.com/Plan and join the conversation online with #PlanForVacation on social media. Project: Time Off is making it easy for Americans to plan their vacations with the new Vacation Planning Tool.

And take this advice from Nationwide on planning a family vacation with kids.

“It makes sense to go for one that’s stress-free and age appropriate. (For tips on the stress-free part, check out their page on packing light.)” says the Nationwide Learning Center. “While ‘less is more’ applies to any kind of travel, The Family Travel Files has specific family travel tips for different age groups, including the young ones:

Children six weeks to five years
It’s never too early to start traveling with young children, as long as parents are prepared for the slow pace and frequent naps. Before you begin your trip:

• Get a well-baby checkup (especially if you’re traveling to another country)
• Pack first aid items including water, sunscreen & insect repellent
• Pack baby-proofing items like socket plugs, corner tabs & nightlights

Children ages 6-12
Family vacations can create life-long memories for kids in this age range. Even better, children in these primary-school years are still very dependent on their parents and haven’t yet reached the rebellious teenage years.

• Pack light, because children often lose personal items
• Pack a surprise to keep your child occupied in transit, during delays and long lines

Read more tips here.

Bon voyage!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Fall Crafting for the Kids

At New Jammies, we love the beauty that Autumn brings, from the changing of the leaves to the colors of the harvest. So this season the time is right to let the kids become inspired by all that surrounds them to make fun crafts with a Fall theme at home.

New Jammies Founder and CEO Nicole Ludlow loved the Halloween-inspired Paper Plate Spiders her preschool-aged son made at school, with inspiration from the I Heart Crafty Things blog. We thought we would check out other do-it-yourself crafts young children can complete from iheartcraftythings.com, and these Cupcake Liner Turkey Puppets caught our eye.

Just in time to get into the Thanksgiving spirit!

Turkey Time

“I love making crafts with my kids that can be interactive for pretend play or that we can use to reenact a story that we’ve just read. I came across some darling Cereal Box Turkeys over at Plum Pudding recently and I loved them,” says the iheartcraftythings founder and kids craft designer Rachel Nipper. “I decided to make more of a kid-friendly version that my children could help me with and we are using them as Turkey Puppets. We used one of my favorite crafting materials to make them also, cupcake liners.”

Supplies:

• craft stick [We received ours from our friends at Craftprojectideas.com.]
• 2 mini brown cupcake liners
• 1 orange cupcake liner
• sheet of cardstock paper (I used a scrap piece of yellow, you can use whatever color you want)
• small piece of brown, yellow and red cardstock paper
• 2-inch circle punch (or you can free hand a circle this size)
• school glue
• glue stick
• scissors

Directions:
1. Start by using your glue stick to glue down your orange cupcake liner onto a sheet of cardstock paper. I used a scrap piece of yellow that I had. You can choose whatever color you want to use. Now cut the cupcake liner out. (Backing it with cardstock paper gives the cupcake liner and puppet stability.)

2. Use school glue to glue your craft stick down to the front of your orange cupcake liner.

3. Using your glue stick, glue one of your mini brown cupcake liners onto the orange cupcake liner, positioning it at the bottom.

4. Use your scissors to make slits around the top and sides of your orange cupcake liner. Some of the cardstock paper you glued your cupcake liner onto may show through after doing this, so keep that in mind when deciding what color you use in step 1.

5. Cut your other mini brown cupcake liner in half and glue the pieces onto the sides of your other brown cupcake liner to act as turkey wings.

6. Cut a 2-inch circle from your circle punch out of your brown paper and then glue it onto your puppet.

7. Finish your turkey by adding googly eyes, a beak and snood cut out of your red and yellow paper.

“Now you have a fun little turkey puppet to reenact your favorite turkey story or for imaginative, pretend play. We made several turkeys so my kids have had fun letting them interact with each other,” Rachel says. “I think it would also be fun to play around with different patterned cupcake liners instead of the orange one. I’m thinking orange polka-dot liners or a different pattern. I didn’t have any on hand to try it out.”

Sponge Paint It

Nicole also noticed her preschooler seems to be drawn to painting with sponges, so she became inspired to ignite his creativity at home using household sponges and paint.

“I just cut up a sponge into different shapes and put colors of paint on plate to dip and splotch, she says.

At school, he made this Egg Carton Caterpillar project in class, and it turned out pretty cute, according to Nicole.

“All you need for this project is an egg carton, some kid-friendly paint, pipe cleaners and eyes (optional, because you can always just paint the eyes on),” says Megan Bray, from the Balancing Home blog site.

Read full instructions here.

Catch the Sun

Nicole says another neat project her son did at school, but parents and caregivers can also do at home, is making suncatchers or stainglass.

“Cut a shape out of thin tissue paper and paint with water colors,” she says.

The Artful Parent blog offers 50+ suncatcher crafts for kids at https://artfulparent.com/stained-glass-suncatcher-ideas-kids.

These Autumn Leaf Suncatchers from The Artful Parent are great as holiday presents in December or gifts for the family at Thanksgiving in November.

Supplies:

• Transparent contact paper (sticky-back plastic)
• Fresh autumn leaves
• Heart or other hole punch (optional)

Directions:

1. Cut off a rectangular piece of contact paper. Fold it in half, then pull the paper covering off to the fold, exposing half of the sticky plastic.

2. Arrange your autumn leaves on the sticky contact paper and press to adhere.

3. If desired, your your hole punch to cut out heart (or other) shapes from leaves and add those to the suncatcher as well.

4. When you are satisfied with your design, remove the rest of the paper backing from the contact paper. Carefully fold it over the leaves, sandwiching them in between the two layers of plastic, and press down with your hands, avoiding air bubbles if possible.

5. Hang in a sunny window and admire!

The Artful Parent taped the suncatchers to the window, but sometimes they punch holes in the top and add a ribbon for hanging.

A note about the leaves: The fresh autumn leaves are beautiful, vibrant, and full of color which is one of the reasons we like to use them for these nature suncatchers every year (rather than pressed and dried autumn leaves). However, please note that they will lose some of their color over time and decay. Ours are usually enjoyed for about two weeks before we take them down.

For more fun DIY arts and crafts activities ideas from The Artful Parent, click here.

Happy crafting!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

 

Play Right: Understanding the Real World Through Play

Even in adulthood, New Jammies parents know that the reality of the world can be hard to understand.

As caring and responsible parents, it’s our job to help our kids navigate through 24-7 news reports, social media and word-of-mouth info sharing.

That’s where play comes into, well, play.

According to the Genius of Play, children as young as 3 learn to understand the real world through realistic pretend play. The Genius of Play is a national movement to raise awareness of play’s vital role in child development, spearheaded by The Toy Association.  The movement is rooted in research and facts, and serves as a leading resource on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play that serve children throughout their lives. The group promotes play as a way to hone communication skills, important in coping with reality as teens and adults.

“Knowing what people mean isn’t always easy. Kids have to learn to decipher what people are saying — and not saying — by listening, observing, and sometimes picking up on very subtle clues,” says the group.

“By playing with others, children learn the art of communication. They come to recognize facial expressions and body language. They figure out how to strike up and carry on conversations, and how to express their thoughts and desires in a way that won’t cause problems and put a stop to the group game.”

Specifically, the Genius of Play says pretend play is especially important for children’s communication development and literacy.

“The idea that a letter represents a sound is based on symbolism — a concept kids come to understand when they pretend that a cardboard box is a castle, or that a shoe is a race car. Role-play also gives children a chance to use words they’ve heard adults and other kids use, and helps improve their vocabulary. As they grow older, word-based games help reinforce language and literacy skills.”

Genius of Play lists these games as great communication-building ideas for play:

Jumping Jack Syllables (ages 4 1/2 – 5)
Teach the child to do a simple jumping jack. In one smooth movement, jump and land with feet spread apart, raise hands over the head and clap. Share with them that a syllable is a separate count or beat in a word. Then by using the days of the week or months of the year, use jumping jacks to play out the number of syllables per word. For instance, using Saturday, the child will have three movements to the word, ending with his arms over his head.

Courtesy BestBeginningsAlaska.org

Balloon Ball (for ages 4+)

INGREDIENTS:

• An air-filled balloon or beach ball
• A broomstick or row of pillows
PREP TIME:
5 minutes

Lay a broomstick or row of pillows on the floor to act as the ‘net.’ Have your child hit the balloon over the ‘net,’ then run to the other side to hit it back before it touches the ground. Score 1 each time your child hits the ball without it hitting the floor. If two children, have them hit the ball over the ‘net.’ The game ends when the ball hits the floor. The child who hit that ball wins.

Kick the Can (ages 5+)

INGREDIENTS:
A large, empty can or bucket to be kicked
PREP TIME:
2 minutes

Choose one person to be “IT” and a “home base” for the children to gather (when playing outside, a fire hydrant or familiar tree are great spots). Place the can in a safe, open space. To start, have IT count to 50 with his/her eyes closed while the other players hide. Upon opening their eyes, IT should start searching for the hiders. When IT finds a hider, he/she calls out the player’s name and that player goes to jail (home base). Another player can risk capture to save jailbirds by kicking over the can and calling out “Home Free” without getting tagged by IT, after which the jailbirds are free to run and hide from IT again. The game continues until everyone has been captured. If jailbreaks keep the game going too long, the first person caught 3 times becomes IT and a new game begins.

Crafts Cards (ages 3+, requites adult help)

INGREDIENTS:
• Multiple sheets of construction paper for each child
• Old magazines
• Glue
• Safety scissors
• Magic markers and crayons
• Extras: stencils, stickers, feathers, glitter

PREP TIME:
10 minutes

Nothing says “you’re special” like a homemade card. Give each child some paper folded in half, magazine pages, markers and crayons. You can leave additional magazines, the stencils, stickers, feathers, and glitter where each child can reach them to use. Allow their imaginations run wild as the kids use the supplies to make cards for their friends, their families, even their favorite pet!

Parentingscience.com agrees that playful experiences are learning experiences. An evolutionary anthropologist created the online parenting resource for critical thinkers who want to understand child development from the perspectives of psychology, anthropology, evolution, and cognitive neuroscience.

“Most play involves exploration, and exploration is, by definition, an act of investigation. It’s easy to see how this applies to a budding scientist who is playing with magnets, but it also applies to far less intellectual pursuits, like the rough-and-tumble play in puppies,” says parentingscience.com. “The animals are testing social bonds and learning how to control their impulses, so that friendly wrestling doesn’t turn into anti-social aggression. Play is learning.”

Parentingscience.com reminds us that play is self-motivated and fun, as well as important for understanding the real world.

“These arguments aside, there is also empirical evidence that kids treat play as a tutorial for coping with real life challenges,” says the site. “All around the world, children engage in pretend play that simulates the sorts of activities they will need to master as adults, suggesting such play is a form of practice.”

Parentingscience.com adds that when kids are fed information during pretend play — from more knowledgeable peers or adults — they take it in.

“Experiments on American preschoolers suggest that children as young as 3 understand make distinctions between realistic and fanciful pretending, and use information learned from realistic pretend scenarios to understand the real world.”

Find more information on why play is essential to learning and development at Mom Loves Best

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

 

Play Right: Back-to-School Games for the Active

New Jammies kids are making a fresh start going back to school, and there are some fun play-time routines, games and puzzles that can refresh their memories and spark creativity.

For younger, preschool-aged children, play itself becomes more physical at that age. So “why just walk when you can hop, jump, or skip?” says the kidshealth.org website.

KidsHealth says smart toys for preschoolers include arts and crafts, and anything that help kids sharpen fine motor skills that are constantly improving.

“Activities like holding a crayon, drawing pictures of family members, and using a pair of safety scissors to cut and paste strengthen coordination, encourage creativity, and foster self-esteem,” kidshealth.org says.

The site’s childhood development experts suggest that blocks and construction sets, including building towers (and figuring out how to stop them from toppling over) encourage problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.

“Preschoolers will use their imaginations to create buildings, vehicles, animals, and more from simple construction sets,” KidsHealth says.

Jigsaw puzzles, to help with coordination and dexterity that teach about spatial relationships and logical thinking, and pretend play are also key for preschoolers to practice as they embrace school.

Big Knob First Puzzle Set

Wooden puzzles for kids from Lakeshore, a California-based company that applies real-world classroom experience to every product it develops, inspire little learners by using the power of play to make learning fun. We love the Big Knob First Puzzle Set for infants to pre-k toddlers.

As elementary school-aged kids are accomplished in ways they never were before, KidsHeath suggests activities that cultivate new talents and interests beginning to take hold.

“They’ve grasped an understanding of the world around them and are now moving toward mastering skills that once challenged them, like catching a football or braiding a friend’s hair,” says kidshealth.org. “A 4-year-old who enjoyed story time may grow to love reading; a 5-year-old who listened to music might want to play piano.”

With the refinement of physical abilities, including large and fine motor skills, elementary school is the time when kids learn to ride two-wheel bicycles and glide on skateboards, says KidsHealth. An appreciation of arts and the humanities also sparks.

“Arts and crafts become more intricate, and a child might spend hours weaving friendship bracelets or drawing comic strips, says the children’s-focused resource.”

KidsHealth suggests these smart toys and activities for big kids going back to school:

• Jump rope. By skipping rope with friends, kids learn to take turns and get along with peers. All that jumping, and the coordination it requires, encourages large motor development and problem-solving skills.

• Card and board games. Card games like “war” or “crazy eights” and board games like checkers or chess teach about strategy, turn-taking, negotiating rules, and fair play. Encourage cooperation and help your child learn to manage the emotions that come with winning as well as losing.

New Jammies Whales

• Musical instruments. Learning to play the piano, violin, guitar, or another instrument encourages listening and fine motor skills and helps build attention skills.
Science toys. Chemistry sets, binoculars, telescopes, or other toys that promote discovery and problem-solving help improve math and science skills, and help develop imagination.

KidsHealth also reminds parents and caregivers that students of all ages can learn from scavenger hunts, outdoors or indoors when it’s raining or the weather turns cold, to encourage problem-solving and teamwork. Just gather easily recognizable objects and hide them around the yard or house. Give each child a list of items to look for and clues to help them find the objects. Adults can pair kids up or assign teams to play.

“This game also works well outdoors provided you set some boundaries (the edges of the yard, certain spots in the park) for the kids to work inside,” kidshealth.org says.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: “Up & Active” Toy Trends Perfect for Summer

New Jammies Trains Collection

Early this year, the Toy Industry Association announced its top trends at the New York Toy Fair, and New Jammies was happy to see popularity of the “Up & Active” theme.

“With more room for innovation and a greater willingness to take risks, toymakers are pulling out all the stops to create highly ground-breaking products, reinvent play patterns, and refresh classic brands with cutting-edge technologies and exciting new licenses,” says Adrienne Appell, a trend expert at TIA. “Best of all, these toys build children’s developmental skills through collaborative, hands-on, and imaginative play.”

Collectible toys were also among the hot forecasted trends, which help children develop lifelong skills, including social skills (when negotiating and trading with friends), organization skills (as they maintain their collections), and perseverance (not giving up on the “hunt”), according to the Toy Industry Association.

The “Up & Active” category features toys to encourage kids to get up and move – both indoors and outdoors.

“The latest active toys not only motivate kids to burn off excess energy, they are also engaging for the whole family and are more seamlessly integrated into other types of play,” says the Toy Industry Association. “This trend includes tech toys that weave in active components, classic outdoor ride-ons, traditional games that incorporate physical activity, and digital toys that foster face-to-face play.”

The Toy Industry Association notes that toys which encourage kids to move are a part of a larger health-and-wellness trend that spans multiple industries.

“We see consumers making healthy lifestyle choices, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, athleisure, wearable devices, and natural-looking beauty options, so I believe the outdoor and sports toys trend will continue into the near future as well,” says Juli Lennett, NPD’s senior vice president and U.S. toys industry analyst.

Toy companies are launching toys and games designed to motivate kids to move – both indoors and outdoors – particularly as they respond to the demands of millennial parents seeking more engaging toys for their kids, such as offering educational or more active play, says the Association.

“Toys that encourage kids to get up and move are on both kids’ and parents’ wish lists,” says Adrienne Appell, TIA trend expert. “It’s not just classic outdoor toys that are popular; we are seeing toy companies innovate with tech toys that weave in active components, educational toys that incorporate physical activity, new exciting ride-ons, and traditional games that require kids to move around in order to play.”

One toy that help kids enjoy the Great Outdoors is the Regatta Swing. The nautical -themed swing is developed exclusively for Magic Cabin, which specializes in open-ended, nature-inspired toys and crafts to nurture children’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity. The swing, for ages 3–6 and older, holds up to 200 pounds and features an innovative design to sits two sailors on two heavy-duty mesh seats. The mesh bottom means water won’t get trapped inside while not in use. The simple concept of the bowline knot creates a secure hanging apparatus of adjustable height that’s easy to use.

New Jammies’ Pirates collection of PJs, which can double as comfy play wear to stay cool in the summer, would be a fun addition to this imagination-building play. Sailboat n’Waves would also be cute to rock in the Regatta Swing.

Antsy Pants’ line of Build and Play kits are designed to let kids’ imaginations run wild and get kids and families creating, imagining and building together. With each product purchased, sold exclusively at Target, Antsy Pants helps support KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play they need to thrive.

“Antsy Pants will make a donation to KaBOOM! for each product purchased, and is projected to give more than $150,000 in the first year to build playgrounds for kids across America,” says the product’s website.

The Antsy Pants Build and Play Obstacle Course  gets the whole family moving with toss rings, jump hurdles and a race to the finish for fun-and-friendly competition. The easy-to-build Obstacle Course Kit comes with an agility ring course, start and finish flags, adjustable height hurdles, and weave pole course. No tools necessary!

New Jammies’ Star Spangled collection would be a patriotic, America-themed way to celebrate the Fourth of July while running through the Obstacle Course this summer.

USA! USA! USA!

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New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Sleep Tight: From Daytime Jams to Sleep Jammies

One of the most versatile ways for kids to wear New Jammies in the warmer months is to don them during the day in the park, poolside or at neighborhood BBQs. Then mix and match at nighttime for a cool, comfortable sleep.

“New Jammies’ signature 100% organic cotton fabric is breathable and keeps kids cool in the summer heat and warm at night,” says New Jammies CEO and founder Nicole Ludlow.

“The fun part is to mix and match the short sets, pants and long-sleeved shirts for several different color and print combinations on vacation or out and about having a good time, day into night.”

A cute look for girls in the summer is to add brightly colored tutus and comfy sandals to our Lobsters collection. Or incorporate pastel tutus into an outfit with our pretty Ballerina Slippers or Mermaid Bubbles prints.

The Lobsters and Whales collections come with 100% organic cotton summer roll hats, too. The fun summertime New Jammies headwear designs provide a coordinated look at the beach or in town, especially with our Classic Stripes and nautical-themed collections, to help protect babies’ sensitive skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Boys are typically fairly easy to dress, especially in the summer, so our shorts sets with bold stripes and colorful prints really come in handy when packing for the day, weekend, or a week of well-derserved vacation.

“So many of our collections offer options for mixing and matching, and for going from day to night, if the boys manage to stay clear of mud!” says Nicole, who has two young boys of her own.

The organic Classic Stripe in blue and white is a great option for bold and colorful day-to-night wear for boys or girls, and the Pirate Skull Stripes and Sailboats n’Waves pajamas and short sets are perfect to switch up from afternoon into evening. Especially for hanging around the water at the lake or ocean, and for summer vacations involving pirate ships, sunset cruises or floating on the river.

In celebration of summer, New Jammies has a few of these versatile outdoor and sleep time looks in our sale section of our online store.

Enjoy great sale prices on our Sharks PJ Shorts Set and Ottoman Flowers PJ Shorts Set, as well as the Pirate Skull Stripes and Sly Fox PJ Shorts Set, for a wonderful summer playing in the sun and sleeping under the stars.

Here’s to a summer to remember!

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New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Music Makes Playtime Fun

New Jammies Whales

Jammin’ out in New Jammies’ Whales!

Soul and R&B icon Aretha Franklin once said, “Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting, for sure. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s strengthening.”

New Jammies couldn’t agree more.

We see the benefits of music, not only for the mind and spirit, but also for the heart, in kids of all ages. From babies to big kids-at-heart, we’re all affected by music as a simple way to relax, enjoy fun and entertainment, and benefit personally from physical and emotional therapy.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy can make a difference with young children in stimulating all of the senses. by involving the child at many levels. This approach facilitates many developmental skills, promoting quality learning and maximum participation as children experience the joy of play, says the organization.

“The medium of music therapy allows this play to occur naturally and frequently. Music is highly motivating, yet it can also have a calming and relaxing effect,” the AMTA says. “Enjoyable music activities are designed to be success-oriented and make children feel better about themselves.”

The American Music Therapy Association also reports that music therapy can help a child manage pain and stressful situations. Also, music encourages socialization, self-expression, communication, and motor development.

“Because the brain processes music in both hemispheres, music can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for remediation of some speech/language skills,” music therapy experts say.

Music TogetherMusic Together is an internationally recognized organization that offers early childhood music and movement programs for children, birth through age 7, to experience with their parents and caregivers. Music Together started in the late ’80s, pioneering the concept of a research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum strongly emphasizing and facilitating adult involvement.

“It’s based on the recognition that, in a supportive environment, children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat, and confidently participate in the music of their culture,” says Music Together. “By emphasizing actual music-making experiences, we introduce children to the pleasures of producing music instead of passively consuming it from iTunes or TV. We’re very high-touch. Face to face, heart to heart, voice to voice, for a truly bonding and enriching experience.”

New jammies founder Nicole Ludlow has enjoyed her experience at Music Together with her young boys.

“They love it,” she says. “And the music is for kids but I actually like listening to it at home, too.”

To introduce children into the world of music, PBS hosts a plethora of information available on its pbs.org website, on the Music page. Articles range from “Creating a Musical Home Environment,” which offers easy steps to include music in the home and daily routines in meaningful ways, to “The Benefits of Music Education,” showing that learning the do-re-mis can help children excel in ways beyond the basic ABCs.

Music Together cofounder Kenneth Guilmartin contributed to the article, adding that “Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles.”

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” he added.

For more information on Music Together and classes in your area, click here.
New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Science Experiments for Kids

New JammiesFor New Jammies kids, Spring brings a sense of renewal to the world, with plants sprouting and flowers blooming. The rain and the sun team up to boost and nourish the new seasonal growth. Spring is a perfect time to teach the wonders of science to kids with fun and easy projects to create at home. Check out these ideas for hands-on learning and play in nature:


Bean Sprout Science Experiment

The website education.com offers a simple Bean Sprout Science Activity that teaches kids how flowers bloom. “When springtime arrives, your third grader might wonder why there are so many new flowers and plants. This awesome hands-on science activity addresses your young learner’s questions,” education.com says. “He’ll get to observe the life of a bean sprout seed and see what happens when it is properly fed and sheltered.”

What You Need:
• Water
• Paper and pencil
• Paper towels
• Baking sheet
• 3 types of bean seeds (mung, green, lima)

Bean sproutsWhat You Do:
1. Give one of each bean to your child to observe, explaining that each bean has a little opening for water to go inside.

2. Have your little scientist lay a few stacked damp paper towels onto the baking sheet, and put the beans on top. Put a few more stacked damp paper towels on top of the beans. Set the baking sheet aside in a sunny place. Make sure this spot isn’t too sunny, so the beans might get scorched.

3. Ask your child to write down some thoughts on a piece of paper. Have him predict the life cycle of a bean. How long will it take for it to fully sprout?

4. Each day, have your child re-wet the paper towels. Has anything changed in the beans?

5. At the end of a week, your scientist’s beans will have likely sprouted! Otherwise, wait and keep observing. When the beans have sprouted, ask your child about the little plants. Ask him what the purpose of a hard exterior is, what the seed needed to grow, and how plants outside grow.

6. You can take this fun project a little further and plant the seeds outside.

Click to download a printable version of this activity here.

See this activity in a set: Learn About the World Without Going Far


Homegrown Eggshell Geode Crystals

Geodes“Science Bob” Pflugfelder is a science teacher, author and presenter who is a regular guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Live With Kelly, The Dr. Oz Show, and Nickelodeon’s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn. He encourages parents and teachers to practice “Random Acts of Science” by providing instructions and videos for interactive science experiments on his website, sciencebob.com. This science project from the website, provided by mom blogger and photographer Melissa Howard, helps kids grow their own geodes, with a little help from Mom and Dad.

“This project nicely demonstrates how real-life geodes are formed in igneous and sedimentary rock. It also demonstrates super-saturated solutions and shows a nice variety of crystal shapes and formations,” says sciencebob.com.

What You Need:
• Clean eggshells
• Water
• A variety of soluble solids: table salt, rock salt, sugar, baking soda, Epsom salts, sea salt, borax, or cream of tartar
• Small heat proof containers (coffee cups work well)
• Spoons
• Food coloring
• Egg cartons and wax paper or mini-muffin tins

What You Do:
1. Crack the eggs for this project as close to the narrow end as possible. This preserves more egg to use as a container for the solution.

2. Clean the eggshells using hot water. The hot water cooks the lining and allows you to pull the skin (egg membrane) out of the inside of the egg using your fingers. Make sure to remove all the egg membrane, if any membrane stays inside the shell it is possible that your eggshell will grow mold and your crystals will turn black.

3. Use an egg carton lined with waxed paper or mini-muffin tins to hold the eggs upright.

4. Use a saucepan to heat the water to boiling. Pour half a cup to a cup of water into your heatproof container. If you poured half a cup of water into the container, add about a ¼ cup of solid to the water. Stir it until it dissolves. Likewise if you used a cup of water, add about ½ a cup of solid to the water. You wanted to add about half again the volume of the water as a solid to the mixture.

5. When the initial amount of solid is dissolved continue adding small amounts of the solid until the water is super-saturated. Super-saturated simply means the water has absorbed all it is able to absorb and any solid you add will not dissolve.

6. Add food coloring.

7. Carefully pour your solution into the eggshell, filling it as full as possible without over-flowing it or causing it to tip.

8. Find a safe place to put your shells while the water evaporates. Crystals will form inside the eggshells as the water evaporates.

How it Works
Dissolving the crystals in hot water created what is called a “super-saturated solution.” This basically means that the salts took advantage of the energy of the hot water to help them dissolve until there was no more space between molecules in the solution. As the solution cooled, the water lost its energy and the crystals are forced from the solution to become a solid again. Since this happens slowly along with the evaporation, the crystals have time to grow larger than they were when the experiment started. Natural geodes in rock are form in much the same way as mineralized water seeps into air pockets in rock. This is also how rock candy crystals are formed.


Build Your Own Terrarium

Terrarium
KidsGardening.org creates opportunities for kids to learn though gardening, engaging their natural curiosity and wonder by providing inspiration, community know-how and resources. For 35 years, KidsGardening has led the school gardening movement, and as a national nonprofit is dedicated to improving nutritional attitudes, educational outcomes, social and emotional learning and environmental stewardship in youth across the country through garden-based learning. Their website features garden activities and crafts, including this project on how to build a terrarium, a miniature garden grown inside a covered glass or plastic container.

“It is a low maintenance way to incorporate plants into your classroom or home and an excellent tool for teaching children about the water cycle as it demonstrates evaporation, condensation and precipitation. In the presence of light and heat, water evaporates from the plants through transpiration and from the soil,” says kidsgardening.org. “Since it is an enclosed environment, when the water vapor hits the side of the container, it condenses. Once enough water accumulates or the temperature decreases, the condensation will then precipitate down the sides of the container back into the soil.”

What You Need:
• An enclosed container
• Pea gravel or small rock
• Potting soil
• Small indoor or tropical plants
• Charcoal (optional)

What You Do:
1. Find an appropriate container. Glass jars, fish bowls and tanks, clear plastic bottles and food containers can all make fine terrariums. Just make sure there is enough room to reach your hand into your container for planting and maintenance.

2. Clear plastic soda bottles are commonly used in school settings because they are readily available and inexpensive. To create, cut off the top of a large, clear plastic soda bottle, leaving a container that is approximately 8 inches tall. After planting in the soda bottle, you can either tape the top back onto the soda bottle or just cover it tightly with plastic. Clean the container using soapy water and rinse well. Dry completely.

3. Cover the bottom of the container with ½ inch (for small containers) to 1-1/2 inch (for large containers) of pea gravel for drainage. This mimics the bedrock found under our soils and allows access water to drain from the soil. You can also add a few granules of filtering charcoal (not the type used for barbecuing) to the top of the gravel to help remove odors. The charcoal is optional and is not needed if your terrarium maintains proper moisture levels.

4. Next fill the container to approximately one-third to one-half full with moist potting mix. The amount of soil you put in will depend on the size of the container (you need to have enough room for plant roots). Use a sterilized potting soil mix to avoid problems with molds and fungi (small bags of potting soil are available at most garden centers).

5. The moisture level of the soil when you put it into your terrarium is very important. Pour the soil into a bowl or tub and mix with water until the soil is moist enough to cling together in a ball when pressed into the hand. If water drips from the soil when pressed into a ball, then it is too wet and you should add more dry potting soil to your mixture. Once you find the perfect balance, place the soil in your container. Try to avoid getting soil particles stuck on the sides of the container above the soil level.

6. Many potting mixes contain slow release fertilizers. If the soil you purchased does not contain any fertilizer you may want to add a small number of slow release fertilizer pellets or some organic fertilizer like worm castings to your mix before planting. You want your plants to stay small and grow slowly, so you do not need much.

7. Next add your plants. Look for plants that are small, slow-growing, and perform well in humid environments. How you arrange the plants will depend on the size and location of the terrarium. If you will be viewing the terrarium from one side, then place the tallest plants in the back and shortest plants in the front. If your terrarium will be viewed from all sides or you plan to rotate it, plant the tallest plants in the middle and the shorter plants along the outside.

8. There is a wide range of plants to choose from. Most garden centers have an area reserved for indoor plants and you can usually find a variety of plants in 2 to 4 inch pots. Some recommended plants to use include: African violet, artillery fern, false aralia, jade plant, miniature peperomia, nerve plant, oxalis, pink polka dot plant, prayer plant, small, ferns, small peace lilies, small philodendrons, spider plant, strawberry begonia, and Swedish ivy. These are just a few suggestions. Experiment with different plants. If they appear to grow too vigorously or respond poorly to the humidity, remove them and try something new. You can also try growing plants from seeds and cuttings.

9. In addition to plant material, you can also be creative and add other objects to create mini-landscape scenes. For instance you may want to add decorative rocks, small animal figurines, small bridges or mirrors to look like mini ponds.

10. After planting, attach the container lid or cover with plastic. Place the terrarium in a windowsill with indirect lighting or under grow lights. Do not place it in strong direct sunlight or water will evaporate too quickly and plants may scorch.

11. Observe your terrarium closely for the first few days to make sure you have the proper moisture level. You’ll know that the terrarium contains the right amount of water if the sides and top get misty with water droplets when in bright light. If there is no moisture along the sides, then you need to add some more water. If the sides are always very wet and it is hard to see the plants, then there’s too much water and you should remove the top for a few hours and allow some of the excess water to evaporate. Once you achieve the perfect balance, it will not need frequent attention.

12. Check on your terrarium periodically. Prune or remove plants with excessive growth. You want to avoid plant leaves touching the sides of the container as much as possible to prevent constant water sitting on the foliage. Also check on the moisture levels as some water may be lost over time.

Click to download a printable PDF of this garden activity.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Moms & Kids Get Moving in the New Year

StripesNew Jammies knows that motherhood brings us all the feels. With a range of emotions from joy and happiness to fatigue and sadness, our hormones play a big role in how body and mind adjusts to postpartum life. There’s also the weight gain and feelings of being overwhelmed that are hard to battle.

That’s where exercise can come into play — and involve mom and babies and kids at the same time.

There are many Mommy and Me-type fitness classes available online and in-person that incorporate cardio and strength training into an exercise routine for two. Positive Health Wellness (positivehealthwellness.com), a site for those seeking information to help live a more positive, healthier and happier life, offers helpful tips to build kids into an exercise routine.

“Involving your baby into exercise has become a popular way for moms to get fit,” says Positive Health Wellness blogger Karen Reed in “A New Mom’s Guide on Post Natal Fitness and Nutrition. “There is certainly nothing wrong with doing it yourself, once your doctor has cleared you for exercise.”

Reed says one of the most common exercises to add into your plan is buggy running, or walking to start, and it is just as it sounds: you run with the buggy.

“There are even running groups around the country offering moms to get together and run with their little ones, and then there will be socializing afterwards or during different days,” she says. “Make sure you have a buggy that is suitable for buggy running. There are now specific runner buggies designed, usually with three wheels to make it easier to turn corners and remain stable at faster paces. The last thing you want is to find you have to come to a halt just to get your buggy around a corner or risk affecting your child’s health.”

Reed also suggests playing a game of peek-a-boo while exercising.

“Put your child where he/she can see you as you do a sit up. Say peek-a-book and then lay back down. As your child gets older, they’ll join in with the game much more,” Reed says.

Yoga is also a fun way to strengthen and tone muscles and help moms mentally adjust with meditation and relaxing breathing techniques. Many local yoga studios, community centers and churches host in-person mom-and-baby yoga classes, and you can also find exercises online.

The What to Expect website includes Mommy-and-Me Yoga 101 information, featuring tips and a list of benefits for both baby and mom. There’s also a quick video of a playful baby yoga move, Butterfly Pose with Baby (Baddha Konasana), to try at home. What to Expect says to keep in mind that it’s best to do mommy-and-me yoga in a class with an experienced yoga teacher who can help ensure you’re doing the poses correctly and safely.

Good Night YogaOne way to introduce yoga to little ones is through colorfully illustrated books. Author and innovative educator Mariam Gates’ “Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story” is a beautiful tool for parents and caregivers to teach kids about yoga, and is a fun and effective new routine for bedtime.

The full-color book, illustrated by graphic artist Sarah Jane Hinder, tells the story of the natural world as it closes down for the night, while teaching children a simple flow of yoga postures inspired by their favorite characters from nature.

Good Morning YogaThe book’s follow-up, “Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story” invites young readers to practice a morning yoga routine to jumpstart the day and shows them how to focus, relax, self-monitor, and self-soothe.

Gates holds a master’s in education from Harvard University and has more than 20 years’ experience working with children. Her renowned Kid Power Yoga™ program combines her love of yoga with teaching to help children access their inner gifts. Learn more at kidpoweryoga.com/pages/home.html.

Yoga for FamiliesThe entire family can join in the fun of yoga with the “Yoga For Families: Connect With Your Kids” DVD, available on Amazon.

Yoga instructors to the stars Ingrid Von Burg and Tom Morley lead the workout, for ages 4 and older, that encourages time to jump, breathe, laugh, dance, sing and relax.

“Yoga provides us with clarity of thought, and allows us to communicate easier,” says the product description. “When we do that with our family, it gives us confidence.”

Special Features include a choice of music for the dynamic sections: Relaxing/Meditative or High Energy/Silly.

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Family Game Night Fun

Personalized New JammiesNew Jammies knows the benefits of kids and their loved ones gathering around a board game on Family Game Night to encourage good sportsmanship, creativity, and problem solving. Parents can bond with their kids over games they used to play in their youth, and children can introduce new games that can challenge the mind and promote team spirit.

ParentingScience.com, a website that provides evidence-based information about parenting and child development, says games may encourage kids to consider the concept of rules, practice following rules, and reason about moral problems. Citing a 2004 study by researchers Gobet and Retschitzki, titled, “Moves in mind: The psychology of board games,” published in Psychology Press, evidence has shown that when kids play with older role models, they can learn something else, too.

“How to win — and lose — with grace and good manners,” the reports stated.
Also, there are the possible intellectual benefits. “Many board games, including the classics like chess and Mancala, encourage players to detect patterns, says ParentingScience.com.

Personalized PJsThe Child Development Institute suggests board games teach planning, taking turns, handling winning and losing, problem solving, and other spatial skills.

“When played as a family, board games facilitate bonding and improve communication,” says Dr. Bob Myers, a licensed child and adolescent psychologist, in his article, “Toys That Help Develop Spatial Skills, Creativity, and Social Skills.” “Parents can use board games as an opportunity to teach social skills and frustration tolerance.”

Dr. Meyers says parents should select toys that are appropriate for your child, and look for ones with a fairly wide age-range so that your child will be able to enjoy them for a long period of time.

“Spend time building things and solving puzzles together with your child as well as encourage them to create on their own,” he suggests.

Jenga, Connect 4, Scrabble, and Clue are all classic games that can help with problem solving and helps kids use their analytical skills. For parents seeking options to make Family Game Night fun and educational, there’s a website at familygamenightsideas.com. The online community site is a resource to help parents and kids create successful Family Game Nights.

Ticket to RideA few board game ideas as holiday gifts include the popular Ticket to Ride. Players draw cards that offer perspective routes to complete on the map in order to score points at the end of the game. “Then you draw and play cards throughout the game to place your trains on the map in order to achieve your route goals,” says familygamenightsideas.com. “This can be very challenging especially when other players are competing for similar routes to you. You can also draw for new routes throughout the game, but beware that uncompleted routes will cost you points so plan carefully!”

Beat the ParentsThe game Beat The Parents is fun for kids ages 6 and older, and entails each team starting on one side and racing past the other to victory.

“This game is kids versus parents in a mad dash of trivia. It is designed for the parents to answer questions about kid’s stuff, while the kids have to answer things the parents should know. All the while you are trying to be the first to move your pieces across the board to win,” says the game’s review.

“One value that this game can really help with is teamwork. It was quite fun to watch the kids discuss what they thought was the right answer and why the team should take one over the other.”

HedbanzAnother favorite for kids and parents is the game Hedbanz, which gets both the parents and the kids laughing for hours. Amazon describes the award-winning game as a “goofy guessing ‘What am I? game. In the game, kids use their heads in more ways than one while asking yes or no questions to figure out if the cartoon on their head. The first player to guess what you are wins. Fun for all ages.


New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.