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: Getting Out and Playing Pokemon GO

Pokemon GOAt New Jammies we like to keep abreast of pop culture. So the extreme popularity of Pokémon GO has us curious, which of course means we have questions.

Luckily we found the answers. And more.

What exactly is Pokémon GO?

According to Pokémon GO info on pokemon.com, the latest trend in smartphone apps for iPhone and Android is built on Niantic’s Real World Gaming Platform. The free game can be set up for single or multi-player use, and features real locations to encourage players to “search far and wide in the real world to discover Pokémon.” Users travel between the real and virtual worlds of Pokémon to find and catch more than 100 species of Pokémon while exploring their surroundings.

“As you move around, your smartphone will vibrate to let you know you’re near a Pokémon. Once you’ve encountered a Pokémon, take aim on your smartphone’s touch screen and throw a Poké Ball to catch it. Be careful when you try to catch it, or it might run away!” says the pokemon.com site. “Also look for PokéStops located at interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments, where you can collect more Poké Balls and other items.”

Can kids play Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is geared toward users 13 years old and older, however parents can add younger kids to their parental account if they want to play along, says a special USA Today report on tips for parents of Pokémon Go kids, by Jinny Gudmundsen.

Pokemon GO screen“The game has a number of positives, such as encouraging people to walk, explore their surroundings and meet new people. But for children, there are risks as well.”

The USA Today story lists five key points parents should know about the popular game, including that it can lead kids to private property. Some people grieving at cemeteries have also had issues with respect when playing.

“Parents can use Pokémon Go as a teachable moment to explain why some areas — even those that have Pokémon hiding within them — can’t be reached. Most young kids don’t know about trespassing, so this is a good time to explain the concept,” Gudmundsen writes.

How can kids be safe while playing Pokémon GO?

Gudmundsen also warns parents stranger danger is the real deal.

“Part of what makes this game fun is that it is social,” she says. “You are out in the world, looking for things. Loads of other people are playing it at the same time, and since there is a geocaching element — certain Pokémon are found at specific locations, as are Pokéstops and gyms — a camaraderie arises out of meeting others looking for the same thing as you. Most people enthusiastically share what they know. And since the game is vague on a lot of specifics of how to play, this sharing is crucial to your enjoyment.”

Not all user’s motives can be trusted, the report warns, as there have been robberies associated with the game. Also, in Indiana, there was an arrest of a pedophile playing the game with kids outside a Hoosier courthouse. Gudmundsen suggests parents supervise younger children while they play by joining in, or having them play in adult-managed groups.

“For teens, have them play with a friend, and impose other rules (such as not playing late at night or at remote places). All kids need to be reminded to never give personal information to strangers,” she writes.

Pokemon GO PlusThe distracted walking danger is mentioned in USA Today’s tips (read full story here), so parents may be relieved to learn that in late July, the Pokémon GO Plus is being offered. The portable device enables players to enjoy the game and not have to look down at their smartphones so they walk into a pole or fall into a fountain. Or worse yet, cause a traffic accident.

Pokémon GO Plus connects directly to a smartphone via Bluetooth and notifies the player about events in the game — such as the appearance of a Pokémon nearby — using an LED and vibration, says the product’s description. In addition, players can catch Pokémon or perform other simple actions by pressing the button on the device, according to the Pokémon GO informational page.

For additional details about Pokémon GO, visit the offical website at http://www.pokemongo.com/en-us.

Play Right: Math Games for Teach Your Children to Save Day

imageAt New Jammies, every day is the time to learn new things. it just so happens today is Teach Your Children to Save Day, an educational program established to encourage kids to develop early savings habits as well as learn the benefits of donating and investing.

The term “save early and often” couldn’t apply more.

Teaching kids fiscal responsibility sounds pretty serious. So to put some fun into the lesson learning, we’ve found some fun math games that will help kids think about money in a responsible way without boring them to tears.

On its TreasuryDirect Kids page, the U.S. Treasury offers online games such as Save Perry’s Pennies, which tests kids’ money-saving skills by helping Perry the pink piggy bank save as many pennies as he can, and MoneyMemory. The site also offers definitions of debt that can be explained to kids, info on saving and investing, and the impact of borrowing money.

At mint.org, Northwestern Mutual offers fun for kids, tips for teens, pointers for parents, and ideas for teachers regarding money-related matters. April 18-25 is Money Smarts Week, and this Money Smart Activity Sheet , available to print off for kids, can help teach financial literacy through brain games.

The U.S. Mint H.I.P. (History In your Pocket) Change website, is another tool for teaching and learning that shows how connected people are to coins. H.I.P. Pocket Change features games, stories, and other activities bring coins to life. One of the featured games is the America the Beautiful Quarters, and there are games themed around action, adventure, art, puzzles, facts, collecting, including multi-player options, coloring pages, and bingo cards.

In its Math Arcade section, funbrain.com has an educational Change Maker game that helps teach kids about money. Young players can figure out how many of each bill or coin is expected to get back when an item is purchased. For example, if something costs $3.75 and you pay with a five dollar bill, expect back one quarter and one dollar bill. A correct answer means the amount of change is added to the piggy bank. If an answer is wrong, the correct amount of change is subtracted from the piggy bank. The more money in the piggy bank, the harder the questions become.

On the pbskids.org website, the award-winning, math-based TV series Cyberchase section features an online game that teaches kids to earn and save money in cyberspace to buy parts to help fix Motherboard. In PBS land, Motherboard is the wise ruler of cyberspace who speaks from a computer at Control Central. Her signature line is “Hacker alert!” In the site’s Activities section, kids can create a Savings Diary to keep track of how they save money.

Teaching kids responsibility with money can also be taught in the home by offering a weekly allowance for doing chores around the house and providing a piggy bank for money storage (or for older kids, a savings account).

We know of one caring mom who teaches her kids the value of their allowances by matching the final amount saved by the end of the year and having them donate half that total to a charity of their choice. The more allowance money the kids save, the more items they are able to purchase to donate during the holidays. The kids have purchased books for a children’s hospital and donated much-needed pet items, including food and dog beds, to a local animal shelter. Happy saving!

Play Right: Kids Puzzles Inspire Educational Fun

At New Jammies, we love those special quirky holidays that help us celebrate the obscure.

Like National Bubble Wrap Day on Jan. 26 every year, where popping bubble wrap all day to relieve stress is perfectly acceptable. Or Strawberry Day on Feb. 27, when strawberry shortcake is sure to be enjoyed across the nation. Grammar Day on March 4 is the sure to be the day when grammar fanatics can go around correcting people’s use of your vs. you’re and their vs. there. Improper punctuation is also fair game for correction on Grammar Day.

As January comes to a close, we celebrated National Puzzle Day with a fun selection of some of our favorite online finds for helping kids learn about everything from shapes to the United States. This unofficial holiday, always celebrated on Jan. 29, is a tip of the hat to games enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. Puzzle celebrations and events are hosted at venues nationwide including community libraries, art centers and museums. Whether they are jigsaw, crossword, word scramble, Sudoku or memory games, puzzles are fun and educational.

Here are a few of our favorite kids’ puzzles available online. We suggest kids snuggle up in a warm pair of New Jammies and let their minds do the rest:

©Manzanita Kids, LLC

©Manzanita Kids, LLC Train Puzzle

Manzanita Kids
Manzanita Kids heirloom quality toys are handcrafted in Seattle and feature simple, durable, tactile and imaginative designs, quality materials and fine craftsmanship. The company’s eco-friendly philosophy features American hardwoods purchased from local source enhanced and protected with beeswax and organic jojoba oil, applied and polished by hand. Manzanita Kids products are featured at the Museum of Modern Art and the Dia Art Foundation in New York, Kidspace Children’s Museum in California and Kohl’s Children in Illinois and can be purchased online. Manzanita’s wood puzzles help children develop problem-solving skills, spatial reasoning and confidence. We love their fun five-piece train puzzle, as part of the transportation series, made from maple, cherry and walnut with a homemade organic jojoba oil/beeswax finish. Order online at http://www.manzanitakids.com/puzzle/train-puzzle.

My First Green Toys® Shape Sorter

My First Green Toys® Shape Sorter

Green Toys
Made in the California, Green Toys are classic children’s toys made from recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials. The company uses food-safe, 100% recycled milk containers, reprocessed into clean plastic, and formed into kids toys and hands-on puzzle play including the My First Green Toys Shape Sorter is a puzzle that helps develop recognition of shapes and colors and builds eye-hand coordination, problem-solving, and fine and gross motor skill development. The two-part elliptical Shape Sorter features eight colorful shapes (two stars, two circles, two squares and two triangles), has no BPA, phthalates, PVC or external coatings, and meets FDA food contact standards and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The puzzle is recommended for six months and up and can be ordered online at http://www.greentoys.com/my-first-green-toys-shape-sorter.html.

© 2015 Melissa and Doug

© 2015 Melissa and Doug Alphabet Sound Puzzle

Melissa and Doug
Headquartered in Connecticut, the Melissa and Doug toy company was founded more than 25 years ago in a garage of the owner Doug’s childhood home. Today, the company offers more than 2,000 innovative products for children of yttrium all ages. Melissa and Doug puzzles range from simple wooden jumbo knob puzzles to complex 500-piece cardboard jigsaw puzzles to help build fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and problems-solving skills. We love the Melissa and Doug alphabet and number puzzles, featuring activities where kids can play and learn, hands-on. The 26-piece Alphabet Sound Puzzle pronounces the correct name of each letter when placed correctly. Pieces are slightly raised above the puzzle board for easy grasping. Colorful pictures under each piece reinforce the relationship between letters and their sounds. Buy at: http://www.melissaanddoug.com/alphabet-sound-learning-puzzle.