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: Fall Games Using Found Objects

Football New Jammies

Football New Jammies

Autumn is a perfect season to get outside, and New Jammies can’t think of a better time to explore and find the fun than fall. Hiking, camping, fishing and leaf peeping are just a few fun family-friendly activities to enjoy in the crisp air surrounded by nature. Even when wearing  your organic cotton New Jammies pajamas!

Playing outside can also motivate kids to invent new games and expand their imaginations with found items. From pumpkins grown in the family garden to pine cones found on a day hike, nature’s bounty can make playing games fun and creative this fall.

Check out these cute ideas for an Autumn to remember:

Pine Cone Toss

The toddlerapproved.com website, a resource for parents and teachers of young children that helps foster a love of learning at an early age, has many craft and activities ideas for kids. Their Pine Cone Toss game helps parents work with their kids on hand-eye coordination and counting. Here are the easy steps for fun play using pine cones form the woods or backyard.

Materials needed:
1. Six pine cones in a variety of sizes
2. Three varying sized bowls
3. One die
4. Tape to mark off the playing area

Pine Cone TossHow to play:
1. Put bowls out in order from big to small (small is harder and further away) and designate each bowl to have a certain number of points. We kept it simple and had the big bowl be worth 1 point, next bowl worth 2 points, and third (harder) bowl worth 3 points.

2. Roll the die and count the number shown on the die. (ex. 3)

3. Toss that number of pine cones into the bowls to try and earn the most points (ex. toss 3 pinecones into the bowls). Over time your child will learn that throwing three into the furthest small bowl will earn more points than throwing all three into the first big bowl.

4. Count up your points (and write them down to keep track).

5. Take the pine cones out of the bowls and pass the pine cones and die to the next person.

6. Take turns until everyone has had a turn. Play again and again until you are bored. Decide to play until the first person gets to 10 or 20 points if you want to have a designated ending point.

Pumpkin Ring Toss

The Pumpkin Ring Toss game can be played by trying to throw rings over the stems, or the pumpkins themselves.

Materials needed:
1. A grouping of 3 or more pumpkins with long stems — the straighter the better
2. Large metal mason jar bands (without lids), rope rings or other pliable, smaller rings to toss
3. Something to mark lines to stand behind

How to play:
1. Players are given 3 rings to try and ring as many pumpkin stems as possible.

2. We recommend parents and kids try it out for difficulty before playing. If the game is too easy, move your lines farther back, if the game is too hard, move lines closer.

3. Take turns throwing one or two times per player.

4. The player with the most rings around the pumpkins wins.

Autumn Leaf ObstacleAutumn Obstacle Course

The National Wildlife Federation is known for being a voice for wildlife, dedicated to protecting wildlife and habitat and inspiring the future generation of conservationists. So the nonprofit knows first-hand how to teach kids to also have fun while learning when they’re out there in the wild, wonderful outdoors. On its website nsf.org, the nonprofit hosts a section for Family Fun, with nature-friendly activities and games for kids and parents to do together. This Autumn Obstacle Course is perfect for utilizing the leaves raked in the yard for teachable moments:

Materials needed:
1. Paper grocery bags
2. 3 bean bags (optional)
3. A yard full of leaves
4. Rakes

How to play:
1. Design a course by deciding where to build a course, what shape it will take, and obstacles, including: Pile of leaves to crawl through. Bags of eaves to leap over. Paper grocery bags that must be filled with leaves before continuing on. Stations where your child must find three bean bags (or other objects) buried in a leaf pile. And a huge pile of leaves to dive into as the grand finale.

2. Rake leaves to make an obstacle course (you’ll need leaves, lots of them). Give your child a small rake so he or she can help collect the leaves you’ll need. Then arrange the leaves into the obstacle course you designed earlier. (For two kids who want to race, make two identical courses.)

3. Race through the course. Ready, set, go! Now it’s time to have fun. Race with your child or referee two kids racing. Or time your child as he or she runs the course. Change the obstacles to keep the fun going.

4. Talk about autumn and leaves. Fall into the season. Tell your child autumn has another name — fall. Ask if he or she can guess where the name came from. Explain it refers to the time of year when the leaves on some trees turn color and “fall” off. Why do leaves change color? Explain that leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll, a substance that helps plants make food. In fall, leaves stop making chlorophyll, and their green color fades. That’s when other colors underneath — the beautiful yellows, reds and oranges of fall — can show through. Ask your child to guess the most common leaf color (Answer: yellow.)

5. Fall recycling. Help your child discover ways that nature reuses old leaves. Overturn a bunch of leaves that have been on the ground for a while. You’re likely to find insects and other creatures. That’s because leaves provide these animals with food and shelter. Look for leaves from last year, and show your child how the old leaves have begun to decay. Explain that these old, rotten leaves enrich the soil, supplying food so other plants can grow.

Happy Autumn, and give thanks this November!

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: Natural play outdoors

15WEBParents who grew up in the days before electronics and video games became the easy way to engage the mind probably remember their parents telling them to go outside and play.

That was always the answer to “I’m bored.”

“In the last two decades, childhood has moved indoors. The average American boy or girl spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day, and more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen,” reports the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), in a report published on its website detailing the health benefits of playing outside. “This shift inside profoundly impacts the wellness of our nation’s kids.”

The NWF lists childhood obesity – more than double what it was 20 years ago – and an increase in pediatric prescriptions for ADHD and antidepressant medications as effects of this growing trend.

“Our kids are out of shape, tuned out and stressed out, because they’re missing something essential to their health and development: connection to the natural world,” says the NWF.

The good news is organizations such as the NWF are working to combat the issue with a simple message our parents told us for years — go outside and play. The NWF’s proactive Be Out There movement encourages that much-needed connection between kids and the natural world. Join the movement here.

“By raising awareness, inspiring behavior change and taking action, Be Out There will help get American children and families back outside—where they belong,” says the nonprofit org.

14WEBWhether it’s climbing on the monkey bars at a neighborhood park or camping out in the backyard, the Great Outdoors are still viable options of natural playtime for today’s youth.

Experts say the benefits of natural play are exponential.

The NSF reports that outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, and that nature enhances social interactions, value for community and close relationships.

Ideas for inspiring kids to forego the electronics for outdoor activities can really take off in the fall, as kids can play flag football in the yard or romp through pumpkin patches to find their perfect pick for the porch’s seasonal jack-o-lanterns. Kids can help decorate the outside of the home for the fall season and make scarecrows in the garden or spooky ghosts in the trees. After raking the leaves, parents can encourage kids to take a running jump into the piles.

Building forts and tire swings and climbing trees can also be timeless fun fall activities for the kids. Outdoor lawn games including croquet, bocce ball, and badminton are still in fashion. With the help of Mom and Dad, kids can make their own lawn games including homemade Lawn Twister and Giant Jenga, or an easy bean bag toss (also known as corn hole), ring toss or lawn bowling using two-liter pop containers, as seen in this PBS.org blog on Backyard Games and Activities by Danielle Steinberg. Chalk art on the driveway or sidewalk encourages children’s creativity with nature as inspiration.

39WEBFall is a good time for outdoor sports such as flag football, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, sand volleyball, baseball, softball, and basketball, and can be fun ways for kids to play in nature. Outdoor recreation such as hiking, fishing, camping out, riding bikes, zip lining, rock wall climbing, visiting amusement and water parks, and attending outdoor soccer matches and baseball and football games are also great options for getting kids outside and away from the draw of electronic screens. They will have a lot of fun with the family and remember the experiences for a lifetime.

Encourage your kids to go outside and play right, so they sleep tight at night in New Jammies’ 100% pure, natural organic cotton pajamas. And most importantly, have fun!