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: After-School Activities to Help Kids Focus

Now that New Jammies kids are back in the swing of school, focus is a key to helping them achieve high marks and perform well in class. After-school can be an important time of the day for kids to not only relax and play, but also work on focusing on schoolwork.

Let’s Get Physical
Exercise is a great way for kids to fight childhood obesity (September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month) and stay mind-sharp. The experts at WebMD agree.

“Physical activity boosts blood flow all over the body, including to the brain. Brain cells get better at connecting with each another,” says WebMD author R. Morgan Griffin in “Your Kid’s Brain on Exercise. “What’s the result? Better thinking skills.”

WebMD says studies show that people who exercise more are sharper mentally.

“The effects may be almost immediate. One study found that kids scored higher on math and reading comprehension tests after exercising for 20 minutes,” says the report.

Griffin suggests helping kids benefit from after-school activity with an hour of exercise a day. “That’s what the CDC recommends for kids ages 6 to 18. Your kids can split up activity over the course of the day. A few minutes here and there adds up.”

footballThe CDC offers age-appropriate* ideas for physical activity for children and adolescents, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60-or-more minutes, such as:

1. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running.

2. Muscle strengthening activities, such as gymnastics or push-ups.

3. Bone strengthening activities, such as jumping rope or running.

*Per the CDC, some physical activity is better-suited for children than adolescents. For example, children do not usually need formal muscle-strengthening programs, such as lifting weights. Younger children usually strengthen their muscles when they do gymnastics, play on a jungle gym or climb trees. As children grow older and become adolescents, they may start structured weight programs. For example, they may do these types of programs along with their football or basketball team practice.

Exercise the Brain
Check out the interactive website goofybrains.com, a division of Brain Pages, which specializes in the ethical and honest promotion of brain health and mental  health products, resources and professionals. The site offers ideas to keep kids’ minds sharp in its “Six Brain Exercises For Children” feature by Sarah Holt, a writer for increasebrainpower.com.

She suggests word searches and crosswords, memory exercises, and obstacle courses for the brain with stations set up hosting different focus-building activities. Holt also encourages parents and caregivers try having kids write or draw left-handed (or right-handed).

“This can be fun to see who can tell what was written or drawn afterwards. Another option is to draw a picture where one-half is done with the dominant hand and then afterwards it is copied onto the other half by the non-dominant hand. These are brain exercises for children that encourage both sides of their brain to work together,” she says.

Thank you, Internet

Image courtesy puzzlestoprint.com

From puzzles-to-print.com

The puzzles-to-print.com website is a helpful resource for parents and caregivers who have the ability to print off pdfs of word scrambles as educational tools and after-school activities to build focus.

Make the mind games fun for the holidays by printing off holiday-themed puzzles including this puzzle, just in time for Halloween. Click here to print out the fun.

Fall into Fun
Autumn is closing in, so while the weather is still warm, encourage New Jammies kids to play outside after being inside in the classroom all day. The website Kids Activities (www.kidsactivities.net), which provides “1,000s of ideas for childcare professionals and teachers,” offers these ideas, and more, for autumn after-school activities:

gourds1. Gourd Bowling. Set up bowling pins using empty two-liter soda bottles. If preferred, the bottles can be weighted with seeds or water. Use a round, bumpy gourd as the ball.

2. Magic Pumpkin Seeds. Materials: Pumpkin seeds, small paper bag and small pumpkins. Show the children a small bag of pumpkin seeds and explain that you believe these are magic pumpkin seeds. Take the children outside to your yard where they toss the seeds onto the ground. Have them make up a few magic words, if they want. The next day, before children go outside — gather the seeds and put small pumpkins in their place. Take the children outside and delight them with the ‘magical’ pumpkins that have grown. If you have enough pumpkins, the children can take the pumpkins home and/or first decorate and paint them to add to theme of your space. Idea adapted from preschoolrainbow.org.

3. The Squirrel Game. Let the kids pretend they are squirrels gathering nuts for the winter. Give each a small paper bag, then toss out several unshelled nuts onto the floor and let the kids race to see who can collect the most. Older and younger children should be separated for this game. Another way to play this game, (if you have a way to corral a large quantity of leaves) is to hide nuts beneath a large pile of leaves and give the kids a set amount of time to find as many nuts as they can.

4. Visit http://www.kidactivities.net/category/Seasonal-FallAutumn-Games.aspx for more fun fall game ideas.

Play Right: Eco-friendly kids toys for the holidays

169457_471059246265576_1802608079_oFrom perching elves on shelves to building train tracks around the tree, the holidays are a perfect time to share in the fun of kids’ toys. At New Jammies, we love toy manufacturers, specialty shops and online retailers whose goals are to improve our communities and the lives of our children.

Play time is an important part of a child’s development and we love that we can help make it a little better. As the holidays draw near, we’ve found these eco-friendly products that help us meet our mission of developing a healthy lifestyle for our most precious resource – children.

happy_hybridWe start off with one of our New Jammies founder’s son’s favorite toys. He loves this little car, which she purchased at an arts festival in New Jammies Colorado hometown, the Carbondale Mountain Fair. From North Star Toys, the Happy Hybrid all-natural toy car  is made with alder and birch and non-toxic paint is five inches long. The toy features a compact, easy-rolling design with five rainbow passengers (also comes in natural).

North Star Toys, based in New Mexico, has hand-crafted quality, non-toxic wooden toys out of walnut, oak, alder and other fine woods at affordable prices since 1979. With a commitment to environmental sustainability, the company’s durable designs feature non-toxic oils paints and oils to allow the wood’s natural beauty to shine and recycled materials when possible.

We also love North Star Toys’ Baby’s First Animals and Creative Play Sets, perfect for dollhouses, sandboxes, bathtub, car or anywhere. Learn more and shop online at www.northstartoys.com.

From wooden toys including oversized domino sets and horse rockers to train sets and stencil kits, the Magic Cabin, found online at www.magiccabin.com, encourages open-ended, creative, imaginative play with simple, natural toys an135952_471059472932220_556832310_od crafts.  Popular holiday toys include a 100% pure Holiday Beeswax Candle Rolling Kit for fun gift-making with the kids and the Margaret Wise Brown Treasury by the beloved “Goodnight Moon” author.

Educational and eco-friendly kids’ toys can also be found at growingtreetoys.com, where the store’s goal is to teach children the importance of environmental consciousness while providing the same fun and play as other toys. The company discovers products constructed in ways gentler to the environment and from manufacturers committed to helping the earth. The Green Toys Tea Set is a cute 17-piece pretend play toy with made from eco-friendly materials in the U.S. for two years and up.

Kids three and up can learn about gardening and the environment with DuneCraft’s Desert Biodome Terrarium on growingtreetoys.com. The kit recycles water and thrives with minimal care, showing curious kids how to grow 25 varieties of unusual cacti and succulents in a biodome terrarium with natural gravel, sand, and stones.

Arts and crafts, early learning toys, fantasy and dress-up clothes, youth musical instruments, and old-fahioned toys are a few of the popular natural organic toys available at ourgreenhouse.com. A few of our favorites are the Natural Finger Painting 5-Piece Set, great for bath time, and Eco-friendly Stocking Stuffers including aromatherapy bubble bath, wool finger puppets, and felted coin purses.

My Little Green Shop is a hip e-boutique geared for eco-conscious families offering online shopping for eco-conscious toys, puzzles, and games we love. Maple Landmark Environment Memory Tiles  are made in the USA and feature images for recycling, renewable power sources, the seasons and even a hybrid car to exercise kids’ memory skills in a green way. There are also wooden matching,  alphabet, and peg puzzles perfect for fun and education with the kids.

Bunnies Picnica family-owned e-boutique specializing in iteme for babies, girls, and tweens, has a variety of cute toys and doll clothing, donating a percentage of their profits to buy new clothing for foster children in the United States. Bunnies Picnic toys that kids will love to unwrap this holiday season include Hazel Village organic ragdolls such as Annicke the Mouse BallerinaOwen the Fox in Green Waistcoat and Ragtalew Primrose the Pig Mini Ragdoll.

We know Santa would approve.

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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!

Play Right: Summertime activities for kids

Back to school may be just around the corner, but there are still enough active summer days for New Jammies kids to enjoy fun activities, learn, and play – indoors and out.

Airplane-Pajamas-Boys-Organic-Cotton-PJ-Short

New Jammies airplane pajamas

From airplanes and history to art and Native American culture, the topics museums showcase across the U.S. could keep a family busy, while learning, all summer long. Kids are like sponges, taking in knowledge as fast as they can, and the nation’s museums and interactive learning centers are perfect ways to teach our youth and have fun.

According to the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), approximately 850 million visits are made annually to American museums. That’s more than the attendance for all major league sporting events and theme parks combined (483 million in 2011).

“Museums tell important stories by collecting, preserving, researching and interpreting objects, living specimens and historical records,” says the AAM’s website. “Museums help communities better understand and appreciate cultural diversity.”

For kids who love animals, zoos and aquariums are ideal options for boys and girls to learn about different species and ecosystems, and enjoy a fun, up-close look at the Animal Kingdom. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums website is a great resource for parents and caregivers to learn what zoos are doing around the country to help teach kids in a family-friendly environment.

Just this summer, Tiki the Giraffe turned 25 at the Oakland Zoo in California, the Indianapolis Zoo opened a new, state-of the-art orangutan center in Indiana, and tiny red panda cubs were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Get out and see what the country’s zoos have to offer in 2014.

Mermaid-Pajamas-Girls-Cotton-PJ-Short-Set

New Jammies mermaid pajamas

From outdoor water parks to a sprinkler in the backyard, getting wet in the summer sun guarantees a refreshing activity option for kids in the summertime. Going back to the idea that children are sponges, they can learn to swim with lessons at public pools and through youth swim clubs. They can perfect their back strokes in the country’s host of lakes, swimming holes, and rivers. Just remember, safety first, so wear a portable flotation device (PFD), also known as a life jacket, or water wings and flotation devices as needed.

Of course being outdoors in the sun, no matter what the activity, requires proper sun shading and protection to prevent sun damage and melanoma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a significant part of a person’s lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18.

WHO suggests these sun protection tips:

  • Limit time in the midday sun. The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, limit sun exposure during these hours.
  • Watch for the UV index. This helps in planning outdoor activities to prevent overexposure to the sun’s rays when the UV Index predicts exposure levels of moderate or above.
  • Use shade wisely. Seek shade when UV rays are the most intense. Shade structures such as trees, umbrellas or canopies don’t always offer complete sun protection. Remember the shadow rule: “Watch your shadow – Short shadow, seek shade!”
  • Wear protective clothing. A hat with a wide brim offers good sun protection for eyes, ears, face, and back of the neck. Sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection greatly reduce eye damage from sun exposure. Tightly woven, loose-fitting clothes provide additional protection from the sun.
  • Use sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15+ liberally and re-apply every two hours, or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors.

Venture out there with the kids this summer and play right, so they sleep tight, in their 100% pure, natural organic cotton New Jammies pajamas. Have fun!