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: 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: 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.