Category Archives: Family Fun

Holiday Gift Guide: STEM and Learning Toys

My favorite kind of toy is one that teaches my 3-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son something new, especially ones that encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning.

I received some toys to review and picked up a few from the store already. These are some of our family’s favorites. Some of the toys below have links to their full reviews, and I plan to continue reviewing and linking…so check back!

Tiggly Learning Apps and Toys

$29.95

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Each Tiggly set includes toys that interact with your Apple or Android devices. I’m a big fan of these sets because they are highly engaging and teach and reinforce academic skills. See my review for more details and for demonstration videos.

IQ Fit and IQ Twist

Age 6+; $9.99 and $11.99

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These are great stocking stuffers for kids AND adults. See my review for more details and demonstration videos.

Goldie Blox: Blox + Bits

Age 6+;  $9.99 and up

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Goldie Blox are super STEM toys created to inspire girls to have fun with construction and engineering. There are loads of sets with fun and interesting characters and challenges at all price points. We had a lot of fun trying the teeny stocking-stuffer-size Blox + Bits.

Gyrobot

Age 8+; $44.95

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Gyrobot made a bunch of “Best Toy” lists last year. What I love most about this STEM toy is that, along with the fun of constructing robots with the set, kids are learning about gyroscopes and how they’re used in many technological tools we use everyday.

Riddle Cube

Age 8+;  $19.99

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Players race each other to put their riddle cubes together according to puzzle cards. Too tricky for little ones, but great for exercising spatial-relations in big kids and adults.

Check out more in the School Psych Mom Series:

Holiday Gift Guide: Family Favorites

Holiday Gift Guide: Preschool Learning Toys

Holiday Gift Guide Series: Family Favorites

It’s November and that means Christmas is right around the corner! I’ve already started shopping for my 7-year-old and 3-year-old for the holidays, how about you?

I received some toys to review and picked up a few from the store already. These are some of our family’s favorites.

Crayola Color Alive

Age 4+; $5.99

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Download the free app to make your kids’ creations come alive. This was a hit for both my 3-year-old and my 7-year-old.

Eye Found It: Hidden Picture Game

Age 4+; $20

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Eye Found It is a great game for the whole family. Kids love to find their favorite characters in the Disney and Pixar themed editions.

Sky Rover Helicopter

Age 8+; $45

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The Sky Rover comes with remote control AND headset for voice command! My son thinks it’s so cool to wear the headset and pretend to be ground control. He could play for hours if we let him!

Glow Show

Age 5+; $20

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The Glow Show sticker launcher is pure fun. Kids can launch glow-in-the-dark stickers on the ceiling and walls.

Lite Brite

Age 4+; $25

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This was a purchase driven by nostalgia. I loved Lite Brite as a kid and now I’m playing it with my kids. Now the templates are reusable; remember when they were paper?

Hex Bug Inchworm

Age 8+;  $19.99 (with remote control)

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We love Hex Bug toys and we always have fun with remote control toys, so the Inchworm is a win-win!

Quixels

Age 4+; $9.99 and up

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Basically Beados for boys, Qixels are little plastic pieces that stick to each other when wet. My son loves that they come in designs that resemble popular icons from Minecraft and Ninjago. This little Qixel package is a great stocking stuffer!

Check out more in the School Psych Mom Series:

Holiday Gift Guide: STEM and Learning Toys

Holiday Gift Guide: Preschool Learning Toys

10% OFF Brainy Toys from Smart Games: IQ Fit and IQ Twist

I received a Smart Games IQ Fit in my swag box when I attended Sweet Suite at Blogger Bash NYC 15 and an IQ Twist when I attended Sweet Suite 14. We’ve been enjoying these little brain teasing toys ever since.  They’re both compact and portable, so they’re great for the car or for restaurants. I’m glad to hand one to my 7-year-old to keep him busy instead of the ipad or iphone!

IQ Fit

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IQ Twist In Action

See our video review of the IQ Twist!

Get 10% off using the code SweetSte when you purchase Smart Games and Toys from the Amazon Store! The promo code is good until October 30th, so act fast!

 

 

Long Island Apple and Pumpkin Picking at Harbes Farm

Today, we  truly had the best Fall visit to the pumpkin patch and orchard at Harbes Farm in Riverhead, Long Island. Despite the fact that it’s a beautiful Saturday during Columbus weekend, we had a fun and stress-less trip at Harbes.

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Harbes is Huge

We only visited the Riverhead location (there also are Harbes locations in  Mattituck and Jamesport). Here, we were able to do every single Fall activity on our list.

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We were disappointed with ourselves for arriving a half hour after it opened (at 10:30), but, with so many attractions,we had no problem with crowds. By what felt like a miracle, there still was plenty of parking when we arrived, and the lines didn’t appear until about 1 p.m.

At Harbes, there are enough activities to fill the day, all without a bouncy castle in sight!

Apple Picking

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Pay by the person ($8); each person gets a bag to fill. There are 24 varieties of apples in 15 acres, so there are plenty to pick. This was such a memorable experience for the kids.

Pumpkin Picking

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Pick your pumpkins off the vine and find all shapes sizes colors and varieties in the 4-acre patch.

Wine Tasting

What? Taste and purchase wine produced at the Harbes farm by the glass or bottle. This is an unusual but delightful little perk that makes a trip to the farm a fun adult activity.

Candle Making

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Dozens of different scented wax powders are lined up to guests to use to customize their own candles. My kids made their own and they’re so proud of their creations.

Apple Cider Donuts

Holy mole, these are the most amazing donuts I’ve ever tasted. Don’t bother with sticky messy candied apples. Have a donut and a roasted corn cob, and you’ll be good until dinner. It hit the spot for us!

Hayride

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Must do. Nice and quick so the line wasnever too long.

Robin Hood Corn Maze

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Adventure through the corn maze and even grab equipment in the maze to help Robin Hood defeat the Sheriff’s Companion.  At night there’s a Spooky Maze that sounds like a blast.

I’m so glad to have found a one-stop farm for Fall activities. Where do you go to pick your pumpkins?

Holiday Gift Guide: Preschool Learning Toys

It’s time to start testing and reviewing toys for the 2015 holiday season and passing my favorites on to my readers. The two important things I look for in toys for the kids are: (1) How engaging are they and (2) Do they have some educational value, especially for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning. So, here goes the first in a series of Holiday Gift Guides for kiddos.

We received these toys from  Educational Insights to review. All opinions are our own.

Magic Moves RainbowJam

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My 3-year-old daughter is a little diva, so I knew she’d love a microphone, but this toy is way more than that. When she presses the microphone on a color (anywhere!), a sensor on the bottom reads the color. Then the microphone plays a different note for each color. It’s fascinating even for adults to try the microphone on colors around the house.

The RainbowJam comes with a 16-page activity book that includes a color-coded keyboard for composing, and several original songs about the colors.

This is a fantastic toy to help preschoolers learn colors and encourage creativity. Plus, it provides hours of entertainment.

Design & Drill Flower Power Studio

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I LOVE this toy because it’s basically a power tool that inspires STEM learning with little girls. It’s not just a pink pretend drill, it’s a battery powered drill with two drill bits and a case that unfolds to become a flower board for creating designs with the included bolts. The Design & Drill comes with a guide for creating 12 patterns.
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IMG_8625My favorite things about the Design & Drill are that it encourages STEM learning, hand-eye coordination, spatial relations, and problem-solving skills. Plus, this is another toy that was a hit with my daughter and kept her busy FOREVER!

GeoSafari Jr. Jungle Crew Lab Set

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This 6-piece, animal-themed chemistry set comes with 10 hands-on activity cards with directions for how to conduct mini science demonstrations. We tried out the slime-making activity and had a great time. We still have many more activities to try.

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This is another great STEM learning toy that introduces key scientific principles and processes, supports early math skills and measurement, and provides hands-on experience with physical science and the senses.

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What do you think of these preschool toys? Do you have any good recommendations for learning toys, especially in STEM areas?

Fun Indoor/Outdoor Toys for Boys and Girls: New Reviews

I received sample toys to test and review. All opinions are my own.

I first saw these toys at Sweet Suite during Blogger Bash NYC 2015 and knew they would be on my holiday must-buy list. The Firetek Zeon Bow from Zing and the Unicorn Popper from Hog Wild are great toys for kids like mine (7 and 3 years old, respectively).

Firetek Zeon Bow

The Firetek Zeon Bow is a mini version of the Zeon Bow, but it’s not so mini. It launches light-up mini Zartz arrows up to 35 feet, and will stick to most flat surface targets with soft-foam suction cup tips.

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An arrow is launched by hooking it up to two elastic cords on the bow. This mechanism ensures that the user can’t replace the safe soft-tipped arrows with something more dangerous.

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The Zeon Bow is available in two colors, green and orange and the arrows light up for fun nighttime play. It’s meant for kids age 5+ and it will retail for $14.99.

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Unicorn Popper

The Unicorn Popper is an adorable little ball-launching toy for kids ages 4 and up. It comes with 6 cute rainbow balls that shoot up to 20 feet just by squeezing the unicorn’s belly.

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It was difficult for my 3 1/2 year old daughter to squeeze the unicorn hard enough to shoot the ball, but she was able to to it a few times. With just a little more strength, I think it will be easy; and I like that she’s strengthening her hand grip just by trying.

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The Unicorn Popper is in stores now and retails for $9.99.

 

Blue Man Group Tickets Giveaway

Blue Man Group Blogger Bash Selfie

As a Blogger Bash NYC attendee, I was invited to see the Blue Man Group perform.  I’m so excited to offer a lucky reader 4 tickets to a Blue Man Group show in New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando,  Las Vegas, or ANY of their North American Tour dates!

ENTER BELOW and DARE TO LIVE IN FULL COLOR!

Blue Man Group Blogger Bash Performance

Blue Man Group is comedy, theater, rock concert and dance party all rolled into one. This wildly popular phenomenon delivers an unforgettable multisensory experience. What an amazing, unique, and entertaining show fora broad range of age groups and cultural backgrounds.
The music and the setting are intense: original rock music with heavy drums and a dark and industrial scene. It gets the audience immersed in the show from the start, then warms us up as we get to know the simple and kind personalities of the Blue Men.
Blue Man Group Blogger Bash Performance (2)

The show is full of awesome surprises. If you sit in the first few rows, you’ll be given a poncho in case of splatter. But no matter where you sit, every audience member should be prepared to participate.

Creative Director Randall Jaynes taking questions at the Blue Man Group Blogger Bash Q&A

The biggest impression the show had on me was how talented the cast is. We met Randall Jaynes, an original Blue Man who currently trains new cast members. These guys must be exceptionally talented in music, especially drumming, and physical comedy even before the hours and hours of Blue Man Group rehearsal. Their talent really makes the show impressive.

Buy tickets here and enter below for 4 free tickets!

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