As my kids get older, I'm less and less eager to get them "stuff." You know what I mean: those random trendy gifts that get played with twice before being forgotten forever. Those cheap toys that break immediately upon opening.
I'm also intrigued that as my girls get older, they are less and less inclined toward stuff. Thanks to the era of Netflix and Apple TV, they are rarely in front of commercials. Which means they aren't aware or interested in the millions of lackluster toys that the media bombards them with. I appreciate that they don't have the "gimmies" or looking for the next big thing just because.
Often, when asked about gifts, my girls resort to 3 simple categories: books, crafts and games. I absolutely love this! As you may recall, Hubby is an English teacher, so there is no limit on the amount of books that are allowed to be brought into our home. Crafts are a fun and creative way to spend time. Sometimes we even just get them each a ream of computer paper and a fresh pack of colored pencils and they are good to go!
In recent years, we've really embraced having Family Game Night. The girls love the classics, but are always eager to try something new. Which is why I've really fallen in love with ThinkFun games. They are always putting out new and intriguing products, all of which are steeped in education.
We had a blast last year with a few of their new games, and this year is no exception. Make sure to add these games to your Wish List!
In this thrilling engineering challenge, players get to build their very own roller coasters. Start by choosing a challenge card and setting up the pieces to match. Then, players use the remaining pieces to build a working roller coaster that meets the build conditions on their challenge card. Roller Coaster Challenge incorporates elements of a logic puzzle, while also allowing for the creativity that stems from free-form building. Once you have solved each challenge, you get to watch a real coaster car glide down the track, complete with dips, curves, and loops! Roller Coaster Challenge earned American Specialty Toy Retailer Association’s (ASTRA) Best Toys for Kids Award and National Parenting Products Award! (Ages 6+)
Prepared for a programming space mission? In this 40-challenge game two Rovers have been sent to explore Mars. The trouble is, the Rovers are programmed to travel on color and most of the pathways were left colorless in a dust storm. You’ll need to call on your critical thinking skills to correctly color the pathways so the Rovers stay on course. Challenges introduce “decision points,” “loops,” and “increment instructions” as you progress--all advanced computational skills that are delicately embedded into a fun play experience and will have you thinking like a true programmer. (Ages 8+) Available on Amazon - $14.99
Flip and rearrange all 9 Color Cubes on the 3 x 3 tray until each color appears once in every row and column. It will take more than a couple flips of a cube to master this brilliant Sudoku puzzle. Once you’ve conquered the traditional Sudoku pattern, give your brain a real workout with our fun Bonus Challenges! Color Cube Sudoku is a Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner and earned finalist status in American Specialty Toy Retailer Association’s (ASTRA) Best Toys for Kids! (Ages 8+) Available on Amazon - $19.99
So, summer is here. And while I was so done with making lunches, waking irritated sleepy children and running to get to the bus stop on time just a few weeks ago, I've reached that point in the summer where I begin eyeing up when the next school year begins.
Don't get me wrong: I love the chance for my girls to relax and take a break from the stress of school over the summer. What I don't like? The squabbling and bickering and the incessant proclamations of boredom that I encounter each day. (How are you bored?! We have an entire yard, neighbor kids, camps and a room dedicated solely to your toys at your disposal?! GO OUTSIDE ALREADY).
I may be slightly hyperbolic here. But one true concern I have is the lack of learning that often happens during the summer. Do I want my kids to relax? Absolutely? But do I want them to continue to learn, engage, explore and discover? 100%.
Explore the mathematical patterns of the natural world at Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature! From the nested spirals of a sunflower’s seeds to the ridges of a majestic mountain range, this stunning interactive exhibit provides an introduction to patterns and how math surrounds us every day. Lose yourself in an elaborate mirror maze—the stunning centerpiece of the exhibit—and challenge yourself to discover how geometry, tessellations, and repetitions can unlock the secrets of the world around you.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT MY KIDS NEED: learning but the sneaky kind where it's a ton of fun and they don't even realize they are learning stuff. #ParentingWin.
We're heading there this month to check out this exhibit (stay tuned: I'll report back here on the blog and share our experience on social media!), but figured you might want to get some sneaky learning in too.
The kind people of Franklin Institute have offered to give one of my dear readers a family 4 pack of tickets to the Mirror Maze Exhibit (a $100 value!). Enter the giveaway below to win!
If you are anxious to get your learn on immediately, here's a code to get $3.00 off your daytime tickets. Just use promo code MMYBLOG* to receive $3.00 off up to 4 adult, daytime tickets to A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature. To redeem the code, contact us 215-448-1200 or visit fi.edu.
*$3 off Daytime Adult Admission tickets to A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature. Limit 4 tickets per person. Includes General Admission to The Franklin Institute. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Upgrades available on-site for IMAX and 3D Theater. Redeemable online or over the phone. Processing fees