Sanity Saving Indoor Play Toys

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Indoor play toys sure to delight during the long winter months.

One of the things I was most worried about moving from the west to the east coast was transitioning to spending significantly more time indoors.  With a little boy that never. stops. moving.  Despite having a bizarrely mild first winter here, we've had our fair share of bitter and windy days that have had us holed up indoors and racking our brains for ways to fill the time.   Here are some of our favorite toys to help you survive the days when you simply can't get outside, and all that toddler craziness still needs somewhere to go.

1. Quadroplay: This is a super versatile building system.  It works indoors or outdoors, perfect for sliding and climbing and hiding, and comes in sets in all sizes and quantities.  Explore the possibilities.

2. Fort Magic:  Along the same lines, Fort Magic is an open-ended fort building and construction toy kit.  It has won a myriad of awards for good reason.  There are a lot of toy options in this space, but one reason I think Fort Magic is consistently at the top of the list is because the set is large enough to really allow for creativity.

3. Foamnasium 4 Piece Gymnasium: This is a great find if you have a three and under crowd.  Crawling over and under and around, without having to worry about hard falls or nasty tumbles.

4.  Balance Beam:  This was a fun playroom addition.  It's a little shorter than you might imagine but it's still worked fine for our purposes.  I'm always interested to see the different ways that my kids use this: lining up action figures to shoot down, as a bridge over an alligator filled swamp, part of an obstacle course.  A little imagination goes a long way.

5. Gorilla Gym: This fits into the door frame and provides a little bit of everything.  Swinging, climbing, flipping, exercising.  I like that it's compact and can be used by a wide range of ages.  I don't like that it reminds me that I'm in my 30's and have yet to do an actual pull-up. Ever.

6. Jungle Jumperoo: We're going to jump on bandwagon here, no pun intended.  We finally caved at Christmas and got one of our own.  My two year old jumps up and down chanting the words "So happy, so happy, so happy."  Every kid that comes over loves it.  The accessories are nice additions, especially the swing.  My five year old is obsessed with Indiana Jones right now and he is constantly asking me to play the movie's theme song as he swings through the Jumperoo over and over.  And over again.  Just a note- they have really good sales on these pretty frequently.  Over the holidays we got ours for about 25% off and free shipping (which is usually $80).  So if it's something you're interested in, keep an eye out over holiday weekends.


Q & A with Emily Gravett

Monday, March 20, 2017

Today we are beyond thrilled to welcome author and illustrator Emily Gravett to our blog. Emily won the MacMillan prize for illustration in 2005 for her book Wolves and is on the 2017 Kate Greenway Medal shortlist for her work on her newest book Tidy!

After going through our Q & A with her both of us came to the conclusion that we wish we were friends with Emily in real life. Her insights on picture book making, parenting and living a nomadic life all provided gems of wisdom.

emily gravett


Why We Love Organizing Books by Color

Friday, March 17, 2017

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love organizing books by color. Not only do I love how it looks aesthetically but it also happens to be very practical for us. It helps my kids find the books they are looking for and even helps them to clean up!

Currently, I have a toddler and an 8 and a half year old and this system works for both of them. My oldest is familiar with how traditional book organization in libraries works, but she knows that at home we organize our books by color. She also happens to be dyslexic and I think that organizing the books by color is a great system for her as authors and illustrators don't necessarily register as strongly with her.

Now that I've had these book ledges up for a over a year, I can't imagine our home without them.

book nooks for kids, book ledges, rainbow book ledges


Reading with Michelle of Avery & Augustine

Monday, March 13, 2017

Today we have the lovely Michelle with us from Avery and Augustine. She is an SLP (speech-language pathologist) and photographer, as well as a blogger. If you aren't familiar with her work already, we suggest you take a peek at her blog Avery and Augustine or follow her on Instagram @averyandaugustine where you are sure to find a myriad of book selections that you will immediately want to acquire. She also collaborates with an amazing group of educators, librarians, writers and artists on the Little Lit Book Series. They share carefully curated books on different themes each month on a dedicated instagram account @littlelitbookseries (there's also a blog, too).

Michelle started blogging about picture books over 7 years ago when she first started Avery and Augustine. She says, "I wanted to share different moments and aspects of Avery's life, including the toys and books she liked-- in order to share the information with other curious parents as well as document her life a bit. I'm big on documenting through pictures and words, and always have been. For the longest time, I wanted to be a photojournalist. Photojournalism is still my favorite genre of photography."

Read on for some wonderful insights and a list of must have books from 2016.


Valentine's Books 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Some of the best Valentine's Day books for kids. Exploring friendship, first crushes, new love and more.


Reading with Beth

Thursday, January 19, 2017

When my youngest sister was in elementary school, parents would come into the classroom and read stories.  My mother decided to read Bony Legs and Lara (my sister) remembers how much her friends loved it.  Mom went all out; an elaborate costume, props, a dramatic reading with fun voices and lots of movement, etc.  My mother, however, mostly remembers that there was a fire drill that day and she had to stand in the parking lot in full costume and that a surprising number of people she knew happened to work at the school.

But that's just how my mom does things.  She once told me that she loves to go the extra mile- because that's where all the fun is.  I was so lucky to grow up in a home where my mother made everything, from homework to chores, fun and engaging.  She is Mary Poppins, Mrs. Pigglewiggle and Maria von Trapp rolled into one.  I'm thrilled to share some of her thoughts on children's books with you today!



Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 16, 2017

"On the King Holiday, young people learn about the power of unconditional love even for one’s adversaries as a way to fight injustice and defuse violent disputes. It is a time to show them the power of forgiveness in the healing process at the interpersonal as well as international levels." Coretta Scott King

Since 1986, the third Monday in January has been designated as a federal holiday to honor the life and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As a parent, I'm grateful for the opportunity that today's holiday provides me to discuss the life of Dr. King and the importance of the civil rights movement with my children.  

There are so many outstanding picture books about the power and importance of the civil rights movement, with heroes from Dr. King to Ruby Bridges, and reading them with my children the last few weeks has opened the door to many wonderful and unexpected conversations.  During one discussion, I asked my son why he thought Dr. King was so important and his enthusiastic answer was, "because he changed the world!"  Dr. King and so many others deserve to have their stories told and appreciated by citizens of all ages.  These beautifully written and illustrated stories are an absolute inspiration and we hope you have the same wonderful experience reading and sharing them with your families that we did.


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