Friday, February 12

Sneak Peek: Playmobil, Legos, and Toy Fair 2010

I love this time of year at the toy store. Why? Because February means Toy Fair! Toy Fair is where all the companies bring out their new and exciting games, toys, and gadgets. It's always fun to look and see what we think will be hot, and what will be a flop.

But this year, I'm not excited about a "new" toy. I'm sure Michelle will be posting some awesome pics straight from Toy Fair of new toys that I'll want for my kids. But for now, I'm really excited about some old classics that we have decided to start stocking and continue stocking.

The first one is Playmobil! I know some of you may have heard that we aren't going to sell it any more. The truth is, we were thinking about not. But so many of you seemed disappointed that we've decided to bring it back! If you're a fan of Playmobil, you know what exciting news this is. Those of you who aren't fans yet should check it out when we get the first shipment in sometime in April. It's made in Germany, and it's adorable. The tiny pieces work on kids' fine motor skills, while the delightful details build their imaginations. I think it's my all-time favorite toy. I buy it as much for myself as my kids.

The other classic that we are going stock is Legos! You heard right! We won't be getting these in until April either, but I can't wait. And we're going to be getting the bulk Legos--the kind that can be taken apart and built again in countless ways, instead of just small kits that build one specific item. It will be a small shipment at first, so if you want some then, I wouldn't wait. The next shipment will come in before the holidays.

And the last sneak peek I'll throw out there (this one is not definite yet) that I'm excited about is Monchhichis! Come on, you parents must remember that commercial from our youth: "Monchhichi, Monchhichi, oh so soft and cuddly!" (If you want the full blast from the past, you can watch the old commercial here.) We are considering the ones in fun costumes, though, not just the plain ones. Take a look at these cute examples shown at Toy Fair last year. (Please, Michelle, you have to show us a cute Monchhichi from this year if they are there, even if you decide not to stock them!)

So what do you think? Playmobil, Legos, Monchhichis...are we on the right track to bring some classic fun back?

Friday, February 5

Keep Kids Active Indoors in the Winter

Keeping kids active during the winter months can be a real challenge. True, there are days of sledding and snowman building. But there are also many, many days of weather too cold to be outside for more than 15 or 20 minutes. So I've been searching for ways to get them active indoors that don't involve them jumping on my bed. Here's what I've found so far:

1. Super Skipper: We love this toy at our house! An electronic base plays music as it twirls a jumping stick around. It has 3 speed settings, so it's easy for each child to set a pace he is comfortable with. It's also nice because more than one child can jump at a time, and no twirler is required! If the child successfully jumps the full cycle of the level, a little celebratory music plays. This toy truly has given my three kids hours of active, jumping fun in the house.

2. Sack Races: For little ones, let them use some old pillow cases as potato sacks and hop from one end of the room to the other. Make it more challenging by making an obstacle course with pillows and stuffed animals.

3. Chinese Jump Rope: This type of jump rope is really an elastic band. The idea is that two kids loop it around their ankles to make a rectangle with it. The third child does the rhymes, jumping into the box, out, on, etc. as fast as she can. Then, the rope gets raised a little higher, and a little higher each turn. We recently brought one of these to a play group with kids ranging in age from 4 to 12. All of them were laughing and playing. If you don't have three kids around, you can loop the rope around the bottoms of chair legs for your little jumper to have fun.

4. Treasure Hunts: You can make these as easy or complicated as you like. The idea is to get them searching high and low, upstairs and downstairs, for little clues and treasures. For younger kids, you can pick a letter of the day and have them search in the house for items that begin with that letter. Each time they spot one, they can run back to you to report it while you write it down. Older kids might enjoy a riddle hunt. For this version, write just a word or two that hints at a place in your house to find the next clue. For instance, "hot dogs" might make them go open the meat drawer in the fridge. There they would find a clue that says "surf" for surf the web and a clue next to the family computer. At the end, there could be a tiny prize (a fun eraser, a new coloring book). Remember, the prize isn't the point; the hunt is the true fun!

5. Create a Road: Get a roll of painter's tape (Note: don't use regular masking tape as it will be too hard to remove cleanly) and let your kids tape out a course for their toy cars in the kitchen. It will provide hours of fun for them laying out the course under the table, around the legs of chairs and then driving their cars along it.

Do you have some fun ideas to keep kids moving indoors? We'd love to hear them!