Thursday, June 24

Water Play for All Ages

Getting kids to play outside when summer temperatures rise can be tricky. (Isn't it funny how we spend the long Ohio winters wishing for summer, only to complain it's too hot to go outside in the summer?) But if you're anything like me, you don't want your kids hibernating indoors with the air conditioning and video games. Let's face it, playing in the sprinkler isn't much fun after the age of five, either. So we've tried to come up with a few water games using Water Blaster Water Cannons to get all ages--even teens-- active outdoors this summer.

If you haven't seen a water cannon, you really need to check one out. Made in the U.S.A., water cannons are easy to use and clean. Just point it in the water, pull the handle back to fill it, and push the handle in to spray the water back out. The faster you push it it, the faster and farther the water comes spraying out. Check out this VIDEO to see them in action. Once your cannon is loaded try these fun activities:

  • Bucket Blast: Have a friend hold a bucket at one end of the yard while you stand at the other with your canon and a bucket of water for refills. Load and fire 5 times to see how much you can get into the bucket. Then switch and you hold the bucket while your friend tries. This game would also work great as a relay event. Each team member could take a turn loading and firing into a bucket to see which team lands the most water in its bucket.
  • Bubble Blast: One person blows bubbles and then stands back and keeps score as another person tries to blast as many bubbles as possible with water. Switch roles and compare scores!
  • Wet Tag: Whoever is it "tags" people by spraying them with the canon. Can you tag everyone before running out of ammo?
  • Wet Laser Tag: Every person grabs a cannon and loads. If you get hit, you're out. Use a big bucket full of water in the middle of the playing field as a refilling station. Can you be the last one standing?

Do you have a Water Blaster Water Cannon game or activity idea? We'd love to hear it! You never know, we might give you a prize if we like your idea!

Sunday, June 20

New Toys, New Ideas from the Providence RI Toy Show

I just got back from a toy show especially for independent specialty toy retailers in Providence RI. See this video for more information. It was a lot of fun. I ordered lots of new toys (coming soon) and got some great ideas for how to make our store even better. -- Michelle Sahr

Wednesday, June 2

What Family Games Teach Kids

After all of the hot, sunny weather during Memorial Day weekend, I was thankful for the thunderstorm that crashed down on us out of nowhere. Not only did it break the humidity, but it gave us the perfect excuse to stop doing yard work and head inside from some family fun. My husband popped the popcorn, I poured the drinks, and we quickly settled into a game of Sleeping Queens with our three kids.

As my son was slapping a knight down to steal one of my queens, I was struck with how much kids learn from playing games with adults. I'm not talking about learning numbers or letters, or even following rules and being a good sport. Sure, these are valuable things to learn, but they can be learned other ways, too. I was thinking more about what kids learn from games played with parents, as opposed to their peers. In short, I was thinking about how parents can help develop their children's self-esteem by playing games with them.

So back to the queen my son stole from me. He was literally squealing with delight as he slid her out of my grasp. At that moment, he felt as powerful and competent as an adult. He knew he was preventing me from winning, and he knew it was a fair play. Rarely in our world do roles get reversed such as this where adults and kids have equal power. Games can allow a framework where kids get to experience what it feels like to be more powerful and in control to some extent. What a boost to self-esteem and confidence!

While my son was having a great game, one of my daughters was not. Round after round, she only picked number cards, instead of the power cards needed to collect more queens. She lamented how the cards weren't being "fair" to everyone. It was a great opportunity for us to talk about how sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things are out of our control. We can "fail" or "lose" without it meaning anything about who we are or how well we played the game. When she's older, there are sure to be projects that crumble and opportunities that slip through fingers. I hope these early lessons in games help her cope gracefully and optimistically with such setbacks with her self-esteem fully intact.

And lastly, I think family games can teach kids a great deal about their family's priorities and values. Playing with your kids shows them they are a priority, that face-to-face talking and laughing are worth making time for. Is there any lesson more important than that in developing a child's self-esteem?