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4 Play Sets to Get Kids in the Kitchen

4 Play Sets to Get Kids in the Kitchen

I fondly remember days of my childhood, spent playing happily with my little play kitchen. I would cook, bake and create recipes based on imagination. I loved pretending I was cooking just like my mom!

Now I am a mother, and I love to see my children in the kitchen! They raid the cabinets and drawers and find the tools they need to mix, bake and create via dramatic play. A cookie cutter becomes a vessel for imagination; a lid to a storage dish becomes a fancy serving platter that is fit to present a meal to a queen on. 

Offering kids the chance to engage in dramatic kitchen play offers so many benefits. From language development and early life skills to learning about social interactions and teamwork, a kitchen play set can open the doors to a lifelong love of learning and cooking.

There are so many incredible play kitchens available, that no matter what style you are looking for, there is one that will be a perfect fit for your growing family! I want to share a few of my favorites from the Blue Digger shop with you to help you find a play kitchen that your kids will cherish for years to come, both to play with and in years to come when they reminisce on their childhood.

This vintage kitchen is available in red or pink and has a lot of retro appeal in a small package. Featuring a cordless phone, a removable sink for easy clean up and doors to open and knobs to turn, this cute vintage option is bound to offer many chances for dramatic kitchen play.

I love this Grand Gourmet Corner Kitchen for several reasons. It is absolutely what little girls dream of, trust me on this, when my daughter saw it she squealed "Look at that oven Mom!" It features cloth curtains behind the sink, a dishwasher, fridge and oven, a chalkboard surface to write on and these great pegs to hang play pots and pans from. This generously sized kitchen is perfect for multiple playmates to use at the same time.

The Step 2 Grand Walk-In Kitchen and Grill is packed full of fun chances to learn through play. Featuring kitchen appliances like a grill, refrigerator, and oven, this set also has electronic features for a complete bells and whistles kitchen experience. I love that it includes a generous 103 piece set of play food and dishes.

If you are looking for something smaller and simpler, then we have a gorgeous Blue Kitchen Center that covers the basics of kitchen play in elegant style. This play kitchen set includes a microwave, sink, oven, and stove. It won't take up a lot of space but offers kids the perfect amount of space for pretend kitchen play.

I would love to hear about your kids experiences with dramatic kitchen play and how you encourage them to continue playing, learning and cooking up fun!

 

A Modern Update on a Classic Toy

A Modern Update on a Classic Toy

Children have been learning from and playing with blocks for many years. It is impressive to think that despite the passing of time and the way toys have changed that the block remains a staple of childhood. There is something incredibly satisfying about watching your kids get ahold of wooden blocks for the first time or the first time you get to stack a tower with your child then knock it down!

 

While the wooden block remains a staple of childhood, it has been reimagined by talented toy makers. Blocks come in all shapes and sizes and with many functions in mind! The function remains the same, despite the changes to the offerings of the wooden block world.

 

We have some exciting examples of the evolution of the block here in the Blue Digger shop. These are colorful, fun and ready to help your child jump into the world of learning new skills through play! These modern designs are fun and eye-catching, and are sure to be a hit with your kids!

 

This Rainbow Stacking Set is colorful and combines the benefits of block building with a rainbow of colorful stacking fun! I like the sequencing factor of this set as well as the way you can stack or nest this set of blocks!

 

I am crazy for this visually stunning mirrored block set. This is unique and made for encouraging STEM activities! You can stack and build with this set, you can encourage visual perception development and you can explore size relationships, for a comprehensive and fun way to play!

 

With this 30 piece rainbow set kids can build, create and develop hand-eye coordination and explore colors! This set is so much fun to play with on a light table or to just stack and create new shapes with!

 

This rainbow bead block set is colorful, fun and perfect for learning with! Featuring opportunities to explore hand-eye coordination, visual perception, and to form shapes, this is a colorful set that will capture attention and encourage a love of learning from an early age.

 

Sometimes, a good old block set is all you are looking for, and this is the perfect set for introducing block building play. It contains 100 blocks and a carry case and the variety of shapes included is great for building towers, houses, castles and more.  This is one of my favorite gift ideas for toddlers!

 

Building blocks might have changed with the times in their design and capabilities for learning, but one fact remains the same, offering kids blocks is a fun way to entertain them and help them learn through play.

 

 

Toy Storage and Organization Ideas for the New Year

Toy Storage and Organization Ideas for the New Year

Getting organized is always on the top of my list when a new year rolls around. After the fun chaos of the holidays generally comes the need. There are so many toys to find storage spots for, new books to stash on the shelf and of course, there are toys to find new homes for!

This year, if you want to get organized, you are in the right spot! We have so many awesome storage and organization options here in the shop! Let me tell you about a few of my favorites and how they can help you get your house organized while offering the kids enough flexibility to savor play time!
Aptly named, these adorable mess eaters are the perfect way to make clean up fun and to keep the toys stashed neatly! I love their fun design and how these add a cute touch to a child's room. This style is perfect for use on a shelf, eliminating clutter and adding a smiling friend to the area!
There is no need to fear what lies under the bed now! Mess Eaters are ready to slide under the bed and contain toys!  These are perfect for storing an extra blanket or holding a treasure of toys!
I really adore this Sunny Safari Toy Chest! It is bright, friendly and perfect for keeping toys separated and orderly and offers a cheerful touch to your child's room or the play room!
Sometimes, you need to pull out the big guns when it comes to organizing your kid's toys! This organizer can hold 12 bins making storage and order completely obtainable! I love the classically simple design because as the kids grow, this will still be completely useful for storing a ton of different things!
Chillafish offers some of the coolest ways to organize and store toys, games and more. These units can connect to each other to customize your needs for storage space in the playroom or bedrooms. My kids adore these because they remind them of giant Legos!
If you are more of a toy chest kind of family, this Happy Farm Toy Chest makes picking up and storing toys a down on the farm, good time to be had by all! This is so colorful and cute that your kids are going to love having a chest to store their things in!
If your kids have a hard time putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, no sweat, we have you covered. This adorable and fun hamper practically begs the kids to tidy up with a touch of fun! Available in 7 cute animal themes, there is bound to be one that will fit right in at your house!
How do you keep toys organized and orderly at your home? I would love to hear from you in a comment to help inspire our New Year storage and organization needs.

5 Ways to Make Time to Play As a Family

5 Ways to Make Time to Play As a Family

The days of childhood are busy for parents. We have schedules to coordinate, chores to complete, meals to prepare, homework to oversee and then we need to fit in time to spend together as a family for  fun and playing! While these days might be busy, they are also fleeting and I feel it is super important to make time for family fun. I am making an effort to embrace these busy days to the fullest, and to savor them for what they are; hectic, a little messy and always beautiful.

If are wondering how I fit in working, mothering, managing a household and making time for family fun, let me share these 5 ideas for ways to make time to play as a family. These ideas are intended to help you free up a little time to focus on family fun and to multi-task like a boss and get things accomplished while the kids are smiling all the while!
 
Grocery Shopping with a Fun Twist
On grocery shopping day, I pass on my 'Mom Vacation' and I take the kids shopping with me. I give each child a few items it is their duty to find and treat the experience like a scavenger hunt. The kids have a blast selecting fruits, veggies and grocery items and I get my shopping done without sacrificing family fun. To give the trip a fun twist, if the kids are well behaved and find all of the items on their list, they are each allowed to select a special treat that wasn't on our list.
Simple Dinner
One night a week, we make dinner as fuss-free as possible. I serve sandwiches and raw veggies on paper plates. This cuts my cooking and clean up time in half and the time saved is more than enough time to throw down a game of Uno or to play a memory game together.
Put the Phone Down
My phone is an attention and time hog. I can spend a half an hour reading emails and not even realize the time has passed so quickly! From the time my oldest gets home from school until it is bed time, I put my phone down and I focus on my family.  When my phone is not a factor, it seems that we suddenly have time to take a walk, to dance to our favorite songs or to snuggle up and read a book without the distraction of my constantly chirping phone. It is hard to do, but all of those notifications and messages can wait until the kids are sleeping.
The Mess Can Wait
This one is hard for most moms to accept. We know that childhood is messy, and we know there will always be a new mess to tend to, but, if you can look at the mess for what it is; evidence of fun and playtime, it is not as unsightly as it seemed a few moments before. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but walk away from the laundry. There will be dishes to wash later as well. Let the mess ride and savor your kids. Build Legos with them or play a board game, as you see their smiles and get to engage in meaningful conversations, you won't mind spending a few extra minutes tidying up after the kids are in bed.
 
Make Chores a Family Affair
I do expect my family to get involved in the upkeep of our home. When all hands are on deck, so much more can get accomplished in a short time. Ask the kids to help you sort socks, and turn it into a new kind of matching game.  Teach the kids to fold towels and make it a contest to see who can fold the fastest or the neatest. When we complete chores together, it saves time, it promotes family effort and it gives us more time to spend together on fun when the work is done. If your kids can operate a smartphone or a tablet, they are old and smart enough to do basic household chores from sweeping and mopping, to loading the washing machine or caring for pets. Giving them responsibility now teaches them valuable skills for life.
These are just a few of the ways I make time for family fun. If you have ideas or suggestions for how to fit more fun into the day, please share them for the benefit of families!

Creating a Kid Friendly Home Gym

Creating a Kid Friendly Home Gym

With the New Year comes many resolutions to be more active and to get healthier. For me, it seems that I fail in my resolve to work out more often because it is hard to exercise when the little kids are around. They want to use the elliptical, they want to ride the stationary bike, and they want to do it the most when an adult is in the process of using that specific piece of equipment. It is cute, but it makes keeping your heart rate up a challenge!

If you have a similar situation, or if you are simply looking for a way to get the family up and moving, you stopped at the right place! We have so many awesome options for kid-friendly exercise equipment! These are functional and adorable additions to any home gym!

Having a buddy on the treadmill makes time fly, and who is a better buddy than your preschooler? With this nonmotorized treadmill, your little one can get moving safely. The treadmill features a no-tip design and an electronic monitor, to make the experience as much like Mom and Dad's treadmill as possible. The unit offers 3-6-year-olds a safe and low impact workout.

This kid-sized stationary bike is brightly colored, has that same awesome no tip design to keep kids safe while inspiring them to live an active lifestyle.  Ideal for preschoolers and kindergarteners, this is one of the best ways I can think of to get the kids moving on a rainy day!

Jumping Rope is a great way to get the wiggles out while getting active. This kit comes with a sturdy jump rope and an instructional dvd, so that kids can learn new ways to jump. From a beginners level to someone skilled enough to compete, this kit will appeal to the kids while teaching them new ways to play and exercise!

My kids can not resist this Air Walker. They are drawn to the colors and the design and they want to use it every day. That is worth buying one! On those days I lack the motivation to get busy, the kids can talk me right into working out with them from their enthusiasm for the Air Walker!

If you want to build muscle, lifting weights is a great way to do that! When you can lift safely with the kids it is even better! This Weight Bench for Kids provides kids a safe way to lift. The design is colorful and cute and the bench has that great no tip design, to encourage kids to get active and to have fun while they are working out.

If working out more is on your list of 2017 goals, these options make it easy to get the little ones involved on your journey to better health and more activity. If you have a favorite piece of exercise equipment for kids, tell me about it so we can keep building our home gym!