Young Inventors Challenge 2017 Recap

WTDWTK at ChiTAG Young Inventor Challenge

The Young Inventors Challenge is open to all kids between the ages of 6 – 18 years of age from anywhere in the United States or Canada who has designed or created a unique toy or game. 

In November I had the pleasure of being a judge at the Chicago Toy and Game Week’s Young Inventors Challenge and I’d like to tell you what I saw and explain why you should have your kids enter in 2018.

First, it’s a great opportunity for kids to show their creativity and their ideas of how toys and games should be designed and played.  Some have made slight variations of existing games while others have created new games with interesting themes. …Continue Reading

Before you start fighting for the latest gifts

With Black Friday kicking off the holiday shopping season, many people are sharpening their elbows and bulking up waiting to make the mad dash to some big box store to get the latest toy or gadget for their kids but maybe they should just take a moment to think about what they’re doing.

Some years ago, parents decided that their kids had to get the hottest, latest, coolest toy or gadget for Christmas or else they would be labelled a terrible parent.  Marketing has done an incredible job in convincing parents that they HAVE to have it for their kids because if they don’t, their friends won’t play with them which will result in their self-esteem dropping so low that voices will pop into their heads telling them to hurt themselves. …Continue Reading

Introduce your kids to the library

Libraries have almost become irrelevant since the internet arrived but it’s still a great resource and it does offer a lot more that a Google search could ever do. 

Some of us remember spending hours at the local library researching material for a school project.  Looking up books in the index card file by sorting through hundreds of recipe card size pieces of card stock, searching the aisles for the right twelve digit code and hopefully finding the book where it’s supposed to be on the shelf.   

Once you found the books you wanted, you had to find a table where you can sit and read, read and read some more just to find the information you needed or at least parts of it.  Then when you found what you were looking for, you had to write the information into your report or project.  …Continue Reading

Talk to your kids now and they may talk to you later

Talk to your kids now Talk to your kids now and they may talk to you later.

One of the most common complaints from parents is that they feel they can’t talk to their kids and their kids won’t talk to them and it’s pretty safe to say that it’s because the parents and the kids had never really talked before.  They’ll talk at them but not with them. 

Parents are always telling their kids to do things and to not do things and when parents do try to talk with their kids, it’s because something has happened and it’s usually bad.  If you’ve never talked with your kids before, what makes you think they’ll want to talk to you now?   …Continue Reading

Introducing a new trend in entertainment…board games

Introducing Board Games

If you are over the age of 50 then there is no need to read this article.  For those younger, read carefully.

Video games are amazing and have come a long way since the days of Pacman at the local arcade.  Video games are pretty realistic now as they make you feel like you are actually killing and bludgeoning innocent people and violently stealing cars for points.   You can even be partnered with someone thousands of miles away to wreak havoc on some unsuspecting village from the comfort of your living room.  There is however a style of game that is interactive, challenging, fun and designed for various age groups and is played in real time.  It’s called a board game and they are available almost everywhere.

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Teach them to cook and you’ll never hear “there’s nothing to eat” ever again

Teach them to cookWhenever my kids started the “there’s nothing to eat in this house” whine as they stared at an open refrigerator, I usually responded with “there’s a ton of food, just some assembly required.”  Of course, that would only make them grunt and leave in a huff, only to return a few minutes later to stare at the fridge yet again.

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How to pick teams fairly

No one wants to be the last kid picked for a team and for those of us who have experienced the stress of lining up and saying a silent prayer; it’s not a lot of fun especially if you’re the very last one.  They won’t even call your name.  All they do is point and you slowly walk over.  But there are a number of ways to pick teams without anyone feeling left out. 

For most sports you can divide up the teams by shoes.  Everyone removes a shoe and places it in a pile.  One person then hold’s their breath and starts dividing the shoes into two other piles, one at a time.  Once the piles are made, everyone searches for their shoe and that’s the side their on.

If you’re playing ice hockey then it doesn’t make any sense to have everyone remove a skate so a great alternative would be to use hockey sticks instead.  Throw them in a pile and then divide them up as well. …Continue Reading

Top 50 Fundraising Events for Your Kid’s School, Team or Organization

 

Top 50 Fundraising EventsAsk any parent of an active child and they’ll tell you that almost everything their kids do costs money. There are lessons, team fees, trip expenses and much more that can easily add up to the equivalent of a mortgage payment and that’s when parents turn to fundraising to help pay these bills.

Sponsorship has always been a great way for local businesses to support amateur teams but those dollars are quickly drying up. People however are more willing to give money when there is something that they can get in return. The best example is when those cute Girl Guides show up at your door with those delicious cookies.

Fundraising is also known as commission sales. You purchase a product at a discounted price and resell it to the end user at a higher price. The difference in your cost and what you sell it for is your profit or better known as “funds raised.” …Continue Reading

Airport Security and Your Kids

Airport Security and Your KidsUnless you’re under the age of 13, you probably heard about what happened on September 11, 2001. The death of thousands of Americans in New York, Washington and in Pennsylvania as a result of terrorists hijacking planes have changed the way we travel. Airport security is strict, slow and as far as I’m concerned, effective since there haven’t been any planes hijacked in the United States or Canada since 9/11.

Since then, people have had to stop bringing sharp instruments like the deadly nail clipper and bottles filled with liquid with them on the plane. People have had to remove their shoes, belts, empty their bags and purses, brushed with a wand and at some airports experience a full body scan. It’s just as much a part of commercial flying as is complaining about the size of the complimentary peanuts you get in the middle of the flight. It will not change in the near future and this is where your kids come in. PREPARE THEM. …Continue Reading

Bicycle Riding Parents May Get Their Kids Killed

Bicycle Riding Parents May Get Their Kids KilledBicycle riding is a great way to get exercise, a cost effective way to get around and a chance to enjoy the great outdoors…but it may kill your kids!

Of all the bicycle riders I have seen in my city over the past few years, only a tiny fraction of them have actually come to a full stop at a stop sign.  They usually slow down, take a quick look to see if there are any cars and zoom right through.  Others will slow down, make eye contact with the driver and zoom right through the intersection even if they don’t have the right of way.  It’s just pure laziness.

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Don’t let crafts be intimidating

Crafts don't have to be intimidatingCrafts can be intimidating for some parents especially if they feel they have no artistic talent but they don’t have to be. 

The purpose of doing crafts with your kids is to spend time with your kids doing something together that will ideally contribute to their happy memories. 

Making a craft with your kid doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive since many of the items you could use are available right in your own home. 

There are a number of items that you will need to buy and a few that you may not find around your home but will come in handy.  They include: glue; kid scissors; colored paper; crayons; craft sticks; pom-poms; water based paints; and brushes. …Continue Reading

Why Camping With Your Children Is Always A Great Idea

 

With the summer holiday months looming you are no doubt trying to plan what to do to keep the children entertained and prevent them from being holed up in their rooms, glued to the television or their mobile devices the whole time.

Camping is a fun and cost-effective way to get the whole family together in the great outdoors and to build some wonderful memories. Even if it rains a camping experience still creates a wonderful story for the family to share and laugh about for years to come.

As well as beating holiday boredom, there are many benefits of going camping for your children, as it provides several different but wonderful opportunities, the most obvious being that they will be outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

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The Joy of Podcasting for Kids

The Joy of PodcastingIf you spent any part of your childhood in the 1970s or 80s, then the chances are, you had at least a few attempts at trying your hand as a DJ, with the help of that old cassette player and a blank tape. Who could resist creating their own radio show, complete with music, the latest news and razor sharp interviews with local celebrities? Often the reality was not quite as  grand as you might have dreamed, and the biggest celebrity you were likely to hook was the postman or the woman next door.

It is easy to think that the simple pleasures we had as kids in our own youth are all consigned to the past, but this particular pastime is now bigger, better and easier than ever before, thanks to the wonders of the podcast. You’ve probably listened to plenty, but have you ever considered the benefits of podcasts for kids? Or even better, what about helping them to create their own? It’s easier than you might think.
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Ways to keep your child safe on the internet

Ways to keep safe on the internetWays to keep your child safe on the internet

Like all things, the Internet has a downside. Certain websites and content can pollute children’s minds, introducing them to adult ideas at too young an age. Concerning online pop-ups, spam, and misinformation are unfortunately difficult to avoid when spending time on the computer. Now that many children are required to do homework assignments and connect with their classmates online, it is increasingly important to safeguard their devices as best we can.

As adults, we need to be mindful of the screen time our children spend surfing the web. Monitoring their every click will probably lead to some arguments, but fortunately there are numerous ways to teach Internet security.

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Do Your Kids Need More Free Play? Here Are Some Great Ideas!

Children’s lives are often planned down to the minute.   They go from school to sports, dance, music lessons or Scouting.  They have homework.  Even weekends (especially weekends!) can be jammed with tournaments, practices, and tutoring.

Some kids thrive on that type of schedule; mine did not.  At one point several years ago, my two boys (then ages eight and ten) they were so overwhelmed and cranky at the amount of activities they were doing that we took the summer off and they did nothing. Except play.

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To Glue or Not to Glue?


To Glue or Not to Glue It may seem like today’s world is dominated by technology, with kids and adults alike glued to their smartphones or tablets, but arts and crafts are still a fantastic medium for children to have fun while at the same time learning valuable lessons and skills.  Arts and crafts can help kids to express their creativity, whilst developing practical skills, such as sewing, that they can take forward.

Arts and crafts is a wide church, one that encompasses a whole range of activities and materials, from making a simple coffee filter flower to customizing items of clothing.  One of the key considerations when running an arts and crafts activity for children is the choice of materials, specifically, the perennial choice between using craft glue or sewing stitches when it comes to joining or fastening.  

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An Honest Review or a Paid Advertisement?

What To Do With The Kids Product ReviewsAn honest product review and not a paid advertisement.

When I re-launched What To Do With The Kids in 2011, I noticed that a number of similar websites displayed awards they had received from some impressive sounding organizations.  Of course, I wanted some awards as well thinking that to have them would provide credibility with my target market and attract new visitors.  As it turns out, there were many to choose from, as long as I had a major credit card!

One online company offered to review my website for $250 and depending on my “score,” I could qualify for one of three promotional packages that would allow me to use their name and logo to promote my award.  The packages ranged from $100 to use their name in text only, to $500 that would allow me to use the award artwork on my website and promotional material.  I’m guessing that very few companies who submitted their websites for review were ever rejected and all of them qualified for the top package.

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Top 10 Skills needed to be a Good Camp Counselor

Top 10 Skills needed to be a Good Camp CounselorNow is the time for parents to start researching camps for their kids and there are a lot to choose from but it’s also the time of year when students have to start thinking about a summer job and being a camp counselor is a popular one.  How many other jobs do you know of that will pay you to play with kids? 

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The Top 10 Classic Games or Toys that Kids Today Should be Playing With Revised for 2017

Top 10 Classic toys or games that kids today should be playing - Revised for 2017In 2012, What To Do With The Kids® asked parents to submit their list of the top classic toys or games they felt that kid’s today should be playing with but this time we decided to ask toy and game industry professionals for their opinions and many of the choices have not changed.

A number of people suggested toys and games for specific age groups but for this list we wanted an overall view of what the kids should be playing with today.  Brand name products are listed but for many, these are considered to be a “classic” game or toy.

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4 Ways to Connect with Your Children

Children are our greatest treasure, and properly bonding with them while they’re still very young is really important both for their own personal development and for creating a strong emotional connection with them that will last for the rest of your lives. However, many new parents feel that this isn’t always so easy to do – after all, it’s been a long time since we were kids ourselves and sometimes it’s challenging to put yourself in that kind of mindset. Today I want to help you out with that by talking about four simple ways in which you can really strengthen the bond you have with your children, as their best friend and ultimately as their role model as well.

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