UNPLUG THOSE ELECTRONIC GAMES – WHAT PLAY IS TEACHING OUR KIDS

Why should we, as parents, breathe a sigh of relief when our kids put down their tablets, computers, or phones and pick up an action figure, dress up outfit, or hula hoop? Because we know balance is key! Electronics time isn’t tragic – it just needs to be balanced with reading, building,drawing, exploring, imagining, and exercising. But why? What is it that kids get out of non-electronic games that they don’t get anywhere else? Read on to find out.

Pretend Play –It's really sweet listening to your child act out a scenario using dolls. action figures, stuffed animals, or play props like kitchen and doctor sets. But pretend play isn’t just cute! Dramatic play helps kids explore the different roles they see in their lives, from parent to friend to baker to builder, developing not just an understanding of the world around them, but also building empathy skills. Also, pretend play with a friend helps kids learn to take turns, problem solve, and play cooperatively. Coming up with pretend story lines develops imagination and creative thinking skills. And “acting out” that pretend play scenario develops vocabulary and language skills.

Arts & Crafts – Coloring, drawing, and crafting with tools like crayons develop creativity and encourage self-expression. But creating also develops fine motor skills, the kind required to hold a pencil or paint brush, and bilateral coordination, the process of using both hands together, as in one to hold the paper and the other to cut it with scissors. Artistic creation also teaches trial and error, patience, and perseverance. And, best of all, creating is an incredible confidence booster – no right or wrong answer, just pure joy.

Building – Whether it is with blocks or other, more advanced, construction sets, the benefits of building are nearly endless. A perfect learning activity, building introduces key scientific principles: gravity and balance, engineering concepts: arches and towers, mathematics concepts and academic vocabulary including grouping, sorting, counting, addition, and subtraction . And, of course, manipulating blocks also develops motor skills and hand-eye coordination, too.

Outdoor Play – Aside from reaping the benefits of fresh air, exercise, and the great outdoors, kids who play outside are exploring and discovering, developing and quenching scientific curiosity, and gaining self-confidence and self-efficacy.

Games & Puzzles – Games are great for getting your family laughing and playing together, but they’re good for more than fun! Playing games helps kids develop thinking and reasoning skills, strategic problem solving, spatial awareness, concentration, and focus. Word games develop language skills and vocabulary, while dice and math games  build and practice math concepts and facts. Game play also helps younger children develop social skills like taking turns and winning and losing gracefully.

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We all need some down time and electronics are a great distraction. But the benefits to be gained from non-electronic games are not to be overlooked. Be sure to balance electronic time with some of the above ways to play each day!

Cleaning Wooden Toys

Like all toys, wooden toys can also get soiled and need to be cleaned. But you need to remember that wooden toys shouldn't be cleaned the same way you would the plastic ones. Here are some steps to follow to clean them properly.

How to clean painted or finished wooden toys.

Unicorn Whistle

Step 1

Use an anti-bacterial liquid dish detergent and moisten a sponge just until suds are evident. Wash the finished or painted wood toy with the soapy sponge. Don't soak wood toys. Soaking causes the wood to swell, which can lead to cracking and splitting of the paint, finish and/or wood.

Step 2

Rinse quickly beneath the tap. Don't saturate the toy. Dry thoroughly with a clean , soft towel.

Step 3

If there are stains, mix a solution of half white vinegar and half water in a spray bottle, and lightly spray the toy. Scrub the stains with a clean sponge. Dry the wood toy or teething object with a clean, soft towel until dry. Once the vinegar dries there won't be any odor or residue. Vinegar is completely safe and edible.

Cleaning Natural or Unfinished Wood Toys

Rackety Rachet

Step 1

Moisten a clean sponge until damp. Wipe the natural, unfinished toy or teething object with the sponge.

Step 2

Apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball until the cotton is damp. Rub the unfinished wood toy all over with the alcohol-moistened ball.

Step 3

Dry the toy with a towel. Never use a heat method to dry the toy. Heat will dry out the wood and will cause the toy to crack or split.

Step 4

If there are stains, rub the stained surface of the wood gently with fine grit sandpaper. Remove the sanding debris with a damp sponge. Dry the toy with a clean, soft towel. If you want to protect the sanded wood you can rub the wood toy with a little salad oil on a cotton ball. Allow the oil to absorb and dry before returning the toy to the child.

Another Toy Recall !

Here's an update on another toy that has been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

 Disney Recalls the Forky 11” Plush Toy Due to Choking Hazard:
Recall Date: July 8, 2019                                                                                   

Name of product: Forky 11” Plush Toys

Hazard:The “googly” plastic eyes on the toy can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. 

Remedy:Refund
Consumers should immediately take the recalled toy away from children and return it to any Disney Store retail location,Walt Disney World, or Disneyland Resort theme park retail store location for a full refund. 
    Recall DetailsUnits: 
About 80,000 (In addition, about 650 in Canada)
  Description:

This recall involves an 11” “Forky” plush toy from Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4. The toy has poseable arms, a base, rainbow screen art on top of foot and plastic rolling “googly” eyes. The eyes are comprised of three parts; a white plastic base, a clear plastic dome and a small black plastic disc within the dome, which represents the character’s pupil. 


Manufacturer(s):

Dream International Limited, Co., of Hong Kong
Importer(s):

Disney Merchandise Sourcing & Distribution, LLC, of Burbank, Calif. 
Manufactured In:China

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Toys To Keep Your Child's Attention

Letter-Picture Blocks

Is your child's toy box full of toys, but he/she only plays with a select few?  Kids often toss aside toys that only do a small, limited number of things.  They are fun for awhile but pretty soon they become too predictable.  That means your child gets bored and kids don’t like to be bored.  So they find something else to play with and the boring toys end up in the bottom of the toy box. Toys that require imagination and can be used in a variety of ways are the best toys.  Here are some toys that are good for keeping your child’s attention.

  1. Blocks– Blocks have long been a staple for kids and they never seem to outgrow them.  Even though they are one of the simplest types of toys around, their possibilities are limited only by the child’s imagination.  Younger children can also use them for such learning activities as counting games and experimenting with basic addition and subtraction.  Blocks provide numerous learning opportunities and keep kids busy.

2. Play-Doh- Play-Doh has been around for many years. In fact, you probably played with it when you were a kid.  Chances are that if you did, you have fond memories of it. Play-Doh is similar to blocks as it allows children to make anything they can imagine.  The factories and tool sets you can buy to go with it are nice but they are not a necessity.

3.Dolls and Stuffed Animals – Children love pretending that their dolls, stuffed animals and action figures are real animals or people.  This can provide them with hours of entertainment.  They may even play with two or more at a time, making different voices for each one.  

4.Wagons –Wagons can be used in numerous ways.  First, they can be used to transport toys from one place to another, but that’s only the beginning.  They can also serve as a vehicle for those stuffed animals or dolls, a pull-along “tray” when they’re playing restaurant or even as transportation for the child himself with you doing the pulling-one way for you to play with your child.

5. Art Supplies – Art is a great way to keep kids occupied because it fosters creativity and self-esteem. Kids can spend hours making masterpieces. 

6. Musical Instruments– Most children love music.  The only thing better than listening to music is making it themselves.  If real musical instruments are not an option, there are toy drum sets, xylophones, kazoos and more that kids can play with.

Hedge-the Rhythmic Hedgehog

7 . Housekeeping or Gardening Toys – Kids love to imitate adults.  A kitchen set, toy vacuum cleaner or a set of gardening tools can help them do so more accurately.  You could even enlist them to help you when you’re doing housework or yard work.  They will stay occupied and feel a sense of accomplishment.

8. Dress-up Clothes – Playing dress-up lets kids put together outfits and pretend to be anyone or anything.  An added bonus is you don’t have to buy a dress-up set.  Just get out all of the old clothes you can find and let their imaginations run free!

9. Balls- Balls not only keep a child busy, they also encourage physical activity.  There are numerous ways that children can play with them, so they never get boring. Here is another opportunity for you to play with them, also.

Good Toys For Young Children by Age and Stage (continued)

Toys for 2-year-olds (toddlers)

Toddlers quickly learn language and have some sense of danger. They do a lot of physical “testing”: climbing, hanging by their arms, rolling, jumping from heights, and rough-and-tumble play. They have good control of their hands and fingers and like to do things with small objects.

Good toys for 2-year-olds:

Wooden Building Blocks-Beginner Block Builder Set

Tongue Drum Beginner Instrument
Hobby Horse

Toys for 3- to 6-year-olds (preschoolers and kindergarteners) Preschoolers and kindergartners have longer attention spans than toddlers. They typically ask a lot of questions and talk a lot. They are great experimenters (with various things) and with their still-emerging physical skills. They like to play with friends—and don’t like to lose! They can take turns—and sharing one toy by two or more children is often possible  for older preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Good toys for 3- to 6-year-olds: Similar to toddlers, but more advanced.

Wooden Building Blocks-Junior Block Builder Set

Original Flying Turtle

If a child has access to a computer, 1. choose programs that are interactive (the child can do something), not passive(the program does the action, and the child just watches) and 2. that children can understand (the software uses graphics and  spoken instruction, not just print), 3. children can control the software’s pace and path, and 4.children have opportunities to explore a variety of concepts on several  levels .

Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage

There are many toys and appropriate play materials that are actually free, as they are typically found right in your own home. Things like cardboard boxes, plastic bowls and lids, collections of plastic bottle caps, and other “treasures” can be used in more than one way by children of different ages. In this part of my blog, and in followup posts, I have lists of some toys for children of different ages. However, keep in mind that no two children develop at the same pace. Each child develops at their own pace. Items on one list—as long as they are safe—can be good choices for children who are younger and older than the suggested age range.

I've talked about choosing safe toys, but you also need to keep in mind that good toys for young children also need to match their stages of development and their emerging abilities.

Toys for young infants—birth through 6 months

Babies like to look at people—following them with their eyes. They typically prefer faces and bright colors. Babies can reach, be fascinated with what their hands and feet can do, turn their heads toward sounds lift their heads, put things in their mouths, and much more!

Good toys for young infants:

Toys for older infants—7 to 12 months

Older babies are movers—typically they go from rolling over and sitting, to scooting, bouncing, creeping, pulling themselves up, and standing. They understand their own names and other common words, can identify body parts, find hidden objects, and put things in and out of containers.

Good toys for older infants:

Rolling Rover

Toys for 1-year-olds

One-year-olds are active and on the go! By now they can typically walk steadily and even climb stairs. They will enjoy stories, start saying their first words, and can play next to other children (but not yet with!). They like to experiment—but need adults to keep them safe.

Good toys for 1-year-olds:

Jigsaw Puzzle- Duck Pond

Next time we'll move on to the toddlers and their toys.

Children's Educational Toys

Letter Picture Blocks

While you may be able make your child play sports or engage in physical activities to develop their physical abilities, the same can’t be done when it comes to the development of their cognitive/mental abilities. As parents, guardians and caretakers, you would need to create a learning environment that promotes mental development. You have to keep in mind that every child has a different way of learning. So, you need to find educational toys and games that can help your child learn in a way that they are comfortable with. 

You don't want your child to become bored with play that is monotonous. In order to prevent this, you need to educate your child with an innovative and interactive tool so that it doesn’t become monotonous. By buying kids educational toys you can support your child’s mental development. The earlier you begin this learning process, the better it will be for your child.

Educational toys for toddlers can help in your child’s development by creating a fun and safe learning environment. When you put into perspective that fun plays an important part in helping children learn, you will come to understand how important these educational toys are for your children. There is a wide variety of educational toys to choose from, including bead mazes, wood block sets, counting games, and activity clocks among others.Educational toys deal with almost every aspect of your child’s learning and development .

Recalled Children's Toys

Which ones and why were they recalled?

These were posted on the. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's web page. These are posted periodically, whenever a product is recalled. Check out their webpage for more details if you have any of these toys.

1. Target Recalls Wooden Toy Vehicles Due to Choking Hazard:
Recall Date: April 18, 2019 Recall Number: 19-108 Recall Summary Name of product:
Bullseye’s Playground wooden toy vehicles
Hazard:The wheels on the vehicles can detach, posing a choking hazard to children

Description: Bullseye Playground toy vehicles. The vehicles were sold individually in stores and as an 8-pack assortment online. The vehicles include a caboose, Santa in sleigh, ice cream truck/food truck, train, police car, fire truck, taxi, and digger. Look for the item number, DPCI (model number), and UPC on a white sticker place on the bottom of each vehicle.


Manufacturer(s):
Zhejiang HuangyanXingbo Crafts Factory, of China

2. Flying Tiger Copenhagen Recalls Toy Train Carts Due to Choking Hazard
Recall Date: April 23, 2019 

Recall Number: 19-110

Recall Summary

Name of product: Wooden Train Carts

Wooden Train Carts

Hazard: The steam dome on the train's engine car can come loose, posing a choking hazard. Take the train away immediately and return to store for a refund. No receipt is needed.


Description:
This recall involves all five pieces of the wooden toy train carts. The train carts have a blue base, and colorful wagon on top, as either the front part of the train, with two steam domes, an apple cart, a wood log cart, a milk cart and a caboose cart. All train carts were sold with a white label, which was placed around each cart with a nylon string. The model number (3010874) and batch number (211693US) is printed on the label. Each piece has been sold individually.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported.

Sold At: Flying Tiger Copenhagen stores nationwide from November 2018 through March 2019 for about $2

Manufacturer(s):
Zhejiang Ruyi Industry Co., LTD., of China

I'll keep you posted on any further toy recalls



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Choosing Safe Toys

4.Make sure your child is physically ready for the toy. An example would be if parents of older kids buy a bike one size too big so as not to have to buy a new bike the next year. This tactic can lead to serious injury if a child doesn't have the physical skills to control the bigger bike. Maybe you could settle for a used one for a couple of years until your child is older.

5. Don't pick a toy that is too heavy. If your child could get hurt if the toy fell on them, it is to heavy. Wait until your child is older to choose this toy..

6 .Avoid toys with small magnets. The CPSC calls magnets a hidden home hazard. Some toys, especially electronic ones, often use small, powerful magnets which may all out of the toy and be swallowed by a child. Two or more swallowed magnets (or a magnet and a metal object) can be attracted to each other through intestinal walls, twisting and pinching the intestines and causing holes, blockages, infection, or worse if not discovered and treated promptly. The agency recommends keeping toys with magnets away from kids under the age of 14

7.Watch out for toxic toys. Even when you find a toy that seems safe, you'll want to be sure it's not made with chemicals that can harm your child. Phthalates, or "plasticizers," are used to make plastic more flexible and durable, and these chemicals are found in many toys. Cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic are other chemicals you can find in everything from dolls and action figures to children's jewelry and stuffed animals. These are some of the chemicals found in most of the Chinese made toys.

Next time, I'll share with you, some of the most recent children's toys which have been recalled because of safety reasons.

Choosing Safe Toys

For children, especially the younger ones, toys are their treasures. But if you, as a parent, are not careful in choosing which toys your child has, those toys can be hazardous, too.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission there were 251.700 estimated toy-related, emergency department -treated injuries in 2017 . Of those, 73 percent happened to children younger than 15 years of age; 69 percent occurred to children 12 years of age or younger; an estimated 36 percent (about 1/2) happened to children younger than 5 years of age.

So, how can you choose a safe toy?

1.Pick age-appropriate toys. Be sure to check the "recommended age" sticker, which can be used as a starting point in the selection process. But you also have to be realistic about your child's abilities and maturity level when choosing one. Toys that have projectiles, for example, are never suitable for a child under age 4 – and even some 6-year-olds aren't mature enough to handle them. Likewise, if your 3-year-old still puts everything into her mouth, you should wait a little longer to give her toys and games with small parts and pieces.

2. Choose toys that are well-made. Used toys passed down from older relatives or siblings may be sentimental, but can be worn or frayed which can sometimes be dangerous. The same is true of some bought at yard sales Check all toys – new or used – for buttons, batteries, yarn, ribbons, eyes, beads, and plastic parts that could easily be chewed or snapped off. For stuffed animals, make sure it's tail is securely sewn on and the seams of the body are reinforced. Parts on other toys should be securely attached. Make sure there are no sharp edges and the paint is not peeling. No paint, or dye colored is safer-no peeling, and the child can't ingest it.

3.Think big. Until your child turns 3, toy parts should be bigger than his mouth to prevent the possibility of choking. Try this to determine whether a toy poses a choking risk: try fitting it through a toilet paper roll. If a toy or part of a toy can fit inside the cylinder, it's not safe

(Continued next time)