Archive for the ‘ Must-Haves ’ Category

LEGO Add-ons

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Research Chief Beth Honeyman writes about a LEGO piece that no LEGO-loving home should be without:

LEGO and DUPLO represent a nearly endless world of possibilities for young builders, but that very lack of limitations can pose its own challenge. My 2- and 5-year-olds enjoyed the classic toys from the get-go, but transforming loose bins of blocks into their own designs didn’t come easily. With the help of a few building plates, however, LEGO love now reigns supreme. The sturdy plastic surfaces give my kids a stable base and

large—but comfortably contained—space on which to unleash their imaginations’ creations, whether that’s “the tallest tower ever!” or a combo zoo/farm/apartment complex. They’re also a terrific add-on to any LEGO birthday gift, encouraging kids to craft new constructions long after they’ve completed a set’s instructed build.

For more LEGO fun, see our Toy of the Year (T.O.Y.) Awards.

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Kids’ Boredom Busters: Art Supplies

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Looking for something to keep the kids entertained for a few hours? Maybe it’s Spring Break, maybe it’s yet another snow day (as we’re expecting here tomorrow, ugh!), or maybe you’re just simply looking for something new. For this week’s blog posts, I’ll be featuring great boredom busters I’ve recently found.

Art supplies are always on the go-to boredom buster list. But finding good quality materials in a kit for a reasonable price can sometimes be harder than, well, drawing a family of stick figures. The Do Art: Art Collage kit from Faber-Castell has everything I look for in a craft kit—and then some. Sixty sheets of colorful, good-quality paper; a few textural elements such as lace and burlap; two types of glue; and—wait for it—scissors that actually cut! (For those of you who purchased lots of craft kits, you know that can be a rare thing!) But maybe what I like best is the instruction book, which really doesn’t include instructions at all. Rather, it introduces kids to collage, talks about materials they can use (both from the kit and found items), gives examples of types of collage, and then turns them loose to use their imagination and creativity. Perfect.

You can also check out our picks for great educational toys.

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Birthday Gifts for $20 or Less

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Deputy Editor Mary Giles recently appeared on the Today Show to present some of FamilyFun’s picks for inexpensive birthday gifts.

Our March issue featured even more great gift ideas for $20 or less, including three interactive and clever books.

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Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

IshOur friends at Red Tricycle recently announced their 2012 Totally Awesome Awards. There are a lot of great categories (Artistic Art Supplies, Wheely Cool Bike Gear), and even local picks for families (eateries, music classes) in large metro areas, such as LA and Chicago.

I was especially thrilled to see one of my favorite picture books, Ish, by Peter Reynolds, nominated in the Beloved Bedtime Stories category. The simple story celebrates creativity in kids and is part of Reynold’s Creatrilogy series, which also includes The Dot and Sky Color. My boys are teenagers now, but they’ll still occasionally pick up our copies of the books and reread them, always with a smile on their faces.

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Grammy Nominations

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Little Seed

Ellen’s on vacation this week, spending time with her boys. Here’s a guest post from Research Chief Beth Honeyman.


Grammy nomination
s came out recently and I was thrilled to see a nod for Elizabeth Mitchell, one of my family’s musical mainstays. Many of Mitchell’s albums run on semi-permanent rotation at our house, owing to the songstress’s gentle vocals and simple arrangements. The sweet songs provide a perfect calming note on otherwise crazy days and often help to soothe my four- and two-year olds through their challenging pre-dinner witching hour. Lately, we’ve been enjoying tracks from Mitchell’s latest album Blue Clouds, but somehow her nominated one, Little Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie, slipped past my eagle eye (or should that be “ear”?). You can be sure I’ll be correcting that oversight right away.

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