Author: Christina Refford

Fun backyard Olympic games that give your own gold medal athletes a chance to shine

With the Summer Games set to begin on August 5, we are getting ourselves ready to do some Olympic-sized television viewing as we cheer on the amazing athletes from around the world. So if you’re celebrating what is sure to be a spectacular opening ceremonies this weekend, we’ve put together some awesome ideas for throwing your own backyard Olympic games, with Olympic themed activities for all ages. Here are our favorite ideas! Don’t worry…no pole vaulting. (Top: Olympic javelin toss backyard game idea via Hoosier Homemade) Related: Throwing an Olympics Party? Some of the coolest printables, snacks, and party ideas.   Bring all of your athletes together with the free printable...

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FinFun: Mermaid tails for swimming that take summer fun to new heights. Or, depths.

The coolest thing you’ll encounter in the water this summer may be my daughter, who has transformed herself from a normal 13-year-old into a full-fledged mermaid. And, whoa, if you have a child who would love to swim like one of these creature of the sea, you’ll want to check this out this awesome product my kids had the chance to try out. FinFun Mermaid Tails are real swimmable tails for kids, teens, and adults (though I’m leaving this trend to the kids) that actually let you swim through the water like Ariel — or Ponyo, depending on your family’s animation preferences. Related: Blankie Tails turn...

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Over 20 of the best Finding Dory birthday party ideas

Even though Finding Dory has only been out for a few weeks, she already has a ton of fans who are likely going to want her be the star of their birthday party (well, after the birthday child of course).  So we’ve gone fishing for some of our favorite Finding Dory-inspired birthday party ideas from invitations, decor, food, and party favors. And we’ve even put them all in this one spot so you won’t forget anything, unlike you-know-who. Related: 10 cool summer party ideas for kids, and lots of inspiration to help you pull them off (Top image: The...

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16 essential skills kids learn from LEGO, and fantastic resources to help get them going

Of all the toys that have passed through the hands of my three kids over the past dozen or so years, there is no question that LEGO bricks have been the most enduring and versatile. From their first little plastic bucket of mixed bricks, to those 1000+ piece architectural kits that require hours of concentration, LEGO remains a favorite toy — for all of us — even up against the siren song of video games. But even more than just being fun, I love the important skills that LEGOs can teach. I’ve seen so many of them firsthand as a...

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Shark Week is coming! Get ready with our 10 favorite shark picks for kids

Though the Fourth of July may be the number one holiday of the summer, Shark Week comes in a close second. It’s pretty popular among our readership because our kids get a good excuse to watch an entire week’s worth of programming about our favorite toothy fish. And, for that reason, it’s become somewhat of an annual tradition to round up our favorite shark picks for kids. If your kids are big fans of sharks too, get ready to tune into the Discovery Channel starting this Sunday, and check out our top 10 shark picks we’ve hooked just for you. CMP is an rstyle affiliate You’ll...

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Renegade Made helps kids create random acts of kindness through crafting.

Over the years, we’ve featured loads of great craft kits for kids that flex our children’s creative muscles as they try their hand at making cool new works of art. But I’ve never seen anything quite like the brand new craft kits for kids by Renegade Made that aim to turn crafting into a larger social movement for good. The idea is that these clever craft kits for kids are designed to deliver random acts of kindness around town, through one of four kits, and kids as young as 8 (though likely younger with an adult’s help) can find one that keeps them busily entertained, all while...

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26 of the best car games and activities to keep kids happy without screens.

I was one of those parents who insisted that I’d raise the kind of kids who would play fun, screen-free car games on our family road trips, or perhaps watching the world whiz by while asking intelligent questions about all the sites and sounds around them. Sound familiar? Yeah. Well after one particularly long road trip, I quickly learned that sometimes screens are really, really useful for making an endless drive feel… not so endless. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve totally surrendered to the lure of electronics. There are times when all the screens need to go off so we can discover other ways to...

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The world’s cutest tableware for kids: We have a contender!

When my kids first started eating solids, they often reminded me of wild baby animals — flinging food all over the place, trying to eat without using their hands, and getting all the gooiest stuff mashed into their hair. So I’m pretty impressed with the new kids’ tableware line from Marcus & Marcus  which offers cute, animal-inspired designs help our littlest ones learn to eat like, well, like little humans. CMP is an rstyle affiliate Related: 14 of the coolest baby gifts and gear we wish we had when we were new moms. The easy-to-clean, brightly colored collection was developed by two parents who know a thing or...

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The clever Bring Your Own Book game is our new favorite for family game night.

Now that my kids are old enough to play “real” games — you know, the ones where I don’t have to let them win — I love finding new clever and fun options for when we all gather around the table to play. So I was really excited to learn about Bring Your Own Book, a truly unique activity for our family game night. Created first by Matthew Moore and Luke Nalker, who launched it successfully via Kickstarter, it has been newly released by Gamewright, one of our favorite game companies, for people ages 12+. Since each game only lasts about 20 minutes, it’s perfect for families who might...

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7 smart sleepaway camp essentials that help stave off homesickness.

If your little camper is heading off to sleepaway camp this summer, possibly for the first time (sniff), you’ll likely receive from the camp a long list of all the essentials to pack — extra socks, bug repellent, water bottles, headlamps. But, on top of all those must-haves (and they really are), we think that a few special items that connect them to home can help make the transition from bed to bunk a little easier. We spoke to our experienced sleepaway camp parents around here, and put together 7 of our favorite ideas for sleepaway camp essentials that help stave off homesickness and ensure the transition...

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8 of the best teacher appreciation printables to help your kids say thanks

When we asked teachers what they thought made the best teacher gifts a couple of years ago, an overwhelming number of them said a personal note from their students was the one thing that really made their day. Yes, gift cards, classroom books, and handmade gifts are nice (and always appreciated!), but getting a handwritten note of thanks takes very little work and goes a very long way in showing appreciation to teachers after a long year. However, I think we can all agree that getting all kids to sit down a write a thoughtful note isn’t always so easy, so we’ve...

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10 absolutely charming storybook birthday party ideas for kids

Looking for some inspiration for your child’s next birthday party that goes beyond animated movies? You may not have to look any farther than one of the well-worn storybooks your child lovingly keeps by their bedside. In fact, we love the idea of a storybook themed birthday party so much! Not only do classic picture books provide tons of ideas and inspiration, but they have the added benefit creating themes that parents can be really excited to bring to life. (With all due respect to Dora and friends.) To help you get started thinking about some fantastic party ideas that will make your child’s celebration memorable, we’ve...

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6 of the snappiest water shoes for kids that like to splash all day

Nothing beats running around barefoot in the summer, until those soft little feet hit a rock or your kids refuse to go into the lake because of a few “icky” leaves on the bottom. So now is a great time to stock up on comfy and durable pairs of water shoes for your toddlers or bigger kids, who will be in and out of water all day. We’ve roundup up a handful of our favorite water shoes from companies we love and trust — the snappiest, sturdiest pairs of water shoes that are an essential part of summer fun. CMP is an...

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A patriotic T-shirt that reminds us of what makes America wonderful.

Though I’ve heard a lot of people joke that they’ll be shipping themselves over the Canadian border if this year’s presidential election doesn’t go the way they hope, I know that for the vast majority of us, there’s no place like home. Especially the home we’ve created for our kids; you know, the one that promotes the best qualities our country was built upon like freedom, acceptance, and diversity. So if you too want your kids and others to remember why we think America is already great, thankyouverymuch, here’s a wonderfully patriotic T-shirt from Seattle’s Free to be Kids. Their ethically...

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From space exploration to circus arts: 10 outrageously cool summer camps we wish we had as kids

For many of us, summer means heading off to our go-to camp where our kids spend their days playing outdoors, going on nature hikes, swimming in ponds, and singing goofy camp songs with all their friends. But if your kids would prefer a less-traditional or even totally off-the-wall summer camp experience, we’ve found loads of the coolest, most outrageous summer camps — both day camp and overnight — that fit every child’s idea of fun. Whether or not you take the plunge, or just fantasize about what your kids could do one day, these are all pretty awesome. But before you pack...

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The EWG 2016 safest sunscreens for kids: which are most affordable?

Every year, we have turned to the Environmental Working Group’s Annual Guide to Sunscreens to help us make more educated decisions about what are the safest sunscreens to slather on our kids (and ourselves) each summer. But we often find that when you break down the prices, whoa — it’s expensive to get safe sunscreens for kids! Especially considering how much we’re using. So this year we thought we’d take a good look at their short list of the EWG Best Kids’ Sunscreens, find the average prices online (generally from Amazon, Drugstore.com, or the brand’s own website if the product isn’t widely available at...

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5 inspiring new picture books for National Readathon Day that make kids want to get out and play

As someone who grew up with her nose in a book, I sure spent a lot of time hearing my parents tell me to put down that book and go outside to play! So in honor of today’s National Readathon Day, I’ve rounded up five wonderful new picture books for kids that not only make great stories but also inspire kids to get outdoors and explore this big, beautiful world. Because if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that books do a darn good job of expanding our world views way beyond the walls and comfort of our homes. Related: 3 brand...

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Blankie Tails makes a big splash with new mermaid tails for dolls

If our most popular post of 2015, which introduced the brilliant and much coveted Blankie Tails, is any indication, there are now swarms of kids across America, flipping (ha) for their super-soft, well-made mermaid and shark tail blankets that are perfect for cozying up on the couch, or showing off at sleepovers. Lucky for all their kid fans, Blankie Tails just released the perfect complement to their people-sized tails: mermaid tails for dolls. Kind of ridiculous — and yet, ridiculously cute, right? After all, kids are outfitting their American Girl dolls in everything from equestrian wear to leg casts, so why not mermaid tails? I love that these...

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Super rad Father’s Day T-shirts? Check.

Whether the special father in your life goes by Dad, Pop, or Daddy-O, you can celebrate the year he earned that title with one of Branded’s personalized cotton tees. We love this idea for the coolest Father’s Day T-shirts, which, by the way, we also included in our 2016 Baby Shower Gift Guide. They have just about every naming option I can think of for both dads and grandfathers or other important father figures in your life, or you can customize a shirt with the moniker that will fit him just right. I love the distressed vintage lettering that gives the shirt a well-worn look right...

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7 of the coolest craft kits for kids

As much as my older kids love their electronics, good old-fashioned crafts still hold some appeal for them, especially if the finished product is something really worth making. And with summer vacation fast-approaching, I really want to find smart, interactive projects for them that don’t require a battery life. So, I’ve rounded up 7 of the coolest craft kits for kids ages 10 and older that are sure to impress. Related: 3 brand new nature-themed activity books will keep kids busy…without screens. CMP is an rstyle affiliate If your kids already get basic origami, they’re probably love this adorable Origami Playhouse by illustrator, author, and teacher of...

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