Author: Christina Refford

Web Coolness: Star Wars in schools, smart ways to be more playful, and the most amazing new car seat.

Here are the links we’ve liked reading around the web this week. We hope you like them too.   Love these sweet Star Wars’ illustrations by James Hance in the style of classic children’s book illustrations. (via Bored Panda) How teachers can bring Star Wars into the classroom with these great lesson plan ideas that cover everything from Shakespeare to economics. We had our own theory on the Spawned Podcast last week about “Where is Rey?”  Sadly, our theory was confirmed nearly verbatim by a toy manufacturer who confessed as to why there are so few Rey toys on shelves. Just wow. A great resolution: 52 ways...

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TIA Girl Club for Tweens: A monthly subscription of role models

While I can’t pick my daughters’ friends for them, I do try to help my girls grow up with smart, healthy, and interesting women as role models. You know, not the ones whose biggest life advice has to do with how to take a great selfie. So, I’m really interested in the new monthly club for girls, the TIA Girl Club — TIA stands for Today I Am . It was was designed by mom Vanessa Schenck to help tweens 8 to 13 navigate those tricky years with advice and inspiration from wonderful, successful women in a whole range of fields. The club is built around the notion that girls should use their...

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Great family craft project for MLK Day: Come together to create this Martin Luther King Jr. mural

Over the years, we have shared our favorite books, videos and websites that help our kids learn about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. And now, along with learning about his life, we can add an interesting art project that our kids can do with their friends or in class next week to remember this important person in history. Related: Terrific ways to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the kids With 36 full-sheet coloring pages, art teacher Kathy Barbro’s Martin Luther King Coloring Mural is a brilliant group project that comes together to form a 48″x60″ mural for the wall. (Of course,...

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15 of the coolest indoor playhouses for kids, from DIY to a few splurges

As someone living in Massachusetts, I’ve always gotten the appeal of having a great playhouse for kids. For many of us, our kids’ primary playtime through the winter will take place indoors where it isn’t 20 degrees and icy. So if you’re looking for ways to make your indoors as fun as possible for your kids, a cool playhouse can give them endless hours of imaginative fun that doesn’t involve bouncing off the walls or jumping on your couch. So we’ve rounded up 15 cool DIY and ready-to-buy playhouses for kids that can be put in a playroom, bedroom, or even a corner of...

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Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

It’ll be a beautiful day in the neighborhood for someone who gets a set of these awesome Mister Rogers sticky notes I just found. Featuring the iconic images of Mister Rogers and his comfy cardigan, as well as Lady Elaine Fairchild, X the Owl, King Friday XIII, and Daniel Striped Tiger, you or your kids can tab pages in a book you are reading or leave little notes around the house. For best results, tab all the smartest pages with X the Owl and save Lady Elaine for anything that makes you feel kind of cranky. Daniel Striped Tiger would only go on my very...

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Winter hats for babies and toddlers that are so cute, you’ll want to go outside more often

The weather outside may finally have us shaking in our boots, but I’m feeling kind of warm inside just looking at the cutest handmade winter fleece hats for babies and toddlers from Mrs PTB on Etsy. They’ll almost make you want to leave the warmth of your house just to hear the ooohs and ahhhs of the passersby when they see your child all bundled up. Made of soft fleece by Philadelphia crafter Angelique Buckley, there’s nothing scratchy to bother sensitive kids who normally rip a hat off in five seconds flat. And the under-the-chin snap closure–which can be replaced by velcro on request–helps...

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Move over adult coloring books: Make way for 1000 Dot-to-Dot books

While we still have a lot of love for all the cool adult coloring books we featured this year — and saw everywhere this holiday season — I realized there was another relaxing drawing option for us big kids, when my teen daughter unwrapped a copy of 1000 Dot-to-Dot Cities from her aunt. This is not your preschooler’s dot-to-dot book. 1000 Dot-to-Dot Cities is one in a series of “extreme” dot-to-dot books by Australian graphic designer Thomas Pavitte, whose books also include 1000 Dot-to-Dot Icons, 1000 Dot-to-Dot Masterpieces, and 1000 Dot-to-Dot Animals. And when I say extreme, I mean, whoa. Each sturdy page in...

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The coolest kids’ music of the year: Our 15 top albums | Editors’ Best of 2015

2015 was a very good year for kids’ music, with new releases from favorites like They Might Be Giants and Recess Monkey, as well as new-to-us bands like The Bazillions and Jazzy Ash. And if you have kids, but no idea what I’m talking about, well, you’re in for a treat! Kids’ music these days is definitely more than those albums of kids belting out pop covers in unison, and our children are lucky to have so much amazing music out there to choose from, that also happens to have lyrics that are fun, catchy, and don’t make us cringe...

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DIY and printable gift card holder ideas: 10 absolutely lovely options that make that piece of plastic something special.

Though I spend an awful lot of time picking out the perfect gifts for the people on my Christmas list, there are many times when a gift card really is the perfect gift, which is why I’ve rounded up ten DIY gift card holder ideas to dress that little card-sized piece of plastic nicely for the holidays.  Because I know my teenage daughter would love a gift card to a local clothing store or iTunes card; our many dance teachers and coaches could use a few free skim Ventis; and I like the idea of cards that support a local lunch joint...

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A great big list of 20 of the best free printable gift tags and gift wrap for the holidays

It’s beginning to look like it’s time to start wrapping the gifts, so we’re coming to the rescue with 20 of the cutest, coolest, and most beautifully designed printable gift tags and gift wrap for the holidays, from all over the internet. This list should make it clear that we’re picky — we’ve really spent a lot of time finding just the very best ones. Because hey, we get it…it’s totally disheartening to realize Christmas eve that you don’t have enough gift tags or wrapping paper to get the job done, and then have to scour the web for something that fits your standards. So...

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Easy DIY ornaments for kids: 9 terrific ideas for turning those plain ornaments into something special

I have had such a great time this week looking for ideas for DIY ornaments for the kids. After all, one of my favorite parts about decorating for the holidays is seeing the Christmas tree ornaments my kids have made over the years and hey, we’re always open to new ideas. So here are 9 really easy, fun ways to turn those plain round ornaments into holiday keepsakes for anyone in your family, their favorite teachers, or even a BFF. I really like that these DIY ornament ideas make great group projects too, if you’re looking for a classroom or playdate project for a bunch of creative...

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4 fun paper jewelry kits for kids that make great holiday gifts

Paper jewelry kits are a pretty awesome gift, giving your crafty kids something wonderful they can make and wear — even when you’re sure you want one more little bead, button, or plastic charm strewn about your house. I adore paper jewelry kits as much as my kids because they are fun and can turn out some pretty cool-looking pieces. Plus, they can go right in the recycling bin once my kids have moved on to something else, unlike the cheap jewelry that they covet by the counters of clothing stores. So for a great jewelry-making gift that uses paper as its medium of choice, I’ve got four fun...

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Immerse your kids in Chinese culture without the super long plane ride

We love finding new ways to teach our kids about the big, diverse world that extends far beyond the boundaries of their neighborhood and town. And while nothing can replace actually going to the countries themselves, playsets like this one from Whole Wide World Toys may help even our littlest jet setter hopefuls learn all about different countries in a way that is fun and educational. And their first stop? The huge country of China. What makes Whole Wide World Toys’ World Village China Playset so neat is how it incorporates a ton of age-appropriate information along with the toys themselves. Each playset comes with...

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7 unique nativity sets for families with young kids. So basically, not glass.

Now that it’s officially December, I will soon unpack and set up my childhood nativity set, even if our holidays are largely secular nowadays. However after three kids who turned my nativity into a sort of dollhouse toy each year, it’s time for me to consider something new. Which is why I have been looking around the web for a beautiful and unique nativity set for families that won’t be easily destroyed, should the kids get a little handsy with the Wise Men. In other words, no $800 porcelain figurines painted with 14k gold leaf. So I came up with seven nativity sets I really...

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14 of the coolest art toys and gifts for kids of all ages: 2015 Holiday Toy Gift Guide

If there is one gift we always hope our kids get unwrap this holiday, it’s an art toy or craft kit, or something that encourages and help develops their artistic sides. For us, toys that build on children’s natural creativity are as important to feeding their brains as educational toys that teach proficiency in reading, math and science. If you’re looking for a terrific selection of art toys for kids, one of the first places we always look online is Fat Brain Toys, our amazing sponsor for this third and final post in our Holiday Toy Gift Guide series. Fat Brain Toys has so more than...

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Little Loving Hands reimagines monthly craft kits for kids in the most amazing way

My kids’ holiday gift requests are coming in fast and while I’m sure Santa appreciates the early input, I want to make sure my kids don’t forget how it feels to give to others as well. That’s why Little Loving Hands is one of my favorite new gift ideas: It not only makes a wonderful monthly gift for kids who enjoy arts and crafts, but their creations become gifts for others who are going through a difficult time. Much like other monthly craft kits we love like Kiwi Crate or Green Kid Crafts, Little Loving Hands sends a boxed project...

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14 of the best educational toys for kids of every age: 2015 Holiday Toy Gift Guide

If you could use a little help picking out toys for the kids on your list this holiday, we’re about to make things a lot easier for you with a mini holiday toy gift guide, starting with the best educational toys for kids. This is the first in a three-part series dedicated to great toy gifts for kids, brought to you by the amazing folks at Fat Brain Toys. If you’re a long time reader of our site, you know how thrilled we are about this, because we’ve been recommending the carefully curated collection of toys from this family-owned business for years...

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One-of-a-kind, handmade wool slippers for baby that are beyond adorable.

As cute as those little baby fingers and toes are, winter is coming, and it’s time for all those digits to go under wraps. If you’re looking to keep your little ones snug and warm in something really special, you’ve got to check out the eco-friendly and adorable handmade wool slippers and mittens for babies from Cate and Levi. Related: Cool gifts for baby’s first Christmas: Holiday gift guide 2015 We’ve been gaga over Toronto-based Cate and Levi ever since we saw how the company took reclaimed wool, mainly from discarded sweaters that were destined for the landfill, and turned it into unique stuffed animals, incredible wall art,...

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The kids’ table will be the place to be this Thanksgiving with these 11 great ideas to make it more fun

We’ve come a long way since the “kids’ table” of my youth, when a rickety card table in the kitchen corner was where all of us little ones were banished for Thanksgiving dinner. Now, there are so many ways to make the Thanksgiving kids’ table fun and interesting, everyone is going to want to be sent to eat there. And even if you don’t formally set up a separate kids’ table, a lot of these ideas can be incorporated into your family’s table decor where the kids are seated. I’ve even found some great ideas that will give the kids something to keep them occupied...

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Feelings, nothing more than feelings: Inside Out now available on DVD and digital download

If you missed Disney Pixar’s Inside Out when it came to the theaters, perhaps you thought that getting kids to watch an animated movie about “feelings” would be about as exciting to them as one of those hour-long health movies that they have to watch in school. And yet, after laughing and crying through the film together — even my picky young teen — we can’t wait to do it all over again in the comfort of our home with the release of Inside Out on Blu-Ray/DVD. Just in time for a long, active weekend with family, when a little quiet time in front of the TV might be...

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