Author: Christina Refford

The Swurfer: Not your grandma’s backyard swing

When I first saw a picture of The Swurfer in my local toy store’s summer catalog, I thought that it looked like a nice wide swing for those of us who can’t quite, ahem, cram ourselves into our kids’ smaller swings. And while it can definitely be used like a traditional swing, it wasn’t until I a YouTube video of the Swurfer in action that I realized that this swing really, really rocks. As the name implies, The Swurfer combines the motion of swinging with surfing so adventurous kids, teens, and even adults can surf through the air. My kids saw...

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Educational activities for children this summer? Reader Q & A

Hi Cool Mom Picks! Any suggestions for workbooks or activities to help prepare my child–and keep them out of my hair (ha)–for the summer between kindergarten and first grade? -Chaitali   Ahhhh, summer! No school lunches to pack, no buses to catch, and yet, now you have a curious, energetic, and sometimes b-o-r-e-d child to entertain for weeks on end. We love that you want to keep your child busy and engaged with educational activities that will help them get ready for the next year of school. We’re all big believers in tucking in some fun learning activities in between beach...

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Great anti-chafe swim trunks for boys that keep your beach bums happy

My beach bum son loves everything about the beach except for the one thing that actually gives him beach bum: That mesh insert in his bathing suit. (I know, we’re very clever.) So, I’m so very thankful to find NoNetz swim trunks for boys that are made to do away with that irritating and chafing mesh liner so that boys can get back to the important business of sandcastle building and wake boarding. Related: Terrific UV Swimwear to keep our boys and girls covered Manufactured in Brooklyn, NoNetz Anti-Chafe Swimwear is mainly made for men, so our grownup boys can chill out comfortably by the pool...

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A paper block city that’s ready to travel with your kids

If your kids like building blocks as much as mine, you’ll want to check out Paper Punk’s new Urban Fold paper blocks which allow kids 6 and up to build a sprawling metropolis without the bulk and weight of traditional blocks. This is such a great toy to toss in the car when you’re headed out for a few days at the beach, or to keep on hand for one of those hot summer days when just dragging out heavier wooden blocks is more work than anyone can imagine doing. Related: A creative activity book that could make your kid a future Duchamps or Dali Instead...

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From the coolest paper dresses to designing a line for J.Crew: Meet Mayhem

We were all totally blown away last year when we began to see the daily paper-dress creations of one amazing four-year-old affectionately known as Mayhem. With her mom as her assistant (well, maybe a little more), Mayhem’s wearable creations have always been colorful and creative, one-of-a-kind haute couture made of paper, tin foil, and tape. But beginning today, our kids can wear an actual Mayhem creation thanks to J. Crew’s brand-new collection Little Mayhem for J.Crew. Little Mayhem for J.Crew’s line of dresses, separates, and accessories replaces the paper and tape with cotton and stitching but still captures Mayhem’s delightful imagination in each piece. And, in...

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Play tape road rolls that let kids bring imaginative play on the road

With three vehicle-loving children, there was a time when I feared my living room would be overrun with sections of train tracks and makeshift “roads” built out of blocks. I wish I had known about InRoad Toys; clever  play tape road rolls which turns any flat surface into a road or train track without creating an obstacles should you need to walk from one side of the room to another. Plus, it’s just fantastic for summer travel. The self-adhesive paper tape road rolls makes it so easy for kids to roll out and stick to a hardwood floor, coffee table, flat-pile carpet, bookshelf —  really...

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Adorable new photo memory cards for the last day of school, and other big moments

With another school year coming to an end, it’s a great time to capture a photo of your grinning student on their last day of school. To make sure you remember the moment years from now, I love the new Picture Me Proud photo memory cards from the smart folks at Sticky Bellies. They’ll make sure the memory of their last day of kindergarten, first, second, or even fifth grade stays clear, as well as many other moments of importance in their young lives. Related: The best teacher gift ideas according to people who know: actual teachers. A set of Picture Me Proud photo memory cards...

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12 fantastically messy projects for kids that let you be That Fun Parent

They may be growing up oh-so-fast, but our elementary-school aged kids are more than happy to get as messy as their toddler selves used to, especially when it’s all in good fun. Our tip: Every so often, it’s okay to get messy. So throw on the play clothes, hold your breath, and get ready for them to get head-to-toe covered in paint, mud, or whatever ooey, gooey substance you have on hand. If all this talk about messy play makes you feel a little squeamish, then remember that the nice weather of spring and summer make the perfect time to take that mess outside....

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Candylab Toys: Our kids can’t wait to get behind these wheels

We fell so in love with Candylab Toys and their gorgeous, modern-looking wood cars when we saw them over the holidays last year, they easily made 2014 Best Toys, Dolls, and Games list. Now our engines are all revved up again to see that they are adding to their fleet of vehicles with five new styles of handmade wooden cars. Like their original cars, these new Candylab vehicles run not on batteries, but on the imagination of the kids playing with cars like the iconic yellow cab, a mini tow truck that actually tows, or a 1970’s era Woodie station wagon which comes with...

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17 ideas for last-minute Mother’s Day gifts that won’t feel last-minute in the least

We may have started talking about great Mother’s Day gifts since, oh, March or so, but that doesn’t mean we are totally ready for Sunday either. Hey, we’re moms. We know how busy things can get. Since this special day will be here before you know it, we’ve got plenty of wonderful last-minute Mother’s Day gifts that won’t feel last-minute to the person on the receiving end, whether it’s a special mom, grandma, stepmother, or mother-in law. You can also check out our 2016 Mother’s Day gift guide for dozens of ideas, whether you’re heading out to the stores or looking for a fun...

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Stella Brings the Family: A Mother’s Day book that every kid should read.

Mother’s Day may be one of our favorite holidays for obvious reasons, but it’s also obvious that not all kids have a mother living in their family. For young kids in this situation, this can be a difficult time, especially in school when kids may be asked to make Mother’s Day cards or gifts — or, as in the new book, Stella Brings the Family, attend a Mother’s Day celebration in the classroom. In this brand new book by Miriam Schiffer, Stella’s teacher asks the class to each invite a special guest for a Mother’s Day party. But, Stella...

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7 of the best DIY teacher gift ideas to make gift cards more personal

Back in December, when we asked teachers for the Best Teacher Gift Ideas, by far the most cherished gift mentioned was a handwritten note or card from their students. Just a few words to let them know that all their hard work made a difference to our kids; according to our Very Important Teachers, this small gesture goes a long way. But the other idea that received a lot of thumbs-up for its usefulness was a gift card to either a local establishment or national chain, where teachers could treat themselves or buy something for the classroom.  Turns out, what some think of...

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Throw a family-friendly fiesta with these quick and easy Cinco de Mayo party ideas

There was a time when Cinco de Mayo meant tequila, nachos, and, well, more tequila. But, now that we have kids, we’ve dialed back the drinking and dialed up the family-friendly fun so that we can all enjoy a Mexican fiesta on the fifth of May. If you feel like getting in on the action, check out these easy Cinco de Mayo party ideas—over 24 finds from decorations to activities, songs to recipes—to help make your day fun for all ages. Comida (Food) First and foremost, in my house, Cinco de Mayo means Mexican food. If it does in...

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A colorful toy mail bag for kids that’s ready to deliver fun

Since most of the mail I get in my own mailbox is junk or bills, I’d love to see my kids playing mail carrier and delivering me something really special using Miss Pretty Pretty’s colorful felt mail bag. Perhaps delivered to this cute printable mailbox we shared a while back? Coming from Julie the same Etsy artist that has given us the most creative and well-made handmade playhouses we may have seen, ever, Miss Pretty Pretty’s child-sized mail bag is ready to go to work. Or play. Through rain, sleet, snow, or just across a messy playroom. She can even customize it in whatever color combination your...

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Beautiful new music for babies to delight our youngest listeners and their parents

We have spent years sharing the very best in kids’ music so that our children can grow up with great tunes written for the person they are now—and not the person they are going to be in 15 years, or—if it’s a booty song—hopefully never. So keep reading for three new albums filled with beautiful music for babies to share with your very youngest listeners. And, because these albums are awesome, you’ll love hearing the songs too. Long time kindie favorite, Caspar Babypants has created another great album for young kids, though this time at a gentler, slower pace. His new album Night Night! is...

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Babiators grows up with new sunglasses for bigger kids

Search this site for kids’ sunglasses, and you will find several posts about Babiators cool-looking, high-protection sunglasses for babies and toddlers. With good reason: Cute styles and comfy frames coupled with 100% UVA and UVB protection, and an incredibly forgiving one-year replacement guarantee, make for a great way to keep little eyes from squinting their way through the sunnier months. So we’re thrilled to learn about Aces sunglasses for bigger kids ages 7-14, now featuring bigger-kid frames but with the same same qualities we’ve love about this brand. Including shatterproof lenses and durable rubber frames, because kids never seem to grow out of needing those at any age.   I...

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A toy to help kids with autism (and without) understand more about their moods

Whether you call it Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance like one of my good friends, April is a great month to learn more about autism and how to make our world more supportive to those families living with it. That’s one reason we’ve long supported Creative Kidstuff’s partnership with St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development to identify some of the best playthings for kids with autism. And it is on their special month-long Autism Awareness Celebration Sale page that I discovered a toy that could help kids on and off the autistic spectrum learn and understand more about their moods....

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Add some spring to your spring with 4 cool new albums for kids you’ll want to add to your playlists

Put a little spring in your step with some great new tunes for the kids that will get your toes tapping too. With new albums from some of our long-time favorites, as well as some artists that our kids will recognize from TV, there’s a great variety of new music, as evidenced in the four new releases we’ve featured here. Trees, the delightful new collaborative release by Molly Ledford of Lunch Money and versatile kindie musician Billy Kelly, is the musical equivalent of a ramble through the woods where every path leads somewhere fun.  Starting with the title song, Trees,...

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A potty training reward system we like, if you can get past the name

First: A caveat. The name Poop ‘n Pull makes us all laugh every time. So much so, that we almost dismissed it just on the name alone. But on closer look, this is a seriously smart potty training reward system for parents of young kids ready to ditch the diapers. And if you’re in the midst of that fun phase of parenting, then we know you may be willing to take all the help you can get. Even if it’s a name that older kids will have a field day with. This parent-invented device is essentially a small plastic container that you can hang on...

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Custom art pillows: The Mother’s Day gift that lets your kids paint on the couch. Kind of.

Some of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts are ones that my kids make for me, though I will admit that there are only so many macaroni necklaces a girl can own. So if you’re looking for an enduring custom Mother’s Day gift idea that combines the handmade art of your kids with gorgeous craftsmanship, check out the beautifully made custom art pillows made from original artwork at 19 Queens Gate. – Don’t miss an limited-time discount for our readers below. Hurry! – Whether it’s a toddler’s finger painting, a child’s more advanced artwork, or even an heirloom sketch that your talented grandmother created, the mother-daughter creative...

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