Category Archives: Hints and Tips

Find parenting tips, craft ideas, and yummy recipes to cook with your family. Have family fun with the helpful ideas from our hints and tips.

Blanket Tricks: Turn Kid’s Toys into Forts

Blanket tips for imaginative play

Blankets provide your family with warmth, but they can also be used to spark imaginative play. The power of imagination is incredible. Do you remember placing a blanket over chairs or a table and creating a secret fort when you were a kid? Children can still use these items to create forts but they could also use many toys found in their playroom to create these magical hangouts. Here are some toys that we thought would make some pretty cool forts:

Climber Fort:

secret climber fort for kids

A large blanket can be placed over top of the climber and kids can pretend to be camping out in a tent in the desert or in a rocket ship ready for takeoff. Little ones can also place a blanket on top of the platform, stairs and slide to crawl underneath and pretend they are at the bottom of a ship or hanging out underground.

kid's climber fort kid's climber fort

Table Fort:kid's table fort

Place a blanket over the table and this fort can fit two small kids underneath. You can supply your children with a flashlight and they can tell each other stories during a sleepover! For extra room, place chairs on each side and kids can spread out to enjoy the comfort of their brand new fort.

bigger table fort

As always, Step2 recommends adult supervision during playtime. What toys have your children placed blankets over to create a fort?

Learn Through Play: Sharing & Caring

sharing & caring

Don’t you love when your little one gives you a hug or when they want to share a toy or food with you? Those sweet gestures can fill your heart with joy and make your day complete. Expressing emotions and understanding feelings are critical social skills for kids to develop.

It is important to encourage sharing and caring on daily basis; here are a few ways to help your child to develop these social skills:

  • Model generosity: Act as a role model for your children. Hold the door for others, even if they are far away. If someone drops something on the ground at the grocery store, pick it up for them. Performing good deeds can encourage children to care for others by performing similar acts of kindness.
  • Praise them: When children share something with another child or show some type of sweetness to you or another person, praise them for their good intention.
  • Story Time:  Young children enjoy stories and the lessons they teach. You can get creative and tell  your own story about sharing and caring or you can read books at bedtime that demonstrate these lessons such as  “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera Williams, “The Berenstain Bears and No Girls Allowed” by Stan and Jan Berenstain or “The Lion and the Mouse” by Aesop.

Sharing and caring are skills that can also be learned through play. A fun fact about Step2 is that we rarely created toys that are meant for solo play because we aim to enhance children’s social interactions and inspire their young minds.  Let’s check out some toys that can help children understand what caring and sharing are all about!

Pretend Play Toys: Kids can learn what care is by nurturing a baby doll with the Deluxe Nursery Center. Children can also begin to grasp the concept of sharing responsibilities (also known as teamwork). While one child is feeding the baby doll at the feeding station, another child can pretend to do the laundry or take care of another baby doll at the changing table. Kids can also use one of our tool workshops to build a bird house together or another creation out of the pretend wood. Kids can even give their creation as a gift to their brother, sister, mom or dad.

pretend play

Play Kitchens: All of our play kitchens feature tons of appliances and accessories to keep multiple children entertained for hours. Our play kitchens are great for children to learn to use together. Children can trade off playing with the accessories or they can team up to cook a pretend meal.  We have been told by some of our customers that their kids have even exhibited caring by serving up a pretend pot of coffee to mom and dad with their play kitchen!

play kitchen

Art Desks & Easels: Children can also get crafty as a way to show they care. When children draw you pictures to put on the fridge or in a frame it is a selfless act of love and also shows that they want to share their hard work with you! Encourage your child to not only draw pictures for you with their art desk or easel, but ask them to draw pictures for their siblings, teachers and neighbors as well. Maybe your kids can even work together to make a piece of artwork to give to their grandparents.

art desk and easel
 

What tips and toys do you use to teach your kids about sharing and caring?

FriDIY: Gas Can

FRIDIY GAS CAN

It’s time to get crafty with our new blog series FriDIY. The last Friday of every month we will be featuring craft tutorials that you and your little ones can make together! Your kids will be able to use many of these craft ideas with their Step2 toys.

This month, we searched the web for inspiration and stumbled upon an awesome idea from Mother’s Niche for a gas can to go along with your little one’s ride-on toys.  We just had to try it out ourselves! This gas can will go perfect with Easy Turn Coupe and Toddle Tune Coupe because both cars have built-in gas caps that little racers can pretend they are filling up! Without further ado, let’s get started:

Gas Can Instructions

  1. Gather the following materials: an old detergent bottle or carpet cleaning spray bottle, paper, scissors, auto fuel funnel (which you can find at your local dollar store) and tape. Soak the bottle in hot water and soap before repurposing this as a play toy. As with any craft, adult supervision is highly recommended.
  2. The auto fuel funnel easily detaches into two parts, the funnel and the tube. You will only need the tube for this craft.
  3. Your child can draw the label for the gas can to help develop their writing and drawing skills or you can print out the one we created by clicking here. Cut out the label so it fits on the bottle.
  4. Tape the label onto the bottle.
  5. When taping, we only taped the four sides of the label onto the bottle. For extra durability, you can use packaging tape and cover the entire label in tape.
  6. Get tape or a hot glue gun for the opening of the bottle.
  7.  Line the tape or hot glue around the opening of the bottle.
  8. Place the tube onto the opening of the bottle. Hold onto the part of the tube that is attached to the bottle for twenty seconds.

Now your kids can fuel up some fun and imaginative play with their new gas can!

ride-on with gas canKid's Ride-on

 

Family Fun Snow Activities

Winter can be a beautiful yet cold time of year for those of us that get to experience the white fluffy stuff on the ground.  Even if you do not get a chance to frolic in the snow based on where you live, there are still plenty of activities you can do with your family to embrace this time of year! Check out these fun indoor and outdoor activities that incorporate the fun features of winter.

familyfunsnowactivites

Pine Cone Snowman: For those of you that have never had the chance to build a snowman outside, here is your chance to create one!  All you need is a pine cone (if you cannot find any outside, take a trip to your local craft store), plenty of cotton balls or batting, buttons, glue and scrap fabric. Your family can gather around the table and create their own version of Frosty the Snowman! These adorable snowmen will make for festive winter decorations around the house.

Snow Coloring: This colorific activity will amaze the minds and eyes of little artists as they make beautiful and vibrant creations in the yard! Grab an empty spray bottle (or container), food coloring and some water. Mix the food coloring and water into the spray bottle or container. Take a trip outside and begin spraying the snow! If you have the colored water in a container, use a turkey baster to spread the colorful water all over the snow.  All your neighbors will marvel at the multicolored snow!

Pipe Cleaner Snowflake: Snowflakes are so little and hard to see, so why not make them bigger by creating your own sparkly snowflakes! Gather up some different color pipe cleaners and twist and turn them to create your own unique winter-themed masterpiece. This is also another great craft that can be showcased around your house as a decoration.

Snow Dough: Whether you and your family are looking to create snowmen or snowballs, you can create dough that looks like snow with toilet paper, ivory soap and some water. This is a great sensory activity for toddlers to help inspire creativity and stimulate their minds!

We hope these family fun snow activities get you through this chilly season! Do you have any fun crafts or activities that you and your family enjoy during the winter?

 

Family Goal Setting

Goals
The New Year is like a fresh start and as adults we often come up with a list of goals and resolutions that we look forward to accomplishing. Last year, we created a list of resolutions that we wished our little ones would make. As funny as the list was, what if we actually helped our children to set goals for the New Year? Even better, what if we set goals as a family?

First, children must understand what goals are. Goals are something people work toward. For example, some athletes may want to get better at scoring points and some artists may want to become better at painting.

Creating goals together will help children to learn responsibility and ownership for their actions. Also, setting these goals together will build a strong family unit that does not let one another quit or give up on what they intend to accomplish.

Thanks to Breezy Mama and Notes on Parenting, we have compiled a list that will help you and your little ones create realistic goals for 2014:

  • Age appropriate goals: Think of activities your little ones can do based on their age. For example, younger kids can try to put their toys away at least three times a week. Not only will kids be cleaning (which is always a plus!), but they will be learning how to count by the amount of times they clean up their playroom or bedroom each week.  No matter what age your children are, work together to find a goal that they can achieve and learn from.
  • Opportunity to lead: Give your children a chance to make their own goals. What do they think they need to work on? What is it that they think you, as a parent, can work on? These goals can be silly or serious; either way, they will help both you and your children realize that everyone has something they can work on.
  • Have a family goal: Whether that goal is eating more veggies or more active play time, partake in this goal together. There should also be a prize once this goal is achieved – maybe a trip to the zoo or your family’s favorite park.
  • Goal tracker: Make a chart that you can fill with stars. Each time someone in your family accomplishes a goal, put a star next to their name.  After there are a certain amount of stars on the chart, a celebration is in order! Have a family party to congratulate everyone on all their hard work.

Have fun completing your goals together in 2014! Do you have any tips on how to create and achieve goals as a family for the New Year? What is your goal for 2014?

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