Category Archives: Shop

Back to Fall Shopping for Little Ones

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.   She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ items as well as local explorations with little ones. See more of them here, herehere, and here.]

 

If you are simultaneously saying “bring on the fall festivals,” crossing your fingers for back-to-school season, and bracing yourself for another pandemic winter, this post is for you. When excited but stressed, it’s time to get prepared and organized.

By the middle of last winter, I had a running list of all the things I wished I had invested in at the start of fall for my little ones. From better boots to indoor play equipment and everything in between. These are some of those items that will get you through complicated times with ease…

Stress-Less School Days

While your biggest concern may be keeping a mask on your two-year-old, another challenge may be keeping a backpack on them. If you haven’t checked this off your list yet, look for backpacks with chest straps that have a variety of designs and sizes to choose from.

 

***

Getting kids fed, dressed, groomed, shoed, and out the door on time is both a marathon and a sprint. Breakfast is made simpler (and more fun) with Dash kitchen tools like mini waffle and egg makers. They are versatile, quick, and almost fool-proof.

 

***

If getting your little ones dressed is a battle (either with your picky child or your spouse’s questionable choices), this days-of-the-week organizer (or this one) may be the solution for you. I can already see my Type A four-year-old relishing in this weekly organizing routine.

 

***

 

Smarter Outerwear

Boots were my biggest fail last year. My kids’ boots were not insulated enough or waterproof enough to get us through the seasons and all of the outdoor play dates. These highly-rated neoprene boots are exactly what we needed (and now I need to find them in my size).

 

***

 

If your kids are either too hot or too cold like mine, it may be time for a multi-layered coat (other colors here). I found some highly rated, toddler-sized styles here and here. Bring on the erratic weather, DC!

 

***

My daughter keeps asking for an umbrella, a request that actually may be practical looking back on last year and our “we need to get out of the house” rainy day walks. These c-handle umbrellas with “hidden bones” offer a safer, hands-free solution.

***

 

Seasonal Entertainment

 

Is it even almost fall if your child isn’t mentioning Halloween every day (and changing their costume idea every week)? It’s time to milk the holiday for everything it’s worth. Keep kids entertained with countdown tools, crafts kits, pumpkin paint pens, spooky books, and more.

 

***

 

Fall is baking season. With little ones, that means it’s “mommy, I want to help” season. Let them have some autonomy and experiment in their own mixing bowl with a junior baking set. Here’s a more versatile kid-safe cooking set.

 

***

 

If you are familiar with my posts, you know I raved about an indoor rope swing (and still do). I’m now eyeing this door hanging play set. I can just see my kids fighting over …ahem…taking turns on the swing now. If you’re handy, here’s a less expensive option to be installed.

 

What items are you eyeing for back to fall shopping?  Share with us in the comments!

 

2 Comments

Filed under 2021, DC, Fall, Seasonal, Shop

10 Outdoor “Lawn” Games for Extra Summer Fun

 

Kadima is super fun and easy to play just about anywhere

 

Summer is here, which generally means more time having fun playing outdoors.  A great way to boost that fun: Lawn games!  Whether they’re played on your actual lawn, in your neighborhood park (like some of us city folk who don’t have lawns), at the beach, or anywhere you happen to be with outdoor space, these game set-ups are not just an excellent way to keep kids entertained, they’re awesome for the whole family to enjoy together.  Here are 10 “lawn” games to check out, with something for all ages. Happy playing!

 

Kadima

Kadima is our go-to outdoor game that we always bring along with us on trips and, really, any outing that has us hanging out in open space with room to play. The two light paddles and small balls are easy to slip into a backpack or beach bag (or just carry down to the park for “backyard” play).   For younger kids, this set of velcro paddles and ball is a similar type of game and might be easier to master.

 

Corn Hole

Super popular, Corn Hole is kind of a safer alternative to horseshoe or Bocce.  Instead of heavy (potentially harmful) balls or metal horseshoes that you try to toss around metal spikes in the ground, you throw soft bean bags onto or into a platform with a hole in the middle. This can be fun for all ages — just move the platforms closer or farther away as needed.  The classic is played with wooden platforms,  but the collapsible version linked above is easily portable and less expensive.  And here is one especially for little kids.

 

Kan Jam

If you like Frisbee and want a portable game that involves some disc throwing, Kan Jam is a fun one. You play in teams of two, and the goal is to toss the disc from across the playing space and either hit the can or get the disc into the can, either through a side slot with precise aim, in the open top, or with the help of your teammate “jamming” it in.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

 

Spikeball

This seems to be the game of the moment.  On a recent beach weekend, we counted six Spikeball matches going on at once in the area around us, one of them amongst our crew.  It’s kind of a mix between volleyball and four square, with teams of two players each passing the ball to each other and bouncing (or spiking) it off a net fastened to a hoop that sits a few inches off the ground.  It’s recommended for teen ages and older, but I think tweens could get into it, too.  For a cheaper option, there’s this knockoff set.

 

Ladder Toss

In this tossing game, you try to get bolos (a short rope with a small weighted ball on each end) to wrap around one of three rungs on a “ladder” set up a short distance away.  The higher the rung, the more points scored.  Play in teams of two or one on one.  Most sets are portable and easy to assemble.   This one with rubber balls makes it better for younger ages (be sure to select the classic, not pro, version).

 

 

Ring Toss

A great tossing game for all ages, it just involves throwing rings around pegs to score points.  This set comes with a case to make it easily transportable and pieces that are simple to put together.

 

Pop and Catch

A fun one for little kids (and even big ones, too), the squeeze of a lever launches a small plastic ball into the air for another player to catch in their handheld basket.  This set is slightly smaller for littler hands.

 

Splash Pad

You don’t have to venture out to a spray park for kids to have fun splashing around in jets of water.  On a recent walk in the neighborhood, I saw a couple of  little ones having a blast playing on a splash pad right in their front yard.  You just need to hook up a hose and you’ve got a mini spray park at home.

 

Seek and Find

I actually randomly came across this scavenger hunt card game as I was putting this post together, but it looks like a fun one to entertain kids for awhile.  Apparently, there are brain teasing clues along with the big picture cards to get kids of all ages into the game.  It gets great reviews, too!

 

Frisbee

If I had to recommend one item to have on hand at all times for game play, it would be a Frisbee.  Our family are big fans of all kinds of disc play, but a simple Frisbee toss is simple, fun, and relaxing.  It’s also lightweight, easy to bring along on any kind of outing, and even young kids can play with a lighter version like this one.  For some fun Frisbee play at night, this one glows in the dark.

 

 

Teens playing Spikeball on. the beach

* * *

Do you have a favorite outdoor game set that you don’t see here?  Let us know in the comments, if so!

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under All ages, DC, Outdoor, Shop

Summertime Must-Haves for Little Ones

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.   Along with being a great writer, she always has excellent recommendations for toys, books, and local explorations for little ones. See more of them here, here, and here.]

 

Summertime and the livin’s eas…ier. This weekend marks the official start of summer, and pandemic-era parents rejoice as the season brings infinitely more room to roam and water to splash in. But the muggy, buggy DC area climate can quickly damper even your greatest plans if you are not well-equipped.

Whether you are bringing your little ones to the local zoo and animal parks, the area’s best playgrounds and splash pads, your community pool, or the Maryland and Delaware beaches, it’s time to make sure your bases are covered with some summer staples.

I almost always venture out solo with my four- and two-year-olds sans stroller (read: no storage space). Given this, my summer must-have list for little ones must be edited. These are my “deserted island items” — the essentials for summer survival!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooler Backpack

I recently invested in some better warm-weather equipment for my role as “snack lady.” I replaced the traditional diaper bag with a backpack that was entirely insulated, because what else is even in there besides food? This small one fit the bill perfectly, and here’s a similar style with more pockets. I love this larger sized one too.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thermos Water Bottles

While we’re talking food and insulation, these thermos bottles are hands-down my favorite. The stainless steel is safer and cooler in the sun, and impossibly, ours still look like new after four months of use. There are lots of fun colors and character designs to choose from.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunscreen (+Bug Spray)

The trick is finding one that little ones will let you near them with — because hell hath no fury like a child resisting sunscreen! A few ideas: 1) find one with appealing branding like this, 2) find one that includes insect repellent like this to kill two birds with one stone. Also consider a separate, no-tears option for the face.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compact Portable Potty

Admittedly, I haven’t purchased one—yet. But I have had to borrow one from a friend twice in the past month. I’m generally that parent finding the nearest bush for my child to pee behind, but sometimes nature is less squat-friendly. These potties are incredibly compact, and perfect for the more discerning parent and child.

***

 

Water Shoes

The shoe of the season! Natives are the gold standard, but there are other more budget-friendly options like this and this that are suitable for all-purpose play. Crocs (and similar styles) are even better for quick on and off during backyard play.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strategic Swimwear

Kids bathing suits are not all created equal. For girls, nothing beats a two-piece suit like this or this for potty time and quick changes. For boys that aren’t potty trained, this one is a recent find and new favorite (similar to baby swim diaper suits you may be familiar with). Top it all off with towels that double as cover-ups.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun Hats

Like sunscreen, the key is finding one that your little ones won’t resist with all their might. These bucket hats set the record for longest amount of time on my kids’ heads during a recent beach trip. They are breathable, secured with drawstrings, and come in a variety of colors and sizes.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portable Fans

Kids can go from playing contently one minute to unbearably hot the next. Portable fans come in hand-held designs like this and this that will appeal to little ones, and I’ve seen this one on many must-have lists for new moms. Added perk: fans are one of the best mosquito repellents.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buckets & Shovels

A good ol’ pail and shovel can get you far. On a recent beach trip, we brought everything—you name it, we had it. My little ones used small-sized shovels for 99% of our beach time. A set like this or this one (with collapsible buckets!) is perfect for the minimalist beach-goer.

***

 

What’s on your summer must-have list? Tell us in the comments below!

Leave a Comment

Filed under DC, Product, Product Review, Shop, Summer

Books Worth Buying for Little Ones

[Note: This post was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, a local mom of two young children.]

 

Remember hanging out in libraries? Sigh… Once a weekly go-to, now a distant memory for my kids, and likely yours, too. In their absence, our book collection has grown. Acquiring books during the pandemic has been akin to stocking up on frozen vegetables. You’re gonna need those books — and they’re good for you.

Between our own book purchases (often an alternative to buying one more plastic toy), generous extended family — including a great-aunt that used to work at a children’s bookstore — and our neighborhood’s Little Free Libraries, we’ve been fortunate, and we’ve been reading.

Many of our books end up being read obsessively for a week, never to be child-selected again (ahh, the beauty of libraries!). But there are some that we keep going back to. The ones we’ve all memorized and have stolen phrases from for our everyday kid conversations. The ones that were totally worth buying…

 

The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss (Happy Birthday to the beloved author!)

We’ve ventured far into the wacky world of whosits and whatsits, but we always return to the gold standard. Every preschooler is exploring their autonomy and nothing illustrates the wild possibilities better. Plus, it’s so apropos for the times, Sally and boy with nothing to do.

Other Seuss/Seuss-inspired favorites: There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, Because a Bug Went Ka-choo! [KFDC Note: Someone just brought this to my attention about Dr. Seuss books.]

 

 

Freight Train, Donald Crews

This one is a must for the little train lover in your life. It’s short and simple, but will stop your busy toddlers in their tracks until it’s “going, going…gone!”. They won’t even realize they are learning their colors and prepositions, in addition to the trivial train lingo.

Another vehicle favorite: Good Night, Little Blue Truck

 

 

Nanette’s Baguette, Mo Willems

Reading is ten times more fun with the built-in theatrics that Mo Willems provides. This one is longer than his classics, but the plot is no more complex. Nanette must bring home a baguette before eating it all and being “beset with regret.” Show me a more clever rhyming book—I’ll wait!

Other Willems favorites: Waiting is Not Easy, The Pigeon Needs a Bath

 

 

The Good Egg, Jory John

From a young age we are taught to be “good,” which often leads to “perfect,” including everything around us. Relatable? Kids and adults alike will enjoy this one and the humorous way it teaches us to be kind to ourselves and accepting of others.

Also in the series: The Bad Seed, The Cool Bean, The Couch Potato

 

 

Mixed: A Colorful Story, Arree Chung

For preschoolers, the most powerful books on race use concepts and visuals from their own small worlds. This age-appropriate story about embracing our differences uses the whole color wheel and cartooned facial expressions to show how diversity makes a better place for all.

Other favorites that celebrate our differences: My Friend Maggie, Carrot & Pea

 

 

I Just Forgot, Mercer Mayer

There’s just something about Little Critter books—which were favorites of mine as a kid too. My youngest likes finding the hidden critters on each page. I assume my daughter can relate to the “I have more agency than you think” attitude mixed with the “mistakes are ok” messages.

Other Little Critter favorites: Just a Snowman, I Was So Mad

 

 

Tickle Time!, Sandra Boynton

Up your tickle time game with this simple board book by a classic author. Kids of all ages will enjoy the nonsensical strings of made up words, followed by being tickled high and low, and left and right. It’s a perfect almost-bedtime book when you need to reign the giggles into bed.

Another Boynton favorite: Dinosaur Dance

 

 

The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson

If I’ve learned anything from my countless hours of Paw Patrol viewing, it’s that kids love repetition and formulaic storytelling. The Gruffalo does this well, taking you on a journey through the woods and back again with masterful rhyming and humor.

Also in the series: The Gruffalo’s Child

 

 

Tuesday, David Wiesner

My daughter had me “read” her a word-less book for months, as if she was trying to memorize my ever-changing story. The almost word-less Tuesday will teach anyone the power of good illustration and storytelling. Bonus: you can make the story as short or as long as needed!

Another unconventional favorite: The Book with No Pictures

 

 

Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, Geoffrey Hayes

This comic style book depicts the love-hate relationship between young siblings better than I’ve seen anywhere else. Benny doesn’t want anything to do with his sister Penny, until he does. When he called her a dumb, bad little sister, well, that was just pretend.

Another favorite from the series: Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!

 

*What are your must-have children’s books? Share in the comments!

4 Comments

Filed under 2021, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Educational, Preschoolers, Shop, Toddlers