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Beach Toy Necessities

Don't Forget the Beach Toys! - Announcing a day at the beach to my kids is always followed by a mad dash to find beach wear and gear. The beach bag with our toys has a designated spot in the garage and it's loaded first by my teenager. This is the same child who is never the first, always the last in the SUV no matter the occasion. He may be the last to buckle his seat belt, but he always assures that there will be beach toys and water toys for everyone. When you announce to your kids that you are going to spend the day at the beach, more often than not, the first thing that comes to mind for your child will not be the sound of the water or the feel of the sand, but how many sand castles he can create. It is equally important to older kids and adults that we have our favorites ready to go at a moment's notice. The movement of sand and water with our tools, a Frisbee to toss or ball to swat are absolute essentials for the trip no matter how long we plan to stay. When checking the trunk or SUV, be sure you've included these with the beach towels and beach chairs.

* Sand shovels and sand pails - There are different types (shapes) of bucket and shovels available in toy shops or in the convenience stores near the beaches. During the off-season, your favorite online beach gear store will have a variety of shovels and pails as well. Our favorite is the Dune Spoon with the 22 inch wood handle and plastic grip. Comes in a rainbow of colors (even tie-dye!). There are shovels that are made from plastics with either a short or longer handles made of plastic or wood. There are shovels too made from metal which cuts through wet sand easily, be careful giving these to very young toddlers. Sturdy plastic will last for many seasons with just a quick rinse after your day in the sand. As for the buckets, there are plastic buckets with strong sturdy handles which can hold scoops of sands that are usually heavy when wet. You can opt for plastic rake too as this is safer than a shovel since it can hurl less wads of sand! Shovels and rakes with sturdy rubber handles provide better grasps for your artist child at work in the sand. Older children may pay attention to the designs a shovel or rake make in the sand as a deciding factor. Depending on the level of creativity, a shovel and rake combo may be necessary for the job. Sand molds are also available either purchased separately or as set with a bucket and shovel. What usually matters most for kids is what design to choose for their sand castle or how to totally cover the adults with sand.

* Sand molds are also readily available in the beach toy section. These are particularly attractive to the budding sand castle architect. Included in a sand mold set should be several sizes and shapes of molds which stow in a bucket that doubles as a larger mold. Small shovels and sturdy scoops complete the package. What usually matters most for kids is what design to choose for their sand castle or how to totally cover the adults with sand.

* Water toys, floaties and inflatables - A trip to the beach would not be complete without water. What better way to enjoy the water than with a water pistol, Super Soaker and a flotation device! All shapes and sizes are available and for the flotation device an air pump is a must, either the manual type or the electric that plugs into a car lighter. Check these devices out for an extra feature which allows DEFLATING as well. This is especially helpful for easy storage of the flotation devices. This can be a perfect time to bond with your favorite young person and share with them many buckets of laughter and great fun-filled moments. A day of sharing beach toys will have you both looking forward to the next trip to the beach.

Make a Plan for your next trip to the beach to be an experience you will never forget. You and your young person deserve to make memories that will last a lifetime. All that is required is your favorite beach toys, beach towel and sunscreen.


Gift Ideas For Kids That Promote Healthy Body and Mind Activity

According to the CDD (Centers for Disease Control) childhood obesity rates among children ages 6 to 19 has tripled over the last three decades. Among 2 to 5 year olds, the rate of obesity has doubled in the same period of time. The CDC sites poor nutrition and lack of activity as the primary cause of this alarming trend.

So many of today's toys are designed to keep children sitting stationary. Just a few decades ago, it was common for kids to play outside with neighborhood friends from morning till night. But many parents today are hesitant to allow their kids out of the safety of the yard or house due to changing social norms. With so many chips stacked against them, how are kids supposed to fend off obesity? The toy choices we make as parents can have a dramatic impact on how active our kids are today and how active they remain in the future. Toys that inspire active play are a gift of health as well as fun.

Bounce & Jump Houses

If there is something kids love, it is getting some serious air. Bounce & jump houses won't only be a big hit at the birthday party itself, but long after the guests leave. Jump & bounce houses come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles that allow you to pick the safest and most fun enclosure for the size and shape of your backyard.

From inflatable water slides to enclosed trampolines, from bouncy ball pits to the safety of an octagonal trampoline, there are plenty of great choices that will surely delight your children and their friends not only all day, but also all summer and beyond.

Swing Sets

Watch kids at school when the recess bell rings and you'll see them making a beeline for the swing sets. Kids get to play with swing sets for a limited amount of time while they are at school or when they are at the park. And even when at school or at the park, there are often more kids that want to play on the swing sets than there are swings. Bringing a swing set into the backyard provides hours of healthy, imaginative entertainment.

Swing sets allow children to build their social skills with others as they glide through the air, while getting important exercise and burning off some of that seemingly boundless energy. A swing set is a family friendly toy -- parents and kids can spend quality time swinging away the evening.

Dramatic Play Toys

Not every family has room in their yard for swing sets or bounce & jump houses -- but that doesn't mean that kids can't get plenty of healthy activity indoors. Unlike a video game where kids sit sedentary and live the action on the screen, dramatic play toys allow them to act out the action in real life. Dramatic play toys such as play kitchens, puppet theaters, and tee-pees and tents allow children to exercise their minds and their bodies.

As caretakers of today's youth, we have one more thing to worry about than parents of the past -- ensuring that our children get enough activity. Making smart choices when buying toys can make an incredible difference in the health of our children today and in the future.


Using Kid's Sports to Promote Teamwork

Kids are usually talented naturally when it comes to sports. A child can have fun, get great exercise, and develop some amazing teamwork skills if they play a sport. There are a number of kids who have particular solo sports they enjoy, like tennis or even skiing. But on the other hand it's a really great thing when kids participate in teams sports such as soccer, basketball, and baseball. Just a few of the things a child learns when playing sports on a team are how to work well with other children, how important it really is to cooperate, and the best way to be a contributing person on a big team. It is usually a good idea for a child to participate in at the very least one team sport when they are still fairly young, since a kid who has not played team sports previously sometimes can feel a little awkward when they do join a sports team when they get older. When kids are little there isn't as much pressure on them so this makes it a good time for them to learn how to play a new sport. They may also find the experience to be more enjoyable as soon as they realize that other kids of their age are learning the sport for the first time too.

Making Sports Activities a Family Activity

Once your child starts playing on a sports team, it is important to show your support for their efforts. Though it is certainly not required to attend every game or practice session, you should put forth every attempt to go to as many as possible. Also, going as a whole family to games and practices will help your child to build up confidence and pride in their abilities. And remember to take plenty of pictures of your kid playing the game. You could even devote a shelf or wall in your home to sports pictures, displaying some of the best shots of your child in picture frames. Be sure to include a wide range of photos such as single pictures, group team shots, and maybe even some candid shots of the other members in the family cheering for your child.

Capturing Family Memories

If you have more than one kid participating in a sport or if your child plays on a variety of teams, it will not be long before you have a large collection of sports pictures. Sometimes you may even get some photos taken by professionals since teams in the little league often have picture packages made of all of the teammates. As well as displaying photos in picture frames, you may also want to start a photo scrapbook. Some wonderful things to include in a scrapbook might be newspaper articles written about your child's team, team rosters, ticket stubs from their games, play books, or any other souvenirs you might have. Besides being a wonderful way to preserve your memories, these pictures will also be an excellent reminder to your kid of your love and support for them in playing the sport they enjoy, and of the fact that you care about preserving their memories of their childhood.

Both you and your youngster will be happy when you put these suggestions into action and help your child to do well and have fun with their sports.


What Are Bouncy Houses, Bouncy Castles And Moonwalking?

Why would one set of people, or one country call them bouncy houses, another call them bouncy castles and the industry call it moonwalking? It is an interesting question, is it not, if you know what I am talking about. In fact, I mean those large inflatable children's playthings that you see at church fetes and some children's parties.

In America, where they were thought of in the Sixties by John Scurlock of Louisiana. Like many inventions, the notion came to him by accident. Scurlock was an engineer experimenting with inflatable roofs for tennis courts and garages and one day he saw that a couple of of his employees were having great fun bouncing around on an inflated roof that was laying on the ground.

He had an notion and eleven years later, in 1968, his wife, Francis, was running the first bouncy house rental firm in the world. Eight years later, he opened the world's first dedicated bouncy house factory and ten years later again, their son, Frank, opened the world's first fun park devoted to only inflatable toys called Fun Factory.

Lots more followed. Frank also took the bouncy house distribution and rental network nationwide. At first these inflatable toys did not have sides or a top, but this caused a couple of minor difficulties in that kids bounced off the deck onto the grass (or concrete) and the bouncing children were sometimes exposed to the full force of the sun, which put them art risk of exhaustion.

The current most well-liked bouncy house design of three inflatable walls and an inflatable roof came to pass fairly soon after the issues were identified. In fact there are variations on the solutions that were found. In the USA, the sides of the moonwalk are mostly made of netting supported by inflatable columns, whereas in the UK often three of the sides are inflatable. Supervision is carried out from the front of the bouncy house.

These inflatable bouncy houses are mostly made of reinforced PVC, nylon or vinyl and the whole structure is filled with gas, which gives more support than air. A proper bouncy house is continually being pumped up by a fan or two so that minor punctures do not have an effect on the pleasure of the kids.

Cheaper versions that are blown up once and left, a bit like a lido or airbed, are forbidden to be rented out in the USA and the UK although they can be employed for private parties at home.

Most Western countries have organizations in place that regulate businesses that seek to manufacture or rent out bouncy houses. This is good for safety reasons, so if you are thinking of buying or hiring a bouncy house or bouncy castle for one of your parties, find out the name of the regulatory body first and check whether the firm you like is registered.

In the USA and the UK, the names of the firms and their products are listed on the web site so that you can check quite quickly.

Oh, and why bouncy houses, bouncy castles and moonwalking? America has never had any castles and walking on the airbed feels as if you are walking with reduced gravity.


6 Ideas For Keeping Kids Hydrated In The Summertime Heat

As hot as the summer sun is, keeping kids hydrated has to be a parent's main priority just ahead of sunscreen. According to Parents magazine, children become dehydrated much more quickly than adults. They lose water through sweat and their bodies produce more heat. Plus, kids often don't think to stop and take a drink of water while they are playing. They'd rather run around and have fun! Here are 6 easy tips you (and they!) will appreciate:

1. Always Bring Water - Fill up reusable water bottles before you head out on a day trip or head out to the park to play. You may be able to buy water at the park or find a water fountain, but you never know. It's best to be prepared.

2. Avoid Going Outside During the Hottest Times of the Day - If you want to take your kids out to the park, try to do so in morning or in the early evening, after things have cooled down slightly. The risk of becoming dehydrated is greater in the mid-afternoon, when the sun is at its hottest.

3. Schedule Regular Water Breaks - According to Kids Health, the average child needs a drink of water every 20 minutes when she is exercising or playing a sport. Kids should drink about 5 to 9 ounces of water every time they take a break depending on their age and weight. Have your child take a drink even if she claims she is not thirsty.

4. Add Some Flavor - While some kids really don't have a problem with how water tastes, others prefer some kind of fruit flavor in theirs. You can add a slice of lemon or lime to the water for a hint of flavor. Another option is to dilute fruit juice with water so that your child gets a hint of flavor without as many calories. During sports and other strenuous activity, it's fine to give your child sports drinks to keep her hydrated.

5. Skip the Caffeine - Even though ice tea and sodas can technically keep the kids hydrated, they usually contain caffeine which can actually increase dehydration. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose water. It also masks symptoms of dehydration.

6. Think of Fruit - Some fruits and vegetables have a high water content and help to keep your kids hydrated. If they're not interested in water, have them eat fruits such as cantaloupe, oranges or watermelon instead. Watermelon, for example, has a water content of over 90 percent.

Finding ways to make sure keeping kids hydrated this summer doesn't have to be challenging. Get your kids used to drinking water regularly and you may soon find that you do not need to remind them that it's time to take a drink.


Soccer Ball Bags Do You Really Need Them?

Regardless of whether you are a coach or an individual who must keep their equipment together, you have to have a way of doing that. Soccer ball bags are the perfect solution, and when you have all your equipment together in one place you do not have to spend extra time assembling it all when it is time to go play or practice. However, you have to know how big the ball bags should be if you are going to be successful with your efforts.

Since soccer ball bags can be found in different sizes, all you have to do is figure out the size of the items you will be taking along with you. If you just have a few things like the ball you will be using and your shin guards and shoes that should not require a giant bag to carry them in. On the other hand, if you are the coach of a large school program on their way to a big meet, you might want to consider a much larger bag and maybe even several.

Just like shoes and clothing as well as so many other items in our lives, soccer ball bags come in different styles as well. One style that you may consider, especially if you are buying ball bags for students, is the backpack style that has a mesh ball pocket and a zipper. It even has a wet/dry compartment for the shoes. Students are always carrying their cell phones with them, so just imagine what they could do if they had a separate cell phone pocket for these necessary items.

Some soccer ball bags come in the form of a duffle bag with a drawstring at the top with no compartments at all so that everything goes into one big place. This is perfect when all you will be carrying around from one game to the nest is the balls and other equipment, but if you are carrying personal items, it may be good to have one with compartments. However, that drawstring closure is great when all you want to do is get inside and out of the bag as quickly as possible for handing out to all your team.

When you are the one in charge of making sure that everyone's equipment gets where it is needed most, that one size fits all bag is a great idea. That way no one leaves something behind that they really need, and it could prevent some of your players from missing out on time spend on the field.

One thing you should remember when looking for the right Soccer ball bags is that your equipment will last longer when you have a place to keep it. That will keep everything safe and dry until the next time they are needed. The price you pay for the ball bags you choose will depend of the size and the brand that you select, but having a place to keep and carry all your equipment will be worth the price.


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