Family Time with Caillou

Some children today have lost their appreciation for “family time.” Let Caillou teach your little one the joys of playing together!

With the DVD Caillou’s Family Favorites, our favorite four year-old has great adventures with his parents, sister, and grandparents. The DVD is about 100 minutes long and contains the Caillou episodes “Caillou’s Surprise,” “Captain Caillou,” “ Knowing How,” and “People I Love.”

To start your summer off right and let your child experience more fun together as a family, you can use this DVD to introduce the fun. But, don’t spend all your time indoors, looking at a tv screen! Take what you’ve seen and have your own adventures! There are plenty of other Caillou products to help.

For days close to home, you can use sidewalk chalk. Venture far away for a nature adventure with your old bug catcher or butterfly net! On rainy days, you can stay indoors and read a good book like “Calliou In The Garden” and play with a Caillou Treehouse Playset. As Fall nears and nights get chilly, your child can don their personalized hooded sweatshirt and you can take a walk to the local playground.

If your child has a hard time having fun together as a family, there’s no better way to encourage the fun than to show him how much fun his buddy Caillou has with his!


A Thomas and Friends Birthday Party!

Your son is a few months away from turning five and you haven’t finalized plans for his first official “friend party.” What can you plan to insure that he and his friends never forget this birthday? Invite his favorite character, Thomas the Train!

If you are handy in the kitchen, you can impress everyone with a creative Thomas the Train cake. If baking’s not your strong suit, most large bakeries can make a cake for you. For the rest of the food, keep it simple. Kids are really only interested in the cake, aren’t they? And what about party favors? Instead of buying disposable party supplies, consider buying a brand new Thomas and Friends dinnerware set for each party guest. They can use them for food or just take them home to keep!

Keep things fun for everyone by keeping the kids busy and moving. Visit the Thomas and Friends website for a few great games and activities like a version of “Simon Says” featuring Sir Topham Hatt and, for older kids, a Thomas-themed game of Twenty Questions.

If you haven’t yet found the perfect gift, there are about a million Thomas toys to choose from. You might take this opportunity to add a few more train cars to his toy train set or go for something new with a Thomas and Friends Dieselworks Playset.

No matter what you plan for the party, your birthday boy and his guests are sure to have fun because one of their favorite characters will be there!


A Strawberry Shortcake Birthday Party!

When planning your little girl’s next birthday party, consider choosing a theme that will make her and all her friends giddy: plan a Strawberry Shortcake party!

There are very few children’s parties with a cartoon theme that would be easier to improvise, but first, cover all your bases to make sure there is enough of Strawberry Shortcake at the party. Make sure you get the basic party supplies—plates, cups, balloons, and a cake—and then get creative with the rest of the food and games.

For food, you will obviously want to stock up on strawberries. But, don’t’ stop there! Strawberry has plenty of sweet friends: Blueberry Muffin, Raspberry Torte, Plum Pudding, Orange Blossom, Lemon Meringue, and Strawberry’s cat Custard. Take your food cues from these other characters!

When it’s time for games and activities, think about what Strawberry Shortcake would like to do! Encourage the guests to come dressed as their favorite character and have a costume contest. Or maybe you can plan a fashion show! Consider helping the girls make their own strawberry-scented perfume to take home as a party favor or color Strawberry Shortcake coloring pages to take home.

For the perfect gift, surprise your little girl with a Strawberry Shortcake bedroom! For a small gift, start with wall decals or a nightlight. If you’re thinking big, then go big with bed sheets and kid-sized furniture! With her new bedroom, your daughter can enjoy the Strawberry Shortcake party long after her birthday has passed.

Family Road Trip Survival, 101: Bring Music.

It’s road trip season! And anyone who has attempted a long-distance drive with children in the car knows that it can be difficult to keep everyone happy in such close quarters. Some parents will use on-board DVD players to keep kids happy. Some kids will entertain themselves with books or games. Some older children can bring their own headphones and listen to their own mp3 player. But, what about the kids who want to be entertained by you? We have one easy solution: bring music.

Every car these days has a stereo system. And, with a simple stereo system, you can solve a multitude of road trip difficulties. Pack a few CDs of both your and your child’s favorites and pull them out when things get hard. You’ll be thankful you brought them along!

Some ideas:

When you’re entering the “Are we there yet?” phase of the trip, pull out something interactive like the Martha Speaks read-a-long audio CD or one of your child’s favorite Thomas and Friends stories on CD. As they follow along in their book, the time will pass more quickly.

When it’s time for Mom and Dad to control the tunes, you can always count on some classic rock to satisfy most of the family. Bring your favorite Beatles album or homemade mix of hits and even your teenage daughter might take off her headphones to listen in.

After lunch, when bellies are full and everyone is happy, you can let the kids take the reins. Preschool and elementary school-aged kids might like singing along to their favorite songs from Yo Gabba Gabba!. For the whole family, try something from Dan Zanes. (Even parents can enjoy him!)

For naptime, consider bringing a classical guitar or strings CD to soothe your baby or toddler. Pop it in when you can tell he’s getting sleepy, tune down the rest of the car noise (stop chatting), and let it work its magic!

Whether you’re venturing out on your first family road trip, or are seasoned long-distance travel veterans, music is a surefire way to ease the stress, make the time go faster, and offer a painless ride for everyone! So, stock up before you leave home!

E-Books or Paper Books?

In an age when children have access to a multitude of exciting high-tech devices, it’s easy to believe that “old-school” games and toys are no longer desirable. After all, why bother a child with a bland picture book when he can use an interactive reading game on his mother’s smartphone? Well, a few recent studies have suggested that you should think twice before reaching for the e-reader. And this goes for kids’ books, too.

First of all, for those new to the concept, e-books are versions of traditionally-published books that are available in electronic form on reading devices like the iPad or Kindle, rather than on paper like traditional published versions. There are many reasons why e-books are in such high demand today: they are inexpensive (sometimes free); multiple books can be stored on one single hand-held device; e-readers have built-in highlighting and bookmarking features; e-books often contain enhanced features such as images, discussion questions, or related activities.  And, as far as most kids are concerned, anything new is automatically desirable.

So, why are the experts concerned? First of all, e-readers are designed for individual use; paper books are more easily shared. Because we know, from multitudes of studies, that a child’s foundation of language is often built upon hearing their parents read aloud, it’s important that a book can be shared between parent and child. Second, e-books tend to have more “bells and whistles”; most traditional books contain a simple, linear narrative. Although the added features of an e-book may make the story more fun for young eyes, a child’s retention and comprehension is higher with a simple storyline.

When your child’s eighth birthday rolls around and you’re stuck deciding between a Thomas & Friends e-book or a good old paper copy of Thomas favorites, consider the purpose of the book itself. E-books are great for the interactive exploration of your child’s favorite stories or characters. But, if you are looking for a way to increase your child’s literacy and comprehension skills, a traditional paper book is the way to go.