Summer is almost here, which means that many of us are gearing up for an annual family vacation! If this is your child’s first trip to the beach, or if your trip will be a particularly long one, you may want to consider bringing along his or her favorite friends:
Before packing for your trip, read Olivia Learns to Surf together to get your child in the mood for a vacation and then let your little girl try on her Disney Princess swimsuit before she packs it in her suitcase. Don’t forget a hat to block those harmful sun rays! If your child is a fan of Yo Gabba Gabba! you can have this Brobee bucket hat personalized!
You can purchase beach towels featuring all your child’s favorite characters—Strawberry Shortcake, Super Why!, Ben 10, and Caillou. (Those can all be personalized, as well!) Before you leave, pack a good beach bucket like this Thomas & Friends tin pail. And then put together a healthy lunch and grab your child’s Clifford lunch box to bring it along.
To keep it all together, toss it in a big, linen bag like The Wiggles Summer Fun Tote Bag and head out the door! Now, on a family vacation, a day at the beach, or a sunny day in the park, your child can have all their favorite friends along for the adventure.
Did you happen to notice last two months that PBS Kids and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) partnered together to create special Earth Day-themed episodes of popular TV shows? While all of the special episodes have already aired, you can still check out the activities that go along with them online. This should provide some fun for you and your child this coming summer. After all, there’s no better way to start off the spring and summer than with exploring the great outdoors!
The specially themed episodes were aimed at inspiring children and their families to go outdoors and explore science and nature.Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President of Children’s Media at PBS, said, “Outdoor play and exploration is an essential part of every child’s life, and is one of the best ways to inspire kids to learn about the world around them.” The partnership involved new episodes, activities, and content which was featured online.
Thankfully, the fun didn’t end when Earth Day was over. You can still access all of the great activity ideas online. The activities include a Wild Kratts Wildlife Journal activity that instructs your child in making their own journal. It then suggests kids draw animals or insects that they find in nature. Another activity is a Seek and Find sheet. Children circle the 15 animals hidden in the sheet.
Thomas the Train may be a star in the hearts and minds of young people around the world, but Thomas has not always been in the spotlight. In fact, it took Thomas almost fifty years to reach star status!
In the minds of many parents today, Thomas began as a character in the 90’s television show Shining Time Station. In this live action show, we follow the lives of the people who work at and travel through a small train station somewhere along the fictional Indian Valley Railroad. In this station, children are regularly entertained by a small, magical man named Mr. Conductor. During every episode, Mr. Conductor tells them stories about a very special train—Thomas—and his friends on the Island of Sodor. Through these stories, Shining Time Station made Thomas a star. But, Thomas was created long before this memorable television show.
Those who know Thomas’s whole story know that he was a storybook character long before he appeared on television. He was one of many trains introduced to the world through the books in The Railway Series, a collection of stories written in the middle of the 20th Century by a father, for his son. After being told word-of-mouth from father to son, these stories were written down, illustrated, and first published in 1945. But, not only was Thomas not the star of these stories, but he didn’t even appear in the first book! It’s clear, though, that Thomas has proven himself as the stand-out character. He has gone from supporting role to star!
The Railway Series paved the way for the British television show Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, which spawned Shining Time Station. After that, Thomas took off as the star of spin-off Thomas & Friends movies, books, and toys. He is now a star in his own right and is recognized by young children from coast to coast, perhaps even worldwide.
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or family friend, you will always want to give the perfect gift. But it’s sometimes hard to justify purchasing a gift that a child may lose interest in as they grow or that will seem outdated in just a short time as newer, more exciting toys are sold. So, when making your gift-giving decisions, don’t forget the most timeless of all children’s gifts: a good book.
Looking back on your childhood, it might be obvious that books were some of the gifts you enjoyed the most. What makes books so important for children and why are they so often overlooked as gifts?
From very early in their lives, children are like repositories for information, taking in all they see and hear, processing it and storing it for later use. And, when encouraging a child’s learning process, the power of books cannot be underestimated. A child’s first exposure to a book is likely through hearing a parent read the story and seeing the pictures. Throughout the next few years of their development, the very same book they enjoyed hearing read as a toddler can help them in other phases of development. Re-reading the same book over the course of a few years can aid in character development, teach them to communicate through storytelling and then, eventually, help them learn to read as their familiarity with the pictures and storyline will help them understand the words they see.
A good book never grows old. We often overlook them as gifts because other toys seem more exciting for young eyes, but time has told us that a book has lasting value. So, when looking for the perfect gift, it’s nice sometimes to pick the underdog: a good book. But don’t stop there! Read it to them. Then, read it with them. And then sit back and enjoy it as you hear them read it back to you one day!