It is amazing to me the amount of products and items I find out about from reading other blogs. There are some pretty cool things out there that I would probably have never heard of it wasn't for the handy dandy Internet. I live in a small town with no mall, so I rely heavily on Amazon and other online retailers. I thought I would share some of my family's favorite things for kids.
Contigo Kids Water bottles - these cups are leak proof. The big button on the front needs to be pushed in for the top to open and water to come out. It does take a little strength to push the button while tipping the cup up to drink, so I would say these are best for ages 4 and up. Jack has had these for almost two years and they have held up well. Best part - they are priced reasonably!
Easy Lunchboxes - we started using these this year for Jack. This helps keep food separate and safe from being smashed in his lunch bag. It also has cut down the amount of plastic baggies we were using. The lids are easy for him to remove. The plastic is a little more sturdy than the throw away containers and they are dishwasher safe. They also fit nicely inside his lunch bag. FYI - these are not leakproof!
Kids Animal Fork Picks - these cuties make lunch more fun for both my boys. We use them mostly for cut up fruit and cubed cheese. They both know to leave them in their lunch box and NOT to throw them away. We hand wash them and use them over and over. I am proud to say that in the last two years we have only lost one. They are small enough to place right inside the Easy Lunchbox container, or inside another small container.
Land's End Backpacks - I cannot say enough good things about Land's End's backpacks. They are durable, comfortable to wear and hold up well throughout the school year. We purchased the Small Haul backpack for Jack when he started kindergarten. It was still in great shape at the end of the year so he is using it a second year for 1st grade. You can add a name or monogram for an extra fee. Land's End backpacks are popular so having his initials ensures he has the right pack. The mesh pockets on the side are perfect for holding water bottles, and the front zip pockets for smaller items. Now is a great time to purchase backpacks for the next school year because last year's styles are on clearance. If you wait until summer look for one of Land's End's great sales. They often run a backpack sale in August.
Melissa & Doug Learning Placemats - in an effort to preserve my tablecloths and avoid changing it after each meal we have the kids use placemats at the table. We have used the cheap Walmart placemats in the past, but after a few washes they start to come apart. Melissa & Doug placemats are all plastic and hold up for months, even after being washed daily. They are educational and provide endless amounts of conversation at the dinner table with my kids. One side contains all the facts, and the other side is blank so the kids can write them in using a dry erase marker, or Melissa & Doug's special learning mat crayons. There are over 20 different placements to choose from but our favorites are The United States, United States Presidents, and Planets.
Bogs Boots - If you live in New England you know how important warm waterproof winter boots are. After a couple years of hand me down cheap boots and resulting blisters, we splurged on a pair of Bogs boots for Jack. It was more than I wanted to spend on a pair of boots but I fell in love with the ease and comfort of these boots. Most toddlers can put these one by themselves using the handles. They are waterproof and most importantly, warm! Jack was able to wear his Bog boots two winters in a row, and now Ethan is wearing them this year. And they still look decent, even after being worn for three winters in a row. I couldn't afford them this year for Jack when he outgrew them, so I got a pair of L.L.Bean boots on sale instead. Bad choice. They are stiff and difficult for him to put on, and reaffirmed in my mind that Bog boots are the way to go. Next year, I won't make that mistake.
Snap Cubes - these colorful cubes are a fun toy. They are about 3/4" and connect on all six sides. These are commonly found in the classroom or homeschool home, but really they are great for any elementary age child to play with. My boys love making shapes, patterns, and 3D designs with these cubes. Just beware, they are little and will end up under your couch :)
Webkinz - Is your kid begging for a pet? This is a great place to start. The boys each got a Webkinz pet for Christmas and have enjoyed taking care of in through the online Webkinz community. Each Webkinz is a stuffed animal that comes with an online code. Your child can register and then care for his Webkinz online. You can easily add to your Webkinz family using the same account. The boys enjoy decorating their pet's home and earning food and supplies online. You can find these in stores, but Amazon usually has the lowest price.
Laser Fingers - we have had a few sets of these laser fingers and they are super cool. The boys initially loved wearing them on their fingers ( they come with little elastic bands to stay on). Now they like to use them as lights in train track tunnels, or place them around their room for cool lights during play time. The battery life on them is not super long, but they are pretty cheap to replace (they sell them at our dollar store). These are for ages 3 and up.
Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD - Most Leapfrog products are rave worthy, but this one is our all time favorite. It helped our boys quickly learn their alphabet and the sounds each letter makes in a fun and engaging way. Each letter has its own room in the factory, and they sing a catchy song to help you learn the sounds of each letter. Our favorite is "P" and the popcorn room. FYI, this is available for instant streaming if you are Netflix subscriber.
Alex Toys Pirates of the Tub - what could be a better place to play pirates than in the bathtub? This set comes with two pirate squirters, one cannon squirter and a whole bunch of flat pieces that stick right on the shower/tub wall. Construct a ship, add some palm trees and treasure chest and enjoy listening to the sounds of "Ahoy Matey". My youngest son Ethan really loves playing with this set. It comes with a thin mesh bag, with suction cups to stick to the wall, to store all the pieces when not in use.
Crayola Flashing Timer Toothbrushes - Want to get your kids to brush their teeth longer? We enjoy this flashing timer toothbrush made by G.U.M. It flashes for 60 seconds, and helps my boys brush longer than they used to. It comes in fun colors and looks like a crayon. It has a little suction cup at the base of the toothbrush if you want to stand it upright on the counter when not in use. My boys insist on turning off the lights when brushing their teeth now :)
Sea Turtle Twilight Constellation Night Light - this night light (made by Cloud B) projects a starry night sky on the ceiling and walls. It has three different colors and five sea friends that light up when you push a button. Jack received this as a gift when he was really young and was obsessed with stars and the moon. It remains a favorite in the boys room at bed time and provides a soothing atmosphere for calming down and going to sleep. It does shut off automatically after 45 minutes. There are other night lights (lady bugs, regular turtle) available, and after reading some reviews they may project more stars than the sea turtle does due to the shape. The boys got dream lites for Christmas this year, but they still use this Sea Turtle night light every night.
The Jesus Bible Storybook - This is our favorite Bedtime devotional book. We have read through it several times. It is beautifully illustrated (although not a completely accurate description of each event), and the message is consistent through the book. Each story points to Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer. It focuses on God and what He has done for us. It isn't a thorough account of the Bible, but it does encompass the major Bible stories. The Message is present and graspable for ages 4 and up.
I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of my favorite things for kids. These are my own recommendations, and I not being paid or compensated for this post. Just in case ya were wondering.