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More Ways to Play and Learn: Froggy Toss & Catch Net & Ball

 

More Ways to Play and Learn: Extension Activities for Our Toys: Froggy Toss & Catch Net & Ball
Ready to catch a “fly” ball? Grab a Froggy net and get hoppin’! This toss-and-catch game includes two cool nets, two foam balls and lots of ways to have fun. Cheerful features and bright colors will have children smiling right along with Froggy as they play. This exciting set encourages gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and social skills. Instructions for six games are included.More Ways to Play and Learn with Froggy Toss & Catch Net & Ball:Standard Play:

  • Toss the ball with one hand and catch it with your Froggy net. (The ball is intended to be tossed by hand.)

More games for 1-2 players:

  • Players stand apart from each other, each holding a ball in one hand and a net in the other. On the count of three, each player should bounce his/her ball on the ground and try to catch it (after the bounce) in his/her own net. The first player to make 10 catches is the winner!
  • Each player holds a net parallel to the ground and carefully places a ball anywhere on the green handle or rim. Each player must balance his/her ball on the surface of the racquet as long as possible, counting aloud to determine how many points he/she will earn for the round. (Stop counting points when the ball falls.) For an extra challenge, only award points if the ball falls into the net at the end of the round; no points for balls that land on the ground!
  • The player(s) begins by holding the net straight out in front, with a ball in the net. The player counts, “One,” while spinning the handle to rotate the net 360° (the net will face downward for part of the rotation – it takes a quick move to keep the ball inside!). If the ball remains in the net, the player then counts, “One, two,” taking the full count to make one full rotation. Play continues in this way, with each rotation becoming slower as the counting takes longer. Whoever keeps the ball in the net the longest wins!

Games for 2 or more players (or teams):

  • The first player holds a Froggy net with a ball in it; the second player holds an empty Froggy net below it. The first player must tip over his/her net, dropping the ball into the empty net. Both the dropper and the catcher get one point for every successful exchange. (Additional players may be rotated in if more want to play.) To increase the challenge, move the nets farther apart with every round. If the ball touches the ground, the game ends!
  • Divide into two teams of two players each. On each team, one player will hold a net and the other will hold a ball. The teammates begin by standing arm’s length apart while the player with the ball tries to toss it into the outstretched net. When the player gets the ball in the net, he/she may take one step back. Continue playing in this way, with the ball thrower taking a step back after each successful toss. The first to take five steps back wins!

Visit our blog every day for great new ideas about creative play! At Melissa & Doug, we see endless possibilities in every educational toy, and we’re committed to sharing the fun with you. Sign up to receive our blog posts in your email inbox and tune in to learn about new toys, hear from our Blog Ambassadors, and explore a world of imagination and learning.

May 20, 2013 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Presidents’ Day Bingo (Activity & Printable!)

Written by special guest blogger Joyce from Childhood Beckons.

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I put together this fun activity that can combine money math with a bit of  presidential trivia. My son had a great time with this and really benefited from the hands-on learning.

To play this game, we used the coins from the Melissa & Doug Play Money Set and a simple bingo template that I created. I made this bingo card with blank squares and used the coins to change things up because it allows you to really customize the bingo card for your child and their skill level. If you’d like, you can grab the Coin Bingo printable here.

First, we played using presidential trivia. My son is 5 so I kept this simple. I called out the names of presidents or simple facts and he had to find the right coin. But you could easily make this more challenging. To mark the square, you could use a small marker, like a bean, or you can just flip the coin to tails.

Then we played to find the correct sum. I called out a number and he had to find the square with that amount.  I varied the difficulty on his cards because he is still learning about money and the values. The easier squares served as reinforcement, while the more difficult squares pushed him to practice adding with coins and adding multiple numbers. To mark the square, he either flipped the play coin over, or stacked the coins if there were more than one.

Again, the great thing about this is the ability to completely customize it to your child’s needs! You can play by calling out the name of the coins, the value of individual coins, presidential trivia, the value of coins combined, etc.
How will you play?
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Joycebiopic2Joyce is the mom behind Childhood Beckons, where she encourages parents to focus on their families and the childhood that beckons them. Her motto is “Childhood is calling my son to play and explore. And childhood is calling me to help him on his journey.” She enjoys discovering creative ways to play and learn and passing along her family’s favorites. You can find Joyce on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

February 18, 2013 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

From Melissa: Two Heartfelt Messages for Valentine’s Day

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we asked Melissa to share some thoughts inspired by the upcoming holiday!

Two messages from Melissa

What do you LOVE most about your job?

 What I love most about my job is the creation process.  There is nothing more fulfilling or exciting to me (other than having children!!!!) than starting with just a brainstorm, and nurturing it through the process until it is born into a tangible product to be enjoyed by children.  It is truly intoxicating to have a job that allows me to create something out of nothing.

I also love watching children use our products in ways that I never intended. That is the essence of creativity…breaking free from convention and using something in a completely unique and different manner than ever planned.  It is almost as if some products take on a life of their own once they are in the hands of children who know no limits or boundaries.  It reminds me how so many of us lose that reckless abandon once we enter the regimented world of responsibility and adulthood!  How fortunate my husband and I are that we have found a vocation that rewards us for thinking like children!

What have been your favorite homemade Valentine’s Day gifts from your kids throughout the years?

I cannot hear the words “I love you” from my children enough.  Maybe that’s because I have gone through the teenage years with them twice already, and know that those words virtually disappear from their vocabularies for many years!!!  So I now realize I need to build up a stockpile during the early years to console me and draw from during the latter ones!  Therefore, any Valentine’s gift that contains the words “I love you so much” is one I currently treasure more than ever.  The gifts I enjoy the most, however, include intimate and revealing personal details, whether through a poem with lots of insightful and meaningful tidbits about the family and our eccentricities, or a hand-drawn picture that includes lots of personal and experiential references.  These mementos not only make me smile or cry, but remind me of how important family bonds, rituals and memories are to children.

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What have been YOUR favorite Valentine’s Day gifts over the years? Share with us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook!

February 14, 2013 at 8:36 am Leave a comment

From the Melissa & Doug Playbook: 5 Ways that Stuffed Animals Can Help Promote Developmental Growth

Stuffed animals are a very popular gift around Valentine’s Day, but did you know that, when you give the gift of a furry new friend, you’re actually helping a child’s developmental growth as well?

How stuffed animals can promote development

Here’s how:

1)      Even very young children learn through all of their senses. Stuffed animals have a soft texture that is easy to grab, hold, and hug – making learning enjoyable!

2)      Children can work out challenges they’re experiencing in a safe way – for instance, potty-training their stuffed animal!

3)      Stuffed animals are often comforting for children and can give them a sense of security when they are nervous or frightened, enabling them to engage in new experiences with courage. For a young child, stroking or holding a stuffed animal can bring much-needed comfort and confidence in a constantly changing world.

4)      Stuffed animals can be chameleon-like “Friends” that change personalities, abilities, and roles according to your child’s imagination. Stuffed animals help fuel larger-than-life imaginations and inspire wonderful make-believe play.

5)      Lifelike plush animals encourage children to learn about animals and take pride in their care. They make the perfect practice pet – with no mess or shedding!

February 12, 2013 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

8 Creative Crafts for Valentine’s Day: A Melissa & Doug Blog Round-Up!

During the past few weeks on the Melissa & Doug blog, we’ve been sharing some creative crafts your kids can make to celebrate Valentine’s Day! These DIY projects can be used as simple activities, or as precious homemade gifts from the heart.  In case you missed any of our posts, here’s a quick round-up:

  1. DIY Bookmarks:

Use colorful, heart-shaped beads to create one-of-a-kind bookmark gifts! Kids will enjoy threading the beads and picking out colors and patterns, while YOU will enjoy helping them create a gift that’s truly from the heart.

Create your own wooden beads bookmark

  1. Personalized Gift Wrap

No gift is complete without some pretty wrapping paper. Take some plain colored tissue paper, some stamps and voila! You’ll have a gift your child can really feel they’ve “make their mark” on.

Homemade tissue paper

  1. Recycled Hearts

Have old toilet paper or paper towel rolls you’ve been saving for some crafty inspiration? With a slight bend and some paint, you’ll create a quick and easy heart painting that your kids will LOVE making!

Heart Shaped Stamps

  1. Reverse Masking

Get your smocks ready, because this activity is a messy – and delightful – treat! Tape a message onto sturdy paper and use finger paints color around it.  Remove the paint to reveal a sweet message!

Finger painting photo 1

  1. Decorate-Your-Own Heart Boxes

For a great Valentine’s Day party activity, or even play date craft, gather a few Decorate Your Own Heart Box kits and let each individual personality shine! Take a few small sweet treats for inside the box, and you have a perfect one-of-a-kind handmade gift,  too (or keepsake for the child to put their littlest prized possessions in.)

Decorate Your Own heart boxes for Valentine's Day

  1. Scratch Art Valentines

These little tags are perfect adornments to a gift, or can contain a sweet Valentine’s Day message for loved ones! Simply cut in a heart shape and let you child scribble onto the special Scratch Art paper to reveal their own unique designs!

Arts and Crafts Project for Valentine's Day

  1. Classroom Bookmarks

Rather than purchasing a pack of Valentine’s for your child’s class, why not help them create unique ones instead? With some construction paper, Scratch Art bookmarks and a few other tools, you’ll have memorable Valentine cards (and keepsakes!) for the whole class – with a little personality as well!

Homemade Scratch Art Bookmark Valentines

  1. Clay Initial Hearts

With some air dry clay and letter stamps, your child can create an adorable Valentine ornament to family or friends, while practicing their letters too! For extra pizzazz, use some glitter glue and colorful ribbon! This is a truly easy activity, but one your child will really enjoy making.

 How to paint clay hearts

We hope you enjoyed this week’s blog round-up! We are open to any and all feedback, play ideas, theme suggestions and questions, so please contact us at socialmedia@melissaanddoug.com

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Round up of 8 arts and crafts for Valentine's Day

February 10, 2013 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

It’s SNOW time! 5 Snow-Inspired Activities for Indoors & Out!

Winter storms getting you down (and giving your kids the “crazies”?) Here are some great ways to stay entertained indoors – and outdoors – when the snow starts to fall:

Activities for Snow

Embrace the Snow!

When the snow starts to fall, you may not necessarily need to stay indoors! As long as it’s safe (and not TOO cold outside), bundle the kids up for some snow and ice sensory fun.

1. Create a Snow & Ice Sensory Bin. Sensory bins are a great way to help focus and calm children, and let them truly explore their senses.  To create your bin, go outside and gather snow into large plastic, see-through tubs. Fill the bins halfway with fresh snow, and add some scooping, measuring and pouring tools (raid those kitchen drawers!) Then, add some of your children’s favorite plastic action figures and animals and pretend you’re on a frozen exhibition! Just remember to keep extra gloves around: little hands can get cold easily when playing in the snow!

Snow and Ice Winter Sensory Bin for Kids

For more information on how to create an ice and snow sensory bin, click here.

2. Use Summer Toys for Winter Play! Another way to embrace snow is by taking your favorite beach or pool toys out into the snow! Have a sand cupcake or ice cream set? Substitute the sand with some snow and open up a “Sweet Snow Shop”!

Sunny Patch cupcake set

Other outside toys that can be used for snow play? Here are a few:

–     Your sand bucket and shovel (Dig around to see what’s hidden underneath the freshly fallen snow! Gather snow to create a large “mountain” to jump in!)

–    Grab a pair of binoculars and check out how neat the snow looks on the trees or other homes in your neighborhood. Ask your child to describe what’s different about their surroundings.

–     Play “Snow Kickball”! Running in the snow can be a challenge, but lead to lots of laughs! Grab a ball and start to kick, or throw it, around the yard! Try not to giggle when everyone starts to tumble in the fresh, soft snow!

Stay Warm Indoors!

3. Pretend Snow Sensory Fun

No snow by you? Too cold to go outside? Try this texturally interesting sensory “snow” bin to stay warm while bringing the excitement of snow play inside! Simply pour mashed potato flakes or dry oatmeal onto a baking pan or cookie sheet! Now that you have “snow,” add blocks as buildings (Woah – the town is blanketed in snow!), a few vehicles, and some people. To simulate snow falling pour some “snow” through a sifter!

Pretend snow sensory bin activity

4. Color a winter scene! Gather up your arts and crafts supplies (the more the merrier) and set-up a “creative station”. Using coloring sheets like the ones below, ask your child to decorate a winter scene! For more winter-themed printables, click here.

Winter-Themed-Coloring-Page_Snowman

5. Make some sweet “Hot Chocolate”

While you’re warming up some real hot chocolate for the kids, have them create a sweet treat of their own using this Hot Chocolate sensory craft! All you need is this printable, Hot Chocolate Mix, some glue, cotton balls and child-safe scissors! Let you child “top” the hot chocolate using the pretend marshmallows, and prepare to gobble up some “real” ones, too!

Coca Printable

Get instructions for the hot chocolate printable here.

February 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm 1 comment

Weekly Deal Round-Up: Special Offers Only at MelissaAndDoug.com!

Our weekly deal round-up gives you the scoop on ALL the savings happening this weekend at MelissaAndDoug.com! Check it out:

Weekly deal Round Up

Save 50%with NEW Outlet Shop Bundles!

The Melissa & Doug Outlet Shop features some incredible products at up to 50% off! Plus, new items are being added regularly, like our new 2 for 1 value sets! You should hurry up though – these items have limited quantities and are only available at this price while supplies last.

2 in 1 bundles from the Melissa and Doug outlet shop

Free Gift with Purchase!

For a limited time, all orders over $50 will receive a FREE Sweets & Treats Sticker Pad!  The mega pad is perfect for a Valentine’s Day treat, and contains 100 delicious desserts with over 500 sweet topping options! This item will be automatically added to your order during checkout.

Free Gift with Purchase on Sticker Pad

Free Personalization on Puzzles!

All the puzzles in our Personalization Shop are now eligible for FREE personalization! Choose from a wide range of puzzles to personalize, like our Jumbo Knob puzzles or classic wooden jigsaw puzzles!

Free personalization on Melissa & Doug puzzles

That’s all for now! Enjoy these special offers and have a wonderful weekend!

~  Your friends at Melissa & Doug

February 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm Leave a comment

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