Joy of Learning

Whether you’re a mom-to-be or a mom of three, our blog-savvy moms are your go-to gals for toy reviews and recommendations, play-time tips and mom secrets that they’ve learned along the way.

Join the conversation! Follow their blogs as they chronicle their own real-life play stories.

Blog Posts

Carla More in common than not: Kids at play around the world

Recently, I was lucky enough to meet Fisher-Price’s Director of Child Research Dr Kathleen Alfano, and listen to hear speak to her experience of seeing kids play all around the world. I loved hearing her perspective, as I’ve always been fascinated by cultural similarities and differences in families. One of the points Dr Alfano made was that children around the world follow more or less the same developmental path, and that play is universal – young children play in a similar way all around the world.

Play is not just a frivolous activity, though. According to Dr Alfano, regardless of their cultural background or upbringing, kids NEED to play. Play helps children develop spacial skills, social skills, self-regulation, communication and more! “Through play,” Dr Alfano explained, “children learn about themselves and others, about how things work, and about the world around them.”

Of course, toys help to facilitate children’s play. According to Jeffrey Goldstein (“Play in Children’s Development, Health and Well-Being”), “Play contributes directly to children’s education and development. But it is toys that stimulate and prolong play. If children are to discover what they are good at, what they like, and what they are like, then they will need variety in their play, and a broad assortment of toys to make it possible.”

So the next time you feel like skipping the housework in favour of playing with your kids – give in to the impulse, and don’t underestimate the power of play. As Plato said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

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Carla Relating to Other Cultures through Play

Experiencing different cultures has always been a priority for me. When I was a teenager, I hosted in a number of exchange students and even traveled to Japan as an exchange student myself. I was always amazed how even though we spoke different primary languages with both of us knowing very little of the other person’s language, we were able to communicate, and create special bonds and memories. Even though cultures and languages vary around the world, many of the ways that we have fun are the same or very similar. As a teenager, I remember sharing special memories doing the things that we both loved like playing piano, dancing, or playing with toys (for example traditional Japanese and Canadian toys).

This was my experience as a teenager, but as I got older and have been able to observe my nieces, nephews, my own daughter and friends, I have noticed that this is their experience as well.

My husband’s family is French and we are a primarily English speaking family, although, I am teaching my daughter some French. Whenever we get together, the kids love to play with each other. Even if they don’t always understand each other verbally, play helps them to express themselves and they always end up having a great time.

In my experience language and culture has never been a barrier to learning or friendships. Instead, it has been a great opportunity to learn and grow…as both a child and adult!

To end, here is a quote that I love and that I feel shares my experience learning from other cultures perfectly! “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”Plato

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Carla Developing New Skills

Do you ever watch your child and wonder how their various skills are developing? Many parents wonder this and even worry if their children are meeting their developmental milestones in the 3 developmental domains, as well as growing their skills.

This month we had the opportunity to try out the Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy. This toy offers many opportunities for your child to develop according to the 3 Pillars of Development.

Over the past month, we have seen our daughter learn and develop along with the Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy, and along with many other household items. She is doing great in all areas but we noticed strong improvements in her physical development. It is great that this toy offers the option of a ride along and walker feature. I was impressed to see how easily and quickly our daughter learned to climb on and off of puppy’s back; she hadn’t done much of this before playing with Puppy.  Since using this toy, we have noticed that our daughter is now climbing on to lots of different things, including child-sized chairs (scary for me – fun for her!) and more.

Before getting this toy, our daughter was starting to enjoy using props to help guide her walking (chairs, her child-sized table, etc.). When we got the Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy, she knew just what to do and started pushing puppy along while walking, whether it was in the walker position or not.  She is seeming to enjoy the new independence that comes with moving around by foot.

Over this past month, our daughter has developed so much in the physical domain. She is enjoying climbing, walking with support, and other tasks. Just today, she started standing on her own!  And she is showing all the signs that she’ll be walking on her own very soon. We are so excited and proud of the new tasks she is learning every day. It is great that she has had a chance to develop these milestones even more with Fisher-Price’s Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy.

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Carla Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle

When I had the chance to visit the Fisher-Price headquarters (East Aurora, New York), I was invited to a special presentation on beat induction and how Fisher-Price is now incorporating it into some of their musical toys. It was a lesson in the science of play and the research and development of fun.


So what is beat induction? Natural, instinctual, movement of a person to a specific beat of music. For example, my son moving his head from side-to-side when he bats the roller of his Stand-Up Ballcano and the music starts. I didn’t teach him to move his head to the music. He is actively listening for the start and stop of the music. He does it on his own. The scientific term is “beat induction“…Mom term is “He’s having
fun”.

Fisher-Price really goes deep when it comes to integrating a new action into their toys. They researched music, cognitive development, and types of music worldwide.

The action, lights and sounds of the Ballcano help my son learn cause and effect. When he bats the roller – the balls move up – lights flash – music plays – the balls cascade down the Ballcano. It prolongs his play because each new cause grabs his attention.

I had never considered how much influence a beat has on a baby. I suppose, right now in everyday play, we are building his appreciation of music.

Not to say he’ll be the next Bono or Beethoven but I think an appreciation of music is important in life. Music brings cultures together. It de-stresses. It entertains.

Celebrate & Save: $5.00 off Fisher-Price Ballcano coupon available HERE (great for gift-giving!)

 

My visit to the Fisher-Price headquarters solidified my loyalty to their toys. The study they put into education, entertainment and safety is beyond what I ever expected. Which is why, when the subject of toys comes up between friends & family, I am a die-hard-Fisher-Price-Mama. Fisher-Price is truly unequaled in creating toys for kids.

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Carla Baby Music With A Beat

When I had the chance to visit the Fisher-Price headquarters (East Aurora, New York), I was invited to a special presentation on beat induction and how Fisher-Price is now incorporating it into some of their musical toys. It was a lesson in the science of play and the research and development of fun.

So what is beat induction? Natural, instinctual, movement of a person to a specific beat of music. For example, my son moving his head from side-to-side when he bats the roller of his Stand-Up Ballcano and the music starts. I didn’t teach him to move his head to the music. He is actively listening for the start and stop of the music. He does it on his own. The scientific term is “beat induction“…Mom term is “He’s having
fun”.

Fisher-Price really goes deep when it comes to integrating a new action into their toys. They researched music, cognitive development, and types of music worldwide.

The action, lights and sounds of the Ballcano help my son learn cause and effect. When he bats the roller – the balls move up – lights flash – music plays – the balls cascade down the Ballcano. It prolongs his play because each new cause grabs his attention.

I had never considered how much influence a beat has on a baby. I suppose, right now in everyday play, we are building his appreciation of music.

Not to say he’ll be the next Bono or Beethoven but I think an appreciation of music is important in life. Music brings cultures together. It de-stresses. It entertains.

Celebrate & Save: $5.00 off Fisher-Price Ballcano coupon available HERE (great for gift-giving!)

 

My visit to the Fisher-Price headquarters solidified my loyalty to their toys. The study they put into education, entertainment and safety is beyond what I ever expected. Which is why, when the subject of toys comes up between friends & family, I am a die-hard-Fisher-Price-Mama. Fisher-Price is truly unequaled in creating toys for kids.

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Carla Tips For Cruising With Kids!

My husband and I have been ‘cruisers’ for more than 10 years.  In that time we have had the pleasure of sailing on more than 16 ships with 5 cruiselines.

Even though I would consider us experienced, sailing with kids adds a different level of challenges.

 

From the planning, to the packing and the execution, every time we add another child to our family – each trip gets more difficult.

Last month we had the opportunity to sail with Fisher-Price and Royal Caribbean on Allure of the Seas, which was designed for passengers of all ages.

 

The way we vacation is different now.  It is no longer about us, but making sure everyone in our family has a great time.  I have put together some tips that have helped us in the past chose the right cruise for the whole family.

 

    1. Choose A Ship That is Family Friendly – Even though cruising in a great way experience the world as a family, it doesn’t mean that all cruise lines have a lot of options for their smallest passengers.  We have sailed with a lot of lines that have incredible food, beautiful public spaces, but very few options for my kids.  Make sure the ship you choose has a kid friendly pool or splashpad, a kid’s club and programs in place to keep them busy during at sea days like crafts or shows.
    1. Book Early. Years ago booking last minute was the thing to do.  Now, many serious cruisers book a year or TWO in advance in order to secure the perfect cabin in the right location.  Family cabins, larger suites and balconies go quick so if you are looking to stay in one of these rooms put a deposit down as soon as you choose your ship.  The bonus to this is that most cruise centers don’t need the cruise to be paid in full until 90 days before the boat is scheduled to set sail.  So if the price of the cruise comes down before you pay for it in full you can have the travel company do a price adjustment for you.  Additionally, watch for a deposit discount sales and 1 day sales on your boat to make sure that you are getting the best price.
    2. Book a balcony. While cabins onboard any ship are small, they get that much smaller when you add a little adventurer and all of their gear.  Having a balcony is nice as it adds a bit of extra space that we could use to keep the kids happy.  Recently we have booked suites in order to get, yet, a bit more room and a bathtub for our boys.  Depending on the cruise line you choose suites can range from just a few hundred more per person all the way up to double your fare.  But if you book early you may be able to choose one that is in the mid range.

 

  1. Arrive the day before! One thing we have learned from traveling with the kids is to take it easy.  Flying all day and then starting a busy cruise can sometimes be too much for little ones.  In the last few years we have arrived a day or two before the cruise is due to start in order to leave lots of time for air delays.  This is also a nice way to unwind and relax before boarding the ship.
  2. Even if you have 2 small children or a set of twins bring 2 single strollers. Narrow halls and doorways make it virtually impossible to get a double side-by-side through through the ship, into washrooms or through the lido restaurant – especially during busy times. Bringing a travel stroller with a board or two lightweight strollers will make you and your fellow cruisers very happy.  Once inside your cabin you can fold your stroller and store your it in the closet or under the bed.
  3. If you are traveling with young children try to choose an itinerary with a couple days at sea. Getting off the boat every day is somewhat tiring when you are travelling with little ones. Because you won’t likely be close to the ship you need to bring towels, sunscreen, snacks, beach toys and a change of clothes when you get off.  Before we had our boys we loved itineraries that had 6 stops, now 3 is fine for us.  During our cruise on Allure of the Seas we actually only stopped twice because of Hurricane Sandy.  This was fine for me because we were sailing on a ship that had unlimited options. Plus, it took less planning to head down to the pool deck and the kids loved finding new places to play onboard.
  4. Pack snacks. Even though cruises are known for their huge selection of food choices, we found that having some pre-packaged treats from home (goldfish, mini Doritos, craisons, pringles) easier for beach snacks. It is also nice for the kids to have something to munch on while we were getting ready for dinner or to go out to a show.  We also grab fruit and dry cereal from the buffet in the morning to snack on while at the beach as well.
  5. Skip Ship Excursions. Unless you are looking to do something specialized like a trip to a close by island, swim with dolphins or snorkel/scuba dive an exclusive reef, organize your excursion when you get off the ship. Many local taxi drivers will be waiting once the ship docks to take you an island tour, to the beach or shopping.  They can also tell you which beach is the best, safest or most calm on that day.  While some islands have a pre-determined fare for each point of interest, others are still negotiable.

“Disclosure: I am a Fisher-Price Play Ambassador and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

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Carla I’m the King of the World! #FisherPriceonRoyal

I very seldom hand over the reigns to my blog, but when my 4-year-old son Ryder requested to guest blog on my site, I just couldn’t resist. Long time readers will remember the last time he did so – over two years ago – with his piece, “Big Brother Blues“. This time, the subject matter is much more cheery: our recent adventure with Fisher-Price aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas.

Of course, he may have employed a ghost writer to help just a little – but I promise, the opinions are all his own. And fair warning – it’s a lengthy, detailed account of his entire time on the cruise ship – but if you’re looking to take a family vacation in the near future, you really should read what he has to say. Take it away Ryder!

Hello Readers! It’s Ryder again, Lena’s boy. Two weeks ago, my mom – along with her fellow #FisherPriceMoms – took our family on a great big cruise ship. In fact, it was the biggest cruise ship in the entire world! At first I was scared because it meant leaving home for one full week, and then I was sad because I realized that I had to miss school (which I’ve recently come to love). But when we walked onto the ship, it was like I was entering another world. My Mommy kept using the word “majestic” over and over, and my Daddy said “freaking huge” a lot. To me, it was simply my sweet little dreams come to life.

Our first night there, we had a chance to meet all the other families and children who would be traveling with us. My Mommy calls these women #FisherPriceMoms, and they’re just the nicest Moms ever. And, they had a few pretty cute daughters, if you know what I mean…. but more on that later. Our first night was simply magical, because my Mommy and Daddy were so at peace. Long after Reid fell asleep, I stayed awake and peeked at them through lidded lashes. They sat on the balcony, quietly talking while my Mommy’s hair swayed in the breeze. I’ve never seen her so restful in the evening, and my Daddy was grinning from ear to ear. I knew it would be a wonderful trip.

The next day, I woke bright and early, ready to spend the day with my family. But, my Mommy had other plans. She took me to a place called “Adventure Ocean” – a place where I could spend time with other children while she attended to business. Since I’m four, I was enrolled in the “Aquanauts” program, where I had the chance to learn about local customs, do cool science experiments, make great new friends – or just hang out and play with toys.

I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t know why Mommy left me, and I didn’t want to play with the other kids. I wanted Reid! Where was my baby brother? I sat in the corner and cried, and stayed there until Mommy returned two hours later. Doesn’t she know that strange situations make me anxious? I was so relieved to see her. I made her promise not to send me back there again, and she promised – though I could tell she was concerned.

(Later, I heard her tell my Daddy that Adventure Ocean was meant to be a wonderful place for children to have fun, so parents could enjoy their vacation too. But you know what? That works for some families, not all – because every child is different. They then decided that the best way to enjoy our first family vacation was to just spend it together. I was so relieved. Reid was asleep, as usual. The dude misses all the good stuff!)

And that’s when the trip really got good for me, because I spent a lot of time with my family, had the most amazing experiences and precious memories, and even had a chance to feel sand in between my toes. It was epic.

Later that day we had a chance to walk around the entire ship for the first time. Since I’m a car buff, I appreciated the little things – like a 1936 Mercedes Benz 540K casually parked in the middle of the Royal Promenade. In this “neighbourhood”, there were also shops, restaurants and even a Starbucks, where I would stand in line with Daddy every single morning. I don’t get it dude, it’s just coffee!

That evening, Mommy dressed us up for a “formal night”. It must have been a pretty big deal, because everyone was dressed so nicely – some men were even wearing tuxedos! Reid and I enjoyed the best chicken fingers we had ever had, and Daddy couldn’t stop raving about fwaw-graw or something like that (it didn’t look very appetizing). Now with My Time Family Dining, the kids can be served their meals first and then picked up by Adventure Ocean staff, so their parents can enjoy the rest of the dinner in peace. I gave Mommy one look that said “please-please-please don’t send me away” and we enjoyed dinner as a family for the rest of the cruise. It was fine! I don’t think she minded. Not much, anyways.

The next day, Tuesday, was simply AWESOME. We visited our first port of call, Labadee, Haiti! I had never been on a beach before and was excited to play in the sand with Reid. (He’s more of a water splasher, but I’m more of a two-feet-on-land kind of guy.) We took a ferry boat to the island and Daddy couldn’t stop marveling about the gorgeous view – but I think he was actually referring to the docked Allure of the Seas.

Mommy loved that the beach is privately owned by Royal Caribbean, so the food and water was straight off the ship and therefore safe to consume without hesitation (she worries about stuff like that). I loved the feeling of sand under my feet, the warm sun on my back, and even the little crab that came out to play! On the way back to the cruise ship, I made my Daddy promise that we could come back the next day. He just smiled… but I don’t think he answered me. Huh.

Back aboard the ship, we each had a shower and a quick nap. Naps on vacation are the best naps ever! I’ve never actually seen Mommy nap before, but even she closed her eyes for an hour or so. It was refreshing and just what we needed after a long afternoon in the sun. But we couldn’t dilly dally too long – there was a Cupcake Decorating Class at 5:00pm!

Reid and I each had the chance to decorate our very own cupcake. Reid had a lot of help from Mommy, but I did a lot of it myself. (Although I did eat the cat’s nose – I just couldn’t resist! How can anyone resist licorice?) It was a lot of fun and a great way to sneak in some creativity before dinner.

After dinner, we discovered the most AMAZING thing ever – the Allure of the Seas Boardwalk! It’s the best of Coney Island in the middle of the sea… and it even has a handmade wooden carousel! I can’t remember how many times Reid and I rode round and round… but all of a sudden it got dark outside, so we must have been there for a while.

Expecting to go back to our stateroom, Mommy and Daddy had the most wonderful surprise for us – the magnificent Oceanaria Aqua Show. It had a very Cirque du Soleil feel about it (or so I overheard) and was complete with high divers, acrobats, trampoline artists and synchronized divers and swimmers. Reid was absolutely mesmerized and I loved it too! I thought that maybe you’d like to hear more about it, so I found this for you:

“Embark on a mystical adventure under the sea as an ancient underwater civilization is revealed. You’ll admire the bravado and gracefulness of the aerialists and divers who navigate the waters with unparalleled speed and accuracy in this amazing AquaTheater extravaganza. The pool comes to life with shooting water and colorful lights that seem to dance to the music. Enjoy this beautiful choreographed fountain show on a starry night.”

The next morning, while we were supposed to dock in Falmouth, Jamaica – Hurricane Sandy interrupted our vacation plans. Of course, safety was always everyone’s main concern (especially mine – I only weigh 38 lbs! I could easily be tossed around in a tropical storm) and so we sailed on until we reached Cozumel on Friday. Having two days at sea was pretty awesome, though – it allowed us to fully appreciate all the Allure had to offer. (Wow, I sounded like Mommy for a second there.)

Our day started with a very special breakfast – a DreamWorks Madagascar Character Breakfast! In addition to the food being delicious, the larger-than-life characters stopped by our tables for a hug hello. Reid was all for cuddling with them, but I was a teeny bit scared reserved. What can I say? Giant lions freak me out.

Well, since we couldn’t make the sun and sand that day – my Mommy decided to treat us to ice. An ice skating show, that is! We had a chance to see the “How to Train Your Dragon” Ice Show. With fire-breathing dragons, a spectacular light show and wonderful figure skaters (doing those loops and turns that make me dizzy) we clapped and clapped until our hands hurt. Reid was once again glued to the performance, and even I loved how the story was put to ice. Two thumbs up!

Later that afternoon, we decided it was time for a little water play. The Allure of the Seas has four pool areas, but for the most part, we hung with our peeps – you know, the under 12 crowd. The H2O Zone is the interactive water park for kids and families, and it’s filled with geysers, sculpted fountains and waterfalls. You can also play with some cool water toys such as spray cannons and umbrella jets, or just cool off in one of the two splash pools. It’s awesome.

For dinner, Daddy decided it was time to visit one of the fancy restaurants, so we tried the Brazilian Steak House called Samba Grill. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what the heck was going on there. These men kept coming to the table and serving us course after course of barbecued meat! It was confusing, I tell you. So I asked Mommy to find an explanation:

“Samba Grill introduces a sumptuous steakhouse experience with personality and flare. Brazilian music fills the air as the Solarium Bistro transforms to a hearty authentic churrascaria. The dining experience includes a wide selection of nightly prepared soups, salads and appetizers at the buffet. The main course is the feature and includes 13 different meats carved tableside. Samba’s gaucho servers, Brazilian style cowboys, provide a unique flare at the table as guests can choose from each of the featured signature meats that are presented from the churrasco grill and carved individually for each guest.”

Um, whatever. I loved the sausages though, so I’m not going to knock it.

The next morning was an ordinary day at sea – with some extraordinary adventures for us aboard the cruise ship. First, I watched as Reid participated in a Fisher-Price Royal Tots Interactive Play Group. Designed for kids aged 18 -36 months, he pretty much played for about 45 minutes, which Mommy referred to as “learning”. All I know is that the room was filled with a bunch of Fisher-Price toys, and Reid was having a lot of fun.

Next, I made my way down to the boardwalk where I picked up a couple of my girlfriends. Don’t hate.

For lunch, we visited Giovanni’s – another one of the specialty restaurants. This one was MUCH more kid friendly than the night before, though, so I had a great time. I’m not quite sure why, but my parents literally drooled when they brought out the plate of appetizers. I dunno – all this stuff just didn’t do it for me. But the pasta was rather delicious.

After lunch, we had a very special treat: a Little People Birthday Party! Not only did we have a chance to sing, dance and eat cake – but we also got to meet some of our very favourite Little People. Hi Sonya Lee!

Later that afternoon, we had the BEST time on the Fisher-Price Power Wheels Racetrack. It’s really kind of cool – they kick the adults off the basketball court, bring out the most amazing Power Wheels automobiles, and give kids (ages 5 and under) a chance to put the pedal to the metal. Reid and I found a Jeep that seated two and we took it for a spin. It didn’t drive as smooth as my Escalade (just sayin’) but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. Bonus: each child had about 10 minutes each, which was awesome.

That evening, we once again donned our monkey suits for formal night. Daddy wanted to skip it and just have a hot dog on the boardwalk, but Mommy kept insisting that it was lobster night, and over her dead body was she missing lobster night on a cruise ship. So, we went, and I’m pretty sure it was worth it. Whatever, I had chicken fingers.

The next morning, I woke up to find us docked at a strange and beautiful island – Cozumel, Mexico. We had so much fun in Cozumel. First, we enjoyed a two-hour bus tour that included stops along the coast and at historical sites. Next, we spent a few hours at Playa Mia Beach, where Mommy had two margaritas and Daddy took Reid in the ocean to swim. It was very relaxing and I’ve decided that I really like Mexico – especially the tortilla chips and salsa that we snacked on before left.

When we arrived back at the ship, Daddy decided that he wanted to take a nap until dinner, so Reid and me watched a movie while Mommy worked in the stateroom. Mommy warned us to savour every moment because tomorrow would be our last full day on the ship, which of course made me sad.

We woke up on Saturday morning ready to cram in all the things we hadn’t yet experienced – but then Mommy decided that what we really needed was some more water fun. So off we went to the H2O Zone once again. After we dried off, we took in ImaginOcean – a spectacular black light puppet show that features the underwater adventures of three friends. I suppose Mommy should have paid more attention to the opening announcements, because we got soaked in the front row. It was so funny!

Finally, we ended the late afternoon with a round of Mini Golf. Since the course is on the 15th deck of the ship, it’s such an amazing view and makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Of course, Reid didn’t really abide by the rules of mini golf, so we had to cut our game short. Still, it was a lot of fun.

That evening we had an early dinner and Mommy did all of the packing. We were all sad to leave the next day. As you can see, every single day held an adventure for us thanks to Royal Caribbean and Fisher-Price. Mommy would call it family travel at its best; I just call it the best vacation ever.

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Carla Holiday Fun with Fisher Price

I know it seems like Halloween just happened.  Like it was just time for Back To School.  But in just a few short weeks Santa will be squeezing down the chimney and leaving toys for all the good little girls and boys around the world.  I have to tell you, the thought of Christmas being ONLY 45 DAYS AWAY…scares the stockings out of me.

However, it is good to know that Fisher Price has our back.

Did you know that the average Canadian will be spending $674* on gifts this year? That’s a lot of money.  And…that is the average.  Many will spend more.  I tend to me on the higher side of this number, we have a big family, and I buy lots of gifts!

But I am also very frugal.  I like to save money where ever possible.  So when the Celebrate and Save coupons showed up in the mail a few weeks back I was thrilled!  Amazing savings for toys and baby must haves!

I would have to say my favourite is the $10 coupon off the Fisher Price Eagle Talon Castle.  I have actually shared these coupons with some of my friends…as we already have the toy, and LOVE IT!  I will be hunting down the additional pieces that you can add to the castle for my kids this year.  Since they spend so much time playing with it, why not add to the fun!

 

If you have a new mom on your gift list this year, you will also find coupons for both Fisher Price Swings (any) and the Fisher Price Jumperoo.  Both are items that I don’t think I could have gotten through without!  And Shhh…don’t tell anyone but there is a coupon for a fab Thomas train set too!

Happy early Holidays

Don’t forget to Celebrate & Save!

*Statistic from the Bank of Montreal’s 2012 Holiday Spending Outlook Survey

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Carla The Joy of Learning – Imaginative Play

When a baby is first born, they are intrigued and entertained by simple things, their hands, lights, and maybe a tag on a blanket.  Slowly they learn more about the world around them and their toes are incredibly amazing.  They move onto simple things like rattles, blocks, plastic books and anything else they find on the floor that usually ends up in their mouth.  I’m not exactly sure if it can be classified play, but for the age, they are having fun and learning.

The first time I really remember seeing my daughter truly play, was when she started imaginative play.  Imaginative play or pretend play is when a child uses their imagination to make up stories and play out scenes.  My daughter had received an interactive Farm as a gift complete with movable farm animals and barn sounds.  I watched her push buttons and making a roster crow for months.  Then it happened, she took one of the animals, and moved it around the barn while she made barn noises.  It was a milestone, she had just started using imaginative play.  It was amazing to watch her switch from barn animal to barn animal making different noises.  Eventually she was able to use two different barn animals and have them interact with each other.  As a mother, it made me proud to see her using her creativity to make up stories.

 

It’s at this point that she quite quickly picked up on imaginative play, now at age 4, her favourite game is playing house.  She likes to be the mommy or the baby with her friends playing the roles perfectly; babies cry and mommy’s have to console them.  She also loves playing Mommy with her toy babies, pushing them in strollers, putting them to bed and making sure they get enough sleep.   Unfortunately for our dog, her imaginative play is not just limited to her friends and dolls, she also likes to play Mommy with our four legged family member.  Seeing as our fur baby is only 9 pounds, it’s very easy for her to be the Mom while the dog “enjoys” cuddles.  She’s very mothering and will take on that role for anyone or anything willing to let her.  With a real baby on the way, things could get interesting.

She’s growing up quickly and soon enough that type of play will move onto something for else.  While it’s wonderful to watch them grow, it’s sometimes sad to see them lose some of those toddler traits. But for the time being, I truly enjoy experiencing the “Joy of Learning” while I watch and listen to her play with her toys to see what types of scenarios she will come up with and how they interact.   She has a very fruitful imagination.

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Carla Fisher-Price Programs Aboard the Allure of the Seas

I’m constantly amazed by the programs that Fisher-Price has in place for traveling families. I mean, we all love the products for the home, yet who knew that they worked so extensivly with their partners, to ensure that the familiar, entertaining and educational toys are avaiable when your family is on the move. And when it comes to traveling families, having a happy and engaged baby and child without bringing along the toy room, is a pretty big deal.

The latest eye-opening experience was aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, who have partnered with Fisher-Price. My family along with the other #FisherPriceMoms got the chance to check out the programs {which are developed by specialists} for ourselves.

For the youngest of cruisers there’s programs offered at Royal Babies and Royal Tots Play Classes {for 6 months – 3 years}. They offer daily, 45-minute playgroups offer age-appropriate activities that expose children to new experiences and teach parents tools for incorporating skill-building into playtime through storytelling, creative arts, music, and a variety of Fisher-Price learning toys and games.

I took some time to learn more about this program and was amazed at the structure and effect of the ‘play’. For instance, puppets were brought out to learn about careers, identifying with real-life roles {ex. mailman}. Then, they sang songs about mail. After this, the associated Fisher-Price Toys are brought out to further the learning {in this example, the Laugh & Learn™ Learning Letters Mailbox}. Isn’t that a fun and smart way to incorporate so many levels of learning through play? Parents, these are wonderful ideas to use with your Fisher-Price toys at home.

Just think, you could talk about farmers and animals, count the animals, sing ‘Farmer in the Dell’ or “B-I-N-G-O”, then play with the Little People Barn to faciliate the roles and music. Hello, learning! And this is all happening on a cruise ship, brilliant!

But, that’s certainly not all, since I have to make mention the other ways that Fisher-Price adds to the family vacation. There’s the Toy Lending Program, to borrow toys to use on the ship rather than bringing your own. If you think this lessens stress and room in suitcases, you are right.

While my kids were older to take advantage of this room, there is also the Nursery, geared with all the necessities that baby would need including cribs and everything.

Keep in mind, the joy of Fisher-Price trickles into the other programs for kids aged 3-17 at Adventure Ocean as well. My kids enjoyed the 30 minute live Little People Birthday Show, cause what kid doesn’t like being invited to a birthday! Be their guest for dancing, singing and interaction with the Little People, and take a special loot bag home. My girls went twice, so I do believe they had a great time!

One other program which my girls LOVED {as in, they regularily mention it as one of their favorite parts of the entire trip}, is the Power Wheels Track on Deck. Located in the Basketball Court area, kids can take their turn at cruising the seas on Power Wheels vehicles. There’s chasing, racing and much laughing – this is a wild time for kids under 6.  

While dining, kids will enjoy the Fisher-Price Activity Play Mats. Think of it as a coloring page for kids, a great way to keep them occupied and happy while everyone has a pleasant dining experience. My girls even took some back to the room and did some coloring on the verandah. Sure, I brought many coloring boks with me, but they weren’t nearly as used as these play mats. As you can see in the photo below, these mats captured 100% of my kids attention! Ha!

Can you believe I only touched on the services and programs offered? It’s true, they are well-prepared, my friends. Everything you need and didn’t realize you needed, to ensure a successful and memorable family cruise.

**Interested in purchasing some of the toys and baby gear you spot in this post? Check out the Fisher-Price Celebrate and Save Coupons and save while shopping this season!!

 

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