Pacific play tents teepeeSince I am busy reviewing so many fantastic new products for the PAL Award, I have been a little lax in blogging for which I apologize to my readers. I did get “back in the saddle” tonight and I’m on my third blog. It feels good to back on I haven’t forgotten you. I wanted to share some of the toys and games that surprised me with an extra element of fun or learning that I maybe hadn’t even anticipated. Here goes:

For summer outside play Pacific Play Tents two winners were great fun on the front lawn. Kids couldn’t wait to paint “The Painting Teepee” with their tubes of red, green and blue paint. After decorating, their creation was a perfect prop for pretend play. The girls ran to pick up the “12′ Kaleidochute Parachute” starting with a game they knew from PE class but then went on to giggle and chat, inventing one game after another. Many caused them to be wrapped around in the parachute and laughing on the ground but they knew the rules.

851399_001Another toy that gives kids an opportunity  for open-ended summer play is Step2’s Home Run Baseball Trainer. With its zig zag ball delivery, players could anticipate when the ball would drop and were more successful. Just tap the release lever with your bat and wait to slam the ball. Fill the base with sand or water for stabilization and fit your water balls in the spots. All the neighborhood kids lined up and couldn’t wait for a turn, from 5-10 years old. This stand-alone sports trainer allows for kids to have a pick up game of baseball without dragging mom or dad out to pitch (for which I am thankful!) With just the kids engaged, they had to make their own rules, manage turns and even designate those to fetch the balls in the bushes. Outdoor play is healthy and great for social language skills as kids learn to effectively negotiate, plan and and solve problems as they keep the game going. All I can say is, nobody wanted to go home when mom called them, one little friend declared, “I LOVE baseball,” while another asked it he could come back when we do it again!