Hang-Up Activity Organizer – Product Review

Travel Tip Tuesday

When you’re on the road, wouldn’t it be nice to have one central location for diapers, wipes, and cremes?  One central location for books, magazines, games, and tech?  Well… that’s totally possible!  We have had one Hang-Up Activity Organizer behind the passenger seat (for Becca) for a while, and recently added a second behind the driver seat for all of the baby supplies we need.

Let me begin my review by saying – I do not sell Thirty-One Gifts.  I know several folks to who do if you are looking for a consultant and want a recommendation.  This post is not a promotion for any one consultant, and I believe that the product link allows you to search for your own consultant to give her the credit.  (Be sure to check tho in the top right hand corner of the screen if you are specific in who you want to buy for – because I can only see my consultant up there.)

We’ve had this product for a while.  Like over a year.  So I feel like I’m highly qualified to list its benefits and a couple of downfalls.

Here’s the product: CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

Snip20141110_1

What we like about this product:

  • It’s super easy to install in your car.  No directions needed.  I like that kind of installation!!
  • It has multiple pockets of various sizes so that you can truly store anything you need.  (I even have a friend who owns her own small business who uses it to organize business materials so she can quickly grab the right thing if she sees someone who needs something while she’s out!)
  • It fully protects the back of the seat in front of it from muddy shoes and marks created by repeated kicking.
  • It’s easy to clean after those muddy shoes have attacked it – just wipe and go!
  • The top pocket is large enough to hold a tablet for movie viewing without the child having to hold it the whole time – also making it easily visible to the person in the middle seat, allowing for sibling sharing without a fight over who’s going to hold it!
  • The bottom pocket is super stretchy… we haven’t yet found a limit to what it will hold!

A couple of downfalls:

  • Because it’s strapped to the seat back, it’s not accessible to a child who is properly strapped into a 5 point harness car seat – they can only SEE the thing they want… not reach it to get it themselves.  So, if you use it for toys/books, keep that in mind.  It could result in lots of Mommy or Daddy reaching back to get the next thing.  (You get used to it, though, trust me.  I can now reach from either the passenger or driver seat and get what she wants without my eyes leaving the road.)
  • The stitching on the top pocket (after a year of constant shoes) is fraying quite a bit.  It’s easy to trim off the excess, but you should know that this can (and WILL) occur when you buy this product and put shoes on it consistently.
  • Because of the fraying, I don’t see this lasting (and looking nice) for more than 5 years, but by that point, our kids will be much older and won’t need as much crap to keep them entertained (or clean) on a long road trip.

All in all, it’s a fabulous product that really fits our needs right now.  We don’t ever have to leave home and then realize we’ve forgotten a diaper or discover the diaper bag is void of wipes and be in a sticky situation…  So if you have young kids, this is a product that I would definitely recommend.  It’d also be a great baby shower gift if you’re looking for something unique and different and don’t like to shop registries.

Kindle Fire HD for Kids – Product Review

Travel Tip Tuesday

This post contains affiliate links – thank you for your participation!
Pardon my screen shots – these are NOT formal photos from Amazon – they are my own pictures taken of the screen.

This week, as promised, I’m providing a product review of the kid’s version of the new Amazon Kindle Fire.  After having used it with Becca in the car a few times now, I’m really pleased to say that it’s a wonderful product – and definitely makes it on my list of “travel must haves” for kids!  Still a few kinks we need to personally work out… but here are my thoughts for you.

IMG_9811

Here’s the product we purchased: Fire HD 6 Kids Edition, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB, Blue Kid-Proof Case (available in blue, green, and pink)
Here’s the link to the screen protectors we purchased (they don’t come with the Kindle, and I feel like they are really necessary): Clear Screen Protector Kit (3-Pack) for Fire HD 6 (4th Generation)
And here’s the link to the kid headphones we purchased to go with it: HeadFoams Headphones for Kids, Purple  (available in blue, orange, and purple)  Note – she doesn’t like to wear any headphones on her head yet.  Still gotta work on practicing wearing them and getting them to fit exactly right before any long drives in the car… it drives me nuts to hear songs on her Kindle mixing with my songs on the radio… But we selected THESE headphones because of their durability and the fact that they are made for kids – they have a decibel setting that doesn’t allow them to be turned too loud for kid’s ears!!!

IMG_0055

What we like about the Kindle so far:

  • It’s relatively easy to figure out how to set it all up – you’ll just need your Amazon log-in and password, and your wifi log-in and password.
  • With Amazon FreeTime included, it’s super easy to search through thousands of books, apps, and videos that are free to download for your kiddos.
  • It’s easy to add Kindle books you already own to the Kindle, or to purchase titles that you want for your kids that aren’t included in FreeTime
  • FreeTime includes LOTS of nonfiction books, including some nonfiction easy readers that have fabulous pictures!
  • I love how easy it is for her to use and flip between apps and such – it’s great for the car, airplane, or train because you don’t have to be available every two seconds to “fix it”!!  (Note: there IS a learning curve to it, as with anything – and we still do some “fix it” stuff when she gets stuck, but it’s nothing like the every two seconds when she would use my phone and then want to switch to a different app, and I had to worry about what else she might get into or end up buying!)IMG_9939
  • The SuperWhy app is fabulous – games that encourage lots of different alpha/reading skills, and apparently it’s easy to navigate because Becca flips around in it like it’s no big deal.

IMG_0053

  • I love that there are several Sandra Boynton apps for kids – where the illustrations are interactive, and the book is read to them.

IMG_0054

  • I can put all of the books, apps, and videos that I want her to have access to on the home screen, and that’s enough for her to do that she hasn’t even clicked on the other options where she could go and download things herself.IMG_9918
  • IF she does try to download something, it’s only something that is available for FreeTime (aka doesn’t cost anything – FreeTime is included the first year) and is kid-safe.
  • The carousel at the top shows what has been opened – in most recent order – so it’s easy for me to look and see what she’s been looking at.  It’s also easy for me to remove items from the carousel – so I if I want the carousel to just show what videos she has available, I can do that.

IMG_9920

  • It’s so nice to be able to read her a book in the car without having to hold onto it and flip the pages and then pick up another book – I can just hold the Kindle or rest it on the back of the driver’s seat (or Cody can if he’s the passenger and I’m driving)!
  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE the parental control options!  If we notice that she’s spending more time than we’d like just watching videos, we can turn that option off, or set a timer for it!

IMG_0051IMG_0052

  • You can also set up profiles for other family members, with other parental control options – or just use it as a regular Kindle Fire – all through a parental control password that you self-select.  So, you can set it up for your kids, but also use it yourself… and not need to buy a separate one for everyone in the family!  Set those educational goals for the day, and when they have been met, it will tell your child on the screen… and it won’t work again until they give it to you to pass it on to the next child to meet their own goals under their profile.
  • I also love how much we can be interactive with her while she’s using it.  Not only can we use it to read books to her (in the car or anywhere), we can also play the games with her, or sit and watch the videos just like we would sit and watch tv together.  It is super fun to snuggle up together with the Kindle!  Here she is, snuggled up with Daddy – playing in the Super Why app:

IMG_9938

  • The key factor in us deciding to buy it was not only the price (it’s a steal at $149), but also the fact that in the first two years, it doesn’t matter WHAT she does to it… if it breaks, they replace it – NO QUESTIONS ASKED!

What we don’t like about the Kindle so far:

  • Videos don’t work without a wifi connection… making them impossible on long road trips.  We are still trying to figure out a way around this – like setting up a wifi hot spot or something like that.  It also seems that some apps don’t work without wifi…
  • The screen touch/click isn’t as sensitive as my Apple products… so I tend (and Becca tends) to get a little frustrated when I touch something but not precisely on the right spot, so it doesn’t respond.  We’ll just have to get used to this.
  • I’m discovering that most of the FreeTime books are for tv characters or more comic-type books, and didn’t find any of our favorite titles available for “free”.
  • Several of the books make it hard to get back to the home screen, and/or are hard for her to “turn the page” because the place to grab and swipe is right on the edge of the screen… but, it’s working on her fine motor skills, and soon she’ll be able to do it without a problem, I’m sure!
  • The battery goes down MUCH faster than my regular Kindle Reader (but then, it makes sense that it would since it’s doing a WHOLE lot more than my Kindle Reader).
  • UPDATE 11-10: The most frustrating small thing we’ve found is that each app/book has it’s own way to get back to the home screen.  So either you have to pull down from the top to get the house to appear on the right, or you pull from the right to get the house to appear.  This may not seem like a big deal – and it wouldn’t be for an older child, but when Becca switches apps, sometimes it’s because she’s frustrated that she hasn’t won the game or been able to do all the activities to the precision she would like.  So she’s already frustrated, and then she can’t get out of the app.  It would be so nice if it just had a home button like our Apple products!!!

So yes, there are a few downfalls – the wifi being the biggest one – but overall, it’s a fabulous learning resource, and will be FABULOUS on trips so we don’t need to haul a bazillion books with us.  Our car is still, of course, loaded down with those mini Chick-fil-a books, and a ton of Highlights Hello Magazines.  That won’t change.  We have a MagnaDoodle too.  That won’t be going away.  Our intent isn’t to take the Fire with us everywhere – in town, it stays at home.  It’s just for those trips that are over an hour long… or can also be used to entice our hard headed child into the car when we need to go somewhere… and then not come back out on the way home…lots of parenting flexibility.  Becca loves to look out the window and watch the traffic lights and such, so I don’t see it becoming something that she is so glued to 24/7 that she begins to miss the world around her, but I could see how that could be an issue for some kids because it is a very enthralling product.  That’s why I think it’s so great that the parental controls will truly TURN OFF THE KINDLE when you want your child to be done with it.  And I think it’s awesome that you can set different rules for weekdays vs weekends – for those kiddos who are school aged and need a lot more restrictions during the week to ensure they are getting to bed on time/getting their homework done/etc.

Definitely a fabulous product, and I highly recommend it.

Order yours today – using the easy links above!  Or, comment with your questions – I’m happy to answer anything I can about this product!

Traveling Tuesday

So to be perfectly honest with you, this past week has been more than a tad hectic, and I didn’t do any new activities with Becca that would fit in this segment.  SO, I decided to create a list for you of previous posts that have activities that would be easy to throw together for taking on a trip, and can either be used in the car, or at Grandma’s house.

Obviously, the past two Traveling Tuesday posts make it top on the list for you:
– Race Car Mats/Binder

– Sensory Bin Box

But here are some other activities for you as well:

– Sensory Gel Bag (you can make it any color and add anything to it to fit any theme)

– Of course, books are ALWAYS a fabulous option for your road trips!  Our Fall Favorites are here.

– Play dough is super fun at Grandma’s house – you might even send her this link and suggest that she have the ingredients on hand, so she can make play dough with your child once you arrive!  Then, it’s easy for her to bag up and send back home with you as a fun reminder of the fun they had together.

– A sensory activity like my “Buried Treasure” post is easy to put together (in an even smaller container than I used) and stick in a bag for Grandma’s house!

– My activity boxes are something else that’s easy to throw in a bag – and most of what’s in my boxes would be great in the car, too – especially if you take an activity tray with you for your child to put in his/her lap to allow for more activity in the car.

 

I have lots of fun ideas in store for the next few weeks to share with you – I just need to implement them so that I can share photos with you!

Happy Travels!

P.S.  If you aren’t already following my Facebook page, I often share links from other blogs and such on there that might give you even more fabulous ideas… simply click “like” over on the right hand side of this blog, and then be sure to go in and occasionally “like,” “share,” or “comment” on my posts to ensure that they show up in your news feed.  Facebook won’t automatically show you my posts just because you have liked my page.  They select which pages to show you in your news feed based on which pages you respond to most often. 🙂

 

 

Traveling… with Cars!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember the binder I made with Race Car Mats inside.  Becca still loves them!  I wanted to be able to take some cars on our trip and knew that the grandparents don’t have a car rug… so, we brought our mats!  I used one of our Pencil Pouch (aff link) bags and put a few cars inside, and then clipped it inside the binder!!  It was perfect- AND she was able to play with them in the car, too!  My particular bag (different than the one linked above) has two pouches, so I used the larger pouch as the perfect place to store our clothespin clock to take it along for play as well!  Then the binder just slid right under my seat in the car, so I could reach it easily to give it to her when she was ready, but it was a surprise activity that she didn’t know was there. 🙂

IMG_9002 IMG_9004

Activity Trays

This blog post contains affiliate links.  I appreciate you purchasing items from this post!  Thank you in advance.

So I’ve seen several posts from Deb Chitwood over at Living Montessori Now that included trays.  Activities on trays.  Hmm.  Sounded interesting, and looked interesting.  And boy, has that been the best $9 investment I’ve made in a while!  Lakeshore had a set of four craft trays on sale for $8.99 as a doorbuster sale (lasts through Aug 31, 2014, if you are reading this before then!) that are normally $14.99.  (You can find a similar product here…affiliate link.)Anyway, so I got them.  And wow.  It’s SO nice to be able to put an activity in the tray and it not go accidentally rolling off in the floor, and it’s super easy to clean up and then get back out later because it’s as easy as picking up the tray and putting it somewhere else.  I’m looking forward to having Becca do lots of activities on her trays, and eventually Grayson, too!  They are super sturdy and fabulous quality, so they’ll be around long after the kids are in school, I’m sure.

Here’s a few pics of the things the trays can contain:

IMG_7901

Her race car mats (click here to check out that post)

IMG_7904

Her alphabet and number foam puzzles

IMG_7906

Her shapes for sorting

IMG_7907

Her popsicle sticks for building shapes

IMG_7998

Or, the contents of an entire busy box!  See more information about my activity boxes (or “Busy Boxes” as we call them) here.