11/16/17

Thanksgiving Printable Games

Hosting Thanksgiving this year? Want that perfect dream of everyone spending time together, and not just while stuffing your faces with stuffing?

One of my favorite things to do during family gatherings is to play simple games that work for all ages. In the past, I've shared a few free printable games, like Bingo! and Thanksgiving Charades, that were a big hit. This year, I wanted to switch things up a bit.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving Scattergories!

Thanksgiving Scattergories




Did you know there is an 'r' in the middle of Scattergories? I've totally been saying "Scatt-a-gories" my whole life but feel like I've finally discovered the truth.

There are TWO parts to this printable, but I promise I did that for a good reason. Part 1 is your topic cards. You'll want to print these on card stock, and cut them along the lines, so you have cards similar to those found in the traditional Scattergories box.



Part 2 is your player sheets. You'll want to print these double sided, then cut them in half. This way each player has a small sheet that they'll keep for six rounds. (You'll need as many of these as there are players, but only one of Part 1. I divided these for your printing sanity.)



You'll also need a timer and an alphabet die. I grabbed mine from our normal Scattergories box. If you don't have an alphabet die, you could write all the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper, cut them up, and have someone choose randomly from a basket. Or, use the letters of your family's last name.

Thanksgiving Scattergories Free Printable

Part 1 | Part 2




Thanksgiving Day Parade Bingo


I've also updated my Thanksgiving Day Parade Bingo cards to fit what we'll see in the parade this year. If we're going to be around the TV, we might as well make it a game for our families as well.

There are so many types of clowns in the parade this year! And some awesome new floats and balloons I can't wait to see. There are seven different cards in this PDF so everyone isn't shouting BINGO! at the same time, and there's a chance for everyone to point out all the new stuff in the parade line-up.



I love the tradition of watching the parade together, and how this simple game we all know can make it an activity for all generations.

Thanksgiving Day Parade Bingo Free Printable

Click here to download


If you print and use these games, post a photo and make sure to tag me on Instagram @meredithplays!

11/3/17

Top Toys for 2017 Holiday Gifts

I swear it was just March, and now the holidays are right around the corner. Which means we’re all about to get real busy. Decorating, planning, visiting family, making a list and checking it twice, and of course, figuring out the best gifts to give.

No matter how old my boys get, I still find it challenging to figure out what they want, but also what they will actually use long after the holidays are over. That’s why play value is so important in choosing toys. We also want to find toys that encourage imaginative play, because it helps develop social, thinking, and language skills, while also increasing creativity.

This holiday season I’m excited to share my favorite trending toys that will help get the shopping out of the way, which means you can go back to 100% family time, while inspiring imagination throughout the new year. 





Real Workin' Buddies’ Mr. Dusty by Jakks Pacific 

Ages 3+, $39.99

We know that our kids love to make messes, and those toys with 40 tiny pieces are a special kind of mess. Having them help with cleanup can be quite a challenge. Enter Mr. Dusty! With over 50 fun sounds and phrases, and a BIG personality, this toy is the spoonful of sugar that makes cleaning up fun. Kids can gather up their toys on carpet or hardwood by driving Mr. Dusty over top of them and use his motorized mouth to help eat up the larger toys. I love this toy because he has multiple play modes: he’s a Garbage Truck, a Street Sweeper, and a Dump Truck, so he’s sure to be a top hit in the toybox for a long time. 




Robotics U

Ages 8+, $199

It’s always a huge win for parents when we can extend learning into playtime. When children are really enjoying what they’re doing, they absorb the material more and start to form passions and hobbies. Robotics U is a robot that allows children (and adults too!) to explore the world of robotics and STEM through builds, games, and activities. Use the free app to build your robot, program it, and play with it. Robotics U is designed to demystify technology by using elements that we use everyday in our world. And the best part is, your kids can play with it over and over again by building new robots with step-by-step instructions in the app or building something out of their own imagination. 




The LEGO Ninjago Movie Green Ninja Mech Dragon

Ages 8+, $49.99

When my boys were young they were obsessed with LEGO. I can remember always picking up a new set for any occasion–birthdays, Christmas, etc. To this day, I still catch them reminiscing and pulling out their favorite sets from when they were younger. If you have young kids I’m sure you know about LEGO’s latest movie, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. This set is a perfect way for your kinds to extend the Ninjago world into their play and recreate scenes right at home. The set features a highly detailed Green Ninja Mech Dragon with a minifigure cockpit and snapping jaws, and favorite characters The Green Ninja, Master Wu, Garmadon, and Charlie–all represented in LEGO minifigure form to really let imaginations run wild in storytelling.




Hamsters In A House Ham’s Burger Diner Playset by Zuru

Ages 3+, $19.99

The play value in collectibles is like no other. Not only are they toys, but they are crucial parts of a child’s treasured collection. Children take care of their collectibles and take great pride in them. Hamsters in a House has become a huge hit lately, and if you saw these adorable little motorized hamsters buzzing and scurrying around, you would completely understand. This year, Hamsters in a House has taken part of the big food-theme trend and released Series 2: Food Frenzy. The key piece is Ham’s Burger Diner Playset which includes adorable details like a real-working turntable for food orders and a cash register.





VTech GearZooz Roll & Roar Animal Train

Ages 18 months - 4 years, $29.99

As a toy expert I try to find toys that will grow with your child, and this is especially true for younger kids who blow through milestones and change before your eyes. VTech is a brand that has really mastered creating toys that grow with kids from infants to toddlers and beyond.  VTech’s GearZooz Roll & Roar Animal Train is customizable, with 15 included gears that they can mix and match with, while also strengthening their fine motor skills. There’s so much to do with it, it can be pushed, pulled, plays fun songs, phrases, and animal sounds, and even has kid-friendly quiz questions! This one is definitely a toy that kids will truly treasure and pass on to younger siblings and cousins, making it a great investment.




Disney Junior Vampirina Scare B&B Playset by Just Play

Ages 3+, $59.99

When we’re able to bring the familiarities of a child’s favorite show into their toys, we can really capitalize on the love for their favorite characters, and KNOW they’re getting a toy that they’ll keep going back to. From the creator of Doc McStuffins comes Vampirina, a show that since it’s release in October is already receiving rave reviews from both children and parents. The Vampirina Scare B&B Playset is based on the home in the show, and includes Vampirina and her best friend Poppy. It’s three floors of spook-tacular surprises and exciting features that recreate the fun from the show, and includes fun little details like a spot for Vampirina to hang (and glow!) upside down, magically rising food in the kitchen, a record player that moves and shakes when Vampirina dances, and a 360° spinning TV!


For more holiday gift ideas, be sure to follow my Pinterest board for the top toys of 2017.


10/30/17

DIY Clothespin Christmas Tree




This morning on Hallmark Home & Family, one of my absolute favorite shows to watch AND visit, I shared a really simple DIY for Holiday decorating.

I had a lot of fun making this DIY Clothespin Christmas Tree at home, teaching the gang how to make it on set, and love how it looks in my living room.

DIY Clothespin Xmas Tree

 


What You'll Need

  • Clothespins of various sizes, old or new
  • Empty paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, or craft tubes
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Miniature decorations (optional)
  • Spray paint (optional)

Directions

  1. Gather your clothespins and separate them from their metal spring. This is easy to do... simply pull the handles of the clothespin in opposite directions to loosen the metal, and gently wiggle them apart.
  2. Prepare your tubes by removing any left over paper. If you want to eventually paint your trees, cover the tubes with tissue paper that matches the paint color you’ll be using. If you are going to keep them “natural”, no need to cover.
  3. Using your glue gun, start glueing the pins onto the bottom of the tube, with the “inside” portion of the pin side down. You want to glue the slanted tip of the pin to the roll, so that the bottom of the pin slants down and hits the “ground” or table surface you’re working on. Create your first layer of "branches" by gluing the pins side-by-side until you go all the way around the tube.
  4. Work our way up the tube creating rows of clothespins. TIP: each row you do, attach the pin in between the two below it. This makes for more realistic branches, it’s okay if you see a bit of the roll underneath.
  5. When you’re near the top you want to glue the middle of the clothes pin to the top area of the roll. The layer that finishes the tree off will be glued on top of this, so you want to have it pretty secure.
  6. Finish off the top by holding two clothespins together with glue in the middle over the roll to see how wide they needed to be set apart, when this is dry, use it as the base to finish off the top, attaching pins to it to form a peak. Use smaller pins to fill in the gaps if needed, until it creates a ‘cap’ on the tree.
  7. Add fun miniature decorations to your tree, or spray paint it first and then add your accessories!
If you make this little tree, be sure to post, and tag me on Instagram @meredithplays.

Not only is stopping by the Home & Family house always so much fun, I had time after shooting to romp around the set of "The Good Place", a big family fave in my house right now. SO cute!

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