List - KaBOOM! News

The weather is getting colder and, while we’ve already given a fond farewell to the lazy days of summer, that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. Winter provides endless opportunities for great, active play, both indoors and out. And, with the holiday season upon us, kids will be clamoring for new things to keep them at play.

Like last year, we’ve done our best to find products that you can bring home to make any space a great place to play. This year, though, we’ve partnered with the play experts at imagine toys to create the KaBOOM! Go Out and Play Collection, a carefully curated list of items geared to bring rich and robust experiences for the whole family.

Whatever their interests, these toys offer your children interesting and exciting ways to keep their minds and bodies moving. Best of all, these toys are also great for groups, which means more time for families to play together!

And, as a special bonus, with every purchase from the Go Out and Play Collection, you're helping to support KaBOOM! make sure that all kids get the active play they need to become healthy, successful adults. It's the holiday gift that keeps on giving!

When you're done unwrapping your gifts, here are some ideas on playful ways to repurpose the packaging.

imagine toys - Inhabit Design & Construction

Inhabit Design & Construction
Tired of the kids using sofa cushions to make their indoor constructions? With the Inhabit Design & Construction Kit, kids can build their own playhouse, fort, arch or whatever their imagination whips up using heavy-duty corrugated cardboard panels.

imagine toys - Piano Mat

Step-to-Play Giant Piano Mat
Why should Tom Hanks be the only one who gets to act like a "big" kid? The Step-to-Play Giant Piano Mat encourages kids to make music while dancing. Bonus: They might even sit still during piano lessons after getting to move around during at-home practices.

imagine toys - Sno-Sculpture Kit

Sno-Sculpture Kit
With winter comes snow! Take the opportunity to create a winter wonderland with this great item. Pack snow into the Sno-Sculpture Kit parts and you can construct forts, castles, igloos, robots, and more. You can even personalize it with colorful designs using the included Sno-Marker.

imagine toys - Jumbo Bananagrams

Jumbo Bananagrams
Skyrocket your traditional crossword game to the next level! Jumbo Banagrams magnify the pocket-sized game of the same name, allowing families to play this mind-bending game together while still getting in a little physical activity.

imagine toys - Sumo Bumper Bopper

Sumo Bumper Bopper
Pillow fighting combined with sumo wrestling? Why, yes, that does sound like fun! Inflate the Sumo Bumper Bopper, jump in, and bop around for hours of energetic play. Caveat: Product does not come in adult sizes.

imagine toys - Berg Moov Starter Kit

Berg Moov Starter Kit
Got an aspiring architect or engineer in your home? Using the rubber rings, grooved metal rods, and laminated plywood in the Berg Moov Starter Kit, kids can make and move their own bike, snow scooter, or crane. We predict that this will be a new favorite pastime for indoor or outdoor play.

imagine toys - Backyard Slackline

Backyard Slackline
It's every kid's dream to be a circus performer. Get them started on their tightrope walking career with the Backyard Slackline, a flat length of suspended nylon webbing that stretches and bounces. The Slackline also helps to build core strength and confidence – a bonus parents can keep secret if they want.

imagine toys - Polka Hop & Stripey Hop

Polka Hop & Stripey Hop
Need something to keep your toddler active? Check out the Polka Hop & Stripey Hop. These phthalate-free vinyl hoppers help little ones bounce their way to stronger bodies. Don’t worry, it comes with a hand-operated air pump, so the only thing keeping you out of breath will be keeping up with your kids.

imagine toys - Night Zone Football

Night Zone Football
The days are getting shorter, but that doesn't mean the fun has to end when the sun goes down. The 8" Night Zone Football lights up the sky with its LED light up strips. Lights can be turned on and off and last for 24 continuous hours.
 

imagine toys - Ring Stix

RingStix
This new way to play catch is fun for kids of all ages. Simply put both Stix through the ring, launch the ring up, and catch!

imagine toys - Backpack

Bonus Item: KaBOOM! Go Out and Play Backpack
Get out and play outside! The KaBOOM! Go Out and Play Backpack can hold all the items you need for all of your outdoor adventures. The backpack comes with a copy of Go Out and Play and a handful of outdoor play essentials.

For more winter play ideas, check out the complete Go Out and Play Collection at imagine toys.


Now that spring has officially sprung, it’s time to enjoy the warmer weather and longer days. Take advantage of the change in seasons with these five outdoor play ideas, and post a comment or send us a tweet to share your own.

 

Catch a playground sunset

Catch a playground sunset

Daylight saving time means extra time outdoors! Take a post-dinner trip to the playground and play until the sun goes down. (It’s a great way to make sure your kids get a good night’s sleep.) While you’re there, snap a photo of the setting sun and add your picture to our Map of Play.

 

Photo by Hari Hamartia (cc).

Play puddle hopscotch

Play puddle hopscotch

Don’t let the inevitable April showers deter you from going outdoors. Pull on your boots and get ready to puddle jump. Puddles make for great natural hopscotch courses—use a small rock to determine where to jump next.

 

Photo by joeltelling (cc).

Go on a flower scavenger hunt

Go on a flower scavenger hunt

They say April showers bring May flowers. Hit your nearest park or nature trail and challenge your kids to see how many shapes, sizes, and colors of flowers they can find. (If flowers haven’t sprouted up in your neighborhood, go on a spring scavenger hunt and look for worms, birds’ nests, and flower buds.)

 

Photo by cabby dave (cc).

Make a pebble pal

Make a pebble pal

Make a pebble your pal by transforming it into your favorite creature. For added fun, paint a dozen and “hide” them throughout your neighborhood to surprise and delight passersby. Unlike eggs, they won’t go rotten!

 

Photo by Avia Venfica (cc).

Plant a pizza garden

Plant a pizza garden

What do kids love more than pizza? What about growing their own pizza toppings? Spring is the perfect time to get a garden started—all you need are some seeds and a container or two. If you don’t feel like splurging on flower pots, get creative and use old books or a recycled milk jug. Download our guide to starting a pizza garden or watch this video.

 

Photo by Rachel Tayse (cc).

 

Does your family have a favorite springtime game or activity? Share your ideas in the comments section below, or send us a tweet (@kaboom).


When it comes to toys, we have long vouched for the stick and cardboard box. But of course, your kids are expecting a little more under the tree. Along with the gizmos and gadgets that are sure to top many wishlists, we hope you'll consider some toys that facilitate good old-fashioned outdoor play.

After searching high and low for some of the most unique and affordable outdoor play toys on the market today, we are excited to present you with 25 gift ideas that will get your kids moving, fuel their imaginations, and most importantly, bring a smile to their faces. No batteries included -- because there are no batteries necessary!

Want a shot at winning one of these? Enter our biweekly sweepstakes by sharing a photo of your neighborhood playground. Start by downloading our Tag! app -- for iPhone or Android. The more playgrounds you share, the better chance you have to win!

For more gift ideas, check out our Outdoor Play Gift Guide board on Pinterest. You can also pay a visit to some of the toy manufacturers represented here, most notably Hearthsong, Imagine Toys, and Imagine Childhood. And don't miss our list of all-time favorite toys, here.

Buddy Bounce Ball
Branch Blocks
Kitty Hawk Flyer

Buddy Bounce Ball

Branch Blocks

Kitty Hawk Flyer

 

Giant Lawn Bowling
Triple Climbing Ladder
Spooner Board

Giant Lawn Bowling Set

Triple Climbing Ladder

Spooner Board

 

Flingshot Flying Monkey Sets
Fun Wheels
Solar-Powered Airplane

Flingshot Flying Monkey Sets

Fun Wheels

Solar-Powered Airplane

 

Circus Stilts
Catamaran Construction Kit
Twizzler

Circus Stilts

Catamaran Construction Kit

Twizzler

 

Fairy House Kit
Dodgeball with Shield Set
Stomp Rocket

Fairy House Kit

Dodgeball with Shield Set

Stomp Rocket

 

3D Sidewalk Chalk
Zipfy Sled
Unbelievably Big Bubbles Kit

3D Sidewalk Chalk

Zipfy Sled

Unbelievably Big Bubbles Kit

 

Brick Construction Kit
My Little Sandbox
Super Swingball Outdoor Game

Brick Construction Kit

My Little Sandbox

Super Swingball Outdoor Game

 

Connecting Sled
Happy Giddy Tunnel
Catapult Kit

Connecting Sled

Happy Giddy Tunnel

Catapult Kit

 

Tree Swing
Check Out our Pinterest Board

Tree Swing

 


Think kids can’t handle cold weather? Apparently some schools do, keeping students indoors for recess at mild temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees.

One the other end of the spectrum, one Minnesota elementary school principal told USA Today that his policy is, “if it’s 15 below (or warmer), they go out, no matter what... At 20 below, it gets iffy.”

One of our favorite mantras, courtesy of ActiveKidsClub.com, is: There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. While this may not hold true during extreme weather events -- for instance, a certain hurricane named Sandy -- it is a good mantra for families to live by as the darkness and cold set in.

So bundle up, and get outside! Here are four of our favorite winter play ideas :

Hold a block party.

It’s tough to get your kids outside when all the other kids in the neighborhood are holed up in front of the TV, so use a block party as an excuse to lure nearby families out of their homes.

Free Range Kids posted a story on one such party in February — in MINNESOTA. If it can be done in Minnesota, you can do it too. Tempt your neighbors with the wafting aromas of chili and hot chocolate and the delighted squeals of playing children.

Photo by Daa Nell (cc).

 

Build a fort.

Kids love an outdoor hide-out, and you don’t need nails or construction skills to build one. Kids can build their own with whatever “loose parts” on hand: for instance, tablecloths, shower curtains, cardboard boxes, paper towel tubes, or newspapers.

The best part? The structure isn’t permanent so they can keep themselves busy destroying and rebuilding it over and over again. Here are some of our favorite homemade forts.

Photo coutesy of popupadventureplay.org.


 

Freeze things.

Use the weather to explore the properties of matter with your kids and get artistic while you’re at it. Create cookie cutter sculptures, colored blocks, lanterns, balloon marbles, and lace -- all out of ice! Visit our Winter Play Pinterest board for more inspiration.

Photo via queenvanna.com .

 

 

 

Play with fire.

Fire helps stave off cold and darkness, two elements that can bring on the wintertime blues. If space in your backyard permits, teach your kids how to safely build and feed a fire. It’s an amazingly simple way to keep your family entertained outdoors for hours after dusk.

Plus, you can turn winter walks in the park into “treasure hunts” for kindling.

Photo by Daniel Imfeld (cc).

 

What advice do you have for playing outside through the winter?


Our Summer Playground Challenge just drew to a close, during which over 60 parents explored local playgrounds with their kids, adding over 4,000 new photos to our Map of Play! We asked our newly minted play experts what it is that distinguishes a good playground from a great one.

From their many thoughtful responses, we’ve culled the 5 C’s of a great playground:

1. Creative

Many post-and-platform playgrounds offer the same play options over and over again. A great playground offers something new.

“I like playgrounds that offer interesting options to play on. Clambering up huge tires versus a wall or having a four person teeter-totter as opposed to two changes things up a little.” – Fezeka Saige

2. Comfortable

A great playground offers simple amenities that keep parents and kids playing longer.

“Shade and water fountains are a must! Children usually want to play during the afternoon but with the sun many times it’s not possible. Clean water fountains are also extremely important since kids finish exhausted after so much play.” – Alicia Vazquez

3. Communal

A great playground isn’t just for kids. It’s a gathering space for an entire community, from tots to teens to grandparents.

“I look for a sense of community in a playground. I also like seeing people of all ages... from older people practicing tai chi or playing chess and answering questions from my kids, to the teenagers, to the parents of kids like myself.” – Alex Nguyen

4. Conspicuous

A playground that’s hard to find risks being underutilized. A visible playground teeming with children inspires passersby to stop and play! 

I think [playgrounds] are best when people can see that they are there and that people are playing there. – Dana Wheatley

5. Connected

We know that play is not limited to the playground! A great playground is connected to other play opportunities, particularly green space or other natural elements. 

“My favorites have always been those with lots of trees… and trails for riding bikes. Bonus: if the playground has great view!! We have some here on top of the hill or on higher parts of the city, and it's such a pleasure to be at those playgrounds.”  - Annie

Photos from to bottom: Angelika Paul, KT, torbakhopper (cc), Sasha Yetter.


“When you are a kid you get to ride bikes, scooters, play with toys and use your imagination. You don’t have to go to work or do all the things old people do.” These are wise words from Caine, the boy who became an Internet sensation for his cardboard arcade and who recently reflected on growing older for his 10th birthday.

While we hope that adults still find time to play, Caine is right that childhood is a particularly opportune time to explore, discover, and create. The good news is that at age 10, he still has a few years before officially making the transition from “child” to “adolescent,” and we hope he makes the most of them!

To help him out, we’ve created a bucket list of things every kid should do before turning 13. Of course, we could go on and on, but here (in no particular order) are 23 things we consider essential. What would you add?

  1. Wallow in mud
  2. Run down a dune, roll down a hill
  3. Swim in an ocean, lake, or river
  4. Touch the sky with your toes
  5. Climb a tree, scale a boulder
  6. Jump off a rope swing
  7. Build a fort for a secret club
  8. Dig a hole deeper than you are tall
  9. Scrape a knee, bruise an elbow, or break an arm
  10. Hang upside down
  11. Eat dirt
  12. Throw a snowball
  13. Invent a recipe
  14. Sell homemade lemonade from a homemade lemonade stand
  15. Make something with a cardboard box
  16. Take apart a piece of machinery and put it back together again
  17. Crown yourself King or Queen of the forest
  18. Catch a bug in your hands
  19. Build a fire
  20. Plant something
  21. Jump in a pile of leaves
  22. Bury a treasure and draw a treasure map
  23. Wear a cape

Photos (top to bottom) by Rob (cc), Kerala Taylor, David (cc), and chascar (cc).


Let the games begin! Since our brave Playground Challengers are spending quite a bit of time playing this summer, we asked them what Olympic events their kids would rock... if the Olympics were held at the playground.

Here are five of our favorite new Playground Olympic events -- plus one event we hope your kids don't champion!

In which of the following would your kids take home the Gold? Got any new Playground Olympic events to add to our list?

  • "Both my kids would get a gold medal in giving their mom a heart attack! How do they both manage to find the ONE thing that makes me sprint like a maniac?" - Amy Keyishian (Photo by Eric Lewis, cc)
  • "My youngest, who is six, would win the 'I have no fear so I disappear' playground event. You have to keep an eye on this one, she's quick!" - Myrdin Thompson (Photo by W2 a-w-f-i-l, cc)
  • "My six year old said she would beat any kid at running while hula hooping on the playground." - Elizabeth Bonin (Photo by Steven Depolo, cc)
  • "My almost three and four year old do endurance - they are two-hours-in-the-sandbox kind of players." - Angelika Paul (Photo by Alec Couros, cc)
  • "If there was a 'hot lava' competition where my kids didn't have to touch the playground floor? They'd totally own that." - Alex Nguyen (Photo by Nate McBean, cc)
  • "Oldest son? He's back at the house participating in the Summer Couch Olympics. So far he has a gold medal in eating an entire bag of goldfish crackers in one sitting." - Myrdin Thompson


Hold your own Playground Olympics

July 24, 2012 Darell Hammond,Kerala Taylor

Do you have Olympic fever? We do. After all, the Olympics encapsulates many of the elements that make outdoor play so critical: teamwork, skill development, challenge, and fitness, to name just a few.

This Saturday, July 28, As First Lady Michelle Obama leads the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games, she’s calling on families around the country to support Team USA, not just by cheering on our athletes, but also by organizing their own Olympic Fun Days.

Since we can’t think of any more fitting place to hold your own Olympics than at the playground, here are five Olympic-inspired playground games:

  1. Slide shotput: Place a bucket at the bottom of a slide. Competitors must each “put” five tennis balls down the slide. The one who gets the most in the bucket wins the gold.
     
  2. Monkey relay: Divide into teams and hold relay races across the monkey bars. To discourage recklessness, competitors must balance something on their heads—may we suggest a stuffed monkey? If the monkey falls off, the contestant must start over.
     
  3. Synchronized swinging: Teams swing together for 30 seconds each. A panel of judges determines which team is the most synchronized.
     
  4. Long swing jump: This one is already a classic playground favorite—who can jump the farthest off the swing?
     
  5. Playground ping-pong: Teams of two volley a ping-pong ball across various pieces of playground equipment, like slides, swingsets, monkey bars, and jungle gyms. The team who can keep the ball going the longest wins. Particularly recommended for teens and tweens!

Find an Olympic Fun Day near you, or organize your own at Meetup.com. What are your ideas for Olympic playground games? Please share in the Comments section below!

Photo by Wayne Silver (cc).
 


Are your kids getting enough outdoor play this summer? We wish we could tell you to open your front door and shoo them outside, but sadly, many will find only empty streets, void of other kids to play with.

We can help you fix that. Here are five ways you can save play in your community, by not only getting your kids outside, but also the whole neighborhood. Click on each photo below for instructions on how to get started. Then, go play!

  • Close a street for play. Photo via nycstreets (cc).
  • Turn your front yard or driveway into a neighborhood playspace. Photo via clappstar (cc).
  • Start a neighborhood summer camp. Photo via Aaron Selverston, Palo Alto Patch.
  • Take the KaBOOM! Summer Playground Challenge.
  • Create a pop-up adventure playground. Photo by Sarah Zarrow, via Pop-up Adventure Play.

 


There are lots of nice things about Hawaii. But for most of us, the promise of an exotic beachside vacation comes with a lengthy plane ride and a hefty price tag. And while you may not live in Hawaii, we bet there are lots of nice things about your hometown too, if you take the time to look. 

Being a nonprofit with a vision of a playground within walking distance of every child in America, we're especially partial to playgrounds. Why not take a week off work to explore the playgrounds your hometown has to offer? Here are five reasons to take a playground staycation:

  1. Explore new places right at home – Step out of your “playground comfort zone.” There are probably many hidden playground gems in your hometown that you’ve never taken the time to visit. Ask your kids to help you find new places to play -- don't forget spray parks, natural playspaces, and outdoor sports facilities!
     
  2. Be a kid again -- You don't need jet skis to recapture the thrill of outdoor play. Adults are allowed on the playground, too. Swing as high as you can, soak yourself at a spray park, and wallow in the mud!
     
  3. Catch up on life – Playing is great, but you can also take some time out on the sidelines. In fact, it's good for your kids to play on their own, so go ahead and browse that stack of magazines you've fallen behind on, search for new recipes to try, or get your daily news fix.
     
  4. Save money – The best part about playgrounds? They're free and close to home! Stretch your savings even further by packing a lunch for the day and, when possible, walking or biking to your daily destination.
     
  5. Avoid travel hassles – Kids + travel = stress! Don't worry about packing bags, making your flight, entertaining your child on an airplane or long car ride, or navigating unfamiliar territory. Just breathe easy and look forward to a hassle-free day of playing at the playground!

And here's a bonus reason -- you can win prizes! From July 3 to August 13, every photo you submit of the playgrounds you visit can earn you an entry in our weekly sweepstakes drawing. We're giving away gift cards for toys, shoes, ice cream, outdoor gear, and more!

To reap all these exciting rewards, "book" your staycation by joining our 2012 Summer Playground Challenge!