Book Review: Unbored Games: Serious Fun for Everyone

Disclosure: I received this book for review consideration, however I have not be compensated in any other way for this post. I love this book so much I’d share it with you no matter what! This post does include some affiliate links.

UNBORED Games: Serious Fun for Everyone

Can I gush for a bit? I hope you don’t mind. But the other day I opened the mailbox to find the new book from the creators of UNBORED: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun (another book I gushed about a few months ago). It’s called UNBORED Games: Serious Fun for Everyone, and it just might be one of my favorite books for kids and families ever.

Where the first UNBORED book focused on all different kinds of activities to get you, well, not bored anymore, the new book focuses solely on games. This isn’t just a regurgitation of games we’ve all heard of before. It’s a modern mish-mash of old and new, popular and obscure. Just like the previous book, it’s a mixture of activities, interviews, stories and cool illustrations.

UNBORED Games: Serious Fun for Everyone

It’s divided into 4 sections:

1. Pwnage

I never knew this term until Mike taught me some online-poker speak. It basically means that you are superior to your opponent on all levels. And so the games in this section have clear-cut winners (they’ll leave the trash talk up to you). It contains a great list of “Best Ever Quick Board Games, including two of our favorites: Blokus and Ticket To Ride. I’m also pumped to get a Bike Rodeo set up in the cul-de-sac for the neighborhood kids.

UNBORED Games: Serious Fun for Everyone: Bike Rodeo

2. Home Games

Home is where some of the best games are, right? I was happy to see Doughnut on a String in here. We played it at our neighborhood Halloween party last year and it was hilarious.

doughnut on a string

There’s a great roundup of Parlor Games, which makes me want to invite the neighbors over and get all vintage with our game-playing. I also really liked the section on apps to play with a grownup, proving that not all screen time is wasted time. It can be a source of really great quality time with your kids, too.

UNBORED Games: Serious Fun for Everyone

3. Game Changers

Have you ever thought about how games can be a source of good? Or a force of change? This section focuses on games that promote activism, community building, and cooperation.

4. Adventure Games

This section focuses on some of The Risky Kids favorites: games that encourage experimentation and exploration. We’re especially pumped to try our hand at a smartphone scavenger hunt. And when the temps warm back up again in the spring? We’re totally having an Alka-Seltzer squirt gun battle.

Besides all the awesome ideas and inspiration the folks behind UNBORED provide, I love the premise and the tone of the book. Sure, we love to go outside, and we love to disconnect and play board games with each other. But we also love our tech, and we love to be online. The writers recognize this, and more importantly, recognize how important this facet of playing is to today’s kids. And so the book reflects this, with tons of great suggestions for playful tech and online experiences to go along with outdoor games and good, old-fashioned board and card games.

UNBORED Games has something for every kid and every adult, whether you want to play alone or in a group, no matter your mood or location. I double dog dare you not to find a game you can’t wait to play!

You can pre-order UNBORED Games: Serious Fun for Everyone on Amazon. But don’t worry – you won’t have to wait long! The book will be released on Tuesday, October 14th. In the meantime, be sure to check them out online at Unbored.net. You’ll find all kinds of cool games and activities to hold you over until your own copy arrives!

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New Kiwi Crates Have Hatched!

Kiwi Crate

We’ve been loyal Kiwi Crate subscribers for over 2 years now. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times a day that was quickly headed south was saved by pulling out the latest Kiwi Crate.

Kiwi Crate catapult

Even though I pin tons of crafty activities onto Pinterest, I wouldn’t call myself a crafty person. This is why I love Kiwi Crate so much. They take the best crafts for kids, tailor them to themes kids love, pack it up in a handy box, and deliver it to your front door. You get everything you need, avoiding the inevitable meltdown when you’ve built up a super-fun craft only to realize you are FRESH out of googly-eyes. A few other things I love about Kiwi Crate:

    • The materials that come inside the Crates are really high quality … like, nicer than stuff I would actually buy my own kids. Thanks to our Kiwi Crate subscription, we’ve managed to stock our art supply cabinet with great arts and craft supplies that my kids love to use. Besides arts and crafts items, we’ve collected some really cool tools for tinkering as well, such as test tubes, droppers, and ping pong balls.
    • Oftentimes, the craft projects themselves end up being things the kids play with over and over again. We once made our own gameboard, which Eli still plays. Penguin bowling is still a hit, too.

Kiwi Crate penguin bowling

  • Most of the time, the kids can do the craft with little to no assistance from me. Win-win for all of us.
  • You can add a sibling box if you want to be absolutely sure that all the kids have enough materials, but I’ve yet to receive a box that didn’t provide enough for both of my kids to do the craft at least once.
  • Speaking of siblings, sometimes that hour or so they spend on a Kiwi Crate craft is the only time they get along for the entire day. Or week.
  • You can squirrel the box away and save it for when you really need it. I often stash the crate in the closet as soon as it’s delivered, and save it for one of those days. You know, when you’ve been snowed in for 3 days straight, when you’ve banned all screens, when everything you suggest to do is B-O-R-I-N-G. Of course, good luck to you if the kids catch sight of you before you can hide it. Mine drop everything to tear into it.
  • If you need a break from the subscription (school gets busy, money gets tight, life happens), you can pause it at any time.

Kiwi Crate crafts

For all these reasons and more, I’ve been recommending Kiwi Crate to everyone with kids, or who knows a kid (It definitely made last year’s Holiday Gift Guide). And so I was getting a little bummed out when I realized that my kids are slowly growing out of the Kiwi Crate. They’re aimed at ages 4-8. I’d say the upper age range could definitely go higher, but at age 12, Elena is pretty much done with them. And Eli, who has never been super interested in crafting, is growing out of the more artsy projects as well.

That’s why I was beyond stoked to see that news that Kiwi Crate is expanding to add 3 new subscriptions to go along with the classic Kiwi Crate:

Koala Crate >>

    • The Koala Crate (Ages 3-4): While some preschoolers could do the Kiwi Crate crafts with assistance, this will be perfect for little hands.

Tinker Crate >>

    • The Tinker Crate (Ages 9-14+): Hands-on projects to explore science, technology and math.

Doodle Crate >>

  • The Doodle Crate (Ages 9-16+): DIY art projects geared toward girls.

We’re all excited to try the Tinker Crate. The first one comes out next month, and I can’t wait to see how the kids do with it. I think they’re at the perfect age for this new Crate to be a big hit. I’ll be sure to post a detailed review as soon as we have our hands on it!

In the meantime, you can pre-order the new crates now at kiwicrate.com. No matter what the ages or interests of your children, I definitely recommend at least trying one box. I think, like us, you’ll be hooked!

Disclosure: I was not paid by Kiwi Crate or provided product in exchange for this post. Kiwi Crate is simply a product we’ve used and loved, and thought you might enjoy as well. I am, however, a Kiwi Crate affiliate. If you purchase a subscription through the links provided, I do receive some compensation.

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Perfect Pop App: Summertime Snacking Made Easy

Pop secret app

 

 

This post is sponsored by Pop Secret Popcorn. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Pop Secret Popcorn

It may be summertime, and the livin’ may very well be easy, but that doesn’t mean that the kids don’t have to lift a finger. No, much to their chagrin, I’ve been requiring a little more responsibility from the kids this summer than they’ve been accustomed to throughout the school year.

It might seem counterintuitive, but I find that summer is the perfect time to introduce kids to new jobs and life skills that they’re capable of doing for themselves. We have more time and our schedules are less packed, so I’m able to spend the time to teach them things like sorting the laundry, loading the dishwasher, and (a big step for the little guy) preparing and cleaning up their own snacks.

I realized this needed to happen (and soon), after I spent the first few days of summer break on nothing but kitchen duty. As soon as I cleaned up from breakfast, they were ready for a mid-morning snack. That was quickly followed by lunch, the late afternoon munchies, and then dinner. Yes, it was summertime and I was livin’ in the kitchen. It was time to arm the kids with some snacks they could easily prepare and clean up on their own.

Popcorn is a perfect choice. They love it, I feel good about them eating it, and it’s a great introduction into using an appliance for younger kids. Of course, there is a downside … the dreaded burned bag of popcorn. Besides the sadness of ruining your snack, reminders of your popping failure stay with you for hours. We like to fry our own taco shells on taco night, and I joke that for the next day our house smells like a taco truck … which isn’t really a terrible thing. But a house that smells like burned popcorn? Not so pleasant. And to add insult to injury, nothing squelches a kid’s desire to take on more independence in the kitchen than immediate failure. The goal in introducing these kinds of tasks is to set them up for success, building their confidence.

Turns out there’s an app for that. No, not for confidence building (Who am I kidding? There’s probably one for that, too). It’s the Pop Secret Perfect Pop app! It’s free, easy to use, and most importantly, it keeps you from burning the popcorn. Everyone can relate to the frustration of burning popcorn, so Pop Secret decided to solve the problem once and for all, so you can spend more time enjoying movies and less time worrying about burned popcorn!

To get started, use your iPhone  to download Perfect Pop for free on the App Store.

Perfect Pop app

1. Put a bag of Pop Secret in the microwave and enter suggested cooking time from the packaging.

2. Turn up the volume on your iPhone. Point the phone’s speaker towards the microwave and keep within 3 feet.

Perfect Pop

3. Start the microwave, and then start the app.

No more relying on the popcorn button (which my microwave doesn’t have) or guessing how many seconds in between pops (not the easiest task for kids … or many adults). Perfect Pop listens to the pops, waiting for the precise moment to let you know when your popcorn is perfect.

popcorn app

Now that the kids have it down, it’s not unusual for my mid-afternoon chores to be interrupted by the buttery smell of popping popcorn! It’s a nice change from, “Mooooom! I’m hungry!” Or worse yet, “Mooooom! I burned the popcorn!”

How have you introduced independence in the kitchen? Now that we have our popcorn skills down, we’d love to hear about other snacks and simple meals the kids can tackle next.

popcorn

You can download the Pop Secret Perfect Pop app for free on the App Store. At this time, the app only works for the iPhone 5+ on iOS7+. The Perfect Pop app is optimized for Pop Secret brand popcorn. 

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Every Family Needs a Ned

Meet Ned:

Ned the Phone Monster

He’s a phone monster. If you have a smart phone and a family, you need a Ned.

Ned is the brilliant creation of Jenny and Josh Solar. I first came across the Solar family through their blog, The Happy Family Movement. In the early days of The Risky Kids, they were a huge inspiration. Their passion for living a life full of experiences over things and for making family memories was a natural tie-in to The Risky Kid’s motto to play more and worry less.

Like many of us, Jenny found herself struggling with technology’s impact on family life. It’s easy to nag the kids about their screen time, but it can be painful to turn the focus on ourselves and our dependence on technology … especially our smart phones. Like Jenny, I find my iPhone to be both a blessing and a curse. I’m able to capture our playful lives and memorable family moments in ways I never could before through videos and photos. It allows me to work on the go, to stay connected with friends and family, to broaden my horizons and keep me from making a wrong turn.

But.

It certainly comes with a price if we’re not mindful. As much as it connects me, it also disconnects me from my family. The text that goes off during dinner. The overwhelming desire to see who is doing what on Instagram. The need to check it one more time before bed. I know I’m not alone, and so do the Solars.

Ned the Phone Monster is a brilliant and fun solution to an ever-growing problem. He’s adorable, and kids will naturally be drawn to him. He sits on your countertop, just begging you to feed him your phone, keeping it out of sight so that you can get on with your life. I know for us, out of sight equals out of mind with any kind of technology … both for kids and adults. And we know from our experiences during Screen-Free Week that even an hour a day with no screens does wonders for reconnecting with your family.

how-ned-works 2

The Solars are launching a Kickstarter campaign to get Ned into homes across the country. I think it’s a fabulous idea, and one that many of you would be happy to support. Please take a few minutes to visit their website and learn more about Ned as well as The Happy Family Movement. If you’re ready to put down your phone and pick up your life, Ned is the guy monster for you!

Ned Kickstarter

Disclosure: I am not affiliate with Ned or the Solars in any way. I have not been compensated for this post. I’m a fan of The Happy Family Movement and am happy to support and spread the word about Ned because I love the idea!

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Book Review: Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun

From time to time, I review books that I think you might enjoy as well. This particular post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something via the link I share, I earn a small percentage of the sale. 

One of my favorite things to do in the library is to peruse the new book shelves, both in the adult and children’s sections. I never know what I might find, or what will spark my interest. I almost always choose the library over purchasing books, because 1) I’m cheap and 2) I need to know if I really love a book before I buy it.

Unbored book review

The other day, I spotted Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun and I knew we had to take it home. After having it around for a few days, I can tell you it’s a huge hit. Not only will I be purchasing it for our personal library, it’s going to be my go-to gift for kids ages 10 and up.

Unbored is a cool mash-up of tutorials, activities, stories, lists and comics. The authors, Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen, wrote the book to “encourage a hands-on approach to creating a personally meaningful life.” What does that mean for kids? It means Unbored is a tool to unlock your own passions and creativity, and to find ways to create instead of consume. And, of course, to answer the eternal question of , “I’m bored. What should I do?”

The book is divided into four sections: You, Home, Society, and Adventure. I couldn’t possibly list all the awesome ideas and projects in the book we want to tackle, but here are a few of our favorites:

  • farting games
  • circus tricks
  • clapping games
  • how to short-sheet a bed
  • experimenting in the kitchen
  • yarn bombing
  • game hacking
  • bike and skateboard maintenance
  • knot tying
  • make a secret book safe

At the end of each section, there is a HUGE listing of resources so kids can delve even further into the things that interest them the most. Kids will love this book because it’s so different from anything else out there. It might look similar to the Daring/Dangerous books for girls and boys, but where those books seem to reflect on older pastimes, Unbored is planted in the now with an eye to the future.

I also think kids will appreciate the tone. It’s never condescending. On the contrary, it encourages kids not to fear mistakes and that ignorance is no excuse for not trying something. It’s the exact opposite of the “Danger! Don’t try this at home!” mindset. Naturally, it’s a perfect fit for our household!

Summer is approaching, and I know I’m always looking for ideas and resources to keep the tween active and engaged. You can bet that by the end of the summer, our personal copy of Unbored will be dog-eared and well-loved.

Have you read Unbored? What did you think? If you have any books you think The Risky Kids should review, let us know in the comments!

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Tiny Games, Big Fun

tiny games app review

As families are often on the go, you can find yourselves with pockets of time where you’re just waiting. Waiting for your appointment time. Waiting in line at the store. Waiting for your meal to arrive. Waiting in the carpool line.

Often, it’s not a long period of time that we’re waiting. But 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there … it can add up.  It brings up a conundrum when you’re waiting with others.  On the one hand, thanks to technology, we can fill these pockets of time with our handheld devices. We can keep the kids happy with Angry Birds or leave them to their texting. We can catch up on Facebook or scroll through our emails. We can be in our own little worlds, heads down, while time passes us by. On the other hand, what kind of moments are we missing?

I’m not going to lie, we do this a lot ourselves.  But there are times when I wish we could fill this time better, connect somehow.  And sometimes we do fill it with activities that connect us.  But there are times when my ideas are met with grumbles.  No one wants to talk about their day or play tic-tac-toe with crappy crayons.

That’s when I’m happy to pull my own phone out of my purse and use technology to keep us connected and having fun.  I downloaded the Tiny Games app (available from iTunes) after seeing it mentioned on Bernie DeKoven’s blog Deep Fun.  I’m always looking for apps that are fun, not totally mindless, and that can engage us all.  They’re very few and far between.  The idea behind Tiny Games is to fill those empty pockets of time with something playful that can keep you connected and engaged with those around you.

Tiny Games app

You start by letting the app know where you are. While the app is free, it only comes pre-loaded with games for home.  We added games for waiting in lines as well. You can add games to your collection for $1.99 or add all the games for $5.99.

Once you tell the app where you are, it will ask you a few more questions, like what kind of a line you’re in:

Tiny Games app

It will then ask how many are playing:

Tiny Games app

Once the app gathers the information it needs, it will present you with a game.  You can read the premise and rules of the game and decide if you want to play or if you want the app to choose a different game for you.

Tiny Games app

We played a game called Race Horse Commentary while waiting for our food at Steak-n-Shake the other day. We each had to take a turn narrating part of a race horse, inserting a made-up horse’s name each turn. The catch? We also had to include the name of the horses the players before came up with. And the horses names had to go in alphabetical order! We never made it very far before one of us would forget a horse’s name, but it was hilarious hearing the names everyone came up with and the wild tales of our horse race.  No one bickered about whose turn it was with the phone, no one complained about how long it took our food to arrive, and instead of retreating into our own worlds we spent the time waiting having fun and connecting with each other. Before we knew it, the waiting was over.

I should note, not all of the games on the app are appropriate for children. However you can easily skip those and ask for a different game. Still, if you have younger children you’re in luck. There is another version of the app called Sesame Street Family Play for the younger crowd.

I just love it when you can use technology in a way that brings people closer.  Next time you’re waiting, give a Tiny Game a try and let me know what you think!

This post was not sponsored or endorsed by Tiny Games. We just enjoyed it as a family and thought you might enjoy it, too!

 

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The Risky Kids Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Screen-Free, Playful Gifts for Kids of All Ages

The Risky Kids holiday gift guide: screen-free, playful Christmas gift ideas for kids of all ages.

This post contains affiliate links, and includes some items I received for free. However all items are things we personally use and love!

This time every year the Internet is full of gift guides to fit every kind of recipient. While there are many wonderful guides out there, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t share with you some of our very favorite things. These are things that my kids play with year round, and best of all, none of them require a screen! We love them, and think the kids in your life will love them, too.

Kiwi Crate

1. Kiwi Crate subscription

We’re going on 2 years of being Kiwi Crate subscribers, and I’ve been so impressed with each and every crate. My kids love doing crafts, and I love it when they craft, but I’m not always so good with planning out crafts and having the right materials available. Kiwi Crate does it all for you, sending you everything you need to make at least 2 specially-themed crafts in every box. The crafts are well-thought out, the directions are easy to follow, and the art materials provided are always of amazing quality. A Kiwi Crate mail day guarantees smiles and fun!

Gibbon Slackline

2. A Slackline

We’re partial to the Gibbon Slackline, and they make several varieties, including ones specifically for kids and/or beginners. Put it up in your neighborhood and watch the kids flock to your yard, or pack it up and take it with you to the beach or camping!

3. Inline Skates

Last year we bought each of the kids these these inline skates, which have adjustable sizing – such a bonus when you have kids with growing feet! Soon every kid in the neighborhood was asking for skates! Fun for skating, family outings, or games of street hockey.

I'll trade you 3 sheep for some ore.

4. Card and Board Games

We like to gift ourselves a new family game every Christmas. This year it’s Carcassonne. Our family favorites include Ticket To Ride, The Settlers of Catan, Rat-A-Tat-Cat, Bananagrams, SKIP BO and Flash . When the kids were very little, Dancing Eggs was a huge hit. Make it a priority to have a family game night once a week and you have yourself the gift that keeps on giving.

5. Books

We always gift at least one book at Christmas. I especially like to gift books that encourage some kind of activity beyond reading, or that provide lots of detailed pictures and information that can be savored for a long time. This year Eli has especially enjoyed Unusual Creatures and Cool Creations in 35 Pieces. And while I usually find movie and TV character based books to be of terrible quality, I can’t say that for the Marvel Origin Stories. If you have a young fan of superheroes in your house, these books will be a hit. And if you’re the parent who has to read them, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the content. Elena really enjoys Wreck This Journal (and its related books by the same author) as well as Craft-a-Doodle.

6. Stomp Rocket

The Stomp Rocket is such a simple toy, but yet so much fun. Be sure to buy an extra set of rockets, just in case you’re anything like us and get a little, uh, overambitious with your launching!

Penny Skateboard

7. Penny Skateboard

I balked a bit when Elena first asked for one. We had a skateboard already, and she was never very interested in it. But a Penny Skateboard is different. It’s smaller than a traditional skateboard, and made of plastic. It’s designed specifically for riding, as opposed to tricks. She opts to ride her Penny board over her bike and her scooter every time. I have to admit, with all the fun color combinations, I kind of want one myself!

8. Yo Baby

For those kids who aren’t quite ready for an actual skateboard, or for a fun indoor alternative during the winter, a Yo Baby Kick Flipper is a great choice. The Yo Baby is made to help you learn balance, coordination, and basic board skills. We use our indoors, but it can also be used on grass, sand or even snow.

Strider Balance Bike

9. Strider Bike

Skip the tricycle and the starter bike with training wheels and get your toddler or preschooler a balance bike. There are tons of different makes and models, but we loved our Strider bike. It had a metal frame, which seemed more durable than a wood frame, and it looks like a real bike. We got Eli one when he was 2. At 3 he was riding a regular bike without training wheels. Even when he could ride a bike with pedals, he still loved his Strider because he could go super fast on it.

10. Nerf anything

For such an inexpensive line of toys, I’m amazed at how much play time we consistently get out of them. The mini basketball hoop that mounts over a door gets all ages of kids playing in our basement. The Firevision line looks really cool. This year we’re upgrading our dinky guns (which have served us well for 3 years) to some bigger ones. Watch out when you come visit!

What are some of your favorite playful, screen-free toys for kids?

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Minimalist Parenting: #HelpWomenAtRisk

#HelpWomenAtRisk

Last winter, in preparation for the launch of their book Minimalist Parenting, authors Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest put together a virtual camp.  Called MinCamp, it encouraged participants to take one small step each day to make their family lives simpler.  I participated, sharing it on The Risky Kids Facebook page, and I found it to be extremely valuable.

That’s exactly how I feel about the book as well.  So much of what the authors aim to do by helping families achieve a pared down lifestyle is in line with my passion for The Risky Kids.  When you are not immersed in the busy, you have time to play.  When you give yourself (and your kids) the gift of free time, you unlock worlds they can’t discover in the car between soccer and tuba lessons.  I simply adore the book and the philosophy, even though it isn’t so easy to simplify life with work and family.  I also realize how lucky we are to have choices when it comes to this … to have an abundance of things and opportunities from which we feel compelled to minimize.

Shortly after writing the book, the authors traveled to Ethiopia as part of the ONE Moms Delegation.  ONE Moms is a movement of moms using their extraordinary voices and collective influence to spread the word about the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. Through this trip, they became familiar with Women at Risk, an organization that helps lift Ethiopian women out of prostitution and poverty.  During the entire month of October, 100% of the royalties from the purchase of Minimalist Parenting through this link will go to Women at Risk.

If you don’t already own this wonderful book, now would be the perfect time to purchase a copy and make a difference at the same time.  Consider purchasing it for a gift or buying copies for your book club or Mom’s group.  Besides making your own purchases, you can help out by sharing the link on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Be sure to use the hashtag #HelpWomenAtRisk. Once again, here is the link (only purchases made through this link will count): http://bit.ly/helpwomenatrisk

Thanks so much for helping!  I have no direct affiliate with the authors, I just love the book and want to help them spread the work about this particular campaign.

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KidVentures: 50 Inspiring Ideas to Kickstart Your Summer Adventures

Swing!

I wrote this post because not only is the author one of my very favorite people in the world, but I also knew you would love her new ebook … it’s right up The Risky Kid alley!  This post does contain affiliate links.

It’s that time of year when my mind turns to thoughts of summer vacation.  While the first days of vacation are filled with giddiness and the feeling that we’ll never get tired of the pool, reality eventually sets in.  What’s the over-under on the first rumblings of “I’m boooorrred?”  My guess is 13.5 days into summer.

I’m always on the hunt for helpful resources to keep us active and entertained, not only in the summer but all through the year.  Just in time for summer, my good friend Jen Murray, has come up with a simple, do-able, but extremely helpful and inspiring ebook to get you outside, having fun and making awesome family memories.

Jen is a treasure, inspiring those of us in the trenches of parenting young children through her blog, 4tunate.  As a mother of quadruplet  six-year-old boys, Jen is more than qualified to help us navigate the world of adventurous play!  She speaks from a perspective so many of us can relate to – realizing you’re not necessarily a risky, down-and-dirty kind of parent, but knowing that it’s these kinds of experiences that benefit our children.

Her new ebook, KidVentures: 50 Outdoor Experiences of Wonder, Discovery, & Childhood Memories , is full of ideas, suggestions, diagrams and printable to get you outside and having fun in every season.

Kids too little or not quite ready for a real zip line?  Make a zip line for their toys!  Have lots of kids in your neighborhood?  Help them organize a game of water balloon dodgeball or flashlight tag.  There are lots of activities that go hand-in-hand with 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), including cook over a fire, climb a tree, and skipping rocks.

Jen’s absolutely right:  “It doesn’t have to be dangerous, complex, intimidating, or mud-covered to be an excellent kidventure!”  We might call ourselves The Risky Kids, but we know that the best adventures come from simply getting outside together.  Jen and I share a passion for play, and KidVentures is a wonderful resource for parents who want to fill these fleeting years with lots of playful memories.  Whether you’re a seasoned parent and adventurer or you’re just not sure where to start, KidVentures will have the perfect activities for your family.

KidVentures ebook by Jen Murray

Order your own copy today for just $4.99!

Outdoor nature play via The Risky Kids

As crazy as it seems now, we only have a handful of summers to share with our kids.  Make the most of them and get adventurous!

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Let the (Backyard) Games Begin!

IMG_2933

Nearly every afternoon the neighborhood kids gather in the cul-de-sac in front of our home and play.  There are the usual draws: riding bikes and scooters, shooting hoops, maybe a game of tag.  Lately they’ve taken up kickball, and it’s not unusual to see a mom or dad drawn into the game.  Who wouldn’t rather put off weeding or mowing the lawn just a little bit longer for the chance to feel the satisfying thwack of a rubber ball against your foot?

The other day I glanced out the window to see an unfamiliar game getting started.  The kickball was lined up in the middle of the street, flanked by a line of tennis balls.  The serious task of picking teams was underway.  The teams lined up to face each other, and when the countdown was over, they made a mad dash for the balls.  And so began “War Ball,” a version of Dodge Ball they’d made up on their own.

IMG_2921

For generations kids have been improving traditional backyard games and making up their own.  But as organized sports and an abundance of technology overtakes their lives, they are spending less time outside … and even less time freely playing with each other.

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The good people at CLIF would like to see that change.  This year they are hosting the 3rd Annual CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year.  Kids ages 6-12 are encouraged to enter by submitting their made-up game.  You don’t need any fancy equipment or elaborate rules, just your creativity.  Kids can enter as individuals and have a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship or a Specialized Bike. Contest finalists will win a trip to San Diego to present their game.  New this year is an opportunity for kids to enter as a group.  To reward kids for their teamwork, the group winner will receive $15,000 to donate to a nonprofit of their choice, as well as a trip to San Diego.

The judges, Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer, will have tough decisions, I’m sure, but their background makes them a perfect fit. Stacy and Ken have authored a book together: “The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to do in Nature Before You Grow Up.”

Backyard game ideas can be submitted now through June 17, 2013 at www.CLIFBackyardGame.com.  We hope to be playing your game soon!

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