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VTech Toys Blog

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We are huge movie lovers in our family. We would head out to the theaters almost monthly, before the pandemic, and once everything shut down---we decided to make our own movie theater. One of our absolute favorite traditions was born from us adapting to life in quarantine. It started with us snagging a projector and screen set, and then we took our snacks and cozy blankets to the backyard for a movie--kind of drive-in style.

Now these outdoor family movie nights have become something we cherish, and look forward to doing together. As a matter of fact, my daughters, Raegan and Zarie, decided to go behind the camera to create a movie of their own using their VTech® KidiZoom® Creator Cam.

We are a military family, and so the people we love are spread all over the country. The girls created a movie about our different family members, and the states they live in. The KidiZoom® Creator Cam is a digital camera that enables kids to take still photos and high-definition videos. The camera kit has several features, including a built-in microphone, editing and creative tools, a green screen and more than 20 animated backgrounds. Our family just moved to California, and the girls were able to film themselves with an ocean background while talking about our new state.

These awesome features made for an incredible little video, and the best part was the pride that they did it themselves. It was so cute to watch them record, and even ask one another questions on camera. The tripod was easy for them to maneuver as they needed, and they quickly figured out how to navigate through the camera’s menus. We helped them upload the video to our computer via the included USB cable, and then connected it to the projector. For their big movie premiere, they had us set up a special outdoor movie night, which included actual tickets, a concession stand, and dreamy movie lights. I think there is something so special about giving your kids the space to create something of their own. The giggles while they used their KidiZoom® Creator Cam were unmatched.

I am excited to share some fun ways you can turn up the magic on family movie night at your home. Consider setting the mood to mirror an actual theater. Use a screen, white sheet, or white garage door to project your movie. String up a few holiday lights to turn up the magical feel. Grab all the coziest blankets for the comfiest seat in the house. We have used lawn chairs, air mattresses, our camping tent, and even the girls’ blow-up pool filled with blankets, as seating.

Next up--SNACKS! Helping the girls make their ticket booth/concession stand was beyond fun. All you really need is a few theater candy boxes, a roll of tickets, and popcorn. We always air pop fresh popcorn, and for the fancy movie premiere, everyone got individual popcorn boxes. Earlier in the day, each of us earned snack tickets by doing chores in the house or for extra kind behavior.

Having the girls involved from start to finish was such a fun experience. Their movie was darling, and I know it is a memory that we won’t quickly forget.

Shakira is a proud mama of 3, military spouse, and creator behind the Occasions by Shakira motherhood lifestyle blog. She shares ideas that spark intentional memory making, celebrating the everyday, and holiday magic. She is also the creator of the largely loved #OccasionsBin trend.

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For families with young children, taking a road trip is often preferable to flying for many reasons. You can bring as much baby gear as you need to feel comfortable, you can stop whenever you need a break, and if your child is crying or misbehaving, there are no fellow passengers to worry about.

If you feel nervous about driving long distances with babies and toddlers, that’s totally normal! However, road trips don’t have to be scary! Our family has been taking dozens of road trips each year with 4 young children in tow, and I’ve noticed that the more often we drive long distances, the better the kids get at entertaining themselves in the car!

I’ve also figured out how to harness the chaos that comes with all that fun and entertainment to keep the car organized on our road trips.

Organizing the Car for a Road Trip with Kids

4 Organizing Principles I follow to Make the Most of our Space

With 4 kids in car seats, there is not a lot of open space to put things, especially when I need to climb in back during stops to help with buckles or hand out food.

  • I make use of vertical space. Seat back organizers and car hooks that connect to headrests are a game changer! I like to keep as much floor space open as I can.

  • I keep similar items corralled in plastic containers with lids so they can stack up nicely and I can see what’s in each bin. You might use storage containers for shoes, blankets, neck pillows, toys, snacks, or electronics.

  • Always have a receptacle for trash. It can just be a plastic bag, a cereal container with a plastic bag lining it, or one of those fancy car trash cans you order online. At every stop, make sure you collect the trash, so you stay on top of it!

  • Get kids involved in organizing if you can! The more they feel in control of their space, the more they will take responsibility for their things and keep their seat area tidy.

Ok, let’s talk about specific organization techniques for organizing a car for a long road trip with kids!

Pack a large cooler and a small cooler.

The large cooler will go in the trunk and carry the things you’ll need when you arrive at your destination. Milk, coffee creamer, any meals you’re packing for the trip, yogurt, butter, and jelly.

Before the trip, freeze water bottles that are ¾ full of water, and use those as your ice packs. Blocks of ice stay frozen longer than individual ice cubes, and then you’ll have extra drinking water as it melts.

The smaller cooler is the one you’ll keep in the cab of the car. This will hold your lunch and perishable snacks. I like to pack each person’s food in a flat divided container, so they all stack nicely, and I don’t have to worry about dividing up food during the drive.

Perishable lunches and snacks include sandwiches, fruit, veggies, string cheese, yogurt tubes, and apple sauce pouches.

Pack individual snack bags.

Each kid will get non-perishable snacks in a gallon-size bag or a reusable silicone bag. Explain to them at the beginning of the drive that those snacks are all they get, so they might want to ration them accordingly. For toddlers, I keep the bag and dole out the snacks at the intervals I feel most comfortable with.

These bags will contain crackers, veggie straws, granola bars, pretzels, dried fruit, and maybe even their favorite candy or treat.

I keep their snack bags stored in seat-back organizers or compartments next to the kids’ seats.

Organize toys and entertainment in easy-to-reach spots.

Older kids each get to pack one backpack or drawstring bag with toys, audiobooks, small stuffed animals, crayons, or whatever else they decide to bring to entertain themselves.

I let them set up their items in a seat-back organizer so they can find what they need without making a mess. Their bags get hung on hooks connected to the headrests, so they don’t take up valuable floor space.

For babies and toddlers, keep their toys in a clear bin with a lid so it stacks easily with other items in the cab of the car. Since they don’t use their foot space, you can keep their toy bin and diaper caddy on the floor below their car seat.

Entertaining Kids on a Long Road Trip

In general, I find that the older my kids get, the less I need to worry about toys and the more I need to focus on activities like coloring pages, word searches, scavenger hunts, and audiobooks.

For toddlers and older babies though, having a variety of toys that stimulate their imagination and keep them occupied independently is key.

Use educational and engaging toys.

Our family has been using VTech® toys for years to occupy babies and toddlers on long road trips! VTech® toys are both educational and incredibly engaging for young children who normally struggle to entertain themselves on road trips.

As a mom of 4 young kids, I can’t always sit next to my baby or toddler making sure they’re entertained, so it helps to have some favorite toys to fall back on during the drive.

The VTech® Turn & Learn Driver™ was an absolute favorite for my younger kids. This pretend steering wheel allowed them to imagine they were driving just like Mom and Dad! The 5 buttons on top introduced them to different types of vehicles, which they were thrilled to point out on the road.

They also learned about traffic lights and animals with fun sounds, and an interactive lever and gear shifter.

This toy was a natural fit for a road trip with young kids because they can so easily make connections to the real world, which is the best way to learn!

What toddler doesn’t love stealing the remote? Luckily with the Click & Count Remote™ they can have their own!

I love that this remote teaches kids their numbers while they pretend to change channels just like their family members. I’ll admit, the songs are pretty catchy, and I find myself singing them while going about my day!

Using the arrow buttons allows the kids to hear what is on each channel just like in real life! One channel is news (“Breaking news…”), another is weather (“Today is going to be sunny!”), and another is sports (“The game is on!”).

The VTech® Click & Count Remote™ is great for road trips due to its small size. It’s easy to pack and young kids can hold it on their own. You can also adjust the volume if others are trying to read or rest.

I’ll admit that as a blogger and freelancer I often find myself taking out my laptop to sneak in some work on a road trip.

Now with the Brilliant Baby Laptop™, my youngest can get her “work” done right along with me!

Our 1-year-old loves walking around the house carrying her laptop by the handle, so it’s super easy for her to take on-the-go.

She can choose to learn about animals or shapes, or just listen to music. The familiar icons like mail, music, and a clock make little ones feel like they’re using a real computer. There’s even a movable mouse, which is perfect since our toddler loves stealing the wireless mouse from her dad’s computer.

Parents, let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up in some extra social media scrolling on a road trip.

My toddler is currently in a monkey-see, monkey-do phase, which means I’m so thankful I can hand her the VTech®Touch & Chat Light-Up Phone™. The light up touch screen has 12 apps to choose from. Little ones can hear text messages, follow the map, play music, find out the weather, or hear their ABCs.

They can also slide the slider at the bottom of the phone to video call with their animal friends in Video Call mode. My kids are so used to video chatting with their grandparents, so it feels so natural to use this mode and make pretend video calls!

If you’re driving when it’s dark out, the Spin & Learn Flashlight® is the perfect toy for a toddler. By pressing the turtle button on the handle, kids can use it like a real flashlight, or they can put the toy in play mode and turn the light different colors.

Kids can also learn about animals and colors by spinning the top of the flashlight. There are so many fun and educational activities in this tiny toy, and little ones will love seeing it light up the dark.

Though the recommended ages for this toy are 12-36 months, our 4-year-old has claimed the Touch & Teach Sea Turtle™ for himself! This interactive storybook teaches early reading by helping kids identify their letters.

By changing the different play modes, kids can also focus on numbers and sea animals in addition to the letters. Keep your little one challenged with quiz questions and fun facts!

I love that my 1-year-old loves pressing the buttons and hearing the music, while my 4-year-old answers the questions and actually follows along with the prompts.

We can put the volume on low and let the little ones play with their sea turtle storybook while the older kids are reading or listening to their audiobooks!

The Busy Learners Activity Cube has been a long-time favorite of the babies in our family - it’s been passed down for the last 2 kids, but the older kids always seem to get distracted by it when they’re playing with the baby, too!

The Cube has 5 sides with different purposes. One side has shapes and animals, and the songs are really quite catchy. Another side has instruments, and little ones can learn the names and sounds the instruments make. Other sides have sliding, spinning blocks to promote fine motor development.

While it’s a little bulky to play with in the car, we love bringing the Cube as a toy to play with at our final destination or at rest stops, since it keeps our toddler’s attention so well!

Find Age-Appropriate Entertainment for Older Kids

I love that VTech® doesn’t just cater to babies and toddlers. Our 8-year-old and 5-year-old love to play with the KidiZoom® Smartwatch DX2. These gadgets are perfect for the car because they can take pictures on their watches, record their voices, or play games.

We are not a video game family, so it’s nice to let the kids play games on their watches when they need a break from each other, but we’re stuck in the car for another few hours.

And when we stop at parks to take breaks from driving, they love challenging each other to see who can get more steps in. I don’t even have to force them to get some exercise!

Give Kids “New” Toys on the Trip

I don’t necessarily think you need to buy new toys before a road trip, but if you already have some tried-and-true favorites, put them in a bucket and store them somewhere kids can’t see them a week or so before your road trip.

When you bring them out to play with on the road one at a time, kids will feel like they’re getting brand new toys!

Have a Schedule in the Car

It might sound silly to do, but kids thrive on structure and schedules. Have a set amount of time for play, reading/quiet time, screen time, and playing a fun road trip playlist. Put an older toddler or big kid in charge of the timer, so they’ll be excited about switching from one item on the schedule to the next.

Family road trips are more popular than ever these days, and they can be such a fun way to bring your family closer together. There are always some challenges with babies and toddlers on a road trip, but if you come prepared with the right toys, the right snacks, and the right attitude, you and your family can accomplish anything!

I hope these tips help you enjoy your time together in the car with the kids. Now it’s time to go enjoy that vacation!

Emily Krause is a mom of 4, an avid traveler, and the creator of the family travel blog A Mom Explores. As a former high school Spanish teacher, she loves to incorporate educational activities and learning experiences into family trips. She currently resides in Wisconsin with her husband and 4 little ones, and has made it her mission to explore the Midwest one road trip at a time.

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Updated: Jun 29, 2021

Your baby’s first year is filled with so much developmental growth and change. In the blink of an eye, your infant will quickly go from a tiny, helpless newborn to a walking, talking toddler. Although we all want our babies to stay little forever, seeing them pass through each milestone makes us so eager to watch them grow and develop. As you experience their first smile, roll, or steps, you realize how amazing it is to see your little one accomplish a new skill. Milestones are a significant part of your baby’s journey and show you how well they are physically developing. Babies learn these new skills through everyday play. Exposing your infant to stimulating toys and interactions that provide loads of sensory experiences can help them make connections, problem solve, and develop new skills. It’s important to note that every baby develops at their own pace. There is a wide range of what’s typical at all developmental stages. However, if you are concerned about a developmental milestone, speak to your pediatrician.

The Benefits of Play

Play is a baby’s way of learning about the world around them. They learn through objects and toys and discover textures, sounds, cause and effect, spatial relations, and so much more. Along with improving their strength and coordination, play develops their cognition, hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, sensory processing, and social/emotional skills. How to Maximize Milestones Through Play You’ll want to give your baby as much opportunity as possible to practice new skills.Their wake times will get longer as the year progresses, so they should have plenty of time to play. Here are some tips on ways to improve your baby’s physical, cognitive, and social emotional skills as they reach new milestones along the way: 1. Start with Tummy Time!

Tummy time is one of the first activities that you can do with your baby to give them a head start on developing their physical milestones. Tummy time is vital for babies to strengthen their neck and back extensor muscles. These muscles allow them to hold their head and trunk upright. Tummy time also provides sensory stimulation to all the joints in their arms and front of their body. This will help to develop arm, hand, and finger strength for fine and gross motor skills, including crawling, grasping, and precise hand movements at later stages of development. Not only does tummy time provide infinite benefits for babies, but it is shown to make a huge difference in children’s motor skills down the road, which become more evident when your child reaches school age. These muscles are important for good posture, handwriting, and even athletics. 2. Use age-appropriate and engaging toys You can start your baby very young with their development by providing them with stimulating and developmental toys. VTech® offers some of the best electronic and interactive toys for babies and toddlers. They provide age-appropriate, developmental stage-based toys that will get your baby learning in no time! I use VTech® toys on a daily basis to stimulate my baby and help him reach his next milestone. Here are some of my favorites:

This cute polar bear projects a soothing starry night sky onto the ceiling while providing peaceful sounds and tunes for your baby. This toy is perfect for helping your little one visually track objects within the first 3-4 months, as well as self-soothe when he or she needs comfort. Having objects or toys around that your baby can look at or hear are great for sensory stimulation, as well. Objects with contrasting colors and different textures are perfect for young babies as their vision and tactile senses are developing.

Allow your baby to get comfy while having fun with this soft crescent-shaped pillow featuring a friendly giraffe, bright colors, textures, lights, and sounds. As mentioned before, tummy time is so important and this pillow provides the support that your baby needs to strengthen his or her muscles while stimulating his or her senses. Put the pillow under your baby’s chest and neck with their arms in front of them. The slight incline may make tummy time a little more tolerable for them. If they have some head control, you can also try to bend their elbows in front of them so that they are resting on their arms, instead of positioning their arms behind them. As your infant gets a little older, they can use it to support themselves while sitting up.

Babies love turning the pages of a soft book, especially when they provide bright, colorful images and crinkly textures. Each page of this book offers something new for your baby to discover: lifting the flap, new textures and sounds, a peek-a-boo mirror, and a finger puppet. This book will provide endless play for your baby while they develop fine motor skills and cognition.

Ready for your baby to start crawling? This is the ultimate motivator to develop that gross motor skill around 7-10 months! This soft, plush animal walks around while providing lots of sensory stimulation with textures, patterns, and sounds. Your baby will love crawling around the house to chase it while strengthening their arm muscles as well as learning about colors, numbers, and daily life through music and tunes.

Once your little one starts learning to walk, this interactive activity walker is great. The light up piano keys and activity panel provide endless entertainment whether your child is sitting in front of it or walking with it. Your baby can use it for support when they are sturdy enough to stand and begin taking small steps. Soon they will be cruising the whole house with it!

As your baby starts getting an understanding of cause-and-effect around 8 months and up, this is the perfect toy to improve their overall cognitive and problem-solving skills! Your baby will drop a colorful rock into the top of the toy dump truck and watch it tumble around into the bucket. The truck is also interactive as it counts each rock and plays fun tunes.

3. Demonstrate and Model New Skills Children learn by seeing, feeling, touching, and doing. Their curious, little minds love to take in everything through their senses and imitate what they’ve seen. Therefore, you need to show (not tell) them how to perform a new motor skill. It can be as simple as crawling on your hands and knees right in front of them or putting blocks into a bucket for them to see. Demonstrating the actual action is a great way to let your baby see and understand what their body is capable of doing. If they have siblings or even other babies at a play group, it’s helpful for them to see others their own age doing these skills, as well.

4. Repeat each skill often

Give your baby maximum exposure to the milestone you are trying to teach. If you want your baby to learn a new motor skill, repeat it as often as you can throughout the day using engaging and stimulating items, such as the VTech® toys above. Practice during your bedtime routine, diaper changes, meal time, or free play. Room to room and hour by hour, there are plenty of opportunities to practice different skills.

5. Be Patient

It may take your baby some time to reach the new milestone that you have been waiting for. Some will pick it up quickly while others need a lot of practice. Every child learns at their own pace. The best thing you can do is let your baby learn new skills on their own time. Applying these tips is sure to help them learn quicker; however, it’s important to remember to be patient and it will come. Don’t push them too hard or get frustrated with them and try not to compare them to other babies. There are many factors that contribute to your baby reaching a new milestone, but they will get there when they are ready. . . . . . Watching your baby make their way through various developmental stages is something that every parent absolutely loves. As they reach each milestone, you can be proud that they are developing just as they should. Try the tips above while using VTech’s amazing toys to give your baby that head start he or she needs to develop during those critical early months. Author Bio:

Marissa LaBuz is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist turned stay-at-home mom and full-time blogger who loves sharing her advice and experience with the world. She runs two blogs, Just Simply Mom and Teaching Littles, and an Etsy Shop, all while starting tickle wars and dance parties with two energetic toddlers and calming a newborn baby. When she doesn't have her hands full of children, she enjoys a glass (or 3) of wine, reality tv, and country music.

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