Have cheap fun with your kids

If taking your kids to the mall is something you dread (like I do), it’s a consolation to know that there is a fun – and not to mention, a low-cost – alternative to it. A couple of bean bags, and huge throw pillows on a carpet are enough to set the stage for hours of enjoyment and bonding with your kid. Here are some, as they’d like to say, “Awesome!” board games to play with:

Scrabble Junior: Yes, there is a kid-version of our all-time favorite word game! Children ages 5 through 8 will surely enjoy this. The premise is to teach children about the formation of words. There are pre-formed words on the Scrabble Junior playing surface. Each kid in the game picks seven letters and then tries to match these letters with the words already on the board. When all of the tiles are played, the one with the most chips wins.

Connect Four: this is a two-player game in which the players first choose a color and then take turns dropping their colored discs from the top into a seven-column, six-row vertical grid. The pieces fall straight down, occupying the next available space within the column. The object of the game is to connect four of one’s own discs of the same color next to each other vertically, horizontally, or diagonally before one’s opponent can do so.

Sorry!- The objective is to be the first player to get all four of his color pawns from his Start location to his Home space. The pawns are normally moved in a clockwise direction, but can be moved backward if directed. You draw a card from the pile, and move your pawns as directed. It can be played by 2 to 4 people.

Mastermind for Kids: a two-player game where one tries to guess the other player’s secret code in as few turns as possible. I just can’t get enough of those cute jungle animal pieces on a Rocky Mountain tray.

So, instead of getting him that Wii or Nintendo DS, why not try these games out for a change?

How to give your kids an awesome summer

You can almost feel it in the air-well, not really, given the current unpredictability of climate change-summer is fast approaching. Kids are gearing up for their final exams. School bags are getting nonchalantly tossed around like pizza dough, with hopes of being replaced with new ones for next school year. Swimsuits are slowly seeing the light of day after being stashed away for ages. In between chants of “No more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks!”, we parents try our hardest to contain that excitement and redirect that energy into something more productive, and less destructive. Out there is a wide range of summer activities for kids to choose from, so we shouldn’t pull out our hairs just yet:

1. MILO Best- tried and tested, this summer sports clinic has been around since time immemorial. Some of our popular local basketball stars (and not-so-popular neighborhood hunks) have emerged from this program. Their summer sports clinic offers a varied selection of activities, ranging from basketball to martial arts.
2. Cooking- perfect for the budding young chef. With a spatula in hand, our little one will surely have fun whipping up yummy desserts in no time.
3. Dance- develop grace, rhythm and form in your kid as he or she learns basic or advanced steps in ballet, hip-hop, etc.
4. Swimming- Bert Lozada is at the forefront when it comes to swimming lessons here in the Philippines. Visit his site for more info.

Get your child immersed in the arts, or in sports this summer. He or she will surely blossom into a more multi-faceted individual. And that, in turn, will make us proud parents.

TV shows for kids to watch

Newsflash: An asteroid just hit the earth and selectively wiped out Barney and his friends from the face of this planet. Well, that’s wishful thinking for me. Nothing used to annoy me more than seeing that purple dinosaur singing while shaking his belly on TV. Watching him just ruined my day. So, I was only too happy when my daughter finally had enough of him, and dropped him altogether, cold turkey.

Now, my daughter has moved on to, I must say, more sensible and at the same time, entertaining TV shows which especially cater to kids. Here’s a brief rundown of these shows which I would like to recommend:

Word World– it’s a 3D animated show which promotes literacy in preschoolers. Animal characters’ (aptly named Sheep for the sheep, and Duck for the duck) body parts are comprised of letters spelling their name. Example, Duck’s body is D-U-C-K put together. The fun part comes when they “build a word”. They put together their stock of letters (usually just lying around) to form everyday objects. My daughter enjoys this show, and her reading skills continue to improve with watching this.

Timmy Time– it’s the “little lamb with a lot to learn”. Also in 3D animation, this is about a lamb, Timmy, who goes about his day in preschool with his other animal friends. Here, kids learn essential values such as friendship and sportsmanship. Even for an adult like me, I find this show funny.

Angelina Ballerina– “the little mouse with big dreams”, as she is known for. Angelina is a positive role model who uses her talents to help others. This mouse in a tutu has greatly influenced my daughter’s love for dancing. I’m pretty amused at this show myself.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse– you can never go wrong with singing M-i-c-k-e-y M-o-u-s-e. He just never goes out of style. This program teaches problem-solving and early numeracy skills to preschoolers. Moreover, the show directly interacts with its viewers.

Instead of us parents going about our chores while we plop our kids in front of the television, we can use TV viewing as an opportunity to channel (pun intended!) our energies into spending quality time with them.