Parents dream of the day they’ll teach their kid to ride a bike. Riding a bike is a major childhood milestone and it’s your responsibility as a parent to make sure it happens. I remember zipping around our neighborhood on my banana seat bike with streamers. Before that, I have memories of wobbly training wheels, maybe a scraped knee or two when I tipped over, and anxious parents wondering if I’d EVER learn to ride. Eventually I did.
What’s involved in learning to ride a bike?
- Stand and move with some security using push or scoot toys
- Pedal with alternating feet – tricycles are the perfect learning tool and come in different styles. Some have pushbars so that you can push your child when/if he gets tired.
How do you go from riding a tricycle to riding a 2-wheeler?
Balance bikes make learning to ride a bicycle as natural as crawling, walking, and running. Balance bikes are small bikes for toddlers, without pedals or gears.
When our kids were young, balance bikes didn’t even exist. We taught our children how to ride the old-fashioned way – with training wheels. I always worried that they were going to tip over on the uneven sidewalk. Our son asked us to take them off, we did but then he’d struggle so we’d put them back on. Eventually, our son mastered the bike but my husband missed this precious moment as he put away the tools one last time! Balance bikes are bikes without pedals. Simple as that.
Children learn to balance and pedal naturally – just not at the same time! Riding a balance bike helps kids develop balance, reflexes, and coordination that will make the transition to a pedal bicycle easy. With a pedal-equipped bicycle fitted with training wheels, the rider learns to pedal first, balance last.
Most kids first walk the balance bike while standing over the saddle, then while sitting in the saddle. Eventually, the rider feels comfortable enough to run and “scoot” while riding the bicycle, then to lift both feet off the ground and cruise while balancing on the two wheels. I’ve heard some parents say that this can happen in just a few days! Don’t worry if it takes your toddler a little longer – every child is just where they need to be and will eventually get it.
When is your child ready for a balance bike?
It all depends on your child’s size and physical development. Generally, a child is ready as soon as he or she is walking and running confidently with good balance and coordination. This is usually between 2 and 3 years but every child is different.
What to look for in a balance bike
Balance bikes must be small enough so that the rider can walk the bicycle while sitting comfortably in the saddle, putting both feet flat on the ground with knees slightly flexed. We wrote up a comparison of features to consider in an earlier blog, Selecting A Balance Bike. The biggest factor is size and the balance bikes we carry–KaZam, Kettler and Kinderbike–vary in size from 12″ to 15″.
Happy Riding! Oh – don’t forget your helmet!!
What’s your experience teaching your child to ride a bike?
The goal of Screen-Free Week is:
to spend a week turning OFF entertainment screen media and turning ON life! It is a time to unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore nature, and spend time with family and friends.
At Turner Toys, we offer all kinds of great toys for you and your kids to play with. That’s what we do – we celebrate all things play! With all of these great activities, who needs TV or computers?
The reality is that most of us rely on our screens for work, entertainment, news and distraction.
Here’s what we’re going to try at our house:
- We’re going screen free for 1 day – today. Let’s see how it goes.
- No TV, computer, video games, Bejeweled, Facebook, Twitter, etc., EXCEPT for work or homework
- Yes to reading, practicing instruments, playing outside, playing puzzles, building constructions, making art…..
So, I’m on the computer writing this blog and I will return emails, but otherwise I’m not going on the NY Times website or FB…. No games on my phone. Seriously, this might be harder for me than my family.
As a precaution my husband took the power cords to the TV and computer.
Screen-Free Week Activities
The organizers at Screen-Free Week have loads of printables: pledge cards, activity logs, certificates of achievement to celebrate the week….
They also have lots of ideas for screen-free activities. I think my favorite might be: Fix Something.
The Educators’ Spin On It blog has loads of great activities and ideas for Screen-Free Week along with great printables such as activity cards for kids.
Toddler Approved blog also has great ideas and links to other parenting blogs.
Please let me know if you are going screen-free this week and how you are going to do it! Let’s share strategies and experiences!
Celebrate Earth Day with environmentally-friendly kids puzzles.
As a follow-up to my earlier blog post, Earth Day Toys & Games, I wanted to introduce a few kids puzzles that feature animals and geography and maps. You can use puzzle play to create stories and learn about Earth Day, conservation, animal habitat, endangered species & more. On top of that, our puzzles are made of environmentally friendly materials.
Earth & Animal Puzzles
Turner Toys carries loads of kids puzzles to suit all ages and interests. Here is a sampling of three types: jigsaw board puzzles, wooden puzzles and block puzzles. Our kids jigsaw puzzles are made of recycled paper and non-toxic soy inks. Our wooden puzzles are made of sustainably grown and harvested wood.
Your child can learn about different countries around the world through puzzle play. Start a conversation about who lives there, what kind of challenges they face in terms of protecting their environment. Erosion, clean drinking water?
Each 63 piece puzzle forms a 18″ x 14″ puzzle when completed and comes in a sturdy 6″ high x 5″ diameter canister with a colorful rope handle. Puzzle backing contains 90% recycled paper and packaging contains 70% recycled paper. Printed with non-toxic soy based inks. Ages 6 and up.
The Animal Alphabet Puzzle teaches children the alphabet, shape recognition and animals A to Z (some real and some imagined). It’s crafted from rubberwood an environmentally-friendly hardwood.
Where do these animals live? Are they endangered? What can we do to protect them and their habitat?
Mudpuppy’s Forest Friends Block Puzzle features parent and baby animals. Puzzle images are owls, raccoons, deer, foxes, brown bears and squirrels.
Each Mudpuppy Block puzzle includes 9 2″ cubes that form 6 different puzzle pictures or can be used as stacking block and a sturdy box with sliding drawer for storage. Puzzle backing contains 90% recycled paper and packaging contains 70% recycled paper. Printed with non-toxic soy based inks. Ages 3 and up.
What are your plans for Earth Day?
Toys & games are a great way to encourage your child’s environmental awareness since they learn through play. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate Earth Day and to inspire our future conservationists, earth scientists, biologists, geographers….
Plan an Earth Day Party
Here is a great list of Earth Day activities, party snacks and a suggested reading list. My favorite group activity in this list?
Line up children in two teams facing two empty bins. Give each team an equal pile of recyclables such as empty plastic bottles, cereal boxes, etc. Tell each child as they step to the front of their line to toss an item into the appropriate bin for paper or plastic. The team that finishes with the most items making it into the correct bin wins.
Science Kits & Puzzles for Kids
Curious about what happens after you put the recycling bin out at the curb? The Recycling Science Kit lets you explore what happens to the items you recycle. Make recycled paper, learn about different recycling codes, pledge to be a super recycler and make a water filter. Illustrated instruction guide included. Ages 6 and up.
4-D Biology Puzzles
Yes, I know these are made of plastic. But they offer an amazing learning experience about biology, anatomy & habitat plus they flex your spatial skills.
Great White Sharks have become the stuff of legends. The Great White Shark 4D Animal Puzzle will let the young scientist or marine biologist explore the fascinating animal behind the myths.
This puzzle/model is fun to build and an illustrated assembly guide is chock full of interesting information about sharks and their anatomy. Puzzle includes 20 detachable organs and body parts. Completed model measures 13″ long and includes a display stand. Ages 8 and up.
Scorpions are found on every continent on Earth except Antarctica. Learn more about the scorpion’s anatomy with this Scorpion 4D Animal Puzzle. 29 detachable organs and body parts combine into an accurate model that’s fun to assemble plus a great tool for learning more about Scorpions. An illustrated assembly guide will help you through the build and then challenge you with fun questions once the model is assembled. Completed model measures 8″ long and includes display stand. Ages 8 and up.
The Wooly Mammoth went extinct way before the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. Our Wooly Mammoth 4D Animal Puzzle combines a fun-to-build puzzle with a highly detailed model. Kids will learn about the function and location of 26 different detachable organs and body parts. Once built, puzzle measures 10″ long and includes a display stand and an illustrated assembly guide. Assembly guide has fun Q&A to test your knowledge of Wooly Mammoth anatomy. Ages 8 and up
What are your plans to celebrate Earth Day with your kids?
Happy National No Housework Day! Why not use some baking soda science to power up some toy rockets?
Baking Soda Science & Toy Rockets
In an earlier post, Turner Toys Has Model Rockets, we highlighted our line of Estes Model Rockets. Now, we have some toy rocket kits that use baking soda science as fuel. Like other flying toys (see earlier posts on flying toys and science toys), these double as science toys.
These kits are a great way to learn about chemistry and physics. The baking soda and vinegar starts a chemical reaction in the fueling module. Experiment with different proportions of vinegar and baking soda or even types of vinegar (balsamic, anyone?) to see how it affects flight. These rocket kits have received awards and accolades from Family Life Magazine, Parent’s Choice and Discover Magazine.
Bear in mind that these toys are projectiles and require adult supervision.
Remember those images of vintage land speed record cars? Recreate your own with the Scientific Explorer Rocket Car kit from Poof Slinky. Powered by vinegar and baking soda it can travel over 200 feet on a smooth surface. Fueling module can be adjusted to desired power level to accommodate student drivers and seasoned veterans. Some assembly is required, completed car measures over 15″ long. Ages 9 and up.
This colorful rocket can fly up to 100 feet powered by its patented baking soda fuel system. Fueling module can be adjusted to desired power level to accommodate beginning flyers and seasoned veterans. Some assembly is required, completed rocket measures 17″ tall. Ages 9 and up.
What are your childhood memories of baking soda and vinegar experiments?
- Any Eric Carle picture book, but especially The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- The Maisy books
- Goodnight Moon
- How much Do I Love You? (This much!)
Why Were These Great Books for Toddlers?
Each featured great graphics, eye-appealing colors and fun rhymes.
Children’s Story Book Puzzles
Now, add another dimension to your child’s enjoyment and developmental growth through puzzle play featuring images from classic children’s story book puzzles. Puzzles are great cognitive and motor skill activities and are even more engaging when they relate to familiar picture books.
Here are some of the story book puzzles that we carry at Turner Toys:
The Very Books Block Puzzle celebrates Eric Carle’s books which are a staple of most preschoolers’ libraries. Puzzle features images from The Very Quiet Cricket, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, The Very Busy Spider and a smiley sun. The puzzle includes 9 2″ cubes that form 6 different puzzle pictures or can be used as stacking block and a sturdy box with sliding drawer for storage. Puzzle backing contains 90% recycled paper and packaging contains 70% recycled paper. Printed with non-toxic soy based inks. Ages 3 and up.
This 42 Piece Puzzle forms a 16″ square puzzle when completed and comes in a sturdy 5″ cube box with a colorful rope handle. Puzzle backing contains 90% recycled paper and packaging contains 70% recycled paper. Printed with non-toxic soy based inks. Ages 3 and up.
The classic children’s story written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd comes to life in this Goodnight Moon 42 Piece Puzzle. Kids will enjoy locating each of the objects mentioned in the story.
Each 42 Piece Puzzle forms a 16″ square puzzle when completed and comes in a sturdy 5″ cube box with a colorful rope handle. Puzzle backing contains 90% recycled paper and packaging contains 70% recycled paper. Printed with non-toxic soy based inks. Ages 3 and up.
This 20-piece wooden puzzle depicts an image from the classic book, Guess How Much I Love You. Little Nutbrown Hare loves Big Nutbrown Hare “this much”. Big Nutbrown Hare loves him back “as high as the moon”. Based on the children’s book written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram. Made in USA Ages 3 & up
The Maisy books written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins feature Maisy and Tallulah and other friends in different activities. We have Maisy Harvest, Maisy Music, Maisy’s Garden, and Maisy’s Presents. All are 20-pc wooden puzzle. Made in USA Ages 3 & up. NOTE: These puzzles are no longer made and we have limited supply. Please check with us online to see available stock!