Easy Kid Friendly Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, though getting our kids to eat anything more than sugar-laced cereal is sometimes a challenge. Try one of our favorite quick and easy, kid-approved breakfast recipes with your munchkins, and start off the day like a champion.

1. Morning Sundae: Do you have a big ice-cream fan at home? Well, ice-cream might not be a good choice for breakfast, but how about a yogurt sundae?  Sundaes layered with yogurt, cereal, granola, and fresh fruit give a great easy morning kick that kids will love! Lay out a parfait buffet and let kids make their own!

2. Beyond the Sunny Side: Go beyond the sunny side egg with a little tweak! Cut a circle in the toast bread.  Add oil or butter in the frying pan, then add the bread. Let bread cook for one minute. Then crack the egg over the bread so the egg yolk fills the circle. Add a little salt, then turn it over and let the egg cook for about 2 minutes. Whether you call it Egg in the Basket, Toad in a Hole, or another of this dish’s creative names, we’ll bet your little ones will call it yummy.

3.  Morning Pizzas: Here’s a healthy, delicious and homemade pizza recipe for a champ’s morning kick! Toast English muffin halves, drizzle with olive oil, and layer some tomato slices and hard cooked egg slices, top with some cheese and broil 5 minutes or until the cheese melts.

4.  Farina With Apricots and Almonds: Swap a bowl of oatmeal with a warm farina. It is a great warm treat for cool mornings and kids will love the sweet syrup! Bring the milk and some salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk in the farina. Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon into bowls and top with the sugar, apricots, and almonds.

5. Mediterranean: Do you love Mediterranean cuisine? Try this easy Mediterranean inspired sandwich with cream cheese, tomato and cucumber!  Toast the bagel halves and spread the cream cheese on each half.  Layer cucumber and tomato on top and that’s it! Get creative by making faces, 2 green eyes and a big tomato smile!

6. Apple Stuffin’ Muffins: Apple season will soon be upon us and we can’t think of a better way to use those sweet apples than with these apple muffins, which your kids will totally love. Serve them for breakfast, an after dinner dessert, or a mid-afternoon snack.

7. Coconut Mango Pancakes: An easy alternative to the traditional pancakes are coconut mango pancakes. Add some fresh slices of mango or any other fruit and you have an instant success.

8. Zucchini Bread: We love this zucchini bread recipe because it has just the right amount of sweetness. Your kids can even help out making the bread!

9. Homemade Apple Sauce:  This easy to prepare recipe will give you some serious mommy points. Serve with yogurt or graham crackers.

10. Stuffed French Toast: Who doesn’t love french toast, especially when it’s stuffed?! The chefs of San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema dish to us about their delicious french toast recipe, which they say their kids totally love. Pssst…If you’re looking for a gluten-free french toast option, check this out. 

Do you have a kid-approved and easy-to-make yummy breakfast recipe or idea? Post it into the comment box below!

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Best Pizzas in America

Even the littlest pizza lovers know that finding the perfect slice is serious business—not to mention deeply personal. Some like a cracker-thin crust, others are all about the Chicago deep dish and some just love it all (guilty!). Eat your way through the USA with our list of the best family-friendly pizzerias in every state (plus D.C.), as recommended by our 12 million readers.

1. Alabama: Slice Pizza & Brew
This spot has everything you need in a pizza place: a family-friendly atmosphere, beer on tap for the parents and inventive flavor combos. Try the Soul Pie, topped with black-eyed peas, sausage and pepper jack.

725 29th St. S.
Birmingham, AL
Online: slicebirmingham.com

2. Alaska: Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
Started by a trio of rock climbers, Moose’s Tooth has become a cult favorite in Anchorage. While the stone-baked crust is delish, you’ll want to leave room for their wow-worthy desserts too.

3300 Old Seward Hwy
Anchorage, AK
Online: moosestooth.net

3. Arizona: La Grande Orange Pizzeria
You can’t go wrong with a visit to La Grande Orange, a grocery store/pizza place/bakery/gift shop that also happens to be super kid-friendly. The menu includes gluten-free and veggie options, not to mention a must-try avocado pizza.

4410 N. 40th St.
Phoenix, AZ
Online: lagrandeorangepizzeria.com

4. Arkansas: ZAZA Fine Salad and Wood Oven Pizza Co.
You’ll find amazing thin-crust pizza at this hip Little Rock spot. Top your meal off with a scoop of their creamy homemade gelato—delish!

5600 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Little Rock, AR
Online: zazapizzaandsalad.com

5. California: Giorgio’s Pizzeria
The Golden State has no shortage of unique pizzerias, but this one takes the cake for its kid-friendly factor. Serving up hand-spun thin crust pies, they’ll give the kiddos pizza dough to play with while they wait.

151 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA
Online: giorgiospizza.com

raccasphoto: Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana via Facebook

6. Colorado: Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana
If you’re a pizza purist, you’ll find super authentic Italian pies at this gem of a spot in Denver. Try the Lazio, topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms.

2129 Larimer St.
Denver, CO
Online: raccaspizzeria.com

7. Connecticut: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
For a classic Italian pie, you’ve got to try Pepe’s. This spot is a fixture on many “best pizza in America” lists, and when you try the white clam pizza, you’ll see why.

157 Wooster St.
New Haven, CT
Online: pepespizzeria.com

8. Delaware: Pizza by Elizabeths
The concept of this Delaware pizzeria is genius—every pie is named after a famous Elizabeth. We recommend the Boop, a classic combo of mozzarella, basil, balsamic and tomatoes.

3801 Kenneth Pike
Greenville, DE
Online: pizzabyelizabeths.com

9. Florida: Satchel’s Pizza
With live music, kids’ play areas and craft beer on tap, this place is already an instant fave. Add in the amazing pizza and we’re set for life.

1800 NE 23rd Ave.
Gainesville, FL
Online: satchelspizza.com

anticophoto: Gan C. via Yelp

10. Georgia: Antico Pizza Napoletana
Atlantans rave about this unbelievable thin-crust pie that’s lovingly baked in an imported Sicilian brick oven. Communal tables and an open atmosphere make it a fun pick for the littles.

1093 Hemphill Ave.
Atlanta, GA
Online: centrostorico.it

11. Hawaii: Amina Pizzeria
This hole-in-the-wall pizzeria is a must-visit for Italian comfort food. Their pizzas and calzones are rave-worthy, and kiddos will love customizing their own personal pies.

1694 Kalakaua Ave., Ste. E
Honolulu, HI
Online: facebook.com/Amina-Pizzeria-111765425527281

12. Idaho: Flying Pie Pizzaria
The pies really do fly high at this awesome family-friendly pizza place. Stop by on Tuesday nights to take advantage of their all-you-can-eat buffet—kids under 5 eat free.

6508 W. Fairview Ave.
Boise, ID
Online: flyingpie.com

13. Illinois: Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
For deep-dish pizza, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Lou Malnati’s. With a buttery crust, piles of Wisconsin mozzarella and a tasty sausage blend, it’s a Chicago area must.

439 N. Wells St.
Chicago, IL
Online: loumalnatis.com

baxbeauxphoto: Bazbeaux Pizza via Facebook

14. Indiana: Bazbeaux Pizza
Located on vibrant Massachusetts Avenue, Bazbeaux is a kid-friendly haven for pizza lovers. With gluten-free options and inventive topping combos, your whole crew will leave feeling satisfied.

333 Massachusetts Ave.
Indianapolis, IN
Online: bazbeaux.com

15. Iowa: Zipp’s Pizzaria
Worth the drive, Zipp’s is a total hidden gem. Try the taco pizza, topped with cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomato, crumbly chips and beef.

301 Audubon St.
Adair, IA
Online: facebook.com/ZippsPizzaria

16. Kansas: Limestone
Limestone’s pizzas are always a hit, perhaps thanks to the local ingredients that make up each “neoprarie” pie. They’ve got something for everyone, from the margherita purist to the adventurous eater.

814 Massachusetts St.
Lawrence, KS
Online: limestonepkb.com


photo: Watershed post via flickr

17. Kentucky: Boombozz Craft Pizza & Taphouse
Sip on a beer, watch the game and eat some seriously amazing pizza at Bombozz. Check out the hearty Pollotate, topped with chicken, potatoes and red onions.

1448 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, KY
Online: boombozz.com

18. Louisiana: Pizza Delicious
New York-style pizza in the heart of New Orleans? Sign us up! They keep it simple with just a few types of pizza (picky kids, rejoice), and the crispy thin crust will keep you coming back for more.

617 Piety St.
New Orleans, LA
Online: pizzadelicious.com

slabphoto: Slab via Facebook

19. Maine: Slab
Here, it’s not a slice of pizza, it’s a slab. Fluffy focaccia forms the base to be customized with your favorite toppings, from pepperoni to artichokes.

25 Preble St.
Portland, ME
Online: slabportland.com

20. Maryland: Iggies Pizza
Feast on delicious thin-crust pizza at this fantastic Baltimore spot. Try the Alice, topped with pesto, spinach, mozzarella and goat cheese.

818 N. Calvert St.
Baltimore, MD
Online: iggiespizza.com

21. Massachusetts: Area Four
This modern pizza joint in Kendall Square is a must-visit. The sourdough crust (made from a years-old starter) makes a delicious base for a range of inventive toppings.

500 Technology Sq.
Cambridge, MA
Online: areafour.com


photo: jayneandd via flickr

22. Michigan: Buddy’s Pizza
Buddy’s has been serving up the classic Detroit-style square pizza since 1946, and these days their vegan and gluten-free offerings are just as good. Once you’re done eating, play a game or two of bocce ball in their outdoor courts.

17125 Conant St.
Detroit, MI
Online: buddyspizza.com

23. Minnesota: Pizzeria Pezzo
Deep-dish and coal-fired pizza are both on the menu at this gem of a spot in White Bear Lake. Round your meal out with a scoop of gelato, and the whole fam will be delighted.

2143 4th St.
White Bear Lake, MN
Online: pizzeriapezzo.com

pizza-shackphoto: Pizza Shack via Facebook

24. Mississippi: Pizza Shack
You’re sure to get a one-of-a-kind slice at Pizza Shack. With options like Thai Chicken, Double Cheeseburger and Chicken Fajita, there’s something delicious for every taste.

925 E. Fortification St.
Jackson, MS
Online: pizzashackpizza.com

25. Missouri: Pastaria
You’ve got to try the margherita pizza at Pastaria, but you might be tempted by their yummy pasta dishes too. Their kids’ menu is also awesome, so everyone is sure to be satisfied.

7734 Forsyth Blvd.
Clayton, MO
Online: pastariastl.com

26. Montana: Bridger Brewing
Sip on a beer while you enjoy a slice of bison pepperoni pizza at this well-loved spot. The little ones can indulge in a root beer float too.

1609 S. 11th Ave.
Bozeman, MT
Online: bridgerbrewing.com

27. Nebraska: Yia Yia’s Pizza and Beer
You’ll find unique toppings and a perfectly springy crust at Yia Yia’s. Whether you’re a stickler for classic sausage pizza or you like trying new creations, you’ll be at home here.

1423 O St.
Lincoln, NE
Online: facebook.com/yiayias


photo: Michael Bentley via flickr

28. Nevada: Pizza Rock
Pizza Rock offers a huge array of pie styles, from Sicilian to New York to Chicago thin crust—we’re pretty sure we could eat here every day and never get bored.

201 N. 3rd St.
Las Vegas, NV
Online: pizzarocklasvegas.com

29. New Hampshire: Tilton House of Pizza
Grab a perfect pie from this fab spot. The crust is the perfect mix of light, crispy and chewy—simple and delicious.

298 Main St.
Tilton, NH
Online: facebook.com/Tilton-House-of-Pizza-159441494110163/

30. New Jersey: Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza
Get some amazing Sicilian pizza from this local favorite. There are tons of pizza style options, from a 1940 version with just tomato sauce to a 1960 style with less cheese and more sauce.

639 S. Broad St.
Elizabeth, NJ
Online: santillopizza.com

31. New Mexico: Giovanni’s Pizzeria
Head to Giovanni’s to get your New York-style pizza fix. Try the New Mexican, topped with chicken, ricotta and green chiles.

921 San Pedro Dr. SE
Albuquerque, NM
Online: giovannispizzaalbuquerque.com

paulie-geesphoto: Pinky and the B. via Yelp

32. New York: Paulie Gee’s
Ask 10 New Yorkers for the best pizza place in the city, and they’ll give you 10 different answers. Paulie Gee’s wins out for us because in addition to being absolutely delicious, it’s kid-friendly (little ones can watch the giant pizza oven in action!).

60 Greenpoint Ave.
Brooklyn, NY
Online: pauliegee.com

33. North Carolina: Luisa’s Brick Oven Pizzeria
This authentic Italian spot is all about the super thin crust pizzas. The Luisa is a crowd favorite, topped with sliced tomatoes, pesto, ricotta cheese and garlic.

1730 Abbey Pl.
Charlotte, NC
Online: luisasbrickovenpizza.com

34. North Dakota: Rhombus Guys
The unique topping combos at Rhombus Guys will be an instant hit with your fam, from pulled pork to pineapple to proscuitto. As an added bonus, little ones will have a blast coloring on the tables as you wait for your meal.

606 Main Ave.
Fargo, ND
Online: rhombuspizza.com

35. Ohio: Angelo’s Pizza
For a traditional thick-crust pan pizza, you can’t beat Angelo’s. The buttery crust, fresh toppings and tangy sauce make it an instant family fave.

13715 Madison Ave.
Lakewood, OH
Online: facebook.com/angeloslakewood

36. Oklahoma: The Hideaway
Originally opened in 1957, The Hideaway is a true Oklahoma establishment. The Paradise Pie is delicious, made with alfredo sauce, chicken, bacon and spinach.

230 S. Knoblock St.
Stillwater, OK
Online: thehideaway.net

37. Oregon: Apizza Scholls
Often hailed as the best pizzeria in the Pacific Northwest, Apizza Scholls keeps their pies simple and delicious, letting the ingredients speak for themselves. There’s an arcade room—perfect to keep kids occupied while waiting.

4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR
Online: apizzascholls.com

nomadphoto: Nomad Pizza Company

38. Pennsylvania: Nomad Pizza
Nosh on delish Italian-style pizza from this well-loved spot in Philly. The spacious eating area upstairs makes it the perfect place for families.

611 S. 7th St.
Philadelphia, PA
Online: nomadpizzaco.com

39. Rhode Island: Caserta Pizzeria
You’ll find thick but fluffy slices at this old-school Italian pizzeria. They’re famous for the Wimpy Skippy, a spinach pie stuffed with cheese, pepperoni and black olives.

121 Spruce St.
Providence, RI
Online: casertapizza.com

40. South Carolina: EVO Pizza
EVO started out as a pizza stand at the Charleston Farmers Market, and now they’re famous for their drool-worthy wood-fired pies. Meat lovers will appreciate the Pork Trifecta, topped with sausage, pepperoni and bacon.

1075 E. Montague
Charleston, SC
Online: evopizza.com

41. South Dakota: Lintz Bros Pizza
Pizza this good is totally worth the drive. Try out the Big Fat Greek Pizza or the Pie-Mac—you’ll be glad you did.

14287 SD Hwy 36
Hermosa, SD
Online: lintzbrospizza.com

desanophoto: Jo Ann G. via Yelp

42. Tennessee: DeSano Pizza Bakery
DeSano is all about the authentic Neapolitan pizza, cooked to order with fresh toppings. Kids are given pizza dough to play with while they wait—a great way to keep tiny hands busy.

115 16th Ave.
South Nashville, TN
Online: desanopizza.com

43. Texas: Fireside Pies
Get cozy with pizza made in a wood-fired oven with toppings like truffle oil and meatballs. Try their signature cheese salad to take your meal to the next level.

2820 N. Henderson Ave.
Dallas, TX
Online: firesidepies.com

44. Utah: The Pie Pizzeria
The Pie Pizzeria is best known for its fluffy crust, but they’ve got three other crust options to choose from, not to mention vegan and gluten-free options. It’s safe to say that even the pickiest kids will be satisfied here.

1320 E. 200 S.
Salt Lake City, UT
Online: thepie.com

45. Vermont: American Flatbread
Check out the neat wood-fired oven as you wait for your meal at this cozy restaurant. Offering microbrews and delicious thin-crust pizzas, this is sure to be a hit with your crew.

115 St. Paul St.
Burlington, VT
Online: americanflatbread.com

46. Virginia: Salvatore’s Pizzeria
Grab a classic Italian pie from this kid-approved spot. Start out with garlic knots, then try one of their delicious specialty pizzas.

4876 Princess Anne Rd.
Virginia Beach, VA
Online: facebook.com/salvatorespizzeria

47. Washington: Flying Squirrel Pizza
With a name like Flying Squirrel, how could it not be a family fave? We love the fact that the menu offers more complex options alongside kid-pleasing pies.

4920 S. Genesee St.
Seattle, WA
Online: flyingsquirrelpizza.com

pizzaphoto: &pizza via Yelp

48. Washington, D.C.: &pizza
This hip spot has been taking the District by storm, and for good reason. Pick one of their inventive combos or customize a personal-sized pie just for you (perfect for picky kids!).

1005 E St. NW
Washington, D.C.
Online: andpizza.com

49. West Virginia: Pies & Pints
Hand-tossed doughs are the canvas for all sorts of interesting flavor combinations, like grape and gorgonzola and sriracha shrimp. There’s a playground connected to the restaurant, making it the perfect spot for the whole fam.

219 W. Maple Ave.
Fayetteville, WV
Online: piesandpints.net

50. Wisconsin: Ian’s Pizza by the Slice
Mac ‘n’ cheese pizza, anyone? Kids will go wild for the off-the-wall combos offered at Ian’s.

300 N. Francis St.
Madison, WI
Online: ianspizza.com

51. Wyoming: Pizzeria Caldera
You’ll find thin-crust pizza made in a stone-hearth oven at this Jackson hot spot. Locals rave about the authentic Italian crust and the comfortable family atmosphere.

20 W. Broadway
Jackson, WY
Online: pizzeriacaldera.com

BONUS: Pizza-obsessed today? It is National Pizza Day, after all! Take this quiz to see what your favorite pizza toppings say about you >>> Start Pizza Quiz

We know there are dozens of pizzerias that we could’ve included. Did we miss your favorite place? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll add your picks to our story! 


— Susie Foresman

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Meet the Group Bringing Smiles to Kids Who Need Them the Most

Every kid deserves the chance to play, laugh and have fun. And, since 1986, EnCourage Kids Foundation has worked to make that happen for kids battling illness and serious health conditions. From delivering cuddly friends to bringing a little magic into hospital rooms, read on to discover more about this incredible group.

Here’s What They Do
EnCourage Kids is a non-profit organization that strives to bring as normal a childhood as possible to kids living with chronic illness or battling major health issues. They achieve this by creating and providing fun environments, memorable experiences, and lots of comfort for little ones on a medical journey.

Why Is This Important?
Creating a warm, safe and even fun environment for kids dealing with an illness can be a game-changer for hospital staff and patients alike, but most hospitals are unable to fund programs like the ones offered by enCourage Kids. In addition, “most of our families are struggling with not only their child’s medical challenge, but financial challenges as well.” says Executive Director, Michelle Hall-Duncan. “By providing outings where they can spend quality family time together, we are able to fill that void.”

What About the Programs?
The programs range from sweet and simple to totally amazing.

Teddy Bears: There’s nothing like a warm, cuddly friend to keep little ones company. Not only do the kids get to keep their new stuffed pal with them at all times, providing comfort in a clinical setting, but it’s also a way for hospital staff to teach tiny patients about the care they’ll be receiving. To date, enCourage Kids has given away over 27,000 bears.

Hospital Happenings: These fun events bring clowns, magicians, artists and musicians into pediatric hospital wards. Each event helps to fill the quiet hours, and gives kids something to look forward to during their stay. So far, enCourage Kids has organized over 43,000 hospital happenings.

Escapes for Kids and Parents: Not only are these outings (night out at the circus, weekend at a camp, day out at the ballpark) a chance to let families de-stress, but it’s also a chance for parents and kids to connect with others who might be struggling with a medical journey. It’s especially fun for siblings to connect and talk about something other than illness. Over 4,000 lucky families have been on over 3,800 escapes since 1986!

The Tablet Program: Angry Birds is a favorite, no doubt, but each one of the 300 tablets donated by  enCourage Kids comes loaded with health apps like The Human Body and Re-Mission 2, which experts say is a fun and positive way help kids understand and cope with what’s happening in their own body.

Care Rooms: Entering a treatment room can be one of the scariest parts about an extended hospital stay, so enCourage Kids works with hospitals to design warm, inviting rooms that encourage kids to be brave, and help to minimize anxiety.

Pediatric Hospital Support: Sometimes, families just need financial support. Since 1991, enCourage Kids has donated over 14.8 million dollars to 818 different pediatric programs. These crucial programs address the unique needs of their patients and include therapy methods like photography, fine arts, computer animation and beat boxing.

What Can You Do?
When you donate to enCourage Kids, you can choose how you want your money to be spent. Dedicate a gift, send a bear, or provide a night out for a family! Find out more, get involved or donate at encourage-kids.org

Have you had an experience with enCourage Kids? Share your story in a Comment!

—Gabby Cullen

All images courtesy of enCourage Kids Foundation

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Irish Eats You Can Easily Make for St. Patrick’s Day

Irish Eats You Can Easily Make for St. Patrick’s Day

Want to try your luck and get your kids to eat like the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day? From a warm, savory stew to sweet, soft snack bars, we found five easy recipes you can enjoy with your little leprechauns. Sláinte!

photo: Alexandra Hedin

1. Irish Soda Bread Scones
St. Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be quite the same without Irish Soda Bread, and lucky for you, blogger Alexandra Hedin makes hers in the form of a super yummy scone. Serve one to your little leprechaun for breakfast, or do a batch up proper for an after-school tea party. Either way, these will be a favorite with your whole crew. Get the recipe here.

irishstew_lorilange_stpatricksday_redtricyclephoto: Lori Lange via The Recipe Girl

2. Hearty Irish Stew
Chock-full of carrots, potatoes, and tender meat: You really can’t go wrong with a good Irish stew. Super satisfying no matter the weather, Recipe Girl has an easy version you can re-create at home.

slow-cooker-corned beefphoto: swampkitty

3. Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
When you think food on St. Patrick’s Day, you think corned beef and cabbage. This version is perfect for your busy life, because all you have to do is place the brisket in the slow cooker, top with the veggies and walk away. Bonus: this version swaps out carb-loaded potatoes for extra veggies! Here’s where you’ll find the ingredients.

fettleflapjacks_imenmcdonnell_stpatricksdayfood_redtricyclephoto: Imen McDonnell via Farmette

4. Fine Fettle Flapjacks
In Ireland, flapjacks don’t come served with maple syrup and strawberries. Instead, they come in the form of a tasty, crunchy-yet-chewy oat bar. You can use any sort of oat or grain, from millet to chia seeds, and if you want to go dairy-free, opt for coconut oil instead of butter. We are drooling over the version Imen McDonnell features on her blog, Farmette, and in her Irish cookbook, The Farmette Cookbook.

green-mac-n-cheesephoto: Weelicious 

5. Green Mac ‘n’ Cheese
So, your picky eater won’t touch corned beef and cabbage with a four leaf clover. Well, whip up a batch of green mac ‘n’ cheese for a little St. Patrick’s Day cheer, instead. Filled with good stuff like spinach, peas and lots of cheese, when you serve up this dish, there’s still a chance to say Erin go Bragh! Get the recipe here.

Do you have favorite recipe in honor of St. Patrick’s Day? Share it in a Comment below.

—Gabby Cullen

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20 Amazing Treehouse Designs

in partnership with Somersaults Snacks

Ready to feel like a kid again? From exotic treetop locales to a few very lucky climbers’ backyards, these tree houses are perfect destinations for the young and young at heart. Definitely worth the climb, check out these 20 feats of elevated architecture. One tip: don’t look down.

Chalkley’s Safari Treehouse

Lions, giraffes, and zebras…Oh my! Leave the cubs at home, and escape to a private luxury tree house on Lion Sands Game Reserve in South Africa. Surrounded by nature, you’ll enjoy drinks and an intimate picnic dinner at sunset before falling asleep under the starry night sky.

Photo: Lion Sands Game Reserve


Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family! These tree houses just get cooler and cooler every year. 

—Beth Shea, Christal Yuen & Lauren Hill


10 Inspiring Playhouses That Make Us Long to Be a Kid Again

Playgrounds You Have to See to Believe

Somersaults are the result of our quest to create healthy, truly delicious snacks for people who want more than just empty calories. What followed was a philosophy – we are passionate about living and inspiring everyday active lifestyles.

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Coolest Tinkering Project Kits for Kids

by Gabby Cullen

It’s time to take apart play time and give your curious kiddo all the materials she needs to be a real mini-maker. From working with electricity to dabbling in design, there’s no end to the fun when the only limit is your kid’s imagination. Read on for seven of the best tinkering kits for kids.

photo: courtesy Tinkering Labs

Electric Motors Catalyst Kit
One of the coolest kits to hit the maker scene is the Catalyst, designed by the founders of Tinkering Labs. The kit provides over 50 pieces—real motors, real hardware and real wood—and there’s also a deck of Challenge Cards to inspire mini-makers to design, build and test their own inventions. Each kit is open ended, which means there’s room for kids to add their own components from the junk drawer or garage at home. The Catalyst is also designed to be safe (it includes electricity) and the parts are easy to put together, test and then take apart, for hours of tinkering fun. Be sure to check out the visual guides for the 10 challenge cards, and see other projects by young inventors here

Good to know: Tinkering Labs has recently added expansion packs to their online shop! You can now purchase items like motor packs, more wooden parts and brushings.

Ages: 6 & up.

Available at tinkeringlabs.com, $45 per kit.

samlabs_sam_tinkeringkits_tinkeringforkids_redtricyclephoto: courtesy Sam Labs 

SAM Labs
Here’s why you never judge a block by it’s size. SAM Labs is the maker of wireless blocks with specific skills that can be controlled via bluetooth and an app. Need a door buzzer? Done. Need a headlight for that LEGO car? Easy-peasy. There is no coding involved, and both the website and the free app offer cool project ideas on how to use the blocks. You can opt to buy individual blocks that have different uses (dimmer, motor, button, light sensor, etc) or buy a whole kit, which includes four blocks, five step-by-step project guides, a charging cable and other items.

Good to know: The newest release from SAM Labs is the Curious Cars Kit, which includes six blocks, five car designs, one car base, one controller, 20+ starter projects and an exclusive game app. Psst! Your kids can use their LEGO blocks with this kit.

Ages: 7 & up.

Available at samlabs.com/shop, $33 & up.


photo: courtesy STEMBox 

Brought to life by a female scientist who noticed how few women were in STEM industries, this is a subscription kit designed with girls in mind (although boys love it too!). There is a different experiment each month, and even though some are chemistry or biology based, many of the themes focus on the engineering and electrical aspects of STEM, which is exactly what little tinkers enjoy the most. From bridges to rockets and DIY microscopes, each month brings a new adventure for kids who like to think, ahem, outside the box. Don’t miss the in-depth tutorials from founder Kina, which can be found on YouTube.

Good to know: While it’s not possible to purchase a single box just yet, if you decide not to keep the subscription, you can cancel at any time.

Ages: 8 & up.

Available at mystembox.com, $25 a month and up.


Imaginology Kit
These kits from Dream Big Science and Art are a curious kid’s dream. There are no directions and no batteries, but plenty of opportunities for open-ended play and discovery. The plastic container comes with over 200 different items: pipettes, corks, fabric, sponges, twine, tiles, natural rocks and much more. Kids can tinker, experiments, create—it’s an easy way to provide your mini-maker with all the material he needs to start tinkering.

Ages: 5 & up.

Available at amazon.com, $59.99.

makeymakey_tinkerkitsforkids_redtricyclephoto: courtesy Makey Makey

Makey Makey
The award-winning classic kit from Makey Makey is pretty cool. How else would your kid be able to turn a banana into a keyboard? The set up is easy, there’s no software or programming knowledge needed, and the possibilities are endless. Each box comes with a Makey Makey Board, USB Cable, seven Alligator Clips, six Connector Wires, Instructions with Visual Project Start Guide, Online Documentation, and 20 Color Stickers.

Good to know: You can buy a Makey Makey Go for on-the-go tinker fun. It’s about the size of a memory drive, fits on a keychain and makes an instant inventor out of anyone!

Ages: 6 & up.

Available at amazon.com, $49.95.

mini-skate-park-lifestyle_tinkerkits_redtricyclephoto: courtesy Tinkineers 

Marbleocity from Tinkineers
Join the Tinkineers as they explore the world of engineering and tech! This cool company introduces STEM concepts to kids in a fun and engaging manner, using some seriously amazing kinetic build-your-own models. Each model consists of a modular marble machine, and besides being able to interconnect with each other (there are four currently available for purchase with five more in the works), each one comes with a graphic novel that tells the stories of Kelvin, Joule, Newt, Mosfet, and Iggy—five friends who are always building (or un-building) stuff—and the lessons they learn along the way! The kits are designed to be built in steps, which is ideal for parents who want to give younger makers a hand in the process. There’s even a motor for those who want to power up their project.

Good to know: While these kits are best for older kids to do on their own, they are all perfect for a family tinkering night.

Ages: 7 & up.

Available at tinkineer.com, $29.95 and up.

groovylabinabox_facebook_tinkeringkits_tinkering_redtricyclephoto: courtesy Groovy Lab in a Box

Groovy Lab in a Box
One of the coolest kits for curious kids is Groovy Lab in a Box. Each one arrives full of materials, challenges, and thought-provoking questions. What makes this kit especially neat for mini-makers is the engineering design challenge. There are no detailed instructions with the challenge, but instead, STEMists (aka your kids!) will call on their critical thinking skills to think like an engineer and, depending on the box’s theme for that month, learn how to utilize real-life science inquiries. Parents can opt to purchase a single box, or, sign up for a monthly subscription.

Good to know: If you have a subscription, you gain access to Beyond…in a Box, an online learning portal that gives kids extra challenges and activities.

Ages: 8 & up.

Available at groovylabinabox.com, $36.95 for a single kit or $29 & up for monthly subscriptions.

Does your kid like to tinker? Share with us in a Comment below!

—Gabby Cullen

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Fun and Easy At-Home Tinker Projects for Kids

Ready to let your little out-of-the-box thinkers get their hands on things they can not only play with, but tweak and twiddle? Go ahead, raid the recycle bin and upcycle materials into stuff that can double as tinker-worthy toys. From building cardboard rocket ships and castles to soda can cars and do-it-yourself geoboards, it’s easy to re-use stuff you’ve got around the house. Scroll down and let’s get to tinkering!

Hammer Out a Geoboard

Your mini-makers can engage their hands and mind by building and playing with this cool geoboard, which can easily be made with supplies found around the house. Mama Agnes Hsu gives us the materials and step-by-step over at hello, Wonderful.

photo: Agnes Hsu via hello, Wonderful

Editor’s Note: We at Red Tricycle encourage learning. That being said, please be sure your kiddo has access to age-appropriate materials and always supervise playtime. Happy Tinkering!

What household items do you use to tinker? Tell us about it in the comments!

—Nikki Walsh

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25 Ideas To Make Play Time Even Better

Jaques Cousteau. Lewis and Clark. Your two-year-old. They’re all about discovering new things while charting their own courses. Keep your little explorer happy with these sure bets—as beneficial as they are brilliant—below.

photo: While She Naps

1. Make your own beanbag using this tutorial by While She Naps, and then play catch to improve hand-eye coordination.

2. Hand over a stack of scarves (or cloth dinner napkins if you’re clean out of scarves, or neck ties, assuming Daddy won’t mind), turn up some tunes, and enjoy the show.

3. Cut up pipe cleaners and put them in a clear plastic bottle, and replace the lid. Then give your kiddo a magnet and watch as she explores and manipulates! See how they did it at Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.

toddler-threading-activity-with-giant-cardboard-beads-666x1000photo: The Imagination Tree

4. Thread colorful cardboard “beads” onto pipe cleaners or string to work on color awareness, patterns, fine motor skills, and imaginative play. We love how The Imagination Tree did it.

5. Blow bubbles and have the littles pop each one before it hits the ground.

6. Pour rice in a bin and hide toys in it. They’ll love playing with the texture of the grains in this sensory activity and finding treasures.

toddlertuesdayphoto: The Teaching Mama

7. Lay contact paper flat on a table and let your tot create pictures on the sticky surface with pom poms, pipe cleaners, buttons, acorns, goggly eyes and more. See how The Teaching Mama does it here.

8. Thread squares of felt onto a ribbon that’s been anchored by a button at one end and create a soft caterpillar to pull. Don’t tell them, but you’ll be improving their fine motor skills and working with colors, too! We like the one that Jackie at Happy Hooligans made with her kids.

9. Using solid color cardstock, reinforcement stickers (the round ones that look like an “o” and are sticky on both sides), and sparkly pom poms, cut out simple bunny shapes and let your littles match the correct bunny tail to each differently colored bunny. See how Twodaloo kicks it up a notch with a magnetic chalkboard and lamination.

SONY DSCphoto: Laughing Kids Learn

10. Using nothing but straws, uncooked rigatoni, and play dough as a base, build noodle towers and cityscapes, like Kate did at Laughing Kids Learn.

11. Use duct tape to attach empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls to a wall, then have fun dropping brightly colored pom poms through each route. Place an empty egg carton below the out spouts and see if you can get a pom pom into each divot, like Teach Me Mommy did.

12. Cut out images of family members’ faces without their hair, then let your mini stylist use play dough to give each person in their family a new ‘do. We like this tutorial by No Time for Flash Cards.

dsc_09201photo: Mess for Less

13. Using a colander and pipe cleaners, let your mad hatters create marvelous masterpieces as they improve fine motor skills. Skip on over to Mess for Less for inspiration.

14. Use colorful, solid color duct tape to wrap empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, then turn your two-year-olds loose to create floor art, tunnels for cars, and music with them. Teach Preschool has great suggestions for this activity.

15. Create matching cards with your toddler’s favorite toys by tracing them on colorful card stock, then letting them figure out which toy belongs to each shape. We love how Toddler Approved does it.

29057946145_fced5d7303_kphoto: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr

16. Put on your galoshes and splash in a puddle after the rain, or let them cruise through the puddles on their scooters.

17. Place stickers and a piece of construction paper on the table and let your two-year-old go to town.

18. Cut out images of food from a magazine, and let your little chef glue them onto a paper plate. They’ll love making you dinner (possibly while you make them theirs)!

19. Use plastic tongs to make sorting different colored pom poms more fun.

paint-sample-puzzles-with-instructions-for-all-agesphoto: The Realistic Mama

20. Use paint samples to create simple, two-piece puzzles. Check out The Realistic Mama for tips.

21. Teach little ones colors by creating a color wheel using a painted piece of cardboard, paper plate, or other sturdy circle and matching clothes pins. The manipulation of the clothes pins improves hand strength while they learn to sort and match by color. Check out Craftionary’s tutorial, here.

22. Create a crunchy box with stale crackers, cereal, and unused noodles in a storage box, then let your little bang away using a toy hammer or plastic cup! Find out more over at Busy Toddler.

23. Make your own confetti creations with construction paper, a hole punch, and some glue. See how Picklebums makes it happen in this tutorial.

rubber-bands-keep-kids-busy-20140307-5-800x533photo: Hands On As We Grow

24. With a can and colorful rubber bands, you can keep them busy putting bands around the can. Then, when their attention starts to wane, you can show them how to make different sounds by flicking the bands agains the side of the can. Check it out at Hands On As We Grow.

25. Cover a table in paper and let your little artist draw, stamp, and sticker his heart out.

How do you keep your two-year-old happily occupied? Tell us in the comments section, below.

—Shelley Massey


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Best Activities to Keep Your Child Busy

It’s a big world out there, and nobody’s more ready to jump in the mix than your three-year-old. From outings to easy activities you can do at home, we’ve got you covered: Read on for our crib sheet for keeping them happy.

photo: Donnie Ray Jones via flicker

1. Pack a picnic and find a new park in your neighborhood.

2. Make a carwash for your tricycles, scooters, and bikes.

3. Explore emotions with Mr. Potato Head (or use your smart phone to take pictures of each other expressing different emotions).

6a00e54ed57af588330134840c7260970c-800wiphoto: SL Smith Photography

4. Use vegetable oil, a water bottle, food coloring, and an Alka Seltzer to make easy DIY lava lamps (without the lamps). SL Smith Photography shows us how in this great tutorial.

5. Write secret messages with a white crayon on typing paper, then let your little sleuth uncover them as she paints using watercolor. See how it’s done over at education.com.

6. Create toilet paper tube animals. We love the how-to from Creative Me, Inspired You.

9153417216_e4a9f94e6d_zphoto: Library Rachel via Flickr 

7. Play hopscotch on the driveway with sidewalk chalk and a pinecone.

8. Practice fine motor skills by stringing a beaded necklace (we like how Schooling a Monkey does it).

9. Get dressed up and have a tea party.

img_2451photo: Anna Ranson via The Imagination Tree

10. Cut out shapes from cardboard or sturdy card stock, then let your kiddo “weave” colorful yarn or ribbons around it. You can even make shapes from letters or numbers for added learning. Find out how to turn it into a hanging mobile over at The Imagination Tree.

11. Play balloon tennis with rackets made of paper plates and paint sticks (or just use your hands). We like how Vanessa’s Values explains the game.

12. Let them trace basic shapes onto paper, then cut out the shapes.

create-and-construct-with-popsicle-sticks-2photo: This Little Home of Mine

13. Add velcro dots to colorful popsicle sticks and help your little learner form letters with them. Check out this tutorial from This Little Home of Mine.

14. Bake cookies together and let him do the pouring and mixing.

15. Let them draw on your windows with dry erase markers.

5661694550_87625c97eb_zphoto: Micah Sittig via Flickr

16. Play hide and seek.

17. Go on a scavenger hunt in your back yard. See how we do it by clicking here.

18. Cut strips into paper bags, then use colorful construction paper strips to weave through the bag. The Imagination Tree breaks it down for us in this tutorial.


SONY DSCphoto: Laughing Kids Learn

19. Draw, glitter, decorate, and cut paper plate crowns, like they do at Laughing Kids Learn.

20. Throw a few flat sheets over the dining room table and let them pretend it’s a fort, castle, cave, spaceship, etc.

21. Use a cereal box to create a puppet theatre. We love this step-by-step from Sand in My Toes.

22. Head to a free story time at your local library.

18694873511_2923954ed4_zphoto: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr 

23. Have a dance party.

24. Make a fairy garden. Check out the tutorial at Living Well Mom for ideas.

25. Play follow the leader.

How do you rock your three-year-old’s world? Tell us in the comments section below!

—Shelley Massey

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