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Monday, July 23, 2018

Outrageously Amazing Toys for the Backyard


A few months ago, I did a post on making your backyard a paradise for kids.  In that article, I listed mostly homemade outdoor toys.  Today, I wanted to focus on manufactured toys.  My kids would love to own any of these amazing products.

Can you guess which one was Dragonfly's (age 7) favorite?  Six-year-old Skimmer's pick?  Or Tadpole's wishes- in his four-years of experience?  Which one would your kid chose?  Comment below!


These are the best, most envy-worthy toys for the under-10 crowd.  Put any one of these toys in your backyard and impress your friends with how much you love your child.  A gift guide from In Our Pond.
MOUNTAIN CLIMBER- Work on hand-eye coordination and strengthen muscles

AIRPLANE TEETER TOTTER- The best part is the propeller

RIDE-IN JEEP- Vehicle for your 6-year-old

WATER SLIDE BOUNCER- My kids' dream summer water experience

CEDAR PLAYGROUND- This is the ultimate swingset

POD SWING- Great for sensory seeking kids

CABIN PLAYHOUSE- Adorable for pioneer play

CLIMBING DOME- Monkey around with this structure

TRAMPOLINE- My sensory-seeker would jump all day

CATERPILLAR TUNNEL- Crawl through the tunnel and peek through the windows 

BOUNCE HOUSE- Be the party all the time!

GIANT CHESS- Get your whole body involved in this classic game

TODDLER ROLLER COASTER-  What toddler doesn't want to ride their bike down the slide?









Monday, July 16, 2018

S.T.E.M. Toys for Kids



Everyone is talking about S.T.E.M. right now and schools are spending extra time focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  As a homeschool parent, I love that my children's exposure to these subjects can be through playtime.  My kids loved helping me put together this list of amazing toys that spark curiosity and teach great concepts.  They're wish list is now a whole bunch longer.






DNA BUILDING TOY- I think I've wanted this toy for most of my life.  It's on my list for the near future.  I can't wait to explore the amazing traits of DNA and RNA with this toy.

BUTTERFLY HABITAT- Growing a caterpillar into a butterfly is also on my wish list.

EXPERIMENT KIT- This looks like it would be a good set for homeschoolers as it contains a bunch of different experiments.

MOLECULE BUILDING SET- Build molecules and learn about basic chemistry.

FLOATING MAGNETS- A simple toy that allows kids to explain the power of magnets.

NEWTON'S CRADLE- An object in motion will stay in motion... test it with this toy.

CRYSTAL GROWING KIT- Explore molecules by growing crystals.

BUG NET- Send the kids in the yard to catch bugs for studying.

STRAWBERRY DNA EXTRACTION KIT- Extract and analyze fruit DNA with this kit.

FOSSILS-  Set of fossils for collecting and studying.

VOLCANO- This classic science toy is a must in every home.










SMITHSONIAN MOTOR WORKS- We picked this toy up at a yard sale and are anxiously waiting for the kids to be old enough to build our own engine.

CODE AND GO MOUSE- This is a coding game for preschoolers.  Move the tiles to make the mouse move as the cards show.

CAN ROBOT- Turn an ordinary tin can into a simple robot.

SNAP CIRCUITS- We also have a set of used snap circuits that we're excited to grow into soon.  Put the pieces together to create complete circuits and make things happen.

HEXBUG SCARAB- This little robots look amazing.

CODE-A-PILLAR- Take off and snap together pieces of this caterpillar to code him to do different things.  There are even other pieces to buy and add.

DOT PROGRAMMABLE ROBOT- Use your tablet to make this robot do different things.  It can even fly.

KINDLE FIRE KIDS EDITION- There's so much for kids to do and learn on a tablet.  We love our Kindle Fire and especially the kid-safe "Freetime" mode.

LEARN TO SOLDER KIT- My husband solders pretty often.  This toy for teens teaches an important part of computer and robot building.

ROCKET- This classic toy should be done at least once by every child.

NANOTECHNOLOGY KIT- Explore nanotechnology with a series of experiments.

PROGRAMMABLE ROBOT- A different type of robot.  Looks interesting.






LEGO BRICKS- I don't think it's possible to have too many plain Lego bricks.  We've been working on our collection.

BRAIN FLAKES- Use these interesting plastic pieces to build all sort of things.

MAGABUILDER- These magnetic tiles hang out together to create.

WITKA MAGNETIC BARS-  Build towers and bridges with these magnetic rods.

MIDDLE EASTERN ARCHITECTURE BLOCKS- Even the youngest kids can learn to appreciate architecture with these neat blocks.

BRIDGE BUILDING KIT- Explore physics with this bridge kit.

CITY PLANNING TOY- Pretend to be an architect with this city planning kit.

K'NEX FERRIS WHEEL- K'nex have a reputation for making cool engineering toys that really work.  It was hard to pick just one.

STRAW BUILDING KIT- What could you build with a simple straw and a few connectors.

TAKE APART AND BUILD CAR- Early elementary kids can practice using tools as they build this car.

LINCOLN LOGS- For over 100 years, this toy has been an imagination-inspiring toy.

MARBLE RUN- Build a maze for marbles and experiment with physics.






FRACTION CUBES- Explore fractions and find equivalencies.

STACK AND COUNT PARKING GARAGE- This is a counting toy for preschoolers, but it could also be used for basic addition and subtraction facts to 10.

SUM SWAMP GAME- I keep hearing good things about this game.  It's on our list.

CASH REGISTER- Make calculations and count money with this toy.

ABACUS- One of the oldest math tools, the abacus continues to be a great learning tool.

WOOD TETRIS PUZZLE- For a screen free was to play tetris, check out this game.

PATTERN BLOCKS- A stable in classrooms, these tiles are good for patterns, fractions, symmetry, and more.

TANGRAM PUZZLE- The possibilities are endless with this ancient Chinese game.

RAINBOW BLOCKS- There's something so beautiful about this toy.

GEOMETILES- These pieces snap together to create 3D geometric shapes.

BASE 10 BLOCKS- Another classroom classic, which help kids understand many math concepts.

COUNTING COOKIES- Pretend play disguised as learning!

PRIME CLIMB GAME- Multiply and divide to win this game.

GEOMETRIC SHAPES- This set shows the why behind geometric formulas.

MATCHING AND COUNTING EGGS-  Match colors and numbers with these plastic eggs.



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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Ant Life Cycle 3-Part Cards

Montessori-Inspired Ant Life Cycle 3-Part Cards // In Our Pond // Great for homeschooling or classroom work, these free printable cards encourage scientific exploration, memorization of the life cycle, and comparisons between insects.

Summertime is a great time to learn about ants.  Whether they're crawling on your food at a picnic or in your kitchen, your kids will probably have lots of questions about them.  Grab an ant farm, a couple great books about ants, and a Safari Ltd or Insect Lore life cycle set and start answering their questions!


Our family loves the life cycle sets from Safari Ltd or Insect Lore.  They're so awesome for learning about insects and other animals.  I made these Montessori-inspired 3-part cards that match the toys, which are a great expansion for sensory bins or as part of an ant learning theme.


Montessori-Inspired Ant Life Cycle 3-Part Cards // In Our Pond // Great for homeschooling or classroom work, these free printable cards encourage scientific exploration, memorization of the life cycle, and comparisons between insects.
Click on the Picture to Download the Printable

Print two copies to use in the traditional Montessori way, leaving one set of cards whole and cutting the other set of cards a part.  The 3-parts of the matching cards are the whole card (picture and label), the picture card, and the label card.  Students can match the three parts to each other when they are first learning or can match the picture to the label, using the whole card as a control to check their work.


Cards can also be used to practice spelling, encouraging students to label the pictures with handwritten labels, moveable alphabet tiles, or salt tray writing.  The students could also use the cards as a resource for writing their own short story or non-fiction report about ants.  What other ways do you use them for learning?  Comment below!


My children enjoy bringing out all our life cycle sets and comparing the different stages.  The Safari Ltd and Insect Lore sets are so detailed that it's easy to see each insect's body parts.  With all the adult insects in front of your child, ask them to point to the thorax of each insect or to count the legs.  Point out the unique features, like the stinger on the bee, the colors of the butterfly, and the needle nose of the mosquito.  Grab some good books, look up some videos on Youtube, and just keep the learning going!


Check out all my Montessori-inspired 3-part cards by clicking on the picture below and scroll down to see all the available life cycle sets.







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Montessori-Inspired Ant Life Cycle 3-Part Cards // In Our Pond // Great for homeschooling or classroom work, these free printable cards encourage scientific exploration, memorization of the life cycle, and comparisons between insects.