Category: Guest Posts

Blue Orange invites you to visit your Neighborhood Toy Store on Saturday November 10th, 2018!

Blue Orange invites you to visit your Neighborhood Toy Store on Saturday November 10th, 2018!

FaceBook-1200x675Neighborhood Toy Store Day is held on the second Saturday of November every year and is designed to kick off the holiday season with special events that introduce consumers to the benefits of shopping local.

Neighborhood Toy Store Day was created by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting local toy shopping and creative open ended playtime for children.

Independent toy stores around the country participate by hosting fun, free and family friendly events, such as face painting, craft projects, live performances and more.

Independent toy stores offer multiple advantages to shoppers:

  • A carefully curated selection of toys, selected with local families in mind.
  • A focus on providing unique selections and the kind of quality not always found at national chains. Local toy stores select from brands both large and small, including little known brands that are not advertised on TV.
  • Because they observe kids at play day in and day out, independent toy stores can offer the best advice on the right selection for individual kids.
  • Independent toy store owners are toy experts who understand the value of play and what types of toys encourage the best kind of play.
  • By offering a personalized approach and additional customer service, local toy stores make holiday shopping easier.

Independent toy stores also provide many benefits to the community as a whole, by:

  • Creating jobs and preserving neighborhoods.
  • Compared to chain stores, putting a significantly larger share of revenue back into the local economy in the form of taxes, salaries and more.
  • Supporting environmental sustainability, by helping to maintain vibrant, walkable town centers, essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss and air and water pollution.

For more information on Neighborhood Toy Store Day and to find a participating retailer near you, visit http://ntsd.astratoy.org

Content provided by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.

 

Kingdomino Cookie Recipe (A Blog Re-post from Sugar High Score)

Kingdomino Cookie Recipe (A Blog Re-post from Sugar High Score)

Note: This post originally appeared on http://www.sugarhighscore.com and was re-posted with permission. Find the exact posting here.

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Here at Blue Orange we are no strangers to our fans creating projects in honor of their favorite board game. However, when someone goes above and beyond in celebrating one of our games, we must share it with the world! Below you will find a video and corresponding recipe to make some pretty awesome Kingdomino cookies, courtesy of the talented duo known as Sugar High Score. On their blog and Youtube channel they show people how to re-create awesome baked creations that are all inspired by their favorite games. We thank them for setting the Kingdomino fan bar so high!

Chocolate Cookies

The perfect chocolate cookie recipe for roll-out cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

  2. Using a mixer, cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until smooth.

  3. Add the eggs one at a time. Then mix in the vanilla. Continue mixing until well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  4. Add the baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.

  5. Add flour 1 cup at a time.

  6. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

  7. Cut the cookies into the desired shapes and bake at 375 F for 7-10 minutes.

     

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Royal Icing

Ingredients

  • lbs confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 tbsp meringue powder
  • tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Mix the flavoring into half the water.

  2. Using a mixer, combine the meringue powder and powdered sugar.

  3. Slowly add the water and flavoring into the dry ingredients. The icing will then become very thick.

  4. Next add the remaining water and mix on medium speed and whip until thick and fluffy. Stop mixing when the icing forms a soft peak.

  5. You can add more water as needed to reach the desired piping consistency.

Some of my favorite tools and supplies used in this video:

Tip #2 and Coupler

Joseph Joseph Rolling Pin

X-Acto Knife

Meringue Powder

Sheet Pan

Piping Bags

Gel Food Colors

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Make sure to give Sugar High Score some love on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@sugarhighscore), and subscribe to their Youtube channel so you can see which game they are inspired by next!

Blue Orange Supports Mini-Transat Competitor Pierre Chedevielle

Blue Orange Supports Mini-Transat Competitor Pierre Chedevielle

Pierre
Pierre Chedeveille

Exciting news! Blue Orange is sponsoring Pierre Chedeveille in the 2017 Mini-Transat.

The Mini-Transat (or the Transat 6.5) is a one-man-crew transatlantic race on a sailing boat 6.5 meters long. You heard right! Individuals race their small vessels across the open seas without anyone helping them! The race was created in 1977 by Bob Sandman, and has been organized every other year since.

“Aside from the around the world race, I do not know any other race more extraordinary than this one. There are as many winners as there are contestants,” said Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, second at the 1979 Transat.

In order to be able to qualify to enter this race, you need to participate in several races during the 2016-2017 seasons. You also need to do a solo trip of 1000 miles without stopping.

Talk about intense! The race proceeds as so: the sailors depart in France then stop for ten days in the Canary Islands or on Madeira Island before continuing to the French Caribbean Islands where the race ends. We asked Pierre a few questions about his preparation for this daring trek, and he was kind enough to grant us his thoughts. We’ve translated his words from French to English below.

My name is Pierre Chedeville. I’m 29. I’m an officer of the Marine Marchande. In September 2017, I will embark across the Atlantic Ocean in a 6.5-meter boat in the Mini-Transat. I have dreamed of this project ever since I participated in the Mini-Fasnet Race, a race for small boats in South Ireland, several years ago. I was born in a small village in Brittany, where I grew up surrounded by sailing and nautical sports. I started sailing with my parents during family outings. Later, I became a certified Sailing Instructor, and taught sailing for many summers in Brittany. I’ve windsurfed, surfed, and kite surfed all my life. I am fascinated by the ocean, and that is why I decided to make my career in the Marine Marchande.

My physical coach prepares me for the water, and my mental coach gives me advice to relax before the race like how to fall asleep quickly. Sleeping is the nerve of the war (it’s the most important part for solo sailors). Often you will have to spend several days without sleeping on this type of boat, and naps usually do not exceed 20 min because you need to keep the boat on course and watch out for competitors or other boats that you can cross with.

I was lucky to meet Julien Mayot and his wife (co owners of Blue Orange) when my boat was baptized last summer. They were on vacation in Brittany at a mutual friend’s house. When they saw the boat and heard what I was trying to accomplish, they became very enthusiastic about my endeavors right away. Knowing that I was looking for financial partners, Julien told me about Blue Orange and promised to support me. We got along right away and shared many mutual passions like kite surfing and sailing (of course).

Pierre SailingThe mini Transat will be the accomplishment of a 2 year sportive goal, 2 years during which I will invest myself to the fullest to achieve this dream. I don’t have any predictions as far as where I will rank, but the goal is to cross the ocean without breaking the boat and arrive happy and healthy in the Caribbean. It’s a solitary project which I want to share as much as possible with people around me who support me: my girlfriend, my family, my friends, and Blue Orange who supports me financially and all who will follow my adventures.

 

Identity Through Play

Identity Through Play

[box]Blue Orange co-founder, Thierry Denoual, asked Sophie About, Clinical Psychologist, to offer some wisdom about how play impacts child development. About has spent ten years working with orphanages in Cambodia and has accumulated a significant amount of insight regarding healthy child development over that time period. She was generous to share that insight with Blue Orange in the article she sent us.[/box]

Sophie About“Children’s purpose is to play” -Henri Wallon

When Playing is Finding Identity

Playing is primarily a means for a child to relax and feel good. It allows small children to develop their imagination, their ability to concentrate, and the body language which comes before speech (facial expressions, gestures, body language and sensorial activities). Play is an important way in which a child builds their own identity. An infant can only play with an adult they have a trusted relationship with that goes beyond the basic care.

Indeed, in order to play well, children need to be surrounded by the close and physical presence of caring parents. It is also while playing that children construct their identity through role playing which enables more and more complex interactions with their community. Playing allows a child to measure up his/her abilities and feel confident.

Child Playing ZimbbosFrom 0 to 2 years old: children undergo a sensory-motor phase. During his first months of life, a child becomes aware of their body (especially hands and feet), as well as their close surroundings (movements, sounds, contacts with an object, encounter with adults). As the children grow, they progress from being horizontal to vertical through experimenting with a variety of movements and intermediate postures. A child will repeat something that happened accidentally if he enjoyed it. She learns to watch and feel her surroundings (objects, environment). She explores her skills and abilities. What used to be mere reflexes becomes deliberate actions, and thus starts a phase Jean Piaget named Object Permanence, which is when the child understands that an object still exists outside his field of vision (the “pickaboo” or “hide and seek”). This allows him to better handle separation since the child knows that his relatives exist, even if he cannot see them.

Around two years old: The symbolism phase, during which the child sorts out, orders and uses logic to solve specific problems. This is the time of cognitive development, intelligence and creativity.

Child Playing with ParentPlaying is a constructive activity:

  • Initiative and creativity=self-confidence
  • He improves his thinking while discovering
  • He starts interacting with other children and discovers social rules = sociability
  • The “power to act” and “power to experiment” brings satisfaction to the child, which helps him realize the extent of his competences “I did it by myself!”
  • Playing is an effective way to make the child feel safe when he lives in a stable environment and if the adult is concerned with his interests and emotions
  • Playing shows the way to ”identity” and self-discovery

 

 

Playing enables the child to explore multiple areas, such as:

  • expressing desires
  • expressing emotions
  • expressing thoughts
  • expressing wonders
  • Controlling anxiety
  • developing abilities
  • establishing social links
  • assimilating different sides of personality

By Sophie About: Clinical Psychologist. Coordinator for the Organization Parents First, working for and with parents with regards to parenting.

Why Play is Important in Child Development

Why Play is Important in Child Development

image001 Parents want to give the best opportunities to their children. Music lessons, language lessons, extra tutoring, after school learning programs, the list can go on and on. We all want to give our kids the advantages and opportunities to succeed and/or perhaps we didn’t have as children. All of those activities are wonderful opportunities. However, play sometimes gets a bad reputation as being frivolous. On the contrary, play is very important in child development! If you want to learn more, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report about the importance of play in promoting healthy child development (read here). Play can reduce stress and anxiety for kids AND adults so make some time to get silly! The National Lekotek Center , a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, provides an array of services to improve the lives of children with special needs through the utilization of toys and play. They have 20 wonderful reasons to encourage play for ALL Children.

Top 20 Reasons to Encourage Play for ALL children

  1. Play advances many cognitive skills like learning to focus and paying attention to details.
  2. Play produces an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind that benefits a child greatly.
  3. Play opportunities help a child develop problem-solving, organizational and planning skills.
  4. Play promotes both long-term and short-term memory.
  5. Play stimulates language, negotiation and communication skills.
  6. Play teaches a child how the world works from gravity to how things move, float or fly.
  7. Play experiences allow a child to explore symbolic play, imitation and his own creativity.
  8. Play allows a child to build confidence, one trip down a slide or throw of a ball at a time.
  9. Play provides the feedback a child needs to develop self-knowledge and self-esteem.
  10. Play is an excellent way for a child to connect to nature and to explore its many facets.
  11. Active play can enhance a child’s mood, coping abilities and defuse emotionally charged events.
  12. Play teaches the cornerstones of relationship building, cooperation and compromise.
  13. Leadership along with group skills are learned through team or collective play.
  14. Active play promotes a healthy body for children and lowers their risk of obesity.
  15. Play promotes brain development through the use of both the body and mind.
  16. Play can teach a child the lessons of strengthening and balancing his body and coordinating his hands and eyes.
  17. Play stimulates resiliency by prompting the child to try again and learn patience towards self and others.
  18. Play fosters courage to swing higher and jump farther.
  19. Play teaches empathy by allowing a child to explore the role of both winner and loser.
  20. Play leads to engagement and enjoyment that provides a child with both physical and emotional release.

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Occupational Therapy for Kids and the Role of Game Play

Occupational Therapy for Kids and the Role of Game Play

Autism Awareness Month is over but the work for helping those on the autism spectrum continues all year long. At Blue Orange Games, we get a lot of praise on our games from professionals that work with special needs kids. We are absolutely humbled by this. As a mother to a special needs boy with autism and ADHD, this personally touches my heart. We work hard on creating games so that people of ALL skill sets and abilities can play and have fun.

Neal Carlson is an Occupational Therapist in the public school sector. We initially started talking when he reached out to us regarding Spot it! to share how he utilizes this game with his students. Read about his love of games and the lessons that are taught for his own kids and the kids that he works with.

 Why I Love Games

By: Neal Carlson, OT

One of my jobs as a school-based occupational therapist is to analyze the steps of an activity and determine what skills are necessary to complete it. Take copying something from a smart board, for example. A student must be able to see and process the words, replicate it on a notebook and visually return to the correct place on the board. Being successful at this task requires skills such as visual acuity, shifting attention, visual memory, motor coordination, and postural stability, just to name a few. In short, my job is to determine what skills students need to be successful in school.

That is why I love games. My experience as a therapist and a parent has taught me that games have so much to offer. They provide fun and engaging opportunities to develop skills on so many levels. Below are a few reasons why I am such a big supporter of games in my practice:

1. Games are adaptable – A little creative goes a long way. One of my students was having difficulty copying accurately from a board like in the example I provided above. I determined that it was difficult for him to shift from a stimulus that was close (his notebook) to one that was far away (the smart board). I taped a Spot It card to the wall and had my student sit 5-feet away with the remaining cards. By locating the matches, he was able to build skills essential for school success in a fun way.

2. Games are a form of play – Many people underestimate the value of play as it relates to child development. Games teach important social skills such as taking turns, healthy competition and being a good sport. I have seen so many of my students beam with pride after doing well in a game or showing good sportsmanship after losing. These are important in every phase of life. And if I can step up on my soapbox for a minute…with our society so electronics-centric, traditional games are also an awesome way for families to connect.

Players_LowRes3. Games are skill-building – All the best games build skills. Chess is a great example. The reason why it has been around for so long (and why it is taught in many schools), is because it teaches higher-level cognitive skills such as critical thinking, pattern recognition, and planning. Chess has been linked to academic development, but I always say that many other games achieve the same effect. Games help to build so many skills. To name a few: visual-motor processing speed, attention, fine motor coordination, memory, communication, and emotional regulation.

4. Games are fun – The reason why I value games as much as I do is because GAMES ARE FUN! They bring people together. I can still remember the enjoyment I felt as a kid playing Clue with my friends. Now, as a parent and occupational therapist, I get to see the impact games have had on my own children and the children I provide services to at school.

 

In addition to working as an occupational therapist, Neal also writes music for TV/film and teaches guitar.  He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two children.

Neal Carlson, OT

 

Blue Orange goes to Camp

Blue Orange goes to Camp

Blue Orange Games is busy this summer giving kids even more chances for fun at their camps.  Samantha is this summer’s intern and has traveled around the San Francisco Bay Area to host game days at local summer camps.  Read about her experiences as Blue Orange’s Brand Ambassador.

What Is A Camp Game Day?

By Samantha Fry

I was originally drawn to this position because it would allow me to gain experience in the field of marketing as well as build on my experience in childcare.  A camp game day consists of a taking a bunch of our games to camp and engaging kids in board/card game play.  The ages at the camps vary but we are able to accommodate kids of all ages from Pengoloo to BraveRats.  Sometimes the kids are lucky to play with games that haven’t hit the store shelves!

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These young campers are playing Doodle Quest

Long time camp favorites are Pengoloo, Gobblet Gobblers, and Fastrack.  Luckily, older campers were also able to try out some of our newest strategy games such as Aztack, Battle Sheep, and Niya!

A new favorite with the campers has been our new game Spot It! Splash. It’s just like the original Spot It! but has a fun summer theme with waterproof cards. This was a great compliment to our sometimes messy campers.

It was fulfilling to play with the kids and engage their minds in learning new games this summer.