CARLE PLACE, N.Y., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- While there is no denying the joy of seeing little ones light up as they unwrap their presents, the holidays can also enlighten our children with experiential "gifts" that will last a lifetime. So say the directors of HearthSong and Magic Cabin, two companies that are encouraging adults this year to "make something more of the holidays." HearthSong (www.hearthsong.com) and Magic Cabin (www.magiccabin.com) specialize in products that inspire active, imaginative and creative play, all of which contribute to a child's healthy development, sense of self and relationship to others. The holidays offer abundant opportunity in these areas. From dressing up to retell the stories of Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa to earmarking time for building, drawing or playing together, the season adds rich traditions and innumerable opportunities to enrich a child's already inquisitive and rapidly expanding mind. Beverly Fries, Vice President, Merchandising for HearthSong and Magic Cabin, offers the following suggestions for how adults can keep kids active and imaginative while sharing experiences and celebrating with them this season: Make time for down time but make sure it's fun time. Last-minute shopping, family visits, neighborhood parties and the annual holiday photo are all important traditions of the season and provide many opportunities to spend time together. When it comes to a child's healthy development, however, Fries says that perhaps the most important activity to put on the holiday schedule is open, imaginative play, especially when you can make time to join in on the fun. Embrace traditions that inspire creativity and encourage family togetherness. With its religious and cultural traditions and its historical significance, the holidays offer context for imaginative play unsurpassed by any other time of the year, adds Fries. From laying out a make-believe holiday feast, to cooking up real holiday treats like popcorn or gingerbread houses alongside adults, to recreating crafts that recall celebrations from times long past, to learning how to play a holiday tune on a musical instrument, quality holiday time offers parents and kids more than just memories. Remember the "active" part of "activity." Especially as the days get shorter and weather gets cooler, the lure of idle indoor activity such as videogames, computers and TV increases. But there are many opportunities for active indoor and outdoor play that can help develop children's bodies and minds. "In wintry climates," says Fries, "children and parents can engage in active outdoor fun ranging from building igloos or snowmen to flat-surface kick-sledding around the block, or stay inside and give shape recognition and fine motor skills a workout by piecing together puzzles, setting up domino courses, building with linkable toys and blocks, or making art or handmade crafts. In warmer climates, play activity from dress-up performances to easel painting to erecting tents and teepees may offer the options of indoor or outdoor play. The important thing is to encourage kids to get active." Built for safety. Built to last. Year after year, parents lament spending endless hours assembling toys that will come apart or run out of power about as quickly as they lose a child's attention. Recent news stories about recalled products have added product safety to their concerns. Magic Cabin and HearthSong products may hearken back to earlier, simpler times, notes Fries, but they nonetheless are subject to the most sophisticated and modern-day quality assurance measures, including Federal regulatory standards for lead in paint and toy safety. "Our mission is to offer products people can feel good about giving, not only because they're safe and sturdy but also because they inspire constructive and -- of course -- fun-filled play that provides a sense of accomplishment and awakens a love of learning," says Fries. "We hope that by being selective about what we put in our catalogs, we'll inspire parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts to be equally selective about the gifts they give and how they and their children spend their time together. The holidays and childhood are both fleeting times in our lives, and we hope everyone will make the most of them." About HearthSong and Magic Cabin HearthSong (www.hearthsong.com) was founded in 1983 by Barbara Kane based on a growing conviction that children need more time to explore the world around them and to engage in joyful, creative and imaginative play. Drawing on the philosophies of child psychologists, parents, toymakers and educators -- especially those from the Waldorf school of thought -- HearthSong markets children's products that build skills, provide a sense of accomplishment and awaken a love of learning. With a circulation of some 19 million copies, the HearthSong catalog features carefully selected, caringly developed and rigorously tested "Toys You'll Feel Good About Giving(R)," all of which carry an unconditional guarantee. Many items additionally bear the Parents' Choice(R) seal, which is given to products that meet and exceed standards agreed upon by educators, scientists, performing artists, librarians, parents and children. Magic Cabin (www.magiccabin.com) began in 1989 as a home-based business making natural-fiber Waldorf-style dolls, and expanded to offer doll-making kits and classes before founder and former stay-at-home mom Sara McDonald mailed her first catalog in 1990. Today the company develops and markets Childhood's Purest Treasures(R) -- heirloom-quality, environmentally friendly products that are fun to play with and inspire good-old-fashioned make believe. The products run mostly on imagination and inspire children to stretch their minds, learning while they play and create. Conscientiously selected, they are beautiful and enchanting, sturdy and safe. All products carry unconditional guarantees and undergo extensive safety testing to conform to the strictest Federal safety standards in addition to the company's own stringent standards for quality.
SOURCE HearthSong and Magic Cabin