Welcome to The Happy Kid Company Blog – dedicated to creativity, having fun & raising happy, healthy children.
Our toys are designed specifically to facilitate a dynamic environment that not only enables children to explore their world, but also encourages adults to foster children’s healthy growth and development.
Parents, grandparents, pediatricians, therapists, and daycare, educational, and playtime facilities prefer Fortamajig play spaces for their practicality, ease of use, durability, portability, and affordability. Kids of all ages love Fortamajigs because they are unique, colorful, great for inside and outside play, & just plain fun!
Our customer’s feedback is essential to our product manufacturing and future product ideas. Throughout the year, we scan the online reviews to understand what specifically makes kids happy from their use of our play spaces. Fulfilling their imagination, creating some privacy from the world (or siblings at least) and tapping into their inner architects, are always the top reasons.
What we realized from the excellent reviews this year, were the equally important ways our products make the adults in our kids’ lives happy also. Parents and care givers appreciate that their children are encouraged to use their imagination, think freely and create their own space for themselves and friends.
But, chief among them: Simply spending the invaluable quality time with their kids enjoying their one-of-a-kind play space. Celebrating the uniqueness of everyone’s design ideas, one family uses their Fortamajig to enhance a tree house. Other kids fashion tents in the living room, while another created a fort for use in family Nerf gun wars.
We know this: the reviews where families became involved in the imaginative play are the most exuberant and, well, most happy, ones we see.
During this wonderful season, spend time enjoying the incredible imaginations that exist in each of us. Everyone will be happy!
The Happy Kid Company
One my favorite news outlets has long had the punchline: “We don’t tell you what to think, we tell you what to think about.” This has always appealed to me because it allows me the freedom to interpret and focus on the parts of the news that interest me most. Nobody’s prescribing my complete thought process in this setting.
Well it’s the same intent behind Happy Kid Company. Happy kids are those that are allowed the freedom to use their own imagination. We try hard not to create play spaces that direct a child so specifically that he/she doesn’t get to exercise their freedom of imagination.
Let’s face it, video games, for instance, are very visually appealing and more life-like every day. Yet they still constrain a child’s thinking to the parameters of the game’s creator. I’m a soldier, not a racer.
The play spaces that we offer are designed to let your child’s or student’s imagination run wild. A fun thing I like to do with a Fortamajig, for example, is to set one down in front of a child that has never (or not recently) used something like it. Sit back as you watch them decide how they want to use it. Is it a fort? Is it a cave? Is it a cape to wear? Is it a sail to help them visit faraway lands? The answer is never wrong. It is what it is…whatever interests that child the most at that time. What fascinating insights to me, the observer.
We spend so much time as parents and educators conveying helpful information to children, literally on an hourly basis. So we’re well served to make sure we take some time to stand back and watch what kids want to think about, spending a bit less time prescribing to them what they should think.
Wishing your child and you wonderful daydreams!
“It’s the most wonderful time…” Err, yes Summer is nearing its end and the new school year is upon us, but it no way signals the end of your Fortamajig usage! Here are some great back-to-school ideas for getting even more from your all-in-one play space!
- Fall means sports activities outdoors. Why not bring along your Fortamajig or Fun Fort as a protective sun barrier for the little ones playing between your camping chairs?
- If the sun’s not out, use it as a comfortable layer between you and the ground. My family spread two Fortamajigs on the lawn of this year’s July 4th band concert on Cape Cod.
- Homework time can be fun, inspiring and imaginative. Let kids create their own study space and let the learning begin!
- Weekend visits to family and sleepovers with new school friends mean helping your kids create imaginary but comfortable places in environments that might not be as familiar to them. So bring along that Fun Fort to Aunt Mary’s! Let the cousins in on the fun too!
- Go to the head of the class. Teachers often appreciate anything a parent is willing to do to contribute to the classroom learning environment. Would a Fortamajig provide a comforting/quiet place for schoolroom nap time? How about a fun option for your child and his/her classmates at recess?
- Tailgating at sporting events? Need an instant canopy but have no room to transport a full structure? Use a Fortamajig as a protective barrier hanging off the back of your vehicle’s rear lift gate.
I’m sure you have some good ideas too. Will you share some here?
When my son was little, we lived right around the corner from a nursing home. Could there be a purpose for us up at that nursing home? Having grandparents who had lived in similar facilities, I knew many of the folks living in these places did not always have visitors. One day I decided to wander in there, my son strapped into his little backpack carrier, and asked if they would ever like to have us come “play” a couple of days a week with some of their residents. The director was receptive and offered to bring a few residents into their common room and we’d see what happened.
My son and I started going regularly. It was delightful, heartbreaking and fulfilling all at the same time. We would bring a ball and roll it around the room, each person thrilled to be included in this little game. My son played “patty-cake” about a thousand times and never got tired of it, laughing and giggling and making funny faces. We started visiting a few special friends in their rooms when they just wanted to talk or hold hands. I will never forget how this small amount of time and effort translated into making someone else’s day sweeter.
It made us sweeter too. It gave us back things I could never have foreseen. It was time together with my son, hearing wonderful stories that these people all shared with us – so much wealth in character and wisdom. We certainly weren’t changing the world or even anyone’s life, but we were making someone’s day and all enjoying this special time together.
I guess my point here would be the idea that giving doesn’t have to be an elaborate event – sometimes it can be right in your own backyard – literally. Spending a small amount of time thinking of ways to give with your kids can open up avenues and opportunities you may never have considered. It will hopefully make them think and realize the fundamental purpose of giving. The greatest outcome would be learning to give thanks for the gifts we all have to share anytime of the year.
How do you get your kids motivated to help out around the house?
Do you find at this time of year, there are so many things to do and never enough time to complete them? You have homework, housework, office travel, uniforms that need to be laundered, bake sales requiring a few dozen cupcakes – the list is honestly endless. When you realize you are not only managing your own life, but also that of a few others – it hits you that you need a little back up. Let’s call in the troops. Thankfully, you may have birthed a mini cavalry.
Yes, I put my kids to work. Do they like it? That would be an enormous stretch. Do they recognize that their parents need help? Generally, but it does take some creative incentives to get things done without the usual griping.
The obvious first thing is to try to make tasks fun. The challenge here, who has the time to make picking up and bed making fun? These things just have to be done. The trick is to preempt the dawdling and achieve lightning fast results. Something like “While I’m making your lunches, you guys make your beds – extra cookies for the winner”. Setting the expectations beforehand also helps. In other words, before your six year old daughter dumps her 35 Polly Pockets, with their assorted wardrobes and accessories on the floor, you make sure she knows they will only live on the floor until dinner.
This brings up consequences. How do you set meaningful ones that keep kids motivated to help and also stay upbeat about it? It’s tough to balance this. I tend to appeal to the give and take aspect of all the things we do. For my son, he plays sports almost every day of the week it seems. I gently remind him that if he expects a ride to practice, in turn I’m expecting him to take out the trash. I don’t have to give him a ride, I am choosing to. It’s an attempt to teach respect for all the little things that often get taken for granted. These are the foundation lessons for building strong partnerships and teams.
Another interesting exercise is asking your kids to write down everything that they think needs to be done around the house. Sometimes they will come up with terrific new ways of getting stuff done – or even tasks that need to be done that you never would have thought of asking them. Who knew that they’d love to rake leaves or help polish furniture? If they come up with it themselves they are invested – and that’s half the battle.
I do believe it is essential that kids realize they are important contributors in their home. It helps you and it helps them feel connected to something bigger than themselves. It teaches responsibility and accountability. When everyone pitches in everyone wins!
Some of the very best times I have with my kids are spent doing the most mundane things. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve dreamed up elaborate day trips, vacations and excursion to “wow” the kids – and almost every time they never live up to anyone’s expectations. Give us an afternoon, though, with not that much to do – maybe weeding the garden, washing the car or cooking dinner – and we’ll have a ball. That time feels spur of the moment and truly “lived”.
Kids surprise you. Conversations come completely unscripted when there are no expectations. None of that “how was school?”…. “oh fine” stuff. Their brains dialogue freely when we share a task side by side.
I love to cook with my 9 year old. She is creative, funny and adventurous, and it comes out in her cooking. She shines during this one on one time. She has no qualms about throwing a little of this and that together to see how it will turn out. It makes me want to take a few extra chances here and there and to remember that I love to cook even though most of the time it’s a means to an end. This is fundamental bonding time – easy, tangible and precious.
My son has had the same birthday party for the last few years. It’s nothing fancy. In fact, it’s absurdly simple, and I keep wondering when he’s going to beg for an expensive shindig. He always asks to have a bunch of his best buddies to sleep over and camp outside in a tent under the stars. We have a cookout and a bonfire – and watch the boys run around in the yard for hours. They are in their element. We are doing nothing more than hanging out in the backyard with a few marshmallows on sticks and a couple of footballs to toss around.
Spending quality time with your kids can be done without actually “spending”. The quality evolves on its own – almost unexpectedly. Maybe that’s what makes it so sweet. In some of these cases, you almost fear you haven’t done enough. Are 6, 12 year old boys really gonna spend all afternoon running around outside? Should I have a back-up plan? Should I have signed my daughter up for Mommy and Me cooking classes? I’m not saying extraordinary surprises and memory makers are not great – they absolutely can be. However, the ease in making them a regular part of your daily life is mostly in recognizing there are opportunities to have fun that are simple and don’t require a ton of anything – just a bit of time.
This time of year is always weird. For many, kids are back to school. This can mean all kinds of different things –new friends, malls, new clothes, dinner in less than 15 minutes….. New beginnings and endings, hellos and farewells. The kids are 1 year older, and you feel that passage of time. Sometimes you wish for just one more week of summer and a second later, you’re counting the days until that bus comes bounding down the road. It’s back to business and there’s less room for spontaneous fun.
With busyness, comes worries: will the kids love their new teacher, want to join band, struggle with math? Will they be in the same class as their best friend? What happens when they are not? Is that better―offering new opportunities to branch out―or the first of many heart breaks?
As a parent, you get to manage all of this. All children face change. Even if they go back to school at home―new subjects, new experiences, new challenges. They are not the only ones being tested―we are too. Watching your kids navigate their lives can be a constant marvel and puzzle, and your life changes right along with them. Whether you work at home, an office, travel, your life includes theirs. No matter how organized you are, it is a monumental task with guaranteed slip ups. I sort of make peace with climbing onto the hamster wheel and sprinting just to keep up.
Getting back to that weird back-to-school feeling―heart in your throat mixed with nervous excitement… Everyone adapts quickly. The kids get into their new routines, new friends and subjects. You pack everyone’s schedule with gymnastics classes, football practice and piano lessons. Your car is constantly in motion, filled with water bottles and cracker crumbs.
And suddenly there will be that random day when you just don’t want to go anywhere. All you want is one of those amazing summer days when you can play for hours with the kids. Be lazy in the morning, come up with outrageous plans for the day, have fun. What I’ve found―when I feel like that―my kids do too. Call it a mental health day, calling in sick, personal time, but we call it hooky.
Hooky is one of the few days out of the entire year that my kids remember―right up there with Halloween and Christmas. It’s a time to recognize that all the new, challenging, stressful parts of our lives can and will wait for one more day, while we remember the things that make us truly happy.
Be Happy. Play hooky!
Everyone needs their own hang out – a place that’s all theirs. Building forts gives kids the freedom to do their own thing, that keeps them engaged for hours. They’re lost in their own imaginations, fully occupied with the fun of it.
It’s amazing to watch what they create, how their wheels are turning, where they want to go. You see it first with the delight on a child’s face when they scurry under a table to hide. For a minute, they believe they are invisible, that they’ve tricked you. As they move on to a fort, there’s an incredible gift for the parent in the unexpected discoveries you can make about your kids and seeing things through their eyes.
Maybe you’ll see your daughter tending her doll babies – feeding them, reading to them. You’ll see her copy the things you do and realize the impact you have on her life. Your son decides to bring his cars into this cool fort he’s decked out with a little roadmap for his fleet. You can hear him talking, one driver to another, and think, “Wow, I’ve really gotta be careful of what I say when I’m driving in traffic!”
Fort building is cool, fun and way more than just playtime. It’s time to learn about your kids – while they are learning about themselves. It’s rare to find a pastime that accomplishes both so effortlessly.
Safety & Sensory
The Happy Kid Company Fortamajig products help to create a safe, familiar environment that provides sensory relief. Children having been diagnosed with anxiety, ADHD, autism, or other special needs often benefit from a safe, relaxing, solitary space of their own—which Fortamajigs provide. Children with special needs often rely on the safety and security of the familiar to relax and calm them. Providing spaces for kids who require sensory relief from overstimulation can prove challenging, unless you have a portable Fortamajig.
Build the ultimate play space and watch childrens’ imaginations and creativity soar!
The Happy Kid Company’s award-winning Fortamajig®, Connectables™ and Fun Fort™ are the ultimate washable, storable, portable and durable all-in-one play spaces.
Kids: Use the Fortamajig line of products to create a four-walled fort, teepee, tunnel, canopy, maze, tent, room divider—you name it! Use it inside or roll it up and take it with you outside—at home, a friend’s house, your grandparents’ house, a slumber party, daycare, kindergarten, school, and more!
Adults: Watch as children use the Fortamajig products to build unique spaces, grow their imagination, expand their creativity, and develop and refine social, fine-motor, team-building, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skill sets.
With no hard pieces to break or lose, The Happy Kid Company’s heirloom-quality products can be used indoors and outdoors—and last for years to come. The Happy Kid Company products are designed to be enjoyed by everyone ages 3+.