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Kiddie Ma-Jigs

Why playing with food is a good idea, despite what your parents told you!

Why playing with food is a good idea, despite what your parents told you!

“Why don’t you play with your food for a bit before you eat it?” We’re pretty sure that’s not something you’ve heard anyone say recently. Instead, mealtimes with toddlers (and older kids!) are more likely to feature arguments over how many vegetables your child must eat before getting dessert. You may dread the daily battle of wills with your kids over dawdling at mealtimes, playing with their food and not eating their veggies, but it turns out that there could be a simple answer to the question of how to bring up kids to eat more healthy foods. The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics features a study ( found that toddlers who play with their food develop healthier eating habits and may be less fussy about what they eat.

Benefits - toddlers who play with their food may:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Be more willing to try new foods
  • Be less picky eaters
  • Eat a more balanced diet

Beneficial for brain development

A study published in Developmental Science ( found that playing with food assists in the brain development of toddlers and allows them to assimilate vocabulary related to food textures. Interacting with food in a creative way can assist your child’s ability to recognise different colours, shapes and textures. Mashing food and eating with their hands exposes kids to a range of sensory experiences. Also, playing with food makes kids curious about it and more likely to taste it and like it. Thus, by allowing and even encouraging your kids to play with their food, mealtimes can be transformed from an ordeal to an enjoyable experience that your child looks forward to.

A few guidelines for playing with food:

  • Good table manners are still a must, so make sure you gently teach this along the way.
  • Set a good example by eating plenty of the types of food you want your child to eat yourself.
  • Keep sweets and other ‘undesirable’ foods off the table completely. Once you toddler is tired of playing and gets hungry, he or she will naturally transition from playing to eating the food on the plate.

Avoiding a mess

The downside to allowing your child to play with their food is that things can get messy. While kids are very young it may be best just to bear with it, but as they get older and hard, crunchy foods no longer present a choking hazard (typically over the age of 4), you can provide your child with a wide range of healthy foods that are fun to play with and will not create a big mess, such as:

  • carrot sticks
  • cucumber rounds
  • celery ‘trees’
  • sliced starfruit
  • nartjie segments
  • dried fruit

In fact, why not get involved in the fun and games of food art? Your kids will be delighted with the adorable landscape shown above, featuring folded pancake mountains, broccoli trees, mayonnaise clouds and snowcaps and an orange round as a sun! Never mind the kids, we’d love to get our pancakes served like that!


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Bringing Up Bookworms – The Importance of Reading to Your Child

Bringing Up Bookworms – The Importance of Reading to Your Child

We probably don’t need to stress just how important good reading skills are for kids. Most parents are well aware that reading will be an essential part of their child’s life. Children who read develop important skills, such as building their vocabulary, acquiring knowledge, developing their communication skills, and boosting their future academic achievement. Reading helps kids become more articulate and better able to communicate. Reading helps develop your child’s attention span. A love of reading will make a lot of your child’s future school work (and university) a lot less daunting and tedious, quite apart from the academic benefits that strong reading skills bring with them. But how to make sure that your child loves reading? Psychologists and education specialists agree that there is nothing better for your child’s reading prowess than to spend time reading with him or her from as early as possible. While there are ways to help older children who do not enjoy reading develop a love of books – we will dedicate a blog post to the topic soon – it’s best to nurture a love of reading in your child from as young as 3 months. Take a look at our tips for bringing up bookworms:

Start young

Start reading to your child as soon as possible. This should be between 3 and 6 months. Start out with durable, colourful books with large, bright pictures, textures or sounds.

‘Pretend’ reading

Let your child pretend to read, even if it is not able to read yet. Children can follow the pictures and make up their own version of a story, which helps them engage with the story, build confidence and develop the sense that reading is fun.

Keep it fun

Don’t force it. Keep reading time fun. If your child only wants to read or be read to for short stretches at a time, that’s fine. Come back to it when your child is refreshed. Also, don’t get impatient with your child if they struggle to read or make mistakes.


Re-read your child’s favourite books over and over. It may be a bit boring for you, but re-reading stories is an invaluable tool for strengthening your child’s understanding of the vocabulary and deepening their understanding of the story.

Talk about reading

Talk about the stories you’ve read together. Ask your child what he thinks happens after the story finishes. Make their reading interesting by encouraging them to think about it.

Act stories out

Be interactive in your reading time. Act stories out with your child. This helps the stories come alive and assists your child in retaining the information it receives.

Make reading time special

Most children love spending time with their parents. By reading to your kids, you are giving them the time and attention that they crave.

Keep distractions to a minimum

If the TV is on or siblings are playing a noisy game, kids may get distracted and not have the concentration to follow the story you are trying to read. Try to eliminate or keep distractions down as much as possible at reading time.


Mother’s Day Inspiration

Mother’s Day Inspiration

We all agree that Mom is a special person in our lives and should be valued every day, but how often do we really express that? And do we do enough to teach our kids how to genuinely express appreciation towards the people that are important to them? Buying a thoughtful gift is, of course, a great way to express appreciation, but more often than not, it is the small, practical things we do that mean the most to others, or the personalized gifts and attention which demonstrating that we are prepared to go out of our way for another, that matter the most. Below, we share our thoughts on some of the ways to encourage your kids to express their love for Mom in tangible ways.

  • Set a good example

Do you visit or call your own parents regularly? Do you express appreciation for them, both to them and to your children? Do you tell your kids how your parents have helped you in your life? Do you do things that make your own mom’s life easier? All these are things that kids observe and copy.

  • Teach kids to do practical tasks as expressions of love

Sometimes, the best thing someone can do for you when you’ve had a rough day – or a rough year – is fold up the washing. Or for everyone to clean up and put away their own dishes. Or to tidy up their toys. Teach children to do simple tasks and let them know how much they mean to you. There is nothing wrong with rewarding kids from time to time when they do household duties, but a reward for domestic tasks is not a ‘basic right’. They are part of the family and should help, but rather than making a big deal of it, why not simply tell them that a tidy room is the best present Mom could think of on Mother’s Day!

  • Simple crafts

A hand-made gift beats any store-bought item. It shows the time and effort that kids are prepared to put into making their mothers’ happy. But don’t expect them to know how to guess what will please you. Tell them that you love their drawings or the crafts that they are enthusiastic about. Dad can help them make a simple gift, or encourage a friend or older sibling to help them make a present, if they are too little to manage on their own. Not only will you receive a memento of their love, but kids themselves will feel capable of expressing themselves and valued for their contribution.

For some craft inspiration, take a look at this super simple, adorable range of flower pictures made from paper cupcakes that are sure to be fun to make and to brighten up Mom’s life!

Photo credit:

Or get inspired by our bead sets (, available at Kiddie Ma-Jigs!

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Who We Are and What We Have To Share!

Who We Are and What We Have To Share!

Who are we, the family team behind Kiddie Ma-Jigs? The group was founded by Vivienne Marincowitz, who is still involved in many decisions of the group as a whole and who is the driving force behind the dress up shop and the unique range of Kiddie Ma-Jigs costumes. Vivienne has over 13 years’ experience in selecting the best toys, dress up items and ballet supplies for her clientele. She is not only deeply involved in the running of the Kiddie Ma-Jigs group, but is also an active member of the Parkview community, and has been instrumental in making many changes and improvements to the appearance and the security of the street , as well as the well-being and efficiency of the informal car guards who patrol it. Vivienne provides not only sponsorship for the vastly popular, annual Halloween event at Mark’s Park in Parkview, Johannesburg, but is also the mastermind behind the transformation of her shop into an annual Halloween headquarters, where trick-or-treaters can find a vast range of Halloween costumes and accessories, including bat outfits, werewolves, zombies, vampires, witches and much more. She is also the first port of call for local schools and ballet teachers, who have come to rely on her quality, original stock and competitive prices for their events, concerts and plays.

Vivienne’s daughter, Jessica, and her husband Russel, run the toy shops in Parkview, Morningside and Craighall, continuing the legacy of the original store. They are very visible in their stores, and if you are a regular, you will no doubt have seen them popping in and out with new stock or assisting customers. They are the drivers behind the rebranding of the stores as Kiddie Ma-Jigs, believing that customers should easily be able to recognise their brand of quality, family-run stores. Jessica is a big believer in the world of online and social media, and has achieved the monumental feat of getting the stores online.

With so much involvement in the toy industry, especially in the field of educational toys, we have a lot of experience and inspiration to share with you, from tips on the latest toy and party trends, to how to get your child to spend more time, do-it-yourself costume ideas and much, much more! We encourage you to follow our blog to get regular, informative and inspirational blog posts on children and play.

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