Thursday, January 5, 2012

Practice Being Cool at Home First

Take turns or just practice next to each other.  2 boys + 2 Yo Babies

DOES: Allows you to do tricks with a skateboard-like toy but you can do this at home OR outside;  Video instruction allows for private practice;  Can alleviate symptoms of Look-at-Me Syndrome
INVEST: $10-20
TOOLS: Social Scene Helper, My Body Needs to Move, Express Yourself

It's been very cold in New York City these days but during the past week, we had one nice day.  My friend and I had a chance to take our boys out to the park together and I was pleasantly reminded of what the Yo Baby Kick Flipper can do for kids. 

Sometime last year, I bought each of my sons a Yo Baby Kick Flipper for just under ten dollars and it included a well-made instructional DVD.  Right now, I see it on Amazon for a little over that but depending on your goals, this Kick Flipper might be your next social scene helper.

First, why the heck am I talking about an outdoor toy when it's January in New York City? BRRRR  

One reason is that the Yobaby Kick Flipper is not just an outdoor toy.  In fact, it is really something that can be used in the living room.  Why?  It's essentially a practice skateboard without the wheels.   But it's so fun that you really don't even need the wheels.  It's just for tricks and I have two tricksters growing in my home so we need them.  

We actually do NOT use this at home because we have downstairs neighbors but we definitely would be if we didn't have that issue.

But why practice in the winter?  You must watch this video to understand how fun it can be anytime of the year.

This is great exercise and a great way to let off steam when you can't go outdoors.   But I mostly like this toy because you are able to practice at home with a video by yourself.  I think some kids are shy and would like to practice a little at home first before taking it out to test on the pavement.    

The great part about it is that it is so affordable, if you are serious about helping your child find a nice hobby that promotes exercise and self-confidence and possibly more social time, there is no reason why you can't buy two.   

When you have two Yo Baby Kick Flippers, a couple of great things can happen.  First, YOU can get on it yourself and give your child the big Look-At-Mom-Screw-Up-Laugh of his life.

More importantly, this whole act of practicing Yo Baby outdoors is a bit of an icebreaker.  Sometimes, I see that being able to do something fun in front of other kids invites kids to approach your child.  Eventually some kid in the playground may ask, "Hey, what is that? Can I try?"   Hopefully you will have discussed with your child how to properly respond.  I have trained Number 2 to ask, "Are you going to give it back?"  Give-it-back is big for #2.

Complicated conversations are not necessary with the Yo Baby Kick Flipper but what will likely happen is that two kids become in tune with each other, possibly doing different tricks at the same time or even better, they will TAKE TURNS looking at each other as they try a new trick.  

Even grown-ups don't take turns anymore.  Spouses interrupt each other all the time (or tune out before you have finished talking). If you're in an office, you almost HAVE to interrupt someone to be heard, if you didn't that means you had nothing to say.  But still for some reason, we still have to learn to take turns because it's important.

To me, taking turns means that you must pay attention to other person and see them looking like they are finished, decide that they are finished and then you can have a go.  With the Yo Baby, it's really rewarding to wait your turn, because while my child pays attention to his friend as he does his trick, he will register what he saw and then possibly attempt the same thing or a version of it.   That kind of performance volley happens in music, comedy, dance, ...  who knows what else.  There is no reason why it can't happen with a practice skateboard like the Yo Baby.  In fact, I think that is one reason why skateboarding culture has existed for so long.

When I see bigger kids in the park doing stunts, I think immediately, oooh... big boys... keep away... but then I think... gee, they could be doing much worse things than hanging out in a public park and doing stunts.  So sometimes, Number 1 and I park our butts down and just watch the big boys do their stunts.  Sometimes I even ask questions.  The big boys are not that big close up and they are pretty friendly and often look a little puzzled that a dorky mom is taking interest in them but I really love teenagers.  I think they are unripened grown-ups that have a unique ability to thrive well in both the kid and adult worlds.

I watch these boys do their skateboard tricks and see very interesting learning exchanges going on.  The constructive criticism is well-received, no one stomps away cursing and crying.  Turn-taking is done with ease.  Can you think of an easier way to wait your turn other than watching your friend do a trick? 

Lastly, it is very interesting how video instruction has really become a part of outdoor culture for kids.  The boys I talked to, whether it's skateboarding or snowboarding say the same thing when I ask them how they got so good.  Their answer: YouTube.

Of course, it's 2012.  How could it anything but YouTube?

Could there be an easier way for a shy child to practice something he likes before debuting his skills to the world?  If you missed something, just press REWIND!  It's so simple.  And while I haven't done it, I'm guessing that the YoBaby instructional DVD can be downloaded onto your iPad or phone and you can have your child practice outside if you wish, with or without a friend.  

Number 1 recently bonded with a new friend with this toy.  It is just so easy to just throw out as an option especially since I have two. If your goal is to play with other kids and you know no one else has one or a skateboard, it's like bringing half a ball to a playground.   Carrying 1 or 2 boards around is easy.  They are really light.There was no planning involved the last time I used it.  I just grabbed them out of my car and we brought them to the park.  

Also, I like that there is no huge investment with this toy.  I am not looking for my kids to enter skateboarding competitions.   But I should mention that especially at this price, I find very few toys that can really promote this style of trial-and-error road to improving your technique.  I love when Number 1 tries to do something and he just gets it.  However, I love it even more if he gets something after he's tried  a particular move twenty times.  He's so happy with himself.  

One thing to remember is that they are doing tricks.  By nature, tricks are not entirely safe.  So please encourage some level of caution especially if your child has a history of not playing with caution.   Moreover, watch that DVD that it comes with and bring a clip to the park.  Who says you can't bring technology outside?  We'll be compiling a YouTube playlist and posting it on our FB page.

Other than that, just know that we love our Yo Baby Kick Flippers.   I hope to hear that more schoolyards will offer them during recess.  I think it's a perfect way to kill time with friends or do something really fun if you are feeling like you have no friends in the park.   Chances are, because not every kid is carrying one around, it will make a great conversation piece and hopefully lead to more YoBaby or even real skatingboarding play with a friend.

Disclosure statement: Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any fashion 
by the manufacturer or retailer of any of the mentioned products for the publication of this post.  GarageCo Toys gave Toys are Tools permission to embed this video.


  1. These actually look simple and fun. I wonder if my son would be into them...

  2. I showed this review to my husband. He thought the Kick Flipper looked like fun, so he ordered four on Amazon: 1 for my daughter (8yo), her BFF, the BFF's little brother (a 6yo skateboarder), and an extra to keep at home for a friend to share. Thanks for the great review!