Does your kid love Peg+Cat as much as mine do? My 6-year-old admittedly enjoys it more than her big sister, but they still both relish the opportunity to help Peg complete her mission du jour. Even in real life, we make a big deal about finding ways to make things work, from short-cutting a recipe, to fashioning a replacement part for a craft project. If you’re particularly proud of a recent accomplishment, why not share it with other like-minded parents? PBS Kids is hosting a Peg+Cat Problem Solver of the Week. Each Monday, fans are asked to visit the Peg+Cat Facebook page submit an answer to the question, “What problem did your child solve this week?”, along with their child’s first name, photo and hashtag #ProblemSolved. Each Friday, a different fan will be selected as the Problem Solver of the Week. So, get cracking!
In just a few short weeks, I’ll have a kindergartner graduate home for the summer. She’s learned so much this past year, and I can only imagine how much she’ll absorb once first grade starts up. Because our school district has a half-day kindergarten program, we supplemented her education with an enrichment program a few days a week: a great way of extending the learning and enabling her to grasp new concepts not covered by the Common Core. Sure, summer gives us a breather when it come to the frenetic pace of the daily grind, but I like to think my kids can still maintain an education outside of the classroom, even when they’re not hitting the books. If you find yourself looking for ways to keep your preschooler or kindergartner challenged over the summer break, look no further than the Play and Learn With Wallace collection. These books offer plenty of activities to keep kids engaged and entertained, whether they’re stuck at home on a rainy day or in the backseat on their way to a vacation house. We love the Giant Workbook, teeming with over 300 activities like tracing letters, adding numbers and telling time. Kids who relish stickers will be in their glory with the Giant Sticker Book, featuring over 1,000 (!) colorful adhesives that complete scenes, spell out sentences and more. If you’re on the go, check out the Play and Learn With Wallace app, with educational games galore. These books cleverly disguise learning as fun, so September’s arrival won’t feel so scary.
In a Nutshell: Our idea of summer school: great activity books that encourage independent thinking, at whatever pace you choose.
Juggling two kids’ schedules competes for my attention every day. As a mom who’s been working from home for the past decade, I’ve become a master at time management and, on most days, feel like I have a pretty good handle on things. Even though my girls’ lives are undeniably busier than mine was at their ages, their schedules are predictable for the most part. But for moms of little ones, trying to get a baby to nap on queue, or take a bottle when they’re good and ready, is easier said than done. Aiming to make new parents’ a little less overwhelming comes Baby Bundle, a brand-new mobile app designed to simplify your baby’s everyday routine at the swipe of a finger. Monitoring Tools let you record and manage your baby’s sleeping, feeding, diaper-changing and even your breast-pumping activities. Super-techie, on-the-ball parents can even export the data to share with their pediatricians at monthly visits. Wonder how Junior is measuring up to his baby cousin in Denver? Just consult the Growth Tracker where you can record height, weight and other vitals while comparing to national averages. (Right up there for sports dads checking game stats!). Or, get your geek on by linking your doctor appointments to your calendar, while learning what you can expect at each check-up. Of course, no baby development app would be complete with a photo journal–aptly named Stream of Life–that lets you organize pix, note milestones and create journal entries to share with family and friends. Or just to moon over when you look back at how fast that first year went (sigh)…
In a Nutshell: This is one baby app that will help you feel you’re more in control of your life. The sweetest part.
Ever try to have a conversation with someone who’s more interested in their phone than you? Yup, we know the feeling–and it’s not a good one. Like so many families, we live busy lives and it seems our work often spills over into our personal time, making it difficult to disconnect. And hey, even if you admit to stealing a look at Facebook while standing on a long line at the post office with the kiddos, you’re in good company. But wouldn’t it be great if every now and then, we could prove to ourselves that yes, we can live with our iPhone, that we won’t stop breathing if we go without checking our Twitter feed every 10 minutes? To help fight that cause and spread that message of good will, we’re supporting Reboot‘s Fifth Annual National Day of Unplugging. Beginning at sundown today, March 7th, until sundown tomorrow, March 8th, we’re all being urged to power down our PCs, shut down our smartphones and reconnect with our families and loved ones in real time. We’re committing ourselves to the cause. (We may be a bit camera-shy, so our resident kitty and office mate is helping us out.)
The virtual world can wait one whole day, and imagine in a mere 24 hours, all the wonderful memories you can make…simply by being present. Good luck, and stay strong!
In a Nutshell: Step away from the smartphone, and support the National Day of Unplugging by just saying “no” or, at the very least, “see you later” to technology.
They say that cats have nine lives, but if there’s one kitty who’s exceeded all expectations, it’s The Cat in the Hat. The famous feline is, of course, the brainchild of Dr. Seuss who would have turned 110 year old this coming Sunday (now that’s a lot of birthday candles!). In honor of his special day, PBS Kids is airing an all-new, one-hour The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That! special on Monday, March 3rd, followed by new half-hour episodes for the remainder of the week. My 5-year-old loves to start her day being entertained by the Cat’s clever antics. It doesn’t hurt that she learns a thing or two along the way. This coming week, viewers will be treated to different episodes about balancing, making marbles from sand and how cotton is made into clothes. Check your local listings for times, and be sure to set your DVR. And the party doesn’t stop once the new episodes have aired: PBS Kids has launched a new mobile-friendly game for Cat in the Hat fans. Marblelous Marvel Coaster lets kids create their own Seussian roller coasters, and is available for download.
Move over, Tom and Jerry: There’s a new cat and mouse duo in town, and they’re a great team. Toopy and Binoo is an animated series for kids ages 2-6 that follows the adventures of Toopy, a tall, funny and friendly mouse, and his best friend, Binoo, a tiny, clever and lovable white cat. We got a sneak peek of these new characters who have their own TV YouTube channel and loved what we saw. This isn’t your ordinary game of cat and mouse; with a usually small creature like a mouse being so vocal and a cat being pint-sized and on the quiet, the role reversal adds to the show’s charm. My 5-year-old was quite taken with Binoo, probably because she can identify with being the quieter, younger counterpart to her outspoken old sister. In fact, it’s the talkative Toopy who loves to chat about the duo’s fun adventures, while Binoo keeps his lips sealed, but lets his feelings known through playful gestures and actions. Still, when they’re together, Toopy’s and Binoo’s differences complement each other, and make for well-balanced entertainment. The Toopy and Binoo TV YouTube channel features more than 100 full, five-minute episodes: plenty of fun for the whole family.
Twitter followers are invited to participate in the #ToopyandBinoo Twitter Party on February 20th at 1 pm (EST).
I received Toopy and Binoo products in exchange for a post about the show. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
It was a cold, but clear day in the Big Apple. With a fresh coating of snow on the ground, it was a fitting start to a trade show known for its brightness amidst the cold. We spent the day yesterday in NYC at the annual Toy Fair, checking out all the new playthings kids will be clamoring for later this year. With a comfortable pair of shoes (errr, make that snow boots), camera and trusty pad and pencil, we were ready to roll! To kick off the festivities, we attended a press conference spotlighting none other than Grammy award-winning artist Alicia Keys. (Yes, she’s as stunning in person as you might imagine, if not more). She was on hand to talk about the release of her new story-telling app, Mookey, the second in The Journals of Mama Mae & LeeLee.” If you haven’t yet heard of this educational app, it’s the continuing story of a young girl named LeeLee and her relationship with her grandmother, who is loosely based on Alicia’s experience with her own grandmother. The app was created with the intent to expose kids ages 4 and up to different cultures, animals and, of course, music and storytelling. Keys likened the series to going on “a worldwide journey where kids can appreciate the similarities and differences of other kids.” Kids can draw along with app, journal their own thoughts and even try their hands at making music. All the while, they will be able to relate to such universal childhood themes as making friends and managing their emotions. “We all experience the same things, and the stories will help kids relate to what they are going through themselves,” said Keys. She also recognizes it as a way to encourage interaction between parents, kids and grandparents. “It gives them a dialog, something to talk about,” adds Keys. Add some music to the conversation, and you’ve got the makings of a rich storytelling experience.
In a Nutshell: Alicia Keys lends her music talent to a storytelling app that aims to bridge the gap between generations. Both the first two books in the series, Blue Moon and Mookey, are now available for a free download at mamamae.com.
Do you know where you’ll be this Sunday? Whether you’re lucky enough to have coveted a ticket, or are content to happily nosh nachos from the comfort of your couch, we’re betting all eyes will be on the screen to see which team will take home the Super Bowl XLVIII trophy. (If you’re like me, and don’t quite know your tight end from your end zone, you’ll do your best to smile, devour a chicken wing or two…and wait for the commercials.) But if you happen to have a budding football fan in your house, you don’t need to feign your intelligence about the game (wait a minute, who’s on first?). Arriving just in time for the Big Game is Let’s Play Football, a story book and downloadable app that aims to teach young kids and their parents about football fundamentals. Targeted at kids ages 2-6, the story follows a father bear and his two cubs learn the ins and outs of the game as they watch the fictitious Lions and Bears in action. Astute viewers/readers may recognize the voice of ESPN announcer Ron Jaworski give the play-by-play (and even if you don’t know who he is, you’ll still know more about the game by story’s end). So, no matter if you’re rooting for the Seahawks or the Broncos, Let’s Play Football will make you feel like a real pro. At the very least, you’ll look forward to the halftime show. P.S.: I hear the Volkswagen commercial is a keeper.
In a Nutshell: Get in the game with a story and downloadable app that will get kids all fired up in time for Super Bowl Sunday.
Happy (almost) New Year! Have you joined the resolution-making camp? You know the drill: The road to 2014 may be paved with good intentions, but as most folks know–whether they’ll admit to it or not–most resolutions fizzle out before spring. If you vow that this year will be different–you will put that gym membership to good use and get up at 5 a.m., even if it kills you–then we commend you and aim to help you achieve your goal (just don’t expect a gym buddy). Instead, we’ve been checking out some of the newer activity bands, and have found one worth treating yourself to. Oregon Scientific’s Ssmart Dynamo has all the bells and whistles you expect from a fitness tracker, but with an ease of use that is unparalleled. The Ssmart Dynamo works via a downloaded app that allows you to track your steps (to help you figure out just how many calories you are burning), as well as to see how much (or little) sleep you are getting. This device then plots activity trends for different durations and can store up to 14 days worth of data. Compatible with your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Android smart phone, the Ssmart Dynamo is ready to work as hard as you are. It may just make keeping that New Year’s resolution a little less challenging… at least until spring.
In a Nutshell: Getting in shape for the New Year? This smartphone-synchronized gadget will help you get there with minimal effort.
Let the countdown begin! Our eyes and ears are peeled for the sound of Santa’s sleigh. Did we just hear reindeer hooves on the roof? If your kids can hardly wait another moment, we’ve found an entertaining way to maintain the momentum and keep them occupied (you do have all those presents to wrap, don’t you?). We got our hands on School Zone’s new app Jolly Try-n-Spy, a clever app that lets kids show just how observant they can be. Each of the 10 jolly Christmas scenes contain hidden pictures. They start out black and white, but once you locate the hidden images, the screen turns full color as Santa and team ride across the sky. Each time you play, the time it takes for you to find everything is recorded, and if you get really good, you get to enter the Holiday Hall of Fame. We like that this app appeals both to little kids, as well as older kids who want to beat their own personal best. A quick pull on a virtual green lever shuffles the images and mixes up a new picture to challenge players. Warning: this game can be highly addictive, almost like all those delicious Christmas cookies you’ll be eating up. Just be sure to save some for Santa. Merry Christmas!
In a Nutshell: Santa spies can get in on the action with a new game that adds to the excitement of Jolly Old St. Nick’s arrival.