Read More. Play More. Learn More.
16
Feb

Announcing: Parents’ Choice Small Screen Awards!

By

TV flat icon with long shadow

Parents’ Choice Small Screen Awards

Today we are pleased to announce the Parents’ Choice Small Screen Awards.

Preschoolers will circle around the Parents’ Choice Award winning apps; they’ll learn how the world is shaping up, and how music helps tell a story. And for learners ages six and up, there are big numbers at play.

Two must see DVDs are Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story the story of the first African-American ballerina in the country to perform a solo with the Metropolitan Opera and Snowtime!, a CGI-animated remake of the 1984 French Canadian film The Dog Who Stopped the War (La guerre des tuques).

Coding cadets who can’t get enough Minecraft, will play and learn for an entire year with Mod Creation: The Adventure Begins and those chomping at the bit to design their own game can put their keystrokes to work in AnchorApp Development with JavaScript: Infinite Runner.

And in a world where developers and educators are exploring how to help children learn in new ways, Osmo Monster and Osmo Pizza Company, are among the most interesting products we’ve seen this year. We think you’ll agree.

Are you ready to push play? For the Spring 2017 Parents’ Choice Awards in websites click here, mobile apps and software are here, and the videogames are here.

 

07
Feb

Citizen Scientists and The Great Backyard Bird Count

By

 

 

An abstract of a bird in a tree

 

The Great Backyard Bird Count has been an annual event for the past eighteen years.  It is jointly sponsored by the National Audubon Society and Cornell University.  During a week in February, bird lovers of all ages and from around the world systematically count species in their own backyards.  They tally different types of birds using a check sheet then enter their reports online to create a comprehensive picture.  Amateur reporters are also known as citizen scientists.  Familiarity with species and practice using the tally sheet, ahead of time, help with accuracy.  Parents and children, together, will enjoy preparing for and participating in the next Great Backyard Bird Count.

One backyard birder in Atlanta, who regularly spreads birdseed and provides nest boxes, reported as many as fourteen different species during the 2016 backyard bird count, and her fenced-in backyard is 30’ x 100’.  The wide range of species in her backyard included such colorful birds as blue jays and bluebirds, goldfinches, cardinals and red-headed woodpeckers.  Iridescent grackles, brown thrashers, and red-tailed hawks were also recorded.

Birds of all shapes and sizes, are beautiful and fascinating to watch, particularly during spring when they nest and raise offspring.  They have melodious bird calls that dedicated birders memorize, and they display distinctive behaviors.  For example, cardinals in the Deep South forage in the early dawn and late dusk, before and after other bird species.  Such behaviors have evolved to minimize competition, occupy specialized niches, and enhance survival.

If you are inspired by The Great Backyard Bird Count, instructions can be found here. Enjoy watching, counting, and helping these magnificent creatures.  Backyard birding is a good intergenerational activity that is extremely worthwhile.

Birds can delight us in countless ways.  Try watching, for example, small wrens building nests.  Their twigs may be a bit large for a particular birdhouse entrance but they persist with their nesting material, approach the hole from all angles, and succeed in building compact nests.  Old nests can be removed from birdhouses, at winter’s end, to make space for new ones.  Male cardinals will turn their beaks and gently feed females during courtship.  Patient cardinal parents will even feed teenaged cardinals, long after they can feed themselves.  Pesky, fluttering adolescent food requests can be quite humorous.  There are many lessons to be learned in wild birds’ patience, persistence, and caring.

– Mary Hollowell, PhD

About the author: Mary Hollowell, the mother of two girls, is an associate professor of education at Clayton State University. She is a former science teacher and director of education at Cincinnati Museum Center.

Save

02
Feb

Announcing: Parents’ Choice Television Awards!

By

Untitled-3

Although we call them Parents’ Choice Television Awards, we’re well aware that watching “TV” is no longer dependent on a cord or the clock. Stream, download, DVR are all verbs that describe today’s TV watching.

Pediatricians caution about too much TV for young ones. Our experts agree. Parents’ Choice Foundation is as concerned about the quality of the screen time, as we are about the quantity.

The best shows understand and respect the audience. From preschool to high school, scripts are smart, fun, and informative. Style and substance are key. Concepts and context are age appropriate, co-viewing and discussion are encouraged.

We once again give our highest accolades to preschool shows Tumble Leaf, Peg + Cat, Daniel Tiger, and Dinosaur Train and welcome new Parents’ Choice Gold Award winners Nina’s World, Stinky and Dirty, and Splash and Bubbles to the preschool set. Moving to slightly older audiences, Annedroids, Odd Squad, and Gortimer Gibbons take encore bows.

And among the newest standouts, An American Girl Story: Melody 1963 and Hello World are both reminders and calls to action.

Please join us in congratulating the full roster of 2017 Parents’ Choice Television Award-winners.


19
Jan

Announcing: Parents’ Choice Magazine Awards

By

 

Logo-Winners-2 (1)

 

Magazines aren’t just for waiting rooms. Magazines make wonderful gifts. For the recipient, a magazine subscription is a scheduled reminder that someone is thinking about her. With each delivery comes a thought bubble that says “Grandma knows that I love to read about history,” or “Uncle Joe remembered that I want to learn more about creative writing.”
 
Today, we’re pleased to announce the Spring 2017 Parents’ Choice Magazine Awards – page-turning havens of bite-sized learning.   

Image courtesy of: eonrealty.com
19
Dec

10 Apps to Give as Gifts

By

 

Epic!

Ages: Infant – 12 yrs.
Developer: Epic! Creations Inc.
Download Price: $4.99
Platform: iPad

Epic! is an appropriately named app that gives users access to over 10,000 children’s books on a wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction topics. There are books to be read independently, books that are narrated, and even audiobooks. Parents can create up to four profiles for their children; and, each profile is individualized to the skill level and interest of the child. Parents are asked to enter the child’s age and select several favorite subjects including but not limited to: science and nature, sports, mystery, daily life, history, plants and trees, and classics. From that information, the app makes recommendations, but there is no obligation to follow those recommendations. Children can browse by topic or search for specific titles and topics. And, when they find books that they enjoy, they can add them to their “Favorites” or even download them for reading offline. Finally, letting children choose what they want to read increases their interest and engagement level, which in turn increases reading time and skill level.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

 

Green Eggs and Ham – Read & Learn – Dr. Seuss

Ages: 2 – 5 yrs.
Developer: Oceanhouse Media
Download Price: $3.99
Platform: iPad

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-am.” How many times between our childhoods and our years as parents have we uttered those words? The classic story, which teaches children to try new things (no matter how they might look) has helped children learn to read for nearly sixty years. In its new Read & Learn series, Oceanhouse Media delivers Dr. Seuss’s beloved “Green Eggs and Ham” on a digital platter.

Each screen-page features a wide variety of interactive characters and objects. By exploring its pages (tapping, dragging and tilting), children discover hidden activities that enhance the learning experience. For example, children may be asked text-based questions to evaluate and improve comprehension (e.g., “What does Sam-I-Am’s friend not like?”). They may identify and match rhyming words, select missing letters to complete words, find objects that begin with a certain sound, or match the written name to the appropriate character. All of these activities help develop and hone important early reading skills.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Shape Gurus

Ages: 2 – 5 yrs.
Developer: Colto
Download Price: $1.99
Platform: iPad

Starting with the appropriate metaphor of a bird building a nest, the app takes users through a series of geometric puzzles that require matching of shapes, sizes and colors. Players here a satisfying “click” sound when pieces are correctly placed. Incorrectly placed pieces simply spring back. No warning sounds or audible admonitions to be heard. As each puzzle is completed – a watering can, a flower, a rocket ship – an animation gives context to the assembled pieces. Progressing through the game, we get the sense of a story unfolding.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

Sago Mini Road Trip

Ages: 2 – 5 yrs.
Developer: Sago Mini
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

Jinja the Cat is going to visit her friends, but she needs some help packing and getting there! In Sago Mini Road Trip, an app designed for children aged two through five, players select a destination, pack Jinja’s bags, choose a vehicle, and help her navigate her road trip. Changing destinations merits changing a wardrobe; we love this implied lesson about how where you’re going can effect what to wear. Players can select from six destinations ranging from the mountains to the big city. And, they can choose one of fifteen vehicles including a race car, school bus, ice cream truck and even a bathtub on wheels or a pickle car.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

 

Lucy & Pogo

Ages: 3 – 7 yrs.
Developer: Catsndogz Studio
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

Lucy and Pogo, an interactive storybook by catsndogz, is based on the popular French story, “Le chat qui aboyait,” The Cat that Barked. It tells the tale of two outwardly different neighbors, Lucy the cat and Pogo the dog. Pogo goes to school everyday and Lucy would love to join him, but she cannot, because no cats are allowed at school. Lucy decides to disguise herself as a dog, Rocky, so that she too can go. Once at school, she is horrified by a biology class that describes cats as ghastly monsters and a teacher who plans a cat-hunt for the next day. As it so happens, disaster strikes during the hunt and the only one who can save the day is Lucy/Rocky. While celebrating the rescue, everyone is shocked to see Lucy’s dog costume fall off to reveal their “worst enemy,” a cat! Of course, through this lesson, the dogs overcome their prejudice and begin to welcome all animals to their school.

There are any number of apps and storybooks that aim to teach children about intolerance, but many come across as overly directive or heavy-handed. Oftentimes, the story feels an afterthought of the moral; that is not the case in Lucy and Pogo.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

 

MarcoPolo Arctic

Ages: 3 – 7 yrs.
Developer: MarcoPolo Learning
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

The aptly named, MarcoPolo Arctic app is a digital sandbox in which children explore- freely at their own pace with no rules and no limits-arctic habitats and the animals that dwell in them. The app features over twenty arctic species of tundra animals, semi-aquatic mammals, marine mammals and birds in three habitats: the tundra, the taiga, and the ocean. Children learn about various animals by completing animated and narrated puzzles; for example, while completing a puzzle of a caribou, the narrator names each body part and shares interesting facts about how the caribou uses those parts, where it lives, and what it eats. And, in addition to the puzzles, there are over one hundred interactive features on the scrolling pages. Children can tap on animals to play, lead them to water, and more.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

 

 

Easy Music – Give Kids An Ear For Music

Ages: 5 & Up
Developer: Edoki Academy
Download Price: $3.99
Platform: iPad

Easy Music- Give Kids an Ear for Music by Edoki Academy is designed to introduce children to basic musical skills and concepts via fun, simple-to-play, non-theory-based games. The sandbox-style app features two modes: Practice and Compose. In the Practice mode, children learn and hone basic music skills as they play fun games with four friendly characters.

The app can accommodate up to forty children’s profiles on one adult’s account and includes a detailed Parents’ Guide with instructions and helpful information about how the app works, and how to get the most from using it. There’s even a co-composer feature for those with an Apple watch. This is a beautifully designed and thoroughly playful app that will foster in children an interest in learning music.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

 

Toca Blocks

Ages: 6 – 8 yrs.
Developer: Toca Boca
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

Toca Blocks is an app for the imaginative child who likes to create and build worlds. The Toca Blocks world is a 2-dimensional environment with a few basic building blocks (red, yellow, green, polka-dot, and dance) and some special blocks to give a head start on more advanced building (brick and some home props, like a teakettle and doors). Players can combine the basic blocks to create many more types of blocks of an increasingly elaborate nature; after days of exploration we were still finding new kinds of blocks and props. The doors allow players to step through to another 2-D world with even more options for building. Players can explore the world as any of three characters: a cat (with high agility), a bear (who can climb walls and hang from ceilings), and a bird (who has high speed and can, of course, fly — at least a little).

Toca Blocks is an app of great fun and limitless creation.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

The Everything Machine By Tinybop

Ages: 7 & Up
Developer: Tinybop
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

The Everything Machine by Tinybop lives up to its name. This app uses a visual programming environment to let users build machines that can interface with every component of a mobile device and then manipulate, record, transmit, or receive the data. Users can build circuits that are as simple as pressing a switch and turning on a lightbulb. Users can also access the camera, the microphone, the speaker, the vibration and tilt functions, and the display; there are modules that can modify the camera image as much as any photo-booth app. With only a few dozen components, kids can create almost anything.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

 

Weirdwood Manor

Ages: 6 – 12 yrs.
Developer: All Play, No Work
Download Price: $4.99
Platform: iPad

Part storybook, part animated film, part game and part puzzle, “Weirdwood Manor” is a visually stunning interactive story about three children who learn that their imaginations hold the keys to extraordinary abilities.

The story, illustration and art direction, and narration are very strong. The pacing is ideal for pulling young readers into the rich fantasy world and setting up the story. Our most intrigued tester/player/readers, who are big fantasy readers and avid gamers, were fascinated with this app. They didn’t want to put it down until they had finished. Striking artwork, age-appropriate mystery, puzzles to solve and secrets to uncover. Not at all a bad way to spend some time.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.