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19
Jan

Announcing: Parents’ Choice Magazine Awards

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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

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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.

 

13
Dec

13 Gift Ideas for the Creative Kid

By

 

 

Folkmanis® Puppets

Ages: 3 & Up
Price: $25 and Up

Bring story time to life. With puppets that include a Corgi, a Black Dragon, and a Nautilus, Folkmanis has a puppet for every tale.

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

 

 

 

Let’s Color America — Really Big Coloring Poster, 63″x36″

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Pirasta
Price: $32.00

Whimsical drawings detail the states’ identities in delightfully unconventional ways. In Florida, an alligator offers an orange to a flamingo, the men of Mt Rushmore seem to be smiling about something in South Dakota, a cow plays a saxophone in Missouri, people go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, wedges of cheese cheer on Wisconsin and farm animals share a slide in Iowa.

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

 

 

Draw & Build Dollhouse

Ages: 4 – 8 yrs.
Manufacturer: Build & Imagine
Price: $22.99

This set includes eight magnetic dry-erase panels (four square and four triangle), a door that opens and closes, one dry-erase character, four dry-erase markers (and eraser) to build and decorate as the builder/artist/storyteller sees fit. Build, draw, play, erase, dismantle. Repeat.

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

 

 

Fiona’s Colors Liquid Chalk Markers

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: RNBI
Price: $34.99

This set of 10 non-toxic liquid chalk markers can add an artistic touch to even the most pedestrian scribbles. The water-based odor-free markers work on non-porous surfaces including chalkboards and chalkboard stickers, white boards, glass and more.

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

 

 

Giant Go Go Gear Art

Ages: 5 & Up
Manufacturer: ALEX BRANDS
Price: $24.99

The Giant Go Go Gear Art kit includes 4 templates, 16 gears, 8 markers, stylus, 16 paper sheets, 10 Scra-fitti sheets, 5 sticker sheets and user friendly instructions.

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

 

 

GIANT Coloring Mural

Ages: 5 & Up
Manufacturer: lullubee inc.
Price: $16.95

These 5′ x 2 ½ ‘ murals can be taped to the wall, or rolled out (and weighted) on a carpet-free floor and patient children can spend days working alone and groups can spend a couple of hours working on their Kraft paper masterpiece with crayons, or chalk, paints or markers.

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

 

 

Crayola Crayon Factory

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Crayola, LLC
Price: $34.99

Turn broken bits of crayon into new fun-shaped crayons. Children simply drop the crayon pieces into the machine and wait for them to be melted and molded into new creations. This is a fun, hands-on way to encourage children to reuse and repurpose.

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

 

 

Pottery Cool Studio

Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: Spin Master Toys
Price: $39.99

This  beginning craft set includes twenty-six pieces: the Pottery Cool Clay Studio, one spray bottle, one tool holder, four clay disks, one paint brush, two sculpting tools, two coring tools, two cores, two sleeves, ten paints, and instructions: everything ready to get started. It also includes a carrying case, which makes for easy travel and storage.

Not only does the kit encourage artistic and creative pursuits, but it also helps to hone fine motor skills (e.g., using the sculpting tools to decorate projects, properly shaping the clay while on the wheel, etc.).

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

 

 

Gelli Arts Student Kit

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Gelli Arts LLC
Price: $24.99

This kit allows users to do mono printing at home without a press. It comes with a gel printing plate, a roller (brayer) and two stencils. Paints are not included.

Aspiring abstract artists enjoyed being able to create their own designs and press them onto paper. Parents also got carried away in the world of mono printing – on paper and on fabric.

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

 

 

Draw It 3D

Ages: 8 – 12 yrs.
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Start with a bit of M.C. Escher, mix in some Pixar-esque animation, add a dab of Stan Lee-style comics, and you get this super-cool how-to-draw book. While kids follow the prompts and practice their art on the 70 pages of this title, they learn technical terms (isometric and stereoscopic), technique (shading and perspective), and a bit of science (binocular vision).

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

 

 

Sew Mini Treats

Ages: 8 – 12 yrs.
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover Price: $21.99

With this oh-sew-cute kit, kids can whip stitch-up a batch of more than 15 tiny treats. The included materials-felt, floss, stuffing (not the edible kind), patterns, embroidery needles-are the ingredients and the 48-page book provides easy-to-follow recipes.

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

 

 

Creative Kids

Ages: 8 – 16 yrs.
Publisher: Prufrock Press
Newsstand Price: $6.50
Subscription Price: $24.95 / 4 Issues

This quarterly publication features the writing and artwork of kids. The magazine is wide-ranging in both subject matter and reading level. Featured youths offer fiction, poetry, essays, interviews, book reviews, puzzles, and crafts. Readers are encouraged to submit their own work or to join the advisory board for the publication; advisory board members serve for two years and are expected to be regular contributors.

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

 

 

LEGO Pop-Up

Ages: 7 – 10 yrs.
Author: Matthew Reinhart
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover Price: $29.99

Like the system of play that inspired it, this pop-up is as fun for adults as it is for kids. The opening page of the book features an ingenious 3-in-1 pop-up that transforms from race car to seaplane to Tyrannosaurus Rex. The first spread also includes the history of the brick, the origin of the name LEGO (“play well”), and an introduction to Professor von Brickhausen, who joins readers to explore the LEGO universe.

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

 

 

13
Dec

19 Gift Ideas for Kids Who Love Science

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Primary Science Outdoor Discovery Set

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Learning Resources
Price: $29.99

This kit uses common household ingredients, pebbles, twigs and bugs, and craft items to conduct and complete 10 different experiments. It includes three plastic plant pots, watering can, bug jar with vented lid, ten activity cards, three plant stakes, sprouting jar, solid lid and handy scoopers for creating the projects. The “extra” items needed to complete the experiments – such as craft supplies, carrots (preferably with greens), popcorn kernels, seeds (flowers and beans) and blue food coloring – are inexpensive and easy to find if not on hand.

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

 

 

Kids First Science Laboratory

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $50.00

Packaged in a clear storage/carrying case, this hands on introduction to science kit includes 25 pieces (large six hole disk, small test tube, 2 small lids, 2 large lids, large connector for the large sieve disk, 2 funnel vessels, small connector, 2 measuring spoons, magnetic rings with stand, magnifying glass, large test tube, test tube rack) a 16-page instruction guide for parents, and 10 laminated experiment cards. Common household ingredients are needed for the experiments ranging from Sour Milk, to Making Rain, to Bending a Pencil.

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

 

 

DIY Electro Dough Kit

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: Technology Will Save Us
Price: $27.00

What could a kid love more than playing with dough? Playing with dough that lights up and makes noise, of course! This kit contains a recipe and instructions to make conductive dough as well as a cookie cutters, a variety of LED lights, wires, and a battery pack.

The purposefully minimal manual explains important electrical concepts and vocabulary. It also gives basic instructions and diagrams on how to wire the components to light LEDs, create a buzzer, button, and even a tilt switch. The kit is an engaging, hands-on way to teach children the basics of electricity while encouraging imagination, creativity, and experimentation.

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

 

 

GeoSafari Jr. Subscope

Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.
Manufacturer: Educational Insights
Price: $27.99

The submarine-shaped water-resistant light up magnifying scope lets young aquatic explorers see what swims and lives in the water without submerging their heads. Colorful, durable, and easy to use, the 2-eye viewer fits comfortably around a child’s small face. There’s even a notch cut out for the scope to rest on the bridge of a nose. The 2x magnification and the LED lights illuminate what lurks beneath the water’s surface. Our testers, from bubble bathers to pond pioneers and sand/water table surveyors, were delighted by their discoveries.

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

 

 

Smartscope

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Ravensburger
Price: $44.99

This microscope allows children to view magnified objects through their smart device (e.g., phone, tablet, etc.). The kit includes pieces to build the scope and a variety of tools for collecting and examining specimens: tweezers, petri dish, pipette, object holder, cover plates, tablet support, storage/carrying pouch, and a 33″x23″ poster with ideas for observations.

The scope gets children excited about microscopy as well as nature as they explore various environments to find specimens to examine. This innovative blending of screen and real world, introduces a variety of scientific topics, vocabulary, and observation techniques.

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

 

 

Discovery Kids: Dinosaur Skull Dig

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Horizon Group USA
Price: $19.99

This kit includes: one earthen block with dinosaur skull encased, a wooden chisel, wooden mallet, paint brush, display stand, sticker sheet, poster, and instructions. Children use the enclosed tools, which mimic those sometimes used by real paleontologists, to remove the dinosaur skull from the earthen block.

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

 

 

Science Academy Volcano Lab

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: MindWare
Price: $24.95

While a volcano kit is not original, we appreciated that this one is based on the twin crater volcanic island Little Sitkin near Alaska – and we could easily find it on a map.

The manual was informative and the instructions for eight different experiments were clear and included pictures, making it easy to follow along. Kids can make fizzing lava bombs, three different types of eruptions, a mineral spring, crystallized mineral salts and learn about detecting mineral gasses.

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

 

 

Circuit Maze™

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: ThinkFun Inc.
Price: $29.99

This game combines the challenging fun of logic puzzles with the educational experience of building electrical circuits. In a series of sixty increasingly difficult puzzles, each building on the experience of the earlier levels, players have to place circuit pieces to light the LED units while meeting the restraints of the puzzle card.

Its an excellent next step for a child who already enjoys logic games and is interested in learning some science while trying something slightly more advanced.

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

 

 

Remote-Control Machines: Custom Cars

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $99.99

This science kit contains all of the parts needed to assemble approximately 10 different remote control cars (one at a time), a simple, front-back, left-right controller and an instruction manual which outlines experiments to test skill and simple physics.

Children with any interest in cars or in building machines will be mesmerized for hours on end building and testing model cars.

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

 

 

Wind Power 3.0

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $54.95

This kit includes components to build and power models, and a well-designed 32 page manual with experiments, lessons, and information about wind as power.

Building the models can prompt discussions ranging from science and weather to politics, and road infrastructure to kitchen appliances. Extended learning at its best.

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

 

 

Koantum

Ages: 5 – 12 yrs.
Publisher: Koantum
URL: www.koantum.com

Koantum is colorful, friendly, interactive, science website for elementary students that proves useful tool for parents or teachers who want to complement and bolster the science curriculum kids are learning in their classrooms.

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

 

 

The Big Book of Dinosaurs

Ages: 5 – 8 yrs.
Publisher: DK Publishing
Hardcover Price: $14.99

This big book containing lots of big illustrations of big (and a few small) dinosaurs is an updated edition of DK Publishing’s 1994 Big Book of Dinosaurs.

Dinosaur books for kids are hardly rare, but that doesn’t mean kindergarten and elementary-school aged dinosaur lovers won’t find these long-extinct and mysterious monsters totally mesmerizing.

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

 

 

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

Ages: 6 – 10 yrs.
Author: Gwendolyn Hooks
Illustrator: Colin Bootman
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Hardcover Price: $17.95

A biography of Vivien Thomas, an African American man who designed tiny needles and instruments to facilitate infant cardiac surgery. He was a life-saving pioneer but did not receive the credit he was due until late in his life.

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

 

Dr. Bonyfide Presents: Bones of the Rib Cage and Spine

Ages: 7 & Up
Publisher: Know Yourself
Hardcover Price: $18.00

This colorful workbook is no Gray’s Anatomy, but it does flesh out the parts, positions, purposes and pronunciations of the 51 bones in the spine and rib cage for youngsters willing to bone up on the human frame.

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

 

 

Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr. Magazines

Ages: 7 & Up
Publisher: National Wildlife Federation
Newsstand Price: $4.99
Subscription Price: $19.95 / 10 Issues

Ranger Rick offers excellent reading material for children who are interested in wildlife and who enjoy nature writing. Each issue offers a variety of articles, including nonfiction features on particular animals, brief news blurbs about conservation issues and initiatives, and a running cartoon strip about the fictionalized adventures of Rick and his animal friends.

Ranger Rick Jr., offers nature-themed stories, photographs, and puzzles for children not yet ready for Ranger Rick.

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

 

 

Eco Kids Planet

Ages: 7 – 11 yrs.
Publisher: Eco Kids Planet Limited
Newsstand Price: $5.00
Subscription Price: $46.00 / 11 Issues

Each issue of the advertising-free publication focuses on a different biome: sample issues included the African Savannah, the African Congo Rainforest, the Eastern Himalayas, and India. The heavy-duty pages (made from environmentally-friendly paper and inks) are meant to be read, saved, and re-read.

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

 

 

Brainspace Magazine

Ages: 8 – 13 yrs.
Publisher: Brainspace Publishing Inc.
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $32.95 / 4 Issues

Each issue of Brainspace is full of stories and short items, contests, fun facts and compelling visuals, all well done. Its topics include science, history, geography, language arts, and music-all of it going beyond the textbook approach.

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

 

 

Owl Magazine

Ages: 9 – 13 yrs.
Publisher: Owlkids Publishing
Newsstand Price: $5.25
Subscription Price: $34.95 / 10 Issues

This magazine is packed with great facts and articles from a range of S.T.E.M.(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, all conveyed in a dynamic and student-friendly manner. Its also loaded with non-fiction text features-abundant photos, captions, sidebars, diagrams, as well as fun games, crafts, comics, and brainteasers.

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

 

 

Muse

Ages: 9 – 14 yrs.
Publisher: Cricket Media
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

This S.T.E.M. focused magazine contains a high caliber of  intelligent, informative content, and includes the  recent subjects:  “100 Years of General Relativity,” nanotechnology, a teenage cancer researcher, the future of biofuels, and developments in clean water technology.

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

 

06
Dec

10 “Fun Stuff” Ideas for Gifts

By

fun_medWant to add an extra dose of fun to your holiday gift lists? Check out these Parents’ Choice “Fun Stuff” award winners!

 

Blankie Tails™ Mermaid and Shark Blankets

Ages: 1 & Up
Manufacturer: Blankie Tails
Price: $34.95

The machine washable mermaid and shark blankets are soft, cozy, and like a sleeping bag so kids can crawl in to rest, read, and relax. No, these are not educational per se. But they did promote reading, quiet time and storytelling/listening, prompting our parent testers to agree that as blankets go, these were pretty educational. As for the kids? The “funnest” blankets they’d ever had.

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

 

Make It Creative!™ Fairy Wing Design Kit

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Creative Education of Canada, Inc
Price: $17.99

This kit includes a set of wearable wings and about 200 pieces like satin ribbon, beads, gems and sparkly stickers to decorate them. Once personalized to the fairy’s liking, the wings can be worn for imaginative play.

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

 

Play-Doh Firehouse Playset

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Hasbro, Inc.
Price: $19.99

This playset comes with four small tubs of Play-Doh, an unassembled two story plastic fire house with three walls, a bed, a water cannon, fire hydrant that “extrudes” water, an axe, a dog and small firefighter figurine. The firehouse door opens and closes and has casts on the front to create firehouse equipment, such as a fire helmet, axe and a fire hydrant.

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

 

Wet Head

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: Zing
Price: $14.99

In this entertaining water roulette game, players take turns wearing the included helmet, pulling out pegs, and trying (or not) to stay dry. Its a simple-to-learn and easy-to-play game that will entertain children of many ages while also encouraging good sportsmanship. Testers took the game on vacation, to block parties, and to Grandma’s. And fun was had by all.

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

 

Happy Salmon

Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: North Star Games LLC
Price: $14.95

This is a high-fiving, fist-bumping, fast-paced simple card game that’s nothing short of total fun. The game consists of 72 action cards, a rulebook and a whimsical happy salmon carrying case.

As soon as the game begins, a crazy orchestra of action-yelling, players high-fiving, fist-bumping and flipping their fins ensues; add in players switching positions and the chaos is undeniably fun. Spectators enjoy watching people play this game as much as the players like playing!

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

 

Bunchems Alive

Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: Spin Master Toys
Price: $24.99

This pack includes one Bunchems motorized Stick’em ball and 300 Bunchems in five colors (blue, green, purple, black, and white), thirteen accessories (e.g., googly eyes, wings, a tail, etc.), and an easy-to-follow guide book that includes instructions for building several animals including a puppy, a chick, a crab, and a dragon. The kit’s open-ended nature lets children personalize the guidebook creatures and build creatures of their own design.

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

 

Yvolution NEON Street Rollers

Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: Yvolution
Price: $29.99

These wheels  attach to shoes and convert them to roller skates. With initial adult assistance, the wheels snap onto the shoes, the adjustable strap conforms to different shoe sizes, and best of all – the wheels light up via LEDs when they roll. No batteries required.

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

 

SIMON AIR Game

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Hasbro, Inc.
Price: $19.99

This is the latest twist on the classic memory game, Simon. You will still find the characteristic lights and sounds of Simon, but in this iteration, no tapping of buttons is required; players simply wave or hover their hand over the various colors. The game features three play modes: classic in which one color/pitches plays at a time, single-player in which up to two colors/pitches play at a time, and two-player in which up to all four colors/pitches play at a time. All of the games progressively difficult modes are terrific for sequencing, working memory, attention, concentration, and hand-eye coordination – for building skills in the young and retaining skills in the not-so-young. The two-player mode hones these skills as well, but also encourages cooperative play as two individuals work together to beat Simon.

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

 

Meccano Micronoid

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Spin Master Toys
Price: $39.99

These interactive robot toys are for children aged eight years and up (although our younger testers were quite at ease with the form and function). Children use the kit’s 120+ pieces and included tools to build the robot before experimenting with basic programming. Right off the bat, they help teach and hone important developmental and coding skills such as following of instructions, sequencing, spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.

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

 

 

Crayola Crayon Factory

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Crayola, LLC
Price: $34.99

What parent doesn’t have broken crayons swimming around their “junk” drawer? The Crayon Factory turns those broken bits of crayon into new fun-shaped crayons and comes ready to use with everything required: the crayon maker, three molds (heart, dog, and car), a paper scraper for removing crayon wrappers, an AC adaptor, eight full-sized crayons, and easy-to-follow, illustrated instructions. Children simply drop the crayon pieces into the machine and wait for them to be melted and molded into new creations. This is a fun, hands-on way to encourage children to reuse and repurpose.

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

 

 

 

 

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