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15 Wonderful Games, Apps, and Even a Book About Words




Loco Lingo Games

Ages: 3 & Up

Manufacturer: HABA

Price: $12.00

Kindergarten, Fastgrasp, and Building Site round out the Loco Lingo series of board games. Storytelling, riddle solving, and rhyming are just a few of the skills they help build.


Tiggly Words

Ages: 4 – 8 yrs.

Manufacturer: Tiggly

Price: $29.95

Designed to work on iOS and Android tablets, this learning system consists of 4 apps and 5 vowel shapes that safely interact with your tablet screen to spell words and build vocabulary.


Grandma’s Trunk ™ Alphabet Game

Ages: 5 & Up.

Manufacturer: Educational Insights

Price: $14.99

Five different word games, such as “What Comes Next?” and “Grandma’s Adventure” are packed into this easy to pack up trunk.


Zingo!® Word Builder

Ages: 5 & Up

Manufacturer: ThinkFun Inc.

Price: $19.99

Players slide the Zinger to reveal letters to fill up their game boards. Players who make the most words win the game.


Sight Word Spy 1

Ages: 5 – 8 yrs.

Manufacturer: Delightful Bee

Price: $12.95

This card game reinforces word recognition and hones spelling skills. Players race to make matches to win the most cards.



Ages: 8 & Up

Distributor: Popular Playthings

Price: $19.99

Players roll the lettered dice and work to build as many words as possible in the allotted time. But, its not always clear what letters are revealed.


Chain Letters

Ages: 8 & Up

Distributor: Patch Products

Price: $19.99

Like Barrel of Monkeys but, players link letters together to build words.


Last Letter™

Ages: 8 & Up

Manufacturer: ThinkFun Inc.

Price: $12.99

This update on the classic version of this letter game uses illustrations to challenge players while they work quickly to spot a word to match.


Play on Words

Ages: 8 & Up

Manufacturer: David James Games

Price: $13.99

Players use letter cards to build words and score points. For a fun twist, rearrange an opponent’s letters to get a higher score.


Compound It All!

Ages: 9 & Up

Manufacturer: Lee & Low Books

Price: $29.95

Players work to form compound words from the letters they’re dealt. Seems simple enough until someone steals your letters to win the game.



Ages: 10 & Up

Manufacturer: ThinkFun Inc.

Price: $12.99

The tricky challenge here is to figure out where a word begins and ends on the circular cards. Be the first to figure it out and win the card. The player with the most cards wins the game.



Wonster Words: Phonics Spelling for Kids

Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.

Developer: 77SPARX Studio, LLC

Platform: iPad

Ghostly letters and not-so-scary “wonsters” help kids learn to spell and sound out new words.


Noodle Words – Active Word Game Set 1

Ages: 4 – 7 yrs.

Developer: Mark Schlichting

Developer: NoodleWorks Interactive, LLC

Download Price: $2.99

Platform: iPad

Words come to life for young readers in this app. With just a touch, animated words act out their meaning. For example, make “drop” drop, and “spin” spin.


Mystery Word Town – Sight Word Spelling

Ages: 6 – 10 yrs.

Developer: Artgig Apps

Download Price: $2.99

Platform: iPad

Players help the sheriff of an old Wild West town recover lost gold while increasing their spelling and word recognition skills in this fun themed app.



The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Ages: 7 & Up

Author: Jen Bryant

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Hardcover Price: $17.50

This beautifully illustrated biographical picture book brings us the life story of the creator of the thesaurus.





Sonia de Los Santos Debuts Chocolate Video


Chocolate Spread_1 copy

Parents’ Choice: Sonia, what is Children’s Day in Mexico?

Sonia de Los Santos: In Mexico, children look forward every year to April 30th for their very own celebration we call Children’s Day. On this day, families unite to celebrate with many events and festivities that remind us all the importance of childhood and the joy they bring to our lives. It’s a day when kids get toys and treats, and of course, lots of chocolate!



Parents’ Choice: Where does the Chocolate song come from?

Sonia de Los Santos: The song is based on a Mexican Traditional Rhyme about making chocolate. There are many different versions -and probably each mom sings it slightly differently – but for some reason this is the way I sing it! I included this song in my album because it reminds me of the time when I used to make hot chocolate with my mom to warm us up on cold winter days… I remember helping her stir a big clay pot full of chocolate with a “molinillo”, a traditional wooden stick-  and drinking it with “pan dulce” (sweet bread).

Parents’ Choice: Why did you make a video for Chocolate?

In the last few months after Mi Viaje came out, I’ve been getting videos from parents where their kids are singing along to this song: in the car, in the kitchen and just a cappella doing their chores! There seem to be a calling for it and I thought it would be fun to share a video with them that they could singalong to … it’s my Children’s Day present for children everywhere! ¡Feliz Día del Niño!

Parents’ Choice: Thank you for debuting your Chocolate video with Parents’ Choice!

Sonia de Los Santos: You’re welcome! I couldn’t imagine a more delicious place to do so.



7 Games You Shouldn’t Keep in Your Closet


Keep them on your table top, ready to be played.


Move & Groove™

Ages: 1+ (ThinkFun Inc.) $19.99

Players roll the plush cube, match the given color to a corresponding card, and then carry out the cards instructions. With moves such as, “hop like a kangaroo” and “play the air guitar”, lots of silly fun will be had.

frankie_food_truckFrankie’s Food Truck Fiasco Game

Ages: 4+ (Educational Insights)  $21.99

In this delicious matching game, players race to be the first to deliver a 5-course meal. Using an adorable kitty shaped “squeezer” kids pick and choose ingredients to fulfill the food truck orders.




Ages: 5+ (Marbles: The Brain Store) $29.99

Players take turns removing pieces from this Jenga-style tower. The player with the least fallen pieces at the end wins.




Creature Clash! Card Game creature_clash_card_game
Ages: 6+ (Chronicle Books) $14.99

This strategy game challenges players to create crazy creatures from a triptych of cards. Each card has a point value, so the player who creates the creature with the highest points, wins the game.






Ages: 6+ (Fat Brain Toys) $15.95

Players work to score points by using tiles to spell numbers. The goal is to spell out numbers one through ten, and the first player to 21 points wins the game. But watch out, players with tiles that spell “Woo” can take the win.





Ages: 8+ (Twizmo Games) $17.95

Think Checkers but with the spirit of Chess, you won’t be that far off.

Tak-tak is easy to learn and simple to play. It’s a game that mostly requires out-thinking your opponent.




Lost CitiesLost Cities: The Board Game

Ages: 10+ (Thames & Kosmos) $39.95

Players work to guide their team of explorers on a quest to find the locations of five lost cities. Drawing cards to advance their teams across the board, points are given to the teams who make it the farthest. The player with the most points at the end wins the game.








The Rise of Gen Z Stars


gen-z-blogRemember the old TV show Star Search? Host Ed McMahon (and Arsenio Hall in a later revamped version) showcased young talented kids who hoped to win recording contracts. Among the child performers who went on to fame are Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Cristina Aguilera. Steve Harvey is doing something similar in his kids talent show, Little Big Shot.

But the most fertile ground for finding new stars these days is, of course, the Internet. Kids are not only rising to fame in a new way, they’re cashing in.

Disney-owned Maker Studios has launched a new program called Maker Studios Spark, designed to produce original content from kid creators found on all major social media platforms – YouTube, Vine, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. And Maker is funding more than 100 projects, reports Variety.

Spark’s first new series is called Intro To … It’s an unscripted comedy featuring Lola Holderness and her brother Penn. The Holderness family operates a vlogging channel that has more than 172,000 subscribers. The kids portray candidates Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. The parents, both of whom worked on local TV in Florida and now own their digital video business, are in on the act, too. A funny Christmas jammie family video went viral in 2014 and now they’re big stars.

Separately, YouTube has been funding its own original programming, available initially on the YouTube Red subscription service. Maker is one of YouTube’s partners in the effort: It co-produced the “Scare PewDiePie” series, starring Swedish comedian Felix Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie), one of YouTube’s biggest stars, with 40 million subscribers. Verizon’s Go90 mobile-video service also has made moves to sign digital talent to contracts.

It’s a lucrative and booming business.

More and more children are finding stardom on YouTube channels or other social media platforms, and it’s setting them up with nice college bank accounts. (Let’s hope that’s what they’re doing with the money.) According to, 1 million views can translate into $3,000 to $6,000.

By the early teen years, kids are learning to brand themselves into cross-platform, hashtag-bearing stars, leading to even bigger paychecks, including $10,000 to $20,000 per sponsored Instagram post and YouTube video.

A #BrandofMe study conducted by Canada’s Centennial College’s kidsmediacentre found that that an average of 200 young people sign with agents every day to be influencers.

With all of this social media fame comes the downside — pressure to perform and gain followers, cyber trolls and bullying and exploitive companies.

If your child wants to be a star, you need to be with them every step of the online way. Don’t just look over their shoulder; be there with every keystroke and posting made online. Parents who might be lured by the success need to police the privacy, as well as the self-esteem, of any budding child star.






Ready for a new playlist? We’ve got you covered!


Musical Round Composition

The Spring 2016 Parents’ Choice Audio Awards are here!

We’ve got audio books where there’s this Thing About Jellyfish, a house where Robots Go Wild, and a clandestine summer camp where some kids have more Bad Luck than good. Storytelling takes listeners from Ancient Egypt to the California Gold Rush and from World War II to Andy’s Wild Amphibian Show. The children’s music category is filled with treasures. Here, listeners can begin exploring the world on a sidewalk stroll, take a ride on the Mitzvah Bus or travel with Sonia de Los Santos from Nuevo León, Mexico, to New York and points in between. Listeners who know they can be anything also believe in the little things. There are bugs to know, seeds to sow , and as Lynne Heffley writes, “Raffi, the original children’s music superstar, has never been better.”

There you have it.