Read More. Play More. Learn More.

17 Ways to Bring Language to Life



creative colorful speech bubbles


For a lovely picture book inspired by the beloved sign-language gifted gorilla Coco, try: Little Beauty (Ages: 4-8),

For fun games that build word skills for little ones, try: the Loco Lingo Games (Ages: 3 & up) and Tall Tales: The Game of Infinite Storytelling (Ages: 4 & up),.

For games for more skilled wordsmiths try: Crazy Letters (Ages: 10 & up), Double Play: Word Games with a Wacky Twist (Ages: 10 & up), Mad Libs: The Game (Ages: 10 & up), and Bring Your Own Book (Ages: 12 & up).

Cricket Media publishes a suite of literary magazines for readers of all ages and we love them all.  Start with Babybug (Ages: Infant-3), go on to Ladybug (Ages: 3-6), then Spider (Ages: 6-9), Cricket (Ages: 9-14), and Cicada (Ages: 14 & up).

Try these apps that help build phonics skills: Wonster Words: Phonics Spelling for Kids (Ages: 3-6) and PocketPhonics Stories (Ages: 4-7).

For the budding bilingualist in your life try these two apps and DVD: Juana y los Amigos de la Granja (Ages: 1-5), Little Monster At School (Ages: 3-7), and Spanish for Kids: Ultimate Collection (Ages: 2-7).



17 Ways Math is Fun!



Monster funny numbers

8 Toys

  1. ABC & 123 Picnic Activity Set (Ages: 3 & up)
  2. ThinkingKit/Math Monkey  (Ages: 4 & up)
  3. Math Room (Ages: 5 & up)
  4. Laser Maze™ Jr. (Ages: 6 & up)
  5. Logic Dots (Ages: 7 & up)
  6. Quadrillion (Ages: 8 & up)
  7. Math Dice® Chase (Ages: 8 & up)
  8. Geometry Strategy® (Ages: 12 & up)

 + 6 Apps

  1. Tiggly Math (Ages: 3 & up)
  2. Todo Math (Ages: 4 to 7)
  3. Montessori Math City (Ages: 5 to 7)
  4. Curriculum Associates’ Door 24 Plus App (Ages: 5 to 13)
  5. Dragon Shapes: Geometry Challenge (Ages: 6 to 8)
  6. Attributes by Math Doodles  (Ages: 7 & up)

+ 1 Website

  1. Go Math! Academy (Ages: 5 to 14)

+ 2 Television Shows

  1. Peg + Cat (Ages: 3 to 5)
  2. Cyberchase  (Ages:6 to 11)


= 17 Ways Math is Fun!





Ways to Celebrate Music & Art



From sidewalk art to conducting a toy symphony, creativity comes through play.

With a swipe of the finger, these Mobile Apps will lead to hands on play — and learning. Give NGAkids Art Zone, MoMA Art Lab and Toca Band a whirl.

Can you name that tune? Our Audio Award Winners will start and keep toes tapping. And page turners of all ages have lots to enjoy: read how Beatrix Potter learned to paint her renowned rabbit friend, explore the life and works of Diego Rivera, and introduce your child to some of the world’s greatest painting and sculptures.

Tour the history of musical instruments, read how a pawnshop instrument inspired one boy to become one of the most famous trumpeters of all time, or explore the story of a boy and a trombone twice his size, discover that a man from Saturn believes the power of music is what holds us all together, and know the story behind a famous photo of musicians.





Mom Says Screen Time Is Foul Play


In the dinosaur days – otherwise known as the pre-smartphone era, there was Parenting by Trinket.

When a wee one would get antsy or fussy while shopping at the grocery store, you’d search your purse for something to amuse and entertain your child in order to avoid the dreaded full-on meltdown tantrum in aisle three. Maybe you’d hand them your keychain as a distraction. Or maybe you’d grab a box of animal crackers and have them eat a lion.

These days, the more common scene is to see a parent hand the child a smartphone to quiet him or her down. This happens in restaurants, too, — another hotspot for possible child disruption to what parents always hope will be a pleasant evening out.

As I was being escorted to my table in an eatery the other day, I walked by a child sitting so calm and still that it caught my eye. As the mother of three sons, I was impressed. He looked like such a well-behaved young boy. His young mother sat across from him, also calm. No high-stress scene there. “Isn’t that nice?” I thought.

Then I realized that the son had a small screen — a smartphone or some other gadget — propped up right in front of him, and mom had a tablet propped up right in front of her. No wonder they were quiet; they were both lost in their screens.

You know where this is going – the whole no-screen-time rant. But no, it’s really not about that, because the next day I was chatting with a work friend who recently became a grandfather.

baseball grandpaHe’s in his sixties, grew up in the New York area, and is a devoted, serious Yankees fan – always has been, always will be – even though he has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for the last 30 years. His daughter works in New York, and several years ago she got married, moved to a New Jersey suburb and had a son named Samuel.

Little Samuel is now 3 and he has not watched any TV, he has never been handed a phone in a grocery store, and certainly has never has had a screen propped in front of him at a restaurant or anywhere else. It’s important to his mom that he not get sucked into our society’s sick addiction to tech gadgets, Candy Crush or SpongeBob Squarepants.

And it’s hard to argue with that. But for his grandfather, the Yankees’ fan, it has been brutal. Grandpa and Grandma are often called to New Jersey to help with babysitting, and for a retired guy who loves to watch sports, it’s digital detox of the worst sort.

Sunday afternoons are prime times to relax in front of the TV and watch a good ball game. And furthermore, little Samuel needs to learn about important people like A-Rod and Derek Jeter and Babe Ruth. He has tried arguing with his daughter, pointing out that it’s tradition, it’s sport, it’s the all American pastime – and it’s good for Samuel.

No dice. She knows her smart, sweet Sam will have plenty of screen time in the years to come.

All of this is pointing to the fact that it’s a struggle. We know that. Parenting by Trinket is no better than Parenting by Screen.

Parenting by being an involved, caring – and completely present in the moment — mom or dad is what we’re all striving for. And you have to make the screen-time decision that works for you.

After all, even Mr. Rogers didn’t advocate no screen time. (If he did, he would have been out of a job.) The point is you can raise a smart, inquisitive child who grew up watching Yankees games with his grandfather. And you can raise a smart, inquisitive child who didn’t.

When I next talked to my friend about the Sam situation, he had good news to report: He and his grandson – and the rest of the family – had found a solution. They all went to a minor league game. It wasn’t the Yankees, but the New Jersey Jackals at Yogi Berra Stadium proved to be a fine substitute, and Sam now knows what real baseball is all about.










15 Ways to Find Adventure In Your Own Backyard


GeoSafari Jr. Kidnoculars

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Educational Insights
Price: $14.99

This super durable set of kidnoculars are designed just for little faces.


Folkmanis® Monarch Life Cycle Puppet

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Folkmanis, Inc.
Price: $39.99

This beautifully designed puppet shows and goes through the three cycles of the monarch – chrysalis, caterpillar stage, then butterfly.



Primary Science Outdoor Discovery Set

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

Little ones can use household items, pebbles, twigs, and even bugs from the backyard to conduct 10 different experiments.



Wild Cards: Backyard Birds

Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: Birdcage Press
Price: $10.95

Facts and beautiful photos adorn this bird-themed deck of cards. Three options for game play.



Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Ravensburger
Price: $19.99

This microscope allows children to view magnified objects through their smart device (e.g., phone, tablet, etc.) and features two magnification levels and a removable light source.


 Nancy B’s Science Club Binoculars and Wildlife Activity Journal

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Educational Insights
Price: $15.99

Binoculars and a journal to record their wildlife findings are included in this cute set.



TK1 Telescope & Astronomy Kit

Ages: 12 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $169.95

More than just a telescope, this geared toward older kids kit comes with an informative guide that shows how telescopes work, how to use it, and suggestions on what to look for in the night sky.




On Beyond Bugs!: All About Insects

Ages: 5 – 10 yrs.
Download Price: $5.99
Platform: iPad

This ebook app based on the Dr. Seuss book has kids exploring and learning about the bugs in their world.





Meet the Insects: Village Edition

Ages: 4 & Up
Developer: NCSOFT
Download Price: $3.99
Platform: iPad

This app is a veritable encyclopedia of insects with lots of photos and videos of creepy crawlies.




Scholastic First Discovery: The Forest

Ages: 4 & Up
Developer: Scholastic
Price: $1.99

Great for younger kids, this app teaches kids about the flora and fauna contained in the forest.



Star Walkthumbnail_starwalk2-pic-1-big

Ages: 5 – 18 yrs.
Adapted By: Olga Shtaub
Developer: Vito Technology
Download Price: $4.99
Platform: iPad

This stunning app teaches kids about the moon, planets, and galaxies far, far away.


Books and Magazine:


A Nest is Noisy and A Beetle is Shy

Ages: 5 – 8 yrs.
Author: Dianna Aston
Illustrator: Sylvia Long
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Hardcover Price: $16.99


Both written by Dianna Aston and beautifully illustrated by Sylvia Long, these two books show and teach kids about animals who nest and the fascinating world of beetles.



Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Annette LeBlanc Cate
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Hardcover Price: $15.99
Cute illustrations and abundant bird facts make this a great starter manual for amateur birdwatchers.



Ranger Rick Magazine

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

Each issue contains articles about animals, nature, conservation, puzzles, and word games sure to keep your nature lover busy.