Archive for September, 2011

Learning Logos Before Words

Friday, September 30th, 2011
In the Zone

"In the Zone" by Tim Samoff, used under Creative Commons Attribution License

Before your baby learns to speak, he or she will probably develop a few brand preferences. Not only that, but studies say that by the time a child is three, he or she can recognize an average of 100 logos. This is no accident, as marketers are increasing their efforts to capture the attention of children three and under. An article in Adweek claims:

By getting their logos and iconic characters in front of babies—even those with still-blurry eyesight—[companies] hope to establish brand-name preference before she or he has uttered a word.

The parents of young children have long been targeted by marketers, but the practice of developing brand recognition and loyalty in babies is still relatively new, the article says. What do you think of this new trend? Is it worth worrying about or is it just a fact of life? Tell us on Facebook!


Link: “The Next Great American Consumer,” Adweek.

Easy…but not Cheap

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Easy, not cheap is a subtle distinction and no, we aren’t talking about personal reputations. Every day, busy parents face the dilemma of doing what is quick and easy over what is ultimately best for your family, be it food, television or exercise. We’ve all fallen prey to the easy road at some point, especially when life, school, activities, sports make the quick choices a no-brainer. The New York Times recently wrote an article about how junk food, the easy choice, isn’t really cheaper than healthier alternatives. By now, most of us know that the long term investment in better food choices pay off, but the majority still believe that it’s too expensive. What if that is no longer true? What if short and long term benefits make a lot of quick and easy choices just the lazy choice? Will it change the way you do things?

“Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?”New York Times.


Resources for Parents:
Give Peas A Chance. “Never preachy, Grammy Award-winning Tom Chapin works with co-songwriters John Forster and Michael Mark to effortlessly wrap messages about the junk food blues, the benefits of buying local and the rewards of growing your own veggies into hugely enjoyable, sing-able songs.”

Nourish Interactive. “For parents, there are articles written by “health professionals to help families learn about the fun and importance of making healthy food and fitness choices” as well as healthy recipes, tips, and more.”

Parents’ Choice Fall 2011 Audio Award Winners

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Parents' Choice Audio Awards

We are excited to announce our Parents’ Choice Fall 2011 Audio Award winners! Discover the witty wisdom of Lori Henriques (and the beautiful album artwork by her brother, Joel Henriques). Hear Simon Brooks narrate A Tangle of Tales from around the world, or get in the car with Hullabaloo’s Road Trip. Try introducing classical music and American history to your children or classroom with John Adams: The Voice Heard Round the World, a CD and picture book set pairing David McCullough’s narration with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s instrumentation. Aiming for a different definition of classic? Kathy Reid-Naiman’s Tickles and Tunes, an album you might remember from your childhood, has certainly aged well since its 1994 release.

Want to explore more distinguished children’s music? Find all of this season’s award winning audio books, music, and storytelling collections here.



Time Shift Your TV: Dinosaurs Everywhere!

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Terra Nova

One of the most talked-about shows of the new fall TV season airs tonight (Monday, Sept. 26). Terra Nova, the show Entertainment Weekly called the biggest, most expensive, and riskiest new series of the fall, debuts with a two-hour premiere on Fox at 8 p.m.

It’s about dinosaurs, and Steven Spielberg is one of the executive producers of the show.  Jurassic Park, anyone? Just remember that this is television, so it will be a tall order to sustain the special effects of a feature film each week. However, the first two hours do feature scary Cretaceous era creatures with killer tails that can whack a person across the jungle and fangs that are ready to chomp a person’s head off.

The storyline revolves around the Shannon family, who escapes their grim, restricted and polluted life in 2149 to time travel back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth. They become part of the Terra Nova colony, where they must begin  building a new civilization. While the menacing dinosaurs provide suspense and tension, the story is also about the family. Dad is a fugitive ex-cop. Mom is a doctor. And the kids aren’t sure they want to be in this new place. They must face challenges and help each other get along.

Is the show must-see TV for the family? No. Is it worth checking-out when the homework’s done, especially for avid dinosaur fans and kids old enough to handle seeing some fearsome T-Rex types in action? Sure. Watch it with the kids. It’ll be more fun. And when you’re done, here are some other dinosaur shows you might want to check out:

•     Also new this fall is Dinosaur Revolution. Two episodes of this series premiered on Discovery on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 9 p.m. featuring computer-generated dinos in stories that take a little science and throw in suspenseful storytelling. Much of it focuses on the ferocious nature of dinosaurs and the fight for survival.

    Walking With Dinosaurs. This 1999 six-part BBC miniseries, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, set the gold standard for dinosaur documentaries by re-creating in amazing fashion what these creatures were like, while offering amazing facts about how they lived. It was released on DVD in 2000 and used versions can be found at sites such as for under $10. It’s mesmerizing.

•     Discovery Channel’s Dinosaurs Collection. Follow paleontologist Jack Horner as he unearths five T-Rex dinosaurs in a single summer in the arid badlands ofMontana. Two discs feature five hours of dinosaur information, including recreations of dinosaur life.

•     The Land Before Time animated movies are sweet, appropriate and enjoyable for the pre-school set. This is not at all like the previous shows, which all feature realistic-looking recreations of dinosaurs. This is a cartoon about an orphaned brontosaurus named Littlefoot, who sets off in search of the legendaryGreatValley and meets up with four friends who help him face challenges along the way. The original film, in 1988, was executive produced by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. It was so popular that it spawned a half dozen follow-up films on DVD.

•     Right after The Land Before Time came out, Denver the Last Dinosaur, a French cartoon was released in the U.S. and ran in syndication from 1988 through 1990. You can watch old episodes for free on Hulu, but you should know that while the show features a dinosaur as its main star, episodes are situation comedy and probably aren’t worth your time.

•     And of course, there’s Barney, one of the most famous of all dinosaurs, who was a PBS purple icon for much of the 1990s. The show is on hiatus now (you can buy DVDs, though). Instead, PBS is offering Dinosaur Train, a computer-generated show about a cute dinosaur misfit named Buddy who likes to jump on the dinosaur train and search for adventure. Full episodes can be seen at


Want more dinosaur fun? Check out our list of Parents’ Choice Award winning books, toys and games with a dino-bite.






True Grit

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
According to a recent story in the New York Times, failure isn’t just an option for students; it just may be a necessity. The article looks at the teacher, scholars and psychologists who researched why some kids, despite good schools and parental support, don’t make it through college. Across all income levels nationally, only 31 percent of people complete college, and it’s not all about the level of education received as kids. According to Angela Duckworth, assistant professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania, it’s all about character and “grit.” Grit, as described in the article, is a dedication to a goal, with a clear and unwavering focus to complete a mission or task–and it just may be the secret to academic success even if test scores say otherwise. Students who finished and even excelled in college were the ones who could bounce back from setbacks, make up for a bad grade, and go that extra mile to talk with teachers. In fact, they did better than their supposedly smarter counterparts. To prove this theory, Duckworth and her peers came up with something called the Grit Scale, which, in a very simple way, measures determination and perseverance. They’ve since discovered that it is a really good indicator for a student’s chance of success. It is a compelling theory and certainly worth looking at. Do you think you have true grit? Are you willing to take the grit scale?
Further Reading:
  “Learned Optimism,” by Martin Seligman
New York Times Article: What if the Secret to Success is Failure?
Grit Scale