Archive for September, 2012

Music Videos for Kids by Parents’ Choice Award Winners

Friday, September 28th, 2012
Elska's "Hiddi Hiddi"

Elska’s “Hiddi Hiddi”

Yesterday we announced the Parents’ Choice Fall 2012 Audio Award winners. To celebrate, we’ve gathered some music videos featuring our award winning musicians. Want even more? We’ve made a YouTube playlist of Parents’ Choice Award winning artists, and we’ll be adding more videos to it throughout the day.

“Hiddi Hiddi” by Elska from the album Middle of Nowhere


“Springtime” by Orange Sherbet from the album Delicious


“Can You Canoe?” by the Okee Dokee Brothers from the album Can You Canoe?

“Seven Days of the Week” by Alphabet Rockers from the album Go!


“Anna and the Cupcakes” by Bari Koral Family Rock Band from the album Anna and the Cupcakes

“Diaperman” by Harmonica Pocket from the album Apple Apple

“Vamos a la Playa” by Mister G from the album BugsHis new album is Chocolalala.

Museum Day Live! Don’t Miss Free Museum Admission This Weekend

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Museum Day Live!Museum Day Live! is Saturday, September 29, 2012. The event is hosted by Smithsonian Magazine, and museums that participate in it will offer free admission to ticket-holding guests. Find a museum near you then print out your ticket before going to enjoy free admission for two people per household. With over 1,500 museums participating (including many children’s museums), chances are you’ll find a museum near you offering free admission.

Can’t make it to a museum this Saturday? Considering going to a children’s museum next week for Worldwide Day of Play.

Announcing the Fall 2012 Parents’ Choice Audio Award Winners!

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Fall 2012 Audio Awards

Announcing the Fall 2012 Parents’ Choice Audio Award winners! This fall we have an incredible bunch of children’s music, audio books, and storytelling albums to share with you.

Enter the imaginative world of Elska, or enjoy the “upbeat and celebratory” songs for girls in science on Science Fair. Explore empathy, friendship, and understanding by listening to the Someone Else’s Shoes compilation. Brush up on your Spanish with Mister G’s Chocolalalaor take a Mississippi River adventure by listening to the Okee Dokee Brothers’ Can You CanoeGive young artists their first lesson in art history by playing Hope Harris’ Picasso, That’s Who! (And So Can You!).

That’s far from all of our new audio award winners. Visit the complete list and find a new favorite!

A Whisper to a Scream: Drawing the Line Between Teasing and Bullying

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The nationwide problem of bullying has taken center stage, with public discussions, outreach programs and web site groups. We all seem to think we know bullying when we see it: the name calling, the physical altercations. But not all bullying is so obvious. Sometimes good natured teasing can quickly turn ugly and one person’s practical joke can turn into a very public humiliation.

Take Whitney Kropp of West Branch, Michigan. Recently, the high school sophomore was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was voted class representative to the homecoming court. Then she found out it was a cruel, practical joke. Whitney is not part of the in crowd. She doesn’t have fancy clothes and she isn’t popular. The self-described awkward teen has been bullied in the usual ways, but this “joke” was a devastating. Luckily, since the story made the news, others have shown support for the teen and she now plans to attend homecoming with her head held high. She even has her own social media support group.

Have you ever been a situation where teasing took an ugly turn? Do you and your family play practical jokes? How do you draw the line between good natured jokes and mean-spirited pranks?

Here are some resources for starting a conversation about bullying:

Preschool Through Elementary School

All About Bullies...Big and SmallAll About Bullies…Big and Small

It’s comforting music for children who are taunted for having to use wheel chairs, demonized for being fat, mocked for speaking with an accent, or who are simply not chosen first for a sports team. The songs, short stories, and poems may not cure the isolation and hurt, but tracks like “Labels” (“A label belongs on a jar full of pickles/They won’t go on me/ and I won’t let then stick”) can help. From the bully on the school bus (“Bully on the Bus Billy”), to the terrors of opening a newly “decorated” locker (“I Opened My Locker”) various travails are depicted. Songs reminding listeners to have “Courage”, and another titled “Until I Met Tim”, are a few examples of the lessons and inspiration for overcoming bullying. Each track is something to which we all should pay attention.

Hooway for Wodney WatHooway for Wodney Wat

A shy rodent turns his defect into strength to overcome class bully and save the day. Every page is a delight in this imaginative book, which culminates in surprising word play. Energetic illustrations capture perfectly the characters of timid Rodney, the overbearing Camilla Capybara, and their rowdy rodent classmates. Hooway!


Middle School


Kana is being sent into exile for the summer. So are all of her friends. Though few people are saying it aloud, adults and peers hold them at least partially responsible for the suicide of their classmate, who was ostracized and bullied by the clique’s queen bee. In the quiet and isolation of her grandmother’s mikan orange groves in rural Japan, Kana’s mother hopes she will reflect upon and recover from the shock. Of course, there are a few shocks to deal with in her grandmother’s house, too. For one thing, Kana isn’t accustomed to the physical labor of the mikan groves; for another, her grandmother is determined to starve her wide Russian hips, a legacy from her Jewish father, down to an acceptable Japanese size. Most importantly, Kana is lonely, and she can’t stop thinking about the suicide and her role in it.

Written in the form of fast-moving and accessible poetry, this verse novel provides an engaging response to the problems of bullying and adolescent mental illness. Kana is a reflective and often humorous narrator, and young readers will enjoy following her story as she adapts both to her mother’s family and to the burden of her memories.

Outside My DoorOutside My Door

Bullies often take advantage of insecurities kids already feel. Music that voices those insecurities and lets kids know they’re not alone is important. With rich jazz piano bounce and a brilliant use of vocabulary and wordplay reminiscent of Michael Franks, singer-songwriter-musician Lori Henriques performs cool, quirky and wise observational songs about growing pains and expanding horizons. Leaves fall, sometimes too soon, in “Green Leaf”. “Enough is Enough” laments over, “This overabundance of things/And all the discomfort it brings.” “Something You Learn” encourages curiosity and exploration even if “There’ll be days when you don’t want to listen/There’ll be chapters you can’t stand to read.” “If I Had a Twin” resonates with childhood’s wrenching moments of loneliness or misunderstanding: “If I had a twin there’d be/Someone in the skin I’m in/Could she understand me/Would she helping hand me?”. Henriques’ musical inventiveness and keen eye for life’s ups and downs are a stellar combination. Older children in particular will find much to relate to here.

To Encourage Girl Engineers, GoldieBlox Began By Watching How Girls Play

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
Playing with GoldieBlox

Playing with GoldieBlox

Little more than a week after its launch, the KickStarter for the building toy GoldieBlox has shattered its $150,000 fundraising goal. Why all of the excitement? As the importance of STEM education becomes ever clearer, the United States still faces the challenge of getting girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. In fact, though women have earned more PhDs overall than men in recent years, that doesn’t mean more women are becoming scientists and engineers. As of 2010, 80% of engineering PhDs still went to men. Of all undergraduate engineering degrees earned in 2009, only 17.5% went to women. GoldieBlox is a toy designed in response to that disparity.

When you look at the current engineering workforce, you’ll see that 89% of engineers are male. According to Debbie Sterling, the Stanford-educated engineer who invented GoldieBlox, that means “We literally live in a man’s world.” Fixing this state requires early intervention. “Women and girls start losing interest in science as young as age 8,” she writes. Play is a natural way to encourage girls to think like engineers from an early age. In developing a play-based way to get girls excited about engineering, Debbie did not want to simply take a construction toy and “make it pink.” Instead, she aimed to design a toy that would account for girls’ unique play patterns.

Before launching her project on Kickstarter, Debbie spent a year researching gender differences and child development. There are already pink construction toys for girls, she figured, and gender neutral ones, too. If those weren’t working, then something new needed to be developed. Once she completed her research, Debbie developed her prototype for GoldieBlox, a character-driven engineering puzzle embedded in a storybook. She tested it with over 100 kids in over 40 homes and 3 schools. The result? Girls and their families loved it. Debbie had created a toy that recognizes a girl’s love of storytelling and creative play, while still guiding them toward the development of spatial skills and an understanding of simple machines. See it in action below:

Parents have responded enthusiastically to GoldieBlox already. “You are brilliant,” said one mom in Honolulu whose words were echoed by many. Others wrote that they are tired of “the constant inundation of princess paraphernalia,” and are happy to see something that will help little girls “get beyond fairies and princesses.” Debbie notes that there is nothing wrong with girls wanting to dress up and look pretty, but she acknowledges something that every parent knows: There’s way more to girls than all of that.

Want to support GoldieBlox on KickStarter? There’s still plenty of time!