Archive for May, 2016

5 Cooperative Games: Fun for All Ages

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016



Friends and Neighbors: The Helping Game

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Peaceable Kingdom
Price: $15.99

This social-emotional skills game has players working together to try and figure out the feelings of the game characters.





Journey Through Time Eye Found It! Game

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: Wonder Forge Inc.
Price: $19.99

Players work as a team consisting of characters such as, an inventor, a pilot, and an archeologist to search for hidden objects and travel through time. Parents loved to see their kids work together and appreciated the games broad age range appeal (in one case a four, an eight, and a ten year old).



Flash Point: Fire Rescue 

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Indie Boards and Cards
Price: $39.95


Developed with the help of real firefighters, players take on that role to rescue people and animals from a burning building before it collapses. With everything happening at once, players have to work together to deal with all the action.



Forbidden Desert

Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: Gamewright
Price: $24.99

In this game, the challenge is to work as a team to elude a sandstorm while racing to excavate parts of a flying machine and use it to escape before the water supply dries up.




Escape the Room Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor

Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: ThinkFun Inc.
Price: $21.99

Set in a spooky house, players are locked together in a room and use must props such as, scene cards and sealed envelopes to help solve puzzles and find clues to help them escape.





8 Ways to Add Fun to Your Backyard

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016


Spill & Splash Seaway Water Table

Ages: 1 & Up
Manufacturer: The Step2 Company
Price: $69.99

Little ones can make a waterfall, fish, or just splash around in this two-level water table.



OTO Taco Truck/Ice Cream Truck

Ages: 2 & Up
Manufacturer: Famous OTO
Price: $59.00

Food Truckies will have a blast serving up fun in these large cardboard playhouses



B. Woo-Hue Parachute

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Battat
Price: $24.99

Catch balls, make a fort, or make up games to play with this 8’ beautifully hued color wheel nylon parachute.



Mini Golf – Full Set

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: PlanToys, Inc.
Price: $30.00

Kids (and parents) can play a round or two with this eco- and family friendly golf set.



Crayola Neon 3D Chalk

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: Crayola, LLC
Price: $4.99

Take artistry to the driveway with six pieces of neon colored chalk and 3D glasses.



Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: OgoSport LLC
Price: $18.00

Players use the plastic sling to catch and throw the orange sphere.



Happy Salmon

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

Before and after the meal is served, use the picnic table as a gameboard to match up and act out one of the 72 action cards. Lots of high-fiving, fist-bumping and fin flipping fun will be had by all!



ZL70 – 70′ Zip Line

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Adventure Parks
Price: $110.00

With a weight limit of 225 lbs., kids and adults of all ages can ride this zip line. If they dare!






8 Fun Games and Apps to Take on the Road

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016


Small in size, but BIG on fun, these games and apps make great travel companions.


Spin’n a Row

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Reeve + Jones Group LLC
Price: $11.95

Tic-tac-toe with a twist. Players rotate the balls to make three in a row.




My Gnome on the Roam Adventure Kit

Ages: 3 – 10 yrs.
Manufacturer: My Gnome on the Roam
Price: $59.97

This cardboard suitcase comes jam packed with a book, an adventure guide, a journal, a twig pen, and you guessed it, a Gnome.



IQ Candy

Ages: 7 & Up
Manufacturer: SmartGames
Price: $14.99

With five levels of difficulty, this single-player logic puzzle is a challenge for all ages.




Math Dice® Chase

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: ThinkFun Inc.
Price: $6.99

Players roll the dice and race to shout out the equation and (correct) answer. Game play continues till only one mathlete is left.



Double Play: Word Games With a Wacky Twist

Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: INversionGAMES LLC
Price: $9.99

Players work to form words from the lettered cards in their hand. A fun challenge? The letters change depending on how you hold the card.



Mad Libs: The Game

Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: Looney Labs
Price: $20.00

A fun take on the classic, hilarious word game. Here, players draw words from a deck of cards to fill in the blanks.





Ages: Infant – 12 yrs.
Developer: Epic! Creations Inc.
Download Price: $4.99

This iPad app lets users instantly access a collection of over 10,000 children’s books.



WonderBox – by Duck Duck Moose

Ages: 6 – 12 yrs.
Developer: Duck Duck Moose
Download Price: Free

This educational creativity iPad app lets users explore topics such as, art, geography, and sports then allows them to create videos and images based on what they’ve learned.





7 Questions for Frances England

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Frances EnglandParents’ Choice: What inspired you to make music for kids? 
Frances England: I got into children’s music in a very accidental way. When my oldest son, Liam, was a toddler I used to make up songs for him about our days. I’d sit on the side of the bathtub while he soaked in bubbles and we’d talk about what we’d done that day and I’d write little songs about it.

My first songs for children were “Tricycle”, “Paint a Picture”, “Digging in the Dirt”, “Books I Like to Read” – about all the things Liam loved to do.  At the time, Liam was in a cooperative preschool and I decided to put together a collection of these songs as a fundraiser for the school titled “Fascinating Creatures” but had no intention of going beyond that.
Parents’ Choice: How is writing a song for children different than writing for adults?
Frances England:  For me there is really not that much difference. I spend as much time on the lyrics, structure, and construction of the song for both my children’s music and my adult songs. I guess one difference though would be that when I write for adults I tend to leave the lyrics a little more abstract and open for interpretation than I do when I write songs for kids.  But with both groups, I try and touch on subjects that are related to what’s happening in their lives.  When I’m writing for kids, I also think about age groups and make sure the lyrics and messages are developmentally and emotionally relevant, which is something that I don’t worry about with my grown up stuff.

PC: What’s the most important thing to remember when writing a song for kids?

Frances: Kids really listen. Over and over and over again.  So you’ve got to get the songs and the sound right because, if it’s good, it’s going to be in constant rotation.

PC: How would you describe your approach to children’s music?

Frances: I spend a lot of time trying to craft songs that everyone in the family can enjoy. Kids are always at the center of my focus, but I try really hard to create songs that won’t drive the Mamas and Papas cray cray.

PC: What was the first instrument you played?
Frances: The violin – I played for about 7 or 8 years and really wish I’d never given it up. I’m starting to take piano lessons this Spring and I’m so excited about it.

PC: What sparked your interest in becoming a musician?
Frances: Joni Mitchell. I heard the album Blue when I was in high school and immediately ditched the violin for the guitar.

PC: What do your children tell you about your songs?
Frances: My kids are pretty involved in my songwriting process. I am constantly making demos of song ideas and playing them in the car while we are driving around. So I get a lot of feedback.  They are both my toughest critics and biggest supporters and often say things like, “Mommy, it sounds like you are cramming too many words in right here,” or “This is little too moany groany for kids.”  Helpful insights.


Read Lynne Heffley’s reviews of Frances England’s Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winning CDs: Explorer of the World, Mind of My Own, Family Tree and Blink of an Eye.



Hooray, hooray, the 20th of May. Parents’ Choice Toy Awards announcing today!

Friday, May 20th, 2016


DashThe Spring 2016 Parents’ Choice Toy Awards have play covered from STEM to stern.

Among our newest winners are a preschool science kit, puppets, a fort building kit and a very dashing robot. There are circuits and mazes and numbers to chase. Math games and word games and those with a twist, a car that is modern – are all on the list.




Did you see the construction toy on our homepage? It’s new and it’s clever, and designed to engage. How about the play cubes so sweet and so dear? The O-Rings so special they made us all cheer. And check out the SmartScope for bugs in a row, the DIY Gamer Kit and electrified dough.


The rhyming is ending not a moment too soon, here’s the full list to read and to swoon.