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30
Mar

Cricket Magazine Give Away!

By

Babybug

Ages: Infant – 3 yrs.
Publisher: Cricket Media
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

 

Cricket Media’s scaled-down signature mix of words and pictures serves its youngest audience with a delightful baby book format. Its sturdy, non-toxic pages feature colorful short stories, poems, and varied and vibrant illustrations and photographs that reflect the lives of babies and toddlers, offer a closer look at objects, actions, and places (napping, a playground, things that fly), and invite practice in identifying colors, parts of the body, and such concepts as big and little. A “Kim and Carrots” story, featuring a little girl and her toy rabbit, is a regular feature, as is a theme-related “Guide for Caregivers” with tips for read-aloud experiences, fingerplay, and simple crafts to enhance learning and together time.

 

Ladybug

Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.
Publisher: Cricket Media
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

 

When I was little, I discovered pill bugs beneath a loose, damp-bottomed brick in our breezeway. Before my mother advised me that they would probably rather be left alone, I was fascinated by their hard shells, multiple legs, and how they rolled up in my palm. While perusing a recent issue of Ladybug, I was surprised to learn that pill bugs aren’t really bugs, but are related to sea crustaceans, and that, like fish, they breathe through gills.

Not surprising at all is that Ladybug’s editors use reading as both a source of pleasure and discovery to propel each issue of this thoroughly engaging magazine. Its humorous and thoughtful short stories, poems, and songs, outstanding artwork, cut-out crafts, and recurring games and puzzles invite children to wonder, observe, and play, while subtle verbal and visual lessons in empathy, friendship, and compassion thread throughout.

 

Spider

Ages: 6 – 9 yrs.
Publisher: Cricket Media
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

 

“I really like your magazine. I almost scream when I get a new one.” So began one 9-year-old Spider subscriber’s letter published in a recent issue, and such enthusiasm from fans is common and understandable. Geared to ages 6 to 9, this literary magazine, populated throughout its margins by its host cast of cartoon insect characters led by googly-eyed Spider, is a notably smart and funny compendium of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and artwork by talented writers and artists; as well as word puzzles, recipes, games, and crafts. Some of the content takes aim squarely at funny bones; some invites thoughtful contemplation; and some opens a window on the world at large, with stories and poems about the customs and everyday life of other cultures (Diwali, the Indian New Year and Festival of Lights, for example, the spectacle of human tower-building in Barcelona, Spain; a retelling of a Maasai folktale from Kenya). And as always, each issue devotes page space to the original artwork and writing submitted by fans.

 

Cricket

Ages: 9 – 14 yrs.
Publisher: Cricket Media
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

 

Several decades old and showing no signs of age, this exceptional literary magazine remains timely and fresh, and despite the ubiquitous attractions of electronic devices, its fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art are enjoyed as fiercely by today’s audience of tweens and teens as they have been since the magazine’s inception in the 1970s. Well-conceived and wide-ranging, Cricket stories are often serialized, giving readers engaging substance, whether set in the real world or in a fantasy realm. Recent non-fiction pieces explored the roots of an Irish legend, the hard lives of 18th century chimney sweeps, and the accomplishments of a busy horror actor and a pioneering female acrobatic swimmer. Readers are welcomed as active participants through a vibrant two-page letters section, short story, poetry, and art contests; book recommendations, artwork, and favorite first lines from books. In addition, the magazine includes excerpts from readers’ contributions to Cricket’s online, ongoing, interactive fantasy adventure, “Kyngdom.”

 

Head on over to our Facebook page for more information and to enter!

https://www.facebook.com/parentschoicefoundation/

 

21
Mar

13 Ways to Celebrate Spring

By

 

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.

 

 

Smartscope

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Ravensburger
Price: $44.99

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.

 

 

Solar & Salt Water Eco-Fan

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Amazing Toys Limited
Price: $14.99

This kit lets children create a robotic fan that runs on salt water and sunlight.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

My Fairy Garden Magical Cottage

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: PlayMonster
Price: $29.99

The set includes a flowerpot cottage with opening doors and terrace, furniture, rooftop trim, toadstool, Freya the fairy, her chipmunk friend Hazel, gardening accessories and tools, as well as the potting soil and quick-germinating seeds.

 

 

Creativity for Kids Plant Peace

Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: Creativity for Kids
Price: $21.99

This kit includes a peace-sign shaped planting tray, a black and white liner, markers for decorating the liner, potting mix, chia seeds, a scoop and a small misting bottle.

 

 

The Kids Can Press Jumbo Book of Gardening

Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Karyn Morris
Illustrator: Jane Kurisu
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Hardcover Price: $14.95

An info packed book on kids and gardening.

 

 

Kids’ Garden

Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Whitney Cohen
Illustrator: Roberta Arenson
Publisher: Barefoot Books, Inc.
Hardcover Price: $19.99

A set of 40 cleverly designed, oversized cards of interesting kid friendly gardening activities.

 

 

Click

Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.
Publisher: Cricket Media
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

Budding scientists will find plenty to think about in this dynamic, “opening windows for young minds” publication, geared to the preschool and kindergarten set.

 

 

Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr. Magazines

Ages: 7 & Up
Publisher: National Wildlife Federation
Newsstand Price: $4.99
Subscription Price: $24.95 / 10 Issues

Excellent reading material for children who are interested in wildlife and who enjoy nature writing.Ranger Rick Jr., offers nature-themed stories, photographs, and puzzles for children not yet ready for Ranger Rick.

 

 

National Geographic Kids

Ages: 6 – 14 yrs.
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Newsstand Price: $4.99
Subscription Price: $15.00 / 10 Issues

A nature-themed variety magazine that offers articles and activities on a wide range of topics.

 

 

MarcoPolo Weather

Ages: 3 – 7 yrs.
Developer: MarcoPolo Learning
Platform: iPhone/iPod Touch

This app provides free form play for learning about different weather conditions and how changing weather variables affect humans and the environment.

07
Mar

STEM at Play

By

Cubetto

cubetto-kickstarter

Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.
Manufacturer: Primo Toys
Price: $225.00

There’s a lot of learning here. And it’s not just “coding.” The set includes the star itself (the wooden robot), an interface board (its control panel), 16 tiles (its commands), a storybook, and a map (the world according to Cubetto) that serves as a playmat for learning. The beautifully designed set is approachable and welcoming, the pieces are easy to hold and to place, and the controller is simple (aka elegantly designed).

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar™

Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.
Manufacturer: Fisher-Price
Price: $49.99

The Code-A-Pillar is a robotic caterpillar composed of ten command segments (head, tail, and eight “body” pieces) that easily snap together and pull apart. Each section commands the caterpillar to turn left or right, go straight or play a sound. They can be arranged in any order, and that order determines the caterpillar’s path.

As packaged, the eight command sections limit the length of the caterpillar’s journey. Best suited for introducing three and four year olds to the concepts of planning and sequencing, the Code-A-Pillar is well made and works without a glitch.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Brackitz 170 Piece Inventor Set 

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: brackitz
Price: $99.99

These easy-to-handle playful planks and connectors are appealing to the eye, the touch, and both left and right sides of the brain. The three and four way connectors work at any angle, and the motion connectors allow designs to rotate.

As children’s skills develop, their designs will become more advanced in complexity and creativity. A good investment in playful learning.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

DIY Electro Dough Kit

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: Technology Will Save Us
Price: $27.00

What could a kid love more than playing with dough? Playing with dough that lights up and makes noise, of course! This kit contains a recipe and instructions to make conductive dough as well as a cookie cutters, a variety of LED lights, wires, and a battery pack.

The purposefully minimal manual explains important electrical concepts and vocabulary such as molecules, free electrons, LEDs, polarity, circuits, and so forth. It also gives basic instructions and diagrams on how to wire the components to light LEDs, create a buzzer, button, and even a tilt switch.

The kit is an engaging, hands-on way to teach children the basics of electricity while encouraging imagination, creativity, and experimentation.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Primary Science Outdoor Discovery Set

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

This kit uses common household ingredients, pebbles, twigs and bugs, and craft items to conduct and complete 10 different experiments. It includes three plastic plant pots, watering can, bug jar with vented lid, ten activity cards, three plant stakes, sprouting jar, solid lid and handy scoopers for creating the projects. The “extra” items needed to complete the experiments – such as craft supplies, carrots (preferably with greens), popcorn kernels, seeds (flowers and beans) and blue food coloring – are inexpensive and easy to find if not on hand.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Kids First Science Laboratory

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $50.00

Packaged in a clear storage/carrying case, this hands on introduction to science kit includes 25 pieces (large six hole disk, small test tube, 2 small lids, 2 large lids, large connector for the large sieve disk, 2 funnel vessels, small connector, 2 measuring spoons, magnetic rings with stand, magnifying glass, large test tube, test tube rack) a 16-page instruction guide for parents, and 10 laminated experiment cards. Common household ingredients are needed for the experiments ranging from Sour Milk, to Making Rain, to Bending a Pencil.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

DIY Electro Dough Kit

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: Technology Will Save Us
Price: $27.00

What could a kid love more than playing with dough? Playing with dough that lights up and makes noise, of course! This kit contains a recipe and instructions to make conductive dough as well as a cookie cutters, a variety of LED lights, wires, and a battery pack.

The purposefully minimal manual explains important electrical concepts and vocabulary. It also gives basic instructions and diagrams on how to wire the components to light LEDs, create a buzzer, button, and even a tilt switch. The kit is an engaging, hands-on way to teach children the basics of electricity while encouraging imagination, creativity, and experimentation.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

GeoSafari Jr. Subscope

Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.
Manufacturer: Educational Insights
Price: $27.99

The submarine-shaped water-resistant light up magnifying scope lets young aquatic explorers see what swims and lives in the water without submerging their heads. Colorful, durable, and easy to use, the 2-eye viewer fits comfortably around a child’s small face. There’s even a notch cut out for the scope to rest on the bridge of a nose. The 2x magnification and the LED lights illuminate what lurks beneath the water’s surface. Our testers, from bubble bathers to pond pioneers and sand/water table surveyors, were delighted by their discoveries.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Grippies Builders

Ages: 1 & Up
Manufacturer: Guidecraft
Price: $39.99

This brightly colored 20 piece set is sized just right for toddlers ready to build. The chunky pieces encourage tactile exploration of textures, shapes and colors. Experimenting with the magnetic rods and balls lead to interesting discussions and constructions – from boxes to boats to balloon animals.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Lauri Action-Stackers – Big Builder Set

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: PlayMonster
Price: $39.99

This set includes 75 Tall-Stackers Pegs, six wheels, five hexagonal connectors, 30 square connectors, eight crepe rubber tower mats, and an 11.5-inch square crepe rubber peg board with 100 holes. The cleverly designed connectors invite building from all angles. Children can use the peg boards as bases for stationary creations or use the wheels to add motion to structures and/or movement to vehicles.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Brackitz 170 Piece Inventor Setbrackitz

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: brackitz
Price: $99.99

These easy-to-handle playful planks and connectors are appealing to the eye, the touch, and both left and right sides of the brain. The three and four way connectors work at any angle, and the motion connectors allow designs to rotate.

As children’s skills develop, their designs will become more advanced in complexity and creativity. A good investment in playful learning.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Kids First: Robot Engineer

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $49.95

This set features colorful, large, and easy-to-handle pieces that even the smallest hands can easily and successfully manipulate. And, all the pieces as well as the story/instruction booklet fit neatly into a sturdy plastic bin for storage and/or travel.

There are ten robot designs and instructions included in the storybook; however, children can use the pieces to build whatever they want. This provides excellent long-term play and learning values as well as hours of imaginative and creative play.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Sago Mini Road Trip

Ages: 2 – 5 yrs.
Developer: Sago Mini
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

Jinja the Cat is going to visit her friends, but she needs some help packing and getting there! In Sago Mini Road Trip, an app designed for children aged two through five, players select a destination, pack Jinja’s bags, choose a vehicle, and help her navigate her road trip. Changing destinations merits changing a wardrobe; we love this implied lesson about how where you’re going can effect what to wear. Players can select from six destinations ranging from the mountains to the big city. And, they can choose one of fifteen vehicles including a race car, school bus, ice cream truck and even a bathtub on wheels or a pickle car.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Shape Gurus

Ages: 2 – 5 yrs.
Developer: Colto
Download Price: $1.99
Platform: iPad

Starting with the appropriate metaphor of a bird building a nest, the app takes users through a series of geometric puzzles that require matching of shapes, sizes and colors. Players here a satisfying “click” sound when pieces are correctly placed. Incorrectly placed pieces simply spring back. No warning sounds or audible admonitions to be heard. As each puzzle is completed – a watering can, a flower, a rocket ship – an animation gives context to the assembled pieces. Progressing through the game, we get the sense of a story unfolding.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Highlights Shapes

Ages: 2 – 6 yrs.
Developer: Colto
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

 

The player follows a cheerful-looking fox through a cave filled with basic geometric objects: triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles. Players pull the shapes onto outlines that match them; in earlier levels the outlines are aligned with the shapes, but as the game progresses children need to recognize when a shape is rotated relative to the outline.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

RelationShapes

Ages: 3 – 6 yrs.
Developer: VizuVizu LLC
Platform: iPad/iPhone/Android

This app is designed to teach children spatial awareness and visuoperceptual problem-solving. The game features two stages: Match It and Picture It. In Match It, children are presented with two side-by-side pictures with the same number and collection of shapes; they then have to make their side match by moving, rotating, and/or resizing the shapes.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

MarcoPolo Arctic

Ages: 3 – 7 yrs.
Developer: MarcoPolo Learning
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

The aptly named, MarcoPolo Arctic app is a digital sandbox in which children explore- freely at their own pace with no rules and no limits-arctic habitats and the animals that dwell in them. The app features over twenty arctic species of tundra animals, semi-aquatic mammals, marine mammals and birds in three habitats: the tundra, the taiga, and the ocean. Children learn about various animals by completing animated and narrated puzzles; for example, while completing a puzzle of a caribou, the narrator names each body part and shares interesting facts about how the caribou uses those parts, where it lives, and what it eats. And, in addition to the puzzles, there are over one hundred interactive features on the scrolling pages. Children can tap on animals to play, lead them to water, and more.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Osmo Pizza Co.

Ages: 5 – 12 yrs.
Producer: Osmo
Price: $39.00

This virtual pizza shop teaches children about addition, subtraction, and even fractions. The game also helps to teach children about nonverbal communication and aids in their ability to read emotions based on facial expressions. The Osmo Pizza Co. immerses children in basic mathematics skills blended with hours of imaginative and cooperative play.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

 

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16
Feb

Announcing: Parents’ Choice Small Screen Awards!

By

TV flat icon with long shadow

Parents’ Choice Small Screen Awards

Today we are pleased to announce the Parents’ Choice Small Screen Awards.

Preschoolers will circle around the Parents’ Choice Award winning apps; they’ll learn how the world is shaping up, and how music helps tell a story. And for learners ages six and up, there are big numbers at play.

Two must see DVDs are Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story the story of the first African-American ballerina in the country to perform a solo with the Metropolitan Opera and Snowtime!, a CGI-animated remake of the 1984 French Canadian film The Dog Who Stopped the War (La guerre des tuques).

Coding cadets who can’t get enough Minecraft, will play and learn for an entire year with Mod Creation: The Adventure Begins and those chomping at the bit to design their own game can put their keystrokes to work in AnchorApp Development with JavaScript: Infinite Runner.

And in a world where developers and educators are exploring how to help children learn in new ways, Osmo Monster and Osmo Pizza Company, are among the most interesting products we’ve seen this year. We think you’ll agree.

Are you ready to push play? For the Spring 2017 Parents’ Choice Awards in websites click here, mobile apps and software are here, and the videogames are here.

 

07
Feb

Citizen Scientists and The Great Backyard Bird Count

By

 

 

An abstract of a bird in a tree

 

The Great Backyard Bird Count has been an annual event for the past eighteen years.  It is jointly sponsored by the National Audubon Society and Cornell University.  During a week in February, bird lovers of all ages and from around the world systematically count species in their own backyards.  They tally different types of birds using a check sheet then enter their reports online to create a comprehensive picture.  Amateur reporters are also known as citizen scientists.  Familiarity with species and practice using the tally sheet, ahead of time, help with accuracy.  Parents and children, together, will enjoy preparing for and participating in the next Great Backyard Bird Count.

One backyard birder in Atlanta, who regularly spreads birdseed and provides nest boxes, reported as many as fourteen different species during the 2016 backyard bird count, and her fenced-in backyard is 30’ x 100’.  The wide range of species in her backyard included such colorful birds as blue jays and bluebirds, goldfinches, cardinals and red-headed woodpeckers.  Iridescent grackles, brown thrashers, and red-tailed hawks were also recorded.

Birds of all shapes and sizes, are beautiful and fascinating to watch, particularly during spring when they nest and raise offspring.  They have melodious bird calls that dedicated birders memorize, and they display distinctive behaviors.  For example, cardinals in the Deep South forage in the early dawn and late dusk, before and after other bird species.  Such behaviors have evolved to minimize competition, occupy specialized niches, and enhance survival.

If you are inspired by The Great Backyard Bird Count, instructions can be found here. Enjoy watching, counting, and helping these magnificent creatures.  Backyard birding is a good intergenerational activity that is extremely worthwhile.

Birds can delight us in countless ways.  Try watching, for example, small wrens building nests.  Their twigs may be a bit large for a particular birdhouse entrance but they persist with their nesting material, approach the hole from all angles, and succeed in building compact nests.  Old nests can be removed from birdhouses, at winter’s end, to make space for new ones.  Male cardinals will turn their beaks and gently feed females during courtship.  Patient cardinal parents will even feed teenaged cardinals, long after they can feed themselves.  Pesky, fluttering adolescent food requests can be quite humorous.  There are many lessons to be learned in wild birds’ patience, persistence, and caring.

– Mary Hollowell, PhD

About the author: Mary Hollowell, the mother of two girls, is an associate professor of education at Clayton State University. She is a former science teacher and director of education at Cincinnati Museum Center.

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