This Month’s Screen-Time Finds

Need something to entertain your kids while the family is stuck indoors this winter? Here are some of our favorite new movies, apps, and more!

Movie Releases

A squirrel named Surly (Will Arnett) is banished from his park and must learn to survive in the city in The Nut Job. He stumbles upon Maury’s Nut Store, and wacky heist hijinks ensure.
*What’s in it for you Adults will get a kick out of stars such as Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser, and Liam Neeson voicing the crazy critters.
PG; January 17

In The Lego Movie,  a case of mistaken identity takes Emmet (Chris Pratt) on a quest to defeat evil President Business (Will Ferrell) with the help of an old mystic (Morgan Freeman), tough girl Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and Batman (Will Arnett again!).
*What’s in it for you This flick is a fun Lego experience for the family — sans cleanup!
PG; February 7

DVDs and TV

Big is turning 25! In his first Oscar-nominated performance, Tom Hanks stars as a 12-year-old who wakes up one morning to discover that he’s turned into an adult. The special anniversary edition offers plenty of bonus features including deleted clips, extended cuts, and behind-the-scenes footage. Rated PG, $20

Celebrate the season with Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Ice Skating Spectacular! Our heroine comes to the rescue of the Snow Princess and the Snowy Forest creatures when the Ice Witch steals their skates. The DVD comes with two other bonus episodes for extra fun. 3 years+, $15

Flint Lockwood’s infamous machine cause enough trouble the first time around, but in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, the mayhem has only just begun. Now, the device has started creating crazy food-animal hybrids such as Wild Scallions, Shrimpanzees, and the fearsome Tacodile Supreme. Rated PG, $31

Based on the beloved children’s book by Sam McBratney, Guess How Much I Love You: Hidden Treasure explores the world of Little Nutbrown Hare and his father. This debut DVD release features seven episodes of the Disney Junior series, in which the son learns important life lessons, like embracing others’ differences and the value of friendship. 3 years+, $13

All aboard the Dinosaur Train! PBS KIDS is airing a new hour-long special called “Nature Trackers Adventure Camp.” Watch the family of pteranodons participate in fun activities ilke rafting and ziplining as little ones learn all about paleontology and geography from the lovable characters.
3 years+; January 20

Apps

Educate on the go with Sesame Street Family Play, which offers more than 150 games organized by curriculum, location, character, and mood. Simply input where you are — such as at the grocery store or in the kitchen — and the app will suggest a learning activity that doesn’t require screen time to play, such as organizing food items by size. 3 years+, $1 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

Turn learning a language into a game with Quick Tap Spanish. Players gather around the device and race to match Spanish vocabulary words — in categories such as numbers, colors, and time — with the English translation. The app is also available for French, German, and Portuguese.
5 years+, free for iPad

Toddlers and preschoolers pick up knowledge while feeding their virtual pet with Sago Mini Pet Cafe. Games such as sorting treats and creating fruit smoothies teach about shapes, numbers, and colors. The critter animations are adorable and there are no in-app purchases, making this a great app for young children. 2 years+, $2 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

Fans of the PBS Kids’ series can join in the fun with Peg + Cat Big Gig. Your child can make music by solving simple addition and counting problems — hitting the correct answer plays the next note. Aspiring composers can create original songs as well in Sound Check mode. 3 years+, $2 for iPad and Android

Snuggle up in bed with Goodnight Mo and your little one. The e-book — which features pop-up-style illustrations — tells the tale of a friendly monster winding down and preparing for sleep. The soft music will have everyone yawning in no time. 15 months+, $3 for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android

Video Games

Animal lovers can get up close and personal with Zoo Tycoon, available on Xbox for the first time. Design and manage the zoo, and take care of all the different species — and your customers too, of course. The game’s development team worked with experts to make sure everything is scientifically accurate, so kids can learn about the real environments and feeding habits while they play. 6 years+, $50 for Xbox 360

Explore the paper world of Tearaway. Gamers will meet a variety of friends and challenges while on a quest to deliver a special message. The technology of the PlayStation Vita allows players to actually see their fingers appear inside the game when they place them on the back touch panel.
6 years+, $40 for PS Vita

Get your groove on with Just Dance Kids 2014. For the first time, the hit franchise features original recordings of popular songs by artists such as Selena Gomez, One Direction, and The Wiggles. Younger children can develop their skills by moving to nursery rhymes and the Family Fun mode lets gamers play cooperatively. 6 years+, $30 for Xbox 360, Wii, and Wii U

 

Valentine's Day Treats: Waffle Heart Sandwiches
Valentine's Day Treats: Waffle Heart Sandwiches
Valentine's Day Treats: Waffle Heart Sandwiches

The Nut Job image courtesy of Open Road Films/Toonbox Entertainment

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