Learning Apps Get the Disney Treatment

Disney knows you’re searching the App Store for educational games for your kids, and trying to tell the good-quality from the waste-of-time is rough to say the least. (We know, we looked at a ton for our 70 Best Apps for Families.) Today Disney unveiled ambitious plans to pair their stories and animation with strong learning content; the first of some 30 Imagicademy apps will launch on December 11.

The search for “joyful learning that kids don’t run away from,” as Andrew Sugarman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide, puts it, is universal these days. This generation is screen-savvy and ready to learn as long as we capture and keep their attention. To that end, the math app, the first one out, features games like “put the sleepwalking alien to bed” that cleverly build in number order along the way. Another activity in the app has a baby robot building a sandcastle, working in number sense by first asking the child to draw a numeral on the touchscreen, then having that number of balls of sand appear, then counting them out and assembling a castle with that number of spires. (A mischievous child can then gleefully destroy the sandcastle. It’s all part of staying engaged!)

This first Imagicademy math app will hit the sweet spot of ages 3 to 5, children in Pre-K and Kindergarten. A creative arts app will roll out in January, followed by a Frozen-themed science app in March and reading with Doc McStuffins in April or May. By 2016, Imagicademy apps will stretch from ages 3 to 8.

One final note: Parents will be able to download our own app, and receive push notifications about what a child is doing in the Imagicademy world. You can then send your child a virtual high-five or at least be able to give them concrete feedback, such as “I like that rocketship you built,” rather than having to always ask, “What are you doing on there?”

 

Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children

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Jennifer Hudson: “I just want to keep making music and being with my family”

In the spirit of the holiday season, singer-actress Jennifer Hudson went to work with Johnson’s Brand as they launched their new initiative More Hands, More Hearts on #GivingTuesday. As a mom to 5-year-old David, Hudson was thrilled to assemble babycare kits to distribute to families in need nationwide as part of the campaign. Here, the Grammy-winning artist gets real about her desire to give back, her proudest moment as a mom, and the latest star David is trying to emulate.

P: What drew you to this particular project on #GivingTuesday?

JH: Well, in general giving back is very important to me. We founded the Julian D. King Gift Foundation in honor of my nephew a few years back because we wanted to be able to think of him and know that something positive was being done in the world. And with Johnson’s More Hands, More Hearts it’s that same idea of helping others. You never really think of how many needy babies there are in the world, but they need our help. Julian’s Foundation exists to provide positive experiences for children of all backgrounds so that they will become productive, confident and happy adults, but you need healthy, happy babies first. They need diapers and bottles to grow and be healthy and so I’m thrilled to be involved with this project.

P: You mention the Foundation in honor of your nephew. How has the Foundation progressed since you started it six years ago?

JH: Oh my goodness, so much. When we first started it we just wanted to honor my nephew and help kids in the community. It started with the toy drive for gift-giving around Christmas, but now we added a back-to-school supplies drive. The line was around the block. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I can’t even keep track.

P: Does it work through scholarships or is it more event-focused?

JH: Well, we do have the dinner around Christmas each year and kids in the community can be nominated by their teachers to attend. They don’t have to be getting all A’s, but they do have to be trying. It’s the effort we want to encourage. It’s not a scholarship, but we reward that effort by granting their Christmas wish around the holidays. Our mission is to be something positive, a catalyst for change in children’s health, education, and welfare. We have the Toy Drive and Hatch Day each year and sometimes other events—we do as much as we can but we are local [in Chicago].

P: Let’s talk about your son, David. What is your favorite thing about this age?

JH: He’s 5 now and I think it’s just how creative he is. His mind is just going going. He started building a tent area at home, gathered materials and built this huge tent area and then I found out he has a garbage can in there. He throws trash in it and then empties it in the kitchen trash. He’s keeping it clean. It’s so funny to see him create his own little home.

P: It sounds like he’s very much his own little person. Is there a parenting rule that he always gets you to break?

JH: Bedtime. That’s probably the toughest because he always wants to stay up late and hang out. He’ll fake being hungry, like “Oh mom, I’m hungry, I can’t go to bed yet.” And I let him have a snack, but then I realized Wait. He’s not hungry, he’s just trying to stay up.

P: What has been your proudest moment as a mom?

JH: I mean, I brought a life into the world. That in and of itself…. But he’s also so smart and creative and thoughtful. He really cares about others. Like if I’m cold, he’ll curl up next to me and cover me with a blanket. He’s very aware of others and how they feel.

P: So is he like his mama? Does he like to perform?

JH: Ohhhhhh yes. He loves to dance and he just loves Michael Jackson. I took him to see Usher and told him Usher is like Michael Jackson. He had the best time. When we got home he said “Mommy! Turn on ummm ummm what is his name?” And I said “Usher?” And he said “Yeah, Mommy. Turn on USHER! I’m gonna dance for the camera!”

P: Through your Foundation you encourage kids to express themselves and accomplish things with this idea of Hatch Day. It’s so important for kids, but it’s also important for adults to mark their accomplishments. What do you hope to accomplish in 2015 in the essence of Hatch Day?

JH: Oh wow. I never thought of it that way, but I feel so blessed. I just want to keep making music and being with my family. If I can keep making music that people enjoy, I really hope for longevity in my career. I want to work towards that.

Find out what you need for newborn with our Baby Care Supply List.

How to Buy Baby Gear on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Gear on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Gear on a Budget

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Real Glam Moms: “When you start feeling bored with your looks, get red involved”

Here’s the newest installment of the Parents beauty department series on mommy bloggers. Each installment will feature what beauty means to real moms no matter what their beauty routine is like—and how they take time to themselves after having children. 

After adopting her first son, Elijah, six years ago, Kortni wanted a place to document her adoption and motherhood journey. Love is All You Need is now home to what she thinks is most valuable to her family so her kids “will have something tangible to connect them to their childhood. This vault of memories will make them very rich with love someday.” Today Kortni tells us all about her ever-changing beauty identity and her affinity for red.

How has your beauty routine changed since adopting Elijah (6) and Oliver (2)?

Before I adopted my boys, I thought I had to fit into one defining box of who am I, what kind of mom, friend, wife, writer, home decorator, clothes-wearer, picture taker and person I am—as if I had to choose only one.  Now instead of pushing myself toward one defining area, I’m accepting that it’s okay to be a hodgepodge mess of everything. After kids, my beauty routine changes daily. Some days, I am boho-chic-funky-mismatched-don’t-forget-the-hat-girl and others, hair up-messy-bun-and-high-heel-girl.

What is the importance of taking time to yourself?

Every mama has a quiet, built-in, “comes-with-the-package-of-parenting,” part of herself that sacrifices her needs when responsibility calls for it.  And while sacrificing and taking care of others before ourselves feels good and right, those feelings can only last so long before that inner self, that source from which we give, starts to wither, slowly taking with it our motivation, inspiration, contentment and patience.  The cardinal rule of flight should apply to the journey of motherhood as well. Put on your own oxygen mask before you assist someone else with theirs. In other words, you can’t be who others need you to be without taking care of yourself first.

I can live without my … Sephora classic red lipstick, flat iron, a slouchy beanie and mascara.

What’s the best beauty advice you’ve ever received?

When in doubt, less is more.

My beauty advice for moms is… When stuck in a monotonous routine or when you start feeling bored with your looks, get red involved—red shoes, red nail polish, red purse, red lipstick. Red is ordinary’s kryptonite, and it will add all the flare necessary to make your day feel a little more magical.

My celeb mom beauty icon is … Jessica Alba. Sister gets it.

How do you find time to focus on yourself, your blog and your family? 

I believe that every mom merits the title of Wonder Woman or Supahmom no matter what her capabilities are.  When they hand you your baby for the first time, they should also include a pair of those awesome red boots and maybe a magic lasso in your welcome to motherhood bag—because that is what we do. We take on the world when we become moms. We juggle time and perform these marvelous balancing stunts.  And we all do it differently with our own style and flare.  The best part about owning the title of mother is that we don’t have to be defined solely by it.  There is a framework of interests, dreams and passions that make us individuals who are strong enough to stand alone. I am also a wife. I read, I write, I pray.  I am a nature lover, a picture taker and a beauty maker.  I do my best to find the time to balance all of my individual interests throughout the day, and yet, there is nothing I would rather be defined by more than my children.

New-Mom Makeovers: How To Look Pulled-Together Fast
New-Mom Makeovers: How To Look Pulled-Together Fast
New-Mom Makeovers: How To Look Pulled-Together Fast

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The Parents Goody Giveaway: Enter for a Chance to Win Five Chuggington Playsets and Two DVDs, All Worth $280!

Do you have a little builder or train conductor at home? If you think these Chuggington model train sets are just too much fun to pass up, this giveaway is for you!

Enter for the chance to win approximately $280 worth of merchandise, including five Chuggington train playsets and a DVD.

ONE (1) lucky winner will receive:

To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between now and the end of the day on December 8, 2014. Be sure to check back on December 9th and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, or the District of Columbia, 21 years and older. Begins: 4PM EST on December 2, 2014. Ends: 11:59PM on December 8, 2014. Subject to Official Rules at http://www.parents.com/blogs/goodyblog/official-rules-enter-for-the-chance-to-win-five-chuggington-playsets-and-two-dvds/. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Meredith Corporation.

For more check out our official rules. Goody luck!

Best Toys That Feature Favorite Characters
Best Toys That Feature Favorite Characters
Best Toys That Feature Favorite Characters

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Baby Deals and Steals–Your Cyber Monday Hit List!

** By Dana Baardsen

It’s nearly impossible to join the holiday discount madness with a little one glued to your hip—or swaddled to your side. Even though you may not be able to charge through the crowds in-store this season, don’t you dare settle for full price! We’ve got your aching back, mommy, and here’s our gift to you: 2014’s best Cyber Monday baby deals and steals, all ready to go live on December 1, 2014!

Keep Baby warm. Explore 7 A.M. Enfant, find something warm and snuggly for your little one, and check out with 30% off of your entire purchase. This one really suits your on-the-go family! Code: CYBERMONDAY30

 Carrying your baby never looked so good. With multiple wearing positions for mommy and daddy, these beautiful Baby K’tan carriers are a must. Enjoy at 20% off. Code: BFCM20

Grab some mommy-and-baby body balm. This mild, soothing lotion is safe to use on your baby’s delicate skin, and effective enough for yours. Get 25% off of the Loving Care Body Balm by Le Couvent Des Minimes from Ulta!

Who doesn’t need anything from Skip HopSpend up to $50 and get 20% off, up to $80 and get 25% off, and if you spend more than $75 you get 30% off. Any purchase over $50 (hello, diaper bag!) is shipped with a free gift!

Say no more to sore knees! Protect your baby’s skin with Crawlings, so the time spent on the ground isn’t as taxing. You’ll get free shipping with one pair, 20% off with 2-3 pairs, and 40% off with four pairs!

MommyMeds app is a lifesaver. This database, which is an extension of research from the InfantRisk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, contains information on over 20,000 prescribed, over-the-counter, and herbal medicines. Moms can look up symptoms and medications to find out what’s safe and what isn’t. By the time Tuesday rolls around, this source of information will no longer be free-for-download on iOS, so get it free now!

Calling all mini trendsetters! The mini collection at Appaman binds European trends with Brooklyn vibes. Will you have the most stylish baby in 2015? Receive 40% off of the entire store, and free shipping on orders over $100.

The only thing softer than Baby is mommy. Check out Earth Mama Angel Baby, a line featuring certified organic shampoos, soaps, balms and lotions galore! Snag 50% off of your entire order, with free shipping for orders over $25.

Cotton never felt so good! Spruce up your baby’s romper wardrobe, and peruse through Skyla Luna’s eco-friendly sleepwear collection.  This green baby deal involves 20% off of long-wearing jammies made from organic cotton.

As baby grows, so does the highchair. The innovative Tripp Trapp Chair by Stokke, just made parents’ lives a whole lot easier—and a little sleeker, too. The chair is designed to seat your baby right up to your dining table, so your newest family member doesn’t miss out on a single thing. This staple highchair will be discounted from $249 to $199 with free shipping on Cyber Monday.

These shoes were made for growing babies! The American Podiatric Medical Association has placed their stamp of approval on these UMI Baby shoes designed for healthy foot growth. Some of these too-cute-to-boot styles will be featured at 60% off.

How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget

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Elf Hacks for Slackers

* By Sabrina James

Say hello (again) to The Elf on the Shelf, Santa’s skinny sidekick who keeps our kids in check. We all start with good intentions. But then the darn elf forgets to move. Fret not, we’ve got you covered:

Elf Hack # 1 Ask your elf to set a nightly, recurring iPhone alert to go off after your kids are in bed. (Just don’t call it something obvs like “elf!”) The “Harp” ringtone is particularly magical.

Elf Hack #2 Have him snap an “elfie selfie.” If he forgets to move, scroll through your pics and say, “He fooled us! He stole my phone and took a selfie. What a trickster!”

Elf Hack #3 Is your elf out of places to sit? Suggest she follow @ElfOnTheShelf on Twitter for location inspiration sourced from hardworking mamas.

Elf Hack #4 Blame the dog/cat/gerbil/fly that MUST have touched your elf accidentally, causing him to temporarily lose
his magic. Build him a protective covering made of candy canes and washi tape (who’s Pinterest-y now?) and refer to tip #1.

Or just place your elf … on the shelf. After all, she’s not “Elf in a Hot-Air Balloon.” Keep it simple: The easiest hunt is magic enough.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Parents Goody Giveaway: Enter for a Chance to Win $590 Worth of Pampers Easy Ups™, Wipes, and Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toys!

Do you have a little one at home who is potty training? Someone who tries the potty during the day, but still needs protection at night, or some extra security on long car rides? This giveaway is for you! 

Enter for the chance to win approximately $590 worth of merchandise, including a two-month supply of Pampers Easy Ups™ and wipes, and a huge assortment of Thomas the Tank Engine™ toys. Pampers Easy Ups™ is celebrating the introduction of new Thomas the Tank Engine™ designs for boys and new Dora the Explorer™ designs for girls! These are great for potty training!

ONE (1) lucky winner will receive:

To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between now and the end of the day on December 1, 2014. Be sure to check back on December 2nd and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, or the District of Columbia, 21 years and older. Begins: 4PM EST on November 25, 2014. Ends: 11:59PM on December 1, 2014. Subject to Official Rules at http://www.parents.com/blogs/goodyblog/official-rules-enter-for-the-chance-to-win-590-worth-of-pampers-easy-ups-and-thomas-the-tank-engine-toys. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Meredith Corporation.

For more you can also read our official rules here. Goody luck!

Potty Training Girls vs. Boys
Potty Training Girls vs. Boys
Potty Training Girls vs. Boys

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10 Ways Parents Are Pretty Much Ninjas

These stealthy parenting moves look like something you’d find in a ninja handbook. Here’s how to tell if you’ve mastered the art:

1. You have all the right gadgets on hand. After all, you’ve stashed everything your child could ever want in your purse to avoid spontaneous midday meltdowns. 

mary poppins

Source: Mary Poppins via giphy.com

2. You’ve perfected the silent creep, so you can keep a watchful eye on your enemies… er, kids, at all times.

george

Source: George Clooney via giphy.com

3. You’re a master of deception and aren’t afraid to use these skills to gain a stolen moment of “me time.” 

[Sounds of shower running in the background, with kid banging on the bathroom door.] “I can’t hear you, honey! I’m washing my hair.”

food

Source: Woman eating in bathroom painting via leepricestudio.com

4. You possess superhuman speed, strength, and agility. But only when needed, of course. (Like that time your kid tried to take the family car out for a test drive.)

Source: Forrest Gump via giphy.com

5. Between toting around your child’s car seat, diaper bag, lovie, sippy cup, snacks, and more on the daily, you make this juggler look like an amateur.

juggler

Source: Juggler via bestgifs.net

6. You know how to deal with the unexpected—and change a diaper just about anywhere.

diaper change

Source: Diaper change via dailypicksandflicks.com

7. You use the same care and finesse to pick up your sleeping baby that a ninja would use to unarm a ticking bomb.

disarm bomb

Source: Disarm bomb via tvtropes.org

8. You’re a regular escape artist. When you’re out in public and your tot throws an epic tantrum, you immediately identify the fastest way to make a graceful exit.

penguin

Source: Penguins of Madagascar via giphy.com

9. And sometimes your exit strategy is less graceful than others… Hey, it’s okay—even ninjas have off days. 

escape plan

Source: I’m Outta Here via glee.wikia.com

10. But you always get the job done. High five to that!

high five

Source: High five via giphy.com

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