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This Month’s Screen-Time Finds

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Here are some of our favorite new movies, games, and more!

Movies

A group of kids discover and befriend alien life in Earth to Echo. The “found footage”-style movie (which looks as if one of the characters filmed it himself with a handheld camera) follows their journey to protect the creature from the government.
What’s in it for you The film features an adventurous plot to thrill the whole family, similar to classic kid-centric films such as E.T. and The Goonies.
PG; opens July 2

Our ambitious friend Dusty is back again in Planes: Fire & Rescue. This time, he’s forced to switch careers when engine damage threatens his racing ability. But he’s not idle for long; he soon joins up with a fire and rescue helicopter and a squad of all-terrain vehicles to fight a giant wildfire. PG; opens July 18

Everything is awesome now that The Lego Movie is coming to DVD! Emmet, an ordinary construction worker, accidentally ends up on a quest to prevent an evil tyrant from destroying the entire universe with glue. The wacky humor will appeal to both kids and adults. PG; $36

Based on a Belgian book series, Ernest & Celestine tells the heartwarming tale of a mouse and a bear who become friends under unlikely circumstances. The film—which was nominated for best Animated Feature Film at this year’s Academy Awards—showcases beautiful hand-drawn and watercolor artwork and a number of celebrity voices, including Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, and William H. Macy. PG; $30

Video Games

Bring on the competition with Kinect Sports Rivals. Using the new Xbox One’s amazing technology, the game scans your body to create a “Champion” who looks like you—and eventually learns to act and play like you too. 10 years+; $60 for Xbox One

If your family enjoyed Toothless and Hiccup’s adventures in theaters this summer, you can continue the fun with the How to Train Your Dragon 2 video game. Become a master dragon rider by entering flight school, competing in tournaments, and completing training exercises. 10 years+; $40 for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U; $30 for 3DS and Wii

Ever imagine what your Mii might be up to when he’s not involved in your video games? In Tomodachi Life, players get to create and customize Mii characters, and then see how they interact with each other during daily life. Some might fall in love, others might become rock stars—and some will just take a nice long bath. 6 years+; $35 for 3DS

Apps
Your little one can learn all about her favorite prehistoric beasts with Dinosaur Train A to Z. Based on the popular PBS Kids show, the app introduces users to 26 interactive dinosaurs to feed and X-ray. Plus, the app’s Dinosaur Letter feature lets kids practice spelling. For even more learning, two additional app packages focused on carnivores and winged creatures are also available for purchase. 3 years+; $2 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Reminisce with the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e Angel app, based on the popular virtual pet toys from the 1990s. The graphics are still charmingly retro, but users can now collect different wallpapers and shell designs. 4 years+; free for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android

Totally Monster Manners makes teaching your child etiquette a snap. The amusing e-book features adorable monsters who aren’t very polite—and soon suffer the consequences when no one wants to play with them! 2 years+; $1 for iPad

If your kid likes a little adventure before bed, check out Mike the Knight: Storybook Treasury. Three exciting new e-books—based on the popular TV show —will thrill preschoolers with tales of dragons, castles, and jousting. 3 years+; free for first book for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch; additional stories cost $2 each

When your little one needs a push to go outdoors, try enticing him with Plum’s Photo Hunt. Each mission involves taking a picture of something in the environment, such as leaves, signs of animal life, or unusual weather. Your budding photographer can then submit his findings to the PBS Kids site, and a select gallery will be published online each week. 6 years+; free for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Travel the globe with Whole Wide World 2. Players meet characters from different countries and participate in games related to each culture, such as riding a kangaroo in Australia and finding hidden objects in Italy. The app’s scrapbook feature collects postcards from each stop. 5 years+; free for basic edition, $1 per additional country, $5 for premium access to all 15 countries for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Image courtesy of Xbox

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This Month’s Screen-Time Finds

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Here are some of our favorite new movies, games, and more!

Movies and DVD

An intelligent dog (Ty Burrell) and his adopted son (Max Charles) time-travel in Mr. Peabody & Sherman. While the two experience world-changing events and meet some of the greats, including Mona Lisa, King Tut, and Abe Lincoln, Sherman almost alters world history, with comical results.
*What’s in it for you The goofy sense of humor and one-liners will bring out your inner kid.
PG; opens March 7

The gang returns with Muppets Most Wanted. The sequel to the popular 2011 film opens with the characters on a sold-out tour around Europe. But mayhem begins when Kermit’s doppelganger—and the world’s number-one criminal—appears.
PG; opens March 21

Action fans eagerly awaiting the next blockbuster can prepare with Transformers Prime: Ultimate Bumblebee. The DVD release features four exciting episodes about the brave and determined Autobot.
7 years+, $10

The DVD release of Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Big Help features three episodes focused on teaching children to help out whenever they can. Whether it’s Strawberry babysitting or Orange adopting a homesick tadpole, the girls learn that a little assistance can go a long way.
2 years+, $15

Video Games

One of the highest-rated sports-game franchises is back with MLB 14 The Show. Realistic enhancements let users play faster than ever before, as well as save games to be carried over to future versions of The Show.
6 years+, $60 for PS3 and PS4, price not yet released for PS Vita

Mario lovers will want to check out Yoshi’s New Island, the third installment in the popular franchise. Use Mega Eggdozers to mow down obstacles, destroy pipes and blocks, and reveal hidden doors. The new binocular ability lets players uncover hidden areas and improve their aim.
6 years+, $40 for 3DS 

Apps

School-age kids can test their vocabulary skills with the WordGirl Superhero Training app, based on the PBS Kids TV series. Players choose a superhero name, customize an avatar, and complete mini game challenges involving logic, navigation, and memory to defeat the evil villains.
6 years+, $2 for iPad and Android

Learning the alphabet is a blast with Jamaroos Musical ABCs. There’s an animal and an instrument for each letter. When you put them together, it creates a fun medley of music and sounds that will help preschoolers develop reading skills. Bright colors and bold graphics make the app even more engaging.
2 years+, $3 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android

Pet Bingo makes learning basic math—including addition, multiplication, and geometry—a playful and fun experience. As kids solve problems and complete bingos, they earn virtual pets. Plus, a Report Card section lets Mom and Dad keep tabs on all the activities.
4 years+, $2 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android

Both kids and adults will get a kick out of Skee Ball Arcade, the only officially licensed game from the classic franchise. It’s all the fun of the original activity, without the need to spend your quarters or carry around a big bag of tickets. A variety of different challenges and power-ups keeps the activity fresh and exciting.
4 years+, free for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android

The Sesame Street gang is here to help your little one build her vocabulary with Big Bird’s Words. Using augmented reality technology, the app’s Word-o-Scope recognizes 1,500 food words through the device’s camera. As your kid hunts for certain items at home or in the grocery store, Big Bird offers trivia and encouragement.
3 years+, $1 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android

 

Image courtesy of DreamWorks Animation

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Spyware Gadgets for Parents

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

spyHigh-tech kid-monitoring gadgets like these take helicopter parenting to an NSA-worthy level.

Mini Hidden Alarm Clock
Little does your tot know, this device comes equipped with a motion-activated video recorder, so you can catch him the moment he starts shoving jelly beans up his nose. Plus, a rechargeable battery with 10 hours of recording power means you can creep on your little angel. All. Day. Long. $129; brickhousesecurity.com

BeLuvv Guardian
Rambunctious preschoolers may be difficult to wrangle, but this stylish Bluetooth-enabled device can be worn by your child as a bracelet or a necklace. An app monitors the distance between you and your kiddo, and alerts you if he moves outside of a range you set, between 0 and 230 feet. $30; beluvv.com

MamaBear App
This nifty app helps you GPS-track your kid’s location, monitor social media accounts, create account restrictions, and will even alert you if he’s traveling in a car that’s going over a speed limit you select. Plus, the easy-to-use child’s version of the app lets him check in to let you know his location, ask to be picked up,or send an “SOS” if he’s in trouble. App and basic service, free; mamabearapp.com

—Sabrina James

Are you a positive parent? An attachment-style parent? Take our quiz and find out!

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This Month’s Screen-Time Finds

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Here are some of our favorite new movies, apps, and more!

DVDs and TV

Walk on the wild side with The Jungle Book Diamond EditionThe beloved film is coming to Blu-ray for the first time February 11.
*What’s in it for you Grown-up fans won’t want to miss the bonus features: behind-the-scenes interviews, an alternate ending, and a “Bear-E-Oke” sing-along.
Rated G, $40

Teach your child about important social and life skills with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel’s Big Feelings and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Life’s Little LessonsThe PBS Kids series—which is inspired by Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—is coming to DVD for the first time. The little tiger attends many everyday activities such as going to school and visiting the doctor, but things never get boring when he utilizes his imagination. 2 years+, $13

Four popular films are returning to DVD on the My Little Pony: Classic Movie CollectionJoin the girls as they dance in the clouds, plan a party for friends, and deal with a dragon. 2 years+, $15

A young plane trains for a prestigious flight competition in WingsIn order to follow his dreams, he must remain determined and learn to become a hero. Rated G, $15

In Angelina Ballerina: On With the Show, Ms. Mimi loses her voice right before a big recital. But her performers get creative to keep the celebration going. 2 years+, $15

Video Games

If your family loved The Lego Moviecontinue the fun with The Lego Movie Videogame on February 28. Help Emmet save the world—with the help of some new friends, of course. 10 years+, price varies by platform for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, PC, and Wii U

Gamers of all ages will love celebrating the Olympics with classic characters in Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter GamesCompete or work cooperatively in 24 exciting events including bobsleigh, skiing, figure skating, and snowboarding. 6 years+, $50 for Wii U

Football season may be over, but your little athlete can keep playing with Madden NFL 25New technology allows gamers to have more control over moves and makes the physics seem more realistic. Plus, the brand-new Owner Mode lets your kid manage personnel, set prices, and build a new stadium. 6 years+, $60 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and PS4

Apps

Experience The Little Mermaid like never before with Ariel’s Musical Surprise app. Your child can explore Ariel’s grotto, teach fish to sing, and even create her own music. Unlock even more games by purchasing select toys, like a light-up dress or musical-instrument set. 4 years+, free for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

Help little ones recognize faces with NameGames. Start by uploading pictures of family and friends and record your voice saying each name. Young kids can then play games that will help them learn the important people in their life. 8 months+, free for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android

Kids can learn geography with Travelzoo’s Map the World app. Players select from nine interactive maps including the 50 states, oceans, and seas around the globe. A narrator announces the name of each place, so little ones can learn correct pronunciation. And for those looking for a challenge, the timer monitors speed. 4 years+, free for iPad

Encourage healthy habits with a new app from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. I See the Animals Sleeping stresses the importance of getting enough rest, whether you’re a child or a critter. Explore different sleeping habits from around the world with a story, coloring pages, a puzzle, and quiz games. 3 years+, free for iPad and Android

Sofia the First: The Floating Palace takes readers underwater for a thrilling adventure. In the interactive story, our heroine befriends a mermaid and must help save her kingdom. After the story is over, your little one can create and record her own virtual puppet show. 4 years+, $5 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Gather up to four players around your device for some word-building fun with Sushi Scramble. Compete or work cooperatively to collect letters from sushi boats, and complete challenges—such as creating the highest valued word—to “serve” customers. 4 years+, $3 for iPad and Android

Valentine's Day Heart Pop-up Card
Valentine's Day Heart Pop-up Card
Valentine's Day Heart Pop-up Card

The Jungle Book image courtesy of Walt Disney

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Share Your Kid’s Wish List with Santa

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

North Pole PIXMA…and with family and friends, of course! Canon’s new, interactive Facebook app, North Pole PIXMA, lets children write letters and electronically draw pictures to send to Santa’s workshop (and to your Canon printer using Cloud Technology) through December 24th. Once your child sends her creation to Santa through the app, she’ll be shown a video of the crew, including Santa, Ms. Claus, the workshop elves and Abominable Snowman, receiving her wish list at the North Pole. There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit. Plus, you can save the printed copy as a keepsake or share the list with all your little one’s prospective gift givers this year.

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Better Homes and Gardens Re-launches Its “Must-Have Recipes” App

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Tired of whipping up the same old? Stumped on your holiday menu this year?

Better Homes and Gardens has come up with the perfect solution. The brand re-launched its “Must-Have Recipes” app for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

The new app features more than 500 recipes — everything from appetizers and main dishes to decadent desserts and holiday recipes.

Other cool features of the app include how-to videos, advanced browsing capabilities, the ability to share recipes by e-mail and Facebook, and personalized shopping lists.

Download the free app here today!

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The National Wildlife Federation Introduces the Ranger Rick, Jr. Magazine and App

Monday, December 10th, 2012

If you and your kids are long-time fans of Ranger Rick magazines, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recently celebrated the magazine’s 50th anniversary by launching a new series, Ranger Rick, Jr., aimed at kids ages 4-7. The first issue (December 2012/January 2013) focuses on lions and introduces Ricky the Raccoon and Sammy the Skunk, friends who serve as guides to introduce fascinating facts, gorgeous photos, and fun games, activities, and stories.  The new magazine’s format is simpler and the text is easier to read; plus, each new issue contains a pull-out poster that kids can display on their walls. (A subscription of 10 issues costs $19.95.)

Along with the magazine, the NWF also joined forces with Moonbot Studios and released a storybook app just for the iPad. In the Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures — Lions! app, Ricky the Raccoon and Lars the Lion help kids learn how lions in the African grasslands live.  The app has an abundance of interactive stories, games, puzzles, music, and other features.  (The app is now available on iTunes for $4.99.)

To also mark the 50th anniversary of Ranger Rick, the NWF collaborated with Fablevision Studios (founded by children’s book author Peter H. Reynolds) to create the magazine’s first iPad app, Ranger Rick’s Tree House.  Geared toward kids ages 7-12, Ranger Rick brings kids to visit his home, a tree house in Deep Green Wood.  Kids explore every nook and cranny of the tree house and customize it with seasonal decorations. Similar to the Ranger Rick Jr. app, older kids also learn aspects of outdoor wildlife by watching videos and playing interactive games and activities; there are also badges to be won and collected.  (The app is now available on iTunes for $19.99, which includes an annual subscription of 4 issues with monthly bonus updates.  Single issues are $4.99 with two monthly bonus updates.)

Help your kids learn more about animals and their natural habitats with these creative and educational magazines and apps.

Ranger Rick, Jr. Appventures Lions

Ranger Rick, Jr. Appventures

Ranger Rick Tree House app

Ranger Rick Tree House

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Nancy O’Dell Releases “Little Ashby: Star Reporter” App for Kids

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Little Ashby Star Reporter - SantaThis time of year can put children’s (and parents’) patience to the test — long trips in the car to visit family, seemingly endless shopping lines. Make the most of the time your kids will spend waiting with a fun new educational app, Little Ashby: Star Reporter.

Created by Parents’ celebrity correspondent and Entertainment Tonight co-host Nancy O’Dell and developed by StoryChimes, the app is an interactive storybook that allows children to follow TV reporter Ashby (named after Nancy’s daughter) and her crew on exciting assignments.

Ashby’s first job? To interview Santa! Children will love joining Ashby on her journey to the North Pole. Along the way, they’ll learn educational facts, values, and morals that will be reinforced with engaging activities and games.

Little Ashby: Star Reporter – Santa’s Big Premiere is available on Apple devices now for $2.99. A portion of the proceeds for the app will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) in honor of Bryson Foster, MDA’s 2012 National Goodwill Ambassador and the voice of Arty, the little cameraman, in the app.

Remember to keep an eye out for more adventures with Ashby and her crew in the new year!

Read more from Nancy O’Dell on Parents.com:

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