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Thursday, December 4th, 2014
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?”
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Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Here are some of our favorite new movies, games, and more!
Movies and Television
Get high-tech with Disney’s Big Hero 6. The film follows robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and his gang of friends as they try to save San Fransokyo from catastrophe. PG; opens November 7
Everyone knows the Penguins of Madagascar are the real stars of the show. Join Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private as they embark on another zany spy mission. PG; opens November 26
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is getting the Diamond Edition treatment. The Blu-ray release features in-depth behind-the-scenes footage, a sing-along to “Once Upon a Dream,” and deleted scenes—including one with a dropped character called The Vulture. G, $37
It’s going to be even easier for your karaoke star to belt out her favorite Frozen tunes with the special Sing-Along Edition. A bouncing snowflake helps her follow the lyrics as Anna journeys to rescue her sister Elsa. The DVD release also features the original theatrical version. PG, $30
A variety of popular Nickelodeon characters—including Dora the Explorer and Team Umizoomi—make Let’s Learn: Patterns and Shapes both entertaining and educational for preschoolers. The DVD release features five episodes focused on circles, squares, triangles, and more. Plus, early releases of the DVD come with a shapes worksheet to continue the learning once screen-time is over. 3 years+, $15
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is turning 50! The beloved Christmas television special shows what happens when the adorable reindeer teams up with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist. Now on Blu-ray, the anniversary edition offers behind-the-scenes features, sing-alongs, and more. 3 years+, $18
Make like George Lucas and create your own animated movie moments with Star Wars Scene Maker. Choreograph a fight between Darth Vader and an ewok, or introduce Han Solo to the infamous “I Am Your Father” scene. Then, add music, dialog, and more. And don’t forget to share with friends afterward! 6 years+, Free for iPad and iPhone
PBS Kids and Sesame Workshop have teamed up for Cookie Monster’s Challenge, an app that teaches self-control, focus, and following directions to prepare young children for school. Nine different levels of mini games keep your preschooler busy—and as he progresses, he’ll earn more pieces of a cookie-making machine. 3 years+, $3 for iPad and Android
Your little one can explore her imagination with Toca Town. The open-ended, interactive app lets kids make up their own stories with 21 characters and six different locations to play in, including a park, a store, and a house. Players can engage with almost anything on the screen—including the toilet! 3 years+, $3 for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android
Bedtime just got a lot less painful, thanks to Disney Story Central. The large selection of e-books starring Disney characters—such as Mickey Mouse, the princesses, and Doc McStuffins—offer read-along narration and personalized book recommendations. Plus, your bookworm will earn trophies and awards as she progresses. 2 years+, free for iPad for first 4 books, with additional purchase packages starting at $4
New figurines called amiibo
can now interact with compatible Nintendo games. Players touch the toy to the GamePad to release the character into the game. 6 years+, $13 for one figurine
Most motion-sensing, TV-based game systems are for older kids, but LeapTV is made for little ones who can, for instance, do karate moves that help them recognize shapes. 3 years+, $150
Let your aspiring artist develop his skills with Pokémon Art Academy. The game features unlockable lessons and teaches everything from the basics of coloring and shapes to the more complex shading and blending. Print out his masterpieces after! 6 years+, $30 for 3DS and 2DS
Music lovers can’t miss Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. The motion-controlled game lets you remix and transform 30 different songs—by artists such as The Who, Lady Gaga, and Mozart—by conducting with your hands. Perfect for family game night! 10 years+, $60 for Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Gamers young and old will have a blast getting lost in the world of Hohokum. The artwork looks hand-drawn rather than pixelated, creating a vibrant and imaginative world to fly around in. There are goals to work towards, but ultimately, the game exists as a colorful playground to explore. 10 years+, $15 for PS3, PS4, and PS Vita
Image courtesy of Dreamworks Animation
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big hero 6, Cookie Monster, Disney, Entertainment, fantasia, Frozen, kids apps, kids movies, kids TV, penguins of madagascar, screen-time finds, sleeping beauty, Star Wars | Categories:
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Yesterday, Hilary Duff celebrated Trident gum’s 10-year anniversary of their sponsorship of Oral Health America’s Smiles Across America campaign. (The campaign provides oral disease prevention to uninsured children.) This week 5 cents of every pack of Trident gum purchased—up to $200,000—will go to the cause! Parents sat down with the actress-cum-pop star and mom of 2-year-old Luca to talk dental health, why she’s more afraid of the terrible 3s than the 2s, and her own mommy monologue—Lizzie McGuire-style.
P: You’ve been involved in a lot of charitable work, what drew you to this cause?
HD: I think I just got inspired knowing that Trident has supported Oral Health America for the past ten years and they’ve raised over 2 million dollars doing such good. I’m starting to work with my son, taking care of his teeth everyday and trying to teach him how to brush. I’ve always had teeth issues so I know how painful it can be. I want to teach him how important it is to keep healthy teeth and brush after meals. And it’s my gum! This is actually my gum that I buy.
P: Speaking of teaching your son to brush, is he brushing his own teeth? Does he ever complain about having to do it?
HD: He wants to brush his own, but I brush him first and then I let him “brush.” We started brushing when he had two little nubs sticking out just to get him used to it. My friend told me, “Get a toothbrush in there as soon as you can and make it a habit and routine.” We try to make it fun. I’ll be like “I bet you can’t stand on one foot while I brush your teeth” and he goes “I can! I can! I can!”
Aside from brushing, healthy eating habits are important, too. Check out Parents’ Toddler Nutrition Quiz to see if he’s eating right.
P: Now that Luca is 2 years old, tell me: Are they terrible?
HD: No. Not at all. I’m worried for 3 because 2 has been a breeze.
P: What’s your favorite part about 2?
HD: I think just all the vocabulary that happens. He’s getting so vocal and now he can put 4 or 5 words together. It’s a big thing when they can start joining words, but it’s sad too because some of the really cute things that you love go away quick. He’s starting to sing. He loves to sing the ABCs and The Great Big Spider—he does not like The Itsy Bitsy Spider he likes The Great Big Spider.
P: So you changed the words?
HD: Yes. And I guess…just how capable he is with everything now. He knows what he wants, but he’s a very sweet little boy and he has a really good spirit. He has the best smile. I’m lucky, but I’m a little afraid for 3 because 2 has been great.
P: Is there anything that he does that makes you think “Oh my gosh, he’s such a little mini-me?”
HD: All of his vocal-isms. He says “oh!” all the time because I say “Oh.” I’ll say to him “It’s time to go!” He’ll say “OH!” The other day I put something on instagram where he sprayed me with the hose. I didn’t think he could pull the trigger because they’re really tough. I just say “sure” all the time and I said “You can’t spray me” and he said “SURE!” and then pssshhhhh blasted me with the hose. He also says “No way” which is bad. I usually say it in a good way when I get excited like “no wayyyy” and now he says it in a bad way. I’m like “Do you want to change your diaper?” “No way!” Excuse me? The sass.
P: This year has been a year of transition for your family. What has been the key to maintaining a positive parenting relationship for you and for Luca, perhaps as an example for other moms that might be going through harder times?
HD: I think the key thing for us is that he’s our main priority and we love and care for him so much and so everything else will straighten out eventually. We’re just trying to move forward with as much love as we can for him and our family. And we have a lot of respect for each other.
P: You’re most famous for your portrayal of Lizzie McGuire. She always had that inner monologue running through her head as a cartoon. What’s your mommy inner monologue like?
HD: I wish I could be funny right now, but I really don’t think it’s funny. I think a lot of the time I remind myself to count to ten. Take a breather. Their little legs can’t always keep up with ours and I don’t want to rush him through life and rush through the stages that I notice are going by so quickly. My life is so busy and so hectic and I move so quickly that it’s like, take it down a notch. It’s all good. So I think Ok count to 10. Sometimes it’s so easy to say “I’m just gonna pick you up and we’re gonna go,” but I want to be really patient with him.
Photograph: Michael Simon/StarTracks
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celeb moms, celebrity interview, dental care, Disney, hilary duff, Lizzie McGuire, Oral Health America, Smiles Across America, teeth, terrible twos, Trident | Categories:
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Although the forecast may call for a hot-sunny day (and a trip to the pool), that doesn’t stop your kids from singing their favorite tune, “Do you want to build a snowman,” from Disney’s Frozen soundtrack, and we can’t blame them. Whether or not you are able to make it to Walt Disney World’s parks this summer, we know of another way your kiddos can see the Frozen characters–Frozen On Ice coming this fall!
In a first-ever agreement, Feld Entertainment, Inc, and Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt have paired up to combine healthy living, family fun and even more Frozen entertainment.
Feld Entertainment, Inc., announced today that Stonyfield Yokids is now the presenting U.S. sponsor of Disney On Ice and Disney Live; which can only mean one thing: Disney On Ice presents Frozen! This marks the first time Feld Entertainment has signed a national sponsor for its touring ice and stage shows and brings together their shared focus on a healthier lifestyle and nutritious eating, (plus Frozen on ice is the cherry on top!)
“We are very excited to announce the Stonyfield YoKids sponsorship,” said Feld Entertainment Executive Vice President and Disney Live! Producer Alana Feld. “In this time of renewed focus on nutritious food choices and well-being, Feld Entertainment and Stonyfield believe that by joining together we can promote active, healthier lifestyle choices for families everywhere, particularly for children. This is why Stonyfield YoKids is a natural fit as the presenting sponsor of Disney On Ice and Disney Live!”
As if your children weren’t crazy about Frozen already, now you can enter to win a chance to see Frozen on ice! Exclusive to Disney On Ice presents Frozen Presented by Stonyfield YoKids is a national sweepstakes focusing on Olaf, the loveable snowman sidekick, titled, “Where Would You Go with Olaf in Summer?” A grand-prize-winning family of four will travel to Orlando, Florida, to attend the opening night of Disney On Ice presents Frozen Presented by YoKids on September 4th at the Amway Center. Additionally, weekly prizes of $150 worth of Disney On Ice presents Frozen merchandise, including exclusive collectibles from Disney’s Frozen, will be awarded. For full contest details, visit www.FrozenOnIceInSummer.com.
What are your waiting for? Get your toes out of the sand, grab your kids (and maybe your fur coat) and go see the Disney On Ice Frozen presentation!
Want to plan your next trip to Walt Disney World? See how it can be a fun (and easy) experience for the entire family!
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Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
When we heard that Frozen princess dresses have been selling out in Disney World each day, it got us wondering…are they really so hard to find? The most gorgeous, premium Anna and Elsa dresses are now on Chasing-Fireflies.com, the site behind the Wishcraft catalog. However, they’re not shipping yet and they won’t be cheap. The Elsa dress shown is $130; the Anna is $124 and when we looked, neither would be available until the end of August in smaller sizes. The size-10 Anna coronation dress looks to be backordered through the end of October!
Less-expensive BuyCostumes.com has pared-down Elsa and Anna frocks, backordered until just after Labor Day. Their Elsa is $38, and Anna is $40.
On to the Disney Store, and…they don’t have the dresses yet either, but nice ones are coming. We saw the two shown below, Anna’s with the cape and Elsa’s with cool ombre sleeves, at their fall preview. AND they are going to have an Olaf costume! No word on exactly when they’ll all hit shelves, but they’ll be about $50 each.
In the meantime, there are $30 dresses for both sister characters at Toys “R” Us and at other mass merchants. Fair warning, the user reviews are brutal. (As in, “The tulle sleeves are like sandpaper.”) But desperate times may call for desperate measures, scratchy sleeves and all. Or try and teach your little princess the virtue of patience!
Heading to the Magic Kingdom? Your kids may be more interested in meeting the
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celebrities characters than the rides! Watch our video.
Anna, Chasing Fireflies, costumes, Disney, Disney store, Elsa, Frozen, Halloween costumes, princess | Categories:
GoodyBlog, Holidays, Shopping & Gear, Time for Fun, Travel
Thursday, June 26th, 2014
If you’re planning a trip to Orlando this summer, you’re in luck: Several way-cool attractions and resorts have opened or are debuting soon. Don’t miss:
* Frozen Summer Fun Live!
Since your kids can’t get enough of Anna, Elsa, and Olaf, Disney is launching Frozen-themed activities and character appearances at Hollywood Studios from July 5 to September 1. Highlights include Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome on a horse-drawn sleigh at 11 am daily, a 20-minute sing-a-long celebration in the Premiere Theatre presented several times daily, a “Do You Want to Build A Snowman?” area with winter activities, an ice skating rink, and Frozen Fireworks at 9:45 pm daily. How cool does all that sound?
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley
Calling all wizards in training: This much-anticipated area of Universal Studios will hold its grand opening on July 8. Families can ride the Hogwarts Express back and forth from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Hogsmeade (inside Islands of Adventure, the sister park of Universal Studios) to this new re-creation of London. Several other fun rides and attractions are on tap too; learn more here.
The B Resort & Spa
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The stylish (but not stuffy) property recently opened in the Downtown Disney area. Many rooms feature bunk beds and kitchenettes. You can borrow an iPad or hang at the pool area, which has lots of fun features for kids. Bus transportation is provided to Disney Parks.Get a Parents-exclusive deal: For $560 (a $120-discount), you can stay two nights in a room with bunk beds, receive four complimentary breakfast buffets at American Q, get four items from the B Treated Tray, and snag four ice-cream cones at The Pickup. Use promo code PARENTS; offer valid for stays between now and September 30, 2014; book by July 31.
Thursday, June 19th, 2014
You likely have fond memories of the Disney Channel Original Movies of your tween and teen years (did anyone else love “Get A Clue” and “Stuck in the Suburbs,” among others?), but unfortunately, these flicks aired way before your kiddo’s time.
This Friday, however, Disney Junior will show its first original movie, “Lucky Duck,” an animated picture featuring the voices (speaking and singing) of Broadway actors Megan Hilty, Christian Borle, and Tom Cavanagh. The film chronicles the adventures of a group of tub toys who have fallen into the ocean. Will they be able to find their way to a kid?
You and your child can view the “Lucky Duck” trailer and then watch an exclusive clip from the movie.
Tune in to Disney Junior to watch “Lucky Duck” this Friday, June 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. If your family has plans that night (or just wants to watch the movie a second time!), it will also air on Saturday, June 21, at 9 a.m. ET/PT.
Plus, a cute duck-themed game to play at a baby shower:
Photo credit: Disney Junior
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Thursday, May 29th, 2014
By Chelsea P. Gladden, BreezyMama.com
When it comes to the live action Maleficent, Disney is pulling out all the marketing stops. My kids and I will pause from fast forwarding through commercials on TV to watch the preview– every time it airs. And that has been a lot!
When it was time to actually see the film starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, my 10 year old and I were beside ourselves with excitement. So did it live up to all the non-stop hype?
The short answer is: Stop reading this now and head to a theater near you.
My daughter and I absolutely loved it. The film is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale “The Sleeping Beauty,” and the later Disney animated classic Sleeping Beauty, though this time from the perspective of the evil queen Maleficent, played by Jolie.
I’m a little surprised that it scored a PG rating as I felt it might be a bit more on the PG-13 side due to some violent scenes. Though my daughter was fine throughout, we did cuddle up during some very scary moments watching one of the greatest Disney villains ever.
Starting with Maleficent as a rambunctious young fairy you can’t help but root for, her innocence is ripped from her through a heart-breaking betrayal. Though she turns dark and seeks revenge on the king by cursing his first-born daughter (A.K.A. Aurora), you actually, in many ways, don’t blame her. Except for the cursing of the baby, of course!
From the start, the neighboring kingdom was bent on invading the moors she protects. With soldiers willing to stop at nothing to take her down, she relies on the nature around her, including some of the most frightening looking trees and a fire-breathing dragon made from the roots. Flying through the opposing army, she violently knocks them down one by one with her powerful wings protecting the land she grew up enchanting. The inability to bring her down further fuels the original king to encourage her demise, offering his throne to anyone who can exact revenge upon her.
My daughter and I decided those scenes and the epic-though-violent finale would be far too scary for my 5 year old.
With all the press surrounding the film, you probably know by now that Angelina Jolie’s 5-year-old daughter plays a young Princess Aurora. As Jolie previously mentioned, all other kids her age were too afraid of Jolie in costume. It was a bit stunt casting, but when I actually saw the scene, I found it very touching. Vivienne and her mommy have a tender chemistry that ends up being quite essential to the plot.
Jolie as Maleficent is wickedly wonderful, which adds to the fun. Appearing from the shadows, her silhouette often looks just like the cartoon version, which is a treat for fans of the 1959 version.
Speaking of the original, the three fairies – Flora, Fauna and Merryweather – have always been favorites of mine, and the live-action versions definitely add some humor to the plot. Though Jolie is dark, she too has some fun playing tricks on the trio as well as some great one-liners.
Some may find one of the twists as taking too much liberty with the traditional fairy tale (hint: another twist with true love’s kiss). There are some slow-moving moments while waiting for the cursed Aurora to turn 16, prick her finger on the spindle from the spinning wheel and fall into the infamous deep sleep, but overall I found the film a lot of fun to take my own little “Beastie,” as Aurora is affectionately called, to see.
Grade on a scale of kid’s live action films: B+
Rated PG, Violent battle scenes; Slightly graphic; Scary moments; 97 minutes
Watch a sneak peek here:
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