Summer is full of concerts, capades, and circuses for families to enjoy. But there’s a new show in town unlike anything you or your kids have ever seen: Marvel Universal LIVE!Before you brush this off as just another big arena show, think about this: The Avengers, X-Men, and Spider-Man all on a single stage. (I think your own little Spider-Man just lept to the ceiling in excitement.)
Produced by the creators of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey and Disney On Ice, comes a show of massive proportions. It’s an original story that brings together 25 heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe. The spectacle brings these icons to life “to show audiences their powers—things they could only imagine could exist in film or in animation,” according to Juliette Feld, the show’s producer and EVP of Feld Entertainment. From a wild live car chase to actors freefalling 26 feet, the stunts are big and the action explosive. Marvel Universal LIVE! uses never-before-seen technology and special effects to bring the comic book world to fruition for the whole family.
“We really try to create stuff that parents will love as much as the kids,” says Feld, who is pregnant with her first child. “I hope I have a good perspective on what is meaningful to moms and to dads because I’m one of them.” While the show is recommended for kids ages 5-12, Feld knows from experience that even younger kids can get into the hype: her baby reacts in utero to Feld’s time in rehearsal. “She really likes this scene where Thor is fighting Rhino and Lizard and Doc Ock,” laughs Feld. “There’s really heavy bass in that scene, so that might be what she’s responding to. I think she has her own hammer in there. She just starts knocking around!”
Marvel Universe LIVE! kicked off it’s 85-city tour last night in Tampa, FL as it brings the magic of superheroes (and the villains they battle) to audiences all over the globe.
Here are some of our favorite new movies, games, and more!
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
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
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 Angelapp, 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
Here are some of our favorite new movies, games, and more!
Movies and Television
How to Train Your Dragon 2picks up five years after the original film ended, but Hiccup and Toothless are still an inseparable duo. This sequel promises plenty of adventure, a mysterious Dragon Rider, and an epic battle to protect the peace on the island of Berk. PG, opens June 13
Thanks toMickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World, you can take your little one all over the globe without ever leaving the couch. Join Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto on a trip to France, Italy, Egypt, and China—and keep an eye out for Monsieur Donald Duck and Gondolier Goofy along the way. 3 years+, $20
Disney XD is airing a fresh take on the seven dwarfs this summer. The 7D is an animated comedy series set in the world of Jollywood, where the dwarfs help Queen Delightful keep her kingdom in order and protect it from two hapless villains. 3 years+, premieres July 7
In SpongeBob, You’re Fired!, our hero must try out new kooky occupations—including working at the Chum Bucket, picketing with Squidward, and modeling in a commercial. The DVD release features 14 funny episodes of the hit Nickelodeon show. 6 years+, $15
Soccer lovers can get in on the action with EA Sports 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. New features allow better control of the ball and make the physics more realistic. Plus, you can play with up to 32 gamers through the qualifying rounds in tournament mode. 6 years+, $60 for Xbox 360 and PS3
Immerse yourself in Disney Magical World. Players can customize their avatar, interact with dozens of their favorite characters, and explore various Disney universes. Some activities include managing a café, planting crops, and helping to solve challenges. 7 years+, $30 for 3DS
Putty Squad, the early 1990s video game, is getting a makeover! Help a little blue blob rescue his friends by stretching, squishing and morphing through obstacles. New moves and modes add a modern twist. 10 years+, $30 for PS4, 3DS and PS Vita, $20 for PS3
Become a master of plants with Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends. Choose from more than 50 flower, fruit, and vegetable seeds, and then care for them with water and fertilizer. And when your animal friends ask for help, harvest and deliver your crops to their restaurants and shops. 7 years+, $30 for 3DS
Fans of the PBS Kids show won’t want to miss Cyberchase Shape Quest. The app uses augmented-reality technology to help kids develop geometry, problem solving, and spatial-reasoning skills. Print out the free game board online, and when the camera focuses on it, characters pop up onscreen. 6 years+, free for iPad
Make basic arithmetic exciting with Wonder Bunny Math Race. Players must solve addition and subtraction problems quickly to help the rabbit beat opponents. Three levels of difficulty make it interesting for older kids too. 3 years+, Free for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android
Kids can engage with a story in a whole new way with I Imagine. This interactive e-book lets your little one create the characters by choosing names, adding photos for faces, and customizing outfits. Then, he can join in the fun by helping the hero dance, build sand castles, draw pictures, and more. 3 years+, free for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
It’s time for a Wild Kratts World Adventure! The app, based on the PBS KIDS show, lets young explorers virtually swing with orangutans, swim with dolphins, and hunt bugs with woodpeckers. Earn stickers as you complete levels—and don’t forget to take a “Creature Power Selfie,” which inserts your face on an animal’s body. 4 years+, $3 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
If your child is always begging to use your tablet or smartphone, teach her some boundaries with The Adventures of Ash & Ollie: ScreenTime. The interactive e-book introduces some manageable rules for using devices, and encourages an active lifestyle too. The photo-album feature lets her take pictures of herself having fun. 4 years+, $3 for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android
Here are some of our favorite new movies, games, and more!
Movies and Shows
A familiar world is explored in a new light in Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return when our heroine (Lea Michele) travels back to Oz to find her old friends. On her journey, she meets a quirky cast of characters, including a man made out of marshmallows and a talkative tugboat. PG; opens May 9
Based on a true story, Million Dollar Armtells the story of a sports agent (Jon Hamm) who recruits talented cricket players to play Major League baseball. What’s in it for you: Jon Hamm! PG; opens May 16
Sleeping Beauty’s infamous antagonist tells her side of the story in Maleficent. It turns out she wasn’t always a villain—an act of betrayal when she was a young woman turned her heart to stone.
What’s in it for you: Angelina Jolie does a deliciously evil take on the character. And watch her daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt in her acting debut. PG; opens May 30
Remember Fraggle Rock? The Jim Henson series from the ’80s now has inspired an animated show called Doozers. The show focuses on the tiny hard-working characters as they design and tackle engineering problems in the community. More than 50 episodes—each is 11 minutes long—were just released on Hulu for your preschooler’s viewing pleasure. 3 years+, available on Hulu
It’s party time in Happy Birthday Barney! The lovable dinosaur’s friends are working hard to throw a surprise bash. 1 year+, $10
Go wild with the high-definition debut of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. The animated film—which was nominated for an Academy Award when it was released in 2002—follows a stallion as he travels across the Old West, finding friendship and love along the way. The Blu-ray release features commentary, a drawing tutorial, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes. G, $20
Jump into action with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutagen Mayhem. The first six episodes of the popular Nickelodeon show’s second season are now available on DVD. When our crime-fighting heroes accidentally drop mutagen all over New York City, they have to rescue the citizens—and take on villains while they’re at it. 7 years+, $15
Take your film collection on the go with Disney Movies Anywhere. The app works as a cloud service for Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies. Simply link your iTunes account to watch already purchased movies and check out other films to buy. Exclusive video is also available for free. 3 years+, free for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
Keep track of your child’s household contributions with ChoreMonster 2.0. When kids help out, they earn virtual points, which can be cashed in for real-life rewards like extra allowance or an hour of TV time. Plus, interactive monster characters make the experience more engaging. 3 years+, free for iOS, Windows 8, and online
Dexteria Dots makes practicing math both fun and visually appealing. Each circle on the screen represents a number, and players must combine or divide them to solve math problems. As the challenges become more difficult, the dots are no longer numbered, so kids must rely on memory and other clues to complete the tasks. And when the correct answer is reached, entertaining characters pop up to reward children for the hard work. 3 years+, $3 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
Your kid can virtually explore all over the United States and Canada with Critter Cruise. Players drive along four different routes—including the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66—while admiring the colorful scenery and learning facts about the different areas. While making stops at famous roadside attractions, kids answer questions on math and language arts to fill the gas tank and collect digital bumper stickers to admire later. 6 years+, Free for basic version or $2 to unlock all routes for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
Mickey Mouse: Mash-Up is perfect for aspiring animators. The interactive story takes users on an adventure with Mickey and Donald Duck—but our heroes often need help, so kids are asked to draw props, assist characters, and record sound effects throughout the journey. 4 years+, $2 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
It’s munch time at the Lazoo Zoo! The animals here include giraffes with spots that change depending on what they eat, and an ape that develops a new hairstyle when he has indulged too much. Little kids can use the game’s snack dispenser to feed the creatures, or draw a new appetizer to hand out. 3 years+, Free for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
Play along with the classic J.R.R. Tolkien story with LEGO The Hobbit. Gamers can recreate their favorite scenes as Bilbo Baggins accompanies Gandalf and the dwarves through Middle-earth. Each dwarf has his own special ability—such as using his stomach to “belly-bounce” his companions out of danger. 10 years+, $60 for Xbox One and PS4; $50 for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U; $30 for PS Vita, 3DS, and PC
Go retro with Shovel Knight, an exciting action game with ’80s-style 8-bit graphics. The hero of the game has a straightforward quest: Defeat the evil Enchantress and find his missing beloved. Luckily, he has a ShovelBlade to help him dig and slash through the challenge. 6 years+, $15 for Wii U, 3DS, and PC
Classic arcade play gets a new look with Siesta Fiesta. Bounce the ball-like character to smash blocks and activate power-ups while exploring the game’s different modes and regions. The interactive blocks—which do everything from release confetti to launch fireballs—keep the fun going. 6 years+, $8 for 3DS
One of my favorite children’s movies last summer was Turbo, a fast-paced adventure about a snail who dreams of racing in the Indy 500. The film is full of humor and heart that kids and adults can enjoy—and who can resist Samuel L. Jackson as the voice of a snail?
So naturally, I was excited when DreamWorks released five episodes of the animated series Turbo FAST (that stands for “Fast Action Stunt Team”) on Netflix during the holiday season. Picking up right where the movie ended, the show is full of crazy stunts, thrilling races and all sorts of new challenges for the wacky group of friends. Now, the next batch of episodes will be released on Netflix tomorrow, April 4. Take a sneak peek at what’s in store with this exclusive clip from an upcoming episode:
Plus, families can prepare for the release with the viewing party kit, which offers instructions for creating a racing obstacle course, coloring pages, trading cards and more. (Personally, I’m looking forward to trying the instructions for creating your own taco stand!)
Here are some of our favorite new movies, games, and more!
Movies and DVD
In Rio 2, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (Anne Hathaway), and their kids leave Rio de Janeiro for an adventure in the Amazon rain forest. They soon discover that the jungle is under threat and that their nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo (Jemaine Clement, from Flight of the Conchords), is seeking revenge. G; opens April 11
Embrace Earth Day with Disneynature’s newest wildlife documentary, Bears. Follow a mother and her two cubs for a year, as they emerge from hibernation and evade predators. G; opens April 18
Spring may be here, but there’s still time to enjoy Disney’s Frozen. The hit movie based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen” warmed hearts of all ages over the holidays. Now, Blu-ray bonus features include deleted scenes, music videos, and behind-the-scenes footage. PG; $45
Set sail on a magical journey with Sofia the First: The Floating Palace. When our heroine visits the mermaid kingdom, she soon becomes involved in an attempt to rescue her friend Oona. Luckily, Princess Ariel is on hand to help. 3 years+; $20
Doc McStuffins: Mobile Clinicteaches that helping others is a delight. Doc and her dad have built a mobile clinic, and they’re now making house calls to fix toys in need—and singing some songs while they’re at it, of course. The DVD comes with a reusable tote bag too. 4 years+; $20
BatteryPOP is a new and free kids entertainment platform—and a safer alternative to YouTube. All of the videos are curated by Nickelodeon vets, so content is age-appropriate. Your kid will enjoy watching tutorials and sharing videos with friends.
Answer your kid’s toughest questions, such as why people speak different languages, with the Handy Answer Book for Kids (and Parents) app. Or click “Surprise Me” to learn new info. 4 years+; $2 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android
Make meals more fun for little ones with Yo Gabba Gabba! Party in My Tummy. The colorful characters encourage both healthy eating and trying new foods in this cute animated app. After feeding time is over, your child will need to help his friends clean up—and join them with a song and dance too. 3 years+; $2 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android
Young Luna visits her grandfather and learns all about his exciting job in The Cloud Factory, an interactive storybook. Help gather ingredients for the clouds by swiping and tapping the screen. The black-and-white illustrations and smooth accompanying music give the app a classic and inviting feel. 5 years+; $2 for iPad
If your preschooler is interested in cars, she will love Things That Go ~ Touch, Look, Listen. The visual dictionary features interactive 3D-style animation, cheerful narration, and bright photographs of more than 55 vehicles such as trucks, tractors, and trains. And if your kid is bilingual, you can also let them learn in French, German, Spanish, or Chinese. 2 years+; $2 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android
Anglophiles won’t want to miss Alph and Betty’s Topsy Turvy World, a charming storybook created by a development team that includes those who worked on the Harry Potter movies and Doctor Who. The tale follows an older British couple living in a house full of gadgets and inventions. Puzzles and mini games encourage letter recognition, rhymes, and alliteration. 3 years+; $3 for iPad
Fans of the TV series will love Lego Legends of Chima Online. Customize your outpost and your armor, complete missions, and explore new environments. Plus, a variety of parental controls provide peace of mind for Mom and Dad. 7 years+; free for basic version, with membership options available for extra features, for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and PC
Get three games in one with Cut the Rope: Triple Treat. Help the green monster Om Nom fill up on candy by avoiding obstacles and collecting bonus stars. With more than 650 levels to defeat, the challenges are exciting enough for adults, while still entertaining for young kids. 7 years+; $30 for 3DS
Help a little armadillo named Armillo travel through space while protecting the galaxy from Darkbots. Gamers roll and jump through different worlds, solve puzzles, and gather power-ups and orbs to gain more power. A variety of 2-D and 3-D graphics make the action even more interesting. 6 years+; $8
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
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
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 Bingomakes 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
By high school I became a real choir nerd. I had always been in music class, but after competing in a singing competition my junior year, it became a serious outlet. I was a bit on the shy side growing up, so singing in front of a crowd helped me break out of my shell in ways I never thought possible.
Once my parents realized my interest, they got me my very own karaoke machine to practice on. I’m telling you, I used that thing religiously every day, not just for voice lessons but also for my own amusement. Despite the fact that writing will always be my first love, there are still days I miss practicing those tunes.
Not to get too carried away with the power of a karaoke machine for a kid, but mine really did help me find more confidence in myself. That’s why I got super excited when I learned about the Singing Machine Home, the first Bluetooth speaker to turn into a karaoke machine. All you have to do is plug this baby into your TV and connect using Wi-Fi to access a platform of 8,000 plus HD karaoke videos. It also lets you create playlists, choose avatars for singers and share clips on social media.
This week, ONE lucky winner will have the chance to nab the Singing Machine Home for their family; that’s a $300 value! To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and the end of the day March 10. More Qs about our giveaway? Read the official rules. Be sure to check back on March 11 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. Goody luck!
Before you know it, you’ll have your own little star on your hands! Now, you can get your kid’s vocal chops going by having them sing along to this beloved tune.