Archive for the ‘
Preschool ’ Category
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
Preschoolers are always clamoring for our digital devices, but in the name of maintaining a healthy balance between imaginative play, outdoor time, and screen time, gift them with some toys that will exercise their mind, imagination, and bodies. Open-ended toys allow for endless play possibilities that preschoolers thrive on. Toys that get them moving help burn off excess energy, even in the colder winter months. Challenges for the mind help young brains develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Here are 5 toys that are well worth adding to your family’s list of must-haves.
Tegu Blocks— In our home, blocks are always being used in some sort of play from designing make believe worlds to using them for more practical things like weighing down blanket corners for a fort. Blocks are a classic toy because they provide limitless possibilities for a child’s imagination, but what if there were magnets inside your blocks to allow you to build up and out? Tegu’s eco-friendly blocks revolutionize building thanks to their magnetic nature. They stick together and make a satisfying clicking sound and attach to each other in gravity-defying ways to form structures that can be created on the floor or any magnetic surface like a metal filing cabinet in our home office or the refrigerator door. They are as much fun for the kids as they are for adults!
Perplexus Rookie— There’s something very addictive about this maze inside a sphere. Rotate the sphere to move the enclosed ball along the length of track and through obstacles in order to reach the end while practicing hand-eye coordination and spatial skills. Perplxeus Rookie features wider tracks than the Original and other models, making it a great introduction to the Perplexus line. Kids have a tendency to spend long periods of time completely engrossed in moving the ball from start to finish and often take pleasure in being better at it than the grownups in the house!
Plan Toys Play House— This darling three-story house is made with sustainable, eco-friendly wood and features a panel that divides the doll’s living space from the outside. The panel also serves as a two-sided play mat that can be a wall, roof, or garden. Parents will love that it comes with furnished with furniture for the two dolls and doesn’t require screws for assembly, while boys and girls will delight in the endless play scenarios that they can create.
Legos— This classic toy is something that you can never have enough of because of the endless play possibilities. Structures with or without doors and windows that open and close, vehicles, towers, and more! Giving the gift of Legos ensures that there are always more to add to a child’s collection.
Balance Bike— Riding a bike is hard but not if the skills involved are broken down into manageable tasks. Since learning to ride a bike involves mastering the tricky art of balance and learning to pedal and brake, Balance Bikes are great for giving preschoolers a head start in learning the fine art of balancing on two wheels so they can move right to riding a bike sans training wheels. Look for quality brands such as balance bikes from Skuut and Like A Bike so they will last well beyond your first child for siblings and even be passed down to cousins.
Little girl with gift box via Shutterstock
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Toddlers and preschoolers thrive on imaginative play that helps them understand the world around them and love dress up. A dress up bin full of clothes, hats, and accessories has unlimited possibilities but what about when you’re out? Today’s kids can exercise their imagination through digital dress up options to unleash their inner fashionista at any age.
Fairies Fashion Boutique— Fans of Disney, Tinkerbelle, and the fairies, will enjoy the new free Fairies Fashion Boutique app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPads that allows fans to create and style their own Fairy. Select from a variety of hairstyles and over 500 patterns and 100 color options in the clothing and accessories lines. Parents should note that while the app is free, fashions are available to purchase and charges go directly to your iTunes account. Be sure to have a conversation with your child to point out free fashions versus the paid ones so you don’t rack up an abundance of charges. Also, the undressed fairy figures are modeled after curvy women, rather than the bodies of girls, and could result in questions and concerns about body image.
Fashion Playtes allows budding fashion designers the fun of designing their own clothes via the website with the option of purchasing products from their very own line. Girls can design endlessly by personalizing tops, bottoms, dresses, outwear, loungewear, accessories, and even doll clothes for themselves and miniaturized matching versions for their favorite 18” doll. Select the color of the garment, choose embellishments (appliqués, rhinestones, lace, and more), and then add a personalized label saying who it was made by. Items are affordably priced even after customization! Choices that were plentiful but not overwhelming. Parents should know that girls can create as many designs as they want without having to pay for their creations. Payment comes when a girl wants to have her article of clothing made and delivered to their house. Once you use the site, it’s probably best to not have Fashion Playtes remember your credit card info in the event that the check out button is hit accidentally
Imagine Fashion Designer
Imagine Fashion Designer New York— Part of the Imagine game series for the Nintendo DS, Imagine Fashion Designer New York allows tweens to pretend they’re upcoming fashion designers trying to make it in New York City as part of a famous fashion house. They’ll style, design, and trend set their way to the top! Wii owners can get in on the fashion action with Imagine Fashion Party, a game that uses the Wii controller to go through as series of challenges to prove you’re the best designer. Imagine Fashion Designer is similar to the other Imagine games in that it allows for fantasy role play with a healthy dose of dress up where girls can style the models they will use to show off their fashion on the runway. Parents should know that while both games are rated E and designed for ages 6-14, it’s important to preview the games first before turning your daughter loose to ensure that the content is just right for her.
Images courtesy of the aforementioned companies.
Friday, August 31st, 2012
Learning is always more fun when done with a favorite friend. New apps from Disney Publishing and PBS allow preschoolers to engage in early reading, math, and foreign language lessons with familiar Disney characters like Winnie the Pooh and the cast of Toy Story. PBS provides cross platform learning by reinforcing concepts in their shows, on PBSKids.org, and also through apps featuring favorite characters. These 6 new apps are easy for young learners to navigate and fun at the same time. You might never get your iPhone or iPad back again!
Pooh’s Birthday Surprise
Features he beloved characters of the Hundred-Acre Woods in an interactive storybook that focuses on early literacy and pre-math skills. Kids ages 3-5 are invited to join in Pooh’s birthday party planning where they practice activities such as identifying and extending simple patterns, problem solving, vocabulary awareness, and story comprehension. $1.99 from iTunes until September 12.
Toy Story Showtime!
Toy Story is an interactive storybook aimed at children ages 4-6. Learners explore essential early reading concepts through engaging with content. For example, “Toy Story Showtime!” features Buzz Lightyear as he sets out to impress Jessie the Cowgirl in a talent show. Readers can assist him with his comedy and juggling acts while they discover new vocabulary words through context and story-based repetition. $1.99 from iTunes until September 12.
SUPER WHY! ABC Adventures: Alphabet
Kids ages 3-6 can travel around the world on an alphabet adventure with SUPER WHY! friends. Young learners will enjoy an around-the-world alphabet adventure while playing an engaging collection of five mini-games with a literacy curriculum. $2.99 for iPhone and iPod touch or $3.99 for iPad.
All Aboard the Dinosaur Train!
Have some Jurassic Park fun on the iPad with All Aboard the Dinosaur Train! The Dinosaur Train is getting ready to leave and needs passengers! Children ages 3-6 are needed to match the passengers with the right train cars, challenging them to problem-solve by estimating dinosaur sizes and comparing them with the train cars’ capacity. $1.99 for iPad.
Portrait of a young child in a home interior engrossed in a game on a digital tablet via Shutterstock.
Monday, August 27th, 2012
More often than not, learning with a friend is more fun, especially if it’s through an educational app featuring a beloved character. It’s no surprise that a new study from market research firm NPD Group stated that kids are increasingly adopting tech. One finding indicated that tablet use increased 13% from 2011 to 2012, making it more important to find the apps that will provide quality learning experiences for the youngest ages.
But how do you know what apps are entertaining and educational at the same time?
Luckily apps aren’t a large investment like a monthly subscription to some paid kids’ websites or new gaming system but a dollar or two here and there can add up.
Here are 3 tips for finding great apps.
- Visit Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media is a wealth of information that provides reviews for movies, video games, websites, TV, books, music, and also apps. It’s an easy to use site that allows parents to do a search and quickly figure out if content is age appropriate for their child. To stay up to date, their emails provide helpful information and food for thought about raising kids in this digital age.
- Rely on trusted names in education. PBS, Scholastic, and many other companies that are rooted in educating young minds have jumped into the app game. They have developed high quality learning experiences that include interactive games and storybooks that keep kids engaged and tend to be so fun that kids forget that they’re learning!
- Ask friends and teachers. Your village can be a great source of information. Teachers with children can be a wonderful resource because it’s likely that they’re looking for educational apps for their own children to use at home. A savvy friend who is always knows about products before everyone else probably can provide some suggestions too.
Where do you go to find great apps? Do you have any tips?
Family playing video game on smartphone via Shutterstock
Friday, August 17th, 2012
Last year LeapFrog’s LeapPad was a huge hit for the holidays and this year the updated LeapPad2 is sure to be another hot gift item among 3-9 year olds. Children who can’t wait to get their hands on your tablet won’t be disappointed when handed a LeapPad2 thanks to its tablet-like appearance, wealth of educational content, and appealing features allow for customized learning through play.
The LeapPad2 features a bright 5” highly responsive touch screen that responds to fingers or an included stylus, front and rear facing camera and video camera (just you’re your iPad and iPhone!), and an interface that uses app-like icons for navigating through content but in a device that is just right for little hands. It features an on/off button on the left, two volume control buttons on the right (one to turn volume up, the other down), a larger button towards the bottom that can be pressed to navigate up, down, right, and left, and a green button with a house that helps children return to the home screen.
The easy-to-navigate device allows even the youngest learners to quickly figure out how to move from eBooks, creativity apps that utilize kid-generated content from the camera and video features, favorite cartridge games, and other content that is designed to teach through interactive play. Learning experiences are as varied as you want them to be.
Since the LeapFrog library contains over 325 games, downloadable apps, music, learning videos, and more, it’s easy to find content in all subject areas (language and literacy, learning for life, math, science, and social studies) that is of high interest to all children yet appropriate for their learning level. Kids will also enjoy learning on their LeapPad2 with familiar characters from Sesame Street, Disney princesses and fairies, Dora, Diego, Fireman Sam, Thomas and Friends, Ni Hao Kai-Lan, Blues Clues, and Arthur and through carefully developed content with trusted learning partners such as Little Pim and Discovery Education.
eBooks provide interactive reading experiences that help emergent readers become more confident in their skills while allowing fluent readers to maintain a love of reading. All eBooks, such as Disney’s Brave, contain three different reading levels. Beginning readers will love building their sight word vocabulary with simple text while fluent readers encounter sentences containing more complex words. Just as eBooks have different levels, learning games also feature multiple levels that auto-adjust to meet your child’s skills.
Other nice features of the LeapPad2 include cartridge game compatibility with LeapFrog Explorer, the ability to set up multiple user profiles, remember game progress even when switching between content and turning the device off, and the connectivity to the LeapFrog Learning Path. The LeapFrog Learning Path compiles information about time spent using the LeapPad2 to provide parents with an inside look at the skills their child has mastered, is working on, or is progressing towards as they interact with content through game play.
Images courtesy of LeapFrog.