Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for September, 2012

Win a Trip to the Set of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Lionsgate launches a global set visit sweepstakes, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Win a Trip to Set, this week and will run through October 12, 2012, with twelve fans winning the chance to visit the set of the movie and meet the cast and crew. To enter, fans must be based in participating territories (US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Scandinavia, Russia, Israel, and Japan) and then upload a :30 second video for their best question for the movie’s cast. Additionally, “virtual” citizens of Panem will be able to enter by playing the popular The Hunger Games Adventures on Facebook, which is also coming soon to iPad. The complete rules and regulations are posted on the contest Facebook tab, and at www.catchingfiresweeps.com. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Dr. Toy Announces 100 Best Children’s Products of 2012

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Dr. Toy is pleased to have the opportunity to share her years of play and toy experiences with consumers to assist them in the selection process. This timely report features information about l00 wonderful new toys and products from large and small companies. The toys and products selected meet my high standards for design, durability,price, quality, safety, and value.

Dr. Toy reminds parents and teachers, “Let’s not forget that “play is children’s work” and should be respected and understood by all adults. We should be thinking: “What products or “tools for play” can we obtain to provide wholesome experiences for children and provide plenty of positive play interactions.”
In Dr. Toy’s words: “As a natural, on-going part of our work as parents, teachers, early childhood specialists, and others involved with children at home or elsewhere, we observe children at play. With our eyes we see what works…and what doesn’t hold up under tough testing – the normal barrage of active, inquisitive, and resourceful babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and older children. This guide is now offered to complement your observations and to help you in selecting the right products to enhance your child’s play and learning.

We make buying decisions based on lasting play value and product applicability to a balance of children’s active, creative, and educational experiences. We can depend on the durability and versatility of such items as blocks, construction toys, games, puppets, and transportation toys. They stimulate the imagination, engage the player, have value, and hold up over time. We want to apply these standards to all of the play product choices we make. We often hear consumers describe their experience of making a purchase, but shortly after giving little Sally or Sammy the product it falls apart – a frustrating and expensive experience. Products that do not meet safety standards can be dangerous and can cause harm to children. We want to avoid these problems and always strive for excellence. I spend a great deal of time reviewing a large quantity of products created by myriad manufacturers and designers. I make sure my selections match the criteria for excellence.

Certainly age grading, name recognition, company dependability, versatility of design, and place of purchase are
factors to obtain the right product. Another aspect you can depend on is a warranty. Rising costs for products require
us to be wise consumers and to get extra lasting value. Certainly durable products, properly designed, and
developmentally correct are worth the money. Children’s positive reactions are worth the extra effort. I utilize a
complicated set of objective and subjective criteria to evaluate toys and other products. Some questions to ask are:

  • Is this product worth the price?
  • Does it have lasting “play value”?
  • Is it appropriate?
  • Is it fun?
  • Does it meet safety standards?”

Following are examples of award-winning toys and products and the companies that make them grouped in selected
categories of “smart” play. You can find more products by assigned codes that designate types of products.

Ten Best Active Products – Chicco (4-in-1 Ride On Car), First Act (WrapStar Mic), FirstBike Int’l (FirstBIKE), GeoPalz (GeoPalz Pedometer), Kinderfeets (Kinderfeets), OgoSport (OgoSport RAQ),Razor USA (Razor® FlashRider™), Sbyke (P-20 Rear-Steering Scooter), Smiletime Toys (Inflatable Pirate Ship), System Ent. (RingStix).

Ten Best Audio/Video Tapes/CDs – Brainetics (Brainetics), BrainFood Learning (Fascinating World of Birds), BrillKids Int’l (Little Musician Basic), Little Pim (Spanish Intro Gift Set with Book), Master Comm (Worlds Together Series), Moey’s Music Party (Princess Revolution!), Music Together (She Sells Sea Shells), New Hope Records (WO!), ScienceAndMath.com (Amazing Science! Vol. DVD), Steps4Kids (Steps4Kids to Draw).

Ten Best Building Products – AroundSquare (Deconstruction Blocks), Bridge Street Toys (Hydrodynamic Deluxe Building Set), Citiblocs (CTBIN500C), K’NEX (K’NEX Classics 50 Model Building Set), LaQ USA (LaQ Dinosaur World T-REX), Laser Pegs Ventures (Laser Pegs The Dragon), LEGO Systems (Friends Olivia’s House), MEGA Brands (Build ’n Learn 1-2-3 Count!), Smart Blocks (Smarcks Smart Blocks), Thinkplay/Morphun (Starter Tub)

Ten Best Children’s Products – Ann Williams Group (Loopdedoo), Buckle Toy (Buddy the Backpack), Dress Up America (Black Fire Fighter Kids Costume), Gryphon House (Budding Builder), Innovation First (HEXBUG Warriors Battle Stadium), Klutz (Coin Blaster), Monkeying Around (Greatest Dot-to-Dot Adventure Book 1), Schoenhut Piano (My First Piano II), SeatPets (SeatPets®), Smart Trike (Smart Trike 4-in-1 Dream).

Ten Best Creative Products – ALEX (Ceramic Bead Sticker Party), Blue Orange (Tell Tale Fairy Tale), Colorforms/Univ. Games (Tinga Tinga Tales Create-A-Creature Game), Creativity for Kids (Stunt Squadron), Hero Arts Rubber Stamps (Ink ‘n’ Stamp Animal Prints), Kiwi Crate (Kiwi Crate), Red Hen (Kaleidograph), Tech 4 Kids (3D Magic Magna Color), Wowopolis (Colorgami Craft & Activity Kits), WowToyz (E-Z Crafts™ Paint-A-Bank Kits).

Ten Best Games – Bag-O-Loot (Bag-O-Loot Junior), Edupress (That’s Baloney Games), Flying Rabbit Enterprises (Baffle!), Game Chef (Rollick!), Gamewright (Big Fat Tomato Game), Hutter Trade (Talat),Indie Boards & Cards (Flash Point: Fire Rescue), Patch Products (You’re Invited Game), Strikerz Gamez (STRIKERZ Soccer Card Game), ThinkFun (Distraction™).

Ten Best High Technology Products – Bandai America (Omnitrix Touch), Diggin Active (Wobble Deck Extreme), Ganz (Amazing World), LeapFrog (LeapPad2), MGA (iTikes Map), Pixel Ent. (Global Game Changers [book app]), Scholastic (Storia), Small World Toys (Haute Couture Fashion Studio), SmartLab Toys (DJ Rock Dock), VTech (MobiGo® 2).

Socially Responsible Products – b. dazzle (Black Capped Chickadees Scramble Squares), Discover w/Dr. Cool (Shark Teeth Excavation Kit!), DuneCraft (Butterfly/Bird Mixture Seed Bombs), Easy Daysies (Easy Daysies Every Day Starter Kit), Metamorphic Toys (Mythical Creatures Silly Signs), Mudpuppy (Fruits & Veggies Wooden Magnetic Set), My1story (My1story Book Collection), Rubbabu (Shape Sorter Bus), Tiny Green Bee (Crunch a Color Conversation Starters), University Games (Very Hungry Caterpillar Match & Munch Game).

Ten Best Toys– 4D Cityscape (4D Time Puzzle), B. toys by Battat (Symphony in B. by B. toys), Build-A-Bear Workshop (Marine Midnight Teddy), Fisher-Price (Servin’ Surprises Cook ‘n Serve Kitchen & Table), Gibout Toys (Gibout Big Blocks), Jada Toys (Cutie Pops), Make It Mine (MIM Doll & Accessories), Ohio Art (Limited Edition Etch A Sketch), Sassy (Loopy Ball), World of EPI (Diva Abrielle).

Starting Labor Day, PBS Kids New Show, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Launches Along With its Own App

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

PBS KIDS has launched DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD: Play at Home with Daniel, its first app from the new series inspired by the work of Fred Rogers, which premieres on PBS KIDS on Monday, September 3 (check local listings).  The app, designed for children ages 2-4 and available now for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, makes the series’ social-emotional school readiness curriculum available to parents and children on the go.  In the app, kids play with 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, son of Mister Rogers’ NEIGHBORHOOD’s Daniel Striped Tiger, as he goes about his everyday activities, learning life’s little lessons along the way in the games “Doctor Daniel,” “Daniel’s Bedtime” and “In Daniel’s Bathroom.”

“There is a great need for kids to build social-emotional skills, which lay the foundation for effectively learning academic subjects once they start school,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS. “There are very few apps available that meet this need, so we are excited to introduce ’Play at Home with Daniel.’  Our first app based on DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD’s social-emotional curriculum, ‘Play at Home with Daniel’ features open-ended games, enabling children to explore new experiences – such as going to the doctor – and learn key life skills – like bedtime routines.”

Produced by The Fred Rogers Company and CloudKid, the new Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel App teaches children about the world around them as they interact with Daniel and his everyday experiences.  For Daniel Tiger, playing is learning as kids explore bedtime and bath time and play pretend doctor in three interactive games:

Doctor Daniel – Kids play “Doctor Daniel” with toy versions of the instruments pediatricians use. When children play “doctor,” they’re in charge – making it easier to manage a real-life visit when they have to be the patient.

Daniel’s Bedtime – Children help Daniel go through the motions of getting ready to go to sleep. Kids can think about their own bedtime routines and the things that help them get ready for bed as they help Daniel.

In Daniel’s Bathroom – Kids wash, brush and flush with Daniel during his bathroom routine.  Children can practice and become familiar with their own bathroom routines.

The app also features a sticker book, which enables children to pretend-play by creating scenes with Daniel at home. As kids make their own creations featuring characters from DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, the sticker book reinforces the themes from “Daniel’s Bedtime” and “In Daniel’s Bathroom.”

“Fred Rogers was a pioneer in using television to help children learn, and at PBS we continue that legacy of innovation across today’s media platforms – with interactive online experiences, streaming video and mobile apps like ‘Play at Home with Daniel,’” said Jason Seiken, Senior Vice President, Interactive, Product Development, and Innovation, PBS. “We have had great success in the children’s mobile space to date; more than half of our over 128 million monthly PBS KIDS video streams are on mobile.”*

The Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel App is available for $1.99 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The app can be downloaded from the App Store on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, or at www.itunes.com/appstore.

PBS KIDS has 19 apps available in the App Store, designed to help kids build literacy, math, science and school readiness skills and more. With a cross-platform approach, PBS KIDS is increasingly serving children and families across America wherever they live, learn and play.  More information about PBS KIDS’ apps is available on pbskids.org/mobile.

*Source: Google Analytics Event Tracking, February-July 2012

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