2014 Holiday Gift Guide Sneak Peek

And because Christmas is just two months away, I’m reluctantly, but excitedly looking ahead to the holidays. Actually, I’ve been thinking about the holidays since the summer because of all of the holiday press previews.  I’m finally organizing my thoughts and ideas for this year’s holiday guide. As in years past, I will be categorizing my guide, starting age and possibly by theme.  So, as a fun preview, here’s a sneak peek of The Next Kid Thing Holiday Gift Guide, babies and toddler edition.

NKTBabygiftguide14The items feature above have been included in NKT at one point or another. Here’s a round up of just a few of the items I’ll be featuring in our gift guide:

  • Starting with the Stokke Steps, babies and tots can grow with this sleek seating system. 
  • The Jack Spade/Kate Spade for Gap collaboration has my heart all aflutter, so I couldn’t help but include the fun blue oxford and striking red ballet flats with a gift bow detail at the bottom right.  
  • Feeding gear and other practical baby items are among some of my personal favorite stocking stuffers and add-on gifts. As always, Tommee Tippee keeps it cool with these sweet section plates and Truly Spill Proof Straw Cups
  • Stride Rite’s Isaiah Motion will keep the kids on their toes for the holidays. 
  • Aden + Anais will forever be one of my go-to baby gifts because of its versatility and sustainability. liam the brave sweet dream gift set would double as a gift for mama and babe. 
  • When it comes to classic kid powered toys, Melissa and Doug can do no wrong. Throw some pancakes into the mix, Melissa and Doug’s delicious playset is certain to be a toddler must-have.   
  • Kitchen sets are a favorite when it comes to toddler big ticket gifts. Plan Toys’ newly redesigned kitchen set keeps its same small footprint and sustainable design, while showcasing its modern aesthetics. 
  • And, perhaps some of my favorite baby board books to date, Baby Lit turns classic literature into baby board books. With fantastic imagery and graphics, simple one-word story lines, these line of books are perfect baby (or rather, parent) gifts for classic lit aficionados or English Majors like yours truly.

Stay tuned for more holiday gift ideas to come! 

 

 

 

Creative Galaxy Inspires a World of Imagination + Glow in the Dark Rocket Ship Craft


If the world is our oyster, then the galaxy is most certainly our canvas.

As a creative person who’s constantly creating, whether plotting projects in my head or in real time, I appreciate it when books and shows encourage the same thing for my boys.  The new original animated series, Creative Galaxy, featured on Amazon Prime Instant Video is an example of a show that gets our artistic juices flowing.

 

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In a galaxy far away, aliens co-exist and create art every day and solve problems by harnessing their imagination and creativity. The main character, Arty, is an inquisitive young alien who often asks questions to his audience. Creative Galaxy may have a familiar format and feel because it’s the product of children’s programming veteran Angela Santomero, the brains behind PBS Kids’ Daniel Tiger, Emmy-nominated Super Why and the classic kid’s favorite, Blue’s Clues. 

Each episode of Creative Galaxy begins with a problem that must be fixed with art.  To fix the problem at hand, Arty makes his way around Creative Galaxy and gathers items for his idea box. Arty tackles problems with his shape-shifting sidekick, Epiphany and friends along the way like Jackson, Shift, Seraphina and Gallaria. 

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Jason Priestly and Angela Santomero at the Creative Galaxy Launch. Source: Zimbio

Creative Galaxy boasts colorful imagery and fun, yet relatable story lines. Familiar voices lend their talent to round out the show: Cloris Leachman is Galleria, Brooke Shields is Seraphina and Jason Priestly is Sketch. 90210 fans will appreciate Sketch’s coy greeting: what brings you to my zip code? 

The show encourages art with a variety of mediums covered throughout: painting, crayon, drawing, paper—even glitter.  According to Amazon, this series is designed to support a child’s natural inclination to use their imaginations, make and create. Art is everywhere, as examined by Creative Galaxy; we are always surrounded by art, and ultimately, art is an important resource is our day to day life.

Geared to preschoolers, this show really struck a chord with my 2.5 year old, as well as my seven year old. Already a super fan of Amazon Studio’s Tumble Leaf, it took my two year old a few episodes to really appreciate Arty’s adventures.  Once he did though, he was really engaged into Arty’s projects.

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Though my older son is beyond these types of shows, I did find him getting into Arty’s adventures just as well as the two year old. Creative Galaxy makes kids feel as though they’re making art alongside of Arty and the kids featured on the show. As for my seven year old, he appreciates the real kids doing craft projects in between, which prompted us to do our own. More on that below!  I love the true educational content throughout the show. Creative Galaxy has a knack for implementing real artists such as Kandinsky and parlaying it into a relatable activity within the show, gives art appreciation a new meaning as a parent. I appreciate the different dimensions of this show. From the fresh-faced characters to the artwork created by real kids in between segments to the fun songs wrapping up story lines… “shapes and lines make everything,” Creative Galaxy is undoubtedly another intergalactic hit for Amazon Kids and Angela Santomero.

 

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As a diehard Amazon Prime Instant Video fan, I absolutely love the depth of kid’ shows that are now available on this streaming service.  Amazon made a smart move by tapping the best in the business when creating children’s programming.  Dr. Alice Wilder, another one of my idols, is the Educational Advisor for Amazon Studios and is also one of the executive producers for Creative Galaxy.  Dr. Wilder is responsible for developing the Amazon Originals curriculum for kids and is helping implement Amazon’s educational point of view into the development of new series. If my kids are going to be watching kid shows, I love knowing that educational professionals like Dr. Wilder are at the helm, helping to craft Amazon Originals’ curriculum for kids.

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It Iooks like I’m not alone in loving Amazon Prime Instant Video’s Creative Galaxy. Common Sense Media gives this new show four out of five stars. “The stories incorporate valuable prereading skills such as patterns, color identification, and counting in fun ways, and its interactive format encourages kids to consider how they might handle challenges such as the ones that Arty faces.”

 

 And because crafts and tactile activities go hand in hand with fabulous shows like Creative Galaxy, here’s a craft we had fun creating.

Glow in the Dark Rocket Ship Craft

From this creative show, we were inspired to do our own craft à la Arty and Creative Galaxy. Because my seven year old is much better at structured crafts than my 2 year old, he served as my crafting companion. But truly, this craft can be done with toddlers up to grade schoolers. 

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We used two pie tins, some glow sticks and Play Doh to create a simple Glow in the Dark Rocketship. 

IMG 1661IMG 1663We punched holes in the pie ties with hole punchers.  We used two different size hole punchers, and I’m sure you can use a variety of shapes. We did the sides, but we’ll probably do more on our next version.

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I then strung some baker’s twine between the two pans to create a way to suspend the flying saucer. Before sealing our rocket ship we ignited our glow sticks. You can use any lightweight illuminating device, as long as it’ll fit in the pie tins.

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Once the glow sticks are lit up, you can seal the tins with modge podge and pinch the lips of the two tins together. As the glue is drying, you can create your alien who will be flying the saucer. IMG 1689

 

Have your child envision the torso and head of the alien, which will sit atop of the flying saucer.  Once the alien is sculpted with the Play Doh, secure the figure onto of the tin. Ideally, wait until the glue dries before placing the figure on top. Modge Podge usually takes a few hours to dry. 

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Place the plastic cup over the alien, which will serve as the bubble for the flying saucer.  Love my technical terms? To secure the cup, use Modge Podge along the lip of the cup and then center it over the alien.  After everything is dry, decorate your flying saucer as you wish.

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The more colors, the better!  Since glow sticks only last a few hours, it’s fun to make this craft in the afternoon so you can use the Glow in the Dark Rocket Ship as a night light.  Use the twine to create a suspension device to hang from the ceiling!

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This craft hones in on fine motor skills and can serve as a conversation piece to bridge Creative Galaxy to some tactile play and creation. From this craft, parents can engage in conversation on stars, as well as light and dark.

 

As Arty and friends remind us: go and be amazing! That’s a pretty perfect catch phrase if I ever heard one!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Highlights of the 2015 Toyota Camry

Because cars and technology are paramount purchases in most of our homes, many car companies have been reaching out to parent bloggers and including us in their media outreach. As such, I’m currently in Ponte Vedra for Toyota’s press preview for the 2015 Camry, Sienna and Yaris.  Dubbed the Toyota Family Reunion, this press preview has involved a lot of test driving and presentations with company executives, including the marketing team, engineering team and the other brains behind the evolution of some these vehicles.

 

 

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I will have much more information to share, but I wanted to unveil this quick Q & A I did with Camry’s Chief Engineer, Monte Kaehr.  So, if there’s anything you need to know about the Camry, Toyota’s top-selling vehicle, Kaehr is your guy.  Lucky me, I had the chance to shoot a candid, off the cuff video, where I asked Mr. Kaehr to highlight just some of Camry’s latest developments.  And since many of you are like me, tech-minded, yet cautious consumers, I asked Mr. Kaehr to cover some of the latest security developments.

 

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As mentioned, I’ll have more to share soon, but for now, check out what Monte Kaehr has to say about the 2015 Toyota Camry:

 

 

Review: Max Tow Truck

There’s no shortage of cool boy toys on the market these days, and that definitely includes cars and trucks. The new Max Tow Truck from Jakks is destined to be a popular truck this holiday season, and not just for its cool factor. 

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Max Tow Truck is described as being able to tow up to 200 lbs.  He talks and moves, but more importantly, he tows!  My guys are really enjoying playing with Max.  Between the 2 and 7 year olds, Max appeals to both younger kids as well as older boys—my husband included.  

 

Max can tow things, without a doubt.  We towed toys, wagons, little brothers…but we never got as far as towing 200 lbs. We found a few glitches, but after shifting a few times, we were able to get Max to tow (most of) the things we wanted.  His rubber and almost hollow wheels allow for maneuverability and monster truck action. We loved watching the truck go up hill and over any and everything.  And contrary to what Bigs said in the video, I don’t think Max can move boulders.  Small boulders, maybe. 

All in all, Max Tow Truck is pretty awesome and lives up to its cool factor.  We’ve had so much fun with the truck, I’m sure I’ll end up posting more about it soon.

Curious George Boo-Fest Returns for Halloween on PBS Kids

Fall and all of the fun that it brings is one of my favorite times of year. Lucky us, so many of our favorite shows underscore the fall fun, including our faves over at PBS Kids.

Later this month, be sure to check out new adventures with everyone’s favorite mischievous monkey, Curious George. New adventures of Curious George will debut on PBS KIDS October 28-30, including George testing his super spy skills and exploring an aviation museum. October 28 features the premiere of “Submonkey,” an underwater adventure that includes the song “Down, Down, Down,” performed by Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s.

 

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Be on the look out for more Halloween fun with episodes from other PBS KIDS shows, including Dinosaur Train, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts and more. 

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To find out more about the Curious George episodes read more after the jump:

Descriptions of the upcoming Curious George episodes via PBS Kids:

[Read more...]

Review: Playskool Stack ‘n Spin Monkey Gears

Playtime for Littles is usually quite colorful and musical lately. Because he plays so much as part of therapy, unstructured play usually involves building and tinkering and lots of singing, too!

We had the chance to check out Playskool Stack n Spin Monkey Gears , which Littles totally loves!  The Stack ’n Spin isn’t a new concept, but the combination of that familiar Playskool monkey makes this version even more fun.  

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With lots of twinkling lights, melodic chimes and spinning gears, the Stack ’n Spin Monkey Gears keeps toddlers engaged.  Tots can stack and arrange the various gears; once they’re done, they can push a button to watch and listen to their handiwork.

This toy encourages creativity, logic and cause and effect.  By arranging the gears, kids work on their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. What’s great about this toy is that babies to preschoolers can get in on the Monkeying action.

My tinkerer absolutely loves puzzles, music and monkeys, so the Playskool Stack ’n Spin Monkey Gears makes for a go-to toddler toy.

The Playskool Stack ’n Spin Monkey Gears can be found at major retailers such as Toys ‘R Us and Target, as well as online at Amazon.com. 

 

Review: Mega Bloks Super Megaforce Sky Ship Showdown

Last month, our friends at Saban sent us a Super Mega package in honor of the new episodes of Power Rangers Super Megaforce, which airs on Saturdays at noon on Nickelodeon. 

We had the chance to check out the brand new Super Megaforce Sky Ship Showdownfrom Mega Bloks. This brand new 306-piece set includes a buildable Red Ranger Sky Ship Zord and features a working launcher. In the set, you can also build Damara’s evil ship, and get the Red Ranger and Damaras micro action figures into the mix.  It currently retails for $19.99 at Toys ‘R Us, Amazon and Kohl’s.

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It took us a few hours after school to finish up the Super Megaforce Sky Ship Showdown. For my 6 year old, it took a lot of patience and time to focus on completing the project. There’s always that awesome sense of accomplishment every time we finish a construction project. Biggie had a great time working on the Super Megaforce Sky Ship Showdown.

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 We also loved checking out the Power Rangers Super Megaforce Red Ranger Key and the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Mighty Morphin Green Ranger Translucent Key from Bandai.

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The keys activate special features in other Super Megaforce toys such as the Deluxe Legendary Morpher, Battle Gear and all the items in the Zord Builder Collection. And I love this feature: when you use your smart phone’s camera, you can scan any Ranger Key with the free Power Rangers Scanner App and morph yourself into any Legendary Ranger onscreen. So cool.

 

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With the Ranger Keys anyone can enter the Power Rangers “Unlock the Power” instant win game and sweepstakes. Be sure to download the Power Rangers Scanner app for a chance to win coupons and toy prize packs now through December 31, 2014.

 

Full disclosure: a sample was provided to facilitate this review. I am a Saban Brandbassador and was provided with products to share the latest updates on Saban Brands. As always, all opinions are my own.

Jenkinson’s Boardwalk Set for Boo at the Beach October 18-19 and 25-26

With the crispness in the air, there’s no doubt that Fall is here. With the cooler temps, comes some of my favorite activities of the year: sweater weather, apple-picking, pumpkin everything and Halloween. As a kid, I loved heading to the beach in the fall months because it was the time for locals to take back our beach. There’s nothing quite like being at the beach in the fall. It’s like a whole different creature!

 

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Good news for those in NJ: Boo at the Beach is back! Starting next month, Jenkinson’s will be decked out for Halloween-themed weekends. On October 18-19 and 25-26 from noon-4pm, head to Jenkinson’s Boardwalk to enjoy Trick or Treating, face painting, arts and crafts to celebrate the Halloween festivities at the beach. For more information about Jenkinson’s Boardwalk and their events, be sure to check them out online.

Happy Play-Doh Day + 3 Fun Play-Doh YouTube Channels

Today marks National Play-Doh day, and with its close timing to back to school season, the iconic dough compound from Hasbro sculpted six schools and students from classic movies and tv shows. From Cher’s plaid back to school outfit from “Clueless” to the Burn Book from “Mean Girls,” to Rydell High’s infamous T-Birds and Pink Ladies, to Mike and Sulley from Monsters University to the lockers from Saved by the Bell and to two memorable scenes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Play-Doh captured the essence of these classic shows.

 

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Play-Doh on YouTube

We can’t leave all the fun up to Play-Doh on National Play-Doh Day! In case you didn’t already know, the kids love watching kids play on YouTube. This is a thing, people. Some of the highest trafficked channels on YT are toy and play-based! One of the reasons I know this is because my 3 year old Godson is a huge fan of watching Play-Doh on YouTube. When YouTube was created, I bet they never even considered this would become a thing!

 

And in honor of National Play-Doh Day, here’s a trio of channels that have captivated audiences young and old…all in the name of Play-Doh!

 

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These videos give a thorough visual tour of the toys. What I found about these Play-Doh fan channels is that they rarely have a “face” to them.  And, I guess that doesn’t really matter for the kids who just watch for entertainment, rather than research. As a blogger, I personally appreciate the faces behind the content, but that’s me.

 

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Kid Toys TV

This is another unboxing channel that focuses on the product, rather than details of the toy.  This unboxing of Frosting Fun Bakery Playset which was originally published in August and has about 240, 000 views and counting. What’s unique about these videos is that there’s no commentary, just playing and unboxing. The musak gets repetitive, but it’s still cute.

 

 

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DisneyCollector

Perhaps the rockstar of the the Play-Doh YouTube sector, DisneyCollector has garnered billions of viewers on her channel that overviews toys. Billions! This video of the Mega Factory Play-Doh playset has a staggering 25 million views.

 

 

 

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The voice behind Disney Collector is, quite simply a mystery. Many of her video analyze and unbox new toys, including Play-Doh sets. According to Adweek, she has over 3 Billion views. She’s been mentioned by BuzzFeed, New York Times, AdWeek and now NKT ;)  After watching some of her videos, I get the allure. Her voice and video content are equally mesmerizing.

Project Nursery Launches Online Shop

Project Nursery, one of the preeminent style resources for nursery design and beyond, has just welcomed a new addition to their budding media empire: their e-commerce shop for nursery decor and gifts. The new online shop features timeless designs and well-recommended pieces and products often featured on their site.  


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Co-Founders, Melisa Fluhr and Pam Ginocchio have been showcasing stylish nurseries with thoughtful design on Project Nursery for over six years, the online shop reflects the curated products and exclusive collaborations synonymous with the site’s panache for elegance and design.

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Having covered new and notable kid gear over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting one of the co-founders at baby-centric media events. I’ve personally been a fan of Project Nursery and am always drawn to their beautiful booths whenever they exhibit at Big City Mom’s Biggest Baby Shower.

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Their new online shop is simple to navigate and encompasses the same modern yet timeless aesthetic in nursery design that we’ve grown to love. I love the tassel garland in the party section, the Belabumbum pjs for mom and the gorgeous crib bedding sets. If you’re expecting, have a new babe or on the hunt for a truly stylish baby gift, make sure you check out Project Nursery’s Shop!

Congrats on the new online shop, Project Nursery!