Punch Out!! launches this week

It’s a big week for video game releases, with tomorrow’s launch of the new Punch-Out!! game for Nintendo’s Wii as one of the most noteworthy.
punchoutlogoLittle Mac is back with other existing characters from the existing Punch-Out!! with the only new character called the Disco Kid. The video boxing game, that was loved by many since the NES days, was reinvented with the Wii’s motion-sensitive Remote and Nunchuk controllers. The appeal of a retro game, combined with new technology, has a lot of original Punch-Out!! fans talking.
There are various reviews out on the new Punch-Out!! but one that I found incredibly comprehensive, complete with graphics is over on ign.com. And from what it sounds like, the new Punch-Out!! is a big hit.

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Go outdoors with Crayola

Crayola is challenging kids this summer with their nationwide campaign, The Outdoor Challenge. The challenge is quite easy and goes a little like this: after chores, homework and meals, step away from the computer and electronics and go outside to have fun! Easy enough, right?

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The Outdoor Challenge coincides with National Physical Fitness & Sports Month and encourages outdoor play for kids of all ages. Crayola even enlisted Olympic Gold Medalist Dan O’Brien to help kick off this campaign. O’Brien will attempt to break the current Guinness World Record for the fastest game of hopscotch, which is currently one minute and 23 seconds. The Decathlon champion and Hop Scotch champ hopeful was seen training yesterday at Chelsea Piers.  Stay tuned to find out if he accomplishes this latest endeavor!

Dan O'BrienCrayola is challenging families to achieve the national goal of one million hours of pledged outdoor play time through the end of the summer. Research by Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that kids ages 8-10 spend an average of six hours a day consumed with electronics and in front of computer and tv screens, increasingly overshadowing outdoor play.

From kickball to hopscotch, the options for colorful outdoor play are endless. But in case you need ideas, Crayola has added some new products to their lineup of creative tools for outdoor play.

Crayola takes sidewalk chalk to the next level with their new Sidewalk Crayons. With Sidewalk Crayons, kids can use the outdoors as their own personal coloring book. As opposed to the pastel palette of sidewalk chalk, the Sidewalk Crayons are bright and bold and have a smoother feel. After playtime, just like chalk, Sidewalk Crayons are easily washed off of driveways and sidewalks.

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Crayola has also introduced the Airbrush Painter, which pumps out washable sidewalk paint to create airbrushed designs. Designs can be created freehand or with the included stencils. As always Crayola thinks ahead: the airbrush only sprays when pointed downward, so young artists—or their siblings— won’t become their own canvas.

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We’re definitely taking this challenge. In fact, since the rain if finally letting up, we’re grabbing our bucket of chalk and heading to the park! Whatever your medium for colorful play might be, make sure you get outside as often as possible!

Oscar the Pig app from iKids Play

387035_5Pigs have been getting a lot of bad publicity lately, but if the shows on cartoon networks are indicative of kids’ unflappable taste in characters, pigs have and will always be a favorite when it comes to books, shows and now, apps!
Oscar the Pig written by Megan Calhoun, the multi-faceted founder of Twittermoms, is a great book that talks about the transition of mom going back to work and the separation anxiety that often goes hand in hand with it.  This cute children’s book is now available as an educational app, thanks to iKids iPlay.

Oscar the Pig can be read with five interactive activities.  With the Oscar the Pig app, kids can rub the screen to reveal hidden pages; the book becomes a coloring book with the stroke of a little finger, which can later be sent to grandma via email; storytime can enjoyed with automatic page turns and beginning readers can read, record and replay as they grasp their new reading abilities.

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The Oscar the Pig app from iKids iPlay can be downloaded from iTunes for $2.99.  Be sure to check out the other cool children’s books they have available, too!  The book, Oscar the Pig, is available online.

PeeWee PC debuts tablet laptop for kids

PeeWee PC has launched a new spill and drop-resistant tablet laptop for kids. The small, but rugged 3-pound laptop features a swiveling screen and can alternate between keyboard mode and a tablet mode. The PeeWee PC features kid-friendly, touch-optimized software that’s said to be suitable for 3-10 year olds. Security options allow Parents to limit usage and control how kids use their laptop. The laptop features an Intel Atom Processor, a Disney Windows XP Theme, and a 1.3 megapixel and rings in at about $600. You can heck out the PeeWee PC specs here.

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I definitely appreciate PeeWee PC’s rugged, kid-friendly approach; however, the pricetag for a kid purchase—an electronic investment, no less—definitely makes me think twice.  PeeWee PC also offers the Power Laptop, another kid-friendly laptop, but $100 cheaper and with different specs.  Kid friendly laptops aren’t a new concept.  The OLPC XO, tasked to change the lives of children in developing countries, is a lowcost kid-friendly computer, but on a much different scale.
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Cool baby gadget: Itzbeen

In the early days, I barely even knew my name, nevermind remember the next feeding and from which side.  I wish I’d known about the Itzbeen.  There truly is a a gadget for everything!

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Itzbeen is a device for new parents who need help staying on track with baby care.  The Itzbeen (pronounced: “it’s been”, as in it’s been forever since I’ve slept) has four timers to help you remember the basics, such as time intervals between diaper changes, feeding the baby, naptime or when to give meds.  Other cool features include: belt clip, nursing reminder switch, illuminated display, clock, and soft-glowflashlight that automatically goes off after 7 minutes, if left on.  It’s like a Swiss Army Utility Device but for baby care…all it needs now is the actual changing pad.  And perhaps an extra hand or two.

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Lego my…MP3 player

The world of Legos is getting all techy! Digital Blue and Lego are teaming up to launch a Lego-inspired line of electronic gear. This Lego branded line channels the classic toy’s bold colored building block in the form of fully functional digital cameras, MP3 players, walkie talkies and USB drives.
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The line is scheduled for release this summer at price points ranging from $19.99 to $59.99. The Lego MP3 Player mirrors the look of an actual Lego brick, and you can even mount the MP3 Player on other Legos on the top/bottom.  The camera, set for release this fall, will have kid-friendly functions, including an LCD Display, 3MP and 128MB internal memory.

I am so adding these to my wishlist!

Happy Earth Week!

loveyourearthAs Earth Day approaches this Wednesday, The Next Kid Thing will be focusing on green kid topics all week. When Earth Day began 39 years ago, times were much different, but the environmental movement as we know just started to gain momentum. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Today, Earth Day is celebrated worldwide.
As the Earth Day celebrations continue to grow, as does the environmental awareness. It might be easy being green one day a year, but 365 days of green-living make much more of an impact. What’s even more important is fostering our kids at an early age to be more socially responsible. Stay tuned for lots of ideas on how kids can help protect Mother Earth and ways to go green too!

(photo via mlumograph17)

LeapFrog introduces iPhone app, Number Rumble

LeapFrog upped their game with the introduction of a new iPhone app, a learning game called Number Rumble. Number Rumble, the first of several iPhone App learning games that LeapFrog plans to release, is a math game that puts the fun in function by helping players ages 6 to 10 gain a better grasp on math basics.

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The game, which can be download at the Apple App Store for $2.99, allows kids to practice for quizzes, challenge friends and replay games to sharpen their math skills.

It features three modes of play, including a “Learn It” mode that lets kids choose an operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division), spin the number wheels to create a math problem, then tap the equals sign to see and hear the answer; the “Quiz Time” mode in which kids test their skills by spinning the number wheels to create a problem, then shake the iPhone to select an answer; and a “Random Quiz” that lets kids practice all four operations at once, shaking the iPhone to see “fill-in-the-blank”-style questions, such as “12 + 8 = ?” or “? ÷ 9 = 11.”

With LeapFrog’s Number Rumble, it’s like math to-go with an emphasis on fun (like most LeapFrog products) to keep kids engaged. It’s definitely not your dad’s (or mom’s) iPhone anymore! Learning is involved, so who’s complaining?

Welcome to the Next Kid Thing!

This week marks the official launch of the Next Kid Thing, a blog that is dedicated to the latest and greatest in kid gear.  As the juvenile products market continues to evolve, the Next Kid Thing will showcase great gear and all the good stuff in between.  As many parents know, as soon as you have a kid, it seems like the next month, brand new gear hits the shelves.  It seems that way probably because the baby and kid market continues to grow at an exponential pace–even in this economic climate.  A report by Kids Today said that infant gear reached $1.62 billion in sales in 2007, while another report forecasts that the baby durables market will increase to $6.9 billion by 2015.  Add big kids to the mix, and that’s a lot of gear and gadgets to be bought.

Many of us have waited to start our families to focus on careers, and in turn, this generation of new parents are willing to spend more on high tech, eco-friendly and safe baby gear, insisting on the best for our kids.  With all that stuff out there, it’s my hope that this website will serve as a resource to sift through the excess to profile the must-haves and find the best deals.  From babies to big kids, the Next Kid Thing will feature reviews, interviews, profiles and awesome giveaways!

logoNKT is most definitely a labor of love.  In addition to chasing around my mischevious toddler all day, with thanks to the most encouraging husband ever, I can finally say (again) that I’m doing what I love.  With a journalism background and 8 years of experience as a mag editor under my belt, I’m happily putting my research and reporting skills back to work.  With all the research I did prior to my son’s arrival in 2007, sharing my finds makes so much sense.  These days, it’s all about maximizing your dollars while observing green habits and smart consumerism.  With an appreciation for great gear, a fervor for research and green-living, the Next Kid Thing was born.

Join me as I share great finds, profile cool companies, unearth great deals and of course, roll out some pretty awesome giveaways.  As a way to celebrate this week-long launch of the Next Kid Thing, I will have giveaways galore all week!  Be sure to comment on this post for an opportunity to win some fabulous door prizes!
For additional entries, tell all your friends and family:  blog, tweet, stumble or share the news of the Next Kid Thing’s official launch on any social media site.   Please comment to add additional entries.

I’ll be back later with the first official giveaway and more!