Review: Thomas & Friends Play and Watch App

Like many other preschoolers, my little dude is absolutely fascinated by Thomas & Friends. There’s something about those quirky locomotives and their daily duties that mesmerizes their audience. 

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Designed to further engage young fans of the show, Thomas & Friends has released a brand new app from PBS Kids called, Thomas & Friends Watch and Play app.  There are three problem solving games that encourage open-ended play: Track Builder, Track Repair and Steam Team Snapshots. I totally thought the snapshot game was a photo app to take selfies. ha! Not quite. These games are fun for preschoolers to explore and create on their own. I appreciate that the graphics are just as robust on these games, as they are on the show. 

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In addition to the three games, Thomas and Friends features a video player that showcases episodes within an interactive frame that kids can pretend to be the conductor.

Thomas and Friends Watch and Play is available now for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and costs $2.99. The app is rated for 4+, but my 2.5 year old could navigate through most of the app on his own. This is the first Thomas app that offers full-length episodes, in addition to games that promote problem-solving. Waiting in the doctor’s office with a restless preschooler just got a little bit easier!

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We had a great time getting a sneak peek of Thomas and Friends Watch and Play app, and we had a lot to say about it. Check out our video as we navigate through the app for the first time:


Full disclosure: I received a promo code to facilitate this review. As always, opinions are my own on NKT.

Classroom Fun: Oh, The Places You’ll Go and Oceanhouse Media Dr. Seuss Apps

As Read Across America week winds down, I thought I’d share about my fun afternoon with J’s class today.


Dr. Seuss reminded us that Life’s a Great Balancing Act (Just never forget to be dexterous and deft).  Which is why I chose to read Oh, The Places You Go! in class today.  In my trajectory as a writer and parent, I want to believe that it was his suggestions and wise words that have pointed me in this direction. (More on this later…)

Even though Oh, The Places You’ll Go! can be verbose for young five year olds, the class very much understood Dr. Seuss’ ideas and emphasis on imagination.
After reading to the class, we continued the conversation about Dr. Seuss with What’s in the Cat’s Hat, a hands-on game game from my friends at Wonder Forge.

This game is a classic guessing game, where the kids can utilize their senses by guessing what’s hidden IN the Cat’s hat.  Each kid took a turn poking and shaking the hat, even reading off prompted questions from the cards.  We heard silly guesses, but once the kids started getting their guesses right based on clues, the momentum of their deductive reasoning started to roll. I can’t say enough good things about Wonder Forge; this fantastic company has won numerous awards for their games and it’s no wonder why. Beyond What’s in the Cat’s Hat, Wonder Forge has various Dr. Seuss puzzles and games, including an app-centric game called Fun Machine.

Dr. Seuss apps from Oceanhouse Media

And speaking of apps, Dr. Seuss has an app—quite a few, actually.  Oceanhouse Media has done a great job with bringing Dr. Seuss titles to iPhones, iPods and iPads.  While I love my technology as much as the next geek, there’s nothing quite like a real book.  Nevertheless, you can’t beat having access to a myriad of Dr. Seuss titles while on the go.  Green Eggs and Ham while in the dentist waiting room? Why not.  Fox in Socks while on a 2-hour road trip? Don’t mind if we do.  The best part of these apps is that they’re interactive where you can record your voice while reading and even share those recordings.  Oceanhouse Media has a number of Dr. Seuss classics in the $3-5 range, as well as a few free apps.

Dr. Seuss Camera

Another app that gets rave reviews from my favorite five year olds: The Dr. Seuss Camera, also from Oceanhouse Media. This app simply utilizes the iphone, ipod touch or ipad camera and frames the subject with several different Dr. Seuss characters and imagery.  Point, shoot, edit and create, this app is endless Dr. Seuss fun and is free.  This app is a great way to continue the Dr. Suess conversation and branch it out to digital media.  In fact, we took pictures of J’s entire class and the kids had a blast picking and choosing which characters they wanted to be.  Sally, by the way, was the class favorite—for boys, too!  Go, Sally!

I loved talking to the kids about my job today.  Since most of the kids aren’t reading quite yet, I didn’t bother telling them about NKT, other than the topics that I focus on.  It was cute getting questions from parents asking me if I work FOR PBS.  No, but I am a proud VIP.

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Making Music with Monster Melody Mash

What do you get when you mix dancing monsters and fun beats?  Why, an app, of course!



We’ve been playing with another monster-centric app, or rather, jamming out.  This time, the kid and I have been playing DJ with the Monster Melody App.  Choosing between alien, volcano or classic monsters, players can create endless melodies by tapping the sychronizing monsters. Perfect for budding djs and even the littlest music aficionados, Monster Melody app harnesses music, playful animation and touch-screen technology to create musical goodness.

I know.  More monsters!  I’m on a monster kick lately…or should I say, developers and toy manufacturers are on a monster roll.

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Toys ‘R’ Us Great Big Christmas Book: There’s an App for That

Halloween’s over and you know what that means?  That’s right, the Holiday shopping season cranks up a notch.  While the shelves might have been touting dancing Santas and singing reindeers for a few weeks now, marketers and retailers have been working overtime for months in preparation for the upcoming Holiday season.

As mentioned before, many of us bloggers were attending holiday previews way back in May, so, be prepared to see an influx of holiday coverage on blogs this year, NKT included.

We can’t cover holiday shopping without highlighting the thrill of the hunt—for kids, that is!  While many of us plan to scour the malls, websites and shops for the best deals, in many cases, it all starts with that carefully-crafted Christmas list.  And guess what?

Of course, there’s an app for that.

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Party On with Perfect Piggies

It’s a sunny Monday in our part of the world; what a great start to another week.  This week marks the kid’s last week as a two-year old, and so in the week leading up to his birthday, I will be spotlighting his favorite things à la Oprah.  Unlike Oprah, I won’t be giving away a bazillion and one things to all NKT readers, but I will be hosting some exciting giveaways and downloads—fun toys and goodies that have made our lives a little sunnier.

One of the kid’s favorite authors, Sandra Boynton recently released a fun new book, Perfect Piggies.  If you love Boynton’s books as much as we do, then I’m sure you’re familiar with classics like Moo, Baa, La La La and Barnyard Dance.  Many of her books have a sing-song appeal that’s catchy and memorable, just like this instant classic.

“We are all perfect piggies and we know what we need.  It’s really very simple, very simple indeed: a troughful of food, a place in the sun, and a little bit of comfort when the day is done.”

Perfect Piggies, a simple celebration of being unique, echoes the same, fun rhythm and rhyme that Boynton on Board books are well known for, but better yet, this one has a downloadable song that goes along with it.

The Perfect Piggies song is sung in a cappella, and has a sweet swing to it.  It’s catchy enough to induce some toe-tapping, finger-snapping and definitely kid-dancing.  The song reminds me so much of one of my favorite groups, Straight No Chaser, an a cappella group that’s been known to make people laugh and swoon with their fabulous performances.  And no doubt, the Perfect Piggies song and book make us swoon just as much, if not more.

Want to check out the song for your crew?  Download the Perfect Piggies song for free here.  Oooh, and there’s more, since we’re in party mode, have your own Perfect Piggies themed party, too!  Download some activity and craft sheets, a party poster and even the song sheet, and throw yourselves a party that’s perfect for all piggies and kids alike.


Download me!


Perfect Piggies is published by Workman Publishing and retails for $6.95.  The song can be downloaded for free online, and the book is available in bookstores now.

British Baby Brand Mamas & Papas Arrives Stateside

Beloved British baby brand, Mamas & Papas, has officially landed stateside.  Mamas & Pappas, which is synonymous with a simple, yet modern aesthetic, launched a line of strollers, lightweight strollers, travel accessories and toys online and at select Babies ‘R’ Us and Toys ‘R’ Us this week.

The lineup of Mamas & Papas products that are now available in the U.S. include:

The Urbo, Sola and Luna-Mix (below) comprise M&P’s travel system compatible strollers that are now available in the U.S. Both the Urbo and Sola come with or without bassinets.  The Urbo is more reminiscent of a pram, whereas the Solas has a sleek, modern silhouette.  The Luna-Mix is a three-wheeled stroller that has a compact fold and can be coupled with complementary or contrasting accessories.

Light weight strollers that offer a convenient carrying strap, perfect for urbanites trekking on public transit, as well as parents who seek a swift option for strolling. Each stroller varies in features ranging from basic to reclining seat to extra cushion for comfort. Trip, Trek, Tour (below), Cruise and Voyage

High chairs that don’t compromise style, safety or flexibility, the Loop Highchair boasts a high-lacquer white shine and bright green seat pad accessories and the Go Eat Highchair is a black and white chair that features convenient fold-up capabilities.

Many babies and their parents rely on bouncers for the first few months to soothe and play.  Mamas & Papas offers the Magic Astro (below), Apollo and Ripple bouncers that feature music, toys and plenty of cushion to cradle any sweet babe.  With its MP3 compatibility, the Magic Astro sounds like both gear and a gadget that would’ve landed a spot on my must-have baby list.

And because babies just can’t have enough cool toys when on the go: Mamas & Papas offers Made with…Love Activity Spiral, Travel Charm and The Jumbles Collection, which look like such sweet, fun play things.  These guys would make great shower gifts, carrier and stroller toys.  I’m doting on the Are We There Yet Charm Toy (below.)

Mamas & Papas product pricing varies by product description ranging from the Urbo stroller at $499 all the way to the travel toys at $9.99.  Mamas & Papas products are available exclusively at select Babies ‘R’ Us stores.  An expanded selection of Mamas & Papas gear and accessories will also be available at Toys”R”Us Times Square, Babies”R”Us Union Square and FAO Schwartz Fifth Avenue in NYC, as well as online at

PBS Kids Launches Photo Factory App

Always a fan of fun, free apps, the kid and I are quite excited about PBS Kids’ recently launched Photo Factory App.

With the PBS Kids’ Photo Factory App, kids can customize their photos with various PBS characters and then email, save or share so the whole world can check out their creations.  Kids can choose characters from Arthur, Caillou, Clifford, Curious George, Dinosaur Train, Dragon Tales, Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman, Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid (my favorite!), Super Why! and Wordgirl to accent their photos; the choices are endless, really!


What I love about this app, other than it being free, is that it’s so user and kid friendly.  The graphics are fun, the pictures are colorful and it’s yet another way to keep my guy entertained on bus and train rides.  Oh, and we have even more ways to customize pictures to assign to my contacts in my phone!  Who wouldn’t smile at a picture of Grandpa adorned with a little Clifford?



PBS, you guys think of everything, don’t you?

The PBS Photo Factory App is available absolutely free to download in the app store.  For more info. on all PBS apps, check out their mobile site.


Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Born Theodor Seuss Geisel on March 2, 1904, the writer and illustrator better known as Dr. Seuss, produced classic children’s books that have rhymed, reasoned and influenced many generations. (Including the Olympian I had the honor of interviewing! more on that later.)


With Dr. Seuss’s birthday in mind, I thought I’d share some of my most recent Dr. Seuss finds:



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Go Big, Go Green at Toy Fair

So, it’s here!  For the past couple of days, I’ve been indulging in the excitement of Toy Fair, here in NY.  Because it’s an industry trade show, I’ve been busy working and meeting with various companies that reached out to me.

In case you haven’t already, be sure to join me on The Next Kid Thing Fan Page and twitter to see my updates throughout Toy Fair.

With thousands and thousands of exhibitors at Toy Fair, it’s obviously going to be difficult to cover every single company.  I will, however, try to do a roundup of products that are of interest, and perhaps, the next kid thing.

Yesterday, after my meetings, I spent the majority of my day walking the floor.  There are a lot of really great exhibitors, and of course, many new products that are being launched in conjunction with Toy Fair.  I made it a point to check out green and sustainable toys, and was quite pleased with the amount of products that have joined this category.

Some companies have been in the Green sector before “green” was its own category.  There are literally hundreds of fabulous toys, so for now, here are just a few of my findings.  (Please note, these photos are from my phone, but I’ll be sure to share much, much more tonight.)





Happy Birthday, Elmo! And a Review of the Monster Maker

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but today is America’s favorite fuzzy red monster’s birthday.

Yup, Elmo turns 3 today (again, I know!) Happy Birthday, big guy!

In honor of Elmo’s birthday, I thought I’d mention this new app released by Sesame Workshop, which just so happens to feature the birthday boy himself.

Elmo’s Monster Maker App, which is now available on iTunes, is an app where kids of all ages can create their own monster. With all the different body parts, the choices are limitless as to how many unique monsters can be created. With this app, kids become more aware of several different body parts, with a little Sesame Street-style creativity.

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