The Ultimate Block Party Set for Oct. 3 in NYC

“How you play is who you become,” is the convincing tagline for this weekend’s Ultimate Block Party in NYC.  With playful learning in mind, Play for Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization dedicated to shedding light on the crucial role of play in children’s development and education, is hosting the Ultimate Block Party in Central Park this Sunday, October 3.

Described to be the first “play date” in a national education movement, the Ultimate Block Party is poised to transform the Bandshell area of Central Park on Sunday, October 3, into the world’s most innovative playground by demonstrating the power of fun and games for learning and helping to reinforce that how we play as children helps form who we become as adults.

As a champion of playtime and getting outdoors here at NKT, I was so thrilled to learn about this fun event from some of my colleagues. In fact, if our schedule permits, I’m hoping to bring our family out to the Ultimate Block Party on Sunday to take in some playtime of our own.

Play for Tomorrow, together with their partners, are inviting families with kids 12 and under to head to Central Park on Sunday to join in the fun.  The rain or shine event, which goes from 11am to 5 pm by the Naumburg Bandshell (Enter at 72nd Street and Fifth Ave), will have a myriad of playful activities and mini-master classes with leading architects, scientists, engineers, musicians, artists, inventors and business leaders from around the City.  Best of all, it’s free.

Free fun for the kids in NYC: it doesn’t get any better than that!

The sponsors and activities* that will be at this fantastic event include many NKT faves such as KaBoom!, Crayola, CMOM, Imagination Playground, Chicago Children’s Museum, Legos, Electric and many, many more.  If you’re in NYC, come join us!  If you’re not in the area, don’t worry, word is, there are already plans to launch the Ultimate Block Party in other U.S. cities and internationally.

Giveaway

One of the sponsors of the event and NKT fave, Lego, will have a LEGO imagination construction zone at the Ultimate Block Party.  And for those of you not in the area, LEGO isn’t forgetting you.  To encourage personal LEGO imagination construction zones at home, they are kindly offering one NKT reader a LEGO DUPLO Play with Numbers set.

Want to win the Duplo set? Just tell me what sort of things do you and your kids like to build with Legos.  Please comment below.

*Want to see small a sampling of the activities planned for The Ultimate Block Party?  Click after the jump.  I’m getting even more excited just reading about all the fun!  If you’re planning on going, let me know!

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Celebrate and Share: Tag.Give.Read with LeapFrog

It’s my boy’s birthday today, and I’m happy to report that we enjoyed our mini-party this weekend.  Of course, a birthday party wouldn’t be complete without fun gifts, which is why I’m sharing about yet another NKT fave, LeapFrog.

Reading has been a huge, huge part of being 2.  LeapFrog’s Tag Jr. has been a staple in our reading routine since we were introduced to it last summer.  Tag Jr., which is geared to 2-5 year olds, has been such a hit for the kid, that for holidays like Easter and Valentine’s Day, in lieu of excess candy, I’ve made sure to gift the kid with Tag Jr. books to bolster our library.

Watching the boy’s chubby toddler arms plop the equally chubby Tag Jr. on the graphics of his little books are memories that I’ll always embrace.  And the quality time that dad gets to share with the kid while reading with Tag Jr. during the bedtime routine? Irreplaceable.

One of the many fantastic aspects of LeapFrog is that they’ve done a genius job of developing an array of products that grow with kids, and I envision Tag being a huge part of the preschool phase.  While we haven’t officially graduated from Tag Jr., the kid has had a fun time exploring more titles with LeapFrog’s Tag Reading System, which is aimed to 4- 8 year olds.  Superheroes are the favorite phase du jour, so, reading about Spiderman with LeapFrog Tag has offered a great new perspective to Spidey’s adventures.

Tag’s library is constantly evolving, and titles such as Toy Story 3 is one of the new ones that will no doubt find its way into our home.  Oh yes, and how can I forget staples such Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, which came with our Tag Reader, and for good reason: it’s been one book that’s read endlessly for bedtime.

Check it

LeapFrog has certainly helped cultivate the joy of reading at a young age in our home, and they’re aiming to touch even more lives.  Announced last week, through a partnership with DonorsChoose.org, LeapFrog’s new Tag. Give. Read. program is aiming to help more U.S. children embrace the love of reading by donating $100,000 to match donations made to teachers requesting Tag School Reading systems.

To learn more about the Tag. Give. Read. program, logon to LeapFrog.com. All DonorsChoose.org projects that are eligible for the LeapFrog match are searchable by teacher name or geographic area. Once a teacher’s goal for Tag School systems is half-met by donors, LeapFrog provides the rest.  Awesome, no?

And Those who don’t have money to give can make a difference, by becoming a fan of LeapFrog on Facebook. For each new “like,” LeapFrog will give a Tag book to a Kindergarten teacher, up to 25,000 books.  As if we needed another reason to love LeapFrog!

Giveaway

And because we’re still in celebration mode over here on NKT, here’s another gift for you:  LeapFrog has offered to give one NKT reader a LeapFrog Tag Reading System.

Want a LeapFrog Tag for your kids?  Simply share about LeapFrog’s Tag.Give.Read program.  Leverage all social media outlets and share about this fantastic program. Tweet, Share on Facebook, email your friends and family…  Share: give more kids a chance to celebrate the love of reading.

(actual book in giveaway may vary from photo.  This photo was taken at the LeapFrog media preview)

Please comment below for each way that you share.  Multiple entries are encouraged, so please share away.

Interested in another extra entry?  Become an NKT fan on Facebook and/or “like” this post.  Who knows, maybe I’ll give away something else very soon.  *cough*tomorrow*cough

This giveaway will end October 11 at midnight. Winners will be chosen via random.org, and will be notified via Facebook fanpage and email.

NKT Fave: Chuggington Die-Cast Toys from Learning Curve

Trains, trains and more trains. Thank goodness for trains and massive train tables! Toddlerhood possibly wouldn’t have been bearable without our trusty trains. I do believe I complained about the size of the giant train table the kid got for his birthday last year, but after endless hours of play, I’ll bite my tongue.  Good call, hubs!

During our summer of displacement, the kid constantly asked for his toys, but it was his trains and train table that he begged for on a daily basis.  And because of that, our trains and the bazillion pieces and accessories that go along with it will always be an NKT fave.

I love sharing the next big thing in kid products, and of course, toys! A few months ago, we shared the news that one of our favorite train shows, Chuggington, will be releasing toys here in the U.S.  Chuggington toys will be on the shelves in early October, in time for the holidays, but better yet, you can pre-order them now at Toysrus.com.

As a Chuggington Conductor, I’ve had the chance to get the latest Chuggington news as it breaks, so that I can share it with all of you.  This time around, we were able to get the new toys in our hands BEFORE they hit the shelves to be able to share a sneak peek with all of you.  In the spirit of the next kid thing, check out our video and review of the new Chuggington toys from Learning Curve.   Apologies for the shaky camera!

 

And because it’s my boy’s birthday next week, as promised, I want to give YOUR kids toys that my kid loves. Sooooo…

Giveaway

Want to win a Chuggington prize pack? The prize pack will include a Launch & Go Roundhouse, Straight & Curved Track Pack and a few Die-Cast Engines.  (Engines may vary from what is shown in my video.)

Comment below and tell me who your kids’ favorite Chuggington character is, and why.

The kid and I mutually love Koko because she’s feisty, strong-willed and fun.

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Walk Down Memory Lane + Maegan Dougherty Photo Session Giveaway

If there was ever a good time to walk down memory lane, this week would be it.  After months of waiting to close on our house, we’re still displaced.  Needless to say, it’s been a rocky road for our family this summer:  all of our stuff still remains in storage, our poor kid cries for his toys, my heart aches every time he begs to go “home” and all we can do is just wait…

But, throughout this trying time, we’ve had each other.

The week before we moved out of our apartment, we had a photo session with our favorite family photographer, Maegan Dougherty.  It was a fun time, which yielded another set of great photos that serve as a great reminder of what’s truly important in life.

I met Maegan on a message board I used to frequent, and was immediately drawn to her photos.  Shortly after the kid was born, Maegan shot our first session and made our memories that much brighter.  Her photography has graced our Holiday cards, were the source for our kid’s headshots, they line my mom’s refrigerator, and soon, after all this waiting, these photos will line the halls of our new home.

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Sweet and Silly: The Best of The Laurie Berkner Band

Parents Magazine said it best when they described Laurie Berkner as “the Pied Piper of the Preschool Set.”  With her melodic tunes and unforgettable harmonies, The Laurie Berkner Band are just as much magicians as they are musicians—at least for my music-obsessed kid.

First introduced to this well-loved band’s tunes after becoming avid fans of Jack’s Big Music Show on Nick Jr., Laurie Berkner’s song lyrics are now part of our everyday vernacular.  ‘Shaky Egg’, ‘Rainboots, stomp, stomp, stomp’… you name it, Laurie’s lyrics and music have made our entire family fans for the long haul.  Like magic.

Released last month, The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band cd is a comprehensive collection of the band’s best songs.  As their sixth cd, if you’re a longtime fan, such songs on the cd are expected, but for newer fans, this cd is a staple for your budding kindie rock collection.  Unlike the songs recorded for Nickelodeon, Laurie’s Greatest Hits cd have a softer, less processed sound.  Songs like “Shady Tree” exude the sweet, while songs like, “Monster Boogie” reinforces the silly.  But overall, the 20-track cd encompasses the folk sensibility that keeps kids dancing and singing, and their parents humming and smiling.

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Disney Pook-A-Looz are Cute, Edgy and Sweet

I’ve been reading some blurbs about the Licensing Expo that was recently held in Vegas.  Of the interesting information that was dispersed from the annual show that showcases all the hottest licenses in the industry, I was interested to see this one from Disney Consumer Products, which I’ll get into later.

Pook-A-Looz

Speaking of Disney, at the Time to Play Spring and Summer Showcase, Disney Consumer Products had a diverse selection of their latest toys.  Aside from the much-hyped Toy Story and the ever-popular Princesses toys, DCP had some new, but familiar faces.

DCP recently introduced Pook-A-Looz, a plush line of their classic characters who have received a modern-meets-vintage twist.  That probably doesn’t make too much sense, but according to Disney, Pook-A-Looz were designed to capture the personalities of iconic Disney characters in an edgy, offbeat way.  They’re said to be inspired by the urban vinyl toy culture, which began in Asia a decade ago.

 

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Angelina Ballerina: The Next Step Embraces Music, Dance

Some of the fondest memories from my childhood include the years that I was enrolled in dance class.  I loved ballet and jazz so much that I took my training and lessons with me beyond high school and even danced for several years in college.  And because it’s the end of the school year, it also means that it’s recital season for many little girls (and some boys, too).

 

With recital season in full swing, coupled with my love for dance, one show that comes to mind for Music Monday is, Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps, which airs on PBS Kids.  The show is based on the award-winning children’s book series by author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craigre.  Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps debuted this past September in full CG animation, incorporating elements of choreography from top dance organizations from American Ballet Theatre to Alvin Ailey.

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Axlscloset.com Features Cool Threads for Cool Kids

While most of you are updating and/or breaking out your summer wardrobes, our family continues to pack for our move. Between us, there’s nothing I’d love more than to chuck all of our clothes and start over so we can be done packing already!  But that would be too easy.

With all of these summer clothes posts lately, it couldn’t be more timely to introduce you to a rather sweet shopping site for cool kid gear. Alxscloset.com is a site that features trendy kids clothing from the outdoor, surf, and snowsports markets. The clothes reflect that slightly edgy surfer/skate aesthetic that I mentioned that I adore, especially for boys.

Growing up in Virginia Beach, and even to this day, we’ve always worn skate and surf brands, and this site caters to like-minded shoppers and parents.

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The site features brands like Patagonia, Volcom, Roxy, Billabong, DC, Quicksilver, just to name a few, that I know my tween nieces and nephews would appreciate. Among the cool logo t-shirts, shorts, pants, jackets, dresses and more, there’s also a few vintage-inspired tees I wouldn’t mind for myself!  How about that adorable summer dress from Roxy!

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