Lego Encourages Kids to Rock Out with Duplo Jams

LEGO aptly describes their construction play sets as catalysts for ideas, and I couldn’t agree more. Like many of you, we’ve sat for hours playing LEGOs, building architectural masterpieces, crazy vehicles and pretend food, among other whatchamacalits… The possibilities are endless, but one thing’s for sure: creative play and LEGO go hand in hand.

At Toy Fair, LEGO once again invited bloggers to their booth for an after-hours party where we had the chance to check out all of the upcoming sets and more. Aside from their beloved bricks, LEGO gave us a peek at their latest foray into the creative play space: Duplo Jams.

LEGO launched Duplo Jams as a new dimension to encourage and inspire creative play for toddlers and preschoolers. The three songs that are currently available are all written and performed by a preschool dad that everyone listen to for free. Duplo Jams has a dedicated iTunes channel and Facebook Page where the free songs can be accessed and are also hubs for future anticipated releases. To encourage further creativity, LEGO says they plan to release a new song every month.

We found the British Pop inspired-songs, “Sort Out the Blues,” “Build with Letters,” and “Stick Together,” to be catchy and cool, and a funky musical backdrop while we play in the playroom. As more parents are realizing the importance of limiting screentime, musical outlets such as Duplo Jams are a fun way to shift the kids’ eyeballs to hands-on play and complement with good kid tunes, where copious sing-a-longs and dance parities are expected.

Many families already engage their kids in kiddie music classes, so I think Duplo Jams is such a great way to reinforce many kids’ natural love of music. We’re a musical family, so we can usually be found jamming out one way or another, and it goes without saying, Duplo Jams is perfect complement to our eclectic playlist.

Be sure to check out Duplo Jams’ latest releases on their iTunes channel—for free!

New Duplo Sets

And speaking of Duplo, have you seen the latest playsets? Here are just a few:

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David Weinstone Celebrates New Release with NYC Show

The best kind of children’s music is the kind that resonates, not only for the kid, but for the parents as well.  And David Weinstone and The Music for Aardvarks Band does just that for our family.  Having spent our baby days as city dwellers (and still dreaming of returning every day), Weinstone’s songs are so relatable since they transcend the usual cutesy topics, and instead, celebrates things like, taxis and the joys of Avenue A.  As a baby, the kid routinely fell asleep to the sounds of garbage trucks, cabs whizzing by and sirens wailing outside our window, so, like most urban families, we can totally relate to the fun songs from Weinstone and The Music for Aardvarks Band.

With alternative influences, clever guitar melodies and cheery percussion, Weinstone’s music strikes a chord for all families who appreciate good music.  We love classics like Birdie, Runaround Kid and Move Your Feet as seen on Jack’s Big Music Show on Nick Jr. (Get UP…get down!)

Besides catching him on Nick, perhaps you might know Weinstone from his classes that are said to be frequented by famous families here in the NYC and NJ area; Weinstone is also the creator of Music for Aardvarks classes, which has classes all across the country now.  So, not only do city families have the good fortune to rocking out to such fun music, but so can everyone else.

This weekend in NYC, David Weinstone and The Music for Ardvarks Band is celebrating their new cd, “All I Want!” with a concert at the Highline Ballroom on April 30th.

The theme of our new CD, All I Want!, is that what kids need most is quality time with caring adults. We hope the way we interact with kids at our shows reflects this.”

“All I Want!”, released March 8th, features all new songs and is David Weinstone’s sixteenth Music for Aardvarks recording.  This latest release is described as bringing together pop/folk/rock/blues styles to communicate a singular message:  “All I want is me and you!”

As fans of Weinstone, this is yet another one we’ll be sure to add to our playlist!

Check it

In town this coming weekend?  Here are the details for their CD Release Party!

WHAT:                David Weinstone & The Music for Aardvarks Band
WHERE:             Highline Ballroom, 431 W. 16th St., NYC
WHEN:               Saturday, April 30.   12:00 noon.
TICKETS:           $12 in advance. $15 day of show. $40 Family 4-Pack.  Phone 212.414.5994.

David Weinstone’s discs are available online at,,, all major digital download sites and retail stores nationwide.

“Love Me For Who I Am” Embraces Sweet and Special

For today’s Music Monday post, “Love Me For Who I Am” from Brady Rymer is a celebration, as much as it is an appreciation for all things sweet and special. As you may already know, April is Autism Awareness month, and  Brady Rymer is underscoring this important message with his fun and infectious new release Love Me for Who I Am.

Debuting tomorrow, April 12, Rymer’s 10-track cd, Love Me for Who I Am, embraces kids of all sizes and more importantly, celebrates kids of all abilities. Hints of folk, rock, pop and reggae aid the colorful flavor of this cd, that’s full of inspiring lyrics and gives a nod to adventures and experiences that make childhood so piquant.

With funny and relatable reasoning that “food should never rub elbows and flavors should never move,” for those of you with kids with discerning palates, “Picky Eaters” is their anthem!  And track eight is one that can’t be missed where perennial preschool favorite, Laurie Berkner lends her melodic vocals to “Soft Things” a song that praises the tactile joy and sweet smells of all things soft. And in the spirit of “celebrating and invigorating,” the upbeat and effervescent title track says it all, “please don’t try to fix me, love me for who I am.”

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Pat Bells Put Music at Kids’ Fingertips

Colorful, beautiful and eye-catching, Pat Bells from PlayMe aren’t toys, but unique musical instruments that can be played with a slight tap of a wooden knob.  Each handbell in the 8-piece set is a different color of the spectrum, making it easy for kids to make their own music or follow song cards that feature notes with the corresponding bells’ colors.

Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the Pat Bells have been used in a variety of music education settings, including kids with special needs.  As opposed to traditional handbells, there are no handles to hold or mallets needed to strike, so Pat Bells are described as being “easy to play” for younger kids or who have low muscle tone or delayed motor skill development.

When I spotted these gorgeous bells at Toy Fair, I was immediately drawn in by the colors and striking design.  At $150, the bells may not find their way into personal music collections, but I’d love to see these in preschools, music classes and especially in the hands of music lovers of all ages.

Want to see the bells in action? I found a really great video on YouTube that gives a great demo.

Putumayo Kids Unplugs with Acoustic Dreamland

Melodic and sweet, Putumayo Kids’ latest release, “Acoustic Dreamland,” is the fifth release in the Dreamland series, which continues to celebrate the label’s penchant for exposing world music and culture to children.  If you’re not a lullaby singer like me, “Acoustic Dreamland’s” calming lineup of lullabies is another thoughtfully curated compilation of music from Putumayo Kids that does the singing for you.

Complemented by the strums of acoustic guitars, strings, piano and sleepy time lyrics, “Acoustic Dreamland” boasts a diverse collection of classic and contemporary songs that both kids and parents can count sheep to.

Title track, “Dreamland,” by Lucy Kaplansky begins the 11-song cd with a lullaby that has an Irish medley feel and embraces an uplifting harmony.  Elizabeth Mitchell’s cover of the Allman Brother’s “Blue Sky” reminds me of my happy childhood and sunny days back home in Va Beach.  Recorded especially for this cd, Frances England’s “Here with Me,” which slightly channels one of my all-time favorite songs, “Circle,” has turned us on to a new favorite children’s musican.  With a million things running through our minds after having grandpa visit for the weekend, the tv is off, electronics are stashed and Rosie Thomas’ lullaby and love song, “Tomorrow,” is currently on repeat.

Birds fly above you
Love is around you
I would like to be too
Forever, forever and ever
With you

Perfect for ending the day on a high note and a gentle way to decompress and unplug, Putumayo Kids’ “Acoustic Dreamland” is a great collection of music suitable for baby to big kids’ bedtime routine.

Putumayo Kids “Acoustic Dreamland” can be found online and at retailers such as Barnes and Noble.  Be sure to listen to a sampling of the CD on Putumayo’s site.

iCarly Star Surprises 7-Year-Old Cancer Patient

When 7-year-old cancer patient Carrie Janik was asked what she wanted more than anything in the world, she revealed that she wanted to meet iCarly star, Miranda Cosgrove.  Janik’s mom contacted the show’s producers about her daughter’s wish, and in turn, was invited to Cosgrove’s concert in Chigago.   Because the young fan couldn’t leave the hospital to attend the concert, Cosgrove brought a mini concert to Janik last week.  The coverage from the NBC affiliate in Chicago was so touching.

Cosgrove, who is currently on her Dancing Crazy Tour, tweeted about the mini concert last week and emphasized exactly why I think this teen star shines so brightly.

Making even more waves in the music realm, it was just reported that Cosgrove recently recorded a duet with Weezer frontman, Rivers Cuomo. The duo recorded the song “High Maintenance,” which will be featured on her forthcoming EP due in stores on March 15.

Cosgrove’s Dancing Crazy Tour is currently underway, so be sure to check her out if she makes a stop in your area.  iCarly, currently in its fourth season, can be seen on Nickelodeon, with the newest episode, iHire an Idiot, airing on February 12.

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.

Okee Dokee Brothers’ Take it Outside is Down-Home Fun

They’re a little bit country, a little bit bluegrass and a whole lot of funky, and together, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing are The Okee Dokee Brothers whose latest cd is set to be released tomorrow.  Take It Outside showcases the duo’s fun and quirky sound, which gives a nod to down-home goodness and smart lyrics that teach helpful lessons.

I gave a quick listen to the duo’s new cd, and it reminded me of my husband’s favorite kind of music, not to mention some of my southern childhood and watching a lot of Hee Haw!  I love the sweet harmony and catchiness of Water Balloon; and Auctioneer is an energetic tune that got the kid on his feet.  And quite honestly, I think more kid’s music should involve the awesomeness that is the banjo.

You can see Okee Dokee Brothers at any of their shows in Minnesota this summer, at Every Family Rocks in Des Moines in September and at Austin Kiddie Limits in October.

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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Enter Sandbox: Because Kids Should Know Good Rock

Power chords, melodic keyboard solos and colorful lyrics, that’s what Starfish sounds like.

With influences from timeless bands, the second cd from popular kid rockers, Starfish, Enter Sandbox is a melodic juxtaposition of upbeat, fun tunes for kids.  Enter Sandbox aces the kid rock genre with songs that kids can sing along to, and with distinct nods to quintessential rock Gods like the Ramones, Rush and more, parents will willingly rock out as well.

My Name is No, the second track of the 12-song cd, made me nostalgic for my high school and college mix tapes and cd collection.  The guitar and bass, though a funk-filled style of their own, were reminiscent of some of my favorite songs from Rush and Primus, but with lyrics that two-year old can totally appreciate.

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