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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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

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…


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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Wake Up Clarinet! is a Fun, Fresh Family CD

I love starting my Mondays reviewing music for Music Mondays, so much so that when we fall in love with a soon-to-be released cd, it plays all day long on repeat.  And that’s exactly the case for Oran Etkin’s newest cd, “Wake Up Clarinet!”

Jazz artist and composer, Oran Etkin, who has a penchant for making jazz music accessible and engaging for families, is set to release Wake Up Clarinet tomorrow, September 14.  His first family release, spotlights his Timbalooloo Method which is described as “conveying sophisticated concepts in a fun musical language that all kids can understand.”  There’s much to be said about introducing young kids to jazz music and the soothing sounds of woodwinds and much more.

While Etkin is the lead vocalist and plays the clarinet and sax, the band adds an flavorful background.  The band features Jason Marsalis on drums, soulful vocals from Charenee Wade, Fabian Almazan on piano, Curtis Fowlkes on trombone and Garth Stevenson.

In the title track, Wake Up Clarinet, Etkin cleverly personifies the clarinet, starting with a soft, soothing intro that crescendos to “Clara’s” awakening.  As his clarinet then sings and echos the rhythmic patterns of his lyrics, it further demonstrates his Timbalooloo method.  With a musically-obsessed kid, I absolutely love the idea of his method, not to mention the super cute story behind the origin of the word.

Over the spring, our family had a chance to check out Etkin at a show at the Scholastic Soho, which promoted his inclusion as one of the featured artists on the Putumayo Kids Jazz Playground cd.  There’s nothing quite like sitting in an auditorium full of kids screaming for soulful sounds and singing along to songs such as “Eh Las Bas,” which is also track six on the Wake Up Clarinet! Many of the kids in the audience knew many of Etkin’s songs because of his popular NYC music classes which are said to be endorsed by celebs such as Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber (whom we saw at the aforementioned show.)

What’s so unique about Etkin’s new cd is that it’s a departure from the blaring sugary kiddie pop music reflected on infomercials and the like.  “Wake Up Clarinet!” has a fresh, fun vibe, complete with soulful vocals and jam worthy songs that can also tastefully reside on mom and dad’s playlist.

The nine-track cd,”Wake Up Clarinet!” from Oran Etkin, debuts on September 14 and features a bonus music video.  Want to hear the new cd? Check it out here.

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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Chuggington Arrives in the U.S.

Chugga, Chugga, Chugga! Already a global hit, Chuggington, a Ludorum property, is a CGI children’s show that focuses on a trio of trainee Chuggers and is set to debut on Playhouse Disney on Monday, January 18. Playhouse Disney, home to kiddie favorites like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and one of our faves, the Imagination Movers, is known for introducing fun and playful shows—especially ones with theme songs that are sure to linger. (Hot Dog dance, anyone?)


Chuggington, which is geared to the preschool crowd, follows three young trainees, Wilson, Brewster and Koko and their colorful adventures. Introduced in the U.K. in 2008, and then in France, Australia, Germany, Japan and Canada, Chuggington is poised to be the new favorite locomotive series stateside.

The show conveys life lessons and social-emotional values relevant to preschoolers, validating its global popularity with kids and their parents. Chuggington was developed by the same brains behind Bob the Builder (Sarah Ball, Director and Writer) and Thomas the Train (Don Toht who led the creation of the toys systems).
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Best of 2009: Baby Genius Toys

At any given moment when a good song comes on in our home, it’s likely we’re having a mini jam session with the kid on the guitar, dad on the keyboard and me often playing the drums. The 2 year old band leader who “distributes” the instruments accordingly, has the rocking out routine down to a science.

Because music is such a big part of our lives, I appreciate toys that encourage musical value and Baby Genius does just that.


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Best of ’09: Polliwalks

The first ‘Best of 2009’ and companies and products to watch in 2010 is Polliwalks.


To be upfront, we are not a clog kind of family. Y’know, as in Crocs and the like…well, until we tried Polliwalks on for size.
Clogs, personally, are not my style, but for kids, I think they’re functional and they seem comfortable. True story: the summer when the kid started to cruise, I brought a pair of clogs home. The next day, I was asked to return them. That’s right, the clogs were vetoed.  And of course a few months later, at a family outing, we learned that the kid has a fondness for clog. (pastel pink ones to be exact!) They always want what they don’t have; funny how that works!

And so, this fall when Polliwalks approached me to check out their line of clogs, I happily obliged. Polliwalks has a wide variety of animals, bugs, creatures and character-themed clogs, so it was hard to choose which shoe to try. Since it was around the time of my trip to Sesame Street, the characters were even closer to our hearts, so we went with Cookie Monster.
Cookie Monster Polliwalks
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New year, new horizons

Happy Monday and happy 2010, everyone. I hope you had a lovely holiday break and are recovering/transitioning ok! Our family enjoyed a very nice Christmas and quiet New Year; it was just the right amount of family time. After a hectic fall and holiday season, I took a much needed break from blogging and writing. Apologies for the lack of posts, but things will be back to normal this week.


photo credit: Selva Ganapathy

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Gift Glossary: great video games

In the video game sector, titles and technology are constantly evolving. With many new handheld titles and fun family titles to choose from, I had a tough time narrowing down NKT picks. I could go on and on with this exhaustive list for great family video games, but I chose many of the ones below because I had the unique chance to experience them first hand. For the ones that I didn’t try out myself, I felt that their family-friendliness and entertainment value coincided with NKT’s scope.  And as far as giveaways go, this is a biggie!  Enter for a chance to win these recently released video games and NKT picks!
So, here they are:

51zxuPNAUVL._SL500_AA280_Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom
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