So we are on week 5 of the NYC Vlogging Challenge. And once again, it’s my turn to host.
Together with Lisa from Atypical Familia and Divina from Dancing Hot Dogs, we’ve been hosting prompts to get our friends and community excited about vlogging and just sharing what we love about where we live, what we like to do and such.
How can you join the conversation?
Each week, one of us will host the challenge and we ask you to join us on Youtube, Vine, Instagram or your blog with a response video. Just take one of the below prompts as a thought and run with it. You only have to answer one question, but if you choose to do more, go for it.
That’s it! Join the fun!
For this week, these are my prompts:
1. How do you incorporate video into your blogging routine? Is it new? Have you been doing it for awhile?
2. If you’re new, what do you hope to learn? If you’ve been doing video for awhile, what tips do you have to share?
3. What’s your favorite social media outlet and why?
4. Now that the weather is getting warm, share your favorite outdoor activity.
5. What’s one thing that makes your life easy? Share a frugal/parenting/life hack.
As I’m busy getting prepping this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I thought I’d share a video of one of my favorite toys that I spotted in my travels. Just Play Toys, one of my favorites, has some of the hottest toys this Holiday Season, including Happy Dance Snoopy! This fun plush toy dances to the iconic Peanuts theme song, while moving its feet and flopping his beagle ears! If you give him a smooch on his nose, he responds with a smooch, a laugh, a howl or a belch. Silly dog!
As a huge fan of this franchise and the latest release, I think Just Play did the Peanuts franchise justice with this fun toy. At just $29.99, Happy Dance Snoopy is such a reasonable price point for this guy. There are several other fun toys in the line, but I’m so smitten with Happy Dance Snoopy. In a complicated time, it’s refreshing to divert happiness and fun to beloved characters who exude a free-spirited life! Check out Snoopy in action!
As we’re in the thick of fall festivities with friends, when the kids aren’t busy chasing each other around outside, we sometimes find them huddled in the corner on their iPads. For almost all of our younger kids, the first app or site they head to, without fail, is YouTube. Just like us, the kids are starting to say, “Guys, check out this video!”
And as the kids check out, I often nudge my friends and make sure they know all about the awesomeness that is YouTube Kids. For kids in that younger age bracket, you can’t go wrong with the content that’s curated and offered on YouTube Kids. Despite the ads, YTK is a no-brainer for us, especially when it comes to educational content.
One of the channels I absolutely love seeing on YouTube Kids is Reading Rainbow. Yes, THAT Reading Rainbow, the educational delight of our youth. I can still remember watching it on that rolling tv on the media cart in our blackened classroom. As a book lover, LeVar Burton’s voice and enthusiasm of education and reading resonates so much joy, especially now as a parent.
I appreciate that my kids can check out Reading Rainbow on YTK at their leisure and learn all about STEM topics such as 3D printing, athletics and tech, and even how astronauts poop in space! It’s the classic books, though, that bring back the best memories, and ones that I’m thrilled to share with my kids via YouTube Kids.
Looking for a fun way to reinforce lessons at home or to bring a classic book to life? YouTube Kids is a great resource. The YouTube Kids App is free on iTunes and Google Play. As with any app or online content, make sure you know what your kid is watching!
Activision announced its latest installment in the Skylanders Franchise today. Skylanders SuperChargers will debut on September 20, 2015, which will bring this beloved game to new heights.
In SuperChargers, Portal Masters will take the helm of high-octane vehicles on land, sea and sky. From vehicular combat, races down rapids and aerial dogfights, Activision says SuperChargers will feature story-driven gameplay, vehicle-based and on-foot adventures, puzzles, mini games, activities and platforming.
SuperChargers Dive Bombers
SuperChargers will have 20 new character toys and 20 new vehicles. Starter Packs will include two new Skylanders characters and a new Skylanders vehicle, as well as a new Portal of Power. The game will be available for preorder starting today, June 3 for $74.99. According to Activision execs, the previous Portal will be functional with this game, as well as a Digital Players’ version where the game itself can be downloaded on select consoles, adding even more play value to Skylanders SuperChargers. I’ll share details on that once it’s released.
SuperChargers Starter Pack
New SuperChargers Characters
Skylanders SuperChargers feature a new class of heroes. The namesake SuperChargers boast swift moves, powerful attacks and new weapons. The developers, Vicarious Visions, have given SuperChargers special in-game abilities that will uplift players to take on Kaos.
Super Shot Stealth Elf
First Look at SuperChargers at #MTSKylanders
Back in February 2011, I remember standing on my tip-toes in the back of a room of journalists, trying to see the stage while listening to Activision executives talk about their next big thing. It was a video game that combined video games and tactile play with collectible figures, that would go on be a major game changer.
Yesterday, I stood on my tip-toes to get a glimpse of Skylanders, but in a much different setting. I had the unique opportunity to attend an intimate lunch hosted by Momtrends to learn about the latest installment of Skylanders. The beloved franchise is unveiling their fifth installment in their character-driven game and they gave a select group of NYC bloggers a firsthand look.
As major Skylanders fans, it was a treat to get the first look of this new installment of the game we love so much. Skylanders has perfected upping their own ante with each new installment. Is it any wonder why the game remains the top console game for kids? Upon first look, my mind was blown. The vehicles and SuperChargers add a whole new dimension and explore different terrain at a new perspective. The SuperChargers will surely be well received by kids and gamers alike. The vehicle figures alone add so much tactile play value; I see even younger Portal Masters-in-training getting into the mix with the introduction of the cars, planes and vessels.
Skylanders, as a whole, is the embodiment of The Next Kid Thing, and I’m thrilled to give you a first look of the game in-play. The video I shot looks and sounds very much like a bootleg because of the setting. Because of the nature of the reveal, we were asked to sign an NDA and video opps were informal since it was a luncheon. Nevertheless, here’s a first look of Skylanders SuperChargers in action:
Skylanders not only gave us an exclusive sneak peek of SuperChargers the day before the official announcement, they treated us to a very special Skylanders-themed gift bag. In it, we received a lunch box, Thermos Foogo, Gil the Grunt pillow, Crayola Color Alive book and various stickers. In honor of the SuperChargers unveil, I’ll be giving away one of these fun goody bags! I’ll post an update on this soon.
A big thank you to Activision for always including bloggers in your outreach. As a family who has been a fan since the first unveil, it was an honor to be included in yesterday’s luncheon.
Thank you to the Momtrends team for hosting a lovely and delicious lunch where I got to see friends, eat delicious food, craft and geek out!
Skylanders SuperChargers will be available on Xbox 360™ and Xbox One™video game and entertainment systems from Microsoft, PlayStation® 3 and PlayStation® 4 computer entertainment systems, Nintendo’s Wii U™ system, and a different, unique adventure will be made available on Nintendo’s Wii™ system and the Nintendo 3DS™ hand-held system. Additionally, the complete Skylanders SuperChargers experience will be available on iPad®. The game will be available on September 20 in North America, September 24 in Australia/New Zealand; and on September 25 in Europe.
Full disclosure: I attended a hosted event and received exclusive information to share with my audience. I received swag bags and lunch, but as always, opinions on NKT are my own.
YouTube has launched YouTube Kids, a new free app that’s tailored to deliver carefully-curated content geared to kids and families. This huge move for Google and YouTube was met with excitement and could be regarded as a game-changer.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, the fastest growing video sharing website and has become a staple in our children’s media landscape, so the development for YouTube Kids was an expected and heavily anticipated move from parents and tech enthusiasts alike.
The new YouTube Kids app will allow kids to explore family-friendly content within safer parameters. With larger images and bold icons, the app features a fun design and easy-to-navigate interface for smaller hands.The search has a voice option, which is perfect for kids who can’t spell or type yet.
Parents will appreciate the parental controls that will help to safeguard their kids’ usage and content they watch. The timer allows the app to shut down when their window of time is up. If headphones aren’t within reach, the sound settings can be adjusted to turn off background noise or sound effects. If you only want your kids to watch certain videos, you can shut down the search option to limit their ability to search for other videos. And, as with any new version, YouTube has allowed for an option to submit feedback.
As for content, YouTube has partnered with many of the most popular content creators that already provide kid-friendly videos. YouTube has aligned with Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, National Geographic, KidzBop, Play-Doh, among other kid favorites. A few months ago, we got a sneak peek of Furchester Hotel, the new YouTube series from Sesame Street. It’s safe to say, Littles is quite smitten with this cool new series.
Entertainment and Educational
I was initially under the impression that YouTube Kids would be more for the preschool set, where cartoons could live freely. After further exploring, I was quite excited to find Biggie’s favorite YT channel and personality, Mr. Stampycat. Oh, Mr. Stampycat…you’ve been so kind to keep my sporty kid with cabin fever entertained this winter! Before discovering Stampycat, Biggie has clicked on way too many inappropriate Minecraft tutorials where F bombs or other inappropriate words were dropped. Another excellent channel that I’m so glad is featured on YT Kids is the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy, themselves, are a game changer in the educational video realm. If your friends are like mine, it seems so many parents are lost by the new educational concepts being implemented, it’s great that kids will be able to get help with their common core math homework thanks to Khan. (Or will they?)
A few things to note: I did not see an option to create and upload videos to YouTube Kids, which is good. It’s important for younger kids to enlist their parents’ help before uploading any content to YT. I would love to see YT partner with smart sites such as KidzVuz so kids can easily view authentic video reviews. Like bloggers are required, I think video content creators need to disclose products that were provided for review, as well as paid placement. And speaking of sponsored content, there are ads within videos. I noticed mostly family-friendly advertisements. I know ads make services such as this “free,” and considering the target audience, this is a slippery slope. So I think the ad presence might be my main qualm for an otherwise innovative media app for kids.
YouTube: the ultimate kid distraction
Having spent so much time in the hospital and doctor’s offices for my younger guy, YouTube has always been an invaluable resource. Whenever Littles would have to get the electrodes placed on his head for an EEG, a process that would sometimes take up to an hour because of his physical resistance, we always turn to YouTube. YouTube always has new or different videos that would distract my toddler from the medical procedure du jour.
After we’ve run out of things to play with in the hospital’s massive playroom, Mother Goose Club and Thomas videos were our only savior.
With the ability to search for unboxing videos before buying something or how to fix our washing machine, YouTube has already changed life or modern parenting as we know it. For families who have limited media access, free services such as YouTube may be a child’s only exposure to educational video content. The YouTube Kids app will streamline family-friendly content, a measure that any media enthusiast—young or grown up—can appreciate. A big kudos to Google and YouTube for creating something that will undoubtedly be a game changer, and for some, life-changing.
On a snowy evening last month, I attended Momtrend’s beautiful launch for Stokke’s latest arrival: the Stokke Steps.
Essentially, Stokke Steps is a bouncer and high chair that can be used together or separately. Touted as an all-in-one seating concept, from birth, the Stokke Steps is a modular seating system that begins with a stand-alone bouncer, which can then be added to the transformable children’s chair. The bouncer and chair, when added together complement one another to accommodate newborn and infant seating at the table. The children’s chair can be used on its own to provide seating for toddlers, preschoolers and beyond, up to 80 lbs. The chair has safety features such as a 5-point harness and colored indicators to ensure the bouncer is properly installed onto the seat.
For convenience and logistics, the Stokke Steps chair has depth and height adjustable control, washable and water repellent textiles, adjustable footrest and optional tray for the chair. Like the chair, the bouncer showcases that scandinavian design and engineering that’s synonymous with Stokke products.
I’ve mentioned this many, many times, but I am a major Stokke fan. Pre-blogging, as a city family we invested in our Stokke Sleepi not only because of its beautiful design and sustainable function (growing from a bassinet to a toddler bed), but also because we had a very small space.
The Sleepi was the optimal choice for our family six years ago and we’ve been loyal customers since. Stokke has some of the most reliable and functional products on the market; and as someone who would rather opt for quality rather than quantity, I’d much rather pay more for something that will grow and last with my family. We’ve gone on to buy the Stokke Care changing table and have reviewed several other Stokke products along the way.
I love the design of the Stokke Steps. The bouncer reminds me so much of the Bounce n’ Sleep that we used a lot when littles was a babe. The chair offers families an alternative to the Tripp Trapp, which is already a seating staple in so many homes. The streamlined design, along with the modular feature, makes the Stokke Steps an ideal high chair and seating option for a young family who appreciates the value of function and beautiful aesthetics.
Here’s a video that showcases this fabulous new seating system. Be sure to check out the Stokke Steps demo which has all kinds of great info.
The Stokke Steps bouncer and chair will be available at specialty stores and online. The bouncer retails for $199 and the chair is $279.
Full disclosure: I received a lovely gift bag at the event; however, all opinions on NKT are my own.
LeapFrog, always at the forefront of kid-friendly technology, is about to launch a new mobile learning device. Like many of you, we’re huge fans of LeapFrog. In addition to offering great products that I love as much as my kid, LeapFrog was one of the first big brands to reach out to me right after I launched this site. In fact, I did my first (and only, so far) Vlog about Scout and the Text and Learn right after they launched last year.
Can you guess the device? What do you want it to be? LeapFrog wants NKT readers to guess what it is, or suggest what you think it does! And we’re looking for creative guesses, so think about it and comment below. And as an FYI, I have NO IDEA what this thing is either.
Each creative guess is entered into the giveaway for this mystery device. Said NKT winner will be guaranteed front-door delivery of this new device the morning of July 15, which will be the very first day it’s available on shelf. If that’s not the Next Kid Thing, then I don’t know what is.
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). Read More
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.
As a huge fan of Jim Henson, naturally, I love all of the quirky characters, including Emmet Otter! Moms and dads, do you remember Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas from the Muppets? I sure do! Who could forget Emmet and his Ma and their take on the “Gift of the Magi.” This holiday season, especially in these economic times, Emmett and his Ma’s story hits home even more.
And how cool is this? The Goodspeed Musical Theatre is now featuring A Goodspeed Christmas, their theatrical adaptation of Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter. The Goodspeed Theatre is located in East Haddam, CT and the Goodspeed Christmas is playing now until January 3.
Over on Twitter, it’s Emett Otter Day on the Jim Henson Company’s feed, so be sure to check them out for cool updates and giveaways! My guy is loving Emett Otter and friends because of the cool music; I can’t wait to watch it again with him!