Just out is Toca Boca's new addictive game, Toca Dance (available for $2.99 at Apple's App Store). This super fun game allows kids to play director and choreographer where they can create a dance show with their characters complete with costumes, music and special effects. Up to three characters can dance in a show and you can choose from nine different characters. My daughter Chloe's favorite dance character is Marta.
Once you choose your character you can dress them up in fun and quirky costumes. Let's just say the poo costume (pictured left, looks kinda like the poo emoji) cracks her up to no end and it comes to life with animated tiny flies.
Now it's time for choreography. You choose the music and move the dance instructor's head, arms and feet. Marta or whoever your dance characters are, will mimic the same movements as the instructor.
The stage is set and here's where it call comes together. Kids can choose the lighting, backgrounds, special effects. At this point you can can make their bodies and head bigger or smaller. Once you press play, the movie starts to record and kids can add special effects to the sequence such as bubbles, confetti, fire flames and my favorite, the fog machine.Things can be thrown onto the stage from the audience like roses, eggs, shoes and even toast! You can have the crowd cheer, boo and more. Each finished movie can be saved onto your device so kids can replay their dance creations.
Toca Dance is really fun and creative for kids to play with. I love all the humorous extras that kids *just* get and can't stop laughing over. Chloe loves throwing toast and shoes onto the stage and I can hear her infectious laughter while she plays this game. What I love is that it's never boring. Chloe can play it again and again while coming up with new funny experiences each time. Bravo to Toca Boca for creating another app masterpiece!
I am Albert Einstein (Ordinary People Change the World)
By Brad Meltzer, Illustrated by Christoper Eliopoulos
Published by: Dial Books
Age Range: 5-8 years old
$9.82 on Amazon
The Ordinary People Change the World series is just an amazing way to introduce and inspire kids that each and every famous person out there, started just like them -- as a child full of wonder and curiosity. I Am Albert Einstein by Brad Meltzer brings to life the world of the famous physicist and Nobel Prize Winner, Albert Einstein. We all know that Einstein was one of the greatest minds of the scientific world and it's a daunting subject to bring to kids. Meltzer does an amazing job at bringing Einstein to a relatable and comedic level to kids, helping them understand Einstein as both a boy and man, while also introducing kids to his most famous theories. The comic book style and illustrations of Christopher Eliopoulos really make the story pop and it's easy to read for my 7 year old. My daughter is very curious as are most kids her age. This book starts the seed that being curious can help you in doing your own experiments and the process of scientific inquiry.
Here's a fun science project you can make with your kids, inspired by little Albert Einstein.
How To Make Your Own Compass
When Einstein was five, his father gave him a compass when he was sick. He was always intrigued at how the needle always pointed north. This started his first experience in scientific inquiry and his passion for physics.
This is a DIY great project to teach kids about magnetic forces and is a great introduction into physics.
1 Metal Sewing Needle or Pin
1 Water Bottle Cap or Cork
1. First, you will need to magnetize the needle so it will be able to point north. Rub the tip/top portion of the needle against the magnet for about 10-20 times. You must rub it in the same direction, not back and forth. If your magnet is stronger, you can rub it for less time.
2. If you are using cork, make sure an adult cuts it to size. It must be thick enough for the needle to run through it.
3. Put the needle in the cork or glue it onto the water bottle cap. Make sure the same amount of length of the needle is pointing out of the cork or the water bottle cap.
4. Fill the bowl with water.
5. Place your compass needle inside the bowl. The needle should start to move and point North.
6. You can double check the direction by using a real compass or use a map or free compass app on a mobile phone or tablet.
7. If the needle doesn't move, re-magnetize the needle. Then repeat steps 4-5 again.
The magnetized needle is now aligning itself with the Earth's natural magnetic field! For me, the compass was pointing towards my window. I had a compass app on my phone, which also pointed toward the window. You can mark an "N" on the cork to designate the north direction.
There's an amazing giveaway happening now with Penguin Kids. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win all 8 books from the Ordinary People Change the World series. Good luck!
Thanks to my friend Nancy, I discovered a healthy alternative to having pasta. The OXO Good Grips Handheld Spiralizer ($14.99 on Amazon) lets you easily make uniform spirals of zucchinis, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes and more. Right now, I am using it to make zucchini noodles. I sauté it in the pan with a little bit of olive oil and then dollop on some yummy fresh pesto sauce from a local brand, Pasta Etc.
It's so easy to use. You need to make sure you find the vegetables with a larger diameter. Just cut it in half so it's no more than 6" long and twist it into spirally goodness. I'm looking forward to making summer salads or potato pancakes with this handy device! I have also found it a great way to get your kids to try new veggies. Chloe has loved eating zucchini noodles!
I found this site, Inspiralized that explains more about spiralizing vegetables (but with a more sophisticated spiralizer). The site has some great recipes too!
Here is what they look like when you just finished spiralizing them.
This is the finished lunch I made. Zucchini noodles with avocado toast (sprinkled with lemon pepper). I wish I had a baguette in the house to toast but regardless, the lunch was delicious! The noodles pictured above were from a whole zucchini.
Purchase the OXO Good Grips Handheld Spiralizer at Amazon.com.
Erin Condren's new Contact Cards have launched today! I have been loving mine as they are beautifully printed on thick 130 lb matte paper. Choose from twenty beautiful designs and straight or rounded corners. I chose Prism – a beautiful navy color with sleek outlined colored triangles. It's one of my favorite designs from her and it compliments my Erin Condren Notebook. These cards are such a beautiful and affordable way to have your own business cards if you have your own business or blog, and is great as a "mom card" if you need to pass out your info to another mom at the playground.
The more cards you order, the lower the cost per card. For example, 60 cards are $30 (0.50 cents each) or 240 cards are $60 (.25 cents each). The quality is amazing as I would expect nothing less from Erin Condren. I currently am keeping mine in my new Louis Vuitton Card Holder I received as a gift over Christmas.
Shop for the Erin Condren Contact Cards at erincondren.com. Get a coupon for $10 off your first order by signing up for an account with Erin Condren. You'll get an email with the code for your order.
Sago Sago has just launched a new app, Sago Mini Trucks and Diggers ($2.99 on iTunes). This game features the familiar lovable Sago Mini animals that kids have fallen in love with over the years. Let's be honest here, kids are always fascinated by those big construction machines from bulldozers to drillers. With all the construction we have going on in San Francisco, my daughter is always looking out the car window reporting to me what's happening with what machine. This game takes a child's love for construction and mixes it into the whimsical Sago Mini world. Kids can choose from various diggers to help build a home for an animal friend. Chloe's favorite machine is the chipper where you can not only chip trees, but silly things like jelly toast or a bone.
This game works perfectly for both boys and girls. Chloe loves decorating portion of the game the most, when fun items drop from the sky (windows, candy canes, flowers) and she can decorate the animal friend's new house. The mushroom house is her favorite!
In Sago Mini Trucks and Diggers, there is no shortage of fun and cute animated surprises that will keep kids entertained. I personally love the Sago Mini (and Toca Boca) games for their ingenuity, smart play and also for their safe content.
Here are some screenshots from the Mini Trucks and Diggers app:
Purchase Sago Mini Trucks and Diggers at the App Store on iTunes and see all the Sago Mini games at sagosago.com.
Kids Cook French: Les Enfants Cuisinet a la Francaise
by Claudine Pépin, with Illustrations by Jacques Pépin
Published by: Quarry Books
8.6 x 0.5 x 10 inches
$18.76 at Amazon
I really love making things in the kitchen with Chloe. Now that she's 7 years old, I thought it would be fun for her to go beyond the world of baking into real cooking. Chloe and I sometimes watch Jacques Pépin's cooking show on PBS. She loves it even more when his granddaughter Shorey is on. One night, Chloe was wondering how old Shorey was so I ended up googling Shorey and found that her mom, Claudine Pépin, daughter of the famed French chef had penned a children's French cookbook last year called Kids Cook French: Les Enfants Cuisinet a la Francaise. I immediately ordered it for Chloe and couldn't be happier with the amazing recipes that are inside. The book design is just beautiful but what makes it unique is that the book is bilingual and all the text and recipes in both English and French. For me this was a huge plus since my daughter is still learning how to read in French. Each page has words for kids to learn and I love the beautiful illustrations by Jacques Pépin himself. Claudine Pépin does a great job at sharing her experiences with her father and reminding us that even though it's a cookbook, to always feel free and experiment with the recipes as well.
What I love the most is that the recipes aren't dumbed down for kids. They are traditional homestyle French recipes like classic Ratatouille (a staple in our home) to entrees like Lamb Chops with Lemon Zest and Herbs of Provence. When we dine out at restaurants, I don't mind paying a full entree price to have her try a unique dish, rather than having her eat the typical fare places have for kids. Since Christmas vacation last month, Chloe and I have been making crepes each Sunday - a recipe we saw from one of Pépin's cooking shows with his granddaughter Shorey. (That recipe is also in this book.) The French have a love for food that starts with the home. I love that notion. Kids Cook French is helpign my daughter to become even more excited to cook as well as eat and try new foods (something that I had a problem with when she was much younger). I'm looking forward to making some yummy recipes from this book with Chloe soon.
Here are some photos of the interior of the book:
There are some recipes from the book on the Quarry Books blog that you can try out now.
Just in time to help celebrate Valentine's Day is Erin Condren's Valentine's Bundle ($18). EC calls it (Gal)entine's Day -- which is always good to remember. Your girlfriends know you the best and use February 14th as a day to celebrate your love and friendship with you best gal pals.
Inside the soft pink organza bag is full of paper goodies for you to share the love with everyone, including yourself. The rose gold stylized sticky notes can clip right into your EC Life Planner or notebook. Mine is clipped into my Life Planner right now and I am using some of these to write cute little heart notes to my daughter in her lunch box. There's also a set of 12 rose gold scalloped heart label stickers that are perfect for cards you are making, DIY gifts, and more. There's also a set of 10 compliment cards in new designs that are perfect to give to your special ones. The quality of the paper and the designs are top notch. I can't get enough of Erin Condren's beautiful paper goods!
Here's all the stickers and cards laid out for you to see:
I recently purchased the Erin Condren Notebook and Good to Go Dividers. I just started using it last week for my work/blog related things and am loving it. Finally everthing is in one place and not three or four notebooks scattered around my desk. I plan to do a review on it once I have used it more.