Seal of Approval Winners, Spring 2012

Mr. Dad Seal of Approval

Seal of Approval Winners, March 2012

 

PREGNANCY AND INFANCY

Daddy Diaper Changing Toolbox from Fun Stuff 4 BabiesDaddy Diaper Changing Toolbox (Fun Stuff 4 Babies)
One of the few baby shower gifts (besides my books, The Expectant Father and The New Father) created for the dad-to-be. The Daddy Diaper Changing Toolbox is filled with an eclectic combination of useful, practical, and just plain funny gifts, ranging from baby wipes and a pacifier to goggles and a “Poop poncho.” I’m a big believer that changing diapers is a fantastic–and highly underrated–way dads can bond with their babies. So we’re big fans of anything that can get dads in there and getting their hands dirty (hand wipes are included). www.funstuff4babies.com

 

TODDLER AND PRESCHOOL

Animal Upon Animal Stacking Game from HabaUSAAnimal Upon Animal Stacking Game (HabaUSA)
While games for tiny kids aren’t meant specifically for dads, we’ve always found HABA games to be fun to play with too. Of course, when you’re playing with a two-year old, most of the fun is in watching them, but HABA games always have an interesting element that dads will enjoy too. In this game, dads will find that balancing the animals when it’s their turn isn’t necessarily easier just because they are bigger and supposedly have better hand-eye coordination. It’s also a fun traveling toy for young children since they can play with the animals outside the game. Ages 2+. www.habausa.com

Vortex Color Changing Toothpaste by Wright ToothpasteVortex Color Changing Toothpaste (Wright Toothpaste)
The run-up to stories and lights-out is not always the most enjoyable time of the day. A toothpaste might be a strange thing to see in this list, but when a toothpast actually makes brushing fun, we’re totally on board. And we say that anything that takes the friction out of the daily chores of making the bed, taking the dog out, and brushing the teeth means more good, fun family time. www.vortextoothpaste.com

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Freefall from SimplyFunFreefall(SimplyFun)
Freefall is a very basic strategy game that dads and their 2nd-4th graders will enjoy. Low pressure but still fun enough to keep the dad from wishing he was someplace else. The theme is skydiving and the object is to stay in the landing zone that has most points while taking cards and trying to blow their opponents off course. Ages 6-9. www.simplyfun.com

Let's Drive from SimplyFunLet’s Drive(SimplyFun)
Another low-stress-yet-entertaining game dad can play with the kids. Players collect points as they “travel” through the United States and Canada. A great way for the kids to learn state capitals, scenic locations, and trivia about every state. (Let’s Drive is also a good way for dads to brush up on geography–I have to admit that as a west-coaster, the east coast has always been something of a blur.) Ages 8 and up. www.simplyfun.com

Space It! from SimplyFunSpace It! (SimplyFun)
This is a simple, yet very clever numbers game. Players create sequences of numbered tiles that follow a pattern. For example if the sequence is 2-7-12, the next player would have to play 17 (adding five) or create a completely new sequence utilizing at least one of the numbers that’s already there. For example, a 5 above the 7 and a 9 below. Although the rules say to create sequences only by adding, dads and kids can add a degree of difficulty by allowing for multiplication, subtraction, or division. Ages 8 and up. www.simplyfun.com

SoundIt! from WowopolisSoundIt! card game(Wowopolis)
When I first saw Sound It! at the 2012 Toy Fair I definitely had a why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-this-before? moment. The basic premise is pretty simple. Each of the 96 playing cards has two parts. One is the description of a sound, say “The sound of something at an amusement park.” The other is an image, which might simple, like a cuckoo clock, or more abstract, like the sky or goo running down a wall. Players have to either guess what the image is based on sounds other players are making, or they have to make the sound in the written clue. It is absolutely uproarious–and something dads and kids of all ages will enjoy playing together. Ages 6+. www.wowopolis.com

Pirate SantaPirate Santa book (Pirate Santa)
Pirate Santa is the story of what happens when a rules-bound Santa refuses to give out gifts to pirate boys and ninja girls. Written completely in rhyming doggerel, this book is a fun bedtime read for rebellious kids and dads who don’t mind a twist on the Santa story and who will love the detailed anime-style illustrations. Ages 5-8. www.piratesanta.com

My Friendship Bracelet Maker Traveler from Crorey CreationsMy Friendship Bracelet Maker Traveler (Crorey Creations)
While we never grew up as surfers wearing ragged yarn bracelets, we proudly wore our daughters’ friendship bracelets, either peeking out from under a dress shirt at work, or worn openly out on the golf course. At a certain point of fatherhood, wearing something silly, or maybe even frilly, like a friendship bracelet is just another expression of love of your own child. Ages 6 and up. www.myfbm.com

Starry Night from Find It GamesStarry Night (Find It Games)
Here’s another winner from the Find It Games company But this one has a twist to match its theme. Starry Night uses glow-in-the-dark figures as the treasure, making this a magical game to take along on camping trips or just for before-bed searching adventures between dad and child. Look closely into a custom star-shaped container to discover 40 items nestled among the brightly colored pellets. Future astronomers will love all the richly detailed items inside; parents and teachers will love the “learn as you play” element. Shapes to find include planets, an alien, a telescope, and even night vision goggles! And of course, this game can be played in full daylight as well as in the car. But the real magic for dads and kids comes when it’s played in a dark room. www.finditgames.com

On the Farm from Find It GamesOn the Farm (Find It Games)
Like the rest of the toys in the Find It line, this one will frustrate and occupy both kids and dads as everyone struggles to hunt down all the items. We keep two of these in car and our kids compete to see how fast they can find the items on long car rides. Makes for a lot fewer “If I have to turn around one more time…” threats. www.finditgames.com

Kool RiderKool Rider (Kool Rider, Inc.)
If you’re a modern dad, you know that the two key ingredients to making a motor noise on bike are a playing card and a clothes pin. You might have some old cards around, but good luck finding that clothes pin–do they even make them any more? Now you can share a key memory of your childhood by attaching the Kool Rider, an almost indestructable plastic card onto your child’s bike. This is one way to help get him or her off the couch to go out and get some bike time. Now, if you can just find that banan seat, you’d be on your way. Ages 5-7. www.koolrider.com

Albert's Insomnia from RJB3 GamesAlbert’s Insomnia (RJB3 Games)
This is one of the most fun–and most educational–games we’ve seen in years. And not a battery or an LED to be seen. There’s a whole backstory about sheep herding, but the basic idea is to use cards to add one to the previous player’s total. Start with cards numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4 face up on the table (as in the picture). You can add, subtract, multiply, or divide but can use each card once. So the first player might start with 4-3=1. The next says 4-2=2; the next says 2+1=3. It’s very easy at first but the higher you go, the harder it gets (4×3 is 12, minus 1 is 11, times 2 is 22, for example). Once you max out what you can do with 1, 2, 3, 4 (somewhere around 36–4×3 is 12, 2+1 is 3, 3x 12 = 36) add more cards and it keeps getting more challenging. Great for teaching math skills because all the calculations have to be done in your head. I played this game with a car full of kids and it kept them (and me) busy and entertained for more than an hour. Ages 6 and up. www.rjb3games.com

MyachiMyachi(Myachi)
Did you ever play hackeysack–that game that involves kicking a beanbag kind of thing around? Myachi is similar, except that instead of your feet, you use the backs of your hands. The Myachi itself is a 4″x 1″ sand-filled sack that comes in a variety of colors. You can add to the fun by buying the Battle Paddles (pictured) which also attach to the back of your hand. A fun, physical way of playing with your kids. Their website is filled with videos of the amazing things people are doing with Myachi. So is YouTube. Ages 6 and up. www.myachi.com

Suspend from Melissa and DougSuspend (Melissa and Doug)
Think a combination of the old Pick up Sticks game, the somewhat newer Jenga, and then imagine asking Alexander Calder (the American artist famous for his moblie sculptures) to make something out of it. Suspend consists of 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire rods of different lengths. Players take turns adding pieces–hanging them from a table-top stand–trying hard not to knock the whole thing down. Suspend comes with a set of rules for a variety of games, from beginner to tournament level. Or you can do what my family did, which is just try to build the highest, craziest thing possible. Ages 8 and up (younger kids can play but they may get frustrated). www.melissaanddoug.com

 

TWEENS AND TEENS

Rollick! from The Game ChefRollick!(The Game Chef)
With the volume of games we see here at Mr. Dad and GreatDad, we’d have thought that the world had run out of twists on Charades. But along comes Rollick! and restores our faith in innovation. To start with, this is a game that’s made for a minimum of six (and max of 20) players. It’s got a little bit of everything: competition, collaboration, creativity, and acting, and endless opportunities to make a fool of yourself in public. Be warned: There is no way to play this game quietly. So unless you’ve got wonderful relationsihps with your neighbors, this may not be a Tuesday night activity. Some other great features: You can learn the rules in about two minutes–really. And you can play a whole game in under half an hour. Best of all, it’s something that even your teens won’t be embarrassed to play with you. Ages 13 and up. www.thegamechef.com

KwizniacKwizniac (Kwizniac)
Kwizniac is a trivia countdown game. What does that mean? Well, each card in the deck contains an answer and ten clues, which are listed in decreasing order of difficulty. For example, on one card, the first clue (number 10) is “Philip Astley was the first person to put together the elements for it in 1768.” Huh? So we’d move on to the next one (9) “It has been around since the Ancient Romans.” Still huh? The clues get progressively easier until the last one (number 1) is “Clowns are common in this form of entertainment.” Got it? The circus. The object is to get the answer with the fewest number of clues. Great fun for dads, kids, and the whole family. Ages 12 and up. www.kwizniac.com

 

FAMILY CONSOLE GAME
Kinect Sports Season Two from KinectKinect Sports Season Two
(Kinect)
The Saturday before I was planning to test this game my bike got stolen from a movie theater where I’d ridden with my daughter. With the the promised long ride we’d planned for Sunday off, we decided to toss Kinect Sports Season Two into the Xbox and spent a few hours throwing footballs, tossing darts, smacking tennis balls, and sweating up a storm. Monday morning I was so stiff from head to toe that I could barely move (and, modesty aside, I’m in pretty good shape). When I went to roll my daughter out of bed for school–we’re talking about an 8-year old here–she’s practically immobile. This was, really and truly, one of the most fun games we’ve ever played together. www.xbox.com/kinect

Whatcha think?

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