Seal of Approval Winners, Father’s Day 2007

Seal of Approval winners, Father’s Day 2007

Xeko Mission: Costa Rica (Matter Group)
What a wonderful way to get into your child’s world while making him aware of yours. Similar to Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and Yugio, Xeko Mission: Costa Rica is a game played with collectable trading cards. But unlike most other card strategy games, this one is filled with tons of real-life information. Players will learn about hammerhead sharks, poisonous frogs, and Costa Rica’s 12 distinct ecosystems. Kids will also enjoy the lavish illustrations. And for those who are interested in the environment, the game is printed on recycled materials with soy-based inks, and a portion of the proceeds go to Conservation International. Ages 8 and up. www.xekogame.com

 

Hyper Dash (Wild Planet)
In this active and sometimes-exhausting game, players run all over the place tagging electronic targets with a handheld unit. If you’re into competition, Hyper Dash can be great. But it’s also a blast to work together with your child and simply try to better your own score every time. Can be played indoors or out, head to head or in teams. Challenges speed, agility, coordination, teamwork, and memory. Ages 6 and up. www.wildplanet.com

 

 

Mega Bloks(MEGA Brands)

  • Fill and Dump Wagon
  • CAT ® Super Tower Crane
  • Magnetix ® MagnaCase™
  • Speed Rally ProBuilder

What can I say about these toys? They’re enough to make me want to quit my day job and spend every waking moment building something. All four of these sturdy, well-designed entries provide stimulating, creative opportunities for dads and kids to spend hours and hours together. The Fill and Dump Wagon and the large interlocking blocks are great for toddlers and early preschoolers. The Super Tower Crane lets those budding engineers and construction workers (age 3 and up) build buildings as high as three stories (over two feet tall). The Magnetix building set consists of a whole slew of magnetic pieces that anyone over six can use to build absolutely amazing structures. And finally, your little Danica Patrick or Jimmy Johnson will love the Speed Rally ProBuilder sets, which allow them to build a functional mini race car. This one’s for kids 8 and up. www.megabloks.com/

 

HABA baby products(HABA USA)

  • Animal Den
  • Flip Flap

Babies love interactive toys, and brand new dads love being able to connect with their infants’but that’s often easier said than done. These two new infant toys can really help. Animal Den is home to five colorful animals that are tucked between the folds of what looks at first like a plush ball. Babies will love pulling them out and pushing them back home again, and the opportunities for peek-a-boo are endless. Flip Flap is also more than meets the eye. At first glance, it’s a cute, squishy cube. But it easily unfolds into four attached triangles, each with a different color and texture. Another building block in the father-child relationship. Ages 6-12 months. www.habausa.com

 

CARES (Kids Fly Safe, LLC)
If you’ve got kids who are still riding in car- or booster seats, and you do much airplane travel, you’re going love CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System). CARES is the first and only FAA approved harness type child safety device. It weighs about a pound, is small enough to easily fit in your carry-on bag, and installs on any airplane seat in seconds. So no more schlepping bulky car seats through security or down those narrow airplane aisles. And that means more energy (and less back pain) to spend with the kiddies.www.kidsflysafe.com

 

Dado Cubes (Fat Brain Toy Company)
Dado Cubes are kind of a cross between tinker toys and building blocks. They’re bright and colorful and interlock into a nearly unlimited number of 3-D structures. Teach (or learn) about fundamental principles such as balance, proportion, color, and design. Then, after the kids go to bed, you can really get down to some serious building. www.FatBrainToyCo.com

 

 

wonder chessWonderChess (WonderChess, LLC)
Any dad who’s tried to teach a young child to play chess knows that it can sometimes be an overwhelming and frustrating experience for everyone concerned. With WonderChess, though, it’s a lot more fun. The secret is the chess pieces themselves, which you can load with all sorts of tricks or treats’anything from jelly beans and coins to love notes. And for the non-chess-playing dad, this is a fun, entertaining way to play. Ages 5 (with a good attention span) and up.
www.wonderchess.com

 

piano made easy

Piano Made Easy (The Mayron Cole Music Conservatory, Inc.)
Tired of nagging your kids to practice their instrument? Home too small for a piano? Always wanted to learn to play but never had the time? If you answered Yes to any or all of those questions, Piano Made Easy is for you. A cross between a computer game, toy, and musical instrument, Piano Made Easy teaches children (and adults) the basics of music reading and theory through a series of fun, encouraging games. Comes with a high-end small piano keyboard. Ages 4 and up. www.PianoMadeEasy.com

 

dads calendarDads Calendar (Cradle 2 College)
This large format calendar will help you stay involved with and encourage your kids. It’s filled with specific advice and tips that will help you pay attention to their physical and emotional needs. Every day has an interesting tidbit of information (Did you know there are over 500 million sperm in an ejaculation?) or a great, age-appropriate suggestion for an activity to do with your child. www.cradle2college.com

 

 

1-800-diapers1-800Diapers.com
Founded by two real-life dads, 1-800Diapers.com offers fathers (and other parents and caregivers too) a one-stop Web destination for the widest selection of baby necessities, the lowest online prices, topped off with fast, free shipping. The less time you spend waiting in line at the checkout counter, the more time you can spend playing with your child. And the more time you spend researching diapers, the more time you’ll spend putting them on your baby, which in our view, is a highly underrated bonding experience. www.1800Diapers.com

 

noah's pals antelopenoah's pals kangarooNoah’s Pals(Caboodle Toys, LLC)

  • Aidan + Autumn Antelope
  • Lucas + Lisa Llam
  • Kevin + Karen Kangaroo

The Noah’s Pals line of animal figures offers fathers a fun and informative way to learn and teach their children about the amazing world of animals’their habitats, ecosystems, as well as size and proportion. As you can tell by the names, all of Noah’s Pals (not just the ones who received the Seal of Approval) are male-female couples, so they can march into the Ark two-by-two. Ages 2 and up. www.noahspals.com

 

poppozottoPoppo Games(Poppo Brands)

  • Poppo
  • Zotto

Both of these soon-to-be-classics use plastic poppers (which contain a specially designed multi-sided die) to form words. Poppo is designed for the 4-and-up set and provides the instant gratification and engagement that preschoolers need while offering realistic challenges that help develop skills in letter matching and word recognition, spelling, concentration, grouping and sorting, and more. Zotto is aimed at a little older crowd, ages 8 and up. It plays kind of like Boggle, but but with Zotto, players put the letters wherever they want, meaning that no two people are looking at the same grid at the same time. In both games, rounds are short, which nips boredom in the bud. www.poppo.com

 

leaning towerThe Learning Tower (Little Partners, Inc.)
Cooking with young children or working together in the shop can be a lot of fun. But it’s not always easy for the little ones to get high enough or stay balanced on a regular chair or stool. Learning Tower solves that problem’and does a lot more. In adjustable-stool mode, it’s super sturdy and adjusts up and down easily. It also has rails all the way around it to reduce the chance that a child will fall off. Although it’s a little pricey, you’ll get your money’s worth because Learning Tower can also be used as a desk, a fort, a playhouse, a puppet theater, and more. Ages 2-6. www.littlepartners.com

 

flo by boon, inc.Flo (Boon, Inc.)
Giving the kids a bath is a signature dad activity. But fun can easily turn to tears when little heads smack into unforgiving faucets. Flo may be able to help. A soft attachment that fits over most standard bathtub faucets, Flo also diverts water into a gentle waterfall, which makes rinsing hair easier. Dads fill the bubble bath reservoir, and kids dispense bubbles into the water. And of course, you’re never leaving your child alone in the tub, right? www.booninc.com

 

aleph-bet story by sarah and david interactiveThe Aleph Bet Story and CD (Sarah and David Interactive)
Even if Dad doesn’t know Hebrew, this engaging new tool will get him involved in supporting his children’s Hebrew school education and experiences. The Aleph Bet Story engages kids, helps them keep up to speed over the summer, and encourages them to learn even more. The audio CD means the whole family can even do some learning in the car. Ages 5 and up. www.sarahdavid.com

 

 

jjb messenger diaper bagJJB Messenger Bags (Ju-Ju-Be)
Let’s face it. Guys don’t want to tote around a diaper bag that’s covered with flowers and ribbons’it’s just not, well, manly. But this is one bag you’ll keep on using long after your baby is out of diapers. Nice, sturdy design, it’s well-made and well-designed. Includes separate wet-dry compartments for diapers or messy clothes, and individual pockets for food (this one’s even insulated to keep things cool), cell phone, pens, sunglasses. Remove the center pocket and voila, the JJB is equipped with padding enough for a laptop! www.ju-ju-be.com

 

eebee's dayseebee's real stuffEebee’s Adventures(Every Baby)Exploring Real Stuff

  • All in a Day’s Play
  • Figuring Things Out

As dads, we’re natural play partners for our children. We’re also curious about our children’s development and want to be involved in caring for them. This research-based video series has captured many of the wonderful, learning moments that fill a baby’s day. But these aren’t the sit-back-and-watch-the-screen kind of DVDs. Babies and their parents will play along with, talk about, recreate, and expand upon. Exploring Real Stuff and All in a Day’s Play are both for ages 6 months and up. Figuring Things Out is better for a slightly older crowd, starting at 12 months. www.eebee.com

 

magic schoolbusmagic schoolbusMagic School Bus Series (Young Scientists’ Club)The Mysteries of Rainbows

  • A Journey Into The Human Body
  • The World of Germs

Unleash the mad scientist who’s lurking deep inside you! These Magic School Bus kits are full of everything you need to conduct exciting (and perfectly safe) experiments with your children. Each one explores a different theme (rainbows, the human body, germs). If your memories of high-school science haven’t faded too much, you can show off a little. Otherwise, these kits offer a great way to learn something new alongside your child. www.kidsciencekits.com

 

 moonjarMoonjar Classic Moneybox (Moonjar, LLC)
The Moonjar is a fresh (but retro designed) take on the traditional piggy bank, with individual compartments for saving, spending and sharing, which helps children (and plenty of parents) start to grasp the basic principles of money management. Comes with a family guide and passbook to track all those deposits and withdrawals. www.moonjar.com

 

 

baby IQ from brainy babyBaby IQ: “The World Around Us” DVD (Brainy Baby)
The Baby IQ DVD is what Baby Einstein should have been, filmed in Hi-Def, with music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The DVD has no narration, which is specifically designed to encourage dads to talk with their babies about color, shapes, size, animals, music, and anything else you can think of. As long as you don’t use the DVD as an electronic baby sitter (which you’d never do anyway, right?), it’s a great addition to the long list of other, less sedentary things you do to connect with your infant. Ages 6 months ‘ 2 years. www.brainybaby.com

 

story reader by publications, internationalStory Reader (Publications International, Ltd.)
As big supporters of reading to children, we weren’t too thrilled about a toy that did the reading itself. But there are plenty of parents who have trouble reading (this could be because of a learning or physical disability, an injury, blindness, or English not being the parent’s native language.) In situations like these, Story Reader makes it possible for dad to still snuggle up with his child and a good book. Story Reader is also an option for those of us (which would be everyone) who just can’t bear the thought of reading the same story for the 375th time in a row, or for beginning readers. Ages 2-5. www.storyreader.com

 

kids across parents down by jan bucknerKids Across Parents Down(written by Jan Buckner)

  • On the Go
  • Crazy Critters

Kids Across Parents Down (KAPD) books are filled with collaborative family crossword puzzles that are both entertaining and educational. Kids find clues across and parents down. Whether dad is single or married, he’ll find that KAPD books stress humor and provide a quality ‘us’ time for their family.

 

true learningTrue-Learning.com (True Learning)
This one really made us think. The website itself isn’t designed to connect dad and his preschooler. Instead, True-Learning.com allows registered dads to print over 3,000 worksheets in a number of categories, including math, literacy, thinking, motor skills, and art. But these aren’t the worksheets you had to fill out when you were a kid. They’re fun, colorful, engaging, and’best of all’they’re designed to be done with a parent. An excellent way to cuddle up with your preschooler on your lap for some good, clean educational fun. Excellent anytime, but especially for keeping learning going during those long summer vacations. Ages 3-5. www.True-Learning.com

 

african safari from imagiplayImagiPLAY puzzles (ImagiPLAY)

  • Wolf Family puzzles
  • African Safari

These colorful puzzles and playsets are designed to inspire imaginations. African Safari takes children to faraway places, and the 3-D Wolf Family puzzle grows in size and difficulty as your child gets older. All ImagiPLAY’s toys are eco-friendly and besides modeling an appreciation for the environment, they help develop problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, and more. Ages 3 and up. www.ImagiPLAY.com

 

jungle art from wee galleryJungle Art Cards for Baby (Wee Gallery)
Trying to connect with a complete newborn is tough for many dads. Babies don’t respond much, and it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing a good job. But those first few weeks and months set the tone for the rest of the fathering experience. The Wee Gallery Jungle Art Cards are designed to catch a baby’s attention with high-contrast patterns. You can hold the cards up and watch the baby’s eyes as he takes it all in. Later on, turn the inside of the crib into a hip black-and-white art gallery, or give the cards (printed on sturdy stock with rounded corners for safety) to the baby who will promptly start gnawing. Ages birth-6 months. www.weegallery.com

 

national parks from birdcage pressAmazing Places: National Parks (Birdcage Press)
Who says you can’t learn anything while you’re in the car or on vacation? This neat deck of cards has the standard hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs. But what makes it truly unique is that it double as a ‘go fish’ deck, with sets of photos of natural monuments or geographical features. (Got any waterfalls?) Each card also has some bullet point facts about whatever’s in the pictures. A great way to learn about the natural beauty of this country. www.Birdcagepress.com

 

teenage mutant ninja turtles from briarpatchTMNT Joining Forces (Briarpatch)
Chances are you‘ve outgrown the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but the turtles, (cleverly renamed TMNT to appeal to today’s kids who are far too busy to say all four words), are still very much alive and well underneath a manhole cover near you. The Joining Forces game isn’t going to be threatening Yugio or the other classic card-base games anytime soon, but it’s still a really fun game to play with superhero-crazed youngsters. Ages 6 and up. www.briarpatch.com.

 

 

baby instructions by blythe lipmanHelp! My Baby Came Without Instructions(written by Blythe Lipman)A nice, dad-friendly overview of baby’s first year. Help! contains over 100 quick and easy tips about crying, sleeping, bathing, feeding, teething and other essential subjects. Most of the information is delivered in one- or two-sentence bullet points, which means you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for in a hurry. www.babyinstructions.com

 

 

yamodo from idea storm productsYamodo, Volume 1 (Idea Storm Products)
Sometimes getting the whole family involved in a single activity’especially if there’s a big gap between the children’s ages’can be tough. But Yamodo has figured out a way. In this creative, non-competitive drawing and word game, father and child(ren) work collaboratively to create drawings and make up words. Everyone, regardless of age, contributes equally to the final product. Ages 5 and up. www.yamodo.com

 

 
mr, dad silver seal of recognition

footflushFootflush (Footflush)
Can’t get your kids to flush the toilet? With a little technology from Footflush, you can make flushing into a game. Step on the pedal and away it goes. Adults with back problems will like it too. And yes, your children should still be sure to wash their hands after using the toilet. www.footflush.com

 

 

 

plush animal from kids preferredRealistic Plush Animals (Kids Preferred)
Children’and plenty of adults’will adore these soft, plus, huggable, and incredibly realistic stuffed animals. (Our test kids refute to give them back!) Plus, if you follow the care instructions, they’re ‘asthma friendly,’ which means that many, many children with asthma or allergies will be able to enjoy stuffies for the first time. So, if your kids don’t or can’t have the real thing, take a look at these dogs, bears. jungle creatures, and sea animals. For infants, there’s also a line of plush animals with rattles and teethers. www.kidspreferred.com

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