Jishaku (RSV Productions)
Jishaku (the Japanese word for magnet), is a neat combination of strategy game and science lesson. Played with a set of different-sized magnetic stones of varying strengths, it matters not only where you place each stone, but also how you place it. A fascinating way to spend some quality time with boys or girls 8 and up. www.playjishaku.com
Frog Tennis (Pressman Toy)
Nothing complicated here–just a lot of good fun. Flip the frog over the net using a button-activated racquet. Electronic sounds add to the fun. The frog ribbits and croaks and makes a “splash” whenever he hits the pond. Ages 6 and up.
BabySmart (BabySmart USA)
- Cooshie Booster Classic
- Cooshie Booster Hybak
- Cooshie Changer
- Cooshie TubGuard
All four of these Cooshie products encourage dads to get involved at mealtime, changing time, and bath time. They’re designed for comfort and functionality, plus, they’re easy to clean. Best for kids birth – 12 months. www.babysmartusa.com
Two great games (Briarpatch)
- I Spy Private Eye
- Sea Monsters Game
I Spy Private is a fun, educational way for dads to spend time with their kids, sharpening their observation skills. With the Sea Monster Game, dad and child set sail with a fleet of ships from Old World Ports–England, France, Spain and Portugal–and cross the uncharted waters of the Atlantic, where unseen Sea Monsters and other hazards lurk below the waves. Both are for ages 5-8. www.briarpatch.com
Fuzzi Bunz diapers (Mother of Eden)
This reusable diapering system is nothing like the cloth diapers of yesteryear. No pins, plastic pants, or Velcro closures! They’re easy to use (which encourages dads to get more involved in diaper changing), wonderfully colorful, and may even save you a few bucks over time. www.fuzzibunz.com
Blunders (Successful Kids, Inc.)
Set your child up for life. This unique board game will help dads teach their children social and dining etiquette, values, and polite behavior in a fun, interactive way. Ages 5-10. www.blundersmania.com
Scootababy carrier (Scootababy, LLC)
The Scootababy is a fucntional, stylish, yet solidly masculine carrier that promotes interaction between dad and baby.
Karito Kids – Piper (KidsGive)
Piper the Australian surfer girl is the latest addition to the Karito Kids line (which received our Winter 2008 Seal of Approval). A lot of dads feel kind of squeamish playing with dolls. But the accompanying book, along with a host of interactive Internet activities, are great tools that engage dad and help him teach his daughter that there are others not as lucky as she. Dad and daughter can even put some money where their mouth is by logging onto the KidsGive.com website and directing 3 percent of the purchase price to one of four areas: food, home, health, or school. Ages 5 and up.
DadGear Messenger Bag (DadGear)
Finally, a diaper bag that’s designed for dads, by dads who understand the needs of modern, involved fathers. Comes complete with “hands free” styling, quick access wipes, 3-point adjustable shoulder harness, stroller straps, and 8 different organizational pockets. Plus, it doesn’t look like a diaper bag at all (most notably, no flowers or fluffy bunnies).
When Duct Tape Won’t Work (National Fatherhood Initiative)
Many dads are handy around the house, but when it comes to fixing boo-boos and taking baby’s temperature, they may not have the experience or information they need to get the job done. This innovative resource is designed to give dads the tools they need to get involved with their children right from the start. Engages dads in activities and uses visual demonstrations to teach them about important child health and safety skills. www.fatherhood.org
Musical Books (Publications International)
- Cars, Road Trip Adventure
- Dora the Explorer, Music to Go
- Thomas and Friends, Ride Along with Thomas
Kids want to be just like dad, and driving a vehicle is no exception.Ride Along with Thomas features a telescoping steering wheel, a horn button on the wheel, and other realistic vehicle sounds to accompany the story. With the Cars and Dora books, kids can sing along with their favorite character with their very own detachable MP3 player.
Magic School Bus Science Series (Young Scientists Club)
- The Secrets of Space
- Soaring into Flight
Perfect for dads who want to share their love of science with their child. These two wonderful kits are filled with fun, exciting tools to teach and explore science with a child, such as constructing a night-vision flashlight, designing a solar system mobile, buildong a balloon-jet, and creating the ultimate paper airplane.
Techno Source (Techno Source)
- Rubik’s Revolution
- Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?
A new twist to the classic Cube, Rubik’s Revolution tests both speed and smarts with six built-in games that feature voice, lights and sound effects. With multiple levels to unlock, the new interactive cube challenges both your mind and dexterity, offering exciting multi-player gaming the whole family will love. Appropriate for dad and their kids 5 and up. Think you’ve got the smarts to compete on the hit TV series, “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?”? Prove it with this electronic touch screen game featuring 13 subjects with more than 2,500 questions. Ages 8 and up. www.technosourceusa.com
Senet: The Ancient Tomb Treasures Game (Mazeology)
Senet was the most popular game in ancient Egypt–until the rule book was lost. Mazeology has brought Senet back with a new modern rule book that is easy enough for elementary school aged kids, yet has compelling game play for adults. Generally a game takes about twenty minutes to play. A wonderful game for dad/child play. Ages 5 and up.
Nana Star doll and book (ee publishing and products, LLC)
Like the Karito Kids, daughters will love the Nana Star doll, and dads will love cuddling up and reading the accompanying book, a sweet story about a girl in a blue princess dress with a twinkle in her eye. Ages 4 and up. www.nanastar.com
Clicktoy – The Meadow (Clicktoy Interactive, Inc)
The Meadow is a new interactive storytime experience. Dad can create the narration as his child, sitting on his lap, laughs and plays with the software. Clicktoy encourages one-on-one time in a fun new way. www.clicktoy.com
Mark My Time (Mark My Time)
- Digital Bookmark for Reading
- Digital Metronome for Music
These digital timers help dads monitor and record their children’s daily reading homework and/or music practice and reduce a lot of the “Am-I-done-yet?” battles. By offering both a countdown session and cumulative timer, the metronome and bookmark encourage reading and music and increase the time kids will spend on both.
Story Songs and Sing Alongs CD (Debbie and Friends)
This is a masterful offering of family-friendly music that includes original songs about stories kids know and love (such as “Three Little Pigs,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and Knock-Knock jokes), as well as loads of games and surprises. The recording plays like a variety show, covering a diverse array of educational and stylistic approaches in rock, pop, country, reggae, and Broadway-esque styles. It’s fun music that won’t drive parents crazy in the car. www.debbieandfriends.net
The Mr. Dad Seal of Recognition
Not every product or service we evaluated met our strict criteria of helping dads get or stay involved with their children and improve the quality of father-child relationships. But there were a number of entries that we felt were worth noting.
Baby’s first educational dolls (Goldberger Toys)
- Basic Training
- Sing & Learn
Each of these dolls will sing her ABC’s and count from 1 to 10 when you press her tummy! Besides introducing letters and numbers, the dolls also help promote eye-hand coordination, teach cause and effect, develop motor skills, stimulate and develop the senses of hearing, touch and sight. They come dressed in adorable animal outfits: bunny, duck, frog, or cow.