Seal of Approval Winners, Holidays 2009*

Funky Groovy Tie-Dye Kit (Jacquard Products)
Tap into your inner hippie (we all have one!) while dabbling in a colorful, fun project with your children. With the high quality and brightness of these dyes, you and your kids are sure to feel proud of your results. And there’s a good chance that they won’t be embarrassed to walk down the street with you…
www.Jacquardproducts.com

Castle Knights (HabaUSA)
I have nothing against high-tech toys, but it’s an absolute pleasure to play with something made of wood, string, and cardboard. This is one of the few cooperative games on the market, meaning that you can play with as opposed to against your child. In fact, you can’t really play the game at all, unless you work together. Ages 5 and up.
www.habausa.com

CB-3 Stryker Cross Bow (Prime Time Toys, Ltd.)
We have mixed feelings about toys that shoot, but this crossbow (which fires foam arrows up to 35 feet) is fun enough to get even the most computer-tethered tween outdoors. Compete with the kids for accuracy and distance or tie on a notes send secret messages to each other across the yard (or street). Whatever you do, be safe. No aiming at people or animals. Ages 8 and up.
www.PrimeTimeToys

Mom’s Deluxe 3 in 1 Plus Combo Carrier (Snazzy Baby)
Pay no attention to the word “mom” on the box–this lightweight carrier works great for dads too. It’s adjustable, comfortable, easy on the back and shoulders (which is something you can’t say about all the carriers out there), and it converts into a portable high chair restraint. Good from the time baby has head control up to 37 pounds or 3 years.
snazzybaby.us/

Safe4Kidz (AmeriChannels)
Despite parental controlls and Internet security programs, a lot of parents worry that their kids are being exposed to all sorts of unsavory messages. This program Gives 4-12 year olds the ability to safely surf and explore the ‘net, blocking pages that use bad language or inappropriate terms. Although no program can replace your watchful eyes and setting clear, enforceable rules, this one is simple, easy, fast, and will give you at least some peace of mind.
Safe4Kidz.com

Bailout! The Game (Liberty Street Games)
Any game that can keep teens and dads in the same room and having fun together has got to be good. And this one is. You’re the Chief Financial Officer of a floundering bank. And you need to get bailed out in a hurry. You’ll have to undermine the competition, endure the uncertainty of the markets, avoid hostile takeovers, and more. Very topical, with some good educational content (for you and your teens) too. Ages 14 and up.
www.bailoutthegame.com

Triviathon (Jeezle Pete’s! LLC)
Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Just one of the entertaining tidbits you can learn while playing this fast-paced trivia game. You’ll be singing, dancing, arm wrestling, cheering, cheating (okay, hopefuly not too much of that), and more as you put your cognitive, physical, and social skills to the test. And whether you get the answer right or wrong, you’ll still learn plenty. Plus you finally get to find out whether you actually are Smarter Than a Fifth Grader….
www.triviathon.com/

123 Stomp
Hyper Blast
Mickey’s Mouse-ke-TAG
Crayon Town
(Wild Planet)
1-2-3 Stomp, Hyper Blast and Mickey’s Mouse-ke-TAG are all active-learning toys for the family. You will work up a sweat. Guaranteed. And the whole family will be having so much fun that the kids will never realize that they’re learning at the same time. For the younger set (or for school-age kids who need something a touch calmer, Crayon Town activity sets combine coloring, construction, and creative play for kids ages 3 and up.
www.WildPlanet.com

Diving into Slime, Gel, and Goop
Science on a Gardening Adventure
Going Green
(Scholastic/Magic Schoolbus)
Release 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 (slime, gardening, and protecting the environment) and takes your future Nobel Prize winner through the scientific method of stating a hypothesis, observing, and writing up conclusions. Sounds suspiciously like school, but none of our reviewers ever heard a word of complaint from a child. 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.scholastic.com/magicschoolbus/

Twilight Turtle
Twilight Sea Turtle
Gentle Giraffe
Polar Cuddle Cub
(Cloud B)
Cloud B is the trusted name with parents worldwide for products that focus on a singular message: Helping children sleep (and in turn helping parents get a better night’s rest). But there’s a lot of fun to be had while you and the kids are awake too–especially with Twilight Turtle, who projects a realistic version of the night sky on your child’s ceiling. When it’s too overcast to see the stars outside, or during the summer when it’s still light at bedtime, this is wonderful activity.
www.cloudb.com

Adorable Kinders (Granza, Inc.)
Okay, I admit it. Playing with dolls can be a lot of fun–and it’s a neat way for dads to get a glimpse into what’s going on inside our daughters’ head (and with three daughters of my own, there’s always something I’m clueless about…). Each doll (there are 26, one for each letter of the alphabet) comes with an Internet code that kids can use to register their Kinder for “school,” and play age-appropriate games. 100 percent rag so they’re great to cuddle up with. But let your daughter do the cuddling–go get your own doll.
www.adorablekinders.com/

Your Legacy of Love, by Gemini Adams
(Live Conscioysly Publishing)
Award-winning British grief expert, Gemini Adams, gently explains how moms, dads, and grandparents can realize the gift in goodbye, by taking six simple steps to share their wisdom and affection in a legacy of love, so that surviving loved ones will suffer less, when the “worst” eventually happens. This is a meaningful book for dads as we think about how to communicate values to our kids. Unforetold disasters can happen and we liked this approach to creating a message for your kids even in the horrible event that they don’t have their dad to teach life lessons as they get older.
Legacy of Love

Giant Evolution Timeline (Charlie’s Playhouse)
With this giant, colorfully illustrated play mat, kids can skip, jump and play along 600 million years of evolution, accompanied by 67 bizarre ancient creatures from the fossil record, six mass extinctions, a cartoon “Charlie” Darwin, and much more! With its unique accordion-fold design, the mat can be read on your lap like a storybook for quiet times, or stood up on its side like a fort, or laid out flat on the floor for fully 18 feet of fun! Includes Activity Guide with plenty of raucous, kid-tested games and activities for ages 4-10.
www.charliesplayhouse.com/

Seal of Approval Winners, Father’s Day 2009*

Shred Sled (Skyking Worldwide)
Okay, this is one of the funnest (as my kids would say) things I’ve tried in a long while. It’s part skateboard, part snow board, part inline skates. It takes a little while to find your balance and master the squirming motion needed to make it move, but it’s well worth the time and the bruises. Set a good example for the kids and make sure you’re wearing a helmet and every other kind of protective gear you can think of. Guaranteed to up your “cool daddy” scores.
www.theshredsled.com

Jiffy the Giraffe (Fair Indigo)
This incredibly soft animal is made with eco-friendly dyes and organic cotton grown in Peru. Jiffy the Giraffe stands 11” tall, as all the friends do. For Dads hunting for eco-friendly toys, all of the Joobles are made with cotton grown without the use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or other chemicals. Eliminating these chemicals is not only better for baby, it’s good for the planet too.
www.FairIndigo.com

CitiBlocs (CitiBlocs)
Besides being fun, playing with blocks is a great brain builder. If you give your kids a chance to get near your box of CitiBlocs, they’ll benefit too, learning reasoning, problem solving, cause and effect, engineering, and improvising. Besides being educational, CitiBlocs are safe, green, and infinitely adaptable. Oh, and just so you know, the snake to the left requires 200 blocks.
www.CitiBlocs.com

Stackers Noah’s Ark (Tier Toys)
A fun, educational, and interactive toy you’ll spend hours playing with your kids. A total of 44 detailed figures, including Noah and his wife, are packed in their own spot among the 12 layers that make up this very cool ark. A free download of the story of Noah’s Ark allows children to relive the Biblical tale, plus enjoy six fun games and educational activities. Ages 3 and up can play with it safely. Ages 6 or 7 should be able to assemble it successfully on their own.
www.tiertoys.com

Pirates’ Blast (HabaUSA)
Dad will enjoy playing this game of strategy and chance, as a stormy wind (generated by a custom ear bulb) buffets the vessel of the black pirate towards a treasure island. Players alternate between trying to cross the ocean and trying to shoot the other player out of the water with a cannon. For ages 5 and up.
www.habausa.com

Nutbrown Hare handpuppet (Kids Preferred)
If you and your children are fans of Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You (and what dad isn’t), you’ll love the Nutbrown Hare handpuppet. With his poseable ears, this 16-inch bunny can tell everyone how much he loves his dad by stretching his arms as far as can be.
www.kidspreferred.com

Tracksters cars (10Vox Entertainment)
Tracksters allows kids (okay, you too) to bring their love of cars and racing to life both on- and offline. Each die-cast miniature car comes with a unique code that allows the child to access the free Tracksters 3-D online racing game. Online, players can trick out their cars in their custom styled garage, race on 10 different tracks against other players from around the world, or play against the computer. TrackPack trading cards, sold separately, also come with unique codes that unlock exclusive performance parts for the virtual vehicles—some parts are rarer than others! Tracksters allows dads to spend quality time with their children all year round, encouraging some friendly competition, and is especially helpful for working dads who travel often. Ages 8 and up.
www.tracksters.com

Rosetta Stone (Rosetta Stone, Inc.)
Let me start by saying that teaching a child a second language—even if you’re learning at the same time—is a wonderful gift. And Rosetta Stone has been proven to be among the fastest and most effective methods. I’m fluent in Russian and have been trying to teach my 6-year old for some time, with limited success. But with Rosetta Stone, she learned as much in a few hours as in the previous couple of years. A truly wonderful way to spend time with your child. Ages 3 and up.
www.rosettastone.com

Treasury of 25 Storybook Classics: Dinosaurs, Trucks, Monsters and More (Scholastic Storybook Treasures)
This is a delightful collection of stories-on-video carefully adapted from classic children’s books. Watch them with your child or read along together. Either way, these DVDs help create an environment conducive for fathers and their children to foster a love for reading.
www.newkideo.com

A Frog Named Sam (CD) (Ben Rudnick & Friends)
Clever, fun, entertaining songs that kids will love to sing along with. Best of all, they’re musically interesting enough for adults to keep you from tearing your hear out after the 300th time through.
www.benrudnick.com

Banjo to Beatbox (Community Music)
Another great CD of original, rootsy music for the whole famlily. This CD also serves as a gentle introduction to rap and hip hop, which, I admit, I wasn’t that crazy about before. But in this context, it really works–for adults and kids alike.
www.cathymarcy.com

Picture Keeper (Simplified I.T. Products, LLC)
This specially formatted USB flash drive creates a backup of images simply by plugging it into a computer and clicking the “Start Backup” button. The device automatically finds and copies all images with jpeg/jpg extensions on the computer. Updating a backup is just as easy. You wouldn’t think a flash drive could be a sleep aid, but knowing that all those years of precious family pics are safe, should help you rest easier. Comes in 4, 8, and 16 GB and works on PC or Mac. For teens through adults.
www.PictureKeeper.com

Zipfy Mini Luge Snow Sled (Zipfy, Inc.)
A true outdoor activity that’s designed for the whole family. Zipfy is extremely safe (drop heels to control speed and stop, lean into side to turn) and is lightweight (3.5 lbs.) so easy for the kids to carry up the hill. It has a 250 lb. capacity, so you can ride down right beside their kids.
www.zipfy.com

Air-Porter (Indication Designs)
Air-Porter was designed to help eliminate the stress of family travel and add a little fun back in. It’s a lightweight, portable, and extremely durable strapping system that attaches to your existing suitcase, allowing you to carry bulky items such as car seats, strollers, and all the rest of your kid paraphernalia from the car and through the airport unassisted. For those interested in buying American, Air-Porter, is a California based manufacturer committed to creating cost-effective, innovative products.
www.air-porter.com

My Pillow Pets (My Pillow Pets)
The original My Pillow Pets are snuggly plush companions that are also a comfortable pillow for bed, television, or travel time. Made from the softest, high-quality chenille. There are more than 20 styles of loveable Pillow Pets available. Each My Pillow Pet has distinctive features that give it personality and make it huggable fun for children and their dads.
www.mypillowpets.com/

BufferZone (Trustware)
BufferZone is software that kidproofs your PC from Internet threats. It helps busy dads inexpensively keep their computers in shape even when kids, spouse, or guests have used the computer to surf the web. Bufferzone complements antivirus software by keeping the effects of web activities (cookies, viruses) in a “buffer,” where they can’t hurt your core files. This keeps your sensitive files disconnected from the internet—which means kids can click on any link, download any file, or open any attachment they want, and any viruses or threats never touch important files (and never mess anything up), which eliminates at least one source of frustration between dads and kids.
www.trustware.com/

Proud Parents’ Guide to Raising Athletic, Balanced, and Coordinated Kids (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Proud Parents Guide is a comprehensive book with over 200 fun, fast and simple 10-minute games dads and moms can play with children birth through age six to develop intelligence, athleticism, musical and artistic talents. The program uses basic, inexpensive sports equipment, generic toys, and common household items you probably already own to give babies, toddlers , preschoolers and kindergarteners a solid foundation for success in later life.
karenronney.com

Norman, the Phart Elephant (Fierce Fun Toys, LLC)
Squeeze his tail, and this 10-inch plush elephant rewards you with a certain bodily noise. While not for every dad and child, “opens the door on silly, which can sometimes be hard to find,” say the creators. Sometimes, dads and kids need an inappropriate toy to break the ice. On another level, Norman can be used by parents to discuss bodily functions, the public versus the private, as well as discretion.
www.phartephant.com/

Coddletime (Coddle, Inc.)
Even if you’re a breastfeeding purist, your child will undoubtedly have a bottle at some point. When that day comes, make it a Coddletime. Their bottle wraps are made from 100 percent food-grade silicone and provide protection from breakage. Coddletime’s soft nipples mimic breastfeeding actions and prevent nipple confusions. This helps make feeding the baby easier for you when mom isn’t able to (or can’t) breastfeed.
www.coddleinc.com

The Friends Forever Girls-Marlee (Inspire U., LLC)
Here at Mr. Dad we’re big fans of playing with dolls. Sometimes we even do it with our daughters. Oh, you know what I mean. Dolls, particularly ones with an interesting back story and personality, are a great way for dads to connect with their daughters and encourage conversation about the things that matter most. And that’s exactly what the Friends Forever dolls do.
www.FriendsForeverGirls.com

etendi BRIDGE (etendi)
For dads who can’t always be under the same roof as their kids, etendi BRIDGE provides a web-based service that can help to keep kids and dads connected. It provides video conferencing, photo, video and document sharing, an interactive whiteboard and a shared calendar in one easy to use interface. While it’s obviously better to have dads connecting directly kids rather than going through an online service, this is a good solution for kids and dads who can’t be together. Divorced dads, military dads, and dads who have to travel a lot for work can all make use of this safe and controlled online environment that can keep the family connecting without opening up web usage to email, Facebook and instant messaging which can create other dangers and distractions. etendi BRIDGE has been designed specifically for parents and kids so it’s easy to use and it’s a secure, private network that is internet-safe for kids of all ages.
Go to www.etendi.com for a free trial or for more information.

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 some entries that we felt were worth noting.

Boogie Wipes (Bogie Wipes)
Tired of chasing runny noses? Boogie Wipes are the latest innovation in a moist wipe product for busy dads (moms too), and kids. With added saline, they offer quick, gentle, effective relief of stuck-on Boogies caused by the common cold and allergies. Boogie Wipes are alcohol, phthalate and paraben free. They are gentile for all ages and come in a variety of lightly scented wipes that are moisturize with vitamin E, aloe and chamomile.
www.boogiewipes.com

Seal of Approval Winners, Holidays 2008*

All Star Buddies (All Star Buddies)
Remember throwing around a Nerf ball inside the house on rainy days? Well, these sports-themed plush characters are just as fun, indoors safe (you’ll still have to watch your fine crystal, though), and a lot cuter. All Star Buddies will get you and the kids rolling around the carpet together, and will give you plenty of opportunity to dust off your “did I ever tell you about the time I …” sports stories. Ages six and up.
www.allstarbuddies.com

Pocket Snails Potty Adventure DVD (Soaring Star Productions)
One of the reasons boys are out of diapers later than girls is that not enough dads get involved in potty training. This DVD, packed with sing-alongs, animation, and stories encourage dad to participate by making the whole thing a lot more fun for everyone (each of you in your own way). Ages 2 and up.
www.pocketsnails.com

How’d They Build That? DVD Series (MarvelousMedia)
Big Truck
Fire Truck
A welcome break from Barney and Thomas, the How’d They Build That? series is a must-have for dads and their children–boys or girls. The Big Truck DVD takes you and your child on a virtual tour of Navistar’s International Truck Assembly plant in Springfield, Ohio. You get to see the robots and other machinery who move those big trucks through the assembly line. And you even get to “sit” in the cab for a driver’s-eye view. The Fire Truck DVD does pretty much the same thing, taking viewers on a fascinating tour of Seagrave Fire Apparatus, the oldest continuously operating fire truck manufacturer in the US. A wonderful way to share a cool experience with your child, and to release the truck-loving little boy in you.
www.MarvelousMedia.net

Animoes (Animoes)
Why didn’t anyone think of this before? It’s a simple concept–dominoes with animals instead of dots–but boy, is it fun. Gets dad and kids playing face to face, reinforces lessons about color, patterns, and matching. Involves some acting, so be prepared to do some serious giggling. Ages 3 and up..
animoes.com

Beddy-Bye Game (Briarpatch)
It’s time to hit the sack and it’s up to the players to collect a teddy bear, pajamas, and bottle and tuck baby into bed. The Beddy-Bye game helps dads teach preschoolers the ins and outs of caring for baby, and gets them playing together at the same time. No reading required, which lets the kids get much more involved than they would be if they had to wait for you to explain everything. A delightful addition to family game night. Ages 3 and up.
www.briarpatch.com

I Spy Memory, 15th anniversary edition matching game (Briarpatch)
I have to admit that I’m a complete sucker for anyting I SPY-related, and this gorgeous game is no exception. What’s especially nice is that kids of all ages (and adults) can play together–beginners search for matching pairs while advanced players solve the riddles. Promotes reading and memory skills, but more important than that, it’s an enjoyable way for dads to spend time with their kids. (You can play this on your own, but it’s not nearly as fun.)
www.briarpatch.com

Clothespins! strategy and matching game (Briarpatch)
When our reviewer first looked at the box, he thought he was going to have to spend the afternoon making clothespins people. He decided to open it anway and was hooked. Like many other Briarpatch games, this laughter-inducing one requires no reading, so even the youngest kids can get fully involved in completing clotheslines of matching laundry items. It’s good for memory and pattern recognition, and may subtly fool your children into thinking that doing laundry is fun–in a Tom Sawyer-ish kind of way. 3 and up.
www.briarpatch.com

Charlie and Lola (KidsPreferred)
Inspired by the popular pre-school program Charlie & Lola, these dolls will bring lots of fun and educational playtime for you and your toddler. Packaged in a reusable play scene, this set includes a completely poseable Charlie and Lola, who speak their signature opening line from their book, video, and TV episode: “I have this little sister, Lola. She is small and very funny.” Responds Lola, “I’m not small. I am BIG.” Don’t think playing with dolls is masculine? Think again. At the very least it’ll give you a fascinating glimpse into your child’s imagination.
www.KidsPreferred.com

Little Pim (Little Pim)
Little Pim is a three-disc immersion-style introduction to more than 180 vocabulary words and phrases. The set we reviewed was Spanish. French and Chinese are also available, and others, including Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, and Hindi are in the pipeline. Kids who learn a second language early in life tend to have better reading, writing, analytical, and social skills than their monolingual agemates. The Little Pim videos are an engaging way to start the process. They’re also a wonderfully interactive way for you and your child to learn something new together. A downloadable Parent Guide and Word of the Day Coloring Pages are available at LittlePim.com.
www.littlepim.com

Great infant toys (HABA USA)
Discovery Cube Colorful World
Color Tower Stacking Game
With this charming Discovery Cube Colorful World, dads will stimulate all of the senses and entice curiosity in their child as they explore the six sides of the cube, each of which has a different image depicted on it. Movable magnetic side flaps and a kaleidoscopic viewing portal help your baby see the world in a different way. Gives babies a great way to learn about spatial relationships and is a ton of fun for babies (and their dads) who are always fascinated by colorful images and uncovering hidden objects. With the brain-stimulating Color Tower Stacking Game, dads can help their infants develop fine motor skills. Includes seven rainbow-colored pieces that babies can sort by colors or shape. For ages 6 months and up.
www.HABAusa.com

Jishaku (RSV Productions)
Back for the Holidays, Jishaku (the Japanese word for magnet), is just as much fun as it was the first time we reviewed it. It’s 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 great way to learn about magnetism. A fascinating way to spend some quality time with boys or girls 8 and up. Plus, cleanup is easy.
www.playjishaku.com

Readeez Volume One DVD (The Readeez Company)
This terrific DVD combines written and spoken language in a unique way that gives kids the experience of being read to while actually learning to read on their own. Catchy tunes, fun animation, and a warm, loving relationship between a father and daughter make this a real delight. Encourages dad and child to snuggle up on the couch and laugh together. Ages 2 and up.
readeez.com

PuzzlePlay Sealife (ImagiPLAY)
Another very clever, colorful, fun, and educational puzzle from ImigiPLAY. You and your child can stimulate your imagination while learning about the ocean and its inhabitants. Then challenge the other side of your brain by putting the pieces back together. It’s made from rubberwood, an earth friendly hardwood. 3 and up.
www.imagiplay.com

Moonman (ee publishing and products, LLC)
Dads will enjoy snuggling up with their young children and reading this warm story that reenforces traditional values such as kindness, generosity. After story time, the child can cuddle one of the plush characters from the Nana Star and Nana Star & the Moonman book series and fall asleep while listening to the story again on the included CD.
www.nanastar.com

Nana Star doll and book (ee publishing and products, LLC)
Another two-time Seal of Approval recipient. Girls 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

Go Galileo! CD (mistermarkmusic.com )
There’s something about science that brings dads and kids together. (Think of the number of dads you see at the average PTA/PTO meeting. Now think of the number of dads you see at the science fair.) Our reviewer said he put this CD into his car and his 5-year old daughter was already singing along before she even got her seatbelt buckled. A very clever way for kids to learn about sound waves, Newton’s three laws of motion, and all the things George Washington Carver made out of peanuts. And hey, dads will learn a lot too.
mistermarkmusic.com

Idbids Waveryly Eco-Friendly Starter Kit (Idbids, LLC)
Despite all the talk about conservation, global warming, sustainability, and eco-friendliness, it’s hard to get these concepts across to our kids. These lovable figures may be able to help. The kit contains one plush toy and cinch sack handcrafted from 100% organic cotton, iddy biddy steps for a greener world storybook, the Idbids Field Guide (printed on recycled paper with eco-friendly inks) and an online reward program. Even the packaging is made from recycled and eco-friendly materials. If your values include conservation, sustainability, and caring for the earth, this is a delightful way to instill them in your child.
www.idbids.com

Star Pilot (Young Scientists Club, LLC)
Okay, this is just about the coolest thing ever–a combination of technology, invention, culture, fun, and learning. Young Scientists will explore the night sky using a specialized astronomical device called the Star Pilot™ that locates the brightest stars and constellations. Budding astronomers will learn about the life cycle of a star, locate 23 constellations in the night sky, make a night-vision flashlight, and more. Comes with a detailed, illustrated manual that includes fun astronomical information, experiments, diagrams, and constellation legends from cultures around the world. Get ready to spend hours and hours with your young scientist. Doesn’t get any better than this.
www.kidsciencekits.com

Xeko Mission: China (Xeko)
The newest edition of Xeko, this trading card game is a gorgeous way to introduce kids to threatened species in China, which is one of the world’s conservation “hotspots.” This mission teaches about endangered animals such as the Giant Panda, Snow Leopard, and King Cobra, and brings in plenty of culture to boot.
www.xeko.com

Xeko Pals (Xeko)
Sumatran Flying Squirrel
Giant Panda
Hairy-Eared Dwarf Lemur
These eco-friendly Pals are based on popular characters from the various Xeko games, several of which have received the Mr. Dad Seal of Approval. These soft, cuddly little guys are a nice way to get the littlest kids thinking about wildlife conservation before they’re able to play the actual card-based games. Each Pal also comes with a “mission code” (kind of like Webkins) so older kids can go online and learn even more and wildlife.
www.xeko.com

Two run-around, fun-around games (Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc)
Animal Scramble
Hyper Jump
Wild Planet’s new active learning toys, Hyper Jump and Animal Scramble will not only get your kids up and running, they’ll get you off the couch too. Both are educational and athletic – promoting listening, memory, and coordination skills as well as physical activity. Hyper Jump includes the added educational bonus of learning math while Animal Scramble teaches preschoolers the importance of recognizing objects in different ways (by sight, sound, shape, etc). Each game contains multiple levels so you can set the degree of difficulty to challenge your kids as they learn. They don’t require a video screen or electrical outlet and can be played indoors or out.
www.wildplanet.com

Top Secret Adventures (Highlights)
The Riddle of the Rising Sun
The Incident in Iberia
Yes, these games are produced by the folks who publish the Highlights magazine you read while waiting for the dentist when you were a kid. But that’s where the similarities end. These wildly enjoyable kits take dad and child on a fascinating mission where they have to work together to solve clues. Besides being a great way to spend time together, these adventures are a completely painless way to learn about the culture, history, and language of the target country.
www.highlights.com

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.

Safety Temporary Tattoos (SafetyTat)
t can happen anywhere—at an amusement park, zoo, school field trip, or even your local shopping mall. Your attention shifts for a moment, and suddenly your child or loved one has wandered out of sight. So put the odds in your favor for a safe return, with SafetyTat. Designed by a Mom of three kids, SafetyTat is a fun and colorful kids temporary safety tattoo that’s uniquely offered either customized or blank so you can customize. When applied to the arm of your child or loved one, SafetyTat provides an immediate, highly visible form of identification that stays in place even when wet! SafetyTat—it’s the perfect way to show how much you care, just in case.
www.safetytat.com

Smart-e-Bear (Kids Preferred)
Smart-e-Bear encourages children to discover and explore through a library of thousands of award-winning songs, interactive stories, educational games and other content that can be downloaded right to the bear via a USB connection. No animatronics or moving parts to easily break like toys of the past. These figures (which include dogs and cats) interact with a personality, so they become truly a pal, entertaining the young owners with a song, story, or game. There’s always something for kids to discover as the software changes and grows with the child’s interests from the nursery to kindergarten. 2-6.
www.smartebear.com

Seal of Approval Winners, Father’s Day 2008*

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.
www.pressmantoy.com

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.
www.scootababy.com

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.
www.KidsGive.com

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).
www.dadgear.com

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.
www.pilbooks.com

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.
www.kidsciencekits.com

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.
www.mazeology.net

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.
www.mark-my-time.com

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.
www.goldbergertoy.com

Seal of Approval Winners, Winter 2007

Mr. Dad Seal of Approval
Seal of Approval winners, Holiday 2007

fortamajig from happy kid companyOriginal Fortamajig (The Happy Kid Company)
The Fortamajig is a durable, 8′x8′ foot square of colorful, ripstop nylon, complete with doors and windows. Together, dads and kids can build a 4-walled fort, teepee, tunnel, canopy, and almost anything else–indoors or out. It’s washable, portable, and a ton of fun. Ages 3-100.Fortamajig.com

 

 

kids across parents down by jan buckner walkerKids Across Parents Down(written by Jan Buckner Walker)

  • On the Go
  • Crazy Critters

These terrific crossword puzzles are a great way for dads and kids to spend some fun, educational time together. Kids do the “across” clues and parents handle the (relatively) more difficult “down” ones. To emphasize the sense of accomplishment, each KAPD book includes colorful stickers and a certificate of completion. Our testers loved doing these puzzles with their children, and even the kids who had never done a crossword were instantly hooked. KAPD puzzles also give pre-reading preschoolers an engaging way to practice their letters. Ages 5-9.

 

lego monsterlego fire stationLEGO(LEGO)

  • Mosaics
  • City Fire Station
  • Creator Monster Dino
  • Mars Mission MB-01 Command Base

LEGO continues to develop creative play opportunities for children (and their dads) of all ages. We chose four different LEGO products for the Seal of Approval. Mosaics (ages 4+) are a great way to get kids comfortable with the LEGO building system, and to exercise their creativity. With the Fire Station (ages 5-12), dads and kids be heroes in their own home, rescuing people and property from every imaginable fire-related danger. The Creator Monster Dino (ages 9-12) is practically alive. Build the T-Rex and then use the new LEGO power system to make him walk, move his head, and roar. dads, and technology enthusiasts. The MB-01 Command Base (ages 8-14) takes dad and his playmate to Mars where they’ve got to figure out how to get home–captured aliens in tow. www.lego.com

you've been sentenced from designs by brighter mindstwisted fish from designs by brighter mindsYou’ve Been Sentenced and Twisted Fish (Designs for Brighter Minds)
Looking for a way to bring the family together but you don’t have a lot of time? These two games could be exasctly what you’re looking for. You’ve Been Sentenced (30-45 minutes, ages 8+) builds vocabulary and creative thinking by having players create sentences out of randomly selected word cards. Twisted Fish(30 minutes, ages 10+) takes the old “Got any 2s?” to a whole new level, with cards like the Green Dogfish and the Purple Hammerhead.www.mcneillbrighterminds.com

mega coaster by mega brandsmega neo from meg brandsMega Bloks(MEGA Brands)

  • Mack & McQueen
  • Diego’s African Safari
  • Icoaster
  • NEO Shifters

Assembling Mack & McQueen and Diego’s African Safari (both for ages 3+) helps preschoolers improve focus and concentration, and builds sequential thinking skills. But it’s the post-assembly play that really encourages father-child interaction. What’s more fun than a riding a roller coaster? Building one! Making ingenious use of magnets, sensors, and music, the Icoaster is a great together toy for Dad and child. In fact, one of our dad testers played with this one long after his kids had gone to sleep. NEO Shifters lets dads and kids collaborate on creating some really bizarre characters and will lead to some wonderful, imaginative play. But that’s not all. By going to neoshifters.com, father and child can take their role playing to a whole new level by joining a Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMO). www.megabloks.com

scholastic video collection from scholasticScholastic Video Collection (Scholastic)
The Scholastic Video Collection brings classic storybooks to life on DVD and promotes a love for reading. Kids adore watching the stories, and Dads can feel confident that they’re providing their children with quality programming. The set includes favorite tales such as Where the Wild Things Are, Curious George Rides a Bike, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and many others. Stunning illustrations (taken right from the books themselves) and celebrity narration make this an entertaining winner. Ages 3+www.scholastic.com

 

chickens by buck howdy and bbChickensCD (Buck Howdy and BB)This Grammy-nominated collection of Western Swing songs will have everyone in the family singing and swaying along. It’s not often that kid-friendly albums appeal to dads, but the fun lyrics and musical sophistication of ‘Chickens” will corral them in. Yee ha!

 

 

 

karito kids from kids giveKarito Kids (KidsGive)
These high quality, ethnically diverse dolls have accurate features that highlight the distinctive beauty of girls from African, Asian, Caucasian, Latina and Mediterranean descent. While Karito Kids are certainly perfect for cuddling with and playing house, additional components make them the perfect activity for fathers, who often feel a little squeamish about playing with dolls. The accompanying books allow fathers to spend time with their daughters while both learn interesting facts about different cultures. With the interactive Internet activities, fathers and daughters can play together while the young girls learn about giving back to those less fortunate than themselves. For families not originally from the United States, Karito Kids help fathers teach children about their heritage in a fun and interesting way!www.KidsGive.com

 

patrick henry dvdPatrick Henry: Quest for Freedom DVD
Created by two dads, Rob Mercer and John Derrick, who were looking for a way to share history their children. This DVD is a great way to introduce the story of our Founding Fathers’ children and can jump start conversations about history and our country between parents and children.

 

 

 

brazilian playground from putumayoBrazilian Playground CD (Putumayo Kids)
Brazilian Playground takes listeners on a world music adventure through the sounds and cultures of Brazil. Toes will tap to the samba, bossa nova, and forro beats on this eclectic and family-friendly CD.Putumayo.com

 

 

 

excitationsExcitations Website (Excitations.com)
Excitations, offers parents an alternative to material items that do little to encourage healthy living. Instead, Excitations offers a wide range of experience gifts that will create lasting memories (for both kids and families as a whole). With a few clicks of the mouse at the Excitations web site, vacation-seeking families can choose from literally hundreds of great active experiences, including family whitewater rafting, parent-child cooking classes, rock climbing, kids’ ski camp, family bike tours, scuba diving, and fitness experiences. www.excitations.com

 

father and son read aloud stories by robert gouldFather and Son Read-Aloud Stories, by Robert Gould (Big Guy Books)
This wonderful collection of classic tales gives fathers the opportunity to spend quality bonding time snuggling up and readingwith their sons (and daughters). The text has been typeset in a way that gives hints on how to animate the reading, making bedtime stories a lot more fun for everyone concerned. Ages 4+.www.bigguybooks.com

 

 

comfy keyboard from comfyComfy keyboard and software (Comfy)
Okay, you can stop worrying about your toddler demolishing the family computer! Now they’ll have a nifty keyboard of their very own. The Easy PC Comfy Keyboard opens the door to a rich and exciting multimedia world, combining entertainment with learning and development.www.comfyland.com

 

patemm pad Patemm’ Pad (Patemm)
A stylish and practical solution to the diaper bag, the Patemm’ Pad makes changing your little one quick and simple. The round design accommodates squirmy infants and serves as a sleek, all-in-one bag for diapers, wipes, and even a change of clothes. The mom-invented patemm pads will help dads as well manage changing tasks. www.patemm.com

 

 

dance praise from digital praise Dance Praise 2: the ReMix (Digital Praise)
Dance Praise 2: the ReMix puts a whole new spin – as well as sway, shuffle, and hop – on high-energy dancing games by combining contemporary Christian music and dance arcades. Kids love the energetic dancing and songs, and parents appreciate the wholesome content with Christian lyrics.www.digitalpraise.com

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