Seal of Approval Winners, Father’s Day 2010*

PREGNANCY AND INFANCY

Checklists for the New Dad, by Joe Deyo
This book is book designed to equip and energize new fathers and help reduce the stress on new mothers. Each chapter concludes with a user-friendly to-do list to keep new dads involved and on the right track with the mother and with the child. A better partner and a better parent is the result.www.dadchecklists.com

Deluxe, stain-resistant, washable Bibagogo Bib (ISISnders)
Bibagogo is such a simple idea that it must have been invented by a dad! Dads love to have items like this in the diaper bag and at the ready. The Bibagogo is a nicely stylish bib that comes rolled with everything baby needs for mealtime (well, except the food). While a lot of moms don’t like this kind of extra item, dads will appreciate having it in the bag ready for when they need to feed baby, and realize someone forgot to pack the bib and cutlery. May not be for moms or others who don’t like keeping track of pieces, but for those of us dads who like knowing we’re well prepared and everything has a place, this rocks. www.isisunders.com

Pregnancy Art Kit (ArtBellies)
Inspired by Japanese ink prints, Art Bellies Kits allow you to create your own paintings based on the silhouette of your pregnant partner. The kits provide everything you need to make at least three very different and unique prints of this memorable time. No prior art experience is needed. www.artbellies.com/

TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS

Bucket with valve (HABA)
For beachbound dads this summer, we love the Haba line of beach toys. They make engineering a castle a snap. We tried their collapsible pail, which includes a valve perfect for filling the moat or just making mud. And if you’re missing a chance to play with your kids or hiding behind a newspaper, your child may open the valve on your head. The pail is collapsible, so it even will fit in your suitcase, along with the inflatable beach toys. Ages 3 years and up. www.habausa.com

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Faces iMake(Faces iMake)
Faces iMake reminds us of the art of Guiseppe Archimboldo, the 16th century Italian painter, famous for his portraits made up entirely of a collage of fruits and vegetables. In Faces iMake too, the user moves objects around to represent key faces of the face, though has a far wider palette of things to choose from. We like this application as an innovative way to look at the world, and to teach kids, probably 8+ the use of symbols and metaphors. A button can be an eye or a nose, for example. Faces iMake encourages creativity, imagination, and playtime together. Dad can challenge kids to make faces of the whole family, and then share them by email or Facebook. www.facesimake.com

Mega Bubble, giant bubble creator (Wild Creations and UK Science Museum)
Oh, come on. You’ve always wanted to make a bubble big enough to contain a person, haven’t you? Well, now’s your chance. The Mega Bubble bubble creator will let you do exactly that. The kids will have a ton of fun trying to encapsulate you, and you’ll marvel at just how far an incredibly thin wall of soap film can stretch. Good, clean, entertainment for the whole family (but keep the bubbles out of everyone’s mouth). Ages 3+. www.wildcreations.com

Hologram Chamber (Wild Creations)
We’re not quite sure what makes the Hologram Chamber quite so intriguing, but it’ll definitely get everyone’s attention. Drop in just about any object and ask some unsuspecting person to grab it. You and the kids will have a lot of fun trying to fool each other. And once they’re in bed, you’ll have even more fun on your own–trying to figure out how it works. We’re still a ways away from R2D2′s holographic projection of Princess Leah (from Star Wars), but it’s still an amazing illusion. Ages 3+. www.wildcreations.com

Radio-controlled Rattle Snake (Wild Creations and the UK Natural History Museum)
Let’s start with a warning. Be very careful who’s around when you and the kids fire up this creepily accurate replica of the Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. Even when you know what it is, you’ll still be momentarily freaked out when you see it zig-zagging around your house, tongue flickin in and out, rattling its tail. So expect to peel mom (or anyone with a heart condition) off the ceiling if you don’t warn her before letting the kids loose with this baby. Ages 5+. www.wildcreations.com

Buzzwire Bomb (Wild Creations)
There may be some scientific lessons to learn here, but all our reviewers could talk about was the fun aspect. The Buzzwire Bomb can be used by just about anyone in the family–especially those who like to be scared. The principle is similar to the old Operation game–but the baloon explosions happen compeltely randomly. So while a steady hand might help you in the short run, it won’t keep your heart from skipping a beat when you finally get that POP!!! Ages 5 and up. www.wildcreations.com

Splash Bat (Prime Time Toys)
Splash Bomb® Splash Bat is a colorful foamball with a durable nylon/cloth covering that you soak in water to make a game of bat and ball that much more excitng. Fun for dads and kids, and an inexpensive way for dad to buy some water fun for the kids. And if you’re not in the mood to get wet, you can still have plenty of dry bat-and-ball fun. www.primetimetoys.com

PeeWee Kit (PeeWeePC)
The PeeWee Kit is a superb computer bundle featuring PeeWee Privacy and PeeWee Patrol, PeeWee’s exclusive security suite for online and offline safety, and a USB perloaded with five different educational and fun games. The PeeWee Kit not only helps parents promote education but also gives parents piece of mind knowing that their child is using a safe and secure PC. www.peeweepc.com

TWEENS AND TEENS

Arimaa (Arimaa)
Arimaa is a modern strategy game similar to chess but uses simple and intuitive rules that are easy for children to learn. The animal theme pieces makes the game more interesting for children as it helps them develop logic, concentration and planning skills. http://arimaa.com/

Wallace & Gromit Water Rocket (Wild Creations)
Judgment call. The Water Rocket is clearly labeled as “not a toy.” But it’s so much fun that you’ll want to share it with the whole family. You’ll need a big, empty area and a water supply. Depending on the ratio of water, pressure, launch angle, and the proximity of obstacles such as houses and windows, you can send the rocket soaring up to 200 feet! What’s especially nice about the Water Rocket is that it’s something dads and teens can (and will actually want to) do together–and that’s a very rare thing. Definitely keep away from small children. www.wildcreations.com

FAMILY Wii GAME

New Super Mario Brothers for Wii (Nintendo)
Family Wii games aren’t a slam-dunk. While the Wii is perfect for family play, too many titles are ported from Playstation or XBox and are really made for single players. Nintendo’s Mario Brothers, however, is a game that has always been available for multiple players (two), and the new Super Mario Brothers for Wii now allows four players on that the same time. That means dad and two kids can jump, run, swim, and fly in the unique Mario world with familiar characters like Bowser and Luigi. Dads who, almost a generation ago, were experts at the original Mario Brothers, can connect with kids with their own insider knowledge of cheats and tricks. www.nintendo.com

Seal of Approval Winners, Spring 2010*

PREGNANCY AND INFANCY

Just Ask Baby (JustAskBaby.com)
New dads often ask themselves, Why is my baby so upset, and why can’t I get him to stop crying? Why is it so hard to understand what she wants? Well, now you can get the answer to those and a lot of other questions by logging on to justaskbaby.com, a video resource that will give you a science-based tour of your baby’s world—from his perspective—guided by Joey, a wisecracking 9-month old who may remind you of the E-trade baby. www.Justaskbaby.com

The Organic Classic Sorter and Stacker (Dandelion, by RethinkIt)
have soft plush fabrics with multiple textures and sounds to engage baby and develop fine motor and sensory skills. The Sorter and Stacker encourage dad and baby play as baby learns to sort and stack with dad’s help. Organic fabrics mean that the Stacker and Sorter are better for our environment too, something that every dad would be proud to give to their baby. www.dandelionforbaby.com/

TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS

Zoodles (Zoodles)
Most dads believe that computers can help their kids learn, but who has the time to scour the web for fun, educational, safe content? Enter the Zoodles Kids’ Browser , which does all the work for you so you can concentrate on having fun with your child instead of worrying whether something inappropriate (or downright frightening) will pop up on the screen. And if you happen to step away for a minute or two (hey, we all do), you won’t have to worry about your child reformatting your hard drive. www.Zoodles.com

Thinker Doodle Clues and Choose (The Critical Thinking Company)
Thinker Doodles may look like coloring books, but they’re way, way more. Cleverly integrated with the colorful, engaging, fun activities are terrific lessons in critical and organizational thinking, mathematical reasoning, reading, writing, and more. A wonderful way for dad to connect with his 4-6-year old. www.Criticalthinking.com

Giggle Bellies DVD (Cookie Dough Productions)
Tired of the same old kids’ songs sung in the same old ways? Yaaaawn. The gigglebellies DVD will get dad, kids, and anyone else within ear- and eyeshot, up and dancing. A fun, fresh, entertaining approach that breathes new life into the old standards. www.TheGiggleBellies.com

Deluxe Travel Chair (Snazzy Baby)
This is the type of gear dads love. This fold-out “chair” straps to any restaurant (or home) chair to make a temporary high chair restraint system. Other systems exist to do this, but what we like best is the way this simple piece of fabric folds up into itself in a nice pouch, which makes it easy to throw into a diaper bag for travel. The Chair is good for babies who can sit unsupported, up to 37 lbs (17Kg), or from around five months to three years. It also works in shopping carts. www.SnazzyBaby.au

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Clek Oobr child booster seats (Magnaclek)
While other boosters are functional and some even sleek, the Clek Oobr is ahead of its time. It’s hot. It’s fashionable. It inspires awe. And, it’s a pretty good booster as well.—one that’s sure to be your child’s favorite. It’s pitched as being for kids 4 to 12, but that will depend on the size of the child and, realistically, their willingness to stay in booster seat. Designed by auto seat designers, to be super sturdy and protective, there is no plastic-y feel about it. Unfortunately, that makes it very heavy compared to simpler seats. We’re grateful it almost never leaves the back seat. www.magnaclek.com

StoryBoy e-book reader (StoryBoy)
An innovative e-book reader and library portal application for iPhones and iPod touch devices that provides animated and interactive storybooks for children up to age seven. Supported by an online library of original and public domain content, StoryBoy combines animation technology with the power of wireless networks to directly deliver educational, entertaining, kid-safe, and parent-approved e-books to parents and children everywhere. www.storyboy.net

Elia Miniature Cardboard Chair Kit (Vat19)
A great first-building-project for dads and young children. With no tools required, even the least-handy dads can get involved. Kids will love the wonderful feeling of building an actual, useable item (instead of those macaroni art projects they brought home from preschool). When assembled, the Chair supports up to 200 pounds, and it comes with cool stickers so the kids can personalize it. www.vat19.com

TWEENS AND TEENS

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

Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids by Eugene Buchanan
is a manifesto for parents (and especially dads) who refuse to let their children become an obesity statistic and who understand that the fate of the environment resets with connecting our kids with the outodoors. Author Eugene Buchanan’s enthusiasm and passion for sports and the great outdoors is infectious (in the best way possible). And even if you’re not an athlete, or you cringe the thought of pitching a tent and having to wipe your butt with dry leaves, you can’t help but get inspired. www.outdoorkidsbook.com

FAMILY Wii GAME

Alvin, The Squeakquel (Nintendo)
Family Wii games aren’t a slam-dunk. While the Wii is perfect for family play, too many titles are ported from Playstation or XBox and are really made for single players. While Alvin, The Squeakquel can be played solo, it’s far more fun as a party game or played by dad and two kids. This is a classic rhythm game, minus the expensive Rock Band paraphernalia. Players just use their WiiMotes to match the required rhythm for Alvin and Chipmunks covers of hit songs like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “Funky Town”—which dad probably knows—and some more recent ones that he might now. If you want to try out a music and rhythm Wii title that will work for little kids, it isn’t too complicated, and doesn’t require a $300 investment in a Rock Band set, this is an amusing title to start with. www.nintendo.com

TECH GADGET

Kodak L200 webcam (Kodak)
A father never stops being a father, even after the kids have grown up and moved out of the house. The KODAK L200 2 megapixel auto focus Webcam helps keep families in touch but letting dads connect with the kids while they’re on the road (or on military deployment), and grandfathers keep up to date with grandchildren who no longer living close by. Compatible with Macs and PCs, the KODAK L200 webcam provides an easy and user-friendly video calling experience and is compatible with a variety of programs, such as YAHOO!, AOL, MSN Instant Messenger, or SKYPE. The Webcam also has an easy drag-and-drop feature, allowing the user to easily upload and share images and videos to social media sites, such as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and PHOTOBUCKET. www.kodak.com

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