Now for Something Completely Different

It’s not easy being in the toy and game business. The pressure to continually come up with new ideas—and then transform them into unique, entertaining, fun products that people will actually want to play with—is huge. This week we had a chance to review a number of board games that were clever, innovative, and great [...]

Educational Board Games Kids Will Want to Play

As parents, we’re supposed to always be on the lookout for “teachable moments”—those golden opportunities to ruin nearly any fun activity by clumsily inserting some educational content. Kids can smell teachable moments a mile away and their eyes start to roll long before the words ever leave our mouth. But some games find the golden ratio, that perfect balance between fun and educational. Here are five games that parents and kids will love to play—and learn—together.

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

lett's drive, from simply funLet’s Drive. Another low-stress-yet-entertaining game for the whole family. Players collect points as they “travel” through the United States and Canada. It’s a great way for the kids to learn state capitals, scenic locations, and trivia about every state. It’s also a good way for moms and dads to brush up on geography—I have to admit that as a west-coaster, the east coast has always been something of a blur. Ages 8 and up. simplyfun.com

blunders, from blundersmaniaBlunders. Who would have guessed that learning manners could actually be fun—fun enough that a 9-year old would pull the game out from a shelf of a dozen of her favorites and ask to play it? True story. Players move through the board by rolling dice and answering questions from several categories: Dining, Home, Play. Questions can be fill-in-the-blank (“What’s the right thing to do if you’re sitting on a crowded bus and an elderly lady gets on?”), multiple choice, or true/false (“Billy love to zoom around the street and across everyone’s lawn on their bikes. This is okay to do because they are having fun”). Or, they may have to do things like create a proper place setting (honestly, does anyone really know where the dessert fork goes?) Ages 5-10. blundersmania.com

eat to win board gameEat to Win. Designed by a concerned mom whose child struggled with weight issues, Eat to Win tests players’ knowledge of nutrition and exercise in a fun, engaging way. Players answer multiple choice (“How many calories do you burn jumping rope for 30 minutes?), or true/false questions (“You should eat Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt”). Plus, there’s a physical activity component, things like “Hop on one foot across the room and back” or “Everyone get up and run around the room and flapping your arms like a duck.” Players earn money for reaching certain milestones (or if they don’t want to hop, they can pay a laziness penalty). Ages 6 and up. Eattowingame.com

jishakuJishaku. 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 on a surface that looks like a foam egg carton, it matters not only where you place each stone, but also howyou place it. A fascinating way to spend some quality time exploring the laws of magnetism with boys or girls 8 and up. playjishaku.com

Announcing Winners of the 2012 Holiday Mr. Dad Seal of Approval and GreatDad Recommends

Well, it’s that time of year. And if you’re looking for the perfect gift for a dad who wants to spend more quality time with the kids, you’ll definitely want to check out this season’s GreatDad Recommends and Mr. Dad Seal of Approval winners.

 

 

Our top picks include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lite Brix Extreme City Lights, from Cra-Z-Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
For the complete list, click here.

And for info on how to submit your product or service for our Spring 2013 awards, click here.

Mr. Dad and GreatDad.com Announce Spring 2012 Award Winners for Dad-friendly Products

Mr. Dad and GreatDad.com announce their Seal of Approval winners for Spring 2012. Today’s dads are involved in every aspect of parenting and a growing number of companies are developing products with dad’s unique style of parenting in mind.

The Mr. Dad Seal of Approval and GreatDad.com Recommends awards identify products that promote interaction between dads and kids. Trusted by some of the toy world’s biggest brands including Lego, Haba USA, and the Magic Schoolbus Series, the combined awards recognize products and services that help strengthen and empower families, and help strengthen and empower families, and help fathers create memorable, enriching experiences with their children.

“With limited resources and support devoted to fathers, it’s more important than ever to recognize and champion products and services that promote positive parenting and demonstrate a commitment to helping fathers become the parents they want to be,” said Armin Brott.

A panel of dad experts judged products and services based on whether they:

  • Improve the quality of father-child time
  • Improve father child relationships
  • Help dads be better parents and partners
A special emphasis was put on toys and games that bring the whole family together and which dads really will want to get down on the floor and play. “This is especially important for dads (and moms) returning from military deployment and who are going through what is often a tough transition to becoming a family again,” says Banas.

The full list of winners is here.
Info on the Seal of Approval is here.