I’ve been taking a break from this blog because of personal reasons, but I’m back with this year’s Holiday Gift Guide! This year, my kids are 5 and 7 years old, so most of the gifts have this age range in mind. My 5 year old daughter loves everything cute and crafty, and my 7 year old son loves everything Minecraft, Star Wars, and anything having to do with science. Both have their own laptops are are super into playing Minecraft with each other. Let me know if you have any questions, and Happy Holidays!
a computer and coding kit for ages 6-12
I am in love with this kit. Kids get to learn how to build a computer (they make it as easy to put together as legos), and then how to code on it. Kano keeps things fun and interesting for kids with their fun colors and easy user interface. Kids can draw art, make music, or even create their own games… like Minecraft! Brandon was able to put the computer together by himself and get everything started without any instruction from me. He’s 7. There are 2 kits available that would be great for holiday gifts, but order ahead because they are in high demand.
Kano Kit: For the budding young hacker in your life, the Kano Kit provides the tools to build a full-fledged computer and learn how to code – all you need to do is plug it into a monitor. Colorful instructional storybooks guide young creators through the entire building process (no parental supervision needed) and once it’s built, Kano functions like a regular computer, pre-loaded with games like Minecraft and Terminal Quest and projects like Make Art that are learned, made and played with code. ($99 w. free shipping)
The Screen Kit: For creators who are looking to expand their computing experience, the Screen Kit is a portable, playful widescreen HD display that you build yourself. With simple steps and a storybook to guide the building process, kids can snap together the pieces, setup a driver, and learn how LCD screens work from the inside. With a portable case, take it anywhere—into the classroom or use it on the living room floor. The Screen Kit is custom-built for the Kano Kit, although it can be connected to any HDMI compatible device (i.e. digital camera, a PlayStation 4 or a MacBook). ($129 w. free shipping)
From my kids’ wishlists:
Sphero BB-8, app enabled droid $199.99
KidO free play magnatab $35.99
Simon backpack clip game $14.99
Sunken treasure pool toy $11.99
The Secret World of Arrietty is one of my favorite movies this year. If you weren’t able to catch it in the theaters, now’s your chance to pick it up on Blu-ray and DVD. It’s a great story about “little people” living under our floorboards who “borrow” things that we don’t notice, like a piece of tissue paper or a cube of sugar. Their goal is to never be seen, and for the big people (“beans”) to never know that they borrowed anything. I love that the main character is a strong-willed 14-year old girl who is forced to make many tough decisions about life, love, and family, and develops a heart warming relationship with a bean living in the house.
If you’ve enjoyed other Japanese animated movies such as Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo, Spirited Away, or My Neighbor Totoro, you’re going to love this movie. Brandon (4 years old) really loves this movie! He loves to pretend that he’s going on a big adventure to borrow things that we don’t need anymore. :)
“Residing quietly beneath the floorboards are little people who live undetected in a secret world to be discovered, where the smallest may stand tallest of all. From the legendary Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Ponyo”) comes “The Secret World of Arrietty,” an animated adventure based on Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book series “The Borrowers.”
Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). Like all little people,Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could driveArrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger. The English language version of “The Secret World of Arrietty” was executive produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, and directed by Gary Rydstrom.”
We travel a fair amount, and have tried both renting car seats and bringing our own. Having a good, comfy, safe, clean, familiar car seat definitely key when taking car rides around town, so even though it adds to our baggage we always bring our Britax car seats with us. We’ve also experimented with checking them in at the baggage check-in and at the gate – both places, they will put a plastic bag around your carseat, and toss it around like a fish at the Pike Place Fish Market. Believe me, I’ve seen both the car seat tossing and the fish tossing. :)
I was so happy to find out that Britax came out with their Car Seat Travel Bag, which fits most car seats (not just Britax brand!). This handy bag zips right up around your car seat to protect it during your travels. It has:
The Britax Car Seat Travel bag retails for $69.99, and you can get it at amazon.
DreamWorks Studios has just released Real Steel on Blu-Ray Hi-Def and DVD!
Set in the near future where robot boxing is a top sport a struggling promoter feels hes found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top he discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.
Brandon watched this with Daddy, and they enjoyed it a lot because they both love robots, but make sure your child is ok with some violence – this is a movie about robots boxing each other.
Noisy Boy is a former league bot. When he started losing fights, he was exiled to doing boxing exhibitions in South America and Asia. He’s now back, but he’s no longer league caliber, so he’s fighting in underworld venues.
Zeus is the champ of the WRB. He is enormous. He is described as “The Death Star.” He is painted reflected black. He has piston-programmed punch mechanisms in his arms. Not only has Zeus never been beaten, but also, no other robot has even survived beyond the first round with him.
We got to review the Disney’s Magical Fireplace DVD for the Holidays, and really loved it. It was perfect background music for the holidays, and characters would pop in and out throughout the DVD. Brandon loved watching for his favorite characters, and the music was really nice and cheery. We don’t have a fireplace, so it’s fun to see the flickering flames of the yule log. We will definitely bring this out again next year!