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Archive for the 'Kids & Tweens' Category

NEW Candy Land Game Board

Candy Land (Image courtesy of Hasbro)
Ahhh, Candy Land… One of the great joys of wandering through Powell’s Candy Store, besides the obvious, is gazing at the various Candy Land game boards adorning the walls. They’re part of the Willy Wonka-esque decor, which also includes giant beach balls, pressed tin ceilings and candy candy everywhere. Adorable. But it’s also fun to see how the Hasbro game, which debuted 50 years ago, has changed over the years. Those early versions had locations – the Molasses Swamp and Gumdrop Mountains – but no characters, no Grandma Nutt or Queen Frostine. (Wikipedia tells us that the character Plumpy got the boot in 2002, “presumably due to his obesity.” Man, that’s cold. The guy’s contract required him to live in Candy Land, surrounded by caloric temptation. That’s, like, entrapment.) And the ultimate goal was to reach “Home Sweet Home.” The Candy Castle ending only showed up in 1980.

New Candy Land (Courtesy Hasbro) Anyway, the point of all this is that Candy Land is coming out with a new game board, “Candy Land: Sweet Celebration Game,” with new destinations, hidden “sweet spots” and a free standing game path that comes apart and can be reconfigured to shorten or lengthen the game. Part of me thinks it sacrilegious to tinker with tradition, especially when you’re going to name one of the destinations the Chunky Chocolate Mountains. But the other new destination is Captain Kidd Cone’s ship, the SS Neapolitan. Neapolitan! What do you think? Look like fun?

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens | 1 Comment »

MORE Frugal Back-to-School Tips

Hannah Montana Lunch Box A couple of weeks ago, we featured some great, thrifty back-to-school shopping tips from the folks at Consumer Reports. Now, chimes in with a top ten ways to save pennies while buying endless glue sticks and pencil cases. All ten tips are terrific, but our favorite is this one:

“Hold off buying trendier gear like lunch boxes and pencil cases. Kids may love a version they find in July, but once they start school and see that their friends are all using another kind, they’ll beg you to upgrade them — and that only results in wasted cash.”

Ahhh! So true! Click here for more, including a back-to-school neighborhood swap and DIY snazzy folders. Then click “comments” and share your frugal tips with the rest of us!

Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
Under: Finances, Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

Frugal Back to School Shopping Tips

Back-to-School Survival (Laurie McAdam illus., MCT Direct) The ever-helpful Consumer Reports folks just assembled a list of frugal back-to-school shopping tips. Some of them you probably already knew – but hey, a reminder is always helpful, right? But there are some new ideas in the mix too. Take a peek, then hit “comments” and add your tips too.

Buy in bulk – Notebooks, pencils, all those things are often sold in bulk. Nowhere to store them? Or don’t think you’ll use them all? Go in on the purchase with a neighbor.

Go plain – The Hannah Montana 3-ring binder is $6, the plain version is $2.

Go classic – When you go back-to-school clothes shopping, buy polos, tees and other basics in solid neutrals and classic styles. They’re easy to mix and match, and never look dated.

Think growth – That “buy one, get the second half off” deal looks mighty tempting, but kids grow like weeds so exercise a little restraint when stocking up. Shoes that fit now, won’t by spring.

Look for online deals – No matter what you’re buying, go online to look for coupons and promotional codes first. Try or, or Google “promotion code” and the name of the retailer. One Consumer Reports reporter recently saved 45% on a purchase by using two codes at once on the Borders Web site.

Posted on Friday, August 7th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens, Schools | 5 Comments »

SUPER Granny Book Giveaway

Super Granny Sally Wendkos Olds’ book, “Super Granny: Great Stuff to Do with Your Grandkids,” is a total charmer. It features 75 awesome activities for grandparents and kids, from treasure hunts and gingerbread architecture to high tech fun, all divided by age, from 0 to 18. It’s a compilation of fun-filled wisdom and practical tips from Olds and 60 grandmothers from the United States, Germany, New Zealand, India and other countries, who all adore spending time with their grandkids. Two thumbs up! And all you have to do to win this is click “comments” and share your favorite grandparent memory. We’ll draw a winner’s name next Monday.

(Congrats, by the way, to Jennifer who won last week’s Queen Lullabye CD!)

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009
Under: Contest, Grandparenting, Kids & Tweens | 4 Comments »

TWEEN Book Giveaway

"113 Things to do by 13" This week we’re giving away a great little book for the tween in your life: “113 Things to do by 13,” by New York City eighth grader Brittany MacLeod and her mom Terri, a celebrity journalist and senior producer for Access Hollywood. It’s a kicky little read, full of colorful scrapbook-y appeal, and brimming with tween and teen survival advice from a who’s who of celeb experts, including:

  • Age appropriate makeup advice from “Gossip Girl” Leighton Meester‘s makeup artist
  • Writing tips from the author of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” Ann Brashares
  • Peer pressure coping strategies from adolescent health experts
  • Mean girl survival tips from two “Twilight” stars who were bullied in high school
  • And tips on everything else from Halloween costumes to acne, cooking, homework and relationship drama. There’s even a section on how to send fan mail to the Jonas Brothers.

Want it? Click “comments” and tell us, do you think it’s harder to parent teens or tweens these days? We’ll draw a winner’s name next Monday!

(Congrats, by the way, to Lori who won last week’s giveaway – pssst, we snuck in an extra prezzie too, a copy of “Life with Father,” with Father’s Day images from the archives of Life Magazine. Very cool little book! If you’re still looking for Father’s Day celebration ideas, check out our readers’ suggestions here.)

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009
Under: Contest, Kids & Tweens | 2 Comments »

GIRL Fights, Friendship & Bullying: Online Talk Thursday

Girlz Club at El Monte Elementary  (Photo by Karl Mondon, Contra Costa Times)
Mean girl syndrome starts early, says Times reporter Theresa Harrington. Teachers and parents are starting to spot the signature jealousy, cattiness and vicious back-stabbing as early as fifth grade. Now, El Monte Elementary principal Christina Boman (pictured, above) and fifth grade teacher Linn Kissinger are doing something about it. They launched a lunchtime Girls Club at the Concord school so tweens could express concerns, share insights and strengthen their friendships – and the program has been so successful, a male teacher launched a Boys Club too. Join Boman and Kissinger online Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. (PST) for a round-table chat about the Girls Club and the issues facing tween girls.

Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens | 2 Comments »

DORA the (Tween) Explorer

Dora the (Tween) Explorer (Courtesy Nickelodeon) There’s been considerable concern in the parenting blogosphere over the new tween version of Dora the Explorer — particularly after Nickelodeon released an apparently mini-skirted silhouette of what the new Dora would look like a few weeks ago. Bloggers who attended the Toy Fair in NYC and got a sneak peek griped that Dora’s online world was shopping-centric, which didn’t fit with the adventurous, spunky preschooler we’ve come to know and love.

So we were vastly relieved to get this brand new image from Nickelodeon this morning — kinda adorable, don’t you think? And she’s wearing a tunic and leggings, not a Paris Hilton style mini skirt.

Here’s what Nick had to say: First, preschool Dora isn’t going away. “Dora has become an important role model to many. The Latina heroine has connected with a generation of young boys and girls all around the world through her courageousness and sense of adventure… None of that is changing.”

But she’ll be joined this fall
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

TOPPS Baseball Cards Go High Tech and 3-D

Baseball cards (Photo by Dan Z. Johnson, Philadelphia Inquirer, KRT) OK, the Topps baseball card company may not say its latest venture was inspired by Harry Potter, but those of us with a yen for chocolate frogs and the magical trading cards with moving wizard pics, will find the new 3-D baseball card concept a little familiar. But awesome, nonetheless. Topps, purveyor of traditional trading cards (like the one pictured to the left) for a zillion years, is introducing new “augmented reality” baseball cards today. Hold one up to a webcam and a 3-D avatar pops up on your laptop. Rotate the card and the baseball player rotates too. Topps’ chief digital officer Steve Grimes called it “the ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ version of a baseball card,” in his interview with the New York Times. And Louise Curcio, marketing veep at Topps competitor, Upper Deck, says her company is working on virtual cards that “come alive and contain video.”

OK, that’s cool. But we’d rather have one with Dumbledore.

Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens, Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

DORA the Explorer/Fashionista?

Toy Fair 2009  (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) And to think we once joked about making a new, teen version of Winnie the Pooh, with a whole lot of attitude and an unhealthy fascination with taking honey pots of a different sort into the Hundred Acre Wood. ‘Twasn’t a joke. Well, the Winnie the Pooh part was. But the Tween Dora the Explorer, a cusp-of-teenhood fashionista extraordinaire, is no joke. And she looks nothing like the sweet beanie baby version pictured here. Our friends over at StrollerDerby encountered her at the big New York City toy fair last month and shared their hilarious and deeply perturbed take online.

It’s not just Dora, either. Strawberry Shortcake has gotten a sexy little makeover too. The Care Bears have gone on a diet, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were sent to anger management class, and even Mickey Mouse is getting tweaked. Hey, if that mouse gets tats, we are through.
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Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens | 2 Comments »

Cold Cheese Controversy in Albuquerque Schools

Lunchbox( Photo by Scott Vlha/Contra Costa Times) Associated Press has a hot story this morning on cold cheese sandwiches. Seems Albuquerque, NM, schools are giving students whose parents are behind on their hot school lunch payments brown bags with sandwiches, fruit and a carton of milk instead of whatever the lunch ladies are serving. “Critics argue the cold meals are a form of punishment for children whose parents can’t afford to pay,” the story says. Big uproar.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m afraid I don’t get the controversy. Granted, I’m a big fan of cheese sandwiches. I grew up brownbagging it and my kids do too — and a cheese, ham or PBJ sandwich, fruit and milk is a perfectly lovely little lunch. When I was growing up, kids who forgot their lunch money went hungry or “borrowed” an apple from a friend, and kids whose parents couldn’t or didn’t want to shell out hot lunch money, brought a sandwich. Even now in my town, teachers keep a stash of granola bars and apples for any kid who frequently “forgets” his lunch and discreetly gets the parents an application for the free lunch program. So how does supplying children, whose parents are in lunch money arrears, with a free, perfectly suitable alternative qualify as offensive? Go on, click “comments” and educate me.

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens | 2 Comments »