What do you get when you combine a catalog with a magazine? Our magalog, Surprises, is your guide to the best of our baby gear selection and the top toys of the season. But there’s more: each issue of Surprises is loaded with informative articles about babies and kids, and common-sense advice that you can use.
Just in case you missed them, we’re reposting our magalog backlog here on the Spilling the Beans blog. And we’ve got a great new issue on the way, launching in November 2012. Go here and sign up to make sure you get yours!
No kid can resist the allure of the glowing screen of an iPad or iPhone. But there’s no digital equivalent for the softness of plush, the clack of wooden blocks, the feel of modeling clay, or the hug of a favorite lovey. A balanced play diet can include plenty of both analog and digital fun, and these activities can complement each other, too. Try these pairings of favorite apps and favorite toys, so when you need the phone back, you’ll get no arguments.
6 MONTHS & UP: Hide, Peek, and Play
by Night & Day Studios · $1.99
When the barn begins to bounce and you hear an animal noise, tap on the door to see who the troublemaker is, and hear a child’s voice announce the animal’s name. Kids learn animal names and sounds.
Hug and Hide Owl Toy
by Skip Hop · $17.99
Who’s inside the owl’s wings? It’s a baby owl – and there’s a mirror, too. Babies love exploring this adorable plush pal and discovering all of his cool activities, including tuggable teethers, squeakers, rattles, and crinkles.
AGES 3-8: Doing the Monster Mash
Elmo’s Monster Maker
by Sesame Workshop · $3.99
This app is a monster hit! To make custom creatures, touch their face where the eyes, nose, and hair/horns/ears/hats should go. Then it’s showtime: get your creation to dance, or interact with Elmo, or save a picture to your phone for future giggles.
Make Your Own Monster Puppet
By Melissa & Doug · $24.99
How about meeting these wacky guys in person and staging your own dance party? Make some hairy, scary, friendly monster puppets, with plenty of choices for removable eyes, ears, antennae, and more.
AGES 3 & UP: On the Cutting Edge
by Halfbrick Studios · $0.99
Cram some vitamin C into your child’s gaming diet! The concept is simple: ninjas hate fruit. You are a ninja. Your mission is to destroy fruit. Kids love the loony destructiveness of this game, and it’s a great test of hand-eye coordination that anyone can play.
Cutting Fruit Crate
by Melissa & Doug · $19.99
Hands-on fruity fun! This toy food set lets kids cut wooden food with a knife like a grown-up, and make tasty-looking fruit-salads. Great for pretend play, practicing fine motor skills, and early math skills.
AGES 3 & UP: Trace Language Back to the Beginning
by gdiplus · $2.99
Remember dot-to-dot puzzles? Drag “Mr. Crab” along the dots to trace the shape of a letter; when the letter is complete, hear the letter. Kids can start writing letters without learning to hold a pencil or crayon.
A to Z Magnatabs
by Kid O · $24.99
Magnatabs also utilize tracing to teach kids how to write, but the tactile factor adds some interesting punch. Trace the letters with a stylus that pulls metal beads up through the plastic cover with a satisfying click.
AGES 6 & UP: The Light Fantastic
Uzu and Little Uzu
by Colordodge Labs · $1.99
What, exactly, is a “kinetic multitouch particle visualizer”? We don’t know, but we can’t stop playing with it. Uzu lets you make colored light dance by moving your fingers on the touch screen. You can create more effects with more people, so get the whole family into the game.
Fireworks Lightshow in My Room
by Uncle Milton · $34.99
Kick up the light display in size and volume with a fireworks show on your bedroom wall. The launcher contains a projector, and when you press the buttons, it projects images of fireworks that grow and fade like the real thing, with sound effects.
AGES 5-8: Physical Challenge
by Snappy Touch · $2.99
See what your little MacGyver can do with the seesaws, bowling balls, boxing gloves, scissors, and other cartoon items in this game, which challenges players to build outrageous Rube Goldberg devices.
by International Playthings · $24.99
For a battery-free problem-solving challenge, this marble maze requires kids to move various devices to direct a metal ball to a goal. A tilty walkway, a mini-labyrinth, and other pitfalls make this game hard enough for all ages, but your child may master it even faster than you do.