The Day We Got A Kinect RUSH

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on May 12, 2012

Ray was out of town and it was a cold cloudy day. As we ran to our car, we felt random raindrops land on our nose or our hand. My kids were bundled up and asking for hot chocolate, but we had made a commitment – I had made a commitment. We were to be part of a shoot for an online commercial for Qusik.

The video shoot was to take place in a beautiful backyard. And the scene? A swim party. Um, what was I thinking?

Yes, my kids and brother are swimming!

I will leave to your imagination what may have gone down that afternoon, and instead share with you how my kids went from saying it was “the worst day ever” to it was “the best day ever.” And, it has nothing to do with the product the commercial would advertise. Go figure.

Ready?

There was a package waiting for us on our doorstep when we arrived back at home, still shivering despite the hot chocolate treat. Everyone ignored it and rushed to make themselves warm. We were changed and cozy, and just about ready for bed, when Noah spotted the box by the front door…

Inside was an Xbox with Kinect and RUSH, Disney’s newest game, and it took us all by surprise. You can bet we hooked that thing up and spent the evening staying very warm jumping, running, dodging, and saving as Disney super heroes!

I will always remember that day as the day I froze my kids. But, my kids? They will always remember that day as the day their wishes for an Xbox and Kinect came true.

The game and Xbox with Kinect were sent to us by our friends at Microsoft and Walmart in exchange for our honest opinions. More to come later, including hilarious video of my kiddos playing.

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Learning During Playtime With @WordWorld

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on April 25, 2011

As a homeschooler and a mom, I am very diligent to incorporate activities into our playtime that encourage learning. One of the ways I do this is by giving my kids the tools to practice a specific concept, while sparking their creativity at the same time. Every activity becomes a lesson, incognito.

This is pretty easy to do, and I’m sure you do this, too, without even realizing you are. I’m sure, like me, you’ve pulled out alphabet cookie cutters and challenged your kiddos to cut out their names in the colorful dough, right? Or, perhaps you’ve walked through the produce section of the supermarket discussing the wide variety of colors you see and spelling out the names of the fruits and vegetables.

In addition to these little games, we use various forms of media as tools for learning, as well. All of my kiddos are quite adept at navigating the iPad, iPhone, the computer. Ray and I encourage the use of these tools on a very limited basis, but we keep our digital devices loaded with several educational apps and storybooks.

One of Ben and Noah’s favorite apps is the WordWorld Let’s Build a Word app. It was the best 99 cents we’ve spent on an app for Noah, although there is a free version, as well! They both love to see their own words come alive, just as they do on the show, which also happens to be a favorite.

Ben and Noah just recently had the opportunity to try out the Terrific Duck WordWorld storybook. Noah sat and followed along through the entire “book” in one sitting. If you know anything about Noah, you know this is a big deal and that he must have really been mesmerized! So much so, in fact, that I’ll be purchasing the rest of the WordWorld eBooks as soon as he grows tired of this one, as only Noah can.

For those of you who don’t know about WordWorld, it teaches four skill sets critical for young children’s emergent literacy: print awareness, phonological sensitivity and letter knowledge, comprehension (including vocabulary development) and socio-emotional skills.

As supplements to their shows you can download free printables, read the WordWorld FREE online eBooks, and download WordWorld iPhone apps.

Win it!

I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled that my kids can play games or watch shows without even realizing that they are actually learning!

WordWorld has agreed to gift one of you with the DVD “Get Up & Move” which was just released in February. All of my friends in the U.S. may leave me a comment here, by April 30th, telling me about the ways you encourage learning at home. I’d love to hear about the sneaky ways you can get that lesson in with your kids!

For extra entries you may tweet the link to this giveaway, up to once a day, and leave a separate comment with the link to each tweet.

Happy learning!

I have been compensated by WordWorld to create this post and host this giveaway. All opinions, of course, are 100% mine, as always.

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LeapFrog Introduces Scout’s ABC Garden – An iPhone App for Preschoolers

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on April 6, 2011

I know I’ve been saying for quite some time that I am going to publish a post with our favorite iPhone and iPad apps for the kiddos, but the problem is that I keep finding more to add to the list! For now I’ll share our latest favorite – discovered just today – and I promise to publish a “top list” soon!

From LeapFrog comes Scout’s ABC Garden, available now in the Apple Store for just $3.99.

Our lovable puppy pals have gone digital in this first game of an upcoming LeapFrog series designed specifically for the iPad™, iPhone® and iPod touch®! With Scout’s ABC Garden, parents can personalize the learning by choosing either Scout or Violet and “teaching” them their child’s name and favorite things. And as children follow their furry friend’s lead to alphabet fun, they can collect achievements for learning letters!

We had the opportunity to preview Scout’s ABC Garden this afternoon. Josh, Ben and Noah were all able to set up profiles where they taught their newest furry friend their name, favorite colors, favorite colors and favorite foods. Being that all three of them wanted a turn to play the game, we have yet to discover how these fun facts will play a role in learning and playing throughout the game, but each of the boys are excited to find out.


One of the things that I love about this app is that there are three different challenge levels, so all three of the boys can play at their own level. In levels one and two, Noah and Ben started out matching uppercase letters in the Letter Garden. In level three, however, Josh had to match uppercase letters with lowercase letters.


Being that the app is geared for ages 2-4, Josh did become a bit bored after just a few minutes, but still enjoyed trying a new game for my sake. Ben and Noah, on the other hand, played for quite some time. They mostly enjoyed playing fetch with Scout, counting bubbles, and watching the colorful musical notes.

It will be fun to see how the game develops past letter matching in the Letter Garden, but for now Ben and Noah are hooked!

Win it!

Five of you will be able to try the app free of charge, courtesy of LeapFrog! Just leave me a comment telling me about one of your kiddos’ favorite apps. On Sunday night I’ll choose five lucky readers’ comments and each will receive a gift code so they can download this app for their own preschooler on their iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone.

Watch for more of our favorite apps and a big announcement… coming soon!

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Ben, Gizmo and the Smarty Ants

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on December 1, 2010

Ben begs me every day to let him play on the computer, my iPhone or my iPad. He and his five siblings, that is. They all have to take turns, and sometimes I just have to hide my phone and iPad, but I’m happy to let Ben play on my computer. To be honest, I’m surprised at how much he is learning as he navigates through the online world of Smarty Ants.

In addition to just enjoying his time on the computer, Ben is learning the names and sounds of the letters all on his own. Well, with the help of his Smarty Ants coach, that is. Occasionally he does need help with a game, but mostly he enjoys the stories and songs.

While Ben’s time on the computer might be limited, he takes Gizmo, his Phonics Reading Pup, along with him almost everywhere. If his Pup has been left behind, however, Ben will most likely be heard singing one of his songs.

As a teacher and mother, I love that the Smarty Ants program makes learning to read so much fun for Ben!

Welcome To SmartyAnts! from Smarty Ant on Vimeo.

Disclosure: I received a Phonics Reading Pup and a one-year subscription to SmartyAnts.com to review for this post.

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Do You Have Any Smarty Ants?

November 17, 2010

My kiddos and I are always looking for fun ways to learn. Games, books, puzzles, and educational programs are all a part of a normal day around here. So, when I was asked to try out the new SmartyAnts program – an online world created by the founder of LeapFrog, featuring interactive videos, stories and […]

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V.Smile CyberPocket {Giveaway}

December 24, 2009

The new V.Smile Cyberpocket turns game time into brain time by combining a video game platform with educational content, all in a portable learning system. Think Nintendo DS meets Leapster. I love that the younger kids get the feel that they are playing “video games” all the while learning math and reading skills without even […]

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Nintendo Favorites

December 8, 2009

I was never a fan of video games, growing up. In fact, I never thought we would own a gaming system, let alone three. The Wii, DS, and DSi are great family-friendly systems, each with it’s own unique draw. I am happy to share our favorite games with you now, and can recommend each as […]

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More Than Play!

December 1, 2009

Playskool recently sent us the Busy Ball Popper for Noah to check out. At Playskool they believe that play stimulates the senses, engages the imagination, encourages curiosity, and empowers children’s sense of self confidence by allowing them to discover the world at their own pace. I totally agree! As a homeschooling mom, I also know […]

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Family Game Night

September 20, 2009

As fun as they are, family nights out for our bunch usually put a bit of a dent in our pocket book. Think about it – 8 movie tickets (yes, we do have to pay for Noah now!), popcorn, drinks, red licorice, and M&M’s – now, that’s quite the small fortune! Most often, these days, […]

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Multiplayer games mean fun with everyone!

July 16, 2009

Playing computer video games is fun no doubt, but being able to kick it up a notch and play against other kids around the planet in multiplayer games. That’s right, your kids don’t have to sit at a computer competing against a computer they can play games with other kids. This not only teaches them […]

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This One Is MINE!

April 5, 2009

Today Nintendo launches the Nintendo DSi, the third iteration of the best-selling portable video game system and the latest evolution in hand-held gaming. Nintendo DSi gives new and veteran gamers the ability to customize, personalize and share their experiences with friends and family. The concept of entertainment is clearly expanding to enable self-expression and creation […]

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Valentine’s Day with the Kiddos

February 3, 2009

Today on my BlogTalkRadio show, Monica and I talked about fun things to do with your kiddos for Valentine’s Day. You can listen to the episode to hear the secret word so you may enter my iPod Touch giveaway, or to discover what we are planning to do this Valentine’s Day. Are you looking for […]

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Gifts to Make your Nintendo Junkie Grin!

December 9, 2008

Everyone’s video game library should be stocked with games that encourage learning, adventure, and inspire action. Some of the best games to play on our favorite video game console can be found below. Our favorites are marked, so make sure you check those out first! . Amazon.com Widgets Amazon.com Widgets . Family Game Night (Wii): […]

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Win one of TWO Nintendo Games!

December 9, 2008

In keeping with the spirit of giving this Christmas season, my friends at Legacy Interactive and I would like to offer a couple of my readers some of their latest Wii and DS games! I have a copy of Zoo Vet (DS) and Pet Pals: Animal Doctor (Wii) to give away, meaning TWO lucky winners […]

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My Kids Leap for LeapFrog! (A Giveaway)

December 4, 2008

There are not many “toys” that my kiddos have that can keep them entertained for hours at a time. LeapFrog learning systems are such toys. You know what? As a mom, and my kiddos’ teacher, I am so happy that they can learn – I mean, play – so effortlessly. With games that help them […]

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What are you giving your kiddos for Christmas?

December 3, 2008

Whether you’ve got older kiddos for whom to buy or younger ones, We’ve got some ideas… Let’s talk about some of the hottest items, toys and otherwise, for the kids on our lists. You can see my picks below, Kristin’s here and Erika’s here! Happy Shopping!! I’m sure you’ve heard all the rage about Hasbro’s […]

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A Tama-what? (A Giveaway!)

December 3, 2008

I missed out on the virtual pet craze in the 90s (too old without kids of my own, I guess) and have a hard time spelling Tamagotchi even now! What I do know is that, for the first time ever, kiddos can raise multiple Tamagotchi characters in one egg with the Tamagotchi Connection V5 . […]

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JumpStart 3D Adventure (A Giveaway!)

December 3, 2008

Are you looking for a gift for a little guy who loves to play on the computer? Both educational and fun, Jumpstart 3D Virtual World is perfect for ages 3-5. In My First Adventure, your little explorer can run, jump and swim through an amazing 3D virtual world. Josh, my 4 year old, really enjoys […]

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More fun with Nintendo

August 25, 2008

There are two Nintendo games that our family enjoys that I just had to tell you about… MLB Power Pros 2008 – This game for the Wii is packed full of 10 different games to play. The twins have fun creating their teams and controlling every aspect of the league. They have yet to win […]

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I Spy

August 2, 2008

Our kiddos love to play games, especially when I play with them. Thanks to Parent Reviewers we have found a game that we all enjoy… I SPY from Briarpatch. With 8 different ways to play, I SPY is a fun game for the big kids and little ones alike. The littlest ones can play for […]

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GameStop

July 24, 2008

Today, thanks to Mom Central, I picked up a new game for our Wii. Yes, I went by myself to GameStop and picked out a game. I know… Crazy, huh? Not so much, now. We all like the more physically challenging sports games, so with GameStop employee, Jamie, helping me find the best game for […]

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Confessions of a Wii Junkie

July 24, 2008

While growing up, my family never owned a game console. In fact, we didn’t really even hang out with anyone who did. “Playing video games is such a waste of time,” Mom always said, “It makes you lazy.” I thought that when I had kids of my own I would steer clear of this “evil,” […]

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