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At Sweet Suite '17, otherwise known as "The Biggest Night of Play," I had the opportunity to host a segment on The Toy Insider's live stream - straight from Chelsea Piers in New York City. The task at hand? Unboxing a few of the newest toys from K'NEX. Expected to be among 2017's hottest holiday toys, I took a live look at the Budding Builders Tub from Kid K'NEX, along with the Power & Play Motorized Building Set, and the all-new Web Weaver Roller Coaster Building Set from the K'NEX Thrill Rides Collection. Captured during the livestream, the full video can now be viewed below!

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) play is hot right now, and looking ahead it's a category that will only continue to grow. For some toys placed in that category of hands-on learning, not all are necessarily "new," but sometimes new spins on some old classics. Marble play is pretty timeless, and I even had a Marbleworks set some 30-40 years ago, one that I believe my mom might still have. Likewise, my wife and I have played with some similar things with our own kids, and one recent offering is the Techno Gears Marble Mania Catapult set, sent to us for review by The Learning Journey, along with their new Techno Gears Bionic Bug.

Presented in collaboration between The Rock Father, BOSEbuild and Life of Dad

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “summer slump” - that mid-year break between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. While I’ve long-said that kids don’t have enough of a summer break, even a matter of weeks is enough to break the cycle of learning, and that can be troubling. As parents, it’s up to us to make sure that those curious young minds are still learning during the summer months, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities are a great tool to have. For those with kids curious in how things work, BOSEbuild has just the project - and it’s so much more than simply “building a speaker.”

Published in Tech

Disney-Pixar's Cars 3 is racing into theaters on June 16 (get tix via my affiliate, Fandango), and there's plenty to get revved-up about. For kids, there's always the high-octane excitement that racing brings, but as I've been discussing in my preview coverage of Cars 3, this is a film that brings so much more to the table in terms of emotion and learning. The latter is something that most people don't enter a Cars movie thinking about - but there's a lot of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) involved in racing, and when it comes to making an animated film, there's a whole lot of STEAM (the added "A" is for "Arts") involved. For educators, that's where Pixar in a Box comes in - a fantastic suite of FREE materials built around a curriculum created in partnership between Pixar Animation Studios and the Khan Academy, sponsored by Disney. We'll talk more about that in just about 2 minutes and 7 seconds, because first I'd like to invite you to check out the latest trailer for Cars 3... one focusing on the "Rivalry" between Lightning McQueen and newcomer Jackson Storm. Check it out!

Published in Movies, TV and More

The North American International Toy Fair is underway in New York, and one of the companies rolling out the biggest assortment of new toys is Spin Master. Following their "License of the Year" win for PAW Patrol (a line we absolutely love - see the 2017 preview here), one of their most-anticipated new lines for Fall 2017 comes from another property set in that same "world" - RUSTY RIVETS. The recent debut of the series on Nick Jr. has introduced kids to the "maker movement," a fine companion to much of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) options out there, with kids encouraged to use the materials around them to craft new creations. If your kids are already into PAW Patrol, you'll notice that Rusty, Ruby and friends are in the same scale as Ryder, and these new toys will fit right in. Launching in Fall 2017, here's the Rusty Rivets toys that kids are gonna love!

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is currently taking place in Las Vegas, and today the folks at the LEGO Group announced LEGO® BOOST, "a supercharged building and coding set that lets children bring their LEGO creations to life by adding movement, sound and personality." Expected to be available in August, these news sets take the STEM play that LEGO has long embraced into completely new levels. In fact, though it'll be awhile before I get to go hands-on with these, I'm going to say that LEGO BOOST is an early contender for my 2017 Holiday Wish Guide, launching in the Fall. Check out full details from the announcement below, and see some of what you can build - including an electronic guitar, and an awesome robot named "Vernie" that looks a lot like Short Circuit's Johnny 5!

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