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With so many new toys vying for the attention of kids and parents each and every year, it's always interesting to take note of some true classics that have been able to stand the test of time.  100 years ago, John Lloyd Wright (son of noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright) created what would eventually be known as Lincoln Logs - a toy that I had as a child, and one that The Rock Daughters™ play with now. In fact, I still have my Lincoln Logs from the 70s, and that was the door-opener for what I'd call "The Original STEM Toy." Officially, K'NEX (current maker of Lincoln Logs) calls them "America's National Toy," and that's cool, too - especially since they're once again MADE IN THE USA, and for 2016 they've secured a spot in my annual Holiday Wish Guide™ here on THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine...

As the saying goes... it's the calm before the storm. It's a feeling that I've felt before, and over the past few years, I've become pretty good at picking out the the new shows and toys that kids are going to be all about in the months ahead. This week comes the official launch of what will likely become your kids' next obsession: Rusty Rivets.  From Spin Master Entertainment (the team behind PAW Patrol) comes a new series on Nick Jr., making its formal premiere at 1pm ET on Tuesday, November 8th - this following a special summer preview back in August (appropriately paired with a PAW Patrol special event) and a soft launch on the digital apps. Designed for preschoolers and beyond - Rusty Rivets teaches some STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts, but is inspired by the growing DIY "maker culture," as 10-year-old Rusty and best friend Ruby, "Combine It and Design It" - using imagination and creativity to help solve problems. Having watched a few episodes already, I feel confident in telling you that Rusty Rivets is about to be big. Check out a preview...

With the Halloween season being among my favorite events of the year, I'm always on the lookout for some new toys that bring some creepy fun back into playtime. This year, one new offering is the Fright Factory 3D Creature Creator from Tech 4 Kids, a set that feels both like a toy and a craft, allowing kids to be their own "Dr. Frankenstein" as they turn "EwwGoo" into three-dimensional creations. 

Yesterday in Los Angeles, actress, author, neuroscientist and mom, Mayim Bialik (who I still think of as "Blossom") played host to the first-ever Fisher-Price Think-a-Thon, an event aimed to inspire little learners to be big thinkers. The event showcased toys from the new Fisher-Price Think & Learn line which are designed to teach young learners 21st century skills they'll need to be successful in the future. Inspired by "hackathons" where coders meet to do collaborative computer programming, preschoolers at the Fisher-Price Think-a-Thon came together to get the most out of playtime. The children participated in skill-building play activities with Think & Learn toys, including a Code-a-pillar (a top pick in THE ROCK FATHER's 2016 Holiday Wish Guide - featured hereObstacle Course, Smart Scan Color Chameleon Color Bingo, and Smart Scan Word Dash Hide & Seek.

Dress-up play is an important part of childhood, and since the first big sci-fi era of the 1950s, dressing up as a robot has been a pretty common desire. From the homemade cardboard box suits to elaborate costumes, kids love robotic entertainment, but now - as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) continues to take hold as important focus to merge play with learning, the folks at Illinois-based Aeromax Toys have added some new items to their fantastic collection of My First Career Gear with their Robotic Engineer shirt and helmet. Sent for review in the Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ™,  this dress-up set pairs the Robotic Engineer shirt (with hook-and-loop velcro on the front) with a Robot Helmet (sold separately). It's simple and fun.

Want to experience the awesomeness of space? Join the Adler Planetarium this summer as they bring their award-winning ‘Space is Freaking Awesome’ campaign to life all around Chicagoland. From July 23-31, keep your eye out for the lime green ‘Space is Freaking Awesome’ truck as it pops up in various locations around the city handing out astronaut ice cream and inviting the masses to experience some of the mind-blowing facts about our Universe. Activities are designed to appeal to the senses and give visitors a taste of what the Adler Planetarium has to offer.

Published in Chicagoland
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