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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

THE ROCK FATHER Magazine has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Since the beginning, Fisher-Price has led the charge in getting kids started right with great toys that teach important skills -- always evolving with the times, making sure that their latest offerings have been able to provide the tools that kids and parents are looking for. With STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) being so important, the new Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar is an exciting new toy recommended for kids ages 3-6, and available now at Best Buy. Moving beyond the simple ABCs and 123s, the Code-a-pillar encourages little ones to practice critical thinking, problem solving, sequencing and planning - all in an easy-to-use, vibrant toy that's a lot of fun.

If there's one place I should be right now, it's in New York for the 113th North American International Toy Fair. Instead, I'm covering virtually from Rock Father HQ in snowy Northern Illinois, and tonight comes news that the Toy Industry Association (TIA) has released their list of the Top Toy Trends for 2016. Working with toys (toymakers) year-round myself, I'm in complete agreement with this year's list - one compiled in the weeks leading up to Toy Fair, as global toy companies identify what families will be playing with in the year ahead, leading into the all-important holiday season - something I watch with great interest as I compile my annual Holiday Wish Guide. Check out what's hot this year...

Nearly seven years into the parenting realm, and being completely immersed in family media nearly 24/7, I've developed a pretty good gauge for what's gonna be big, and what will fall flat when it comes to children's programming. I've said for the past few years that I think we're living in the best time ever to be either a parent or a child when it comes to televised (including streaming) content, with increased competition from both new platforms and reinvigorated players in the game creating an environment where everyone is forced to "do better," and that's continued into 2016. From NBCUniversal's Sprout Channel (for whom I contributed to their since-shuttered Sprout Parents website prior to their buyout awhile back) comes a curious new show called FLOOGALS, and with its official premiere happening this Saturday, I'm telling you right now: This will be one of your preschooler's new favorite shows.

Published in Movies, TV and More

With our oldest daughter, Addie being so into science these days, I was excited when SMART ANATOMY by Oregon Scientific hit retailers this fall. Since she's become so inquisitive about how things work - including the body, we've spent quite a bit of time at the library, checking out books based on some specific things. For a few months, she was obsessed with eyes - she wanted to know every piece of them, and how each of them worked. Then it was the heart, and the pattern has continued. With Smart Anatomy, kids can delve deep inside a visual and highly interactive depiction of the human body, with removable parts and a smart pen that activates a wealth of information covering healthy eating habits, bones, organs, muscles and more. "Alex" is the face of Smart Anatomy, and with two faceplates included, Alex can be a boy or a girl.

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