All posts by William Davis

Pac-Man is Back! Retro Games on the Come Up!

Classic is the new black. From clothes to vehicles, what was once old is new again and in real demand. Video games aren’t any exception.

Classics that for years was found in barrooms and arcades have come back as current hits in an assortment of formats, like phones, touchscreens, and tablets. Not only are these retros bringing nostalgia for the ‘80s, they’re also getting a whole new fan base that didn’t grow up with the original.

Here are some games that pick up where their old-school ancestors left off.

Pac-Man/Now: Pac-Man 256
Pac-Man became 35 this year and was long due for a remake. In comes Pac-Man 256! First brought back in July ‘15 as a mobile game, with over 10 million downloads in the 1st 30 days, this one is going to quickly gain popularity on PCs due to their bigger screens to have fun with all the new features, such as the power to get around ghosts using tornados and lasers.

Old: 1942 
NOW: Shooty Skies

Matt Hall and Andy Sum are game specialists (retro). Their Crossy Road is a solid, smart throwback to the classic Frogger. This new version, Shooty Skies, gets its feel from the ‘80s game in which a plane sets off to destroy its enemies.

The basis of 1942 is carried over in Shooty Skies, and though the design of the game has an old feel, it’s much more lively than its inspiration. Instead of a cargo plane flying over an ocean, Shooty Skies has lots of landscapes, enemies, and new characters. Fun enemies such as piñatas that blast confetti and computer screens with cat memes that blast keyboards.

Pokemon
NOW: Mino Monsters 2

Cool, chilled characters that are cute and lethal at the same time are base to Pokemon and its current rebirth, Mino Monsters 2.

With Mino, you are introduced to a whole new cast with which you can battle. Mino’s creators also brought on a new story element to the game geared at older players, a tongue-in-cheek, Adult Swim type narrative.

Where Are the Video Games for Adults?

Does learning end when you get older?

That would seem to be the case based on a festival held in NY. I generally don’t write about education, but the coverage for developers that want to create games that effect change got me thinking about why mostly all of them were for children.

Educational games bring in about a little over $8 billion to the U.S. economy. At a high level, the industry would agree that educational titles are truly complementing book learning and traditional classrooms.

But hearing these important folks giving this festival, I picked up on something in the discussions: Educational games were always implied to be for kids.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a few games shown at the festival that were geared in a way to teach adult concepts that may or may not matter in an adult’s life. The most efficient one for me was Parable of the Polygons, which energetically showed how small individual prejudices can, in aggregate, allow segregation.

But what about an upfront lesson? You might want to take another shot at calculus, figure out what happened in the Civil War, or learn code, yet you haven’t set foot in a classroom in years. Sure, you can watch an online lecture or read a book. But I’d bet plenty of the educational games you’ll see are obviously for the younger crowd.

The closest thing to what I’m talking about (some educational/learning tool or app for adults) is possibly Duolingo, a well-known mobile app for learning new languages.

But that’s just one subject. The gaming industry really feels that its software can alter our brains and not just satisfy parents who are anxious about their child’s homework. The bottom line is there’s a big untapped group of adult dummies that want to learn too.

Top Toys for Teenagers

The toys below have been chosen by parents as the best toys for teens and tweens. Rather than depending upon ambiguous manufacturer recommendations, we ask adults with pre-teen and teen children. We hope you find this list of the best toys for teens useful in your quest for the ideal gift for Christmas, a birthday, Hanukkah, or graduation.

I Wrote a Book About You

What’s the best way to let someone know that you care about them? Write a book about them! Fun, lighthearted, and sweet, this book is made to be filled out by you and given to someone you like.

Every page gives you an exciting prompt such as “I’ve put some thought into this and I just wanted to tell you that, honestly, it’s kind of crazy how _____ you are.”

All you need to do is fill in the blanks and quickly the whole book is a wonderfully powerful and meaningful gift.

SpokeLit LED Wheel Light with Disc-O-Select

Ride your bike at night in style and safety. Just put this tool onto the spokes of your wheel, push it towards the rim until it fits tight, and push the button to pick your setting. You can put it to one of six colors or leave it cycling through the color-changing Disc-O style. Water and shock resistant and simple to install, this gift will completely transform your young adult’s nighttime bike-riding.

WordTeasers: American Trivia

Put your expertise of America to the test!

“What popular summertime food treat got its start in Missouri in 1904?” – “Which is the only state in the U.S. that was once ruled by a king?”

Use your brain and dive into the corners of your memory to attempt and answer these sorts of questions. The answer is on the other side of the card.

Entertainment Apps for Deaf Young People

Apps that can assist deaf young people and children to enjoy and have more access to TV, movies, books, games, and music.

Listening to music without missing the lyrics or watching television without missing any words is crucial. There are numerous apps that provide access to subtitled television and movies, as well as some which let users see the words while the song is being played.

Sound Hound

Cost: Free
Available on: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows

Sound Hound identifies and recognizes music playing around you, regardless if it’s singing, humming, or a record. The app lets you share music you like on social networks like Twitter or Facebook. You can also purchase tracks and keep up on your fav singer or group.

A big feature of the app, for deaf users, is the “live lyrics.” Once Sound Hound has detected the song playing, you can select to see the song’s lyrics on screen and the words scroll at the same beat as the music. How cool is that?

BBC iPlayer
Cost: Free
Available on: iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry

Providing a wide range of live radio and television, this one lets the user download programs to watch later, even when you don’t have a Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connection. This app gives access to subtitles as well. .

Toca Builders

This colorful and bright app allows users to construct structures with various colors and blocks. This app is engaging, full of color, and fun, not to mention quite stimulating. The app is crafted to be simple and easy to use but with a wide range of content, encouraging creativity via painting, constructing, and building. This is a popular mainstream app which is specifically accessible to deaf children because of the top-quality visual content.

 

Books to Help Children Cope with a New Sibling

Becoming a big sister or brother is a life-changing occurrence. You’re probably eager to do what’s needed to help make this an easy transition for your first born. As a matter of fact, you’ll most likely spend a good part of your pregnancy fretting about the child you already have rather than the one growing in your stomach.

To help your kid prepare for the birth and the coming of your new bundle, you’ll want to let him or her know what to expect. A new baby indicates huge changes for your older child and the more prepared the child is, the better. Books are a solid way of educating your child about babies. You can discuss the problems raised, being sure to concentrate on what he or she was like when they was a newborn and how the new baby is similar.

Hello Baby by Jenni Overend

This is one of the most amazing books on the list and you’ll grapple to get through it without crying (darn hormones). The tale tells about a beautiful. calm, gentle home birth. The narrator (child) describes how mamma might make loud sounds during contractions and also talks about the midwife and the things she brings with her to assist with the birth. Also, the book touches on the daddy’s role in supporting mama during labor, a point that is helpful in preparing the child.

My New Baby by Rachel Fuller

This classic book is for younger children under the age of two. My New Baby concentrates on things seen by a toddler, providing you with plenty of chances to discuss a newborn baby’s needs.

Our Water Baby by Amy MacLean

Written by an antenatal instructor, this book is ideal for preschoolers and older. Mommy is going to have another baby and Oliver is curious about how the baby will be born. Through Oliver’s questions, the book tells in an age-appropriate manner all about giving birth at home and water births.

Best Toys for Pre-Schoolers

Encourage your kid’s motor skills and imagination with these great toys that combine the new gadgets with old-school classics.

LEGO or DUPLO blocks

For preschoolers, DUPLO are the ideal size. LEGO are great as math tools to learn about patterns, measurement, counting, and shapes.

Dress-Up

Dress-up pieces don’t need to be fancy. Make it as simple as hats, scarves, gloves, bandanas, masks, capes, and costume jewelry. You can find some dress up pieces on Etsy. Check out these favorite and popular shops for dress-up items: Philly Pop Designs, A Joyful Bow, and Hunting Faeries.

Puzzles

The most favorite and well-known puzzles are made by Melissa and Doug and Mudpuppy. Melissa and Doug craft the best chunky wooden block puzzles that are ideal for little hands. The pieces make for fun figurines and imaginary play too. Mudpuppy has the most amazing puzzles. Our favorites include My Very Long Puzzles, Geography Puzzles, and Search and Find Puzzles.

Cooperative Board Games by Peaceable Kingdom

These types of board games are absolute favorites among preschoolers. Cooperative games teach team play in which there aren’t any losers or winners. The team loses or wins as a unit instead of individually.

This concept is fantastic for preschoolers who are still absorbing crucial skills like sharing, cooperating, and teamwork. Our favs from Peaceable Kingdom for preschoolers are Dinosaur Escape, Count Your Chickens, Feed the Woozle, and Stack Up! Feed the Woozle works like a movement game and is ideal for busy little bodies. Everyone loves Stack Up! as it gets kids working together to finish a common task while using their fine motor skills.

Fine Motor Tool Sets

These tool sets are a must for play to enhance sensory or motor skills. Fine motor tools aid to build up little hands to train children for writing.

Magnificent Multicultural Toys

Get your children accustomed to different cultures outside of their own with these multicultural dolls and toys!

Nothing gets your idea across with children than using toys for teaching. Children are sensitive little people who should be in the know about the world and about folks who don’t look or act like they do.

Multicultural toys such as African-American Barbies playing alongside their Caucasian or Latina ones can make for a true culture accepting upbringing that kids and parents can enjoy. While plush toys modeled after Hindu gods schools them on the various religions, dolls of other cultures can get them started on the road to acceptance.

Kokeshi Dumbbell

Vintage Kokeshi Doll

Kokeshi are Japanese dolls, handcrafted from wood with an enlarged head and a trunk with a couple of painted, thin lines to outline the face. The body has a floral design painted in black, red, and at times yellow, and coated in wax. One feature of Kokeshi dolls is there aren’t any legs or arms.

Lots to Love Bath Doll

Invented by Berengeuer, these dolls are ideal for playtime and bath. Sturdy and chubby, everyone loves these dolls. They come with removable kinky hair and changeable outfits.

Little Princess Snowflake Doll

Snowflake Princess is a very cuddly, soft toy that is quite flexible and

North American Bear Little Princess Snowflake

lightweight. Soft material body with an incredible pale blue princess crown and dress. Light tan complexion. For any age group.

Football Match Set

Play the fun game with the Football Match. This set is part of the Budkins World range and has goal posts, corner flags, a fold-out pitch, advertising boards and an operating score board. It has seven Budkins characters including one goalie and two outfield players. Also, the football match set has a referee complete with a whistle and red/yellow card.

Special Need Toys

Assist children with learning disabilities improve their handwriting, reading comprehension, numbers, social and verbal skills, processing of information, and interpretation of sounds. If you are a teacher or parent of a child with special needs, take a look at the books and toys below for ideas on how to help develop skills in a fun and engaging way.

Toys created to help children with dyscalculia to better understand mathematics and numbers

  • Lakeshore Building Language 3-D Lotto
  • Mozbii Toy – Draw With The Color You Snatch (Educational) For iPad, Android phones, and iPad Pro
  • Word Families with Silly Sentences Fun Deck – Super Duper Educational Learning Toy for Kids
  • Excellerations TRACING Excellerations Prewriting Motor Skills Set (Pack of 21)
  • My First Art Easel with Chalkboard and Whiteboard – Kids Educational Learning

Toys for Children with Dyslexia

  • I See, I Spell, I Learn Flashcards
  • Reading Highlight Strips
  • Early Reading Program for Babies, Preschoolers and Toddlers- Phonics, Sight Words, Sign Language: Bright Signs Learning
  • Child1st Publications 607 Snapwords Pocket Chart Cards
  • Child1st Publications SnapWords List B Sight Word Pocket Chart Cards
  • Dr. Erica Warren Executive Functioning Card Games Bundle
  • The Original Montessori Phonetic Reading Blocks – Educational Materials for the Beginning Reader Toddler 3 4 5 6 Year Old – Eco Friendly Wooden CVC Manipulative Toy for Kindergarten Language Learning

Toys for Children with Language Processing Disorder

  • Drills for Sounds CDs and visuals for speech and articulation practice
  • Learning Resources LER6801 Alphabet Soup Sorters, 209 Pieces
  • Tiggly Interactive Learning Toys | Includes 4 Reading and Spelling Games| Great for Kids Ages 3 thru 8 | Featuring Elmo and Cookie Monster in Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen
  • Identiflyer Lyric 140 Birds & Frogs Kit Includes Machine, 3 & 2 Cards set & Case
  • Short Stories Fun Deck Cards for Auditory Memory
  • LeapFrog LeapReader System Learn to Read 10 Book Bundle

Toys for Children with Autism

Toys are teaching and learning tools for all kids, particularly children with autism. Learning toys are really crucial in early intervention programs where the appropriate toy makes all the difference. Parents use toys to develop relationships. ABA counselors use toys to pretend play and explain cause and effect.

Speech therapists use toys to learn sequences and stimulate communication. Occupational therapists use them to develop gross motor, social, and fine motor skills. For children, sensory toys are just truly fun! The best activities and toys for kids with autism are the ones that encourage them to engage.

Stretchy Mice and Cheese

Assist two little stretchy mice find their way via the holes in the stretchy cheese! This cute silly fidget is perfect for those with autism because it helps to develop finger dexterity, motor planning, and motor skills. Not to mention, the Strechy Mice and Cheese fidget is good for hours of fun and mind relaxation.

Zoo Animals Sound Puzzle

Sound puzzles help those with autism learn through visual, tactile, and auditory learning. Some of our beloved zoo animals are waiting to talk to your loved one.

Place the puzzle piece into the well with the matching picture on the puzzle board and listen to the animals speak!

Tiggly Math iPad Game

Tiggly Math

All children, particularly those with special needs, learn best when they engage all of their senses! Tiggly Words is operated by your hands and uses an app to let children learn at their own speed.

Created for children developmentally aged 3-7, Tiggly Math educates kids in counting, addition, subtraction, cardinality, number sense and number line. It takes children on a math journey full of magic, humor, and inspiration.

Just hit the toys on your tablet screen and the app reacts, ingeniously engaging children.

 

New and Exciting Toys for Christmas 2018

You better watch out…because, let’s be real, Christmas is coming with a quickness.  So, it’s never too soon to get a start on the best gifts for kids. There’s nothing worse than being under pressure, while people repeatedly post the days to Christmas on social media (the struggle is real!).  We’ve searched some of the best toy wish-lists and all-around excellent gift ideas .  As a result, we’ve unmasked the top-selling games and toys from the foremost toy retailers and discovered the best prices so you don’t have to. Below, check out the best toys!

Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey

Fingerlings

So here we are people, one of the hippest new toys! These darling little interactive monkeys attach to your finger, react to sound, touch, and motion by moving their head, talking in cute monkey talk, and blinking their eyes. If you blow them a kiss they’ll kiss you back. They make monkey sounds and hang upside down on your finger. They are available in many colors from white to blue.

New Hatchimals CollEGGtibles

A pack of mini Hatchimals (there are more than 70 tiny CollEGGtibles to get in the Season One including a limited edition).  Brush the heart and when it transforms from purple to pink, softly press and crack your egg. No batteries necessary!

Googly Eyes Drawing Game for the Whole Family

Just put on a pair of vision-changing goggles, begin drawing, and have your team attempt to say what you’re drawing.  This is a kid-friendly version and lots of fun for the whole family.

Hatchimals Surprise Twins Egg

This is one of the best toys ever created and folks have been going crazy for it. These ‘eggs’ are interactive, your children can care for them and then quickly they’ll hatch two surprise animals!