Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Smurfs: The Lost Village Now on DVD





Okay grandparents –   I know you remember the Smurfs because your kids loved them.  Well guess what – now your grandkids do too.  I saw Smurfs: The Lost Village movie with my grandson in the theater and I really enjoyed it as much as he did.  Now it is available on DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and any combination that works on your home screen.  When my DVD arrived, my 8 year old grandson was ecstatic.



The movie is action packed and has an amazing color palette that will mesmerize you.  It features an all star voice cast with lots of younger cast names you won’t recognize plus Julia Roberts as SmurfWilliow and Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf.  I’m sure you recognize them.  Here is a lsit of the voice actors:





The storyline involves Smurfette and her friends slipping into the Forbidden Forest with a mysterious map and having a spectacular race and ordeal to beat the evil wizard Gargemel to the Lost Village.  They do arrive after an unbelieveable journey and there is a big surprise when they get there – I won’t spoil the movie by telling you the surprise.



My grandson wanted to see the movie immediately when the DVD arrived and he has enjoyed it as much as he did in the theater.  This weekend he will get to see it with an audience of at least 5 other kids  and interested adults on a large screen.  The popcorn will make it seem even more like we were at the Movies again.







The DVD versions come with bonus content including new featurettes,  a Meghan Trainor music video and more.










All of these versions should be available everywhere including at Amazon:



Monday, August 7, 2017

The New Weird School Game Review plus Giveaway



All elementary school age kids love the My Weird School books by Dan Gutman.  And they will have a blast with the brand new, first My Weird School Game  - Miss Bernard is a Wild Card. When the game arrived my 8 year old grandson could not wait to play it and we both couldn’t stop laughing as we played. It is fun, funny, and educational - all wrapped up in one package. And... I am so excited to be offering one of the games as a giveaway.  The entry is easy  - see the details at the end of the review.

There are My Weird School teacher character, rhyming, action, adjective and noun cards plus Miss Bernard wild cards.  The wild cards give it that spin with ever changing possibilities.



Each player has his/her own sentence game board. In turn you draw from the deck of cards and try to complete sentences on your individual game board. You can start out easy by just completing sentences or play an advanced version.    Every sentence is hilarious.  The pictures above show one of my grandson’s sentences and one of mine.  Notice the number in the color bar on top.  The cards have different point values but you can play with or without assessing points.  We started out just to see who could complete a sentence first and then we advanced to counting points.

In addition to laughing out loud, the game develops math, reading and strategic thinking skills.  It is a perfect grandparent/grandchild game to play with elementary school age children.  You will be the cool grandparent who knows about the Weird School books if you get this game.

My grandson and I laughed our way through playing game after game.    A picture is worth a thousand words.  Here are a few that tell all about how we enjoyed the game.



My Weird School Game is hot off the presses and it is already winning awards. It just won a 2017 GAME OF THE YEAR award in the Educational Reading Skills Games category by Creative Child Magazine and I bet there are more to come.

At my very last stop at Toy Fair in February when I could barely stand up,  I made a command visit to the All Things Equal, Inc booth and met author Dan Gutman in person.  My daughter had seen on facebook that the game was coming out and she asked me to look for it at Toy Fair.  Here I am with Dan.  I impressed my grandson more with this picture that the one of me with the ghostbusters.  Thanks All Things Equal for providing me with a review copy of the game plus one to giveaway.


This review is solely my own opinion I did not receive any compensation for the review.  I did receive a game in order to conduct the review.

Giveaway Details
It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  marion@grandmachronicles.com.  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:

Leave a comment here on the blog

and/or

Like The Grandma Chronicles facebook page - click here.

You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: August 22, 2017 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only. 

Miss Bernard Is a Wild Card is available at Amazon:


Friday, August 4, 2017

Grandparents Having Fun in Ocean City, NJ


Every summer I look forward to our vacation in Ocean City, NJ with my daughter, her husband and my grandson.  Ocean City is the real Jersey Shore unlike the TV show by that name.  The Jersey Shore is one of best places on earth for families to vacation. We are lucky to live in New Jersey and be able to load up two cars and drive down the parkway to our favorite shore town.  Ocean City is “dry” (no alcoholic beverages allowed) and there are no gambling games on the boardwalk.  It is a true family vacation destination.

What I like most about it, it is the most multigenerational vacation place I know.   Many - not just some - of the families vacationing here include grandparents and we are having a grand time!

Here are a few pictures I took of grandparents with their grandchildren at the beach. I asked permission to publish these pictures and I thank all of you who proudly let me take pictures of you and your grandchildren for my readers to enjoy.

These grandparents and granddaughter are walking hand and hand at the ocean's edge.


This Grandmom was helping out with five granddaughters and had built a castle with 5 sand seats so that she could take a picture of all of them together.  Her little granddaughter explained which Disney characters each of them would be and asked me if I knew why Snow White didn't have fancier shoes.

If there is a big dig and a young child there frequently is a grandfather involved.  Check these out:

 And this happy guy was building a castle with twins!



I was too busy taking pictures of other grandparents and I forgot to get one of me with my grandson.  Here he is collecting shells to decorate our big dig.





Vacationing at Ocean City also involves having a great time on the Boardwalk.  There are the rides, the arcade, miniature golf, waterpark, nightly entertainment and ice cream.  There is so much happening I got in trouble one night for bringing my grandson home so late.



Here I am on the boardwalk with my daughter and grandson:














This is a better picture of Zach with a minion on the boardwalk:


Do you vacation with your grandchildren?  Please leave a comment with your vacation memories.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Despicable Me Labyrinth Game by Ravensburger - A Winner!



The Despicable Me Movie is a big family blockbuster movie this summer.  If you haven’t seen it, it is great fun for the dog days of summer.  Whether or not you have seen the movie, this Ravensburger - Despicable Me Labyrinth game spells lots of family fun.  I tested it out with my 8 year old grandson and found that it was challenging and engaging. 





You set up the game board randomly placing 33 maze tiles on the board plus one off the board next to one of arrows. (The board has some set tiles that don't move.) The 24 character cards are dealt face down to the players.  In turn each player chooses a character card and then uses the “extra” tile to push the maze by one tile width anywhere there is an arrow.  Then the player moves his piece trying to get to the character on the card he has drawn.  Since the maze shifts on each turn this can get challenging….but sometimes the shift will give you a clean shot – or perhaps a circuitous route - to that character.  If you like games where the possibility of winning is always changing you will love this.  And you have to always be adjusting your strategy as the maze is always changing.  The object is to get to all the characters in your hand first.  2 – 4 players can play.

Ravensburger is well known for puzzles.  Now that Wonder Forge has joined Ravensburger they have used both their game and puzzle know-how to create a new kind of challenge with both game playing and puzzle solving skills needed.

The box says it is for ages 7 - 99.  But I think most 7 year olds could get frustrated but the constantly changing gameboard and figuring out the best strategy.  And 99 year olds…..well if they are patient and still have good eyesight and know what a minion is….
Here’s my grandson after the first game.  You can see  that he is ready for the challenge to take me on again.



If you would like to order the Despicable me Labyrinth game from Amazon, just click below:

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Fisher-Price Learning Tablet - Time for Grandparents to Get Onboard


Fisher-Price Learning Tablet

When doing product reviews, I usually keep in the Grandma zone and stick mostly to non-battery and non-electronic items.  But Grandmas need to know about what is new, exciting and useful  for our grandchildren. Our grandchildren, however young, have some exposure to smartphones and tablets.  But all tablets are not created equal. Young children can have a more enriched and safe experience on a tablet that is designed just for them.  This one, by one of the most respected names in childhood play, is worth knowing more about. 

The Fisher-Price Learning Tablet has many features especially for young children.  If you are considering buying a tablet for a pre-school age child, this may be the one for you. Here are some highlights that are notable:

Protection – There is a custom bumper around the edges, PLUS there is a hard screen cover which protects the screen.  It easily attaches to the back of the tablet when the tablet is in use. My daughter- in-law especially liked this feature.

Learning Tool – Includes 35 pre-school learning apps featuring Fisher Price characters 

Storybook rhymes – sing along and enjoy the animation

Little People videos – Music videos featuring favorite pre-school toy characters

Kindergarten Readiness – Pre-K and K activities with parental tracking so you can keep abreast of your child’s readiness for Kindergarten

Babies too – Laugh and Learn apps will be enjoyed by babies while learning about cause and effect

Google Play – App store is child safe and does not have any inappropriate features available

Timer enabled – You can set time limits and bedtime shutoff times.

There are a bunch of impressive technical specs also but I’m skipping them in this review.

If you read the reviews about this tablet you will find that there is some set-up time patience required.  The parents who make it through that labyrinth are very happy with the content and controls. That was my daughter-in-law's experience. If the parent isn’t tech savy at all they can get frustrated.  This is going to be true with any product.  The more capabilities and controls there are the more complexity.  For parents who want their children to have both fun and learning activities on a tablet with secure parental controls and a sturdy casing, the Fisher-Price Learning Tablet can be an excellent choice.

Here is my grandson enjoying the tablet with his Dad:




Here is a close up of my grandson with the tablet

Note:  I was not compensated to write this review.  The opinion expressed is my own.  I did receive a product sample for review.




Monday, May 15, 2017

Look and Feel Baby Book by Edushape




Are you looking for a perfect gift for a baby?  The Look and Feel Baby Book by Edushape is a can’t miss choice.  If you have been to a baby shower you know that they will get lots of necessary equipment, clothes and diapers, etc.  But they are usually short on things that will stimulate a baby’s development and entertain him.  The Look and Feel Baby Book does just that.  It has been tested with my three month old nephew and he loved it.

The book comes in this attractive box and opens up to fit on the side of a pack and play or crib. It has two sides and each has six panels for baby to enjoy.  One side has smiling animals and the other has black and white shapes – more on that later.  It is washable and each animal panel has a different feature that will be entertaining for a baby – crinkles, ribbons, felt, strings and squeaking.

I am not a baby development expert but I knew that black and white are thought to be good for a baby’s visual development.  Since this item features a black and white side, I thought I’d do some research on this concept.  I read several articles and I recommend this one at the Ask Dr. Sears website if you are interested in this topic.   Basically, at birth, a baby’s retina is not fully developed. The retina is the back layer of the eye that detects light. An adult retina can distinguish many different shades of light and color, but a newborn retina can only detect large contrasts between light and dark, or black and white.  So all these years that we were using pale pink and blue for babies - this was not the best thing.  Who knew?  But NOW you KNOW so you will want to use this information in choosing items for a newborn baby.

Here is my three month old nephew enjoying the animal panels in his crib.


I took these pictures in the Pack n’ Play so you can get a close-up of both sides.




The animal faces side features high contrast pictures with crinkles, ribbons, felt , strings and squeaking for more sensory development.


The black and white geometric shapes and a mirror panel side will aid in visual development – and isn’t it cool.

Edushape is a 34 year old company that specializes in quality children’s toys which promote successful developmental learning through play. Their products are mainly designed for ages Birth to 5 years old.  You can see all of their products at their website here.
This review is my own opinion.  I was not compensated to write this article.  I did receive a free sample in order to complete the review.

The Look and Feel Baby Book is available at Amazon:


Other articles you may be interested in:



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Favorite Puzzles and Games at Toy Fair plus a Giveaway!


This is the fourth in a series of posts about Toy Fair NY 2017.  The events span a week and I literally saw thousands of toys and took 1000 pictures.  And so I am organizing my reports in a series of posts as follows:

This post covers games and puzzles.   Both of these are popular in our house and so I had lots of fun checking out what’s new. I am including something for every age  and my favorite thing about this category – every item is something an adult (grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, friend) can do with children.  We keep games and puzzles at our house and both are on tap when my grandson visits.  Extra note - no stock photos - with one exception taken at Toy Fair.

I am delighted to offer a giveaway of the Zodiac puzzle featured in this article.  See the giveaway details at the end of the article.

Zodiac Puzzle by eeboo
Zodiac 1008 Piece Puzzle by eeboo
Most jigsaw puzzles have a top and a bottom.  If there are multiple people working on them only one person gets to work from the bottom up.  But the square Zodiac puzzle provides a family challenge with all sides being an equal start – no top or bottom! And – the symbols glow in the dark!  25” x 25” when completed.  As all eeboo puzzles, it is made of sturdy, colorful pieces.  I am very happy to offer this puzzle as a giveaway with this post.  The whole family  - all generations - will enjoy putting it together and then again when it is completed watching it glow in the dark.


Bunny Bedtime by Peaceable Kingdom
Bunny Bedtime by Peaceable Kingdom

I included this game on my Babies and Toddlers Toy Fair post but it should be here too.  This hidden gem is a game designed for 2 year olds and it would be an excellent grandparent gift.  How do you play?  It's time for bed, Bunny! Players roll a chunky die and move Bunny on the game path. Along the way, players help Bunny make choices about her bedtime routine. Which bath toy will she play with? Which pajamas will she wear?  I just love this game idea.


Hoot Owl Hoot by Peaceable Kingdom 



This is an another game by this award winning company of cooperative games. Hoot Owl Hoot is not new but it has won numerous awards and is still a best seller for Peaceable Kingdom. In these games, players work together to win the game rather than against each other.  In this game the players work together to get all the owls to the nest before the sun rises and then everyone wins.  Here is a short video that shows how the game is played.




Sneaker Puzzle - American Style by Ravensburger
My Grandson with his completed Sneaker Puzzle by Ravensburger
My 7 year old grandson loves puzzles and when I saw this 3D puzzle that can be used as a pencil holder at Toy Fair, I knew it was for us.  You can see my review blog post here.  There are 108 numbered plastic pieces that must be put together in order but it is very manageable and Zach completed it with his grandfather just watching.  Very cool.  Very fun. Gets an intergenerational A+.


And to All a Good Night Family Jigsaw Puzzle by Springbok
And to All a Good Night Family Jigsaw Puzzle by Springbok
This family puzzle features pieces in three different sizes designed with large pieces on the outside for the young ones, and small pieces on the inside for more experienced puzzlers.  We have completed one of these "family" puzzles with our grandson when he was younger and it was a lot of fun to work on together.  Springbok has other puzzles in this format including an state license plates one.

Star Wars Monopoly 40th Anniversary Edition by Hasbro


Can we ever have enough of Star Wars?  Simple answer is NO.  This is a special 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Monopoly game from Hasbro. 40 Years!  Do you believe it? Do you love Monopoly?  Do you love Star Wars?  This game is for YOU!  Star Wars lovers of all ages will enjoy playing this together.

Miss Bernard is a Wild Card (Weird School) Game by All Things Equal

That's me with Dan Gutman

The very first game based on the popular Weird School books is coming out in June.  Here is an advance look at the box.  At my very last stop at Toy Fair when I could barely stand up,  I made a command visit to this booth and met author Dan Gutman in person.  My daughter had seen on facebook that the game was coming out and she asked me to look for it at Toy Fair.  Here I am with Dan.  Impressed my grandson more with this picture that the one of me with the ghostbusters.  Who knew?  I plan to do a full game review when it is available.  Stay tuned.

Zodiac Puzzle Giveaway Details

It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  marion@grandmachronicles.com.  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:
Leave a comment here on the blog


and/or


You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: May 10, 2017 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only. 




Monday, April 17, 2017

Sneaker Puzzle - American Style by Ravensburger



Sneaker Puzzle on Display at Toy Fair NY
This 3-D, 108 piece puzzle is fun to put together and fun to keep as a pencil holder.  The ages on the box says 8 - 99 and that is about right.  My grandson, who is “almost 8” put it together by himself with his Pop (My husband) sitting with him and prepared to help if needed.  There are 108 sturdy plastic pieces and each is numbered – they do have to be put together in order unlike a flat jigsaw puzzle.  So you may want to put the pieces in order before putting them together – that was my husband’s job.  Once the puzzle is put together there is a plastic insert which allows the puzzle to be useful as a holder.



This is a perfect gift to have for a grandchild visit – it is easy and fun to do together at any age.  It is cute and it is also cool.  Not too many things fall into both categories.

I first saw the Sneaker Puzzle at Toy Fair NY in February and I plan to include it in a yet to be written puzzles and games at Toy Fair post.  But I received a sample last week and as it was spring break week for my grandson, it was perfect timing.  Zach opened it and within minutes he wanted to put it together.


Here is the puzzle in its box:


Sneaker Puzzle in its Box

Here is the completed puzzle on my kitchen table



The Sneaker Pencil Holder Builder and Owner


 The Sneaker Puzzle is available on Amazon:


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Traditions! Celebrating Passover and Holy Week Together with Young Children


When our children were young we had a tradition with our friends of having a seder with a Christian communion service. The Passover meal is considered to be the meal celebrated with Jesus and his Apostles on Holy Thursday.  Celebrating the Passover traditions and coupling it with Christian rituals is an enriching experience for people in the Christian tradition and connects us to our Jewish religious roots.  



Once our daughters had children, they were interested in reviving that tradition even though the children were pre-schoolers. The grandparents put our heads together and divide up the preparation tasks to make this all work smoothly.  I enjoy preparing a beautiful table laid out with everything needed for the seder.




Our friend, Joan was a kindergarten teacher and so she was in charge of a pre-service explanation and she used a flap book (kids love flap books) to describe the seder for them. I wrote about our first Seder with our grandsons in this 2013 post.



They are older now so this year Joan used an illustrated book of bible stories for children and read the Exodus and Last Supper stories.  Our friends have a new granddaughter and I just bought a board book – entitled “My First Seder” and so her parents flipped through that with her too.  We don’t want to leave anyone out as a seder is supposed to include the whole family.  The boys are old enough now to remember some of the aspects of the seder and look forward to participating in them.  Having this educational element before the seder makes it more meaningful for the children.





We have a script we use for the seder itself and the boys still enjoy opening the door for Elijah and finding the hidden afikomen. I am calling it a script rather than the Hebrew Haggadah because it incorporates Christian elements. The boys' juice is in stemware and so they participate in the four sips of wine.  My grandson reads when it is his turn (he is in second grade) and I am grandmotherly impressed with his ability to read words like horseradish without any assistance.





After the Seder service, we enjoy a meal together – 2 families, 3 generations celebrating and enjoying a religious and historically cultural experience together.



I encourage you to adapt your religious and spiritual rituals for the young children in your families and to establish traditions.  Our grown children love the traditions they experienced as young children and now I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate these traditions with our grandchildren.





Biblical References:



Old Testament:   Exodus 12:1-14

New Testament:   John 13:1-17, 31b-35