Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Board Games Zapped…Life, Monopoly and More

Do you love board games?  Haven’t been able to pass that love on to your grandchildren?  Here is something that may be able to change all that.  It the new line of traditional board games that are “zapped.”  That’s right – they’re zapped.  I like to write about toys that we, grandparents, remember but have been adapted so that they are still attractive.  These “zapped” games integrate traditional board games with today’s technology. 

Hasbro has updated their popular board games by integrating them with an iPad app which gives them the zing they need to attract a new generation to board games.  I always loved board games and I played them with my family as a kid and with my kids.  I am introducing my grandson to several board games including the traditional Candy Land.  No iPad versions for the preschool set, but these classic games for older kids with a “zapped” iPad versioninclude Monopoly, Life and Battleship.  Here’s a picture of the Life board I took at Toy Fair last year.

Life Game Board with iPad at the center

What you do is this: 1.  Buy the Zapped version of the board game.  Download the free app at itunes.com onto your iPad.  Put your iPad in the center of the game board and start to play the game.  Where does the iPad come in?  Lots of ways – You customize your game piece, the “spinner” is a digital spinner – not a cardboard square with a plastic arrow attached, and rather than a cute card there are America’s funniest home videos for each of life’s events.  And so grandparents, Life becomes “interactive” in the way that word is used today – you can interact with your iPad – or your grandchild’s iPad.

If you are ready for the digital age but don’t want to be embarrassed because you might not  “get it,”  this is a good place to start.  You don’t have to be a digital whiz to play – it’s easy and fun.  Your grandkids will think it’s cool that you have a game for their iPad and you can introduce them to the old fashioned family – intergenerational- fun of a board game.  It can be a real win-win.

I’ll be visitng this year’s Toy Fair in just two weeks and I can’t wait to see what’s new with this line from Hasbro.

Here, they are at Amazon:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bananagrams - Games for All Ages

Toy Fair 2013 is just a few weeks away and I have been thinking about what my favorites were last year that I meant to write a full blog post about and didn’t get too.  Bananagrams – How did I miss it!  Here is the display of their games including Bananagrams, Appletters and Pairs in Pears.  Judee Cohen was very generous and sent me home with free samples to enjoy.  Great games for adults but don’t forget the kids.

Today my grandson, Zach, was here to have Pop give him a haircut and have lunch with us.  Zach is 3 1/2 and I can tell you he does NOT like getting a haircut.  It is a major project.  And so we like to have a positive experience after the haircut.  I had put these Appletters and Pairs in Pears games on the dining room table to take a picture of later for this blog post.  But Zach saw them and he wanted to play the games.  He is interested in games.  He is a little young for these games, but Grandma is pretty good at improvising.

First we opened the Appletters and Zach enjoyed making a long line with the letters while I was reading the directions.  The Pairs in Pears was on the table and he wanted to check that one out too.  

So we put away the Appletters and opened Pairs in Pears.  I was prepared for this one.  Zach made pairs of letters and I made pairs of words.  We traded letters a few times and Pop helped him arrange his pairs neatly. My daughter helped me make words.  So….we played Pairs in Pears in pairs.   You read that right – read it again.   

Here’s our final display.  We each counted our “pairs.”  Zach had made more pairs of letters than I had made pairs of words and he won.

This is a good game for grandparents to share with grandchildren.  Zach likes to play computer games and watch transformers on YouTube.  On babysitting night we always try to have some kind of craft project, Play Doh or game that we can enjoy together.  Since we babysit for more than four hours, we need to have things to do that will conserve grandparent energy.  These Bananagram games fit the bill. They are versatile and the tiles are a good quality.  They are packaged in a simple cloth package with no wasted space or packaging materials so they are very space efficient.  Good for travel and all ages – from pre-school to grandparents.  There are several sets of rules provided and you can make up your own just as I did.  

You can think about this game being educational for an early reader or vocabulary building for an older child, or like me, you can think about it just being good old fashioned fun without a lot of hoopla.  I understand that there is a new Pairs in Pears meant for ages 3 and up so I am looking forward to seeing that at Toy Fair. 

Check out the Bananagram website for more products and you can order them at Amazon.  Just click below.  Bananagrams is a three generation small company and you can find these games in specialty shops like Learning Express, bookstores and pharmacies.  Priced at $14.95 they are also a good buy.



Monday, January 14, 2013

MLK Day – A Time for Grandparents to Bond, Model and Teach

Martin Luther King Day is on Monday, January 21st. It is a national day of service.  It’s an opportunity to volunteer side by side with your grandchildren and have the trifecta of a good day:  Work on a volunteer project, set a good example and bond with your grandchild.  Check out the government website  at http://mlkday.gov/  for general information and seek out suitable projects in your area.  VolunteerMatch.org  also is a good place to learn about local volunteer opportunities.

MLK Day is a unique opportunity for many grandparents because we were there in the 1960s during the civil rights movement and have personal memories of Martin Luther King and events of the times.  I remember vividly reading a MLK biography with my eight year old son twenty years ago and interspersing some of my own experience when he look up at me and said, ““Mom, were you alive when Martin Luther King was alive?”  Well, yes I was.  History comes alive for a child on a different level when they are face to face with someone who “was there.”  If you are a grandparent who “was there” take this opportunity to discuss your personal history with those tumultuous times.

Check out if there are programs that you can attend with a grandchild at your local library and museums. I am a big fan of grandparents seeking and taking advantage of teachable moments.  MLK Day provides a natural.

Excellent books to read with children
MLK’s famous speech is written in its entirety with stunning illustrations by Kadir Nelson throughout.  The book comes with a CD of MLK delivering his famous speech in 1963. 
His biography is written by MLK’s sister and it is a very personal view of their childhood.  Complemented with beautiful illustrations by Chris Soetpiet
These and other books are probably on display at your library and local bookstore.  Check it out this week or see them on Amazon with links below.