toys, games, software, apps and gadgets

### Educating Your Child with a Rubik’s Cube

Posted by on Oct 26, 2013 in Mind games, Puzzles | 0 comments

Did you know that there is one solution out of 43 quintillion possible combinations/algorithms for the Rubik’s Cube? I don’t even have an idea how many zeroes there are in a quintillion! In fact, Erno Rubik, the man behind the cube that changed the world, spent a month of solid research to try to figure out the solution.

However, the colorful puzzle that consists of small blocks rotating on a central axis is touted as the most popular toy in history. Just think, ever since Rubik conceptualized it nearly 40 years ago, it has sold an estimated 350 million units! To think that he invented it as a mere teaching aid for his small class of design students so they can understand three-dimensional geometry better!

son 1 has mastered the 3×3

This fun and oftentimes frustrating magic cube has brought so much joy to many people, my son for one. Nevertheless, parents have found a new use for it altogether. Apparently, they can make their kids smarter with the help of a Rubik’s Cube. How is that even possible?

Have you tried playing the Cube? If you have, then you surely know that it is not possible to solve it in just one sitting. Actually, lining up just one straight row of colors takes time and you’re not even sure if you’re doing the right thing. Thus, playing a Rubik’s Cube can help a child develop patience.

Children are generally antsy and they have very short attention span. Exposing them to the Rubik’s Cube early will help them curb their tendency to be edgy. When solving the Cube, one has to think slowly. The toy is not about hits and misses, and it’s certainly not about guesswork. Even if you have spent a couple of hours solving one side of the cube, all your efforts could go to waste if you take a step in the wrong direction. If your child plays with the Rubik’s Cube, he’ll be inadvertently trained to think carefully before he makes any move. As long as the child continues to play it, he’ll develop patience and understand the value of perseverance if he truly wants to become successful.

A Rubik’s Cube can also encourage a child to use logical reasoning in order to solve the cube in a systematic way. As mentioned above, you cannot rely on guesswork to solve the puzzle. By using logical reasoning, the child’s brain is “subconsciously” trained to be methodical, organized, and disciplined. A child can carry these traits with him until he grows up.

We mentioned earlier that Erno Rubik intended for the magic cube to serve as a teaching aid for his students. Given that the toy is three-dimensional, it can be a great tool in teaching children about geometry. In turn, applied geometry could develop a child’s interest on mathematical structure and balance struck within physical objects. Geometry is a vital cog in architecture. So there is a big possibility that your child’s interest on the Rubik could pave the way to his becoming an architect in the future.

Of course, we can’t really say that Rubik’s Cube can make children smarter. There’s no solid basis for that. At the end of the day, it’s still up to the parents to decide what sort of education they would give to their kid. Nevertheless, the Rubik’s Cube has huge potential in helping your child develop skills and characteristics that could help make him a well-rounded individual.

son 1′s collection

### Setting up Shop Online

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in Online Business | 0 comments

It seems like most everyone has spent their work day at one point or another, dreaming about being their own boss, perhaps for additional income or be with the kids more while still earning for them. Maybe you have a product idea that you know is new and inventive, or you have a better way of doing something already out there, maybe a really beneficial game for kids or an educational toy. But you have dreamed about opening your own business, only to go back to work.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this digitally driven world, you can create your own business in the comfort of your home without a whole lot of stress.

image via http://www.tidbitdujour.com

Creating your own business starts with having a product or an idea. You can create something brand new, you can do things a better way, or you can even just put your own spin on a classic. A unique creation can help to get your product talked about, while a new version of an old thing might bring in customers with familiarity and curiosity.

No matter what you choose to do, you will need to set up shop. Thankfully, because of the internet you can do this without the hassle, the high cost and the rent of a brick and mortar store. You can create your online store which will allow you to create your items at home, and then ship from your local post office. This can save a considerable amount when it comes to the costs of running your business. Especially if you use some of the flat rate boxes that are available at your local post office.

When it comes to choosing the right e-commerce store, you will want to do your research. Not all companies offer the same thing. That is why you will want to do your research, to make sure you are getting everything you need for a price that you are satisfied with.

Different companies offer different things, and differing price scales. It is best to shop around, so that you are aware of what the going price for most services are. Companies like 1ShoppingCart.com will give you the information you need to make the right choice for your burgeoning company’s needs.

Advertising is another big part of getting your business going. You need to get your name out there so that you can start bringing in customers. Social media is a great place to start, so you might consider making a Facebook page or starting a Twitter account to share news and coupons with your customers.

### Heads Up for A Nanny Cam in the House

Posted by on Oct 14, 2013 in Home Security | 0 comments

A lot of dual income households are left with no other option except to leave their kids in the hands of a family care giver or a nanny. Even with meticulous screening and strong endorsements of referrals, parents couldn’t help worrying about their children and checking on them from time to time. Aside from mobile phones and online chats, parents can also keep an eye on their kids through hidden cameras or nanny cameras. Having these surveillance devices around the house is quite common already but parents should still consider their decision carefully before installing a hidden nanny camera at home.

image via http://blog.brickhousesecurity.com/

The usual reason for having a hidden camera around the house is for parents to monitor their kids and to check on the nanny’s performance in their absence. Parents should first be familiar with surveillance laws or use of cameras in the house before using them. Although considered legal in 50 states in the US, videos with voice recordings without the person’s consent is deemed illegal in some states. There are also privacy issues that may arise depending on where the camera is placed. This will have a bearing on the type of surveillance device that can be used in the house as well as their locations. Parents who want accurate monitoring should go for high-end products with better resolution quality and real-time feeds.

Another consideration is whether to disclose the presence of hidden cameras in the house to your nanny. Homeowners are not obligated to inform their employees about these hidden devices but they have the option to do so. The International Nanny Association recommends that the employers discuss the use of hidden camera in the house to their nanny prior to employment. Discussing it with them beforehand gives them an option to take the job or decline it before you make any long term plans with them. This will also minimize the risk of losing a good nanny who may take offense against being filmed without consent. In a way, these devices can also be used to prevent abuse or neglect of duty from the nanny. Knowing that they are being watched during their work hours will make them think twice about fooling around.

### Time out

Posted by on Sep 27, 2013 in Activities, Featured | 9 comments

School has started in this region. That means half a day, sometimes more hours spent in school, gaining knowledge and experience for the little ones. An old adage goes “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy…” so as a mom, I find that it is but right to balance school schedule and kids’ play and other activities, even for just an hour or two. Here are some ideas for you and your kids to try.

after viewing great works of art, let them draw

1. Museums and Doodling. There are a lot of museums catering for the mini-Picassos and mini-Van Gogh’s. They offer activities especially tailored for the creative, exploring little hands. After a tour of an exhibit and answering questions from the museum tour guide, they will have enough inspiration and have seen a lot of colors to invoke in them images that they weren’t even familiar before.

2. Outdoors and Adventures. Saturdays are best spent outside, especially if the sun is giving. Spend it biking, boating, wall-climbing, skateboarding, play football, tennis  and basketball and other physical activities. The year will be spent in school and winter is not far so better use the days out. Of course, skiing and sledding comes in the picture when snow arrives.

hair up, my little sailor! (ahhmm helmsman?)

3. Homebuddies and Movies. There are days when the weather won’t cooperate, or when you and the kids would not be in the mood to go out. No worries, you can always go for movies and popcorn or play chess, monopoly…and there are even online games for kids and parents that can be enjoyed by both in the comfort of the living room. In this era of technology, the possibilities of having fun at home never ends. PS3, Wii, Xbox and all that? Make use of them well!

At the Museumsquartier, free exhibit

4. Theaters and Cinemas and Eat-outs. The theater is sometimes at the end of the list when finding things to do with the kids because they would prefer watching a movie on the big screen. Whichever you choose for them or whichever they prefer, make sure that the play or film to watch is worth it. It would be fun to talk about later on. Afterwards, take them to eat their favorite dessert or full meal! For us, that’s like a sushi restaurant and black sesame Japanese ice cream!

theater’s backstage as daughter prepares, boys play

5. Discipline and Martial Arts. There’s nothing wrong with learning self-defense and discipline while having fun. Karate, Taekwondo, Aikido and Judo are some of the popular form of martial arts but I’m sure there could be one you and your kids would find fit and enjoyable. Schools usually offer these as separate extra-curricular activities along with dancing, piano lessons, choir practices and a lot more that will enhance a kids’ creativity, sportsmanship to make them well-rounded individuals.

6. Bookstores and Reading. Someone once said “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” I wanted my kids to live the lives I had and that’s why bringing them to bookstores and libraries has been a habit. Books should not be limited to: children’s stories, fables, fantasy ones, you can try Bible parables and character stories, I’m sure they’ll love those too. I don’t mind if they ask to buy a new book everytime we visit a bookstore, I’m filling up all the nooks and crannies to raise them bookworms. ^_^

### The VTech InnoTab 3 – The Tablet for Kids

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in Gadgets for Kids | 0 comments

I once heard someone say, “In the eyes of a child, everything becomes right if a grown person does it.” To some, this may have a negative connotation. After all, the statement seems all encompassing, as if saying whether a grown person does something good or bad, it becomes right from a young one’s point-of-view. Nevertheless, people shouldn’t really take that statement in a negative light.

image via http://gizmag.com

Grown people know enough to watch their actions when in front of kids. So obviously, they wouldn’t purposely do something they know is wrong or bad especially when they know that young ones look up to them as role models. Therefore, instead of analyzing that statement under a bad light, it would be better to see how people can apply it positively.

For instance, most parents these days depend on technology to make their lives easier. Laptops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones help them to keep abreast with their work even while on the go. Even at home, some moms have their own computers or gadgets that they use to stay connected to friends, pursue different hobbies, read e-books on their spare time, or keep track of the family’s budget.

The above examples show how indispensable technology is in the lives of modern families. This dependence on technology is something that parents can expose their kids to early in life. Don’t take me wrong, though. I am not encouraging parents to teach their kids that technology is the be-all and end-all. Rather, what I’m trying to say is that parents should train their kids about the correct way to take advantage of technology, as this can help them as they grow.

Schools these days hand out assignments where children are required to research using the Internet. At the same time, some applications for smartphones and tablets were specifically designed as learning tools for young kids. Some applications teach toddlers the alphabet, colors, numbers, and more. In light of these, parents would do well to teach them how to use these gadgets properly to enhance their learning experience.

Fortunately, there are child-friendly gadgets that were made for the sole purpose of making learning fun for kids. An example of this is the VTech InnoTab 3. VTech is a brand known for educational computer games and gadgets for toddlers onwards, and the VTech InnoTab 3 is a learning app tablet made especially for kids.

Through the InnoTab 3, children wouldn’t lack of age-appropriate educational content such as games, e-books, videos, music, and many more, which may be downloaded from VTech’s very own comprehensive app store called the Learning Lodge.

Just like mum and dad’s tablet or smartphone, the VTech InnoTab 3 features a 4.3” touchscreen display, a directional pad, and tilt sensor. It also has a 2-megapixel camera that rotates up to 180 degrees. Incidentally, the camera comes complete with more than 55 photo features and special effects – the perfect way to introduce your kids to the awesome world of photography and perhaps develop their skills. Other features of this awesome tablet include an e-book reader, MP3 player, photo viewer, and video player. It has a 2GB capacity, which is expandable with an SD card.

It’s practically just like your old reliable iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab except that this one is exclusively for children. If you want to introduce your children to technology, there’s no better way to go about it than with the VTech InnoTab 3.

### Develop Your Child’s Spatial Intelligence with the Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 Mega Stunt Set

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in Mind games | 0 comments

Once upon a time, children played actual toys. They had trains, airplanes, boats, balls, dolls, and blocks. Playing with these toys allowed children to explore the limits of their imagination. Playtime meant going out, meeting with friends (who are usually children of the same age who live next door or within the same neighborhood), going to the park, and playing said toys there. It was an awesome time for children to play make-believe. I should know, because I belonged to a generation where playing actually meant physical exertion and not merely endless tapping of the fingers.

all those colors

As time passed, however, these toys evolved into remote controlled vehicles, Barbie dolls, and Lego. While the concept for playing remained the same, the changes had to happen to keep up with the times.

These days though, it seems as if only a few kids are still playing with the above-mentioned toys. Now, children are more excite to play with Wii, Xbox, Playstation, or with games installed in their tablets or iPads. Times have definitely changed.

Of course, playing with these gadgets can be quite beneficial. These gadgets expose children to technology, something that is constantly evolving. Being acquainted with technology can work to the advantage of children as they mature and develop, so there’s nothing wrong if you see your kid playing on the iPad. However, nothing could be better than sharpening the minds of children through the toys they play.

In fact, brain health experts suggest that kids be given toys that develop their spatial reasoning. In case you don’t know, spatial intelligence is one among eight kinds of intelligence, which refers to a person’s ability to recreate his visual experience and reasoning about shape, measurement, depiction, and navigation. It accounts for the thinking process of engineers, architects, designers, sculptors, and inventors.

One toy that can develop the spatial reasoning or intelligence of children is the Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 Mega Stunt Set. This toy was one of the winners of the annual Best Toys for Kids 2013 awards given out by the American Specialty Toy and Retailing Association (ASTRA). The chosen winners were toys that promote open-ended or creative play, incorporate innovative design features, and maintain exceptional safety standards.

The Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 Mega Stunt Set is somewhat an upgraded version of the typical marble and/or blocks. A set contains colorful translucent cubes that interlock in endless configurations. It includes 108 cubes, 2 Cascade Stilts, 2 Coaster Tubes, 1 Marble Vortex, 1 Pivot Trampoline, 2 Universal Connectors, 30 steel marbles, and color instructions.

It’s the perfect toy to enhance and develop a child’s ability for creative and constructive play. The double-exit cubes will keep a child on his toes as he guesses which way the marble will roll. The other parts such as the pivot trampoline, cascade stilts, coaster tubes, and marble vortex can help your kid perform an endless array of stunts that would surely stimulate his synapse. Moreover, aside from developing the spatial reasoning of your kid, his hand-eye coordination will vastly improve, too.

If you want your kid cut down the time he spends on his technological gadgets, give him a toy that he would surely enjoy, something that would certainly make his mind work. Give him the Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 Mega Stunt Set, and you’ll be amazed with the results.

### Life360: 24/7 Buddy for Keeping Tabs on the Kids

Posted by on Jul 28, 2013 in Apps | 10 comments

A typical mom’s day starts out by getting everyone in the family ready to go out for their daily activities. As soon as everyone is out of the door, parents can only hope that nobody gets into trouble and that they all get back home safely. With today’s mobile technology, parents are able to keep in touch with their kids through texts or calls every time they leave the house. Those who like to keep close tabs on their kids can make an easier job out of it through the Life 360 Family Locator app.

Case in point: my son usually comes home at 12:10 in the afternoon. On a Monday, he didn’t arrive at the usual time and I was getting worried. Fortunately, husband was at home then so I had him wait at home and I went out to look out for our son – in school and a friend’s house. He wasn’t there…I scouted the playground and our neighborhood to my dismay. Hubby then took his turn while I stayed at home and waited. It was a full two hours of agony!

I was crying already, my heart racing and my imagination gone to beyond so many bad scenarios! I was about to call the police when hubby called and said that our daughter saw our little boy walking home when she was on the same way too.

Thus, we decided to give him his own phone (android) and we installed this awesome app! We synchronized his to ours (on ios).

gives mommy less worry

This mobile phone application allows users to share their location with selected family or friends. It combines messaging, check-ins, and location sharing in one app. Parents can easily check their children’s whereabouts by glancing at the Life 360 map, no need to text or wait for a response to know if they have arrived at their destination. It is also quite secure because mutual consent is needed for location and message sharing.  Information is viewed exclusively by users in the same circle. One can choose the people in their circle by invitation and be included in the group once they accept the invitation. It features check-in messages to let others know that you have arrived safely, chat or group messages, automated alert on favorite locations, crime alert, and emergency button. This app is quite handy for moms who get some peace of mind knowing that their kids are safe and exactly where they should be. However, it is not exclusive for family members only. One can create separate circles for friends, relatives or even nannies and caregivers.

Parents simply have to download and install the application in the phones, then create and account. Everyone that they wish to track need to sign-in for the locator to work. Users who sign out from the account can no longer be tracked. Aside from being able to keep an eye out for family and friends, this app can also be used to trace phones that are lost or stolen. The life 360 is a great app for moms who want to check-on their kids without nagging. It’s free, easy to use and available 24/7. And, makes you worry a little bit less!

### Gather-Up for a Game of Letter Up

Posted by on Jul 18, 2013 in Online Games | 19 comments

Unleash the inner nerd in you and get into one of the most exciting word games online, Letter Up. Friends and family members can gather-up in the virtual rooms of Letter Up for a fun game that will test your vocabulary and strategic skills. This multi-player crossword game pretty much has the same rules as the classic scrabble. Two to four players can pit their vocabulary prowess against each other by forming words out of lettered tiles in a 15 by 15 square grid. Each letter tile has a corresponding score value which is earned for every acceptable word played on the grid. The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins and earns coins that can be used for future games.

Click image to play

There are different rooms in the game that you can visit and join. Each room offers game options with varying levels of difficulty and excitement. The Social game level provides a time limit of 5 minutes for each players turn. A Chat box is available on the same page as the Letter UP game that you are playing which makes it easy for you and your friends to chat or egg each other while waiting for the other players to finish their turn. A faster paced game is available at the Master and Expert category where players can play their tiles within a 3 and 2 minutes time limit. Those who want some adrenaline rush can join the blitz game where players only have a minute to play their tiles and outsmart their opponents in getting the bonus point slots in the grid.

Letter Up is an engaging game that can be enjoyed with friends and family members, but one can also make new friends while playing the game. This online game is available for free to all Facebook users which mean you don’t have to wait for friends and family to go online before you can play. One can often find players waiting for opponents in the different rooms. It is another great way to connect with people through social media and experience the charm of old fashioned fun of classic board games using modern technology.

*Letter Up was developed by Heysnails.com – of two dads who wanted to have useful games and create a safe virtual world  for their own kids. One of them happens to be the dad of my children.

^_^