COMMENTARY: Clifford The Big Red Dog Helps Explain The Science Behind Rainbows

Lindsay723.2Clifford The Big Red Dog is such a classic, lovable cartoon character, so it is fitting that Scholastic has a Clifford-themed science kit about something as spectacular as rainbows. Who doesn’t love to look to the sky and see an array of colors that seem to have magically appeared there after a rainy day? I know I sure do—almost as much as I loved Clifford growing up. Clifford The Big Red Dog Rainbow Science, part of The Young Scientists Club, is for ages 3 and up and is an experiment kit that teaches kids the science behind rainbows, while encouraging them to take an active role in their learning. Included in the kit is an informative manual advising close adult supervision for all experiments, and all the materials: a pipette, three test tubes, a funnel, test tube holders, wells, six pieces of chromatography paper, crayons, rainbow glasses, a measuring cup, a pencil, a mirror, and a white circular cardboard. Common household materials are needed for the experiments as well. The bottom of every experiment page provides explanation for the outcome and there are illustrations outlining each step to every experiment, which I found to be very helpful once I was actually experimenting.

The first two experiments are dubbed “milk rainbow” and “rainbow star.” Both call for milk to be poured into the provided plastic bowl and for kids to add a drop of yellow, red, and blue food coloring (which must be provided from home). The child is than instructed to add one drop of liquid dish soap to the middle of the bowl. The point of these experiments is to show kids the liquid soap breaking the surface tensions of the milk, causing the color droplets to mix together and in with the milk. The next few pages of the manual feature experiments that teach kids how to use and clean the pipette properly, be creative and come up with their own secondary colors from primary colors, and decorate the chromatography paper provided from the kit. The next three experiments use vegetable oil, which must also be provided from home. The purpose of the “colored bubbles in oil,” “rainbow color explosions,” and “colored bubbles in a tube” experiments are to show kids that since oil and water don’t like to mix, the watered food color will not dissolve into the oil, causing bubbles to form and even explode when the oil and water are mixed in one of the test tubes. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: The Best of Both Worlds

My fondest childhood memories always involve some sort of book. Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and the Baby-Sitters Club series played a huge role in my adolescence, and I still feel the pang of sweet nostalgia when I see these titles today. Part of my job is to round up toys, mobile apps, games, music, and books to feature in Toy Insider, but in recent months I find myself frantically searching for books to include while games, toys, and especially apps appear in abundance. I am a bit resistant to change, as I still prefer to hold a book in my hand to a Kindle or Nook, so the decline of printed books had me bogged down a bit. As I began searching for books to feature, I realized that reading is reading, and anything that brings a child to find his or her inner bibliophile is A-OK with me. There are so many new platforms for reading that don’t leave out books but take them to a new level, and we have to keep up!

8341295_0_9999_med_v1_m56577569853114439I am fascinated by the LeapReader Read & Write System by LeapFrog. This company is known for its kid-friendly tablets, but this new product has the coolest gadgets and gizmos that should make any child excited about story time. Starting with the very basics, the LeapReader Read & Write books will help your child learn to read and write by sounding out words and guiding letter strokes interactively. The set includes the LeapReader Reading and Writing System, an activity sampler book, one learning paper writing sheet, and free downloads of one audio book bundle, one music album, and one trivia fun pack. I think the coolest part is that interactive handwriting guidance helps children learn to write stroke-by-stroke on mess-free, no ink LeapFrog learning paper—which is also ecofriendly! There are more than 150 books and audiobooks available to add to the set, of which my personal favorite is Learn to Write Letters with Mr. Pencil. [Read more...]

LeapFrog Introduces the New LeapReader

LearnToReadLeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. has unveiled their latest product, LeapReader: the complete learn to read and write solution for kids. LeapReader, from the creator of the Tag Reading System, is the next generation of learning that helps children build literacy skills and reading confidence. With LeapReader’s three essential experiences–learn to read, learn to write, and learn through listening–kids can sound out words, read sentences, write letters with interactive guidance, and develop comprehension skills through audio books and music, all available in the LeapReader library of more than 150 learning experiences.

The LeapReader Library

  • Learn to Read: Kids learn to read by sounding out words, reading sentences, and building comprehension through LeapReader books, maps, and flash cards. The LeapReader books help kids with feedback by not only recognizing letters, but also helping them through the irregularities of letter sounds. Some Learn to Read titles also include pages with 3-D elements. 
  • Learn to Write: Interactive LeapReader workbooks feature audio coaching and support to help kids learn the sequence of strokes and build writing fluency. These new workbooks feature revolutionary LeapFrog Learning Paper, which contains ink embedded within the page for a mess-free writing solution. These workbooks provide feedback on stroke order, and teach letters by similar curves or lines instead of in alphabetical order.
  • Learn through listening: LeapReader audio books, learning songs, and trivia challenges foster children’s comprehension skills, vocabulary, and imagination. By making the learning process interactive, it makes reading and writing more engaging and motivates kids to not only learn to read, but also to want to read.

LearnToWriteLeapFrog worked closely with world-class publishing partners, including Random House, Scholastic Inc., and Kidz Bop, to select the audio content for the LeapReader library. The library will feature children’s characters and audio books such as The Magic Tree House and Little Golden Books from Listening Library, a division of Random House Inc.; Clifford and The Velveteen Rabbit from Scholastic Inc.; and today’s hits from the audio series Kidz Bop.

LeapReader is available in pink and green for kids ages 4 to 8. The LeapReader will be available for pre-order on June 12, and it will be available at major retail locations and at LeapFrog.com in early July. All audio books and music albums will be available for download using LeapFrog Connect Application for LeapReader. LeapReader holds audio for up to 40 books or 175 songs at a time, works with most Tag books, and has a USB-rechargeable battery that lasts up to five hours.

Scholastic Media Inks New Deals For Clifford’s 50th Anniversary

Scholastic Media announces new partnerships for Clifford’s 50th Anniversary. American Home and Textiles will offer Clifford-themed infant and toddle bedding and bath products as well as hooded towels, beach towels, beach mats, hooded ponchos, and terry canvas tote bags. American Home and Textiles will also have kitchen place mats, tablecloths, napkins, welcome mats, curtains, valances, tie backs, pet beds, and kids quilted slumber mats. [Read more...]

Clifford The Big Red Dog For Kohl’s Cares Program

Scholastic’s Clifford The Big Red Dog will be the newest face of the Kohl’s Cares program, bringing select merchandise to Kohl’s stores across the nation. Kohl’s customers will have exclusive access to four two-in-one edition hardback Clifford storybooks and coordinating plush dolls.

From now, until the end of September, shoppers will be able to purchase Clifford books and plush toys for $5 each, with 100 percent of the profit going towards children’s health and education initiatives nationwide.

Scholastic Media develops iPad apps

Scholastic Media is bringing its children’s apps for the iPhone and the iPod Touch to the iPad. The apps are based on Scholastic brands Clifford the Big Red Dog and ISpy and launched June 16 for $3.99.

Clifford’s Be Big with Words, based on the Scholastic and PBS KIDS series, encourages the development of spelling, phonics, and vocabulary skills in young readers. Users spell words and are rewarded with pictures depicting the word’s meaning.

I SPY Spooky Mansion takes users on a hidden object adventure through a mansion, where they will escape by collecting keys through solving ISpy riddles.

Both apps were launched on the iPhone last fall. ISpy Spooky Mansion has ranked among the Top 10 Paid Kids Games and the Top 20 Paid Puzzle Games categories. CLIFFORD’S BE BIG With Words has been ranked among the Top 10 Paid Educational Games as well as the Top 25 Paid Kids Games since release.

Scholastic and HandsOn Network Celebrate National Volunteer Week

Scholastic Media and HandsOn Network, the largest volunteer organization in the nation, are working together to celebrate National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 18 to April 24. Children and families can go to Scholastic’s Be Big Campaign website, www.scholastic.com/cliffordbebig, or to www.handsonnetwork.org/bebig to find local volunteer opportunities at one of the HandsOn Network projects across the country. Large-scale service opportunities will be take place in Minneapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Toledo, and Washington, D.C.

[Read more...]