Learning Matters:

Our Creative Director, Brianne, recently came across an interesting article that studied the choices parents make regarding devices they give their children. It looks like gender plays a major role in the decisions parents make in two primary ways: protection and placation. Parents are far more likely to give their daughters tablets geared toward kids, while they give their sons smartphones. Also, parents are more likely to give their sons devices when the child is acting out, where they choose other measures of discipline and distraction for their daughters.

On the one hand it makes sense: girls are nearly twice as likely to be victims of cyberbullying than are boys, three times more likely to be the targets of sexual predators, and notably more likely to be victims of violent crime. Of course parents feel more protective and their choices reflect that instinct.

However, one fears that a kind of unintentional sexism may also be at work. As Business Wire points out, “Whether conscious or unconscious, parents are more likely to take into consideration their son’s preferences, while seeming to be more protective when it comes to choosing for their daughter.” There is something very close to Susan Fiske’s concept of Benevolent Sexism to this idea.  

Until we reach the easy answer — ending the culture of victimization — there is no easy answer. Parents want to make the right choices for their children, and the systemic problem is rooted far deeper than any device. However, it is worth noting that if the only function parents are taking from their daughters is the ability to use phone service, as is the major distinction between most tablets and smartphones, they might be taking away the opportunity to call for help should an emergency take place.

We Made This: Big Nate: Comix by U!

Create your own comix with art from BIG NATE! Big Nate, aka 6th grader Nate Wright, is a self-described genius, hilarious “king of detention” and cartoonist extraordinaire. Now just like Nate, YOU can create your own comix, using Lincoln Peirce’s art from the bestselling Big Nate book series. 

With favorite characters, cool backgrounds from Nate’s world, and fun props and sound effects, kids (and adults!) will enjoy designing their very own Nate-inspired comic strips. Three different modes of play are available, for users of all levels. The number of different comix you can make is infinite, so the possibilities are endless. As Nate says, your comix will “surpass all others”!

· Nate’s best friends (and rivals) are included—his buddies Francis and Teddy, rival Gina, crush Jenny, his neighbor’s dog Spitsy, and even his Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Godfrey, aka “Godzilla!”

· Backgrounds include the P.S. 38 school gym, lockers, library, Nate’s bedroom, the neighborhood, and even Mrs. Godfrey’s classroom—everywhere that Nate goes.

· Three ways to create comix:
Story Starter—Begin with a few finished frames and then fill in the rest!
Fill in the Blanks—Fill in the speech bubbles on an already designed comic.
Start from Scratch—Create a comic from scratch, and design it however you like!

· Share your comix with a friend, or save them to a gallery.

· Check out five original app comix created by Lincoln Peirce himself.

Toybox: VW Camper Van Play Tent from The Monster Factory

Okay, I'll admit I'm a bit biased. My very first car was a Pink 1965 Volkswagon van, and even though it wasn't in great condition and it broke down all the time, I loved it. So, when I saw The Monster Factory's play tents I immediately wanted one.  

First, it's waterproof, perfect for outdoor play even in the rainy Spring season, which also makes spilled drinks and other clean-ups easy. It only takes a minute or so to set up (even young kids could easily do it themselves), and it folds down into a cute bag designed to look like a spare tire. The front windshield opens up, allowing a view to the outside and a fresh breeze, and it's roomy enough to share.

The thing that I love most about the play tent is it's invitation to imagine. I remember having a strange relationship with cars when I was young. Of course they were very familiar to me as I rode in one every day, but they seemed very much attached to the adult world, a source and symbol of grown-up power. The Monster Factory has made a space for kids to take their own adventures, whether small, like trips to friends' or family members' homes, or wild journeys culled from the realms of make believe. When it's not in use it's a great place to stow toys or to hide from with siblings with a book.

The VW Camper Van Play Tent is a great toy for the park, the beach, the backyard, or the bedroom; see where your little one will go. 

We Made This: Sesame Beginnings

It’s your favorite friends from Sesame Street in an app designed specially for the youngest fans! Surprise and delight your little ones with these adorable characters.

The creators of the bestselling Peekaboo Barn have joined forces with Sesame Street to bring those lovable furry friends to life in the classic vocabulary discovery format. A stroll through the neighborhood takes you to the iconic brownstone stoop, where curious little fingers won’t be able to resist tapping the bouncing doors! Elmo, Cookie Monster, Super Grover, Abby Cadabby, and more familiar faces pop out to say hello. Even Oscar pops out from his trashcan to join the fun! 

Toddlers and young children will learn about cause and effect, have fun making predictions, and start to recognize the names and favorite objects of their Sesame friends. 

- Classic Sesame Street characters
- Real voices of each Sesame Street Muppet
- Sesame Street theme song
- Audio-supported text, helping children practice word and letter recognition and speech
- Simple functionality geared towards children 3 years and younger
- Two play modes: Looped Mode for endless play or Storybook Mode that ends with Elmo and Abby Cadabby getting ready to sleep (perfect for bedtime!) 
- Parent tips provide additional learning opportunities for the app as well as suggestions for continued exploration outside the device (Look for these in the option menu under instructions) 

Share it with you little Sesame Street super fan!

Toybox: Marbleocity Dragon Coaster

Let's face it -- kids grow up, and when they do they put away many of their toys, pass them down to younger siblings, or give them away. It can be a kind of nostalgic moment for parents, watching little ones lose interest in games and toys you once loved together, but it's balanced by the pride we feel when we see kids using more complicated skills and thought processes in play. Enter the Marbleocity Dragon Coaster, available for pre-order now and for immediate purchase later this month. From Marbleocity: 

"The Dragon Coaster was inspired by the real wooden roller coaster of the same name, located at Playland in Rye, NY. Marbleocity kits are made of Baltic Birch plywood – a perfect match for this classic wooden roller coaster model.

"The Dragon Coaster is the first in a series of interconnecting modular ‘marble machines.’  Each kit is constructed from laser-cut wooden parts using nothing more than household white glue.  The Dragon Coaster consists of over 80 wooden parts and is hand-cranked or (optionally) powered by an electric motor (sold separately)."

The kit comes with a graphic novella that will entertain kids while teaching them basic lessons about physics and energy conservation. And don't worry if 80 separate parts sounds like a bit too much for your little ones (or yourself for that matter) because the instructions are broken down into a series of small steps and procedures that are simple enough for all to enjoy. Make sharing the book and working on the coaster a daily ritual with the end goal an amazing working model as your final reward. 

Follow this link to see a short video of the Marbleocity Dragon Coaster in action, and we think you will love it as much as we do! 

Music Monday: Sunshine

We're in the rainier season here in Portland, and though the flowers and trees are in full bloom, it's pretty easy to miss the sun. This week's playlist is designed to brighten your day with a bit of light.

We hope you'll find us on Spotify at nightanddaystudios!

We Made This: Yummiloo Rainbow Power

Fun. Silly. Secretly good for you... and coming soon to TV.

"Yummiloo Rainbow Power is gorgeous. Cute, appealing characters that engage from the beginning...a sumptuously illustrated Yummiloo ‘land’ and animation that sets a new standard." —Babyology

The beloved world of Yummiloo is currently in the works to become a television show! The show will engage kids first as adventure storytelling, with exciting, healthy food as the ever-present backdrop. The crowd-funded campaign was successfully funded on June 9th.

“Kids will enjoy the bright colors and catchy tunes, and parents will appreciate the positive message encouraging kids to eat wholesome foods in a variety of colors.” —Common Sense Media

Welcome to Yummiloo, a food-filled paradise! The Yum Yums are headed to their annual carnival, but the Rainbow Machine which powers the carnival is empty. Help Rooty and the other Yum Yums harvest as many different colored fruits and vegetables as possible to power up the Rainbow Machine and begin the carnival. 

In this educational app “playing with your food” will take on a whole new meaning as kids learn the basics of food identification and nutritional curriculum through a fun and engaging game. After being introduced to the Yum Yums, users are instructed to gather fruits and vegetables by dragging them into the corresponding colored bucket to help fuel the Rainbow Machine. Little ones are also provided with a compost bin for spoiled foods, making room for more fresh foods to grow once the rotten ones are removed. Once all five colored carts are filled with food the Rainbow Machine is able to run on full power, unleashing the carnival rides and a Yum Yum party. The celebratory end of the game reinforces the importance of ‘eating a rainbow,’ educating kids about how eating a mix of bright, vibrant colored foods help their bodies grow. 

Toybox: Go! Go! Smart Animals - Zoo Explorers Playset

The word has gotten around about last year’s Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Explorers Playset from VTech, and with good reason. After winning several editorial awards, the playset finished the year with a number of Parent Choice awards as well. A simple, and easily pieced together track takes little ones on a trip around the zoo where they can learn animal names, the sounds they make, and hear a song for each station. Features include:

  • The Smartpoint Rhino (named Ryan) help kids explore the zoo.

  • Each time Ryan rolls onto a SmartPoint he responds with different phrases, songs and sounds.

  • Children will strengthen their motor skills while playing with the 8 interactive features such as a turning gate, spinning water gate, and sliding elevator.

  • The tracks can be reconfigured to create new adventures each time they play.

  • The interchangeable tracks can be connected to other Go! Go! Smart Animals or Smart Wheels playsets allowing for even more play.

  • The electronic zoo entrance teaches animal names, traits, and sounds, as well as letter names, letter sounds, and colors. It also plays various songs that kids can sing-along to.

We think your kids will love the Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Explorers Playset; let us know what you think if your family already owns one.

We Made This: My A-Z


My A-Z is more than just alphabet flashcards for your preschooler: It’s an exploratory learning project for everyone to do together! Every child begins building their ability to read and write by learning the letters in their name and their surrounding environment: S is for Salt, M is for Mommy, B is for Butterfly. My A-Z provides a fun way to personalize this process for your child. Here are some of the different ways you and your child can use My A-Z:

1. Let your kid (on their own, or together with the family) create their own, individual alphabet cards. Take a photo of your dog—and record its bark—for the letter D. Photograph and record Grandma saying “I love you!” during her visit for the letter G. Empower your child to explore and document their world, then review and talk about their selections.

2. If you are teaching your child a second language, sprinkle the language throughout the app. For example, add another dog photo under P and record your child saying “Perro” for Spanish. 

3. Parents of non-verbal children: photograph the people, foods, and important items in your child’s life and use this app as a communication tool with your child.

My A-Z includes a basic set of words and pictures that many early language learners use in their beginning vocabulary, from Apple to Zipper. 

Toybox: Yummy Nummies

It might be easy to think of Yummy Nummies as a new phenomenon in the toy market, or even a logical extension from items like the Easy Bake Oven or the Girl Scout Cookie Oven. These playful treats are in fact rooted in an underground toy culture that has been steadily growing in Japan where extremely complicated kits are sold to make all kinds of goodies from ramen and dumplings, to hamburgers and cakes. A company named Kracie has long lead the industry and their products have often required a special order for those outside of Japan, and many of their kits are far too complicated for little users.

Yummy Nummies has run with the idea, creating a simplified toy kit that even very little children can enjoy, while older kids can learn about chemical reactions, patience, and the triumphs and failures of cooking at home. The product line includes gummy candies, waffles, pizza, pretzels, among many other selections, and most require little more than mixing the products and placing them into molds (some products take a few seconds in the microwave, but very few, indeed). Mixing bowls, measuring scoops, and cooking trays are all included with the kit and it is likely a good decision to pick up more than one, because you will want to join in the fun.

Let's lift the ban, and start playing with our food together.

Music Monday: Spring Cool Down

Here in Portland where the Night & Day Studios' office is located, we've had a few teases of Spring weather; already the snowdrops, bluebells and a few brave daffodils are blooming, and the memories of frigid December mornings are losing their chill. This is the perfect time of year to put on some great music and take an early evening walk, sit down with a great book, or tackle a project with a young one, so we've put together a list of some of our favorite low-key songs that keep the energy even and warm. We hope you'll take some time to listen along, and find us on Spotify (we love new pals).

We Made This: Peekaboo Fridge

We love to receive letters here at Night & Day Studios, and recently quite a few people have taken time to tell us how much they love Peekaboo Fridge. Stories from our users make us happy, because we love these apps as well. Peekaboo Fridge was the first addition to the Peekaboo family after Peekaboo Barn became an international standard for interactive, educational games designed for toddlers. 

Peekaboo Fridge was a logical extension, because it carries the cause and effect value of the original into a more familiar environment for young people. Along with new vocabulary words, kids learn about healthy food choices in a fun and friendly environment. The signature bright colors, happy faces, and cheerful music make eating whole foods a delightful experience for everyone.  

Who knows, maybe once the door closes, every refrigerator drops a disco ball while fruits, veggies, and dairy products party down. 

Toybox: Fisher Price Code-A-Pillar

Each generation brings new educational demands as knowledge and technologies evolve; today's high school graduates face expectations that their parents never imagined when they were seniors. Luckily as the times change, so do the tools. Everyone from educators and parents to product developers are adapting to new trends with creative solutions that address these challenges and ensure that young people are capable of navigating emerging expectations.

One of the more interesting examples of the movement toward tech savvy toddlers is the Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar. This unique toy responds to the instructions that little ones "program"; using a system of shapes and colors that correspond to distinct actions, children can learn cause and effect in a concrete, behavioral sense while they develop an understanding of the outcomes rendered from command variations. In other words, the toy will behave differently based on the order in which it is assembled.

Some early reviewers have argued that the Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar is merely a gimmick, a repackaging of the same kind of causal association that toys have always helped children learn simply couched in contemporary watchwords. However, others think the variable nature of the commands that kids can construct represents an evolution in approach to real-world preparation. If nothing else, we think it's a pretty great looking toy that reflects a new take on some of the earliest (and most important) lessons that children learn: agency and choice consequence. 

The Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar is set for release this year, with a projected price of $50.00 USD. Let us know what you think!

Music Monday: Office Playlists

This week we're taking a break from our usual themed lists to share a few tunes we've been enjoying around the Night & Day Studios' office. We hope you'll hear a jam you like and that you'll friend us on Spotify.

Music Monday: Letters

Today is National Letter Writing Day, an observation believed to be rooted in Japanese tradition. Few people take time to actually write a letter these days with so many communication options, but there are few better ways to make someone smile than to send a note written by hand.

Besides, stamps are cool.

This week's playlist celebrates the nearly lost art of the written letter, from love letters, to the "Dear John" type, and even the occasional threat. We hope you hear something you enjoy.

Please follow us on Spotify at nightanddaystudios. We love making friends!

Favorite Gifts

This is a great time to get our BabyLit Christmas Carol Calendar to help count down the days until the 25th. With lovely art and animations, a children's version of the classic story, and surprises for each new day, it's a fun way to wait for Santa.

Over the next few weeks some of us here at Night & Day studios will be sharing a few of our favorite gifts of all time -- whether they were gifts we've given or received from loved ones. This week, staff writer Chris Wrenn kicks things off.

I have a friend who buys me an instrument any time a gift-giving occasion comes around. He does this not because I am a talented musician -- I'm not, in fact I suffer from a complete lack of rhythm -- but because he knows that I love traditional American music. He has given me a concert ukulele, a chromoharp, a mouth flute, and many more odd instruments, but my favorite among them is this autoharp. I've always been a big fan of the Carter Family, Sara Carter in particular, and the bright, tinny sound of an autoharp never fails to make me smile.

The truth is I rarely pick up any of the instruments I own. Sure, sometimes I'll have a wild thought and beat against some strings or blow through my harmonica, but mostly they lay on tables and shelves silent of song. There are times though, when my eye lands on one or the other and I'm reminded of the gifts that mean the most to me: the friends I love, the music that has enriched my life, and the all beautiful places I've seen. These people and experiences work together to make each day a joyful noise, and a life lived in those spaces never loses rhythm.


Music Monday: Hallelujah, Anyway

This week it seems many need a lift, a reminder to smile. We hope you will join us in making time or the people you love and who love you. This week's playlist is a celebration of joys, both small and monumental, and we hope you'll follow us on Spotify at nightanddaystudios to share more music together.