Celebrate A Special Train
(NAPSI)-The sense of adventure and excitement that is built into railroad
history is core to the stories of a blue steam engine created by a father for
his son 65 years ago.
Now, that train, Thomas the Tank Engine, is celebrating his milestone
birthday with a new generation of kids and parents. As part of the
festivities, Thomas is teaming up with historic railroads across the country
for Day Out With Thomas: The Celebration Tour 2010. It encourages families to
spend time together and with the popular engine. Events at regional railroads
across the country show how each railroad station stop has its own
distinctive history to explore.
Rolling out of the station for its 15th consecutive year, the tour is
expected to welcome more than a million passengers in 45 cities throughout North America. Each event offers fans the opportunity
to take a ride on a 15-ton replica of Thomas the Tank Engine and meet Sir
Topham Hatt, Controller of the Railway on the Island of Sodor,
among other exciting activities.
The tour is presented by HIT Entertainment and sponsored by MEGA Brands, a
leading toy company. Tickets are available at (866) 468-7630 and www.ticketweb.com/dowt. For more
information, visit www.thomasandfriends.com/dowt.
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Videogame Offers Magical Adventure For Kids And Parents
(NAPSI)-A new videogame is casting a spell on young players by combining
the humorous gameplay of LEGO® and the magic of Harry Potter™. The two
beloved brands have come together to give players of all ages a unique way of
experiencing the Harry Potter adventures.
Readers and moviegoers have been enchanted by the story of Harry Potter
and "LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4" allows them to experience
Harry's first four years at Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry-LEGO
style! Players are encouraged to learn spells, solve puzzles and mix potions
as they explore iconic environments such as Hogwarts™ castle, the Forbidden Forest,
Diagon Alley™, the village
of Hogsmeade and more.
Easy drop-in and drop-out cooperative gameplay, one of the key features
that have made LEGO videogames a hit with families, gives kids, parents and
friends a reason to gather around the television to spend time together. Fans
will get a kick out of unlocking and selecting from the diverse cast of 170
playable characters including Harry Potter, Ron Weasley™, Hermione Granger™
and Hagrid™, as well as pet characters such as Ron's rat, Scabbers,
Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, and Hagrid's dog, Fang. They'll also have the
opportunity to build and customize their very own LEGO character to use when
they play in Freeplay mode.
"LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4" is rated "E 10+" by the
ESRB and is available for Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, PSP
(PlayStation Portable) and Games for Windows PC.
For more information, visit www.magicisbuilding.com.
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Travel With Less Stress: Tips And Gear To Make Travel More Enjoyable
(NAPSI)-Getting the right on-the-go gear is an easy and affordable way to
avoid the stress of traveling and can keep everyone entertained. Here are some
helpful tips to make your vacation more enjoyable:
• Bring a survival kit--Travel plans don't always go smoothly, so
ensure you can keep everyone in good spirits in the unlikely event of a
breakdown or airport delay. Essentials such as snacks, sunscreen, bottled
water, first-aid supplies and a flashlight can help you weather the
unexpected. The little extras--coloring books and crayons, a favorite pillow
or blanket, DVDs to watch en route and a Kindle loaded with your favorite
books (available nationwide at Target)--will keep everyone comfortable and
• Watch the road--Having maps handy will take the hassle out of any
road trip--or even the quick drive across town. A GPS navigation system is a
must-have to keep your travels headed in the right direction. Most GPS
systems can guide you through unfamiliar areas; suggest an alternative route
around rush hour traffic; find the closest hospitals, police stations and
fuel stations; and perform an increasing array of infotainment functions.
Printing out airport or roadside maps ahead of time lets you preplan your pit
stops and make the most of every minute.
• Keep kids entertained--Keep boredom at bay by bringing along
entertaining gadgets such as the RCA 10" portable Blu-ray player
($299.99 at Target) or the new big-screen Nintendo DSi XL handheld that will
keep kids of all ages amused for hours, on and off the road.
• Tune in or out--Take your iPhone or iPod Touch and you can use
free apps such as Pandora Internet Radio and Shazam to turn your trip into a musical
adventure. Just make sure you don't forget an iPhone/iPod car stereo
adapter-they're available for almost any car, whether you have an auxiliary
input, AM/FM adapter or a tape deck connection. Also, bring along some
headphones for those family members who prefer to travel to the beat of their
• Capture the moment--Don't miss a moment of the fun--capture it on
video so you can share and remember your trip for years to come. With the
Flip MinoHD Camcorder, it's easy to film your own videos and upload them
directly to Facebook or to your computer. The Flip is a stylishly small,
pocket-sized device and it's available for $199.99.
Reduce stress before you hit the road by getting the gadgets, games and groceries
you need to make the most of your travels.
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Tips For Keeping Kids (And Families) Science Smart
(NAPSI)-American students need a boost in science education and getting
families involved may be the key.
In fact, a recent nationwide survey co-sponsored by the National Science
Teachers Association and pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim found
nearly all science teachers wish their students' parents had more
opportunities to engage in science with their kids--and many parents said
they need help. Parents also said that access to materials and community
resources would help them get more involved.
Science can be a tricky subject for mom and dad to discuss with their kids
but there is no need to fear. Here are a few easy tips:
1. Incorporate science into everyday life. Ask your kids questions about
things they see around them to encourage curiosity. Let kids take things like
old toys apart to explore how they work.
2. Link family vacations to science. Whether on a camping trip or visit to
the ocean, explore nature with your kids. In addition to being fun, trips to
museums and zoos are good opportunities to ask kids questions about what they
3. Conduct fun experiments at home. Some easy experiments can be found on
the Internet. For example, the Family Science Quest Channel on YouTube
features video tutorials of fun and engaging experiments using common
household products. To find it, go to YouTube and search for "Family
The YouTube channel is part of the Boehringer Ingelheim Science Quest
program. The program and its mobile laboratory bring hands-on science lessons
directly to students at elementary schools that need it most.
Jim Baxter, senior vice president of development for Boehringer Ingelheim,
explains, "As a company committed to innovation in science for 125
years, we support programs that further science education and help extend the
learning process into the homes and families of students. Through our Science
Quest initiative, we hope to encourage a passion for science in children
beginning at an early age."
It doesn't have to be hard to get kids curious about science. Trying these
tips and engaging the family together are great ways to bring science to
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When It Comes To Batteries, Parents And Kids Hate Surprises
(NAPSI)-As parents continue to depend heavily on batteries to power not
only their gadgets but also their children's toys, the need arises for more
information about rechargeable batteries and the recharging process. Parents
who've experienced their children's favorite toys losing power learned
firsthand the importance of being prepared, to keep those important devices
running in the future.
Keeping electronic toys running is particularly important for many busy
parents. Battery-operated games are often the key to entertaining children on
long road trips, short errands and to support the babysitter back at home, so
a drained battery can mean a very unhappy child.
In fact, according to a survey of 1,059 parents, conducted in April by
Impulse Research Corp., 60 percent of parents have had to cope with an upset
child because a battery-powered toy or electronic device would not operate
because of dead batteries.
Kids aren't the only ones who get frustrated when a gadget isn't charged
or batteries unexpectedly run out of juice. If you have missed a photo
opportunity for this reason, you aren't alone. In a recent Consumer Reports
survey of 13,571 of its subscribers, 38 percent couldn't take a photo at one
time or another because their camera batteries weren't charged.
To add insult to injury, 52 percent of parents, according to the Impulse
Research survey, say they have been exasperated when they have attempted to
replace batteries and found that the replacement or spare batteries are
drained. The survey also revealed more about what consumers are looking for
from rechargeable batteries and chargers: Seventy-four percent of parents
surveyed said they would like a "fuel gauge" on a battery charger
that indicates the current level of power in the rechargeable batteries,
while 68 percent want a charger that indicates how much charging time
The good news is that companies like Energizer are responding to consumer
needs and have developed chargers and batteries that are superior to ones
created as recently as 2009. Energizer's new rechargeable NiMH AA batteries
can now be charged up to 600 times and retain about the same amount of power
at 12 months than previous Energizer 2450mAh rechargeable batteries retained
at six months. That means charging less often and powered devices when you
need them most, for more play and picture-taking time than ever before.
The company's new Energizer Recharge Smart Charger also represents a new
era in NiMH battery charging. This charger clearly displays a countdown clock
to let consumers know how long until the batteries are fully charged, and a
battery fuel gauge that shows the level of power in the battery. It also
features a bad battery alert that will let you know if you have inserted a
non-rechargeable battery or a rechargeable battery that is beyond its useful
With 69 percent of parents in the survey saying they feel they are always
replacing or recharging batteries, and 56 percent saying they've run out of
battery power at the most inopportune moment, there are likely to be a lot of
people who will be pleasantly surprised by the recent innovations in
rechargeable batteries and battery chargers. For more information, visit www.energizer.com/smartcharge.
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Keep Kids Entertained On Vacation With Technology Designed Just For Them
(NAPSI)-Keeping kids happy and entertained during the summer months can be
a difficult task, especially as families hit the road for vacations. But new
electronic toys made just for kids offer the perfect solution.
Some of today's hottest new toys mimic Mom and Dad's portable electronics.
An innovative new handheld game from VTech lets young learners keep busy on
long trips. With MobiGo, young users can tap, flick and drag like their
parents thanks to the same touch-screen technology.
Electronic games are also the perfect opportunity to make learning fun.
Many of the games incorporate a wide range of skills including math,
vocabulary, spelling, logic and categorization. For older children, the
slide-open QWERTY keyboard introduces valuable text-typing skills. From
drawing and playing instruments to fishing games, handheld electronic games
are the perfect portable way by which parents can ensure their kids are
occupied while traveling on vacation.
Travel Tips For Parents
Before hitting the road, here are a few things that parents should keep in
• Select electronic devices that have AC adapter kits to ensure they
last during long road trips. Devices such as MobiGo also come with headphones
to keep youngsters busy while not disturbing parents who might be driving.
• Pack plenty of water, napkins and hand sanitizer for quick cleanup
on the go.
• Encourage sharing. Whether it's electronic games or music, play
fair with limited supplies and make sure each child has the ability to play
for part of the trip. Reward them for waiting their turn.
• Keep kids engaged by purchasing items that are designed to make
In addition to being an easy item to bring along wherever you may be going
this summer, technology designed for kids is also a smart solution for rainy
days inside. In fact, a recent survey shows that kids are younger than ever
when they acquire their first electronic device. They are also getting a lot
savvier when it comes to technology.
According to the study, while parents report the average age they received
their first personal electronic gadget was 18, their children received theirs
at the average age of 4. In fact, four out of 10 parents surveyed report that
their child has used their own personal electronic device as a toy.
For more information on electronic toys for your tots through teens, visit
www.vtechkids.com, www.facebook.com/VTechToys or
follow @VTechToys on Twitter.
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A Tropical Family Vacation In Your Living Room
(NAPSI)-Planning ahead can help make your next staycation a success. Shake
things up by avoiding the daily routine and get family and friends involved. Take
pictures just as you would on a real vacation and create a scrapbook of your
With DVDs and fun games, it's easier than ever to entertain the whole
family without leaving your living room.
Some families even choose a theme for their staycation, such as the beach
party. For beach party fun:
• Plan your menu around tropical fruit such as coconut juice and
fresh pineapple. Fire up the barbecue for kebabs and burgers.
• Have the kids make leis out of paper flowers. They can also use
green construction paper to cut out palm fronds with which you can decorate
• If the weather permits, let the kids play in the sandbox outside
and build sand castles.
• To help create the beach-party mood, ask family and friends to
wear flowered shirts and skirts and sunglasses.
• Play reggae music.
• Show some movies about being stranded on a tropical island or
• Play games such as "Vacation Isle: Beach Party." The
game offers fun activities for the whole family and even affords the unique opportunity
to see Mom, Dad or Grandma surf.
From the moment they step on the game's island, players are surrounded by
exciting beach activities that the game offers. Players can enter that surf
contest in which they launch themselves on the water-ski ramp or test their
agility by learning to fire dance.
Up to four people can play using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. To enhance
your experience, you can also play the game using the optional Wii Balance
When fire dancing, players spin, flip and move to the rhythm. While
surfing, players ride out some monster waves...but have to watch out for that
giant squid ahead. During slalom water-skiing, players zigzag their way
through the course as the boat takes them around the island.
Wakeboarding players get to speed through the course and impress the
crowd, pulling off amazing tricks behind the boat.
For more information, visit www.vacationislegame.com.
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Helping the Environment-One Preschooler At A Time
(NAPSI)-Imagine how wide your preschoolers' eyes would pop if they knew a
dripping tap wastes about 55 cups of water each day. Or that it takes 450 years
for a plastic bottle to degrade.
Being wasteful harms the environment in so many ways, and those are the
kinds of facts most parents are unlikely to have at their fingertips. But for
those eager to teach their children about the importance of caring for and
preserving the world around them--and experts say it's never too early to
start imparting such values--help has at last arrived.
The 24-hour, preschool TV channel Sprout has just begun airing a new
series, "dirtgirlworld," that's the first ever to introduce
children as young as age 2 to what it calls "the joys of outdoor play
and sustainable, green living." The idea being, kids will naturally find
it fun to "go get grubby" along with their own gumboot-wearing
eco-heroine (dirtgirl) as she grows awesome tomatoes, calls clouds by their
names, and drives a big orange tractor. And, oh, yes, it's no accident that
there's plenty there to engage and inspire their parents, too.
"Engaging children's shows like 'dirtgirlworld' really encourage
parents and preschoolers to discover and learn together," said Gael
Levin-Simon, an educational content developer for children's television.
"Young children can learn so much from playing outside and experiencing
"And, with their parents as guides," she added, "it provides
an opportunity for the family to share these special moments together while
building knowledge and respect for the wonders of the outdoor world around
The music-centric show features a blend of catchy rock songs, live action
and animation. As for its wildly assorted cast of characters, in addition to
"the Green Thumbs," a bunch of real kids having fun in real
gardens, they include dirtgirl's best friend, scrapboy, who's a whiz with
junk; grubby, with her grub's eye view; hayman, a monosyllabic scarecrow; and
ken the weevil, a super stunt star.
The "dirtgirlworld" series airs daily at 4:50 p.m., EDT, and
includes educational preschool curriculum. The Sprout channel is known for
its unique TV, on-demand and online programming for kids ages 2 to 5, their
parents and caregivers.
And since "dirtgirlworld" is intended to provide ideas on how
preschoolers can make a difference environmentally, parents can also go
online at www.SproutOnline.com for
tips like the following:
• Reuse already-read newspapers--and have fun doing it--by folding
pages into hats.
• Since kids love watching things grow, plant trees or flowers
together in your backyard or neighborhood.
• Turn recycling into a habit by making a game out of separating
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