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Apps Art With Kids Gaming Reviews Video game reviews What's Hot

Reviews By Kids, For Kids: Undertale

undertale_logo

Undertale – The Fallen Human

Undertale was released on September 15th, and since has spawned a massive fan base obsessed with the ingenuity of creator Toby Fox’s character design, musical talents, and copious amounts of detail. Using 8-bit style graphics, Undertale tells the story of a child who falls into an underground world of monsters, and they must make their way through their kingdom in order to return to the surface.

The game is absolutely outstanding, on some popular websites being named one of the best games of all time. It is made in the RPG style, having a simple end goal and turn-based combat system. However, Fox creates a new aspect to the combat, giving players the opportunity to spare their opponents instead of killing them. The entire journey can be completed without killing a single monster, and through these choices, the story bends in certain ways. Every friend in one playthrough could be an enemy in another, subtly making the player anxious about every choice they make.

The amount of detail in every single area of the game is incredible, with every object having interesting, sometimes comical descriptions. Hidden bits of text and dialogue are still being discovered, two months after the release, due to the characters having countless ways to be interacted with.

The design of the characters is one of the highest points of the game, with their physical designs and personalities feeling almost real, especially combined with the amount of optional dialogue. Ranging from skeleton brothers to amphibian scientists to a spear-wielding fish, the characters are memorable, and the player is forced to fight every single one.

The other area that Undertale shines in is the music construction. Costing nearly $10 for the soundtrack alone shows that some definite work was put into it, as well as listening to it during the game. The intricate, upbeat melodies create fantastic battles, enhancing the gameplay tremendously. The calm, simple music inside of towns and environments can change the mood entirely. The songs are a major contributor to the popularity of the game, in addition to the detail.

Undertale is incredibly enjoyable for almost all audiences, and the bonds created with characters and places influence the player critically. However, the story and characters are the best parts of the game, with the gameplay mechanics being somewhat tedious at certain points. But the best parts are outstanding, and the playtime is not too long. It is expertly designed, formatted, and created, easily making it one of the greatest games of our time.

~Review by Berreh.

Highly recommended. 10/10. Good for ages 10+. Some language, some blood. Much humor, a good amount of reading. Requires extreme determination, dexterity, reflexes, and eye-hand coordination.

56010_undertale

Want more?

Undertale website

Undertale wiki

Undertale on STEAM – UNDERTALE! The RPG game where you don’t have to destroy anyone.  $10

Undertale STEAM community – Welcome to UNDERTALE. In this RPG, you control a human who falls underground into the world of monsters. Now you must find your way out… or stay trapped forever.

Undertale fan art – DeviantArt (there’s a lot!)

Have you played Undertale? What’s your favorite ending? Character? Song? Is Frisk a boy or a girl? Is Sans a human? Is Undertale the ‘best game ever’? Tell us what you think! (Please post spoiler warnings if needed!)

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Events Gaming Reviews Tech Video game reviews What's Hot

E3 2015: Nintendo Direct: Reaction – A family of gamers

Nintendo E3

E3 2015: Nintendo Direct

The kids and I were eagerly anticipating Nintendo’s E3 show. We all raced into the living room at 1 minute of, kicked on AppleTV, went to E3.nintendo.com on my iPhone, and grabbed a seat on a sofa for the about-to-start livestream.

So many games! What a jam packed hour! Muppets. StarFox, Mario, amiibo, Zelda, Metroid, Fire Emblem, and more!

Here’s a recap, and our reactions.

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Parenting

Common Core and standardized testing – Opt out? A parent’s perspective.

Associated Press photo
Associated Press photo

This year, huge numbers of kids “opted out” – in other words, refused to take the state standardized ELA and/or math test. According to Huffington Post, “Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams”.

Business Insider reports parents are concerned about puzzling questions, exam accuracy, and children spending too much time taking tests, and as a result are “opting out” their child from taking the exams.

One mom, Bianca Tanis, has even started a public forum called NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) to discuss the issue and promote opting out. A visit to the NYSAPE website shows you how to refuse the NYS Common Core test in 4 easy steps. There’s even a video, that claims: “You’re not opting out – you’re refusing, and in doing so you’re advocating for your child’s best interests and exercising your constitutional rights as a parent to guide your child’s education.”

It all sounds good, but is “opting out” the right thing to do?

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Cooking with kids Family

Cooking with kids: Chocolate Chip Graham Cookie Bars – Magic!

Chocolate Chip Graham Cracker Cookie Bars - Magic!

Here’s a great recipe, for when you need something quick and chocolaty, warm and sweet. Great for when it’s -10 degrees out, with over 2 feet of snow on the ground outside. Like today.

The kids and I made Magic Cookie Bars last week, and were less than thrilled with the results – they were too crumbly (not enough of a base) and too chocolaty (really, it can happen).

So we switched things up a bit, and came up with a new, improved Magic Cookie Bar recipe – “Chocolate Chip Graham Cracker Cookie Bars”. I think you’ll like them – I know we do.

Chocolate Chip Graham Cracker Cookie Bars

½ cup butter, melted

2 packs of honey graham cracker crumbs

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts, chopped

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Spread over bottom of pan evenly.
  3. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over entire pan. (Get the edges, too!)
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.
  5. Sprinkle nuts over everything.
  6. Press down – you could use a fork, but I grab a sheet of wax paper, spray with cooking spray, and then use that to press down. (Easy and fast!)
  7. Bake 25 minutes until lightly browned.

This recipe is great to make with kids! It makes hardly any dishes, and even little ones can help out:

  • They can put the butter in a bowl, and melt it in the microwave. (Careful! Will be hot!)
  • They can crush the crackers: Put the 2 graham crackers packs in a gallon Ziplok bag, press the air out, then have them gently jump on it to turn them into crumbs. They can pour the crumbs in the bowl, and stir.
  • They can pour the sweetened condensed milk, and sprinkle the chocolate chips. They can use the chopper to grind the nuts. (Not too fine, please!)
  • They can press down firmly, using the sprayed wax paper.
  • They can set the timer.
  • While the cookies are baking, they can wash the dishes in warm, sudsy water.
  • And, then, after a grownup takes the cookies out of the oven, after the pan cools a bit, they can help eat these fantastically delicious, gooey, warm and chocolaty sweet cookie bars.

So, give it a try! Spend some time cooking together with your kids – it’s fun, and it’ll make your house smell great!

What’s your favorite thing to cook together? Share with us in the comments below!

P.S. The original Magic Cookie Bar recipe calls for 1 1/3 cup flaked coconut, so if you have that, feel free to throw it on, too. But, really, who ever has flaked coconut on hand?

Sunflower apron by: NowDesigns.

Original Magic Cookie Bar recipe by: Eagle Brand.

Categories
Books Video reviews What's Hot

What’s Hot: The Life of Severus Snape (fan made video)

It’s been almost 18 years since the first book in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series came out. Many – if not most – kids have grown up reading the books and watching the movies, eagerly anticipating the release of the next one in the series.

The story of a young wizard, as he grows up, learns about his past, has adventures, and faces his destiny of battling the evil Lord Voldemort. We root for Harry the whole way.

But.

Woven alongside is another story.

A story of love. And anguish. And bravery.

The story of Severus Snape.

You don’t choose who you fall in love with.

Going viral right now is a YouTube video, made by Harry Potter fan kcawesome13, of “Severus Snape’s most important scenes and arcs in the Harry Potter film series in chronological order”.

 Grab your box of Kleenex.

And be prepared to be pulled back into the world of Harry Potter for 15 minutes of feels.

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Healthy Kids How To Parenting

Got lice?

Head lice
Head lice

 “Lice” is not a word people like to hear. It’s embarrassing. And, exhausting when you think about all the upcoming work you will need to do.

But, lice happens.

And it happens to lots of different people, for lots of different reasons. It’s not because your house or kids are dirty. It’s not a reflection of bad parenting. Lice are just tiny, annoying, itchy, hungry little bugs that get around.

If it happens to you, get informed, and come up with an action plan.

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Outdoor fun Parenting Travel with kids

Our trip to Enchanted Forest Water Safari in Old Forge, NY

watersafari

Summer is rapidly coming to an end, and we asked the kids — where was the #1 place they wanted to go for a Saturday day trip? They all chose Enchanted Forest Water Safari in Old Forge, NY. We’ve been there a couple of times before, and it’s always been fun.

Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks opened in 1956, with the first amusement ride added in 1984, and the first water slides constructed in 1988. By 1991, the name changed to Enchanted Forest Water Safari.

Map of Enchanted Forest Water Safari
Map of Enchanted Forest Water Safari

It’s a huge water park that has rides for all ages – teens and little ones – along with a wave pool, and carnival-type rides for people who don’t want to get wet. There are lots of places in the park to buy good eats and drinks, and ice cream and cotton candy. And, best of all, they allow you to bring your own cooler, so you can pack a picnic, and eat at the many different picnic areas.

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Events Travel with kids

Our trip to BronyCon 2013

bronyconlogo

 

If there’s one thing Bronies know how to do, it’s how to have FUN!  The biggest MLP convention in the world, BronyCon 2014 is coming up on August 1 – 3 in Baltimore. While we won’t be going this year, I can give you a clue about what it will be like, and tell you about our adventures attending BronyCon 2013.

A 3 day con about everything MLP. BronyCon invites you to:

“Spend a fun-filled weekend with fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” from across the world. With panels, concerts, special guests and much more, you’re sure to go home with some new friends!”

Wish we could be there!

Categories
Apps Video game reviews What's Hot

Apps for Kids: 2048

2048app

My 6th grader came home from school last week, and asked to use my iPhone – “for homework”, she said. I rolled my eyes, smiling, as I handed her the phone – “Oh, really?”, wondering which game she would start up.

She then went to the App Store and downloaded 2048. “My homework is to get as high of a score as possible, Mom!” After 30 minutes or so, she quit at 128.

As a parent, it’s important to keep an eye on what my kids are doing, so, of course, I had to check it out. I asked her to explain how it worked. 30 minutes later, after many Game Over’s, my high score – 256.

Dang. This is like Flappy Bird – for math!

What is 2048?

2048 is a free single player online sliding block puzzle game, where you slide numbered tiles on a grid to combine them. The goal is to join the numbers so they eventually add up to the 2048 tile.

How to play:

On your smartphone, swipe to move the tiles. On your PC, use your arrow keys to move the tiles.

When two tiles with the same number touch, they merge into one.  Get to the 2048 tile, and you reach a high score.

 2048app2

Simple and fun, 2048 is free to play, and not monetized in any way.

According to Wikipedia:

The game has been described by the Wall Street Journal as “almost like Candy Crush for math geeks”.

I know people who have gotten as high as 8192, and some people play this game for days – weeks even – to try to attain the highest score possible. Crazy. But geek-cool. Highest score so far? One Reddit user got a score of 3,866,384.

And if you like 2048, which is a game of 2’s, you might want to try out Threes.

Links:

PC download – http://gabrielecirulli.github.io/2048/

iOS download – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/2048/id840919914?mt=8

Categories
Parenting

10 things you can do for Mom on Mother’s Day – for free!

BoywithDandelionsByEricPeacock

Every year for Mother’s Day I think about how much I love my kids, and how lucky and grateful I am to be a mother. And I wonder what they will surprise me with on Mother’s Day.

First thing when I wake up, a little after the crack of dawn, I am instantly alert, dreading the “breakfast in bed” surprise. It’s not that I don’t love someone making me breakfast, it’s the interesting things they serve – one year it was chicken nuggets. Another year it was a banana, and a plate of crusty “scrambled eggs” with only a trace of yellow.

Then there’s the arguing about who’s going to carry the tray, on the dangerous journey up the stairs. While I wait, feigning sleep, holding my breath, with my fingers crossed. Ready to spring out of bed if I hear an “Oops!” followed by a crash-itty thumpathump.

At the top of the stairs, they negotiate in loud whispers – who gets to serve the tray to mom. And who gets to wake me up.

Then it’s me, trying to balance a tray on the covers, and not spill the cold cereal all over my sheets. Oops, there goes the orange juice. And the maple syrup. And the chicken nuggets.

Then, they take photos of mom, with major bedhead. Smile!

To heck with it. Their joy is infectious. Everyone piles on, and I set the tray on the nightstand. Time for hugs and smiles all around.

We are so blessed to be a family. I’ll change the sheets later, smiling inside. They love me.

So what can you do for Mom on Mother’s Day?

Without spending any money?