Whether your child is heading to daycare, preschool or college, National Parenting Product Awards recommends some apps, games and other products to help everyone start off the school year right.
For Toddlers and Preschoolers
Tad’s Fridge Phonics is an interactive toy that introduces children to the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make. Place one of the 26 musical letter tiles into the slot and press down for three modes of play that reinforce letter names, phonics and word skills.
Ages 2 and older, $19.99
Milo & Gabby friends that kids love are now on-the-go. Milo & Gabby Toddler Animal Shaped Backpack with Safety Strap models are perfectly sized for toddlers. The fully insulated animal backpacks are brought to life with 3-D details, even soft stuffed tails. Great for carrying toys, snacks and lunch. Features detachable safety strap for freedom on excursions, reflective trim detail for extra safety during dark, cloudy and/or rainy outings, front chest strap to keep shoulder straps in place and 3-D air mesh padded adjustable shoulder straps and backboard for breathable cushioned comfort.
Ages 18 months to 4, $38
Petit Collage Back to School Bundle features an eco-friendly, wipeable cotton canvas exterior coated with a protective, solvent-free biodegradable laminate made from sugar cane. The 12 oz. lightweight stainless-steel bottle is vacuum insulated, keeping drinks cold for 12 hours. The backpack features a side mesh exterior pocket which fits the matching water bottle perfectly and the lunchbox is easily wiped clean of crumbs and leaks. All BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free.
Ages 3 and older, $65
Enhance hand muscles and fine motor skills with the colorful Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog. Great for practicing counting, sorting and improving color identification skills.
Ages 18 months and older, $14.99
Tot Cot Daycare/Preschool Nap Mat is perfect for day care and preschool napping. Includes pillow, sewn-in-fleece blanket and slim, quilted lining. Easy roll up and handle; elastic bands secure nap mat to daycare cots and mats. Comes with a secret pocket to tuck a child’s special friend. Available in dozens of fun patterns. Machine washable.
Ages 2-5, $40
REMI is a smart alarm clock that features a night tracker to follow sleep patterns, a sleep trainer to set up sleep routines, a Bluetooth speaker, a clock, an adjustable nightlight and a music player. Up to age 10, $99
Back to School Label Packs by Mabel’s Labels feature waterproof, personalized labels for all the stuff kids lose at daycare, school and camp. Labels are dishwasher and laundry safe and guaranteed to withstand the toughest conditions. Just peel and stick. Free standard shipping.
Up to age 10, from $18.99
The Road to College
College Cost & Compare Calculator is a web-based, mobile-friendly tool allowing families to compare the cost of multiple colleges in seconds. Results are based on income level and place of residence, providing cost breakdowns from online public records of tuition rates and grant/scholarship capacity. One of its more compelling and differentiating features is that it provides both “sticker” and “net” costs, including the average financial package families have historically received from that specific college similar to their income level.
For tweens and older, free
Learning Apps, Tools, Books & More
Kidlo Coding Games For Kids will get your kids coding in no time. This fun app is designed to teach kids basic programming concepts like sequencing, loops and functions. Includes 50+ interesting games.
Ages 5-9, free with app
IXL Learning App is a fun and educational app, offering a personalized learning experience that sparks curiosity and builds confidence for all learners in math, language arts, science, social studies and Spanish. Featuring more than 7,000 skills, IXL introduces new concepts at the perfect time and right difficulty level, and continues to adapt with learners as they grow. IXL’s diverse problems, fun visuals and awards keep learners engaged and eager to learn more.
Ages 3-18, single subjects for one
child starting at $9.95/month
Play Smart Brain Boosters 3+ is a fun activity book by Gakken that is filled with puzzles and games all designed to engage kids’ curiosity and imagination, while developing their love for learning. Activities include counting, matching, comparing, drawing and much more. The book also comes with more than 80 adorable stickers to add to the excitement; kids choose a reward sticker after finishing each challenge. A wipe-off activity board completes the package.
Ages 3 and older, $6.99
BusyKid – Allowance Simplified is a unique App where children can learn how to earn, save, share, spend and invest real allowance. By completing weekly chores, children get to earn money and experience some of the same financial situations they will face as adults. Earned allowance can be used to make donations, buy gift cards, get cash or buy fractional shares of real stock.
Ages 5-16, $14.95 per year per family
OwlCrate Jr. is an adorable monthly subscription box for bookworms. Each box features a brand new middle grade novel, exclusive goodies from the author, and 3-5 unique and usable items built around that month’s theme that encourage curiosity, creativity and imagination. Topics include cooking, witches and wizards, the great outdoors and much more. One-, three- or six-month subscriptions and gift options are available.
Ages 8 to tweens, $27.99 for month-to-month option; other payment plans available
Greenlight debit card is a smart card for kids that parents can manage from their phones — parents can automate allowance, instantly fund kids’ wallets, and choose exactly where their kids can use the card. The company is focused on teaching financial literacy in an era that’s increasingly dominated by cards and virtual transactions.
Ages 8-18, $4.99/month
SmartGames IQ Stars will take your brain skills out of this world. Can you place the seven stellar puzzle pieces on the grid? Reach for the stars and solve the 120 challenges, from easy to expert.
Ages 6 and older, $9.99
Junior jet setters can explore the world with Wildlife Warrior Bindi Irwin and the GeoSafari Jr. Talking Globe. Provides a high-tech, hands-on, interactive introduction to geography, featuring continents, U.S. states, animals and nature. Includes Explore, Find It and Measure It Modes with more than 10 hours of interactive audio.
Ages 4-7, $129.99
500+ Sight Words Flash Cards Bundle Kit by Think Tank Scholar helps children learn and practice reading the most common words found in a children’s book. Comes in a set of 500 basic words designed to make learning fun with a non-distracting design and large bold print. Each pack comes with 100+ sight words to help prepare students from grades Pre-K through 3rd grade. Ages 3-9, $28.95
Bone Collection: Animals features dozens of animals with detailed illustrations of their skeletons and information about how their bodies help them move, hunt and avoid predators. After reading about animals on land, in the water, and in the sky, kids can build an elephant and a crocodile model.
Ages 7 and older, $18.99
Play Smart Brain Boosters 4+ is filled with an engaging mix of picture puzzles, number games, mazes and crafts to keep kids thoroughly entertained while they build reasoning skills, vocabulary and creativity. More than 80 adorable stickers add to the excitement; kids choose a reward sticker after finishing each challenge. A wipe-off activity board completes the package.
Ages 4 and older, $6.99
Bento Value Pack by Stuck on You comes with everything you need to pack healthy school lunches. Includes a personalized Bento Box and an insulated lunch cooler bag designed to perfectly fit the Bento Box.
All ages, $59.95
When on the go, the Nalgene Grip and Gulp with Cover is a perfect way to keep your kids hydrated. The leak-proof bottle is durable to drop or toss in a backpack, plus it’s BPA- and BPS-free, and dishwasher safe.
Up to age 5, $11.99
Elena Epstein is a mom of two and the director of NAPPA Awards, the longest running and most respected awards program in the industry, celebrating the best in family products for 28 years. For more product reviews, visit nappaawards.com.