Start the new year with a great book. check out these wonderful NAPPA Award winning titles:
The season of celebrations is here, and traveling to visit family and friends can be part of the joy of the holidays. It can also be challenging for those with disabilities and special needs. With a bit of advance planning, though, families can smooth the path to holiday cheer.
For those on the autism spectrum, a heads up can help. “Before you travel, you should let your child know about any changes in routine that may be coming and remember to repeat the conversation several times,” says autism intervention expert Carl Sheperis, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University San Antonio. Help your child understand what to expect with social stories and other tools. If you’ll be staying at a hotel, for example, “you might want to show your child pictures of the hotel, the rooms and amenities like the pool from the hotel website,” Sheperis says. Also plan for changes in daily meals – especially if your child has food-related sensitivities or food allergies.
A little practice can even help with the trip itself. “If time and schedule permit, visit the airport or the train station a week or even a few days before you travel and help familiarize your child with the surroundings there,” says Kimberly Sloman, Ph.D., director of autism services at the Scott Center for Autism Treatment at Florida Institute of Technology. “Also, find and share a YouTube video with your child, especially the point-of-view videos that can help them better understand what to expect.”
For families with disabilities and special needs who are planning to fly, experts from Miracle Flights, a medical flight charity providing free plane tickets to ensure access to medical care, offer up “best booking practices.” Flight director Rebecca Boyce says that direct flights are best, and that if a layover is avoidable it is best to allow at least an hour between flights. Let the airline know as soon as you book your flight if you are traveling with a special need, medical condition, special equipment or a service animal. They can make accommodations for:
- Food allergies: Airlines will allow you to pre-board so you can wipe down your seats and tray tables.
- Wheelchairs: If your chair is motorized, they airline will need to know the chair’s dimensions, what kind of batteries it uses (wet or dry cell) and how many.
- Portable oxygen: The airline will want the brand name of your portable oxygen, rate of flow and how it’s administered. Plan to bring a doctor’s note with you when you board.
- Service animals: You don’t need to buy a second seat for your service animal, but airlines do require documentation to confirm training, shots and medical necessity.
- Feeding pumps, monitors and other medical equipment: Have an official doctor’s note handy as a safeguard. “Even if your condition doesn’t impede your ability to fly, emergencies can happen,” says Boyce. “It’s important that anyone providing medical assistance knows your condition.”
During the holidays, especially during the peak daytime hours, arrive at the airport at least three hours early to allow an extra cushion of time to get to your gate. “A better choice, if you can do it, is to travel at off-peak hours—after 6 p.m. or on a red eye—to avoid crowds and save money,” says Boyce.
When you head through security, tell TSA agents about surgical implants, or any objects in your carry-on luggage (liquid medicines, needles) that might cause your bag to be flagged. “I always say, ‘This is a medical bag,’” says Dona Krystosek, whose son has received 25 Miracle Flights for medical treatment. “This way, the agents know to set the bag aside to be hand-checked.” For assistance at security checkpoints from TSA Cares, call 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours before your flight.
To make boarding easier, consider asking for priority boarding, which lets you board before the crowd, giving you extra time to get to your seat and get situated. For children on the autism spectrum, however, you might want to consider boarding last, “which means less time sitting and waiting on the plane,” says Sloman. “Parents know their child and most will feel that one of these options is right for them,” she says, “and airline personnel will help you if you talk with them.”
Finally, Krystosek reminds families traveling with special needs to ask for help if they need it. “Seriously!” she says. “Your fellow travelers want to help if they can. You just need to ask.”
Chocolate Peppermint Snowball Cookies Recipe from Little Flower
Yields 15 cookies
1 cup (228 grams) butter
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (120 grams) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons peppermint flavor
2½ cups + 1 tablespoon
(310 grams) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (175 grams) mini chocolate chips
1 cup (115 grams) powdered sugar, to coat cookies
Place the butter in a medium or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat the butter until it foams and milk solids fall to the bottom of the pot. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom so that the milk solids brown evenly without burning. Let the butter foam a second time. Butter should have a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and cool. Once cooled, transfer into a clean, scent-free container and refrigerate until ready to use.
In the mixing bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the browned butter and powdered sugar on medium-low speed for 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and peppermint flavor and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl well. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Add the mini chocolate chips and mix on low speed until just combined, about 10 seconds. Scrape the bowl well and finish incorporating the dry ingredients with the rubber spatula.
Portion the dough into 2-inch balls or use a #20 yellow scoop and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour. Frozen cookie dough will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan with at least a 1-inch space between each cookie. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan. The dough will have puffed a bit. Bake 7 more minutes, or until the edges are golden and small cracks appear. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Coat warm cookies with powdered sugar.
These award-winning finds will definitely bring the joy of play and wonder. Give the gift of FUN!
An adorable and smart player that lets kids choose and listen to parent-approved music and stories with ToyTouch Technology. $199, 3+, www.jooki.rocks
Kids can sit on Sven, who stands over 2 feet. Feed him his carrot and he’ll make chomping noises; press on his head and he’ll say phrases. $99.99, 3+, www.jakks.com
Cubcoats 2-in-1 Magical Transforming Hoodie
Wearable and playable friend – the soft hooded sweatshirt transforms into a stuffed animal. $45, ages 2-10, www.cubcoats.com
Julie’s Pinball Machine
Go retro with this working, doll-size arcade game. $150, 8+, www.americangirl.com
Fun, creativity and hours of hands-on play as you transform the tiny pixel puzzle pieces into a variety of vibrant designs. $9.95 & 16.95, 6+, www.fatbraintoyco.com
Real Animal Stories That Inspire Kids
The Hope and Inspiration book collection, published by San Diego Zoo Global Press, features true animal stories and plush that will touch children’s hearts. Books: $14.95; plush prices vary, ages 5-10, www.shopzoo.com
Squishmallows Hug Mees
Grow your #Squishmallowsquad with the all-new Hug Mees that are just as super soft and comforting as the original Squishmallows and make great couch companions, travel mates, pillow pals and bedtime buddies. $9.99-$24.99, www.squishmallows.com
My Audio Stories
Listen, record and share stories with each set, which includes an original children’s book and a whimsical matching My Audio Pet Bluetooth speaker. $39.99, www.myaudiostories.com
Unicorn Hoppity Hop
Made of bouncy soft material, easy to inflate and deflate. $34.99, 4+, www.target.com
For more gift ideas, visit NAPPA Awards. #playlearnconnect #holidaygiftguide
Looking for last minute gifts that will bring a big smile? Check out these NAPPA Award winners!
Portable North Pole
An enchanting collection of Do-Good Deeds toys and gifts that come with a personalized video from Santa. Price varies, www.portablenorthpole.com
I Can Do That! Stickers: Super Simple (and Smart!) Sticker Activity Book
Features 350 reusable stickers plus 43 fun-first learning activities for endless hours of fun. $9.99, 3+, www.amazon.com
Fuzzy Wubble Babies
Soft and squishy mini Fuzzy Wubbles on the inside and cute stuffed animals on the outside. $9.99, 4+, www.wubbleball.com
The Imaginary Aquarium Stackable Crayon Activity Book
Meet the mash-ups of land and sea animals: a Bunnyguin, a Kittyshark, a Jellybear, an Octopiggy… and lots more creative creatures. $12.99, 3+, www.amazon.com
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales
Hilarious and heartwarming tale of animal misfits. $24.97, 8+, www.shoutfactory.com
Twisty Petz Cuddlez
Transform your animal by pulling the head and tail and now you have a wearable and fashionable boa. $12.99, 4+, www.twistypetz.com
Squishy, squashy Wubble Ball filled with gooey green slime, colorful Magic Marbles, shiny snowflakes or shimmering sparkles. $7.99-$14.99, 6+, www.wubbleball.com
For more gift ideas, visit NAPPA Awards. #playlearnconnect #holidaygiftguide
We love toys and games that mix fun and learning. Check out these NAPPA Award winners for great gift ideas this holiday season.
MiaoKids Smart Kit
Designed to complement various MiaoKids applications, such as MiaoKids Wonder Math, that assist young learners in developing foundational academic skills through an open world of play-based learning. $79, 2-8, www.heptagon-violet-4waj
PAW Patrol Learning Watch: Chase, Marshall, Skye
Interactive watches include four exciting games you can play to recognize patterns and identify animal tracks. It’s also a clock, timer, stopwatch and alarm. $14.99, 3-6, www.vtechkids.com
Our Precious Planet
The newest addition to the Celestial Buddies Galactic Gang—a large (9” diameter) detailed version of Earth designed to help start a conversation about climate change. $24.99, 3+, www.celestialbuddies.com
Just Add Sugar
Features multiple organic chemical experiments and art activities to inspire young artists and scientists. $24.95, 8+, www.griddlygames.com
Features clever lyrics about science and how the world works, positive messages and an infectious rock beat. $9.99/digital, www.marshaandthepositrons.com
Smithsonian Mega Science Lab
Learn about volcanos, weather, outer space and more in this STEM kit. $34.99, 10+, www.nsi-intonline.com
681 Math Flash Cards Bundle Pack – Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division
Easy, smart and effective way to make learning math fun. $89.99, 5-12, www.thinktankscholar.com
CARNAVAL — French Learning Songs
From calypso and reggae to New Orleans brass and Latin rhythms, embark on a musical celebration. $14.99, www.whistlefritz.com
Send texts, voice messages, photos, drawings over Wi-Fi to a parent-approved contact list, check out pre-approved websites, make videos, explore 40 learning games and apps. $99.99, 4-9, www.vtechkids.com
A coding/drawing robot that draws what kids have coded. $69.99, 7+, www.codewithartie.com
Players build mechanical computers powered by marbles to solve logic puzzles. $69.95, 8+, www.turingtumble.com
POWERUP Toys 2.0 Free Flight Electric Paper Airplane Conversion Kit
Transform your paper airplane into a soaring electric aircraft with more than 30 seconds of flight. $19.99, 8+, www.poweruptoys.com
Let’s Start Coding Code Rocket
A programmable circuit board in the shape of a hand-held rocket, complete with projects that teach kids coding. $44.99, 8+, www.letsstartcodingcom
Spanish For Kids: La Grain Colleccion
Cheerful collection of videos and music CDs with an irresistible mix of Latin rhythms introducing children to the Spanish language. $120.00, 2+, www.whistlefritz.com
My Epic Life Word Book
1000+ words every child needs to know, hilariously illustrated. $17.95, 4-7, www.mrswordsmith.com
Sir Dapp! App
This game show improves manners by teaching kids, in a fun way, to be polite and respectful. $3.99, 5-8, www.sirdapp.com
For more gift ideas, visit NAPPA Awards. #playlearnconnect #holidays #giftguide
A fun night of family games and laughter is the best way to spend time together during the holidays! Check out these NAPPA Award winners and bring the fun this holiday season.
We are excited for this environmentally-focused game series from Adventerra Games. There are four board games in the series including: Global Warming, PowerHaus, Recycle Rally and WaterGames. $24.95/each game, 7+, www.adventerragamesusa.com
ProjeX Projecting Game Arcade
Turn any room into an incredible gaming arcade. No need for a TV! Project crisp graphic images right onto any blank wall and enjoy real-life gaming, without the limitations of a screen. $49.99,6+, www.projexgame.com
Break your flock of Chickapigs free while dodging opponents, hay bales and an unruly pooping cow in this strategic board game created by Brian Calhoun and Dave Matthews. $25, 8+, www.chickapig.com
The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon Box of Lies Party Game
Challenge friends to the bluffing game of hilarious objects. $19.99, 10+, www.hasbrogaming.hasbro.com
Disney Villainous: Wicked to the Core
Discover your unique abilities while dealing twists of fate to your opponents. $24.99, www.ravensburger.us
King of the Ring
Can you be the Last Sumo Standing? Find out in this battle. $19.99, 6+, www.yulutoys.com[crosshead]
Mickey’s Snuggle Time
A calming game that’s perfect for bedtime, naptime or any quiet time. $24.99, 3+, www.amazon.com
Friends of a Feather
Add feathers to your bird each turn by drawing from the deck or trading away your unwanted ones to the nest. $19.99, 3+, www.ravensburger.us
Use spelling and critical thinking to inspire creativity and competition. $14.99, 8+, www.playmonster.com
Pick Me Up, Piggy!
Tell stories, remember where to find hidden farm friends, take turns and work cooperatively to win the game. $19.9, 3+, www.MindWare.com
Thrills of a classic domino run with an added twist. $29.99, 8+, www.thinkfun.com
Answer fun questions about cats and act out silly things they do. $24.00, 4+, www.petitcollage.com
My First Memory Game Ocean
Expand memory and object recognition skills while having fun. $9.99, 2+, www.tlji.com
SmartGames Smart Farmer
An engaging puzzle game where you help the Farmer separate the animals so they have their own areas on the farm. $22.99, 5+, www.smartgamesusa.com
Fish for Fish
Campers race against their friends to catch the most fish with their plastic “spear. $19.99, 4+, www.yulutoys.com
Invasion of the Cow Snatchers
Take control of your very own UFO to solve 60 magnetic challenges as you maneuver your way over and around farm obstacles. $29.99, 6+, www.thinkfun.com
A hot potato style family game of spot and match. $14.99, 6+, www.bananagrams.com
Connect your tiles by matching their symbols. Features three unique ways to play, each varying in speed and competitiveness. $19.99, 6+, www.honeycombsgame.com
KIC-Start – Kids in Conversation
A fun get-to-know-you card game with 150 conversation-starter questions great for kids and adults.
Our Family’s Race Across the U.S.A. Personalized Board Game
In a race across America’s coasts, move your piece along the colored tiles and cross the finish line first to win! $29.99, www.iseeme.com
Heads Talk Tails Walk
Can you hop like a frog while clucking like a chicken? Have a blast trying. $14.99, 3+, www.thinkfun.com
How much can you hang before he goes twaaang? Take turns hanging fruit and jungle friends on the orangutan. $22.99, 4+, www.playmonster.com
Quickly twist letters and transform words in this clever and fast-paced game. $20, 8+, www.jabukagames.com
A fast-paced discard game with a surprising finish. $9.99, 7+, www.ok2win.com
BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE
A matching game with an explosive twist. $14.99, 8+, www.ok2win.com
For more holiday gift ideas, visit NAPPA Awards! #playlearnconnect
Give your family the gift of music this holiday season!
Moove to the Moozika!
A playful collection of city-based adventure songs in both Spanish and English featuring an eclectic mix of styles – folk, jazz, samba, blues, ranchera, pop, Latin, rock, and house music. $14.99, www.moozika.com
Put Your Arms in the Air!
Get ready to sing, dance and expand your imagination. $12.00, www.amazon.com
All I Do Is Hop by Grin Brigade
An eclectic and unpredictable mix of 29 songs featuring a blend of kid funk, blues, pop, rock, country, anthem and ballad. $14.98, www.songwizard.com
CARNAVAL – Spanish Learning Songs
Embark on a musical celebration featuring merengue, calypso and soca to New Orleans brass, jazz and country,. $14.99, www.whistlefritz.com
The Power of Yet – Songs About Growth Mindset
Brings together upbeat songs about growth mindset in a singalong-friendly range. $15, www.curriculumrocks.com
Beneath the Cherry Tree
A whimsical musical tribute to the profound beauty of nature. $15, www.karestrongmusic.com
Everyone Grows: Children’s Songs for Mindfulness
Designed to help children pay attention to themselves, others and their surroundings. $15, www.liannebassin.com
Bubba & Boo
Multi-instrumentalist, Megan Schoenbohm, is an earthy, edgy, free-spirited songbird, who takes the audience on a mellifluous journey through themes of kindness, humanity, creativity and imagination. $15, www.musictimewithmegan.com
Earworm by Sean McCollough
Featuring 13 stick-in-your-head original and cover songs and guest artists such as Billy Jonas and Molly Ledford. $13; $9.49/digital, www.seanmccollough.com
Stripes with Platypus by Seanster and the Monsters
Full-length album with absurd, silly humor, as well as more heart-felt matters of childhood. $15.00, $9.99/digital, For Ages: www.store.cdbaby.com
Total Eclipse of the Rainbow
Positive, joyful, high-energy collection of songs that will enhance children’s learning and social development. $9.99, www.rainbowrockband.com
For more holiday gift ideas, visit NAPPA Awards! #playlearnconnect
We know kids have the best sense of humor, so give them some laughs with these Wild & Wacky NAPPA Award winners.
Pop Pops Snotz Slime Slammer Hammer
Mashing, smashing fun featuring 60 collectible gross Snotz characters. $14.99, 4+, www.yulutoys.com
An ax-ellant, new soft foam game bringing the latest trend home in a fun and safe way. Sticks to any flat surface like walls or windows. $9.99, 4+, www.zing.toys
Fast-paced skill and action game, where you can play as the Ninja Master and use the HUGE Karate Chop SLAP to defend your precious coin or play as the student trying to tap the coin in the Ninja’s hand to defeat him. $19.99, 9+, www.jakks.com
Bananagrams The Furglars Game
A dice rolling family game that takes game night to a strange and mysterious place, where players take turns rolling an ever-changing quantity of dice hoping to capture Furgles. $14.99, 7+, www.bananagrams,com
Toilet Paper Blasters Sheet Storm
Rapid-fire pump action lets kids splatter the competition. $39.99, 8+, www.jakks.com
Chocolate Poop Maker
Get ready for some giggles and laughs with this reusable chocolate maker. $9.99, 6+, www.jakks.com
Hank’s Twisted Challenge
Twist, bend and turn your body in crazy ways while you race to get the ball off the end of the wire. $19.99, 6+, www.wickedcooltoys.com
Kids Against Maturity: Card Game for Kids and Humanity
A fun game with lots of toilet humor for the whole family to enjoy. $32.99, 8+, www.amazon.com
For more gift ideas, visit NAPPA Awards. #holidays #playlearnconnect