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KIWI magazine

5 smart digital picks for kids

App: Forestry
This app, which will put your preschooler’s exploration skills to work, teaches children about the habits of different creatures—what they eat, how they play, and more. Although the anthropomorphized animals aren’t realistic (they have beds and backpacks, after all!), the fun design makes this game engaging. My son loved helping the squirrel forage for berries and tucking all the animals into their cozy beds at night. I give this app a thumbs-up for little ones (free, Android/iOs).

Website: Google Street View: Gombe National Park
When I found out that my kids could celebrate famed primate researcher Jane Goodall’s birthday on April 3 by walking in her footsteps through the jungles of Tanzania, I knew we had to try it! Google teamed up with the Jane Goodall Institute to create a “street view” site that allows visitors to explore Gombe National Park, where Goodall conducted more than 200,000 hours of observational research on endangered chimpanzees. During their virtual journey, kids can spot baboons lounging, see chimps fishing for termites, and explore Jane’s jungle cabin. Be sure to check out the three-minute video about Goodall’s work—it’s truly inspirational. (To start exploring, go to g.co/treks.)

Movie: Monkey Kingdom
I’m so happy that Disney is bringing back its nature films! In a sea of animated movies, it’s so refreshing to see real animals in their natural habitat. And the gripping narratives and breathtaking cinematography Disney uses to create its documentaries bring the experience to a whole new level. This particular film tells the survival story of a newborn monkey named Kip (cuteness alert!) and his mother, Maya. Kids can instantly connect with these monkeys—and with messages like “Never give up” and “It’s the love of family that gets you through life” reinforced throughout, the film is educational and inspiring for all ages. (Monkey Kingdom, rated G, hits theaters April 17.)

DVD: Wild Kratts: Shark-tastic
It’s impossible not to love Chris and Martin Kratt, the real-life brothers who voice their animated counterparts in this animal adventure TV series that celebrates wildlife. The Kratts harness “creature power”—like a giant squid’s ability to speed through water—to carry out do-good missions. Brimming with information on animal behavior and habitats, the show is balanced by the brothers’ sense of humor. I particularly love that the series includes a female scientist, Aviva, who invents the team’s gadgets. The DVD made my kids want to put on their creature power suits to save the environment (on sale April 14, $13, amazon.com)!

CD: Earthworm Ensemble: Backyard Garden
I’m always looking for music that my kids and I both enjoy, so I was thrilled to find this album. The upbeat style is a blend of Laurie Berkner and Woody Guthrie sprinkled with Cajun, African, and Irish beats. Happy songs like “Bees Make Honey” and “Chicken Coop” had me dancing around the house with my preschooler, while my vote for sweetest melody goes to “I Like You,” a heartfelt father-daughter duet (on sale April 7, $14, amazon.com).

Traci Paige Johnson, a member of KIWI’s editorial advisory board, is a children’s media expert and mom of three. The co-creator of Blue’s Clues and Super WHY!, she is also the founder of Yummico, which makes “delicious media that’s good and good for you.”

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