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Gifts that Fascinate and Enlighten

eat, family meals, fitness, GEAR, holidays, kids, self, Shopping Reviews, tech By November 30, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

It’s shocking, but we are almost done! Day 11 of our 12 Days of Christmas Gift Guides focuses on gifts that fascinate and enlighten. In case you missed any, we’ve done a round-up of all of our guides, along with a chance to win $250 in Visa gift cards.


Big Hero 6 Colouring Pages

Uncategorized By July 12, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Marvel Universe Live in Canada Giveaway!

Uncategorized By February 13, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Marvel Universe Live CanadaAre your Spidey senses tingling? Canadian Marvel fans are in for a huge treat. Marvel Universe LIVE!  is touring across 8 cities in Canada this summer and tickets are on sale now! Featuring the most Marvel characters ever assembled in one production, this action-packed arena spectacular will put fans right in the middle of one of the most electrifying battles between good and evil ever conceived.

Marvel Universe Live is coming to the following Canadian cities:

VICTORIA                Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre: June 11 – 14/2015

VANCOUVER         Pacific Coliseum: June 18 – 21/2015

SASKATOON          SaskTel Centre: July 16 – 19/2015

WINNIPEG              MTS Centre: July 23 – 26/2015

OTTAWA                 Canadian Tire Centre: July 31 – August 2/2015

HAMILTON             FirstOntario Centre: August 6 – 9/2015

TORONTO               Air Canada Centre: August 13 – 16/2015

MONTREAL           Bell Centre: August 20 – 23/2015

Marvel Universe LIVE! will captivate audiences with an authentic and original story that brings more than 25 Marvel characters together on one epic quest.  The story is framed around the battle over the Cosmic Cube, the source of ultimate power and one of the most feared and coveted treasures in the Marvel Universe, that has been shattered into pieces by the Mighty Thor in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. With the pieces scattered across the globe, Thor’s villainous brother Loki devises a scheme to clone its powers, inciting a threat that could not only decimate Earth but also obliterate the Universe.

To defeat Loki, Marvel’s biggest Super Heroes must band together, including The Avengers – Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor along with Spider-Man and Wolverine, must trek across the globe to retrieve the Cosmic Cube fragments and unite them. As the Super Heroes track the Cube, they will encounter some of their biggest adversaries including Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull, Madame Hydra, Aldrich Killian, Electro and more, in the quest for the very same fragments. These foes have no problem teaming up if it gets them closer to their ultimate goal of world domination.

So if you’re into aerial stunts, pyrotechnics and the awe-inspiring world of Super Heroes, you really should grab your tickets now. Tickets and Canadian tour dates for Marvel Universe LIVE! are available at

We’re fans of super powers over here at UrbanMommies, and we are giving away a family pack (4) of tickets to one of the shows! Canada Only, ends February 24, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions and super powers are our own.


Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes Giveaway!

Uncategorized By December 9, 2014 Tags: , , , , , 145 Comments

marvel-superheroes-disney-infinity-2.0We bet you love Disney Infinity as much as we do…. and it just keeps getting better and better!! We reviewed Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes and it was love at first leaping bound. Here is your chance to put one of these great starter packs under your tree! Giveaway Includes:

WiiU Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) Starter Pack
Guardians of the Galaxy Play Set
Includes Gamora and Star-Lord figures

· Value: $100

Simply fill out the handy Rafflecopter form below. Canada only excl. Quebec, ends 12/14. Good Luck!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Elle Fanning on Disney's Maleficent

Uncategorized By May 29, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

Maleficent May 30One highlight of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration this year was not only posing with Maleficent (while protecting my son!) and seeing the first 9 minutes of the film Maleficent which is classified as PG and opens on May 30, 2014, but hearing Elle Fanning speak about her first starring role opposite Angelina Jolie. To Fanning, “Aurora exudes lightness and it’s so great in our movie that we have the dark and the light, total opposites, because they work so well together, like opposites attract in a way.”

Jill Amery with her son and Maleficent“Elle is Aurora,” comments Jolie. “From the moment I met her, she is just sunshine. She’s a wonderful, sweet, intelligent young woman. Elle’s such a capable actress and a very strong person, which is nice because this Aurora is not just in love with the flowers; she is elegant and beautiful and delicate and loving, but she’s centered and she’s quite
an impressive young woman. Elle is bringing all of that and a great deal of emotional depth and her talent, as an actress, has really surprised me.”

Fanning described the experience as surreal and rich, and it was clear from the trailer that the pair has the true chemistry that makes Disney films addictive. With her favourite colour being pink and longing for long hair as a girl, her favourite Disney princess was always Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.

Elle Fanning

Tom Staggs, Chairman of Disney Parks talked of the legendary Sleeping Beauty story.  Walt himself made Sleeping Beauty’s castle the centerpoint of the world’s first theme park. The film of Sleeping Beauty was released as an animated film in 1959 and Maleficent has been a villain in our minds ever since. It is not until now that we will perhaps realize the full complexity of the story. Some of the finest actors on the planet will show us the history of the sleeping beauty story and I strongly suspect that not all is as it first appears.

I will be first in line. And I won’t be waiting with a spinning wheel.

Here’s a featurette entitled ‘Light and Dark’. Enjoy!


12 Disney Inspired New Year's Resolutions

Uncategorized By December 31, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

New Year's Resolutions DiEvery time I enter DisneyLand, Walt Disney World or one of the Disney cruises, pixie dust fills my lungs, families get giddy and stress is stomped like a marshmallow. This year I have been showered with love and good fortune and yet I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t always recognize the blessings around me. I allow myself to get stampeded by work and *gasp*, complain sometimes. In travels to California and Florida, Disney has taught me several things, and my goal for 2014 is to incorporate as many of the lessons into my own life as I can.  Here are my 12 Disney-inspired New Year’s resolutions.

1. It’s good to be scared sometimes. A little push to boost the adrenaline can remind you that you always survive risks. At times we forget to truly ‘live’ and ‘feel’ when we get bogged down with the day-to-day. The Radiator Springs Racers in Disney’s California Adventure, Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom and the Test Track presented by Chevrolet at Epcot will all get your heart going again.

reflections-of-china2. Even if you can’t travel you can still explore cultures. Epcot features countries from around the world and the people working at each pavilion are actually from the countries represented. You can create cultures and experiences with your kids at home by exploring foods, languages and styles of dress – even if you can’t hop a jet to China.

3. Stimulate all of your senses. My favourite ride in both parks is ‘Soarin’. The magic happens when you soar over California in a simulated hang glider and odours pumped into the air correspond to the images you are seeing on-screen. Orange orchards,the pacific ocean and cedar forests bring all of your senses to life.

kilimanjaro-safaris4. Learn from the animals. Of all of the experiences I have had with Disney, the Animal Kingdom is still a favourite.  I like to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in a room that allows me to watch the animals in the Savannah all night long. The kids are given special checklists so they can find and learn about the animals during breaks from the parks. Giraffes rarely sleep and the interactions between the antelopes and other animals is mesmerizing. On the Kilimanjaro Safari in the Animal Kingdom you learn about habitats of the animals and see something different every time.

5. Don’t complain. One of the joys of being at Disney is that the staff are smiling and happy all the time. Even after long days and hot hours they treat each person like it’s the vacation of a lifetime. I’m going to try and do this every time I get gas, have a parking spot nabbed or am in the grocery checkout line.

7. It’s ok to make mistakes. Whether it is the Beast being nasty to Belle, Ariel agreeing to give up her voice or Woody being jealous of Buzz – we all make mistakes. Realize them, apologize, sing a song or two and move on. You’ll be much more fulfilled in life.

Brunch with Princesses

6. Dance often and spontaneously. The parades and dancing never stop at Disney and even the least co-ordinated visitors find their feet tapping. Every time there’s a show a whole community is created through the arts. Everyone is equal and experiencing something together.

8. Lighten your plate. Disney has taken a strong stance on healthy eating over the past year with their Mickey Check icon on nutritious menu choices and they even have healthy downloadable recipes to try. And squirt the ketchup in a Mickey shape once in a while.

9. Be a kid. Go ahead – pose with a princess, try to win a stuffed toy and go to Cinderella’s Castle for brunch. It’s ok to have fun and recreate the innocence and playfulness of childhood.

10. Go all in. If you’re going to do it, give it everything you’ve got. As an actor playing a role I’d have the proper coins in my pocket even when the audience would never know. But going all in made me more authentic.  This is what Disney does at every turn.

Star Wars Weekends11. Holidays are special. Whether it’s Mickey’s Halloween Party, Star Wars Weekends, or Pirate Day, Disney gives each celebration their heart and soul.

WestJet-Magic-Plane12. Corporate can be fun. If you saw the new Westjet #MagicPlane, you know what I’m talking about. I’m going to take special care to throw some magic into even my most mundane business activities.

Disney World

 Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post though UrbanMommies has been invited to Disney Parks in the past.  All of our opinions are our own.


To Alaska With Love on the Disney Wonder

Uncategorized By July 29, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

Disney WonderYou know you feel special when a cruise line picks your hometown as a departure port.  We luckily got to tour the Disney Wonder prior to her first Vancouver – Alaska sailing.  The ship, like the Disney Fantasy was elegant, filled with mystique and the first class service Disney always provides.  Here are our top 10 favourite tips when heading to Alaska on the Disney Wonder.

Disney Wonder Foyer1.  Lots of Alaska excursions are geared toward family travel – eagles, totem polls, log rolling.

2.   Crew members announce each family via microphone, making your little princesses, pirates (and Mom and Dad) feel special from the moment you step aboard.

3. Servers follow your family to each of the 3 dining rooms. This is a revolutionary concept in cruising, and ensures that your personal staff know your menu requirements.  Knowing that you liked the dark beer last night, they may suggest a fun alternative.  Being aware of kids allergies or gluten-free preferences adds an extra layer of safety to Disney’s already allergy-friendly alternatives

Disney Wonder Sendoff4. There are no casinos aboard the ship – instead an entire floor dedicated to children’s programming.  An excellent trade.

5. Before 9pm kids are allowed in the nightclubs so they can experience a taste of the adult spaces on the ship.  Awesome for teaching.

6. Palo is an adults-only restaurant and brunch is over the top. Reservations are required and we’d recommend you make one as soon as u get on the ship!

7. Unlike the other Disney cruise destinations, there are no fireworks on the Alaska itinerary in order to honour the environment.

8. The Spa sells a limited number of passes for the Rainforest Relaxation Room.  With water features, lounges and soft music our family will certainly nab a pass for our next cruise. Services in the spa include barber services for men and teeth whitening for women. You may become the 12th Disney princess.

9. Personal training is available as well as boot camps and body sculpting in the gym. The experts in the spa also offer footprint analysis.

Disney Wonder Cars Carpet

11. ‘Ionithermie’ is a special treatment that flushes toxins out of the body and you could lose up to 8 inches during the cruise.

12. The child activity areas are incredible and while on the Fantasy, my kids never wanted to leave.  Children are not only outfitted with a GPS so their location in the facilities can be determined immediately, but parents are constantly reachable via wave phone that is provided in the stateroom.

13. The Nursery is for kids from 12 weeks to 3 years and requires an extra fee ($6 per hour, per child).  The Oceaneers Club hosts 3-12 year olds.

Disney Wonder Tinkerbell14.  Get a requisite photo with Tinkerbell in the Grand Foyer.

So head to Vancouver, grab an ocean-view cabin (you don’t want to miss the stunning views) and let the Disney Wonder sweep you off your feet.  Your kids will be transfixed by Northwest culture, and you may lost up to 8 inches (if you can resist the glorious food).



I am Strong. I am Brave. I am Merida and I am a Princess!

Uncategorized By May 30, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Merida CoronationHer mother Queen Elinor placed the crown atop her head as she yelled – “I am Strong. I am Brave. I am Merida and I am a Princess!”  Tears, tingles and cries of joy from the crowd as we gathered to see Merida’s coronation as the 11th Disney Princess on May 11, 2013 at Walt Disney World Resort.

Celebrity gymnast Gabby Douglas graced the stage, and Sophie Grace and Rosie from Ellen sang before Merida entered on horseback, bow in hand.  My two boys (who usually hide around princesses “They are so beautiful Mommy!”) were in awe at her stature, her smile, but mostly the poise and strength she exuded.

Merida with BowThere has been controversy on Disney’s decision to give Merida a lovely, Princess-worthy outfit for the most important day of her life.  That Merida looked beautiful on this day does not say that she is less outdoorsy, strong or courageous.  She dressed for the occasion and in my view is no less a role model for girls everywhere.  Disney has given us our 11th role model for girls and boys alike, and I was proud to have my boys and my own mother by my side for the coronation.

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
— A.A. Milne


11 Disney Princesses
Merida Princess


See Finding Nemo: 3D with Goldfish Pretzels

Uncategorized By September 12, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , 1 Comment

***EDIT*** Thanks for your interest in the Goldfish Pretzel screening of Finding Nemo 3D in Vancouver. We’ve officially hit our maximum capacity for this screening – yup, the event is now sold out! Check back later for your chance to win great prizes from Goldfish!

If we asked you to name a favourite childhood snack, survey says Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish will pop right to mind.  Of course you might know them by other illustrious names such as fishy crackers, cheesy guppies or swimming snacks.  (Or maybe that’s just me).  When we ask you what keeps the kids grinning and quiet during road trips and are easy to vacuum off the floor even when squished, you might come up with the same answer.  Or what snack you can take straight out of the box and still be fun.  One of my ‘back to school’ resolutions has been to make lunches exciting.  Cutting a sandwich into a boat shape, adding an apple ‘sail’ and a bunch of Goldfish swimming around the hull has been scoring me some Mommy-love.  And the lunches are getting eaten too.  And the teachers think I’m uber-dedicated.  (Until I don’t show up for the PTA stuff.)

Now there is more choice than ever with Goldfish.  The new Pretzels contain no artificial colours or flavours, no saturated fat and no trans fat.  They are baked into the same fancy fish shape that kids know and love.  Unfortunately the other thing they don’t come with is a vacuum for the back of the car.  (You’ll have to drop Mother’s Day hints for that one.)

In celebration of the new variety of Goldfish Pretzels, we are inviting Moms and Dads in the Vancouver / Coquitlam area to bring the kids and enjoy a free screening of the movie Finding Nemo: 3D where you’ll get to try new Goldfish Pretzel snacks together with the UrbanMommies team.

Location: Silvercity Coquitlam (170 Schoolhouse St, Coquitlam, BC)
: Finding Nemo: 3D
Time: 6:30pm
Date: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Maximum Tickets: 5

Deadline to RSVP: Tuesday, September 18th.

Email your:
# of children
# of adults (they must include themselves in this number)

See you there!

Disclosure: UrbanMommies  received a stipend from Campbell Canada, the makers of Goldfish crackers, for my participation.  Campbell Canada has provided all prizes in relation to this feature and we are the administrator of the promotion.  As always, our opinions are our own.


What's in My Bag: The Coolest Flash Drives sent by PR Folks

Uncategorized By August 30, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

I get a ton of PR pitches and therefore a staggering number of flash drives.  Incidentally, I also receive a ton of CD roms filled with information I can’t access with my MacBook Air.  (PR People please take note).  I thought I’d follow through with Kelby Carr’s ingenious ‘Marketers Who Understand Blogger Outreach‘ post with something fun before the long weekend.  So I emptied my USB Drawer and found my ultimate favourites from Public Relations teams who know their brand and respect me as a writer enough to make me want to grin.  Here are my favourites:

1.  McCafe, who engraved my Twitter handle ‘@urbanmommies‘ on the back.
2.  Honda – A clever car key (that I could make into a necklace a la Tiffany & Co and take my data with.)
3.  Disney Fantasy.  Rubber (waterproof I think), fun for kids to play with and very chic.
4.  Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe.  Gorgeous wood.  Refined and symmetrical.
5.  Dole.  Because who doesn’t want to carry a banana-shaped flash drive in their purse?
6.  Disney Cars Land – in the shape of a race announcer’s microphone.
7.  Store Brand in the shape of a formula bottle.  Because I laughed out loud, as no Canadian PR company would ever attempt this given the volatile and judgmental Canadian nursing climate, and the most popular articles on UrbanMommies are breastfeeding-related.
8.  The Victorinox 4GB super-secure flashdrive which cannot be broken into if you’re a PC user.  And because it is made by Victorionox and stores information on it’s own brand, which is smart and somehow ironic.  And I love the spy-like nature of it’s security.
9.  The ultimate: The G. Marquis Winery flashdrive in a branded wine cork.  Because it floats, it’s durable, cool, on-brand, and, well.. they did their homework.



Disneyland Just got Happier

Uncategorized By August 29, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

I had never been to Walt’s first theme park.  ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ is certainly a fitting name, and with the addition of Cars Land and extra attractions in Disney California Adventure Park, my family was continuously grinning.  It is absolutely certain that Disneyland just got happier.  Much smaller than Disney World, the original California location was intimate and incredibly accessible.  Popping back to the room for nap time was easy and using my park-hopper pass to make the best of each day was a breeze.

Downtown Disney was smack dab in the middle of everything and featured amazing shopping, food and evening childcare.  On one side of the Downtown section there are the 2 parks (Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Park) and on the other, the Disneyland Hotel, with incredible waterslides, character meals and beds that [had a headboard that had fireworks carved within that lit up and played music] as the kids drifted off to sleep.  No buses were needed to get around, and the shopping and dining options were as plentiful as princesses.

Downtown Disney

I spent many a meal at Catal wine bar.  Not only did it have great food, and an amazing patio, but it was super kid-friendly.  (Plus it was right beside Sephora, which aided in my Lightening McQueen-inspired manicure.)  When my feet got a bit tired, I grabbed some shoes at Sanuk, I watched the Stanley Cup final at the ESPN Sports Bar and saw the handmade signature quilts within the House of Blues.  (With all of these great places you can skip the parks for a day or two!)  One of my favourite spots was Wonderground Gallery, which featured reasonably-priced Disney-inspired original works by up-and-coming artists.

Tip: The Downtown Disney District parking lot is conveniently located and offers free parking for up to 3 hours — or up to 5 hours of free parking with validation from participating locations.

When the kids needed some down time, the Lego Imagination Centre was the place to be.  With giant Lego sculptures and a kid’s (and parent…) play area, we were able to transition beautifully from the excitement of the parks to some quiet time.

Disneyland Park

Divided into Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Main Street USA, New Orleans Square, Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown, the iconic and original park remains the stuff of dreams.  Just like in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, no alcohol is served at this park, which places a huge focus on the family experience and holds true to Walt Disney’s original vision.

As a huge fan of New Orleans, the authenticity of the buildings, food and rides in New Orleans Square kept me going back to this park again and again.  I just wish I could have played some jazz with the bands or strolled across the square in a Mardi-gras gown.  In green silk.  Because I’m kind of odd like that.  (Note to self: apply to be a Disney cast member).

Must Dos:

1.  Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (which is also available out at sea on the the Disney Fantasy).  Have your little princess get styled, coiffed and sparkled by the beauty experts in this popular Fantasyland salon.  And if you’ve brought a little pirate with you?  There is a hairstyle package for boys too.

2.  The Mad Hatter’s Teacups: “Again! Again!’ Was all my 4 year old would say.

3.  Star Tours: with 60 possible scenarios, you become a passenger on a space flight piloted by C3PO.  Different landing sites include Coruscant and Naboo.  You are chased by stormtroopers, spoken to by Yoda and some scenarios even include a pod race.  Yes.  I did it at least 7 times with my boys and we had a new story every time.

4.  Jedi Training: Kids are picked from the audience, unlike Disney World where you get there early and sign up.  Different than Disney World, however, the young Jedis fight against both Darth Maul and Darth Vader.  My kids were enthralled just to watch!

5.  Space Mountain continues to be one of my favourite attractions, and unlike Disney World, where riders sit alone, this Space Mountain allowed for 2 people side by side, which made my son much more comfortable.

6.  The fireworks above Sleeping Beauty Castle brought me to happy tears.   Even with small children, they shouldn’t be missed.  And keep your eyes peeled for Tinkerbell and Dumbo, who fly in at a special time.  Depending on the age of your kids, I would recommend a stroller in case sleep comes calling.  (You can rent a double or singe at the entrance gates).

7.  Jungle Cruise: This 7-minute Jungle Cruise was one of the opening day attractions when Disneyland Park opened in July, 1955.  The animals you see along this trek of water engage the whole family.

Disney California Adventure Park

Being in town for the grand re-opening of the park was an honour and will be a lifelong memory.  The day of the opening, the line snaked all the way through Downtown Disney as customer service experts entertained the buzzing crowd.  I have never seen such excitement.  Broadcasters interviewed the public and a huge TV screen gave people hints of what was to come.  Not only was this the first day that Cars Land was open to the public, but California Adventure Park had been revamped and upgraded with the addition of Buena Vista Street – a re-enactment of the Los Angeles Walt Disney would have discovered when he arrived in 1923.  Carthay Circle is a bustling focal point with a 1920’s-30’s vibe, where talented Disney cast members perform swing and tap numbers.  The Red Car Trolley carries passengers from the gate to the Circle, and newspapers are distributed as fast as your kids ask to grab penny candy at the Five and Dime.

Must Dos:

1.  Everything in Cars Land.  Wow.  And go early to grab a Disney Fastpass for the Radiator Springs Racers!

2.  Soarin’ over California: The sensation of hang gliding over different parts of the state but you’re actually sitting, as smells are pumped into the room to correspond with the imagery.  Hint: take off your shoes – it’s even better with bare feet.

3.  California Screamer: this classic rollercoaster takes you for a loop.  And make sure you smile as you come to the end so you can grab the photo of yourself at the Disney Photopass kiosk at the exit.

4.  Goofy’s Sky School: I was fine on the Screamer, but this ride (geared for smaller kids) scared me!  It was a gas, as you ride in a buggy over 4 levels of railings, twisting, turning and going down slopes.  A must.

5.  Silly Symphony Swings: The boys couldn’t stop grinning as we ventured on this old-fashioned carnival-style swing ride.  It also gave me a chance to explain centrifugal force, which they fully ignored.

6.  The Tower of Terror: Pretty scary as you drop several stories, but you may save some money on food if you lose your appetite like I did.

7.  The Pixar Play Parade is incredible and even the clumsiest of readers will feel like dancing!  A great venue to watch is right outside the Tower of Terror.  You can get great photos of the familiar Pixar characters dancing and on elaborate floats.

8.  World of Color: This nighttime water spectacular incorporates water, color, fire and light.  With more than 1,000 jets of water forming incredible shapes in time to the music, kids are mesmerized.  Hint: (Pre-order a World of Color picnic with reserved viewing).

I felt as if I could go to Disneyland once a week.  Actually maybe I should just move to California!  I’m hooked, and I haven’t stopped swing dancing or saying Ka-Chow since my return.  And when you go? (Insert Tow Mater voice)… You’ll be happier than a tornado in a trailer park.  I couldn’t resist.

Disneyland Resort

Disclosure: UrbanMommies was hosted for the grand re-opening of Disney’s California Adventure Park.  As always, our opinions are our own.


Computers for School Aged Children

Uncategorized By August 20, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

They are going back to school! And as we all know, computers for school aged children are a necessity of today’s world.  Ask any child (as well as his or her parents) about the need for a personal computer and the savvy kid will list half-a-dozen reasons why sharing a family computer is a “CAN-NOT-DO!”  And the computer that is perfect for her high school brother may not be the best choice for the fourth or fifth-grader.  So UrbanMommies has come up with some “CAN-DO” computer recommendations for younger students.

First thing first: You need to decide on what kind of computer makes sense for your family:  a desktop or a laptop.  Prices and capabilities vary based on this decision.

Desktop Computers for Kids

Let’s start with our favorite picks for the desk-top version:  We’ve found that many families are more willing to invest in a new computer if it’s “a family” one.  Yes, it’s true, they have to stay in one place, but they are user friendly: most desktops can be used for schoolwork as well as the more mundane family demands (like balancing one’s checkbook or ordering clothes online, for instance.)

We checked Consumer Reports, and agree with their suggestions.  Depending on how much you want to spend, there are two desktop computers to consider for your family:

Picture courtesy of

High-end: The HP TouchSmart 520-1165xt ($1,000) is an all-in-one desktop with a 23-inch HD touch screen that can actually tilt back up to 30 degrees, so you can adjust it to your liking. It has excellent performance and ergonomics, and it’s powered by Intel’s third-generation quad-core processor, the Core i5. Other nifty features include a built-in memory-card reader and a Blu-ray reader.

Picture courtesy of

Budget: The Dell XPS 8500 i5 full-size desktop comes in at a lower price ($750) but still delivers on many features. Its performance is excellent, and versatility and ergonomics are very good. And like the high-end HP TouchSmart, it uses the Intel Core i5 processor. If your kids (or you) like to play games, this one’s plenty powerful. Just note that you’ll need a separate monitor

Laptop Computers for Kids

The LapTop’s for Me:
Okay, but what if your family is like mine and is “geographically challenged” (i.e. Doesn’t have space for a desktop) and needs a child-centric computer?  Time to explore investing in a laptop.  Not surprisingly computer manufacturers are making machines that address the needs of younger children while at the same time helping parents keep their children safe from cyber-predators.

Toshiba Satellite L735 Laptop for Kids

Toshiba Satellite L735 Laptop for Kids: We’ve been hearing great things about Toshiba’s Satellite laptops.  These PCs are tailor-made for school aged kids and younger family members and for parents who want greater control over what their children see, do and enjoy.

CONNECTIVITY FEATURES: includes a Webcam and microphone for chatting, integrated Wi-Fi®, making it easy to tap into a home network and use the PC all around the house.

KID SAFE WEB BROWSING: Parents can leave the room and abandon concerns about unsafe web surfing.  It’s pre-loaded with KidZui®; a child-safe and award-winning web browser which allows children to view pre-screened content or even play kid-friendly online games.

A COLORFUL KID-FRIENDLY DESIGN:fused with a design that can stand up to little hands. With a colorful yet resilient textured finish to fight fingerprints, it is accented by bright green bumpers. It also has a wipe-able keyboard, one-touch F-keys to simplify common tasks & an Impact-Smart Hard Drive to help prevent data loss. Even the size is perfect for young ones—a compact yet well-proportioned 13.3”.

Disney Netpal by ASUS

 Disney Netpal by ASUS:  
Like the Satellite L735 Laptop for Kids, this is a laptop developed with parents and kids in mind.
DURABLE with a reinforced mechanical design. The laptop has an 8.9-inch LCD display, Wi-Fi capabilities, Windows XP Home, and kid-friendly software featuring Disney characters and icons in stunning visual environments.

PARENTAL CONTROLs include more than 40 robust options. The browsers and email have extra filters to assure that parents are able to control online safety and content for their children, and can easily select with whom their children can correspond via email.

Disney Netpal by ASUS

The DISNEY DESKTOP “gadget tray” offers a creatively designed 2D menu displaying a Disney-themed browser and a robust suite widgets and applications. It comes in two colors: Princess Pink for girls and Magic Blue for boys.
BATTERY LIFE: Up to 5 hours.
Link:  We struggled to find this EXACT model online.  Our resources told us that this model could be found in Disney stores.  We found an updated (non-Disney) version on online shopping sites.

Intel Classmate Convertible PC



Intel Classmate Convertible PC
TOUCHSCREEN: We loved the 10 inch swivel touchscreen as well as the webcam panel which can be turned up to 180 degrees.
The WATERPROOF KEYBOARD, as well as the fact that the computer is drop resistant was a huge selling point for those of us whose kids aren’t as careful as parents would like.

ENHANCED SECURITY AND THEFT DETERRENCE as well as enhanced educational features for collaborative.

TECH INFO: Comes with a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, an 8.9-inch touchscreen, 60 GB hard drive, and 1 GB RAM. You can even buy the Intel-powered clamshell classmate PC model.

For those of us with pre-school and kindergarten age children there are also “toy laptops for kids” which have few multimedia features such as drawing tools, calculation programs, and attractive or themed exteriors. Here’s a list of a few that we discovered:  PeeWee Pivot 2.0, VTech Double Vision Notebook, Barbie B-Smart Laptop, Zipit Wireless Messenger 2 (Z2),Hot Wheels Accelerator Laptop (JW88)

Other consumer friendly options when it’s not the right time to commit to buying a new computer:
Finally, if you are not ready to commit to buying your student a computer and/or it’s not in this year’s budget, there are other options to consider such as purchasing an inexpensive entry-level laptop and install student-specific applications.

Final Note : We know that buying a computer is an investment. When doing your research and shopping, make sure that you are checking school Web sites and computer manufacturer websites for possible buying programs, student discounts or additional bonus products not always available to the average user.

– Renee Keats