With summer upon us, vacation roadtrips are inevitable, so here’s a couple pair of novel ideas that will keep the kids happy and contented as the travel wears on.


Assembled - Silver Falcon

You’re undoubtedly familiar with Legos, but there’s a new game in town and it’ll keep the kids busy for hours. Called Pinblock, these little plastic building blocks can make toys, wearables, artwork or an incalculable number of playthings.

Slimmer than other building blocks, this hit of the 2015 NY Toy Show can actually make toys that are flexible and bendable.


Available in various sized kits, your kids are only limited by their imagination. Being as small as the pieces are, they are ideal for travel, not taking up much room at all. You can pack enough in a large Baggie to keep two kids busy for hours.

More Pixel Art

Check out the various sets available at the Pinblock website: http://www.pinblock.com/

Tabula Raisa


When is a book not a book? When it’s a guide to exploration. The three main characters of this evolving 50-story series lead children to explore destinations around the world in order to find out where common household items come from. Raisa and her two friends open children’s eyes and suggest they learn about things one might take for granted.

In the first story, the child explores Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. When reading the book on a tablet, there are hyperlinks to take the child to other sites to further explore the subject.

Beautifully illustrated, the series will pique your children’s interests while considering and evaluating the whole of this earth’s population. Other resources, dolls, and projects are available to expand the series.

Check out all the resources available on their website: http://www.tabularaisa.com/


After hours of boring riding in a backseat, it’s great to be able to stretch your mind and think creatively about a new project. mBot, the newest robot from Makeblock, enables you to do just that.


Easy to assemble, this robot can put together from scratch in under 30 minutes. Programming then, can be a simple or as complex as you’d like to make it. Based on Arduino, its programming is really limited only by the imagination of the child.

Available in two colors, it is also available in two models – Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. My grandchildren had the opportunity to try out theBluetooth version and enjoyed it. Originally available as a highly successful Kickstarter project, it far exceeded their goal and was selected as a “KickStarter Staff Pick.” Compatible with Lego building blocks, many parts can be snapped together to create an unlimited number of creations.

My 11-year old granddaughter assembled the mBot almost entirely on her own and enjoyed having the tools to do it. She liked being able to drive it around using the remote control as well. Using this link http://mblock.cc/course/ she is starting to learn the programming language necessary to make it perform its robotic functions. Here are a few of her observations from the experience:

  • Instructions would have been better if they had words in addition to the pictures. For example, she didn’t realize that the batteries had to be installed in the battery compartment before installing the circuit board above it.
  • Also, batteries are not included, so you’ll need to purchase AA batteries as well as a CR2025 for the remote.
  • Wall avoidance mode worked best at 90° but not when hitting the wall at just a slight angle.
  • The wheels do pick up a lot of dirt and dust.
  • Sometimes the long wires would rest against the wheels causing them to slow down.
  • One of the supplied screwdrivers was the wrong size for the screws that were included.

To buy, check out the Makeblock website: http://www.makeblock.cc/mbot-blue-bluetooth-version/

TripleLite 180° Flashlight

When it comes to lighting the night, the wider the beam, the more you see, and isn’t that what you want a flashlight for? The TripleLite 180°is actually three lights in one.

Three super-bright LED’s generate 500 lumens of wide angle light. A standard single shaft holding three AA batteries make the light easy to hold by any user. Water resistant, you can even use it in inclement weather. It will keep you and your family safer when you can see three times as much.


Your eyes can see approximately 180 degrees at a time, and now with the TripleLite 180, you can illuminate that entire field of vision.

Features include:

· Lightweight and portable

· Super bright, crisp white light…500 lumens of LED light illuminates 180 degrees

· See up to 164 feet (50m) of distance on high or 98 feet (30m) on low and up to 50 feet (15m) in width a full 180 degrees

· Water resistant

· Drop resistant up to 3 feet

· Adjustable settings for any task or need

· Battery Life: 3 hours on high/ 6 hours on low

· Requires 3 AA batteries (not included)

Check out both models of the TripleLite at their website: http://triplelite.com/


Examiner as published 600


Disclosure:  All manufacturers provided product samples to evaluate for this review