Christmas 2017: 11 gifts your kids will ask Santa for this season

Published: Monday, November 27, 2017 @ 3:50 PM
Updated: Monday, November 27, 2017 @ 3:50 PM

Take a look at 11 of the must-have gifts for kids this holiday season Orbeez Magic Chef Set Cozmo Worry Eating Plush Pals Power Wheels Wild Thing Star Wars Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder Hatchimals Surprise Twin LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox Building and Coding Kit WowWee Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise My Geek Box Kids' Box Subscription Star Wars Furbacca

Some of the trendiest toys for 2017 might surprise you. As a parent, you might look at a few of these toys and wonder why they're such a big deal. 

Although the top gifts for kids this year might seem very different from the classic toys you grew up with, your children will shriek with glee finding a few of them underneath the tree on Christmas morning.

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As you finish up your holiday shopping, take a look at 11 of the must-have gifts for kids this holiday season.

Orbeez Magic Chef Set(Courtesy of Maya Toys/For the AJC)

Orbeez Magic Chef Set

Why: With the Orbeez Magic Chef, your kids can create their own pretend culinary masterpieces using an innovative superfine crush compound that makes the food look extremely realistic. From sushi to ice cream, you'll have to be careful not to take a bite out of your child's creation.

Age: 5 and up

Cost: $29.99

Purchase at Maya Toys


Cozmo(Courtesy of Anki/For the AJC)

Why: One of the most complex robot companions on the market, Cozmo is more than just a supercomputer -- he's a playful sidekick that can recognize your face, play games, identify you by name and react to your movements.

Age: 8 and up

Cost: $149.99

Purchase at Amazon

Worry Eating Plush Pals

Worry Eating Plush Pals(Courtesy of Haywire Group/For the AJC)

Why: Give your children peace of mind this Christmas with a Worry Eating Plush Pal. This soft and cuddly doll has a special zippered compartment on its mouth where your little ones can feed all their worries and fears.

Age: 3 and up

Cost: $23

Purchase at Uncommon Goods

Power Wheels Wild Thing

Power Wheels Wild Thing(Courtesy of Fisher Price/For the AJC)

Why: Let's face it, even adults want to give this ride a go. Unfortunately for all you moms and dads out there, this one's strictly for kids ages 5-10. With dual joysticks, 360-degree spinning, multi-terrain tires and a max speed of 5 miles per hour, this ride-on toy will surely earn you a few brownie points.

Age: 5-10

Cost: $279.99

Purchase at Toys "R" Us

Star Wars Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder

    Star Wars Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder(Courtesy of Radio Flyer/For the AJC)

    Why: Give pint-sized Star Wars fans a gift to remember with a ride-on Landspeeder from Radio Flyer. This highly detailed and film-accurate vehicle has a top speed of 5 miles per hour, features real movie sounds and an interactive dashboard and seats two riders at a time.

    Age: 4 and up

    Cost: $299.99

    Purchase at Toys "R" Us

    Hatchimals Surprise Twin

    Hatchimals Surprise Twin(Courtesy of Spin Master/For the AJC)

    Why: After children tend and care for this magical egg, a special furry friend hatches out of it. In this case, it's twins. Once hatched, your kids can watch the connection between the twin Hatchimals as they share jokes, dance together and more.

    Age: 5 and up

    Cost: $69.99

    Purchase at Toys "R" Us

    LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox Building and Coding Kit

    LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox Building and Coding Kit(Courtesy of LEGO/For the AJC)

    Why: Encourage LEGO fanatics to take their hobby to a new level with this versatile and complex building system. With 874 pieces, your kids can construct five multi-functional robots that they control using coding blocks on a compatible device.

    Age: 7-12 years old

    Cost: $159.95

    Purchase at Amazon

    WowWee Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey

    WowWee Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey(Courtesy of WowWee/For the AJC)

    Why: Children absolutely love this little interactive monkey, which can respond to sounds, movement and touch. Not only will the Fingerlings Baby Monkey hang on to your child's finger, but can also hang upside down by its tail, responsively blow kisses, blink its eyes, babble and turn its head.

    Age: 5 and up

    Cost: $47.90

    Purchase at Amazon

    L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise

      L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise(Courtesy of MGA Entertainment/For the AJC)

      Why: Children love surprises, especially when they come in a large ball. Each L.O.L. Big Surprise contains one of 50 different limited-edition dolls and accessories inside, which can really add an element of excitement on Christmas day.

      Age: 6 and up

      Cost: $69.99

      Purchase at Target

      My Geek Box Kids' Box Subscription

      My Geek Box Kids' Box Subscription(Courtesy of The Hut Group/For the AJC)

      Why: Celebrate geekiness with a gift that keeps on giving. The My Geek Box Kids' Box Subscription delivers a monthly box containing a selection of thrilling and geeky gifts, including gear, toys, puzzles, plush and more.

      Age: 5 and up

      Cost: $22.99

      Purchase at My Geek Box

      Star Wars Furbacca

      Star Wars Furbacca(Courtesy of Hasbro/For the AJC)

      Why: Your children will love interacting with this Chewbacca-inspired Furby, which reacts to touch and motion and features a special Furbacca app and Star Wars Furby Furblings.

      Age: 6 and up

      Cost: $59.09

      Purchase at Amazon

      The AJC may receive a commission for purchases made through some links in this article.

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      What is Earth Day? 5 things to know

      Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 4:24 AM

      WATCH: Origin of Earth Day

      Sunday is Earth Day 2018, and more than one billion people across the globe are expected to celebrate with environmentally friendly events.

      But what exactly is Earth Day? Here's what you need to know:

      >> Read more trending news 

      1. When did Earth Day start?

      The first Earth Day celebration took place 48 years ago, in 1970, after a devastating oil spill in America brought environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 22 million people across the country came out in support of environmental reform.

      "That day left a permanent impact on the politics of America," Gaylord Nelson wrote in the April 1980 edition of the EPA Journal. "It forcibly thrust the issue of environmental quality and resources conservation into the political dialogue of the nation.

      "It showed political and opinion leadership of the country that the people cared, that they were ready for political action, that the politicians had better get ready, too. In short, Earth Day launched the environmental decade with a bang."

      Since then, celebrations have only grown. This year, organizers estimate more than one billion people in 192 countries will participate in events the world over. The day is celebrated each year on April 22.

      >> Target’s Earth Day car seat recycling program offers 20 percent off new car seat, stroller

      2. Is there a theme for Earth Day 2018?

      This year, organizers are focusing on curbing plastic pollution.

      "Our goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics," the Earth Day Network, which partners with tens of thousands of organizations in 192 countries to organize Earth Day events, said on its website.

      The organization also said it "will educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems."

      Read more here.

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      3. How are people celebrating?

      In Tokyo, thousands of people will attend beach cleanups, concerts, art exhibits, classes and other events coordinated by the Green Room Festival, according to the Earth Day Network. In India's Karnataka state, a "no plastic" event will feature workshops led by "organizations that are champions of environmental sustainability in fields including electric vehicles, solar power and zero-waste living," the network said. Cleanups also were scheduled in Palm Beach, Florida; New York; New Jersey and other locations across the United States and worldwide.

      Read more here.

      4. What are businesses doing?

      Google marked Earth Day with a "video doodle" featuring primatologist Jane Goodall. 

      >> Click here to watch

      “It is so important in the world today that we feel hopeful and do our part to protect life on Earth," Goodall said. "I am hopeful that this Earth Day Google Doodle will live as a reminder for people across the globe that there is still so much in the world worth fighting for. So much that is beautiful, so many wonderful people working to reverse the harm, to help protect species and their environments. And there are so, so many young people, like those in JGI’s Roots & Shoots program, dedicated to making this a better world. With all of us working together, I am hopeful that it is not too late to turn things around, if we all do our part for this beautiful planet.”

      Read more about the doodle here.

      Apple also joined in on the celebrations, announcing on April 19 that "for every device received at Apple stores and through the Apple GiveBack program from now through April 30, the company will make a donation to the nonprofit Conservation International."

      In addition, Apple "debuted Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhone to recover valuable materials," according to a company press release.

      “At Apple, we’re constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet’s precious resources,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social Initiatives, said in a statement. “In recognition of Earth Day, we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to recycle devices and do something good for the planet through Apple GiveBack. We’re also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what’s possible when innovation and conservation meet.”

      Read more here.

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      5. How can I get involved?

      There are multiple ways to get into the Earth Day spirit, from participating in a local event to changing your bills from paper to paperless. Here are some suggestions from the Earth Day Network:
      • Urge your local elected officials or businesses to make a substantial tree planting commitment by starting a letter-writing campaign or online petition.

      • Lead a recycling drive to collect as much plastic, metal, and glass as possible.

      • Pick up trash at a local park or beach.

      • Set up a screening of an environmentally themed movie. Consider supplementing the screening with a speaker who can lead a Q&A following the film.

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      April Fools' Day 2018: See this year's top pranks

      Published: Saturday, March 31, 2018 @ 12:25 PM

      Fun Facts about April Fools' Day

      This year, April Fools’ Day is sharing the spotlight with Easter, but there are still plenty of pranks to be found.

      >> Read more trending news 

      Along with Easter greetings, companies have been hard at work creating their April Fools’ Day pranks. 

      Here is a roundup of the best of them. 

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      Why is it called Good Friday and what’s so good about it?

      Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:50 PM
      Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:50 PM

      Pictured is a mosaic of Jesus Christ inside Messina Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Messina, Sicily.
Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images
      Pictured is a mosaic of Jesus Christ inside Messina Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Messina, Sicily.(Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images)

      Christians believe Jesus was mocked publicly and crucified on a solemn Friday more than two thousand years ago. Today, the calamitous day is celebrated as Good Friday.

      But what’s so good about that?

      >> Read more trending news

      One answer is that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, “good” may have referred to “holy” in Old English, a linguistic theory supported by many language experts.

      According to Slate, the Oxford English Dictionary notes the Wednesday before Easter was once called “Good Wednesday.” Today, it’s more commonly known as Holy Wednesday.

      And Anatoly Liberman, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the origins of English words, told Slate if we consider the alternative names for Good Friday, such as “Sacred Friday” (romance languages) or “Passion Friday” (Russian), this theory makes a lot of sense.

      Another possible reason for its moniker — a theory supported by both linguists and historical evidence — refers to the holiday’s ties to Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.

      Because Jesus couldn’t have been resurrected without dying, the day of his death is, in a sense, “good.”

      “That terrible Friday has been called Good Friday because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations,” the Huffington Post reported.

      A third answer, some believe, is that the “good” in Good Friday was derived from "God” or “God’s Friday” — the way the term “goodbye” comes from a contraction of the phrase “God Be With You.”

      Fun Facts About Easter

      Still, not everyone refers to this day as Good Friday. For example, 

      The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that, in the Greek Church, the holiday is known as "the Holy and Great Friday." In German, it's referred to as "Sorrowful Friday."

      And as aforementioned, “Sacred Friday” and “Passion Friday” are also used.

      In addition, because the holiday is also commemorated with a long fast, Good Friday was also referred to as “Long Friday” by the Anglo-Saxons.

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      'Beware the Ides of March' -- What does that mean?

      Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM
      Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM

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      Today marks the Ides of March, which may vaguely remind you of a high school English class. Here are some things to know about the 15th day of the month.

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      Day marks the assassination of Julius Caesar

      Most famously on this date, some 2,060 years ago, Roman dictator Julius Caesar died in an assassination by senators at the Curia of Pompey.

      Tensions had been simmering between senators and Caesar before his death, fueled by Caesar's continued consolidation of power. However, Caesar considered the senators his allies. Just a few years before his death, Caesar was named “dictator in perpetuity,” a move that further strained relations.

      According to historians, sixty senators planned and participated in the conspiracy to kill Caesar in 44 B.C.

      Death marked a turning point in Roman history

      Caesar was popular with the lower class people of Rome, who saw his death as an unwelcome decision made by the aristocratic class. With Caesar no longer leading, potential leaders waged war to fill the power vacuum.

      The civil wars eventually culminated in the end of the Roman Republic and beginning of the Roman Empire.

      'Beware the Ides of March' made famous by Shakespeare

      In case you really did forget your high school English class, it's worth noting the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his tragic masterpiece “Julius Caesar.”

      In the play, a soothsayer warns Caesar to be careful on March 15, although the ruler ignores the mystic with tragic consequences.

      Famous line based on historical events

      It may come as a surprise to know the well-known phrase was actually inspired by real events.

      According to Greek historian Plutarch, a seer really did warn Caesar that he would be at the very least injured by the Ides of March.

      Caesar did not heed the warning.

      On the day of his death, he saw the oracle and joked that he had made it to the Ides of March, to which the seer responded the day had not yet ended.

      So why is it called the "Ides of March?"

      The Romans kept track of days on its calendar by dividing each month up into three separate points marking the beginning, middle and end of the month. You may have guessed it but the Ides fall in the middle of the month, on the 15th of March, May, July and October and the 13th for the rest of the year.

      The Ides were sacred and marked a monthly sacrifice to the Roman god Jupiter. Various other religious observances also took place on the Ides of March.

      Other famous events on this day

      Today isn't the anniversary of Caesar's death. Here are a few other famous events that have happened today in history:
      • 1972: Forty-four years ago (yes, that number is right) Francis Ford Coppola's three-hour crime epic "The Godfather" first played in theaters. Before "Jaws" came along in 1976, the film was the highest-grossing film ever made. It went on to win three Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.

      • 1917: Czar Nicholas II was forced by the revolting Russian people to abdicate the throne after ruling the country for more than 20 years. The February Revolution -- so named because Russia used the Julian calendar at the time -- broke out just four days before the czar abdicated his throne.

      • 1767: Our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, was born on this day somewhere between the Carolinas near the end of the colonial era. His exact place of birth is disputed.

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