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Archive for the ‘Learning through Play’ Category

Teaching History Through Your Child’s Interests

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Parents who love history are often eager to pass this passion onto their children. Yet as any mom or dad knows, kids quickly develop interests and hobbies of their own and don’t always latch onto those of their parents. Rather than overwhelm them with dates and names and cultural trends and so forth, parents who want to teach history to their children may have better success integrating it into their interests.

It’s easier than you think. Consider the following popular interests among kids and how parents can use them to explain history:

Clothes and Jewelry

One of the quickest ways to distinguish one era from another is taking a look at what people were wearing. Whether it’s the drastic changes in clothing over the course of centuries or the way each decade seems to have its distinct apparel, hair and jewelry trends, the history of fashion functions against the backdrop of human history itself. Since many preteens and teenagers are concerned with fashion, parents can use it as a segue into a discussion about history.

For instance, antique jewelry spotted in a store window can start an on-the-spot conversation about how the human fascination with gold, silver, and gemstones has existed for thousands of years. The era in which the necklace comes from can offer clues as to the design quality and materials chosen, as well as speculation about what the first person who wore it was like, the life she lived, and why the necklace ended up on the market.

Video Games

Moms with only a passing understanding of video games probably think of them as fantasy escapism with few, if any, elements based on how things work in reality. While an increasing number of parents appreciate the puzzle solving aspects of video games due to growing up as gamers themselves, few realize the potential video games have for helping kids better understand history.

Consider the Assassin’s Creed series of video games, which we admit is a name that sounds like the exact opposite of what moms want their kids to be playing. However, that aside, these games are praised for their historically accurate depictions of cities such as Boston, New York, Paris, and Rome. Furthermore, the storylines always include important historical figures and events. While it’s still a video game and therefore ultimately bound by the need to provide exciting gameplay rather than history lessons, parents can use the Assassin’s Creed games to provide kids with context about the past in a way which brings it to life.

Movies

Who doesn’t love a good movie? While the definition of “good” varies from person to person, the most popular movies today revolve around time-tested franchises and characters which appeal to parents and kids alike. Due to their connection to movies and other stories originally produced in decades past, they offer an opportunity for parents to impart some history lessons to their kids.

Consider the contrasts and similarities between the Marvel superheroes depicted in today’s movies and how they were originally conceived as comic book characters in the mid-20th century. Movies, comic books, and other story-based entertainment are not made in a vacuum; they are a product of their times and this gives us clues about the past and how it measures up against the present. For instance, the tendency for female characters to be either sidelined or objectified in decades past can be compared to the way they are increasingly given more depth in today’s popular media. This is a reflection of positive changes in society over time.

If you’re a mom who loves history but struggles to make it interesting to your kids, consider ways to start the conversation through their interests. It’s easier than you think!

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Scientifically Proven Ways To Raise Smarter Kids

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These simple activities can improve your child’s intellectual development.

Setting children up for intellectual success later in life is high on the list of concerns for many parents, but amidst the everyday pressures of parenting, broad goals like “making your child smarter” can feel overwhelming and impractical. Fortunately, encouraging cognitive development doesn’t have to be complicated. Add a few of these proven activities to your child’s routine, and you’ll foster intelligence in manageable, positive ways.

1. Encourage playing outside.

Structured sports are wonderful for children, but making time for unstructured play is just as important, if not more so. Research has proven that unstructured play has an integral role in the development of social intelligence. As schools eliminate recess time, making sure your young ones have time to themselves outdoors is critical. Whether you usher them out the door to build an elaborate sledding hill, play hours of tag with their friends or head to the park for supervised play doesn’t matter; leaving them to set their own boundaries and interact with children their own age facilitates crucial prefrontal cortex development that they’ll draw upon in social situations for the rest of their lives.

2. Let them play video games.

When your kids do come inside, whether on a rainy day or a dark winter evening after school, don’t worry if they race straight to their gaming console. Moderating screen time is important, but as Cheryl Olson, Sc.D., asserts, video games—even those not made to be educational—offer myriad benefits to kids. From problem-solving to creative expression to social interaction with friends, video games challenge children and give them a rare sense of autonomy. After age 10, kids’ interpretations of complex games deepens and expands, but children under 10 aren’t exempt from the benefits of simpler games.

3. Make sleep a family priority.

If you need more motivation to set a sleep schedule and stick to it, let your kids be your inspiration. After the regimented sleep schedules of babyhood and the toddler years, letting bedtimes slacken when your kids reach school age is understandable. However, if those looser sleep schedules turn into patterns of insufficient sleep, your child will suffer, and unfortunately, many already do. Right now, as many as 20 to 25 percent of school-age children don’t get enough sleep.

That lack of rest affects their alertness, their attention spans, and their ability to concentrate in the classroom, which can have long-lasting effects on grades. According to the National Sleep Foundation, kids between the ages of 6 and 13 need nine to 11 hours, with older teens functioning best with eight to 10 hours each night. Consider limiting use of electronics before bedtime and creating a new nighttime routine with your child that takes their burgeoning independence and new hobbies into consideration.

4. Try music lessons.

Has your child ever expressed interest in music? If not, you may want to gently encourage it. Researchers at Northwestern University have found evidence of a link between music and literacy. The key, according to researchers, is that kids need to be active participants in music lessons. If children aren’t engaged with and creating music, they miss out on many of its benefits. Try talking to your child about enrolling in their school’s band or orchestra, or consider private lessons if they express interest.

Kids who do embrace making and learning music will gain “neurophysiological distinction” as they decipher differences between specific sounds. This heightened awareness of sounds carries over to improved literacy for many children, which is an indicator of intelligence both in the classroom and on standardized tests they’ll take later on.

5. Emphasize effort and hard work.

Decades of research on motivation and intelligence have led Stanford University’s Carol S. Dweck to conclude that for kids, an emphasis on effort and hard work has long-lasting, positive effects on intelligence. She asserts that praising children for being “gifted” or “talented” connotes an entitlement to success, leaving them lacking the motivation needed when concepts or good grades stop coming easily. Instead, recognizing your children for finding ways to solve problems or for following through on a difficult assignment teaches them that perseverance leads to positive results, and that success rarely comes easily—knowledge that will serve them well as they grow.

With a bit of strategy, you can introduce changes to your child’s routine that promote learning, problem solving, social skills and hard work—without replacing precious free time with flashcards and regimented learning. You’ll probably even find that many of these suggestions bring benefits to your child that go far beyond the classroom. Find an approach that works for you and your child, and remember that IQ is not the only indicator of future success.

—Kelsey Down

This story originally appeared on fairygodboss.com.


Kelsey Down is a freelance writer in Salt Lake City who has been featured on publications including Elite Daily, VentureBeat and SUCCESS. She’s covered fun stuff like why TV reboots need to stop and how to hack sleep as a workout, and she also writes about personal and family wellness. Follow her on Twitter @kladown23.

 

This article was written by Fairygodboss from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Bored Kids Are Distracting: Things Your Child Can Do While You Work

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Identifying activities for your kids to do while you’re busy with other things can be a daunting task. This is why work-at-home parents need all the help they can get.

A majority of kids lack knowledge of how to engage in solo play. Typically, kids appreciate having access to a daily routine of exciting things to do, but they require gentle encouragement and training. Providing your children with exciting and enjoyable activities helps them extend their attention span as well as experience in keeping themselves busy.

According to Linda Acredolo, a psychology professor at the University of California, play is an important activity during childhood. Although you might regard it as mere child’s play, childhood play involves several interrelated undertakings, ranging from problem-solving and learning new skills to mental and physical challenges.

Below are some few things you can do to foster your child’s learning.

Stretch Your Child’s Imagination

It’s been noted that kids who engage in make-believe play are often good at keeping themselves busy according to Dr. Willard. Children typically have their imagination even when participating in boring activities. You could try engaging your child’s imagination. Perhaps, you could provide your child with beads and string for making keychain animals. Doing so helps improve your child’s ability to count and make patterns.

Introduce technology

You can give your child an iPad for a few minutes and let them play with an educational app. This way, your child can play and learn at the same time.

Letting them occupy their time with mobile apps can provide tremendous benefits. Nonetheless, kids need guidance on the use of mobile applications. For this reason, you need to keep close tabs on how your kids are using or interacting with any mobile apps you choose for them.

Reward Your Kid for Playing Alone

Keep in mind that your kid has many playmates at school. But at home, they are denied this opportunity or only have access to their siblings. This is why your kid may resort to the B word. To resolve this problem, you need to create a plan that lets your kid hang out alone.

Try engaging your kid in activities such as playing Lego, puzzles, or browsing through picture books. You can improve this process by letting your kid come up with his own ideas instead of dictating what he ought to do. Jennifer Kolari the author of Connected Parenting recommends rewarding your kids every time they play alone in their bedroom. For instance, you could go out on a date with your kids.

Be Creative

Often, it seems convenient suggesting activities for your kid whenever they are bored, and they can’t seem to come up with something on their own. Note that the most common entertainment platforms teach kids to expect instant gratification. In the short term, these distractions-be it TV, movies, or mobile apps- will keep your kid temporarily occupied. However, in the long term, your kids will become intolerant of quiet moments as they induce hypertensive states. Instead, you should engage your children in summertime long projects. Perhaps, you can encourage them to tend a windowsill, flower, or vegetable garden to occupy their free time.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave

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Ever noticed how a rise in temperature seems to directly correspond with a rise in the amount of loose change flying out of your purse?

What with ice creams, drinks and whatever else they’re begging you for I feel like I shell out money hand over fist as soon as the sun comes out.

 

With three little people now pretty much eating and drinking and costing the same as each other days out can get expensive, so when the mercury rises how can you enjoy the warm weather without breaking the bank?

It is possible – this weekend we had huge fun with the garden hose on our allotment – such a simple thing but such fun!

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With that in mind I asked 10 mums and dads to share their favourite fun and free things to do with kids in a heatwave that won’t cost you a penny and here’s what they said.

10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave

1. Head to the nearest beach. “Sandcastles, splashing in the sea, collecting shells and rock pooling – hours of fun and all for free!” says Sally at The Happy Home.

2. Hold a good old-fashioned water fight. “Kids versus adults is so much fun (and wears us all out!) says Charlie at Our Altered Life.

 

3. Freeze toys in a tub of water. “Give them a knife and some salt and tell them to get their toys out,” says Emma at The Money Whisperer. “They love it!” (Adult supervision might be a good idea for this one!)

4. Make edible flower ice cubes. “They look so good (especially in mama’s gin!) and it’s something to look forward to if the hot weather stays for a few days,” says Emma at Ready Freddie Go.


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5. Fill a paddling pool with Orbeez (that’s colourful beads which grow 100 times their original size when they come into contact with water, in case you had to google it like I did). “Fill a paddling pool full of water and chuck in a couple of big packs of orbeez – it’s great fun like a huge jelly bath!” says Nikki at Yorkshire Wonders.

6. Make a den with the washing line. “Making a den with bedsheets and pegs using the washing line was always a favourite of mine!” says Fran at Back With A Bump. “Probably not so much for my mum who I probably left to tidy it all away!”


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7. Set up a car wash. “We have a Little Tikes plastic car which my daughter washes,” says Lauren at Sophie’s Nursery. “We give her a washing up bowl filled with soapy water and a sponge and she loves it! It doesn’t have to be a car – we have also done a baby wash with plastic dolls.”

8. Turn on the garden sprinklers, sit back and relax. “When it gets too hot we get the sprinklers on – George loves running between the sprinklers to cool down,” says Carla-Marie at My Bump 2 Baby.


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9. Go stream dipping. “It’s loads of fun and keeps them cool,” says Lianne at Anklebiters Adventures.

10. Play hide and seek in the woods. “We would run off ahead of our parents and leave them clues along the way in the form of arrows made of sticks,” says Ben at Wood Create. “Then we would find a good spot and draw a circle on the floor with a number in it. The number would relate to the amount of steps to the hiding place, but it could be in any direction – then wait to be found! Great fun as a kid!”


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Are you in the middle of a heatwave where you are? Do you have any fun and free activities you can recommend? I’d love to hear what they are!

 

The post 10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave appeared first on Confessions Of A Crummy Mummy.

 

This article was written by crummymummy1 from Confessions of a Crummy Mummy and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Benefits of Summer Camps for Your Kids (And You)

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Now that the sun is shining and the weather warms up, that means the school year is coming to an end. The kids will be home for two full months meaning you have to figure out what to do while you maintain your full-time job.

Before, the kids would be busy throughout the day at school. Maybe you were able to meet them at home, or they had someone watching them until you are home from work. But what if the kids aren’t ready to be left at home all day, every day?

Consider enrolling your children in summer camps. These camps provide entertainment while educated kids on different subjects. More and more the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) summer camps are becoming the popular (and recommended) choice for kids. Why? It is because these are all skills that are needed in a continually growing workforce (think computer software developers, medical scientists, analysts).

Here are a few benefits of enrolling your children in a STEM summer camp this year.

They Learn New and Unique Skills

The skills your kids will learn at a STEM summer camp will be valuable their entire life. But not only that, they integrate these skills into a fun and exciting atmosphere. For example, coding camps give kids the opportunities to learn about computer programming skills they usually wouldn’t learn in school. Launch After School programs are a fantastic example of what kids learn, how they learn it and why it is beneficial for their future.

They Get a Feeling of Independence

Allowing your children to have the chance to foster a sense of independence will help guide them as they grow older. They go into a new environment with new people all around. While there, they have the opportunity to make their own decisions on almost anything. Add that to having to learn to develop trusting relationships with other adults and friends to help them instead of always relying on their parents.

It Builds Friendships

When you send your kid to a summer camp, they are going to be surrounded by not just kids their own age. But they will also meet people that are interested in the same things they are. Summer camps are a perfect environment for kids to build lasting friendships. Whether it be through games, free time or through team-building exercises, your children will develop friendships they will cherish for a long time.

Help Grow Up Confidently

It isn’t always easy to pack up and leave home while at a young age. It can be intimidating and scary (for you too). But sometimes that is precisely what they need to give them a little push outside their comfort zone.

Too often do children nowadays rely on things that make life easy, whether it be electronics or having things handed to them. But by going to camp, they gain experiences that they may not get anywhere else. All of these opportunities help them grow up as children and build a level of confidence they may not have gotten otherwise.

So while you figure out your summer plan between children being home and try to work, consider enrolling them in a summer camp (or maybe two). It will be a relief for you since you know where they will be the whole time and won’t have to worry about finding a babysitter. More than likely when they come home, they’ll want to go right back.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 Ways to Empower Your Daughter to Be a Leader in STEM

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Try these tips to help her overcome the typical barriers girls face.

We all know there is a gender gap in STEM. Women hold about 24 percent of STEM field jobs in the United States, and when you get into the leadership ranks the numbers are paltry. Even in the movies, only 12.5 percent of characters with STEM careers are female. Luckily, many groups—including my own, VentureLab—are working hard to engage girls in both STEM and leadership. Here are 10 ways you can get involved at home to empower your daughter to be a leader in STEM.

1. Encourage curiosity and experimentation.

Encourage your daughter to ask Why, How and What if…? If she asks a question like “how do clouds make thunder?,” go online with her to find the answer and the science behind it. Check out YouTube and find some easy to do at-home science experiments, like making slime out of various household materials. Even cooking together and trying different ingredients is a good way to experiment. A curious mind will not be afraid of trying new things and will not be afraid of asking questions that might lead to new innovations.

2. Make things.

Take on the mentality of a maker. Instead of buying something or waiting for someone to solve a problem, do it yourself. You can set up a mini maker space or crafting table in your house dedicated to creativity and messiness. Create a space where girls can explore their hobbies, experiment, and create. A maker’s space doesn’t need to be expensive. Use recycled cardboard, Styrofoam, yarn, art supplies, and any kid-friendly tools lying around your house. Girls who make things will learn to find resourceful ways of solving problems and will become doers and leaders.

3. Encourage a growth mindset.

Compliment girls’ efforts, not their intelligence. A growth mindset means that our brains can change and grow: we learn new things by practicing. When girls hear things like “You are so smart” they tend to believe that being smart is innate and not changeable. So, when they receive a not-so-great grade they believe they have failed. Instead, compliment girls’ efforts by saying “You worked really hard” or “I’m so proud. You didn’t give up on that math homework.” By complimenting girls’ efforts, we are priming them to do hard work and remain persistent despite challenges.

4. Make her “failure resistant.”

Redefine what she thinks of as failure. Help girls learn that everyone fails. It’s how you deal with failure that makes all the difference. When something doesn’t go according to plan, emphasize that failure is a part of the learning process! Failure is about testing hypotheses and practicing until you have mastered a skill. Give examples of times that things haven’t gone as well as you expected them to. If they are struggling because they are being challenged, that’s because they are trying something new!

5. Put her in front of people and ask for what she wants.

Help girls develop a more powerful presence by teaching them how to interact with adults and others. At home, practice with girls and show them how to introduce themselves, shake hands firmly, and make eye contact. At restaurants, have your daughter order for herself. The ability to confidently introduce herself and ask for what she wants will set her apart from the rest and serve her well later in her career.

6. Encourage her ideas and focus on her strengths.

In general kids are used to not having their ideas heard, so go ahead and encourage girls’ ideas no matter how silly or impractical they sound. Have her write her ideas down in an Idea Journal and get involved in the process if she is interested in pursuing a project. Even if her idea doesn’t work, she’ll know that she has your support and will keep trying new things. And if you see that your girl has strengths in math, science, art, or whatever it might be, encourage her to pursue those areas and sign up for classes or camps that will hone her skills. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way for girls and will set them up for success.

7. Find role models and mentors.

Sometimes it’s hard to picture yourself doing something until you see someone like yourself doing it. This can be particularly challenging in the STEM fields. Reach out to local women scientists and engineers and ask if they will speak to your daughter about their field of work and their experiences. If you don’t know any women scientists or engineers, check out FabFems.org for female STEM role models. And you can always study women role models from the past and present, like Mae Jamison, the first African American woman astronaut, or Mary Barra, engineer and CEO of General Motors. Such models help inspire girls and show them that they too can pursue STEM fields.

8. Solve meaningful problems around you.

Girls become more engaged in STEM when they see how it can be applied to helping people and the planet. Help girls link math and science to real-world problems. Support her and get involved, whether she wants to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity or just build a birdhouse. Show her how engineering and math is involved. Or maybe she is interested in the environment and sustainability and wants to build a hydroponics unit. Discuss the science behind hydroponics and plant growth.

9. Just play!

We tend to take kid’s play for granted, but so much learning, experimentation, and creativity comes from play. With play there is no judgement, no fear of failure, and often no right or wrong answers. Yes, some games have winners and losers, but it is part of teaching rules and strategy. Expose girls to tech toys, like Ozobots or Dash and Dot, to learn about coding. Play with Snap Circuits or littleBits to create all sorts of electronic inventions. Build with Legos and toys that use the imagination. Even cardboard boxes are great to play with and turn into forts, or she can create her own games out of recycled cardboard. Learning through play is a great way to internalize important concepts and stimulates the whole brain.

10. Watch unconscious bias and gender learning differences.

Even if STEM isn’t your forte, be mindful of how you speak about it. If they hear, “We’re just not math people” or “Science is hard,” kids pick up on these cues. Approach STEM with a curious mindset and learn with your daughter. As parents, we may also unconsciously steer our daughters away from adventure and experimentation. We tell boys to go climb trees, but we tell our girls not to get their dresses dirty. These messages affect the way girls see themselves and what they should and should not be doing. Help empower girls to enjoy STEM and be adventurous risk-takers.

 

This article was written by Cristal Glangchai Ph.D. from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Bill Nye’s Tips for Getting Kids Excited About Science

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Bill Nye, the ‘90s television icon, the teacher who helped kid-me understand topics like buoyancy and momentum, the man whose mission it is to help make science more accessible to the masses, is back. (Not that he ever left—he’s always been really, really busy.) These days, Nye is teaming up with Nintendo to help promote the just-released Nintendo Labo and is getting ready for the premiere of the third season of his Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World. At a time when science instruction time is quickly declining in elementary schools, I asked our favorite Science Guy what parents can do to get kids excited about the subject he loves most.

Don’t Wait

When it comes to catching the science bug, that incessant hunger to understand how the natural world works, Nye says there’s a cut-off age. “When we did the Science Guy show in the 1990s, we had very compelling research that 10 years old is as old as you can be to get the so-called lifelong passion for science,” Nye says. “And I think its about as old you can be to get a lifelong passion for anything. When did you want to tell stories?” The motto in his business: “Science every day in every grade.” There’s really no such thing as “too young.”

Know the Power of Algebra

If your middle school math teacher didn’t quite make the message clear, let Nye tell you again: Algebra is important. “Here’s one thing that has been shown: Algebra is the single most reliable indicator of whether or not a person pursues a career in math or science,” Nye says. “It’s not clear that it’s cause and effect. It seems to be. Learning to think abstractly about numbers apparently enables you or encourages you to think abstractly about all sorts of things and so one change we could make in education is getting people interested in letters representing numbers earlier in their academic careers—that is to say, third grade rather than seventh grade.”

Focus on the Why

It’s not enough for a teacher to stand in front of a classroom and make kids recite the words “Molecules are made of atoms …” Kids learn through stories—they need to know why science is important in their lives. In all sorts of everyday situations, explain to them how science is at work. “I don’t have polio because I got the polio vaccine,” Nye says. “I am alive because my grandparents did not die of the Spanish Flu in 1918. I really like calling a car from my phone rather than wandering around looking for a pay phone to call a taxi. This is all brought to us by science.”

He goes on. “I was just talking the other day to this guy about his tires. Tires now are guaranteed to go 60,000 miles or 80,0000 miles. When I was a kid, tires would go 15,000 miles and then my parents would have them thrown out and have new tires put on. We feed 7.5 billion people because of agricultural technology. It’s extraordinary. Science, people!”

For whatever career your kid might be interested in, talk about how science will be necessary—there’s just no skipping it. “Suppose you were at a party and people are standing around talking and someone says, ‘I never learned the alphabet. I thought it was arbitrary.’ Can you imagine? In the same way, we want science to be part of your education no matter what you end up doing, whether you become a lawyer or a venture capitalist or a plumber or an electrician or a care provider or a circus performer.”

Work With Video Games, Not Against Them

Nye has been hearing the question for years: “Are video games messing up my kid?”

“There’s always concern expressed about video games,” Nye says. “These kids todayWhen I was young, doggone it … Look, the video game is going to be in your household.” Believing that video games can help kids get excited about STEM, has teamed up with Nintendo to promote the Labo, a series of DIY cardboard kits for the Nintendo Switch. It ingeniously melds gaming with making—the screen guides kids as they build real toys they can play with, from a fishing rod to a piano to a robot suit. “It is inherently hands-on,” Nye says.

“I became a chemical engineer because I’m a tinkerer,” Nye adds. “I tink.” He remembers playing with cardboard boxes as a kid. “There’s nothing better,” he says. “The refrigerator would come in a huge box. I mean, oh my God, come on, that’s living. You could crawl inside and it became a tank. And all the forts you could build! Monsters cannot penetrate cardboard. It’s very well documented.”

Let Kids Play

To help kids learn and gain confidence, sometimes moms and dads need to get out of the way.

You can provide them with materials to experiment with—perhaps a pair of socks for them to test their nerves or a penny, eye-dropper, glass of water and some dish soap to explore cohesive force. And then see where they go from there. “Kids love science,” Nye says. “The people who have trouble with science are the parents. Let kids be fearless. Let them mess around. Let them find out how the world works for themselves.”

 

This article was written by shared by Michelle Woo to Lifehacker and Michelle Woo on Offspring from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Easy Indoor Activities to Promote STEAM Skills in Your Kids

Simple ways to get your child thinking critically.

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Turning everyday tasks into learning opportunities with your children can greatly benefit them in the classroom. And STEAM education, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, is a great way to get your kids to brush up on their critical thinking skills. Here are five ways to incorporate STEAM (or STEM) into fun activities without having to set foot outside.

1. Make soup together.

Science: Through this activity, children will become early scientists as they compare and contrast how the texture of vegetables changes throughout the cooking process.

Technology: Ask: How does heat cook soup? How will you time the cooking? How do you keep veggies fresh before cooking? Have the kids think of the everyday uses of technology that help them and you make soup. In addition, have the children come up with different ways they might cook their soup if they didn’t have a stove.

Engineering: Using a knife can promote an early engineering experience of a simple machine, such as a wedge. The discussion alone around the process of cooking is a wonderful form of engaging engineering skills.

Art: Follow your soup-making process by reading a story! Our favorite is the story of Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. After storytime, invite children to draw a picture of their favorite part of making homemade soup.

Math: Through cutting vegetables, children may learn halves or fourths, exploring fractions or simply counting and measuring. Adding spices and measuring the vegetable stock also provide opportunities for children to begin to understand the properties of measurement.

Play with bath toys.

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Make bathtime educational.

Photo: Pixabay

Gather various water-safe objects that sink and float through exploring, observing and predicting.

Grab plastic measuring cups and spoons, plastic bowls and other water-safe items and toss ’em in the tub. Ask:

  • Why do some things float and some sink?
  • What do you notice about the shape, weight and feel of the objects when they’re in the water? How does that change when you take them out?

Bake together.

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The science of turning raw ingredients into something mouthwatering.

Photo: Pixabay

Make prepping a treat even sweeter with these tips and questions to incorporate into your kitchen adventures.

  • Talk through measurements as you mix dry ingredients together.
  • What do we predict will happen when dry ingredients are mixed in with the wet ingredients?
  • What makes the batter change color?
  • What do you think might happen when we bake the batter? What makes the batter go from wet to baked and delicious?

Ease into a bedtime routine with flashlight shadows.

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Nothing like old-school entertainment.

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Grab your flashlight and small objects, like a favorite stuffed animal, toys, or even a shoe, and see how many different ways you can make shadows move and play across the room.

  • Place objects or your hand in front of the light and observe how shadows change and move around the room.
  • Create a story about the object’s shadow.
  • How do you make the shadows dance?
  • How can we make the object look bigger or smaller?
  • How many different ways can you make a shadow disappear and reappear in a different place?

Build a shadow theater.

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Bring the inner director out of your child.

Photo: iStock

Materials: Shoe boxes or pieces of cardboard, tape, white or waxed paper, flashlight, variety of objects to cast shadows

Cut off the top and bottom of the boxes. Help the children to tape paper across one of the openings. Ask: What else could we use to attach the paper? Place different objects in the box and light them from behind. Allow the children to select objects and have others guess what each object is while viewing from the other side. Encourage the children to experiment with moving the object and the light.

  • Can you make the object look bigger? Ask children to think of other ways to make a shadow theater.
  • What else could we use to let the light shine through? Do we need a frame?

Allison Wilson is the Director of Curriculum and Innovation at Stratford School, a leading independent private school founded on the belief that education is a significant influence in the life of a child. She is passionate about developing teachers and students, bringing more than 15 years of experience to the early-childhood sector through teaching, school leadership, teacher training and innovative curriculum development. Stratford offers an accelerated, balanced curriculum from preschool through eighth grade with an emphasis in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) that incorporates music, physical education, foreign language and social skills development.


 

This article was written by Allison Wilson from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 Nag-Free Ways to Get Your Kids to Sit Down and Do Homework

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Going back to school after a holiday break is always tough. Getting your kids to dive back into that pile of math worksheets and book reports when they’d rather be playing with their new toys or watching YouTube? Torture. To help ease everyone through the transition, we asked moms for their best tips on how to get the kids to focus on their homework—no screaming, pouting, or bribery involved.

Be a study buddy.

“Remember how much more fun it was to be in a study group in college or high school? You can be your child’s study buddy. Plan 30 minutes a day when you sit at the kitchen table and work together. Your child can do homework and you can catch up on work you brought home, write out shopping lists, or do whatever it is you can get done in a half hour. Your child can continue on if needed after you’ve finished, but getting started is always the hardest part.” —Tracey Hecht, a New York City mom of one

Let them run off their excess energy first.

“I make sure my kids have an hour or so of play time outside with their friends right when they get home. Another mom once told me that because they’re cooped up so long in a classroom each day, trying to obey all the classroom rules, kids need some time to let off steam when they get home. This is especially helpful for our son, who seems to be better able to focus on homework after he has run around with his buddies.” —Erin Myers, a Baltimore mom of two

Use fun props.

“On the days when my 7-year-old daughter is feeling less eager to get her homework done, I’ve found it helpful to incorporate fun bits of home life into homework. For example, learning subtraction with M&Ms or using her alphabet puzzle to help learn alphabetization makes it feel less frustrating and more fun.” —Larissa Pickens, a New York City mom of one

Get out of the house when you can.

“I alternate where my kids do their homework and I find it helps keep them motivated. For example, on certain days we go to the children’s section of the local library. The result: Inspiration from other children doing homework!” —Melva E. Pinn-Bingham, a Chesapeake, VA, mom of three

Create a kid-friendly workspace.

“A homework station is a low-tech solution that cuts down on clutter, time and waste. It’s a one-stop-shop to find what you need, when you need it. In our home, the kitchen table is our family hub. It’s the spot where my daughters do their homework each evening and we use magazine holders for activity books, library books and homework sorting and pencil cases to keep supplies separated but contained.” —Rachel Rosenthal, a Washington, D.C., mom of twins

Set a timer.

“When one of my kids starts complaining about how long their homework will take, I set a timer for 15 minutes, and tell that child to work as hard as he or she can until the timer goes off. More often than not, the dreaded homework assignment is finished in less than 15 minutes. Then I get to point out that they spent more time complaining about the homework than it took to just do their homework!” —Maureen Paschal, a Charlotte, NC, mom of four

 

This article was written by Lambeth Hochwald from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

KuKu Game

KuKu (Koo – Koo) is a game that teaches risk, money and numbers, but it’s easy enough to explain to your child.

What you need

  • One large poster paper
  • One large drafting compass
  • A pencil
  • A deck of cards
  • Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters) or poker chips for each player

Set up

To set up your board, take the poster paper and draw a large circle close to the edge with your protractor. Next, draw a smaller circle inside and continue that process until you have about five concentric circles decreasing in size toward the middle. Then, draw lines coming from the center to the edge, resembling pizza slices (see below).

kuku-game

Players

  • three to eight

Goal

  • To not end up with the lowest card

How to Play

  1. Choose a starting dealer. The deal will rotate clockwise with each round.
  2. Have each player put a coin on the red dot at the bottom of the poster.
  3. The dealer distributes one card per player face down.
  4. Starting to the left of the dealer, the player decides to keep the dealt card or to switch it with the person on the left. If switched, the second player can either keep it or switch it again with the player on the left. Remember, the object is to not end up with the lowest card of all players.
  5. This play continues until it circles back to the dealer. The dealer can either keep the card he has or switch it with a card in the deck.
  6. All players turn their card face up. The person with the lowest card moves up one space on the board.
  7. Start a new round with a new dealer.
  8. Once your coin is in the innermost circle, you are out.
  9. The last person left with a coin outside the inner circle wins all the coins.

** If you are dealt a king at any time, you can yell “KuKu” and refuse to give your card to the person asking to switch with you.

Have fun!