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Posts Tagged ‘Learning through Play’

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.

Science Says *This* Surprising Trait Will Help Your Kid Succeed in School

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We all know kids who started reading (as in full books) at 18 months. Others had the gross motor skills to ditch their training wheels at four. One friend’s son plays Mozart on the piano and devours Harry Potter books. (He’s six.) And while all of these achievements are amazing—and debatably innate as opposed to parent-directed—they’re not necessarily concrete predictors of academic success. Want to know what is? Curiosity.

For a new study conducted at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, pediatricians with expertise in developmental behavior analyzed data collected from 6,200 children over the course of their lives, from nine months old through kindergarten. They conclusively found that “greater curiosity was associated with greater kindergarten reading and math academic achievement.” Regardless of gender or socioeconomic background, added the researchers, “Curiosity may be an important, yet under-recognized contributor to academic achievement. Fostering curiosity may optimize academic achievement at kindergarten.”

Interestingly, the kids’ efforts and their ability to sit still and listen in class had less to do with academic success than you might guess. (PSA to the parents of kids who run around like crazy during circle time: Now is your cue to rejoice.) Explains Science Daily: “U-M researchers factored in another important known contributor to academic achievement known as ‘effortful control,’ or the ability to stay focused in class. They found that even independent of those skills, children who were identified as curious fared well in math and reading.” Clarifies lead researcher Dr. Prachi Shah: “These findings suggest that even if a child manifests low effortful control [or in-classroom focus], they can still have more optimal academic achievement, if they have high curiosity.”

So the next time your kid fires off “why?” faster than you could possibly formulate answers (Why is the sky blue? Why do dogs sweat from their tongues? Why do I have two eyes instead of one? What are s’mores? Can I have one? Can I have 10? Why?), celebrate it like the sign of genius it surely is. Then take them to a museum or library to investigate, stat. Curiosity! It won’t kill cats. And it just may land your kid on the honor roll.

RELATED: The One Thing This Mom Does to Cross Items Off Her To-Do List

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Everything You Need to Know About Giving Your Kid an Allowance

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Experts answer all the common questions parents have about giving an allowance, including when to start and how much to give.

When do you start giving your child an allowance?
Wait until you feel your child is mature enough to grasp the concepts of saving and spending, most likely around age 4.

How much do you give?
Some experts recommend giving $1 monthly for every year old (e.g., $5 a month for a 5-year-old), but only if it makes financial sense for your family. Otherwise, decide on your annual allowance budget per child, then figure out the frequency. Consistency is key.

How should you give the allowance?
Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, popularized the three-jar approach, in which kids split up allowance into pools: one for spending, one for saving, one for giving. It’s a good starter path for younger children. But older kids have cash flow issues just like grown-ups, says Joline Godfrey, author of Raising Financially Fit Kids—maybe one month they have multiple friends’ birthdays. Consider giving a lump sum for, say, six months to cover expenses you’ve decided are their responsibility. Encourage them to budget it with saving and giving in mind too.

Should you link allowance with chores?
In a word, no. Most experts agree that tasks like making the bed and clearing the table should be expected, not rewarded. Kids might earn money for “bonus chores” that go above and beyond the norm, like babysitting or helping with a big yard project.

What about with grades?
Nope. “An allowance is a tool for practicing financial skills—not a salary,” says Godfrey.

 

This article was written by Kathleen Murray Harris from Real Simple 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.

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.

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.

The 3 Biggest Ways Tech Will Change Millennial Parenting in 2018

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Be prepared for these big innovations that will reshape our lives.

In an era where we are told that technology is making us not just lonelier, but also less kind, it has always felt important to me to find the antidote to that—to find and use technology that makes us more connected to each other and to our world.

When I started my career, dating by using technology received at best, a raised eyebrow, and at worst, a lot of negative attention. I was part of that full 360, running Badoo (a large dating European dating platform), and was part of Bumble, the seminal Millennial dating product. Watching how attitudes changed was not only exciting, it was fascinating. Tables turned, taboos were broken, and new industries were born. It was this experience which highlighted most clearly how my newly occupied arena, motherhood, was in need of a technological shakeup.

At one point when I was out on maternity leave with my son in 2013, I found myself trawling baby advice blogs at 2 a.m. and I realized there had to be a better way, a new social shift, a new taboo to bust. And that was the start of Peanut, which uses everything I had learned about technology to connect like-minded mothers (to make us less lonely) and enable them to communicate (to be kind). That was around 10 months ago, and since then, I’ve relished every opportunity to use tech to enrich our lives as mothers.

As my son grows up, we are sort of navigating technology together. This year, there are so many things I am excited to show him, and I think we are going to see a lot more how it will make our lives easier. (I’ll take all the help I can get!) Here are some of my favorites:

Virtual Reality

We already know VR is everywhere, but advancements in this field create the potential for it to go beyond gaming and “sunbathing” on a beach, to help us educate our children. I recently attended an event where a children’s charity used VR to transport you to Africa, walking alongside a schoolgirl on her morning pursuit to collect clean water before school. It made such an impact on me, and as advancements are made in this space, it could end up being an important tool to have to teach our children—we won’t have to just tell them, we can show them.

For example, Discovery VR can allow our children to swim with the sharks in the depths of the oceans or play with pandas in China, all from the seats of their desks. My son Finlay is very into bats right now, so this is an amazing way for him to see them and interact with them safely. Another great one is Star Chart, which maps out constellations and allows children to explore the planets in our solar system while also being able to time shift 10,000 years back and forward, to see what our planet once looked like, and how it may possibly evolve in the future. That’s better than any science textbook I ever had!

Virtual Health

Every parent knows how intimately you become acquainted with your medical practitioner, and how important it is to have immediate access to those professionals. Tech to make those medical appointments easier, more accessible, in real time will be a huge asset for busy parents who need immediate, expert advice. Apps like Heal, DoctorsOnDemand, HealthTap are doing such cool things in this space to make life easier. But Maven has really stolen it for me here. I met the founder recently. She told me 80 percent of women are making decisions about healthcare in their families, and yet the current system is not exactly female friendly (trying to get to that appointment during your workday, or collect your kiddo from school to get them there). The ability to use video appointments and direct messaging for peace of mind? That is what every mother needs.

YouTube Kids (with better regulation)

We’ve all read the stories and have been horrified by what our children may see by accident. We know that YouTube is looking more carefully at moderating the content posted to their channel, and 2018 will likely bring increased regulation and more child-friendly streaming services. There is still a way for all of the wonderful content that exists online to enrich our children’s world, to give them access and opportunity to content we had to access through dusty encyclopedias, and let’s be honest, to give us 20 minutes respite whilst we’re trying to juggle a million other balls. However, until regulations and moderation are where we need them to be, perhaps the solution is watching together.


Michelle Kennedy is the CEO and co-founder of Peanut. Available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., Peanut is a free Android and iOS app that uses a smart algorithm to connect like-minded women who are mothers. Michelle started her career as an M&A lawyer at leading international law firm Mishcon de Reya. She later joined dating app, Badoo, where she rose to the role of Deputy CEO. She is also a mama to her 4-year-old Peanut, Finlay.

 

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

Bored During The Week: Fun Activities for Family Night

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In this busy world, there seem to be fewer and fewer times when a family has the opportunity to assemble all in one place. When a Mom has to work as well as take care of the kinds, these times seem to be even harder to come by. Kids often are burdened by extracurricular activities when they’re not in school, or else they’re out spending time with their friends. Sometimes even when they are home, it’s impossible to carve time out to get everybody in the same room to do something together. The kids might have homework, or you might have to bring some work home with you. You might all even get caught up in your cell phones.

Yet it’s been proven time and again that the benefits for families who spend time together are numerous. It might even require you to demand a certain night be ordained each week as Family Night. Whatever gets you and the kids together in the same room in the house together for a couple of hours with no distraction is clearly worth it. Once you’ve got everybody corralled and ready to have some fun, you need to be ready for some fun activities to keep their attention. You can always fall back on things like movies or board games, but why not come up with something different than the usual? That will make them crave Family Night instead of dreading it.

If you’re looking for a new location for Family Night because your old residence doesn’t cut it anymore, there are new homes for sale for just about every budget that will meet your family’s needs. Once you get there, consider these activities with your kids to make it a night they won’t forget.

Get Out of This

One of the most exciting new entertainments to come around in the past decade or so are escape rooms. They require people to unite to solve problems in order to get out of a locked room. You can come up with some way to incorporate this into Family Night. Create the puzzles yourself, and then make the kids work together. If they get out in time, have a reward waiting.

The Family That Cooks Together

It can be a lot of fun to have everyone in the kitchen pitching in together for a family meal. Have the kids get together to agree upon a fun recipe which everyone will like. Even if it’s a sugary dessert, give them a break on the nutrition for a night so they can have a little fun.

Looking Back

Instead of just popping in a video or streaming a movie, you can create entertainment for the kids by cueing up a bunch of home videos, whether they’re on tape or on someone’s phone. Or you can pull out old photo albums. You’d be surprised at how nostalgic kids can be.

Remember that kids will react to new and exciting activities that are different from the norm. Use your imagination to make Family Night at your home the place to be.

 

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.

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.

iStock

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.