Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer Learning Help: 101 Educational Websites and Apps

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We are already about halfway through the summer! If your kids are like mine, they like to play outside, with friends, etc. but they also need a little quiet time. I've been trying to sneak in a little learning this summer so my 2nd grader has been spending time on educational apps.

With this in mind, I wanted to share Educents' list of the Top 101 Educational Websites and Apps of 2016. This is really a helpful resource when you are looking for apps or online programs that actually offer some learning and fun.

This incredible round-up of educational websites, apps, online curriculum, and digital learning resources is your go-to guide for continued summer learning and the new academic year. You can browse the guide by subject to find the perfect resources for your kids to brush up on certain skills or learn something new!

There are literally 101 great options to choose from. Here are a few that stand out to me:

1. Kids Discover - Kids Discover Online is an interactive online reading platform, offering 3 Lexile(R) reading levels and over 1,000 science and social studies resources, vetted by subject experts.


2. Farfaria Unlimited Ebooks - FarFaria offers over 1000 ebooks for your children. Each story comes to your mobile device as a colorfully illustrated book that they can flip through, read on their own, or have read to them. If they choose to hear the story, each word is highlighted as a professional actor recites it.


3. Learn to Read App: Lifetime Subscription - With music, games, lessons, and stories, HOOKED ON PHONICS: LEARN TO READ is the simplest, most effective and most fun way to learn to read. Enjoy songs, games and interactive entertainment in a style that has never been seen before in an educational app.


Which ones have you tried or do you want to try? Comment below to let me know which ones are your family's favorites! And share with friends!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Summer Time Means Biking Time

Do you enjoy biking with your kids? We having been biking as a family since our oldest was still in diapers. He always loved motion so it was a big hit.

Now that we have two kids, biking altogether seemed challenging at first. But guess what? Even before our oldest could ride on his own, we managed to bike altogether thanks to all the cool bike carriers and harnesses available now.

The best thing about biking as a family is that it is one of the few physical exercises that you can all do together in which the adults actually get a workout too. From a research perspective, we all know that physical activity is associated with better overall health, especially improved blood pressure and cardiovascular health. We love hiking together too, but as you parents know, hiking with little kids isn't always much of a workout for the adults, since you usually stop about 10 times for every 30 feet you hike.

Now that we live in Colorado where biking is common and there are tons of biking paths, it has become a regular activity for us in the spring and summer.

If you are new to biking with kids, this infographic below is helpful in figuring out what gear might be right for your family.

Get out there and enjoy the feel of the wind on your face and the freedom of pedal power.

Source: Blog

Friday, July 1, 2016

4th of July Fun Learning

Independence Day is just around the corner. Do celebrate in the traditional way with a big BBQ and fireworks or does your family have a unique tradition? Our family tends to stick with tradition and do a lot of outdoor activities, a parade and at least a few fireworks. If you have little kids like me, you know that July 4th can be a lot of fun, but also late bedtimes for kids who are not used to staying up late. Mine are finally at an age (7 and 3) where they can recover from a late night within a day.

July 4 is also a unique holiday because it has a lot of learning opportunities tied into it. What a great time to discuss America's independence, freedoms, and pride for our country. Below are a selection of great learning tools and ideas for kids of all ages.
**This post contains affiliate links

1. 4th of July Lapbook Package of 6 (Downloadable)


I can't believe the 4th is Monday already! Thankfully Knowledge Box Central (one of my favorite makers) has a lapbook package that you can download. It covers the Declaration of Independence, important facts about Independence Day (more than BBQ!), Patriotic Symbols and Memorials Activities, and US symbols like the Statue of Liberty in 289 pages. Kiddos learn about the history of our nation and honor the efforts of those before us.

Who it's for: Ages 5-13

Cost: $9.99 (save $20)

Download It

2. 4th of July Hands On Activities (Downloadable)


Keep your kiddos active during the day (so they can rest at night) with 18 hands on activities surrounding the holiday. This set of activities includes color matching, stamp making, necklaces, and loads more. Note it's a downloadable so you'll need to rustle up components like crayons and sponges, but the down to earth ideas won't require a trip to a super store. And you can access it right away.

Who it's for: Ages 2-6

Cost: $9

Download It

3. All 50 States Notebooking Pages (Downloadable)

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Quite the bundle - I love this notebook of all 50 states because it encourages personalized, independent research. Kick off long-term learning with the founding states, and discuss how the United States grew as a nation following the Declaration of Independence. I've found that interest-fueled lessons help kids learn with greater depth and retention - but as they say, creativity loves constraints - and this 50-state notebook creates just the right framework.

Who it's for: Ages 7-12

Cost: $25 (save $275)

Download It

4. Declaration of Independence CD

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This is a tool that will resonate with auditory learners, and one that the whole family can enjoy. Learn the words of the Declaration of Independence through song, and hear them explained by a teacher in terms children can understand. I hold this truth to be self-evident: this CD is a great way to bring historical concepts to life for little learners.

Who it's for: Ages 5+, the whole family

Cost: $11.96 (save $4)

Order It

5. 4th of July Coloring Pages (Downloadable)


How about a little creativity for the day? These adorable pages will let kiddos inner artist shine, while giving opportunity to talk about what's in them. For example, what is the meaning of the Statue of Liberty? You can even talk about how she's green because of copper oxidizing over time, and how pennies are made of the same material. Yes! Arts, History and Science all together! And it's 99 cents.

Who it's for: Kids who love coloring, all ages

Cost: 99 cents

Download It

**This post contains affiliate links 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Beyond the Tiara: Disney Princess Culture and Gender Stereotypes

A research study about Disney princesses? Now this is research we can really use in our daily lives as parents. As a mom of boys, I have secretly been relieved that I didn't have to go through the "princess phase." But wait! This research discusses boys too. Let's take a closer look.

The study involved 198 preschool-age children and examined their exposure to Disney princess media and toys. The researchers then considered if there was a relationship between exposure to Disney princess items and gender-stereotyped behavior.

If you have a daughter of preschool age, this is probably the study you have been waiting for for years. I think most of us parents have wondered if all the princess-saturated media and toys actually have an impact on kids, particularly girls.

From this study, it looks like the princess culture does seem to have some impact on girls and boys behavior. The more girls and boys interacted with princesses, the more likely they were to exhibit female gender-stereotypical behavior a year later. So this means girls acted in more traditional female ways (e.g., avoiding getting dirty, avoiding risks), but boys did too. Of course, the impact on boys was less dramatic because they had less interaction with princess items.

Gendered Values

Of course, the irony of this study is that what we in our American culture value in one gender is not what we value in the other. Culturally, we try to encourage girls to think outside the "girly" box. Many parents want their girls to take more risks and avoid falling into the stereotypical passive female role. While hypermasculinity still reigns, we as parents try to foster a softer, more caring boy mindset.

So it seems, that while the princess culture represents what we want girls to avoid, it illustrates the gentler side we want boys to develop.

So what is a parent to do? Ban all Disney princess items from your home? As in all things parenting, moderation is usually the key. It's helpful for kids to play with a variety of toys and crafts, not just character-themed items.

I think it's also crucial to really understand your particular child's personality. Was your daughter a "girly girl" from the start or did you see an increase in female-stereotyped behaviors as she was exposed to more princess culture? Does she seem to copy the poses or behavior of princeses in a way that you don't want to support? Ask her what characteristics of the princesses she really likes? Is it just their appearance or something else about them. The same could be said for boys. Is your son really bought into the hyper-masculine "tough guy" role or did this increase as he was exposed to more media that supported this role?

As KJ Dell'Antonia smartly points out in her New York Times article, it might be helpful to point out to girls the characteristics of princesses that do not conform to the gender stereotype. For example, illustrate how some of the princesses are very active in deciding their own fate, or how they use their intelligence to get out of a difficult situation.

One aspect of the princess culture that this study did not particularly address is the emphasis on appearance and the sometimes sexualized poses of princess characters that is seen. While these aspects are sort of wrapped up in the overall princess culture, it would be interesting to see if these particular characteristics were adopted more by girls who have a lot of princess interaction. I think most parents would not want to support media or toys that put forth the image of women being only valued for appearance. This I think could be the rallying point for parents of both boys and girls. I think most of us would agree that our adult culture emphasizes appearance and sexualization enough already, our children, both girls and boys, do not need to be inculcated into a culture of devaluing women at a young age.

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