Tag: educational

Cool educational toys, hold the batteries

When we’re running out the door on one of our million weekly errands, it’s way too easy to just grab the iPad or a handheld electronic game to occupy the kids. But in my ongoing quest to “unplug” a little more often, I’ve discovered a neat line of hand-held edu-toys that will keep preschool-age kids entertained without a single beep, bell or whistle. Twisterz is a handheld tube with moveable rings in the center that young kids can spin around  to practice letter sounds, spelling or beginning story telling, depending on the version you choose. I love that each...

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Audio books for toddler? Reader Q&A

My daughter is turning 3 next month and is starting to outgrow her naps! I am trying to enforce quiet time on the days she won’t nap, and someone gave me the idea of letting her listen to audio books as her quiet time activity. I was hoping you had some ideas or could point me in the right direction of somewhere to start. Many thanks in advance for your help! -Rebecca   I agree that audio books are a great way to get her to hold still for a little bit and relax, and we’ve pulled together a...

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Animal themed nursery prints with a French accent

As I have mentioned here before, I have a real sweet spot for nursery art prints. While my daughter’s room may be the size of your suburban walk in closet, I will always keep an eye out for another something special to squeeze onto her tiny walls. Especially when it’s accompanied by a cause as nice as this one. Once again temptation presents itself with the discovery of the smart animal series from Tiny Us. We have already declared our love for Virgine Dreyer’s noble charity project and her mission to raise funds for Presence, a special institute for handicapped...

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3 ways to give back to schools

Now that the kids are fully back in school, that means unfortunately, there are a lot of teachers out there thinking about all the out-of-pocket money they’re going to have to start spending on their classrooms. Which, if you ask me, is just plain wrong. But we’ve found a couple of neat options for families who–in the midst of all that back-to-school shopping–want to help provide schools, teachers and students across the country with support, supplies and funding. DonorsChoose.org This is the original citizen philanthropy website, connecting donors to individual teachers who need specific supplies. Some requests are as...

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Thank you, teachers

I have a big, big heart for teachers and all they do. Not just because my own mother is one, but because I can directly point to moments that educators shaped my life in profound ways. Like Linda Taylor who helped me fall in love with history in fifth grade. Dee O’Brien and Duke Schirmer, who I can fully credit for my essential need to become a writer. And in college, my advertising Professor Walter Lubars who gave me the single most essential bit of advice that shaped my career to this date. I hope I have thanked them...

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Learning how to really take pictures of our kids

I take a lot of pictures of my kids. Some of them end up in the digital abyss crying to be turned into scrapbooks and canvases on my wall. But then there are plenty that I look at and think hm. That should have turned out better. Now, there’s a way to make sure that happens. [don’t miss an awesome giveaway and a great discount after the jump] Photographer Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick has come up with a brilliant solution for a parent’s busy life: Photosanity. It is a twelve week online workshop that covers all of the fundamentals of proper...

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Celebrating our National Day of Service with kids

Today is a tough day for a lot of us, especially those of us in the New York and DC areas who lived through the horror of 9/11 ten years ago. But we do love how it’s been turned into something positive as a National Day of Service. We thought it was a good time to point you towards some helpful past posts that we’ve published: Quick, Easy Ways to Volunteer With the Kids While They’re Still Young 9/11, a Day to Remember Through Service 9/11, A Very Good Day for Doing Good National Family Volunteer Day They’ve got...

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Thank-you cards that your kids will love to write

My mom was amazing with personal notes–she always produced the loveliest card, written just-so, perfectly on-time, for every occasion.  Her mastery of the art form skipped a generation. But the good news is that means my kids have a fair shot at note-writing expertise–and these adorable new educational cards can only help. Letter Learning is a line of educational greeting cards for kids, invented by teacher and mama Ellen Richard. There’s a card for every occasion–from birthdays to party invites to “just because,” with cute illustrations and pre-made words that kids trace out so that they’re “writing” while learning to write...

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Math is hard? No way.

No sooner did Team Umizoomi launch on Nick Jr. last year that my preschooler fell in love. Madly and deeply. Let’s say she occasionally insists on being called Geo, her favorite color has gone from purple to blue, and best of all, she’s excited about math. That’s the kind of TV influence I can get behind. With one DVD out and another launching in time for your kid to get back-to-preschool, it’s a good way to help get your kid excited about “mighty math powers” too. While I don’t think every Noggin show lives up to the “preschool on...

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A Street Through Time : Timeless

It is rare to find a book that all three of my boys can enjoy together. With such varied interests, I long for something captivating (and non-electronic) that has the ability to sustain their attention long enough for me to take a shower. DK Publishing has answered my prayers. A Street Through Time is a beautiful book, and educational to boot. The premise is simple; each page follows the same street through thousands of years of history using hyper-detailed illustrations. The book begins with stone age hunters, and each page that you flip takes you to another era in...

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Pop art for tots

If you know kidrobot, then you know its team of artists create masterpieces of culture. Lots of words have been used to describe the appeal, and I love all of them: quirky, pop-art, Warholesque, cartoonish, comical….the list goes on. There are even a few of their toys on display at MOCA in NY. Well, now it’s your child’s turn. My kids dig Dunny, kidrobot’s creature (monster? robot? animal?) that absolutely takes on a life of its own once the artist gets her hands on it. Now there’s also Munny, Dunny’s friend with smaller ears. With some markers and a...

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Teaching kids to read just gets more and more fun.

When my kids were younger, I used to leave the Closed Captioning up on the television so they could get familiar with the words coming out of the mouths of their favorite cartoon characters. Taking this idea one step further and more effectively, in my opinion, are the Readeez series of DVD’s and downloads that we’ve featured both here and on Cool Mom Tech. Now, there’s a new one out that’s totally worth a look for parents whose kids are just learning to read. {keep reading for a great giveaway and a special discount on anything in the Readeez...

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Celebrate Black History Month in good company

Having just observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day last month, my kids are familiar with this major figure in black history. But I want them to know that history goes well beyond one man (or woman), and the fact that February is also Black History Month gives me a good excuse.  To give me a hand, I’ve been turning to the Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVD series, always a great resource for finding age-appropriate and smart stories for my kids. Here are a whole bunch that are perfect for starting conversations around Black History Month. Duke Ellington and More...

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Getting Meryl Streep to read your child to sleep

I’m pretty sure that most mamas will agree that there’s nothing–nothing!–like a good children’s book. Or a box full of them. Or, if your kids are anything like my 3-year-old, a bedroom that is basically Book Central. But my kiddo is also quick to swipe her dad’s iPad or my iPhone and settle in with the educational games we’ve downloaded for her. So the new children’s story app we’ve found is right up her book-loving alley–and some of the celebrity narrators make it even more delightful. [ADDED: don’t miss a great giveaway after the jump!] The new children’s storybook...

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The Clever Detective sneaks some math into gametime

As a homeschooling mom, my kids know that I’m often trying to sneak learning moments into our day. Unfortunately, they are now old enough to resist my attempts to shove some factoids down their throats; often they aren’t trying to be mean, it’s just their way of saying: Lighten Up Mom. But today we played a game that had us all giggling and smiling. Oh, and doing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  The game that got us to combine fun with math—something my nine year old would swear is impossible—is Young Learners’ The Clever Detective by Italian game company Clementoni. The object of the...

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Read, write, learn, wipe, repeat.

I was absolutely blown away when my four year-old, in a single day, suddenly mastered lowercase letters. No thanks to me, of course. This time, all the credit goes to the new Brain Quest write and erase alphabet book. Filled with 40 pages of coated, wipe on/wipe off pages and complete with one of those dry erase pens (which argh, just make sure your kids keep it away from the couch), it’s such a clever new format from the folks who make some of the best workbooks in the world. The whole thing is the perfect size to tuck...

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The perfect gift for bookworms with authority

It was a red-letter day in our household when each child was old enough to get his or her own library card. They love picking out books, handing their card over to the librarian and then skipping out with their new reads. What they don’t love is listening to me hound them to find those books under their covers, inside the couch cushions or off the floor of the car when it’s book-return time.  But, now they’ve got a cool new kit that let’s them play library whenever they want, and it’s missing just the thing that bugs them...

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A new app that teaches kids Chinese? Xie Xie! (Thank you!)

Yesterday my son had a playdate with a little Chinese girl, coincidentally the same day I downloaded Chinese for Munchkins to my iPhone. The amazed look on her face when I asked them if they had seen a hóu zi or a lóng (a monkey or a dragon) at school was priceless. The look on my son’s face was decidedly more, Woman, what are you doing!? Stop being a dork! Chinese for Munchkins is an adorable app to teach words for animals and numbers to kids, or frankly anyone who wants to learn a little bit about a language...

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It’s true, fish really is brain food

So it’s become pretty clear that iPhone apps can be God’s technological gift to parents wanting to avoid toddler meltdowns in restaurants and pediatrician offices. Some of my favorite apps for the younger set come courtesy of Duck Duck Moose, which is slowly taking over the “educational app” category with their graphically clever learning games. When your 2-4 year old is ready to take those Sesame Street concepts a little further, they’ll love Fish School which uses funny little fishies, humorous sound effects, positive reinforcement, and an incredibly simple interface to help teach letters, numbers, shapes and more. The...

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U play, U learn, U smile.

I have a true story to tell you–a tale of DOG, and DOG, and DOGGIE, MAMA, DOGGIE. At least, that’s how it began. My 17-month-old son says only four words, but I can tell that he understands a lot more. Now, thanks to the U Play Mat by Play This Way, I am 100% certain that the child is a genius. The U Play Mat is a brilliant feat of engineering by Dr. Jen, mother of two sets of twins. (I know–I’m amazed she can hear herself think at all, too.) Watching her son with a speech therapist, she...

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