Tag: educational

Bitsbox: The fantastic STEM gift idea that taught my 4 kids to code their own apps.

It’s no secret that parents love finding tech gifts for kids that we can justify as being both fun and educational, but the true test isn’t whether we think they’re cool — but rather, whether our own kids play with them. Over and over again. That’s why we we’re so thrilled to have partnered with our newest sponsor Bitsbox. (And you dedicated Spawned podcast listeners already know just how thrilled!) This clever subscription box gift masterfully and clearly teaches kids how to code their own apps that actually work on smartphones and tablets. Like my 9-year-old son’s Burping Obama app. (Not coming to an app store near you,...

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Beyond thank you and please: 7 manners all kids should learn for holiday entertaining (and that we’re not all teaching)

Please and thank you — important stuff, right? I’ve always believe that courteous kids grow into nice adults and we all need more nice in the world these day. But that’s not where etiquette begins and ends. So with the holidays here, and lots of entertaining and mingling coming up on our calendars, we’ve started talking in our home about some of the manners that we want our kids to know, so they can be fantastic guests and hosts. I’m sharing them here with the hope that maybe our ideas will help some of you too. Top: Please and Thank You poster at TanyaGDesign on Etsy I know...

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10 free educational online resources for curious kids that every parent should know

We love how the Internet can help us when it comes to raising a generation of more curious kids. There are just so many remarkable free educational online tools and resources that help support a child’s natural curiosity, and even help push them a little (or a lot) when it comes to learning about all kinds of subjects and sparking their passion about the world around them. That’s exactly what our newest sponsor, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (or CTY, as it’s been fondly known for more than 30 years), does for bright kids and their families. And if you don’t know about...

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These 6 new books for kids about the arts are sure to inspire young painters, musicians, and writers.

I’ve noticed a trend lately among the hundreds of children’s books I receive for review: stellar new books for kids about the arts. We tend to promote a lot of STEM toys, books, and opportunities for kids because we’re passionate about science and technology and the digital world our kids will live and work in. But we still love to find great books for kids about the arts that can inspire young painters, musicians, and writers too. These 6 books for kids about the arts will encourage your littlest ones to try their hand at creativity, or they can be used to supplement your elementary-age children’s...

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A lovely way for kids to send a letter of thanks to our troops on Veterans Day (or any other day).

Today, November 11, is Veterans Day. And while every day is a good day to honor our brave veterans and give thanks to soldiers and vets for their service, it’s always good to have a national holiday to inspire us. So many of us here come from military families, and as the stepdaughter of a veteran myself, I know just how much a message of thanks and gratitude can mean. My own girls call their Pop-Pop every year on Veterans Day to thank him and they write him letters of gratitude, like this one my youngest wrote last year, shown below. (You have to love...

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The Journey by Francesca Sanna: A powerful look at the refugee experience, for children.

My kids hate to see me cry, but there have been times when I’m following the Syrian refugee crisis that I can’t help it. They’ve caught me looking at the haunting photo of Omran Daqneesh in the ambulance, seeing the tragic body of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach, and watching desperate mothers and fathers trying to get their families to safety while “reporters” trip them as they run from armed guards. But, you know, I think it’s a good thing that they see me cry at images like this. As strongly as I feel about it, I’ve still struggled to explain the Syrian...

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7 fun political activities for kids to do on election night. No mudslinging included.

This election in particular has been a tough one for me to wade through all the issues with my kids, so I’ve been getting creative with how I’m involving them in our family’s political discussions. I’ve been implementing Kristen and Liz’s great tips for talking politics with your children in a nasty election year, and I’m also planning to take mine with me when I vote so they can see firsthand what that experience is really like. I’ve also been looking for some fun political activities for kids to help mine get a little involved and learn a thing or two about our election process....

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Secret Code: A customizable children’s book to help you raise tech-savvy, confident girls.

As a first time mom-to-be, I am already thinking about creating a household where my child can be whatever they want to be. A doctor, lawyer, sandwich artistan, or even a Silicon Valley techno mastermind. And given that my husband’s an IT professional who builds his own computers for fun (what the heck is a Hackintosh, anyway?), our kid is likely to inherit an aptitude for computer sciences. We can only hope, anyway. If we have a girl (maybe, especially if we have a girl), I want to make sure she has plenty of STEM role models that can help her get excited...

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Happy Heart Kids: fun, easy, educational craft kits that teach kindness and empathy.

If you ask me, it’s never too early to teach a child about emotional intelligence. I still remember my teacher making us practice “I” statements — as in, “When you steal my Hello Kitty pencil, I feel hurt and sad.” A couple of decades later, I’m still finding this lesson crucial to calming conflict (and a lot more effective than shouting — who’d have thought?). So I was excited to hear about Happy Heart Kid, a company making craft kits for kids that teach kindness, empathy, gratitude, and other life essentials. I had my 3-year-old niece try out the Feelings & Faces...

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Pro family photography tips for parents who’ve caught the photo bug

My absolute favorite feature on my iPhone isn’t the smart to-do list that keeps my life sane or the ability to look up random facts on Google whenever I want — it is, of course, the camera. I take thousands of pictures each year, and as a result, I kind of believe myself to be a pretty decent photographer (thanks, Instagram filters). But the truth is, I have a lot to learn about getting the best angle or action shot. And the Real Life Family Photography book by professional photographer Amy Drucker has tons of these kinds of really smart family photography tips to help novices —...

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A fun interview with Anne Holton, wife of Tim Kaine, about parenting, politics + funny tweets | Spawned ep 50

This week on Spawned with Kristen + Liz, it’s our golden anniversary, and we’re extraordinarily thrilled to be joined by an incredibly special guest, Anne Holton, wife of  Senator Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for Vice President. But wow, Anne is a powerhouse working mom in her own right, having raised three “independent, strong-willed children” (in her words) while working as a legal aid attorney, a Judge in Richmond Juvenile Court, and until very recently, the Virginia Secretary of Education. We honestly didn’t expect to laugh so much, and we think you’ll love Anne like we did, in this incredibly enjoyable, relatable discussion. We talk...

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The Favela Art Project: bettering the lives of kids in Rio through art

During this summer’s Olympic coverage, we all enjoyed seeing beautiful images of fun, lively Rio, and its gorgeous beaches, but there was one major aspect of the city that wasn’t broadcast — the favelas, or slums, which populate Rio and rarely sees electricity, proper sanitation, or a reliable police force. But one woman has been working to transform the favelas for a very long time. Artist, TED talk speaker, and former favela inhabitant Mariluce María has launched the Favela Art Project to provide art education to children living in poverty and make tangible changes in their day to day lives. The group has been painting over violent symbols and graffiti,...

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9 fantastic beginner chapter book series to help create avid readers

My youngest child started Kindergarten this week — sniff — and he’s learning to read so quickly. I’m thrilled to find out he loves books, and I’ve been scouring our bookshelves and grilling our librarian for some great beginner chapter book series. Of course, there are the classic favorites like Junie B. Jones, Magic Treehouse, Ruby and the Booker Boys, and Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo. But I was excited to find a few new options too, and all of these series have just added new volumes to their collection over the last few months. So, whether you’re trying to find age-appropriate books for your young...

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3 extremely cool world map decals to get kids excited about geography

If your family is anything like ours, you’re only now getting caught up on lost sleep from the Olympics. But in its wake, the games leave us all with a healthy dose of wanderlust and interest in oh, say…Tonga. For no apparent reason. So, we’ve decided to round up some of the coolest world map decals to help inspire your own burgeoning jet-setters who may have gotten excited about learning more about the countries of the world this summer. The graphics are so nice to look at, and some even include a ton of information to qualify them as educational. Decals for the win! Related: Peel-and-stick wallpaper:...

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11 of our favorite childhood books that we can’t wait for our kids to read

There’s something so special about sharing our very favorite childhood books with our kids. When we see our kids falling in love with Anne of Green Gables, or imaging themselves racing through Narnia to defeat the White Witch, there’s a certain jolt of nostalgia that just makes you want to be a kid again, discovering these books for the very first time. So we are so happy to welcome our newest sponsor Epic!, whose affordable e-book subscription service lives right on our kids tablets and gives them access to more than 15,000 books they can read anytime. (And yes, the exclamation point...

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Why I’m emotional about 19th Amendment Day this year, and links to help kids understand the importance.

I am finding myself a little choked up today, on the anniversary of the 19th amendment, in a way I can’t recall ever feeling before. Maybe it’s because this is the first August 18 in which we have a female presidential nominee from a major party. Maybe it’s because this is the first presidential campaign year in which my daughters are old enough to be interested and following along, and I can start to see their own paths as educated and engaged voters of the future. Or maybe it’s just because I’m hitting the age myself where I have enough life behind me to be...

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4 reasons to consider an ecotourism vacation for your family. (Besides being awesome.)

The idea of combining education and conservation with a family vacation is super appealing to parents, which is why ecotourism is such a fascinating concept for me — and maybe for you. If you’re not familiar with ecotourism, it’s aimed at providing travelers with environmental awareness by offering experiences that also support conservation. But in my own research, so many ecotourism vacation options involve heavy travel, often internationally, which can definitely be costly for families — especially for my family of five. That’s why I was so thrilled to learn about Jekyll Island, a small spot off the coast of Georgia,...

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How to talk to your kids about politics? Ken Burns has a book for that.

This election cycle has been pretty brutal, leaving a lot of us wondering how to talk to our kids about politics. Well, I just got a copy of Grover Cleveland, Again! by the celebrated documentarian Ken Burns and illustrator Gerald Kelley, and I’m convinced that reading this with my kids is going to help them understand what being presidential is all about. Related: Turning kids into readers – 3 tips from LeVar Burton to help get your kids excited about books Related: 3 inspiring new picture books for kids that should be on every wish list This big, oversized book fills up my kid’s...

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A super simple tip to help your kids with their summer reading right now

It’s probably one of my kids’ least favorite things to talk about these days: Summer reading. Which is odd, because they really do love to read. They just don’t like someone else telling them what they have to read — and when to read it. Recently, though, a friend recommended this very easy tip: Invest in a summer reading journal to make the required reading a bit more exciting. I decided it was worth a try, and so, I picked up this Reading Journal for Kids (available from our affiliate Amazon, in different versions for kids’ ages and reading levels) to help my...

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Girl power! Our 10 new favorite empowering books for girls

My kids and I have encountered some very memorable girls with very memorable experiences in their children’s books over the years — Madeline’s midnight appendectomy, Freckleface Strawberry (a favorite among my brood of redheads) wearing a ski mask on the playground to hide her freckles, and of course, bossy big-sister Olivia the pig — our favorite non-conformist. And lately, I’ve been seeing an increasing number of empowering books for girls, all non-fiction stories written by women in the last 12 months or so, of girls busting stereotypes and fulfilling their dreams. These books teach our kids anything is possible if you work hard enough and...

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