Innovative Camps For Kids

This post is sponsored by Galileo Camps but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

The kids are just back to school, after a week off for spring break, and I’m already thinking about summer. Each year I try to pick one or two experiences that I think will benefit my kids and let them try something they might not normally gravitate to. Last year, my sports loving kiddo took a short break from running around in his cleats to participate in a coding summer camp where he discovered how exciting STEAM activities could be.

This year, I’ve already looked at a number of camps that look promising and I’m loving the Galileo Camps‘ model. Drawing from the innovation process inspired by the Stanford d. School, Galileo’s curriculum packs serious substance and sparks kids’ imaginations from pre-K through 8th grade. Their goal is to develop innovators who envision and create a better world and they do this by teaching campers a framework called the Galileo Innovation Approach or the GIA. With this framework, campers learn the steps needed to bring their ideas to life.

The camps shape a new generation of innovators by teaching kids to explore, make mistakes (and learn from them!), and create without fear. I think that “making mistakes” part is so important, especially in this day and age of social media where everyone else seems perfect and kids are afraid to fail for the whole world to see. Kids need to know that it’s okay to take (safe) risks and that it is not only fine, but vital, that they fail because that is how they will learn. The folks at Galileo believe that kids who learn to explore and fail with courage—the essence of innovation—are happier, more creative and more confident when faced with life’s challenges.

To show my boys what Galileo camp life would be like we did some group activities from the Zoom, Fly, Bolt, Blast Steam Handbook that was written by Galileo curriculum developer Lance Akiyama (who also authored Rubber Band Engineer and Duct Tape Engineer which we have) and was made in cooperation with Galileo Learning. This book gives parents and kids ages 6 to 10 a selection of 18 engaging projects to build together. And when they’re finished, they’ll have personalized creations that fly, race, and blast off!

We were limited on what we could make since we don’t have a lot of materials on hand (which will change soon with a DIY kit I’m putting together!) so we chose a couple projects with simple material lists. We made a “grabber” and a lung lift (because who doesn’t want to say they are able to lift a chair by just breathing?!) It was nice to see the kids step away from their video games to create something together. I loved how they worked together, determined to meet a shared goal, and took turns trying each other’s ideas and building off of each other’s failed attempts until they succeeded. Check out the lung lift they made in action!

If you are looking for an innovative summer camp you’ll want to check out fun & enriching Galileo Camps. If you live in the Bay Area, Southern Cali, or Chicagoland, learn more about Galileo, find a location near you, and register your children to experience the fun for themselves this summer by going here. Save $30 on your camp purchase with code SUMMER30. (Discount valid at any Camp Galileo or Galileo Summer Quest location for the 2019 season, where space is available. Combinable only with Multi Session and Refer A Friend discounts.)

What are your kids doing this summer? Chat with me on social! Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

 

The Zap Zap Math App Makes Learning Fun

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

When I was growing up, practicing math was done using flashcards and worksheets. It was boring and something I dreaded doing which led to math becoming my least favorite subject in school. Nowadays, math is more interactive which makes it fun for kids who are learning and practicing math concepts. They also get to play cool apps like Zap Zap Math which turns math into a game. This app is perfect to keep kids learning at home and on-the-go and will help keep your child from experiencing the dreaded “summer slide” we all hear so much about.

Zap Zap Math is a game-based learning ecosystem that makes learning math fun and engaging, with a series of games covering math topics from Kindergarten to 6th grade. Inhabited by Mathlings, the Zap Zap Math ecosystem brings fun into the equation with a whole universe of math games that are designed based on Bloom’s Taxonomy to encourage children’s critical thinking skills.

Zap Zap Math has over 150 Mathematical topics, with a fully developed comprehensive curriculum that has been designed to mirror common core standards. I like that the app is split up by grade level and it’s easy to switch between the grades so it’s a great app that both my boys can use without having to log out and back in to switch between their two grades. While the kids enjoy playing, I love the web dashboard that lets parents and teachers check each child’s progress by topic and see which areas they might need help in.

Zap Zap Math is available for download on both iOS and Android devices. The app is free to download but you can upgrade to the premium version for only $9.99 a year (that’s less than a dollar a month!)

What’s your favorite way to keep your kids from experiencing the “summer slide”?

Making Reading Fun With Disney Story Central

Thank you Disney Story Central for sponsoring this post. Sign up for Disney Story Central‘s new subscription service today to access the largest collection of digital stories, featuring a wide array of beloved Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love!

Getting my kids to read is tricky business because my boys would rather watch TV or play on electronics. Serious reading is more like a chore to them but luckily I discovered an app to help make reading exciting. Disney created a great app for tablets and phones called Disney Story Central.

 

Disney Story Central is the largest collection of Disney digital stories, featuring a wide array of Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love. The cross-platform experience is available via iPhone and iPad app, tablet-optimized website and Video on Demand. All the titles can be read by the children or the app can read to the child. My boys are excited because summer vacation is underway and they are working on their summer reading lists. Disney Story Central is designed to encourage kids to develop a lifetime love of reading. Disney Story Central gives families the freedom to choose the reading experience that suits them best, whether through an annual subscription service or a-la-carte options, using Disney Book Tokens.

The best part is all the characters the kids already know and love and customizable bookshelves for each member of the family with personalized reading recommendations. A “Browse By Character” carousel lets families easily find books starring their favorite character. spanning all Disney Franchises, including Disney Princess, Disney Classics, Frozen, Doc McStuffins, Cars, and more. My youngest one is the biggest Toy Story fan so he is ecstatic for all the Toy Story selections.

Personalized book recommendations and character-driven navigation make it easy to find new books and to keep the kids reading there are Stars, Ranks, and Trophies that reward kids for reading and encourage them to keep it up. My boys get competitive so this will be a great feature for them.

The Disney Book Token system helps parents empower their kids to pick out the books they WANT to read, allowing them to build their own collection of stories, featuring the characters they love. Tokens work like currency, in which one token is worth one book and are used to download books and that will get my boys to do chores for the tokens. For our family getting a subscription seems to be the better option as the kids get download crazy. The subscription service gives kids unlimited access to Disney Story Central’s expansive library of books for $7.99 a month.

I want to encourage readers to download and access the free Disney Story Central app at Disney Story Central or on iTunes. It will make any child happy and pump up their reading desire. Summers fly by but the reading my boys will do will make them better for a lifetime.

You can even participate in Disney Story Central’s ‘Mid-Summer Light Reads’ Campaign – promoting weekly Disney reading themes — for a chance to unlock free books and enter the sweepstakes! Launching on June 11, the campaign will run through August 13.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

How Big Is A Billion? Contest For Teachers

(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by H&R Block but all opinions are my own.)

We all know that a Billion dollars is a lot of money but just how much is it in terms that we can easily imagine? H&R Block’s “How Big is a Billion?” contest is a new educational program that asks teachers to turn the idea of a billion dollars into a math assignment for a chance to win a $3,000 grant. Teachers are invited to submit real-life examples that illustrate the concept of a billion dollars. For example:

The contest runs through March 14, 2014 and to participate, teachers must submit a brief explanation and image of the creative concepts. To access the application, “like” the H&R Block Dollars & Sense Facebook page.

Submissions should be:

  • Square image
  • Minimum size 650×650 pixels
  • Include a description of math and research utilized to create the example of the size of $1 billion

There are three prize categories: Elementary School, Middle School, and High School and each level will be awarded a Grand Prize ($3,000 grant), 2nd place ($2,000 grant) and 3rd place ($1,000 grant). The first 50 entering educators will receive a $50 Gift Card just for entering!

H&R Block has teamed up with WeAreTeachers, an online resource for lesson plans, professional development resources, grants and contests for teachers, to select the finalists and help encourage participation. H&R Block will select the grand prize winners. Here are a few more details:

  • Entries will be evaluated based on accuracy and creativity.
  • The contest is open to teachers and homeschool educators.
  • Each participant can submit up to eight entries.

Join us for a Twitter party!

What: Every year, Americans leave a billion dollars on the table when they do their own taxes. That number is so huge it can be hard to visualize. To help people understand just how much money a billion dollars really is, H&R Block has introduced its “How Big is a Billion?” contest, asking teachers to turn the idea of a billion dollars into a math assignment for their students for a chance to win a $3,000 grant. The contest runs through March 14. Join us at the party to learn more!When: Tuesday, March 11, at 12p ET / 11a CT / 9a PT
Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #HowBigIsABillion hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Twtvite: http://twtvite.com/howbigisabillionHashtag: #HowBigIsABillionPrizes: Five prizes will be randomly awarded throughout the party, from all eligible correct responses to trivia questions. Each consists of a $200 gift card. (No purchase necessary. Entrants must be legal residents of the United States, 18 years of age or older.)Hosts: @theMotherhood, @theMotherhood25, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann, @HRBlock

Co-hosts:

  • Alicia, Making Time for Mommy – @aliciamarie112 (that’s me!)
  • Caroline, Smarty Pants Mama – @SmartyPantsMama
  • Chelsea, Someday I’ll Learn – @somedayilllearn
  • Elaina, A Time Out for Mommy – @atimeoutformommy
  • Erin, Making Memories with Your Kids – @EMakingMemories
  • Jennifer, My Boys and Their Toys – @Lovesmytwoboys
  • Julie, Julieverse – @JulieMPron
  • Maegen, Sounds Fun Mom – @SoundsFunMom
  • Sara, Mom Endeavors – @momendeavors
  • Vicky, Mess for Less – @MessForLess
Hope to tweet with you at the party!!

Letter “B” Crafts & Activities

This week I am sharing my favorite letter “B” crafts and activities I’ve found on the internet. Check out my Pinterest board below!

 

Language Stars Programs {$500 Giveaway}

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own.)

When I was in Junior High and High School I took Spanish classes. It was required to take either Spanish or French and so I sat through 6 years of it. I learned some vocabulary words and phrases but found that learning this second language was hard for me.

Looking back, I now know that the reason it was probably so difficult was because once a person hits puberty the brain changes and makes learning another language harder. If I would have learned it when I was younger I would have probably picked it up a lot quicker. I love that Language Stars has classes for young children to learn another language because kid’s brains are like sponges and they are at the right ages to learn a new language.

Language Stars currently has Summer programs going on that provide an opportunity for increased language exposure through a variety of fun outdoor and indoor activities to reinforce the language. I think that’s what I love most about these classes. They make learning another language fun! Children won’t be sitting there going over vocab flashcards the way I learned in school. They also have different options to work for your family’s schedule. They offer 5 day camps, half day options, and one day classes.

Learning doesn’t end after Summer. Language Stars offers programs during the school year like Parent and Tot classes, Kids only classes, and Foreign Language Blasts. The “blasts” are one time immersion classes with a fun theme that will get the kids excited about learning another language.

Language Stars offers a free trial class so you can check out the program before committing to a full class or program. I’m also excited to offer a great giveaway for $500 worth of Language Stars classes {and extremely jealous that I can’t enter myself}! Enter the giveaway by completing the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Has your child ever taken a 2nd language class? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comment section below.

AutisMate: iPad App For Children With Autism {$149.99 Value Giveaway}

AutisMate, a new iPad app from SpecialNeedsWare for those with autism, stands among the most respected and innovative options to help children develop communication and behavioral skills despite the challenges of autism. Individuals are given a comprehensive set of tools to navigate life with ease, providing for the lifelong learning, development and changing experiences of those across the spectrum.

While most autism apps on the market focus singularly on promoting one expressive form of communication, AutisMate recognizes the unique nature of every case of autism and works to first build comprehension on a personalized level to unlock a more varied set of expressions and needs. It allows children with autism along with their caretakers and teachers to easily import personal images, video, audio and other information into a visual scene-based platform.

To save time and effort, users also have the option of uploading videos, stories, and schedules geared specifically for autism from a vast content library. A GPS feature allows scenes to change according to the user’s location, making the software even more intuitive and applicable in real-time. This platform grows with the user and caters to his or her unique needs.

The research-supported app has already helped hundreds of users to fully express themselves and improve connections with their families. Many users have expressed their support for AutisMate and shared stories of success and progress. One testimonial that SpecialNeedsWare has received is from a mother of a 7-year-old boy with autism: “I recently used [Autismate to help my son] understand what would be happening at a hospital visit to have tubes put in his ears (a procedure he had done before and had gotten very upset). This last visit he was calmer and cooperated really well! Thank you so much for providing a tool that gives me a way to help my sweet, loving son find understanding by allowing him to ‘think in pictures’.”

You can learn more about AutisMate at www.autismate.com. To purchase the app on iTunes, click here. Please follow AutisMate on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY

One reader will win a download code for this app (a $149.99 value)

HOW TO ENTER

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me why you need this app

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Share this giveaway directly with another parent of a child who has Autism

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow @autisMate on Twitter

6) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

7) Like AutisMate on Facebook

8) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends March 3, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 18 or older to enter. Note: This giveaway is for the app only and does not include the iPad.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and do not have an iPad so I have not used the app. I am posting in hopes that it will help one of my readers. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

 

 

Reusing Items For Learning Fun

I talked last month about Unilever and their commitment to donating meals to those in need. I found out that this was just a part of their sustainable living plan. They are also working on improving health and well-being, enhancing livelihoods, and reducing environmental impact. They are working towards a goal of 100% renewable energy. I think that the work this company is doing is amazing and it makes me want to work harder at reducing my own environmental impact. Wondering which of your favorite brands are made by Unilever? Take a look below!

I went shopping and bought some Bertolli meals and some Lipton Iced Tea. I love the Bertolli meals because they are easy to make and taste delicious. Here was last night’s dinner:

Jacob is not a huge potato fan but he loved the potatoes in this meal because of the sauce they were in. After dinner I wanted to find a use for the Lipton Iced Tea bottles. We recycle some items into a recycling bin but lately I’ve been trying to create more with “trash” and save what I can to reuse. My favorite way to do this is by incorporating them into learning for my preschoolers.

When I taught preschool I had some “sensory bottles” in my classroom. They were fun to shake and look at for the children and I wanted to make them with my own kids.

I used the Lipton Tea bottles that were empty and instead of throwing them away I reused them for this fun activity. First, I rinsed them clean and let them dry. Once that was done I called the boys to the kitchen table and we got to work. I had decided we would make two different types of bottles. The first we made was a “find and seek” bottle.

I filled a bottle halfway with rice and put some letter beads out on the table. I then called out letters and the boys would have to find that letter and put it in the bottle. They thought this was a lot of fun and they liked helping mommy.

After all the beads were in we added more rice. We filled up the bottle but left a little empty space at the top so that the rice and letters inside could move around. A little tacky glue in the cap to ensure we wouldn’t have a huge mess on our hands if one of them got it open and we were done with our first bottle. The boys liked shaking it up to find all of the letters in their names.

Next, we made some water filled sensory bottles. You can fill these with anything you’d like but we chose sequins and glitter and then added a few drops of food coloring in the water.

I let the boys put their own sequins in their bottles {warning: little hands putting little pieces into little bottles makes a huge mess}. They worked at this diligently for a while since they could only get a few pieces in at a time. I then helped them sprinkle glitter into their bottles and we filled them with water. I let them pick out the color they wanted to make their water and squeezed the food coloring in. I added a bit too much to Jacob’s and his turned a very dark shade of green. Lucas wanted red so I just added a few drops in his. I also added a little dish soap to put some bubbles in it.

The last one we made I decided to do half oil and half water. I put in some vegetable oil, a little glitter, and some drops of food coloring. The boys watched as the food coloring didn’t spread, like it had in the water, but instead created tiny beads of color. I think a full bottle of vegetable oil would have been a lot of fun. I added water and the colors bled together though it was still fun to watch the water and oil separate.

The boys enjoyed putting these sensory bottles together and then playing with them. I’m looking forward to creating more crafts with them using recycled materials. Someone suggested making a planter out of a Country Crock tub and I think the boys and I might do that as the weather gets warmer.

How do you reuse items for learning fun?

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Unilever  #cbias #SocialFabric )

A New Appreciation For E-Learning Classes

There was a point in my life where I was working and I decided that I wanted to go back to school. Because of the hours I worked I had to take night classes. After a year or so of working during the day and then driving to class at night I decided I was sick of rush hour traffic and thought I’d try online classes instead. I liked that these classes offered me flexibility and that I could learn from the comfort of my home while sitting in my pajamas. I never considered all of the work that went into putting an e-learning experience together until I came upon the below infographic. 200 hours of work for 1 hour of learning!? Wow! No wonder the classes were so expensive! I definitely have a better appreciation for the e-learning classes I took and the people that helped create the classes.

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.)

7 Fun Ways to Teach Kids about Thanksgiving

The below is a guest post from Mary Evett on how to share the meaning and history behind “Turkey Day” with your children.

Though kids may view Thanksgiving as the first stop on the school holiday vacation train, there’s a lot more for them to know about it than simply no class, stuffed turkey and whipped cream-topped pumpkin pie. Considering Thanksgiving is one of the only holidays in which children can learn about sharing, community, gratitude and compassion for others, it’s important to take the time to talk about its meaning.

This November, teach your children historically accurate facts about this important holiday by learning about the events that led up to the well-known first feast and doing creative Thanksgiving activities together. Share these activities with your nanny, so she can do them with your kids too.

  1. Read Together
    Share an educational story time with your children, no matter their age, by reading a Thanksgiving-themed book. Take turns reading or ask questions about the pictures, depending on individual reading levels. Use the opportunity to discuss similarities between people and the importance of treating everyone with respect. Check out books like: “The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving,” “Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast,” “Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy,” or “P is For Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet.”
  2. Journey to 1621
    Use the topic of Thanksgiving to investigate the journey of the pilgrims. Children can learn important historical facts in a fun, interactive way. Plimoth Plantation, a Massachusetts-based living history museum about the Plymouth Colony, provides an award-winning and free downloadable Thanksgiving activity that’s appropriate for children of any age. The site introduces children to a Wampanoag child and an English settler who lead them on their journey to uncover the truth and debunk popular myths about the first Thanksgiving. It provides different points of view on important historical events that happened between the Wampanoag people and the English settlers leading up to the first Thanksgiving in 1621 in an interesting, high-tech way.
  3. Visit the Mayflower
    The education experts at Scholastic have developed a complete and thorough unit on their websitededicated to Thanksgiving. In addition to holiday-themed book recommendations, printable worksheets and informative videos, the site allows children to take a virtual tour of the Mayflower. Kids can also learn what daily life was like for the pilgrims and Wampanoags by comparing their living quarters, schools, chores and games.
  4. Complete Thanksgiving Activity Sheets
    Find coloring sheets, word searches, hidden picture sheets or puzzles online that relate to Thanksgiving. Print a turkey pattern and its feathers, and have kids write what they are thankful for on each feather before gluing them to the turkey.
  5. Do Crafts that Teach Gratitude
    Children can construct a “Thankful Paper Chain” to count down the days until Thanksgiving. Have them write what they are thankful for on strips of construction paper and then loop them together. Another craft they can do is create a “Thankful Tree” by tracing your child’s hand on pieces of red, orange and yellow construction paper, and having them write why they are thankful on each. Then attach with glue to a brown tree trunk made of construction paper. You can also add pictures to a photo album or scrapbook of people, places, foods, pets, toys, movies or events that are special to your family. Include interesting stories of gratitude or explanations in your “Blessings Book.”
  6. Decorate the Feast Table
    Since Thanksgiving centers around making peace with people and sharing food, pay special attention to the table setting. Encourage children to make it special by constructing Thanksgiving-themed table decor themselves. Talk about what the pilgrims and Indians would have had available, and use those objects in your decorations. They can also use cardboard tubes, construction paper, pompom balls and googly eyes to make pilgrims and Indians to set at each place setting. Kids can cut leaf shapes out of construction paper and write the name of each guest on one side and why they are thankful for them on the other.
  7. Plan Games
    Games are a great way to learn anything in a competitive, but fun way. Have a relay race in which children pass holiday-themed items like acorns, cranberries, nuts, peas and corn kernels to each other using chopsticks. Play trivia with fun Thanksgiving facts or create Thanksgiving bingo cards with historical information or Thanksgiving foods in the squares.

Today, Thanksgiving is a holiday signified by loved ones coming together to share a meal and give thanks for each other. By taking the opportunity to explain its origin to children in creative ways, they can not only understand its historical importance, but its relevance in their everyday lives.

Guest Author: Mary Evett is a Contributor for Care.com, the largest online care destination in the world, and freelance writer covering all things Houston.

Little Learning Lovies Printables {$50 Giveaway}

I used to teach preschool and the “writing center” was actually a favorite center in the classroom and my preschoolers loved “writing” letters and “sending” them, making Christmas lists, and cutting out shapes along with a variety of other activities. That was one of my favorite areas in the classroom as well and I was constantly adding activities to it. When I was pregnant I told myself that I would do the same for my children to help them practice pre-writing skills but now that my children are preschool age and I’m working full-time I find that I just don’t have the time to create all those fun activities that I used to.

Thankfully there are people like Sandra from Little Learning Lovies who creates and sells fun printable sets for young children to practice their fine motor skills! We recently received a preschool pre-writing set from her and I was so excited to open the package and discover lots of quality worksheets! The worksheets practiced tracing, counting, coloring, hand-eye coordination, letters, and more! Here is Jacob doing some of our favorite worksheets:

***

I thought the printables had really cute images and liked the variety I found in the pages. Even though there were multiple pages for each “skill”, they were all different from each other. Take tracing for example. There are over 50 pages that have children practice tracing. They trace letters and shapes and draw lines helping butterflies get to flowers and squirrels to acorns.

I got this set free in order to complete this review but the prices in the Little Learning Lovies store are very reasonable. She also creates items for older children. Some of the items she has in her store include file folder games, workbox tags, and math cards.

GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader will win a $50 credit to the Little Learning Lovies store!

You can use the credit to purchase the printables of your choice!

HOW TO ENTER

(Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do)

1) Tell me what your favorite printable in her store is

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Little Learning Lovies on Facebook

4) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

Giveaway ends November 24, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I received printables to review but all thoughts are my own. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

Halloween Candy Counting Activity

Can you believe that Halloween is next week already?! Here’s a fun candy counting activity for kids to do after they’ve gone Trick-or-Treating.

Thanks to Kiddie Academy for the printable!