June 5, 2019music, SummerComments Off on Summer Music Playlist for Families
Taking a road trip this summer or simply looking for some great kid-friendly tunes to listen to at the pool or a backyard barbecue? We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn about fab new music children’s music, plus a summer music playlist for you! And don’t miss your chance to win a pack of four CD’s in our summer music giveaway!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the music below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Summer Music Playlist for Families
Get your summer started with some toe-tapping music by streaming this amazing summer family road trip playlist, put together by Sugar Mountain PR! Read on to find out more about the music featured on the playlist, plus don’t miss our big giveaway at the end of the post – you could win a package of ALL FOUR of the albums below!
Earworm is a fitting title for the latest album from Sean McCollough, because you’ll find yourself singing these songs all day long (though not in an annoying way!) McCollough is Parents’ Choice and NAPPA Award winner and host of the Kidstuff Radio show on WDVX in Knoxville, TN. As if that weren’t enough, I discovered that we have a personal connection! One of the guest artists on Earworm is Billy Jonas, a friend of my brother (and amazing musician) Chris Rosser! I have a lot of respect for Billy Jonas, so having him give his seal of approval for this album just confirmed my feelings that Sean McCollough is the real deal when it comes to great children’s music!
I love love the concept behind Canta Las Letras. I was already a big fan of 123 Andrés, so my expectations were high, and I wasn’t disappointed! If you have a preschooler, like me you are likely inundated with ABC songs and stories; yet, I struggled to find versions I liked in Spanish. Canta Las Letras has songs for every letter of the Spanish alphabet, teaching children the sounds for each letter. And far from being boring “educational” songs your kids will dread listening to, these 38 original tunes are so catchy you can’t help but hum along! A must to add to your collection if you are raising a bilingual preschooler or if you are just trying to learn a little Spanish yourself!
My kids love Can You Feel It from Jessa Campbell and the Saplings. In fact, now whenever we get in the car my three year old requests “The T Rex song”! I wasn’t surprised to learn that Campbell is based in Oregon, because the whole album has a PNW (Pacific Northwest) vibe, with its emphasis on ecology and nature, and folksy feel. Campbell has a beautiful voice, with a background in performance that includes opera, theatrical pop, and even touring with “Dragon Tales Live”!
Under the Big Umbrella from Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could is a feel-good album that is sure to lift spirits and encourage kids to be themselves. It is full of tunes that celebrate diversity, kindness and respect. Rymer is a three-time Grammy nominee, and his joyful music has a message of “hope for a future with ‘room for everyone.’ ”
Summer Music Playlist Giveaway
Enter for a chance to win all four of the CD’s reviewed above, a value of approximately $50! Just comment on this post to tell us your family’s summer plans! (You can also enter by commenting on our post on Instagram). US residents only. Contest ends Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at 11:59 pm PT. Winner chosen by random selection.
As Father’s Day approaches, it is the perfect time to celebrate the fathers in our lives through pictures books. Yet many children do not see their own fathers reflected in the stories they read, and getting diverse books published – especially by diverse authors – is still an uphill battle. So it’s important to share those books that are available. Here are some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers that we have found. Do you have a favorite?
Disclosure: I received copies of My Papi Has a Motorcycle (English and Spanish versions) for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Multicultural Children’s Books About Fathers
Find below some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers, from those for very early readers to those for older children.
Baby Dance is for very young readers who love to move with their caregivers. This is a sweet board book about a baby and her daddy dancing around the room while her mother sleeps. I adore the illustrations, which seems to be motion themselves, gently swaying across the pages.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle (also available in Spanish as Mi papi tiene una moto) is a vibrant story about a girl and her father. No matter how tired he is, he always has time to take his daughter out for a spin when he gets home from work. Their motorcycle ride zooms through marvelous illustrations of a city that hums with life. Everywhere they go on their motorcycle ride, they see people and sights beloved to them, like the taquería or a friend’s house, the librarian that nods to them as he leaves the market. But there are also signs of change, as a favorite store has closed, and new homes replace the last of the citrus groves.
Award-winning author Isabel Quintero is herself the child of Mexican immigrants and has sweet memories of riding on the back of her own papi’s motorcycle as a child. So it is fitting that this book is available in both English and Spanish, and that even in the English version, the dialogue is given in English and Spanish, and many of the signs throughout the city are in Spanish. This book is intended as a love letter not only to hard working fathers but also to the communities that nurture us and what endures through all the changes that may come.
It’s Great Being a Dad is a really fun tribute to dads who are always there to “fix” things for their children. Although not specifically multicultural, I love that a book that is not about diversity features an African-American daughter and her father. This is one girl with a big imagination! She thinks through what would be great about being different mythical creatures – from a unicorn to the Loch Ness Monster – but always seems to find the fatal flaw (like how sad it would feel to have everyone call you a “monster”). I love that the girl (a self-described fairy queen ballerina doctor) is able to fix all these creatures’ problems, by doing a happy dance for the Loch Ness Monster, for instance. Yet when she has a problem of her own, it is her father that is able to set things right and restore peace to the kingdom/backyard.
I loved finding Father’s Chinese Opera because it is one of those books that really gives you a window into something most of us would normally never have the chance to experience – behind the scenes of a Chinese opera. A young boy, whose father is the band leader and composer of the opera, watches from the wings, desperate to join in the opera himself. Through his eyes we see the rehearsals and hard work that go into these spectacular performances, and the magic they create onstage. The boy is impatient to become an acrobat in the opera, and humiliated when he is laughed at for such an idea. Just a few quiet words from his father help the boy see that he must have patience and be willing to work hard to fulfill his dream.
What really brings this book to life is the fact that author Rich Lo is himself the child of a famous musician of the Chinese opera and sat in on many rehearsals and performances as a little boy. His father was forced to abandon this career when the family immigrated to the United States, so in many ways this book is a tribute to him and what he sacrificed to provide a better life for his children.
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads is a lovely collection of poems about dads and what makes them so special. Each celebrates a special time spent together, such as dancing, playing catch, or learning to ride a bike. But it also explores the difficult moments, like writing a letter to a dad serving overseas or being punished. This book quietly explores diversity in its many facets – not just through the varying skin tones but also the dads that stay at home rather than go to an office, or the dads that live far away. But what shines through in each instance is the love and security that each child feels with their father.
My Father’s Shop is often recommended as a book about learning about other cultures. A young boy in Morocco loves spending time in his father’s carpet shop, but he gets bored when his father tries to teach him phrases in other languages, which is useful in their business. Instead, the boy runs out to play in the market, but as it turns out, he meets plenty of tourists there, who teach him how to make animal noises in other languages – and they give his father’s shop extra business!
Visiting Day, from multi-award winning Jacqueline Woodson, tackles a subject rarely covered in picture books: a little girl visiting her father in prison. Based on her own experiences with a favorite uncle who was incarcerated, this heartfelt book captures the conflicting emotions a girl feels as she and her grandmother get up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare food and make the long trip to visit her father. It is a beautiful way to explore a situation many children find themselves in, and to emphasize that parents aren’t perfect, but we can still have loving relationships with them.
Papa and Me is another bilingual book about a loving relationship between father and child. In this instance, the text is primarily in English, with Spanish phrases sprinkled in, easily understood from context. I love the illustrations, which glow with joy. The author and illustrator both wanted to convey their own experiences as fathers and sons, and it definitely comes through in the loving relationship portrayed here.
What are your favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers?
There is no doubt that the relationship between dads and daughters is a special one, and one that is formative to a girl’s growing sense of self and her future relationships. (No pressure, Dad!) So this Father’s Day, celebrate all that is beautiful and goofy about this relationship with these wonderful new picture books about fathers and their little girls.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
New Picture Books About Dads and Daughters
With My Daddy: A Book of Love and Family (Growing Hearts) is a lovely keepsake book from the author of All My Treasures: A Book of Joy, also part of the Growing Hearts series (read my full review). It is a celebration of all the ways that a girl can spend time with her father – riding bikes, swimming, or just relaxing. To me, the underlying message it about unconditional love, as her father’s unwavering support makes the main character feel safe and more sure of herself, and more able to deal with big emotions.
For a more silly take on dads and daughters, don’t miss Pet Dad! The cover alone already gives you a hint about where this book will take you! This book takes a familiar disagreement – a child who wants a pet, the parent who says no – to a hilarious extreme, as a girl explores all the ways her dad is (and isn’t) the perfect pet. Kids will love all the silliness as the main character tries to “train” her dad, and parents will notice that she is the one being trained, into asking her father for things nicely!
June 4, 2018Sacramento, SummerComments Off on Sacramento Summer Fun Instagram Challenge
The Sacramento area has so much to offer for families! This summer, get out and explore the River City with your kids by taking part in our #SummerFunSac Instagram challenge: You could win one of our great prizes, while celebrating Sacramento summer fun with your family! Read on for more details on this fun Instagram challenge.
Sacramento Summer Fun Instagram Challenge: #SummerFunSac
Looking for a fun way to get out and explore the Sacramento area with your family this summer? Join in our #SummerFunSac Instagram challenge and giveaway, running this June and July and celebrating all the ways families have fun in the River City in the summertime!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.
How to Participate:
Post a photo(s) of you and/or your family having fun in the Sacramento area this summer! All photos must be family friendly and include the #SummerFunSac hashtag.
June 1, 2018recipes, SummerComments Off on Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade
Lemonade is the quintessential summer drink, so why not whip up a homemade batch? It only takes minutes! Adding strawberries makes it even more special, and now you have a guilt free version that uses honey as the sweetener, so there is no reason not to enjoy a tall glass (or more!) this weekend. Honey sweetened strawberry lemonade is a refreshing drink the whole family can enjoy!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade
We are blessed with lemon and orange trees in our backyard, so when we found some ripe lemons on a particularly hot day last week, we immediately thought of lemonade! I found this wonderful homemade lemonade recipe and adapted it for our tastes, mainly by switching out honey for sugar in the simple syrup. Also, I used frozen strawberries instead of fresh to make strawberry lemonade because, let’s face it, if we have fresh strawberries we tend to gobble them up right away!
As for the honey, this recipe is very easy to adjust for your tastes and how tart your lemons are. Because you mix it all up in the blender, if you need to add extra honey later, it will mix it perfectly well.
We juiced 4 large lemons with our Cuisinart CJE-500 Compact Juice Extractor to yield approximately 2 cups of juice. If you end up with a different amount, the important thing is to make sure it is roughly a 1:1 ratio with the simple syrup. Again, as you can see, this is a very easy recipe to adjust!
Makes 2 liters
2 cups fresh lemon juice (approx. 4 large lemons)
2 cups simple syrup (see below)
1 cup frozen strawberries
To make simple syrup:
Mix 2 Tbs honey in 2 cups boiling water. Let cool.
In a blender, mix lemon juice, simple syrup, and strawberries until smooth. Add water and ice until you have 2 liters total, then mix again and adjust for sweetness, adding more honey if desired. Enjoy!
Do you homeschool year round? Or are your children in traditional schools but you want to avoid that notorious summer slide? Here is our summer homeschool plan to balance book learning with hands on activities and simple children fun!
Our Summer Homeschool Plan
When I first started homeschooling, I looked forward to summer as a much needed break and a chance to take stock and make any adjustments that seemed necessary as I planned for the coming year. Now that I’ve got my sea legs a bit (and my youngest is no longer an infant that requires more devoted attention), I’m ready to tackle the idea of year-round homeschooling.
As a result, this year we have embarked on a summer homeschool plan that keeps the kids’ skills sharp while also still feeling like vacation to them and a break from lesson planning for me.
I really wanted them to enjoy the simple pleasures of a childhood summer – like going to the pool and playing for hours at the park – at the same time as they take advantage of a less busy schedule to take on big projects that interest them.
So how are we achieving that balance?
Some activities will be ongoing, such as saying prayers together in the mornings and doing our read-aloud at lunchtime. Beyond this, I divided our activities into three areas: Written Work, Projects, and Adventures.
Written Work is what we traditionally think of as schoolwork: math, grammar, history, etc. For each of the boys, I created a weekly checklist of what they need to accomplish. For my 8 year old, he has to complete two tasks off the list each day, while my 5 year old has to complete one.
Thankfully, we found curricula that we love this past year, so they just need to keep going in those. As in, no lesson planning for me, unless there is a project tie-in I’d like to do, such as a craft or engineering project to go with our history lesson.
My eight year old has to do: History, Spanish, Religious, Math (twice), Language Arts (twice), Creative Writing, Coding/Science, and Journal.
My five year old has to do: Phonics, his Kindergarten workbook, Math (twice), and Spanish.
This is less than they have to do during the school year and so still allows plenty of time for free reading and unstructured play.
Projects are very open-ended and can relate to any subject (however loosely). For example, my five year old loves to build Lego and Knex sets, so we built a castle together. My eight year old loves coding, so he’s teaching himself to do some really nifty things in different coding languages (I expect he’ll be helping me with my website before long!) Other ideas are cooking, crafting, making slime, doing science experiments, and so on. This is the time we can dig into projects that we might not have time for during the school year, when we’re also juggling enrichment classes and sports. It’s also a great way to encourage kids to follow their passions and explore new subjects!
Adventures are a favorite area for all of us! This basically includes anything that gets us out of the house and exploring. It could be going to a park, going on a nature walk, geocaching, trying a new restaurant, or going to a museum. Summers are for exploring!
The weather is finally warming up in our neck of the woods, so we celebrated by concocting some fruity, chocolate-y pops! Inspired by a traditional Puerto Rican treat, these tropical chocolate mango popsicles are full of fruity goodness – mango, banana, and coconut – plus a touch of decadence from the chocolate. What better way to celebrate the fact that summer is just around the corner? Plus, you don’t want to miss our giveaway of a wonderful new children’s activity coloring book all about Puerto Rico!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links; if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles
Summer is coming, which makes us all think about tropical beaches and relaxing by the waves. To bring a little taste of the tropics to our home in Northern California, we decided to make these scrumptious tropical chocolate mango popsicles. I was inspired by Puerto Rican limber, a frozen treat similar to popsicles and often made with fresh fruits and juices. You can do all kinds of combinations, but we were especially interested in mango – which was great because I had a huge bag of frozen mango in the freezer! Of course, if you have fresh, by all means use that, but it is often hard for us to find really good mangoes in our area, plus with kids, it’s so much easier to use frozen since it’s already peeled and chopped for you.
If you want an authentic mango limber, then I highly recommend trying this recipe from Modern Mami, or you can browse this great collection of healthy limber recipes! I wanted to do something a little different, so we added a little twist to our recipe by adding shredded coconut and banana, as well as chocolate. Cocoa powder alone is quite bitter, so I actually used hot chocolate mix (!) but if you don’t have this, just use cocoa powder and sugar to taste.
Ingredients (makes 6+ popsicles)
4 cups of mango (frozen or fresh)
honey to taste
3 cups water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup hot chocolate mix (or combination of cocoa powder and sugar)
Combine all ingredients in blender. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
I am endlessly impressed by the author’s talent as an illustrator but also the depth of her knowledge about the subject. Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto – Cuaderno de Ejercicios: Puerto Rico, The Island of Enchantment – Workbook is incredibly comprehensive, covering topics as varied as history, geography, government, religion, sports, food, and the arts. It contains nearly 200 workbook pages (plus answer keys) appropriate for elementary school and even older (though younger kids will definitely enjoy the coloring part of it!) There is so much to explore here, no matter what your child’s interests, so it is sure to be a hit!
The book is completely bilingual, so whether your kids read/write fluently in Spanish, just un poquito, or not at all, this is the perfect book to expose them to Spanish and the rich culture and history of the Island of Enchantment.
Even better, all of the profits from the first year of its publication go to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. This book is a true labor of love, dedicated to the author’s homeland during its time of need. It is a great way to support Puerto Rico and teach kids about this beautiful island that they have surely been hearing about on the news.
And now you can win your own copy! Simply comment on this post, letting us know which topic about Puerto Rico you think your child would be most interested in! Geography, history, the arts, sports, or … ? Let us know!
Contest ends Tuesday, May 15, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner chosen by random selection. US Shipping Only
Looking for a fun DIY summer camp you can do for your neighborhood kids? A world explorers camp is a great way to teach geography skills and expose children to other cultures. Most importantly, you can nurture a love for exploration and a sense of respect and empathy for other ways of life. Through simple crafts and fun activities you can spark curiosity about other cultures and set the foundation for further exploration.
Looking for a fun, relatively healthy dessert your whole family will enjoy? Here is a dairy-free version of a traditional Indian treat for Eid, sheer khurma. It is a unique vegan dessert that is easy to make and delicious!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Let me begin by saying that this is NOT a traditional Indian dessert. It is my own reworking of sheer khurma, a dessert that usually has a milk base, because I wanted a version I could serve to my son with a milk allergy. If you search for “vegan sheer khurma” or “dairy-free sheer khurma” online, you are unlikely to find any real results. In the original Persian, sheer khurma literally means “dates with milk,” so not a recipe you would think of making without the milk!
But when we read Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (see my review below), we became curious about this traditional dessert mentioned several times as a delicious treat for Eid. When I discovered it was made with milk, I decided I had to make a non-dairy version, a vegan dessert we could all enjoy. It may not be traditional, but it is still delicious! And it is so different from the desserts that we’re used to that it did give us a flavor of what celebrating Eid would be like in places like India.
I just love the creaminess of sheer khurma, combined with the crunch of the roasted nuts. And the cooked dates add even more body as well as natural sweetness. I must admit for my kids at first it was hard to get past the idea of having pasta in a dessert, but once they tried it, they loved it!
Sheer khurma (or sheer khorma) is a traditional dessert served for Eid, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. I adapted my recipe from this version from the Veggie Indian. The main change I made was to substitute coconut milk for regular milk and coconut oil for ghee. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 1 & 1/4 cups to 1/3 cup, since it already has a lot of natural sweetness from the dates.
4 cups of full fat coconut milk (this is slightly more than 2 cans)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vermicelli, broken into 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc) chopped fine or crushed with mortar and pestle
1/2 cup dates, seeded and chopped (about 8-10 dates)
Golden raisins, handful
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 to 1 tsp rose water
Extra nuts for garnish (I used sliced almonds)
Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a skillet, and roast the vermicelli on a low flame till golden. Set aside to drain on a paper towel. In the same skillet, heat a tbsp of the coconut oil and roast the mixed nuts for 1-2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and keep aside.
Heat coconut milk in a sauce pan and let it come to a boil. Lower the flame and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the milk thickens slightly.
Add the roasted vermicelli, and let it cook in the coconut milk for 5-7 minutes, until the pasta becomes soft.
Add the sugar, nuts, dates, and raisins and mix well. Continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the dates grow soft and the amount of coconut milk reduces by nearly half. The vermicelli should be fully cooked.
Adjust the sweetness and consistency, if needed, by adding more sugar or coconut milk. Keep in mind that the mixture will thicken even more with time.
Finally, add the cardamom powder and rosewater, stir, and remove from heat.
If desired, garnish with additional nuts and serve warm. Enjoy!
In addition to sampling a tasty vegan dessert inspired by a traditional treat, I also wanted to teach the kids more about Eid and Ramadan. A great way to introduce them to this special time is with the wonderful new book Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4). It is part of a series of books exploring Indian culture. What is surprising to most Westerners is that there is a large number of Muslims in India, though we tend to associate that country with Hinduism or Sikhism.
Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4) gives an easy to understand overview of Ramadan and Eid as it is celebrated in India, in addition to highlighting traditions from other countries. One thing I love about this book is that it shows children at different stages in their participation in Ramadan, from an older child who is practicing fasting to younger children who give up toys or sweets in lieu of fasting. This book is perfect for the classroom or home setting, as a way to help children understand why Muslims observe Ramadan and Eid and what it would be like as a child to experience them (such as by eating sheer khurma!).
We have all heard about the dreaded summer slide – the loss a child experiences during summer vacation, when lack of practice erodes the learning so painstakingly gained during the school year. Here are fun ways to beat the summer slide, through educational media that your child will actually enjoy!
Don’t miss my summer slide giveaway – scroll down for more details!
Disclosure: I received complimentary samples of the products below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
A new find for us this summer is the wonderful book Find Your Way In Space: Travel through space and practice your Math and Mapping skills. It is so much fun and packed with learning! Through it, kids go on an adventure through space, sharpening their geography and math skills along the way. It is something of a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure and a seek-and-find book. It is non-sequential, so you can take various paths to reach your end goal, plus on each page there are multiple entry and exit points. All along the way you help your fellow aliens find lost objects or locate their destinations, count stars or compare sizes of asteroids, and answer math problems to get through road blocks. This is the kind of book that can be used countless times, as your child selects different missions or chooses different pathways to reach their goal.
If you really want to get your child excited about reading, you should check out Epic!, an all-you-can-read online library of children’s books that you can access across your devices. Epic! is a dream come true for our family, since our kids go through so many books each week. We are always at the limit on our library cards and are constantly juggling how many books we have to return in order to check out those new ones they just have to have. With Epic! that struggle is over! My kids now have access to a vast library of books, audiobooks, educational videos, and quizzes. You can have up to 4 profiles on your account, so each child can have a customized reading profile with recommendations just for them.
I love the wide range of books available and how easy it is for my kids to find books they are interested in. I especially love the selection of “read to me” books for my two pre-readers, so that they can enjoy reading time as well. Epic! is perfect if you are traveling this summer, so you don’t have to worry about lugging along a stack of books!
Music and movies are also fun ways to stimulate young brains over the summer. They expect learning to be more fun over vacation, and why not? Watch some kid-friendly foreign movies or some awe-inspiring nature documentaries. You can also listen to great music and learn at the same time!
Every Child Wins is an example of great educational music that is so fun you’ll want to listen to it even when your kids aren’t around! It is no secret that educational music is usually very forced, artificial, and not much fun for anyone. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the album Every Kid’s A Genius actually sounds like music you’d hear on an R&B or hip-hop station, but the lyrics are related to learning the alphabet and numbers. It is very upbeat, so it is great to play as you get ready in the mornings or in the car. The tunes are catchy, so the lesson will stay with your child long after the music is turned off.
Best of all, you could win a FREE COPY of this album by commenting below before midnight PT on Sunday, June 11, 2017, with your favorite way to beat the summer slide! I have 25 copies to give away, so comment for a chance to win! Random winners will be chosen from the verified entries.
Computer Programs & Apps
Of course, you can’t talk about education for kids these days without talking about screen time! Luckily there are some truly wonderful apps and computer programs that can keep your kids excited about learning and beat the summer slide.
One program that we’ve come to love is Smartick. I loved math as a kid, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my oldest son doesn’t. At least, he didn’t. Getting him to do math worksheets has always been like pulling teeth. Math games and manipulatives help, but for a long time math remained his least favorite subject. Yet now that we are using Smartick, doing math is a treat, not a chore! He really enjoys this online program, especially because you earn points to use in games after you finish your session.
I love that my 4 year old can also use it without my help. He was really amazed and so proud of himself for using the same program as his big brother! Each child has his own profile, and Smartick uses artificial intelligence to adjust the program to that child’s level, so they are working on problems just right for them. The idea is that your child does one short, 15 minute session a day, so that they get the repetition and practice without the burnout. I love that I get a daily report of how and what they do in their sessions, so I can track their progress. Please note that they are currently running a summer special through 7/31/17 – try it for free then choose a discounted package. It’s a great way to get started!
A great program for kids learning to read is Reading with Fonics. My preschooler has had a lot of fun with it! I love that it is right at his level, so it really builds his confidence at the same time as it is reinforcing concepts and teaching him new skills. It is a really cute, fun game that is based on the idea that reading can be decoded by teaching kids basic phonics – the sounds that letters and letter combinations make – rather than having them memorize long lists of words. Once they master the basic sounds, they can read most words they encounter, even if they have never seen them before!
I love that Reading with Fonics starts off with very simple sounds and becomes progressively more complex. Each time you master one sound, another is unlocked. This is a familiar video game format, plus it ensures that your child has time to really “get” the concept before moving on to a new one. It is a really fun game for little ones, and a great way to give them a leg up on their reading for the fall!
What is your favorite way to beat the summer slide? Comment below before midnight PT on Sunday, June 11, 2017, and you could be one of 25 winners of a FREE DOWNLOAD of Every Kid’s A Genius music album (see above). Random winners will be chosen from the verified entries.