February Activities: Throwing a Valentine’s Day Bash!

As far as children’s holidays are concerned, Valentine’s Day can often be overlooked albeit the festivity that surrounds this February day. However, it is important to remember the true meaning of the day isn’t just about eating tons of chocolate, it’s about teaching your children about friendship and showing their gratitude towards others. This holiday is a great opportunity to celebrate those you love most at home by throwing a Valentine’s Day party for your children and their friends. Here are some great tips for throwing a Valentine’s Day hangout that can be both fun and educational.

Photo by hello-julie, ©2007 Some rights reserved. Licensed by Creative Commons Public Works License

Photo by hello-julie, ©2007 Some rights reserved. Licensed by Creative Commons Public Works License

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Thanksgiving History and Traditions

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving, this year? Beyond the usual, feast and family reunions, try sharing a few special historical facts and popular fall holiday traditions with your kid. You might find that there is a ton for your kids to learn when it comes to giving thanks and observing this annual American holiday!

Photo by Steven Depolo

Photo by Steven Depolo

History

Throughout history, Native American tribes have held ceremonies to pay their gratitude for successful harvests through the season. And, similarly, the English people who comprised the settlement at Plymouth   ha much to rejoice over when they began settling into the New World. When these Pilgrims first arrived to the New World, they brought new traditions and practices to the modern American Thanksgiving story.

Traditions

Gathering

This is the day when family takes the spotlight, where more than 50 million people travels across the states in America on the road or through the sky to visit their families. Family reunites to share an appreciation for the meaningful and comforting ties with their loved ones.

Food

A family reunion is not complete with a feast! The classic menu items for this particularly holiday include turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry, and root vegetables, which are all based on New England fall harvests. However, as the tradition spreads, people look for local items that are both more accessible and suitable for local’s taste.

Photo by tinyfroglet

Photo by tinyfroglet

Wishbone

As you and your family gobble up your delicious meal, you will find that a forked bone, located at the base of the neck of your turkey is visually and physically present. This is the wishbone. In the past, Europeans believed that the wishbone could predict the weather. Nowadays, people believed that if you compete with another person in a game of tug-o-war, whoever breaks off a larger section of the bone is granted a wish.

Volunteer

Giving back to the community is the most meaningful way to express your gratitude and appreciation for the blessings you are given throughout this year. Help a local church or homeless shelter to provide a bit of warmth and comfort for the less unfortunate.

Apart from all the life-long lessons you can teach your kid during this holiday season, be sure to also have lots of fun and enjoy the annual celebration!

Celebrate Summer’s Arrival with Your Kids

It can sometimes be difficult to determine when spring ends and summer begins. Some people like to mark the beginning of summer by when school lets out for break, when the days become extremely long or even when the temperature rises to an extreme heat. These may all be signs that summer is coming quickly; however, in actuality, the start of this hot season is marked by a phenomenon called the Summer Solstice.

party

Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice, or midsummer, occurs every year, in the Northern Hemisphere, between June 20th and 22nd. This year, the Summer Solstice occurred on June 21st and was the longest period of daylight for the year.  The cause of the midsummer has to do with the axial tilt of the earth and occurs when the Earth has reached its maximum tilt towards the sun. Because of the Earth’s tilt, the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons. On this day, the Northern Hemisphere will receive the longest amount of daylight of the year, while the Southern Hemisphere will receive the shortest amount of daylight. The Summer Solstice is the planet’s indication to us that summer has begun and now that the season is officially here, it’s time to plan some awesome summer activities with your child!

Summer Activities with the Kids

Now that school is out and the days feel a little bit longer, there is plenty of time to find fun activities to do with your kid. Since it is so warm and sunny out, this season is a great time to get your child outside to embark on some great adventures. Try a few of these activities to help celebrate the Summer Solstice and the months of fun to come!

Go Swimming

Whether you live near an ocean, a lake, or even just a swimming pool, summer is a great time to put on a bathing suit and splash in the water. Before your family heads to the water, make sure to read up on our swimming safety tips to keep your kids safe at the pool. Not only is swimming is great exercise for your kid, but it will also help them keep cool and calm during these hot summer days!

Barbeques

With the weather being so warm and sunny, you won’t spend all day cooking in a stuffy kitchen. This season is a great time to break out the BBQ and grill up some food with friends and family. Whether you grill in the backyard or at a nearby park or beach, have your kids help you with some of the preparation and let them invite their friends over for summer barbeque. Having friends near will keep your kids busy while you cook and let them burn some energy running around outside!

Arts n’ Crafts

Find some cool arts n’ crafts ideas online and set up a craft station outside in the yard. You can help your child make a beautiful birdhouse, or simple let them use their imagination to create a masterpiece of their choosing. Also, if you’re looking for some Fourth of July crafts, check out our blog for ideas.  By being outside and making fun crafts, your child can enjoy the warm summer season while also being able to express some creativity.

Go Camping

Instead of doing an expensive resort or theme-park vacation with your little one, take the whole family on a camping trip instead. Spending time with nature and sleeping outdoors will help your child appreciate their surroundings and allow them to enjoy the wonderful summer season. You can take them on easy hikes around the campsite and enjoy a cozy campfire at night that they will be sure to remember!

Summer Solstice has come and gone, which means summer is finally here! This season won’t last forever, so be sure to make the most of it with your child by enjoying some of these great summer activities that they won’t forget.

Create a Paper Chain American Flag

Friday, June 14th we celebrate Flag Day. Flag Day can be celebrated in a variety of different ways ranging from barbecues to parades and even crafts. So for this Flag Day, celebrate it with your kids by creating a Paper Chain American Flag of your own!

Final

 

Materials

-scissors

-stapler

-tape or string

-red, white, and blue construction paper

Supplies

Instructions

 

 

  1. Cut each piece of paper crosswise into several 1-inch strips. The number of strips you will need varies depending on the size of your flag. For a large flag, like the one pictured above, you will need 20 blue strips, 32 white strips, and 46 red strips.

Strips

  1. Loop the strips around each other to create a chain. As seen in the example picture, you will need 4 blue chains that each have 5 loops, 2 white chains and 2 red chains that have 9 loops each, and 2 red chains and 1 white chain that are 14 loops long.
  1. Using a staple, connect the chains together in the order shown above, alternating between vertical and horizontal.

 Stapled

  1. Once the flag is completely assembled, use tape or string to hang it on the wall.

 

Try this fun craft with your kids and feel free to create other fun patterns and designs! Not only will your kids have something to be proud of after this project, but they will also have a fun family memory. Be sure to get in the spirit of Flag Day with this great craft!

Education and Gaming

Today, the tools used to educate children both in and out of the classroom go far beyond your average set of textbook or flashcards. These days, learning comes in all shapes, forms, and platforms. And, with technology playing a larger role in all aspects of life, the rise in popularity of “edutainment” based games and mobile learning applications are no surprise.

Education and Gaming

The term, “edutainment” has come to refer to the blending of general entertainment with educational content to create an exciting and interactive learning experience for people of all ages. More specifically, in kids’ gaming, edutainment has evolved to be a popular choice in making learning fun and easily accessible to kids and families on the go through expertly designed mobile applications and games.

With the growing popularity of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, kids are getting information from all kinds of modern avenues and the style in which they learn is evolving with the times. For example, our latest mobile release, JumpStart Pet Rescue includes that exciting balance preferred by many preschoolers and early learners when it comes to mobile gaming. Filled with hours of amazing adventures and learning activities, this exciting mobile game covers a full range of essential skills. In attempting to rescue a few lost JumpStart pets, kids are challenged to maneuver through 5 magical lands of learning. Interactive games like these keep kids engaged and encourage them to continue learning no matter their location.

From mobile apps and console games to online virtual worlds, today’s gaming technology has truly expanded the potential for kids learning and given parents and educators the tools they need to give their kids an extra jumpstart in school. What ways do you promote learning with your kids outside of the classroom?  Are there  games or mobile applications do you find most helpful when your family is on the go?

The Importance of Basic Number Sense

In the early stages of a child’s development, much importance is put on the learning of their ABCs. While this is extremely important in developing skills in speaking, reading and writing, it is common for basic number sense to be overlooked. Recently, research has shown that a child’s familiarity with numbers at a younger age can help them better perform basic numeric calculations through adulthood.

As parents and educators work toward improving national math scores and skills, studies are now showing that getting kids more comfortable with numbers and basic mathematical functions in early stages like 1st grade give them the basic support for progressing toward more complex mathematical concepts later in life.

After observing a number of school-aged children who struggled in basic math testing, researchers from the University of Missouri found a correlating trend between these kids and those who displayed a less fluent understanding of numbers while in the 1st grade. Findings like this suggest that kids are not able to catch up if they are already struggling in those early school years.

Accordingly, for kids to excel in math it appears to be extremely important for them to be introduced to numbers and an understanding of quantities well before they enter the classroom. In the same sense that kids are encouraged to learn the ABCs, basic number sense could be the route to developing better overall math skills.

Before they are even able to  fall behind in math, parents might consider playing counting games or other activities with kids early on to give them the jumpstart they need to excel both in and out of the classroom.

Springtime Fun for the Family

Throughout recent history, spring has been known as a time for starting anew. For this very reason, you and your family might consider starting a few springtime traditions of your own. Take some time to get your kids ready and excited for the new season. From picking up new hobbies to simple family fun activities for the day, here are a few ways to celebrate spring in ways the whole family can enjoy.

Park picnics: As the weather begins to warm, take the kids outside. Family picnics can be a great way to get in some quality time with your kids and get them to unplug from those ever-present mobile devices, video consoles, or televisions. You will be surprised by how refreshing a few hours outdoors might feel especially after a winter season spent indoors.

 Family sports days: A friendly family competition can be a great way to get everyone working together. Plan a few sports related courses and challenge some of your family friends to compete in a full-fledged sports day. For a truly memorable day of fun, consider having a ultimate prize for the winning family or even planning for a outdoor BBQ or block party for all participating competitors.

 Gardening: With flowers sprouting all around, this time of year, spring is the perfect time to get kids excited about science and learning about nature. Gardening can be a great learning tool for kids in the spring. Head outdoors and get hour kids involved in planting a few seeds of their own. Regularly caring for plants and watching them grow will give kids the direction they need to take an active role in caring for the environment.

Spring break trips: While the kids get their yearly break from school, plan to make the time away from school as memorable as possible with a family trip. Visit a nearby locale or plan for something a little further from home. While the weather warms up, consider taking your kids on a new adventure instead of wasting time lounging around in front of the televisions.

 What are some of your family’s favorite springtime activities and traditions?