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    family fun, parenting, technology

    Winter Snow Fun with Hero Elementary on PBS Kids

    Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS Kids.

    I have two superpowers. I disappear into books and I am a book recommender! When some people are not sure what to read, they turn to me: the book recommender. I can use my mind and reading skills to take a journey through your reading history and think up the perfect next read for you.  Everyone has a superpower even though each person’s strength is different. What superpowers do you have?

    Have you heard of the show Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS?  Hero Elementary is an animated STEM series designed to give kids important tools to help them solve problems by encouraging them to act like scientists.  It is also filled with fun, age-appropriate superhero action geared towards kids ages 4 to 7.

    I love that the show features a diverse group of Super Students who are all learning to master their Superpowers of Science.

    The main cast includes:

    • Lucita Sky: a Latina girl who can fly; ironically, she is also afraid of heights.
    • Sara Snap: An Asian American girl who has two powers: teleportation and super-strength.
    • Benny Bubbles: A Caucasian boy with the ability to generate forcefield-like bubbles. Benny’s also an animal lover.
    • AJ Gadgets: an African-American boy with the ability to project his thoughts visibly to others (dubbed “thought projection”). AJ’s also an avid inventor, and on the autism spectrum.
    • Mr. Sparks: a Latino man who’s the students’ teacher. He does not seem to have any superpowers, but still can teach superheroes-in-training.
    • Fur Blur: the class pet; she is a hamster with super-speed.

    After watching the “Snowy Journey” episode of Hero Elementary, we were inspired by Sparks’ Crew and read books about snow and did a few snowman activities using construction paper and ice.  My kids enjoyed making different observations about what happens to ice in the heat as it started to melt.    

    We also learned why snow is the color white and talked about some animals that hibernate in the winter.  Hibernation was a topic covered in the Hero Elementary episode “Snowy Journey” so it was a nice way to tie it back to things that were discussed in the show.  (Do you see our book snowman pictured here in the background?  We had fun making that together!)

    Hero Elementary goes beyond just showing kids how science is present in everyday life, it empowers them to make a difference in their own backyards and beyond by actively doing science.  I would highly recommend this animated series for any young budding scientists and fans of superheroes.  Also, if you are homeschooling or if your kids are participating in distance or hybrid learning, Hero Elementary can be used to supplement core curriculum and extend science lessons into real life.  Give it a try!

    You can watch Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.  Check your local listings for showtimes or watch anytime on PBSKIDS.org or on the PBS KIDS video app!

    This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.

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    family fun, technology

    Find Black Santa + An Interview with the Mobile App Creator Jihan Woods

    Find Black Santa Mobile App

    Tell us a little about yourself and your mobile app.  When was the app created?   

    Hi! My name is Jihan Woods and I’m a mom, psychiatrist and the founder of Find Black Santa mobile app. I graduated from Hampton University in 2004 with a Bachelors in Finance. Upon graduating from Hampton University, I worked as a Financial Analyst before applying to medical school.  I completed medical school at Drexel University College of Medicine in 2013 followed by residency in General Psychiatry and fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at University of Texas Southwestern. 

    I spent a great deal of my training exploring the impact of race and cultural pride on the mental and physical health outcomes of youth. I also have a passion for bringing awareness to the lack of positive Black representation in media.  This idea was the premise of my developing Find Black Santa.  Find Black Santa is the only mobile-app of its kind designed to connect families with real Black Santa entertainment. I created the app in 2018 and is available in the App store and Google Play

    What was the inspiration behind creating the app Find Black Santa?  

    After having my own children (twin boys!), I realized the lack of Black representation in media especially during the holiday season. That’s when my entrepreneurship journey began.  I utilized my expertise in child psychiatry and business savvy to create a mobile app affectionately titled Find Black Santa.  My inspiration were my twin boys and frustration with finding a Santa that represented our family. Studies show that children with a positive attitude about their own racial identity are more likely to thrive academically and socially. Experiencing a Black Santa is an important aspect of that. My goal is to connect families with Black Santas. My mission is to provide families with access to positive cultural imagery, diversify the meaning of Christmas and spread joy each holiday season.   

    Is Black Santa married to Black Mrs. Claus? (LOL!):   

    I don’t’ know you’d have to ask Santa! (lol) Santa is beautiful and magical and can be a representation of the uniqueness in all families.

    Did you create the app on your own or did you have help?  What was the creative process like for you?

    Yes, I created the app on my own. I’m definitely not a techie, nor do I have a tech background. It was fun! This process allowed me to utilize my creative skills. It involved a lot of research and time to figure out all of the ins and outs of developing a user friendly app. Aesthetically, I wanted festive colors with a modern twist; hence the pink!  Practically, I wanted users to be able to quickly get the information they needed so it was important to me that Santa profiles and events were strategically organized by state. 

    How do you keep your brand and app top of mind with your audience throughout the rest of the year?  

    Since we are in the midst of COVID-19 it’s increasingly important to meet people where they are; therefore, we are transitioning to the virtual world of Christmas which has been a unique and fun experience.  This year I created an Advisory Board which has been a think tank to expand the brand. With their help, we launched “Hot Cocoa with Dr. Woods,” a webinar series on all things, tech, culture, Santa and children’s mental health.  

    What messages do you hope to send to children and parents with your app?
    It’s important to me that people experience diversity in all aspects of their lives. Santa is one avenue in which families who celebrate Christmas can do this. 

    What’s next for you and Find Black Santa?
    Find Black Santa has grown exponentially over the past 3 years. With 19,000+ downloads and thousands of subscribers and supporters, I hope to expand my reach beyond the mobile app within my educational webinar series “Hot Cocoa with Dr. Woods”.  I also hope to grow my brand and eventually evolve into the go-to network and resource for Black-owned businesses. 

    Anything else you’d like to share with us?  
    In addition to the Find Black Santa App, supporters can visit our Holiday Shop and find festive apparel and accessories (including face masks!).

    Where can people find you online?   

    Instagram: @findblksanta  

    Website: findblacksanta.com  

    Email: info@findblacksanta.com  

    Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/FBSHolidayShop 

    Find Black Santa
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    family fun, giveaways

    The Witches on HBO Max + A Giveaway!

    Disclaimer: We’re partnering with Warner Bros. Pictures to bring you this amazing gift box giveaway! Thank you to Warner Bros. Pictures for gifting us a gift box and another one to share with our audience. #ad #WBSsponsored

    From Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”) comes the fantasy adventure “Roald Dahl’s The Witches.”  The film stars Oscar winners Anne Hathaway (“Les Misérable,” “Ocean’s 8”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help,” “The Shape of Water”), Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci (“The Hunger Games” films, “The Lovely Bones”), with Kristin Chenoweth (TV’s “Glee” and “BoJack Horseman”) and award-winning comedy legend Chris Rock.  Newcomer Jahzir Kadeem Bruno (TV’s “Atlanta”) also stars, alongside Codie-Lei Eastick (“Holmes & Watson”).

    Reimagining Dahl’s beloved story for a modern audience, Zemeckis’s visually innovative film tells the darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy (Bruno) who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma (Spencer) in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis.  As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks our young hero away to an opulent seaside resort.  Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch (Hathaway) has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe—undercover—to carry out her nefarious plans.

    Based on the book by Roald Dahl, the screenplay is by Robert Zemeckis & Kenya Barris (TV’s “black-ish,” “Shaft”) and Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”).  Zemeckis is also producing, alongside Jack Rapke, del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Luke Kelly.  Serving as executive producers are Jacqueline Levine, Marianne Jenkins, Michael Siegel, Gideon Simeloff and Cate Adams.

    Zemeckis’s behind-the-scenes team includes a roster of his frequent collaborators, including Oscar-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (“Forrest Gump”), production designer Gary Freeman, editors Jeremiah O’Driscoll and Ryan Chan, Oscar-nominated costume designer Joanna Johnston (“Allied,” “Lincoln”), and Oscar-nominated composer Alan Silvestri (“Polar Express,” “Forrest Gump”).

    Warner Bros. Pictures Presents, an Image Movers/Necropia/Experanto Filmoj Production, a Robert Zemeckis Film, “Roald Dahl’s The Witches.”

    Download The Witches Halloween Activity Pack here!

    Watch The Witches Trailer!

    The Giveaway!

    One (1) winner will receive THE WITCHES gift box containing:

    • Projector to watch THE WITCHES on HBO Max
    • Google ChromeCast
    • HBO Max complimentary code for 7 day free trial
    • WITCHES bookmark and novel
    • Flavored popcorns, snack packs, and Coffee Beanery coffee sample
    • Wood decorating craft kit
    • White gloves
    • Mouse ears headband
    • Splat hair dye and hair chalk
    • Wind-up mouse
    • Crayons and activity booklet

    Good Luck!

    Open to US mailing addresses ONLY.

    The Witches on HBO Max

    2. @jeanellnicolereads

    3. @rattlesandheels

    4. @mymotherhoodmagic

    5. @_colorful_stories

    6. @justmeomaya

    7. @imsuzettesays

    8. @readlikearockstar

    9. @apron_education

    10. @schoolathomeandbeyond

    11. @polishedplayhouse

    12. @puzzlehuddle

    13. @rahmarodaah

    14. @thevitamindproject

    15. @mayasbooknook

    16. @mommyweek

    17. @firstname.basis

    18. @twolightsacademy

    19. @arethoseyourkids

    20. @mybusybeesandme

    Your turn: Did this list help you discover new people to follow? Who are some of your favorite Black parents to follow on Instagram who value the importance of reading with their children? Feel free to share in the comments as I’m always looking for new like-minded people to connect with.

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