Follow:
Browsing Category:

technology

    family fun, parenting, technology

    Winter Snow Fun with Hero Elementary on PBS Kids

    Tracking Pixel

    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.

    Share:
    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
    Share:
    children's literacy, technology

    Adventure Academy: WordPlay with Kwame Alexander

    My kids are absolutely LOVING Adventure Academy and I can’t lie, so am I! It is so good, truly. Created by the creators of ABC Mouse, Adventure Academy builds critical knowledge of essential topics in language arts, math, science, social studies, and more. It’s recommended for kids ages 8-13.

    Our family recently got a sneak peek into WordPlay, a new series that will soon be featured on Adventure Academy. We were invited to an exclusive virtual screening and we can’t be more excited about this forthcoming show for kids!

    What is WordPlay?
    WordPlay is a brand new 10-episode kids video series created by Kwame Alexander. Wordplay will be available in September exclusively within Adventure Academy. The educational series provides a master class in storytelling and writing for elementary students. In essence, WordPlay teaches elementary-age children how to write short stories in a highly engaging format. Kwame Alexander created, executive produced, and serves as the host of the show.

    Each episode of WordPlay features Kwame working through a key stage of the storytelling process with the help of his diverse group of friends. Celebrities and other well-known guests make an appearance in the episode shows. For example, actor and author Maulik Pancholy of 30 Rock and former VP of Animated Shorts for Nickelodeon Samantha Berger, offer insights into various elements of the storytelling process, such as exposition, character development, and how to build a sense of mystery.

    WordPlay with Kwame Alexander

    WordPlay also features “The Pajama Drama Club,” a book club of kids who act out stories by performing literary songs and jokes in a theatrical production.

    Do your kids or students use Adventure Academy? Feel free to share in the comments. Look for the Wordplay series to be rolled out to Adventure Academy starting in September 2020.

    For more information on WordPlay, visit www.adventureacademy.com/wordplay and Adventure Academy, visit www.adventureacademy.com.

    Share:
    family fun, technology

    Go Girls! Virtual Summer Camp for Girls Ages 6 – 14

    Disclaimer: Our family was provided with a complimentary 5-week session of Go Girls! camp in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions shared are my own.

    For the past four weeks, my daughter has been participating in a virtual summer camp called Go Girls! at Home. I’m so glad this camp provides so much enrichment to help keep kids busy, learning, and having fun — while practicing safe social distancing.

    Go Girls! at Home has been teaching my daughter how to be a confident leader, the importance of building community and teamwork, the art of music, song and dance and so much more! It’s a social and emotional camp specifically designed for girls and I have loved watching my growing girl blossom over the past few weeks. Bonus points for it being a Black woman owned business.

    Go Girls! at Home is a virtual summer camp for girls and gender non-conforming kids ages 6-14 (rising 1st through 8th graders) to make art and media together – all while practicing the Go Girls! Culture Code, their highly effective social-emotional skills framework designed to help girls become their boldest, bravest selves.

    As stated on the Go Girls! website, here’s how the virtual camp works:

    Go Girls! at Home virtual summer camp takes place inside of a Google Classroom.  The primary learning will happen in 3 different formats:

    1. Live large group meetings via Google Meet – at the beginning and end of the week, Go Girls! will come together for connection and celebration
       
    2. Zoom and/or Video-enriched lessons led by talented Go Girls! teaching artists – Go Girls! will watch instructional videos whenever they want and complete the artistic projects at their own pace
       
    3. Live small group meetings – Go Girls! are assigned to a small “family group” with other girls their age.  Each week, the groups, led by a Go Girls! “Camp Mama,” meet to build deeper connections and practice the lessons of the Go Girls! Culture Code.

    My favorite part has been reinforcing how my daughter (and myself) have been able to apply to the Go Girls! Culture Code to her life (Say Yes, Give & Take, Make Mistakes, Feel My Feelings, Take Center Stage).

    Each week has a new theme that follows the culture code. This week the girls are learning about feeling their feelings and emotions.

    Have questions about this amazing virtual girls camp? Ask away in the comments.

    Share:
    adult books, children's books, technology

    Screen-Free Week: Unplug With These Books for Readers of All Ages

    Are you looking for Screen-Free Week book recommendations for readers of all ages?  We’ve got you covered!

    Every year during screen-free week, thousands of people participate and commit to unplug from screen-based entertainment for an entire week.  Are you up for the challenge?  You can visit the screenfree.org website to find out more information, discover local screen-free week events and find great resources to help you.

    What is Screen-Free Week?

    From the Screen-Free website: Screen-Free Week is an annual invitation to play, explore, and rediscover the joys of life beyond ad-supported screens.  Each year, thousands of families, schools, and communities around the world will put down their entertainment screens for seven days of fun, connection, and discovery.  Even though it’s about turning off screens, Screen-Free Week isn’t about going without – it’s about what you can get! An hour once dedicated to YouTube becomes an hour spent outside; ten minutes wiled away on social media turn into ten minutes spent doodling; a movie on a rainy afternoon is replaced by time spent reading, chatting, or playing pretend!  You can celebrate Screen-Free Week at home, in your school, in your community, or anywhere – just put down those entertainment screens and do literally anything else! You might be surprised at what you find.

    Below are a few book recommendations for members of your whole family to enjoy during screen-free week.  These books are all related to the themes of living life unplugged or technology.  Happy Reading!

    Kid/Teen Recommendations

    Unplugged by Steve Anthony (Ages 3-5)
    One day, Blip becomes unplugged after a blackout and discovers the outside world beyond screens.  Blip explores the outdoors and also makes new friends.  A fun story with a timely message that shows kids it’s possible to have fun without electronic devices.

    When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Dennihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha (Ages 4-8)
    “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised (and disappointed) to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all. This clever story, complete with a recipe for lemonade, celebrates the pleasures of patience, hard work, nature, community . . . and putting down the electronic devices just for a while.

    Blackout by John Rocco (Ages 4-8)
    This is a wonderful story about how a power outage brings families and neighbors together by turning off all the distractions. I like reading this one with the kids Enjoy in the dark with a flashlight under the covers.

    If You Give a Mouse an iPhone: A Cautionary Tale by Ann Droyd (Ages 4-8)
    A funny and lighthearted parody of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  Shows kids the good and bad consequences of too much screen time.

    No More Screen Time by Patti Price (Ages 4-8)
    A cute an informative book about unplugging from devices, playing outside and spending time with family and friends.

    Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd (Ages 4-8)
    “In a bright buzzing room, in the glow of the moon-and iPhones and Androids and Blackberries too-it is time to say goodnight…”  A whimsical parody about living a life filled with technology and screens.

    How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk (Ages 4 – 8)
    All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done.

    What Does it Mean to Be Safe? by Rana DiOrio (Ages 4-8)
    What Does It Mean To Be Safe? explores physical, emotional, social, and cyber safety in unthreatening ways that spark meaningful conversations between adults and children.

    Jaden Toussant, The Greatest Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time by Marti Dumas (Ages 5-7 )
    Jaden Toussaint, 5 year-old scientist and all around cool dude, is on a mission to convince the grown-ups that he needs more SCREEN TIME. His only weapons are science, ninja dancing, and his super-powered brain power. Can Jaden Toussaint get the grown-ups to change their minds?

    But I Read It on the Internet by Toni Buzzeo (Ages 8 – 12)
    Hunter and Carmen disagree whether George Washington really had wooden teeth, and Mrs. Skorupski encourages them to research the story on the internet and use her “Website Evaluation Gizmo” to evaluate websites and come up with the correct answer.

    The Teen’s Guide to Social Media… and Mobile Devices: 21 Tips to Wise Posting in an Insecure World by Jonathan McKee (Ages 12 – 18)
    The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices will help you navigate the digital world with 21 refreshingly honest and humorous tips that will not only inform, but that also just might change the way you think about your social media interaction.

    Adult Recommendations

    Raising Humans in a Digital World by Diana Graber
    This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine. Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for—a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

    Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
    Drawing on a diverse array of real-life examples, from Amish farmers to harried parents to Silicon Valley programmers, Newport identifies the common practices of digital minimalists and the ideas that underpin them. He shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude.

    Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time by Victoria L. Dunckley, MD
    Follow the steps outlined in this four-week plan to end meltdowns, raise grades and boost social skills.

    The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life by Anya Kamenetz
    Finally, an evidence-based, don’t-panic guide to what to do about kids and screens.

    Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World by Devorah Heitner
    Screenwise helps parents recognize that the social wisdom they have gained throughout their lives is a relevant and urgently needed supplement to their kid’s digital savvy. These skills can help set kids up for a lifetime of success in a world fueled by technology.

    The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch
    Drawing on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, Andy Crouch shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal?

    Screen-Free Fun: 400 Activities for the Whole Family by Shannon Philpott-Sanders
    Screen-Free Fun offers over 400 ideas to disconnect from tech devices and reconnect with our families in a healthier way. You can pick from DIY activities to games to weekend outings. Since many of the activities work well for kids at various ages, your family will be able to grow along with the different projects and make plans for both younger and older siblings alike. You can try indoor projects, outdoor activities, or learn more about your favorite destinations with activities like a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood or an i-spy game at the zoo. There is also space for your family to add your own favorite activities so you never forget a great idea or memory! From summer vacation to holiday breaks and every rainy day in between, with this book you and your family will always have something fun to do together—without ever having to resort to a tablet, phone, or computer.

    Your turn: Are you planning to participate in screen-free week?  What other books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

     

    Share:
    parenting, STEM, technology

    Help Your Kids Fall In Love with Math (And Reading Too!) With Revolution Math

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in partnership with Revolution Math, an interactive online math and story-based program for kids in grades 2-5. Get your first month of Revolution Math plus a math learning kit for $1 with the code WEEREAD1!

    Education has always been extremely important to me.  When I was a child I used to always say I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  Well, when I finally “grew up” I changed my mind and decided on the computer field instead.  Perhaps some day I’ll be a college professor and finally have the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of teaching.  For now, I’ll settle as being my children’s first teacher.

    I knew even before I had children that I didn’t want their learning to be left entirely up to the school system.  I make it a point to supplement whatever they are learning in school at home with my own teachings by making it fun.  One way I supplement education at home is by using an awesome interactive online math and story-based curriculum called Revolution Math.  Have you heard of it before?  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have heard me talk about it in my stories.  Try It Out for 30 Days for JUST $1 (No strings attached – I promise!)

    Math was always my favorite subject in school.  I want my kids to like math or at least do well in it even if they don’t love it as much as I do.  Did you know research suggests that early math skills are a better predictor of academic success than early reading skills?

    What Is Revolution Math?
    Revolution Math is an innovative program designed to help 2nd-5th graders develop their math skills and an overall love of learning. The live, online interface integrates an interactive learning experience with a story-based curriculum and Common Core aligned math games. Students enjoy a small class size of only 4 students, allowing them to build confidence under the instruction of a dedicated teacher.  Check out their brief introductory online videos for more information.

    Our Experience
    My daughter has been using Revolution Math (we pay for this program with our own money) for the past two months.  I can honestly say she is truly enjoying it and most importantly she’s learning advanced math skills for her grade.  While the program is recommended for kids in grades 2-5, they also accept first grade students like my daughter.

    Initially, some of the concepts were a bit difficult for her to grasp (as with learning anything new), but I’ve seen lots of improvement over the past two months.  She is now able to do one, two, three and four digit addition and subtraction problems a lot easier using the concepts learned through the program without any worry or anxiety like she initially had.

    Here are a few of the things my daughter has learned so far:

    • Place value charting to decompose addends for 2-digit + 2-digit addition and 3-digit + 2-digit addition
    • Different ways to represent three-digit numbers
    • Finding patterns
    • “Bundling”, “exchanging” or “carrying” from a lower place value to a higher one

    I’ve loved witnessing the progress and confidence I’ve seen in my daughter over the past two months.  It’s also been great to see her build a relationship with her online teacher (the teacher remains the same each week) and on occasion participate in class with other students.

    Other added benefits are parents receive a weekly update on the math tutoring session which includes cool apps and strategies you can use at home to reinforce learning.  Also, registered subscribers can access additional drills for practice playing the Revolution math game.  Finally, kids earn gems each lesson that can be traded in for kid-friendly prizes from the Revolution Math Rewards store.  Who doesn’t love an incentive?  I know I sure do!  My daughter is currently saving up her gems for a fidget spinner.

    Are you excited yet?  Do you want to help your children fall in LOVE with math (and reading too!)?

    Try It Out for 30 Days for JUST $1 (No strings attached – I promise!)
    You seriously can’t go wrong with this deal – it’s like getting 4 high-quality math classes for just $0.25 cents each if you break it down.  To me, this is a no-brainer to sign up for a 30-day trial especially if you have kids in grades 1-5.  Plus, you get a math learning kit which is yours to keep and doesn’t have to be returned.  Win-win!  I only share brands and products that my family truly uses, values and trusts and Revolution Math has gained our trust over the past two months.

    The learning kit includes several math manipulatives: graph paper, dice, place value number tiles, a protractor and masks to use for the story time portion of the course.  Be sure to use my code ‘WEEREAD1’ to take advantage of this fantastic deal for just $1 and tell them I sent you!

    Your turn: Are you ready to raise a math whiz?  Have you heard of Revolution Math before?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:
    adult books, book reviews, STEM, technology

    Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Coding Homework

    Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

    Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework by Frazer Wilson

    Publisher: Sterling Publishing
    Pages: 208
    Format: Paperback

    Synopsis
    Facing the daunting prospect of helping your children with their coding homework?  Coding for Parents teaches you what you need to know . . . so you can teach your kids!

    Unlock the mysteries of coding with this easy-to-follow and well-illustrated guide—and help your kids ace their coding homework! Organized by age and grade, It takes you by the hand and leads you through the basics, building your knowledge of key concepts, terminology, and techniques, and giving you the language you’ll need to explain it all to your child. Instructional diagrams and compelling illustrations appear throughout to enhance your understanding, and the book covers the most popular software, including Scratch, Python, and Java.

    Reflection
    The introduction of the computer has changed the world forever, for better or for worse.  The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science.  President Barack Obama said it best when he said, “In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill.”

    In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill.” – Barack Obama

    And yet, computer science is not part of the required curriculum in many US public schools.  That means it’s up to adults to help their children get more familiar with computers, technology and coding when it’s not offered to them in their school.  With the help of great books like Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework adults can cultivate a child’s interest in computing, even if they’ve never written a line of code on their own a day in their life.

    I like that this book is organized by age and grade level for different software like: Java, Scratch and Python.  It’s a compact and comprehensive introduction to all things coding broken down into digestible bites that are easy to comprehend.  There are also helpful diagrams with some added humor to help take a bit of the edge off if you’re new to the world of coding.  The book also contains a helpful glossary and index making it easy to find and reference information throughout.

    Coding is all about learning by doing.  And the more kids feel like they can “do” computers, the more likely they are to pursue technical careers.  An added bonus is having a parent or adult who understands coding and can help a child easily understand it too.  That’s where  Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework comes into play.  Check it out if you want to be able to confidently help the special kiddo in your life with their coding homework.  Makes a great back to school gift idea for parents!

    Your turn: Is Computer Science a part of the curriculum at your child’s school?  What other books would you recommend for adults to help children with coding homework?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:

Warning: Use of undefined constant custom_pagination - assumed 'custom_pagination' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/herewe10/public_html/wp-content/themes/primrose/category.php on line 46