The 15 Best Children’s Books About Telling the Truth

By sara / March 18, 2017

Honesty can be hard to come by in this day and age and we need to raise the next generation of honest people in the world. The best way to do that is teach them young. This list of books will be a fun and easy way to teach your children the importance of being honest. These stories will also show that even a tiny lie can hurt someone or cause a lot of harm. Teaching your children to be honest is an everyday occurrence and these books can be something you read at night before they go to bed. This list of books will help you start a conversation with your children about integrity and how to tell the truth.

The criteria that we used to choose these books are:

  • Sales
  • Reviews
  • Popularity​

David Gets in Trouble is by David Shannon. This book is all about not making excuses when you do something wrong. David is a little boy who says “Its not my fault” or “It was an accident.” During the course of this book David finds out that he always feels sad when he lies and that he will feel better if he is honest. Any children that love David will absolutely love this book and it will leave them laughing while they learn an important lesson at the same time.

Pinky Promise: A Book About Telling the Truth is by Vanita Braver. This book is about Madison a young girl that accidentally broke her mother’s camera. She did not want to get in trouble so she told a lie when her mom asked her about the broken camera. This book will teach your children that it is better to tell the truth when they accidentally break something.

13. Liar, Liar

 Liar, Liar is by Gary Paulsen. This is a book about a boy that lies all the time. He lies to make life better for those around him. His lies start to catch up to him and his parents, friends and teachers find out that he lies all the time and they are not very happy about it. He learns that it is finally time to start telling the truth because that will make his life ever better than when he lies.

Telling the Truth: Learning about Honesty, Integrity, and Trustworthiness was created to help teach children how to be more positive, honest people. This book will help teach your children about character building as well. This book comes with a CD that goes along with the book that includes a narrator and songs that go along with the story. Get this book to teach your children about the importance of character building so that they will grow into honest adults.

 The Stories Julian Tells is by Ann Cameron and Ann Strugnell. Julian is a great storyteller. He is always making up stories to entertain other people even if that means he has to tell a lie. He has the ability to make his little brother believe anything he says. Will Julian stop telling his brother lies that keep getting them both into trouble? Read this book with your children to find out.

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot is by Scott Magoon. The pictures in this book are very fun and beautiful. Your children will love this hilarious twist on the Boy Who Cried Wolf. There are many unexpected twists and turns as this book quickly unfolds. Your children will learn the importance of telling the truth when they read this book. They will also learn to be careful when they tell a lie because it just might come true.

 Molly the Great Tell the Truth is by Shelley Marshall and Ben Mahan. This book shows children that it is important to tell the truth even if they are a superhero. The main characters are Ben and Molly and when they try on the courageous cape and the clever crown they become Super Ben and Molly the Great. Your kids should check out this book so they can follow Molly and Ben though their big adventure about telling the truth.

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth is by Patricia C. McKissack. This book will teach your children that it is important to tell the truth but they need to be careful not to hurt someone’s feelings by being brutally honest with them. The main character is Libby and ever since she started telling the truth everyone seems to be mad at her all the time. She quickly learns that telling the truth is not always the right thing to do. Sometimes it is better to be quiet.

The Empty Pot is by Demi. This book takes place in China. The main character is Ping and he loves to plant flowers and he is really good at it. The emperor of China also loved flowers and he was going to pick the heir based on who could plant the best flower and bring it to him. Ping tends to his flowers everyday hoping that he can produce the best flower. When spring comes Ping does not have any flowers so all he has to show the King is an empty pot. Read this book with your children to see how Ping is able to be rewarded for his honesty.

Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie is by Laura Rankin. This book is about a little girl named Ruthie. One day while she was at recess she finds a camera on the playground. She really wants to keep it even though she knows that it’s not hers. Ruthie tells her friends and her teachers that she got this camera for her birthday so she can keep the camera. This lie wears on her all day and she finds out that telling the truth is more rewarding than telling a lie. This book will teach your children that telling the truth will keep them out of trouble and help clear their conscience.

The Big Fat Enormous Lie is by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and David McPhail. This is a very creative story that will show your children what can happen when they lie. This book follows a little boy that keeps telling lies until they grow into this huge monster that he has to find out how to get rid of. He quickly finds out that the only way to get rid of this huge monster that he has created is to finally tell the truth.

The Berenstain Bears and the Truth is by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Brother and Sister Bear lie after they broke their mothers favorite lamp. This little lie grows and grows until it gets out of control. They finally realize that the only way to make things right again is to tell the truth. They learn that none of this would have happened if they would have told the truth from the beginning. This book teaches your children the importance of telling the truth as soon as something happens so that they do not make the situation worse.

Let’s Be Honest is by P.K. Hallinan. This is book is full of colorful and beautiful illustrations. This book will show your children is ok to make a mistake as long as they own up to it and tell the truth. The main message of this book is that the truth will set you free. This book will teach this important lesson in a way that your little one will enjoy and remember.

Victory Vault is by Jake Maddox. This book is about a gymnast named Kayla. Kayla is a very good gymnast and she finds herself facing a very important vault at her gymnastics meet. She ends up missing the vault and the only one that noticed was her best friend. Kayla now has to decide if she wants to keep her best friend or the trophy she won for a vault that she did not even do. Read this book to find out if Kayla tells the truth or if she keeps the trophy.

Eli’s Lie-O-Meter: A Story about Telling the Truth is by Sandra Levins. This book is all about learning the value of being an honest person. Eli has a bad habit about telling lies. Most of these lies are little fibs but sometimes Eli finds himself telling a big lie. There is an event in Eli’s life that finally helps him decide to finally tell the truth. Read this book with your children to find out what that event was and why Eli finally decided to tell the truth.

The 15 Best Cookbooks for Children

By sara / March 11, 2017

Getting your children in the kitchen from a young age will help them develop healthy eating habits early on in life. These cookbooks for children are full of quick and easy meals and are a great way to get your children involved in making the food that they eat. They will have so much fun preparing and cooking the meals that they might not even notice that most of these dishes are actually good for them. Cooking is a great way to spend time with your family and they will be proud of the food that they make at the end of the day.

Methodology: We ranked these books by the following criteria:

  • Reviews
  • Sales
  • Price​

Kid Chef: The Foodie Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Culinary Skills for the New Cook in the Kitchen is by Melina Hammer. This book is full of delicious and nutritious foods that your children will be able to cook for the family to enjoy. This book will teach your kids more than just how to cook a great meal, it will also be able to teach them kitchen basics that they can use for the rest of their life. They will learn skills like how to handle a knife safely as well as how to use the stove without getting burned and so much more.

The Complete Children’s Cookbook has 150 simple recipes for your children to master. Each recipe in this book is complete with pictures to help walk your children through the steps. This book will also teach your kids that it is important to be safe when they are using dangerous tools in the kitchen. At the end of this book your children will have basic cooking skills that they can use the rest of their life and they will make delicious dishes that the whole family will enjoy.

The Children’s Quick and Easy Cookbook is by Angela Wilkes. This cookbook is the perfect way to get your children into the kitchen. This book has step-by-step instructions for each tasty meal. This book has a total of 60 recipes that the whole family will enjoy. There is everything from quick and easy snacks as well as simple meals that your children will be able to cook on their own. This book is perfect for the little chef in your life.

The Everything Kids Cookbook: From Mac n’ Cheese To double chocolate chip cookies was written by Sandra K. Nissenberg. This cookbook will allow your children to show off their creativity in the kitchen. They will be able to impress the family with all of the delicious meals that are not only healthy but, also taste amazing as well. This book is unique because it offers trivia and other puzzles that will test your children’s knowledge about food and cooking in general.

The Kids fun and Healthy Cookbook is by Nicola Graimes. It is so important for your children to learn how to eat healthy foods at a young age. This will help them understand how food affects their body so that they will have a good relationship with healthy eating when they get older. This book will be able to teach them amazing dishes that are actually good for them as well. These recipes are fun and easy to complete. With 100 recipes in this book there will be something for the whole family to enjoy.

ChopChop The Kids Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family is by Sally Sampson. This book is full of nutritious and inexpensive foods that your children will enjoy making. This book is filled with tips for new chefs to learn. There are foods from all over the world so your children will be able to learn about other cultures through cooking. This book will quickly become a family favorite because of all the delicious foods your family will get to enjoy together.

The Do it Myself Kid’s Cookbook Nothing Hot, Nothing Sharp is by Laurie Goldrich Wolf. These are the perfect recipes for kids to complete all on their own without using tools that might be too dangerous. Your kids will be so proud when they cook a meal for the whole family to enjoy. There are 50 different meals that include salads, sandwiches and desserts complete with pictures that your children to choose from.

The Betty Crocker Kids Cook! Has 60 simple recipes for all three meals of the day. The recipes are fun and easy for children to make. There are beautiful pictures that will help give your children an idea of what each dish will look like when it is completed. This book will teach your children basic cooking terminology as well as methods for using different utensils. You will be able to see so much pride when your children make dinner for the whole family to enjoy.

The Mom and Me Cookbook is perfect for moms that want to get their children in the kitchen. There are perfect snacks for after school as well as delicious meals to cook for dinner. This book will teach your children tips and tricks for cooking as well as how to cook healthy foods. This book is perfect for kids ages 4-8 years old. Cooking is a great bonding experience and they will be able to learn a lot of skills that they will be able to use for the rest of their life.

The International cookbook for kids is by Matthew Locricchio. The recipes in this book are from France, Italy, Mexico and China. There are 60 different dishes that will be able to teach your children about different types of foods that people in other countries eat with their families. This is a fun way to teach your children about geography and the foods people eat around the world. This book uses many unique ingredients that will be able to diversify your children’s palettes and develop their tastes. There are many safety tips that will teach your children to handle dangerous tools with care. These dishes are very easy to make and will be enjoyed by the whole family.

Garden to Table: A kids guide to planting, growing & preparing food is by Katherine Hengel. This book is all about cooking healthy foods that are fresh out of the garden. This book is unique because it will teach your children about keeping a garden so that they can use the food that they harvest in a fresh and healthy dish. There are over 30 recipes for your children to cook using basil, carrots, green beans, leaf lettuce, potatoes and tomatoes. This book will be perfect for the aspiring gardener in your life.

Cooking class: 57 fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) is by Deanna F. Cook. Are you tired of struggling to get your children to eat healthy foods? This book will teach your children how to cook healthy foods that they will actually enjoy eating. Each recipe will give your kids the confidence to cook with fresh and healthy ingredients that you might even be able to find in your own garden. Your kids will love using their imagination to create dishes like egg mice or insects made out of vegetables.

The Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook is for ages 5 to 12. There are 65 carefully selected recipes that will be perfect for kids to cook as well as eat. This book is very unique because your kids will be able to learn how to cook a recipe from a character that are telling a story. Your children will be able to easily be able to follow along and cook an amazing dish that they can be proud of.

The Star Wars cookbook by Robin Davis will be perfect for the little Jedi in your life. This book will teach your children how to be a force in the kitchen when they cook Princess Leia Danish Dogs or Wookie Cookies. This book will teach your children tips for using kitchen tools with care so that they do not get hurt. The recopies include dishes for all three meals of the day as well as snacks and sweat treats.

Taste of Home Kid-Approved Cookbook: 328 Family Tested Fun Foods has so many wonderful dishes to choose from. Cooking will never be boring because there are so many foods to choose from. This book will open your children’s minds and help create a love of cooking. This book is perfect for all ages and there are different recipes for all levels of cooking. Your children will be able to make everything from veggie cheese sticks to pigs in a blanket and so much more.

Are You Prepared For an IEP Meeting?

By sara / March 3, 2017

If you have a special needs child, the prospect of an IEP meeting can fill you with dread. Sitting in a room full of teachers and experts, while listening to what you child is doing wrong, is not anyone’s idea of a good time. If you do your homework and come prepared, an IEP meeting can go from an anxiety filled event to a stepping stone towards your child’s success in school. The more you know about how an IEP meeting works, what your rights are as a parent, and how to follow up once the meeting is over the more success your child will have. This will ensure that your child will adjust smoothly to any modification, and he will ultimately be successful in school.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), when a child is receiving special education services they must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This will list all of the special education services that your child will be receiving and is put together by your child’s IEP team which will consist of you, his teachers, and school counselors. This is a very important document that will determine how successful your child will be in school, so it is important to come prepared and know exactly what you need to advocate the best possible outcome for your child.​



How is an IEP meeting set up? 

A parent or the school may call for an IEP meeting. According to the IDEA: Each school must ensure that the parents are present at each IEP meeting and must take steps to make sure they are offered the option to participate… [§300.322(a)] ​

These steps include: 

  • (1) Contacting the parents of the meeting date within enough time that they have the opportunity to attend; and
  • (2) Schedule the meeting with a time and place that is mutually agreed upon. [§300.322(a)(1) and (2)]

The school must notify parents of the IEP meeting and tell them who will be attending the meeting and what the purpose, location, and time of the meeting is. The school is also required to notify you that you have the right to invite an advocate to the meeting to help represent your child’s interests, or a Part C service coordinator or other representatives of the Part C system.

What the purpose of an IEP meeting is can vary, so the ensuing discussion may be different than you are expecting if you are not aware of the meeting’s purpose. Both the parent and the school can invite individuals with special expertise and knowledge that can contribute to the IEP meeting. Both parents and school must inform the other if additional individuals will be attending.

If you can’t attend the IEP meeting, then the school is required to find another way to get your participation through avenues like conference calls or video conferences. If both parties agree to the alternative communication, the IDEA will permit it. The only way a school can hold an IEP meeting without the parents is if the school has been unable to convince the parents to attend and all attempts to get them to attend have been documented.

In the event you are the one that would like to request the IEP meeting, here are a few reasons why an IEP review can be requested:

  • One. or several, of the goals in the IEP has been met by your child. 
  • Your child is not making enough progress toward one, or several, of the IEP goals. 
  • In order to make more progress, your child needs more services or other services. 
  • Your child no longer needs one of the services he/she is receiving. 
  • There has been a major change for your child such as injury or illness. 

To file a formal request for evaluation, you need to include the reasons you are concerned and provide evidence that supports your request. To speed up the process, include a statement that your signed letter includes your consent to evaluate your child. Make sure you sign the letter as your consent for evaluation.​

At this point, the school is required to send you a written notice of its decision. They can respond in one of three ways.​

  • Continue with the targeted interventions and provide you information on how long the interventions will be used and how they are measuring whether the interventions are working.
  • Deny your request with a formal letter. The letter must contain the action that was refused by the district, an explanation of their decision, and the other options the district considered and rejected, plus the factors that influenced their decisions. If the district denies your request, you still have options that are outlined in the procedural safeguards.
  • Agree to evaluate your child which must be done within 60 days of receiving your consent.

What do you do prior to the IEP meeting?

When preparing for the upcoming IEP meeting, there are few important things to do before you go.

  • Make sure you have all your updated records

Every time you have an IEP meeting, it is important to have your child’s current IEP, current progress reports, report cards, and doctor’s evaluations. If your child is struggling in a specific area, having examples of the work that he is doing helps the teachers understand your concerns and see where there may need to be additional instructional focus. If certain support has not been helpful or your child is facing new challenges, make sure to have any homework examples that may be needed to back up your report. It is helpful to create a folder just for this type of information and update it after each IEP meeting.

  • Invite advocates

When you first start going to IEP meetings, you may be unaware that you can invite an advocate to be there with you. An advocate can be a professional, a family member, or even a friend that may have some experience with IEP’s. It is always a good idea to meet with your advocate beforehand so you can discuss your concerns, listen to their ideas, and plan an overall approach to the meeting.​

  • Pre​pare Recommendations and Questions

Always make sure you have a simple list of questions or concerns that you want to bring up at the meeting. It is possible to get flustered or off track and forget a few things, so the more that you have written down the better. At this time, it is a good idea to go through your records, your child’s homework, and discuss how the school is going with your child to figure out what needs to be brought up at the meeting. Teachers also appreciate suggestions that you may have regarding things like motivating your child in class or helping them focus. Always make sure to have backup documentation that will help to support your concerns and suggestions.​

  • Ask the school for any special requests

Make sure the school is aware in advance if you need a translator or if you need special arrangements like video conferencing. This is also a good time to let them know if you are bringing special guests to the meeting as you will need to explain who they are and their relationship is with your family.​

  • Focus

After you have prepared everything for your meeting, try to take a few minutes to focus on your child, his interests, and his strengths. This can be a very emotional meeting where you will hear a lot of information on where your child is struggling. If you concentrate on your child and his gifts, it can help you be an active advocate for your child.​

Examples of Questions to Ask at an IEP Meeting

Before an IEP Meeting 

  • What do you want the goal of the IEP meeting to be?
  • Will there be an agenda for the meeting?
  • If you do not already have it, can you obtain a copy of the most recent IEP for you child for the meeting?
  • Can you obtain all the notes and reports that the teachers are using to evaluate your child at the meeting?
  • Who will be attending the meeting that is qualified to interpret the data and results of your child’s evaluation?

During an IEP Meeting ​

  • Who is in attendance at the meeting and how do they know your child?
  • Can you describe my child’s day at school so I can understand what it looks like for him?
  • How is my child’s behavior or academic progress different from the other children in the class?
  • Can we walk through the current accommodations step by step?
  • How is my child’s progress toward his goals in the IEP?
  • Are there changes that the IEP team would recommend?
  • How are these goals measure and how do you plan to monitor my child’s progress?
  • How is my child assessed based on their grade level?
  • Which teachers or aides will be working with my child? Exactly when and for how long?
  • Does the staff working with my child have special training for this intervention?
  • What will the intervention or accommodation look like in the classroom?
  • Is there anything I can do at home to support these goals?
  • I would like to see a copy of the IEP before signing anything, can I take a copy of it home with me?
  • When will the interventions or accommodations begin in class?
  • Will you explain to my child how these changes will work in class?
  • What is the plan for staying in touch to discuss how these changes are working?
  • Can I have a copy of the notes the teacher used for her evaluation in this meeting?
  • Who is the right person to talk to if I have questions about the information you gave me on my child’s rights?

IEP Meeting Process

Two weeks prior to the IEP meeting, a Parent Notice will be sent out notifying you of the scheduled meeting date. This notice should also include Positive Parent Profile, Procedural Safeguards and ESY Guidelines. The school may have a pre-meeting with the IEP team members to go over details and see if more data is needed and draft copies of the IEP will be made.

At the meeting, all the participants will be introduced, and the purpose of the meeting will be stated. After the Procedural Safeguards are explained to the parents, the child’s strengths and prior goals will be reviewed as well as the needs of the student that include what the student needs to learn. Next, any disabilities he may have will be identified and new goals will be developed based on identified needs.

At this point, you and the rest of your child’s IEP team will decide what will go into your child’s IEP plan. Your child’s regular teachers will also be in attendance to give their feedback on your child’s progress with the material they are teaching. The team will develop measurable short-term goals as well as annual goals for each of your child’s needs, and you can help guide them in determining the areas and skills that need the most attention.

If there are a lot of services recommended, it may seem overwhelming to include them in your child’s school schedule so that the services may be provided on a consultative basis. The professional consultant can then work with the teacher to come up with methods in the classroom that can help your child in those specific areas. Other services like occupational therapy can be done in the classroom, so they child isn’t being taken out consistently to attend therapy.

After all the s and modifications have been decided on and finalized, the notes from the IEP meeting will be reviewed and summarized by the team. There will be an opportunity for final comments and questions, and then the IEP will be completed and signed by the IEP team with everyone receiving a copy.

This document will then be reviewed annually to make sure it is still meeting your child’s needs. If necessary, the IEP can be modified at any time if needs have changed or goals are not being met.

Monitoring IEP goals

Schools will monitor your child and his academic performance with weekly and monthly measurements. The teacher’s instructional techniques will be adjusted to meet your child’s individual needs based on these measurements. This will benefit your child as he will be receiving instruction that is better suited to their individual needs.

The most common method that schools use to evaluate student progress is called the Curriculum-Based Measurement or CBM. CBM uses short-duration assessments that can monitor a student’s progress in math, reading, writing, and spelling. These are valid, standardized,and reliable procedures with the results graphed over time to decide how effective the instructional interventions have worked.

Not all schools use a method like CBM to evaluate a student’s progress. Many use a standardized achievement test prior to the annual review of your child’s IEP to see how your child has progressed. If you child’s school says he is making progress, but you don’t agree, you can ask what methods they are using to monitor and evaluate his progress.

You can request a meeting with your child’s teacher to ask how his progress is being monitored and measured and discuss how this information can communicate to you. If you still have concerns and questions, it may be time to schedule another IEP meeting to find out more information and clarify the questions you may have.

Be Aware of Your Rights as a Parent

The more information you have on the IEP process and your rights the better prepared you can be to be a successful advocate for your child. There are several common mistakes parents make at IEP meetings.

Signing the IEP

During your IEP meeting, there is a lot that will be discussed, and it may be difficult to remember everything that was discussed. Make sure that every page is reviewed and request that the pages that have been skipped are also examined. Once you reach the end of the meeting, it is perfectly fine to ask to take the IEP home to look over.

Make sure to ask how many days you have to review it. You should feel perfectly comfortable asking to take it home to make sure it is meeting your child’s needs. If you still have concerns, you can request to have another meeting to discuss those points.

You can also sign only the parts of the IEP that you agree with. You are allowed to say that you are not happy with the IEP. At this point, you can write down your issues with the IEP and request that your objections are added to it.

Use the Law

It is not uncommon to be told that the school district cannot accommodate one of your requests, and it is ok to question them and ask for proof. Ask to see the section of the IDEA that supports their policy and feel free to say that you cannot sign the IEP until that issue is resolved.

Don’t Believe that Professionals are the only ones that are experts

When facing a room full of educators, it is normal to feel intimidated. They may bring a lot of experience to the table, but you are bringing the most important knowledge of all, experience regarding your child. Remember that you are also one of the experts and you bring the child’s personal history as well as know what works well with your child that the IEP team may not be aware of.

Make Your Requests in Writing

Anytime you have a request, make sure it is in writing. Written requests are helpful as they start a timeline that the school must follow to meeting your request, plus they create a paper trail. If you happen to have a phone conversation, follow up with a letter or email that outlines what you discussed so that you can avoid miscommunication in the future.

Familiarize Yourself with Prior Notice of the Procedural Safeguards (34 CFR 300.503)

This is a document that gives you the leverage you need in an IEP meeting. You should receive a lot of copies of this document as the IEP team is required to give it to you at all IEP meetings and when these meetings are scheduled. This makes the IEP team responsible for what it decides and forces them to focus on the standards of the IDEA.

Request the assessment instead of the related service

IEP teams often will deny a request for services if they feel there is no proof that the student needs the service. If you request an assessment instead, and the certified or licensed professional determines your child needs the service, the IEP team cannot argue with that.

Do Not Accept Assessment Results Your Child Doesn’t Need

If you feel that the assessment results you have received are not accurate, and you do not agree with the recommended interventions or accommodations that the school says your child needs, you do not have to accept them. Under 34 CFR 300.352, parents have the right to get an independent evaluation at the public’s expense if they do not agree with the school’s assessment. The school has two choices when the parent asks for the Independent Evaluation. They can provide the independent evaluation within a reasonable amount of time, or there can be a due process hearing with the parents. The parents and school will need to agree on who is qualified to assess the child, and it cannot be an examiner that works for the school district. School districts will also have a policy on the qualifications and guidelines that the parents need to know when choosing an examiner.

See the Assessment Information Prior to the First IEP meeting

Before an IEP meeting, parents are allowed to have the information on the assessments explained to them. You can have the person who gave your child the assessment give your report copy and explain it to you before the IEP meeting. This gives you time to think about the information before needing to make decisions for your child. It is important to have reviewed the assessment results and be as familiar with them as everyone else that attends the IEP meeting.

Only Accept Goals and Objectives that are Measurable

When discussing the goals and objectives of the IEP, make sure that all goals and objectives are measurable. This is an important aspect of any IEP as it is difficult to know if your child is succeeding with the interventions and accommodations if the results aren’t measurable.

Ask A lot of Questions

Make sure to ask a lot of questions, especially if you are not sure what the educators are talking about, especially with terms and acronyms that are specific to special education. If you start to become confused, you will become frustrated, so it is important to ask as many questions as you need to clarify everything that is being discussed. You cannot make an informed decision if you do not understand everything that the school staff is talking about.

Parent Resources 

For more information on IEPs and your rights, here are a few reputable resources for your reference.

Parent Special Education Information from the Pacer Center, Champions for Children with Disabilities 

Special Education and IEP’s from the ECAC, Exceptional Children Assistance Center 

Developing Your Child’s IEP from the Center for Parent Information and Resources 

A Guide to the Individualized Education Program from the U.S. Department of Education

Individualized Education Programs IEP’s with Kids Health from Nemours 

The IEP process can be challenging and overwhelming, but it is a necessary step in making sure your child’s issues are addressed. Remember that you have rights, so ask a lot of questions during every step of the process. Only you know your child and what he needs, so it is important to be the best advocate possible for his success in school.​

The 25 Best Educational Videos for Babies

By sara / February 24, 2017

It is important to start teaching your children basic skills very early on in their life. These videos are targeted towards babies ages 1 – 3 years of age. YouTube is becoming a very popular platform to watch videos on and it can be a great resource for parents that are looking for educational videos for their babies to watch. This list of 25 Educational videos for Babies will be able to help your baby learn the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes and more. These videos will engage your baby and keep them entertained while they are also learning at the same time.

We ranked our videos by the following:

  • Views
  • Likes
  • Subscribers ​

ABC Songs for Children can be found on the KidsCamp channel on YouTube. This video will start out with a unique alphabet song. It is sung by the main character which is a little girl called Elly. By the end of this video your baby will learn the phonics of each letter which will be able to help them learn how to pronounce words when they start to get older. The animations in this video are simple but the songs and motions of the characters will make your baby want to keep watching this video time and time again.

  • 71,400 Views
  • 180 Likes
  • 1 Million Subscribers

Learning body parts is a video on the Toys 4 Us channel on YouTube. This video points out each part of the body. The body part is repeated multiple times so your children will be able to follow along. They will be able to see the part of the body which will help them be able to identify it on their own body. The narrator of this video has a very soothing voice that will keep your child engaged in what they are saying.

  • Views 231,980
  • Likes 386 
  • Subscribers 64,000 

Body Parts Song can be found on the Freedom Kids channel on YouTube. It features real life kids that will be able to teach your babies the different parts of the body. Your children will be able to follow along with the song and move and point out different parts on their own bodies. This is a fun way to help your children learn about their body.

  • Views 253, 495
  • Likes 300
  • Subscribers 4,000

Learning to Write Numbers with Cute Activities is on the KidsBabybus channel on YouTube. This video will help children learn how to write their numbers before they start kindergarten. This video is full of games and fun activities that will allow your children to follow along and start practicing how to write. This is a fun way to teach your children their numbers. This video is about 10 minutes long and will have your children interested in learning how to count the whole time.

  • Views 330,000
  • Likes 280

Animals Learn to Count video is on the popular Kids TV channel on YouTube. The channel has over 3 million subscribers and continues to grow each day. This video is perfect for the little animal lovers in your life. The main characters of this video are animals and they will teach your children how to count to 10. This video is 26 minutes long and there are many different songs that will teach your little ones to count.

  • Views 358,000
  • Likes 280
  • Subscribers 3 million

This video is called Parts of the Body and it can be found on the HooplaKidz channel on YouTube. This video will show your kid what each part of the body is called and it will also show what each part of the body is used for. Your children will be able to follow along with some of the activities that are shown so they can learn more quickly. By watching this video your children will be able to learn the parts of the video from other kids that are just like them.

  • Views 500,000
  • Likes 401
  • Subscribers 54,000

ABC Animals Song for Children can be found on the Baby Kids Show channel on YouTube. This video goes through various words that start with each letter of the alphabet. These different words will help your baby learn each letter quicker. The tune of this song is very familiar and it will be fun for your baby to learn. The graphics are very simple but the enjoyable nature of the song will keep your baby entertained. This video is 40 minutes long and will go through the alphabet multiple times teaching your baby all kinds of words that start with each letter.

  • Views 1 Million
  • Likes 1,100
  • Subscribers 587,000

18. My Body Parts Song

My Body Parts Song can be found on the Elearnin channel on YouTube. This song will point out each part of the body in a way that your children will be able to remember. The song will quickly show your child where each body part is located by pointing directly to it and also showing a close up look in a smaller picture.

  • Views 1 Million
  • Likes 2,200
  • Subscribers 101,000

17. Body Parts Intro

This video is called Body Parts Intro and it can be found on the MagicBox English ELS Kids Channel on YouTube. The animations are really cool for this video and they will be able to show your child where each part of the body is located. The narrator says the part of the body and then she specifically points to where the part is located on the body.

  • Views 1.1 Million
  • Likes 943
  • Subscribers 891,000

16. The Numbers Song

The Numbers song can be found on the Farmees channel on YouTube. Your baby will be able to sing and dance along with this upbeat song. This video starts out with teaching your little ones how to count but as the video goes on they will be able to learn so much more. Children that love animals will absolutely love this video because the main characters are all animals that can be found on a farm.

  • Views 1.1 Million
  • Likes 943
  • Subscribers 891,000

15. Learn Colors and Shapes Creative Dough

Learn Colours and Shapes with Babys shape sorting with creative dough fun for kids can be found on the Happy Funny Kids Toys Pretend Play channel on YouTube. This video is very interactive. If you have play dough and shapes you and your baby will be able to follow along at home. Babies will love watching shapes be made with clay. This video will teach your little one shapes as well as colors.

  • Views 2 Million 
  • Subscribers 266,000

14. Learn Shapes

The Learn Shapes video can be found on Farmees Kids 3D Nursery Rhymes channel on YouTube. This video will teach your children shapes, ABCs and many other lessons as well. Any child that loves animals will love this video. The idea is that these animals are in school and they get together to practice what they learn in school. This will help your children get used to the idea that they will be starting school soon. The animation style is very unique and beautiful. This video is over an hour learn and will be able to hold your child’s focus until the end.

  • Views 2 Million
  • Likes 2,100
  • Subscribers 891,000

13. Phonics Song – Learn Alphabet ABC

Phonics song – Learn Alphabet ABC can be found on the Nursery Rhyme Street channel on YouTube. This video is very repetitive and will be able to show your babies the alphabet by going over words that start with each letter. This video is very colorful and has very unique animations. It also has a very catchy tune that will stay with your child long after they watch this video.

  • Views 2 Million
  • Likes 1,500
  • Subscribers 383,000

12. Learn Shapes for Babies and Many More

The Learn Shapes for Babies and Many More video can be found on the JamJammies channel on YouTube. This video will teach your children many different things like colors, numbers and much more with popular nursery rhymes and other songs. The animations are very colorful and entertaining to watch. There is lots of movement and other activities that your children will love to watch. This video repeats things over and over again so your children will be able to learn very quickly.

  • Views 4 Million
  • Likes 2,200
  • Subscribers 111,000

11. Best Learning Colors for Toddlers

The Best Learning Colors for Toddlers Video is on the Sparkle Spice channel on YouTube. This video will be very entertaining for your children who love learning with fun toys. The narrator uses toys to teach children their colors with many different popular toys that your children will find to be really entertaining. The narrator talks in a very calming voice and she also uses repetition to help your children learn.

  • Views 10 Million
  • Likes 11,000

10. Chant the Alphabet

This video can be found on the Busy Beavers channel on YouTube. This song has a unique approach to teaching your baby the alphabet. It has a chanting format so one person will say a letter and then you will hear other people repeat the letter back. This will give your baby a chance to get involved with the song by repeating each letter after the leader. This video has constant motion so they will keep you baby engaged until the end.

  • Views 11 Million
  • Likes 6,100
  • Subscribers 2 Million

9. Learning Colors for Babies and Toddlers

Color songs Plus More Children’s Learning Songs can be found on the Little Baby Bum channel on YouTube. Your baby will love the beautiful animations in this video. It is very colorful and they will be entertained until the end. This video is 36 minutes long and it will teach them things like colors, abc’s, shapes and much more. The songs in this video are very repetitive which will help your baby learn very quickly.

  • Views 12 Million
  • Subscribers 9 Million

8. Color Songs

Color songs Plus More Children’s Learning Songs can be found on the Little Baby Bum channel on YouTube. Your baby will love the beautiful animations in this video. It is very colorful and they will be entertained until the end. This video is 36 minutes long and it will teach them things like colors, abc’s, shapes and much more. The songs in this video are very repetitive which will help your baby learn very quickly.

  • Views 12 Million
  • Likes 10,000

7. Learn about Shapes with Elly

Learn about Shapes with Elly is a very cute video that can be found on the KidsCamp channel on YouTube. The narrator is a little girl names Elly and she will teach your children different shapes. She is able to show your children different shapes by making simple pictures with them. This video is about 12 minutes long and it will be able to show your children shapes in many different ways that will help them learn the shapes very quickly.

  • Views 14 Million
  • Likes 10,000
  • Subscribers 1 Million

6. Colors & Shapes DVD

The Colors and Shapes video can be found on the Busy Beavers channel on Youtube. This video is very repetitive and it will help your baby learn their colors and shapes really quickly. There are a variety of activities that your baby can follow along with when they watch this video. The narrator talks about different things that are a certain color to help kids associate an object with a color. This is a fun video that your baby will love. 

  • Views 16 Million
  • Subscribers 2 Million

5. Color Nature

Color Nature can be found on BabyFirst TV Learn, Colors, ABCs, Rhymes and more channel on YouTube. The Color Crew are crayons that will teach your children basic colors. This video is 20 minutes long and shows the main characters coloring many different pictures. This video has a very artistic style to it and the little artist in your life will really enjoy this video.

  • Views 49 Million
  • Likes 30,000
  • Subscribers 591,000

4. Numbers counting to 10 collection Vol. 1

Numbers counting to 10 collection volume 1 can be found on the Busy Beavers channel on YouTube. This is an extremely popular channel with 2 million subscribers. Your baby will love the catchy songs that will help them to count to 10. This video is 30 minutes long and it goes through many different ways to count. There are a lot of animations that will keep your baby interested while they learn how to count at the same time.

  • Views 67 Million
  • Likes 52,000
  • Subscribers 2 Million

3. The Numbers Song

The Numbers Song can be found on ChuChUTV Nursery Rhymes & Kid Songs Channel on YouTube. With over 7 million subscribers this channel is quickly becoming very popular with parents and teachers a like. This video is 4 minutes long and will be able to teach your baby how to count from 1 to 10. This video has a very hip-hop style to it that will get children up and jumping around.

  • Views 81 Million
  • Subscribers 7 Million

2. ABC SONG 

ABC SONG is a video on the ABCkidTV channel on YouTube. This video Is 50 minutes long and has many different ways to teach your baby the alphabet. This video starts out with the letters being the main characters and as the video progresses there will be new ways for your children to learn their ABCs. This video is very beautiful and colorful so it will be very fun for your baby to watch.

  • Views 446 Million
  • Likes 1,5000
  • Subscribers 383,000

1. Color Songs Collection Vol. 1

The Color Songs Collection volume 1 can be found on the Busy Beavers channel on YouTube. This video is full of fun chants, songs and lessons that will teach your little ones their colors. These upbeat melodies are sure to have them dancing and singing along. This video has had much success in classrooms all over the world so it is sure to help teach your children as well. This channel is very popular on YouTube because children love learning with Mr. Beaver.

  • Views 600 Million
  • Likes 338,000
  • Subscribers 2 Million

The 20 Best Brain Break Songs

By sara / February 22, 2017

Everyone remembers sitting in class as a child and getting a case of ants in your pants. Teachers have now recognized that this is an awesome point in the day for a Brain Break! When you are dealing with little learners, you start to sense when they need to take a break and get the wiggles out with a fun-filled Brain Break.

What is a Brain Break? 

When you are teaching, I’m sure you have noticed that there are certain times in the day when your students start to get antsy and are less focused on their work. As much as we’d like them to be, our student’s attention spans aren’t necessarily as long as class time. Brain breaks can be a godsend at this point and they are the perfect way to reenergize and recharge your class by letting them stretch and move to fun-filled songs, often with creative dance moves, so they can focus on their next assignment.

Some Brain Breaks are also designed to help children learn and retain words or facts. Studies have shown that when facts or information is put to music, students will retain 70 - 100% of the information that they say, hear, see and do compared to just 10% of what they hear.​

When Should You Do a Brain Break? 

The main purpose of a Brain Break is to be a fun wake up for your students, so these activities can be utilized before, during, and after a lesson. This is really the teacher’s call as you know your students the best and can tell when they are starting to lose focus. Transitioning between activities is also a great time to use a Brain Break, so they won’t get distracted with chatter while they move on to the next task.

Which Brain Breaks Should I Use?

How you choose your Brain Breaks should depend on how much space you have in your classroom and how much time you have. Many Brain Breaks include dancing and getting up to use up some of their pent up energy. Other Brain Breaks can center on a game like tic-tac-toe, so a lot of the decision depends on the moment and what you are capable of doing with your group in the time and space you have.

Here are a few Brain Break ideas that span traditional children’s song and nursery rhymes to more contemporary music by popular children’s television shows and movies. There is also seasonal examples to help remind you to think out of the box and change it up depending on the time of year.​

20. C’mon Let’s Dance by The Learning Station

"C'mon Let's Dance" is a great choice as a Brain Break son that is easy and fun for children to use to take a quick energy break. With an informal approach, “C’mon Let’s Dance” uses a fast pace to move through numerous dances, and it encourages children to use creativity with its lyrics. When you are looking for a song to help take a few seconds to stretch, dance, and move so that kids can return to their work refreshed and ready to learn, “C’mon Let’s Dance” provides a good mix of dance and creativity for preschool and kindergarten classes.

19. The Skeleton Dance by Kids Songs

It’s also important to include some Brain Break songs that can be used a seasonal favorite as well. One song that is great for Halloween, or any time of the year, is The Skeleton Dance. Kids Songs gives you a fun and simple song that helps children learn the different parts of the body and is based on the old spiritual, Dem Bones. This is a song that has been used for generations and this is a fun-filled rendition that kids will love.

18. Shake Your Sillies Out by The Learning Station

All kids have the sillies and it’s great to have a song that lets them "Shake Your Sillies Out". This is a silly and action packed song that is perfect for Brain Breaks and can also be used at circle time or in group activities. “Shake Your Sillies Out” is fun and easy to learn and kids love being able to dance, sing, move, and laugh through the song. Once they have reenergized, they will be ready to concentrate on their addition and subtraction with a smile on their face. “Shake Your Sillies Out” is perfect for preschoolers through elementary aged children.

17. Seasame Street Will.I.Am: What I Am 

This is an example of a classic television show getting a reenergized boost from a current star. Will.i.am and his song “What I Am” makes our list for its contemporary take on our beloved children’s show. It has a catchy dance beat that gets the kids energized with fun dance moves, plus it helps them develop new vocabulary while hearing an inspirational song geared towards helping children think positively about what they are able to achieve.

16. Tony Chestnut (Toe Knee Chestnut) by The Learning Station

Part of the Learning Station’s campaign to support healthy music for a child’s body, heart, and mind, Tony Chestnut is a wonderful song to help children get out the wiggles as well as teach them the different parts of the body. This is a perfect song for younger children and it has become an international phenomenon that makes children all over the world smile.

15. What Does the Fox Say? By Just Dance

One of the more popular songs in recent history that attracted a kid audience is “What Does the Fox Say?” Just Dance has turned this into a Brain Break song with high energy moves that helps kids get rid of some of the excess energy. It also helps to reinforce for younger children the sounds that animals make (besides the fox of course).

14. The Alphabet Song by Have Fun Teaching

Kids always love classic songs and Have Fun Teaching has created The Alphabet Song as an entertaining Brain Break to focus on phonics. The Alphabet Song is a fun-filled way for kids to get out that extra energy as well as learn phonics, letter sounds, plus lower and uppercase letter recognition. Characters Alphy, Lexy, and Funzy will join you on your journey to shake out the wiggles and learn the sounds that the letters make.

13. Get Funky by The Learning Station

The Learning Station uses “Get Funky”, an awesome dance song that is taking over the world, to help children learn some dance moves and get out some pent up energy. “Get Funky” is the ideal song for some great brain break action since it is easy and fun to dance to. When children feel happy and energized, they can tackle those academics with a positive attitude. This is a great song for children anywhere from preschool to elementary school, and it can even be used in physical education.

12. Let’s Star Jump by Debbie Doo Kids TV

There is a whole youtube channel of Brain Break songs courtesy of Debbie Doo. Debbie welcomes us into her fun and educational world with simple songs that have fun and creative movement routines that are ideal for younger kids. Let’s Star Jump is written by Debbie Doo and features dance moves that improve fitness and coordination to a fun and high energy tune. Children of all ages will enjoy Starjumping with Debbie Do.

11. Stomp and Clap by The Learning Station

“Stomp and Clap” helps to motivate children to get up and move around and get healthy. Not only are children inspired to stretch and strengthen their muscles, but the song encourages them to get healthy and fit. This is another great Brain Break song from The Learning Station that is perfect for preschoolers through lower elementary.

10. Disney's Frozen "Let It Go"

If you really want to get the kids attention, you need to go for the showstopper, Disney’s Frozen “Let It Go”. Almost every small child will know the words by heart, and they will be super enthused to sing their little hearts out with Elsa. Not only will they be able to exercise their vocals, but all your little princes and princesses will enjoy acting out this famous movie scene with Elsa.

9. Cosmic Kids Yoga

Do your kids love yoga? It is a great exercise to help children ages 3+ to practice relaxation and mindfulness. This Brain Break is often used at home and in schools all over the world. There are several Kids Yoga adventures associated with this series that will children of all ages can enjoy. 


8. The Hokey Pokey by The Learning Station

Another fun classic that kids always love to dance to is the “Hokey Pokey”. This is a fun rendition of the popular kids dance song that will have kids up and moving. As kids do the steps of the song, they learn about different parts of the body while learning to listen and follow directions; otherwise, they will quickly get out of sync! The Hokey Pokey is a good Brain Break for preschoolers through lower elementary.

7. Kung Fu Fighting by Just Dance Kids

The song "Kung Fu Fighting" is, of course, a classic that has been rediscovered through the popularity of the movie Kung Fu Panda by Dreamworks Animation Studio. With the success of the song among the younger set, it was developed into a Brain Break by Just Dance Kids. Children will love the music and the movements that mix both dance steps with martial arts moves.

6. Boom Chicka Boom by Jack Hartmann

If you are looking for a Brain Break that is a new twist on a classic, Jack Hartmann’s “Boom Chicka Boom” should fit the bill. It has silly movements with fun characters in a fun “repeat after me” approach that encourages listening and following directions. “Boom Chicka Boom” highlights phonological awareness while kids move and have fun.

5. Move and Freeze by The Learning Station

“Move and Freeze” is a great brain break action song for children and is a fun and easy song for a quick energy break in the middle of class. Just taking a few minutes to dance, sing, move and giggle can help give kids that extra boost to recharge when they return to their academics. “Move and Freeze” is ideal for preschoolers through elementary aged children.

4. The Sid Shuffle by Ice Age Continental Drift

Capitalizing on the popularity of the movie Ice Age Continental Drift, the "The Sid Shuffle" mixes fun music with dance instruction that engages children through active listening. Simple steps were developed to help children improve their coordination and rhythmic motion is encouraged with the strong beat. This can be an awesome Brain Break song since so many children are familiar with it and it’s a blast to dance to!


3. Body Boogie by The Learning Station

When you are looking for a great Brain Break song to get the kids movie, “Body Boogie” will help the kids take a quick energy break. This is a fun and easy dance song that gives the kids a chance to sing and dance with lots of action and energizing them to continue with their studies. This is a good Brain Break song for preschoolers through elementary, and it also works well in physical education class.


2. Peas Porridge by Jack Hartmann

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1. Jump Up, Turn Around, Cross the Midline

This is a catchy tune that is geared towards young children and includes a lot of actions that cross the midline. Crossing the midline is an important movement in a child’s development that refers to their ability to reach across with both arms and legs that invisible line down the center of your body. This song uses movements to coordinate with both sides of the body to encourage interaction between the two sides of the brain. This is a good song for preschoolers through elementary and can be a fun addition to any classroom environment.


Childhood Education: What to Eat During Pregnancy for Intelligent Babies

By Rebecca / February 22, 2017
What to Eat During Pregnancy for Intelligent Babies

What to eat during pregnancy for intelligent babies is something that more and more parents are considering. As we all know, prenatal nutrition is essential to the development of an unborn baby. Prenatal vitamins, in addition to a good diet, are excellent ways to improve the health of the mother and the child. Prenatal vitamins include a variety of vitamins and minerals that are crucial for the child’s healthy development. During pregnancy, a woman’s daily intake of vitamins and minerals is higher and requires the use of prenatal vitamins to ensure they are getting the recommended daily values of each.

Folic acid and iron are two of the most important nutrients that a pregnant woman needs daily, and she cannot get her daily amount of these from food alone. Folic acid helps to reduce a baby’s risk of neural tube defects, as well as cleft lip and certain heart defects. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of preeclampsia in pregnant women.

Iron is essential when it comes to making hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that is found in red blood cells, and these carry oxygen to other cells. When a woman becomes pregnant, the amount of blood in her body increases which means the iron is needed to make the additional hemoglobin that is needed during the pregnancy. It is even more important during the last two trimesters for the growth of the baby and the placenta. Iron deficiency can lead to preterm delivery, low birth weight, and even infant mortality.

The diet the mother adopts certainly affects the physical and mental development of their unborn child. There are many foods a pregnant woman can consume throughout her pregnancy that can help boost brain development in unborn babies which will later create more intelligent children along with increased memory functions.

First, we should discuss the foods that should be avoided during pregnancy:

  • Raw Meat: Uncooked or undercooked meats should be avoided because they carry the risk of contamination
  • Fish with Mercury: This includes sushi, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Mercury can lead to developmental delays and even brain damage
  • Raw Shellfish: This includes oysters, clams, and mussels. They can carry bacteria and cause infection and can affect both mother and unborn child
  • Caffeine: If consumed in moderation, it is okay but should be avoided in the first trimester or else the likelihood of a miscarriage will rise, and the pregnant mother will lose water and calcium since caffeine is a diuretic. A pregnant woman, after the first trimester, should limit herself to less than 200 mg of caffeine per day.

Foods that are Shown to Increase Intelligence

1. Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt

Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium which is vital for the healthy growth and development of an unborn child. Greek yogurt also has a lot of protein.


2. Salmon

Salmon

Salmon is a high-quality protein and an excellent source of omega-3 fats which aids in the development of the child while boosting the pregnant woman’s mood. 8 to 12 ounces of seafood a week is okay as long as there isn’t a high level of mercury that is present.


3. Walnuts

Walnuts

Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help boost brain cell activity. They also help lower blood cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol.


4. Spinach, Lean Chicken, and Beans

Spinach, Lean Chicken, and Beans

These foods are all rich in iron. Iron is essential because it sends oxygen to the baby’s brain cells. Maintaining iron levels while pregnant is important, but you will also need the iron found in prenatal vitamins to supplement the food you eat.


5. Blueberries, Artichokes, and Tomatoes

Blueberries, Artichokes, and Tomatoes

These foods are rich in antioxidants and protect brain tissue and help with healthy brain development.


6. Eggs

Eggs

Eggs contain amino acid choline, and it has been proven to help brain development and has been shown to increase memory function in the child later in life. The eggs should be pasteurized. Unpasteurized cheese can carry bacteria and cause sickness.


7. Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Foods that are high in Vitamin D like cheese, liver, beef, orange juice, and some cereals are good for the mother and unborn child during pregnancy. Vitamin D plays a role in immune functions, cell division, and bone health. Vitamin D also helps the body absorb and metabolize calcium and phosphorus.


8. Iodine

Iodine

Iodine is essential during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. It aids in healthy brain development and the pregnant woman’s daily intake requirement of iodine increases exponentially during pregnancy to ensure that an adequate supply reaches the baby. Iodine can be found in dairy products, eggs, and vegetables.


9. Beans

Beans

Beans contain a lot of protein, minerals, vitamins, starch, and fiber. They are good for healthy brain development and will also help boost the mother’s energy levels. A lot of vegetables also contain antioxidants that can contribute to restoring damaged brain cells in children. These vegetables include eggplant, pumpkin, and corn.


10. Oatmeal

Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains vitamins E and B, potassium, and zinc that can boost cognitive activities and improve a child’s physical and mental development. Cereal contains much of the same vitamins and minerals and can help counteract obesity while stimulating a child’s physical development in the womb and after.


Foods to Promote Healthy Growth in Children

While the foods the mother ingests during the pregnancy helps support increased intelligence in the unborn child, it is just as important after the baby is born to continue teaching healthy eating habits to reap all the benefits possible while learning how to make healthy and positive food choices.

The following is a list of “brain foods” that a child should eat to boost their brain growth and development and improve brain function, memory, and concentration.

Infants

Infants

Breast milk contains all the vitamins and minerals an infant needs. If they are unable to breastfeed, however, different kinds of formulas are available and can provide much of the same necessary vitamins and minerals that are essential to an infant’s continued development.

Breast milk can also help to protect against certain illnesses and infections. During breastfeeding, a mother should still follow a healthy diet like she did during pregnancy. What she consumes will end up in the breast milk.

A post pregnancy diet should include salmon, low-fat dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese, lean beef, beans, brown rice, fruit, and plenty of water. A nursing mother still needs high amounts of Vitamin D and B and calcium, and it will help the child’s bones grow and develop as well as keeping the new mother’s energy levels up.

Foods for Toddlers and Grade Schoolers

Food Pyramid

1. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a great source of vitamin E and is also considered an antioxidant that helps to protect nervous membranes. It also has thiamin which aids the nervous system and brain in using glucose for energy.

2. Whole Grains

The most popular form of whole grains can be found in cereals and even oatmeal. Oats can provide a child with a boost of energy and can help them get through their day. It is fuel for their brain. It also has a lot of fiber and vitamins to help ensure that their brains are functioning at their fullest capacity throughout the day.

3. Berries

All kinds of berries including strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries are loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin C and help to increase energy levels throughout the day while contributing to improving the child’s memory.

4. Vegetables

Vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, and spinach are high in vitamins and minerals and are considered great antioxidants. Providing a variety of vegetables during the day instead of just one offers variety for the child and helps keep their brain cells active and strong.

5. Yogurt and Milk

Dairy products such as yogurt and milk have a lot of protein and vitamin B with helps brain tissue growth, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. Having a bowl of yogurt in the morning with their favorite berries provides them a great boost of energy to start their day and keep them full until lunch.

Foods for Older Adolescents

Good nutrition is essential for all ages of development. There is a direct correlation between nutrition and neurocognitive development in childhood. Teenagers should be drinking at least three to four servings of milk each day as well as ingesting other foods that provide a good source of vitamin D.

1. Mango

Mango has vitamin C that can help to boost a teen’s immune system and it gives more variety so that they don’t have to stick with the usual apples and oranges. It is also a good fruit to include in a smoothie or add in with their yogurt in the morning.

2. Avocado

Avocados have a lot of antioxidant properties and can even help with their skin. However, they are high in fat content, so there are a lot of calories that go along with avocado. Eat in moderation and consume about half of an avocado at a time.

3. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as kale and spinach provide teens with more nutritional value than iceberg lettuce. It also provides a punch of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and potassium.

4. Whole Wheat Bread and Pasta

Whole wheat foods are a good source of energy and aid in boosting brain power while keeping a teen feeling full for longer. Always check food labels before purchasing and be sure that corn syrup and fructose are not listed as one of the first few ingredients. There is also a lot of variety that can be found in whole wheat bread and pasta.

5. Fish

Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to improve brain function and moods. Eating fish at least twice a week is a healthy choice to give a teen that added push of energy and brain power that will help them throughout their week at school.

Nutrients are essential to a functioning and healthy body. Six essential nutrients are vital to a person’s health regardless of age. These nutrients are carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Brain foods are vital to the cellular structure, the wiring of the neural circuits, and the production of myelin. Just like we need to put gas in our cars to make them run, our bodies also need fuel to run properly. Glucose is fuel for the brain and is responsible for providing an individual with energy throughout the day.

Having lower glucose levels can also affect a person’s ability to concentrate and stay focused, and this is one of the reasons having a healthy and balanced breakfast in the morning is so important for a child before they go to school.

Children should avoid sugary and fatty foods that offer no nutritional value. Instead, a diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and water are good choices. Avoid processed and prepackaged foods and pay attention the amounts of sugar that are in the juices that are bought. Instead, find 100% fruit juice.

Mix it up with the vegetables. Having a serving of more than one kind of vegetable will give a child a colorful plate while providing them with their daily allowance of vegetables that they need. Fresh vegetables are always best, but if you don’t have a lot of time, frozen vegetables are acceptable substitutes.

Always make sure that your child is having a well-balanced breakfast in the morning, and they have healthy foods to snack on throughout the day like grapes or carrot sticks. By providing them with this essential fuel, you are aiding them in staying focused throughout the day while keeping their energy levels up and improving their brain functions and improving their memory.

For Memory and Focus

For improved memory and focus, several foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as DHA. DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid and is essential for normal neuron functioning.

Beets, broccoli, celery, coconut oil, dark chocolate, egg yolks, salmon, and walnuts are a few examples of foods that help to improve an individual’s memory function. These all make great snacks to take and munch on throughout the day between meals and are full of all the required nutrients.

To boost an individual’s focus, blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, flax seeds, and nuts are excellent choices and will help with concentration. Healthy food choices are critical for growth and development, and good habits start while the child is still in the womb.

The Best Kids Toy Storage Ideas

By Rebecca / February 22, 2017
Best Kids Toy Storage Ideas

We all love our little ones. But there are times when you know how frustrating it can be to walk into your child’s room and see toys littered all over the floor and the storage container completely empty. Legos are preventing you from tucking your child in at night, and the dolls piled up in the corner are causing nightmares for you. You have told your children several times a day that they need to clean up their toys, but the desperate pleas fall on deaf ears. In this article, we will take a look at the best kids toy storage ideas.

It is a never ending fight between the child and the parent. Storage space and toy organization such as a toy box or a built-in shelf is a crucial element when it comes to keeping your sanity as a parent and keeping your house looking clean and clutter free. Maybe if the kids have a designated spot for all their stuff, maybe—just maybe—they will return it to said spot when they are done. This might be a long shot for a playroom idea, but hey, you never know!

There are many different toy organizer options and child-friendly storage containers and baskets that could help maintain a semblance of control and cleanliness to any home or children’s room. Now, instead of working around toys everywhere, you could try to create an interesting toy storage solution that will encourage your children to enjoy playing with their toys but also enjoy putting them back and displaying them afterwards. Here are some great toy organizer/playroom ideas that might just help you avoid standing on those Lego bricks in future:


Toy Storage Ideas for Toddlers

mDesign Kids/Baby Toy Storage Box-Pack of 2

These storage boxes are the perfect solution when it comes to keeping blocks, crayons, playdoh, and toy cars picked up and organized. The storage boxes are small enough to fit on a shelf in your child’s room and are light enough that they can carry them around instead of having to take everything out to play with their toys.

  • Storage boxes are stackable
  • Closet-friendly design
  • Great for bedroom, playroom, or nursery
  • Made of durable, BPA-free plastic
  • Easy open hinged lids

Price

$

Item Dimensions    

6.75” x 5.5” x 3.75”


Lukher Cotton Storage Basket Bin and Organizer with Handles

These cotton storage baskets are great for organizing nursery items, baby toys, and baby clothing. They are natural and eco-friendly and are waterproof on the inside, so they are safe from any accidental spills or messes. They collapse so they can be easily stored when not in use and are safe to have around younger children.

  • Designed to fit on most shelves
  • Wire-framed for stability
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Made from natural and durable cottonPrice $Item Dimensions 15” x 11” x 9”
  • Handles for easy handling
  • Neutral color will match well with any décor

Price

$

Item Dimensions

15” x 11” x 9”          


School Bus Collapsible Toy Storage Box and Closet Organizer with Storage Hood for Kids

These collapsible storage boxes are kid-friendly themes that will make it fun and exciting for your child when it comes time to pick up their toys. They are easy to assemble and also disassemble for convenient storage when they are not in use. The interior of the organizer is split into two different sections; one section in the front and one section in the back. It is the perfect storage solution for toys, shoes, books, or more.

  • Fun and kid friendly designs
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble
  • Folds up for easy storage
  • Fits on most shelves and in most cubbies
  • Can find them in a variety of different designs

Price

$$

Item Dimensions

21” x 9.5” x 12”        


Fantasy Fields-Happy Farm Animals Wooden Barn Bookcase with Storage

This bookcase with storage option is hand-painted to resemble a barn and features a peaked roof and beautiful detail. It has three shelves and an additional section for storage on the bottom. Assembly is required, but it is packaged with step-by-step instructions. It is ideal for toddlers of two years old and up and is the perfect height for the child. The paint used is non-toxic and lead-free, and Fantasy Fields used recycled pressed wood, and their workshop is safety and green compliant.

  • Handcrafted design
  • High-quality materials
  • Plenty of storage options
  • Easy access for your toddler

Price

$$$

Item Dimensions

25.2” x 9.5” x 41.8”


Labebe Kids Wooden Bookcase of Hedgehog

This wooden bookcase is made of engineered wood and has four wheels which make it easy to move around and can also be used as a baby walker. It has a cubbyhole that can hold books or toys and will fit nicely in any bedroom or playroom. It is easy enough to move around so that your child can use it independently without help from you.

  • Practical and convenient
  • Four wheels for easy mobility
  • Doubles as a baby walker
  • Easy to clean
  • Multifunctional storage solution
  • Beautiful design

Price

$$

Item Dimensions

22.1” x 18.1” x 4” 


Toy Storage Ideas for Preschoolers

Kidkraft Puzzle Book Shelf-Primary

This bookshelf is made of durable wooden construction and has a fun puzzle piece design and is painted using the primary colors: red, blue, and green. Since it is sturdy, it will not tip over and is the perfect size for your preschooler to organize their books. It is a small and good storage solution that frees up space without taking over it, and its fun colors will add to your child’s décor.

  • Strong and durable construction
  • Fun Design
  • Great storage solution for books
  • Virtually untippable

Price

$$

Item Dimensions

25” x 11.5” x 37.5”  


KidKraft Sort It and Store It Bin Unit

This storage unit has twelve plastic storage bins, and all of the bins are interchangeable. The bins come in the following colors: three red, three blue, three yellow, and three green. It has handles on either side so that it is easy for an adult to move it and it is packaged with step-by-step instructions for assembly. It is made of sturdy construction and will fit nicely in any room and keep all of the smaller toys separated and organized and off the floor.

  • Twelve different storage bins
  • Easy to move with handles on either side
  • Fun colors
  • Sturdy construction
  • Espresso finish
  • Interchangeable bins

Price

$$

Item Dimensions

31.9” x 18.6” x 32.2”


Funfield City Travel Size Drawstring Play Mat

This drawstring play mat is designed to be multifunctional. It serves as a playmat and storage solution in one. It is made of heavy-duty fabric and has a double layer with an image printed onto the fabric. It is three feet in diameter. It is perfect for cars, Legos, or other small toys. Unzip the mat to play and then zip it back up, with all the toys inside, to go. It is great for traveling and easy and quick cleanup after playtime.

  • All-in-one play mat and storage bag
  • Creative and fun design
  • Easy cleanup with no fuss
  • Can travel easily
  • Plenty of space for play

Price

$

Item Dimensions

13” x 8.7” x 1.1”      


Delta Children 4 Pocket Hanging Wall Organizer-Beige

This 4 Pocket Hanging Wall Organizer is perfect for any older child’s room and is great for storing toys or accessories. You can either hang it over a door with the hook, or you can attach it to the wall with the hardware that is provided. It comes in a variety of different prints and colors to make it easy to match up with any décor and provides a simple and secure storage solution that takes no time at all to set up and begin organizing.

  • Two ways to hang the organizer
  • Variety of colors and patterns
  • Easy to hang
  • Hardware included
  • Durable construction

Price

$

Item Dimensions

13” x 3” x 9”          


Orange Tag Hanging Mesh Space Saver Bags/Organizer-3 Compartments

These hanging mesh organizers are the perfect solution when it comes to finding a place to store all of those stuffed animals or other smaller accessories. This particular model comes in either Red Hearts or Blue Underwater World designs, and the upper and lower layers are made of mesh grid, so it is easy to see through the mesh. The middle layer is non-transparent. It is convenient to use and easy to hang up.

  • It is made of 100% polyester
  • Suspends with touch and close fastening
  • The fastening will open if the child tries to climb it which acts as a safety feature
  • Package includes two pieces

Price

$

Item Dimensions

12.8” x 11.7” x 2.7”


KidKraft Nantucket Storage Bench-White

This bench can be used for storage or can provide additional seating. It features three storage bins that are perfect for storing toys or other equipment, and the bins slide in and out easily for convenience. The bench is made of wood and can easily fit at the foot of their bed. It does not take up much space and is ideal for storage and seating while fitting in nicely with any décor.

  • Three bin storage
  • Beautiful finish
  • Easy and convenient access
  • Bench seating
  • Fits under a window or at the foot of a bed

Price

$$$

Item Dimensions

39” x 14” x 14”     


Three Bin Storage Cubby-White

This smaller storage solution is a stackable wooden cubby that will keep all of your child’s items out of sight and organized. It weighs about thirty-six pounds and can be used to store books, toys, clothing, shoes, and so much more. The bins are easy to load and unload, and the piece will fit in with almost any décor. To clean it all you have to do is wipe it down with a damp cloth.

  • Convenient storage option
  • Cleans easily
  • Beautiful finish for any décor
  • Stackable
  • Three bin design

Price

$$

Item Dimensions

37” x 19.2” x 17” 


P’Kolino Monster Under the Bed Storage

This under-the-bed storage organizer can easily and efficiently store stuffed animals, clothes, or other smaller toys and the best part is that it fits neatly under the bed. It is made from a colorful polyester-cotton blend and canvas and has a paperboard-lined interior. It is featured as fun and functional storage. They are sized for toddlers but are the ideal size for any child that wants to have fun while keeping their room neat and organized.

  • Fits neatly under the bed
  • Fun colors and designs
  • Designed for all ages
  • Stores toys, clothing, and more
  • Functional storage

Price

$

Item Dimensions

17” x 13” x 8.8”  


Bintopia Multi Bin Storage Organizer

This organizer features a decorative three-tier design and is supported by a sturdy steel frame. It includes tear-resistant bins and the bins come in different sizes for convenient storage. The taupe and gray trim color is classic and will match easily with almost any décor. It is perfect for a child’s bedroom and will help keep all of their things neat and organized and off the floor and out of corners.

  • Durable and sturdy construction
  • Convenient storage
  • Neutral color and design
  • Lots of convenient storage space

Price

$$

Item Dimensions          

36.22” x 25.98” x 12”


Tot Tutors Kids Store-All Unit

This store-all unit is suitable for organizing and storing large and small toys, books, and other items. It includes one large rolling toy box, three white plastic bins, and one book display and shelf unit. The espresso finish will fit with almost any décor. It is easy to use and easy to access, and you can take the bins out whenever you need to. You can roll the unit around for portability and then just roll it back into place when you are done.

  • Convenient and easy storage solution
  • Rolls for increased mobility
  • Includes plastic storage bins
  • Neutral color will fit almost any décor
  • Easy to see and easy to access

Price

$$

Item Dimensions          

15” x 25” x 30”              

The Best Graphic Novels for Early Readers

By sara / February 14, 2017

Why Graphic Novels? 

Graphic novels have long been beloved by teen and adult readers the world over. From Japanese manga to well-known American comics, this literary format has millions of fans and its popularity has only continued to grow. Academic libraries report that graphic novels are among their most-requested materials, and in 2015 the sale of graphic novels in the United States topped $1 billion, confirming their steadily rising popularity among teen and adult consumers. But few realize that graphic novels can also provide a wonderful entry point to very young beginning readers. Because they're pictorial in nature, they're a suitable alternative to more traditional "easy reader" series, ideal for small children as well as older kids for whom reading is a struggle.

Why  these  graphic novels? 

The following list of recommendations has been curated for age-appropriateness and tailored to readers in kindergarten through second grade. Many of these books have been endorsed by the American Library association or the Association for Library Service to Children.

Each title combines simple, fast-paced plotting with sequential illustrations to make them easily navigable to even the most reluctant readers, as well as children who struggle with reading comprehension. They're attention-grabbing, straightforward, and most importantly fun!

20. Little Robot by Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke created his reputation as a celebrated children's graphic novelist with the beloved sci-fi book Zita the Spacegirl, and he lives up to that reputation with the nearly wordless Little Robot. In this charming story, a five-year-old girl discovers a small robot in the woods and accidentally activates him. They become fast friends, but some bigger, nastier robots come along with a plan to steal him for their own questionable purposes. It's up to the little girl to protect her robotic companion with only a wrench and her sense of loyalty. This is a delightful book about the importance of friendship and overcoming your fear.

  • Target Age: Kindergarten & Up 

19. Hamster and Cheese by Colleen AF Venable

This book is the first installment in the Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye series. In this colorfully illustrated volume, guinea pig private investigator Sasspants is hired by Hamisher the hamster to track down pet shop owner Mr. Venezi's missing sandwiches. There are two informational pages about the pet shop's inhabitants, and page after page of full-color cartoons.

  • Target Age: Kindergarten & Up 

18. Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Toon

The hero of this story, Little Mouse, is perfecting a skill most beginning readers will have only recently mastered: getting dressed! Before he goes to the barn, Little Mouse selects underwear, socks, pants, shoes, and a shirt to wear, and he must find his way around zippers, Velcro, and buttons to finish the job. Finally, in a surprise twist, Little Mouse's mother reminds him that mice don't wear clothes.

  • Target Age: Kindergarten & Up 

17. Benny & Penny in the Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes

This is the second installment in Geoffrey Hayes Benny & Penny series, following the adventures of a brother and sister mouse. In this follow-up to the first book, Benny's pail goes missing, and he and Penny suspect their new neighbor, a hedgehog, is the culprit. Even though they know it's a "big no-no," they sneak into their neighbor's yard in search of the pail. What happens next teaches them about friendship, misunderstandings, and the importance of saying sorry when you make a mistake.

  • Target Age: Kindergarten & Up 

16. A Day at the Fire Station by Richard Scarry

A Day at the Fire Station is just one installment in Richard Scarry's now-classic My Community series, teaching young readers all about the world they inhabit and the people in it. In this book, house-painters Drippy and Sticky visit the Busytown Fire Station and learn about the day-to-day lives of the firefighters who work there, as well as the actions the take when they answer a call. There's even a glossary and a bibliography defining terms and pointing readers to supplemental books and websites.

  • Target Age: Kindergarten & Up 

15. Airplane Adventure by Cari Meister

Airplane Adventure is part of the My First Graphic Novel series, which includes helpful illustrated instructions for first-time readers about how to read a graphic novel. In this story, brother and sister Juan and Anna step on an airplane for the very first time to fly to Mexico and visit their grandmother. Young readers will learn all about air travel, and a discussion guide and writings prompt offer parents and teachers talking points for additional learning.

  • Target Age: Kindergarten & Up 

14. Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson

The adventurous, blue-haired Hilda is the subject of Luke Pearson's Hildafolk book series. Set against a magical Scandinavian backdrop, this story follows Hilda as she sets out to explore the mountains surrounding her home and draw some of the fantastical creatures to be found there. When she spies a mountain troll, she sits down to sketch him and soon falls asleep, waking up to find herself lost in a snowstorm. On her way home, she encounters even more unusual creatures.

  • Target Age: Kindergarten & Up 

13. Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires

Binky the cat is a space explorer -- at least in his own mind. In reality, he's a house cat with a BIG imagination. Through the power of make-believe, Binky transforms a trip outside into the backyard to chase bugs into an exploration of outer space, complete with battles with alien attackers who threaten Binky's human family. After drafting blueprints and building a spaceship, Binky is ready to blast off with his favorite stuffed mouse/copilot Ted when he realizes he's left behind something important.

  • Target Age: Kindergarten & Up 

12. The Shark King by R. Kikuo Johnson

This is another book in the popular TOON series of graphic novels for young readers. This beautifully illustrated story about a young boy named Nanaue will introduce kids to Hawaiian culture, and especially resonate with boys who aspire to be just like Dad. Nanaue, a young adventurer born to a shark father and a human mother, must learn to balance his desire for his father's guidance with his need for his mother's warmth and nurturing.

  • Target Age: First Grade & Up 

11. Tippy and the Night Parade by Lili Carre

This magical story is also part of the TOON series with gorgeous illustrations in a nocturnal blue color palette. All Tippy remembers is going to sleep, but when she wakes up she finds her bedroom full of plants, animals, and shells. Where did they all come from? We discover the answer as Tippy sleepwalks outside, gathering an entourage of animal friends who follow her on her nighttime adventures.

  • Target Age: First Grade & Up 

10. NINA in That Makes Me Mad by Hilary Knight

Little ones who are still learning to tolerate frustration will be able to relate to this story about Nina, a young girl who often loses her temper and throws tantrums. By learning to express her anger in words instead of through fits, Nina soon learns that she can deal with her feelings and come up with solutions to what makes her mad with some help from the adults in her life.

  • Target Age: First Grade & Up 

9. Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Ricardo Siri Liniers

This book is available in both English and Spanish, making it ideal for non-native English-speaking children as well as young bilingual readers. The heroine, Henrietta, not only loves to read books, she also enjoys making her own! With a fistful of colored pencils, Henrietta creates her own quirky world inhabited by a brave little girl, a three-headed monster, and no shortage of adventure. Young readers will be delighted and inspired by her creativity.

  • Target Age: First Grade & Up 

8. Otto's Orange Day by Jay Lynch

Otto is an orange cat who is given a magic lamp by his aunt. When he releases a genie who agrees to grant him one wish, Otto wishes to turn his whole world orange. At first his newly colored world seems like a lot of fun, but pretty soon Otto realizes that living in a totally orange world isn't everything it's cracked up to be. When his mom serves him an orange lamb chop (yuck!) and an orange traffic light causes an accident, he reconsiders his wish.

  • Target Age: First Grade & Up 

7. Dinosaurs in Space by Pranas T. Naujokaitis

Author Pranas T. Naujokaitis combines two subjects favored by kids since time immemorial: dinosaurs and space travel! In this hilariously illustrated graphic novel, space-dwelling dinosaurs from Planet Lettuce and Planet Meatball bicker over who's better: dinosaurs who eat salads, or dinosaurs who eat hamburgers. Readers of all ages will love the silly story and the comical cartoons alike.

  • Target Age: First Grade & Up 

6. Where's Leopold? Your Pajamas Are Showing! By Michael-Yves Schmitt

Translated from the original French, the story of Leopold and his big sister Celine will make you laugh out loud. When he wakes up one morning, Leopold is shocked to discover that he can turn invisible at will. Unfortunately, he can't make his clothes invisible, too, so he spends most of the book running around in only some underpants, tormenting his sister, and getting up to all sorts of other antics. Due to some "potty humor," this story is probably better suited to slightly older readers.

  • Target Age: Second Grade  & Up 

5. You Can't Take a Balloon into the Museum of Fine Arts by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzmann

This book is a little wordier than some of the others on our list, and for that reason it's a better choice for slightly older kids (second grade and up). This story takes the reader on a fun journey through Boston, where a little girl's balloon gets away from her in the Museum of Fine Arts. Her chase after it takes her to all sorts of historical landmarks, including Fenway Park, Trinity Church, Paul Revere House, and other noteworthy locations. Kids and adults will enjoy searching for the many famous Bostonians hidden in the illustrations, like Louisa May Alcott and Ted Williams.

  • Target Age: Second Grade & Up 

4. Patrick in a Teddy Bear's Picnic and Other Stories by Geoffrey Hayes

This is another wonderful graphic novel by the award-winning children's author Geoffrey Hayes, who has penned over forty picture books for kids. This one is about Patrick Brown, a lovable teddy bear who loves his mom and dad, life, and exploring the world he lives in. In this book, Patrick goes on a picnic with his mother, takes a nap, and stands up to a bully called Big Bear. Young readers will be able to relate to the challenges he faces and feel inspired when he comes out on top.

  • Target Age: Second Grade & Up 

3. Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons by Agnes Rosenthiel

Reader who are new to the world of Agnes Rosenthiel will soon understand why she's one of France's favorite children's authors. Protagonist Lilly loves the four seasons and the many pleasures they offer, from eating apples in fall to gathering seashells in summer. In this story, she learns all about the great outdoors and introduces beginning readers to the different colors, shapes, and words that show up in nature. The dialogue is minimal, with only one-word balloon per panel and only one sentence per word balloon, making it a highly accessible read.

  • Target Age: Second Grade & Up 

2. Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost in the World by James Kochalka

Ghost aren't always scary. In fact, this one is downright endearing. Johnny Boo is an adorable ghost with the special gift of "boo power" (the ability to go "BOO!" very loudly). His pet ghost Squiggle has "squiggle power," enabling him to fly super fast and make loop-de-loops. In this book they come up against the intimidating Ice Cream Monster, who they soon learn isn't very scary at all.

  • Target Age: Second Grade & Up 

1. Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss

When Luke's dad takes him to Central Park, he soon gets absorbed in boring "daddy talk" while look is fascinated by the pigeons who live in the park. They lead him on a thrilling chase through Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge before eventually settling on a rooftop. This book is especially memorable for its colorful cast of characters and its racial diversity.

  • Target Age: Second Grade & Up 

A Guide To Adaptive Toys for Special Needs Children

By sara / February 10, 2017

Adaptive Toy Solutions 

As a parent of a special needs child, you encounter challenges at every turn. Depending on your child’s abilities, simple tasks can become frustrating experiences for your little ones. Even choosing a simple toy for your child can be overwhelming as each child can respond differently to different stimuli, even if they have the same diagnosis. It can become an individualized process to find the right toys that will entertain your child as well as help him learn and reinforce his therapy.

One family has taken this fact to heart and created their own company,  LDK Adaptive Toys, LLC, that provides toys for their child as well as other children that require the same support. Their son was born with a rare seizure disorder and is globally developmentally delayed. While searching for toys that he could operate, they became frustrated at the high prices that were being charged for adapted toys for children with special needs. So, they took matters into their own hands and started adapting toys themselves and offering them at a more reasonable price point.

Adaptive Technology Solutions 

LDK Adaptive Toys purchases gently used toys from consignment shops. After the toys are cleaned and sanitized, the toys are adapted to work with special needs switches. The original switches no longer work and the toy will only work with the special needs switch.

Special need switches allow a child with a physical disability the power to play and learn independently. When they have the use of a switch, a child with a physical disability can be included in playtime fun with other children. The switch adapted toys enable children to learn sensory awareness, cause and effect, and social skills by playing and interacting with other children and their environment.

When shopping for a child with disabilities, it is important to focus on their interests instead of what they aren’t able to do. Every child has some interest that makes their face light up and gets them excited. Whether it is music, sports, or spaceships, there will always be a toy that they will be excited to get.

It is also important to focus on the individual child’s abilities. If you are the child’s parent, you are already aware of what makes your child excited, but relatives can often feel lost when choosing a toy for a child with a disability. Too often, relatives only see what the child struggles with instead of what their achievements are. Parents know that every day can be another step towards achieving the next milestone. So, if a child likes music, it can be helpful to find a toy that will encourage the child to play a musical instrument, which can improve their small motor skills. If you find a toy that encourages them to dance, you are inspiring them to improve their gross motor skills.

Skill levels are also important to consider when choosing a toy. When you think about what skill level they are at, it is ok to try and push them a little. Toys are a great way to motivate a child to push beyond their current limitations. When a child loses themselves in play, they are entering the world where anything is possible, and they allow their everyday barriers to disappear. They become superheroes, astronauts, and rock stars. If you find a toy that helps push an area where your child is currently struggling, your child may amaze you and himself with what he can accomplish.

Types of Toys for Children with Disabilities

Kids that have a hard with fine motor skills, such as children with Down syndrome, need large pieces to work with. A good example of this type of toy is large puzzle pieces with large knobs on them that the child can grasp giving them the ability to put the puzzle piece in the right place. Another good activity is a toy that can be custom fitted to the individual child’s needs and their developmental stage such as a piggy bank with larger coin pieces. This helps them improve their fine motor skills with pieces that are large enough for them to grasp and place into the opening of the bank. Toys with larger parts are also better for children with cerebral palsy who often have involuntary, spastic movements such as Duplo blocks.

Cause and effect toys that require pushing a button to get a response are good for children with autism, especially toys that promote interaction by eliciting a verbal response. Electronic toy laptops will help them learn letters, number, and words with engaging games and fun songs.

Pop-up tunnels and tents are great for those children that suffer from sensory integration impairment. This can affect children one of two ways. They either feel like escaping, or they seek out more interactions. For those that want to escape, pop-up tunnels and tents are a great way for them to escape the overstimulation and find a quiet place to relax.

For any condition that affects the motor system like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, it is important to look for toys that will work with limited movement. Toys that work to increase a child’s upper body dexterity and concentration are ideal.

Sometimes children have a hard time focusing on directions. For children with ADHD, open-ended crafts can be beneficial. If your child likes arts and crafts, something like Paint a Rock Pet where he can have plenty of creative control and there is no wrong or right way to paint it is best. For a child with autism, anything that spins is perfect as they tend to like repetition. Gear sets are an excellent choice, especially if the set has a motor and lights.

Here are a few additional things to look for when you are toy shopping:

  • Adjustability – Can the volume be adjusted? How about the speed and level of difficulty?
  • Child's Individual Abilities – Does the toy match the development age of your child? Would your child’s interest and age match the level of ability needed for the toy?
  • Safety – Does it have appropriately sized parts? Is it moisture resistant and can it be washed or cleaned? Does it fit your child’s size and strength?
  • Interaction – Does it encourage your child to be an active participant? Does it encourage social interactions with others?
  • Multi-Sensory – Are there sounds, lights, and moving parts that will engage your child? How about textures, scents, and colors?
  • Activation – Will it be frustrating for your child to turn on and operate? Is a lot of force needed to activate the toy? Are there a number of steps or complex step to activate it?
  • How It Will Be Used – Will the toy used in different positions, specifically on its side on a wheelchair tray?
  • Learning Success – Does it allow for open play, or is there only a right or wrong way to play with it? Can it be adapted to a child’s ability and pace?
  • Popularity - Is it a toy that reflects the current trends, so that your child feels like ''any other kid''?

Remember, it is worth the extra effort to look for special features on toys that make it more appropriate and adaptable for children with special needs. So, don’t feel overwhelmed at the toy store, dive in and find something that will stimulate and excite your child. The look of delight on your little one’s face will be well worth it.

You can visit the LDK Adaptive Toys EBay store or follow them on Facebook at LDK Adaptive Toys for additional information. 

The 50 Most Educational Family Vacation Ideas

By sara / February 10, 2017

When considering your next family vacation, a lot of emotions can come over you. Excitement, stress (lots of stress), and happiness at the thought of spending time with your family. It is important to pick a vacation spot that everyone in your family will enjoy, which can be difficult depending on your children’s ages and interests.

Many families are opting for vacations that have an education element to them, which has become a very popular option over the years. According to a CBS News article from 2007, 32% of travelers were planning to include educational activities into their vacation plans in 2008, which was up from 25% the year before. I can only imagine what the percentage is now.

Many parents feel that a vacation is another opportunity for learning. This fast growing travel option is gaining popularity as parents look for more ways to combine their love of travel with a chance to make teachable moments.

Parents have also let their kids become more involved in making vacation plans with 60% of parents letting the children have some say in where they go, according to Homeaway.com. They also reported that children in the U.S. want a vacation that includes adventure and the opportunity to do something that they wouldn’t get to do at home.

Children can learn anywhere, especially if it is an environment that is new to your child, and he is introduced to something he has not experienced or seen before. You can either choose a place like a museum or a zoo that will be filled with learning opportunities, or you can research specific sites to explore in a particular city or region giving yourself enough chance to enjoy learning experiences as well as relax while you are on your vacation. Living history sites may not seem as relaxing, but they will keep your children occupied and happy throughout your trip.

When you combine your vacation with educational elements, your family is not only getting a fun getaway, but you are broadening your children’s horizons and allowing them to learn something that won’t see at home or at school. There are several types of educational vacation formats:

• Museum or historic sites have an informal learning format where families can come and see artifacts and exhibits

• Camps or resorts that provide enrichment programs where participants get to try something new

• National Park offer visitors the change to learn about wildlife, geology, and the environment

• City visits can be eye openers for young children, and families can immerse themselves in art, culture, science, and history in a short period of time.

• Historic destinations and living history museums like Colonial Williamsburg can give families a fun way to get hands-on learning while being educated about life in another time

• Interest-based travel is used if there is a special interest like dinosaurs, horses, and outdoor sports

The methodology that I used to write this article was to search through educational vacation ideas that represented the six different formats listed above. Specifically, I wanted to include ideas in each format that could be found all around the country, so that they were spread out enough to interest as many people as possible.

I also wanted to choose a lot of different types of trips that would appeal to families with varied interests and economic backgrounds. Some families are very into camping, and national parks and I tried to include the most iconic of these as well as a few that I was surprised to find were a part of the national park system. I also wanted to make sure that the museums on the list were also varied and that they weren’t all focused on our Founding Fathers.

My favorite part was searching the interest-based travel ideas, and I was amazed at the many locations that had specifically designed camps for families like Space Camp and Dino-Dig. There were several destinations that appeal to outdoor loving families as well as many ideas that are easier for families with children with disabilities like children’s museums, zoos, and aquariums.

As I was doing my research, I found that the top destinations for educational vacations include:

• National Parks

• Children’s Museums

• Zoos

• Historical Monuments and Sites

• Theme Parks

The one destination I did not include is theme parks as I wanted to focus on some less obvious and out of the way spots that could get overlooked otherwise. Theme parks are really not your first thought for learning, but many theme parks do incorporate some educations aspects, and you can always learn about engineering and physics as you are roaring down the tracks of a roller coaster.

I also listed certain activities that I hoped might stimulate creativity in your travel plans and, even if that location may be nowhere near where you live or plan to travel, it might inspire you to see if there is something like it close by, or would get your creative juices flowing so you would be encouraged to look for other out of the box ideas. Good luck with your planning and I hope you have a somewhat restful, but fun-filled and educational vacation.

1. Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts

One of the best vacations you can take is to reinforce something your kids have already learned. Every child learns about the Mayflower and Plimoth Rock, so they will be super excited to go and see it for themselves. This is a great opportunity to show your kids how the pilgrims and the Native Americans lived, and you are even able to go on board the Mayflower II that is an exact replica of the 1620 Mayflower.

Kids can also visit the Wampanoag Indians that lived near the pilgrims and learn about their traditional arts and crafts. If you happen to visit on Thanksgiving, visitors are invited to join in the traditional Thanksgiving dinner the feature to celebrate the original meal.

You can learn more the Plimouth Plantation here.

2. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

All children learn the story of Harriet Tubman and runaway slaves. At the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, children will hear other stories of fugitive slaves as they escaped slavery and headed north for freedom. The Freedom Center also presents the stories of those individuals that helped the fugitive slaves on their journey north and illustrates how dangerous and illegal it was to do this.

One fun family activity that is featured at the Freedom Center is the ability to research your family lineage onsite. Families can get a free copy of their family tree and get personalized help with their research. The Freedom Center also documents the continued work being done today to help people attain freedom in their exhibits “Everyday Freedom Heroes” and “Invisible Slavery Today.”

You can learn more about the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center here.

3. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California

Over 35,000 animals and plants are found inside a sardine-cannery-like building in Monterey, California. Almost 200 exhibits fill up the aquarium using all of the kid-friendly features they could think of including light-up buttons, touchable, flip books, and slide-up panels. The signs are even interactive and written with rhythm and rhyme making them tons of fun to read aloud.

Kids especially love the 7,000 square foot Splash Zone that houses over 30 hands-on features for kids under 9 years old. Children of all ages will have fun using squirt toys to learn how to resist a crashing wave, crawl through tunnels with tropical fish, or use underwater video cameras to steer through wetlands and tidal pools. There are also four touch pools for exploratory fun, projects to make using scrapbooks and crayon rubbings, costumes to try on, small microscopes to examine specimens, and a special mirror that lets you see yourself as a hairy-nosed otter.

You can learn more about Monterey Bay Aquarium here.

4. Mount Vernon and Monticello, Charlottesville, VA

Visiting the homes of Presidents is a time-honored family vacation tradition. When you visit Charlottesville, VA, you have the opportunity to visit the homes of both President George Washington and President Thomas Jefferson. Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation on the Potomac River includes his mansion, reconstructed slave quarters, his burial tomb, a working blacksmith shop, a demonstration farm, plus eleven video presentations and an immersion theater where it will actually snow on you.

Monticello is Thomas Jefferson’s beloved home and plantation where you can see the first floor of his home, tour several exhibits, walk the expansive gardens, and tour Mulberry Row where exhibits and reconstructed buildings tell the story of those that lived and worked at Monticello. Children will also enjoy the Mountaintop Hands-On Activity Center and the Griffin Discovery Room. And, if you haven’t gotten enough of our Founding Fathers, the home of James Madison is only thirty minutes away in Montpelier and James Monroe’s home, AshLawn Highland, is also close by.

You can learn more about Mount Vernon and Monticello here.

5. Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Known as the largest children’s museum in the country, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis covers 472,900 square feet and features an exhibit of China’s Terra Cotta Warriors and of pirate Captain Kidd’s shipwreck. It is also home to the National Geographic Treasures of the Earth exhibit that allows children to inspect three major archaeology excavations.

Interactive tools let kids decipher hieroglyphics and dig for fragments of clay while the Dinosphere exhibit allows children to examine dinosaur fossils including a teenage Tyrannosaurus Rex and a baby dinosaur that is still curled in its nest. For older children, there is a moving exhibit that describes the lives of three different children, Ryan White, Anne Frank, and Ruby Bridges, who changed the world despite the prejudice that they all faced. Foreign cultures are also explored with an exhibit depicting the clothing, food, art, and traditions of cultures all over the world.

You can learn more about the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis here.

6. Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha, Nebraska

Who knew that one of the county’s coolest zoos was in Omaha? It features the world’s largest indoor desert, replicas of the deserts in Australis, Africa, and the southwest U.S., that is housed under a 13-story geodesic dome that includes cobras, meerkats, and peccaries. In contrast, there is also a tropical rainforest replica of South America and Asia’s Lied Jungle where visitors will see macaws fly by, monkeys swinging in the trees and tapirs and pygmy hippos roaming the waterfalls and rope bridges.

Other incredible exhibits include the world’s largest nocturnal animal exhibit with bats and giant salamanders, a Madagascar exhibit with lemurs and giant jumping rats, and open air habitats where orangutans and gorillas prowl. A 14,000-square-foot Butterfly & Insect Pavilion also features 20 to 30 butterfly species for children of all ages to delight in.

You can learn more about the Henry Doorly Zoo here.

7. Washington, D.C.

When you can’t narrow down a few things to put on this list from one city, it’s just easier to include the whole city. Washington, D.C. is the perfect family vacation, especially for older children, where you can learn about history, politics, government, and tour many amazing museums. Not only can they visit the U.S. Capitol and see where bills and laws are made, but they can also visit the U.S. Supreme Court and see the justices hear and vote on important national cases.

Make sure to take a trip to the National Archives and Records Administration where you can see the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. There are is also the National Mall, the White House, the National Monuments, and the Lincoln Memorial to name a few other stops that should be included on your list.

And then there are the Smithsonian Museums that include so many different topics, you may need several trips to see them all. There are nineteen museums including air and space, American history, arts and industries, and the U.S. Holocaust Museum, plus don’t miss the National Zoo.

You can learn more about the Washington, D.C. area here.

8. Grand Canyon National Park

Do you remember the Brady Bunch episode when they went to the Grand Canyon? That episode epitomized this vacation destination as the iconic trip that hundreds of thousands of families have made over the years. It is the first National Park entry on our list, and it is one of the most amazing natural wonders in the world as well. This geographic wonder will not only awe the kids, but it will give them an opportunity to learn about nature and geology.

The most accessible part of the Grand Canyon is the South Rim where you can easily bicycle or walk along the Desert View Drive, and you can learn about the canyon’s history and geology on a cell phone tour along the trail. There are also shuttles and private bus tours that will take you to scenic overlooks like the 75-foot-high Desert View Watchtower for fabulous panoramic views of the canyon.

If you have older children, the classic mule ride deep into the canyon can either be done in a day or you can stay overnight at the Phantom Ranch. The western end of the canyon features the Skywalk where you can walk on a glass floor 4,000 feet above the canyon floor for an unforgettable experience. Teens will also enjoy the opportunity go whitewater rafting on the Colorado River through the Canyon.

You can learn more about the Grand Canyon National Park here.

9. Space Camp & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama

For those families that enjoy rockets, space, and engineering, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a must see. This is a world-renowned museum in Huntsville, Alabama that features exhibits with all kinds of ways that children can learn about NASA’s achievements in space. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is also home to the world’s largest space attraction, the Saturn V which hangs ten feet above the floor in the Davidson Center.

Dozens of interactive activities fill the museum including the Olympus Mons Climbing Wall, the Mission to Mars Simulator, and the Spacedome IMAX Theater. Outside exhibits offer an opportunity to ride on the Space Shot and the G-Force Accelerator which gives visitors an idea of the physical impact astronauts experience when they are in space. Most exhibits are geared for older children, but little ones will enjoy dedicated play spaces just for them. This is also home to Space Camp where kids and parents can enjoy a weekend or three- and four-day family camp experiences about space.

You can learn more about Rocket Center here.

10. Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The first museum to open just for children, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum opened its doors in 1899, and it includes an incredible collection of objects from around the world. Over 30,000 objects are on a rotating display that can also be searched online. Objects include an elephant skeleton, minerals, shark’s teeth, and Indonesian shadow puppets.

Children can also enjoy examples of New York’s multiculturalism by celebrating the Chinese New Year, dancing to Russian ballet, making a pizza, observing Mexico’s Day of the Dead, and creating their own Caribbean Carnival costume. There is also a nature exhibit that lets children explore the city’s different habitats including the beach and woodland areas while babies and toddlers enjoy a padded play space. One of the best features of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is a special room for children with autism where they can explore their senses in a setting especially designed for them.

You can learn more about the Brooklyn Children’s Museum here.

11. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

The next national park on our list is the Carlsbad Caverns National Park that is home to a huge system of over 117 underground caves and tunnels. This park is all underground and features the Big Room that is a 14-acre chamber located 750 feet underground of pale limestone. Younger children will enjoy the elevator ride to the Big Room while older kids will delight in the one-mile path that takes you to even more underground rooms.

Here, kids will learn the meaning behind the words “stalagmites” and “stalactites”. If you visit in the summer, you will also see almost a half-million Mexican free-tail bats that fly out above the desert at sunset to search for insects. Evenings also bring an opportunity to enjoy a Star Party where kids and parents alike can view the beauty of the night sky.

You can learn more about Carlsbad Caverns National Park here.

12. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

If you are a family that enjoys history, the nation’s largest living history museum is must for your vacation list. Colonial Williamsburg is a wonderful opportunity to get a glimpse of 18th-century life in Virginia during the time when the colonies in America were forming. Visitors can roam the streets of Colonial Williamsburg where they will see costumed characters working in their shops, walking through the streets, and reenacting day to day life as well as important battles.

This is a multiple-day destination with events taking place in both the day and night. This is an entire town that is dedicated to the history and depicting the life of those that lived in the colonies hundreds of years ago.

You can learn more about Colonial Williamsburg here.

13. San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo has long been known as one of the best zoos for kids. It was a pioneer for innovative exhibits that was the first to use open settings and moats for the over 4,000 animals that call the zoo home.

Exhibit features include the Elephant Odyssey that includes elephants, jaguars, and lions in marshy wetlands, the Lost Forest that features tigers, gorillas, and hippos in open meadows amid waterfalls, and the Australian Outback where they house the largest koala colony outside of Australia.

Kids and toddlers will enjoy weekend talks, and animal encounters with Sichuan takins and Galapagos tortoises. The 2,200-acre Safari Park lets families watch herds of gazelles, rhinos and zebras roam, and Discovery Station allows visitors the opportunity to pet deer and antelopes.

You can learn more about the San Diego Zoo here.

14. Soldier Field

Sports fans will enjoy a pilgrimage to one of the oldest football stadiums in the country. Since 1924, Soldier Field has been home to football, but it wasn’t until 1971 that it became home to the Chicago Bears. It is always fun to root for your favorite team from the stands, but it is also a lot of fun to get a behind the scenes look at the locker rooms and skyline suites.

Tours at Soldier Field will give you a glimpse of jerseys worn by famous players throughout the history of the NFL, the Doughboy Statue that was placed at Soldier Field to honor the World War I veterans, the South Courtyard, the grand concourse, and the impressive Colonnades event space. Most importantly, visitors are allowed out on the field to get a feeling of what it is like to play in the NFL.

You can learn more about Soldier Field here.

15. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y.

Another fun trip for the family that enjoys sports is a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. This is a museum that celebrates America’s favorite pastime which has been around since the 1800’s, and this is a great opportunity to learn more about the history of the game as well as some of the baseball greats like Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth.

The Baseball Hall of Fame can tell the story of baseball with over 500,000 photographs and 40,000 artifacts that show how the game has evolved. Exhibits include the game-changing era of women’s baseball including uniforms that were worn by women in the 1940’s, relive memorable moments from World Series games, and see life-size photos of many of the famous players. Smaller children will enjoy the Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse that includes baseball movies like “Curious George Plays Baseball,” and dress up area full of old fashioned baseball uniforms.

You can learn more about the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum here.

16. Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, Atlanta, Georgia

The next national park on our list is the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site located in Atlanta, Georgia. This location is made up of several sites including The King Center, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, his Birth Home, and the Visitor Center. Families will enjoy seeing the many exhibits that document Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equal civil rights for all U.S. residents.

Children will enjoy the interactive exhibit “Children of Courage” in the Visitor Center which depicts the story of children during the Civil Rights Movement in a way that helps children relate to their struggle. There are also other exhibits that detail Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and career as well as the advancement of the Civil Rights Movement.

You can learn more about the Martin Luther King, JR. Historic Site here.

17. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Glen Arbor, Michigan

There are a ton of national parks out there that are off the beaten path and are totally worth a visit. Among them is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Glen Arbor, Michigan. The big draw at Sleep Bear Dunes is the huge sand dunes that give the park its name and encourage tons of families to stay every year. The one experience kids of all ages must try is the “dune climb” and the trip back down.

Besides hanging out in the water, other activities include fishing, camping, hiking, and biking. Nearby Glen Haven General Store will help you will any camping necessities that you forgot, and, if you visit in August, a trip to the Port Oneida Fair will take you back to life in the 1880’s with soap, butter, and candle making for kids to try.

You can learn more about the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore here.

18. Bristol Renaissance Faire, Kenosha, Wisconsin

Most children dream of being a princess or a knight and often play out these roles in dress up and play time. The Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin allows children the opportunity to play these roles for a day in the recreated town of Bristol in the year 1574. The fair includes over 200 artisans and crafters, delicious food, rides, games, music, and dancing.

Children will enjoy participating in “Kids Quests” while allowing five to11-year-olds the opportunity play out a live-action fantasy game that includes quests to defeat evil villains. Other kid activities include magic shows, tea parties, toy ship sailing, storytelling, pike drills, and Bristol’s Kids Kingdom that is a playground that includes a giant sandbox, crafts, a pirate ship and its own theater. Queen Elizabeth even makes an appearance to hail all the children, ladies, and lords.

You can learn more about the Bristol Renaissance Faire here.

19. Caretta Research Project, Wassaw Island, Georgia

If you enjoy a beach vacation and also want to help out the local wildlife, head to Wassaw Island, GA where your family can work with the Caretta Research Project and help save the sea turtles. Caretta Research Projects gives families an opportunity to learn about the environment and spend time together while monitoring and protecting the nests of loggerhead sea turtles at the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge.

An unforgettable hands-on experience for children of all ages, volunteers help collect data and watch over the turtles and their eggs while learning about this threatened species. Your family can also enjoy the beach and wonderful ocean views, and, if you are lucky, you might even get to see baby sea turtles hatch from their nest.

You can learn more about Caretta Research Project here.

20. Yosemite National Park

Our next iconic family vacation spot is the Yosemite National Park. For those families that love outdoor activities, Yosemite National Park is a year-round vacation spot where you can enjoy cross-country skiing and ice skating in the winter and camping and hiking the many granite cliffs and domes that grace the landscape.

Included in this national park is the world renowned El Cap that is a must visit for any rock climber, the beautiful wildflowers that saturate the Tuolumne Meadows, and the opportunity to see 200 foot high sequoias in the Mariposa Grove. Hiking up Upper Yosemite Falls is a great day trip, and your kids will have the opportunity to sign up to be a Junior Ranger or Little Cub.

You can learn more about Yosemite National Park here.

21. LEGOLAND, Carlsbad, California and Orlando, Florida

One of those ubiquitous toys that grace almost every child’s toy box is the Lego. With theme parks in both California and Florida, children have the opportunity to have fun with Legos in a way that inspires the budding architects and engineers inside them.

Lego-based rides, activities, and exhibits fill the theme park with endless fun for Lego enthusiasts. Each park has different themed areas including Dino Island, SEA LIFE Aquarium, Ninjago World, Castle Hill, and water parks at each theme park. This is a great theme park for the entire family, but has more activities for the younger visitors.

Activities that stimulate children’s creativity include building contests and building workshops. Other park features include a Duplo section for toddlers, a Lego Friends area, and a Star Wars exhibit.

You can learn more about LegoLand here.

22. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana border

The nation’s first national park is located on the Wyoming-Montana border. Yellowstone National Park is home to Old Faithful, one of the many geysers you will find throughout the park. Take a spin with the family on the popular loop road and get up close to elk, moose, and buffalo, or hike out on your own in Hayden Valley where you can see wildlife in their natural habitat way off the beaten path.

Fishing is another favorite pastime with trout swimming in some of the clearest water you will ever see. Kids will enjoy becoming a Young Scientists that comes with an interactive, hands-on activity booklet. It is available in the visitors’ center for $5 and when the kids have finished the booklet, they get an awesome souvenir.

You can learn more about Yellowstone National Park here.

23. Philadelphia – The City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia is another city on our list that has so many places to visit; the entire city just needs to be listed. The City of Philadelphia plays host to many of our country’s firsts including Carpenters’ Hall where the First Continental Congress met and Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed. Pennsylvania Hospital, the country’s first hospital founded by Benjamin Franklin, the U.S. Mint, and the Liberty Bell Center are also all found in Philadelphia.

Your first stop should be a visit to Independence Visitor Center to pick up information on all the city’s history and culture. You can also pick up the AudioWalk and Tour which is a 74-minute walking tour that narrates the historic sites of the city as well as parts of Society Hill.

You can learn more about the City of Philadelphia here.

24. Old World Wisconsin

For a different take on a living history museum, Old World Wisconsin tells the story of the European immigrants that made their way to the Midwest to start their farms. At the Crossroads Village, families can visit the general store and see blacksmiths at work. Kids can also visit the one-room schoolhouse, try out old-fashioned games, and see what chores were like for kids way back when.

Visitors also visit farmsteads that feature German, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Polish farming techniques and food preparations. These immigrants brought their Old World food, crafts, and traditions with them to America, and they are all demonstrated here at the different farmsteads. Each farm will give you a sense of what it was truly like to be a farmer in the 1800’s and starting out a new life in a new world.

You can learn more about Old World Wisconsin here.

25. Space Needle/City of Seattle

An iconic city symbol, the Space Needle is 605 feet high, and it was the symbol of the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. The futuristic design of the space needle was part of the fair’s theme of “Century 21.”

The Space Needle is now the top tourist destination in Seattle, and it is a well-known emblem of Seattle. Visiting the Space Needle is a great way to learn about architecture, engineering, and the history of the area, plus it’s not often you get to see an existing piece of World Fair memorabilia.

Tickets are required to reach the observation deck, but a 43-second elevator ride will take you quickly up the 520 feet where you will get a 360-degree view of Seattle. You can also eat at the SkyCity Restaurant that revolves around the Space Needle 500 feet in the air.

You can learn more about the Space Needle here.

26. Wisconsin State Fair

Who doesn’t have fond memories of fairs when they were a kid? State Fairs are extra special as they are large centers of food, fun, animals, and music. The Wisconsin State Fairs is an affordable option for families to have fun with a non-stop schedule of musical acts that is included with admission featuring rock, pop, country, and contemporary Christian music. Other entertainment includes comedians, magicians, and acrobats.

Families will enjoy the Sky Glider, the Giant Slide, and the Ag Oasis that features musical and drama performances with 4H style revues. In the Fair’s amusement ride area, over fifty rides are featured with tons of games to play.

There are opportunities to learn about agriculture and farming at every turn. The many barns feature hundreds of animals including cows, horses, rabbits, pigs, and chickens. Children will learn about the many different breeds for each type of animal and see how they are judged on stage.

You can learn more about the Wisconsin State Fair here.

27. Austin City Limits Music Festival – Austin, Texas

Music festivals are not only fun for adults, but they can be fun for kids too. The Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas not only includes music, markets, and food, but they also feature an area just for kids. Held in September and early October, this annual festival is held on two different weekends and features The Austin Kiddie Limits for children 10 and under that helps children learn the fundamentals of music.

Kid’s activities include karaoke, a hip hop workshop, fake tattoos, and rock star hairdos. Children are able to build basic music skills as they learn songs from different genres and develop their own singing talents.

You can learn more about the Austin City Limits Music Festival here.

28. Cape Hatteras National Seashore – Outer Banks, North Carolina

One popular vacation spot that families go back to each year is the Outer Bank of North Carolina. Not only is it a great beach spot, but families can also spend time at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Families will enjoy over 70 miles of shoreline with pristine beaches, boat tours, and water sports.

There are several towns and beaches along the seashore to add some extra fun to your vacation. Plus, the kids will love a visit to the Wright Brothers National Memorial and The Lost Colony which is a show that reenacts the events of the first English settlement in the U.S.

You can learn more about the Cape Hatteras National Seashore here.

29. The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

If your family loves history and actually wants to walk in the footsteps of our Founding Fathers, the Freedom Trail in Boston will do just that. This is a 2.5-mile route that leads you to 16 different historical sites and guides you through the city’s rich history. Included on the route is Boston Common, home to the site of the Boston Massacre, Bunker Hill, the USS Constitution, and Paul Revere’s House.

Around fourth grade, all children learn about taxation without representation, the Boston Tea Party, and the first shots that were fired at Lexington and Concord. This is a great opportunity to reinforce what they have been taught by picking up the route map at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center. The map lists individual sites that are open year round, but it is always a good idea to double check on their fees and hours of operation when you plan your excursion.

You can learn more about The Freedom Trail here.

30. Golden Gardens Park – Seattle, Washington

As we have included several national parks, it is only fair to offer a few state parks that might not be your first thought to visit. Although most people think it rains all the time, Seattle summers can be quite fabulous, and the Golden Gardens Park can offer you a vacation like you have never experienced before.

It is a little bit hidden in Puget Sound, but Golden Gardens Park can be found on a very quiet stretch of beach with calm waters, shaded picnic tables with grills, restrooms, and a playground. You can spend the day hiking through the woods and then finish it off around a fire pit enjoying a gorgeous sunset.

You can learn more about Golden Gardens Park here.

31. Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park features the Avenue of the Giants which is a 32-mile section of road that takes you through 17,000 acres of old-growth redwood forest. Don’t forget you don’t have to stay in your car; you are encouraged to get out and take a hike. There are several trails along the Avenue of Giants to get out and walk to give you a closer look at these gargantuan trees.

Redwoods are covered in a shaggy bark, and their trunks are the size of a truck. It is nearly impossible to see the tops of these trees, but at the Drury-Chaney Grove you can climb up on top of a fallen redwood and walk at least 100 yards along that tree while standing 15 feet in the air. Their massive size is just mind-blowing, and at Myers Flat you can also drive your car right through the roots of one redwood called the Drive-Thru Tree where many visitors have stopped to take to an iconic redwood photo.

You can learn more about Redwood National Park here.

32. San Francisco River Outfitters

For adventurous families, traveling the half-million acre Gila Wilderness on horseback and sleeping out under the stars is a fabulous vacation idea. The Gila Wilderness is close to the border of Arizona in the southwestern part of New Mexico. San Francisco River Outfitters lead pack trips across the desolate country where campers will see 10,000-foot peaks towers, vastly eroded canyons, and miles and miles of lonely river.

This is the territory where Geronimo led Apache raids against the early settlers and large herds of elk and sheep, black bear, and mountain lions once roamed. Riding along the trail on a quarter horse, you’ll see vast sections of tall saguaros and ponderosa pines and an immense amount of stars at night. Included in the trip are camping equipment, horses, and hardy steak dinners all for an affordable price.

You can learn more about the San Francisco River area here.

33. Lake George, The Adirondacks

More adventure is waiting at Lake George in the Adirondacks. Here you will find a 31-mile long that is similar to a river that is narrow and edged in by the Adirondack peaks. There you will see the landscape that was painted by Georgia O’Keeffe and the best way to see it all is from the water.

The Sagamore, a classic Adirondack resort, has been around for over a century has sea kayaks and paddleboards for rent. When you paddle out past the open waters, you will find Dome Island, a round wooded area, in the middle of the lake with a fabulous view of pristine forest creating a beautiful mountain silhouette against the sky.

You can learn more about the Lake George area here.

34. Emandal, a Farm on a River, Willits, California

Have you ever thought about going to summer camp with your kids? Family camp is a great way to spend time with your kids in a unique setting. The Emandal Farm is an educational camp experience that teaches kids where their food comes from. Located on the Eel River, all the produce that the campers eat is grown locally, and campers are encouraged to join in with the farm work collecting eggs, harvesting vegetables, and milking cows.

When the work is all finished for the day, you can relax on the river in an inner tube, count the night stars, or sleep away the afternoon in a hammock. Guest lodgings are all private cabins with running water and private bathrooms.

You can learn more about the Emandal Farm here.

35. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia

The world’s largest aquarium is found in Atlanta, Georgia and is home to 8 million gallons of water and tons of habitats and sea life. Found across the street from Centennial Olympic Park, this 550,000-square-foot complex has a food court, two gift shops, several touch pools, including one with rays, sea urchins, and bonnethead sharks.

The largest exhibit, Ocean Voyager, has over 60,000 animals that include the only whale sharks in the country. A 100-foot-long tunnel allows families to view sea life while they surround visitors on three sides and contain a floor-to-ceiling window. Kids will also enjoy a touch-screen wall where they can learn more about the digital fish that are swimming by and pop-up windows where children of all ages can get a closer look at piranhas and penguins. And, of course, don’t forget the playground with the whale slide, rubber floor, and many crawl tubes.

You can learn more about the Georgia Aquarium here.

36. New York City

New York City has way too many places to list individually. How can you include some but not others? It was much easier to list the whole city and mention certain locations as don’t miss features like Central Park, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building.

If your family is into museums, you won’t be bored in New York where you can visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. When you are tired from all the cultural, you can grab a slice of pizza or have a sundae at Serendipity.

And, nothing says amazing family vacation than taking in a Broadway Show. Not only do your children get to experience the excitement of New York City and theater life, but they can see the indescribable “The Lion King” on Broadway. The visual effects will amaze both children and parents alike and everyone will enjoy the incredible retelling of one of their favorite Disney movies.

You can learn more about NYC Tourisim here.

37. Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, Arco, Idaho

If you family is into things that may be a little weird, the National Park Service calls the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve “the only officially weird park” in the country. The landscape was formed almost 15,000 years ago by volcanic eruptions forming a jagged, black landscape. The surface is very moonlike, so much so that the astronauts from the Apollo 14 mission used it to train on in 1969.

One of the best features of the park is its lava tubes which are passageways found underground that were by hardened molten rock. If you are brave enough, you can take a flashlight and head on down into Indian Tunnel that is 50 feet wide and 30 feet high, but, only if you are really adventurous will you want to attempt exiting the cave at the far end. You will need to climb over a large rock pile and then squeeze through a small opening to finally exit.

You can learn more about the Craters of Moon National Monument here.

38. City of New Orleans

New Orleans has a little something for everyone. Adults will enjoy the romance of the city and the various architectural influences from Spain, France, and the Caribbean. Kids will enjoy riding in an old-fashioned steamboat along the Mississippi River or taking an airboat ride in the swamp.

Jazz music pours out over the city in Jackson Square and the color of Mardi Gras at Mardi Gras World will delight the senses. Don’t miss the Audubon Insectariums where kids will discover bugs they never dreamed existed.

You can learn more about the City of New Orleans here.

39. The Biltmore, Asheville, NC

At first thought, you may not think of the Biltmore as a family vacation destination. But, when you think about it, it is one of the few castles that you can tour in America. This 250 room home built by George Vanderbilt in 1895 is a historical and architectural wonder. It is a wonderful opportunity to teach children about the Guilded Age and there are many features children will be enthralled by including the ice cream parlor, confectionary, and toymaker’s shop.

There is also a village that houses historical exhibits as well as dining and shopping. The Pisgah Playground allows children to engage their imagination by climbing logs and rock formations. Younger children will enjoy the sand area and water pump. The Antler Hill Village farm also provides various farmyard animals to pet and plenty of antique wagons and tractors to climb on and explore.

You can learn more about The Biltmore here.

40. Museum of Western Colorado, Cortez, Colorado

Anyone that has seen Jurassic Park knows how exciting dinosaurs can be, but did you ever imagine you could spend your vacation digging for them? Dinosaur digs are available through the Museum of Western Colorado in Cortez, Colorado. They offer Half-day, full day, and three-day digs in western Colorado, and even a five-day dig in Utah.

For families, they also offer a weeklong family camp in Cortez, Colorado. Camps are designed for children ages 5 and up with their families at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry. This is the perfect summer vacation for any family with a budding paleontologist.

You can learn more about the Museum of Western Colorado here.

41. Gettysburg National Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

For a military or history based family vacation, a journey to Gettysburg National Park is a must. Visitors can enjoy ranger walks and tours that tell the history of the battlefield and the background of the Civil War as it was fought in Pennsylvania.

Gettysburg itself is home to several museums, but during the anniversary of the battle at the beginning of July, there is a living history encampment where kids can see reenactors that represent both sides of the battle. There are also full battle reenactments of the three days of the battle placing the blue against the gray once again on the very fields that they fought on over 150 years ago. Throughout the rest of the year, visitors can learn more about the battle and the soldiers that fought there through living history exhibits and nearby attractions.

You can learn more about Gettysburg National Park here.

42. Niagara Falls, New York

Most people think of Niagara Falls as the go to honeymoon spot for couples in the mid-20th Century. Despite its iconic reputation, Niagara Falls remains a majestic waterfall that is still a must-see if you are in New York near the U.S.-Canada border.

Children will enjoy riding an elevator 175 feet down into the Niagara Gorge and feel what it is like to be sprayed with tropical-storm force spray as they stand on the Hurricane Deck by the 181-foot Bridal Veil Falls. Complimentary yellow ponchos and sandals are provided to guests as they stand near this massive natural wonder.

You can learn more about the Niagara Falls area here.

43. High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon

Another living history spot where children can see and reinforce what they have learned in school is the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. The Oregon Trail is a fixture of American History that is taught in school and the High Desert Museum can bring the true challenges of the Oregon Trail to light.

Activities that include dipping candles, splitting wood, and churning butter will give kids an idea of what life was like along the trail. And you’ll see exhibits of rescue animals that were native to the Northwest area like bobcats, lynx, rattlesnakes, falcons, and Gila monsters. Kids will leave the museum understanding all the hardships that pioneers experienced as they made their way westward.

You can learn more about the High Desert Museum here.

44. Mystic Seaport: Museum of America and the Sea, Mystic, Connecticut

Once the shipbuilding capital of New England, Mystic Seaport is now home to the largest maritime museum in the country. An authentic 19th-century village is available for exploration featuring a drugstore, lighthouse, and bank.

Ship restorations are ongoing in the Preservation Yard and you can even visit inside the Benjamin F. Packard, an 1883 sailing ship that is on exhibit. Children can also learn about life and activities in the late 18th century like old-fashioned card games and the how captains used flags to communicate with each other when they were out at sea.

You can learn more about the Mystic, Connecticut area here.

45. Camp Denali, Denali National Park, Alaska

If you are looking for a camping trip that is also a once in a lifetime experience, Camp Denali guarantees to be the family vacation you will never forget. Camp Denali is located in a remarkable location and has been around for over 60 years.

Wilderness lodges are available for families that are interested in learning more about the beauty and wildlife in the Alaskan wilderness. There are two unique, full-service lodges that focus on active and adventurous vacations that also have an educational emphasis for those families that want to get the most out of their visit. Activities include naturalist-guided outings, views of the Alaska Range, and a better understanding of the local wildlife.

You can learn more about Denali National Park here.

46. Kennedy Space Center

If you are looking for a vacation spot where science and history are out of this world, the Kennedy Space Center will provide you family with tons of interactives and real artifacts from space. The Kennedy Space Center is the premier institution in the country where visitors will learn about America’s history of flight by touring the Space Shuttle Complex. The 90,000 square foot Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit includes a full-scale, 184-foot space shuttle stack plus two solid rocket boosters and an external tank.

This has also been a launch site since 1968, but the site has changed dramatically since then. The Visitor Center resembles something of an amusement park with its Rocket Garden, children’s playspace, an Early Space Exploration exhibit, the very popular Angry Birds hands-on exhibit, 2 IMAX shows, an Astronaut Memorial, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. You can also take a bus tour where you will be driven up to the Apollo/Saturn V center and out to the legendary launch pads.

You can learn more about the Kennedy Space Center here.

47. Boston Children’s Museum

Another century-old children’s museum is the Boston Children’s Museum. A pioneer in groundbreaking children’s programming, the Boston Children’s Museum removed all of their no-touch signs in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, they furthered their innovative techniques by creating a young children’s play area where babies and toddlers can now use the PlaySpace’s Messy Sensory area to develop fine motor skills with bubbles, shaving cream, and Play-Doh.

Children are encouraged to perform fairy tales on KidStage, and concerts, storytelling, and dance are also part of the daily fun. Older children are encouraged to learn about other cultures when they examine the over 50,000 historic and natural history objects or tour the century-old silk merchant’s home from Kyoto, Japan.

You can learn more about the Boston Children’s Museum here.

48. Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo features 3,500 animals on 70 acres, and it is one of four zoos in the country to house giant pandas. A three-acre exhibit featuring Chinese architecture, native flowers and fauna, and a 50-foot pagoda is the backdrop for these adorable pandas. An underwater exhibit also features sea lions and polar bears in giant tanks with a 500 seat amphitheater where visitors can see sea lions perform in the Northwest Passage exhibit.

Cat Country features tigers, lions, and cougars wandering grass savannas and rocky outcroppings. A five acre, open-air Primate Canyon houses ten monkey species and the Dragon’s Lair exhibit features three Komodo dragons.

You can learn more about the Memphis Zoo here.

49. Chincoteague Bay Field Station, Chincoteague Island, Virginia

If your family is environmentally conscious, children of all ages will enjoy the Chincoteague Bay Field Station family camp where the education is based around ecology. A campus-like environment with a full dining hall and suite-like sleeping quarters are provided for all families that stay at the camp. Besides educational tours of the protected Wallops Island, families can also enjoy campfires, camp games, seafood boils, and water sports.

You can learn more about the Chincoteague Bay Field Station here.

50. Wilderness Inquiry

If you are looking for a wild vacation, Wilderness Inquiry can help you find it. They have scheduled trips throughout the year to satisfy any wild heart. They are a non-profit adventure travel organization that connects people to adventures in places like Glacier National Park, the Mississippi River, and the Hawaii’s Big Island. Activities include rafting, hiking, dogsledding, safaris, hiking, and sea kayaking.

The great thing about Wilderness Inquiry is that they have accommodated people with disabilities since 1978. They have designed integrated adventures for both people with and without disabilities, so that they are treated as equals and peers. Their mission is to bring outdoor adventures to everyone, and they have great adaptive gear that they have found or created along the way to make sure that everyone feels included.

You can learn more about the Wilderness Inquiry here.

The Best Travel Books for Kids

By sara / January 31, 2017

One of the best ways for teaching kids about the world is through reading. According to an article from Children First Foundation USA, children get higher grades and a boost in their confidence when they travel. Reading about different countries may stir their interest in visiting someday. There are several excellent books for grades K-3 that introduce different countries and cultures in an enjoyable way that they can understand. Children learn to respect others who may look, dress, and think differently in other parts of the world. At the same time, they find empathy in the many similarities we all share. Here are some of the best travel books for kids that teachers, parents, and their children can share to discover new places:

Africa

It is difficult the discuss the horrors of terrorism with children. This book displays the compassion of strangers across the world during one of America’s darkest hours. After witnessing the tragedy of 9/11, a man returns to his native Massai village in Kenya and describes the awful event. The villagers are moved with compassion for the Americans and decide that they should offer a gift to help. Their gift of 14 cows represents a sacrifice of true friendship. This story transcends race, culture, and nationality and displays the empathy of the global family in a way for children to comprehend.

There are many children who must deal with the loss of a parent, and books can be useful tools. In this poignant story, eleven-year-old Martine is suddenly orphaned, and she is sent to live with her grandmother whom she has never known. Her grandmother lives on a wildlife reserve in the plains of Africa. While adjusting to her new surroundings and the culture of South Africa, Martine hears the villagers talk about the white giraffe, a mythical animal that supposedly lives in the area. This is a fun adventure to take with young readers as Martine finds if the white giraffe is fact or fiction.

This book for middle schoolers is based on a true story about two children in Sudan. The boy’s story begins in 1985 and the girl’s in 2008. Both of them are 11 years-old at the time of their story. Salva, the boy, roams over Africa searching for his family and a place of refuge. He is one of Sudan’s “lost boys”. He must endure unspeakable dangers from armed rebels and wild animals. The second story in the book revolves around the girl, Nya. Twice a day, she must make a two-hour journey on foot to get her family water from a pond. In a touch of fate, Salva’s and Nya’s paths meet to weave a touching and beautiful story. It teaches children about the hardships in third-world countries and the resilience of the human spirit.

Anyone who has ever played the game of “telephone” as a child knows how quickly facts can get distorted down the line. People end up telling a version of the story that rarely resembles the first one. In Verna Aardema’s Caldecott Award winner, a crisis hits the African jungle when a mosquito tells a story to an iguana and everything is lost in translation. The stunning illustrations in the book make it an ideal story to read to younger children. Through the antics of the West African insects and animals, children learn the importance of clear communication and telling the truth.

Asia

The summers in northern India are notoriously hot. The sights and sounds of the country come alive through the senses of a little girl who is waiting for the rain. Each page is a rich pastel that illustrates the inspiring culture of everyday life in India. Readers see the busy market place and all of the hundreds of shoppers trying to finish their work in the sweltering heat. Everyone is eagerly waiting for the skies to open up and shower them with the cool, healing rain. Children will enjoy reading about the climate and culture of this fascinating country.

Young readers can explore the ancient Japanese Samurai culture with this story of a canine overlord who has his castle overrun by an evil rat. He turns to his friends, three powerful Samurai cats. The first cat brandishes his mighty sword and is struck down by the agile rat. When the second Samurai cat approaches the fiendish vermin in a suit of armor, he also fails to win the battle. The hope of the castle lies in the third Samurai cat, who is old an raggedy. Could he have a secret weapon that will save the day? This book highlights Japanese culture, martial arts, and overcoming bullying with wit.

In this beautifully illustrated book, children learn a lesson in honesty with a little boy who loves to grow flowers. Set in ancient China, young Ping hears that the Emperor is choosing a successor by using a test. The emperor hands out flower seeds to the children across his kingdom. He declares that the child who brings him the most beautiful pot of flowers would be the next emperor. Even though Ping nurtures his seed to the best of his ability, nothing grows. What will the Emperor say when all of Ping’s peers have beautiful blossoms, and he stands with an empty pot? Some things are not always as they seem.

China has some of a fascinating histories in the world, and this book shares it in a fun way for children. The author takes them on a journey into past Chinese dynasties, culture, and the building of the Great Wall. The book has illustrations that make the story easier to understand. Young readers can enjoy the Great Wall trivia questions in the book and see similarities in Chinese culture with their own. Kids can have fun while they are learning valuable history lessons.

Europe

The Sasek series of children’s travel books are probably familiar to most teachers and parents, since they may have read them as children. This is Rome is part of the series from the 70s that describes the history and culture of some of the greatest cities in Europe. Every book has been lovingly reprinted with the original illustrations, including updates that bring it to modern day. Right from the comforts of their reading chair, children can study the historical events that made Rome what it is now. They can appreciate some of the city’s fascinating architecture and renowned monuments. After traveling to Rome, they will want to visit other famous cities that are highlighted in Sasek’s collection.

Young readers can soar over the snowy lands of Russia in this re-telling of a classic Slavic folktale. According to legend, there is nothing in the world as amazingly beautiful as the firebird. The problem is, no one has ever seen it. Determined to set eyes on the elusive bird, the Tsar’s youngest son, Ivan Tsarevitch, sets out on a precarious journey. He encounters a talking wolf after flying an impossible path over the mountain tops. He bravely defends himself against the wicked witch, Baba Yaga, and challenges Koshchei the Immortal to save a magical princess. The enchanting finale of the story and its awesome illustrations are delightful for adults and children alike.

Stories of the mythical Greek gods and goddesses have enchanted readers for centuries. This great edition brings the immortal residents of Mt. Olympus to life in a way that children of all ages can enjoy. They will be spellbound with the grand illustrations and the celestial adventures of the Greek divinity. While reading or listening to these stories, children will find that the immortals were fallible and often made disastrous decisions. Each adventure gives readers morals to think about and the consequences of our actions.

North America

Native American tribes have a vast oral history of legends and delightful folklore. This Navajo folktale is re-told with enchanting illustrations that make it an ideal read-aloud book for younger children. According to the legend, the First Woman wanted to write the laws of the land for everyone to see. So, she tried to use the stars in the sky. Her efforts were foiled by the perennial trickster, Coyote. This is a lovely story that shares Native American customs and their sacred mythology.

Beginners can reinforce their knowledge of the alphabet and its sounds while perusing some of the greatest treasures in Canada. They will learn about various highlights in Canadian culture, history, and its people. The illustrations in M is for Maple are truly outstanding. This fun book presents Canada in a unique way that can be enjoyable for readers of any age.

It is a blessing to find a beginners book that can illustrate the unconditional love of parents for their children. In this little board book set in Alaska, a little girl has a meaningful conversation with her mother about love. It has pretty illustrations of the Alaskan landscape. She invents different situations that she may be in, and asks her mother would she love her still. In each instance, the gentle Inuit mother reassures her daughter of her unending love. This would be an excellent gift for new parents.

Children can learn about Spanish customs for the holidays in this beautiful book. While she was helping her mother make tamales for their holiday celebration, Maria decides to try on Mama’s precious diamond ring. Mama had taken it off while she was cooking and went to another room to get some more ingredients. Before she can take the ring off, Maria accidently loses it in the tamale batch. This warm tale of zany family holidays teaches other customs and the importance of togetherness.

Pacific Regions

This book for younger children is a tale of the enduring friendship between a boy and a penguin. When the little boy finds a penguin sitting on his doorstep, he assumes the bird was lost. They embark on a journey to the South Pole to find the penguin’s home. While they are traveling the frozen waters, they encounter several bad storms. There are still good times on the trip, as the boy shares stories with the penguin. When they finally reach the South Pole, the penguin decides that all he wanted in the first place was a friend. The book has pretty pictures and is an ideal read-aloud story.

Most children love to read books about animals. In this delightful diary, they get to meet the Australian wombat. The wombat chronicles a hectic week in his life, filled with digging holes, eating, and taking long naps. He says that he enjoys training his humans to give him treats on signal. Readers will immediately find pleasure in the funny text and illustrations. They may even see some similarities they share with this cuddly-looking creature.

It is not easy for parents to balance careers and family time. Sometimes, children can feel lost in the hustle of daily living. Koala Lou feels like her mother is too busy to give her enough attention and does not love her anymore. Determined to make her mother proud and win back her affection, Koala Lou decides to participate in the Bush Olympics. This is a wonderfully illustrated story that reminds busy parents the importance of spending time with their little ones. It also reassures young readers that they will always be loved.

Coming-of-age stories and those that involve gender equality are popular with middle school readers. In this touching story from the East Coast of New Zealand, a young girl tries desperately to win the approval and attention of her great-grandfather. He is the chief of the Maori tribe, which claims that they descended from the fabled “whale rider.” Kahu is the only heir to her great-grandfather, and he is adamant that a woman cannot lead the tribe. When the whale population is threatened on the coast, Kahu’s amazing abilities may change his way of thinking. This story helps young people understand the struggles against bias that arises in all cultures, and how love and understanding can overcome them.

South America

There is nothing as fun as out-tricking a trickster, and Cuy the guinea pig proves it. This tale is set in the Andes Mountains and has a definite South American voice. Tio Antonio spies Cuy searching for wild spinach, and thinks he has found his lunch! The fox may be smart, but the guinea pig is smarter. Youngsters will giggle as they read about how Cuy fools the fox three times. The block artwork is superb and children will learn the importance of problem-solving.

This is an excellent book that exposes children to the wonders of the Amazon Rain Forest and the importance of conservation. The author, Lynne Cherry, actually visited areas of the forest to write this enduring book of a man who tried to chop down a giant kapok tree. Exhausted from his work, he decides to lie on the grass and take a little nap. While he naps, various creatures of the forest whisper in his ear about how important trees and all living things are in the web of life. Even a child from an Amazonian tribe whispers some truths into the sleeping man’s ear. Young readers can feel a connection with the environment when they read this book and admire the beautiful illustrations.

In may come as a shock to some of our children that not everyone in the world has easy access to books. This bilingual story is based on the true story of a librarian who dreamed of bringing literacy to people in the remote mountains Colombia. Every month, he loads his little burros (named Alpha and Beta) with a cargo of new books. The village children wait eagerly for the Biblioburro to arrive. Children can enjoy this inspiring story in either Spanish or English.

Outer Space

A lot of kids dream about being an astronaut when they grow up. In this incredibly illustrated book, the author takes readers on a fantastic journey to the moon. It is written in the second person, so children feel like they are actually in the story. It is a perfect book for beginners as they learn about the moon, planets, stars, and outer space.

The 15 Best Ideas to Increase Fluency for Young Readers

By sara / January 30, 2017

​Is Your Grade School Student or Child Struggling with Reading? Don't Miss These 15 Top Ideas for Increasing Reading Fluency Today

Teachers managing classrooms from toddler age to third grade often are focused on making sure their students are reading a grade reading level. That's because, as the U.S. Department of Education has noted two out of three children are failing to achieve proficiency in reading fluency.​

15. Praise Them

Once you've tried all of the reading fluency exercises in this guide, it's good to remember to encourage and praise your child or student. Try to say one positive thing about his work followed by an improvement. As example: "You did an incredible job getting all your words right -- but at times I thought you were reading too quickly. Next time, do everything just as you have -- except slow down just a little. Great job!" By filling your child or student with praise, they will continue to approach reading fluency exercises with gusto and confidence.

14. Pair Below-Grade Level Readers

What happens when you pair below-grade level readers in high school with below-grade level readers in elementary school? You find that both readers become better at reading fluency. You give high school students access to elementary school content in a non-stigmatizing way.

And, you empower them to encourage and help younger students who are struggling. A D.C. non-profit called Reach Incorporated has done this success -- and even has launched a children's book component in which these tutors and students write books that are being used as part of the D.C. public school curriculum.

13. Enlist the Help of Tutor "Buddies"

Reading buddies are an effective tool for helping below-grade level readers improve -- and you can implement this practice in classrooms with readers who are closer to the second and third grade ages. Enlist the help of tutors -- either volunteers or retired teachers -- or above-grade level reading students, and have them read preselected literature or poetry together. By pairing them off and letting them lead each other and learn from one another, they not only build a secure and trusted friendship -- but they help each other improve.

12. Launch a Podcast

Divide students into groups and tell them they have to come up with their own ideas for podcasts. They'll write their scripts, practice reading them, record them and play them for the entire class to hear. You can loop this activity into topics you're teaching in your class, so that you're engaging with more than one subject.

At each step in the process, they'll be working the building blocks of reading fluency. They'll be writing words and practicing them. They'll be experimenting with flow and phrasing. They'll record and listen to their voices, noting where improvements could be made. And, they'll proudly broadcast their projects to the entire class -- further building their self-confidence and energy around the activity.

As the teacher, you can make sure you pop in to different groups to see how they are doing and to correct any mistakes you hear. They'll appreciate the autonomy you give them -- while at the same time knowing you're always there to help.

11. Turn Your Class into a Theater

This is a fun group activity that involves readers of all levels in your class. Begin by giving one student the script of a monologue. Have her read it aloud solo. Then, assign a small group of students to read the script aloud together as an "echo." Finally, ask the entire class to read the script together as the "choir." By doing this, you are engaging several skills already practiced -- modeling good reading behavior, repetitive reading and reading aloud.

10. Try Phrased Readings

Poems are great examples of phrased writing because words are clustered together and help students hear how they flow together. Try a phrased reading in class by writing the lines of the poem on strips of pasteboard. These strips are the cue cards that show students how words flow together in a group. Hold up the cue cards and ask students to read the phrases. This is a great step for more advanced readers -- moving them from reading aloud individual words to combined words that form phrases and influence cadence and flow in their speech.

9. Track Progress to Boost Confidence

At the end of the day, reading can difficult for everyone at some point. But there is a lot of empowerment and confidence that comes when your child can see progress over time. To build on the quiz exercise, have your child chart progress via a handmade chart. A bar graph is a great example of this. You can have your child chart growth daily or weekly -- and reward him or her for making improvements along the way in recognizing and saying correctly the words on the page. Literacy expert Robert Marzano has said: “When students track their own progress using graphic displays, there is a 32 percentile gain in achievement.”

8. Turn Reading into a Game

Once your child or student has gained a little confidence in reading, put them to a fun test. Make two copies of the passage you would like the child to read. Have the child read the passage, and as he does, circle any word he misses, doesn't know or pronounces incorrectly. You can use this quiz to incentivize with prizes.

7. Go Higher

Once you've established a regular routine of reading together and executing guiding practice, it's time to move on to slightly harder books. Select a book that is just above your child or student's reading level and read it aloud as he or she follow along. This practice introduces new words and cadences. Then, try guided practice with the same book. If your child hesitates for more than five seconds when reading a word, go ahead and tell him or her the word and ask the child to repeat it.

6. Read Together on Repeat

Repetition and forming good reading habits is key to raising reading fluency -- so try a repetitive reading exercise to boost your child or student's reading skills. Pick a book and read it aloud as your child follows along. Then, go back and repeat the reading exercise two or three times. You'll need to make sure to pick a favorite book to help your child stay focused and engaged.

5. Guide Your Little Readers

Guided practice is an extremely effective tool for improving reading fluency, and it can be used in concert with the modeling reading behavior tip mentioned earlier in the guide. To execute guided reading, select a popular book from your child's bookcase. Read through the book once with your child. Then, return to the beginning of the book and read the first line. Ask your child to read the line back to you while you point to the words.

This exercise can easily be adapted to a classroom exercise -- or used in one-on-one interactions with your students. You also can make this a group activity, reading the line aloud and then having a different child repeat it back. It turns into a fun activity that everyone is engaged with in the group.

4. Sing Together

An alternative to reading a work meant to be performed is to sing a song. You'll get some of the same reading muscles working simply by hearing the words and singing them with a cadence and flow. Try not to choose a song that is too fast or slow. Mine children's song libraries online and pick a few that you can play in your classroom to get the day started or to play in your car as you and your child trek around town. Listen to your child as she sings the words -- and if she struggles with a word or phrase, turn the music down or pause it and repeat the word or phrase. Ask her to repeat it -- and then start that music back up again.

3. Go Theatrical

Select a favorite poem or monologue and perform it for your child through a live reading. Try to avoid anything that isn't in common English -- so forego those Shakespearean plays or the King James Version of the Bible. You want a script that is easy to understand to modern audience today -- as that is the way we speak and the way your child or student will begin to learn to speak.

Another benefit of reading a poem or monologue is that they were meant to be performed, and by reading them around, you'll give your child a model for how the words are pronounced and expressed. They'll get to see your expressions and hear your tone first hand -- and that will help them understand what it means to be an engaged reader and speaker.

2. Listen to Audiobooks

There isn't always time to read a book together every day. As an effective alternative, have your student or child listen to audiobooks during downtime. Audiobooks feature professional narrators who have practiced the art of speaking and telling a story -- making their words, expression and cadence one to model. The only thing you miss via an audio book is being able to see the facial expressions and mouth movements of the reader.

1. Model Proper Reading

Increasing fluency in your student or child begins with proper modeling. One of the bestFluency practice tips to use at the beginning is to read a favorite book together at least once a day. Sit with your child and read the text with expression and at a natural pace. As you read the words aloud properly, your child or student will adopt your cadence and style.

The Best Online Math Games for Kids

By sara / January 26, 2017

Learning math involves many hours of practice and repetition to establish a good foundation on which to build more difficult concepts. Using games for math learning offers a way to add entertainment and variety into learning the basic principles that many children find challenging and sometimes frustrating. Math games are also an excellent resource for children to use at home to reinforce new learning and skills and practice fundamentals, and because they are fun, they can be used as rewards.

Below are online resources offering math games for fluency and math practice for the young child from preschool through grade three. In reviewing the vast number of online math game resources, ranking consideration was based on ease of website use and clarity of instructions, aesthetic appeal of website design and use of graphics, depth of resources and number of math problems or activities on the website, and finally, value, if there was a required subscription fee.

Adapted Mind features lessons and games for both math and reading. Math exercises cover material appropriate from grade 1 through grade 8, with topics ranging from counting, telling time, addition and subtraction, multiplication, introductory geometry, and decimals. There are hundreds of lessons at each grade level, and while the graphics are eye catching and appealing to the young child, the absence of instructions can make playing the games a bit confusing for even an adult. There is a paid version that involves a membership and access to additional resources that may be more comprehensive with instructions. A nice feature is that the free version allows for the ability to create an account and save progress for future use.

Math Goodies offers interactive games, lessons, and puzzles for kindergarten through grade 5, free of charge. Some examples of material covered include addition and subtraction, decimals, graphs, and word problems. Worksheets can also be downloaded for continued practice. A nice feature of some games is the ability to indicate a difficulty level from easy, medium, and hard, as well as access solutions to problems and search for specific content. Of course, a child may take advantage of the opportunity to choose the easiest setting and not review more challenging material, so parents will want to monitor use of the site. The website design is a bit jumbled with advertising, an email signup, and numerous links to content both onsite and offsite. Regardless of the design, the site contains a robust amount of information that may simply require a little more patience in locating all of it and ignoring the advertising.

Designed by teachers, Kids Numbers presents a fun, interactive resource for young children to learn and strengthen math skills. Early math foundations are presented for number recognition and counting, addition and subtraction of single digits working up to mixed integers, multiplication, and division. As an bonus, the language setting can be adjusted so children can learn numbers and count in other languages. While website access and features are free, there is a paid version that offers additional functionality and more customized settings.

12. Fun Brain

Among the many learning resources on Fun Brain is a math arcade with games organized by grade level from kindergarten through grade 8. Younger children can play games with a parent in the "Moms and Kids Playground" section. One downfall of Fun Brain is the heavy presence of ads promoting Poptropica, a virtual world game requiring a subscription purchase.

Toy Theater offers free interactive games for several subject areas, including math. Games are arranged by subject area and grade level, with difficulty appropriate for the preschool to early elementary age child. Math content is focused on core competencies and early foundations, including matching, patterns, simple counting, and identifying greater than and less than values.

10. Hooda Math

Hooda Math was developed by a middle school math teacher. The website features more than 700 math games that organized into categories for logic, geometry, and basic arithmetic. The site is simple, no fuss and covers a broad range of math concepts in a fun manner.

Math Slice offers interactive math games from the traditional Chess and Bingo to the more recent popular games like Guitar Hero and Math Millionaire (a play from Who Wants to be a Millionaire.) Math concepts from basic addition and subtraction are appropriate for the young child in kindergarten, and growing to more complicated concepts like fractions, introductory statistics, and measurement. In addition to interactive games, parents return to the old school approach and print math worksheets for offline quizzes and practice.

Rick’s Math Web offers a full range of math concepts for the pre-kindergarten age child through early elementary school age, including telling time, numbers, addition, and subtraction. As children grow and learn, the offerings of this site will continue to appeal to their math learning with more complex math concepts like decimals, square roots, ratios and proportions, and geometry. The site features more than 4,800 math problems and tips and tricks for each focus area, all free of charge. Worksheets can also be printed from the website.

Brain Bashers is a no frills, simple website that presents math logic, puzzles, stereograms, and illusions to help users build their brain power and develop math skills. Games like Sudoku and a daily puzzle are offered, and those who are stumped can click for a hint to help solve the answer.

Math is Fun strengthens math skills with interactive tools that grow in difficulty as children age. Basic addition and subtraction interactive learning expand to long addition and long subtraction. Drill activities help children memorize concepts with repetition and math practice. There is information on money, data, and measurement, and as children get older, they will find the material on algebra and geometry helpful. Information is presented in a textbook style format with some games intermingled and full access to the site is free of charge.

Illuminations focuses on learning and offers an ad-free website with online math games divided into grade groupings: kindergarten through grade 2, grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 8, and grades 9 through 12. This is a website that grows with a child as the learning material encompasses all grade levels. The website is not flashy but offers substantial teaching materials in a game format with a description and screenshot of the game for review before beginning.

Mr. Nussbaum offers interactive tools to reinforce learning and develop skills associated with rounding numbers, multiplication, graphing, and other math concepts. The website features a simplistic design with a sports theme rather than a lot of flashy graphics or videos. Educational material is organized by grade level with difficulty strengthening as children progress from the easier rounds to the harder material.

3. PBS Kids

PBS Kids appeals to the very young child who is learning basic math concepts including shape recognition, counting, sorting, measuring, and comparisons. Popular characters like The Cat in the Hat, Curious George, and Clifford present interactive math games that children will enjoy. One of the best features of PBS Kids is that it is free of advertising so children can focus on the learning content without distraction. Parents will want to monitor their child’s use as there are many videos that children may hone in on rather than engaging with the math concepts, thus making the website more of a television show rather than a learning resource.

2. Dream Box

Dream Box appeals to children who enjoy video games by offering math games covering complex math that resemble arcade games. The website offers online learning for children as young as pre-kindergarten and aging up through high school. Concepts are taught through video segments, charts and graphs, puzzles and other visual aids, with coins awarded as children progress through each learning module. Coins can then be redeemed at the online “carnival” to play other games. Before children can proceed to the next level, they must master a skill at the lower level. Limited access is available to some math games while the site requires a paid subscription to access all of its offerings; however, some will find its offerings comprehensive and worth the fee.

1. IXL

IXL offers math games for kindergarten through grade 8 and organized by content. One of the site’s greatest strengths is that it is aligned with individual state guidelines as well as Common Core. Upon registration on the site, the user is immediately served with problems that support learning in accordance with individual state standards. Parents and teachers can choose a specific topic from addition to geometry for children to practice. The website will track how long a child spends on each question, keep score, and record overall progress by awarding online prizes upon completion of each milestone. Dynamic learning is part of the website as the difficulty adjusts to the child’s skill level by skipping over problems when previous ones are correctly answered and serving more when previous questions are answered incorrectly. The website is free for access to a few sets of math problems per day, but there is a subscription fee for unlimited learning.

The Best Educational Board Games for Kids

By Rebecca / January 26, 2017
Best Educational Board Games for Kids

The best way for a child to learn is through hands-on experience and fun. Board games are capable of increasing a child’s brain power and skills while being able to spend much-needed quality time with the family.

There are several benefits to playing board games:

  • Learn the concept of following the rules
  • Deal with moral problems and what is right and wrong
  • Learn to detect patterns
  • Learn to plan ahead
  • Enhance thinking skills
  • Encourages logical reasoning
  • Improve memory function
  • Learn alternate outcomes
  • Gain social skills
  • Reasoning skills
  • Teamwork
  • Learn how to be a good sport

Cooperative Game Play

Cooperative gameplay encourages all the players to work together to achieve success in the game. It helps to develop social skills and teamwork while providing a fun and enjoyable experience while further developing other skills such as learning how to follow directions, help the other players, and develop relationships. Cooperative gameplay develops a strong sense of community among the players as they all reach for a common goal and outcome.

When choosing a good educational board game, you will want to find something that involves strategy, rather than just luck. You want to encourage your child to think through their options and weigh their decision before they make a move. It enhances their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Different games can teach different skills. Monopoly, for example, teaches financial skills, while Chutes and Ladders can help teach about the number line.

Price Guide: 

                                                       $                                                                 Under $100 

                                    $$                                                          $100 - $200

                                    $$$                                    $200 or more 

Best Educational Board Games for Toddlers

ThinkFun Roll and Play Board Game

The Thinkfun Roll and Play Board game introduces your child to roll and play activity with the aid of a plush cube and 48 different game cards. It encourages creativity, active play, and motor skills. Along with the game cards and plush cube, you also receive a storage packet for the cards and a parent’s guide to help your child through their learning journey.

To Play

The child will start by tossing the plush cube and identifying the color that lands facing up. The child then has to choose a matching game card for the corresponding color and perform the activity. Activities include “Make a Happy Face,” “Moo like a cow,” and “find something blue.”

Skills the Child Can Learn
  • Colors
  • Counting
  • Social interaction
  • Emotions
  • Image and word recognition

Price

$

Recommended Age Group

18 months and up

Key Points                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Endless learning possibilities, encourages social interaction and engagement and encourages creative exploration


HABA My Very First Games-First Orchard

The First Orchard game is designed for children two years old and up and encourages shape and color recognition, as well as teaching your child how to follow simple rules. It is suitable for one to four players and takes about ten minutes to play through. It doubles as a game and a pretend play set. All of the pieces are larger and safe for smaller hands, and it includes a basket to encourage cooperative play.

To Play

The children roll the die and collect the fruit and try to harvest all the fruit before the raven can reach the orchard. If the child rolls the raven, then the raven moves one step closer.

Skills the Child Can Learn
  • Social skills
  • Color recognition
  • Numbers and counting
  • Shape recognition

Price

$

Recommended Age Group

Two years old and up

Key Points                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Doubles as pretend play and a board game, specially designed for younger players, can be played alone or with others


Peaceable Kingdom Hoot Owl Hoot! Cooperative Board Game

The Hoot Owl Hoot! Board Game is an award-winning color-coded cooperative matching game. It features two different play levels so that it will grow with your child. It teaches children to work together because they all have to be successful to win this game. It is designed for two to four players and requires simple strategy and encourages social development, positive self-esteem, playfulness, and cooperation.

To Play

The children will play a color card and then fly to the corresponding space on the board. If a sun card is drawn, then they are one step closer to daylight. The object of the game is to get all of the owls’home before the sun rises. This game encourages teamwork rather than competitive play, so the children cannot win unless they learn to work together.

Skills the Child Can Learn
  • Simple strategy
  • Problem-solving
  • How to follow directions
  • Social development
  • Cooperation
  • Color recognition

Price

$

Recommended Age Group

Four to eight years old

Key Points                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Cooperative game that promotes a non-stressful play situation, emotional development, decision making, and promotes a strong sense of community among the players


Best Educational Board Games for Preschoolers

Peaceable Kingdom Snug as a Bug in a Rug Preschool Skills Builder Game

Snug as a Bug in a Rug is a bug matching game that features three play levels so that the game grows with your child. All the players must work together to hide the matching bugs under the rug before the stink bugs come by. This game has won several awards including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award and Dr. Toy 10 Best Educational Toys Award.

To Play

This game comes with a game board with built-in spinner, 24 colorful bugs, three stink bugs, one die, and instructions because there are three different ways to play. Ultimately, the child must use their matching skills to succeed while working together with their fellow players.

Skills the Child Can Learn
  • Color, number, and shape recognition
  • Social interaction
  • Counting
  • Visual discrimination
  • How to take turns and follow directions

Price

$

Recommended Age Group

Three to six years old

Key Points                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Encourages cooperative play and teamwork and teaches the basic rules of gameplay like taking turns and rolling a die                                       


Elephant’s Trunk

Elephant’s Trunk is a fun and interactive game for preschoolers that uses wooden pieces and small tin suitcases. There are approximately 15 minutes of gameplay, and no reading is required. The game is designed for two to four players at a time. Emmet, the elephant, needs help packing before the sneaky mouse can come and dump everything out of his suitcase.

To Play

The children will take turns rolling the die, and with every roll, they will place a piece of clothing into the elephant’s suitcase while matching the colors up. Always be aware of the little mouse that is trying to sneak up and cause disaster for the elephant’s trip.

Skills the Child Can Learn
  • Color identification
  • Motor skill development
  • Pattern identification

Price

$

Recommended Age Group

Four to eight years old

Key Points                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

No reading required, simple and straight-forward game rules, encourages social interaction with other players                                                                       


Pigs in Pants Board Game

The Pigs in Pants Board Game is a fun and colorful matching game that requires strategic thinking to win. The child will want to collect the most pairs of pants on the pig by matching the patterned pants to the four cards. The other players shout, “I’m going to pinch your pants!” This is an exciting game that encourages interaction and fun while being able to yell and be silly.

To Play

Match the patterned pants to the four cards located in the center of the board game and pinch pants from the other players to get the most. Just remember, that your cards can be easily pinched by another player so carefully anticipate all the moves that are made.

Skills the Child Can Learn
  • Matching and memory skills
  • Observational skills
  • Personal and social skills
  • Color recognition
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Analytical skills

Price

$

Recommended Age Group

Four to five years old

Key Points                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Requires strategic thinking, it can get loud, requires matching skills                                                                                                


Monkeys Up Educational Family Game

Monkeys Up is fun for the entire family. All the players compete to get the best score by flipping, switching, and stealing monkeys. It requires one to six players and is a game that involves memory and strategy. The game comes with eighteen plastic monkeys, one cube, and a simple instruction booklet for gameplay. The game is simple and easy to learn and fun for the entire family regardless of age.

To Play

Every monkey will have a value that is hidden under their feet, and you will only be able to see this value if the monkey is flipped. To win, the players must switch, steal, and flip the monkeys the best to reveal all the hidden values and get the best score.

Skills the Child Can Learn
  • Memory skills
  • Strategy
  • Critical thinking
  • Social development

Price

$$

Recommended Age Group

Six years old and up

Key Points                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Encourages quality family time and laughter while educating and improving thinking and memory skills                           


Best Educational Board Games for Grade School Aged Children

Brain Freeze from Mighty fun

Brain Freeze is an award-winning board game that is perfect for kids and families. It is a great way for your child to learn strategy, logic, deduction, and memory while combining elements of other popular strategy games. It requires two players, or you can split off into two teams with two players each. The players or teams must race to guess the secret sweet treat that the other player or team has chosen.