Archive for the ‘ Elementary ’ Category

Dress Up Goes Digital

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Toddlers and preschoolers thrive on imaginative play that helps them understand the world around them and love dress up. A dress up bin full of clothes, hats, and accessories has unlimited possibilities but what about when you’re out? Today’s kids can exercise their imagination through digital dress up options to unleash their inner fashionista at any age.

Fairies Fashion Boutique— Fans of Disney, Tinkerbelle, and the fairies, will enjoy the new free Fairies Fashion Boutique app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPads that allows fans to create and style their own Fairy. Select from a variety of hairstyles and over 500 patterns and 100 color options in the clothing and accessories lines. Parents should note that while the app is free, fashions are available to purchase and charges go directly to your iTunes account. Be sure to have a conversation with your child to point out free fashions versus the paid ones so you don’t rack up an abundance of charges. Also, the undressed fairy figures are modeled after curvy women, rather than the bodies of girls, and could result in questions and concerns about body image.


Fashion Playtes allows budding fashion designers the fun of designing their own clothes via the website with the option of purchasing products from their very own line. Girls can design endlessly by personalizing tops, bottoms, dresses, outwear, loungewear, accessories, and even doll clothes for themselves and miniaturized matching versions for their favorite 18” doll. Select the color of the garment, choose embellishments (appliqués, rhinestones, lace, and more), and then add a personalized label saying who it was made by.  Items are affordably priced even after customization! Choices that were plentiful but not overwhelming. Parents should know that girls can create as many designs as they want without having to pay for their creations. Payment comes when a girl wants to have her article of clothing made and delivered to their house. Once you use the site, it’s probably best to not have Fashion Playtes remember your credit card info in the event that the check out button is hit accidentally

Imagine Fashion Designer

Imagine Fashion Designer New YorkPart of the Imagine game series for the Nintendo DS, Imagine Fashion Designer New York allows tweens to pretend they’re upcoming fashion designers trying to make it in New York City as part of a famous fashion house. They’ll style, design, and trend set their way to the top! Wii owners can get in on the fashion action with Imagine Fashion Party, a game that uses the Wii controller to go through as series of challenges to prove you’re the best designer. Imagine Fashion Designer is similar to the other Imagine games in that it allows for fantasy role play with a healthy dose of dress up where girls can style the models they will use to show off their fashion on the runway. Parents should know that while both games are rated E and designed for ages 6-14, it’s important to preview the games first before turning your daughter loose to ensure that the content is just right for her.

Images courtesy of the aforementioned companies.


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3 Ways Parents Can Help Teachers Reduce Personal Spending on Class Supplies

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Each year your child’s teacher personal subsidizes classroom materials that aren’t provided by the school system. In 2010 The National School Supply and Equipment Association released a study about teacher spending patterns. The findings indicated that the teachers surveyed spent $936 on instructional materials and school supplies each year. Year by year, this amount adds up but there are many small ways that parents can help to defray teacher personal spending.

Here are three thoughtful things you can do that don’t take a lot of money but can make a huge difference to your child’s classroom teacher.

Ask your teacher to make a wish list of items and send it out to parents on a regular basis when supplies get low. In the past, our child’s teachers have asked to help them replenish reams of paper, hand sanitizer, tissues, and pencils when the initial supply from the start of the school year started to dwindle. Chances are you probably have an extra box of tissues around the house. Hand sanitizer and pencils aren’t hard to pick up on your run to the grocery or drug store. These are items that cost a little but will make a huge difference in the classroom.

Encourage teachers to set up a page. DonorsChoose is a classroom charity organization where teachers submit project ideas that they hope will be funded by your donations. Search for projects according to state, school, and teacher and give directly to the teacher requesting the funds for much needed items. There’s no middleman skimming money off the donations and as a donor, your donation is tax deductible. takes the guesswork out of a class gift for the holidays or at the end of the year.

Enter your teacher to win cash prizes through giveaways. There’s a lot of money to be had through sweepstakes and while your chances may not be great, it never hurts to take just a few minutes of your time to try for a prize that could make a huge difference to your teacher. Teacher’s Market lists Facebook Giveaways for Teachers and teacher contests and sweepstakes. One really easy contest to enter is Safely’s Facebook giveaway where parents, grandparents, and teachers can enter to win a $500 Amazon gift card to give to your favorite classroom with a single click.

Teacher helps her pupils via Shutterstock

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3 Tips for Finding Great Apps for Kids

Monday, August 27th, 2012

More often than not, learning with a friend is more fun, especially if it’s through an educational app featuring a beloved character. It’s no surprise that a new study from market research firm NPD Group stated that kids are increasingly adopting tech. One finding indicated that tablet use increased 13% from 2011 to 2012, making it more important to find the apps that will provide quality learning experiences for the youngest ages.

But how do you know what apps are entertaining and educational at the same time?

Luckily apps aren’t a large investment like a monthly subscription to some paid kids’ websites or new gaming system but a dollar or two here and there can add up.

Here are 3 tips for finding great apps.

  • Visit Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media is a wealth of information that provides reviews for movies, video games, websites, TV, books, music, and also apps. It’s an easy to use site that allows parents to do a search and quickly figure out if content is age appropriate for their child. To stay up to date, their emails provide helpful information and food for thought about raising kids in this digital age.
  • Rely on trusted names in education. PBS, Scholastic, and many other companies that are rooted in educating young minds have jumped into the app game. They have developed high quality learning experiences that include interactive games and storybooks that keep kids engaged and tend to be so fun that kids forget that they’re learning!
  • Ask friends and teachers. Your village can be a great source of information. Teachers with children can be a wonderful resource because it’s likely that they’re looking for educational apps for their own children to use at home. A savvy friend who is always knows about products before everyone else probably can provide some suggestions too.

Where do you go to find great apps? Do you have any tips?

Family playing video game on smartphone via Shutterstock

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4 Back to School Essentials for Organization

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

August is here which means the start of school isn’t too far away! Take a deep breath because there’s still plenty of time to buy school supplies and get organized before you send your little ones off on their learning adventures. Here are 4 back to school essentials that can help every family stay organized.

My Lunch Money ensures that parents never have to send another check or cash to the school cafeteria to pay for lunch.  Parents at schools who use My Lunch Money can use the website to add money to their child’s lunch account and receive an email when the balance is low and the amount needs to be replenished. Parents can also view the items that their child is purchasing for lunch to make sure that tummies are being filled with a well rounded meal and not just cookies.

Mabel’s Labels Ultimate Back to School Combo features custom durable labels for all the things that your kids can lose during the course of the school year.  Skinny Minis work well for pencils and USB drives, Tag Mates and Shoe Labels help lost clothing and shoes make it back to your child, while Teeny Tags are perfect for attaching to lunchboxes and backpacks.  Mabels makes plenty of designs to suit every personality.  Tweens will also love the new Tween Pack that makes labeling your stuff uber cool. While you’re ordering, pick up a pack of the new Book Labels too!

LaLa Lunchbox provides you and your hungry little ones with a fun, easy, and engaging way to plan and pack lunch. The iPhone app is designed to empower kids by allowing them to pick their own lunch using photo based icons, save money by allowing them to choose from items they love, and save time since there’s no more guesswork about what to pack. Add your own favorite foods by taking a photo and adding it to the app while keeping track of the number of servings of fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. your child is consuming. LaLa Lunchbox is available from the iTunes Store for $1.99.

Cozi keeps families organized. This free app is available for Android, Blackberry, and iPhones and synch seamlessly with a web based version you can get to from any internet enabled device. Pull in calendars from your school, create recurring activities and appointments, and color code activities for various family members in your family calendar. Additional features include a to-do list, meal planning, family journal, and shopping list.  Cozi is breeze to use and even better since it’s free!

Back to school via Shutterstock

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Classic Reading Rainbow Reinvented as iPad App

Friday, June 29th, 2012

LeVar Burton introduces Reading Rainbow app

For those who grew up watching LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow, the classic show is back but in a new format as an iPad app designed for ages 3-9.  Like the original series that ran for 26 years on PBS, the app takes kids on real life adventures where they travel to islands to find books and videos that are suited to their age and interests.

“I come from a family of teachers, and when I was offered the opportunity to host Reading Rainbow in 1983, I recognized immediately the value in using technology to inspire kids to read,” said Burton. “Reading will never go out of style, but the tools used for learning are changing. I am excited to bring Reading Rainbow back so that parents who watched the show can now share that same feel-good experience with their own children but on a platform that resonates with today’s digital kids.”

The app is free to download and includes access to all themed islands, a preview of the entire Reading Rainbow library, the ability to select and read one free book, and watch island introductory videos that star LeVar Burton.  A subscription component is also available for $9.99/month or $29.99 for 6 months.  The subscription includes:

  • Access to the entire Reading Rainbow library
  • Video field trips featuring LeVar Burton
  • Interactive stories and play based book activities
  • Ability to collect stickers towards the reading reward program offers a website and dashboard where parents can view the amount of time their child spent reading, the titles of books read, and receive suggestions for new stories based on the child’s interests. The Family Reading Time hints provide opportunities to discuss themes and lessons explored in each book.

Image courtesy of Reading Rainbow.

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