Friday, December 28th, 2012
After the opening of the gifts, it’s time to say thanks for items received not only to demonstrate proper etiquette but also to practice a number of important skills. Thank you notes provide younger children with the opportunity to practice fine motor skills as they practice their letters while older children can hone their written communication skills. Whether you choose hand written note cards or tech savvy expressions, there’s a method of saying thank you that suits every child’s style.
Hand written thank you notes sent via snail mail are a great way to teach younger kids the importance of a thank you card. Use free printable online templates to differentiate the task for kids of varying ages. Older children should be expected to write more than younger siblings but it’s often motivational if everyone sits down together to complete the task. Printable templates in princess, rainbow, and party themes allow preschooler and kindergartners to fill in the name of the gift giver, the gift, and sign their name at the end. These black and white templates from Delightful Distractions are fun to color and require two sentences, rather than 1. Third graders who are practicing cursive can fill in these notes and can either draw a picture or add a photo of themselves with the gift.
Personalized thank you cards with a hand written note are the ultimate expression of self. Tiny Prints makes great thank you cards for kids of all ages that include flat and folded versions, child-friendly themes, or sophisticated fonts and designs for the most choosy tween or teen. The online card retailer makes it easy to create cards on their website in a matter of minutes. Add a photo, your child’s name, and even request a proof to be emailed to you before your cards print and ship. The hardest thing about using this site is choosing among the vast selection of gorgeous thank you notes!
The Paperless Post app makes it easy to send personalized cards even while on the go. It’s great for creating personalized thank you cards while traveling. Just select a free card design, type your message, select the recipient in your iPhone’s address book, and the cost includes printing and the required postage.
For the super tech savvy giver and receiver, iGiftThanks is an app that allows iOS device users to keep track of gifts received, take a photo, add a frame, and say thank you via email, Facebook or Twitter instantly. It’s a simple and thoughtful app that is easy enough for young iPod users to use so there won’t be any excuse as to why they haven’t written their thank you notes yet!
Thank you note written in chalk on a slate heart hanging on a wooden background via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
There’s no doubt that technology can help reinforce learning in a fun way but what are kids really learning when they’re using those apps, playing interactive games on a website, or engaging with content on electronic devices? Ruckus Reader, PBS KIDS PLAY!, and Tag Reader provide fabulous experiences that can enrich a child’s learning but also give parents some real feedback about the kinds of things that their kids are learning through play.
Ruckus Reader app for iPad by Ruckus Media Group combines digital storybooks with favorite characters and content from trusted educational partners like PBS for an engaging, educational experience. Designed for preschoolers through second graders, there’s a wealth of content for every learner. The customized user interface provides different reading levels that are appropriate for emergent, beginning and independent readers and parents are provided with a snapshot of their child’s reading progress through the Weekly Reader email. Weekly Reader Meter e-mail reports and an online dashboard provide insight into phonics and word recognition, print awareness, fluency, alphabetic knowledge, sequencing, and story comprehension so you know what your child is learning through play. All results are aligned to Common Core Standards and are in real time so you never have to wait to get the information you need about your child’s learning.
PBS KIDS PLAY is a subscription-based program that customizes the learning experience to your child’s level across 35 different skill areas. The robust exclusive content differs from the free PBS KIDS site because while all content is still aligned to national education standards, PBS KIDS PLAY! automatically adjusts to your child’s skill level based on performance learning achievements and includes 56 exclusive educational games. Multiple accounts can be set up and parents receive a personal progress chart for each child showing the results as they progress through the curriculum. PLAY! also has built-in safety features, including the option to set a time limit.
Tag Reader by LeapFrog is a touch reading system that brings books to life but it is far more sophisticated and portable. Designed for children ages 4-8, Tag is a wireless hand held pen-like device that uses an infrared camera to recognize letters, words, and symbols to make words talk and pictures sing. Tag can also grow with your reader because of the amazing selection of books available that go with the Tag ranging from classics to books featuring favorite characters, nonfiction titles, and maps. LeapFrog also enables parents to see their child’s learning progress through the LeapFrog Learning Path,an online tool that provides information about your child’s reading progress when you connect Tag to your computer. Learning Path allows you to see details like which skills, stories and activities your child is most engaged with. It also tells you when your child has started playing with content above their grade level and see the questions your child has answered during play. This information is incredibly valuable and is similar to what your child’s teacher gathers through daily classroom observations during a reading group or from running records or standardized tests to inform instruction. It allows you to see your child’s progress and make sure they are reading books and engaging in reading activities that are just right for them.
Children playing with tablet at home on sofa via Shutterstock
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