Littlebits Premium Kit

With Christmas coming quickly, it’s already time to start thinking about great gifts for the kids. Kids love getting great toys for Christmas, and tech toys have become a big hit with kids of all ages. With customizable robots, smart toys, and iPhone controlled options, there’s so much to choose from as you begin your search for the perfect gift.

You might want to consider some tech toys for the kids that actually teach them important lessons, whether they’re life lessons or essential skills. The best tech toys offer plenty of entertainment while helping kids learn, making it fun for them to develop important skills.

Instead of scouring through all the latest tech toys to find the ones that will improve your child’s education, we’ve done the work for you. Here’s a look at five of the best tech toys that will offer a fun, exciting learning experience for your child too.

1 – LittleBits

Electronics are a huge part of our world today, and now kids can experience creating things with electronics just by snapping together a few blocks. LittleBits are building blocks that are actually circuit components color coded so you can attach them to one another. In fact, you can create many cool things with them without needing to know anything about electronics.

Not only can you put LittleBits building blocks together, they can also be combined with ordinary objects to create some exciting things. For example, add them to a bow tie and you could make it jiggle when it hears your voice. Kids get the chance to become inventors while learning electronics basics. Add these bits to objects to create buzzing and blinking creations.

The LittleBits Base Kit is $99 and comes with a helpful step-by-step guide to help kids learn to make their own inventions, as well as 10 Bits. They can also find more ideas online so they can really explore all that the LittleBits have to offer. For $149 you can get the LittleBits Electronics Premium Kit, which comes with Bits not included in the basic kit, and it works with the Base Kit as well.  Anf for $199 you can get their best kit, LittleBits Gizmos & Gadgets Kit

 

2 – LeapFrog LeapReader Letter Writing Pack

leapfrog-leapreaderIf you have a younger child learning to read and write, the LeapFrog LeapReader Letter Writing Pack is the perfect tech gift this year. The complete system is over $100, but it has a lot to offer. Kids can use the pack with the LeapReader Pen to build literacy skills and to learn how to write. The pack includes the LeapReader Pen, special paper that works with the pen, a Learn to Write Letters Writing Workbook, downloadable music album and audio book bundle, and Activity Book.

With the included LeapReader Pen, kids can trace out the letters that are in the workbook, and the pen has a built-in speaker that gives them instructions along the way. It also has flashing lights, encouraging words, and cool sounds to keep kids motivated. For the reading features, kids simply touch the pen to words in special picture books and the pen will speak them out loud.

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teaching-respect

Nowadays, respect is a rare gift in young men who grew up understanding the virtues of showing respect to the opposite sex. Teaching equality among the sexes is the best gift we can give our kids. If parents would understand the valuable tool their sons will have if they learn early on how to respect women, there would be far happier marriages later in life. Teach boys the fine art of respecting women so when they search for their life partner they will find the best one.

Teach Respect within the Home First

Teaching young men how to respect women starts with their mothers and fathers and how they respect each other. If for example a father does not listen to his wife and show respect, how is the son to react? Kids learn by example. On the other hand, if a woman is aggressive and disrespectful to her husband, chances are her husband doesn’t show her respect either and sons will grow up without this advantage in knowing to respect other women. Before you can train your son to have respect, are you acting in a respectful manner within your marriage? Mom and dad need to have nailed this first and then parents are better able to train their sons. Children need to learn and value 'equality' among men and women.

First, always react to any disrespect from the sons with calmness and patience. If you ground your son for being disrespectful, you have probably spoken harshly and sent them to their room where they can stew in their anger. Before doling a punishment for disrespect, simmer down and think it through before reacting.

If the son is throwing a verbal fit, it’s best not to match his fit by yelling or being angry. That adds fuel to the disrespect fire. Let him finish his fit, let him calm down first. Young men are sometimes easily agitated (thus the term teenage angst) and knowing this will help you to stay calm and ride out his angst until he calms down too. Listen to his ranting, calmly and without interruption. Once he’s done, then approach, calmly, and let him recognize you listened to what he said. But also let him see where you have experienced the disrespect (or saw the disrespect to another woman) and calmly explain that you will not be a participant in talking with them under those circumstances. Tell them you will talk to and help them once they show the proper respect.

Respect is often coupled with a sense of remorse if respect wasn’t shown. Train your son to show this remorse if he reacts in a disrespectful way. You do this by not fueling their disrespect. If they are reacting, ranting, in a disrespectful way, say nothing, do nothing until it’s over. Help them understand why you said or did nothing.

Even the most disrespectful boys can learn respect by seeing examples of the adults in their lives practicing it. Show them if you act disrespectful that you have remorse for doing so. This is vitally important for the father, if he disrespects mom in front of the kids, to show he has remorse and can apologize.

It might help to act out scenarios where dad can play act showing disrespect to mom and then play act how he shows remorse. Show your son how to respect, what to do in different situations. Do this while the young man is calm and listening.

Teach Respect by Showing Respect

So many people are under the assumption that respect is earned when it’s something we should offer our fellow human being simply because they are our fellow human being. With this in mind, parents should show respect to their sons from the start. Don’t respect ill behavior, but respect him first in all the things he does right. Don’t lower your morals and values for this respect, but give him the respect you’d like for him to show you.

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family-games

Having a family comes with great responsibility. If you want to raise children with a well-rounded upbringing, then you must make time for the family. It’s very good to provide food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. But it requires more than that to make a family a good family. Times are busy. Parents work, kids are often in activities that keeps the schedule crowded, but you should make it a top priority to spend quality time with the family. A great way to do this is to incorporate a family night into your schedule.

How often to schedule family night really depends on the dynamics of your family. Ideally, it would be great to work it in weekly. But depending on what’s going on with the children’s activities, you may need to adjust that. Try for twice a month or even once a month if you must. Here are some awesome ideas for family night fun.

Board Games

Board games offer a time for children to flex the competitive muscles all while spending quality time with you. Depending on the ages of your children, you have a wide range of choices when it comes to board games. Try for the board game classics of Monopoly, Clue, Parcheesi, Aggravation, Trouble, and Scrabble. Newer board games come out all the time. Some board games make take hours to finish, like RISK or the trivia variety. Take the kids shopping and let them choose one game for family night.

Card Games

Cards are an all-time classic. A deck of cards can become so many games from go-fish to crazy 8 to rummy. UNO is a fun deck of cards and it’s good for whatever size of family you are. Give each kid a deck of cards and teach them how to play Solitaire. Play with actual cards because it’s different than playing a video card game. If they learn Solitaire, they will be able to entertain themselves when needed.

Video Games

If you own a game system or computer, you could incorporate a video game playoff. Some game systems allow for up to four players at a time or take turns. This teaches children patience and teaches them how to cheer the others in a friendly game competition.

Charades and Drawing Games

This classic game doesn’t need any special props, just willing and able bodies. It’s fun to act out different movies. Try variations of charades such as drawing. Take a large tablet and start by drawing a shape and the others will guess at what’s on the tablet. See how few drawings (or shapes) it takes for the team to guess at the picture. Tic Tac Toe is a fun game to draw on a marker board, chalk board, or large tablet. Hang man will help teach children spelling skills.

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college_students

I am in my 50's, and still in deep debt for going back to college. If it is stressful for me think how stressful it is for those in their 20's and just graduating deep in debt. My story is for another time, this story is about our future and how Debt-Free College is so important, not only for our youth, but for the future of our country.

Lets step back a minute. Late September 2016 brought about an amicable appearance by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. The purpose? To demonstrate to the voting public and observers the importance of education from early childhood forward. Sanders, an advocate of affordable, quality education for all ages, had two important messages. The first one was his official endorsement of Ms. Clinton’s plan for debt-free college. The second was to explain why a Clinton presidency will honor that goal, as opposed to the education proposals by Republican candidate Donald Trump.

What are the differences and similarities between education platforms? The one similarity is that both candidates support charter schools. Clinton leans towards approval of Common Core and supports teachers’ unions, Trump is critical of teachers’ unions and has promised to get rid of Common Core. Voters have the challenge of sorting through their own beliefs before November 2016’s election.

Donald Trump wants to take $20 billion from existing federal monies to fund a voucher program allowing school-age children, particularly those living in poverty, to attend their choice of school, whether public or private. He believes that the free market practice will improve school performance and curriculum. Officials and voters in cities and states, as well as designated school districts, would need to support the plan and contribute an additional $110 billion of their educational budget. The result would be a $12,000 school choice voucher to each student from kindergarten through high school who is living in poverty.

Hillary Clinton states the program would devastate the already financially strapped public schools in the nation. Taking approximately 30 percent of federal tax dollars from public schools would result in adversely affecting students from all walks of life. She believes universal preschool and quality childcare will help young children develop learning skills and the education necessary to succeed in college and beyond.

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father-praises-daughter

Praise and Constructive Criticism

by Lori Ramsey – real life parenting with a mom with 6 kids

The children of today experience the world a lot differently than we did as children. The spirit of competition is gone and is replaced by the motto everyone is included, everyone rewarded. Here’s the scenario of today:

Little league sign-up sheets come home in your child’s schoolwork. Baseball, softball, football, soccer, and basketball are a few of the sports offered to children. All a parent has to do is fill out the form, get a physical, and pay the fee and their child is on the team. During the season, the child either plays or they sit the bench, whatever the coach deems necessary. After the season, whether the child played well or not and whether the team won games or not, each child receives a trophy or a medal, for participation. Therefore you all children make it on the team, all children receive an award, regardless of their skills, if they played well, if they won or not.

Does the scenario really seem fair? On the surface it seems fair. Everyone has a chance, no one left out. But dig deeper. What does this tell our children? It tells them when they reach adulthood that in all fairness they should have opportunity to do whatever they want, regardless of their skills and talents. Scenarios like this makes them entitlement minded, feeling they deserve a reward even if they didn’t earn the entitlement or deserve it.

Years ago, before the massive technology boom, when children wanted to play a sport they had to try out for the team. They were chosen for the team if they showed the talent and skills for the sport, or if they showed good potential. Some children were not chosen, and while that may have hurt at the time, they were taught they had to earn their positions. Only children who played well, and teams who actually won the games received trophies and medals. Children did not receive an award for simply participating.

While that may sound so unfair, proving skills and talents taught generations of children they had to work hard to receive their positions on sports teams and later in life for their jobs. It taught children that rewards are earned from merit, not because mom and dad dug deep in their pockets and paid a fee.

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hillary-rally

Hillary Clinton: An Advocate for Quality Child Care, Employment, and Education

Today, on November 8th, 2016, I just cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. I was a Bernie Sanders supporter. Now I am rallying all my energy around Hillary Clinton. The stakes are way too high and the alternative of a Trump Presidency is unacceptable, not only for a small business owner as myself, but as a parent concerned about our children's future! Campaigning for the 2016 Presidential election continues to heat up. America’s middle class realizes how important it is to vote for a candidate who understands their concerns and is prepared to fix problems. Some of the rhetoric seems to sound the same, particularly when it focuses on child care. In fact, Donald Trump believes he and Hillary Clinton are on the same wavelength with child care. That’s why it’s important to stay up to date as proposals are updated or changed.

Clinton emphasized in July 2016 that her plan would limit a family’s cost of child care to 10 percent of the family’s income. A concrete plan to achieve that goal. Hillary’s proposals to support the goal include the expansion of the child care tax credit. Concerned about the possibility of daycare centers raising rates if there are higher child care subsidies, she and her advisors are studying an equitable way to make employment affordable for parents.

Trump proposes an option for families to deduct the cost of child care from their taxes. It provides middle class workers a tax deduction to recoup the expense. Annual daycare costs for an infant in California range in the neighborhood of $12,000 and up. Preschoolers average $9,000 or more each year! A family of three living in Sacramento, CA with a pre-tax/deductions annual income of $70,000 is recognized as middle class. Employees know the costs of working before a paycheck is issued. A tax deduction or credit is not a guaranteed way to recover what’s been spent. Donald is out of touch with the middle class.

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child-on-computer-late

Monitoring and Keeping Our Children Safe on Social Media Sites

Recently, a comprehensive study was performed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on the impacts of social media on children and teens. It was concluded that individuals under the age of 18 benefit in numerous ways by utilizing social media website. Younger generations have the ability to increase their communication skills, have access to a multitude of facts and other types of information, and experience an increase in self-awareness; however, despite these benefits, it was determined that the interactions, activities, and information shared on social media platforms may also be detrimental to a child’s physiological, psychological, and emotional growth. Furthermore, social media platforms may result in dangers that negatively impact the safety of children and teenagers. As parents, it is our number 1 priority and responsibility to protect our kids; however, our power to do so should not be abused. In this comprehensive guide, you will be introduced to various tips that will aid in monitoring social media accounts, internet safety, and taking a productive, proactive role in protecting your children.

Social Networking – At a Glance

Before delving into the tips that will help you to successfully monitor your kids’ social media accounts, we feel it is important to share some basic information about social networking. These types of networks are those that provide a virtual-based community for people that have an interest in a particular activity, subject, or simply want to gather with one another in an online environment. Essentially, these networks are online clubhouses. You establish membership, create a profile, and engage in various types of activities and transactions. Social networking allows you to connect to relatives, friends, neighbors, classmates, and others through activities like games, chat, pictures, and email. All social networking websites include the ability to provide updates via status posts and typically host events. Examples of popular social networking websites for kids include Facebook, Twitter, Club Penguin, Webkinz, WhatsApp, Instagram, Pinterest, Burn Note, and Snapchat.

Why Do Kids Gravitate Towards Social Media?

There are several unique reasons why kids gravitate towards social media sites. First and foremost, these websites allow them to communicate with those that they care about in real life – even if those people are far away. If a kid has lost touch with a friend, they have the ability to relocate and reconnect with them. They may share messages with others, share various types of content (videos, memes, and informational text), and they may share pictures. They have the ability to participate in groups and causes that they are passionate about. They may also play games – solo, with their friends, or with people that they meet online. In today’s world, social media is a part of life – especially for kids. As parents, we must accept that this is a way of life for today’s children. Now, it is time to expound on how we may successfully monitor our kids’ social media accounts.

Ideas on How to Monitor our Kids Social Media Activities

  1. The first step to monitoring kids’ social media accounts and internet safety is to obtain information about the age restrictions on the various platforms. For example, if your child wants a Facebook account, the website requires them to be – at least – thirteen years of age. Naturally, you could change your child’s birth year in order to allow them access sooner than the designated minimum age; however, this is not advisable. If a social media website has an age restriction in place, you should respect that and encourage your children to wait until that age in order to create a member profile. If – when your child reaches the minimum age requirement – you feel as if they lack the maturity to interact on the social media site, you may have them wait for access.
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