Useful apps for high school students

While your teen might seem more interested in using their phone for social media and staying connected with friends, smart phones and tablets can be extremely effective study tools. The following apps can help high school students stay organized, meet deadlines, and study in a fun and convenient way! •        -           myHomework •                  myHomework helps students stay on top of deadlines by managing due dates for assignments, projects, and tests. Students can view homework in a calendar format, as well as sorting by specific date. The app can also be synced across other devices such as tablets and laptops to ensure their calendar is never out of reach. •        -           Evernote •                  One of the most popular note-taking apps, Evernote, allows students to take notes, photos, and even record videos. Features such as collaboration and note sharing make it easy to share information with classmates, while tagging makes the notes easily searchable. The multi-media recording format makes it helpful for students with differing learning styles. •        -           Dropbox •                  Avoid the panic of a lost flash drive or a crashing computer by using Dropbox. It allows students to store a seemingly endless number of documents, photos, and videos in one easy to access location. This also allows the documents to be accessed from anywhere, allowing teens to work from multiple devices. •        -           RefMe •                  RefMe is a must-have for any student working on research papers or projects. Supporting popular programs like Evernote, RefMe helps students create instant bibliographies by copying and pasting URLs, as well as scanning book barcodes for storage in the cloud. •        -           StudyBlue •                  StudyBlue allows students to create their own custom flashcards. This allows teens to tailor study guides for each individual class and subject. No time to create your own set? Students can search the StudyBlue database of more than 250+ million student-made flashcardsE for similar content. •        -           Essentials by AccelaStudy •                  With so many foreign language learning apps on the market, picking just one was difficult. Essentials, however, is a free app perfectly tailed to beginning language students. With premade vocabulary flashcards and audio quizzes, Essentials gives children the tools they need for languages such as Chinese, French, Italian, or Spanish. •        -           Free Graphing Calculator •                  Graphing calculators can be too big of an investment for many families. Get the same effect for by downloading Free Graphing Calculator. The app plots and traces different equations on the same graph, is a unit converter, provides constants for scientific calculations, and much more!

While your teen might seem more interested in using their phone for social media and staying connected with friends, smart phones and tablets can be extremely effective study tools. The following apps can help high school students stay organized, meet deadlines, and study in a fun and convenient way!

•        -           myHomework

•                  myHomework helps students stay on top of deadlines by managing due dates for assignments, projects, and tests. Students can view homework in a calendar format, as well as sorting by specific date. The app can also be synced across other devices such as tablets and laptops to ensure their calendar is never out of reach.

•        -           Evernote

•                  One of the most popular note-taking apps, Evernote, allows students to take notes, photos, and even record videos. Features such as collaboration and note sharing make it easy to share information with classmates, while tagging makes the notes easily searchable. The multi-media recording format makes it helpful for students with differing learning styles.

•        -           Dropbox

•                  Avoid the panic of a lost flash drive or a crashing computer by using Dropbox. It allows students to store a seemingly endless number of documents, photos, and videos in one easy to access location. This also allows the documents to be accessed from anywhere, allowing teens to work from multiple devices.

•        -           RefMe

•                  RefMe is a must-have for any student working on research papers or projects. Supporting popular programs like Evernote, RefMe helps students create instant bibliographies by copying and pasting URLs, as well as scanning book barcodes for storage in the cloud.

•        -           StudyBlue

•                  StudyBlue allows students to create their own custom flashcards. This allows teens to tailor study guides for each individual class and subject. No time to create your own set? Students can search the StudyBlue database of more than 250+ million student-made flashcardsE for similar content.

•        -           Essentials by AccelaStudy

•                  With so many foreign language learning apps on the market, picking just one was difficult. Essentials, however, is a free app perfectly tailed to beginning language students. With premade vocabulary flashcards and audio quizzes, Essentials gives children the tools they need for languages such as Chinese, French, Italian, or Spanish.

•        -           Free Graphing Calculator

•                  Graphing calculators can be too big of an investment for many families. Get the same effect for by downloading Free Graphing Calculator. The app plots and traces different equations on the same graph, is a unit converter, provides constants for scientific calculations, and much more!

Life skills that prepare kids for their future

Lifeskillsthatpreparekidsfortheirfuture-2.jpg

Parents and teachers share a common goal – making sure children can become successful adults. While the specific skills they need may vary from occupation to occupation, there are a number of life skills that should be universally taught, such as problem solving and effective communication.

Helping children learn the following traits can prepare them for a successful future!

1.      Problem solving

Problem solving is an integral part of critical thinking. From a young age, children can learn how to observe and analyze a problem and create smart solutions. Answering the “why’s” and “what if’s” help kids think through all sides of an issue, using thought and exploration to solve problems. Engage in thoughtful discussion by encouraging children to think creatively, use their imagination, and explore the world around them.

2.      Love of learning

A love of learning can turn even the most difficult subject into an interesting, fun, and rewarding challenge. Encourage children to follow their passion and pursue their interests. Signing up for clubs and activities that reflect their favorite subjects or enrolling in engaging electives can make school a place they look forward to going to each day – and create a lifelong love of learning.

3.      Communication

The ability to effectively communicate is a life skill that helps children succeed both personally and professionally. Encourage kids to practice verbal, non-verbal, and even written communication outside of the school environment. Asking for assistance in a store, making eye contact when speaking, or practicing a firm handshake are all ways to improve communication skills.

4.      Goal setting

Learning how to set achievable short-term and long-term goals more can help make your child’s day more productive – and successful. Begin by working as a family to create goals for the school year; write down goals using the “I Will + What + When” format. If a child’s long-term goal is to get straight A’s, an achievable daily goal would be “I will finish all my homework first when I get home from school.”

5.      Don’t forget practical life skills!

Practical life skills, such as learning to cook a meal or getting up and out of bed on time, are an important part of success as well. Foster your child’s independence by giving them age-appropriate tasks and duties. Kids in Kindergarten can begin helping pack their school lunches or put away their laundry, while older children can be responsible for their own laundry or school materials.

How to help your teen set good boundaries with technology

Technology is an integral part of our day-to-day lives; while it can be a helpful tool for learning, it’s important to set appropriate boundaries for technology use. This is especially important for teens, who often seem more attached to their smartphones than any other member of the family. The following tips can help families set smart boundaries for teens and technology use. 1.      Restrict televisions, computers, and tablets to common areas. Keeping technology in the common areas of the home allows parents to directly monitor what their teens are viewing, streaming, and sharing – as well as how much screen time they’re actually getting. Restricting technology to the common area also helps prevent sleep disruption by ensuring no unauthorized late night screen time is taking place. 2.      Parents are allowed passwords. While many teens view sharing their passwords with their parents as a violation of their privacy, it’s an extremely important way to ensure they are being safe online. Periodically checking their devices or accounts ensures they are not engaging in negative online behaviors such as sexting or cyberbullying. Likewise, it allows you to monitor the apps and content they stream directly to their phones. 3.      Confiscate the phone. Establish a time when the cell phone is handed over for the night. Doing this keeps teens sleep patterns from being disrupted by all night texting, gaming, or scanning social media. Likewise, it helps prevent inappropriate late-night messages. Teens are far less likely to call or text at 2 am if they know a parent might intercept it. 4.      Model boundaries with technology. Parents are often just as attached to their smartphones and tablets as their kids. When it comes to tech use, many kids learn behavior based on what their parents do – not what they say. Turn off and put away devices during meal, homework, or family time; this includes turning off the television, even when it’s just on in the background. Likewise, limit phone use when in the car and never text and drive. Showing teens you can relax and have fun while unplugged will allow them to more likely to follow the same behavior. 

Technology is an integral part of our day-to-day lives; while it can be a helpful tool for learning, it’s important to set appropriate boundaries for technology use. This is especially important for teens, who often seem more attached to their smartphones than any other member of the family. The following tips can help families set smart boundaries for teens and technology use.

1.      Restrict televisions, computers, and tablets to common areas. Keeping technology in the common areas of the home allows parents to directly monitor what their teens are viewing, streaming, and sharing – as well as how much screen time they’re actually getting. Restricting technology to the common area also helps prevent sleep disruption by ensuring no unauthorized late night screen time is taking place.

2.      Parents are allowed passwords. While many teens view sharing their passwords with their parents as a violation of their privacy, it’s an extremely important way to ensure they are being safe online. Periodically checking their devices or accounts ensures they are not engaging in negative online behaviors such as sexting or cyberbullying. Likewise, it allows you to monitor the apps and content they stream directly to their phones.

3.      Confiscate the phone. Establish a time when the cell phone is handed over for the night. Doing this keeps teens sleep patterns from being disrupted by all night texting, gaming, or scanning social media. Likewise, it helps prevent inappropriate late-night messages. Teens are far less likely to call or text at 2 am if they know a parent might intercept it.

4.      Model boundaries with technology. Parents are often just as attached to their smartphones and tablets as their kids. When it comes to tech use, many kids learn behavior based on what their parents do – not what they say. Turn off and put away devices during meal, homework, or family time; this includes turning off the television, even when it’s just on in the background. Likewise, limit phone use when in the car and never text and drive. Showing teens you can relax and have fun while unplugged will allow them to more likely to follow the same behavior. 

Books that teach children about compassion

Compassion, caring, empathy, and kindness are some of the most valuable skills parents can teach their children. However, these intangible traits can be difficult to successfully convey, in part because they can be demonstrated in so many ways. The following books provide smart starting points for conversation and family discussion to help children learn about compassion in a meaningful and impactful way. -        Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts. Grades K-2 All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes – but his grandmother cannot afford to buy them. When he finds a too-small pair at a thrift store, sore feet seem worth it to fit in. However, Jeremy soon realizes there are people who need those shoes more than he does. It is a complex tale of changing trends, poverty, kindness, and doing the right thing even when you may not want to. Those Shoes is  a relatable story with a valuable lesson for young kids! -        The Invisible Boy. Grades K-2 Brian is an invisible boy; his classmates seem not to notice him, or include him in any of their games or groups. When a new student arrives in class, Brian finally finds a way to shine. The Invisible Boy sensitively addresses how small acts of kindness can allow even quiet children to flourish. -        The Kindness Quilt – Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. Grades K-2 Minna and her classmates are challenged to work on a Kindness project, drawing and sharing their acts of kindness. Deciding to create a paper quilt, Minna’s enthusiasm for the project begins to spread. With an inspiring story and engaging mixed-media artwork, students will enjoy deciphering the many squares of the kindness quilt – while being inspired to commit acts of kindness themselves. -        El Deafo – Cece Bell. Grades 3-6 Cece wants to fit in; while the Sonic Ear strapped to her chest allows her to hear, it also isolates her from her peers and makes making new friends difficult. In the end, Cece realizes “Our differences are our superpowers.” This full color graphic novel is an honest and sweet tale of a girl coming to terms with her disability and will strike a cord with students who have ever felt different. -        Same Sun Here – Silas House and Neela Vaswani. Grades 4-7 Meena, an Indian immigrant living in New York City, and River, the son of a coal miner in Kentucky, think they could not be more different when they become pen pals. However, they soon discover they have more in common than they ever could’ve imagined. Told in letters with two unique voices, Same Sun Here inspires children to look beyond our differences and enjoy the people in our lives who live under the same sun.

Compassion, caring, empathy, and kindness are some of the most valuable skills parents can teach their children. However, these intangible traits can be difficult to successfully convey, in part because they can be demonstrated in so many ways. The following books provide smart starting points for conversation and family discussion to help children learn about compassion in a meaningful and impactful way.

-        Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts. Grades K-2

All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes – but his grandmother cannot afford to buy them. When he finds a too-small pair at a thrift store, sore feet seem worth it to fit in. However, Jeremy soon realizes there are people who need those shoes more than he does. It is a complex tale of changing trends, poverty, kindness, and doing the right thing even when you may not want to. Those Shoes is  a relatable story with a valuable lesson for young kids!

-        The Invisible Boy. Grades K-2

Brian is an invisible boy; his classmates seem not to notice him, or include him in any of their games or groups. When a new student arrives in class, Brian finally finds a way to shine. The Invisible Boy sensitively addresses how small acts of kindness can allow even quiet children to flourish.

-        The Kindness Quilt – Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. Grades K-2

Minna and her classmates are challenged to work on a Kindness project, drawing and sharing their acts of kindness. Deciding to create a paper quilt, Minna’s enthusiasm for the project begins to spread. With an inspiring story and engaging mixed-media artwork, students will enjoy deciphering the many squares of the kindness quilt – while being inspired to commit acts of kindness themselves.

-        El Deafo – Cece Bell. Grades 3-6

Cece wants to fit in; while the Sonic Ear strapped to her chest allows her to hear, it also isolates her from her peers and makes making new friends difficult. In the end, Cece realizes “Our differences are our superpowers.” This full color graphic novel is an honest and sweet tale of a girl coming to terms with her disability and will strike a cord with students who have ever felt different.

-        Same Sun Here – Silas House and Neela Vaswani. Grades 4-7

Meena, an Indian immigrant living in New York City, and River, the son of a coal miner in Kentucky, think they could not be more different when they become pen pals. However, they soon discover they have more in common than they ever could’ve imagined. Told in letters with two unique voices, Same Sun Here inspires children to look beyond our differences and enjoy the people in our lives who live under the same sun.

Tools to help motivate an underachiever

“I think he could do better if he applied himself a little more.” “She doesn’t seem to be putting any effort into her schoolwork.” “I know they are capable of better grades than this.” If you have heard these or similar phrases from your child’s teachers, you are one of the many parents dealing with an underachieving student. Children who consistently perform below their abilities are often known as underachievers. In the case of most underachievers, both parents and teachers know it is possible for the student to do better than their grades, tests, or classwork reflects. Dealing with underachieving children can be extremely frustrating as parents; many struggle to find ways to motivate their children without becoming locked in an endless power struggle. While there is no quick fix or easy solution to motivating an underachiever, the following tools can help parents get through to their children and change their habits for the better. Rule out other issues Whether your child has always struggled in school or their academic performance has taken a recent turn for the worse, it’s important to rule out any other issues. Major life transitions such as the addition of a new sibling or changing schools can negatively impact both grades and behavior. Likewise, ongoing academic issues can be based on learning disabilities such as ADD or dyslexia. Having your child evaluatedfor learning disabilities or hearing and vision problems can ensure there are no other issues impacting their academic performance and motivation. Reflect on past successes – and failures Even young children can be surprisingly introspective when evaluating their past academic performance. Discuss a time when your child was successful, such as getting an A on a test or getting a major project completed on time; what did they do to get it done? How could they replicate it again? Likewise, having your child discuss what they struggle with allows you to work together to create a plan that maximizes the chance of being successful in school. Earn everything every day No matter how often your child responds with “I don’t care,” there is something that motivates them; cell phones, video games, television, sports practice, or time with friends.  All be powerful motivators for children. Allow your unmotivated child to earn privileges or rewards every day by completing homework or chores. This gives them numerous opportunities to be successful – as well as numerous opportunities to try again tomorrow. Stop arguing, shouting, or complaining Parenting underachieving or unmotivated children can be extremely frustrating; unfortunately, venting these frustrations often has the opposite of the desired effect. Arguing, shouting, complaining, and begging are harmful in two ways: first, it shows the child that they have all the power, and second, it can damage a child’s low self-esteem.  Instead, try implementing some of those tips above to motivate your underachieving student!

“I think he could do better if he applied himself a little more.”

“She doesn’t seem to be putting any effort into her schoolwork.”

“I know they are capable of better grades than this.”

If you have heard these or similar phrases from your child’s teachers, you are one of the many parents dealing with an underachieving student. Children who consistently perform below their abilities are often known as underachievers. In the case of most underachievers, both parents and teachers know it is possible for the student to do better than their grades, tests, or classwork reflects.

Dealing with underachieving children can be extremely frustrating as parents; many struggle to find ways to motivate their children without becoming locked in an endless power struggle. While there is no quick fix or easy solution to motivating an underachiever, the following tools can help parents get through to their children and change their habits for the better.

Rule out other issues

Whether your child has always struggled in school or their academic performance has taken a recent turn for the worse, it’s important to rule out any other issues. Major life transitions such as the addition of a new sibling or changing schools can negatively impact both grades and behavior. Likewise, ongoing academic issues can be based on learning disabilities such as ADD or dyslexia. Having your child evaluatedfor learning disabilities or hearing and vision problems can ensure there are no other issues impacting their academic performance and motivation.

Reflect on past successes – and failures

Even young children can be surprisingly introspective when evaluating their past academic performance. Discuss a time when your child was successful, such as getting an A on a test or getting a major project completed on time; what did they do to get it done? How could they replicate it again? Likewise, having your child discuss what they struggle with allows you to work together to create a plan that maximizes the chance of being successful in school.

Earn everything every day

No matter how often your child responds with “I don’t care,” there is something that motivates them; cell phones, video games, television, sports practice, or time with friends.  All be powerful motivators for children. Allow your unmotivated child to earn privileges or rewards every day by completing homework or chores. This gives them numerous opportunities to be successful – as well as numerous opportunities to try again tomorrow.

Stop arguing, shouting, or complaining

Parenting underachieving or unmotivated children can be extremely frustrating; unfortunately, venting these frustrations often has the opposite of the desired effect. Arguing, shouting, complaining, and begging are harmful in two ways: first, it shows the child that they have all the power, and second, it can damage a child’s low self-esteem.  Instead, try implementing some of those tips above to motivate your underachieving student!

Tips on how to support your high schooler through college apps

The college application process can be stressful for high school students – and leave their parents pulling their hair out. Instead of attempting to step in or take over the process entirely, there a number of ways parents can help their children through the research, application, and admission process.   DO: Help them find their dream school DON’T: Push them towards your dream school   Searching for the right college can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Parents should have open and honest conversations with their child about issues such as geographical preferences and financial limitations. It is also important not to force your child to consider schools they otherwise wouldn’t; while it may be your dream to see them at your alma mater, a big state school would be a wrong fit for a student looking at small liberal arts colleges.   Parents can also help narrow down the large field of potential colleges to the few schools to which they will actually apply. Taking teens on college visits and campus tours is the best way to help a child see themselves at a school – or quickly realize it is not the right fit.   DO: Keep students on track with paperwork deadlines DON’T: Over-edit or complete applications for them   While it is important and beneficial for parents to be involved in the college admissions process, the majority of the legwork should fall to the students. Parents and teens can work together to create calendars for deadlines and other important dates. Likewise, while parents can be a sounding board for essay ideas or editors for application questions, students should always write their responses themselves so their voice and personality truly shine through.   For most students the “magic number” of applications is between six and eight: 2 reach schools, 3-4 match schools, and 2 safety schools. This prevents students from being overwhelmed by deadlines, paperwork, essays, and admissions costs but still gives them a wide pool of colleges to choose from.   DO: Keep things in perspective DON’T: Add additional pressure and stress   After the applications and transcripts have been sent in, there is little families can do but sit and wait. This can be an extremely stressful time for teens – especially as the acceptance packets or rejection letters start rolling in. Parents can help their teens keep things in perspective; even if they did not get in to their dream school, they can and will have just as much fun at another university. It is also important to not add additional pressure or stress to your child; avoid comparing their acceptances to their peers and never punish a child for getting rejected from a school.

The college application process can be stressful for high school students – and leave their parents pulling their hair out. Instead of attempting to step in or take over the process entirely, there a number of ways parents can help their children through the research, application, and admission process.

 

DO: Help them find their dream school

DON’T: Push them towards your dream school

 

Searching for the right college can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Parents should have open and honest conversations with their child about issues such as geographical preferences and financial limitations. It is also important not to force your child to consider schools they otherwise wouldn’t; while it may be your dream to see them at your alma mater, a big state school would be a wrong fit for a student looking at small liberal arts colleges.

 

Parents can also help narrow down the large field of potential colleges to the few schools to which they will actually apply. Taking teens on college visits and campus tours is the best way to help a child see themselves at a school – or quickly realize it is not the right fit.

 

DO: Keep students on track with paperwork deadlines

DON’T: Over-edit or complete applications for them

 

While it is important and beneficial for parents to be involved in the college admissions process, the majority of the legwork should fall to the students. Parents and teens can work together to create calendars for deadlines and other important dates. Likewise, while parents can be a sounding board for essay ideas or editors for application questions, students should always write their responses themselves so their voice and personality truly shine through.

 

For most students the “magic number” of applications is between six and eight: 2 reach schools, 3-4 match schools, and 2 safety schools. This prevents students from being overwhelmed by deadlines, paperwork, essays, and admissions costs but still gives them a wide pool of colleges to choose from.

 

DO: Keep things in perspective

DON’T: Add additional pressure and stress

 

After the applications and transcripts have been sent in, there is little families can do but sit and wait. This can be an extremely stressful time for teens – especially as the acceptance packets or rejection letters start rolling in. Parents can help their teens keep things in perspective; even if they did not get in to their dream school, they can and will have just as much fun at another university. It is also important to not add additional pressure or stress to your child; avoid comparing their acceptances to their peers and never punish a child for getting rejected from a school.

Fun and safe science project ideas for middle school students

Middle school is a great time to help students get interested in STEM career fields! These five safe and fun science experiments are perfect for middle schoolers. Whether done independently or with a little help from an adult, these experiments are sure to awaken the inner scientist in every student. •        -           Fruit battery experiment •                  With nothing more than a lemon, some wire, and a couple of nails, students can generate enough electricity to power a light bulb! In this experiment, middle schoolers can learn about making electrical circuits, how metals react to form electrons, and what can be used as electrical conductors. Expand the experiment by testing the electrical currents created by various fruits and vegetables. •        -           Drinkable density experiment •                  Students will enjoy this science experiment they actually get to eat! With a narrow glass, an eyedropper, and as many different fruit juices as they can find, kids can test and compare the density of their favorite beverages. Encourage students to study the ingredients, water content, and sugar content of the juices before making their hypothesis as these factors all affect density. •        -           S’mores solar oven •                  Combine learning about recycling and renewable energy sources in this delicious experiment. Materials from around the house such as old pizza boxes, construction paper, and aluminum foil are all that are needed for students to built their own solar oven. Add an element of competition by allowing kids to design and build their own solar ovens; whoever cooks the best s’more wins! •        -           Egg parachute experiment •                  Can you design a parachute to cushion an egg’s fall? Using various household materials, plastic baggies, and a carton – or more – of eggs, students can design and build their own parachutes in an attempt to slow the fall of an egg from the second story of a building. Record the trial-and-error results, focusing on the time it takes for each egg to fall. •        -           Grow your own crystals •                  Growing crystals can be fun at any age! Middle schoolers will enjoy crafting comparative experiments using different solutions in order to create the best crystals. Epsom salts, alum, borax, and even sugar can be used to create brilliant crystals in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Middle school is a great time to help students get interested in STEM career fields! These five safe and fun science experiments are perfect for middle schoolers. Whether done independently or with a little help from an adult, these experiments are sure to awaken the inner scientist in every student.

•        -           Fruit battery experiment

•                  With nothing more than a lemon, some wire, and a couple of nails, students can generate enough electricity to power a light bulb! In this experiment, middle schoolers can learn about making electrical circuits, how metals react to form electrons, and what can be used as electrical conductors. Expand the experiment by testing the electrical currents created by various fruits and vegetables.

•        -           Drinkable density experiment

•                  Students will enjoy this science experiment they actually get to eat! With a narrow glass, an eyedropper, and as many different fruit juices as they can find, kids can test and compare the density of their favorite beverages. Encourage students to study the ingredients, water content, and sugar content of the juices before making their hypothesis as these factors all affect density.

•        -           S’mores solar oven

•                  Combine learning about recycling and renewable energy sources in this delicious experiment. Materials from around the house such as old pizza boxes, construction paper, and aluminum foil are all that are needed for students to built their own solar oven. Add an element of competition by allowing kids to design and build their own solar ovens; whoever cooks the best s’more wins!

•        -           Egg parachute experiment

•                  Can you design a parachute to cushion an egg’s fall? Using various household materials, plastic baggies, and a carton – or more – of eggs, students can design and build their own parachutes in an attempt to slow the fall of an egg from the second story of a building. Record the trial-and-error results, focusing on the time it takes for each egg to fall.

•        -           Grow your own crystals

•                  Growing crystals can be fun at any age! Middle schoolers will enjoy crafting comparative experiments using different solutions in order to create the best crystals. Epsom salts, alum, borax, and even sugar can be used to create brilliant crystals in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Art project ideas with recycled materials

Kids of all ages love to create their own unique art projects, but the cost of specialty supplies can add up quickly. Keep children entertained without breaking the bank with these art project ideas made using recycled materials. Happy crafting! •        -           Cardboard tube marble run •                  This fun project is equal parts sculpture and science! Collect empty cardboard tubes from paper towels, toilet paper, wrapping paper, and more. Color, paint, cut, tape, and assemble the tubes into an infinite number of patterns and configurations with the goal of getting a marble safely from the top to the bottom. Using painters tape instead of glue or other adhesives allows the marble run to be taken apart and rebuilt as much as your imagination allows.     •        -           Soup can bowling •                  Repurpose tin cans into a DIY bowling set! Simply strip cans of their labels before painting with a variety of colorful patterns. Toilet paper tubes or plastic bottles can also be used in place of tin cans. When the pins are dry, set them up and have a ball bowling them over again and again!             •        -           Rolled paper beads •                  Old catalogs, newspapers, and even school book order forms can be used to create beautiful and unique beads for necklaces, bracelets, and more. Cut the paper into long, thin triangles; roll the triangles starting with the thick base around a dowel rod, knitting needle, or chopstick, making sure to secure the end at the point of the triangle with glue. After drying, string your beads together to create a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry!                •        -           Egg carton treasure box •                  Repurpose old egg cartons into treasure boxes that young children are sure to love. Paint, markers, colorful scrapbook paper, washi tape, and more can all be used to create a unique treasure box of your child. Whether they are storing hair accessories, jewelry, rock collections, or pirate treasure, there is no limit to how creative your child can be.                  •        -           Pool noodle stamps •                  After a long summer of use, don’t trash your pool noodles! Instead, cut them up to create a set of unique stamps. Pool noodle stamps can be easily washed and stored after each use; repurpose them a second time by using the stamps to create a memory or spelling stacking game.

Kids of all ages love to create their own unique art projects, but the cost of specialty supplies can add up quickly. Keep children entertained without breaking the bank with these art project ideas made using recycled materials. Happy crafting!

•        -           Cardboard tube marble run

•                  This fun project is equal parts sculpture and science! Collect empty cardboard tubes from paper towels, toilet paper, wrapping paper, and more. Color, paint, cut, tape, and assemble the tubes into an infinite number of patterns and configurations with the goal of getting a marble safely from the top to the bottom. Using painters tape instead of glue or other adhesives allows the marble run to be taken apart and rebuilt as much as your imagination allows.    

•        -           Soup can bowling

•                  Repurpose tin cans into a DIY bowling set! Simply strip cans of their labels before painting with a variety of colorful patterns. Toilet paper tubes or plastic bottles can also be used in place of tin cans. When the pins are dry, set them up and have a ball bowling them over again and again!            

•        -           Rolled paper beads

•                  Old catalogs, newspapers, and even school book order forms can be used to create beautiful and unique beads for necklaces, bracelets, and more. Cut the paper into long, thin triangles; roll the triangles starting with the thick base around a dowel rod, knitting needle, or chopstick, making sure to secure the end at the point of the triangle with glue. After drying, string your beads together to create a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry!               

•        -           Egg carton treasure box

•                  Repurpose old egg cartons into treasure boxes that young children are sure to love. Paint, markers, colorful scrapbook paper, washi tape, and more can all be used to create a unique treasure box of your child. Whether they are storing hair accessories, jewelry, rock collections, or pirate treasure, there is no limit to how creative your child can be.                 

•        -           Pool noodle stamps

•                  After a long summer of use, don’t trash your pool noodles! Instead, cut them up to create a set of unique stamps. Pool noodle stamps can be easily washed and stored after each use; repurpose them a second time by using the stamps to create a memory or spelling stacking game.

Ways to help your student set good boundaries in the new school year

As parents, we want what’s best for our children and want to give them every opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately, this can sometimes take the form of over-parenting and over-functioning for them, blurring the lines between boundaries and responsibilities. While the idea of leaving your child to their own devices can seem scary, it benefits the entire family in the long run. The following are four ways to help your student set boundaries for the new school year!   1.      Set clear expectations Spend time before the school year starts setting clear expectations – as well as establishing the consequences. This gives your child the ability to take more responsibility and accountability for their actions without forcing parents to micromanage every homework assignment and project. An expectation of “Homework will be completed and turned in on time” could have a natural consequence of “If it isn’t, you have to work with your teacher on how to resubmit the work and earn back their trust.” 2.      Help develop goals Goals encourage students to work hard as they grow and progress. Work with your child to set measurable, achievable goals that they can actively work towards each week. Avoid setting goals that are too large or vague such as, “I want to get an A in Language Arts.” Instead, set goals like “I will complete my weekly reading log.” Parents can check in on their progress weekly and help them adjust as necessary. 3.      Lead by example The best way to help your child set boundaries is to set them yourself. If the rule is “no electronics at the table,” make sure parents are following the same rules. Another way to lead by example is by discussing goals for the week at the dinner table; not only does this establish accountability for the whole family, but it keeps students from feeling singled out. 4.      Resist stepping in When our children stumble, it is our natural reaction as parents to want to solve the problem for them. However, it’s important that they learn from their own mistakes, especially in low-stakes environments such as elementary and middle school. While your child may be uncomfortable or upset in the short term, not stepping in teaches them the tools to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.

As parents, we want what’s best for our children and want to give them every opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately, this can sometimes take the form of over-parenting and over-functioning for them, blurring the lines between boundaries and responsibilities.

While the idea of leaving your child to their own devices can seem scary, it benefits the entire family in the long run. The following are four ways to help your student set boundaries for the new school year!

 

1.      Set clear expectations

Spend time before the school year starts setting clear expectations – as well as establishing the consequences. This gives your child the ability to take more responsibility and accountability for their actions without forcing parents to micromanage every homework assignment and project. An expectation of “Homework will be completed and turned in on time” could have a natural consequence of “If it isn’t, you have to work with your teacher on how to resubmit the work and earn back their trust.”

2.      Help develop goals

Goals encourage students to work hard as they grow and progress. Work with your child to set measurable, achievable goals that they can actively work towards each week. Avoid setting goals that are too large or vague such as, “I want to get an A in Language Arts.” Instead, set goals like “I will complete my weekly reading log.” Parents can check in on their progress weekly and help them adjust as necessary.

3.      Lead by example

The best way to help your child set boundaries is to set them yourself. If the rule is “no electronics at the table,” make sure parents are following the same rules. Another way to lead by example is by discussing goals for the week at the dinner table; not only does this establish accountability for the whole family, but it keeps students from feeling singled out.

4.      Resist stepping in

When our children stumble, it is our natural reaction as parents to want to solve the problem for them. However, it’s important that they learn from their own mistakes, especially in low-stakes environments such as elementary and middle school. While your child may be uncomfortable or upset in the short term, not stepping in teaches them the tools to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.

Types of music to listen to while studying

While many parents fear it mayl be too distracting, studies have shown that listening to music while studying can help boost concentration and stimulate learning. The following genres of music are recommended for listening while studying; try out different types until you find the one that works best for you! •        -           Classical •                  Classical is the most recommended type of music to study to, and it is known for creating a calm study environment. Listeners to classical music also report increased productivity and better moods! •                  Recommendation: Brandenburg Concerto #3 – Bach •        -           Beats per minute •                  A recent study found that students who listened to classical music with a tempo of 60-70 beats per minute scored an average of 12% higher on math exams. •                  Recommendation: Concertos for Recorder – Telemann & Vivaldi •        -           Instrumental hits •                  Combine the benefits of listening to classical music with today’s hits by listening to instrumental covers of your favorite songs. The instruments provide a relaxing background while the recognizable beats keep you engaged. •                  Recommendation: VSQ Performs the Hits of 2013, Volume 2 – Vitamin String Quartet •        -           Nature sounds •                  If you find even classical music too distracting, try studying with nature sounds in the background. Known for increasing concentration and keeping the subconscious engaged, nature sounds can also be used for meditation or for help falling asleep. •                  Recommendation: Calmsound.com •        -           Modern electronic •                  Modern electronic music is found in many public spaces and places, from grocery stores and malls to doctors offices and elevators. Known for relaxing the mind and allowing it to wander, modern electronic is ideal when working on a project that requires creative problem solving. •                  Recommendation: Music for Airports – Eno •        -           The bottom line •                  When it comes to studying with music, what you listen to is less important than how it helps. Good studying music should help you feel focused, relaxed, and ready to take on the task at hand – without being a distraction.

While many parents fear it mayl be too distracting, studies have shown that listening to music while studying can help boost concentration and stimulate learning. The following genres of music are recommended for listening while studying; try out different types until you find the one that works best for you!

•        -           Classical

•                  Classical is the most recommended type of music to study to, and it is known for creating a calm study environment. Listeners to classical music also report increased productivity and better moods!

•                  Recommendation: Brandenburg Concerto #3 – Bach

•        -           Beats per minute

•                  A recent study found that students who listened to classical music with a tempo of 60-70 beats per minute scored an average of 12% higher on math exams.

•                  Recommendation: Concertos for Recorder – Telemann & Vivaldi

•        -           Instrumental hits

•                  Combine the benefits of listening to classical music with today’s hits by listening to instrumental covers of your favorite songs. The instruments provide a relaxing background while the recognizable beats keep you engaged.

•                  Recommendation: VSQ Performs the Hits of 2013, Volume 2 – Vitamin String Quartet

•        -           Nature sounds

•                  If you find even classical music too distracting, try studying with nature sounds in the background. Known for increasing concentration and keeping the subconscious engaged, nature sounds can also be used for meditation or for help falling asleep.

•                  Recommendation: Calmsound.com

•        -           Modern electronic

•                  Modern electronic music is found in many public spaces and places, from grocery stores and malls to doctors offices and elevators. Known for relaxing the mind and allowing it to wander, modern electronic is ideal when working on a project that requires creative problem solving.

•                  Recommendation: Music for Airports – Eno

•        -           The bottom line

•                  When it comes to studying with music, what you listen to is less important than how it helps. Good studying music should help you feel focused, relaxed, and ready to take on the task at hand – without being a distraction.

Test prep tips for your middle schooler

Whether it’s a weekly math quiz or a yearly standardized test, preparing for a test can be stressful for middle school students. Help them alleviate some of the pressure and feel more comfortable the day of by following these test prep tips!   -        Get ready at home before the test. There are a number of ways families can help their middle schoolers prepare for taking a test at home – that don’t involve studying. First, ensure students are in bed by 10 pm so they can get a good night’s sleep. Likewise, plan on eating a nutritious breakfast. Avoid rushing in the morning by setting out clothes, backpacks, and other school materials the night before. -        Create a study schedule. Help your middle schooler create a study schedule in the days or weeks leading up to a test. Doing this gives them the confidence that they can review all of the material and avoid cramming. It may also help them prevent feeling overwhelmed or overstressed by studying. -        Practice following directions. Many tests, especially state or nation-wide standardized tests, have very specific directions that must be followed. Encourage them to read all directions first when completing homework as practice. For reading practice and following directions outside of classwork, help your child pick and make a recipe with instructions that must be followed exactly. -        Ask questions. A new school year brings new classes, new teachers, and and new test formats. Have your child ask questions to find out as much information as possible about the test beforehand. This includes everything from the specific material that will be covered, to how long the test will be and what kind of format the questions will have. Asking questions about test format can help alleviate student’s anxiety in advance of the big day. -        Review test taking strategies. By middle school, most students learned a number of different test taking strategies. Help your student by reviewing test taking strategies such as educated guessing, looking for clues, eliminating wrong answers, or estimating. Doing this can give students more confidence on test day, especially after a summer away from the classroom.

Whether it’s a weekly math quiz or a yearly standardized test, preparing for a test can be stressful for middle school students. Help them alleviate some of the pressure and feel more comfortable the day of by following these test prep tips!

 

-        Get ready at home before the test. There are a number of ways families can help their middle schoolers prepare for taking a test at home – that don’t involve studying. First, ensure students are in bed by 10 pm so they can get a good night’s sleep. Likewise, plan on eating a nutritious breakfast. Avoid rushing in the morning by setting out clothes, backpacks, and other school materials the night before.

-        Create a study schedule. Help your middle schooler create a study schedule in the days or weeks leading up to a test. Doing this gives them the confidence that they can review all of the material and avoid cramming. It may also help them prevent feeling overwhelmed or overstressed by studying.

-        Practice following directions. Many tests, especially state or nation-wide standardized tests, have very specific directions that must be followed. Encourage them to read all directions first when completing homework as practice. For reading practice and following directions outside of classwork, help your child pick and make a recipe with instructions that must be followed exactly.

-        Ask questions. A new school year brings new classes, new teachers, and and new test formats. Have your child ask questions to find out as much information as possible about the test beforehand. This includes everything from the specific material that will be covered, to how long the test will be and what kind of format the questions will have. Asking questions about test format can help alleviate student’s anxiety in advance of the big day.

-        Review test taking strategies. By middle school, most students learned a number of different test taking strategies. Help your student by reviewing test taking strategies such as educated guessing, looking for clues, eliminating wrong answers, or estimating. Doing this can give students more confidence on test day, especially after a summer away from the classroom.

Books on friendship for young readers

Friendship is one of the most common themes in children’s literature. Through engaging stories and colorful illustrations, young readers can learn how to make new friends, empathize with others, and be kind. The following are just a few of the wonderful books on friendship that your young reader may enjoy! •        -           Should I Share My Ice Cream? – Mo Willems •                  Gerald is excited to eat his ice cream on a hot sunny day, but is unsure if he should share it with his friend or not. Children will delight in following both the story and the illustrations, making this ideal for reading aloud. Grades PreK-1.             •        -           Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate – Jacky Davis •                  Lulu is looking forward to her playdate with her friend Finny – and playing with Finny’s “most amazing toy in the world”. When the girls break it, however, they have to repair both the toy and hurt feelings. This addition to the Ladybug Girl series of books proves true friendship is better than any toy. Grades PreK-1.               •        -           Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller •                  Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are otters – and he isn’t sure how to act around them. Luckily wise Mr. Owl gives him some sage advice: “Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you”. Bright illustrations highlight concepts such as politeness, honesty, and cooperation. Grades K-2.                 •        -           Enemy Pie – Derek Munson •                  When Jeremy Ross moves in down the street, it seems as if summer is ruined. Luckily, Dad has a recipe for enemy pie – but it includes spending a whole day together. The clever story and humorous illustrations add to the theme about conflict and friendship. Grades K-3.         •        -           Days With Frog And Toad – Arnold Lobel •                  In the five simple chapters of this Frog and Toad anthology, the two friends work together to fly a kite, celebrate a birthday, navigate what happens when one friend wants to spend time alone, and more. Emerging readers will enjoy the easy-to-follow story, illustrations, and the feeling of accomplishment from finishing a chapter book. Grades 1-3.             •        -           Nikki and Deja – Karen English •                  Nikki and Deja are best friends who do everything together. When a new girl comes to their class, they make plans to exclude her – with unexpected results. A warm and easy-to -read chapter book, Nikki and Deja covers the ups and downs of elementary school friendships and cliques with humor and finesse. Grades 1-3.

Friendship is one of the most common themes in children’s literature. Through engaging stories and colorful illustrations, young readers can learn how to make new friends, empathize with others, and be kind. The following are just a few of the wonderful books on friendship that your young reader may enjoy!

•        -           Should I Share My Ice Cream? – Mo Willems

•                  Gerald is excited to eat his ice cream on a hot sunny day, but is unsure if he should share it with his friend or not. Children will delight in following both the story and the illustrations, making this ideal for reading aloud. Grades PreK-1.            

•        -           Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate – Jacky Davis

•                  Lulu is looking forward to her playdate with her friend Finny – and playing with Finny’s “most amazing toy in the world”. When the girls break it, however, they have to repair both the toy and hurt feelings. This addition to the Ladybug Girl series of books proves true friendship is better than any toy. Grades PreK-1.              

•        -           Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller

•                  Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are otters – and he isn’t sure how to act around them. Luckily wise Mr. Owl gives him some sage advice: “Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you”. Bright illustrations highlight concepts such as politeness, honesty, and cooperation. Grades K-2.                

•        -           Enemy PieDerek Munson

•                  When Jeremy Ross moves in down the street, it seems as if summer is ruined. Luckily, Dad has a recipe for enemy pie – but it includes spending a whole day together. The clever story and humorous illustrations add to the theme about conflict and friendship. Grades K-3.        

•        -           Days With Frog And Toad – Arnold Lobel

•                  In the five simple chapters of this Frog and Toad anthology, the two friends work together to fly a kite, celebrate a birthday, navigate what happens when one friend wants to spend time alone, and more. Emerging readers will enjoy the easy-to-follow story, illustrations, and the feeling of accomplishment from finishing a chapter book. Grades 1-3.            

•        -           Nikki and Deja – Karen English

•                  Nikki and Deja are best friends who do everything together. When a new girl comes to their class, they make plans to exclude her – with unexpected results. A warm and easy-to -read chapter book, Nikki and Deja covers the ups and downs of elementary school friendships and cliques with humor and finesse. Grades 1-3.

Tips to Help Students Adjust to the Back-to-School Hustle

Most students are more than happy to take advantage of the slow pace of summer. From sleeping in and staying up late, to spending days inside on the Internet or gaming, the day-to-day pace of summer vacation is vastly different from the school year. With the start of school just around the corner, it’s important to help students ease back into their routine. Slowly adjusting their schedule can help them prepare for the back to school hustle – and avoid a major shock to their systems on the first day of school. -        Gradually adjust sleep schedules. If your child is used to sleeping in well past 10 during the summer, getting up at 6 am on the first day of school will be a rude awakening. Start adjusting sleep and wake times several weeks in advance to gently transition from a summer to school schedule. -        Reset the schedule at home. In addition to adjusting your child’s sleep schedule, try to mimic the schedule for the school year in the weeks leading up to the first day. Start eating breakfast, snacks, and lunch around the same time as at school.  Likewise, getting up, dressed, and out of the house first thing in the morning before school starts can help minimize morning hang ups. -        Nurture independence. Students are expected to manage their own time and materials in the classroom; nurture independence at home by having your child take on more responsibility before school starts. Older children and teens can help budget or shop for their own school supplie, and plan lunches and meals. Younger children can greatly benefit from skills such as tying shoes or writing their own name. -        Practice the first day in advance. A “dry run” before the actual first day of school can help alleviate anxiety and make the real first day go smoothly; this can be particularly helpful for young children starting kindergarten or any child starting at a new school. Practice the entire morning routine the exact same as it will be on the real first day of school. Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, gather supplies, and head out the door. Walking or driving the route they will take to school can also help kids feel more comfortable when the real first day arrives.

Most students are more than happy to take advantage of the slow pace of summer. From sleeping in and staying up late, to spending days inside on the Internet or gaming, the day-to-day pace of summer vacation is vastly different from the school year.

With the start of school just around the corner, it’s important to help students ease back into their routine. Slowly adjusting their schedule can help them prepare for the back to school hustle – and avoid a major shock to their systems on the first day of school.

-        Gradually adjust sleep schedules. If your child is used to sleeping in well past 10 during the summer, getting up at 6 am on the first day of school will be a rude awakening. Start adjusting sleep and wake times several weeks in advance to gently transition from a summer to school schedule.

-        Reset the schedule at home. In addition to adjusting your child’s sleep schedule, try to mimic the schedule for the school year in the weeks leading up to the first day. Start eating breakfast, snacks, and lunch around the same time as at school.  Likewise, getting up, dressed, and out of the house first thing in the morning before school starts can help minimize morning hang ups.

-        Nurture independence. Students are expected to manage their own time and materials in the classroom; nurture independence at home by having your child take on more responsibility before school starts. Older children and teens can help budget or shop for their own school supplie, and plan lunches and meals. Younger children can greatly benefit from skills such as tying shoes or writing their own name.

-        Practice the first day in advance. A “dry run” before the actual first day of school can help alleviate anxiety and make the real first day go smoothly; this can be particularly helpful for young children starting kindergarten or any child starting at a new school. Practice the entire morning routine the exact same as it will be on the real first day of school. Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, gather supplies, and head out the door. Walking or driving the route they will take to school can also help kids feel more comfortable when the real first day arrives.

Time Management Tips for High School Students

High school students are often under a tremendous amount of pressure. Between school, extracurriculars, volunteering, jobs, family, friends, and more, it can seem as if there are never enough hours in the day. One of the ways to combat feeling overworked or overwhelmed is by teaching your teen some time management skills. Learning time management can help high school students take control of their time – and create balance in their lives. 1.      Make a to-do list every day. Start every day with a list of things that need to get accomplished. Prioritize tasks by importance, listing the most important tasks first and less important tasks after. Not only does this help students prioritize what they need to do first, but it also gives them a feeling of accomplishment as they visually complete and check off items. 2.      Schedule everything. In addition to using to-do lists, create a detailed daily schedule. Begin by blocking off regular or predictable time, such as school, work, sports practices, or volunteer shifts. Next, add due dates for tests and assignments. Finish by scheduling yourself enough time each to study and complete assigned work. A detailed schedule can keep you on task and on schedule. 3.      Keep work with you. Use spare minutes wisely; while riding the bus or waiting for an appointment, get off Facebook and spend a few minutes reading or studying. While short periods of time might not seem like much on their own, they can add up to significant time savings. 4.      Know your limits. If your to-do lists are getting too long or there are simply too many things for you to accomplish, it may be time to say no to some of your commitments. Knowing your limits can help prevent feeling overwhelmed, as well as allowing you to focus on tasks that are more important. 5.      Don’t procrastinate. The simplest time management technique is also the most effective. Avoiding procrastinating can reduce stress, help school work loads feel more manageable, and give you more time in the long run to spend time relaxing with friends and family. Finding balance between all their commitments can be difficult for teens. Practicing these time management techniques can help them reduce stress, use their time more wisely, and better prepare for their future!

High school students are often under a tremendous amount of pressure. Between school, extracurriculars, volunteering, jobs, family, friends, and more, it can seem as if there are never enough hours in the day.

One of the ways to combat feeling overworked or overwhelmed is by teaching your teen some time management skills. Learning time management can help high school students take control of their time – and create balance in their lives.

1.      Make a to-do list every day. Start every day with a list of things that need to get accomplished. Prioritize tasks by importance, listing the most important tasks first and less important tasks after. Not only does this help students prioritize what they need to do first, but it also gives them a feeling of accomplishment as they visually complete and check off items.

2.      Schedule everything. In addition to using to-do lists, create a detailed daily schedule. Begin by blocking off regular or predictable time, such as school, work, sports practices, or volunteer shifts. Next, add due dates for tests and assignments. Finish by scheduling yourself enough time each to study and complete assigned work. A detailed schedule can keep you on task and on schedule.

3.      Keep work with you. Use spare minutes wisely; while riding the bus or waiting for an appointment, get off Facebook and spend a few minutes reading or studying. While short periods of time might not seem like much on their own, they can add up to significant time savings.

4.      Know your limits. If your to-do lists are getting too long or there are simply too many things for you to accomplish, it may be time to say no to some of your commitments. Knowing your limits can help prevent feeling overwhelmed, as well as allowing you to focus on tasks that are more important.

5.      Don’t procrastinate. The simplest time management technique is also the most effective. Avoiding procrastinating can reduce stress, help school work loads feel more manageable, and give you more time in the long run to spend time relaxing with friends and family.

Finding balance between all their commitments can be difficult for teens. Practicing these time management techniques can help them reduce stress, use their time more wisely, and better prepare for their future!

Games to Help Children Improve Memory and Problem Solving

Most parents would be happy to help their child improve their memory – even if it’s just so they can remember where they left their shoes or put down their coats. Even if your child has moved beyond answering “I forget” to every question you ask them, there are a number of ways for parents to help their child improve both memory and problem solving skills. The following are just a few examples of games that families can use to practice and improve memory and cognition – all without using electronics.

-        Category competition. Have fun as a family playing category competition. Gather enough pencils and papers for every player, as well as a timer. One player at a time picks a category, such as “colors”, “farm animals”, or “green foods”; players have until the timer runs out to list as many items as they can in the category.

-        20 questions. Most of us may remember this classic game from childhood. What few remember, however, is that it is a fun and engaging way to practice both memory and problem solving skills. The first person thinks of an object while the second person can ask no more than 20 yes or no questions to figure out what it is.

-        I’m going on a picnic. Ideal for road trips, this progressive memory game challenges players to remember items in a list. The first player begins by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m taking…” before adding their item, such as bread. The next player would say, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m taking bread and …” before listing their own choice. This continues until a player can no longer remember the list! Make the game even more challenging by choosing items in alphabetical order such as apples, bananas, cherries, etc.

-        Multisensory learning. Make studying spelling words or math facts feel more like play with multisensory learning. Processing information in multiple ways can help move it from working memory to long-term memory. When studying terms for a test, for example, try writing down the definitions, spelling them out loud, or tossing a ball back and forth while reading them.

-        Name game. Assign one person as the clue giver; the clue giver comes up with an object, as well as five clues. The first clue should be abstract or vague with each subsequent clue getting more specific; the player who guesses the object correctly first gets to be the next clue giver. For the answer “banana,” for example, the first clue might be “edible” followed by “fruit,” “inedible peel,” “grown in bunches,” and “yellow.”

Summer reads for your middle schooler

With school out for the summer, many middle schoolers are happy to close their books until September. However, summer is the perfect opportunity for kids of all ages to explore new books and genres they might not get to read during the school year. The following books are the perfect companions for your middle school student this summer. •        -           Smile – Raina Telgemeier This graphic novel is perfect for reluctant readers who may not be enticed by a traditional novel. Smile tells the story of Raina, a 6th grade girl who injures her two front teeth during a fall. Between braces, headgear, friend drama, confusing boys, and even an earthquake, Smile has action, humor, and heart. •        -           The True Meaning of Smekday – Adam Rex An alien race called the Boov have taken over the Earth, renamed it Smekland, and are forcing all humans to move onto preserves. Tip is an 11-year-old girl who has been separated from her mother and is trying to find her. With the help of a bumbling Boov named J. Lo, Tip’s adventures are out of this world. The True Meaning of Smekday was the inspiration behind the animated film Home. Watch the movie after reading the book and discuss the similarities and differences! •        -           Brain Jack – Brian Falkner In the not-so-distant future, neuro-headsets have replaced keyboards. The 14-year-old hacker Sam hacks into a major network, setting off a chain of events that could affect the whole world. •        -           Show Off: How To Do Absolutely Everything. One Step At A Time – Sarah Hines Stephens. Filled with step-by-step illustrations on how to do everything from draw manga to breed butterflies to put an egg in a bottle, Show Off is a sure way to ensure your middle schooler never says “I’m bored” this summer. •        -           Nature Girl – Jane Kelly. Megan is 11 years old andforced to spend her summer in Vermont with no friends, internet, or even cell phone service. Getting lost on the Appalachian Trail, however, teaches Megan lessons in maturity and self-confidence. •        -           I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai Before becoming the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, Malala was an average 10-year-old girl living in Pakistan with her parents and family. Her belief that girls should be allowed to learn and go to school made her a target by the Taliban, who shot her at point blank range in 2012. Her story of survival is inspirational for all ages, but especially for middle school students who will be awed by someone their age making a major difference in the world.

With school out for the summer, many middle schoolers are happy to close their books until September. However, summer is the perfect opportunity for kids of all ages to explore new books and genres they might not get to read during the school year. The following books are the perfect companions for your middle school student this summer.

•        -           SmileRaina Telgemeier This graphic novel is perfect for reluctant readers who may not be enticed by a traditional novel. Smile tells the story of Raina, a 6th grade girl who injures her two front teeth during a fall. Between braces, headgear, friend drama, confusing boys, and even an earthquake, Smile has action, humor, and heart.

•        -           The True Meaning of Smekday – Adam Rex An alien race called the Boov have taken over the Earth, renamed it Smekland, and are forcing all humans to move onto preserves. Tip is an 11-year-old girl who has been separated from her mother and is trying to find her. With the help of a bumbling Boov named J. Lo, Tip’s adventures are out of this world. The True Meaning of Smekday was the inspiration behind the animated film Home. Watch the movie after reading the book and discuss the similarities and differences!

•        -           Brain Jack – Brian Falkner In the not-so-distant future, neuro-headsets have replaced keyboards. The 14-year-old hacker Sam hacks into a major network, setting off a chain of events that could affect the whole world.

•        -           Show Off: How To Do Absolutely Everything. One Step At A Time – Sarah Hines Stephens. Filled with step-by-step illustrations on how to do everything from draw manga to breed butterflies to put an egg in a bottle, Show Off is a sure way to ensure your middle schooler never says “I’m bored” this summer.

•        -           Nature Girl – Jane Kelly. Megan is 11 years old andforced to spend her summer in Vermont with no friends, internet, or even cell phone service. Getting lost on the Appalachian Trail, however, teaches Megan lessons in maturity and self-confidence.

•        -           I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai Before becoming the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, Malala was an average 10-year-old girl living in Pakistan with her parents and family. Her belief that girls should be allowed to learn and go to school made her a target by the Taliban, who shot her at point blank range in 2012. Her story of survival is inspirational for all ages, but especially for middle school students who will be awed by someone their age making a major difference in the world.

Summer art project ideas

Summer vacation gives time to relax, play, have fun, and be creative without the confines of pressure of the school year. One way to spark your child’s creativity this summer is with a fun summer art project. The following art project ideas can help fill long summer days with artistic fun! -        Stained glass sun catchers Stained glass sun catchers can be easily made using materials you might already have around the house. Begin by cutting out a shape in black construction paper; butterflies, hearts, jellyfish, stars, many more can be turned into sun catcher shapes! Press the outline onto a piece of contact paper and begin filling the shape with small pieces of colored tissue paper. When the shape is filled, put a second piece of contact paper on top, cut around the edges to remove the excess, hang in a sunny window, and enjoy! -        Garden stepping stones Creating unique garden stepping stones is a way to add color and personality to your yard or garden. Begin by finding materials to use as the mosaics. Materials such as shells, small tiles, and colorful marbles can be used to create borders and patterns. Pour a small amount of cement into a clear vinyl pot saucer and begin decorating! When the stepping stones are dry, simply remove from the vinyl trays and add to your garden. For best results, ensure mosaic pieces are pressed firmly down into the cement with as few raised edges as possible. -        Ice Paint When it seems too hot to do anything outside, beat the heat with ice “paintsicles”. Begin by mixing equal parts cornstarch and water, then pour the mixture into the ice cube tray of your choice. Add different colors and combinations of food coloring into each “cube” to create a variety of colors. Finally, put half a popsicle stick into each cube and freeze overnight! The next day, enjoying painting either on paper inside or on concrete or cement outside. -        Recycled firefly bottle This project is made with glow sticks and recycled plastic soda bottles. While green 20 oz. bottles are recommended, any size or color can be used. After rinsing and drying the bottle, twist green or black pipe cleaners around the top, middle, and bottom of the bottle as legs. Cover the top of the legs with a piece of construction paper as the body, and top with cut out construction paper or cardboard wings. Make the firefly’s face by adding beads for eyes and pipe cleaner antennae to the bottle cap. Finally, crack a glow stick, put it inside, and enjoy the glow! Because the glow sticks can be easily replaced, this craft can last all summer long.

Summer vacation gives time to relax, play, have fun, and be creative without the confines of pressure of the school year. One way to spark your child’s creativity this summer is with a fun summer art project. The following art project ideas can help fill long summer days with artistic fun!

-        Stained glass sun catchers

Stained glass sun catchers can be easily made using materials you might already have around the house. Begin by cutting out a shape in black construction paper; butterflies, hearts, jellyfish, stars, many more can be turned into sun catcher shapes! Press the outline onto a piece of contact paper and begin filling the shape with small pieces of colored tissue paper. When the shape is filled, put a second piece of contact paper on top, cut around the edges to remove the excess, hang in a sunny window, and enjoy!

-        Garden stepping stones

Creating unique garden stepping stones is a way to add color and personality to your yard or garden. Begin by finding materials to use as the mosaics. Materials such as shells, small tiles, and colorful marbles can be used to create borders and patterns. Pour a small amount of cement into a clear vinyl pot saucer and begin decorating! When the stepping stones are dry, simply remove from the vinyl trays and add to your garden. For best results, ensure mosaic pieces are pressed firmly down into the cement with as few raised edges as possible.

-        Ice Paint

When it seems too hot to do anything outside, beat the heat with ice “paintsicles”. Begin by mixing equal parts cornstarch and water, then pour the mixture into the ice cube tray of your choice. Add different colors and combinations of food coloring into each “cube” to create a variety of colors. Finally, put half a popsicle stick into each cube and freeze overnight! The next day, enjoying painting either on paper inside or on concrete or cement outside.

-        Recycled firefly bottle

This project is made with glow sticks and recycled plastic soda bottles. While green 20 oz. bottles are recommended, any size or color can be used. After rinsing and drying the bottle, twist green or black pipe cleaners around the top, middle, and bottom of the bottle as legs. Cover the top of the legs with a piece of construction paper as the body, and top with cut out construction paper or cardboard wings. Make the firefly’s face by adding beads for eyes and pipe cleaner antennae to the bottle cap. Finally, crack a glow stick, put it inside, and enjoy the glow! Because the glow sticks can be easily replaced, this craft can last all summer long.

Ideas for creating a summer scrapbook

Scrapbooking is a fun, creative way for kids and adults to capture special memories. This year, keep kids busy while preserving all the fun they had while school was out by creating a summer scrapbook. Summer scrapbooks are a fun and artistic project that can be customized for kids of all ages and interest levels. Not only can they combat summer boredom, but it creates a keepsake that will be treasured for years to come. The following are five ideas for creating a summer scrapbook. -        More than just photos. While pictures are an important part of a scrapbook, they rarely tell the whole story. Instead, include other objects to help bring a story to life. A scrapbook page about a swim meet, for example, could include rubbings of medals, ribbons, swim caps, and more. -        Create a less formal smash book. Creating scrapbooks takes time; if your family is too busy having fun to sit down and take on a major artistic project, consider a “smash book” instead. Smash books are essentially journals with pictures, memorabilia, embellishments, and more. The lack of planning allows smash books to be worked on as summer progresses rather than sifting through photos and memories all at once. -        Include collaborative and individual elements. Work together as a family to choose pictures or layout pages, but also give each person a chance to shine. Have each member of the family write a few sentences of their favorite ice cream flavor and why, for example, for pages about visiting a new ice cream food truck. -        Make smaller, themed scrapbooks. If jamming a whole summer’s worth of memories into one scrapbook seems impossible, focus instead on one theme or event. Whether it is a scrapbook dedicated to a vacation, a road trip, or a memory book highlighting all the trips to the beach or nature hikes you took, a theme can help kids stay focused on specific memories.  -        Think outside the (scrap) book. Summer scrapbooks don’t have to be in a traditional book form. Instead, let kids get creative with how they want to preserve their memories. Ring bound postcards with memories written on the back, treasure chests with admission tickets on the folded pages inside, and memory boxes are all alternatives to traditional scrapbooks that save the memories while helping kids think outside the traditional book!

Scrapbooking is a fun, creative way for kids and adults to capture special memories. This year, keep kids busy while preserving all the fun they had while school was out by creating a summer scrapbook.

Summer scrapbooks are a fun and artistic project that can be customized for kids of all ages and interest levels. Not only can they combat summer boredom, but it creates a keepsake that will be treasured for years to come. The following are five ideas for creating a summer scrapbook.

-        More than just photos. While pictures are an important part of a scrapbook, they rarely tell the whole story. Instead, include other objects to help bring a story to life. A scrapbook page about a swim meet, for example, could include rubbings of medals, ribbons, swim caps, and more.

-        Create a less formal smash book. Creating scrapbooks takes time; if your family is too busy having fun to sit down and take on a major artistic project, consider a “smash book” instead. Smash books are essentially journals with pictures, memorabilia, embellishments, and more. The lack of planning allows smash books to be worked on as summer progresses rather than sifting through photos and memories all at once.

-        Include collaborative and individual elements. Work together as a family to choose pictures or layout pages, but also give each person a chance to shine. Have each member of the family write a few sentences of their favorite ice cream flavor and why, for example, for pages about visiting a new ice cream food truck.

-        Make smaller, themed scrapbooks. If jamming a whole summer’s worth of memories into one scrapbook seems impossible, focus instead on one theme or event. Whether it is a scrapbook dedicated to a vacation, a road trip, or a memory book highlighting all the trips to the beach or nature hikes you took, a theme can help kids stay focused on specific memories. 

-        Think outside the (scrap) book. Summer scrapbooks don’t have to be in a traditional book form. Instead, let kids get creative with how they want to preserve their memories. Ring bound postcards with memories written on the back, treasure chests with admission tickets on the folded pages inside, and memory boxes are all alternatives to traditional scrapbooks that save the memories while helping kids think outside the traditional book!

Games that help improve language and communication

Language and communication skills are important building blocks for young children. Not only do they ensure their ideas and thoughts can be understood by others, but they allow children to build self-confidence as they share and make friends.

While some children are naturally outgoing and communicative, others need practice to develop these skills. The following games will help children develop their language and communication skills through fun, engaging, and interactive play.

1.      Identify the object. Pick an object and take turns offering descriptions and clues to the other person. “It is long and skinny. We use it to sweep the floor” could be clues for a broom. “It’s brown and sweet. Your favorite kind is Hershey’s” could be used to describe chocolate.

2.      Presentation. Just like adults, many children fear being on stage speaking as the center of attention. To get over this fear, have your child create and perform a presentation. It can be as simple as describing a recent happy memory, singing a song, reciting a poem, or more. If your child feels comfortable presenting to your family, find out if they can present to a small group at your local church, senior center, or retirement home.

3.      What’s going on in the picture? This no-cost game can be played virtually anywhere. Ask children to describe in detail what they see in a picture illustration. Focus on details such as the scenery, colors, shapes, people, and more; for older children, have them create stories based solely on what they can see in the picture.

4.      Emotional charades. Emotional charades is a fun and easy game that can be played in large groups or with as few as two people. Make cards with different emotions written on them such as sleepy, happy, excited, sad, or more; players can take turns drawing a card and acting out the correct emotion.

5.      Pretend play. Actively using their imaginations is a great way to help children develop language and communication skills. Pretend play, such as playing house or using a play kitchen, is a great way to learn new words. Likewise, pretend play is an important part of learning how to play and cooperate with peers and classmates.

Writing prompts for high school students

In addition to being an important academic tool, writing is a way for children to express themselves as they sort through complex topics or navigate difficult situations. Journaling can be especially beneficial for high school students; as they critically examine their own thoughts, children will develop a greater sense of self and improve their self-esteem. This may help them become better writers in the process!   Journaling is one way to help your teen keep their writing skills sharp over the summer – without the pressure of word counts, grades, and deadlines. The following are just a few writing prompts for high school students that may help get them writing this summer!   Summer writing prompts   1.     What marks the start of summer: the last day of school, the first day the temperature reaches 90, the calendar, or something else? Is the start of summer determined only by the calendar, or do environmental factors contribute? 2.     What would your ideal summer day be like? 3.     Research activities for a “stay-cation”. Plan a day trip you could take with friends, a long weekend the whole family could enjoy, or even things you could do yourself. 4.     Come up with a different activity to do every day for the rest of summer. 5.     How will things be different from the first day of summer to the last day of summer? 6.     How did things change from the first day to the last day of school this year? 7.     Is it better to be inside or outside during the summer? 8.     What month of summer is best? 9.     Describe one activity that fully encapsulates the summer experience. 10.  Find one activity you can only do during the summer.   Writing prompts to encourage self-expression   1.     Where would you travel to if money were no object? What would you do and see? Who would you want to go with? What would you need to take with you? 2.     If you could see any band perform, who would it be and why? 3.     What has been the hardest thing you’ve ever overcome? How did it change you? 4.     List three of your strengths. How are they beneficial to you? 5.     List three of your weaknesses. What can you do to improve them? Are there any ways your weaknesses help you? 6.     What is your most annoying pet peeve? How does it make you react? 7.     If you could have one superpower, what would you want and why? 8.     Who is your personal hero? 9.     What do you admire about your parents? 10.  What will you do differently when you have children?

In addition to being an important academic tool, writing is a way for children to express themselves as they sort through complex topics or navigate difficult situations. Journaling can be especially beneficial for high school students; as they critically examine their own thoughts, children will develop a greater sense of self and improve their self-esteem. This may help them become better writers in the process!

 

Journaling is one way to help your teen keep their writing skills sharp over the summer – without the pressure of word counts, grades, and deadlines. The following are just a few writing prompts for high school students that may help get them writing this summer!

 

Summer writing prompts

 

1.     What marks the start of summer: the last day of school, the first day the temperature reaches 90, the calendar, or something else? Is the start of summer determined only by the calendar, or do environmental factors contribute?

2.     What would your ideal summer day be like?

3.     Research activities for a “stay-cation”. Plan a day trip you could take with friends, a long weekend the whole family could enjoy, or even things you could do yourself.

4.     Come up with a different activity to do every day for the rest of summer.

5.     How will things be different from the first day of summer to the last day of summer?

6.     How did things change from the first day to the last day of school this year?

7.     Is it better to be inside or outside during the summer?

8.     What month of summer is best?

9.     Describe one activity that fully encapsulates the summer experience.

10.  Find one activity you can only do during the summer.

 

Writing prompts to encourage self-expression

 

1.     Where would you travel to if money were no object? What would you do and see? Who would you want to go with? What would you need to take with you?

2.     If you could see any band perform, who would it be and why?

3.     What has been the hardest thing you’ve ever overcome? How did it change you?

4.     List three of your strengths. How are they beneficial to you?

5.     List three of your weaknesses. What can you do to improve them? Are there any ways your weaknesses help you?

6.     What is your most annoying pet peeve? How does it make you react?

7.     If you could have one superpower, what would you want and why?

8.     Who is your personal hero?

9.     What do you admire about your parents?

10.  What will you do differently when you have children?