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Boredom Busters: Interesting New Classes To Try Next Week

Extra curricular activities open kids’ minds to new interests. They help build skills outside of the classroom. They provide a productive break from study. And they open new social opportunities to grow a community. Here are editor’s picks for interesting new classes to try:

Foreign Language

The many cognitive benefits of learning languages are undeniable. People who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills.*

Theater Games in Spanish – Beginners

by Rogue Artists Ensemble

Learn Spanish through theatre games and music! We naturally learn language through trial and error and through play. In Theatre Games in Spanish, students learn to communicate in Spanish by playing games and having fun. We strive to joyfully instill a love of language through embodied learning and play.

Grades K – 5

$17/day starting Feb 22

German for Beginners: Singing & Speaking

by Musical Learning

In this fun and musical class, learners explore German greetings, keywords, introduction vocabulary and pronunciation – through music! Learning a language is fun and easy with Ms. Kelsey – let’s sing, dance and color! 

Ms. Kelsey is a professional opera singer and language teacher, and she started Musical Learning in 2016. She has taught German, French, English and ‘Musical Science’ for the past 10 years both online and in person. 

Ages 3 – 7

$100/ 8 session series that meets twice a week starting Feb 22


STEM

Skills attained through STEM education include problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, decision making, leadership, entrepreneurship, acceptance of failure and more.*

Explorations in Quantum Physics

by Electivity Kids

In the first 4 weeks of the session, students learn about the electromagnetic nature of matter and energy, including: Magnetism, Magnetic Induction Electricity, Photons, Solar Energy. In the second half of the session, students are introduced to atoms, subatomic particles and the Periodic Table of Elements (Hydrogen to Xenon). They learn how atoms form molecules, and also learn about the structure of the Periodic Table.  Class content is taught through engaging visual aids, physical demonstrations and thought-provoking discussion.

Grades 5 – 12

$230/ full series, ongoing until March 22

Python Programming 1: Live Online Class

by Kodeclik Online Academy

Python is one of the most feature-packed coding languages ever and today underlies the foundation of many websites, applications, and games.

This fast moving course assumes no prior experience with Python programming but rapidly takes you to high levels of functionality illustrating how you can write your own programs in Python!

Ages 11 – 18

$399 / 16-session series beginning Feb 19

Ancient Greece to Quantum Realms

by Digivations Institute

With An Emphasis on the Homeric epics of The Iliad and the Odyssey, the Milesian School of Thought yielding Thales, Pre-Socratics highlighting Democritus and the Socratic Period illustrative of Socrates Philosophy in the Context of Innovation Ranging from The Theory of Everything to Einstein’s Unified Theory and Quantum Realms.

Digivations Institute has NASA award-winning curriculum and is an ActivityHero Best of 2020.

ages 12 & up

$49/day ongoing until May 25

Curiosity Club S.T.E.A.M. Lab – science & art fun

by Active Art & Science

Join us online for S.T.E.A.M powered fun where you will explore the curious worlds of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Conduct experiments, create art, build, take things apart and enjoy learning how art, science, engineering and technology are connected.

Ages 5 – 10

$96/ 6-session series beginning Feb 22


Homeschooling

Homeschool offers academic flexibility. During these ever-changing COVID times, many families have turned to this option. Try these classes for academic homeschooling and enrichment education!

Martial Arts & Life Lessons

by Family Karate

Family Karate provides fun, fitness, karate, and life skills.  Now your child can enjoy our unique blend of martial arts and character building in our live online classes with a Master Instructor.

In each class we’ll ask you to set a self leadership goal for your children, and in the next class we’ll follow up progress on those goals.

Ages 5 – 11 but fun for the whole family! Try it as a stress reliever!

$10/day trial classes or $20/day regular price ongoing throughout spring

First Grade Curriculum! Homeschooling 101!

by Homeschool Academy

This is a great introductory trial for parents thinking about homeschooling their kids.

In this curriculum which follows the Common Core State Standards, we dive into EVERYTHING your child should learn in First Grade WOW! See below for a snapshot of some of the covered content. In previous classes on different platforms– parents would RAVE how their child would not be able to read at all prior to Mrs. Hendricks Academy and by the end of the curriculum- they were reading whole sentences, creative writing on their own and excelling. 

Ages 4 – 8

$7/class. Special discount available $145/month

Princess Story Time Ballet Dance Camp

by Lovely Leaps

Each week we will have a different princess joining the class. After the princess arrives the children will perform their dance while the princess sings, Then they will sit with their favorite toy while the princess reads a fun book! After story time the children will have a chance to each personally interact with the princess! It’s not everyday your child will get to have a virtual Disneyland experience! 

Ages 3 – 6

$17/day starting March 4


Tired of online classes? Try a fun Lego® course:
Amusement Park LEGO® Engineering

by SNAPOLOGY OF LOS GATOS

We bet your child loves going to amusement parks to experience the variety of fast, dropping, and spinning rides, but have they ever thought about the science that goes into building those rides and the people who are responsible for designing them? In Snapology’s Amusement Park Engineering class, students will become engineers building their own amusement park rides like roller coasters, Ferris wheel , Bumper Car and other awesome rides!! 

Snapology of Los Gatos serves Almaden, Camden, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Cupertino.

Ages 5 – 12

$150/ 4-session series starting Feb 24

Categories
Featured Posts Mindfulness Parenting Resources Yoga

5 Ways to Start the New Year Right for Kids

After a year of school shutdowns, schedule disruptions, and social isolation, many families may be looking forward to a fresh start. Here are some ideas for kids to take on 2021 the right way with health, education, and mindfulness.

2020 was a challenge for many families, and for many kids that can come with increased stress and anxiousness. Helping children manage physical and mental health is especially important this year. Look for ways to make 2021 their best year yet!

2021 Goals for Kids and Teens

Here are 5 steps towards a year full of growth and joy.

1) Physical Exercise

Exercising every day can help kids manage their sleep schedule, improve their mood, and decrease stress. This can be a healthy habit for the whole family in 2021 – hiking, biking, going for walks, or other recreational activities are all great ideas to enjoy together. 

Kids Yoga Classes

Other exercise and fitness classes for your child include:

Dance: Kids of any age can participate in a dance class or have a dance party in a fun, safe environment. Many classes are for beginners and explore many different styles of dance, like hip hop, ballet, and jazz.

Martial Arts: Martial arts classes help build confidence, leadership skills, and resilience while providing a fun space to stay active.

Yoga: Online yoga and exercise classes are a relaxing activity for all ages. In yoga classes for kids as young as 4, students learn basic yoga movements and body awareness.

See All Fitness Classes on ActivityHero>>

2) Nutrition

Nutrition and healthy eating is important for all ages. Establishing a good relationship with food is knowledge that kids can use for their whole life.

Getting started with cooking at a young age is a great way for kids to start learning about nutrition. Being in the kitchen can also help with independence, help picky eaters, and spark creativity.

Cooking Classes: Instructional classes with expert teachers bring kids through recipes while teaching kitchen safety, cleanliness, and art.

DIY Recipes: Have fun with recipes on your own time, with video tutorials to help you out!

3) Schedule Relaxing Activities

Along with exercise and nutrition, making time for enjoyable and relaxing hobbies has many benefits as well. A new year is the perfect time to explore something new, whether it be art, music, writing, or gaming.

Art classes for kids

Art Classes for Kids: Art can be a constructive outlet for children of all abilities to express emotions and relieve anxiety. Drawing, painting, clay modeling, and crafts are all great activities.

Music Classes for Kids: Music is a great activity that anyone can pick up for fun, whether it’s learning an instrument, singing, or dancing.

In addition, any relaxing hobby your child enjoys can help them socialize and unwind. Cooking, theatre & drama, music, LEGO or even making slime could be good options!

See All Online Classes on ActivityHero>>

4) Mindfulness and Meditation

Look forward to a year of emotional health and reduced stress. Yoga, exercises to reduce stress, and meditation can all help to prepare for the ups and downs of 2021. Even five minutes of breathing or mindful exercises a day can help to develop healthy emotions and resilience.

Kids Mindfulness Classes

See Mindfulness on ActivityHero>>

5) Staying Connected

Many kids had to learn to navigate technology this year to attend school and socialize with friends. Live online classes or calls are a great time for kids to safely interact with each other and work together on fun activities. After feeling isolated this year, it is important to make time to keep connections this year.

See Social Skills and Social Media on ActivityHero>>

Along with encouraging kids to reach out to others, be aware of the risks of the online world. Teach your kids about cyberbullying and staying safe on the internet.

Categories
Featured Posts Homeschool Lego Math On-Demand School Breaks Science/Technology

On-Demand STEM: DIY Activities and Printables

On-demand STEM classes and activities for your child are a great option when you need an activity at any time of day. ActivityHero provides a wide variety of classes and activities in science, technology, coding, engineering, math, and more! Here are some of our favorite on-demand STEM activities.

See All On-Demand Classes, including art, science, coding, music, and more >>

On-Demand STEM - learn about robots

How Can Robots Help Us? by Create & Learn

From WALL-E, Baymax, to Transformers, robots have been some of our favorite movie characters. In this Open Class, Professor Atkeson from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University will walk us through the basics of robotics and then explore soft robots, which have soft cushiony bodies.

how to design vaccines by playing games on-demand STEM

How to Design Vaccines by Playing Games

Do you know your kids can help scientists solve puzzles and design vaccines by playing games? Genetics, together with computer science, are two of the most promising fields for the future. Join this talk to learn the basics of genetics and explore the fun game designed by Stanford experts!

learn to make a solar oven

How to Make a Solar Oven

Have fun baking a dessert with your kids and learn some science at the same time with this DIY Solar Oven by Beau Coffron, in partnership with Home Depot. All you need is an old pizza box and a handful of tools and materials. In just a few easy steps, you’ll have created an innovative solar oven!

learn javascript on-demandd

Hour of Code – Learn JavaScript

Learn how to code with Javascript in Classroom Antics’ easy-to-use web interface and self-guided lessons. Progress through fun online coding activities at your own pace. Complete up to 9 lessons (one hour each). Lessons feature fun projects such as creating an facetracker, eclipse simulation, greeting card, snapchat filter, community map and more!

LEGO® on-demand activities

Playgineering with Legos! Castle Turrets

This On-Demand segment is part of our Playgineering and Fungineering series that uses the Engineer’s Process to create scenes with Technic and regular Legos and other materials through design, construction, robotics and play.

In this segment, in addition to highlighting key features that define turrets of castles, we provide step-by-step instructions for building turrets using 2×4 and 2×2 Lego bricks that are able to interlock-style attach to the walls of the castle that we build in different On-Demand segments in our series.

math practice worksheets

Math Practice Worksheets

This package by RISU provides printable worksheets to practice basic math concepts at your own pace. These worksheets are designed to improve math proficiency quickly and motivate kids to learn math!

Galileoscope telescope kit for the holiday break

Galileoscope Telescope Kit for the Holidays

This on-demand activity includes a telescope kit and video instruction, where an expert astronomer and telescope builder will walk you through the process of assembling the telescope. Then, begin exploring the universe like Galileo did over 400 years ago and see the wonders of the winter sky!

Galileoscope telescope kit for the holiday break

Virtual Science – All About Reptiles

Join Miss Rennu in this short video and immerse your child into the world of reptiles! Learn all about different reptiles from around the world with amazing visuals and wonderful explanations! 

Galileoscope telescope kit for the holiday break

GIGIL STEM Kits

These amazing STEM Kits include 3-5 STEM experiments and activities shipped right to your door. These include videos with pre-recorded STEM lessons to guide you through the activities. Each video lesson is taught by a California credentialed teacher that specializes in STEM Education.

Galileoscope telescope kit for the holiday break

STEM Project: Design & Build your own car

Build a wind-powered car while learning about the scientific concepts behind the process! These printables will guide you through the steps of building a car, testing it out, and experimenting with it!

See All On-Demand Activities >>

Categories
Featured Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Mindfulness On-Demand Parenting Resources

A Teens Guide to the Social Dilemma

Has social media been sneaking into your brain? Many teens are spending hours scrolling through perfectly filtered photos, obsessing over likes and shares, or encountering virtual bullies. Teens are going down a “rabbit hole” online, experiencing the tricks software developers use to keep people on Instagram, Snapchat, video games and other media. 

How can we build healthier relationships with technology?Max Stossel, Head of Education for The Center for Humane Technology, illustrated some of the specific ways technology is designed to be addictive & distracting, provided tools to help combat these designs, and showcased a much needed discussion among peers about the impact of phones & social media on our lives during ActivityHero’s free event, The Teens Guide to the Social Dilemma.

Watch Max Stossel’s presentation available on-demand >>

Max’s Top tips for Social Media Well-being

  1. Turn off all notification except from people you care about
  2. Unfollow every account that makes you feel badly about yourself 
  3. Delete toxic apps 
  4. Use a physical alarm clock 
  5. Get the phone out of the bedroom at least an hour before you go to sleep
  6. DF Youtube: an extension to make YouTube a more kid-friendly place (distraction-free, without suggested videos) 
  7. Practice mindfulness to know yourself; what are you thinking and feeling?
  8. Give an 8-second hug a day! 

#mysocialtruth
Share your stories on Socialtruth.humanetech.com


Q&A with Max Stossel

Transcribed from The Teens Guide to the Social Dilemma

Q1: What is the recommended time per day to spend on social media? How do we strengthen the emotional awareness of teens, should we slowly reduce screen-time or just stop?

There is no golden rule for the amount of time. I think it’s far more helpful to look at in terms of life. What role is social media serving for us? Is it entertainment? Are we aware of these mental health challenges? Are we doing other things? Are we doing the things we need to do with our lives? Some people do report saying “I have this one hour a day when I’m not going to just go on in a mindless moment. From 7 to 8 [o’clock], that’s going to be my social media time because I like social media.” Some people like doing it this way.

Especially for younger kids, these mental health challenges are real. To me, it’s just not worth the cost in the younger, middle school-age years. I don’t believe it’s worthwhile. And in terms of developing that emotional resilience, parents know better than me. I believe, especially in schools,  looking into those curriculums and focusing on those topics is going to be practical. In this next generation, we’re going to need to know ourselves and our emotions to thrive in the digital world. 

Q2: Is there an age where you think it’s ok for kids to be on social media?

I’m one person, with one person’s opinion, but I have spoken to a lot of parents. I have spoken to a lot of parents who have been very glad they have delayed. I have not spoken to parents who believe they wished they gave it earlier. For me, I would wait until at least high school. Our adult brains are hardly capable and it’s doing a number on our mental health. 

It doesn’t mean don’t talk about it, or don’t have the conversations about it until high school if you’re on it, like sharing, and using it in your life. I could not build a better self comparison machine than social media. 

To be honest, the idea that porn won’t seep in is not honest. People believe, it’s not my kid, but it’s a box with the entire internet on it. Everything that comes with the entire internet is involved with that box. We want the golden bullet – we want to have the good and not the bad. I think a more honest approach is recognizing this is really a lot and we haven’t as a society figured out good guard rails for ways of doing this thing yet. Let’s approach it honestly as a result.

Q3: Can you please discuss the YouTube rabbit hole and how does affect my brain?

YouTube is deciding with it’s algorithm, based on all your information, to figure out what’s the perfect piece of content that will get you watching. It doesn’t particularly care what is good for you, will make you smile, what will make you care, make you any of these things. What it cares about is you watching. Oftentimes that’s just like the most out-there extreme radical idea. And then we start believing what’s out there, not true things, and it messes with our sense making of the world. YouTube DF is a powerful tool so you can just turn off the recommended videos. So you can go to that one video that you meant to watch, and watch it, and then go about doing your best. And we might find now and then, as the slot machine, “I found something I really like!”, but if we turn off the recommendations we will be much happier. 

Q4: I recently started my own YouTube channel, how does it affect me? I mostly post my own content. 

I am an artist and a filmmaker; I use social media. I use it to promote. At your age, you can probably relate to this – you post something and then how does it feel? You are asking yourself “are people liking this?” “are people engaging with it?” I think one of the hardest things to do as someone creating content on YouTube, is to actually stick to doing to what you want to do. Not let “how many views did this get” drive what you’re making, everything you’re doing, because then you’re not really doing it because you want to do it. 

We start [creating content] because I love XYZ and that’s why I’m going to make videos about it – I love it. But, then we start to get more into “this one I liked it, but it didn’t do as well, maybe I shouldn’t do it” like that and then the outside world starts to govern what you’re creating, what you’re making. And you start to care so much more about what everybody else thinks. That’s what to look out for. and it’s hard. It’s hard so get together with some friends and be like “hey we’re going to support each other”. Let’s make sure that we are actually doing this because we want to do it. If we [create content] for getting the likes then it becomes so addictive, literally addictive. 

I have YouTube videos with millions of views and it’s endless. If you want to have one you want 5 and 10 there’s no number that is satisfying. It’s an endless treadmill. I want more more more more more and it never ends. So you can beat it by just posting what you actually want to post. Try and do what you actually want to share and not think about how good it does. Doing this is easier said than done. 

Q5: What is the right age for kids to start gaming (i.e. Roblox)? Parent says “I’m very confused when my child says he plays for achievements.” 

I mean I think that’s a similar example to what I was explaining with Halo. I just needed to get to the next level, I needed to accomplish it! Especially for young boys. Life is confusing for teenage boys and in Halo I know that “I do this one thing that is really hard, and then I get to the next level.” In life everything is scary and hard. Life doesn’t have an experience bar in that way.

What age is right? I think some games can be really educational. Games are obviously really really fun. My best advice would be – I would not compromise on the “just one more game because I’m going to lose.” The systems are designed so that you lose. When it’s dinner, it’s dinner like in the real world. Real world takes precedence over the video game world. And to recognize we are going to set limits because we know how easy it is to fall into the radicals of these games. Set and stick to those limits, make it an open conversation. Kids should have a voice in this. They should say what’s working and not working. It should be not a dictatorship, but a conversation. 

Q6: How can you tell a teen is addicted to social? “My teen is says he’s not addicted to social, but he plays Discord and Roblox. I have noticed after he spends hours playing, his personality changes. He does not want to accept he is addicted.”

I am not a mental health counselor. There are many resources on our website that might be helpful. But your child has to be ready and willing and admitting that there’s a problem for any of this stuff to work. So having these conversations – talking about some of these resources, asking those questions, like “notice how it’s making you feel?” Also, they are probably afraid you’re going to take it away from them. This is a real problem that tends to exist.

Opening the conversation is the way to start. Some of these games are really disturbing because there aren’t actually enhancing something on a human level.

Are we learning something from it? Or is this just engaging? We have not approached this well as a society. Social media just happens to be a strong pull. It’s a journey. Hug your kids and tell them you love them. It’s not a solution but I have seen in my work it has been very helpful. 

Q7: How can I monitor what they’re doing on their phone without infringing on their privacy ?  

That question makes me laugh. Monitoring what they are doing on their phones, is infringing on their privacy. We want the best for them. This is a good example of creating trust and opening conversation. 

You can try, you can put all of the monitoring software on there. But they will be able to get around all that software. Conversation can be one of the best. And for me, delay is the answer. Try to delay until high school to start introducing this stuff into lives. For me the mental health risks are not worth it. 

Q8: Whenever I play video games and I am done, I always feel like there is nothing else to do and I feel bored. Then I want to play it again. 

Try creating your own game, find new things. There are skills in life – video editing, photography, etc that you can choose to try rather than playing Fortnite. Find a replacement hobby, but have the expectation that nothing will hit you as hard as Fortnite. 

Resource Links:

The Center for Humane Technology
Stayfosucd – site blocker for Chrome
Gamequitters.com/hobby-tool/
ActivityHero.com – find new educational or enrichment activities that build useful skills, like coding, video editing, web design, art, music, and more.

Watch Max Stossel’s presentation available on-demand >>

Categories
After-School Activities On-Demand Online Learning School Breaks

5 Fun Alternatives to Family Movie Night

Have you watched every family-friendly movie on Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus? Memorized every scene of Trolls World Tour? Eaten your body weight in popcorn? No judgement here – it’s been a long year! 

Here are five alternatives to Family Movie Night at home that are just as fun!

Take an Art Class together:

There is something therapeutic about drawing or painting after a long week of work or school, even if you aren’t really an artist! On-demand art classes fit into your schedule and are fun for the whole family.

See All On-Demand Art Classes >>

Bake up a sweet treat

What’s better than a weekend night decorating cookies or cupcakes? Not only is it super fun, but you get a tasty reward at the end. Make it even more entertaining by creating a theme or game to your decorating – whether it’s Disney characters or seasonal holiday themes. On-demand cooking or baking classes are a good way to learn new skills together in the kitchen, too.

See All On-Demand Cooking & Baking Classes >>

Experiment with Science

Learn weather science with Engineering for Kids of Kern

Change the perspective that science is all academic and boring. Getting hands-on with STEM projects at home with your kids can be fun for all ages. Instead of learning about weather science in a book, create clouds in a jar and queue the “wow, that’s so cool”. On-demand STEM activities are available for most ages and can be enjoyed as a family.

See All On-Demand STEM Activities >>

Build something together

Roll up your sleeves and spend some quality time building something together. Working on a project as a family is a great way to connect and have conversations with your kids in a low-pressure environment. The best part is you will have a tangible item to remind you of the time you spent together. 

Free DIY Birdhouse Activity with Home Depot

Get Crafty

On-Demand Girl Scouts Workshop: Pumpkin Crafts with Discover Science Center

If you have movie fatigue, break out the craft supplies. Instead of watching your kids favorite characters sing on-screen for the 2,536th time this year, create puppet versions of Poppy and Branch and have your kids put on a show! Or, use the time together to decorate for any seasonal holiday or make special gifts for family.

See All On-Demand Craft Activities >>

Categories
Featured Posts Mindfulness Parenting Resources Yoga

5 Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety in Kids

Stress and anxiety is common for both children and adults. Butterflies before a piano recital or feeling nervous about a big test is a normal reaction to a stressful situation or event. As parents, we can’t eliminate stress in our children’s lives – only teach them how to manage it. 

Triggers that can cause stress in children include major life changes such as moving or divorce, family financial problems, peer pressure or bullying, body changes, and worrying about schoolwork. Helping our children form coping strategies at a young age will set them up for long-term success as they encounter education, career, social, and financial decisions. 

During 2020, the number of children expressing stress increased with schedule disruptions, school shutdowns, social isolation, virtual learning, and health concerns. According to a parent survey on ActivityHero in September 2020, 86% of children reported feeling anxious during the prior 6 months. 

Without healthy stress management, chronic anxiety could lead to behavioral and physical symptoms in children: (medlineplus.gov)

  • Decreased appetite or other sudden changes in eating habits
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Nightmares or Sleep disturbances
  • Upset stomach or vague stomach pain
  • Sudden changes in behavior that are out of character
  • New or recurring fears (fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of strangers)
  • Clinging, unwilling to let you out of sight (separation anxiety)
  • Not able to control emotions; Aggressive or stubborn behavior
  • Unwilling to participate in family or school activities

Stress management for Kids and Teens

Here are 5 ways to help your child manage every day anxiety and take healthy habits into adulthood:

1) Good Sleep Routines

Sleep is essential for your body and mind to recover and reset from the day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 9-12 hours of sleep a night is recommended for 6- to 12-year olds. Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep a night. Set a schedule and bedtime routine for consistency. For younger children, this could include a “wind down” time of bath and story time. For teens, limiting screen time and gaming before bed can support more restful sleep. 

2) Physical Exercise

At least 60 minutes of exercise a day can have many health benefits for children, including relieving stress. This is a healthy habit for the whole family – hiking, biking, surfing, or other recreational activities are all great ideas to enjoy together. 

Other fun, non-competitive exercise and fitness classes for your child to manage stress (and burn off extra energy), include:

Kids Yoga

Yoga: Online stretching and yoga classes are a relaxing activity for all ages. In yoga classes for kids as young as 4, students learn basic yoga movements and body awareness.

Dance Party: Toddlers to teens can enjoy a fun dance party, connecting in a safe environment led by an engaging instructor. Many dance and movement classes have fun themes and do not require any previous dance experience.

Karate: Introductions to martial arts classes online do not require previous experience, and can be a confidence builder for children.

We’re here to help your child become even more engaged, strong and optimistic during this unique time.  We know that grit, resilience and laughter have never been more important than right now.

– Family Karate Online

See All Fitness Classes on ActivityHero>>

3) Schedule Relaxing Activities

In addition to exercising your body, scheduling relaxing activities can also relieve mental stress. Art, music, journaling, and other relaxing hobbies all have therapeutic benefits. The most important reminder is to make sure there is zero pressure – these should be purely for fun!

Art Classes for Kids: Art can be a constructive outlet for children of all abilities to express emotions and relieve anxiety. Drawing, painting, clay modeling, and crafts are all great activities.

In addition, any relaxing hobby your child enjoys can help them socialize and unwind. Cooking, theatre & drama, music, LEGO or even making slime could be good options!

See All Online Classes on ActivityHero>>

4) Breathing & Meditation

If your child is starting to feel overwhelmed, teaching them breathing exercises can help them work through their feelings. Taking deep breaths, visualizing themselves in a calming place, and listening to relaxing sounds are all strategies to help them refocus. 

“We started using online classes on Activity Hero after schools closed and I was furloughed. My son especially enjoys Vibras Meditation (now LoveHero). Positive messages and empowerment are so good for kids right now (and always I guess.) The instructor is great and we will continue even after things move to the new normal.”

-Parent Review

See All Meditation & Mindfulness Classes on ActivityHero>>

5) Model Self-Care and Positive Thinking

As parents and adults, modeling self-care and positive thinking is probably the hardest habit to implement. However, our children observe and absorb more of our adult stress than we realize. Some strategies include:

  • Talk with your children about how you have dealt with stressful situations and encourage dialogue about how they are feeling. Tip: Conversations can be more natural if you engage when your child doesn’t have to look directly at you – riding in a car, walking the dog, or sitting on the beach. 
  • Be mindful of your reactions; take a deep breath before responding to stressful situations. 
  • Avoid negative thinking; Model behaviors of self-care instead of self-doubt for your children.
  • Be Aware: Children are spending more time online and it’s important to understand (and teach) the dangers of cyberbullying, social media addiction, and predators. 

If at any time you feel your child may have chronic anxiety or depression, please consult your healthcare provider. Some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety or depression in children could be caused by other conditions, such as trauma. If you need help finding treatment, visit MentalHealth.gov

Categories
Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Mindfulness Online Learning

5 Ways to Help Kids Focus During Online Learning

Sit still. Pay attention… These seem like easy concepts, but these days while kids are attending school or an online class from their bedroom or kitchen table, it’s especially hard for kids to focus and listen to a teacher who is online.

ActivityHero sought out the guidance of Chaia May, an early childhood educator and writer. Her daughter was also struggling with ADHD and was “intensely fidgety and anxious” as a child. Chaia gives us five easy ways to use sensory integration to help kids overcome wiggles and wandering thoughts.

  1. Fiddle Away! Choose your “Tactile”

Give kids something in their hands to fiddle or squeeze. Very interestingly, pressure to the fingertips can help a child focus (imagine prayer beads) and also facilitates speech in speech-delayed children. Let them choose amongst things such as a double-balloon filled with cornstarch or a stress ball.

  1. Push with your legs!

Tie an elastic band around the four legs of their chair. As the child pushes against it with his or her feet, they work their ligaments and muscles. It also gives kids who like to rock in their chairs an alternative so that they don’t fall over!

  1. Sit on a bouncy chair 

We have the fewest nerve endings on our bottoms, so we are most passive when sitting. 

Use the bouncy ball chairs and build up their core muscles. If their core is strong, it helps their back and their shoulders. Supporting their weight helps keep their whole body strong and more alert. Also, a little bouncing break adds to vestibular stimulation. 

  1. Pedaling for mind power! 

Get one of the mini-bicycles that you can peddle that fit under your table or take breaks every half hour or so and do the “bicycle” on the floor. Or use training wheels to prop up a kids bike like this clever mom on Facebook. 

The magic of the bicycle is that when you are using opposing arms and legs, the mind cannot wander. 

5. Carry a load and feed the muscles and mind!

Give children a load of books to carry or a few chairs to push in between classes. While they push, they are working their ligaments and large muscles. It organizes and calms the whole body and makes them stronger as well.

These tips utilize sensory integration to help the brain stay alert, calm down, re-focus on one particular thing or cancel out extraneous information. 

Did you know there are three more senses in addition to the five senses we learned about in school? The first is tactile. It describes whatever sensory information is carried through our skin. Children can be either especially sensitive to touch (hypersensory) or not feel it at all (hyposensory.) Input into the tactile system can calm or stimulate as needed.

The second is proprioceptive. This describes what signals we get from receiving input into our ligaments and muscles (elbows, knees, for example.) Pushing into them can help children (particularly those who are lightweight and don’t get that input when they walk) regulate their nervous system and not bump into things or avoid things as they seek sensory input or avoid it, accordingly.

The third is vestibular. This is what we feel when we fight or resist gravity in any way: spin, twist, lean over, or rock. Children who love to spin, climb, or rock are self-stimulating to help organize their nervous system. Just leaning over can be enough to recalibrate and re-focus.

For more information about Chaia May and her books, visit LearningPlay.org. You can sign up for classes with Chaia May on ActivityHero. 

Categories
Crafts Creative Arts Featured Posts Online Learning Seasonal Activities

Best Kids Halloween Activities for 2020

Whether or not you are going trick or treating this year, there are a ton of spooktacular Halloween activities that can be done at home to get in the haunting spirit. Carve out some fun this October to bake creepy cupcakes, paint spooky creatures, learn candy science, and more! We’ve rounded up the best kids classes, crafts and on-demand activities for Halloween.

Find All Halloween Classes and Crafts on ActivityHero >>

Pumpkins, skeletons, vampires, oh my! Choose from a variety of Halloween-themed drawing and painting classes by Young Art. Choose from single day sessions or a series of spooky lessons.

Halloween Arts & Crafts: Let your imagination run wild as you are guided through some awesome Halloween themed arts & crafts by Genius Kids, with a complete craft kit with all the tools you need for each craft each week.

Learn How to Draw Halloween Characters: With a small 4:1 student/teacher ratio, Cindy Art Studio provides personalized instruction on fun cartoon drawings of Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein, Witch, and Dracula!

Singing, Dancing & Games for Halloween: Join Jeanette Airen Performing Arts Studio for a super fun Halloween Dance Party class. Wear your Halloween costume and learn a short Halloween dance combo. Or, sign up for singing and theatre games!

Halloween Science Workshops: Sneak learning into hands-on spooky STEM experiments. Make pumpkins puke with Discover Science Center, mix glow-in-the-dark slime with Michaels, learn about candy science with Kidscapades, become a Mad Scientist with Young Art, and more!

Creepy Crawly Culinary Classes: No tricks, just treats! Make Halloween cupcakes, no-bake desserts, dip chocolate apples, churros and more. Let’s have some fun!

On-Demand Halloween Crafts and Activities: Get ready for a haunting night with classes on-demand any time to fit your schedule! Mix up glow-in-the-dark slime and make Halloween crafts – scarecrows, pumpkins, bats, and more!

Find All Halloween Classes and Crafts on ActivityHero >>

Categories
Academics Featured Posts

Learning Pods To Support Online School

Learning pods are small, in-person groups of children who learn together with the support of a teacher or facilitator.

These ‘pandemic pods’ are rapidly gaining support as parents find new ways to support their child’s virtual learning. Working parents and families with multiple children are struggling to find a path forward while balancing work and home responsibilities. Other children need specialized learning support, better facilitated by a tutor or licensed teacher.

Types of Learning Pods

  1. Enrichment Provider – held in a facility, or in family’s home
  2. Parent co-op – coordinated by a few families
  3. Micro School – one or more teachers who may be credentialed
  4. Digital or Virtual pod – a group that meets online 
Learning pods to support online learning by teachers, parent co-ops and enrichment providers.

Enrichment Provider Learning Pods

Learning pods coordinated by local businesses are in very high demand. These small groups are either held on-site at a facility or in a host families home. These types of pods are a good fit if a parent is not able to oversee distance learning support at home.

The credentials and experience of the facilitator vary by program. While some might offer a licensed teacher, others may employ tutors or camp counselors. In most cases, each student would need their own computer, headphones, face covering, and other school supplies.

Many provider learning pods will follow the child’s distance learning school curriculum – keeping the child on task and engaged with their teachers via Zoom. Some providers offer both distance learning support and an after school enrichment program for extended care.

Provider learning pods are in very limited supply across the country due to both the new concept and the small group size. Therefore, available programs are filling up very fast on ActivityHero.

Find Learning Pods Near Me>>

Are you a business offering learning pods in your community? Learn more about creating a listing on ActivityHero.

Parent Co-Op Learning Pods

Provider learning pods can be costly and have limited availability. As a result, some families have opted to form Parent Co-Ops. These parent-led groups help share the responsibility of both childcare and distance learning support. These types of pods can help parents who may have some flexibility with their work schedule. However, they may need the support of other parents for specific days or subject matters.

Parent led groups, in collaboration with your child’s online learning curriculum, are a very affordable alternative to full-time child care. Families often agree to take turns watching the small group, splitting up the responsibility of keeping children engaged during the day.

To support neighbors working together, ActivityHero has created a free option for parents to post available spots in their local pod.

Create a free listing indicating your child’s school and ages to coordinate with other families in your area. Host your own pod and receive an ActivityHero Live class for FREE each week for all your pod members for one month! (up to $400 savings value).

Start a Learning Pod at Home >>

Use our Planner feature to collaborate with other families in your learning pod. You can add custom events to detail your pod schedules and find providers with after school activities that fit your children’s needs. 

Micro School

The term micro school existed prior to 2020, but the idea has gained popularity amid school closures. A micro school is often a co-op but with a credentialed teacher facilitating learning for a small group of children.

A micro school is a great option for families seeking more specialized instruction by a credentialed teacher in their home. Multiple families with children of similar ages are able to hire a teacher and split the cost.

If you are a teacher or tutor, you can now offer your services to families in your area. ActivityHero has made it extremely fast and easy to create your custom listing – describe your experience, availability, and set your own price. For more information, read more about the licensing requirements for launching a micro school.

Teach a Learning Pod>>

Digital or Virtual Learning Pod

Each family has different needs when it comes to supporting their child’s distance learning. For some children with health concerns or those who live with a high risk family member, virtual learning pods could be a good option.

These types of pods are when a group of children take a series of after school or enrichment classes together. Taking online classes with friends can help support social connections. These are also a great option for homeschool families. Use the ActivityHero Planner feature to set up a calendar and invite friends to join you.

Find After School Online Activities>>

Categories
Environmental Leadership Uncategorized

How to Get Students to Volunteer (Without Nagging!)

“Who wants to come out and pick up trash in our neighborhood Saturday morning?” a bright and eager teacher asked a class of 9th graders. While a few dedicated students might show up, most probably won’t. Saturday morning is prime time for middle and high school students to sleep in, not volunteer.

Kids and teens volunteering
INSPIRING IMAGE BY SHUTTERSTOCK

But, counselors, teachers, and parents know that kids who take advantage of volunteer opportunities can bolster their college applications, learn new skills, find friendship, and a sense of purpose.  So, how can you motivate students of all ages to get out there and volunteer, even on a Saturday morning?

Here are 3 tips to help boost student interest in volunteering (no nagging involved!):

Follow Their Interests

Finding volunteer opportunities that coincide perfectly with student interests is a game-changer. For example, younger students who are animal lovers might enjoy playing with rescue cats.  You can explain that the kitties need people-time to learn to trust strangers and are friendly for their future families.  Lakes, rivers, and oceans are beloved by children of all ages.  So what better way to teach young students about the delicate ecosystem than saving the fish and other sea creatures with a beach clean-up?

High school students who express interest in a career in healthcare can volunteer at a local hospital. Baseball stars can mentor special needs players offering one-on-one coaching.  There are also opportunities for teens who delight in having fun with kids and want to volunteer at a summer camp

When there’s interest, there’s motivation. So, the goal should be to find volunteer opportunities for students that are relevant, exciting and interesting for them!   

Explain the Benefits of Volunteering

For many, community service is something kids slog through to meet school requirements or appease parents.  All the while, they’re wondering, “What’s in it for me?”  After all, their brains are wired to be a bit self-centered at this point in their development. Take advantage and think of some appealing ideas about how volunteering benefits your child both now, and later. Try some of these…. 

For younger kids….

  • You’ll get the opportunity to meet new friends who care about making sure homeless people have warm socks, just like you do.
  • Volunteering can be fun with your besties! Afterward, let’s go out for ice cream.
  • You’re really great with animals.  Think about what a great home the kittens will find because you teach them to love kids. 
  • Hey, we’re going to the beach today.  You’ll get to swim with the fish and help take care of them too!

For teens….

  • Someday you’ll apply to college. Volunteer experience will show schools that you’re more than just smart.  They’ll see what’s important to you.
  • Volunteering will give you the chance to learn real-world skills they’ll never teach you in a classroom.
  • Little kids will love the one-on-one attention you give them when you teach them how to hold a bat. You’ll be the rock-star coach.
  • Volunteering involves zero tests and no homework. It’s all about doing cool things with friends.
  • You know that retail job you want at Zumiez this summer?  Why not volunteer in a thrift store until then so you get to know fashion trends.  You’ll have a real advantage when you apply.

Keep it relatable, up-beat, and actionable.  Find fun YouTube videos showing elementary age students volunteering.  Google sample high school resumes or college application essays that show inspiring volunteer experience. Sharing other students’ successes can be powerful persuasion for increasing interest in volunteerism.

Positive Peer Pressure

Kids like what their friends like. In a survey, 25% of students who invited their friends to volunteer with them sparked their friend’s interest in volunteering! So, use the power of influence and friendship.

How?

Reach out to families that are already volunteering and ask them to share their experiences with other students. Share stories and images that highlight volunteering friendships and the fun, feel-good aspects of helping others.  Better yet, ask when they are volunteering next and offer to carpool.

Getting students to volunteer enthusiastically requires that we make it fun. It also helps if we can include a small, but perceptible self-esteem boost in their experience with volunteering. With the right framing, enough support, and the opportunity to create some memorable moments with friends, students will be lining up to volunteer!

About the Author

Amy von Kaenel, CEO of VolunteerCrowd
Volunteering is one of the best growth opportunities on the path to college and career readiness.  VolunteerCrowd gives all middle school, high school, and college students access to meaningful volunteer projects to build a volunteer portfolio. 

Categories
Friends of ActivityHero Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Mindfulness Parenting Resources

Building Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence in Children






Natalie is a high school teenager who believes she is not smart enough. Her parents noticed her self-esteem is low and want to help her regain her confidence.

Stories like Natalie’s are not uncommon in today’s high achieving environment.  Students may be influenced by their classmates and their perception that a subject is hard or challenging. In order to help Natalie, her parents reached out to certified WISDOM Coach, Aditi Verma. Together, they worked through stories and activities to find negative patterns and thoughts. Natalie and Aditi replaced them with new, positive thoughts and Natalie’s self-esteem and self-confidence grew. She was able to overcome the anxiety that she had for tests and even started getting A’s due to her newfound confidence. In fact, all of her grades improved.

Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views him/herself as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent, according to Dr. Neuman in his post on Psychology Today. To learn more about how to help families improve their child’s outlook, we spoke to Aditi, who is also the co-founder of EmpowerandHelp.

What happens when a child compares themselves to others?

When kids continually assess whether they are “better than” or “less than” others, it creates either low self-esteem if they see themselves as “less than” or can create arrogance and entitlement when they see themselves as “better than”.  Parents and educators can discuss why differences are good and we need all different types of people with different gifts to thrive. Particularly when self-esteem is low, we can help them identify their special gifts and honor their uniqueness.

Why does self-esteem and self-confidence need to be taught?

Self-esteem and self-confidence are like the air we breathe; we need it to feel alive, happy and worthy. Children with high self-esteem have a higher value of themselves and their capabilities than those with lower self-esteem. They naturally have higher self-confidence in their abilities to do things and are more prone to try to new things and take risks, they feel loved, confident, accepted and heard. Even when they make mistakes or face failures they will know how to cope with them and move on.

What are ways that parents can help kids with self-esteem and self-confidence at home? For example, if my child says “I’m not good at math” is there a way to respond to this?

If a child says, “I’m not good at math”, dive deeper into why he or she feels that way?  Is he comparing himself to other kids who got better scores? Is he getting frustrated when he is not able to solve a problem even though he is at a higher level math?  Or there is something else?

Listen to the child’s needs and brainstorm ideas together to support that need and implement the solution that child feels more comfortable with.  It could be hiring a tutor, going to additional support classes, creating a routine at home for child and parent to sit together and practice some math, etc.

How does your course help kids understand these topics?

We teach skills through a fun short story.  Kids connect to different aspects of the stories, which helps them open up about challenges or questions that they may be struggling with.

We also create some real life scenarios that kids go through to understand how to apply what they learned.  Sometimes kids provide a scenario that they faced and as a group everyone provides feedback on how to handle that. By working with the instructor, kids develop an amazing problem solving attitude that they can use on their own.

Our goal is to increase self-esteem and self-confidence so kids feel capable of facing life’s challenges and don’t give up. They learn to achieve their goals, make progress, to help and give.

Register for the next course on Building Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

Categories
Academics After-School Activities Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Sports Super Activities for Super Kids Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

5 Organizing Hacks Perfect for Back to School






Prepping for back-to-school means juggling after-school activities and loads more stuff. These 5 organization hacks will keep your family organized and ready for anything.

By Jillian Chamberlain

happy girl with organized folders

Where are my shin guards? Did you sign that permission slip? I can’t find my sheet music!  When you’re trying to get kids out the door and to their after school activities, time is at a premium. Taking a few minutes now to modify your organization process can help streamline things when you’re in a rush. Here are some of our favorite ideas from parents and caregivers who’ve been there, organized that.

1. “Stuff Station” — The One Place to Keep Everything

Photo Credit: IAmNotTheBabysitter.com

There’s so much to keep track of during back-to-school season, it gets overwhelming. When school is back in session, so are all of those music lessons, soccer practices, and martial arts classes. As parents of active children, you are guaranteed to be dealing with more STUFF. How do you keep it all straight and teach your children to be responsible for their things on any given day? Keep it all in one place, and color-code it! Your kids’ activity station can come in many different shapes and forms, but here is one ‘stuff station’ idea we thought was appealing to the eye and highly functional. Check out this and more organization hacks from IAmNotTheBabysitter.com

2. There’s a Bag for That

Source: Momtastic.com

Once you create a ‘stuff station’ for homework, permission slips and projects are sure to add a hook for an after-school activity drawstring bag. If you have a child with a lot of various interests, consider making an individual drawstring bag that is designated as the one place to keep any and all equipment for each sport or lesson. On Mondays and Wednesdays, your child knows to grab the yellow drawstring bag with their shin guards and cleats for soccer. On Thursday the red bag is ready at the door for martial arts. Momtastic.com has a great DIY tutorial for customizable drawstring bags. So simple!

3. Car Homework Station

Homework happens. If there’s one thing to dread with the start of the new school year, it’s the renewed battle over nightly homework assignments. Convincing kids to sit down and do their work is one of the hardest parts of a parent’s job. One way to get them excited about homework is a comfortable and creative space dedicated to them…even if that is in the car. Consider creating a homework station in the car so that your little ones can knock out some homework while you’re on the road.

4. After-School Snacks on the Go

Kids start school relatively early in the morning each day. That means a big gap between lunchtime and after-school snack time. Kids need to refuel, and every parent knows how difficult it can be dealing with cranky, “hangry” youngsters. StuffedSuitcase.com has made it easy to steer clear of junk foods and other unhealthy quick fixes by gathering some easy-to-assemble snacks to keep ready in the car. After-school snacks can be healthy, fun and mobile!

5. Organize Your After-School Schedule, Too!

Searching ActivityHero on a phoneActivityHero can help you find local activities that work with your child’s calendar — and nurture his or her interests! Whether your child likes to dance, sports, outdoor recreation, music, or computers, ActivityHero makes browsing and registering easy.

Getting organized is about clearing the space and time for your family members to meet their needs and find focus, in whatever way works for you!

Search for after-school classes near you >>

Categories
Business Crafts Leadership Super Activities for Super Kids Tutoring Uncategorized

6 Business Ideas for Enterprising Kids

Encouraging kids to think like entrepreneurs teaches them long-lasting lessons about the value of hard work, careful planning, and creativity.

By Melanie Hargrave

child businessman

We all remember sitting at the end of our driveways at a table, a pitcher of lemonade waiting expectantly, with a big cardboard sign announcing our 25-cent cups of refreshment. Most likely, that lemonade stand came out once or twice a year over summer break as a fun way for mom to get you out of the house and for you to make some money for candy.

But what if you wanted to make money more permanently?

Teaching kids the value of money is an important life lesson that too many parents delay. While children are often given an allowance of some kind, most kids and even young adults grow up with very little concept of business skills.

Rather than waiting until your kids are out of the house to teach them about getting a job, you can encourage them to handle money responsibly, work hard, and develop their creativity by starting their own business now. It’s an important life lesson: hard work and dedication pays off!

And although the lemonade stand is a classic fall back, here are 6 other business ideas your kid might like to try his or her hand at.

Find business camps & classes near you

1. Dog Walking

Starting a dog-walking business can be a very lucrative endeavor—even for adults! Since many families are out of the house all day at work or school, their pets are often left home all day in need of exercise and relief.

Help your child organize a service by contacting neighbors and friends. With Facebook and other social media outlets, it is even easier to find people who may need a dog walker. You can even set up a blog or website for local families to find the business and contact you (or your child) about hiring him/her.

child walking a dog

2. Selling Crafts

Does your child have a talent or passion for crafting? Show them that this talent can be more than just a hobby by selling his or her crafts. Show them how to set up an account on an e-commerce site like Etsy or help them contact local businesses and boutiques that might be interested in selling them at their shop. From homemade slime to beaded jewelry, there is a market for just about anything.

3. Doing Yard Work

Doing yard work doesn’t have to be a chore. Many homeowners are more than willing to hire a young entrepreneur to mow their lawns, pull weeds, and do other similar tasks. They can enjoy paying a lower price for good work and your child will get a pretty penny for their efforts. If you take time to send out seasonal flyers and business cards, your kid can develop a small side business into quite a lucrative empire.

l doing yard work

4. Babysitting

Babysitting is another classic go-to, but is no less viable an option. Depending on the age of your kid, they can work as mother’s helpers or independent nannies. Help them set prices and rates for services and sweeten the deal with CPR certification. If they set competitive rates, your son or daughter may have parents banging down your door for their services. Experienced babysitters can organize a half-day or full-day summer camp for neighborhood kids by combining activities such as arts & crafts, sports or baking.

5. Tutoring Younger Students

Professional tutors can cost parents an arm and a leg. However, if your child is particularly gifted at a subject like math or writing, he or she could easily start a tutoring business for younger students. Their rates will obviously be dramatically lower than professional prices (which can be as high as $60/hr.—yikes!) but still a great income for a kid.

teen tutoring a younger child

6. Blogging

Writing on a blog is a great outlet for kids to make some money. If they need some inspiration, help them find a topic they enjoy and show them how to set up a blog and optimize their posts. Once they have some regular content up, they can monetize their blog through Google and other online ad services fairly simply. This is probably a good business venture for middle school or high school kids, but any age can have fun with this side project.

Find business camps & classes near you

Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose pride and joy is her family. In addition to spending time with her husband and daughters, she loves writing about a variety of topics from business to home improvement, and finds inspiration from success stories like that of Rick Schaden.

Categories
Adventure/Outdoors Community Service Environmental Hiking Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Nature Programs Play/Outdoor

Outdoor Activities for Earth Day






Getting outside is healthy for the body and the mind. This Earth Day, why not get the whole family outdoors for some memorable adventures?

By Wendy Chou

Research has shown that getting outside keeps kids moving, lowering the risk of childhood obesity. Another health benefit from being out and about: added Vitamin D, which strengthens bones and is thought to help the immune system fight off infection. Some health experts say that spending time outdoors also relieves some symptoms of hyperactivity, including short attention span.

Every year since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22. It was originally created to bring attention to environmental goals like cleaner air and water. Today Earth Day reminds us to step out into nature. Try these kid-approved outdoor activities highlighting science, crafts, sports, and helping the community. Find these activities and many more in The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer, an excellent user-friendly guide for kindling the adventurous spirit in all of us.

Little Scientists

Go outside at an unusual time: nighttime! Go stargazing or take a walk to admire the moon. Visit kidsastronomy.com for tips.

Start a compost pile from kitchen scraps and yard trimmings. If your family has a garden, generating your own rich compost (so-called “black gold”) is not only fun, but also useful. It’s also a great tool for teaching kids about nature’s version of recycling. Tips for beginners.  

Watch a sunset. Watching colors change can inspire a lifelong appreciation for the environment. Find details on specific sunrise and sunset times at timeanddate.com

Arts and Crafts Lovers

Paint a birdhouse. Using a more natural palette such as gray, dull green, brown, or tan will help keep birds safe from eagle-eyed predators. And steer clear of metallic, iridescent, lead-based, or neon-colored paints which contain additives that are unsafe for wildlife.

Play “Nature bingo”. This game is a variation on a scavenger hunt. Create a bingo card for each player on sturdy paper or cardboard. You’ll need 16 assorted images arranged in a 4 x 4 grid: either paste on stickers, or draw/clip out pictures from magazines. Some examples are ladybug, leaf, flower, bird. After you design the bingo cards, have a blast exploring nature and looking for your items.

Make a nature mosaic. For this textured craft, first gather small items of roughly the same shape and size, like small pebbles, dried flower petals, or seeds. Take a paper plate and draw your desired shape with pen or pencil (for instance, outline your handprint). Working with one small section at a time, add a thin layer of glue and press the objects down to secure them. (If you apply glue over too large an area at once, it will dry before you’ve finished pasting.) Let dry and it’s done!

Love being in nature? Find outdoor kids’ camps with ActivityHero!

Ready, Set, Move!

Roll down a grassy hill. Who doesn’t love doing this on a sunny day?

Go for a bike ride. There’s nothing quite like coasting along on the open road. Safety first: study the biker’s checklist before you head out!

Make homemade trail mix and take it on a hike.

Try geocaching, a modern take on treasure hunting. This activity relies on GPS technology to hide or find caches. To get started, check out geocaching.com.  

Community-Minded

Join a volunteer event. Find an organization near you (check your city or county listings) that is sponsoring an Earth Day event, such as a river cleanup or tree planting.

Visit a farmers’ market. You’ll find fresher fruits and vegetables here with less wasteful plastic packaging. People selling their wares often enjoy telling you where and how they grew their food –and sometimes let you try a sample for free.

Beautify your neighborhood. Clean up trash, prune or weed a garden, or do some other type of community service to show your appreciation for Mother Earth.

Be Adventurous Beyond Earth Day

Save the date for Kids to Parks Day, an annual event to encourage youth to get out and play in nature. Learn more: https://www.parktrust.org/kids-to-parks-day/. Getting outside isn’t just something to do on Earth Day!

Find summer camps featuring the outdoors. Camp is a great way to spend time outside. Emily Moeschler has over ten years of experience in adventure education and the outdoor industries. She is currently a leader at Avid4Adventure Camp in Boulder, CO. Her top tip: “Give your kids permission to get dirty!”

Be inspired. Have your own brainstorming session to come up with even more outdoor activities. There’s really no “right” way to explore, just get outside and have fun!

Love being in nature? Find outdoor kids’ camps with ActivityHero!

About Wendy Chou

Wendy Chou is an environment writer and parent based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Categories
Academic Writing Creative Writing

Tips and Resources for Young Writers at Any Age

ActivityHero shares the insights of writing professionals who work with kindergarteners through high schoolers. With these tips, parents can help support kids’ writing goals.

By Wendy Chou

Writing is a key life skill that engages and empowers kids–and is highly correlated with overall academic success. ActivityHero talked with professionals from two writing programs to learn their favorite tips. We also list online resources that will appeal to today’s tech-savvy kids, ‘tweens, and teens.

Tips for Elementary School Writers (Age 6-8) 

1. Have some fun

Darrell Dela Cruz, of Cupertino’s Communication Academy, recommends playing word-centered games to boost knowledge of words and definitions. Some examples are Mad Libs, Boggle, Scrabble, and Bananagrams.

2. Be a role model

Remind kids that writing matters in daily life. Adventures In Writing (AIW) Camp co-founder Jen Hartvickson tells parents: “Write lists, write thank you notes, write letters. When they see you writing, they will do what you do!” 

3. Check out these resources for elementary school writers

  • Storybird is an online forum that allows kids to create and share their own books or to read from the free online library.
  • Three Good Things – A Happiness Journal is a free app promoting a simple and positive message.
  • Krakeln is a friendly vocabulary-building app suitable for even young users.
  • Orange Street News  is a newspaper created by Hilde Lysiak (with her dad’s assistance) when she was just 7 years old and is the inspiration for her own book series.

Tips for Tweens (age 9-12)

1. Practice, practice, practice.

All the experts we consulted agreed that practice leads to writing improvement. Journaling and writing to pen pals can encourage regular writing habits. Jen Hartvickson also finds that tweens are more motivated when given free rein to choose their own topic.

2. Read widely, then discuss.  

AIW Camp Co-founder Hans Hartvickson sees value in parents and kids reading books together, then talking about “what worked” for them and why.

3. Try a song.

Hans Hartvickson suggests songs help teach writing traits and are fun too. AIW Camp has published many songs on YouTube.

> > Find writing camps & classes near you

4. Check out these resources for tweens

  • Stone Soup Magazine is a high-quality literary publication (in print and online) by and for kids.  
  • Youngzine presents current events for a school-aged audience and accepts kids’ submissions of articles and book reviews.
  • KidPub.com has featured kids’ works since 1995 (requires small fee to publish).
  • Brainstorm great reads with blogs like Brightly which lists dozens of titles sorted by age and genre.

Tips for Teens (age 13+)

1. Experiment with styles.

Take chances and try out new styles and content. Teens are starting to develop their unique voice.

2. The more practice, the better!

Consider entering contests at libraries and at school. Don’t stop there: find open mic events and poetry slams. Teens may enjoy blogging about a particular hobby and developing an audience. Many sites host blogs for free. 

3. Find online networking sites devoted to teens

Online writing communities allow teens to network and seek advice from other writers. Here are 4 recommendations:

  • Underlined is a teen-centered website that provides opportunities for collaboration and feedback.
  • Wattpad is the largest and most visible online reading and writing platform, giving it the nickname of “YouTube of writing”.
    Teen Ink hosts writing submissions by teens, including essays, articles, fiction and poetry. Teens can also contribute their art and photography.
  • Power Poetry is the largest online community for teens interested in poetry.

Final words of advice: Lighten Up!

According to Dela Cruz, parents shouldn’t make writing feel like a chore or something with a clearly defined “right or wrong answer”. The Hartvicksons believe kids need reassurance that mistakes and editing are to be expected along the way. Most of all, our experts all agreed that parents should provide fair and constructive feedback to kids. A “Goldilocks” balance means avoiding unrealistic over-praising, while also refraining from giving only negative comments, which can be demoralizing for kids. 

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