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Adventure/Outdoors Biking Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Play/Outdoor Super Activities for Super Kids

Biking: 6 Practical Tips for Families

Whether you love a leisurely ride or a real off-road adventure, find a type of biking that appeals to your family. Here are 6 practical tips to get kids started with family-friendly biking.

Source: Flickr

By the ActivityHero Team with Guest Amanda Wilks

Kids are often tempted to spend hours of their unstructured play time glued to electronic devices. Instead, why not encourage them to go out for a ride? With many benefits for the body and mind, biking is a healthy outdoor activity that can be done at almost any age. Looking to try it out? Here’s expert advice on sizing, types, gear, classes, and specialized activities like mountain biking.

1. Get Fitted

The most important step is to measure your child’s Inseam. A bicycle inseam (or leg length) is not the same as a clothing inseam.

To measure, grab a book and a tape measurer. The child should stand with her back against a wall, spreading her feet about 6 inches apart, either barefoot or in socks. Place a book between her legs, close to the crotch to mimic the bike seat.

Measure from the top of the book (that is, the spine) down to the floor. Choosing a slightly larger bike is fine in order to leave a little room to grow into. Avoid choosing a size which is too far off the mark for your child, which would impede his ability to learn correct riding habits and even expose him to greater danger.

2. Choose the Right Bike

Depending on your interests, there are three main styles of bike: road, mountain, and “hybrid” (a blend between the two), depending on your interests.

If you’re interested in mountain biking, according to MountainBikeReviewed, you can easily find and buy sturdy bikes for less than $300, like the Mongoose Statis Comp, the Villano Blackjack 2.0 or the Schwinn High Timber. Other great mountain bike brands which are geared towards kids are Spawn, Cleary, Early Rider, Pello and Stampede. Many mountain bikes are, contrary to opinion, quite cost-effective.

For road bikes, your local bike shop should have recommendations. Online retailers like Amazon will often have many customer reviews posted. There are also online outfits like BikeExchange if you prefer doing research online.

No matter what style you go with, when the child stands over the bike, there should be a 1-2 “ space between the crotch and the top bar of the bike. Also, “a beginner should be able to plant both feet flat on the ground when getting off the bike, which ensures safety and helps with confidence,” recommends Nick Pavlakis of Pedalheads, a learn-to-ride bike camp based in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Chicago.

Ideally, the right bike choice should be made based on the wheel size, not the frame size. Use the chart below:

Wheel Size 12″ —> Age 2 -3 —> Height 2’10 – 3’4

Wheel Size 14″ —> Age 3 -4 —> Height 3’1 – 3’7

Wheel Size 16″ —> Age 4-5 —> Height 3’7 – 4’0 

Wheel Size 20’ —> Age 5-8 —> Height 4’0 – 4’5

Wheel Size 24′ —>  Age 8-11 —> Height  4’5 – 4’9 

Wheel Size 26′ —> Age 11+ —> Height 4’9

These are rough approximations and, since every child is unique, you should use these numbers only as a guide.

3. Get Essential Gear

A good helmet which protects the brain is the single most important safety feature you must have. Make sure it fits, covers the entirety of the forehead and is properly ventilated. According to Pavlakis of Pedalheads, “research shows that up to 90% of fatal bicycle crashes result from head trauma,” so using a properly fitted and certified helmet will protect the head and brain from damage, which might save your child’s life. Note that helmets are mandatory for children under the age of 16 in most areas. “Check that there is no more than a two-finger gap between your eyebrows and the front part of the helmet,” advises Pavlakis.

Layer up with season-appropriate clothing. In summer, light clothing with good arm and leg coverage will protect from sun, and in cooler temperatures, don’t forget gloves, warm socks, and a wind-proof shell.

For urban and suburban biking, invest in a solid bicycle lock.

If you want to take the whole family along but have younger children who aren’t yet able to pedal on their own steam, the most common options are: Trailers (a wheeled carriage which attaches in back of a bicycle), Pedal-less Bikes (also called Balance Bikes, where kids push off the ground to move forward), and Trail-a-Bikes (a seat plus single-wheel that attaches to a bicycle, allowing pedaling without steering capabilities).

4. Find Classes or Camps

Classes and camps will generally cover the four basic rules of bike riding:

  • Riding in a straight line without deviating from it;
  • Looking back without losing balance or swerving;
  • Stopping the bike using the brakes, taking into account the surroundings;
  • Good speed control and adapting it in accordance with the terrain.

After mastering these basics, group classes are a great way for kids to learn important skills like giving hand signals, negotiating hilly terrain, understanding road signs and dangers, following traffic flow, and practicing proper spacing between riders.

 Find biking camps and classes near me > >

As a side note, older kids will benefit from learning some everyday maintenance routines, like checking the bike tire’s air pressure, putting the chain back together, and testing the brakes, often covered in more advanced classes or camps.

More inclined to teach on your own? Here’s a helpful guide.  Remember to read up on safety do’s and don’ts. If you get to the stage where a child is nearly ready to remove the training wheels, Pavlakis advises parents to take their time: “Don’t rush the process. Taking the training wheels off too early can become a negative experience for the child and may lead to resistance in learning.”

5. Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a sport that is growing rapidly in popularity by offering excitement, challenge, and unique outdoor settings. To get kids started with mountain biking, you should remember that at the outset, your child might not have the physical endurance or the attention span needed to finish a certain route. Try increasing trip difficulty and length gradually to make the learning process smoother.

First, make sure your child is very capable and comfortable traversing flat, easy terrain. Then transition to doubletrack dirt trails with varying degrees of difficulty and topography. Plan ahead to reduce the chance of accidents. Initially choose short, fun routes that you know well and that you feel your kid can complete with relative ease. Have fun increasing the level of difficulty over time!

6. Find Focus, Stay Safe

Pavlakis recommends that beginning bikers “maintain focus and awareness at all times,” of the conditions on their road or trail to reinforce safe habits. Biking is a perfect way to leave behind the distractedness of everyday life and be more fully engaged in the present. Have fun!

On a roll? Check updated schedules and reviews of popular biking camps and classes in your area on ActivityHero.

About the author

Amanda Wilks is a writer, veteran MTB rider and sports advocate. Her passion for mountain biking dates back to her childhood, when she would join her dad every weekend for a quick ride uphill. She is now addicted to the sport and she never misses a trail. Learn more about Amanda on Twitter.

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Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

QuaranTEEN

A resource for family-focused entertainment and positivity during COVID-19. The blog, created by two Bay Area teens, is 100% free and all donations benefit the non-profit, Frontline Foods.

Two Bay Area high-schoolers, Katherine Kudriavtsev and Sarah Emberling, cooped up at home and stuck in quarantine, decided to use their time for something other than scrolling through TikTok. That’s how QuaranTEEN was born, a nonprofit creative entertainment platform for teenagers and parents to utilize during the quarantine. QuaranTEEN was created for the purpose of sharing people’s stories, spreading positivity, and providing a way for people to stay in touch and connected despite the shelter-in-place.

“COVID-19 is not only a pandemic, but also a psychological pandemic. Lots of people are feeling stressed, scared, lonely, or hopeless, because of the health or economic problems caused by COVID. We created QuaranTEEN to combat these feelings of negativity. We wanted to find a way to give everyone a creative outlet and safe space to cope with their feelings,” Founder Katherine Kudriavtsev states.

QuaranTEEN is a website that contains many fun and interactive features such as a teen blog, a community forum, entertainment quizzes, as well as a pen-pal exchange.

“Being stuck at home for months has been really hard: I think most, if not all, teenagers miss being able to go out with their friends and meet new people. We wanted to include a Pen Pal project on QuaranTEEN to give teens a way to make new friends from their very own couch, a way to continue to socialize but still adhere to quarantine and social distancing laws,” says founder Katherine Kudriavtsev.

Outside of being a platform for teens, QuaranTEEN also aims to provide relief for working parents by producing multilingual reading videos to entertain younger children, as well as a separate blog page dedicated to helping parents share tips and advice regarding childcare. There have been over 20 reading videos featured on QuaranTEEN’s “Kids and Parents” page, in English, French, and Russian, providing entertainment to children of all languages and cultures. 

“As much as everyone loves children, there are times when you just need a break, parents included! Our reading videos were made just for that! A quick, fun, and educational way to entertain your child to give you your well deserved break,” says Founder Sarah Emberling.

The Kids/Parent Page and the Teen Blog Page also give teens an interactive opportunity to volunteer as blog writers or readers for the site.

Founders Katherine Kudriavtsev and Sarah Emberling add on, “We have already received numerous amounts of teen volunteers: readers and blog writers from all over the world, reaching as far as from the Americas, to Europe, to Asia, but we are always looking for more people to become content creators on our site and expand our team! We welcome anyone who’s interested, passionate about writing, having their voice heard, or simply wants to do their part in helping people during this difficult time, to apply and join our QuaranTEAM.”

Our volunteers share their personal reasons for joining the team, “QuaranTEEN reminds us that there is more to this pandemic than just statistics and death counts. At its heart, the thing that is going to get us through this is people. Not statistics. Not feel-good advertisements. Not corporations. People. By writing for QuaranTEEN, I hope to be able to be that reminder. A reminder that behind all the sorrow and death, people are still there, ready to reach out and offer their support,” says Talia Ostacher, blog writer for QuaranTEEN and incoming senior at Henry M. Gunn High School.  

Fellow blog writer Julianna Chang agrees, “During this time, it’s essential that teens have a creative outlet to post, share their feelings, and interact with other teens. I often find myself bored and wanting to do something useful, but I can’t seem to find the right place to go and spend my time.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity overall to help others during this time in a unique way,” Los Gatos student Priyanka Pulikeshi says.

Reader and Blog Writer, Clementine Devaux of Menlo Park High School states, “I really love the website and how there is so much to offer: quizzes, blogs, and more! It’s really fun to be apart of this, so I can help as many people as I can during quarantine, whether it be giving people ideas for things to do to cure their boredom or donating.”

Although QuaranTEEN is 100% free for use, QuaranTEEN accepts donations through their GoFundMe. All donation proceeds go directly to supporting Frontline Foods, a non-profit organization aiming to aiding local small businesses/restaurants that have been hit hard by shelter-in-place measures, as well as feeding front line healthcare workers. QuaranTEEN’s mission is to raise as much money for Frontline Foods as possible, to help support local Bay Area businesses, as well as feeding the essential heroes who continue to work in this time. The recently published QuaranTEEN has already raised $300 for Frontline Foods, and is aiming to get to $1,000 by the end of the month.

“Frontline Foods is an amazing non-profit organization. It helps keep small businesses from being economically destroyed and shut down by the pandemic, and it helps feed and boost the morale of essential workers, all at once! If you’ve enjoyed using QuaranTEEN, like our initiative and site, or have the means donate, it would mean so much to us if you could help us reach our goal of $1,000 for Frontline Foods by donating to QuaranTEEN’s Go Fund Me!” Founders Katherine Kudriavtsev and Sarah Emberling say.

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Friends of ActivityHero Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Comics to Learn About Science & Real-Life Scientists

A new comic reader app engages kids in stories about famous scientific discoveries.

Kids love comics, and while more and more kids are getting their information from digital devices, most kids’ content is purely for entertainment. Tinyview brings wholesome content to kids in the form of an app, and a comic series on the lives of scientists, called IN SCIENCE WE TRUST. We had a chance to ask one of their founders, Rajesh Lalwani, about the inspiration behind their brainchild.

What is Tinyview?

Print comics typically use the zig-zag pattern that can be hard to translate to smaller devices like phones. Tinyview app solves this by allowing readers to read comics by scrolling up and down on their mobile devices.

What type of content can we see on Tinyview?

Our first comic series is called IN SCIENCE WE TRUST, and it has fun stories about real life scientists and the work they have done. The first comic was written by my middle-schooler son, Rishi, and I — on the life of Nikola Tesla. Rishi loves comics and has read almost all Tintin and Asterix comics — multiple times. We created stories of Archimedes, Nikola Tesla, Ada Lovelace, and many other scientists to let kids have fun while reading.

How can reading stories of scientists help kids?

We decided to start with stories about scientists because learning about the scientists behind inventions piques the curiosity in kids and makes them more open to learning science at school. Once they have read how Nikola Tesla invented the alternating current motor, suddenly terms like AC or DC don’t seem so boring in the classroom!

We wanted to make science more personable so kids would know not just about the invention, but how the scientist created it. Kids may know Archimedes for density and his Eureka moment, but learning about how he ran through the streets naked when he had his moment makes the story more interesting and can help with remembering it. Our stories encourage readers to overcome challenges in their lives and let them know that they are capable of doing great things even when things may get tough.

Do you have any stories about women scientists?

Absolutely! We already have stories of Ada Lovelace and Mary Anning. An interesting fact about Mary Anning, a fossil collector and palaeontology, is that she was not allowed to present her findings because she was a woman. We are working on the stories of Lise Meitner, Jane Goodall, Grace Hopper, Chien-Shiung Wu, and many more.

What age group is Tinyview Comics appropriate for?

Our comics are appropriate for children of all ages. If you have younger kids, Tinyview Comics are ideal for you to read to them — comics have pictures and fewer words. Children aged 10 and above may get the most out of the comics since they will have heard about the scientists in school and have more background information to supplement the comics.

Where can we get Tinyview Comics?

Tinyview Comics is a free app that can be downloaded on the app store. Go to tinyview.com and scroll to the bottom for download link or enter your phone number for a text with the link to download.

Do you have any questions or feedback you want to share with Tinyview? Perhaps you have a favorite scientist you want them to write a story about? Feel free to reach out to Tinyview at [email protected] — they are all ears and excited to hear from you.

For more ideas on camps and classes for kids, you’ll find science camps and classes and art camps and classes on ActivityHero.

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Friends of ActivityHero Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

A News Podcast Just for Kids: KidNuz

While you shuttle the kids to and from school and their activities, podcasts are a great way to be entertained or learn something new. KidNuz is a daily news podcast for kids and we had a chance to ask one of their founders, Stephanie Kelmar, about their inspiration.

What is KidNuz and how long has it been around?

KidNuz is the first daily news podcast created for kids age 6-13. It features stories on current events and politics, entertainment, science, sports and more – followed by the KidNuz quiz. We launched the podcast last year to inspire thought-provoking conversations between parents and their children. As four busy moms with 12 children between us, we are committed to giving kids the top quality journalism they deserve. Five minutes of news that informs without bias and educates without opinion.

What gave you the idea to start a news podcast for kids?

Several years ago, my now 11 year old son began to show interest in reading the newspaper at breakfast. Sadly, the front page often contained images and/or headlines related to death and dying, wars and natural disasters. Often, I found myself tucking the newspaper away and had nothing else to offer him. As every parent knows, the news that populates today’s newspapers, cable TV stations and radio broadcasts is not appropriate for children. In fact, kids between the ages of six and thirteen have been wildly underserved when it comes to engaging, age-appropriate news and information. My kids are now 9 and 11 they listen to KidNuz everyday on the way to school.

Why is age-appropriate news important?

Kids love having information and sharing what they know with their peers. Parents need a trusted resource that’s won’t expose their kids to news that’s scary and unpredictable. Not only is adult-oriented news not geared to kids intellectually, it could damage them emotionally. According to a 2017 report by Common Sense Media, “News and America’s Kids: How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News”, 63% of kids say “the news makes them feel sad or depressed, angry or afraid.” As kids can easily feel scared by the violent images they see and stories they hear, they deserve a newscast all their own.

How can learning about the news help kids?

Elementary school is a time when kids begin to dig into the world around them and a prime time when parents can begin to safely expose them to worldly events. And as former television news journalists, we understand the importance of presenting unbiased information. KidNuz is nonpartisan, but parents don’t have to be. Our podcast contains daily, digestible nuggets of news that parents can use to help their kids develop critical thinking skills. One of our goals is to help create the next generation of engaged citizens. Why? Because kids are curious, the world is fascinating and knowledge is power.

Tell Us Something You’ve Learned Since Starting KidNuz

Erik Burmeister, the Superintendent of Menlo Park City School District, and his son are regular KidNuz listeners. In fact, Burmeister says that if he fails to play the podcast within the first two minutes of getting into the car in the morning, he’s “quickly scolded.” His son also really enjoys the KidNuz quiz and listens intently (and quietly!) in the car, so he can get the most correct answers. In addition to enjoying the podcast himself, Burmeister has identified an important educational value to the podcast: “What listening to and discussing Kidnuz with my son has reminded me is that listening is a skill we can practice. Listening is a skill we can hone. If we can find tools that make building listening skills fun and engaging…why not?”

Where Can We Listen to KidNuz?

Our podcast is free and you can find it on our website www.kidnuz.com. And since we know parents are busier than ever, you can sign up to receive a daily reminder by text or email. KidNuz is also available on Stitcher and Radio Public or you can subscribe on Google Play and iTunes.

Find kids writing and journalism camps and classes

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Guest Posts Holiday Break Camps Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Super Activities for Super Kids

World Holidays for Kids: Books, Movies & More






Are you interested in helping your children become “global citizens”? The holidays are a nice time to enjoy our own traditions while exploring others, too.

world holidays

By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeed

The winter season offers the perfect backdrop for introducing your kids to holidays celebrated by different cultures, both in the United States and abroad. And media can provide us with a window into their varied and colorful traditions.

Here is a collection of books, along with a few other media treats (a movie, TV show, and app) that will help your children broaden their horizons and learn more about others who share our planet. Enjoy these titles with your kids, and you all may learn something new!

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Books About Favorite Holidays From Around the World

Let’s Celebrate Diwali
Ages 3+
Diwali, or the festival of lights, is celebrated around the world. This book explores the different traditions and customs of many different groups. The colorful illustrations make this an especially engaging read.

 

AmmaAmma, Tell Me About Holi!
Ages 4+
This colorful tale shares the story of the Hindu holiday of Holi, using colorful pictures and simple rhymes to make it easily understood by children.

 

CelebrateCelebrate: A Book of Jewish Holidays
Ages 4+
This book is a terrific introduction to the traditions and stories behind many of the Jewish holidays.

 

OskarOskar and the Eight Blessings
Ages 4+
As a refugee from Nazi Germany, Oskar finds the people of New York to be kind and giving on a day that is both the seventh night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. The people’s warm welcome shows Oskar that there is love and compassion in the world still.

RamadanUnder the Ramadan Moon
Ages 4+
In this picture book, a family’s month-long celebration of Ramadan is connected to the moon’s movement. The giving, sharing, praying, and caring for others that occurs during the month is beautifully conveyed.

 

Day-of-the-DeadDay of the Dead
Ages 5+
Brightly colored illustrations and detailed descriptions draw the reader into the preparations, foods, and celebration of the Day of the Dead.

 

Egg-TreeThe Egg Tree
Ages 5+
One grandmother’s childhood tradition of an Easter Egg tree is discovered by her grandchildren, who are quick to embrace the custom themselves. This winner of the Caldecott Medal is a true classic.

 

MarcoMarco’s Cinco de Mayo
Ages 5+
Narrated from the perspective of a young dancer in a Cinco de Mayo parade, this book brings the holiday and its history to life.

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holidays_around_the_worldHolidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year
Ages 6+
With over a billion people celebrating Chinese New Year worldwide, it’s a great idea to learn about the food, gifts, visiting, and celebration that are key to this holiday.

 

Seven_spoolsSeven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
Ages 6+
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are brought to life through the story of seven brothers in an African village. When their father dies, they must cooperate and make gold from seven spools of thread. As they work together, they learn to value each other and their community.

A Movie About Favorite Holidays From Around the World

The_Black_CandleThe Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration
Ages 9+
This documentary, filmed around the world, explores the African-American experience, both the triumphs and sorrows. Of particular focus is the Kwanzaa holiday, which now is celebrated by over 40 million people.

 

A TV Show About Favorite Holidays From Around the World

RugratsRugrats Holiday Collection
Ages 6+
Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah get the Rugrats treatment in this holiday special.

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An App About Favorite Holidays From Around the World

My-MenorahMy Menorah
Ages 2+
A fully featured Hanukkah app with a menorah to light, a dreidel game, songs, and some foundational Hebrew. Included are “Eight Days of Happiness” tips for parents on teaching children about the meaning and traditions behind the holiday and expressing appreciation for the miracle of the oil lasting eight nights.

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Guest Posts Holiday Break Camps Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Super Activities for Super Kids

14 Christmas Classics to Spark Kids’ Holiday Spirit






Are there any favorite titles from your childhood that you haven’t yet shared with your kids? Dip into this list for some old-fashioned holiday fun.

charlie_brown

By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeed

Many of the following movies, books, and TV shows will be familiar to you, bringing back fond memories of Christmases gone by, but they may be “new” for your kids! Take some time this holiday season to introduce your family to a title that made you feel like you just couldn’t wait for the holidays. There might even be a few titles here that you missed out on when you were just a “tiny reindeer” yourself.

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Books to Spark Kids’ Holiday Spirit

Perfect_Tree
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story

Ages 5+
A mother’s love for her child, memories of missing loved ones, and a Christmas tree are all important elements in this beautifully told and illustrated classic.

 

life_adventures_santa_claus

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
Ages 6+
Part mythology, part fantasy, this tale of Santa Claus growing up as an orphan is well told by L. Frank Baum, the creator of the Wizard of Oz. An excellent choice for reading to a child.

 

too_many_tamales

Too Many Tamales
Ages 4+
While helping with the annual Christmas Eve tradition of tamale-making, Maria finds herself giving into temptation. This is a funny, heartfelt story with lovely illustrations and strong messages about love and family and honesty.

 

Gift_Magi

The Gift of the Magi
Ages 10+
This classic O. Henry story is a bittersweet tale of a husband and wife who sacrifice in order to buy presents for each other. Love for each other becomes all they have, and all they need. A true lesson about the meaning of Christmas.

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Movies to Spark Kids’ Holiday Spirit

A_Charlie_Brown_ChristmasA Charlie Brown Christmas
Ages 3+
Charlie Brown finds that love and friendship can overcome his holiday blues. Bonus: Now your kids will understand what you mean when you talk about buying a “Charlie Brown tree”!

 

FrostyFrosty the Snowman
Ages 3+
This holiday favorite tells the story of Frosty, a snowman that magically comes to life on Christmas Eve.

 

grinchDr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Ages 4+
The original animated movie from 1966 is always worth watching during the holiday season. Family, friends, and togetherness are what’s important, and even the Grinch finally learns that.

 

santa_claus_is_comin_to_townSanta Claus Is Comin’ to Town
Ages 4+
The story of Santa Claus is creatively told in this excellent special from the 1970s with guest appearances (and a catchy tune) by Heat Miser and Snow Miser!

 

christmas_carolA Christmas Carol (1951)
Ages 6+
Christmas Eve visits from three ghosts persuade miserly Mr. Scrooge to change his ways. Always a classic to watch during the holiday season.

 

year_without_a_santa_clausThe Year Without a Santa Claus
Ages 7+
Hard to imagine a holiday season without watching this stop-motion animation favorite.

wonderful_lifeIt’s a Wonderful Life
Ages 9+
This perennial classic is sure to remind you and yours what the holidays are about. George Bailey learns that he is, in fact, the luckiest man in the world because of the love of his family and community.

 

MillionsMillions
Ages 10+
This is a bit of an unusual choice for a holiday movie, but the messages of selflessness, giving, and kindness will resonate with the whole family. Note that this is best for ages 10 and up, as there is some language, along with a few iffy situations.

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TV Shows to Spark Kids’ Holiday Spirit

ArthurArthur’s Perfect Christmas
Ages 5+
In this special, all different ways of celebrating are explored by Arthur and his group of friends, including Francine, whose family celebrates Hanukkah. Everyone has a different idea of what makes a “perfect” holiday.

 

hanna_barbera_christmasHanna-Barbera Christmas
Ages 5+
Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, and the Smurfs celebrate Christmas in this fun and nostalgic collection of cartoons.

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Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Super Activities for Super Kids

14 Sure-to-Be-Classic Christmas & Winter Books, Movies & Shows






Get in the holiday spirit with these recently created books, movies, or TV shows. Who knows? Maybe your family will help them reach “classic” status.

christmas_blog

By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeed

We all have favorite books and movies that we look forward to enjoying during the busy holiday season. This is a wonderful time to snuggle up under a blanket together and let your imagination whisk you away to a far-off land. Maybe your kids have outgrown some of the old favorites, or perhaps your family is ready to try something new-to-you. See if a few of the following titles warrant a spot on your holiday must-see list!

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Sure-to-Be-Classic Christmas & Winter Books

Snow
Ages 3+
Perfect for the preschoolers in your family, this is a beautifully illustrated ode to snow and winter.

 

 

Miracle on 133rd Street
Ages 4+
A beautiful holiday story showing how important community, and a delicious meal, are for properly celebrating and giving thanks.

 

Mooseltoe
Ages 4+
Moose’s holiday preparations are perfect…except for one big thing! Follow along as Moose uses creativity and imagination to create a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas tree.

 

The Wild Christmas Reindeer
Ages 4+
Young reindeer herder Tekka learns that kindness is the key in this beautiful Christmas classic.

 

Olive, The Other Reindeer
Ages 4+
Olive is an imaginative little dog, and a simple misunderstanding sends her off on a Christmas adventure that is pure fun for kids and dogs alike.

 

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama
Ages 5+
Families that celebrate more than one December holiday will find a lot to like in this story. Respect for cultural differences is an important theme, and you’ll discover ways to share food, traditions, and songs.

A Christmas Memory
Ages 7+
This story evokes a time long ago, when the author baked fruitcakes with his elderly cousin. This is a touching, vivid glimpse of the past that will become a family favorite.

 

Helen Thayer’s Arctic Adventure
Ages 9+
This biography is an inspiring adventure story following a woman and her dog as they travel on foot to the magnetic North Pole. Along the way, they encounter wild animals and extreme weather, all while showing tremendous grit and fortitude.

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Sure-to-Be-Classic Christmas & Winter Movies

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
Ages 4+
Appropriate for the whole family, the Muppets once again combine hilarity, adventure, and strong positive messages in this holiday movie.

 

 

Arthur Christmas
Ages 4+
From the same animation studio that made the Wallace and Gromit movies, Arthur Christmas is great fun. It’s a film that will appeal to young and old alike, sharing important messages about family and caring for others.

 

Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas
Ages 5+
Crafted as an animated mashup of the movie and musical of Elf, this animated stop-motion film is quickly becoming a holiday classic. Musical numbers, love of family, and a healthy dose of true holiday spirit make this one a must-see.

 

Samantha: An America Girl Holiday
Ages 7+
If you prefer your holiday stories with an old-fashioned bent, this one is for you. Samantha, an orphan in early 1900s New York, lives with her grandmother and experiences the opening of the original subway and the women’s suffragette movement. She is a role model for others, thanks to her kind heart and spirit.

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A Sure-to-Be-Classic Christmas & Winter TV Show

Wild Kratts: A Creature Christmas
Ages 6+
Known for programs featuring love and enthusiasm for animals, the Kratt brothers offer this Christmas special that’s no exception. Along with learning about animals, you’ll also understand more about the joy of giving, especially around the holidays.

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Guest Posts Preschool

14 Books, Movies & Apps That Teach Toddlers About Friendship






Toddlers learn how to be a good friend by watching and imitating others. They’ll find an assortment of positive examples in these books, shows, and more.

By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeed

toddlers_main
When you’re ready for your preschooler to unwind with a show, movie, book, or app, why not share some positive media that can help them foster better face-to-face relationships with their peers? The following friendship-themed choices show youngsters how friends interact, centering on themes like sharing, teamwork, inclusion, and generosity. Whether the best friend in these stories is a duck, a pirate, a dump truck, or a ballerina, these worthwhile role models will be a big hit with your kids.

Books That Teach Toddlers About Friendship

Little Blue TruckLittle Blue Truck
Ages 2+
This fun story will appeal to most toddlers, starting with the first pages filled with truck sounds and animal noises. The title character is kind and generous so he has plenty of friends to help when he gets in a bit of a mess. Everyone needs friends … even a little blue truck.

Sandwich SwapThe Sandwich Swap
Ages 3+
A fight over “whose sandwich is better” comes between two best friends. This story is about much more than a sandwich, of course. It addresses differences, tolerance, and the importance of friends.

 

Frog and ToadFrog and Toad Are Friends
Ages 4+
Frog and Toad are the best of friends. They have different temperaments and opinions, but they always respect each other and are excellent role models for how friends should treat each other.

 

 

Little ElliotLittle Elliot, Big City
Ages 4+
Beautifully illustrated, this book tells the story of Elliot, a lonely elephant in the big city. Finding a friend and doing things together makes everything right in Elliot’s world.

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Apps That Teach Toddlers About Friendship

Sago MiniSago Mini Friends
Ages 2+
Virtual playdates are a fun activity in this app. Numerous activities and a variety of different friends make for lots of choices. Fine motor skills get a workout during game play.

 

DoraDora’s Enchanted Forest Adventures
Ages 4+
This interactive book tells a sweet story of kindness and friendship. There are some Spanish words to learn, and a sticker page at the end adds some interactive fun.

 

Movies That Teach Toddlers About Friendship

AngelinaAngelina Ballerina: Dreams Do Come True
Ages 3+
Angelina Ballerina has big dreams. When she has a chance to realize one of them, she has to decide — with the help of her family and friends — what to do. Enhanced by music and positive characters, this movie is sure to charm.

 

JakeJake and the Never Land Pirates: Jake Saves Bucky
Ages 3+
This feature-length movie (based on the popular TV show) is a great adventure for preschoolers. Jake and his crew work together and problem-solve to save a dear friend. Kids are engaged when Jake speaks directly to viewers and involves them in the quest.

 

Lost and FoundLost and Found
Ages 3+
In this gentle and colorful film, a young boy finds a penguin on his doorstep. In their journey together back to the penguin’s home, they find a way to communicate and become true friends.

 

 

Ruby’s StudioRuby’s Studio: The Friendship Show
Ages 4+
Using music, animation, and a friendly cast, this show is truly effective at discussing the ups and downs of friendship for young children. From starting a conversation … to finding common interests … to coping with a mean friend, all topics are thoughtfully covered. Parents can also tune in to gather ideas for further discussion.

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TV Shows That Teach Toddlers About Friendship

Sarah DuckSarah & Duck
Ages 2+
This sweet animated series follows Sarah and Duck as they explore their neighborhood with curiosity and enthusiasm. The duo is always learning new things, with counting and picture identification as other positive aspects of this series.

Stinky DirtyThe Stinky & Dirty Show
Ages 3+
Based on the book series by Jim and Kate McMullan, Stinky and Dirty are best friends who use creativity and teamwork to solve problems.

 

 

Tumble LeafTumble Leaf
Ages 3+
Simple science concepts are explored in this fun animated series. Animal friends make up the cast, and they work together to learn and share with each other.

 

ArthurArthur
Ages 4+
There’s a reason this show is currently in its 19th season. Arthur and his friends and family experience true-to-life scenarios and work through social and emotional issues in thoughtful ways. A true classic that all ages will enjoy.

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After-School Activities Guest Posts

Moving Your Family to a New Town? Don’t Forget To…






Moving your family to a new town? Here’s a simple tip to help your kids transition smoothly and make connections in your new community.

Guest Post by Jaime Hollander

moving
Photo by AJ Brustein

You know the reasons activities, teams and other extracurriculars are good for your kids. From getting healthy to boosting creativity to encouraging teamwork, there are countless perks to integrating structured activities into your children’s lives. But, when you’re moving your family — especially from the city to suburbia — hands-on activities become even more important to their short- and long-term happiness and success. Even before your move, you can sign up your child up for a club, encourage him to join a team, or enroll her in a fun class to help ease the transition — and, above all, help your child make meaningful connections in their new community. Here’s why your moving checklist should include an activity sign up (or two…):

See a List of Camps & Classes Near You >>

#1. They’ll make friends fast

This one’s a no-brainer. Kids who participate in activities, clubs and teams tend to have an easier time making friends and connecting with their peers. Post-move your child is likely feeling unsure — there’s a new home, a new street and possibly a new school. Integrating him into an activity he’s excited about will help his personality shine through and enable him to make fast friends with other local kids. And the quicker his schedule is filled with playdates, birthday parties and his go-to activities, the happier he’ll be — and the happier you’ll be!

#2. Activities foster independence

Many preschool- and elementary-aged kids get a little extra clingy post-move — and it’s easy to see why. Everything feels different, especially if you’re moving from the city to the suburbs. Enrolling in an activity will help your child regain her independence by encouraging risk-taking, bolstering confidence and, simply, separating her from Mom and Dad, if only just for an hour or so. As she starts to feel more and more comfortable in her post-move universe, she’ll start easing into other aspects of your new neighborhood and be an all-around happier, spunkier kid!

#3. They may be feeling stressed post-move
Your move was, no doubt, stressful for you — but, chances are, it was also stressful for your children. Older kids may stress about making new friends or starting in a new school. If kids are younger, though, their stresses may be off your radar. Something as simple as sleeping in their own room or feeling overwhelmed in a big backyard can cause a preschooler or kindergartener serious stress, even though these may be the very reasons you moved in the first place. Getting your kids into an activity ASAP can help them work out their worries while boosting their self-esteem and self-confidence.

#4. Activities support academic success

Many families make a big move during the preschool years, and that means “real school” — AKA kindergarten — is right around the corner. While this is a major change for every family, kids who are new to a community may feel added stress or pressure. Creative and physical activities — art classes, music lessons, sports teams — have been shown to increase academic and intellectual pursuits, even in the youngest learners. By helping kids deal with challenges and teaching them to think outside the box, activities can have a major impact on your child’s in-school success. Especially on the heels of a move — and especially if your child is feeling unsure about that all-important first day of school — these activities can be the boost he needs to have an A+ year.

#5. You’ll get a taste for the town

Another perk to activities and classes? They let you and your kids get a feel for a community before you make the move. Many centers, studios and gyms offer a free trial class or low-cost drop-in option for first-timers — use that to your advantage! Drop in to a few different classes or activities and let your child get the lay of the land while you use that time to chat with fellow parents and learn more about the town and the people who live there. And, who knows? Your child could wind up loving the activity and you could wind up loving the town!

If you’re making a move or, even, just considering a community, be sure to add “activities sign up” to your moving to-do list. The faster you get your kids into activities, clubs and teams the better your family’s transition — and your kids’ happiness and well-being — will be, and the quicker you’ll be able to dig into the community’s goings-on. Happy moving!

See a List of Camps & Classes Near You >>

Jaime Hollander works for The Suburban Jungle Realty Group helping city families in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and more, create their unique path to suburbia. This innovative no-cost advisory focuses on finding the perfect suburb for their clients based on personality and lifestyle, not just real estate. If you’re ready to get started — or are even just exploring! — check out their questionnaire designed to help streamline your suburban search.

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After-School Activities Friends of ActivityHero Guest Posts Sports Uncategorized

Fencing builds physical and mental strength for kids!






Fencing Class

As parents, we want to give our children every advantage in life we can afford.  I love fencing because it can help your child build their strength on so many levels.  How many sports do you know of that can give your child a physical and mental challenge while building their confidence, social skills, and academic future?  Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?  But this is exactly what fencing can do for your children. 

With its rapid footwork and thrusting, your child will get a high-impact aerobic workout.  He or she will build stamina, strength, and coordination.  I like to think of fencing as a type of dance, because we use the same sort of skillset – understanding timing, tempo, measure and velocity. 

Likewise, in the dance of fencing, the student has to develop a sense of body awareness, not only knowing how their own body is positioned, but how they are positioned in relation to his or her opponent.  This body awareness is something that transcends beyond fencing – it’s a huge part of healthy living!  At Academy of Fencing Masters, we encourage our students to be aware of one’s body and the awesome machine that it is; adopting healthy attitudes and eating habits.  Fencing will instill in your child the idea of treating their body as an instrument and a temple … and taking care of it! 

Fencing is also a terrific stress reliever.  Your child can release their aggression and frustration through fencing in a controlled environment.  When they go to the strip, nothing else matters.  All problems and worries melt away – as they concentrate on technique and strategy.  Some of our high school students say that fencing is their escape from the pressures of peers and school. 

Improves your child’s strategic thinking and academic discipline

Fencing is obviously a very physical sport, but what most people don’t know is that there is a whole other mental layer that goes with it.  It’s like a game of physical chess:  Every move by the opponent spurs a reaction and response.  The key is learning to think strategically so that you can score a hit, or point.  While coaches provide a lot of guidance and training during practice, the real mental challenge comes on the strip when the fencer is squaring off against his/her opponent.  There, all the thinking that goes on is independent.  Your child has to learn to focus, be intuitive, and stay in the moment.  Fencing will teach your kids to think on their feet – a valuable skill that will stay with them all through their lives, helping them academically, socially, and in the workplace.      

By the way, colleges LOVE fencers!  Many colleges actively recruit applicants with fencing backgrounds, even going as far as to offer fencing scholarships.

Confidence booster

Fencing is a wonderful tool to bolster confidence.  To meet an opponent’s attack, the fencer has to be quick on their feet with their defensive strategy, this means there’s no time for second-guessing oneself.  Fencing requires bold moves and self-assuredness both in defense and offense. 

This is the one sport where size doesn’t matter, only skill.  I’ve seen fencers win competitions against opponents twice their size because they had the skill and talent to do so.  It’s an amazing thing!  This is one of the few sports that events the playing field between size, age, sexes, ethnicity and personality.

Likewise, fencing is a sport where parents and children can compete together.  At Academy of Fencing Masters, it is not unusual to meet a parent and son or daughter fencing in the same competition.  At a recent Senior Mixed Foil tournament, we watched a father and his teen son compete together.  We also had a mother and her teen daughter in the same competition.  It’s a great way for a family to bond together:  sharing the same passion and vision in a sport – especially during the teenage years when the ties with our kids can become strained. 

Expanding your child’s social circle

While many people who aren’t enthusiastic about team sports may enjoy the individuality that fencing offers, I think one of the biggest benefits your child will appreciate is the ability to make friends.  Fencing bridges the gap between age differences, sexes, size, and ethnicity – opening the door to a network of friends that might not have been available through everyday venues such as school.  This will give your kids exposure to many different types of personalities and experiences they might not have otherwise faced. 

Fencing is one of the few sports where kids can compete not only on a local level, but nationally and internationally as well.  Fencers often have the ability to meet — and even compete against — professional fencers on a regular basis. 

Guest writer Irina Chirashnya is the founder of Academy of Fencing Masters in Campbell, CA.  

Find fencing classes and camps on ActivityHero.  

 

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Guest Posts Super Activities for Super Kids

Crafting Upcycled Home Décor with Kids






Photo by Flicker user  simplyla
Photo by Flicker user simplyla

These days, it seems that “upcycled” is the new black in home décor. Yet if you go to thrift stores and swap meets without a clear idea of what you want, you can end up with items that really are junk.

However, beginning a shopping trip with the end in mind can help you pick up just the right quirky, off-the-wall pieces to put on your wall, in your kitchen, or wherever in your home needs the vintage touch. Adding kids to the fun of decorating will provide you with quality parent-child time and help your kids with lifelong skills.

In the Living Room

As the center of your home, most of your energy in decorating is likely spent in the living room. Asking kids to help decorate this part of the house will ensure they feel like they have an active part in the home, increasing their family bonds and self-confidence.

The Fireplace—Hearth of the Home

If you have a fireplace, it’s likely that this is the focal point of your living room. You can find some gorgeous old grates at thrift stores and estate sales, classic pieces handcrafted as heat guards back in the days before grates became standard. The mantle also likely houses a large family portrait and other pictures.

Elegant grates and frames can be found at garage sales and thrift shops, and then painted to match your living room décor if necessary. Picking out colors and sponging layers of acrylic paint into an object’s corners and small spaces is a project made for kids. It’s simply perfect to teach them about painting techniques and finishing a job thoroughly.

Sitting Pretty

You can find many old pieces of fabrics that are easily cleaned; these can be made into excellent throw pillow covers. Have your children weave ribbons over a square of fabric before you sew it in place, let them point out fabrics or designs they like when you go looking, teach them about working with delicacy as you sew on an antique doily.

And if you want to take advantage of the current obsession home decorators seem to have with painted Mason jars, kids are the perfect little painters—you can even let them have free reign to paint one jar as a decoration for their own room!

In the Kitchen

Old, unusable kitchen implements make excellent wall hangings. Old cheese graters, coffee tin lids, and other relics of kitchens past will add homey charm to any kitchen today! Hang old things on your bare kitchen walls in groupings; common groupings include covering one small section of wall in a symmetrical or asymmetrical grid, or in a diamond in the center of a large vacant wall. This same idea works with old, un-matching dinner plates on dining room walls—and the whole process is a good way to teach your kids art principles like patterns and colors.

You can also turn upcycling to more practical and pretty kitchen tasks—why not have a hanging kitchen garden? Once the responsible adult (that’s you) has poked holes in the sides of old coffee tins, watering cans, or other metallic vintage-chic salvages, allow the kids to repaint them if desired, fill them with gravel, soil, and your chosen plants. Then help them string twine, raffia, chain or heavy-duty wire trough the holes to hang from adhesive hooks you’ve attached to the ceiling. Add water and grow lights and watch your hanging gardens grow.

And an animal-topped jar is as simple as finding a jar, gluing on the animal you want (think the cheap, dollar-store plastic toys) and letting your kids painting with colors you provide!

What’s in style every bit as much as upcycled things? Upcycled things covered in chalkboard paint. Virtually any old thing with a flat surface can be covered in chalkboard paint, and can be turned into a unique message board for your family. Let your kids paint the new board on newsprint, and when it’s all dry, let them have the honor of being first to write on it!

Nearly any age-appropriate craft activity—such as painting or gluing, perhaps some sewing—is an excellent way for your children to spend time with you as you both upcycle your way to vintage-chic home décor.

 

About the Author

Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and fixing up the house.

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Guest Posts

6 Simple Crafts to Enjoy With Your Child






Creativity and expression are important parts of a child’s development, and often the first things to come to mind when we think about creativity are drawing or painting. These are wonderful forms of expression for many kids, and can, by themselves, provide hours of enjoyment.

But what if your child doesn’t enjoy them, or gets tired of them? Or what if you just want something a little different you can better share with your child? The following are a few craft alternatives to the old pencil and paintbrush that you may both enjoy.

Image by Flickr user Photos by Zoe
Image by Flickr user Photos by Zoe

Collages are a classic art project that only require a sheet of poster board or a thick sheet of paper, some glue, and whatever you and your child want to put together! All you have to do is cut pictures or words out of magazines or newspapers and glue them onto the board in whatever way you like best. Feel free to experiment – pasting colored paper in shapes or patterns, or using bits of ribbon or string are both great ideas as well.

Sculpting with clay can be fun, and it’s very easy to pick up! Working with clay is a little more hands-on for the child who may prefer to be a bit more active with their art forms, and you can even make your own completely safe clay at home with the things you likely already have in your kitchen. The internet has plenty of recipes for homemade clay, as well as a suggestions for projects. Personally, though, I prefer animal figurines!

Paper mache, or papier-mâché, is another classic of the classroom. This one is a bit more complicated to do at home, but the materials required are still fairly simple and inexpensive – all you really need are strips of paper (ideally newspaper), flour (or paste) and water, something to use as a mould (a balloon is simple and useful, or dishes if you use a little care), and whatever you want to decorate the finished product with. If this article gave step-by-step instructions, it would go on for far too long, but this resource is extensive and a great place to get started.

Design your own clothes! This is a little more expensive than the other options here, but can create something lasting and distinctive for you and your child to enjoy for some time to come. All you need is some puffy paint and a shirt from your local Target or Wal-mart and some paper and cardboard to help set up a clean work area. There’s not much more to say – paint whatever you like! Try pinning the shirt to the cardboard to keep it from slipping around, and make sure you let each color dry before you move onto a new one.

Finally, there’s the often-overlooked origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. This may be a little difficult or strange to many kids, but it offers simple, inexpensive, and unique projects that you can work on together with only a square of paper. Origami instructions has a nice kids section that makes for a wonderful starting point.

Of course, if none of these sound appealing because of budget, time, or interest constraints, why not try putting a twist on the old classic? Instead of trying to do something fancy, put some time into learning to draw with your child. This works even better if you’re a beginner yourself – as the two of you improve together, you can share any little tricks you find, or give each other ‘homework’! You could also challenge your child with small competitions – see who learns to draw a beloved family pet (cat or dog?) faster, or who can find and draw a more interesting animal, for example. You could even work together to try and draw one of every animal in the world! Having someone to work with will push you both to find ways to improve and keep things fresh.

Looking for more creative fun with your kids? Check out ActivityHero’s class listings in your area for art, music, sewing, and much more!

 

Written by Kathleen Wilson, saving the world one cute doodle at a time. If you consider doodling an activity, then she’s definitely your hero!

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Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

7 Reasons Why You Should Encourage Swimming






One of the most profound activities during the summer is taking a dip in a swimming pool or other body of water. Aside from the break it can give you from the heat, there are other great benefits to encouraging your children to embrace swimming whenever possible. Some of them can follow the child into adulthood. Why should you help your child take to the water as often as possible?

Young Girl Swimming with Water Wings ca. 2002

1. Life Saving – Many people are faced with a situation where swimming and treading water can save their life on a regular basis. Teaching your children how to swim now can prevent them from becoming a victim to water later on. There are too many ways that a person can drown and your child may need that skill sooner than you may realize.

2. Exercise – Swimming is one of the most beneficial of exercises in order to promote a healthier living. A wide range of muscles are being used while you are in the water and could provide a great method for your children to maintain a healthy disposition. Although they won’t come out of the water looking like the Incredible Hulk, it can still burn a great deal of calories and keep the muscles trim.

3. Cheaper – Depending on where you live, swimming can be a cheap form of entertainment for your children. Considering that some activities could cost you $40 or more per hour, depending on the number of children, swimming could cost far less. If you live near a public river, pond, or lake, this entertainment could even be free.

4. Exhaustion – If you have children that simply have too much energy at night, a day of swimming could easily put them to sleep. Swimming can be quite a physically strenuous activity and could easily burn up any excess energy your children could have. This could help you get a full-nights rest as well as your children – especially during the summer.

5. Relaxing – For the same reasons that many adults take to the water, a child can swim in order to work out his or her frustrations. While we may scoff at what a child views as stressful, bear in mind that they are experiencing many things for the first time. While we have the benefit of knowledge, he or she may see it as a dire situation. Swimming can help relieve tensions and stresses.

6. Preventing Future Physical Problems – Along the same lines as exercise above, swimming can help keep your body toned and agile. Increased stamina, decreased chances of type II diabetes, reduction in heart disease and many other aspects can be derived from taking to the water on a regular basis.

7. Fun – When given the option, most children would rather go swimming or visit a water park than most other activities. A great deal of enjoyment can be derived from swimming and can attract a wide range of people. There is simply something about water that humans cannot live without – aside from the obvious fact of needing it to survive.

Swimming can be a form of recreation, a lifestyle for some, or the means to survive from drowning. Promoting swimming within your home can help keep everyone healthier and provide an activity that doesn’t have to cost $40 per hour to enjoy. Encourage your children to swim and witness for yourself the benefits that can be had.

About the Author:

Ken Myers is an expert advisor on in-home care & related family safety issues to many websites and groups. He is a regular contributor to www.gonannies.com. You can get in touch with him at [email protected].

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Guest Posts Parenting Resources

How to Prepare for Back to School

Getting your kids ready for a new school year can be a lot of hard work. As summer comes to a close it will soon be time for early alarms, a rush to get ready, tantrums and hectic school runs.

back to school

If you want to ensure that both you and your kids have a smooth transition back into the school routine, you need to start preparing as early as possible. Here’s a few simple ways:

Ensure all school essentials are easy to find

One of the main things that can slow you down on school mornings is not being able to find everything your kids need – they seem to have an uncanny habit of losing the essentials.

Make sure all lunch boxes, clothes, books and other school equipment is kept together. That way as soon as the new term approaches, you will know where everything is and there won’t be a first day back panic.

Buy new equipment and uniforms early

If you leave back to school shopping until the last minute, you could end up in trouble. Getting everything your child will need for their new school term as early as possible will save a lot of stress and hassle. If you’re looking for some solid advice or deals on back to school equipment especially for toddlers and young children then finding out about a local parenting or toddler show could save you money as well as helping you to prepare.

If your child wears school uniform it is important to get it sorted as quickly as you can to minimise the damage if something goes wrong later down the line. Otherwise just make sure your child has clothes that fit them – a summer break at their age can see a surprising amount of growth.

Know how to handle mixed emotions

Your child will likely experience a whole range of emotions as the holidays draw to a close. They may be excited, nervous or even angry that they have to go back to school. Some children like school more than others. If your child is nervous about starting the new term, talk to them about it.

Try to understand where they are coming from and establish whether there are any problems you need to be aware of. If they are really worried and upset about returning, there may be a serious underlying problem. Reassure them that no matter what, they will be ok and you are there for support.

Alter bedtimes a week before school starts

One of the main problems parents have when school starts again is getting the kids to bed and waking them up earlier. It would really help if you were to change their routine at least a week before they return to school. Ideally aim for a couple of weeks before if you can. That way, they will become used to getting up early and it won’t be too much of a shock to the system. It will greatly reduce the risk of tantrums and decrease stress when morning does arrive. Though try to ease them into this otherwise you’ll just hit the same problem just earlier.

Plan for after-school activities ahead of time

Things are bound to be so busy once the school year starts that it will be hard to find time to explore the right after-school options for your family.

Start exploring ActivityHero now to make sure you get the perfect fit for your child’s interests and your budget & schedule.

Create a meal planner

Many parents return to work as their children start the new school term. This leaves very little time to cook meals in the evening. To ensure you and your kids have a good healthy diet; think about creating some kind of meal planner. This can be done weekly or monthly, depending on whichever makes sense for you and is a life saver when you have to cook dinner after just getting in from work.

If your kids take a packed lunch to school then try to make up the kids lunch boxes the night before. Obviously things like sandwiches should wait until the morning otherwise they won’t be as nice. If you do it the night before you won’t be in a rush so there lunches won’t be filled with unhealthy snacks because you didn’t have time to make, or think of, anything better.

Set up play dates with your child’s school friends

Sometimes the anxiety of starting back at school is caused by losing touch with friends during the holidays – after all young children don’t have social media or mobile phones to stay in touch like older children. You can help to ease this anxiety by organizing play dates for your child’s classroom friends.

Catching up before they return to school can turn anxiety into excitement. You could also set up a play date with kids that they may not have bonded with yet. Helping them to make new school friends can help enormously with preparing them for their return to school.

Don’t do anything too exciting at the end of the summer

A mistake which is easy to make is to plan a lot of exciting, big activities to end the school holidays. This can make kids even more reluctant to return. In their eyes if they weren’t going back to school they could do more exciting fun things. Having a normal routine for a week or so will help them to transition without much fuss.

Preparing yourself and your kids for the new term ahead can really save you a lot of hassle. It’s never too early to start preparing so why not see what you can start doing today. Preparing like this doesn’t mean that your kids can’t have a fun and relaxed summer break but it does make things easier for you!

Written by Charlie Hickes. When Charlie isn’t at work or writing for fun he likes to think outside the box for ways to keep children out of mischief. There have been some miserable failures but hey, we live and learn!

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Guest Posts Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

Time Saving Tips for Busy Moms

by Lucy Daniel

Whether at home or in the workplace, moms tend to be the busiest due to their multitasking nature. It is important to organize yourself and plan very beforehand if you are to achieve the set goals daily, weekly, and monthly.

With a strictly followed guideline, you will be amazed at how you can save time and at the same time perform all duties you have in time. Here’s a few time-saving tips for busy moms:

1. Embrace Technology

Technology has advanced to the extent of people being able to access important services on mobile devices and is rated one of the most recent time saving tips for busy mums.

In the current world, there are many types of software and applications that can assist you perform roles while on the move. There are Apps for almost everything such as banking, grocery lists, and calendars.

2. Delegate roles

As a mom, it is wise to understand that you cannot carry out all the duties you find necessary by yourself. It is important to delegate duties to anyone available who can lend you an extra hand. Bigger roles can be divided into smaller roles, which can be easily shared out to family members.

3. Prepare early

This is a crucial time saver especially for moms who work both inside and outside of the home. Many duties can be done at night before going to bed or even early in the morning before your kids wake up.

Cooking enough food that lasts an entire week is also a good way of saving time. Shopping once a week significantly reduces the trips you have to make to grocery shops every other time you want to cook.

4. Prioritize

Arrange duties according to their importance. Don’t strain yourself just because your aim is to finish all the duties assigned. It is advisable to assign enough time to each chore depending on how involving it is.

It is also important to consider your health a top priority. Some alone time is important and can be utilized for personal exercise or just indulging in a good book.

5. Carry an Extra Bag

An extra bag can save both time and money. Carry along snacks and games for your children when venturing out to avoid splurging on expensive venue food and trinkets.

Not only will this save time and money, but also lead to healthier options.

6. Know when to Ask for Help

Many see asking for help as a sign of weakness, but it is actually beneficial in knowing your strengths and where you need help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Your time is valuable.

Best of all, we’re ALWAYS here to help! When searching for after-school activities and camps for children, use ActivityHero to save time! Not only do we help you plan out your calendar, you can also arrange carpools and connect with other parents in the area.

Lucy Daniel is a travel blogger from London who loves to express her recent journeys. She writes articles for blogs and websites during her free time, currently focusing on ESTA  which is now mandatory for all travelers to the USA who plan to enter the country by air or sea. Did you like this post? She can be contacted at [email protected]