Categories
Parenting Resources School Breaks Uncategorized

Virtual Teacher Appreciation Week 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4-8th, but kids across the nation aren’t physically in school.

Virtual Teacher Appreciation Week - Ways to say thank you to your teachers from a distance during COVID-19.

Teacher appreciation is at an all-time high during the COVID-19 school closures, but families may not have an opportunity to show gratitude before the end of the school year. The sudden switch to online learning for kids has not been easy on families or teachers. Here are some creative ideas to say a virtual thank you to teachers from a distance.

Buy a Teacher Dinner

Teachers are learning new technology and adapting lesson plans, many while being parents themselves. Buying dinner for your teacher is a nice gesture during this stressful time. A gift card to a local restaurant or food delivery service such as UberEats are great options.

Virtual Thank You Note

Don’t underestimate a simple thank you note from your child. If you don’t want to mail the card to the school, scan and email to your child’s teacher directly or send an e-card with a photo of your child.

Video Compilation

If your kids are older, they may enjoy collaborating with their friends to create a thank you video compilation for their teachers. Bonus: they get to put all those new dance moves and screen time to good use.

Thank You Photo Collage

Teacher Appreciation Week 2020 virtual thank you photo collage from students.

Coordinate with the other parents in your child’s classroom to create a photo collage. Each child can hold up a sign to say thank you for Teacher Appreciation Week.

Teacher Appreciation Yard Signs

Coordinate with the other students at your child’s school to contribute to outdoor signs thanking the teachers. Get permission from your school administrator to display in front of your school.

Digital Gift Cards

Support small businesses and teachers at the same time! Purchase a gift cards to a local restaurant, retail store, bookstore or even salon. If your child’s teacher is also a parent, give them the gift of time with an ActivityHero gift card for kids camps or classes.

ActivityHero Gift Cards for Camps and Classes > >

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Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Kitchen Science: Easy and Fun Experiments Straight from the Cupboard






You don’t need spendy science kits to have fun with your kids and teach them (or learn with them) about science at home. Never fear – you don’t need special tools or any deep knowledge of chemistry to take on these projects. Your kids will be thrilled to be doing science with you and you can be excited that they’re doing something educational and spending a few minutes away from video games, texting and TV. There are endless possibilities for at-home science or online science classes to do experiments with things you already have in your cupboards or that you can buy for less money.

Fantastic Foam

One bar of basic Ivory soap (must be this brand)
Microwave safe plate

The experiment:

Unwrap the bar of Ivory soap and place it in the center of the plate. Turn the microwave on and just watch what happens. The soap will begin to bubble and puff up, then will expand to 10 times or more its original size. It’s incredible to watch. Expect a lot of oohs and ahhs from the kiddos. Once it’s splendidly large, turn off the microwave and open the door, but don’t touch! It will be hot.

Wait a few moments then use a pot holder to pull out the plate. Wait about 5-10 minutes for it to cool then your kids can touch it, break off chunks and even wash their hands with it. While they wonder at the feel of exploded soap, you can explain the science behind what they saw and are now feeling. The soap will get a bit harder once it cools down, but it will stay in the shape it expanded to.

The science behind the phenomena:

Ivory soap is whipped up with air, that’s why it’s so much lighter than other brands of soap. The microwaves interact with the water molecules inside the air pockets trapped in the soap. The water molecules turn to steam and that increases pressure on the soap and breaks down the outside. It then puffs out for the same reason that popcorn kernels do when they’re microwaved. Cool, huh?

Breathless Balloon

What you’ll need:

Round balloons
White vinegar
Baking soda
Twist ties
Empty 16 oz water bottles
Funnel

The experiment:

Using the funnel, have your kids pour two tablespoons of vinegar into the balloon. Secure it tightly with a twist tie close to the lump of filling. Next, rinse your funnel and use it to fill the water bottle with a cup of vinegar. For littler kids, you can do this prep work for them or help out with the sloppy parts, but ages five and up should be able to do all this on their own.

Stretch the neck of the balloon over the neck of the bottle with the twist tie still in place. Once it’s snug in place, undo the twist tie and let the baking soda fall into the vinegar and watch the balloon inflate as if by magic. Your kids will be amazed. Once it’s done, they can remove it and knot it off and it will stay inflated just as if you blew it up with your mouth.

The science behind the phenomena:

Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid. When combined, there’s a chemical reaction that breaks apart both original substances and forms new ones. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and vinegar is acetic acid and water. This chemical reaction leaves you with water, salt and carbon dioxide. It’s the carbon dioxide that fills the balloon. Recognize CO2? That’s the stuff we breathe out.

Elephant Toothpaste

Hydrogen peroxide (regular will work but for a bigger reaction, get 6% from the beauty store)
Liquid dish soap
Food coloring
Packet of yeast
Funnel
Bowl
Cake or foil pan
Plastic gloves
Empty 16 oz water bottle

The experiment:

Use gloves to keep peroxide off your kids’ skin and make sure your kids don’t get it in their eyes. Use the funnel to pour ½ cup peroxide into the water bottle, add ¼ cup dish liquid and a few drops of food coloring. Gently swirl the bottle to blend the ingredients. In the bowl, mix the packet of yeast with a bit of warm water and leave it for 5-7 minutes until it’s foamy and active.

Put the bottle into the center of the pan to control any mess and then use the funnel to pour the active yeast mix into the peroxide/soap mix. Then stand back and be amazed. You’ll get a foam that expands up and out of the bottle like a gush of toothpaste out of a tube. Standard peroxide will give a thinner foam. Let the kids touch the foam and bottle to feel the heat that comes with the chemical reaction!

The science behind the phenomena:

Hydrogen peroxide has lots of oxygen in it and when you added the yeast, it served as a catalyst that remove the oxygen really fast and created tons of bubbles. Because it also produced heat, it’s called an exothermic reaction. The products left over are just soap, water and oxygen, so it’s safe for your kids to touch – but don’t let them get it in their mouth or eyes.

Clean up tips

When disposing of your science experiments, you can keep the Ivory soap around, just chip it up and put it in a bag for hand washing or toss it in the trash if you don’t want to keep it. The baking soda and vinegar from the breathless balloon can go straight down the drain – they’re harmless. The elephant toothpaste leftovers can also go down the drain since it’s just soap and water.

And, you never know, your kitchen science experiments may inspire one of your kids to be the next Neil deGrasse Tyson or Mary Leakey. If these science experiments are a big hit, there’s no need to stop here. Check out online science classes or science camps for more at-home projects and experiments.

Find online classes in science and technology  >>

Categories
Crafts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged School Breaks

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts For Kids

Charm your kids with these festive St. Patrick’s Day crafts and activities. With a little luck, your kids will be busy for hours!

St. Patrick's Day Crafts for Kids - Leprechaun Binoculars - ActivityHero

Upcyling Crafts

One of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day crafts are these adorable binoculars made out of simple household products. All you need is a couple empty toilet paper holders, colorful craft paper, kid-friendly scissors and tape. Your kids will be off searching for leprechauns in no time!

Turn Art Projects into an Annual Tradition

Another fun and easy St. Patrick’s Day tradition is to build a leprechaun trap. The best part is that there is no wrong way to create your magical contraption. An old shoe box, an empty jar or even an empty paper towel roll can be upcyled and reused. Don’t forget to add some lucky charms or gold coins as bait for your elusive leprechaun!

Color Crafts for Kids

St. Patrick's Day crafts and activities - ActivityHero

This colorful art project by CraftyMorning is perfect for all ages. Create a St. Patrick’s Day themed twirling rainbow out of a paper plate. Younger children can use crayons, markers or paint and be assisted with the cutting by a parent or sibling. Don’t stop with just one – create a whole collection for home or porch decorations.

Easy Crafts with Household Items

St. Patrick's Day crafts and activities - ActivityHero

Reuse an old cereal box to create a fun leprechaun hat with just a few other easy crafting supplies like glue, craft paper and paint. St. Patrick’s a colorful holiday, so make it your own with glitter, stickers or ribbon.

How to make St. Patrick’s Day Slime

St. Patrick's Day crafts and activities - ActivityHero

Slime can be a fun craft and science project to make at home with your kids. For St. Patrick’s Day slime, add green or gold and glitter for a festive look.

According to Little Bins for Little Hands, “Mixtures, substances, polymers, cross-linking, states of matter, elasticity, and viscosity are just a few of the science concepts that can be explored with homemade slime!”

Hands-On St. Patrick’s Day Activities

If your child is a little older or not really into crafts, check out these 6 fun St. Patrick’s Day science experiments for kids from our friends at ScienceBuddies.org.

Categories
Camps Soccer Sports Uncategorized

Soccer Camp for Kids: Finding the Right Fit for your Child’s Goals

Read our Ultimate Soccer Camp Guide for expert tips on choosing the best soccer camp to fit your child’s age, skill level and overall soccer goals.

Find kids soccer camps near me | Summer Camps at Activity Hero

Soccer camps are one of the most popular summer camps on ActivityHero. Played by over 2 million children nationwide*, youth soccer appeals to children of all ages and skill levels. With both recreational and travel soccer leagues in the Bay Area, there are many opportunities for both beginner and elite players to play year round.  It is also a sport that can be started at an early age, with many kids soccer camps accepting those as young as 3 years old.

Finding the right soccer camp depends on your  child’s age and motivation. Does your child dream of being the next Lionel Messi or Alex Morgan? Or, do you simply want a fun summer camp to keep your child active this summer?

Soccer Development by Age

From preschool to high school, soccer camps structure their programs to meet children at various levels of development. 

  • Ages 3-5: The focus for the very youngest players is primarily on strengthening gross motor skills, socialization and having fun! Soccer drills for preschoolers are often just multipurpose games to keep players active, listening and making friends.  Soccer camps for ages 3-5 often offer mini sessions that are semi-structured adventures designed to engage short attention spans.
  • Ages 6-9: For elementary school-aged children, soccer camps often divide players up by age and ability to maximize instruction. While some very advanced players can start to play at a competitive level, most soccer camps for ages 6-9 years old “focus on team building, social skills, and technical skill development. The emphasis of the soccer camp is to help our young players foster a love of the game,” according to the AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization).
  • Ages 10-13: For motivated players, this is the age where soccer development can be taken to the next level at camps such as the USF Junior Premier Soccer Camp. Developing technique, speed of play and simulated game situations are all a priority. 
  • Ages 14+: High school soccer players can have a wide range of skill and motivation – ranging from recreational to student athletes eyeing a college soccer scholarship.

Types of Soccer Camps

There are many different soccer camps available this summer to fit your schedule and child’s goals. AYSO offers week long programs including half-day soccer camps (3hrs), full-day soccer camps (6 hrs, ages 8+) and mini sessions (1.5 hrs). The programs are open to all players and the curriculum is developmentally appropriate for any skill level. Other popular half-day and full-day soccer camps include USF Youth Academy Soccer Camp (K-5th), Challenger Soccer Camps (multiple camps ages 3-16), Coach Ken Soccer Academy (ages 4-12) and Stanford Soccer Camps (ages 4-10).

Specialized night training programs for intermediate to advanced soccer players aged 15-21 are available through San Francisco Soccer Camp. The night training can be very convenient if your high school player has a summer job lined up. Additionally, some travel leagues may encourage team camps, residential overnight camps or college ID soccer camps. 

Specialty Soccer Camps

There are also specialty programs such as goalkeeper camps or striker soccer clinics. These camps are focused on developing specific skills related to your child’s preferred playing position.

What to Bring to Soccer Camp

There are a few items that you will definitely want to pack with your child for soccer camp. 

  • Soccer gear: Cleats, Shin Guards and a Ball (optional). Sneakers can work too.  *Tip: If you send a soccer ball, be sure to label it with your child’s name. 
  • Water bottle: Your child will be working up a sweat!
  • Packed Lunch and/or Snacks: Keep in mind that most camps will not have a refrigerator. 
  • Sunscreen: Campers could be outside in the sun for several hours. 

Benefits Beyond the Field

Soccer can develop into a fun, lifetime participation sport where children can learn the value of teamwork, leadership, communication and respect.

“Active kids grow in self-confidence. They have the opportunity to develop an open mindset. They learn conflict resolution skills. They learn how to both cooperate and compete with others. They learn punctuality and responsibility. They learn how to contribute to a group. They learn communication skills and how to lead. They learn how to set and achieve goals toward self-improvement. The possible life skills, as well as sport skills, that an active soccer player could learn and benefit from is a long list,” said Sam Snow, US Youth Soccer Director of Coaching.

Regardless of your child’s age or skill level, there is a soccer camp that is the right fit for your family. You can find all these Bay Area soccer camps on ActivityHero or download our iPhone app. Early bird summer camp discounts could save parents up to $200 a week.

Categories
Camps Computers Featured Posts Gaming Parenting Resources Programming Uncategorized

Coding for Kids: a Guide to Choosing a Coding Camp

Find various coding schools and programming courses that teach kids python, java during summer or all year-round. Get expert tips on picking the right coding camp to fit your child.

Coding Camps for Kids | Bay Area | Activity Hero Summer Camps

Technology continues to impact our world at an incredibly rapid pace. As a parent, you may be looking for a way to prepare your child for the future. Introducing a child to programming languages could be either a building block for a career or an entertaining option for your young gamer. If your child has an interest in technology or gaming, a coding camp for kids could be a great option. There are also online coding classes and camps that allow your kids to learn from home.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when choosing a coding summer camp:

  • What is the age and skill level of my child? 
  • Can my child type easily?
  • Who are the instructors?
  • What is the camp schedule?
  • What will my child be learning?

One important note is that coding for kids is not something that can be mastered in a week. It is a process that your child can build on for years, if they are willing and excited to continue learning.  

“My son is at the point where he can envision a problem he wants to solve and begin to develop the code to get there. It reminds me of student development in math and languages–it starts slowly but over time you see real progress and suddenly the child is bursting with ideas,” said a parent review.

Scratch Coding Camps

Scratch is a beginner level program that can be introduced to children in early elementary school. The Scratch coding camps focus on making sure children understand the foundational computer programming concepts. The drag-and-drop format of Scratch does not require a lot of typing skills and is suited for children who have never been introduced to coding. Games and animations are designed through ready-made blocks of code to help students build scripts. Scratch projects will encourage creativity, reasoning and problem-solving skills. More advanced Scratch coding camps will build on previous experience and children can develop more realistic and customized games. 

If a child leaves camp excited to learn more, parents can visit the Scratch website at http://scratch.mit.edu. Scratch can be accessed free online or it can be downloaded for offline usage. 

Minecraft Camps and Java Camps

Does your child love playing Minecraft or spend hours watching Minecraft YouTube videos? If they are curious about how to advance their gaming, Minecraft camps might be a fun opportunity. Introductory Minecraft camps are available starting in elementary grades and are focused on learning the fundamentals of creating fun mods. One important note is that some camps require a Minecraft account, so we recommend checking with your camp director prior to the first class.

Campers will often learn core computer science skills as well as 3D modeling and texture mapping techniques. If your child is an experienced Minecraft user, they may be interested in a more advanced camp where they can create a custom game experience using Java. Java is a widely used programming language, making it a great foundation for students interested in learning more about app development. Java camps are often paired with other coding topics such as Minecraft and Python.

Since Minecraft camps range from beginner to advanced, it is recommended to review class curriculums before selecting a camp. 

Python Coding Camps

Python is a very popular, all-purpose language. The lines of code are shorter and simpler than in other languages, making it easier to learn Python for kids. Python is a great language to learn after Scratch. However, you do not need previous experience if a child wants to skip to an introductory Python camp. While there are some Python camps available for children starting in 4th grade, many are designed for middle school children. The ability to type can be helpful for those starting to learn coding. 

If a child expresses interest in building on their camp experience, intermediate and advanced Python camps are available to take coding skills to the next level. One of the advantages of learning Python is that it is used in real-world applications such as web and software development. 

Web Design Camps

At web design camps for advanced students, Java will be used along with other programming languages such as HTML and CSS. At some camps, students will even learn to program a functional website during the week.  

Video Game Design Camps

If you have a young gamer, they may be interested in specific video game design camps or app development camps. Students will start to learn basic app development principles, including UI/UX design and advanced programming techniques using Javascript, HTML and CSS. Programmers use JavaScript to create interactive features that run on websites, such as games. It is the leading client-side programming language on the web today, making it a valuable learning experience for young coders. 

Roblox Camp

Roblox is an online gaming system where users create avatars and play games in user-generated 3D worlds. According to Roblox,”the types of gameplay on Roblox are just as limitless as the imagination of the creators themselves.”

Roblox camps can appeal to a wide age range of children because users do not have to have a strong foundation in coding to build a game. Younger campers use the built-in Roblox Studio to create 3D worlds without the need for text-based code. More advanced users can use the popular LUA coding language to create game actions, elements and mechanics. At the end of the week, campers can learn how to publish and share their game to the Roblox community.

Summer Explorations

Regardless of your child’s age or prior programming experience, there is a coding summer camp that is the right fit for your family. There are a wide variety of options available, whether your child just wants to continue their gaming or explore a future career interest. Kids can take a free trial class to make sure they like it before signing up for a longer camp.

You can find all these Bay Area coding camps on ActivityHero or download our iPhone app. You can search by location, category, age, and other criteria to help you find the best summer camps. Early bird discounts could save parents up to $200 a week on summer camp.

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Featured Posts Uncategorized

Kids Become Creators at a Maker Camp

Learn how to turn your kids into creators with creative and engaging maker camps

Maker camps

Screen use for kids, tweens, and teens is up all across the country. NPR now notes that over 50% of the nation’s kids have smartphones, often by the time they turn 11.

  • Teens report spending only 3 percent of their screen time on creative pursuits like writing, making art, or music — outside of homework or school projects.
  • Online video viewing has doubled — and most kids say it’s their most enjoyable online activity.
  •  Over 20% of teens log on to their favorite social media site over ten times a day.

Phones are certainly here to stay, and there’s plenty of room for phones to play a supportive role in kids’ positive and creative development. Adding other forms of entertainment – like art and maker camps – kids find more balance in their opportunities for learning, entertainment, and creativity.

The benefits of making, creating, inventing, and designing

The benefits of engaging in creative arts for kids are well-documented and can have a lasting impact on their development for years to come.

  1. Creativity: Inventiveness and innovation are sought-after qualities that make people more resilient both personally and professionally. Encouraging kids to express themselves through art and take risks in creating, they develop resilience and spiritedness that supports critical thinking and innovation skills  “The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions,” arts education and children’s author MaryAnn Kohl says. “Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!”
  2.  Diversity awareness: Exposure to different kinds of experiences – from different kinds of food to holidays and traditions to different hairstyles and clothing – helps to create more well-rounded, educated, and open-minded kids. Seeing different kinds of art or exploring different kinds of styles of creation and expression helps prepare kids for a more connected world.
  3. Improved academics: Studies show that there is a correlation between art and other achievements. A report by Americans for the Arts found that students who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair, or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who don’t participate in artistic exploration and creation.
  4. Problem-solving skills: Kids who work on STEM projects are challenged to think critically and innovate as they face challenging new problems in interesting areas they’ve never worked in before. Working on science, technology, engineering, and math challenges that encourage trouble-shooting difficulties can grow resilience and flexibility.

Encouraging kids to make and create – whether it’s writing or coding or painting – can help grow their skills and their confidence, not to mention help create new social connections and new sources of inspiration. Here are some top maker camps for you to consider across the country.

Camp EDMO : Camp EDMO touts itself as the “summer camp for the whole kid.” Camp Edmo is a maker camp that’s a great place for kids to grow their creative capacity through science, technology, and studying nature. They encourage campers to push their boundaries and grow their confidence while also focusing on empathy and acceptance.

Galileo Learning: Galileo is staffed with enthusiastic teachers who mix traditional day camp with classes focused in science, engineering, and visual and culinary arts. Kids create everything from go-karts, gourmet meals, robot pets, and more, focusing on building teamwork skills, leadership, and responsibility. They have over 80 locations across the Bay Area, Southern California, Chicagoland, and Denver.

Digital Media Academy STEAM Camps: Founded in 2002, this well-established technology-focused camp works to “empower the next generation of tech makers and thinkers.” Camps are held at prestigious universities campuses around the US and Canada. Their tech-focused classes include project-based learning in virtual reality, wearable technology, robotics, 3D printing, and more.

Destination Science: Destination Science allows for kids to be creative, collaborate, and cooperate. Kids can safely create, explore, and take home all of their creations. This camp is celebrating their 20th anniversary.

Home Depot: Monthly maker classes are available for kids that focus on skill-building, creativity, and safety for DIY projects. These workshops are free and require advance registration.

ActivityHero makes finding a maker camp easy. You can search by location, category, age, and other criteria to help find the right fit for your family. Search our website or download the iPhone app to secure your summer camp spot in the best maker camps across the country.

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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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Business Resources Featured Posts for Providers Uncategorized

5 Top Reasons Parents Will – or Won’t – Pick a Camp for Their Kids

You already know that every family is different, but it turns out that the top five things that families are looking for when it comes to making a decision about camp registrations are very similar.

If you want to position your camp as a top pick for parents, pay attention to how you communicate the top five things that drive camp registration decisions.1

1. Location: Whether parents are looking for camp that’s close to work or close to home, this is going to be the number one factor they’re checking for. Having your location information displayed prominently is key. 

  • Use your header or footer space to display location data. Repeat this on every landing page and group it with other contact information, like telephone number and email address, to create the easiest experience.
  • Surprisingly, many websites don’t make the camp location visible on the home page and require users to hunt for it, or give up in frustration.
camp location example
Image credit: fuzefit.com

2. Schedule: When it comes to the schedule, parents are looking for the camp dates and/or start and end time. Parents should be able to see at a glance the days and camp hours, registration fees, and how to register. If putting all of the necessary details in one place isn’t feasible, make it clear where they can go next for other information.

  • Showing your session availability will let parents know which weeks are filling up or already have a waitlist. Camp websites like Hiller.org keep their availability updated automatically using the ActivityHero schedule widget.
camp schedule example
Image credit: Hiller.org website with ActivityHero schedule widget

3. Category: To communicate what kind of experience you offer, you’ll want to use multimedia such as photography, video, and descriptions. Using high-quality photography and video from actual events can help drive better engagement and more interest. Having a landing page that can go into depth about the types of experiences you offer helps families more readily imagine kids in your classes.

  • Give parents a sense for how their kids will spend the day. You can describe the daily schedule, highlight the parts of the activity that are most popular, describe what students will create, or describe what children will learn/know by the end. 
  • If you have a more specialized program, like dance or sports only, and offer different levels or styles within each program, use the descriptions to explain the differences. 
camp category description
Image credit: avid4.com

4. Price: You should know how your prices compare against other local options. You want to position yourself competitively, but that doesn’t mean price cutting. If your camp is priced higher than other options in the area, offer parents an explanation why. Are there premium features included, like transportation, materials, or food? Does your staff have additional certifications and educational experience? Sharing a bit about why you’ve shaped your pricing structure the way you have can create a level of transparency with parents that builds trust.

  • If you offer discounts, make sure to make the discount deadline clear – this can help to drive a sense of urgency, as too much time to think about making the commitment might lead to parents putting it off or forgetting about it all together. Take a look at our tips on effective camp discounts
  • Alternately, it might make sense to offer a payment plan to early birds. The ability to pay over time and budget month to month until the start of camp encourages earlier commitments. It can also position your camp as a partner to parents; offering payment flexibility can communicate that you care about the kids in your community and want to connect with more families. 

5. Reviews: Got some great reviews? Show them off. When parents are searching for the right fit for their kids activities, they’re reading up on what other families have to say. Adding a reviews stream from ActivityHero, Google, or Yelp to your website can help lend credibility to your business.

  • Respond to your reviews. When you take time to reply to your customers’ feedback – both positive and negative – you show that you value the relationships you’re making with families. In this interview, Yelp expert Darnell Holloway explains that responding within 24 hours leads to better outcomes. 
  • Consider investing in testimonials. While it takes time to interview customers and craft a narrative around their story, it can benefit your business. Testimonials give you the opportunity to find out – and share – what parts of your camp experience families really loved. You can use this to continue shaping your activities and experiences and also to share real feedback with users. 
online camp reviews
Image credit: oneheartmusic.org

“Who else is attending” is a consideration that didn’t break the top five, but is still influential. A lot of parents and guardians – and kids – more strongly consider enrolling in camps with people they know. To encourage more word-of-mouth business, consider offering a small discount or credit towards a future registration for any referrals from current customers. 

While it’s not possible to be the perfect fit for every family, paying attention to how you share and showcase what you offer will help you turn your website visitors into  more registrations. 

For more valuable tools and services to help you run and grow your business, talk to someone on the ActivityHero team. Our online marketing services and camp registration tools help camps reach more families in the ActivityHero.com marketplace, accept online payments, and more. 

1Data from an April 2019 email survey of ActivityHero users.

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. 

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Birthday Parties Featured Posts Uncategorized

The 12 Best Places to Get Birthday Freebies for Kids

Your child’s birthday can be even sweeter with these 12 free birthday freebies. Many freebies are available for 2-4 weeks after your birthday so you can celebrate all month! 

To plan the perfect, hassle-free birthday party for your child, visit ActivityHero to find a birthday party place near you. 

Baskin Robbins

Get free ice cream on your birthday. 
Baskin Robbins Birthday Club

Barnes and Nobles

Free Cupcakes for Kids on their birthday. 
Barnes and Nobles Kids Club 

California Pizza Kitchen

Get a free pizza on your birthday
CPK Rewards

Dairy Queen

You get a free Coupon for desert.
Blizzard Fan Club

Habit Burger

Receive a free hamburger or special treat on your birthday. Available for adults too when you join the CharClub.

Dennys

You get a Free Grand Slam Breakfast on your birthday!

Jamba Juice

On your birthday you can get a free smoothie from Jamba Juice Jamba Juice Insider Rewards

IHOP

Tell your server it’s your birthday for free pancakes.
MyHop Pancake Perks 

Sprinkles

Visit to get a free cupcake on your birthday. Kids and adults can join the Sprinkles Perks Program for their free birthday cupcake.

Cheesecake Factory

Tell your server to get a free dessert. 

BJ’s Restaurant Brewhouse

Get a free birthday Pizookie on your birthday when you join the BJ’s Premier Rewards Plus.

Krispy Kreme

Kids and adults get a free donut on your birthday. Krispy Kreme Rewards

>> Find a birthday party place near you. 

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Camps Holiday Break Camps Uncategorized

Fall Break Camps in the SF Bay Area

Looking for something to fill your child’s time during fall break in October? Look no further, here are some fun camps in the SF Bay Area your kids are sure to enjoy!

LEGO Camps

In Palo Alto, Union City and other Bay Area locations: BrainVyne offers unique enrichment classes & camps using LEGO’s. Kids discover, explore, invent and create at Brainvyne camps.

Jewelry and Art Camps

In the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego, Dragonfly Designs has been sharing the joy of art and jewelry making with kids. The aim of their family business is to enable children’s creativity through holistic art education.

Tech Camps

In Campbell, Code With Us teaches students a variety of skills through coding education that includes popular programming languages, robotics, virtual reality, AI, microcontroller programming and much more.

Fashion Camps

In San Mateo, Camp Couture is a professional fashion studio that provides instruction, and assistance in making a creative vision come to life. Kids can make their own Halloween costume or learn to sew their own fashions.

Sports Camps

Legarza Sports offers a variety of Basketball Camps with professionally certified coaches with college and professional experience in several Bay Area cities.

See all Fall Break Camps
See other holiday camps over Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day.

Categories
Camps Cooking Creative Arts Super Activities for Super Kids

Chicken Curry Recipe Your Kids Can Help Make — from A Little Yumminess

girls cooking little yumminess
Kids cooking at A Little Yumminess summer camp

Here’s a new recipe from Stacie Dong and Simran Singh of A Little Yumminess that will get you cooking with kids and getting them trying new flavors.

Chicken curry may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think “kid food”, but this simple chicken curry will convert even the pickiest of eaters. Plus, the younger you start introducing kids to spices and unfamiliar foods, the easier it is to integrate new flavors, textures and tastes into your family eating repertoire.

If you’re not a curry maker, this is a great “curry starter” as it requires minimal spices, preparation, and cooking skill. It’s also a great recipe for kids to make. You can serve it with rice or store-bought naan bread. Add a dollop of yogurt to further “cool” the dish.

See camps & classes from A Little Yumminess

Chicken Curry Recipe

(Serves 4)

  • 1 pound chicken thighs or breast cut into 1-inch cubes (save time by asking the butcher to do this for you)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 inch piece ginger, finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 cup Greek or other plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (see recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch of chili flakes or powder (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (you can also use ghee or a combination of oil and ghee)
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • ½ cup water or chicken stock
  1. Marinate chicken in yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander powder, salt and chilli (if using). Marinate for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, or until onion is golden and softened.
  3. Add the chicken with the marinade along with the water or chicken stock. Stir and continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 20-25 minutes till the sauce is thickened and the chicken is fork tender.

Simple Garam Masala Recipe

Many grocery stores these days carry spice blends, including garam masala. Pop into a local Indian market if you have one nearby as the spices are usually fresh and inexpensive.

If not, it’s easy to make your own garam masala for this and other Indian recipes by blending spices you may already have in your pantry. Whenever possible, grinding whole spices will yield the most flavorful, vibrant results. With fresh, fragrant garam masala on hand you can experiment by using it to season roast chicken, vegetables or even popcorn! Spice mixes also make wonderful teacher gifts, so consider making extra!

(Serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves

See all kids’ cooking camps & classes

You can also follow @alittleyum on Instagram for more fast and furious recipes!

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Uncategorized

Shortening Screen Time for the Summer

Image Courtesy of ShanghaiMama

School’s out, summer’s in! Now that your kids no longer have homework and after-school activities to keep them busy all day, they finally have time to relax and have some fun. 

However, their idea of a relaxing, fun time might just be staring at their laptop, phone, tablet, or TV all day. So how can you ensure that your kids have a balanced and productive summer without banning their electronic devices outright?

  • Set clear screen time limits in advance. Sit down with your children and have a clear discussion about reasonable time limits, purposes, and occasions for screen time. Perhaps you agree to put electronics away while in the car, or that they can only watch two hours of Netflix per day. Whatever you decide, make sure to write it down on paper and post your rules somewhere visible in your home so that everyone can be kept accountable. Your kids will be much more willing to comply to rules they agreed to in advance, than if you interrupt them in the middle of a video or game to tell them to turn their devices off. 
  • Keep them busy with summer camps and classes. Attending either a fun or academic summer camp for most of their day will definitely keep kids away from their cell phones! Most camps have a no-phone rule and full schedules to ensure that campers are occupied for the entire day. Furthermore, not only will your kids be keeping their brains and bodies active at camp, they’ll also have the opportunity to exercise their social skills while making friends and working in teams. You can find thousands of summer camp options on ActivityHero, as well as apply for scholarships to make camps more affordable this summer. 
  • Schedule screen-free family activities. If your children still can’t put their electronic devices down while they’re at home, try spending time with them by doing some hands-on activities. Driving to the beach, going for a hike, or even a day at your local amusement park will keep them focused on the present. If you don’t have hours to spare, there are still plenty of options right in your own neighborhood: cooking a meal or walking the dog together are easy tasks that will keep your kids engaged.
  • Make their screen time productive. Encourage your kids to do something creative with all the media they consume everyday. If they love to watch YouTube, help them get started on making their own videos. If they love to play video games, enroll them in coding classes so they can learn how to build their own. ActivityHero also offers a huge selection of fun tech-based classes including videography and animation – ask your children what they’re interested in to ensure that they’ll stay engaged and passionate about their new project.

At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. Screen time should be balanced with learning and play. Your kids will be kept busy, you can relax, and everyone will be satisfied with the way they spent their summer.

Categories
Camps Cooking Creative Arts Super Activities for Super Kids

Recipe Spotlight: Bliss Belly Kitchen

Neelam Patil’s Bliss Belly Kitchen takes a whole new approach to culinary skills. They not only offer eco-conscious and soul conscious cooking classes using farm fresh ingredients, but they also take the time out to use yoga and mindfulness to give children the best possible connection to themselves and to the land — the source of where their food comes from. At Bliss Belly Kitchen, a happy mind starts with a healthy belly.

bliss belly cooking camp
Culinary campers enjoying the summer @ Bliss Belly Kitchen

Here, Chef Neelam shares a simple, fresh salad to add to your warm summer days that is perfect for outdoor parties or indoor family dinners.

See camps & classes from Bliss Belly Kitchen >>

Yummy Strawberry Kale Salad

bliss belly kale salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup French Lentils
  • 1 bunch of Curly Green Leaf Kale
  • 1 cup Strawberries (or one Apple if fall, winter, or spring)
  • 2 Carrots
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp Organic Coconut Sugar
  • Salt, Black Pepper, & Oregano to taste

Recipe:

  1. Soak Lentils in water overnight
  2. Drain water from Lentils
  3. Boil Lentils in water; add Black Pepper and Oregano to taste
  4. Tear Kale into bite size pieces
  5. Shred Carrots with a grater
  6. Cut Strawberries into bite size pieces
  7. Pour Olive Oil and Lemon Juice onto the Kale
  8. Massage Kale until it is as soft as lettuce
  9. Add Cocount Sugar, Lentils, Strawberries, and Carrots to Kale
  10. Mix all ingredients together and serve.

See camps & classes from Bliss Belly Kitchen >>

See all kids’ cooking camps & classes >>

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Uncategorized

Top Winners of $14,000 Business Grant Contest for Children’s Camp and Class Providers






Today, ActivityHero shares the results of the 2019 Business Grant Contest. Over the past few months, thousands of families have voted and submitted reviews for their favorite children’s camp and class providers. Community support helped eight businesses become finalists, and a panel of judges selected the grand prize winner.

Contest finalists will each receive a $500 prize package from ActivityHero, 4imprint and Waiter.com. The Grand Prize consists of $10,000 in cash and services from our generous sponsors.

The Grant Contest judges were executives from eBay, Yelp, Farfaria and WeParent.app. One judge commented, “I was blown away by the range and heart of these camps and entrepreneurs. From glassblowing in Sarasota and sailing in the Virgin Islands, to a group for hemophilia in New England… these all look like amazing programs and make me want to spend my summer at camp!”

After much deliberation and careful scoring, the Grand Prize of $10,000 in cash and prizes was awarded to Camp Super Duper.

Camp Super Duper’s mission is to “create a warm, loving and supportive community that encourages and challenges kids to step out of their comfort zone and be the biggest, brightest, bravest, boldest, SHINIEST version of themselves.” With their prize, they plan to “use it to offer even more scholarship spots to kids in the community (and beyond) who can not afford it.”

Children play spirited sports games as part of their day at camp.


“Sup Dup is magic. It is a daily love letter to the quintessential childhood experience where kids are free to dream and get messy and be silly, where they are validated and encouraged and inspired,” one satisfied parent said in their review of their child’s experience at Camp Super Duper
. “The activities and classes are so unique and imaginative, planned by people whose brains still speak kid and are missing that grown-up impulse to nay-say.”

Peggy Chang, co-founder and CEO of ActivityHero, said “While the activities at kids’ camps and classes vary widely from academics to sports, they share a common vision of helping kids learn and grow. We at ActivityHero want to help all kids’ activity providers serve more families through our online marketplace, registration tools and business grants.”

The complete list of winners and finalists includes:

Valkyrie Robotics – Finalist
SeaTrek BVI – Finalist
Dikshaa Dance Academy – Finalist
Sarasota School of Glass – Finalist
RD Equine – Finalist
Young Intellects – Finalist
New England Hemophilia Association – Finalist
Camp Super Duper – Grand Prize Winner

About ActivityHero

ActivityHero.com is the leading online marketplace for camps, activities, after school classes, workshops, and kids’ nights out. More than 2.5 million families use ActivityHero to find and book kids’ activities from a wide variety of local providers. Providers can claim and customize their listing or upgrade to ActivityHero online registration tools at https://www.activityhero.com