Prepping for back-to-school means juggling after-school activities and loads more stuff. These 5 organization hacks will keep your family organized and ready for anything.
By Jillian Chamberlain
Where are my shin guards? Did you sign that permission slip? I can’t find my sheet music! When you’re trying to get kids out the door and to their after school activities, time is at a premium. Taking a few minutes now to modify your organization process can help streamline things when you’re in a rush. Here are some of our favorite ideas from parents and caregivers who’ve been there, organized that.
1. “Stuff Station” — The One Place to Keep Everything
There’s so much to keep track of during back-to-school season, it gets overwhelming. When school is back in session, so are all of those music lessons, soccer practices, and martial arts classes. As parents of active children, you are guaranteed to be dealing with more STUFF. How do you keep it all straight and teach your children to be responsible for their things on any given day? Keep it all in one place, and color-code it! Your kids’ activity station can come in many different shapes and forms, but here is one ‘stuff station’ idea we thought was appealing to the eye and highly functional. Check out this and more organization hacks from IAmNotTheBabysitter.com
2. There’s a Bag for That
Once you create a ‘stuff station’ for homework, permission slips and projects are sure to add a hook for an after-school activity drawstring bag. If you have a child with a lot of various interests, consider making an individual drawstring bag that is designated as the one place to keep any and all equipment for each sport or lesson. On Mondays and Wednesdays, your child knows to grab the yellow drawstring bag with their shin guards and cleats for soccer. On Thursday the red bag is ready at the door for martial arts. Momtastic.com has a great DIY tutorial for customizable drawstring bags. So simple!
3. Car Homework Station
Homework happens. If there’s one thing to dread with the start of the new school year, it’s the renewed battle over nightly homework assignments. Convincing kids to sit down and do their work is one of the hardest parts of a parent’s job. One way to get them excited about homework is a comfortable and creative space dedicated to them…even if that is in the car. Consider creating a homework station in the car so that your little ones can knock out some homework while you’re on the road.
4. After-School Snacks on the Go
Kids start school relatively early in the morning each day. That means a big gap between lunchtime and after-school snack time. Kids need to refuel, and every parent knows how difficult it can be dealing with cranky, “hangry” youngsters. StuffedSuitcase.com has made it easy to steer clear of junk foods and other unhealthy quick fixes by gathering some easy-to-assemble snacks to keep ready in the car. After-school snacks can be healthy, fun and mobile!
5. Organize Your After-School Schedule, Too!
ActivityHero can help you find local activities that work with your child’s calendar — and nurture his or her interests! Whether your child likes to dance, sports, outdoor recreation, music, or computers, ActivityHero makes browsing and registering easy.
Getting organized is about clearing the space and time for your family members to meet their needs and find focus, in whatever way works for you!
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.
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.
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 completewith 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.
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.
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
Marinate chicken in yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander powder, salt and chilli (if using). Marinate for a few hours or overnight.
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.
Add the chicken with the marinade along with the water or chicken stock. Stir and continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
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!
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.
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.
The Culinary Dude‘s goal is simple and meaningful: Empower students with the culinary skills to become self-sufficient, and to make healthy choices for themselves, their families, and their future. Here, owner and chef, Scott Davis, shares with us a fresh and simple recipe to try along with your kids – the perfect summer salad for the pool or on the beach!
From ‘MasterChef Junior’ to ‘Chopped Teens’, more kids than ever are learning to navigate their way around the kitchen. Cooking with kids not only teaches them a valuable life skill, but encourages them to use math and critical thinking skills, gets them trying new foods, and provides plenty of opportunities to talk about making healthy food choices.
Here’s a recipe from Stacie Dong and Simran Singh of A Little Yumminess that will get you cooking with kids and getting them to try a few new flavors.
By varying the basic theme of “rice with toppings,” you can take your family on a world tour: from New Orleans-style red beans and rice to Japanese donburi, Puerto Rican arroz con gandules (pigeon peas), Hawaiian loco moco, to Korean bibimbap.
Korean bibimbap, which means ‘mixed rice’, is one of our favorite global rice bowl variations. It’s a feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. Traditionally, it combines a variety of fresh and cooked seasoned vegetables, as well as small portions of marinated meat, egg, or tofu (sometimes all three). You can keep things simple by choosing just a few toppings, or go all out with six or seven. In any case, it’s always fun to use bibimbap as an opportunity to try out a new ingredient or flavor alongside more familiar ones.
Another reason we love bibimbap is because it’s a great example of the vivid flavor and color combinations you’ll find throughout Korean cuisine. In fact, a guiding principle of Korean cooking is to bring together five colors (red, yellow, white, green and black) and five flavors (sweet, spicy, salty, sour and bitter). Kids will love the chance to go on a culinary scavenger hunt, looking for these colors and flavors in their own unique bowls.
The best summertime activities help your kids beat the heat while having a blast. Here are 7 fun ideas to try out!
By Madison Lee
Everyone loves summer: clear blue skies, long days, and the sun shining brightly. But sometimes the heat is just too strong, and what would’ve been a beautiful day to go to the park turns out to be a sweaty, sitting-on-the-couch, blasting-the-air-conditioner kind of day.
On days like these, what’s better than keeping everyone cool and entertaining your kids at the same time? We found 7 fun ways to keep kids cool when summer heats up.
1. Make Creative, Wacky Popsicles
There’s nothing better than a cold popsicle on a super hot day. Instead of just freezing juice, test out these cool DIY popsicle recipes! This one from One Little Project is made of gummy bears and Sprite, and this ice cream popsicle bar from Jacquelyn Clark is perfect if you love cookies & cream. If you don’t have a popsicle mold, try out Got Chocolate’s chocolate covered frozen banana – it’ll be fun for kids to pick out their favorite toppings!
2. Play Water Balloon Baseball
If your kids want a game to play with their friends, this water balloon baseball from Overstuffed is the perfect solution. Fill up water balloons, grab a wiffle bat, and let the game begin! Kids will get splashed and have fun competing to see who can hit the most balloons. A modified version of this, if your kids aren’t baseball fans, would be to hang balloons with string and have the kids play piñata with water balloons.
3. Paint the Fence/Ground With Water
This is a mess free, cost free activity for the artist in your kids. You might have some old paint brushes and rollers lying around, and then all you need is a bucket of water! Happy Hooligans’ version suggests that kids try covering the entire fence before it all evaporates, or they can take a more creative approach with some pictures/words.
4. Cool Off in a Homemade Backyard “Kidwash”
Bless My Weed’s take on a traditional carwash might take a little more setup, but the result will be well worth it. Her backyard kidwash requires PVC pipes, sponges, and tarps. There’s room to be creative with setting it up, and your kids can help build it. This will definitely keep everyone cool!
5. Engineer a Water Wall
If your kids are crafty and like to design/build, this is the perfect summer activity!. Basically, you use zip ties to secure different items to a peg board, and pour water down your path. Teaching Mama made a pool noodle water wall, which is cool because you can race marbles down the noodles. You can also take inspiration from Things to Share and Remember’s recycled-objects water wall. Hers is made of tons of random old plastic containers you might have lying around. It’s totally hands on and there are no rules — just have fun with it!
6. Set Up Water Gun Races
This Grandma is Fun reinvents the classic squirt gun carnival game in her own backyard with these squirt gun races. All you have to do is hang 2 cups from string around your backyard; across the pool makes the race more challenging, and makes kids jump in the cold water. Kids can race each other pushing the cups all the way to the end of the course using only a water gun.
7. Play Angry Birds With Water Balloons
Kids love this popular app, and now they can play it in real life! No Time for Flashcards created this water balloon Angry Birds game with her son. It couldn’t be simpler: draw out some pigs in chalk, fill water balloons, use a sharpie to draw on angry bird faces, and fire away! This game will be entertaining and beat the heat for sure.
Need ideas for indoor summer camps to keep kids busy and cool? Shop ActivityHero to find camps near you now.
When kids start to express an interest in sports, it might be hard to know where to start. How do you know if your child is a Steph Curry or a Serena Williams?
Here’s some ways you can help kids find the right sport for them.
1. Child’s activity level
Is your child constantly running about and complaining of boredom? Or do they prefer to spend their free time doing low impact activities like reading?
If you have a high-energy child, consider a fast-paced sport such as soccer, football, or basketball. If they are less interested in contact sports, your child may like individual sports such as golf, tennis or swimming.
2. Consider physical traits
Although many teams need a variety of different players, take into account your child’s stature and what activity may best suit them. Children that are taller and broader might make better football players while those that are shorter and more slender would be great runners.
But don’t let your child’s physical traits limit them from their passions—the only limitations are the ones set in the mind.
3. Check out the coaches
A passion for a sport can fizzle out due to an ill-prepared or off-putting coach.
Some things to look for in a good coach are encouragement, knowledge of the game, and approachability. A good coach is passionate about the sport and dedicated to helping kids do their absolute best. Check out the 10 qualities to look for in a good coach.
Observe the children on the team—are they smiling? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves?
Feel free to ask the coach as many questions as time allows, if they are truly committed to their job they’ll gladly give you feedback.
4. Individual vs. group
Does your child perform better in individual or group situations?
Some kids work better on a team and find it to be less pressure than individual sports where they are competing one-on-one. Some might find the opposite to be true.
If your child is more independent, consider sports like tennis or martial arts where kids compete one-on-one.
5. Widen your options
Try to introduce as many sports to your child as possible so they can see what interests them and what comes naturally.
Kids will have more trouble sticking with a sport if their minds wander to something they’ve never experienced.
Practicing different sports with your child will help open their eyes to their talents and skills. Pay attention to your child’s attitude during each sport and ask them how they feel after playing.
6. What sports does your child like watching?
Some kids can sit through an entire baseball game, excited from beginning to end, while others would rather flip the channel. Chances are if your child can watch an entire sports game from beginning to end they may have an interest in playing it.
Try to introduce your kids to as many sports games on TV as possible and take note of which ones grab their attention. Ask your child what they like about the game and if they can picture themselves playing the same game.
7. Consider costs
Before your child decides to be a star quarterback or a gymnast, do a little research on the costs of the sport.
Things like tennis rackets, soccer cleats, and leotards can be more expensive than you’d think. If your child is eager to start an expensive sport, be sure you have a solid commitment before making expensive purchases.
Some kids can find it especially tough to deal with loss in a team setting where there is a shared responsibility for success. Other kids might not struggle as much with this scenario. On the other hand, one-on-one sports like tennis or golf deal with facing personal loss. Know which types of challenges your child can handle.
Either way, it’s important to teach your child that winning isn’t everything. Playing to the best of their ability, not holding a trophy, should make them feel successful.
Encouraging kids to think like entrepreneurs teaches them long-lasting lessons about the value of hard work, careful planning, and creativity.
By Melanie Hargrave
We all remember sitting at the end of our driveways at a table, a pitcher of lemonade waiting expectantly, with a big cardboard sign announcing our 25-cent cups of refreshment. Most likely, that lemonade stand came out once or twice a year over summer break as a fun way for mom to get you out of the house and for you to make some money for candy.
But what if you wanted to make money more permanently?
Teaching kids the value of money is an important life lesson that too many parents delay. While children are often given an allowance of some kind, most kids and even young adults grow up with very little concept of business skills.
Rather than waiting until your kids are out of the house to teach them about getting a job, you can encourage them to handle money responsibly, work hard, and develop their creativity by starting their own business now. It’s an important life lesson: hard work and dedication pays off!
And although the lemonade stand is a classic fall back, here are 6 other business ideas your kid might like to try his or her hand at.
Starting a dog-walking business can be a very lucrative endeavor—even for adults! Since many families are out of the house all day at work or school, their pets are often left home all day in need of exercise and relief.
Help your child organize a service by contacting neighbors and friends. With Facebook and other social media outlets, it is even easier to find people who may need a dog walker. You can even set up a blog or website for local families to find the business and contact you (or your child) about hiring him/her.
2. Selling Crafts
Does your child have a talent or passion for crafting? Show them that this talent can be more than just a hobby by selling his or her crafts. Show them how to set up an account on an e-commerce site like Etsy or help them contact local businesses and boutiques that might be interested in selling them at their shop. From homemade slime to beaded jewelry, there is a market for just about anything.
3. Doing Yard Work
Doing yard work doesn’t have to be a chore. Many homeowners are more than willing to hire a young entrepreneur to mow their lawns, pull weeds, and do other similar tasks. They can enjoy paying a lower price for good work and your child will get a pretty penny for their efforts. If you take time to send out seasonal flyers and business cards, your kid can develop a small side business into quite a lucrative empire.
Babysitting is another classic go-to, but is no less viable an option. Depending on the age of your kid, they can work as mother’s helpers or independent nannies. Help them set prices and rates for services and sweeten the deal with CPR certification. If they set competitive rates, your son or daughter may have parents banging down your door for their services. Experienced babysitters can organize a half-day or full-day summer camp for neighborhood kids by combining activities such as arts & crafts, sports or baking.
5. Tutoring Younger Students
Professional tutors can cost parents an arm and a leg. However, if your child is particularly gifted at a subject like math or writing, he or she could easily start a tutoring business for younger students. Their rates will obviously be dramatically lower than professional prices (which can be as high as $60/hr.—yikes!) but still a great income for a kid.
Writing on a blog is a great outlet for kids to make some money. If they need some inspiration, help them find a topic they enjoy and show them how to set up a blog and optimize their posts. Once they have some regular content up, they can monetize their blog through Google and other online ad services fairly simply. This is probably a good business venture for middle school or high school kids, but any age can have fun with this side project.
Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose pride and joy is her family. In addition to spending time with her husband and daughters, she loves writing about a variety of topics from business to home improvement, and finds inspiration from success stories like that of Rick Schaden.
With so many choices available, how do you find a summer camp that fits your family’s style? Here are key questions to ask when starting your search.
By Wendy Chou
Some parents see summer vacation as a chance to try new skills and challenges, and some would rather that their kids unplug and unwind from the pressures of the school year. Whether you are researching camps for the first time or looking for some refresher tips, these simple questions may come in handy when considering a camp for your child.
What is the ratio of campers to staff?
Is the program staff composed of college students, more experienced teachers, or a mix?
Do students roam independently or stick closely with one counselor throughout the day?
Does the camp offer more free time or more structure?
Is the focus on learning, on fun, or on a combination?
Do campers tend to return year after year?
What sets it apart from similar camps in the area?
Does the camp cover gap subjects (ones that your child sees less of during the school year)?
Special Features and Accommodations
For skill-based camps (for instance, coding or sports camps), how do you accommodate different ages or abilities?
How would staff try to accommodate the needs of my introverted camper, or my spirited camper?
If needed, is before or after care available (if so, how does it differ from the main day’s activities?)
Are transportation options (e.g., bussing) available?
A Camp Director’s Perspective
Parents should feel free to call or e-mail camp directors “if they want to know more,” recommends Rory Judge, who has 40 years’ experience with the Bay Area’s Adventure Camps. Chatting with parents one-on-one about their summer camp questions is the perfect way to help “even the most nervous first-time parents warm up to camp,” Judge explains. For starters, he likes to find out a prospective camper’s age, how much camp experience they already have, and what school they attend. With websites, reviews, and other online tools becoming more popular, Judge finds that parents today seem comfortable doing their own research online in lieu of calling in.
Whether you like to gather information online or talk to camp staff, keeping these questions in mind can help you narrow down the field of camps that really fit your family’s style. And to easily find camps that match your child’s age, interest and available dates, check out the search tools on ActivityHero. You’ll find reviews from parents and can book your camps with one convenient registration form.
Columbus Day & Indigenous People’s Day is coming up and you know what that means… kids have a long weekend and are looking for something to do! Skip the TV and the mall this year and give them a new and exciting experience. From sports to coding, there are many school holiday camps for your kids in the San Francisco area.
In San Francisco: Adventure Camps is a unique mobile day camp for children for kids 4 years and older. For over 45 years, the Adventure Camp staff takes kids on a different adventure each day to create a fun, learning experience. View Adventure Camp Columbus Day schedule for more information and pickup spots.
In Alameda: Bladium, the sports complex in Alameda, offers a day camp and specialty sports camps for Columbus Day and other school holidays. Children can experience a wide variety of games and activities: Rock Climbing, Basketball, Dodgeball, Karaoke, Kickball, Arts and Crafts, Laser Tag, Cheerleading, Soccer, Lego®. Ages 5-14. See schedule for Columbus Day camps.
AYSO Soccer Camps
In San Mateo, Foster City and other locations: AYSO Soccer Camps have full day and half day camps to keep kids active and practice soccer skills. Different programs for different ages and soccer abilities. See locations and Columbus Day camp schedule. Also full week camps.
In San Francisco and San Mateo: Tech Rocks reinforces kids’ technology skills and extends their digital knowledge in a full-day format. Kids learn multimedia, game design, web development and app development as well as basic computing skills. See the schedule for October school holidays camps.
CD’s Kids Art Studio
In San Jose: Kids use different art mediums to express their unique creativity. Paper mache’ animals, glass mosaic stepping stones, fused glass art, woodwork, and painting are some of the kids’ favorite projects. Open for San Jose school breaks and holidays.
Discover summer camp options (and alternatives) that are perfect for teenagers. From sports camps to robot camps, volunteering to leadership training, there’s lots to consider! Here, tips to make an amazing summer for your teen.
By Sarah Antrim
The transition from childhood into the teenage years presents a lot of changes–changing bodies, attitudes, and of course, changing interests.
Things that your kids might have found interesting before are no longer “cool” to teenagers which may leave parents at a loss as to how to fill up their teens’ free time, especially during the summer.
So how do you find productive activities for teens during the summer?
1. Explore Summer Day Camps for Teens
Many camps have been designed specifically with teens in mind. Below are just a few selections which have multiple locations across the U.S.
One of the most popular option for summer camps for teens is a counselor-in-training (CIT) or leader-in-training (LIT) program. Many camps offer these training programs to teens as an unpaid position or at a low fee to parents, sort of like an apprenticeship or internship on the road to becoming a camp counselor. Best of all, once they finish the required training, your teenager will have a job opportunity lined up for them!
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!
Books About Favorite Holidays From Around the World
Let’s Celebrate Diwali
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.
Amma, Tell Me About Holi!
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.
Oskar and the Eight Blessings
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.
Under the Ramadan Moon
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 Dead
Brightly colored illustrations and detailed descriptions draw the reader into the preparations, foods, and celebration of the Day of the Dead.
The Egg Tree
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.
Marco’s Cinco de Mayo
Narrated from the perspective of a young dancer in a Cinco de Mayo parade, this book brings the holiday and its history to life.
Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
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 Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration
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
An App About Favorite Holidays From Around the World
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.
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.
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
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
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.
The Gift of the Magi
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.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
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”!
Frosty the Snowman
This holiday favorite tells the story of Frosty, a snowman that magically comes to life on Christmas Eve.
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
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 Town
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!
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Christmas Eve visits from three ghosts persuade miserly Mr. Scrooge to change his ways. Always a classic to watch during the holiday season.
It’s a Wonderful Life
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.
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.
Arthur’s Perfect Christmas
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.
Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, and the Smurfs celebrate Christmas in this fun and nostalgic collection of cartoons.
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!
Olive, The Other Reindeer
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Wild Kratts: A Creature Christmas
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.