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Parenting Resources Science Science/Technology Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms Vacations

5 Kid-Friendly Podcasts for Road Trips

happy child on a road trip

Planning a summer road trip? These 5 podcasts can help keep curious kids entertained.

By Wendy Chou

Your bags are packed, the kids are strapped in, and you’ve hit the open road. As parents, we know all too well that having the right entertainment for a long car trip can make the difference between happy kids and hysterical ones. Whereas we used to have to spin the radio dial or organize our CD collections, smartphones can now fit hours of audio right in the palm of your hand. Podcasts just may be the best thing to happen to road trips since the cup holder. Best of all, more podcasts have come out that especially appeal to kids by offering engaging–and even educational–content. With topics ranging from self-empowerment to science, even adults might learn a thing or two while listening!

Start by Creating a Playlist

If you’re new to podcasts, you’ll need to use a podcast app to help you search for podcasts. Some popular podcast apps (also called Podcatchers) are Apple Podcasts and Instacast (both compatible with iOS), PocketCast (for Google Play, Android phones), and Stitcher (supports both platforms)

Now download your podcast to a smartphone or iPad. Both audio and video podcasts exist depending on your style.  

Download away! If you like a particular program, browse the archives and grab as many episodes as you want. They’re generally free. The only thing limiting you will be the amount of memory on your device.

A Few Caveats

Podcasts are free to listeners because they have regular sponsors who run advertisements. These ads can be off-putting to some. Another drawback to playing lots of podcasts is the danger of running down a phone battery, though with audio podcasts, this generally isn’t a big concern. If you’re worried, pack a spare source of power or plug into your car’s power source.

If you’re used to high-quality stereo sound, consider connecting your phone to an auxiliary input headphone jack, or (if available) even using a car’s Bluetooth capability to play your phone directly through your car’s speakers.

Make sure that you set up a playlist before you turn on the engine. To prevent dangerous distracted driving, only manipulate phones and other devices when you can do so safely!  

5 Recommended Podcasts for Kids

Slip on some headphones and test-drive these kid-approved audio podcasts.

Brains On! 

In every science-filled episode, host Molly Bloom is joined by a different kid co-host who helps interview scientists and field questions from kids across the country. It’s anything but textbook fare; there’s a good dose of silliness and fun. Recent topics have included the science of cooking, how paint sticks to things, and what causes allergies. My six-year-old loves to try to identify the “Mystery Sound” (stumpers submitted by kids across the country). Probably good for ages 6 – 13.

Dream Big 

Hosted by Eva Karpman, current 2nd-grader, who brings refreshing energy and positivity to the show. Eva is also accompanied by her mom, Olga, while interviewing special guests–astronauts, entrepreneurs, artists, authors, and more–and learning about their passions and their life journeys. The message of the show: follow your dreams and do what inspires you. Suitable for all ages.

Pants on Fire

If you like a game show format, try this. Kids try to figure out which adult is truly an expert and which adult is only pretending. Hosted by Debra Goldstein and a sidekick “robot”, there’s quite a bit of musical and sound accompaniment throughout to keep kids interested. The topics are very wide-ranging with something to appeal to everyone. As a concept, it’s smart, creative, and smoothly executed. Probably best for ages 6 – 11.

The Story Pirates

Welcome to storytelling with a zany vibe. The “pirates” are actually actors, comedians, improvisers, and musicians who share a lot of enthusiasm and humor. The stories they tell are written by actual kids who also get a moment in the show to talk about themselves. This is great catchy fun for any age (my kid was hooked after one episode), though if you’re looking for something more educational, there are others more suited to that.

Book Club for Kids 

This new addition to the podcast scene amassed a listenership of 300,000 kids in 2017. The format: a rotating panel of middle-schoolers chats with host Kitty Felde about fiction and non-fiction books. Their conversations encourage introspection, touch on current events, spark the imagination, and more. Each episode also features a celebrity guest reader. This podcast will appeal to older elementary school kids and middle graders who love to read; the website also has a list of books recommended by peers.

 

 

Need more ideas for your curious kid?  Here’s more great podcasts to try: Wow in the World, Pickle, ExtraBLURT, But Why, Ear Snacks, Smash Boom Best, Tumble. And also head over to our blog post on tips for screen-free travel with kids. Happy travels!

Looking for summer activities and camps? Activityhero.com is your all-in-one destination for updated schedules, parent reviews, and registration options.

About Wendy Chou

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

Categories
Parenting Resources

10 Things to Do on Memorial Day with Kids

memorial day for kids
Photo by Flickr user DooleyPhoto

Memorial Day weekend is often regarded as being the unofficial beginning of summer—the local pool and beaches are open, the ice cream truck pays a visit, and kids get an extra day off of school.

It often slips our minds to remember what Memorial Day is really about; it is a day to remember the fallen heroes of war. As grim as it may sound for a young child, they must learn and appreciate the risk that our servicemen take to protect their freedom.

Here are a few things to do on Memorial Day to get kids involved in the holiday.

1. Make a Care Package for “Adopt a Platoon”

Founded in 1998, the Adopt a Platoon program strives to improve the quality of life for deployed service members by ensuring they are not forgotten by their country.

Kids can express their gratitude for our servicemen away from home by putting together a care package or sending cards and letters. Some of the most highly anticipated treats are hard candy that can withstand extreme heat, powdered drink mixes, air fresheners, small pillows with pillow cases, playing cards, small hand-held fans and disposable cameras. Your child can put together a thoughtful package and include a personal drawing or letter thanking the platoon for their dedicated service.

Check out adopt a platoon for more details & guidelines on how to get involved.

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2. Make a Patriotic Wreath of 5-pointed Stars

According to USHistory.org, George Washington’s original sketch for the American flag contained 6-pointed stars for each of the 13 colonies. However, Betsy Ross, who stitched the first American flag in 1776, suggested that each star have five points after demonstrating that it could easily be made in one snip by folding the fabric just right.

Grab about a dozen sheets of red, white and blue construction paper and follow the instructions to snip your own stars at USHistory.org. Visit your local craft store to purchase a Styrofoam wreath ring and cocktail toothpicks with red, white and blue tips. Use the toothpicks to stick the stars into the wreath and hang it proudly upon your door.

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3. Pay Homage to Your local Veteran’s Hospital or Retired Veteran’s Home

No matter what age, a veteran always appreciates a word of thanks for their service.

Some wounded soldiers may not have the opportunity to interact with the public often because of injuries or disabilities. Take your child to a veteran’s home or hospital and encourage them to shake hands and thank the residents. If they feel comfortable enough, they can even ask questions and learn a thing or two about the retired servicemen and their duties.

If you are unsure of the nearest veteran’s hospital or looking for another way to get involved, contact AMVETS to see what sort of assistance you can provide to help veterans in your area.

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4. Volunteer with Your Local USO Center

The USO provides veterans and their families with great programs such as “United Through Reading” which allows deployed parents to record a bedtime story onto a DVD for their children.

The USO is always accepting donations of your time or monetary value. Services and opportunities vary by center and some USO centers have a minimum age requirement of 18 years of age to volunteer so be sure to contact your local center beforehand.

If you are unable to make it to a center, kids can also volunteer virtually by sending a personal instant message to the family of a veteran at JoiningForces.uso.org.

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5. Suggest Your School Participates in the “Take a Veteran to School Day”

Developed by the History Channel, “Take a Veteran to School Day” encourages kids to learn more about the different branches of the military and what service members do when they are deployed. Veterans are asked to visit the school and given an assembly where they are asked questions about their service and often given a token of thanks such as a flower or thank you note from each student.

To learn more and see step-by-step instructions of how to get involved in this program, visit history.com.

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6.  Visit Your Local American Legion or VFW Post

A regular hangout for many veterans, the VFW and American Legion posts are open to the public. Many local posts have special events for Memorial Day such as picnics or pancake breakfasts.

Contact your local VFW or American Legion to see what sorts of events they have planned for the holiday weekend and encourage your kids to interact with veterans in their area.

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7.  Get Involved with Your Community’s Memorial Day Parade

Most communities have parades for Memorial Day that include participants from local schools, retired veterans, and village board members.

Visit your village hall to inquire about any help needed to participate in the parade. Your child will feel honored to march alongside his community. If the parade is not in need of volunteers, be sure to attend the event with your child. Ask your child which of the uniformed  service members he recognizes and which are new to him.

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8.  Learn to Distinguish the Different Military Uniforms with Coloring Pages

Can your child spot the differences between deep blue Marine Corps dress blues and the green camouflage battle uniform of the Armed Forces?

Visit PatriotColoringPages.com for fun coloring pages all about Memorial Day and Military service uniforms. Visit Military.com’s Guide to Uniforms to find correct coloring and facts about the different uniforms of the military.

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9.  Bake and Decorate American Flag Cookies

Although it would take a pretty big cookie to make an accurate representation of the American flag of today, that’s not to say that baking cookies can’t be educational.

Follow the Taste of Home’s recipe for flag sugar cookies.  Assign your child small baking tasks such as measuring the dry ingredients and rolling out the cookie dough. While the dough is chilling in the fridge, educate your child on the history of the American flag. Show your child the evolution of the flag and what each aspect of the flag means.

For a complete timeline of the flag, visit USHistory.org. When the cookies are finished baking, encourage your child to be creative and attempt to replicate some of the flags from the timeline.

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10.  Decorate the Memorial of a Fallen Service Member with Flowers or Cards

Most states have established cemeteries reserved for veterans. Many are regularly open to the public for visitation. Have your child pick some flowers and decorate a thank you card for a veteran.

Explain to your child the importance of sacrifice and courage that military members exhibit on a daily basis. Visit cem.va.gov for a complete listing of veteran’s cemeteries and contact information.

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Written by Sarah Antrim

Photo by Flickr user DooleyPhoto

Categories
After-School Activities

Academic Director Diaries: Silver Creek Academy

As the winner of Bay Area Parent magazine’s Family Favorite award for two years in a row, Silver Creek Academy encourages children to think both critically and creatively. With academic courses geared toward small group focuses and teaching students to communicate effectively, Silver Creek produces confident, academically excellent children. Activity Hero recently spoke to Lori Jenkins of Silver Creek, and got some answers to essential questions parents may have.

Q: Tell us more about your class philosophy.

A: Milpitas provides individualized assistance in a small group setting which allows children to feel comfortable and safe while taking risks and learning new concepts, strategies and skills they might not otherwise be willing to learn while being graded.

Q: What surprises/delights the kids most about your class?

A: We really ARE nice and do care about every single child that walks through the door.

Q: What’s your happiest/proudest moment as a teacher?

A:  Receiving compliments and comments from gracious students and parents are my happiest moments.

Q: Is there something students are usually afraid of?

A: Students are timid to tell about their most embarrassing moment in the Public Speaking class.  Eventually they do and everyone has a great laugh!

Q: Which student milestone do you look forward to?

A: I love when the students begin to trust in me as the teacher and take risks.  They enjoy trying problems on their own first before asking for help.  It is so rewarding to see them work independently!  Thinking critically is a skill that has fallen through the cracks.

Q: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

A: Committed, responsible, kind

Q: What have parents told you, about your class, as something they never expected?

A: A child with speech problems willingly gave a speech in an effort to run for student office after completing our Public Speaking course.

Q: What have parents told you, about your class, that you never expected to hear (it surprised you to hear it)?

A: The classes are “fun!”

Q: What is one important question that parents should ask you before joining this kind of class?

A:  Parents should ask if their child may move to a class that is not in the child’s current grade level.  We strive to meet the needs of each child.  If the child is in fourth grade, but struggling in writing, it is OK to ask that the child be placed in a third grade class.  The same is true for students that are excelling.

Q: What is the one thing that kids can only do in your class and not anywhere else you know of?

A: Take risks and know that they won’t ‘fail’ for doing so.

Q: A tip or technique or any other useful bit information for students/parents?

A: Read to your child, they are never too old to be read to.

You can find out more about Silver Creek Academy by calling them and arranging a tour of either their San Jose or Milpitas campuses. They offer engaging and results-producing classes both during the school year and over the summer.