Summer Travel & Creativity

Summer time is all about having fun! Sometimes the fun happens while traveling and going on great adventures, while other times the fun happens right at home using creativity. Here is a round up of some delightfully fun and functional items that are ideal for families’ summer activities and vacations.

TRAVEL

SuperMe Backpacks   hoodie_banner

What kid doesn’t love to be a superhero? I thought boys were the only ones that were into it, but my four year old daughter has started embracing the superhero role! It is so cute to see a child grab acapebanner blanket and ask you to make a cape, although this is not something that can be easily worn to school or any other outing. SuperMe is a collection of superhero-inspired products that combine functionality and fun with backpacks, lunch boxes, masks and pouches. They have cape and hoodie backpacks that are awesome. They are made out of high quality, durable, water-resistant, naturally insulating EVA. The hoodie backpacks are loaded with every feature a kid could ever need (MP3 pocket with cord hole, inner sleeve for a laptop or tablet, snack pocket, reflective buckles for safety, adjustable chest strap for weight distribution, plastic pocket for name tag) and a super convenient rain hood that stows away into its own pocket. The cape backpack doesn’t have as many pockets, but it is still totally fun and comes with a matching mask to complete any superhero look! This line of gear is so creative and taps into the superhero mentality of all little ones, both boys and girls, with great color and pattern options (solid, camo, zebra). Backpacks from $39.90 at www.supermehero.com.

safetytatSafetyTat

SafetyTat is a wonderful safety tool that any family with young children needs. They are fun and functional temporary tattoos that detail emergency info.  SafetyTats read ‘If Lost, Please Call’ and list a parent or guardian’s mobile phone number. Designed to be worn on a child’s arm or hand, SafetyTats are easy to apply and are perfect for amusement parks, water parks, shopping at a crowded mall, or even while traveling through a busy airport. It is a great solution for small children that cannot carry around an ID card and cannot remember this important information. www.SafetyTat.com

CARES Child Aviation Restraint SystemCARES Child Aviation Restraint System

Between diaper bags and strollers, traveling with young children is anything but easy, especially when trying to pack light for plane rides. This innovative solution allows parents to check their bulky car seat for a safer – and smaller – option. CARES Child Aviation Restraint System is a quick and easy harness designed specifically for young children while flying. The belt-and-buckle device works in conjunction with standard airplane seatbelt, and is the only alternative to a car seat approved by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). What’s more, CARES only weighs one pound and fits into a six-inch stuff sack, which can easily slip into a purse or carry-on. $74.95 at www.kidsflysafe.com

mobile-clean-and-goMobile Clean & Go

With all the time you spend in the car or airplane, kids are sure to spend plenty of time on your smart phone or tablet. And what child doesn’t feel the need to snack the whole time they are traveling? Their sticky little fingers can leave smudges galore all over your mobile devices. Mobile Clean & Go is a fabulous, safe mobile device cleaner that is pocket sized and does not create any trash (like disposable wipes). It features a compact, flat bottle and a microfiber cleaning cloth, which is smaller than a smart phone. It is TSA approved for air travel and fits easily in any purse or diaper bag. It is insanely effective on all kinds of filth and I love how smooth and clean it makes your device feel. It does not leave any streaks or residue and it dries almost instantly. Mobile Clean & Go starter kits cost $12.99 and value packs cost $19.99 at www.mobilecleanandgo.com.

finders key purseFinders Key Purse

Say it fast, Finders Key Purse–sounds like “finders keepers”! Clever! Our purses and diaper bags always seem to get stuffed with too much stuff and unorganized, no matter how hard you try to keep it clean. When you are traveling it is even worse because your whole life is on the go. Keys fall victim to the lack of organization by being tossed into the great unknown inside. Then when the time comes to find your keys…good luck. Finder Key Purse is a nifty little hook that attaches to any kind of bag or purse with a snap on the end for your keys. Just hang your keys over an edge on your bag and you will always be able to find them. They have over 100 designs so you can easily find you like or that matches your bag. From $5.95 at www.isntthisclever.com.

ATMpacks-kids luggageATM Packs

Kids love having their own adult-like items and luggage is definitely one of those things. Every time we pack up for a trip my girls fight over pulling around the suitcase. Even my 1 year old wants to drag it around! Kids luggage is so nice to have when you vacation with your children. It is great to keep their clothing together and organized in one place and even more importantly, it helps them get excited about the packing process! Kids luggage is usually cute, but ATM Packs cool new collection is the most adorable we have seen for little travelers. It calls upon Spanish culture coupled with colorful, creative designs. Kids will have fun expressing their creative side and learning about Spanish artwork and themes with the new HALBLANDO SOLA collection consisting of school supplies, accessories, luggage, umbrellas and more.  The darling little girl adorned with patches from her worldly travels is too cute. The 24” rolling hard sided suitcase features 360 degree wheels and a retractable handle. From $13-$149 at www.atmpacks.com.

CREATIVITY

rolli stampsRolli Stamps

Art projects are always fun with stamps and every child I know loves stamping. But with stamping comes multiple pieces to keep organized, stamp pads to keep lids on and fingers to keep out of the stamp pads and off furniture. Rolli stamps are a great product for crafty families. These dynamic little rollers can create up to 100ft of continuous fun and creative patterns and colors on almost any surface. Rolli™ is a patented system with no messy ink pad, making it ideal for little kids. Just take off the lid and you are ready to go stamping. Warning: your child might become obsessed with the rolling action and stamp everything in sight! These are just too fun! With patterns ranging from shoes, French bulldogs, hearts and lace, to unique house designs, to tumbling hedgehogs and playful pugs, anyone can find the perfect Rolli™ stamp for their upcoming project or personal use. $11.99 at www.funnybonetoys.com.

fodeezFodeez

All the time spent at home over summer break usually means a lot of artwork is created by your little ones. And, summer may mean no school, but it doesn’t mean you can’t practice some school work, like writing! Displaying kids’ artwork can be tricky for parents who don’t want to resort to magnets, tape, pushpins or clunky frames. Fodeez Frames is a line of reusable picture frames and dry erase boards in one. This new type of “skin” can stick to any smooth surface (refrigerator, cabinet, laptop, locker, walls, desks, windows, etc.), allows you to change the image you display and can be reused hundreds of times. Fodeez’s utilize a clear film to protect photos, which are also dry marker friendly. We love to use Fodeez as a dry erase board! We create letter-writing activities with them for our preschooler to practice her letters (something she enjoys doing). We simply use a piece of paper to create the activity, slide it under the Fodeez frame and stick it to her desk. It really is limited to just what you can come up with to put on paper! Fodeez also has a calendar. It really is a wonderful solution for many different things in a busy family’s life. From $3.49 at www.fodeez.com.

lumi doughLumi Dough

Kids love Play Doh. I love almost everything about Play Doh—the creativity, the colors, the imagination, the get-your-hands-in-something and all the fun tools you can play with it. I do not, however, like the crumbly mess it leaves all over the place and I do not like how it dries up or when it gets really tough for little hands to mold. I found an incredible alternative to Play Doh, that solves both of my dislikes and has a few added features that kids enjoy. Lumi Dough is new moldable dough that glows in the dark ! The unique silicon material stretches like rubber but molds like clay without leaving a mess, mark or ever drying out. You can bake your creations to create a permanent piece of art. It is so much fun to play with and my kids are obsessed with it. My oldest daughter made a blue bunny and stuck it on the bunk bed above her so it glows with her every night. It hasn’t dried out or fallen off, and we had no problem removing the alien buddy that she made before. If your kids love Play-Doh but you just don’t like to have it in your house, Lumi-Dough is absolutely for you! You can buy it for $19.99 at www.lumidough.com.

7 Tips for Keeping Students’ Minds Sharp This Summer

7 Tips for Keeping Students’ Minds Sharp This Summer

By Monica Patel, Implementation Strategist, Suntex International Inc.

games for kidsChildren love summer—mostly because it’s a break from school—but that doesn’t mean learning should come to a halt. ‘Summer Slide’ is a phenomenon where skills that have been acquired during the school year start to slip away due to lack of practice. Yet, summer presents some of the best times for practical math lessons. Here are some ideas for keeping students’ minds as active as their bodies this summer:

Transform Routine Activities into Mini Math Lessons. Teach your children the practical side of math by incorporating it into your routine activities, giving it an outside-of-the-classroom appeal. Try giving the kids a budget for grocery shopping, letting them keep track of the cost of items as you add them to the cart. Determine the total amount you’ve spent and how much money you have left over. Depending on their age and ability, you can ask them to multiply your state’s tax percentage and add to the total. Be sure to check their answers with your check-out receipt.

games for kidsUse Math on Your Road Trip. Taking a family road-trip presents dozens of opportunities for children to keep their minds active. At the most basic level, ask your child to count the number of white or black cars they see, or keep track of the number of billboards you pass. Let more advanced children assist with the road-trip budget, calculating how much is spent on gas, food and fun family activities. Try adding all the numbers on other cars’ license plates.  With older children, you can list the operations, such as “add the first two numbers, multiply the result by the next number, and subtract the last number.”

Give Them Instant Feedback. Instant feedback is proven to be a critical part of any math learning experience. When kids sit down to complete a summer math worksheet or go through a stack of flashcards, you have the opportunity to give them instant feedback on what they are doing correctly, and to praise them for successfully completing the task at hand.

Provide Summer Reading. Reading has always been associated with a pleasurable summer activity and even symbolizes relaxation. There are a number of exciting books that correlate with mathematical topics for all ages. If your pre-teen needs to work on area and perimeter, Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone: A Math Adventure, would be one among numerous good reads. For younger readers, Even Steven and Odd Todd or How Much is a Million? are great for number sense story-based activities, as are other books that should be listed by your local library under ‘math activities’.  This approach can help to alleviate ‘math phobias’ that prevent children from enjoying a core life skill.

Use Deep Practice Methods. According to Daniel Coyle’s book, The Talent Code, breaking a complex skill—like mathematics—into manageable pieces, and mastering the individual pieces through trial and error, error correction and focused repetition facilitates math processing speed and strength. Enabling children to use deep practice tactics with math-oriented computer programs, lets trial and error and instant feedback push math skills along.

Bring Math to the Pool. If you dread the 15-minute lifeguard break at the community pool, use the time to practice math instead. Fill the sit-around time with math problems to help the time fly. A few ideas for ‘pool problems’:

  • If you and your friend each swam 2 laps in the three pools here, how many laps in all would that equal?
  • Estimate how many kids are waiting for the lifeguard to blow his whistle?
  • If it is 12:02pm now and the lifeguard will let us back into the pool at 12:15pm, how many minutes do we have left?
  • If each lap is 50 yards, how many laps would you need to swim to go 200 yards? How about 500 yards?

Whichever kid answers the most questions right gets to jump back into the pool first or earns a treat. Watch other parents gather around you!

Track Summer Activities. Encourage your child to keep a log of what they do this summer, and at the end of each week, turn the information from the log into a colorful graph or chart displaying how they spent their time. For example, if they complete their chores each morning, they can put a tally mark in the chores box. If they complete a bike ride, a check goes in the ‘road bike’ box. By the end of the summer, their activities can be made into a lesson in tally marks, counting, graphs and charts—and even percentages for more advanced kids. Remember, the human brain is a small organ that will only invest effort and energy into a task where it sees immediate results. Visuals like graphs reinforce the results of their efforts.

The activities suggested above are targeted to 1-5th grade students. Growing up, you may have experienced that learning math was drab and dreary, but with these fun math-centered activities, your child will learn to enjoy math. Math, science and technology-related fields are where the jobs will be in the future for today’s children. So helping to give your children a positive attitude about math is one of the best gifts you can give them this summer.

Check out this fun game your kids can play:

How to play:

There are three levels of difficulty indicated by dots in the corner of the cards—1 Dot cards are easy, 2 Dot cards are medium and 3 Dot cards are tough. The object of the game is to make the number 24 using all four numbers on the card. You can add, subtract, multiply or divide. Each number can only be used once and there is at least one solution to each card. 

EXAMPLE

One solution for a 1 Dot card with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 on it would be:

2          x          4          =          8

3          ÷          1          =          3

3          x          8          =          24



About Monica Patel:
Monica Patel is an Implementation Strategist for Suntex International Inc., makers of the First in Math game series, a tool designed to make math appealing and accessible to children, teachers and parents nationwide. Patel comes from a rich background in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis. She is a parent advocate for Autism and devotes much of her time to helping children succeed at mathematics.

 

Summer Safety for Teen Travel

Make Sure Your Teen Travels Safely

travel safetyWhether you are sending your child to a traditional overnight camp, on a school field trip or half way around the world, safety is always paramount in a parent’s mind.  For 20 years a Chicago-based service adventure travel company called The Road Less Traveled has been providing teens and young adults the chance to embark upon unique, life-changing experiences in some of the world’s most incredible locations. Whether participants are hiking the Andes Mountains in Ecuador or scuba diving and replanting underwater reefs in the Florida Keys, the programs’ first priority is always safety.

To ensure the best and safest journey possible, here are some safety tips for teens and parents from the staff of The Road Less Traveled:

For Parents…

Choose A Credible Company: With so many teen tours, adventure trips and service-focused programs available to teens these days it can be hard to know which one to go with.  Select a program that has a great track record and an established reputation.  Don’t be afraid to ask for references or testimonials from previous participants.  Another consideration is to choose a program that is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA).

Check The State Department’s Website: http://travel.state.gov Here you can find the most up-to-date information on country-specific travel warnings.

Check Your Family’s Overseas Medical Insurance Coverage: Make sure your policy applies to overseas and will cover emergency transportation expenses. If it doesn’t, you want to consider supplementary coverage for your child.

Check to see what minimum first aid certification level the leaders are required to have
. If your child will ever be more than 2 hours away from a hospital, the best training is Wilderness First Responder (WFR). Standard first aid, and wilderness first aid are not sufficient certifications in remote settings.

Talk to the directors of the program
. If they are inaccessible when you are making a decision, they will be inaccessible during the summer. Talk to the directors, learn about what their mission is as well what are the values they embrace as a program and their mission. Make sure it aligns with your own personal values.

For Teens…

Leave a Detailed Itinerary & Duplicate Documents At Home: Before leaving, make copies of your itinerary, passport and credit cards and leave them with your parents. Make sure the itinerary includes addresses, phone numbers and any other relevant information about where you will be traveling.

For those traveling in another country, register your trip on Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP). The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.  STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.

Locate the American Embassy in the country you are traveling to. Take their phone number and address with you and keep it in a safe place. Should an emergency arise, you may well need to contact them for help.

Stick Together: Avoid walking around alone, especially at night.  Stay away from isolated areas and always take a friend or staff member with you if you need to venture away from the group.

Know The Laws of Your Travel Destination: While in a foreign country you are subject to its laws.  Be aware of local conditions and cognizant of respecting the local culture.


About The Road Less Traveled:
The Road Less Traveled offers unparalleled service and adventure trips for teens and young adults to some of the world’s most incredible locations including Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Spain, Tanzania, India, Nepal and Norway, in addition to the United States and Canada.  Each summer, The Road Less Traveled introduces hundreds of teens to some of the most fascinating places, cultures and experiences while simultaneously helping them develop their sense of self and transforming their outlook on the world.  The majority of programs offered by The Road Less Traveled programs feature a service-focused component in which kids have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture and broaden their horizons while making a meaningful societal contribution.  The Road Less Traveled was founded by Jim and Donna Stein in 1991 and is headquartered at 2331 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago, IL. For more information, please visit www.theroadlesstraveled.com or call 1.800.939.983

Tips For Teaching Toddlers To Swim

teaching kids/babies/toddlers to swimTips For Teaching Toddlers To Swim

Swimming Educator Reveals Kids Can Survive

Rita Goldberg can’t believe some people still teach kids to swim by proverbially throwing them in the water to see if they sink or swim instinctively.

“Many parents and even some traumatic swim programs still use that ancient and ridiculous method of introducing children to swimming by throwing them into the water without any knowledge about swimming whatsoever – and all they are doing is teaching their children how to be terrified of the water,” said Goldberg, a former national swimmer in Great Britain, owner of a swimming school and author of the children’s book I Love to Swim (www.ilovetoswimthebook.com). “These advocates claim they are teaching survival, but I believe teaching survival can be – and should be – gentle and fun.”

Goldberg’s lament is that too many children drown needlessly every year, and too many parents are either resistant to teaching their toddlers to swim, or teach them the wrong way.

“No child, and I mean no child, has to ever drown in a swimming pool again if they are taught how to survive in the water the right way and at the earliest possible age,” she added. “Drowning is actually the second leading cause of accidental death in the country. It is leading in Florida and a few other states, and the real tragedy is that most every child who drowns could have been saved by simply being taught to swim correctly. Traumatizing them only teaches them to fear the water, and who among us makes the best choices, or can even process calm thought, when we are afraid? Children are no different. They need to be given the tools to survival and draw their confidence in the water from that knowledge. We want kids to respect the water, not fear it.”

Goldberg’s tips for teaching kids to swim include:

  • Start Young — New studies show that the best age to teach a child to swim is between the ages of six and twelve months. Just as parents are learning this is a good time to teach children how to read, they are beginning to understand this is a time when children are able to absorb information like sponges. Teaching them to swim at this early age is a great way to make swimming second nature to them.
  • Float to Survive – As a supplement to safeguarding your kids through extra vigilant supervision and a safety gate around the pool, focus on giving your child the best lifesaving tool you could offer them – the ability to survive in the water. The first gift I give children when I teach them is the ability to float on their backs. This is the most important survival skill of all. This enables all swimmers to rest, breathe and call for help, thus alleviating the “silent” danger of floating face down.
  • Gentle and Fun – Swimming will come more naturally to children who are taught gently, without trauma, and with a sense of fun. You cannot teach a 2-year-old not to go near the swimming pool. You cannot teach them that the pool is dangerous. Parents see the swimming pool as a potential death trap for their kids, but all kids see is a big, wet playground. You’re not going to change their opinion, so stop trying. Focus on calm, gentle fun, and your kids will take to their lessons like fish to water.

“Parents need to understand that playing in a swimming pool is the same as playing on dry land to children,” she added. “It’s all play to them. While it’s important for them to feel confident in the water, we need to help temper that confidence with a strong sense of safety and good judgment. Adhering to those rules as parents will serve to reinforce those rules, however, the best way to pull it all together is to start them young. Once both swimming and safety are second nature to them, they’ll be safer and your supervision of them in the water will be more fun for everyone.