We’re so excited to spend the week celebrating one of our favorite community resources: libraries! The Education.com staff is unanimous about our love for our local ‘braries, and there are a ton of reasons to become a regular visitor. Why do we love a good library? We’re glad you asked.
We’ll start with the obvious one. There’s nothing we like better than a room full of books just waiting to be read. As amazing as this resource is for people of all ages, we were especially thankful for free and accessible literature as children. Libraries were the places where we figured out whether we were fans of fantasy, science fiction, or nonfiction (or all of the above!). And when we finished our first book (which, we confess, usually happened on the walk home), there was always another that we wanted to read at our fingertips.
Is there anything more wonderful than a person with an encyclopedic knowledge of children’s literature? We were always amazed that we could walk in with a well-read copy of Matilda to return, and walk out excited to start our librarian-selected copy of Harriet the Spy. And there was no TV show or movie that could compare with a well-articulated read aloud from our favorite librarian’s book of the week.
While a building full of books is magical on its own, there was always an otherworldly silence that set libraries on a whole different plane from our usual rough-and-tumble childhood locales. While the outside world was full of shouting, running, and hot sand, the library offered a cooling and calm oasis where we could be quiet and reflective for a while.
The Sense of Community
Libraries were a place where we got together with classmates to study, read, and pass notes. But it was also a place where we could meet new friends who liked to read the same things as we did, discover local events, and even learn about our town history through archived newspapers. Our childhood librarians did a great job of promoting awareness of free and local resources, and we constantly found ourselves leaving with plans to visit a town fair, go on a playdate, or volunteer in the community vegetable garden.
The High-Tech Bonuses
One of the advantages of living in the digital age is having free technology available at our community libraries. Most people are aware of the computer labs at their local branch, but some libraries also let you check out music CDs, books on tape, DVDs, and even E-readers. There are even available listening and viewing rooms for people who want to enjoy these resources at the library.
These are just a few of the reasons that we love libraries. Have a Happy National Library Week, and don’t forget to support your local branch!
Nothing gets us wanting to be Brainzy quite like a good pirate song. We’re totally in love with this video; not only does the tune remind us of our third-grade music classes, but there’s just something about the ludicrous mix of sight word sailors and old-school sing along that really resonates with us. Dust off your eye patch and learn some sight words with the Brainzy gang! (And PS: Be on the lookout for our favorite part—at 0:34!)
There is nothing that makes school children breathe a sigh of relief quite like spring break. Sure, kids love the wonder of winter break and the expansive freedom of summertime, but after two to three months of non-stop school work, with only the odd three-day weekend thrown in, students are ready to kick back and let loose during spring break. How do you make the most of the season? Try some of our spring break ideas for kids, and have a happy break!
One of the best things about spring is that everything is in bloom! Celebrate the beauty of the season with some invigorating outdoor activities that you can do as a family. We love the idea of a spring hike! Hiking is a great spring activity, since it’s usually sunny but still cool enough that your kids will be comfy when they work up a sweat. Family hikes also provide great opportunities for learning. Find a hiking spot at your local national park, beach, or trail by doing an online search. Try packing a backpack full of sandwiches and fruit, or a loaf of bread with cheese and cut-up veggies, and have a picnic once you’ve hiked to a scenic spot. And don’t forget your water and sunscreen!
If your kids are always asking questions, then spring break might be the perfect time to turn their questions into experiments. Take your science experiments to your home garden for some outdoor learning about animals, plants, and more. Try creating some camouflaged animals with your child and teach him how animals keep themselves hidden in flowers, leaves, and trees. Spring is also a great time to go on a search for spiders in your backyard. And since it’s spring, you can even grow a plant or two … in garbage!
Spring break is a great time to learn some new recipes with your kids! Lots of fruits and vegetables are in season in the springtime, including avocados, strawberries, and arugula, so it’s a great time to focus on healthy, produce-focused foods that your kids will love. Visit a farmers market with your child to see what kinds of fruits and vegetables grow near you, and cook simple meals that get you to sauté, roast, or steam. You can even mix fruits and vegetables in one dish for an amazing salad! Need some healthy meal inspiration? Check out our healthy foods Pinterest board for snack and meal suggestions.
There are a lot of reasons why we love traveling to the Land of Knowhere; there are our funny friends, like Muggo and Cuz Cuz, the games we play when we’re there, and our exciting adventures in learning! We really enjoy visiting the Land of Knowhere through our Brainzy reading and math games, but sometimes we want to spend some time in Knowhere, away from a computer. That’s one of the reasons why we love Brainzy’s Super Fun Activity Book so much.
This silly activity book really is super fun! Not only does it contain learning games that get kids to work on early reading, writing, math, and memorization skills, but there are also a ton of creative and play-based exercises just for fun. One of our favorite things to do with this Brainzy book is to dress the Roly paper doll up in a Hawaiian shirt, a ninja suit, or a tuxedo! There are also memory card games, coloring activities, and step-by-step drawing tutorials in Brainzy’s Super Fun Book. Enjoy your stay in the Land of Knowhere!
This week, members of our editorial staff visited Captain Jason M. Dahl Elementary School in San Jose to act as guest judges for their annual science fair! Since we spend a lot of our time reminiscing on our own science fair projects and coming up with new ones, we were understandably stoked to be there.
Excited by the possibility of bubbling volcanoes and model solar systems, we entered the school with sharpened pencils in hand and our metaphorical judge caps on. We were delighted to see that the auditorium was filled with a range of science fair topics and experiments! The room was full of statically charged balloons, televisions covered in tinfoil, oobleck, cabbages, and the obligatory volcano or two. We even saw a few projects from our own collection of science fair activities.
The students came up with some impressive trifolds and displays, but our favorite part of the day was meeting the kids in person! We spent the majority of the afternoon speaking with energetic kids with a passion for scientific discovery. The students regaled us with tales of failed experiments, chemical reactions, and ‘ah-ha!’ moments. Everyone we spoke with learned something new and seemed genuinely excited about their science project.
A big thank you to Mrs. Feria at Captain M. Dahl Elementary for hosting us, and for the school’s young scientists for sharing their discoveries!
February is “I Love Reading” Month! Now, we at Education.com love reading every month (we post about books all the time!), but “I Love Reading” Month is a special time when we get to share our enthusiasm for the written word with friends, family, and—most exciting of all—the Education.com members! To celebrate a month of books and reading, we’re asking our members to take a reading pledge.
During the month of February, we’re asking Education.com members to commit to helping their kids read four books. Kids and parents will get to spend time bonding over old and new favorite books, and exploring all that children’s literature has to offer.
Families that read all four books and log their progress on the “I Heart Reading” page will be entered to win exciting educational prizes! One grand prize winner will receive a Kindle prize pack, and 100 first prize winners will receive a one-year subscription to either Brainzy or PLUS. All grand prize and first prize winners will also get an “I Heart Reading” t-shirt! Full contest rules can be found here.
Are you interested in joining us for “I Love Reading” Month? Take the pledge today!
Kids love Valentine’s Day for all sorts of reasons; there’s the candy, of course, classroom parties, and special surprises from friends and family. When the excitement of a heart-filled day is winding down, and a sugar crash is coming on strong, one of the best ways to show your child that you love him is with some time together and a treasured book. These picture books are new classics about unconditional love between parents and their children, and they’re perfect for your evening storytime on Valentine’s Day. Read these Valentine’s Day books with your child to celebrate your special relationship with each other.
Mama, Do You Love Me?
This sweet and simple story is a great reminder of the everlasting love of a parent. The mother in this story is constantly being prompted with the question, “Mama, do you love me?” The answer is always a resounding yes, even when the child has been bad or distant or careless. Read this story on Valentine’s Day with your child, and let him know how much you love him, no matter what.
The Kissing Hand
This picture book tells the story of mother and son racoons who are apart for the first time. When young Chester is leaving for the first day of school, he’s nervous about being away from his mother. She gives him a very special ‘kissing hand’ so that he can feel her warmth wherever he goes. After you read this story, give your child his own kissing hand to take with him on Valentine’s Day and everyday.
Love You Forever
This book is definitely a tear-jerker for adults, but it’s a must-read Valentine’s Day book for families. The story is narrated by a child’s mother who looks after him when he’s good and when he’s not-so-good, but every night, she rocks him back and forth and declares that she’ll love him forever. As the son grows up, he learns to practice unconditional love with his mother and his own family.
What is your favorite children’s book about love? Let us know in the comments!
Anyone who uses our site or reads the blog knows that we love holidays and seasonal events, and the Winter Olympics are no exception! We’ve been in training to do our Winter Olympics crafts for weeks; we’ve strengthened our tissue paper technique, worked on our glue stick form, and drilled our knowledge of glitter glue. We’re proud to be Winter Olympics craft champions, and we’d like to invite you to join us in creating beautiful, handmade crafts that celebrate the biyearly event. Check out some of our favorite Winter Olympics crafts below.
During the opening ceremonies, it just feels good to have a handmade Olympic torch in your hand as you watch the event. This one is simple enough to make, so everyone in your family can have their own torch in a matter of minutes.
Everyone has their own favorite Winter Olympics event, but can you describe why your favorite sport is so great? This Olympic writing activity gets your child to use adjectives and nouns to describe their Olympic event of choice, all while watching the games! When the event is over, we like to turn our descriptions into paragraphs, and make miniature Olympics books that contain the whole family’s favorite sports.
Olympic Cookie Rings
This extremely delicious and exceptionally simple dessert is a tribute to the symbol of the Olympic games: the five rings. Make a batch of Olympic cookie rings to nosh on during the closing ceremonies this year.
In addition to these Winter Olympics crafts, we’ll also be making our way through the crafts, games, and activities in the Winter Olympics Activity Book, which includes tutorials on painting with Olympic rings, making pipe cleaner athletes, and using international greetings.
We’ll see you at the games!
Chinese New Year is a celebration of good fortune and new beginnings. While the traditions for Chinese New Year originate in the cultures and communities in China, the holiday is celebrated the world-over with parades, festivals, and parties. If you’re unfamiliar with Chinese New Year celebrations and customs, there are several simple ways that you can celebrate with your family. Read on to learn how to celebrate Chinese New Year with your children.
Cleaning and tidying your home is a great way to prepare for the New Year. Cleaning up dirt and dust is seen as a way to ‘sweep away the bad luck’ from the previous year. Getting ready for Chinese New Year is also a great motivator for kids to pitch in on the cleanup process. Tidying up can also apply to personal appearance; many people get haircuts or new clothes for the New Year.
The color red is associated with good luck during Chinese New Year, so many families choose to decorate their houses in the color. Try making Chinese New Year crafts for kids with your children to add some good-luck red to your home. Elaborate looking dragon puppets, wishing trees, and hanging lanterns are surprisingly easy to make with young children, using cardstock and floral foam.
One of the best ways to celebrate Chinese New Year is with food! Families celebrate the holiday by eating foods that symbolize a long and prosperous year. Eating a whole fish, with head and tail included, is symbolic of having a good beginning and ending to the New Year. Long noodles, such as Chow Mein, symbolize a long life. Make the meal extra special with dumplings as appetizers and fortune cookies for dessert.
In many cities, the multi-week Chinese New Year celebration begins with a big parade and ends with a lantern festival. Do an online search to see if a city near you offers these celebrations. Another fun tradition revolves around red envelopes; married couples give red envelopes containing small amounts of money to single adults and children. You can even make and decorate your own envelopes using this template. Generally, the holiday is celebrated by being friendly and cheerful, so meet with friends, enjoy family togetherness, and take time to do things that make you happy.
From time to time, we host ‘special guests’ in the Education.com office: our staff’s children! This past week, we hosted a pair of very studious first graders intent on doing their homework in office each afternoon. Because we’re all charitable and friendly adults, several members of the Education.com staff were coerced into assisting the kids with story tables, practice spelling quizes, and—most terrifying of all—math worksheets.
When they came to us with a long list of problems that required subtraction with regrouping, we struggled with the words to explain the concept to six-year-olds. After a few days (and a few two-digit subtraction with regrouping worksheets), we felt confident that we could guide even the most confused first grader through his math exercises. We wanted to share our process with you in the event that a child needs help learning how to do subtraction with regrouping.
1. Introduce your child to the different parts of the numbers in a subtraction with regrouping problem. Draw a line down the center of the equation, and explain to your child, “We’re going to be working with two different parts of the numbers in this problem. We’re going to be looking at the tens place and the ones place. The tens place is on the left of our line and the ones place is on the right.” Have your child point to the tens place, and then the ones place. Check for understanding.
2. Let your child know that you’re going to be subtracting in the ones place first. Cover the tens place with another piece of paper. Say to your child, “We have a zero and a five, so our problem for the ones place is ‘0 – 5.’ Can we solve the problem ‘0 – 5?’” Your child should respond with a ‘no.’ Continue, “We can’t solve ‘0 – 5’ because 0 is smaller than 5. We need to make 0 a bigger number, so we’re going to regroup.”
3. Uncover the tens place. Tell your child, “Since we need the top number in the ones place to be bigger, we can borrow from the tens place. Let’s borrow one digit from the tens place.” Show your child how you cross out the number in the tens place and replace it with a number one digit less, in this case, 7 becomes 6.
4. Explain to your child, “Since we took one away from the number in the tens place, we can add a one in front of the number in the ones place. If we add a 1 in front of the 0 in the tens place, what number do we have?” Give your child a moment to think about this question, and, if necessary, guide him to realizing that the number in the ones place becomes 10.
5. Use your second piece of paper to cover the tens place again. Ask your child, “Now that we have the equation ‘10 – 5’ in the ones place, what is the answer to that problem?” Your child should respond that the answer is 5. Show him where he should write his answer.
6. Now, use your second piece of paper to cover up the digits in the ones place. Tell your child, “Now, we need to solve the problem in the tens place. Since we borrowed from the number 7, we’re now solving the problem ‘6 – 3.’” Have your child solve the problem and write the answer in the tens place.
7. You’re done! Repeat the process with a different subtraction with regrouping problem, then have your child solve a problem on his own.