Article: 11 Online Summer Camps to Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) While School’s Out by Common Sense Media

Article: 11 Online Summer Camps to Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) While School’s Out by Common Sense Media

screen-time

From outdoor adventures to summer enrichment to computer coding, online camps keep kids busy, learning, and having fun.

Virtual summer camps — where kids head to the computer instead of the pool or park — are a thing now. But don’t worry: These aren’t the solitary, sedentary, screen-centered experiences you fear. Plenty of virtual summer camps offer kids the chance to make projects, investigate ideas, and explore the world. And many are free.

Going to camp online is a great way to keep your kids occupied during a “staycation” or between their other activities. It can also give kids something unique: individual attention. You, a babysitter, a grandparent, or even an older sibling act as virtual camp counselors, leading — and even learning alongside — your kids. With many of the virtual camps below, you can mix and match activities to tailor the experience to your kids’ interests. Expect to be more involved if you go for the free, choose-your-own-adventure camps. But fee-based camps call for some adult participation, too. Check out these offerings:

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Summer Camps

Start with a Book. Free; age 6 and up.
In addition to a summer science camp, this site offers a long list of themes, such as Art, Night Sky, and Weather Report, for kids to explore. For each theme, you get book suggestions (for all reading levels), discussion guides, hands-on activities, and related sites and apps. You’ll need to shell out for books if you can’t find them at the library.

PBS Parents. Free; age 3–9.
With an emphasis on summer reading, the PBS Parents’ site offers a variety of practical, step-by-step plans to incorporate books into the dog days of summer. In addition to the downloadable Summer Reading Chart and the “Book-Nik” guide to a book-themed picnic, you can use the Super Summer Checklist PDF to plan hands-on experiences.

DIY. Free and fee-based; age 7 and up.
This site offers dozens of skill-based activities (which it calls “challenges”) in a variety of categories, including Art, Business, and Engineering, that kids can do year-round. Every summer, DIY runs camps and shorter courses. Some of the camps have online counselors who interact with your kid. Sign up to get notified of the latest offerings.

Make: Online. Free, but materials cost extra; age 12 and up.
The folks behind the maker movement offer weekly camps based on themes such as Far Out Future and Flight. You get a PDF with daily activities that support the theme, such as making slime and designing and flying kites.

Made with Code from Google. Free; age 12 and up.
A wide range of projects, including making emojis, animating GIFs, and composing music, is designed to ignite a passion for coding in teen girls. (There’s no stopping boys from doing these projects, though.) The site offers inspiration stories from female tech mentors as well as ideas to make coding social, such as a coding party kit.

Structured Learning

JAM: Online Courses for Kids. Free for first 30 days; $25 per month (per kid) with discounts for yearly enrollment; age 8–16.
What can’t kids learn at this online school? There’s drawing, cooking, animation, music, and much more. Each course has a professional mentor and is broken down into easily manageable “quests” that kids can complete at their own pace.

Khan Academy. Free; age 6 and up.
While Khan Academy doesn’t offer specific camps, it provides meaningful, step-by-step exploration in a variety of topics, including math, science, and arts and humanities. Kids can sign up with a coach (a teacher, parent, or tutor) who can monitor their progress and suggest lessons. Kids also can earn badges by learning and teaching. The custom dashboard has a progress map that fills up as kids work their way through the skills.

Brain Chase. $79, extra for electives; age 7–14.
Created by two parents who were looking for a way to help their kids continue learning during summer, Brain Chase takes a creative approach to enrichment. It starts on June 19, 2017, and runs for six weeks; kids work on math, reading, and typing all while competing in a real-life treasure hunt for the chance to win a $10,000 scholarship.

Camp Wonderopolis. Free for campers; optional $25 instruction guide for parents; age 7 and up.
Sponsored by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), this online camp lets kids explore topics such as weather, food, and technology. Each topic includes lessons, outdoor activities, videos, and additional reading suggestions for all ages. The 2017 theme is Build Your Own Wonderocity, where families explore the wonders of construction and engineering in 42 lessons.

Connected Camps. $69-$99; age 8-15. For tech-curious kids, check out Connected Camps, which offers week-long, instructor-led, Minecraft-based camps including coding, game design, and engineering. There are also courses in Minecraft and the Scratch programming language just for girls.

TechRocket. Free for a course sampling; memberships: $19/year, $29/month; age 10 and up.
Launched by iDTechCamp (the popular — and pricey — computer day and overnight camps), TechRocket offers online instruction in coding, game design, and graphic design. Each camp offers a variety of levels and challenges as well as a dedicated instructor.

About the Author: Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at Walmart.com, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star Wars, StarCraft,graphic novels, and the radio program This American Life.

 

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.

 MightySat™ Fingertip Pulse Oximeter by Masimo Corporation – Review

MightySat™ Fingertip Pulse Oximeter by Masimo Corporation – Review



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What we love…

easy to use pulse oximeter that allows you access to a variety of measures which help to ensure you are on track with your breathing before going out and being active.  The MightySat™ in conjunction with a wearable fitness tracker can help you understand where your breathing is and track trend over time.

Summary

Overall, I love how easy it is to track over time using the MightySat™ Fingertip Pulse Oximeter to see trends and see when I can push my body harder.  It has fantastic battery life – I have yet to change the batteries and I use it a few times a week.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

The MightySat™ Fingertip Pulse Oximeter by Masimo Corporation is a Bluetooth enabled pulse Oximeter which uses hospital grade technology to measure Oxygen Saturation, Pulse Rate, Perfusion Index, Respiration Rate, and Pleth Variability Index.  It is measured by placing the pulse Oximeter on your fingertip and within seconds the information begins to pop up.  It can be used with a companion iOS or Android app, or standalone.

Below is a description from Masimo about each of the types of measurements done by the device which are obtained in moments after placing it on your finger.  You can pair your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth so you can track trend over time, or you can simply use the Pulse Ox standalone.  There is no setup other than downloading the app to your device.  It also supports multiple profiles and can be used on those that weigh over 66 lbs.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Measurements:

Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) – the oxygen level in the arterial blood to indicate changes due to heart or lung function, oxygen use by your body, or altitude

Pulse Rate (PR) – the number of pulses per minute to indicate overall fitness as well as exertion levels at a particular moment in time

Perfusion Index (PI) – the strength of blood flow to your finger to indicate changes in blood circulation

Respiration Rate (RRp) – the number of breaths you are taking each minute to indicate how well your heart and lungs are functioning as well as how quickly you can recover after exercise.

Pleth Variability Index (PVI) – the variation in perfusion index over your breathing cycle. Changes in PVI may indicate changes in hydration, breathing effort, perfusion, or other factors. ¹ ² ³ *

One of my favorite features of the device is the ability to pair it with your device and see trend over time.  It’s important for me to make sure I take my medications before exercising and to stay on point without overdoing it.  I am also admittedly a data person and I enjoy looking at my trend over time when exercising to see how my numbers compare from the Pulse Ox to my level of activity and performance.  It helps me know when I can push harder, or when I might need to take a break from exercise.  Combined with a wearable fitness tracker, MightySat™ Fingertip Pulse Oximeter provides a more comprehensive overview of you in the moment as well as helping make decisions on how hard you can push your body.

Overall, I love how easy it is to track over time using the MightySat™ Fingertip Pulse Oximeter to see trends and see when I can push my body harder.  It has fantastic battery life – I have yet to change the batteries and I use it a few times a week.

RRP $299 and available from a variety of retailers including Masimo MightySat Fingertip Pulse Oximeter (Bluetooth + Pleth Variability Index + Respiration Rate)“>Amazon.

Masimo Personal Health

Masimo Personal Health
Masimo Personal Health
by Masimo Corporation

Category: Health & Fitness
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 67.62 MB

$FREE

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Screenshots for iPad
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NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

 

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 Running Noah from Useappility -A Fun App for Practicing Multiplication

Running Noah from Useappility -A Fun App for Practicing Multiplication



iPad Screenshot 2

What we love…

Makes practicing multiplication fun by incorporating it into an endless runner game

What we’d love to see…

Ability to limit to x10, individual player profiles, different speed levels

Summary

Overall, a fun way for kids to practice their multiplication skills whilst playing an Endless Runner game, Running Noah has 48 levels to work on times tables from 1-4 all the way up to 12x.

Our Rating

Running Noah Learning the times tables takes a lot of repetition, which children often find boring. They’d rather be playing their favorite video game instead of practicing math facts. Running Noah from Useability is a new app that uses children’s love of video games to give them lots of repetition of their multiplication facts whilst playing a fun game.

Running Noah is an Endless Runner, it has four episodes each with 12 levels. You need to unlock a level to move on to the next level. The four episodes have different themes and work on 1-4 times tables, 5-8 times tables, 9-12 times tables and 1-12 times tables respectively. The first episode (1-4 times tables) is free, there is an IAP (currently $1.99) to unlock the rest.

iPad Screenshot 4

Gameplay

The flood has just begun and Noah is on a mission to save all the animals and get them into the Ark. As the storm waters rise the land is divided into a series of islands by raging streams. To rescue the animals Noah must build bridges across the streams and also collect food for the animals on the way.

Beside every stream is a stone tablet with a number on it, and on the right of the screen are three numbers from the current series of times tables the student is working from. Tapping on the right of the screen brings up three  more numbers and the player has to tap one number from reach column to create a multiplication problem whose answer is the number on the tablet. The player has to think quickly as Noah keeps running, if he gets to the stream before they have completed the problem he falls in the water. If they create the correct problem a bridge forms and he runs safely to the next island. If they create an incorrect problem the bridge still forms but it collapses when Noah runs across, and he falls in the water. After solving three  problems correctly Noah reaches the stranded animal and gets him onto the Ark which completes the level.

iPad Screenshot 5

 

As Noah is always running the player has to think quickly to keep him from falling in the water, but collecting food adds another layer of complexity. All the animals on the Ark need feeding and food (corn, fish, pineapples or acorns) is above Noah’s head as he runs. To collect it the player has to double tap to make Noah jump at the right time. If they collect very little food the food meter turns red and Noah runs out of energy. Players can replay levels to collect food they have missed, and improve their score, and they need to complete the multiplication problems correctly each time to complete that level.

Analysis

Although the gameplay is in essence very simple, completing the levels does take quick thinking, fast recall and good reflexes. Even as an adult with good mental arithmetic skills I found I often had to replay levels to get perfect scores as it is tricky to answer the problems fast enough and time the jumps right to collect the food.

For each times table the problems include multipliers up to 12 e.g. the lowest level could include 4 x 12. Although this was how I learned my times tables, I have noticed some schools now only teach up to x 10. I would like to see an option to limit it to x10, if your child is learning that way. I would also like an option to add multiple player profiles, so that families with more than one child working on their multiplication skills can track their individual progress and let them compete against each other.

The app has an online leaderboard in it- but kids can not sign up from within the app (a good thing) a link is provided so that parents can enter it in a browser and sign up for the leaderboard if they wish to do so. Once they have completed all levels if the enter a parents email address they will be sent a certificate of completion.

I think the game is designed to be fast paced so that children will have to repeat levels multiple times to get high scores, so that they get a lot of repetition which is a good thing. However, some children with slower reflexes or slower processing speeds may find it frustrating that although they know the answers to the problem they can’t complete the problems in time to stop Noah falling in the water, or they can’t  co-ordinate their tapping quickly enough to answer the questions and jump for the food. With this in mind I’d like to see an option to have different speeds – maybe an Easy, Regular and Fast speed so that slower children can still use the app and to give different levels of challenge which would encourage even more repetition as skills improve.

Summary

Overall, a fun way for kids to practice their multiplication skills whilst playing an Endless Runner game, Running Noah has 48 levels to work on times tables from 1-4 all the way up to 12x. The app is free to download an include the first episode (12 levels) for free – this is a good way to test the app and see if it catches your child’s interest. If it does the $1.99 to unlock the rest of the app is good value. It is child friendly with no adverts, social media or external links.

iTunes Link:Running Noah – Useappility

Running Noah Running Noah by Useappility

Price: $FREE

“…an app that helps kids improve their multiplication skills” BestAppsforKids.com
“…makes practicing multiplication fun by incorporating it into an endless runner game” theimum.com
“… .

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
 Starry Station – Touchscreen WiFi Router by Starry – Review

Starry Station – Touchscreen WiFi Router by Starry – Review



Starry Station - Touchscreen WiFi Router - Simple Setup and Easy Parental Controls. Fast Gigabit Speed

What we love…

easy to set up router with great parental controlss which allow you to isolate a device with specific settings, super use friendly with touchscreen controls and access via your device, great for family time and device free time with the touch of a screen!

What we’d love to see…

more ethernet ports, potential for a web dashboard and more on the “network health”

Summary

Overall, this is a great router which includes parental controls and allows you to easily turn on and off the internet.  The parental controls differentiate this router from others on the market with the ease of a touchscreen or your device – all in one place and easy to use.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

Starry Wi-Fi StationThe Starry Station by Starry is a touchscreen wifi router that includes parental controls and simplifies how you use the internet.  When I recently set it up – I had it out of the box and running in less than 10 minutes and that included adding all of my devices to the new networks.  WiFi is fast – with good streaming and surfing quality much faster than my previous router.  It also works with all types of internet including fiber optic, cable and includes built in WPA2 Encryption.  The Starry Station is a triangle shaped router which stands on a side – the base is 3 inches wide and there is a fan behind it.

One of my favorite things about Starry Station is the ease of setup and the fact that I can have parental controls in the palm of my hand or by using the touch screen on the router.  I loved that I could set one device, my 8 year old’s to be off from a specific period of time or even just block his access entirely if I wanted to either from the router or from the app.  I also found that the speeds on the router were more true to what I paid for with Comcast compared to my previous router.   I have a bit of an unusual house set up – and in the past have had a boost downstairs because for some reason I can’t always get good network signal.  Although I did continue to use my wireless access point, it was easily reconfigured to Starry and gave me better and faster service than I had previously.  We live in a media friendly home, and regularly stream Netflix, cable TV, surf the internet as well as having several smart appliances.  Another bonus of the router was that it had the same name for the 2.4G as well as the 5G network, which meant that you didn’t have to remember as many passwords to login.  Using the touch screen or my iPhone/iPad I was able to walk around the house and easily add new devices quickly!  We had 10 devices online easily at a time and noticed no lags or slowdowns while using the router.  We also had some Apple and Android devices as well to try to see if the device mix would change how the network performed and didn’t notice an appreciable difference.  The router also includes a speaker and mic – for future voice control options which are not yet enabled.  I can’t wait to see those enabled.  It also includes guest access which is easily turned on via your device or touchscreen so you can choose who has access and who does not!
iPhone Screenshot 4A bit about the parental controls – this by far was my favorite feature of the router.  I loved that I could easily filter content, pause the internet (for one device or all) and limit access to specific apps using the app on my iPhone.   This meant I could set screen time rules for specific devices, like my son’s iPad without having to worry about blocking my iPad or my husband’s devices.  I also liked that I could set safe content and turn off access to social media all with the touch of a button.  At our house we usually have #devicefree Friday nights where we try to turn off our devices and spend time together as a family.  I always hated having to go upstairs to unplug the router so no one would try to “sneak” access to the internet – now with Starry it’s a simple tap of a button on my iPhone and the internet is off.  The offline hours are great as well – they help to ensure you don’t stay up too late because it can automatically turn off the internet at a specific time (although you can override as necessary).  I also liked the customer support I got when I needed it – I spoke with someone in the United States who took the time to help me answer my question about the wireless access point and ensured things were configured properly.

In terms of enhancements, I do wish the router had more ports on the back of it.  There are only two ports – one for internet coming in and the other for internet coming out..  I did get a wireless bridge to give me more ports so I could plug in all my Ethernet devices in my office.  I also noticed that the network health changed a lot – even when I was standing in the same place.  It was nice in theory because I could see what devices were on the network easily.  I would like to see a web based dashboard in the future just in case I didn’t always have access to my device and needed to tweak something a bit more than I could do with the touch screen.

Overall, this is a great router which includes parental controls and allows you to easily turn on and off the internet.  The parental controls differentiate this router from others on the market with the ease of a touchscreen or your device – all in one place and easy to use.  Plus, with the app you can turn on and off the internet even when you are not home.  It was easy to set up and use, and I love knowing that my son is safe while online as we work on setting our digital boundaries but give him access to a tablet and computer for homework. RRP $250 USD on Amazon.

Starry Station

Starry Wi-Fi Station
Starry Wi-Fi Station
by Starry, Inc.

Category: Utilities
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 59.75 MB

$FREE

Screenshots
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Screenshots for iPad
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Video Demo

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Tech Specs

Power Dual-Band 802.11ac
Touchscreen 3.8″ LCD Touchscreen
Ports 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1-in, 1-out
Security WPA2
Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

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