Article: 8 awesome learning podcasts for kids from Common Sense Media



8 podcasts

Bring fresh voices into the classroom with free, high-quality podcasts.

May 23, 2017

Bronwyn Harris

Editorial Assistant
Check out a few favorite podcasts from Common Sense Media. Your kids can use these to help prevent the #summerslide and learn all at the same time! You can even subscribe and download these podcasts to your device so you can stream them on summer drives! Parents, these apps do use data if you are live streaming them – so be sure to watch your limits!
When podcasts first gained popularity in the early 2000s, they seemed to be a quaint throwback to radio. But that changed quickly as more and more people jumped in and started experimenting with the medium. Now, hits like Serial have launched podcasts into the mainstream. You can find podcasts on nearly every topic — from movie reviews to academic lessons to celebrity gossip — and in nearly every genre, from short fiction to in-depth journalism to comedy.Podcasts are a great way to hook kids into learning about a topic. They draw listeners into the story in a unique way, providing different viewpoints from what students are usually exposed to. Teachers can use podcasts to supplement the curriculum with high-quality, free content. And you can find podcasts that will work for every grade level and subject area. Check out a few of our favorites to get started!

wowWow in the World

Grades K–6

NPR’s brand-new podcast premiered on May 15, 2017. It’s the first NPR podcast to be aimed at kids, and the goal is to “guide curious kids and their grown-ups away from their screens and on a journey.” While the specific topics the podcast will cover remain to be seen, the creators say it will focus on important science and technology subjects and questions that families — or classrooms — can explore together.



NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

 

brainBrains On Grades 1–6

Every teacher knows that kids love to ask questions, and science provides plenty of questions for them to be curious about. Brains On tackles questions and topics that are totally relevant to kids’ interests, including slime, dinosaur bones, fire, lasers, and airplanes. Teachers can encourage students to take one of the topics and research it more completely or to use it as a jumping-off point for science experiments and research-related questions.



NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.


 

scienceScience Friday

Grades 6–12

Science Friday with Ira Flatow covers a variety of complex science topics, which are great for high school students to use in research or when developing a project or paper. For middle school teachers, Kidsnet offers the Science Friday Kids’ Connection curriculum referencing the Science Friday material but in a form more digestible for that age group. Teachers can find any scientific subject covered in the archives, so no matter what you’re teaching, the podcast and accompanying curriculum can be priceless (and you may learn a thing or two as well!).

No app – listen online.

 

storycorpStoryCorps

Grades 6–12

One of the largest oral history projects of its kind, StoryCorps consists of more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Students at just about any grade level or in any subject area could use the StoryCorps interviews in a variety of ways. In a National Teachers Initiative section, listeners can find interviews between teachers and students or former students. The interviews can be used as writing prompts, discussion topics, primary sources for research projects, and more. Students also can record their own stories.



NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

 

believeThis I Believe

Grades 6–12

This I Believe was a radio series on NPR (now archived) that focused on the writing, sharing, and discussing of people’s core beliefs through short personal essays. In the classroom, teachers can use This I Believe to get students to write about their own experiences. Personal experiences, beliefs, and values can make a rich foundation for classroom discussions, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve created a safe space for sharing. A companion book and website offer plenty of resources for teachers and students to work on personal essays.



NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

youthYouth Radio

Grades 6–12

Youth Radio is not only a great podcast for students, but it’s also created by kids. The kid journalists of Youth Radio offer a very honest take on hot-button issues and current events, with perspectives that don’t often appear in the standard news world. Youth Radio segments can spark discussion on anything from Afghanistan to graffiti to the economy (they’re often featured on NPR’s Marketplace). Your students may even be inspired to start producing their own pieces.


NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

grammarGrammar Girl

Grades 9–12

Grammar is notoriously boring, but Grammar Girl, part of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network, manages to make it interesting, and English teachers everywhere are grateful. The website has transcripts of each episode, but the audio delivery is animated and friendly and probably of more interest to students. This podcast is best for middle and high school students and incorporates both traditional grammar questions and more quirky analysis of new types of grammar unique to social media, for example.



Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by QuickAndDirtyTips.com

Price: $ USD

.

hardcoreHardcore History

Grades 9–12

Every teacher and student knows that, while history may not have been boring, history textbooks often are. Hardcore History with Dan Carlin is aiming to change all that, with honest and dramatic looks at historical figures and events that go far outside the basic historical outline many of us learned. While Hardcore History is not released on a predictable schedule and the episodes are often very long, it brings history to life in an invaluable way. History teachers who take the time to curate clips may find that their students have a whole new interest in learning.

No app, listen online.

 

Which essential podcasts did we miss? Let us know your favorites in the comments!

About the Author

Bronwyn is an author, educator, and editor living in the East Bay. She is originally from Petaluma, California, and earned a bachelor’s of science in psychology from UC Davis, and a multiple subject teaching credential from CSU Sacramento. Bronwyn began her teaching career in 2000 in the most violent neighborhood in Oakland, California, and has since written a book about her experiences: Literally Unbelievable: Stories from an East Oakland Classroom.Bronwyn has written for Teaching Tolerance and AlterNet, among others. She is an avid reader and knitter and uses Common Sense reviews to guide her on movies for her nieces and nephew.

commonsense2Common 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.

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.

Article: 5 Refreshing Ideas for Spicing Up Your Lesson Plans

5 Refreshing Ideas for Spicing Up Your Lesson Plans

lesson plans

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

 

Many people don’t realize how tricky it can be for teachers to find new, unique ways to present lesson plans to students. It’s a delicate balance between informing and engaging, and some material can be especially tricky to make interesting. If you’re in need of some new ideas to make your class a place students can’t wait to go to, here are a few strategies to try.

 

Let students role play

 

It’s people who make history, whether it’s in the math, science, political, or literary world. Assign students a famous person from history—it can be from 200 years ago or even someone who’s made important strides in recent years—and let them present an oral report, but here’s the catch: they have to actually assume the identity of that person for the presentation! It’s a great way to add a little creativity to any subject, and for some students, it could help make the material easier to grasp. Your class might have trouble relating to a mathematician from the early twentieth century, long before calculators and computers did so much of the work for us, but taking the time to learn about them as an actual person could pique their interest.

 

Invite a guest speaker

 

Even if your students adore you, there’s always something exciting about a fresh face at the front of the classroom. Invite a guest speaker to come speak to your class about a topic they have unique perspective on: perhaps your grandmother was an avid protester in the civil rights movement, or your neighbor used to work for NASA. It can even be another teacher! If you’re having trouble finding someone who can physically be in class, ask if they’d be willing to video chat with your class instead.

 

Have a debate

 

If your students love to argue, make that the assignment! Give your students a topic and two choices for how to argue it. For example, a literature class might debate the interpretation of a certain chapter of their reading, or a science class could argue different ideas about converting from fossil fuels to clean energy. You can let students choose which side they’re on, or instead challenge them to argue against what their initial instinct is. You can have different topics for pairs of students or break the class up into groups. Make sure their arguments are backed up appropriately, and when the debate is on, allow both sides follow-ups and rebuttals.

 

Tie in a familiar element

 

It’s often easier for students to understand information if they can easily apply it to their own lives. If your history class is discussing the development of the assembly line, have them come up with a list of all the items we currently make through this method. For heredity and gene lessons in science, you can take a class poll to see what kind of dogs your students have and any particularly special traits they might have: one green eye and one brown eye, unique markings, or even a curled tail. Discuss what characteristics their pup’s parents may have had to lead to that trait, and how its siblings may have looked.

 

When it comes to teaching, you don’t have to settle for the ordinary. Try shaking up your classroom with these strategies!

Joyce Wilson loved being a teacher, and though she has recently retired, she hasn’t lost that passion. She continues to educate (and help educators) by mentoring teachers in her area. She is also the co-creator of TeacherSpark.org, a resource for teachers to gather fun, engaging lesson ideas and activities.

Article: Kids and Devices? Great tips on how to get your kids off their device!

Toddler_Device_article

Ever try to pry a tablet from sticky fingers? Check out these tips to avoid the tantrum.

“Just a sec,” say nine out of 10 parents answering an email when their kid asks them for something. If it’s hard for us to jump out of the digital world, just imagine you’re 3 and the lines between fantasy and reality are already blurred — then throw in a super-engaging, colorful, fun, immersive experience. Or you’re 5 and each episode of Mutt & Stuff on the Nick Jr. app is better than the last. Or you’re 8 and you’re almost finished building something amazing in Minecraft. Why would you ever want to stop?

This is why getting kids off their devices is so tough. And when threatening doesn’t work, and you discover the research that two-minute warnings aren’t the best option either, what can you do? Thankfully, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some new guidelines around screen use that ease some parental guilt, but you still need to get your kid off the iPad at some point. Aside from being a strong role model, try these tips to minimize conflict and find the balance we’re all seeking.

  • Have another activity lined up (bonus points for making it seem fun). For the youngest device users, transitions are hard — period.  Even if the next “to do” is a “must do” (such as eating lunch), tell your kid what’s coming next. You can rehearse the process: “When I say stop, it’s time for the iPad to go night-night. Let’s see how fast you can flip it shut! As soon as it’s asleep, we can sneak into the other room and paint.”
  • Use visual and sound cues to help kids keep track of time limits. For kids who don’t yet know how to tell time, try a timer that can help put them in charge of the process: “When the time is up, it’ll look and sound like this.”
  • Find apps with built-in timers. Video streamers like Cakey and Huvi throw parents a bone and have internal timers so the app stops on its own. Then it’s up to the parent to make sure kiddo doesn’t just jump into another app.
  • Tell kids to stop at a natural break, such as the end of an episode, level, or activity. It’s hard for kids (and adults!) to stop in the middle of something. Before your kid gets on a device, talk about what they want to do or play, what will be a good place to stop, and how long they think it’ll take. Set the limit together and hold to it, though a little wiggle room (a couple of minutes so they can finish) is fine.
  • Discuss consequences and follow through when kids test the limits. When all else fails, it’s important to have discussed consequences for when your kid won’t give it up. For little kids, the line can be something like, “If it’s too hard to turn off, the tablet has to go away for a whole day.” For older kids it’s more about keeping devices in a public space, setting expectations, and enforcing them. If they show you they can be partners in moderating and regulating themselves, there can be more flexibility.

About the author

Christine Elgersma works on learning and social media app reviews and parent talks as Senior Editor, Parent Education . Before coming to Common Sense, she helped cultivate and create ELA curriculum for a K-12 app, taught the youth of America as a high school teacher, a community college teacher, a tutor, and a special education instructional aide. Christine is also a writer, primarily of fiction and essays, and loves to read all manner of books from Stephen King to Anne Lamott. When she’s not putting on a spontaneous vaudeville show with her daughter, Christine loves to hike and listen to music, sometimes simultaneously.

 

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.

Building, creating and more – toys for my 3 year old boy

Cars_boy

As a mom of two, I always struggle with what the “right” toy is for my three year old son.  Should I get him something that is educational or should I defer to his favorite of cars and trucks and things that go?  We have some older toys from his brother who is now 8 and are among his favorites.  Below are some of our favorite toys for 3 year old boys which I’ve categorized by type.  I also try to get science based toys which fit into the STEM theme as well.

When shopping for a new toy I try to use the following criteria

  • usability – is it a toy that my son will play with once and be done?
  • durability – is the toy durable enough to last through multiple play sessions and not be broken?
  • learning – will my child learn something from the toy – either by reading or creative thinking skills like a puzzle
  • “fun factor creative toys” – will my kids have fun using it even if it creates a mess?
  • imaginary play – does the toy encourage imaginary or role play?

Let's Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop!My kids love sturdy wooden toys, and I have found Melissa & Doug toys to be a huge hit over the years.  The content of the toys is timeless and typically there is an educational twist to what they are doing.    Plus, sometimes they even help out mom and dad with chores!  I call that a win all around!  My nephew got this cleaning set over the holidays, and it was fun to see my three year old play with it.  Guess what is on his birthday list?!?  I keep hoping he will help me tidy up or at least sweep up the constant messes that he seems to make.

 

 

Big Building Bag (classic) (80 pieces)I also like to look at learning types of toys, especially since I know preschool will be just around the corner.  We regularly work on letter recognition and colors.  In this category I like simple 5-6 piece puzzles, building blocks like Mega Blocks which are easy to stack and sort by color or counting, and even things like arranging them by size.

 

 

 

 

Toys that target imaginary play are important to consider as well.  My son also loves to dress up – so a few costumes might be a good fit here while we learn about different types of “jobs” in the community.  He currently has a dress up costume for a firefighter and construction worker and we have seen lots of great pretend play from these.  He also loves cooking in the kitchen, I like to present all types of foods for his play kitchen beyond the traditional meat and potatoes to include vegetables.  This tote from Learning Resources has a variety of fresh fruits and vegtables which then we use to talk about why we need to eat our veggies at dinner – which are unfortunatley not a favorite!  I love watching my son cook – and he’s now even more intersted in helping me prepare healthy snacks like carrots and apple slices.

 

 

 

VTech   Call & Chat Learning PhoneAs a tech mom, I also like to look at “tech toys”.  We introduced a tablet to my younger son at the age of 2.5 – earlier than I would have liked, but we limit #screentime and try to ensure we balance out learning in other ways.  We also have had fun getting toys like a pretend remote control which helps him work on numbers and colors.  He has an “old school” flip phone that he pretends to call me on from daycare on occasion which is fun as well.  When using the iPad I try to limit him to educational type stories or learning type apps.  We also love listening to music on the iPad and getting up to dance.  Be sure to check out our app reviews here at The iMums for some great apps to add to your device.  We also have some great tech toy reviews as well including a Bluebee Pal named Hudson that my son adores who reads stories to him from books on our iPad.

 

My son loves all things that move and go.  Little People are among his favorites.  He likes to intermix the Little People along with farm animals so it can make for some pretty creative combinations when he is playing.  By far his favorite though is his racetrack.  We practice patience – using the “on your mark, get set, go” as well as turn taking skills when he plays with other kids.  Most of the time, if my son is given the choice of toys to play with he will almost always choose something that can go.  He enjoys a variety of cars, trucks, and construction vehicles.  This year, I know I am looking at some Tonka Trucks he will be able to play with outside as well as a few of the lights & sounds trucks which are among his friends favorites.

 

 

 

6 Count Washable FingerpaintLast but not least are the “fun factor toys”.  Many of these toys fit into the “messy” category and include things like paints, bath toys and more.  We use crayons, markers, finger paints, chalk to make fun art related creations.  The most important piece here for me is a smock, and then we can move on to good “clean” fun!   Kids learn and practice so many skills when doing artwork like grasp as well as figuring out spacing on a page.  These may not be my favorites given the mess factor but I do love all of the artwork they create.

 

 

 

No matter what you choose, your three year old will love it.  My son loves sitting with me and playing toys no matter what the day.  Seeing him have enjoyment during play on his face – is simply priceless!

 

NOTE: This post is a partnership with Nakturnal.  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.

 

Article: Character and Kids in a Digital Media World

 

digital_character

Build Character Strengths with Quality Media

How to support kids’ character and life-skills development through media — and parenting. By Caroline Knorr

How to support kids’ character and life-skills development through media — and parenting.

Every parent wants to raise kids with strong character. Grateful, humble, compassionate, brave: We know these strengths lead to improved well-being, better relationships, and sound communities.

Still, figuring out which characteristics to teach, how to reinforce them, and even whose job it is to do it (parent, teacher, coach?) is a thorny issue. And when kids are spending several hours a day glued to a screen — possibly on a personal device with earbuds in — it can be difficult to find opportunities to reinforce character lessons. Here’s the good news: Media — from video games to TV shows to movies — can help teach character. But it doesn’t just happen. Parents have to make it happen by choosing quality media, focusing on character-building ideas, and talking about the messages.

You’re probably already doing some of this, by watching TV with your kid and asking why a character made certain choices; playing a video game and helping your kid learn to take turns and be a good sport; and discussing responsible online behavior.

You’re on the right track. The days of simply restricting kids’ media use for fear that it hinders character growth are over. With kids using media for everything from playtime to learning to creating to communicating, it’s essential that parents use these opportunities to strengthen kids’ social-emotional development.

Why It Matters

In today’s digital world, many parents worry about the loss of character as more kids spend time alone on a computer or communicating through a screen. But research shows that kids can and do learn from media — what matters is which messages they’re absorbing and how those messages get reinforced.

Whether it’s from a preschool show about sharing or a teen video game about war, lessons about character can positively affect kids’ behavior and self-esteem. Most importantly, parents who are involved in their kids’ media lives — parents who co-view, co-play, and talk about TV shows, movies, books, and games — reinforce their own values as well as the media’s pro-social messages.

Character-Trait and Life-Skills Media Advice by Age

As former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson put it, “All television is educational television. The question is, what is it teaching?” You can apply this question to all media. By choosing shows, movies, apps, games, and books geared toward your kid’s age and developmental stage, you can better support character lessons.

Tips for Parents of Little Kids
Tips for Parents of Big Kids
Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens

Character Traits, Life Skills, and Media Picks That Support Them


Tips for Parents of Little Kids
Watch, play, read, and talk. Simply enjoying a show, a book, or a game together and discussing a character’s behavior and actions helps kids better understand the internal motivation behind character traits. At this age, kids will soak up whatever they see and hear, so look for media with positive role models, messages about sharing and being a good friend, and managing feelings. These tips can help:

Books, TV, Movies

  • Keep things simple. Stories with one main idea that’s supported by the action are most effective for preschoolers. Look for short TV shows that stick to pro-social messages. Little kids often think that it’s the threat of punishment that makes a protagonist behave a certain way. Help them understand that it’s important to do the right thing even when, for example, you won’t get caught.
  • Don’t expect young kids to understand the moral of the story. Folktales and fables are fun, but their messages don’t necessarily get through to preschoolers (especially when the characters aren’t human). No need to push it if the moral is lost on your kid.
  • Look for characters and situations your kid can relate to. Kids who see themselves in a protagonist are more likely to understand and copy their pro-social behavior. A show about the importance of honesty, for example, will go over better if your kid has something in common with the character — say, a new baby sister or a dislike of broccoli.

Interactive, Digital Media

  • Model digital citizenship. Put your phone away when you’re not using it — and explain that you don’t want your phone to get in the way of your time with your kids. When you go online, explain to your kids exactly what you’re doing. Tell them that you’re respectful of people you’re talking to and texting with. (Get more screen-time tips.)
  • Set limits around screen time. Establish rules about when kids can play with your phone to help develop self-control.

Tips for Parents of Big Kids
Help kids translate positive media messages to their own behavior. Co-viewing, co-playing, and modeling good digital citizenship continue to be important. Once kids can read, write, and go online independently, character lessons can extend to how you expect your kids to act in the online world. These tips can help:

Books, Movies, TV

  • Simple is still better. This age group still has some difficulty understanding character lessons in complex stories. They need to see the basic cause-and-effect sequence of how a character’s motives are connected to actions and consequences.
  • Fables can wait. Children are typically unable to extract lessons from fables until fourth grade. Younger children tend to retell specific parts of the story instead of absorbing a more general principle. Enjoy them if you want to — just don’t expect kids to learn the morality message.

Interactive, Digital Media

  • Teach digital citizenship. Explain your rules about responsible online behavior.
  • Choose cooperative games. Find games that depend on players working together to solve a problem.
  • Failing is OK. Look for apps that reward you for trying and trying again.
  • Think outside the box. Introduce games and apps that emphasize creativity and curiosity vs. those that are simply goal-oriented.

Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens
At this age, kids can make clearer distinctions between right and wrong. As digital savvy increases, tweens and teens appreciate what they have — and the responsibility that they have to make the digital world a positive environment. These tips can help:

Books, Movies, TV

  • Seek out complexity. Tweens are emotionally and mentally mature enough to understand others’ perspectives and to engage in abstract reasoning. At this age, you can discuss how a character acts when he’s conflicted.
  • Stay involved. The ability to summarize the gist or main theme of a story develops late, often not until age 14. Tweens and teens still need parents to guide them through the intended moral takeaway.
  • Don’t be obvious. Tweens and teens often reject moralistic messages to protect their sense of freedom and/or reassert their independence. Offer titles in which there’s a moral dilemma and no clear-cut choice. When older kids interpret books, movies, or shows as agenda-less, absorbing, and relevant, they are most likely to really get the moral lessons they model. Instead of pointing out the lesson, ask them what they think and engage them in critical thinking.

Interactive, Digital Media

  • Discuss online ethics. Talk about the importance of staying true to yourself even in seemingly consequence-free situations. It’s easy to cheat or copy work, for example, but that damages your integrity.
  • Teach kids to be upstanders. Help them develop compassion and empathy by talking about the importance of standing up for people who are victimized online or in person.
  • Talk about anonymity. At this age, kids may not yet understand how their seemingly anonymous behavior can have a real effect on real people. Help them develop a sense of empathy with their online relationships.
  • Stress respectful communication. Kindness is only part of it. Explain how to comment constructively and contribute productively on social media.
  • Help them protect their and others’ privacy. Discuss what should remain private and what’s OK to put out there.
  • Put “likes” in perspective. It’s not necessarily a bad thing when kids compete for followers on Instagram or other social media. But help tweens and teens realize that their self-worth isn’t determined by how many likes they get — and that a little humility is a positive virtue.
  • Remind them of the value of their devices. However it works for you — whether it’s having your kid contribute money or chores or making them pay outright for downloads — it’s important for kids to develop gratitude by understanding that these things are a privilege.
  • Encourage your kid’s school to teach digital literacy. So much of what happens at school is mirrored in the online world. It benefits the entire community when kids learn to be responsible digital citizens.

Character Traits, Life Skills, and Media Picks That Support Them

Common Sense Media worked with researchers and educators to identify and define 11 key characteristics that embody life skills, moral choices, and personal virtues. We then mapped each trait to movies and TV shows so you can easily find shows and use our reviews to start conversations.

Communication
Listening attentively and appreciatively, expressing yourself clearly and sensitively, and honoring differences.
Movies That Promote Communication
TV That Promotes Communication

Compassion
Caring about others and behaving toward others with affection, generosity, and concern.
Movies That Inspire Compassion
TV That Inspires Compassion

Courage
Taking on challenges even when there’s risk. Speaking up for what’s right even if there’s opposition; acting on your convictions.
Movies That Inspire Courage
TV That Inspires Courage

Curiosity
Having a strong desire to learn or know something — a search for information for its own sake. Actively seeking out challenges and new experiences.
Movies That Inspire Curiosity
TV That Inspires Curiosity

Empathy
Understanding the feelings and perspective of another person; putting yourself “in their shoes.”
Movies That Inspire Empathy
TV That Inspires Empathy

Gratitude
Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen in your life and taking the time to express appreciation and return kindness.
Movies That Inspire Gratitude
TV That Inspires Gratitude

Humility
Not regarding yourself as more special or better than others.
Movies That Promote Humility
TV That Promotes Humility

Integrity
Speaking the truth. Acting in a sincere way. Treating people equally and taking responsibility for your feelings and actions.
Movies That Inspire Integrity
TV That Inspires Integrity

Perseverance
Persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles. Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Movies That Promote Perseverance
TV That Promotes Perseverance

Self-Control
Being able to appropriately manage your thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Requires paying attention to your emotions and feelings.
Movies That Promote Self-Control
TV That Promotes Self-Control

Teamwork
Working respectfully and effectively with a group and doing your share.
Movies That Promote Teamwork
TV That Promotes Teamwork

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.

Article: Why Kids Should Science More

8 Reasons Why Kids Should Science More 

From a very early age children love to learn new things, and not only do they love to learn, they are experts at it. Children learn by playing, observing, doing, testing ideas and pushing boundaries.

In many ways the way in which children learn is the same way a basic scientific study would be conducted: start with a bit of knowledge, come up with a hypothesis based on that bit of knowledge, test and learn from the outcome (good or bad).

And this is a practice that should be encouraged, nurtured and built upon. Science is not only a great subject because of the things that can eventually be done with it, but because of the life skills that it also teaches along the way.

So what are the life skills that science can teach? Check out the following infographic created by psychology and science website psysci to read about 8 of them:

 

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About the author

Marcus has a degree in psychology, a masters degree in health psychology and has worked within the NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus started psysci a psychology and science blog in order to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources.

Article: 5 ways to curb in-app purchases for kids on their device

Kids_IAP

Mystery charges on your credit card are usually bad news. But when it’s your own kid racking up fees on your iTunes account, it’s a lesson in frustration. Some kids don’t realize they’re spending actual money when an app asks them to pay to level up or get a better weapon. Or, maybe they do understand but can’t think through the consequences of not getting your permission.

The good news is that it’s not hard to prevent your kids from accumulating big bills with in-app purchases on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. These tips can help:

Restrict access. Use the iPhone’s Restrictions to simply turn off the ability to make in-app purchases. Go to Settings, then General, then Restrictions. Under Allow, choose Off for in-app purchases. Important: Restrictions requires a passcode to lock the settings. This is not the same code as the phone’s passcode lock. Don’t be tempted to use the same code for each, and don’t tell your kid your Restrictions passcode.

Require a passcode immediately. Unless you’re running a really old version of iOS (and if you are, it’s time for an update), you have the option either to require a passcode immediately for any in-app purchase or to allow a 15-minute grace period during which, after an initial in-app purchase, you can make purchases without reentering the code for the iTunes account. Require the passcode immediately through the Restrictions settings.

Use Family Sharing. Let’s say you want to allow your responsible kid to make purchases but not go wild. You can set up a family group and hand select apps to share to your kid’s device. If they want to buy apps, you can select Ask to Buy so that you can approve or deny purchase requests, even if the app is free.

Set expectations. Once the device’s settings are squared away, it’s time to establish some rules about in-app purchases. Decide whether you’re willing to pay for them and, if so, under what circumstances. Or say you’ll buy the game but won’t allow any extra charges. When your kid wants a new app, look at the number of in-app purchases available in a game (usually found on the app description page) before buying.

Choose apps without purchases. Sometimes you have to pay more for apps that don’t have in-app purchases. When it comes to apps for little kids, it’s usually worth it. Also, it may be cheaper over the long run to pay more initially, and you won’t wind up with extra charges you can’t account for.

About the author – Christine Elgersma

Christine Elgersma started as Senior Editor, Apps and Digital Learning in January, 2015. Before coming to Common Sense, she helped cultivate and create ELA curriculum for a K-12 app, taught the youth of America as a high school teacher, a community college teacher, a tutor, and a special education instructional aide. Christine is also a writer, primarily of fiction and essays, and loves to read all manner of books from Stephen King to Anne Lamott. When she’s not putting on a spontaneous vaudeville show with her daughter, Christine loves to hike and listen to music, sometimes simultaneously.

 

 

 

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.

 

Article: Digital media resolutions every family should make in 2017

digital_media_resolutions

Start the New Year on the right foot with tips for being an awesome digital role model. By Caroline Knorr

Working out and eating right are at the top of most people’s New Year’s resolutions. But as tough as those are, nothing compares with the challenge of a healthy media diet. There are screen-time limits to manage, new apps to investigate, bizarre social media trends to make sense of (what’s with the mannequin challenge, anyway?), and, don’t forget, plenty more Pokémon to catch. It’s like a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet when all you really want is a carrot stick. But in a world where both parents and kids are racking up serious screen time, making a commitment to a healthy media environment is critical for family time, learning, relationships, and digital citizenship.

It won’t always be easy to make your media resolutions stick. Especially because we parents tend to gobble up as much screen time as our kids. Unlike those midnight-snack runs after the kids go to bed, however, your media habits are being recorded by tiny ears and eyes. But we’re all in this together: This fun, crazy, innovative, challenging media environment affects us all. So whether you’re turning over a new leaf or trying to stay the course, our 2017 media resolutions can help you be more mindful, focus on what’s most important, get the most out of media and technology, and raise good digital citizens.

Have a device-free dinner. Piles of research show the benefits of family dinner. But the simple act of leaving your devices off the table — just a few times a week — allows you to role-model good digital habits (and actually talk to your kids).

When it comes to media, think quality, not quantity. Instead of counting up every minute your kid spends watching YouTube, strive for a balance of online and offline activities throughout the week.

Use media for relationship strengthening. While there are concerns that media isolates us, it can absolutely bring us together — if you take advantage of how it connects you.

  • Try video-chatting, scrolling through digital photo albums, playing video games, and even sharing music playlists to bond with your kids.

Don’t ban; have a plan. Keep an open mind about your kids’ media and tech, and accept the important — and often beneficial — role they play in your kids’ lives.  When you have clear lines of communication, you can slip in your messages.

  • Create a family media plan to ensure that kids stick to limits. Encourage them to behave positively online and be upstanders. Talk to them about what they watch, play, create, and read.

Seek out diverse characters. Exposure to a variety of types of people increases tolerance and acceptance and dispels dangerous stereotypes. Being able to get along with all types of people is a skill that will help kids whether they’re interacting online or in the real world.

Raise media-savvy kids. If 2016 was the year fake news went viral, make 2017 the year your kids learn how to view all media (not just “news”) critically.

Tighten your privacy. Our increasingly connected world puts kids’ personal privacy and online data at risk. Just last year, several high-profile companies settled a suit alleging that they had violated the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) by allowing kids’ data to be tracked. The ability to share anything at any time can be especially dicey to tweens and teens who may not be able to think through all the ways their posts can be used by others.

  • Make sure kids use strict privacy settings on social media, apps, and other accounts, and make sure they know not to share any personal information (name, age, address, Social Security number) with people they meet online.

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.

5 ways to improve work-life balance for work at home moms

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5 ways to improve work-life balance for work at home moms

Working from home may sound like a dream, but housework, children, and spouses can quickly cause distractions that are impossible to ignore. For many moms, working from home helps them to avoid childcare costs and allows them to spend more time with their children. Unfortunately, sticking to a solid 9 – 5 working day and striking a work-life balance presents a tough challenge. Improve your work-life balance by following our tips for work at home moms.

Create an office space

Having a space that’s separated from the rest of the house can help to stop you from getting distracted by other household tasks and put you in the right frame of mind for work. Set up your office space with a good desk, supportive chair and a high-speed internet connection to ensure that you have the right tools to let you concentrate on your work.

3605107785_5f1f291f91-1Break up your time

Working from home with young children? Break up your time into little 30 minute chunks and set your children a task to complete during that time. This could mean coloring in a picture, tidying up their toys or watching their favorite videos on YouTube. Set an egg timer and use this time to focus wholly on your own tasks without distraction.

Introduce a morning routine

Make the most of the time that your kids are still in bed by getting up early and starting your day before them. That way, you’ll have a few precious hours to get a head start on work before you need to wake your children up and get them ready for the day. Additionally, introducing a morning routine that includes getting up early, showering and getting dressed for work. There’s no need for a full suit and heels, but getting out of your pajamas and into work clothes will make you more productive.

Commit to time for yourself

Schedule in time for yourself in your diary and stick to it. Commit to allowing yourself time every day to unwind for half an hour or so. Download a fitness app and do a workout, have a cup of tea and read a book or do some gentle stretching. Doing something that’s just for you will allow you to cool down from your day and prepare for your evening.

Continue to be flexible

As a work from home mom, you’ll find that your schedule needs to remain flexible. As your child grows and changes, they’ll need varying levels of attention and care. On top of that, parenting often throws up unforeseen circumstances like doctor’s appointments and dentist check-ups that require you to be flexible. Make the most of the routine when you can stick to it, but don’t get stressed out on the days when you can’t.

 

The most important thing about being a work from home mom is to allow yourself to make mistakes and adjustments based on what works for you. Every day isn’t going to be perfect, so cut yourself a little slack!

 

Image by Ian Barbour and A Girl With Tea used under CC license

About the author:

Samantha is an English instructor who is known for her unmatched passion for teaching.  In addition to an remarkable grasp of the English language, her grammatical expertise as well as creativity and writing prowess made her one the most sought after instructors in her home city.  Now, Samantha brings you thought-provoking articles that elicit deep thinking and analysis.