Tag Archives: technology

Encouraging Young Engineers with Robotics for Kids

16 Mar

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With recent developments as innovative as medical robots performing surgery and as hilarious as a 3D printer making pizza in outer space, the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (commonly known as STEM), and more specifically robotics are taking humanity farther than we ever thought possible. Allow your children to actively take part in shaping the world around them with the help of STEM practices.

In fact, by including robotics in regular play, you can engage children in different aspects of engineering and teach different scientific concepts. When children work with STEM toys and activities, they learn problem solving skills, creativity, ingenuity and critical thinking alongside developing a passion for science and mathematics. Keep reading for some great activities and toys to help foster your child’s interest in engineering.

Origami Robots – Start simple by creating a robot using origami. Using traditional Japanese paper folding, you can introduce your child to basic engineering concepts and help them begin to understand the importance of following instructions when it comes to larger projects. The Paper Punk Build Your Own Paper Bot002 incorporates creativity and individuality into construction. Instructions are simple, but stickers and a variety of patterns and designs keep kids from getting bored and allow them to explore their own ingenuity.

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Starting Easy Mio the Robot allows children to construct their own real life, programmable robot. The amount of interchangeable parts helps children think critically and encourages creativity as they bring their robot to life. You can also help children learn some programming basics and work on mathematics to make the robot move!

Explore Versatility – With the Smart Lab Motorblox Robot Lab, children will learn how to build something from scratch. The Robot Lab allows children to build and test three different walking robots. Adding movement allows children to develop problem-solving and experimentation skills while learning about mechanics.

 The Big Leagues – Step up the programming game with the ReCon 6.0, a programmable rover that young engineers can program to navigate specific courses. Children can program the robot to deliver a treat to a pet, surprise a family member with a personalized message, carry a soda, guard a bedroom, or even dance! By working with a more complex type of programming, they will engage with early mathematics and delve into more complicated problem solving.

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Schools are pushing for more STEM concepts in the classroom, but who says they have to stay there? Allow your young ones to put on their thinking caps and encourage exploration, experimentation, and excitement at home with their own personal robot friends! For more STEM toys and products, visit the STEM and STEAM section of our website.

10 Apps to Keep Babies Learning

16 Sep

shutterstock_146931251As a parent, it can be hard to fit everything in. Between nap times, diaper changes, grocery shopping, and making sure the house is semi-clean, allowing time in your schedule to research ways to keep your baby entertained in the busy moments can be hard. Especially if you don’t have a babysitter lined up! That’s where we can help. With the prevalence of tablets and smart phones, it just makes sense to use available technology as learning resources for babies. Here are 10 baby apps that will not only give you a few moments to breathe as your baby engages in independent learning, but will also foster digital literacy in babies as they learn!

Music Apps:

1. Baby Piano (Free)

Do you have a baby Beethoven on your hands? Now you can take the piano wherever you go with Baby Piano! The eight-key piano allows babies to play notes and hear animal sounds as each key has a different animal face on it. Children can also play a nursery rhyme by following lighted keys.

2. Kidzongs ($0.99)

A simple app for simple learning! This app includes six different songs for children to sing along with. Cute animated lyrics accompany each song, sure to stimulate children visually with bright colors and characters.

Early Literacy Apps:

3. Learn To Talk ($1.99)

Great for children between one and three, Learn To Talk teaches children vocabulary and early language skills through the use of flashcards. Babies will use both sound and sight for language learning. This app is great choice for bilingual families.

4. iWriteWords ($2.99)

Allow children to practice handwriting skills as they play entertaining games and learn everything from uppercase and lowercase letters to numbers! iWriteWords is a great app to prepare children for preschool.

Critical Thinking Apps:

5. Baby Flash Cards (Free)

This is a great app for babies that provides colorful flash cards children will love manipulating to learn letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and more! The clear and helpful voice will guide babies along as they begin to understand patterns.

6. Tozzle-Toddler’s Favorite Puzzle ($1.99)

Puzzles are always a great way to develop critical thinking skills in little ones! With Tozzle, children can choose from 20 different puzzles to work on shape recognition and motor skills. Bright colors are sure to make it a favorite!

Animal Apps:

7. Peekaboo Barn ($1.99)

Let children learn by taking an adventure! The app offers both English and Spanish learning as babies hear what sound each animal makes. Not only are adorable illustrations included, but babies will also learn the name of each barn animal they see.

8. I Hear Ewe (Free)

With this app, babies can tap the device to hear different animal sounds. With a range of 24 different animals, babies can play and learn as they touch an animal or vehicle to hear its name announced and get a real sound effect! This is a great app for auditory learning.

The Essentials:

9. Parents Flash Cards (Free)

Get involved with your baby’s learning by teaching them colors, shapes, letters, and numbers all from your phone! Each digital pack contains different games varying from quizzes, to flashcards, to tracing to make it the perfect educational tool for babies! Reward visuals are a bonus that is sure to keep babies engaged!

10.  iBabyPhone ($0.99)

Young children are always fascinated by their parent’s phones. Now, they can have their own with the iBabyPhone (with the exception of no accidental calls made!) This app allows kids to dial numbers without actually calling anyone – saying the name of the number when touched. Babies will learn colors, numbers, animals, and more!

-Having second-guesses about how much time your baby should be spending in front of a screen? Learn how to balance digital learning with appropriate screen time in this related blog post “Managing Your Kids’ Screen Time.”

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Managing Your Kids’ Screen Time

17 Jun

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It can’t be avoided: technology is all around us. In fact, a 2013 study from Common Sense Media reported that kids eight and under spend around two hours a day with a screen. With the abundance of smart phones and tablets, it’s easy to see how unmanaged screen time can be associated with negative side effects in young children such as childhood obesity, increased isolation, and cyber bullying. However, if parents are involved in monitoring children’s time with technology, it can be used to aid in their development instead of harming it. With great parenting alongside limited screen time, young children can be brought up healthy in the digital age. Here are a few ways you can use your child’s screen time to his or her advantage.

Benefits of Online Engagement

Despite screen time being associated with negative side effects, it can actually be used to foster educational growth and encourage children to participate in online communities. Benefits of engaging online include:

  • Keeping already established friendships connected
  • Finding new peers who have the same interests
  • Fostering self-expression through artwork, music, and books
  • Establishing and expressing individual identity

For children to reap the full benefits that technology provides, there must also be rules in place to ensure the time spent online is being used productively. Here are a few things to keep in mind as your child interacts online.

Screen Time Usage

It’s important for parents to limit how much time young children are spending online through their smart phone or tablet. Make sure you establish rules with your children regarding appropriate virtual communication, ex: when they can use technology, how long they can spend on it, and whom they are allowed to contact. A few good questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is your child allowed to text or instant message? If so, who and between what times?
  • What apps can your child download? Do you need to set parental locks before an app can be purchased?
  • Does your child need to take his or her phone or tablet to school?
  • What time does the technology need to be put “to bed?”
  • Are there consequences for violating the agreed upon rules?

Teach Your Kids Netiquette

A lot of rules that govern online interactions simply carry over from teaching children manners. Children need to know that just because the person they are virtually communicating with isn’t in front of them does not mean that negative words have less of an impact. Taunting and cruel messages, or even impersonating a peer, are all forms of cyber bullying and need to be monitored. Within your household, specific rules of ethical online communications need to be established, so that young children know what is expected in their virtual conduct. Some questions to encourage kids to ask themselves would include:

  • Would I say the words I am typing to this person’s face?
  • Would what I’m saying hurt this person’s feelings if taken out of context?
  • Will this photo embarrass someone?
  • Would my parents approve of this message?

Discourage Isolation

Many times the presence of technology in the hands of a child can cause them to be isolated from the person right beside them! Talk to your children about being present in the moment and interacting with the people around them. This will play an integral role in fulfilling young children’s need for social engagement and prevent them from being isolated. For great ideas on how to get kids involved, check out our family engagement resources here.

Understanding Privacy

Every app and platform for virtual communication has privacy settings. Making sure your children understand your rules, such as whom they can engage with online or through text is important in keeping them safe. It is better to have all personal information secure so that only select people can see it. Children need to understand that those privacy standards do NOT apply to family members. Technology guidelines need to be set from the beginning to let your child know what is expected in regards to your right to see their phone or tablet.

We hope you enjoy learning more with your kids and allowing technology to help them do so! For a list of educational apps to get your kids started, check out the following website: http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/gadgets/best-educational-apps-for-kids/

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