Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Nook: Look, See the Bird!

Books can be a great way to introduce kids to scientific concepts they might not normally be interested. A new book I got to review, Look, See the Bird! is s beautiful book that encourages children to be observant about the world around them. It also incorporates connection with nature and good stewardship. 

The book shows children in several different places learning about birds in their area. Each time, they point out a bird, and each time, they learn about birds in Nicaragua, Alabama, and Ontario. By incorporating different places, and more facts about the birds in the back of the book, kids will learn about science and geography. Even if your child isn't a great bird-watcher, this is a good way to get him or her to look and see the diversity of birds available in your own area, and how it changes throughout the year.


About the Authors

Katie Fallon is a nature writer, educator, and wild bird rehabilitator. She is the author of Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird and Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird, which was a finalist for the Reed Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment. She has taught writing at Virginia Tech and West Virginia University, and is a founder of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia.

Bill Wilson is the co-founder of Birds & Beans® Coffee and a consumer-marketing expert with over 30 years of domestic and international experience. Birds & Beans® Coffee is the only coffee brand in the US that solely roasts Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center 'Bird Friendly®' certified beans, 100% shade grown, organic and Fair-Trade certified coffee. The enterprise is a for profit conservation business aimed at helping stop songbird population drops. Birds & Beans conservation partners include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy.

Leigh Anne Carter is a naturalist and freelance illustrator. After traveling to California to pursue an education for science illustration she moved back to her native city of Charlotte, North Carolina. She illustrated The Birds of Mecklenburg County and is involved in local conservation efforts and education.

Consumer Critique: Kidstir Taco Truck Fun Kit

There are a variety of ways to inspire and encourage budding chefs at home. It can be hard if you aren't an excellent cook yourself, though - coming up with great recipes can be a challenge, and it isn't always easy to know what's appropriate for kids developing skills.

Kidstir provides subscription boxes, and they recently sent me the Taco Truck Fun Kit, which is available without a subscription. The kit includes three Mexican recipes: Guac & Roll, Food Truck Tacos, and Arroz con Leche. There were activities to teach Spanish, math, and food facts, and there are additional recipes available on the website, like Fresh Salsa and Churro Salsa.

The recipes come pre-punched and ready to go into the Kidstir cookbook. There are cute little tongs and other accessories that come as well, to make it even more fun to use. If you want to get a taste of what Kidstir is all about, this is a good way to do it.

Right now you can save 30% by signing up for the newsletter, so it's a great time to check them out!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Amazing Apps: Care Bears Music Band

TabTale teamed up with Care Bears and created “Care Bears Music Band.” It's available for Android and iOS.


There’s always a new rainbow-filled adventure happening in Care-a-Lot, and now you can be a part of it! Harmony Bear is starting a Care Bears band, and all the bears need your help making amazing music and sharing their cheerful beats! Create music that shows the world how important friendship, caring and sharing is!

Features:
> It’s your job to help Grumpy, Harmony, Share, Cheer and Funshine practice their music.
> Now’s your chance to be a DJ! Record your own beats and add awesome special effects to create beautiful, colorful music.
> Get the adorable bears ready for the big music concert, and make sure they play the best music Care-a-Lot has ever heard.
> Dress up in cute costumes with the cuddly Care Bears! The funny accessories and costumes will fill you with happiness.
> Uh-oh! One of the instruments broke. Fix it at the repair shop before it’s time for the show.
> Design the stage for the big concert – make it extra colorful so the Care Bears will love it.
> Make a rainbow with the Care Bears badges, and get virtual blind bags with surprise presents!
> Take selfies with your huggable Care Bears friends and save the photos.
> Bathtime has never been so fun! Take a musical bath with singing Care Bears.
> Start your own Care Bears collection – collect Care Bears Collectible Figures.
> Have a blast with beautiful Care Bears coloring pages.


Plus, check out their current giveaway through July 31st!

Sweepstakes: Two New Contests from Lucktastic

Lucktastic, a pure play, free app and entertainment destination that is reimagining winning experiences, rewards, and discovery, today announced the launch of two new giveaways, Win Across America: Summer Break and Destination: Freedom.

“Summer is here and what better way to celebrate than with unique rewards and experiences to get people out of the house and into the sun,” said Tony Vartanian, co-founder of Lucktastic. “Our team has curated some amazing contests for our users that will have them playing daily for the chance to nab one of these great prizes. Download and log on today for your chance to win!”

Win Across America: Summer Break runs from July 1 - August 31 and awards $1,000 to one winner in each state, for a total of $50,000 awarded. The team from Lucktastic has designed scratch cards that are unique to each state and players will only see the scratch card for the state they are registered in.

Destination: Freedom runs from July 4 - August 16 and will give one lucky winner the chance to choose and visit a classic American iconic landmark. Options include the majestic Grand Canyon, a trip to Philadelphia to get a taste of independence, the amazing water feature that is Niagara Falls, and our nation’s capital Washington DC. The two person experience includes airfare, three nights accommodations, $500 spending money, and one tour/activity of the winner’s choice.

Lucktastic will also launch an additional giveaway perfect for summer road warriors called Gas For a Month. One person each week will win a $200 gas gift card to the gas station of their choice.

About Lucktastic
Considered one of New York City's fastest growing mobile-first companies, Lucktastic is the leader in delivering innovative promotions, rewards, and instant winning experiences. The company connects consumers with top partners in mobile gaming, commerce, branding, and product discovery. The pure play, free to play Lucktastic app launched on Android in 2014 and has quickly built an engaged and loyal customer base attracting nearly 15 million installs in the US on Android and iOS. With a dominant social footprint that includes over 2 million Facebook fans, the Lucktastic brand reaches 12 million weekly unique American consumers. For more information visit www.jumpramp.com.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Thrifty Thinking: The Cost of Childcare

Did you know 1 in 3 families spend 20% or MORE of their household income on child care? For the fourth year in a row, Care.com's Cost of Care Report spoke in-depth with more than 1,000 parents nationwide about their child-care spending habits, including the rising costs of child care centers, nannies, and babysitters. 

  • 1 in 3 families spend 20% or more of their household income on child care
     
  • 52% of families think they're spending too much on child care.
     
  • 32% of families are willing to go in debt (or further in the hole) to pay for child care

The Cost of Care Survey is an annual survey to measure the relative cost of care in the U.S. and how care impacts families’ budgets and employment. The Care.com 2017 Cost of Care Survey captured responses from more than 1,100 parents in the United States. The complete list of rankings and detailed methodology can be found here. 

Thrifty Thinking: Millennials and Credit Cards

Lend EDU just released the results of their Millennials and Credit Cards Survey. Among the findings:
- 41% of Millennials said that the thought of using a credit card is a
scary thing.
- 36% of Millennials said that they have maxed out their credit card limit
- 45% of Millennials said that they do not know the interest rate on
their credit card, yet 48% carry a balance on their credit card each
month.
- 24% of Millennials see their credit card as a status symbol
- 6% of Millennials said that a late payment would help their credit score

I had a chance to interview to learn more.
Why is using a credit card scary for millennials?
Using a credit card is scary for millennials because it is believed that many in this generation are afraid of using credit and taking on debt. This stems from growing up in the midst of the Great Recession, when debt was vilified and perceived as a way to damage your financial health. 

What makes it easy to max out credit cards?
It is easy to max out credit cards if you are not paying attention to your spending and financial statements. Swiping a credit card is an effortless process and although it may seem like you are not spending "real" money, you most certainly are.

How can millennials avoid the trap of credit card debt?
Millennials can avoid the trap of credit card debt by not overspending on their credit card and paying attention to their financial habits. It is widely accepted that you should not be utilizing more than 30 percent of your credit.

What can parents do to encourage their young adults to use credit responsibly?
Parents can encourage their young adults to use credit responsibly by guiding them along in their first few months of having a credit card. Read your child's financial statements, pay attention to their spending habits, and give them fair warning when they are being reckless with their credit card. Remind them that credit cards can be an incredibly useful and dynamic financial tool if used correctly, but can also be quite damaging if abused.

Unique Investment Opportunity: Lice Clinics of America

Lice Clinics of America (LCA) – the world's largest lice treatment products and services company – recently announced the launch of a unique Title III Equity CF Campaign (Reg CF) in conjunction with StartEngine, allowing the everyday consumer, such as parents, families, healthcare professionals, as well as accredited investors the opportunity to receive equity in a business that will always be in demand: head lice.

LCA created the investment campaign to not only raise capital up to $1 million to advance and expand their ongoing growth strategy – in an industry where failure of the leading global brands has created great opportunity for innovation – but also to let consumers and investors know the brand’s story and mission to put an end to head lice.

Healthy Habits: ADHD Interview with Dr. Thomas Armstrong


Did you know that up to 70% of parents take their kids off medication during summer break?[i] Approximate when 6.4 million kids[ii] diagnosed with ADHD will be returning to school and their drug cocktails this fall. In order to be diagnosed as ADHD, symptoms should be observed in multiple settings (i.e. school and home), and this disorder may be over-diagnosed. 



In this newly revised edition THE MYTH OF THE ADHD CHILD: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion, psychologist and learning specialist Dr. Thomas Armstrong looks at the effects of medication and the industry that has made it so common, with about two-thirds of the book dedicated to non-medical strategies to help kids with ADHD. I had a chance to interview him to learn more.

  Q & A for Motherhood Moment Blog


  • What are some of the dangers of over-medicating children?

There are certain side effects or risks associated with ADHD-drug use.  First, there are the minor side effects such as sleep problems, decreased appetite, headaches, stomach aches, and/or irritability.  These can often be controlled through physician supervised changes in dosage.  Second, there are more serious side effects such as nervous tics (e.g. facial contractions), moodiness, or ‘’spacey’’ or ‘’zombie’’-like behavior, which might require a change in medication.  Finally, there are reports of much rarer side effects that include bone problems, cardiovascular events, psychosis, and even unexplained sudden death.  The fact that there are these sort of risks connected with taking ADHD drugs means that parents ought to look into non-drug interventions first before considering medicating their kids..



  • What are some strategies for kids who exhibit some signs of ADHD besides medication?

My book The Myth of the ADHD Child,  describes 101 non-drug strategies that parents can implement with their ADHD-diagnosed kids.  Of course, I don’t expect parents to try all 101 strategies!  I’ve included a questionnaire in the book to help parents decide which strategies might be best suited to their unique child.  Here are a few of the interventions that I discuss:

  • Diet – new research is showing that a junk food or fast food diet is associated with ADHD behaviors while a Mediterranean diet (whole grains and legumes, lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish high in Omega 3 oils such as salmon, trout and tuna, lean meats, and extra virgin olive oil) can help ameliorate those problems.

  • Exercise – this strategy is obviously a good one for promoting good physical health, but it’s also been seen to be an excellent way to improve the behavior and attention span of kids diagnosed with ADHD.  The exercise should be moderate-to-vigorous and involve continuous motion (such as with running, swimming, playing soccer, or bicycling).

  • Creative Arts – kids with hyperactivity, distractibility, and/or impulsivity have all this energy but often no really good place to channel it.  By involving your child in music, painting, drawing, collage, drama, dance, or other creative outlets, you’ll be feeding the novelty that kids diagnosed with ADHD need a higher dose of, and giving them a way of constructively using their super-charged energy.

  • Limit Entertainment Media – I believe one of the reasons for the epidemic of kids diagnosed with ADHD is the fact that they are spending too much time texting, surfing the Internet, playing video games, and engaging with social media.  Research is showing that too much of this is associated with ADHD-related behavior, so limit entertainment media (educational media is fine) and eliminate as much as possible exposure to violent media.

  • Nature – there’s good research out there saying that the more time kids spend in nature, the less they engage in ADHD-related behaviors, and the wilder the environment (e.g. hiking in the woods), the more the symptoms decrease.  So, encourage your child to play in the park, take walks, volunteer for ecology-related activities, and as a family, take vacations in National Parks, on lakes, and/or in other natural settings.

  • How can parents know when medical intervention is appropriate?

Parents should always consult with their doctor before initiating medication use for their kids, changing dosages, or terminating the use of drugs (some ADHD drugs have withdrawal effects that should be supervised by a physician)  But if a number of non-drug interventions such as those suggested above have been tried and the child still seems to be spiralling downwards in terms of his behavior at home and school, then the prescribing of medication by your physician may be warranted.  It’s especially important that the physician regularly monitor the drug(s) over time to help alleviate potential side effects, which may warrant dosage changes or the use of another drug that works better for your child. 

  • How can teachers maintain appropriate expectations of students, allowing for diverse personalities in the classroom?

Some recent studies have shown that when kids diagnosed with ADHD are engaged in active learning (e.g. sharing ideas, writing, reciting, building), their behavior becomes indistinguishable from typically developing children.  Kids identified as ADHD have a need for more stimulation than the average child, so a stimulating curriculum (which is good for all children) is the best sort of classroom for them.  Of course, there are always times when it’s going to be boring (e.g. test-taking time, reading, listening to lectures), but research suggests that it’s okay for these kids to fidget (it helps them focus), and some teachers have given them squeeze balls to keep their hands busy, and even ‘’wiggle furniture’’ like a stability ball to sit on while they work. I think that if the teacher provides a lot of variety in the way she teaches in the classroom (including hands-on learning, music, visual media, time in nature, social interactions, drama etc.), the more she’ll be attending to the diverse personalities in the classroom, including kids diagnosed with ADHD. 

Area Attractions: Lego Americana Roadshow at Ridgedale (Minnetonka) This Weekend

 Ridgedale Center will host THE LEGO® Americana Roadshow, a highly visual, educational and free traveling installation of larger than life LEGO replicas of some of our nation’s most beloved landmarks.

Ten one-of-a-kind, large scale models of American Landmarks made completely out of LEGO bricks by LEGO Master Builders – including the U.S. Capitol Building, White House, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, and Old North Church – take over Boise Towne Square and entertain guests with stunning visuals and fun facts.
Saturday, July 29th through Sunday, August 13th
Exhibition Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm
Sunday 11:00pm-6:00pm

Don't live in MN? The tour still has stops remaining at Mayfair in Wauwatosa, WI; Natick Mall in Natick, MA; and Staten Island Mall in NYC.

Fun Freetime: Lost in Oz (Amazon Original Kids)

A brand-new Amazon Original Kids series, Lost in Oz, is heading to Prime Video on Friday, August 4.

The new series, which expands on the multiple Emmy Award-winning Amazon Original special, Lost in Oz: Extended Adventure, is a magical, modern adaptation of the beloved Oz books from L. Frank Baum for today’s generation of families!

In Lost in Oz, 12-year-old Dorothy Gale discovers her mother’s magical travel journal hidden beneath the floorboards of their Kansas home. The book triggers a tornado, which rips her house from its foundation and transports Dorothy and her dog, Toto, to Emerald City, a bustling, modern, metropolis. In order to get home, Dorothy learns she must acquire every element on Oz’s “periodic table of magic” – while the city faces the worst magic drought in eons! Along the way, Dorothy and Toto meet unlikely allies in West, Ojo, Reigh the Lion, Scarecrow, and Glinda the Good, who are each eager to help, but struggling with their own problems. Together, they navigate the magical landscape of Oz while undergoing their own unique journeys of self-discovery.

Lost in Oz, featuring the voice talent of Ashley Boettcher (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street), Gina Gershon (Red Oaks), Allison Mack (Smallville), Jorge Diaz (Elena of Avalor), Nika Futterman (Star Wars: Clone Wars),Stephen Stanton (Star Wars Rebels) and Keith Ferguson (The Lego Movie), will be available to stream exclusively for Prime members via the Amazon Prime Video app for TVs; connected devices, including Fire TV and mobile devices; and online. Prime members can also download the series to mobile devices for offline viewing at no additional cost to their membership.