kids activities

As kids return to school, educators and parents are split on the use of popular technology tools in class

As the kids return to school, the topic of technology use in the classroom is one that will once again be discussed amongst parents and educators alike. In a time where kids of all ages carry what amounts to a mini-computer in their back pockets, there is no longer the option to decide whether or not this is a topic that’s worthy of discussion. The time is now, and all of us who have a vested interest in how our kids learn will need to step up to the plate to determine how, when and what tools will be used in the learning process.

Smartphone use among kids is continuing to grow, as parents grapple with the question of how old their child should be before they become attached to an electronic device. With access to the latest technology now an expectation by most kids (often as young as elementary school), the answer to this and other related questions must be addressed.

I was recently interviewed by The Canadian Press for perspective on the topics of school, educators, the classroom and technology, specifically the use of smartphones in class. You can read the full article here:

Debate grows over using smartphones and social media in classrooms

 

kids and tech classroom

What do you think? Are you comfortable with your child’s access to technology in the classroom, including cellphones, computers and other devices? Why or why not? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Everything old is new again on the streaming service

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.

Try to explain the concept of “Saturday Morning Cartoons” to a child who’s only known 24/7 TV, “The Google,” no less than a few thousand satellite channels and unlimited shows online via the likes of YouTube and other sites.

The Good Old Days” exist only in the minds of said child’s parent, who bemoans the fact that waking up early to run downstairs and watch television every Saturday is a memory quickly fading.

How does one explain the growing anticipation of Saturday morning, the countdown to the end of the week, the adrenaline that wakes up kids at the crack of dawn, hours before anyone else in the household would even think of opening their eyes? There was nothing like it and likely won’t be anything like it again.

That is, of course, unless you start a new Saturday morning tradition. With the latest family-friendly additions to Netflix which include some of the classics of yesteryear, everything old is new again.

If you’re looking to recreate your childhood memories of Saturday morning TV viewing, consider introducing your kids to these shows, now streaming on Netflix:

Garfield and Friends

Garfield the Cat and his wacky group of friends were everywhere in the 80’s and early ’90’s. The sloth-like and sarcastic tabby who despised the thought of any type of work was a favourite among both kids and adults.

Garfield and Friends

The Magic School Bus

A great combination of education and entertainment, this program keeps the kids glued to the screen as science was made fun. The Magic School Bus set out on a different adventure every weekend and now your kids can also travel along on an educational journey with the crew.

Magic Schoolbus

My Little Pony

Not exactly rainbows and unicorns, but close. Pastel colours, sparkles and characters with names such as Baby Heart Throb, Baby Cuddles and Sweet Stuff made this show a favourite in the ’80s.

My Little Pony

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

These turtles also double as super-heroes who battle criminals and bad guys, all in the name of justice. Oh, and they have names inspired by Renaissance-era painters. Cool, right?

TMNT

Star Wars Clone Wars

Yup, your favourite Star Wars characters are all here: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, and Darth Maul. The Clone Wars follows the Republic’s clone army in their struggle against Count Dooku’s Separatist forces and will keep your kids riveted (if they’re into this sort of thing).

CloneWars

Spiderman

If you grew up in the ’70’s or ’80s, you know the Spiderman Song by heart, and your kids should too.

Spiderman

Scooby-Doo

If only for the groovy music, Scooby-Doo is a must-watch program for parents who want to relive their 70’s childhood and kids who want to get hip with the lingo of a groovy era.

ScoobyDoo

 

What are your favourite “old school” Saturday morning cartoons? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Some basic tips to help parents with common parenting challenges


Top parenting tips

Ever feel like parenting is this big secret that you’re not in on?

It’s no surprise that most of us feel like this at one time or another.

Let’s face it – being a parent is tough, to say the least. What to do and how to do it are on the minds of most parents at any given time.

Some time back, I wrote this post – Parenting Advice That You Were Never Told – and the information included was so basic yet so true, that I thought I’d revisit the topic again, this time via video.

Check out my YouTube channel for the latest clip where I provide some quick and easy parenting tips on this very subject and let me know what you think! If you have any additional tips to add, please do so in the comments section below, or on YouTube.

The Top 5 Parenting Secrets You Were Never Told

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Kickstarting My YouTube Channel

by Samantha on May 26, 2015

youtube logo

I’m kickstarting my YouTube channel.

No, not that kind of “kickstarting.”

After a long hiatus, I’m restarting my video blogging in addition to writing on this blog. Life has been busy and sadly, I’ve neglected the channel for some time now. You know how it goes – life gets in the way, and between work, kids, laundry and homework, personal pursuits tend to take a backseat to more pressing items.

That being said, I’ve realized that vlogging (as well as blogging) is something that I enjoy, a fact that I’ve realized since being away from it for the past while.

As they say, “there’s no time like the present,” so here’s to taking a second jump into the world of video blogging on one of the Internet’s most popular sites.

On my YouTube channel you’ll find parenting tips, advice, opinion and insight, as well as previous and future media appearances.

I hope you’ll check it out and subscribe – I promise to update the channel regularly with interesting and informative information, as well as timely and relevant topics related to parenting and raising kids.

See you there!

Sam

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The simple pleasures of earlier times are now just memories in the age of technology

It was a certainly a different time, a simpler time, devoid of the constant activity that is part and parcel of life in our increasingly rushed, hurried, 24/7 digital age. With the rapid changes to technology and how we communicate with each other, simple, good-old-fashioned fun seems to have been left in the past.

As a child, “having fun” meant something completely different than what it means now. Back then, the  options that are available to kids now did not exist, which in many ways, was a good thing. We weren’t constantly distracted by an endless stream of text messages, online, video or smartphone games, iPads, the Internet and everything else that signifies life in modern times. Sure –  technology is great (my iPad has saved my kids from a meltdown on more than one occasion), but there’s something to be said for the simpler times that are now just a distant memory.

One of the most popular posts on this blog is this one: Is Your Refrigerator Running?” The Lost Art of the Prank Phone Call. The title of the post references one of the favourite pastimes of kids who lived  before the digital age and when Call Display was a thing of the future. The post discusses how technology as a whole has changed the way that kids have fun (as did this post – Can Kids Still Be Entertained?). It’s interesting that the post about making prank phone calls is one of the most visited on this blog, a fact that indicates that more of us than we may imagine are pining for a time when life was simpler and less frantic.

The comparison between then and now – how kids spend their time these days, compared to children in the past – is startling. With things moving so quickly these days, it’s no wonder that many of us wish we could go back to that time when everything wasn’t so fast-paced, and hurried. There’s something to be said for slowing down and throwing caution to the wind.

Unfortunately, however, we can’t turn back time. A return to the simpler lifestyles of days gone by is unlikely, leaving many of us who grew up in a different world to cherish the memories, because that’s all we have left.

Certainly times have changed and technology has advanced our lives in so many positive ways. However, while it’s great that our kids get to to reap the benefits of the Information Age, it’s equally sad that they’ll never know the joy that was provided by some of the simpler pleasures of everyday life. With not a pixel in site, kids survived and actually thrived without the myriad of options that they have now. Life may have been simple but boy, was it fun. I know I’m not the only one who is saddened by the fact that my childhood experiences of having fun will never be replicated by my own kids. After all – they’re used to a much faster pace, more sophisticated toys and gadgets and have a generally shorter attention span as a result. On a more practical level, it would be almost impossible to bring back some of the simple joys of being a kid during this earlier time as children today have greater expectations about how they want to be entertained.

“With not a pixel in site, kids survived and actually thrived without the myriad of options that they have now. Life may have been simple but boy, was it fun.”

Here are 10 childhood loves that my kids will never know:

1) Saturday Morning Cartoons – The days of waking up at the crack of dawn to watch a few hours of TV that only occurred on Saturday mornings are a thing of the past. DVRs, YouTube, downloading and streaming at will has ended this ritual forever.

The Jetsons

Image courtesy of http://www2.warnerbros.com

2) Metal Slides and Concrete Playgrounds – Ouch! They hurt our backsides and the backs of our legs when we were brave enough to slide down them on a hot summer’s day. Now, the plastic is much safer (and more comfortable) but we don’t whiz down quite as fast.

metal slide

Image courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk

3) The Dewey Decimal System – Searching for information pre-Google was quite the feat, but one that was oh, so rewarding as well. Those small index cards, the beauty of Dewey’s categorization and the process of systematically tracking down that book or piece of information was a thrill in its own strange way.

Library cards

Image courtesy of www.businessinsider.com

4) Movie Anticipation – Waiting months or sometimes years for your favourite movie to be aired on TV made it oh, so much more special. The annual showing of the Wizard of Oz or The Sound of Music merited weeks of planning, from the snacks and treats that would be eaten while viewing down to the pyjamas that would be worn, along with the special stuffed toy who would also have a chance at viewing the movie, just this one time. Somehow, that act of waiting for the show that would only be seen once a year made us cherish it so much more.

1950s TV

Image courtesy of www.jerseymomsblog.com

5) Prank Phone Calls – “Is your refrigerator running?” If you know the answer to this question, you too are old enough to feel sad about the fact that these words are rarely uttered to strangers on the other end of the line like they once were.

rotary phone retro

Image courtesy of www.etsystatic.com

6) Test Patterns and the National Anthem – When these two items flashed across your black and white TV, you knew that it was time to hit the hay. There was no choice but to go to sleep, as nothing was on once the anthem was sung and the colourful test pattern (with the annoying, unending “beeeeeeep”) hit the air. No 24/7 TV, satellite, internet, YouTube or downloaded shows for all-night distraction.

Test Pattern 1

Image courtesy of www.wallpapermaven.com

7) Playing Outdoors and Long, Lazy Summers – With the increased fear of strangers and “Helicopter Parenting” becoming the norm, the days of kids wandering aimlessly or playing outside for hours with one’s friends are long gone. “Stranger danger” is the phrase du jour and many parents feel that it’s better to be safe than sorry, resulting in the reality that children are missing out on some of childhood’s greatest experiences.

kids 1970s

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8) Sugar, Butter and Non-Organic Food – It’s great to be healthy but, let’s face it: sometimes the things that are the worst for you are the ones that taste the best. Enter sugar, butter and other foods that have been deemed unhealthy in recent times. Not too long ago, children (and adults, let’s face it) savoured the creamy richness of butter on bread, sugar in cereal and fruit that was not deemed “organically-grown, guaranteed.” It’s hard to believe, but people survived after ingesting food that is now considered unhealthy, sadly.

Tang mix

Image courtesy of www.cbsnews.com

9) Seatbelt and Carseat-Free Car Rides – Bette Davis may have warned us to “fasten our seat belts” but the act of being safe, not sorry, didn’t occur very frequently not too long ago. And baby car seats? Fuggedaboutit. (Fun Fact: The back of the station wagon was always the best place to be, preferably lying down, no seat belts in sight!).

1970s station wagon kids

Image courtesy of www.yummymummyclub.ca

Fasten Your Seat Belts – Bette Davis

10) Board Games and Kids’ Activities – Before Google, smartphones and the Internet took over our lives, kids found more creative ways to have fun. An exciting round of Monopoly with the family or more independent creativity via games such as Spirograph can’t be replicated. Sure, we have the updated versions of these favourites but somehow they’re just not the same. After all – the risk of poking yourself with the pins that came with the Spirograph set was half the fun.

70b-toys-spirographImage courtesy of http://motleynews.net

 What things from your childhood do you miss? If you could let your child experience one thing from your childhood that they have never done, or could never do, what would it be? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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Lies, Lies, All Lies

April 30, 2015

Netflix offers a variety of shows that highlight untruths, tall tales and deceptions DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. We all know that kids lie. Parents have been […]

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Separate But Equal? Should Twins Be Separated at School?

April 18, 2015

What’s the best course of action for educating twins? There comes a time that, as the parent of twins, one has to make a crucial decision: Should I keep them together or should I separate them? This is a particularly pressing decision to be made in the case of identical twins. Think about it: they share […]

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Yeah, SCIENCE!

March 29, 2015

Parents can enjoy Netflix while also teaching their kids about science DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.  —- But, why, Mom, why?!? If you’re a parent, you’ve heard […]

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“When I Grow Up”….Nextflix Picks For the Future Generation

February 27, 2015

Kids’ selections provide a variety of ideas for young imaginations DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. “What will I be when I grow up?” Way back when, kids […]

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Baby it’s Cold Outside: Netflix Picks For Winter Weather

January 30, 2015

How to keep the kids entertained during the winter season DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. Baby, it’s cold outside! Between the snow, ice, and temperatures in the […]

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