Monday, November 30, 2020

Top Tips for Creating a Positive and Enriching Gaming Experience for Kids

 Today is an exciting first for my blog, I have a post written for you by a guest author! Jenna Sherman, from Parent-Leaders.com is sharing information about the best ways to make video games safe and educational for kids. I think the timing is perfect as I head into a Midwest winter of more time indoors and some school breaks.




Top Tips for Creating a Positive and Enriching Gaming Experience for Kids

guest post by Jenna Sherman

 Games have come a long, long way since we were children! These days, kids are playing video games online and in-school, in addition to having fun with them at home. This begs a few questions like, how do parents keep kids safe? And how can parents make games educational without spoiling all of the fun?

 

Safety Should Always Come First

 As the name implies, gaming should be fun for your family! Before we get into all that fun though, we need to get serious about safety. That’s because while gaming with friends and family can be a positive activity for your kids, it can also be a potentially dangerous one. Here are some of the top online gaming threats you need to know about:

 

     Cyber Bullying

     Privacy Issues

     Webcam Concerns

     In-game Purchases

     Online predators

 

Yikes! That’s a pretty scary list, right? But here’s the thing: you can protect your family by talking to them about the online security and safety rules you all should all be practicing. Let them know that it’s never okay to reveal private and personal information to people online. They should also feel comfortable alerting you to situations that just don’t feel right. And ‘don’t talk to strangers’ definitely still apply online!

 

Some Games Should Be Off-Limits

 Aside from just talking to your kids about gaming safety, you should also be aware of the games they’re playing. Sit down and play with them for a few minutes, so that you can be sure of the content they are being exposed to and whether it’s truly appropriate. For instance, you may think that Roblox is a safe bet for young kids, but some parents have reported some pretty disturbing experiences with this popular online game.

 

You can also use ESRB ratings to figure out which games are safe for younger players. But keep in mind that this system can be tricky to fully understand. Always do your own homework when it comes to specific titles. When in doubt, play a few rounds with your kids or solo.

 

But Some Games Can Be Educational

 Whew! By now you may be wondering whether you should let your kids play video games at all. We totally understand your concerns! But remember that playing games can have positive effects on your kids’ development and education. In fact, games have proven to be a real educational lifesaver for kids who are learning at home during the COVID-19 crisis. The subjects where kids can receive the most positive impacts of gaming include English, math, science, history, and even physical education.

 

Okay, but how can you wade through the endless titles to find the best educational gaming picks for your kids? Common Sense Media did the leg work for you and came up with this list of top titles for younger kids, including:

 

     Math Blaster Online

     Lifeboat to Mars

     Oregon Trail

     Art Academy

 

Screen Limits are Most Helpful for Younger Kids

 It’s also worth mentioning that setting screen limits can balance potential educational benefits with overall risks of gaming. For younger kids, this may mean limiting noneducational playtime to an hour or less each day. Then you can increase screen limits as your little ones get older. Here are some additional screen rules to consider for your family:

 

     Turn screens off during mealtimes.

     Remove screens from bedrooms.

     Make proper use of parental controls.

 

If your kids still seem bored, you can always replace screens with a few top-recommended brain games! Many are simple enough for children to play on their own, but younger kids may need some help and guidance from you to get the hang of these educational board games. In fact, plan some fun family night around brain games or even video games! Your kids will love it!

 

Sure, letting your kids play video games can come with risks. But that’s anything in life, really. What’s important is that you talk to your kids about any potential dangers and remain vigilant in researching titles before you allow them. Then you can focus on fun instead of worry!

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash



Saturday, November 21, 2020

Fall Dot to Dot Pages

 

Free printable Fall Dot to Dot Pages

My little one does not care for coloring, painting or being crafty. He does, however, really like doing dot to dot pages. In order to have more Thanksgiving activities for him, I made some Fall Themed dot to dot pages. Since he likes both, each page has a numbers and an alphabet version.



If you're looking for other fall resources, you might check out my Apple Tree Roll and CoverFall Sight Words Printables3 Part Fall Vocabulary Cards Fall Early Reader or Apple Printables



Friday, November 20, 2020

Letter J - Jaguar Week

These are our homeschool preschool activities for the Letter J and Jaguars week. Archer was 29 months. You can see our full "curriculum" post here, but we will only use some activities each week. The majority of his time is still unstructured play.
This was his desk setup. I hung some bulletin board letters, a sign language card (from And Next Comes L) and his art from the week. The shelf had a letter construction capital and lowercase letters, an Alphabet ReaderMeet the Phonics Letter Reader, a peg letter and a wooden letter train car.
His "Preschool Basket," had a magnetic tracing board, his Brain Games activity book (he decided he needs to go through it on his own now), My First Brain Quest (hit or miss with Archer)dry erase tracing cards, sandpaper letters and books. 
I'm trying to include readers to read together, but also books about the week's letter or animal. We had an Animal Antics Reader, First Little Readers book, a non-fiction sight words reader, a Meet the Sight Words reader and a My "j" Book.
This was his shelf set up in the playroom. I used Magnatiles to make a J on his white board and added some magnetic letters and fridge phonics. On top I have his Alphabet Soup Can, a jaguar and his preschool basket.

Shelves on the left had Chutes and Ladders, his mailbox and a bunch of wooden vehicles with people. Shelves on the right had some wooden vehicle magnets (his request), a 12 piece puzzle, a shape sorter, some 3 part cards and a basket of cars.
Letter construction (From Tired Need Sleep)
Letter J sensory bin.
Letter maze (free to print here).
Letter J puzzles
Letter J dot to dot (from education.com)
Bottle cap letters were a HUGE hit this week. He kept asking for them again and again (free to print here).
Tracing cards and line tracing (free to print here).
Jaguar number(free to print here). When he was done he just wanted to play with the number tiles and put them all in order.
Pattern Block Letter (from Confessions of a Homeschooler) - He has been using magnetic pattern blocks on our magnetic easel. He did it mostly himself, but insisted I do the triangles.
We did our normal playdough routine with cookie cutters and a  letter stamper (similar to these), but Archer was really into having the jaguar eat "treats."  We also used our alphabet dough mat (free to print here).
I wrote some Js on a chalk board and Archer erased them with a Q-tip.
Cooperative Chutes and Ladders
Shape sorting.
He has been very into these 12 piece puzzles lately. I think they're enough pieces that he really has to work at it, but not too many so as to be overwhelming.
He rediscovered his bathtub letters (our bathroom with a tub is being fixed, so he hasn't played with tub toys in a while). He wanted to put them all in order.
He won't color, but he really likes his alphabet dot to dot book!
Magnets.
Matching forest words.
Still loving his resin letters and letter mold.

See other Alphabet Posts:


Friday, November 13, 2020

Letter I - Iguana Week

 These are our homeschool preschool activities for the Letter I and Iguanas week. We actually took a couple of weeks, since we took a long weekend from homeschool. Archer was 29 months. You can see our full "curriculum" post here, but we will only use some activities each week. The majority of his time is still unstructured play.
This was his desk setup. I hung some bulletin board letters, a sign language card (from And Next Comes L) and his art from the week. The shelf had a letter construction capital and lowercase letters, an Alphabet ReaderMeet the Phonics Letter Reader and a wooden letter train car (that got taken to the train table at the time of the picture).
His "Preschool Basket," had a magnetic tracing board, his Brain Games activity book (we just talk through together and skip anything too advanced), My First Brain Quest (hit or miss with Archer)dry erase tracing cards, sandpaper letters and books. 

I'm trying to include readers to read together, but also books about the week's letter or animal. We had two Amazing Animal  Readers, a First Little Readers book, a sight words reader and Leaping Lizards.
This was his shelf set up in the playroom. I used Magnatiles to make a I on his white board and added some magnetic letters and fridge phonics. On top I have his Alphabet Soup Can, his preschool basket.

Shelves on the left had mini-squigz, a basket with a puzzle (taken away at picture time), magnadoodle with magnetic letters and a car ramp. Shelves on the right had Monkey Around, crystal builders, QubixDuplo pattern cards (from All Our Days), pretend ice cream and a basket of cars.
Letter construction (From Tired Need Sleep)
Tracing cards and line tracing (free to print here).
Making a capital and lowercase i out of our balance beams (similar to these)

Cyrstal builders on the light table.
Letter I sensory bin.
Letter I puzzles
Letter maze (free to print here).
For play dough, we used cookie cutters and a letter stamper (similar to these).  We also used our alphabet dough mat (free to print here)
Bottle cap letter matching (free to print here).
I printed a capital I (from his Cut and Paste Phonics Hunt) and then gave him little strips of paper to glue on.
More puzzles.
The Alphabet train puzzle was a special Halloween treat from his grandparents!
He wanted to do some farm stickers.
Farm magnets were a big hit this week (even though it wasn't in my plan to get them out, haha)


See other Alphabet Posts:


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