Free Apps and Websites to Teach Kids While Having Fun

With the increased popularity in mobile devices, almost everyone is constantly on their phone or tablet. Whether you are checking Facebook, your email, watching a show or playing a game, almost everything can be done from the comfort of a mobile device of some sort. As this becomes more and more of a popular practice, kids are getting hooked too. While it is important to make sure that kids do not spend too much time in front of screens, there are ways to make their screen time valuable to their education. With the accessibility of mobile technologies and development software, many companies have created fun and interactive apps that can actually help teach kids about a variety of different things while also having fun.

There are thousands of apps out there, and it can be difficult to keep track of them all. When downloading an app, a lot is taken into consideration, but price probably factors in more than most other attributes, especially for parents. Luckily, there are plenty of different free apps out there that can be fun as well as educational for kids to interact with. Kids can learn a great deal, about math, reading, chemistry, geography, engineering, languages or even coding and outer space.

Here are some apps that may be worth looking into – and it may not hurt to try, especially since they are free!

Math Playground can help teach math to kids from a first to sixth grade level. It offers activities that involve logic puzzles, math games, and arcade-style number games, as well as interactive tools for teaching fractions, functions, percents, and more.

Kodable is an app available on more recent Apple iOS devices that teaches elementary-aged kids how to code. This growing field is becoming more and more in-demand, and your child can learn basic concepts of modern computer programming from quite an early age and get a head start.

Kid Science: Chemistry Experiments, a kids app that features videos of simple chemistry experiments as well as full text descriptions that explain what is happening in the video and why. Once each video is complete, kids can take a short quiz to test just how much they’ve learned.

Duolingo is a great app for kids and adults alike who are interested in learning a second language. Duolingo features a variety of short game-like exercises that teach vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar. Duolingo has over 20 languages you can choose to learn from including Spanish, French, Chinese, and Arabic among others.

The NASA Kids’ Club website is a fun and interactive place where kids can learn about space through games and simulations.

There are so many free apps out there that can be both fun and educational. Even companies like Khan Academy have become popular with kids, teens and adults alike, and many of these apps can be used to help supplement school-work or your own personal sense of curiosity.

For more free resources and parenting tips please visit our website at KDNovelties.com or the KD Novelties Blog.

8 Ways to Help Your Struggling Reader

Struggling Readers

Reading is an essential skill, and it is important that it is taught early on. In order for children to do well in school, it is imperative that their literacy skills are adequate or at least measured before they begin any academic training or instruction. It is common for children to struggle when it comes to learning new things, but some struggles are more significant than others. Some children may be reluctant readers and may simply need encouragement, whereas other children may have other problems that prevent them from reading at the level that they should – and it is vital that parents figure out why their children are struggling with reading as soon as they possibly can.

Did you know that about 40% of children struggle with reading? Luckily, with early help most issues can be addressed and overcome, but unfortunately many parents wait a year or more before getting help. This is usually because parents may not be fully aware of why their children are struggling with reading or they believe that their kids simply just don’t want to read. Whether your child does not wish to read and needs to be nudged in the right direction, or whether your child has dyslexia or other related reading disorders, it is important that it is addressed early. In either case, your child may suffer as a result and fall behind. The longer a reading issues goes unchecked, the more difficult it will be to reverse and correct. There are some ways you can help struggling readers.

1. Acknowledge Your Child’s Successes. As a parent, it may be difficult to look at anything other than your child’s reading skills especially when they factor in so much when it comes to other skills and abilities. But by focusing on your child’s other strengths, you can help instill a powerful sense of self-esteem that will help them develop the confidence to get better at reading and any other skills they may need to learn along the way.

2. Set realistic goals. If your child has problems reading, they are not going to overcome the difficulties overnight. It is important to set realistic goals and milestones and to celebrate each one as they come.

3. Don’t limit your child. Poor reading skills can affect other skills as well, namely spelling, but even if your child is a bad speller do not let this setback keep them mute. It is important that children learn to express themselves and communicate, and it is an important skill that they need to learn early on. Waiting around for their reading or spelling to get better will not change things, so it is important that you help them write in any way that they can. You can use a dictionary, practice self spell-check and other skills that they can apply to their writing afterwards. It is important that kids learn to get their thoughts on paper and that they understand how to properly express how they feel.

4. Share your own difficulties with your kids. If your child is feeling down on themselves for their reading problems or disabilities, it can be discouraging, even if you keep encouraging them to improve or if you congratulate achievements in other areas. They want to hear how you overcame your difficulty, make it real for them so they can associate with the problem.

5. Read aloud. Even if your child has issues reading on their own, reading along with them or to them can be incredibly beneficial. Reading aloud can help bolster their language skills and it could also help spark interest and creativity as well.

6. Take care in the small strides. Having a struggling reader is not easy and the journey may be a long one. Kids who have trouble reading do not usually get better all of a sudden, but they can develop skills slowly over time. Help your child with these smaller steps, help them go over the alphabet, help them sound out words, play games with them including the labeling of your groceries to the signs on the road.

7. Remember that it is okay to read slowly. Kids who have a hard time reading, especially those with disorders, may be especially slow readers, but slow reading is not a bad thing. Remember that your child is working at their own pace, and that the way in which their brains process and understand information is what is best for them. If your child needs a little more time to read or get through a sentence, it’s okay.

8. Make sure that you’re a team. Reading problems and other learning disabilities don’t have to be private affairs. By letting family members and teachers in on the struggle, they can help form a supportive team for your child. By working at home and at school, your child can make huge improvements and can feel better about themselves and motivated to improve.

SPECIAL NOTE: With struggling readers let them choose the books they want to read to entice them to read more and help with the situation.  Books personalized for kids can boost their motivation and even forget that they have a problem to begin with since they will be so engulfed in reading about themselves.  It always helps to take their mind off their problem while still working on it without them really noticing.  Get creative!

7 Ways to Teach Kids Not to Take Things for Granted

Being Thankful

In today’s world, we have so many resources available to us. Not only are we lucky to have so much information and so many everyday advances at our fingertips to make our daily lives easier, but we also have a plethora of entertainment options ready for the choosing whenever we so please. As parents, it is only natural to want to do everything for your children and to provide them with all of the conveniences and commodities that you may not have had access to during your own childhood. Many generations are like this, and we always want to do better and give more – but there can be a downside.

In today’s world, television, mobile devices, music, the internet, you name it, is always readily available. It may be difficult for some parents to limit the time their children spend doing any of these given things, leading to a sense of entitlement and selfishness. Sometimes, these side effects occur by accident. You want your child to be happy so you provide them with the means to be happily content every moment of their lives, but this may lead to issues with gratitude and can really affect how they view others and the world around them. Without actually taking your children off the grid, there are some ways you can make sure that they learn to appreciate what they have in life and how to be humble, well-rounded people as they get older.

Be Their Role Model
Kids learn by mimicking. This means that they will learn to conduct themselves much in the same way that they see others around them do, and as a parent you are arguably your child’s biggest influence. In order to teach your children gratitude, you will need to actively practice showing gratitude yourself as well.

Be Sure to Thank Your Children
As a role model, you will need to actively show gratitude and be thankful for what you have as well as for what others do for you. When your child completes a task, does something nice without being prompted, or accomplishes something, make sure to thank them. Being on the receiving end of gratitude can help children to understand just how much this sort of sentiment really means to them and how much it must mean to other people as well.

Importance of Thank You

Do Some Teaching
As Americans, we are awarded many freedoms but it is more complex than it simply being the law. Teach your children about American history and those who fought for the freedoms we have today. There are many things that even adults take for granted that are not part of the realities other people around the world experience. It is important for kids to understand where their privileges come from and to be thankful for them instead of thinking that they are a given.

The Importance of “Thank You”
Many kids simply say ‘thank you’ because they are told to do so without really understanding why. Explaining what the sentiment means and how much weight it can really carry can help kids realize how integral showing thanks can be, whether it be in the form of a verbal “thank you”, a thank you note or even a gift.

Prompt You Kids to Give Back
Kids are more likely to follow through with something to the end if they have a part in coming up with the idea, just like how kids are more likely to try new foods if they have a hand in the meal prep. Ask your kids to do something nice for someone that might have a need that they can help with, or someone that cares for them, or has helped them in the past, and encourage them to do something nice for them.

Challenge Entitled Behavior the Moment it Happens
If your child expects something and is unhappy with being denied the thing they want, whether it be a treat, a toy or extra TV time, nip it in the bud as soon as you can. Ask your child what is really important. Ask them what it is they think they deserve and why. Making it a point of conversation can help children understand the true value of the things that they have as well as what the true value of their actions and beliefs are.

Learn to Love the Small Things

Gratitude is the greatest of virtues

Children can take certain things for granted because it is simply all they know. Point out little things that both you and your children should be thankful for and explain why. Your children may not realize just how valuable having clean water is and just how lucky they are to have it in order to survive. Having warm clothes and even amenities like kitchen appliances, toilets, heating, you name it! Remind your children that there are other kids out there who may not have any of these necessary things, let alone a toy to play with.

Teaching your child to be thankful and to show gratitude is not going to happen overnight, and it is not something you can teach with a single lesson. As a parent, you will have to make sure that you set a good example, too, so remember to be grateful as well.

For more valuable parenting tips be sure to subscribe to the KD Novelties Blog where we always have weekly parenting tips and reading resources.

KD Novelties publisher of Personalized Children’s Books