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Learn Your ASL Numbers, 1-10!

We hope that everyone’s 2016 is going great so far! Today we are sharing a video from our YouTube channel where Fireese will teach you ASL numbers 1-10. And be sure to check out our other videos to learn more baby sign language – great songs and educational signs. Plus our new fun Thursday videos that teach you fun crafts, recipes and talks about all things family and kids.
Do you have questions? Please email us! We are always looking to hear from our fans – media at mysmarthands com

Snowman Christmas Tree Ornament

Learn how to make this super easy Snowman handprint Christmas tree ornament. This is an easy craft for kids to do. Make sure to check out our other fun crafts for kids here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…

App: National Geographic Puzzle Explorer

As an educator I’m always looking for great games, toys and apps that are both educational and fun for my kids. Recently I was introduced to the National Geographic Puzzle Explorers app (Android and iOS). We have a subscription to their children’s magazine, my little ones are always excited when it arrives. I am a long-time fan of National Geographic, so I jumped at the chance to test out this app.

This children’s app is designed to teach kids about building mazes. It’s free to download and play the first puzzle game, and after that, parents can choose to unlock other games for $3.49 each. I always love apps that you can test out before buying

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When you first open the app they ask you if you want to play as a kid (without registering) or play as a family (registering). Then you are instructed to pick your character and a name for that character. The system generates names for you, but you can cycle through them to find a name that your child loves. You then start your free game, which is the Yucatan Peninsula game.

Once in the game you begin by walking through the instructions, they take your child through how to play the game step-by-step. They have your child complete the activities to learn how the game works, with seven stages of instructions. You complete each stage building on the skills you learned in the previous one. At first the puzzle seems very simple, you place blocks and your character walks through the maze until the end. It seemed great but as we were going through the steps I thought this could get a little boring for the kids, then we got to the fourth step and I was hooked! This isn’t a simple game of creating a maze with blocks, you have to send your explorer on a hunt for cameras to complete the maze. Your character has to find all the cameras before getting to the finish. With each camera comes a photograph with a fact about the region you are exploring. It provides another level of education for your little one. I enjoyed learning all the facts about the Yucatan Peninsula.

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You also have the option of adding lizards to your game that your explorer has to avoid. If he or she gets caught by a lizard they have to go back to the start again. Finally, there are pressure gates that raise if you walk over them as well as locked gates you need to collect keys to open. You can put pressure gates in your maze to help block in lizards or force your explorer to plan out how he or she is going to complete the maze because they can’t turn back after going through a pressure gate. Putting in locked gates and keys adds another element of challenge both for the person planning out the maze and the child completing it.

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I love how challenging this game is for kids. It can be very simple for younger kids or more difficult for older children. When I was playing with my kids, I would plan a maze out and test it, sometimes realizing certain factors didn’t work because my explorer couldn’t reach the end. I would then go back and rearrange it so it was solvable.

This is a fun game that is educational and holds kids’ interest. My children have enjoyed playing it together, challenging each other to see who can build the hardest maze.  It’s available for Android or iOS

This blog post was sponsored however, all opinions are my own. I only showcase products I love.

Sleep Issues with Older Children

I have been having a tough time with my 6 year old coming into my bed at night. He wakes between 2-5 and immediately comes into bed with me. I am exhausted! I can’t sleep when he is with me. I had to turn to my friend Alanna McGinn who is a sleep consultant and my go-to person for all things sleep. You can find her at http://www.goodnightsleepsite.com

Have you had any sleep troubles in your home?

Choosing The Right Toys For Your Kids

When it comes to shopping for toys, children are usually happy with the latest gadget but it’s important to choose wisely. Whether you’re looking for a simple plaything or interactive game, a good toy should be both fun and educational as well as appropriate for your child’s age. We’ve put together this handy guide on choosing the right toys to boost mental and physical development.

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Choose simple toys

‘Open-ended’ toys are those which encourage problem solving and imagination. These are often the simplest forms of toys but offer the greatest benefits. For younger children, this may include blocks or LEGO. These require creativity, allowing a child to design their own shapes andbuildings. It’s great for developing cognitive functions and as they learn from experience, they’ll become more independent.

Older children may prefer arts and crafts which has similar advantages. Using crayons and painting is a form of spontaneous play that will keep them busy for hours whilst stimulating the mind. Toys which take more of an active role during play time such as interactive stuffed animals are surprisingly less beneficial. They require far less imagination and though processes, as they instruct a child to make decisions.

Make it age appropriate

During their infant months, children should play with rattles, busy boxes and anything that can be grasped, squeezed or shaken. This aids hand-eye coordination and they’ll enjoy the noise and different colors. As they get older, they can experiment with larger toys and those which have cause and effect. Introduce a push/pull buggy or shape sorters to provide stimulation and it’s a task which they should eventually master.

Toys should continue to provide a challenge whilst being enjoyable to use. As they become proficient with language, be sure to encourage puzzles which is great for developing analytical and problem solving skills. It’s also something they’ll continue to enjoy long into their senior years.

Harness technology

In the new era of technology, children have more access to gadgets and information than ever before. When used safely, this can be a great way to aid learning. Educational apps for smart phones or tablets provide a good platform to learn new skills in a fun and exciting way. A simple puzzle or quiz game can strengthen memory processes and improve attention span. Using a touch screen is also good for hand eye coordination and development of fine motor skills.

Include an outdoor toy

Technology is useful but it’s also important to provide opportunity for active play. An outdoor playset such as a swing set or sand water tables can reduce time spent indoors, avoiding the many health related issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It’s not only great exercise, it also develops the major motor skills, improving reflexes and balance. They’ll love the endless opportunities for role playing games with friends which is great for social interaction and their self-confidence.

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Follow these easy steps and you’ll provide the best chance for learning and development. As a bonus, they’ll love the satisfaction of improving and it should keep them busy for hours.

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/choosing-right-toys-for-right-age?page=3

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/choosing_toys.html

This article was written by James of Bahay Kubo interactive a blogger, traveler, photographer based in the Philippines.