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Summer Boredom Busters

05.25.16

Summer is coming. Along with it come the heady smells of sunscreen and barbeque, sunny days and warm nights, and… The Bored Birds.


How long does it take for your kids to start squawking about being bored? Camp, days at the pool and awesome CertifiKID adventures are great ways to keep the Bored Birds at bay. But, eventually they’ll nest in your house.


We headed out on a hunt to find creative ways to keep the kids happy (without parking them in front of a screen) and shoo away those pesky Bored Birds. What we found was some why-can’t-I-think-of-amazing-like-this stuff from bloggers who corner the market on cool, creative, educational FUN!


Keep it Cool with Water Play

Photo Credit: All For The Boys


Bring a little boardwalk into your backyard with this brilliant idea from All For The Boys. We love that it only takes some string, tape, a couple plastic cups and that super-soaker they just had to have, to create a competitive game.


The humble water balloon may be the best invention of the season. Tie a few up and you’ve got a pinata that makes a big splash. Grab a laundry basket and you’ve got a wet and wonderful way to play catch. Shoot some really cool slow-mo videos. The options are almost endless. This post on BlogLovin’ proves it.


Got Pool Noodles? Turn them into your own water park! Start with this easy DIY Pool Noodle Sprinkler from Bite Sized Biggie. Then check out the post that gives you more cool ways to turn these one-buck toys into summer awesome.


We’re not sure what it is about playing in the water that gets kids so tuckered out, but we’ll take it. When a nap happens you don’t question your good fortune, you just break into your happy dance. Quietly… because, naps.


DIY for Fun and Learning

Photo Credit: PaperVine

Pintsized paleontologist will totally dig this one and you’ll love how easy it is. PaperVine put together a great tutorial on making your own dinosaur dig. Up the learning factor by having the kids create a dossier for each dino they dig up.


This one combines learning, art and getting outdoors. We. Love. It. Teach Mama takes her kids on nature walks that then inspire backyard nature paintings. You’re likely to run into a few birds with this one, but none of them will be Bored Birds.

 

Do your kids love the Marvel Universe? Maybe you’re the comic book nerd (oh, just me… okay then). Either way this DIY Galaxy Playdough inspired from Maryland Momma’s Rambles. It’s inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy!


Science gets even more cool with this a cell model project from Beltway Bargain Mom that gives you a whole new way to use that kiddie pool.

 

Be Prepared


Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the fight to keep the Bored Birds from roosting in your house is having an idea ready before the chirping starts. A little preparation goes a long way. That’s why we love the idea of an activity jar. There are tons of ideas floating around the web for these. Spend some time checking them out, find one that works for you.

 

We sort of love that this one from While He Was Napping does double duty as a craft that keeps them busy and allows them to have a say in what they’d like to do too.

Photo Credit: While He Was Napping


Keep the FUN in summer and the Bored Birds out of your nest. Have any ideas we missed? Let us know, we’d love to add them to this post.


~ Team CertifiKID

Tags: summer fun, just for fun

Digital Parenting: How Do We Keep Our Kids Safe?

05.22.16

Recently our CEO, Jamie came to me with an infographic about apps that posed potential risks to children. Some of them - as the parent of a teen- I knew about. Others I had zero clue about, and honestly I was a bit freaked out. In this world of digital parenting, how we do keep our kids safe?

You may have seen the infographic (or a form of it) yourself on social media or in the kiddo's backpacks.

 

How many of these apps do you use? Do your kids use them? Should you lock down all web-enabled devices and shun technology forever to keep them safe from stuff like this? As appealing as that may sound after seeing the potential danger in apps like this it isn't really an option. So what's a worried parent to do? After all, knowing these things are out there is only a part of the picture.

Turning to experts helps shape both the picture and the solutions. We reached out to some experts - parents themselves- to get guidance and gain understanding, not just about potentially dangerous apps but the ever-changing world of digital parenting.

Monica J. Villa (aka The Online Mom who literally wrote the book on raising 'Generation Smartphone') advises that starting out by knowing when your child is truly ready for a smartphone (where most kids use apps) is the first step. From there establishing rules and a dialog come next.

“If you give your 12-year-old a smartphone and say let’s draft some rules, nine out of 10 times they will add some you’ve never thought of because this is their big chance to show they can be responsible.” ~ Monica J. Villa

Tech Savvy Mama, Leticia Barr illustrates the importance of communication with our kids as a tool to help keep them safe online. Even in a digital world real, honest and frequent conversations with our kids are key. Leticia has put together a great guide to having age-appropriate talks, starting with toddlers and growing with them all the way to the teen years.

While it's not likely your nine-year-old is on Tinder, there are still any number of apps and sites out there where kids interact and where bullies and predators can (and do) lurk. The National PTA advises that we get to know our children’s online friends. "...making “friends” online is fast and easy, but you must help your children learn the difference between a real friend and a friendly stranger. Monitor their virtual friendships with questions you would ask about their friends in the physical world."

Looking for more information on the apps listed above, as well as and some that didn't make that particular list? The article here has in depth information on sixteen apps that kids may be using that can pose dangers. Do you have a go-to resource you use to stay on top of digital parenting? We want to know about it, leave a comment. We're all in this together!

~ Lara

 

 

“If you give your 12-year-old a smartphone and say let’s draft some rules, nine out of 10 times they will add some you’ve never thought of because this is their big chance to show they can be responsible.” - See more at: http://www.theonlinemom.com/be-smart-about-kids-smartphones-tips-to-make-sure-they-enjoy-benefits-without-the-dangers/#sthash.gwMWFU68.dpuf
“If you give your 12-year-old a smartphone and say let’s draft some rules, nine out of 10 times they will add some you’ve never thought of because this is their big chance to show they can be responsible.” - See more at: http://www.theonlinemom.com/be-smart-about-kids-smartphones-tips-to-make-sure-they-enjoy-benefits-without-the-dangers/#sthash.gwMWFU68.dpuf

Tags: Parenting, Tips, Field Reports

May The 4th Be With You!

05.04.16

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, Shark Week, Two Different Colored Shoes Day (yup, actually a thing) it seems there is a day to celebrate just about any kooky, crazy, yummy thing you'd ever want to. So it sort of makes perfect sense that Star Wars gets it's own day too, right. Plus how fun is it to say, "May the 4th Be With You"? Go ahead, say it again. Fun, huh?

Long ago (1979) in place far, far away (somewhere in the UK) an ad was taken out in celebration of Margaret Thatcher's successful campaign to become the first female Prime Minister of England. It read something along the lines of, "May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations." Turns out it was actually May the 4th and whomever the marketing genius behind the ad was, was a big fan of Star Wars.

That cheeky turn of phrase lives with us today and gives millions of Star Wars fans a reason to celebrate. Please with this Yoda would be.

Any number of places tied to the fandom mark the day with special events, readings, screenings of the entire film series (yes, even Phantom Menace. Wesa think that one not so good, good) and sales. Legions more bring the celebration home with parties and all sorts of fun. We've set out upon a quest to find some of the coolest May the 4th celebrations and commemorations out there.

Dogs reenact iconic scenes Star Wars in this side-splitting-ly hilarious slide show featured on Parade.com.

This entire party inspired by Star Wars and created by the talented (and oh so funny) Eve at Geek Chic HQ is packed with fun and tasty ideas. How about turning your everyday gingerbread man into a Wookie Cookie?

Photo Credit: Geek Chic HQ

How cute and easy are these paper bag Yoda puppets we found on A Grand Life? Make them and have a 'Yoda-Off', see who can come up with the best Yoda-speak silliness, you shall. Pop over to get directions on how to make this one.

Photo Credit: A Grand Life

Though we won't be getting the Rebel Alliance tattoo the suggest any time soon (the Vader one will have to do, for now) the idea of donating extra or unwanted Star Wars toys is one of our favorite ideas on this list of the Top 10 Ways to Celebrate May the 4th.

If you're going to hold a marathon screening of the Star Wars movies, cocktails are in order. Drink Lab has rounded up the galaxy's best grown-up libations. The Dark Side is calling...

Filed under Just For Fun

Tags: just for fun

Creative Birthday Cake Ideas

04.20.16

Whether it's a birthday soiree or special day celebration, the star of any party has got to be the cake. Oh, those glorious layers of sweet confection. We recently posted a creative cake idea -a tie-dye surprise cake - on our Facebook pages and judging by the number of likes, comments and shares, you're into the creative birthday cake ideas too.

So, we've gone out and combed the web, drooled, and swooned over some really amazing cakes to put together this list of party-worthy cake ideas.

DIY Rainbow Petal Cake

What does it take to make a Rainbow Petal cake? Some zip-closed plastic bags and a spoon. BOOM! Okay, it may not be all that easy but reading this post on TheCakeBlog that features step-by-step instructions on how to make one from Kate Wagner has us thinking this just might be doable.

DIY rainbow petal cake by Kate Wagner for The Cake Blog

Photo Credit: TheCakeBlog

Hint for Dads:this could really blow mom's socks off as a Mother's Day cake!

Cookie Monster Cake

Hold on to your hat Cookie because this cake will blow your monster mind. Confessions of a Cookbook Queen takes cake over the top with cookies as the theme, decoration and even the surprise filling. Like the rainbow cake above this one doesn't look as though it would be too complicated. With our favorite chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate chip cookies and cookie dough inside, this cake will certainly be the star of the party.

cookie monster cake by confessions of a cookbook queen

Photo Credit: Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

C is for COOL COOKIE CAKE!

Over The Moon

Rocket their next party over the moon with this one. As far as simplicity goes making this cake isn't rocket science. It is however, super cool. Hosting a space-themed birthday party? This is your cake and All For The Boys has even more out-of-this-world ideas for that bash. We're thinking some of those ideas would even be great for a class party or a STEM/STEAM club celebration.

moon landing cake by all for the boys

Photo Credit: All for the Boys

Beautiful Inside & Out

Pretty in pink this rose and ombre cake by BS in The Kitchen is almost to lovely to eat... almost. The recipe and technique are both approachable enough that you don't necessarily need to be a cake wizard or the next contestant on the Food Network.

Once you've gotten the hang of whipping those roses out and mixing just the right about of coloring into the cake you could do all sorts of things with this one. We're seeing beach themes here.

rose and ombre cake by BS in the Kitchen

Photo Credit: BS in The Kitchen

Easy as Pie (or Donuts)

As much as we love cakes (making and eating them) sometimes you just want to avoid the whole baking thing all together. Lucky for us there are lots of folks out there that get up early to make the donuts.

This donut "cake" comes from and adorable children's book themed baby shower by Pizzazzrie

Photo Credit: Pizzazzerie

Stacking up your favorite fried dough confections on a lovely plate and calling it cake. How brilliant is that? This one will be a really crowd pleaser for sure. Take it into the Teacher's lounge as a sweet reminder of how much you appreciate them. Wake the birthday kid up and serve them "cake" for breakfast. Gather the gal pals for book club and carbs. Since you don't really have to cook anything the options are endless.

Or, you could totally toss flour all over your clothes and clamed you made it from scratch.

Seen some great cakes out there? Made a few yourself? Let us know. We'd love to add to this list!

Filed under Just For Fun

Tags: parties, birthdays, roundups

CertifiKid Field Report: Cardpool

02.12.16

Gift cards, we all get them and buy them. What’s not to love? You don’t have to rack your brain trying to figure out what someone else might want, just give them a gift card and let them go get it. What happens when you find yourself the owner of a gift card for a store you’ll never set foot (or cursor) in? Team CertifiKid’s Barbara sets out to answer this question for us.


Barbara: “Use Cardpool.” (drops mic, exits stage left)


Us: “Um, Cardpool? What’s that, Barbara? Do tell.”


Barbara: “Okay, put simply it’s the best thing since… well… gift cards.”


CertifKid Field Notes: Barbara on Cardpool


I got some gift cards during the holidays. Most of them were awesome, the perfect gift. A few were for places where I don’t shop. Though the sentiment was wonderful, the thought of that money just wasting away wasn’t. That’s where Cardpool’s selling feature comes in.


I can sell those cards through them. No, I won’t be getting the full value, but Cardpool does cover most of it. And since I wasn’t going to use them anyway, it’s not like I’d be losing much.


Selling on Cardpool will be newer to me. Typically I use Cardpool for buying gift cards. You can’t beat instantly saving money on gift cards - it is like free money.  Talk about a no-brainer!


Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Target … oh, my! I buy those all the time. When I add coupons in the store to gift cards I’ve purchased at a discount through Cardpool, the savings really add up.


The service is really easy to use. It has to be because I don’t have time to figure out some complicated system. There is too much I have to get done in my 27 hour day - moms always need more hours.  There is even a wishlist feature that emails me when a card I’ve been looking for becomes available.  


Sometimes, availability of the cards I want was really the only issue. It seems like the stores I shop at are really popular. My advice --if you want it and it’s available get it right away!

 


Tip: Like Starbucks? Buy a discounted gift card at Cardpool and load it to your Starbucks loyalty card. Earn your rewards faster and spend less money doing it. Hello FREE coffee!

Tags: certifikid field reports, review, cardpool, gift cards, shopping

CertifiKid Field Report: Circle with Disney

02.05.16

Today’s CertifiKid Field Report comes from Team Member Jennifer - mom of three (2 tweens and an 8 year old) who love their digital devices. Can Circle with Disney revolutionize the internet for this wifi family and yours? Let’s see.


I had been combing the web for what seemed like forever, in an a frantic search for apps and devices to help manage our family's internet content and screen time. Nothing seemed to fit the bill. Then I found Circle with Disney.


On paper it looked like everything I wanted...and more. Circle arrived in the mail on a Saturday morning in a small Tiffany Blue box. Inside was the magic that would change everything. One click on the app was all it took. Within seconds a cacophony of howls floated down the stairs.


“Maaaa! What did you to do the wifi?! Stop it. This isn’t fair!”   


That one click let me pause the internet, getting the attention of my whole family. Oh, the power! From there my husband was onboard and couldn’t wait to see what else this amazing little contraption could do.

 

(Circle with Disney device in Jennifer's home. Takes up almost no space and blends right in.)


Great Things Come in Small Packages (with easy instructions)


What’s more disheartening than getting a new gadget and finding out you’re going to need adapters, special batteries and a team of tech nerds to help you figure out how to work it? Take heart, Circle with Disney is up and running in three easy steps;

  • Open the box

  • Plug it in

  • Download the app

BOOM! The magic starts automatically as Circle with Disney identifies every wifi enabled device in your house. I was shocked at how many things in our home use wifi that I had forgotten about.


Make the Internet Personal (in a snap)


Every kid is different, I know mine are. I loved that within the app I could set up separate profiles for each of my kids, and the grownups too. The color coded system that Circle with Disney uses makes it a snap to set up accounts that work for each of us.


The filters work great. From my youngest’s iPad, I searched, Dick’s Sporting Goods. On the Circle-free web a search like that would have brought up all sorts of things I didn’t want my child to click on. With this power-packed tool the only search result I got was the actual Dick’s Sporting Goods website.


It’s tough to know exactly where your kids are going online and how much time they’re spending there without hovering over them constantly - as they say… ain’t nobody got time for that! Circle with Disney sends a report to the app that tells me what digital platforms my kids are visiting and how much time they’re spending there.


Were they on NatGeo researching dinosaurs for next month’s science project or watching MineCraft modding videos on YouTube? Who knows? You do, because Circle with Disney tells you. This feature is going to be a huge hit with teen parents, I know it!

 


No More Arguing (well, at least about screen time)


Family dinner has always been a big deal at our house. Getting the kids to the table on time is a big deal to me… not them. Pausing the web gets their attention faster than my coaxing and demanding ever did! Dinner’s ready, the wifi is off.


Do you struggle with getting your kids to get off WiFi, put away their Kindle, and get to bed? Yeah, me too. Circle with Disney solves that problem too. Each device can have a set WiFi Bedtime.  When it's time for bed, the WiFi turns off for the night. Love that!


Being able to set usage limits and times when WiFi isn't available on devices is a great tool for limiting screen time. It can also be a powerful reward system. Get your chores done, you get more time on wifi. Nailed that algebra test? You just earned unlimited screen time for one day, enjoy!


The Hiccups


I did find a few hiccups. Right now the app is only available on iOS for Apple products. Each device can only have one profile attached to it. If you share an iPad (like we do in our house) only one family member can be assigned to it. Circle with Disney only works on your in-home wifi.


That said, all of these hiccups have already been identified by the Circle with Disney team and will be ‘fixed’ shortly. An Android app is expected in early 2016, as is the ability to take your profile settings with you no matter where you’re getting your wifi.  


Beyond all the easy tech features (including a simple and easy help center website) and powerful tools that have already reimagined how my family uses the internet, I have to say that the packaging was a really nice touch. I know that doesn't seem like much but it really did help up the excitement level for me.


Thinking back on the day my Circle with Disney device arrived in that gorgeous Tiffany Blue box with a magnetic clasp, I felt like I was opening a gift. After using it, I now understand what a gift it really is.

 

~ Jennifer

Tags: Certifikid field reports, Circle with Disney, digital parenting, internet safety, tech for families

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