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Osmo adds STEAM to kids’ coding with new music creator system

2017-10-03 (21)

Coding Jam is the latest gameplay system that teaches kids to code while they play

The other day my son commanded Google Home to play a custom playlist he had created on a Pandora. Two things occurred to me about this. First, wow. The digitally connected future vision of the The Jetsons was coming true; and then, my more mundane thought was, “That music is awful. My 10-year-old child could write better arrangements,” and thanks to Osmo, he can.

Like many other kids who love video games, my son craves leveling up and learning how to improve his skills, and Osmo has harnessed this excitement in a new technology experience, Coding Jam, that allows kids to create music through basic coding. Using colored building blocks and a system that interacts with an iPad or iPhone, kids can arrange and play musical notes in strings and sequences to write their own tunes.

The coding system, designed for kids 5-12, was created by former Google techs as the next generation of award-winning Osmo STEAM-fueled hand-on gameplay that helps children learn valuable coding skills that they can build upon to understand more complex coding, i.e., become the next genius engineers to save the world, or at least they can have fun and create some cool music.

The system works by helping kids learn music fundamentals such as chord progressions, leading into patterns and sequences. As they get to know coding’s creative side, they develop an ear for rhythm, melody and harmony. And more good news for parents: new research finds that high-school students who studied music appreciation scored 61 points better on their verbal SATs and 42 points better on their math SATs.

Once their arrangements are composed, kids can safely share their jammer mixes with family and friends. As they build the system with more blocks, they can create literally millions of combinations and programming options.

Here’s a short glimpse at what the experience is like: https://youtu.be/E9eAMARTnAk.

Osmo system are available at Amazon, Target, ToysRUs and online at the Osmo store.

 

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EducationFamilyLifestyleParenting

Five Back-to-School Body Language Tips to Fight off Bullies

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Expert gives tips for children on posture to express confidence and strength

Going back to school should be an exciting time in every child’s or teen’s life. They get to see their friends after the summer break and make new ones. However, a lot of students are faced with severe anxiety and stress when a new school year comes around. Whether it’s facing the school bully, not having the confidence to raise their hand and participate in class or even just trying to make friends, a student’s body language can become a tool to turn the social and scholastic experience of school into a positive one. Body language and image expert, Yana German, shares tips for students on how to pass the school year with flying colors.

German’s personal story inspired her to help other children who are bullied. After relocating to the US during her teenage years due to anti- semitism in her native Belarus, German became an easy target for bullies at school. “ My parents couldn’t afford much, so most of my clothing came from refugee charities,” explains German. “Kids would make fun of me because I wasn’t dressed well and would throw food at me during lunch,” continues German. The bullying got to the point where German had to drop out of school for a year in order to get her confidence back and continue her education. Today, German is a mother to two daughters and shares her body language tips to ward off bullies.

One of the most important tips is to keep an open posture. “Parents should always encourage their kids to stand up straight with their head and chin up,” says Yana. “Having great posture will instantly boost your confidence. Pulling your shoulders back and opening your chest is one quick fix that works wonders. Not only does it make you taller it boosts your inner confidence,” explains German.

When a student is talking to another child he/she should always look them in the eye. “Nothing gives away your fear more than not looking at the person you are speaking to.” says German. “Looking someone in the eye and maintaining that contact for as long as you can is a great non-verbal way of expressing your confidence,” adds German.

When someone is bullied it’s really hard, if not impossible to respond with empathy. “Shy and vulnerable kids are usually easy targets for bullies. That’s why it’s really important to smile,” suggests German. “Smiling serves as your barrier towards any negativity, and bullies rarely target children who seem to be happy, calm and radiate good energy,” adds German. When a student rarely smiles, it can be a warning sign of low self-esteem.

When we are feeling self-conscious, we naturally tend to become “smaller.” We want to shrink away into the room so that nobody notices us. This means  we may hunch over, hide in a corner and cross our arms and legs until we almost disappear. German says the best way to gain confidence is to physically take up more space than usual. “If you are standing, take a wider stance than usual, put your arms on your hips. If you are sitting with a desk in front of you, use your arms on the desk to take up space.”German says. “This will make you feel more powerful and instantly give you more confidence.”

Relax your arms and open up your shoulders. “When a child or teen crosses his/her arms, it sends out a defensive signal that they want to be left alone,” explains German.  “He can put his hands in his pockets if he feels awkward holding his arms by his side. What’s important is that he keeps his torso open.  When the child’s arms at their side and they face the other child heart to heart it shows others he’d like to make new friends.”

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AutomobilesFamilyLifestyleParenting

Auto maker address deadly mistake of kids left in cars

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More children get left in cars during back-to-school season

GMC has announced a new vehicle feature to help prevent caregivers from accidentally leaving children in cars, which can be a fatal mistake in hot weather. GMC’s “Rear Seat Reminder” is an industry-first technology intended to help remind the driver to look in the rear seat before exiting the vehicle under certain circumstances.

GMC’s protective feature will be standard in the new 2018 GMC Terrain.  The technology does not actually detect objects or people in the rear seat but monitors rear door usage for up to 10 minutes before or during a trip, and when the driver turns off the vehicle.  An alarm sounds five chimes and displays a warning on the driver information center screen, prompting a second look in the back seat. A GMC staff engineer and mother of two, Tricia Morrow, led the development of the technology.

It is as tragic statistic that about half of the heatstroke deaths of children under age 14 occur because caregivers mistakenly leave children in cars. Since 1998, more than 660 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle. During September’s back-to-school season and Baby Safety Month, Safe Kids Worldwide warns that changes in caregivers’ routines can lead to children being forgotten in cars.

Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.  When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.

Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization of 400 coalitions across the U.S. and funded by General Motors, developed a system called ACT to help remind caregivers not to leave children in cars.  The acronym focuses on avoiding heatstroke by never leaving a child in a car, creating reminders that a child is riding in the car, and taking action by calling 911 if a child is left alone in a car.

Safe Kids warns that children get left behind by loving, caring parents simply because they become distracted, and that these accidences are more common with new parents who are sleep-deprived or when a parent’s routine is disrupted.

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FamilyLifestyle

Tie up your bored kids with string, and other summer crafts for kids

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String up your kids with this crafty decorative string sculpture wall hanging, with their own initials

This craft, designed for fifth graders, will introduce kids to the irresistible fun of string art.  They can start off with this quick and cool project using just a few nails and some string to create letter boards to feature their own initials.

What You Need:

  • Wooden board
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Scrap paper
  • Pencil
  • Small nails
  • Small hammer
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Heavy string
  • White glue
  • Scissors

What You Do:

  1. Have your child paint one side of her board. Make sure she uses a color that contrasts sharply with the color of her string.
  2. Let her use a pencil and paper to practice drawing the outline of her chosen letter.
  3. Once she’s perfected her letter and the paint on the board has dried, have her set the paper on top of the board. Help her position the paper just right so that the letter is exactly where she’ll want her string letter to be.
  4. Working from the center of the letter out, have her carefully hammer nails into the board along her paper penciled outline.  The nails should be spaced about 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch apart.
  5. If the nail tends to wobble as your child tries to nail them in place, show her how to use needle-nose pliers to keep each nail steady.
  6. When all of the nails are in place, have her gently tear away the paper pattern.
  7. Let her then use tweezers to remove any bits of paper that remain.
  8. Help her attempt to wiggle each nail. If any nail moves, help her hammer it more securely into the board.
  9. Have your child tie her string around one of the nails
  10. Let her stretch the string to a nail on the other side of the letter.
  11. Help her wrap the string around that nail before stretching the string back to the first nail.
  12. This time, she should wrap the string around a nail next to the first string.
  13. Have her continue to weave her string back and forth until every nail has been wrapped. There’s no specific pattern of science that needs to be followed. The goal is just to color in the nail outlined letter with string.
  14. When she is done, help her tie off and cut the string.
  15. Apply a dot of glue to the knot at the beginning of the letter and to the knot at the end of the letter.
  16. When the glue has dried, have your child trim the extra string.

Additional panels can be made to spell out your child’s last name.  Or she could make everyone’s first initial.  Soon she can have a gallery of string art to show off just like a professional artist.

Find this and other activities — like reading, at www.education.com.

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Eat & DrinkFamily

Chill out and bowl away the summer with season passes

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BOWLMOR AMF offers bowling all summer for one price

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If you think finding something for the kids to do over spring break was a challenge, get ready, summer is right around the corner. How about treating them to an affordable activity that is good exercise, in a climate-controlled environment, with kid-friendly food they love, that is excellent fun with friends and family? If that sounds good to you, slip into some bowling shoes and join in the Summer Games at a Bowlmor AMF bowling alley near you.

Bowlmor AMF, which includes the brands Bowlero, Brunswick Zone, AMF and Bowlmor Lanes, is offering a Summer Games Passport that allows guests to bowl up to three games every day, show rental included, all summer long, at any of the more than 300 participating locations across the nation. If you opt for bowling at just one location, a slightly less expensive standard Summer Games pass will do.

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At Bowlmor AMF lanes, bowling is half the fun of a visit to the bowling alley. During a recent visit with my son and a friend, the music, food, and of course arcade games were an equal entertainment draw. I was pleased to find some healthy options on the menu, such as wraps and salads, alongside the delicious and decadent fare of burgers, seasoned fries, and nachos, and treats like fried pickle “frickles,” a gigantic salty pretzel to share, and a real party pleaser, the Monster Cookie Melt, a huge warm cookie in a skillet adorned with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.

 

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bowling - cookieEntertainment aside, note to parents, bowling may even help prevent “learning loss” over the summer break, as kids can use their math skills to add up their scores and compete against themselves and their friends, though common-core-challenged parents will be glad to know that today’s modern bowling alleys have electronic scorekeeping that requires little more than entering each player’s name on the leaderboard.

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Speaking of sharpening addition and multiplication skills, for those who are math-minded, the savings of using a Summer Games pass would amount to about $2,800 for someone who bowled every day – or 300 games– over summer!

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Summer games passes can be purchased for kids (under 15) and adults at a participating bowling alleys or at https://bowlsummergames.com/. Pricing varies by region, but start as low at $29.95 for kids.  At my local Bolero, the cost was $34.99 for kids and $39.95 for adults for the standard passes and $39.99 and $44.95 for the Passport level passes.  The Passport was the best value for our family, as we will be traveling over summer, and we look forward to visiting other bowling alleys over our vacation.

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Passes are available for purchase now through Labor Day, and can be used from May 22 until September 4.

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Diversity

Lady Gaga's Born this Way Foundation launches Channel Kindness

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New Digital Platform Empowers Young People to Document Stories of Kindness in Their Communities

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation has launched Channel Kindness, a new digital platform featuring stories of kindness as documented by young people from around the US. These youth reporters, ages 16 to 24, have been recruited to identify and document the acts of generosity, compassion, and acceptance that define their generation and shape their communities. This content – which will include videos, first person essays, interviews with youth leaders, and more – will serve as a counterbalance to a media landscape that often underrepresents or misrepresents today’s young people.

“Channel Kindness is a call to action for young people to make their voices heard. This is a diverse, passionate, and collaborative generation who are leveraging their creativity to solve problems in their communities,” said Lady Gaga, Co-Founder of Born This Way Foundation. “They understand our world will be stronger when we value one another and live with compassion. Channel Kindness will be a platform for youth to transform the narrative, highlighting the people who are changing the world one act of kindness at a time.”

Young people are often excluded from media coverage entirely or represented in a negative light. One study found that nearly half of stories about young people are about crime, with African American and Hispanic youth even more likely to be included in such coverage. Unsurprisingly, a survey of young people themselves found that 81% feel they are unfairly represented in the media.

“Young people want more than to be told to be active participants in their communities. They want practical resources and genuine opportunities to empower themselves and each other,” said Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation President and Co-Founder. “Today’s young people are passionate about driving change in the world and we’re excited to launch Channel Kindness as a tool they can use to showcase that commitment and inspire everyone – regardless of age – to follow their example.”

An inaugural class of 50 Channel Kindness reporters were selected through a competitive application process and are receiving training and support to equip them to find, document, and share stories from their peers and communities. The content will be distributed on ChannelKindness.org as well as through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The program has been made possible with generous support from the Find Your Grind Foundation.

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FamilyLifestyleUncategorized

Parenting ins and outs for 2017

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Love those “in” and “out” lists for the New Year?  Here’s one from CARE.COM , with their predictions for parenting and workplace trends for 2017.

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1.Grit-Style Parenting  Say goodbye to participation trophies, and hello to teaching kids some grit. Recent studies have shown that the characteristic of grit is the key to happiness and success, and in a world that increasingly values entrepreneurship and the failure that may come along with it, parents are letting their children figure things out on their own and even fail. By teaching children not to quit at the first sign of a setback, parents are showing children how to be resilient, autonomous and that persistence pays off whether there’s a trophy or not.

 

2.The Minimalist Parent  The minimalist movement that was sparked by Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has trickled down to parenting. In lieu of all the “stuff” that children quickly grow out of and tired of, parents are electing for a more pared-down lifestyle for the entire family. These minimalist parents of 2017 are eschewing the multitude of toys, clothes and art projects that come with the parenting territory and only saving items that spark joy, while selling or donating the rest to local charities or parent groups like the ones found on BigTent.com. When it comes to activities, reexamining their children’s schedule and eliminating any sports or lessons they don’t truly enjoy is also on the minimalist parent’s agenda.

 

3.Post-Gender Parenting  From an increase in unisex names in the last decade and the movement to ban the word “bossy” for girls to the elimination of gender toy segregation by mass market retailers and the call for gender-neutral graduation gowns, gender neutrality is being welcomed by a new generation of parents. These post-gender parents are challenging gender stereotypes in an effort to raise their children in an environment where they aren’t confined to the pressure of gender bias and where kids can simply be kids…whether that means learning how to code, to play rugby or to take ballet. This cultural shift means that children have more choices than ever before, and what parent doesn’t want that for their child?

4.Truly Flexible Workplace Programs – There’s no question about it. 2016 was the year about paid parental leave. While companies will continue to engage in a parental leave arms race, Care@Work, the enterprise arm helping companies support their working families, predicts leading employers will also take on expanding the notion of flex time for 2017. According to a Care@Work Better Benefits Survey, 17% of people would likely leave their job for one that offered a flexible work scheduleBut beyond offering flexibility in working hours, companies are recognizing that true flexibility for America’s diverse workforce means many different things. Whether it’s a reduced work week à la Amazon.com’s 30-hour work week pilot program, job-sharing opportunities, or the ability to work from home several days a week to avoid long commutes or for no reason at all, the traditional, full-time schedule in an office is no longer a “one size fits all” model for today’s workforce. Most importantly, leading organizations who are committed to true flexibility are actively encouraging the use of these workplace programs to help mitigate commonly-held fears of being professionally penalized for actually taking them.

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