Give one more set, I’m ok with what I have.
There’s no shortage of military-inspired toys out there. Even our own Click-A-Brick 100-piece Army Defenders set has a military feel to it. The one thing that has been missing for a long time is a toy specifically for families of the military.
Having a parent in the military can obviously be difficult for a child, but toy inventor Hannah Sage aims to help make that absence a little more bearable with her toy Milo the Lion.
Milo comes with 24 tokens, which represent each week of a typical six-month deployment. Each week, a token is hidden somewhere in the family home and a clue appears on Milo’s screen about the location of the token.
Once the child finds the token, they plug it into Milo’s base to watch a prerecorded video message from the deployed parent. They then can record a reply video message for the deployed parent, who can access it on an associated website and also use the website to send videos to the family at home.
Isn’t that brilliant?!
As you know, we’re firm believers that toys can serve a real purpose, namely helping to educate kids and helping them with their development.
With Milo the Lion, we see a toy serving a whole other purpose, one of comfort for children who really need it. Children of deployed parents are put into a unique situation and Milo will help them understand and deal with that situation better.
We see it as a sort of offshoot of the educational toy sector, as it can be used to teach children of deployed soldiers about what is going on with their parents and teach them about the places where they’ve been deployed to, among other things.
We’re hoping to see more toys pop up in this niche, as it is an area that is ripe for innovation. It presents toy makers with a problem to solve in connecting children and their deployed parents in some way and keeping it fun and engaging for the children.
Summer is here and that means learning gets put on pause for two months until the kids go back to school, right?
While it may not happen in classrooms, learning is definitely not put on pause throughout the summer. By keeping your kids brains going throughout summer, you’re helping them learn and develop (albeit in far less structured environment).
Here are six expert tips on how to keep your kids learning this summer (without even realizing they’re learning).
Patti Rommel – Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials
1. Set aside one night per week for family game night and choose games that require strategic thinking or that require using reading, writing or math skills.
The classic Jenga is always fun and who doesn’t like seeing all those blocks fall down? Scrabble Jr. and Monopoly Jr. are also recommended, as well as any treasure hunt style games.
2. Our personal favorite of these tips is to provide your children with building materials so they can construct whatever they like. Or, you can challenge them to build specific things.
Building toys like Click-A-Brick are ideal for this, of course. For older children, you could give them other types of building material like various cardboard boxes, tubes etc. and some tape. Or, if you think they can handle something a little more advanced, you can give them actual building materials like wood and nails.
Barbara Dianis – Author of Don’t Count Me Out! A Guide to Better Grades & Test Scores PreK-12
3. Barbara suggests setting aside 15 – 30 minutes per day for reading. Take your kids to the public library so they can browse the books and choose the ones that interest them. Reading is more fun for kids when they get to choose what they want to read.
You can keep track of how much your child is reading throughout the summer on a calendar. Make it more exciting by setting a goal for your children and letting them know if they reach that goal, they can do something really fun and extraordinary like going to the zoo or the water park or some other activity they don’t get to do all the time.
Claudia Guerere – Director of Assessment at Project Lead the Way
4. Create a discovery jar at the beginning of summer full of questions your children are curious about. Every day (or at whatever designated interval you choose) pick a question out of the jar to find the answer to.
The questions can be anything that your child can explore and find the answer to. Maybe it’s what kind of plants grow in your yard or how space travel works or how big the dinosaurs were. Whatever gets your child excited!
Dr. Daniel Welsch – Program Director, Natural Sciences at American Public University
5. Turn your pool, lake or ocean outings into simple science experiments. One easy experiment is to see how far sound travels underwater. Ask your kids how far they think it will travel and then have them listen for the sound at various distances. A digital beep from a waterproof watch works well for this.
You can also experiment with how much you float before and after taking a deep breath or asking your kids why they feel more chilled on a breezy day than a calm day and talking about the explanations behind them. (For reference: you will float higher in the water after a deep breath because your lungs are filled with air like a balloon and you feel more chilled on a breezy day because the wind causes the water to evaporate faster off your body and this takes more heat away from you than if it evaporates slowly.)
6. Geocaching is a fun activity that anyone can do. For the uninitiated, geocaching is like a treasure hunt.
Go to geocaching.com, or download the app for Android or IOS. These little treasures can be found everywhere.
The app uses the GPS on your phone to guide you to the cache. Once you find it, you leave a trinket, take a trinket, sign the log, and then re-hide the cache for the next geocacher to find. This can lead to discussions with your kids about how GPS works and how it’s able to locate you on Earth using satellites orbiting the planet.
If you think geocaching might be a little bit too much for your younger kids (or they might not be interested in it), you could always try Pokemon Go, which is similar.
Summer isn’t when learning gets put on pause, it’s when kids get to learn the way they want to. Encourage them and make it fun for them.
Summer camps sure have changed a lot since we were kids. When we were just wee, the only type of camp was a nature camp where kids learned canoeing, horseback riding, swimming, archery and other outdoor activities.
Those were great times and we loved learning all those things. But, nowadays, there are different kinds of camps out there for kids that have different interests.
Here are just a few of the different kinds of camps available to parents to keep their kids not only entertained throughout the summer, but also keep them learning those Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) skills:
Sylvan Learning offers several different types of camps for children through its Sylvan EDGE camps. These camps include:
- Robotics – Kids learn how to build robots with Lego and program them.
- Coding for Kids – They get to make their own video games and animation.
- Engineering Camp – Designing and building superstructures (well, small scale superstructures, anyway).
- Fit4Algebra – Older kids learn all the ins and outs of math with letters.
- Writing Camp – For the writers out there, this camp helps them hone their skills.
iD Tech, meanwhile, also has 21st century camps for kids all around the country:
- iD Tech Mini – Students learn programming, video game design and more.
- iD Tech Camps – In this camp, students learn programming, apps, game design, robotics, filmmaking, photography, 3D printing, and more.
- Alexa Cafe – In this all-girls camp, young ladies learn coding, web design, filmmaking, game design, philanthropy, 3D printing, and more.
These are just some of the many many many camps available for children throughout the United States that focus on STEAM skills. You should be able to find some in your local area pretty easily as these camps are popping up all over the place.
Barbara Rowley of Parenting.com suggests that when parents choose a camp for their children, they get input from the kids about what type of camp they want to go to and do a bit of research on any camp they are thinking about sending their kids to, especially if it is of the sleepaway variety (although they should also do their due diligence for day camps, as well).
When choosing a camp, Rowley suggests checking for:
- A good history.
- An easily identifiable focus (sports, leadership, STEAM, etc) that is integrated into its programs.
- An emphasis on creating community.
- Well-trained staff.
- An element of choice for kids over what activities they participate in.
- A good communication plan for keeping in touch with parents.
- A high standard of accreditation.
Have fun out there no matter what type of camp you choose!
For those who love learning as much as we do, we invite you to explore some Insect Superstars with us courtesy of LycodonFX.
When you’re done learning about insect superstars, grab your Click-A-Brick Bug’s Life set and try making some of these fascinating critters. See if you can identify some bugs in your own yard and then make them with your Click-A-Bricks. The wonderful world of insects will keep you marvelling at how these little creatures live.
Summer is a bug’s time to be a superstar!
Slime might not be considered a toy on par with something like building blocks, but it’s still fun to play with and it’s super fun to make your very own!