Monthly Archives: July 2016

Khan Academy – A Great Learning Resource!

If you’re like me, you’ve found that nearly the whole summer break has passed, and you pretty much forgot about any plans you made to help your kids keep up with the new skills they learned during their past school year. Between summer trips, camps, VBS, sleepovers, library trips, and finding a way to keep out of the heat, homework and study time was left far behind.

My husband mentioned to me a website that a friend of ours recommended, Khan Academy, especially for helping kids obtain or keep remedial math skills. I signed up through my Facebook, just to check it out … and was hugely impressed! First of all, it’s free. And I was able to create an account for each of my kids. They chose their user name, and chose a math “mission” for their respective grade level, which leads them through quizzes and questions that takes them through a well-rounded series of lessons. If there is anything they don’t understand, they can click on a short tutorial video to teach them that particular skill.

When they complete a certain number of minutes or lessons in math, I let them click on one of the other areas. (Computer animation is a favorite for all of them. It’s a series of videos, which show how math, geometry, and similar skills can be used in real life … and fun stuff like creating Pixar animation!)

At the end of the week, I received an email that told me what my kids had been up to on their missions at Khan Academy. At a glance, I could see how many minutes they had spent on the website, how many points they had gained, and how many minutes and questions for each area (such as “rational number word problems” or “multiply two-digit numbers”).

With just a few weeks before school begins, Khan Academy is a great way to help kids recall math skills they might have forgotten over the summer, and give them a head start in learning new concepts. And have fun all the while!

My 11-year-old daughter, Jessica commented, “It’s really fun. While doing homework, you can also build up your avatar and score more points. Plus math isn’t the only thing to do there. There are a bunch of other subjects. My favorite is computer art with Pixar.”

My nine-year-old son, Allen, said, “I like the math and I also like the avatar thing. And one of the things I especially like is the computer art and that I get to watch things on the website.”

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Eleven Alternatives to “Pokemon Go” … Stimulate Your Child’s Summer

child taking a picture

Child taking a photo at a museum.

Maybe you have time limits to your kids’ screen time and all you hear is, “But Mom (or Dad), there’s nothing ELSE to do!”

Maybe you don’t want your seven-year-old running across space, dodging vehicles, and landing in a canal or reservoir on their mad dash for Pokémon Go characters.

Maybe you don’t allow video games in your household.

Maybe your conspiracy radar is going off like a beacon because if Pokémon Go has really been downloaded that many million times and created such an interest … there must be something funny going on and you don’t want your children to be a part of that.

Maybe you just want to do better with the whole parenting thing this summer and seeing your kids with their faces buried in smart phones or tablets doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies.

Here are eleven activities you can do with your children to escape summer blues … and avoid chasing Pikachus.

1. Make cards for friends and relatives … and send them snail mail.

How many relatives, especially elderly ones, can you think of who would love to receive a homemade card in their mailbox?

2. Read a Shakespeare play, or some of his sonnets, aloud and perfect your British accent.

Or Irish accent. Or Western or Southern. You can even memorize a sonnet together and have an accent competition.

3. Make a list of original photos for your child to take.

You could also have a family (or pet) photo shoot with your child as the photographer.

Or a photo scavenger hunt.

4. Write and illustrate a story together.

Let your child run free with imagination and help out in places where he or she gets stuck. You might be surprised with what even the youngest children can come up with.

5. Learn fruit cutting or flower arranging.

You will find plenty of YouTube tutorials to help you get started, and create some great treats or gifts for family or friends.

6. Make chocolate.

Anything goes: bacon chocolate, peanut butter chocolate, orange mint chocolate, cinnamon chocolate.

7. Have a bake sale.

Or a homemade chocolate sale … and raise funds for a favorite organization or ministry.

8. Create a time capsule.

Decide together on what date in the future you will open it.

9. Put together a summertime scrapbook or journal.

Add something to it every day.

10. Create a long-term “bucket list”.

You might or might not have heard of John Goddard. He made a life goal list at 15 years of age, and accomplished over 100 of them. Encourage your children to do the same (and if you don’t have a life goal list, make one yourself!)

11. Start a blog together on a theme you and your child enjoy. 

My 11-year-old daughter loves reading, as do I. This summer, we launched a book review blog, Jewel Rose Reviews, where we hope to publish a review once a week on a book we’ve both read. That way, readers get input from two perspectives: mother and daughter, and Jessica and I get to read, write, and take photos together. All fun stuff!

 

So there it is. Some ideas to keep you and your kids busy this summer, whether or not you’re playing Pokémon Go. And if you have any tried-and-proven family activities you would like to share with other readers, please leave a comment!

Apple Cake Recipe for Kids

My daughter, Jessica, recently made this, improving on the original recipe I had by asking about adding a topping. We made a lemon glaze and the apple cake tastes great with the glaze!

apple cake recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil (or softened butter)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1/2 cup milk

2 cups grated apple

1 cup nuts and/or raisins, chopped (optional)

 

Directions:

Grease and flour baking pan

Mix sugar, oil (or butter), eggs & vanilla

Sift dry ingredients. Stir into wet mixture along with milk.

Stir in apples and nuts.

Pour into 13×9” baking pan.

Bake at 350F for around 45 minutes.

 

Lemon Glaze:

1-2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon (optional)

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons butter, melted

 

Mix together to taste, and pour over warm apple cake

Banana Bread Recipe for Kids

banana bread muffin recipe

This banana bread recipe is my son Allen’s specialty. Whenever we have a few overripe bananas, I will let him know, and he’ll pull out the recipe and make either banana bread or banana-bread muffins. The only part I usually help with is putting the tray or tins in the oven and pulling them back out afterward.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 cup mashed bananas (the riper the better)

2 tablespoons milk

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Directions:

Mix sugar and butter. Add egg and banana and stir. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir. Add nuts.

Place in greased and floured baking dish (small cake pan size) or in muffin tray. (Will make one dozen muffins.)