Archive for March, 2013

Problem Solvers: Kid Inventors

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

When problems come up in and around the family home, the first inclination is to call an expert for advice, search online or hire an expensive repair worker.  But have you ever considered asking your kids to for advice?  We’re not talking about expecting a 7-year-old to perform surgery or help insulate the attic. We’re talking about getting them to use their imaginations and problem solving skills. Problem solving is an essential life skills your child needs to learn. So why not include them when you need to solve some problems around the house? Just be sure to keep the problems age appropriate and make sure you don’t stress them out with adult issues. Think more along the lines of how to keep the raccoons out the trash can. Or, how can we plant the most vegetables in the garden space allotted? You might be surprised to know that kids can come up with great, problem-solving ideas.

Photo credit: Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Richard Turere, for instance, was worried when lions were attacking the animals on his family’s Kenyan farm.  The initial adult response was to kill or trap the lions, but Richard was worried about the safety of that idea. He noticed that when he walked around at night with his flashlight, the lion’s stayed away. With some LED lights, a solar panel and car battery, he came up with “Lion Lights.” He programmed the lights to come on at night and blink frequently to mimic someone walking around with a flashlight. Since he put them up, there haven’t been any attacks by lions. He solved a big problem when he was just 11 years old. Seventeen-year-old Param Jaggi created an inexpensive device that converts carbon dioxide emissions from cars into oxygen. Braille, earmuffs, trampolines and even tasty popsicles were ideas that came from kids.

There are many tools for encouraging invention through reading and play, and kids can start inventing using simple materials at home. For more inspiration, here are some great problem-solving kid inventions and ideas and remember to include your kids when working on solutions to household problems:

National Gallery for America’s Young Engineers

The Best Kid Inventions in History

Clever and Useful Kid Inventions


Announcing the Spring 2013 Parents’ Choice Audio Award Winners!

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Spring 2013 Audio Award Winners

Announcing the Spring 2013 Parents’ Choice Audio Award winners! Welcome spring with a diverse set of children’s music, audio books, and storytelling albums.

Go outside and Get Moving with children’s music pioneer Ella Jenkins’ latest collection. Or, rediscover Golden Records’ classic songs and storytelling as interpreted by contemporary stars. There’s also Donna Washington’s appetizing collection A Tureen of Tales, a set of thought-provoking updates to familiar narratives. For the end of the day, consider Justin Robert’s graceful Lullabyfilled with gentle instrumentation and dreamy lyrics.

That’s far from all of our new audio award winners. Visit the complete list and find a new favorite!

Parents’ Choice Spring 2013 Mobile App Awards

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

We are happy to announce the Parents’ Choice Foundation’s Spring 2013 Mobile App Award Winners! Apps offer children the chance to learn countless new skills.  They can become accomplished animators, confident musical conductors, or quick-thinking physicists. And, of course, good stories survive the transition to the iPad beautifully.

This season we have more app award winners than ever. Visit our full list to find a new favorite!


Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Comedian Lenny Bruce famously made the case that if you use a pejorative enough times, it will lose its power and meaning. Unfortunately, in this age of bullying, that theory hasn’t held true. Words hurt, sometimes more than a physical punch. In fact, emotional or cyber bullying has been taken to a new level with the ease and accessibility of social networking.

With that in mind, the initiative to rid the world of the “r” word is an awesome place to start. Retarded is a derogatory term used far too often as an insult or slang. It’s incorrect and offensive, to people with or without these disabilities.  At best it’s lazy communication, at worst, a hurtful term. You can offer non-offensive alternatives including cognitive, developmental, or intellectual disability.  When kids are little, parents often spell out words they don’t want them to hear such as expletives and offensive words. Have you made a point to include the r word?  Check out Spread the Word to End the Word. The site is a way to pledge support and develop ideas and awareness of how much the certain words, especially the r-word can hurt. Talk to your kids about what and why certain words are simply not acceptable. And be sure to include the r word.

Parents’ Choice Spring 2013 Small Screen Awards

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

We are happy to announce the Parents’ Choice Foundation’s Spring 2013 Small Screen Award Winners! This time, we’re celebrating our favorite SoftwareVideo GamesDVDs,  Websites.

A smart screen time diet can offer children the chance to embark on unique learning adventures and to enjoy laugh-out-loud family dance sessions. We’ve found some fantastic under-the-radar DVDs for little ones, too, including The Mother Company’s Ruby’s Studio: The Friendship Show, which explores the making and keeping of friends, and Circus Dreams, a documentary about a kid-powered circus. There are old favorites, too, like The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series.

Find the full list of winners in each category below:

Software | Video Game | DVD | Website