Kids Search Engines: Five Safe Options

Talk about a search engine and the first thing that will click in the minds of many is Google. Well some are fans to Yahoo and Bing but would you really recommend the use of these internet tools as kids search engines? If you really care about the welfare of those kids, you would not. These search engines will pop up everything from promotional material that will not be of any help to the kids, to adult material whose effects on the young minds are nothing anyone would want to imagine.

The main concern, actually, is the adult content that these popular searching tools have. Every serious parent will want to keep their innocent kid from coming into contact with such material. There are many tools that have been developed to restrict unauthorized people from accessing certain websites but to be fair to the kids, this solution must be revised. That is not to say that such tools should not be used, but that an alternative should be provided for the kids.

The internet has immense information that can be very helpful to the kids. They should therefore be provided with kids search engines that will provide them with relevant and helpful information and protect them from the harmful stuff. Highlighted below are five options that parents can use to ensure safe intellectual growth of their kids.

The first and most popular is the Google Study Search powered by Google. It is an option for the famous Google search engine that was developed with the interests of kids in mind. The information it provides is good for both primary and high school kids.

Yahoo Kids is another safe search option available. It provides information from the yahoo directory sifting all information that could be harmful to the kids. One advantage of this kids search tool is that it is customized to provide your kid with easy interaction that makes searching for information speedy.

The other kids search engines are Ask kids, Kid rex and Kids click. Ask kids is powered by and provides safe results on material such us videos, games, images and others that are relevant to kids. Kid rex is also powered by Google and provides a completely kids interface. Kids click is the best if one is looking for academic stuff. It has more that six hundred subject guides making it one of the most advanced kids search engines.

Helping Kids Unwind

Modern kids are busy kids.

Regardless of age, their days are filled with activities.

Under fives do a range of adult-initiated learning activities designed to give them the best start to their learning lives.

School-aged kids have a huge range of leisure and after-school activities to choose from. It is not uncommon for kids to have four and five extra-curricular activities a week.

Nothing wrong with kids being busy as long as they have plenty of chances to relax and unwind.

Relaxation is a key to good mental health and well-being. It is an important life skill for kids to learn.

Balance busyness with boredom

One way to ensure busy kids unwind is to make sure kids get bored every so often.

There is a temptation to fill kids' days with activities so that no time is wasted.

"I'm bored!" is the last thing most parents want to hear their kids say. Many parents feel compelled to do something to alleviate a child's boredom.

There is nothing wrong with a little boredom now and then. Boredom can be good for kids' mental health and well-being, giving them the chance to muck around and take it easy for a time.

Here are 5 ideas to help you unwind your kids:

  1. Let your kids regularly stare into the 'fire': Ever sat around a camp-fire and stared at the flames? If so, you will know how calming it is. No exertion! No need to think! No need to talk to anyone! Just a chance to chill-out and relax. The TV is the modern version of the camp-fire. Yep, TV used in this way is good for kids' mental health.
  2. Let kids exercise without rules: Kids are the kings and queens of play. Always have been. Until lately that is, when their lives have become highly organised and scheduled. Free, child-initiated play is the ultimate in relaxation. Fun games, games with few rules and games that kids control help them to unwind
  3. Let kids experience flow: Flow is a state we get into when we are so engrossed in an activity that time disappears. It is the ultimate unwind. We get flow when we pursue our passions so encourage teens to find activities that they truly love and get lost in. Free play generally takes young children to flow very quickly so opportunities for unstructured play are essential.
  4. Help kids calm down around bedtime: Have a bedtime routine that calms kids down rather than winds them up. You can become part of this routine by reading books, telling nursery rhymes, providing soothing back rubs and other ways.
  5. Unwind with your kids: When I was young the best times I had with my dad were spent in the backyard playing cricket. Sounds like a cliché I know. It was fun because it was never a chore for him. He loved it as it was a chance for him to unwind after work. Find ways you can unwind and rejuvenate with your kids.

We want our kids to be busy and involved rather inactive and apathetic. However activity needs to be balanced with unscheduled time so that perspective as well as everyone's sanity is maintained.

Developing a sense of 'we' not 'me' in your family

Have you a process to teach kids to solve issues without fists, fights and put-downs?

Have you a system to give kids a voice in your family so your kids cooperate more?

Have you an easy way to teach kids skills such as giving compliments, encouraging others and thinking positively?

If you answered no to any of these questions then consider adding the Family Roundtable to your set of parenting strategies. It will change the way you parent and how your kids behave.

The Family Roundtable is a proven way to create a strong sense of 'we' in families, promote greater cooperation and teach kids lifelong conflict resolution skills.

How to Find the Best Kids Golf Clubs

Golf Clubs for kids, for ages 3 through 10, were introduced to the marketplace after the cut-down adult clubs failed to make golf fun for the little people. The old-fashioned cut-downs were too heavy, too stiff and made it nearly impossible for kids to perfect a proper golf swing, actually hit the ball, and win. Kids' golf club manufacturers include such groups as the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation, a nonprofit organization aiming to make golf fun for kids and their families, several name brand dealers, and those manufacturers who may be less well-known. Let's take a look at each of these to find out what they offer by way of kids golf clubs.

U.S. Kids Golf Foundation

The U.S. Kids Golf Foundation, founded by Dan Van Horn in 2001, makes golf fun for kids and their families by offering over 400 local, regional, national and international golf events, including actual tournaments and ongoing instruction.

The company introduced its Ultralight Kidsklubs, which are designed 25% lighter than adult and most junior clubs, for beginning to intermediate-level skills. U.S. Kids advanced kids golf clubs, the Tour Series, previously made Golf Digest magazine's Hot List for junior equipment. The Ultralight and Tour Series of kids' golf clubs are fitted by height and player ability, and you can find more information by visiting the company's Fitting Charts.

For your kid's very first golf club, the USKG 9 Iron with training grip comes highly recommended by golf pro Luke Donald for the 3 to 5-year-old age range. The club is well-proportioned in clubhead size, weight and grip size. As kids age, grow taller and improve their golfing skills, they graduate to the next level of clubs in these series and add more types of clubs to their bags.

Acculength... Kids Golf Club Innovation

An alternative to purchasing different clubs as kids grow comes from the one-of-a-kind, innovative company called Acculength, winner on Golf Digest's Hot List in 2009. Company representatives state their products are the only clubs that grow with kids. Each club accommodates up to 4 (one-inch long) spacers directly beneath the grip. The company offers a lifetime warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Starter sets, including four clubs and the bag, range in price from $139.99 - $179.99 USD.

Most consumers find the idea of expandable kids' golf clubs an excellent, extremely cost-efficient one; however, some consumers have a little trouble screwing in the spacers and found that the grips loosen up. Acculength replaces any troubled clubs with no questions asked.

Name Brand Junior Companies in the Game of Kids Golf Clubs

In today's marketplace, almost every branded golf equipment company offers their own versions of kids' golf clubs. From Callaway, to Nike, to Ping, to TaylorMade and Titleist, there are many from which to choose. Depending upon budgetary constraints, or the lack thereof, the decision is left to individual consumers. However, I would like to give you a bit of insight into two companies which specialize in junior name brand golf clubs that I think are affordable and worth the money. You've probably never heard of them; nevertheless they are in the process of branding their own specialty kids' golf clubs.

Paragon Golf - Golf Digest magazine placed this company's Rising Star junior sets on previous Hot Lists. Prices vary. An excellent resource is, where you can find the set of clubs for about $100.00 USD. According to one reviewer, "... this is a five star quality set. The shafts are graphite, stainless steel irons, a decent hybrid, the weight and grip size is just right for juniors, headcover and bag... loaded with features and quality." I found no comments to the contrary in my research.

Tour Edge Golf - Tour Edge offers their Max Junior series for boys and girls aged 3 to 12 years of age. These kids' golf clubs are priced slightly less than Paragon's Rising Star series; however, the clubs receive similar reviews as those for Paragon's series.

Creating a Safe Environment for Kids to Play and Learn

It is our responsibility to create safe environments for our kids where they can play and learn. One of the challenges that we face is how to keep the kids entertained and content. In this article we will be looking at the use of play rugs and carpets as a method of creating safe, secure and entertaining play areas.

Kids carpets have improved considerably and one is spoiled for choice. The carpets and rugs that are used for kids and play areas have been manufactured in such a way that it is durable, safe for kids and easy to clean. Play carpets are available in a variety of designs, colors and shapes.

Types of Play Areas that you can Create:

The Puzzle Room
Create a fun play area with the use of puzzle rugs, kids puzzles and puzzle games. This type of play area will keep kids entertained for hours and they will learn about shapes and their hand and eye co-ordination will improve.

The Travel Room
Allow kids to travel the world in their imagination by creating a travel themed room. Use one of the world atlas themed play rugs, world charts against the walls and educational toys. Games can be played based on locations on the atlas and kids can learn about the world, various cultures and their own uniqueness.

The Kids Town Room
Town and city themed rooms are ideal for boys. They can play with their toy cars and use the roads printed on the rugs. Lego sets and building blocks can be used with great success to entertain the kids and allow them to create their own towns. Let them set-up their own shops and play act.

The Artist Room
Every kid is an artist in his or her own right. Sheets of white paper, crayons, clay, water based paint and crayons themed kids rugs can create an area where kids can build, paint, draw and create. Allow kids to express themselves, have fun and improve their self confidence.

The Alphabet Room
Alphabet themed play areas are great for kids that are learning how to read and write. Make use of alphabet themed play rugs, alphabet cards and word games to entertain your kids. It has been proven through studies that kids absorb and retain more information when they play.

The Numbers Room
Is your kid the next Einstein? Create a numbers themed room filled with games, rugs and toys that are based on numbers. Kids will learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide whiles having fun.

The Animal Room
It is important that kids learn about nature and all the different types of animals in this precious world of ours. Animal themed play rugs, animal toys and games with an animal theme can create a great play area where kids can learn about nature and animals. Let the kids watch educational DVD's or read animal related stories to them and ask them to identify the animals on the rugs and posters.

The Sports Room
Involve dad and ask him to help create a sports themed play room for the kids. There are baseball, football field and multi sports themed kids rugs available. Fill the room with a variety of sport themed games and toys. Place posters of sports heroes on the walls and allow the kids to choose their own heroes.

Christian Rugs
Create a play room where kids can learn about Christ and have fun at the same time. A wide variety of joy and Christian themed rugs are available. Read to your kids from the bible and ask them to draw pictures related to the story.

It is possible to create play areas for kids through the use of posters, pictures, kids area rugs, games and toys. Kids will be able to learn and play simultaneously in a safe and secure environment. With the variety of kids rugs, joy carpets and carpets for kids available in the market you can change any are into an amazing play area for kids. Invest in your kids and their future by creating play areas where they can learn, have fun and be unique.

Kid Internet Safety - Is Social Media A Safe Place to Educate Our Kids?

Many teachers have started to embrace social media instead of banning them. Government education bodies across the USA, Canada, the EU & other countries have published "Internet Usage Guidelines For Schools", which include components on how to use social media and share information between teacher, parent, and kid & keep the kids safe.

Even though many have started to embrace this movement, there are many teachers that are still cautious of social network usage amongst kids, especially at school. I strongly feel that their uneasiness of the social media usage is based on negative media publicity and/or the pure ignorance of the technology itself. With this being said, there are many arguments that the educational benefits of social media outweigh the risk, and the teachers in support of the social media in classrooms worry that the schools are missing out on an opportunity to incorporate tools that many students already know how to use.

It doesn't mean parents and teachers put down their guards about the Internet dangers for kids, but it does mean get involved & get up to speed to help & work with your kid on the Internet.

In a pilot project, which started as a Facebook-like forum, a seventh grade teacher showed with her social media program 20% of students (school wide) were completing extra assignments for no credit, grades increased more than 50%, and absenteeism was reduced by more than a third.

Here are 5 reason why I feel that school should embrace social media just like the seventh grade teacher that I mentioned above.

1. Social Media is Not Going Away
Contextually, things have not really changed. In the early 1990s the debate was similar as it today. School administrators were adamantly against allowing access to the Internet - the big fear being pornography and predators. If you fast forward, it seems as though we're confronted with similar issues today. Can you imagine a school not being connected to the Internet now? Impossible!

However, in pure numbers and usage there has been a big change. For example, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, almost ¾ of seventh to twelfth graders have at least one social media profile, and the survey group used social sites more than they played games or watched videos online. Also, you cannot ignore social medias like Facebook have grown to over 500 million users in 7 years, and I haven't even gone into the details of sites like Myspace, Tagged, MyYearBook, Ning, Hi 5, and LinkedIn. Social media growth is exponential.

Also, here's something else that endorses social networks are here to stay. Not to long ago, some public schools in the UK had an Internet "lock down", and the students basically rebelled. Marks, absenteeism & attitudes changed during this "lock down". Unlike the teacher who had positive results with her pilot "Facebook" program, the kids who went through this "lock down" period seemed not to take responsibility for their actions.

Bottom line - social networks are here to stay. Parents or teachers should get on board - learn it & teach it.

2. Kids Are Better Learners When Engaged
A 3rd and 4th grade Minnesota teacher started using blogs in his classroom in 2007 as a way to motivate students to write. The results were amazing. Students loved it.

In many examples, students have shown to become keenly aware that blogging is not just writing on a piece of paper that gets handed to the teacher, and gets handed back with a smiley. They know that blogging is a shared concept, and friends or other people may even stumble across their writings. There is a concept of power in that notion.

Kids are enthusiastic about in-class blogging. In the pilot Facebook project previously mentioned, students got to school earlier and the overall quality of their work increased.

Parents and teachers - when kids are engaged, they learn better. We need to become engaged before we help them become engaged.

3. Safe Social Media Tools and They're Free
A teacher started using blogs to teach kids, and ended up developing a 'social media platform'. His platform allowed him to monitor and approve everything that the kids were posting online, and kept kids safe from inappropriate advertising. This teacher then developed a similar web-based tool, which teachers use today. The tool is called

Kidblog is one of the hottest Web 2.0 tools in K-8 education, which allows teachers to easily blog with their classes in a teacher-kid-friendly environment. Teachers tend to gain a sense of the interaction taking place as the students navigate their way through their class members' blogs, and teachers can also invite other classes and guests to participate in the class' discussions, thereby broadening the readership audience and increasing motivation for students. Multiple teachers can also collaborate within a Kidblog class and share moderation responsibilities.

From a safety perspective, teachers have full administrative control over all comments, posts, and privacy settings. The administrator has the ability to preview and approve (or unapprove) content published by students (and other visitors, if allowed by their privacy settings). Kidblog endorses privacy & does not collect any personal information from students.

Kidblog also never subjects students to advertising, so teachers can feel comfortable knowing that the publishing environment is free from distractions.

Even though is extremely popular there are other equally popular tools, such as Edmodo & Edublogs.

The key element - these tools are safe and 100% free.

4. Schools Stealing Public Social Media Time
According to a Neilson study, between 2004-2009 the amount of time 2-11 year old kids spent online increased by 63%. One way schools have used this number to their advantage is to compete with other social media sites for part of this time.

One school in the USA launched a pilot program and had their kids complete all their assignments on the school's propriety social media. As a result, the students spent about five fewer hours weekly on Facebook and Myspace so they could do their assignments.

Another example, a teacher would post an extra assignment that students could complete after school every day. The posting was done on school propriety social media. One day she had students comment on one of President Obama's speeches; another day she had them make two-minute videos of something on their walk home that was a bad example of sustainability. These assignments had no credit attached to them. The only intrinsic reward was interacting with other students in the digital world.

The results speak for themselves - one social media displaced by another, and has accommodated students desires to communicate with each other, and in a safe way.

5. Social Media Encourages Collaboration
Social media as a teaching tool has a natural collaborative element. Students critique and comment on each other's assignments, work in teams to create content, and can easily access each other and the teacher with questions or to start a discussion.

Traditional education, on the other hand, typically involves teacher-given lectures, students with their eyes on their own papers, and not talking neighbors. Then, when a student gets into the business world they are literally thrown into groups, expected to produce, but unprepared and lack the collaboration skills.

Many studies show the compelling nature for kids to use social media tools in school, especially how they collaborate. It was initially thought that the shy kids would drift away from collaboration, but in fact if they had a point to make they would make it equally as well as a non-shy kid.

It's easy to see that students enjoy interacting with each other, which also happens to be in a safe and secure manner.

The negative media publicity has actually had a positive impact, and made our school administrators fully aware of the Internet dangers and thus developed programs and technology to address these concerns and keep our kids safe at schools. As a by- product of these tools, there is a reduction in absenteeism, and our kids are being properly prepared for the collaborative world.

I believe we are on the right track to educating our kids correctly and keeping our kids safe on the Internet while at school.

The Benefits Of Kid Learning Games

With kid learning games, kids have fun and learn in the process. Between the ages of 8 and 12, children need to achieve literacy and numeracy and establish foundations in science, mathematics, geography, history and social sciences. Children also need to learn about music and arts.

Fortunately, there are kid learning games that can stimulate kids brains and help them become knowledgeable in many school subjects. Kid learning games are a great way to get kids to stay focused and enjoy learning. Remember that children can get bored very easily and can lose focus very quickly.

Between the ages of 8 and 12, kids begin reading harder chapter books. They learn to express ideas and to write using more sophisticated vocabulary to convey information. There are kid learning specifically designed so that kids can acquire vocabulary. For instance, games such as Scrabble can help kids learn new works all while having plenty of fun. Other games such as the Game of Scattergories can help kids obtain literacy skills.

Between the ages of 8 and 12, children's mathematics education progresses through more and more difficult levels. It consists in advanced multiplication and division. Children work with fractions and interpret complicated graphs. Games such as Fraction Matchin can help kids test their fraction skills. Just by playing this game, kids build knowledge of fraction and multiples. Another great aspect of the game is that it can be played by a group of kids so that they never get bored.

After the age of 8, children also learn basic physical sciences and chemistry. At school, they participate in experiments about weather and hands on activities which helps them learn about chemistry, and to measure and experiment. Children also discover the concepts of atoms and molecules, and learn about basic elements such as oxygen, hydrogen, or iron, along with energy. Here again there are many kid learning games that can make children enjoy science.

Two other important school subjects include history and geography. Children need to learn about the history of their own country but also understand the structure of government. Kids also need to acquire maps skills. Again, there are games designed so that kids learn about history and geography facts and become excited about history.

General knowledge is also very important so that kids can excel at school. Kids with good general knowledge tend to do well later on in high school and in university. There are many trivia games that can help children gain interest in different subjects.

Kids and Teens - Four Ways to Show Your Kid Respect

1) In teaching 2-3-4 year old kids, parents are very discipline in teaching their toddlers to say "thank you" and "please". It is an important lesson to be taught and an important lesson to be learned. However, that all seems to drop somewhere in grade school. Parents are saying "do it because I am your parent and I say so" - not many say "will you please do this for me?" The "thank you" seems to disappear as well. Members of a family think things should be done for them without be very nice to each other.

So...parents...throw your kids a curve by saying "thank you" and "please" when they deserve may confuse them and wouldn't that be fun? Being nice to each other in a family is just another way of showing respect.

2) Most kids love to talk and they love to have someone listen to them. As you sit around the dinner table in the evening, ask your kid "what happened to you today" and "what was the most fun you had today?" It is important to keep it light. Never ask your kid "how was your day today?" They will always say "fine"...particularly Tweens (ages 8-12). If you can tell your kid is having a bad day, then it would be inappropriate to ask "what happened to you today" because they will not want to talk about it. They want to forget about it. Try your best NOT to "dish" out punishment at the dinner table. Any punishment connected with food and dining together may bring negative responses in the future for your kids.

The family dining table experiences should be fun, warm and loving. By the way, kids do not necessarily want to hear your comments back to them on their experiences; they just want you to listen. It is a sign of respect.

3) When you have to discipline your kid they want to know and understand what they are doing wrong that caused them to be punished. And as a parent, I am sure you think your kid understands what they did wrong and you don't need to explain it to them...wrong! Most kids have short-term memory and most of the times do not even remember what they did to get your negative reaction because at that point it is usually all emotional. A yelling match and a spanking on the bottom without a "lesson to be learned" is nothing more than abuse. The kids think it is the parent's responsibility to explain to the kid why they are being disciplined. I'm not stupid I am sure the kids will argue that your explanation is stupid and they should not have been punished. However, if you ask the kids (when they are calm and detached from punishment) they will also tell you they want to know why their parents react the way they did by punishing them. Kids said they don't mind being disciplined as long as they know the "why". It just shows respect.

4) We talk to our friends and relatives about our kids. Show your kids respect by NOT talking about them when they can hear you talking about them; this incudes conversations over the telephone. Kids have big ears when they want to have big ears. It feels to a kid like it feels to an adult: when we hear other people talking behind our backs about us, it does not feel good.

It is like my grandson said to me once: "if my parents tell you anything I do wrong - just throw up your hands cover your ears and say 'I don't want to hear about it'". We need to talk to other adults about our kids to our family and friends because it helps. However, make sure your kids are out of "ear-shot". Show a little respect.

Don't Spoil Your Kid - Teach Your Kid Sports

Any parent wants the best for their kids, so some parents spoil their kids by giving them what they want but that is not a good idea. Spoiling your kids could mean laziness and they will not approve to any work or task you give them when they grow up. To prevent your child from spoiling his or her life away, let him or her join sports. There are reasons why you should let your kid join sports at a young age. The reason is when your kids are grown up, they know what to do and what is good for them. From the sport you have given them, they can be famous if your kid excels in the sport every time your kid enters a competition. That is just one reason why you should make your child join sports.

When kids are bored they usually watch television, by the time you get home from work, your kid still hasn't finished watching cartoons. Another situation is about computer games. Kids who love computer games end up locked in their rooms and only goes out when they have to go to the bathroom or if they want to get something off the fridge. This is the time when you the parent should come in. Have a chat with your child. Encourage your kid to make changes and stop watching TV to fill the kid's boredom. Talk to your kid about sports and recreation. When you are talking with your kid, make sure that you back up what you talk about with him or her. When you have time, teach him or her to play sports. Teach your child the sport you once played, if you have one.

On weekends instead of watching TV, parents should have time with their kids. The parents should also stop watching TV too much and rather talk about the plans for the weekends with your kid. Plan what to do on weekends. This would encourage the kid to be ready and be prepared when your kid goes out and play on weekends with his or her parent. Parents must be active when they play with their children. Since a working parent only has the weekend's time off, that time will be good enough to spend with your child. You can spend your time with your child when you play the sports that your kid doesn't know about. So show off some of your skills to your kid and teach him how you do it. Just don't expect the kid to be perfect at first.

As a parent, you should set a good example to show to your kids. Kids love to mimic what their parents do. So instead of sitting in front of the TV, go out and do something recreational. When a kid sees what the parent does, the kid can copy what the parents do. When your kid asks what you are doing, you better answer him positively and make interesting conversations to let your kid know about sports. When your kid likes the sport you do, your kid will ask you to teach him or her.

Games for Kids

Parents have always turned to games for kids in order to stimulate the development of their kids' brains. The brain of a kid can be likened to a sponge, which is why it is imperative for kids to keep their mind busy through various games. Kids' games could be those that are played indoors or outdoors. These games could give the brain the workout that it needs. You must remember that a poor brain could be avoided if it is always stimulated. And, through educational games for kids, the brain would always benefit.

If you have already reached the point that you could no longer think of what game will be perfect for your kid, then you could visit various toy stores like Toys R Us where you would be able to find a lot of educational games for kids. There are board games that could have kids analyzing and thinking. Try not to choose those toys that will not be able to maximize the usage of the brain. Some of the toys that command a price yet do not promote interactivity are robots and dolls. Kids could, at most, only imagine that these toys are moving, but this activity would not require a lot of brain neurons to run. So opting for board games will always be better. In fact, you could find lots of kids' miscellaneous games at this particular toy store.

Indeed, when it comes to the best games for kids, nothing could beat educational games. These are really the one that could stimulate analysis and learning. One popular game is Snakes and Ladders. This helps in developing mathematics skills of children and also teaches them the value of perseverance. For kids who want to learn the basics of money, Monopoly is one good game to introduce. Word Factory and Scrabble could further enhance the skills of children who have already learned how to spell and read. If you want a game that could really have the brain neurons running in lightning speed, then Chess will be a good choice. These educational games for kids could all be found in Toys R Us, as well as many other toy stores.

One more kids' miscellaneous game worth considering is playing catch. This is a very simple outdoor game that could actually help in stimulating the frontal lobe of the brain or the cerebrum. This part controls motor skills. Proper stimulation of the cerebrum could make kids more accurate and precise in their movements. Hand and feet coordination will also improve.

And, if your kid finds sports activities fun and exciting, you could always let him join sports activities. Remember that athletes use their brains a lot. Victory is not achieved by simply using the body but the brain plays an important role in winning a game of sports. Hence, any chance to improve your kids' brains should be grabbed. You can find the sports equipment you need from Toys R Us and also from sporting goods stores. The moment that you are able to introduce these educational games for kids, you will definitely notice the positive improvement in your kids.

Science Gifts for Kids

If you have a little scientist then they'll love some of these science gifts for kids. Each of these gifts were handpicked by our authors based on their science theme. Typically we only try to find safe toys for children. After all science can be dangerous. Which is why we would recommend adult supervision when allowing your kids to do any scientific experiment. Also make sure that you follow any of the warnings found on the side of the box. Other than that we hope you enjoy some of our gift ideas.

#5 Mind Blowing Science Kit

The Mind Blowing Science Kit is brought to you by Scientific Explorer. It makes it possible for your kids to create their very own science lab at home. The kit allows kids to perform a variety of different science experiments ranging from a colorful volcano explosion to growing crystals. The best part is that your kids will learn the science behind the experiments. For example they'll learn the difference between acids and bases. The science kit includes almost everything your kids will need to conduct their experiments. Things like water are going to need to be provided by you.

If you're a worry wart you won't have to with this kit. The kit doesn't require any special expertise to conduct experiments. On top of that none of the experiments are particularly messy. Each experiment includes step by step instructions. Plus each experiment includes "mind blowing science secrets" that will help answer your kids questions about what's happening. Out of all of the science gifts that we're going to recommend this one is the most popular. This particular toy has sold thousands of units world wide and has extremely positive ratings.

#4 Magic Science Kit

The Magic Science Kit is another toy brought to you by Scientific Explorer. With this toy your kids can unleash their inner wizards with some magical science experiments. Some of the science experiments includes are color changing spells, making smoke appear from your fingers, magical potions, and much more. On top of that the toy also teaches you the science behind each magic trick.

We know that some parents don't appreciate the theme of "magic and wizard." If that sounds like you then we apologize. The science kit includes all of the facts and instructions behind each experiment. If you're not that type of person then you'll be happy to know that the kit includes cards that teach your kids magic tricks that will baffle all of their friends. Overall this is one of the coolest science kits that we were able to find.

#3 Disgusting Science Kit

This kit might not be appropriate for little girls. However little boys will definitely love it. This science kit includes everything to grow nasty and revolting things. Your kids will be able to grow their own friendly germs and molds right in their own room. Some of the experiments include making a batch of coagulated blood and a stink intestine. With this kit your kids will be able to learn the science behind the unmentionable science functions while doing some nasty experiments.

Out of all the reviews this product received we have to admit that the community is kind of mixed. One person in particular bought this gift for their grandson as a gift. Apparently her grandson loved every second of it. On the other hand some reviews were negative. However, since the community seemed mostly positive we're going to recommend this gift.

#2 Tasty Science Kit

Want to know the best type of science? The kind that's edible. Who knew that science could taste that good? With this kit your kids will be able to make cupcakes, cookies, candy, and much more. On type of that your kids will also be educate behind the science of cooking. Your kids will learn what makes the bread rise, candy crystallize, and more chemistry that happens everyday in the kitchen.

Let's face it, not every kid is going to like making disgusting products that feels like snot. Which is why we wanted to recommend this science kit. We think your kids will enjoy making their favorite candy and cake. The best part about this kit is the price. That kit only cost approximately $18 on a major eCommerce website that we found. It's actually one of the best priced kits on this list. On top of that it's one of the most bought kits.

#1 Fizzy Foamy Science Kit

Our last science gift for kids is going to be the fizzy foamy science kit. Like all of the other kits on our list this one is also by Scientific Explorer. With this kit your kids will be able to make fizzy foam! Children young and old will enjoy mixing safe powders to create solutions that foam and fizz. Some of the lessons that your kids will learn with this kit is what makes soda pop and bread rise. The kit is extremely educational and fun for kids to play with.

This is the kit that allows your kids to measure, predict, and investigate using household materials. Again this toy had a lot of mixed reviews by the community. Out of all the people that reviewed this product it average a three star rating. For the most part the reviews were positive. However there were some negative reviews complaining about various things. For example one of the complaints mentions that all of the ingredients in the kit are only household items. Apparently their kids lost interest after a single experiment. Unfortunately we can't guarantee the authenticity of any statement made by the community.

Great Ideas for Kid Jobs

As adults, it may be hard for us to understand why kid jobs can be so significant to children after a certain age. Remember all those times when you went to the mall with your kids and they asked you to buy them something? In today's economy, most parents cannot afford to spare extra money out of the household expenses. Therefore in all likelihood, you probably turned them down saying that you cannot afford it. Kids are smart and they understand the financial problems that you might be facing. But they don't necessarily make the connection between work and money - which leave a big teaching opportunity missed.

You may be averse to the idea of coming up with kid jobs at an early stage of life. However, encouraging your kids to try their hand at different things with some responsibility will help them develop a sense of maturity. Moreover, it will be a good way for them to learn how to handle their increasing responsibilities when they grow up. For kids, getting money by earning something can help them become independent and take care of their own needs without having to ask their parents.

Here are a few kid jobs that your children can easily do, without worrying about them being too tough.

Babysitting: Teenagers and even kids nearing teenage can easily become babysitters. This is one of those kid jobs young girls often enjoy doing. Younger children help as a mother's aide where they take care of other kids in front of the parents.

Pet caretaker: Kids love pets and this can be one of the most fun kid jobs for them. Many pet owners require help to take care of their pets. Generally, a pet caretaker is required to feed and clean up after the neighbor's pets in their absence.

Mowing the lawn: This can be a great experience for kids who love to spend time outside. Moreover kids can also land kid jobs for yard work like cleaning out the snow, leaves or pruning the flowers. This is better for children over 12, for safety reasons.

Blogging: Contributing regularly to a kid's blog is also a nice way for children to earn money. Your children to work from home and write about kids' subjects like TV shows, toys, movies, etc. This is ideal for kids who love to write and can help them enhance their writing skills.

Lemonade, yard sales, or art sales: How many times we have seen little kids selling lemonade outside their house during summers? These kinds of kid jobs are a good way for children to learn the art of selling and dealing with people. Moreover, kids who are good at art can sell their paintings or drawings to neighbors and anyone who is passing by.

If your child wants to think out of the box and get one of these kid jobs for himself, your job as parents is to encourage his initiative and support him. Kid jobs are a good way for your children to learn hard work and success.

Kids Halloween Activities - Keep Kids Busy This Halloween

There are many different kids Halloween activities that you can use to keep kids busy in the lead up to Halloween. As Halloween gets closer kids will get more and more excited so having a few activities to keep them occupy might also make your life a little quieter.

There are loads of different kids Halloween activities that you can consider using with the kids. You could try Halloween crafts, creating Halloween decorations, Halloween games, Halloween puzzles, pumpkin carving, pumpkin painting or Halloween cooking.

If you decide to do Halloween crafts, consider having the kids make something that will also double as Halloween decorations. That way the kids can enjoy creating their item and then continue to enjoy as it is displayed as part of the Halloween decorations. Kids can create Halloween wreaths, with dead twigs, spiders and artificial webs. They can also make ghosts to hang inside or to hang outside from trees. Bats and spiders can be made to hang about also. Tombstones are also good for decorating outside.

Of course the favorite kids Halloween activities are often those that work with pumpkins or make pumpkins. Kids can have a go at pumpkin carving to make Jack O' Lanterns but will of course require lots of supervision for this one. Pumpkins can be used for other things also so consider painting pumpkins to decorate them instead. Kids can also have a go at making pumpkins with paper plates or clay.

Halloween cooking is another fun kids Halloween activity that will keep kids busy and may also bring out their creative side. Try giving them the name of a food and see how creative they can be at coming up with a recipe. Ask them to create Yummy Babies Fingers, Witches' Brew, Eyeball Surprise or Bat Wings. If they don't come up with their own recipes to create then search online for Halloween recipes.

If you want some quiet time as Halloween approaches, then there are some quiet kids Halloween activities that will keep them busy and occupied. Try a Halloween puzzle. You can search online or it is fun to make your own. Make a Halloween word find by drawing a grid and putting Halloween words into it. List the words underneath and then fill the empty space with other letters.

Another great Halloween puzzle is to find Halloween riddles and write each riddle on a card and then each answer a separate card. Kids can the have a go at matching the riddles to the answers. This also makes a great Halloween game. It can be played the concentration game where all cards are turned face down and players take turns at turning over two cards and trying to make a match. Halloween Riddle Match Up makes a fun Halloween game that all of the family can enjoy.

Keeping excited kids busy and happy in the lead up to Halloween is easy if you have a few kids Halloween activities planned. Some of them will require you to you supervise the kids but there are many that the kids can do on their own.

5 Keys to Raise Good Kids

Raising good kids is no easy task. Some parents leave the job to Elmo and the scriptwriters at Sesame Streets while others leave the responsibility to teachers.

For kids, teachers and TV icons may often achieve hero-like status and are always seen as a good role model to imitate. If you leave it like that, you're leaving the golden opportunity to teach them your values.

It's sad that most parents forget that it's what they encounter at home that counts the most. If you fall into this category, it's time to take back the responsibility of raising good children.

If you want to raise good kids, these 5 parenting tips may help:

1. Praise Good Behavior
Too little praise devalues and depresses them, whereas too much praise pumps them full of unrealistic expectations. What you need is just the correct dose of praise. And more importantly, praise the right behavior.

Too many parents nowadays praise or reward their kids for lying. Asking your kids to tell the bible salesmen that mommy is not home and rewarding it with "Thanks!" or candies is the wrong way to nurture your little ones.

Praise only good behavior if you want your kids to behave. And criticize or punish bad behavior. This way you're giving them reward at the correct place and your children will learn that bad behavior is not tolerated.

At the same time, there's another thing about praise you need to remember. If you caught yourself sounding like a fake, you probably are pumping the kids unneeded praise. Praising kids is like watering your plant; you need just the right amount to nurture your plant. Too much kills it.

2. Decide Your Values
Social skills are the one important skill we always take for granted. We put our kids in school to learn how to read, write or excel in math. We spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars in books, educational toys or cd to make sure they are at par with their peers when it comes to intelligence and educational skills.

Unfortunately, we spend little time teaching them social skills, assuming this will just falls into place. Thus, many academically talented kids are socially challenged. That's why many parents are surprised to know that their kids end up being a school bully.

Don't neglect your kid's social needs. Teach them about making friends, tolerating others, handling people and all the other social skills no textbook can teach. Spend time talking to them, it'll change many things.

3. Take Advantage of Teachable Moments
Kids learn better when they see something in action. Thus, when there are teachable moments, grab the opportunity to educate your kids. This is one of the most neglected aspects of parenting.

When you see bad or unwanted behavior occurring in front of you, take your time to tell your kids why he or she shouldn't behave like that. And when good things appear before your eyes, make sure your kids are also watching and grab the opportunity to educate them.

What appears in front of their eyes is more readily absorbed than countless nag by you or their teachers. As some say, action speaks louder than words.

4. Limit on Electronics
Pay attention to what they watch or play. Almost every year you'll read a news story about kids who jumped from their balcony trying to imitate Superman or injure themselves while trying a wrestling maneuver.

We are living in a time where visual stimulation is more than enough. A lot of kids don't go spending time playing baseball anymore because they can play it in their living room, thanks to PlayStation or X-Box. Instead of reading a book, they're surfing the net.

Put a halt on this problem. Limit their "electronic simulation" intake. If you restrict TV or their computer time, they'll eventually discover something to do that doesn't require buying more things. Not only this means saving you money, it could also save the children from unwanted influences.

Get your kids to the park or enroll them in a sports team. Spending 10 minutes playing soccer will be far healthier and more rewarding that spending 10 days perfecting soccer maneuver in a pc game.

5. Be Firm
Letting your kids to have her own way after crying and whining tells her that she can get away by making other people's life miserable.

Some parents will relent because they want to avoid a scene. However, in keeping with their terms, you're teaching your children that fussing work. Thus, the next time they want something you'll see the same tactics used.

One way to tackle this is by making them promise to you that they will not ask for anything, even before stepping out of the home. Teaches them about the importance of promise and the kind of action you will take if they break it.

Your job as a parent is to help your children. Having good kids is not an accidental thing. It takes time, patience and skills. The most important thing is you take the time to learn and apply them to your kids.

If you want to be a proud father or mother, start teaching your kids the right values when there are still small. Do not waste the golden opportunity to teach them while they're absorbing your ideas without much resistance. Start while they are small and you wouldn't have a big headache when they're big. It's as simple as that.

Gift for Kids

With the holiday seasons coming up soon you're probably trying to find that perfect kids for your kids. If your like us then you probably waited until the last minute. Which is a good thing because you can look into some of these gifts for kids. Each of these gifts were handpicked by our authors using a variety of different criteria. For example, we chose gifts based on popularity, quality, and branding. We only wanted all of the best gifts for this article. After visiting several databases compiling the best selling toys of this year this is what we came up with.

#10 Scrabble Flash Cubes

At the writing of this article this is the most popular toys for kids. If you've never played with Scrabble Flash Cubes before then let us explain. The concept is simple. You'll be given five cubes that will display letters. During a round you'll have to form words with those letters before the time runes out. The cubes have the ability to detect what the cube aligned with it is displaying.

If you spell a correct word the cubes will know. They have every five letter word programmed into them. There is a variety of different modes available for play. This gift is perfect for those kids who always need a fix of scrabble. Our favorite part of this game is that it is travel size. If you're the type of family that goes on long trips then you might appreciate this gift. Instead of listening to your kids constantly ask if you're there just have them play this game.

#9 Qwirkle Board Game

The second most popular toy is this year is the Qwirkle Board Game. This tactile block game combines the logic of a creative multi-maneuver game just like Scrabble. The game is extremely easy to learn. All you have to do is create columns and rows of matching colors and shapes. For those strategic players out there you're going to have to look for the opportunities to score big by placing tiles that touch multiple pieces. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

The game is brought to you by Mindware and has a very reasonable price. It's actually one of the most affordable games in this article. Personally this isn't my type of game but for some reason people just love. After sampling several reviews from a variety of different communities we can tell you that the game has managed to average a maximum five star rating.

#8 Syma 3 Channel S107

This toy has been a best seller for almost a year straight. The only problem with these electronic helicopters is that they break easily. Other than that I've owned a few myself. They're one of the most fun toys that I've ever played with. You know that toy that everyone plays with on Christmas? There's always that one toy. Well this was that toy in my family.

Overall this is one of the best electronic helicopters that you can find. Keep in mind that these toys have a tendency to break. Which is why we would recommend being careful. On top of that the battery life is only approximately twelve minutes. The Syma 3 Channel S107 was well-received by the community. It seems like the majority of problems that people are having we mentioned above. Other than that it's a highly recommend gift.

#7 Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle

For some reason Lego Harry Potter sets are extremely popular this year. If your kid likes Lego's and Harry Potter then this might be a great gift for them. The Lego set follows a simple theme: Dementors have surrounded the school of Hogwarts. Both Harry and Dumbledore must come face to face with Lord Voldemort.

The set includes some incredible details like sliding stairs in Dumbledore's office, the Slytherin and Gryffindor common rooms, and the restricted section of the library and the great hall decorated in Slytherin and Gryffindor colors. Overall this is one of the most popular Lego sets this year. The reviews have been extremely positive.

#6 FurReal GoGo My Walkin' Pup

If you have a daughter then she might like this gift. This robotic dog is currently all the rage. With the FurReal GoGo Pup your kids can have all of the benefits of a pet without the responsibility. Your kids can walk the dog as much as they want. When your pup is on it will automatically respond to your kids every time they enter the room to let them know she's ready for a walk. Gogo is as realistic as a real pet. She pants, barks, and whines just like the real thing.

Even though this toy is a best seller the community had mixed reviews. Gogo was built to walk on solid surfaces. Also make sure to keep Gogo away from any wet surfaces. Another thing that parents didn't like is that the dog can be "needy." Gogo is definitely a high maintenance puppy. Overall we think this would make a great gift for your beautiful little girl. Especially is she likes dogs. If she doesn't FurReal has a variety of different pets available like cats and parrots.

#5 Lego Ultimate Building Set

As we mentioned above kids love Legos. The Lego Ultimate Building Set is the perfect gift for your little Lego fans. The set includes 405 pieces stored in a durable plastic box with a see-through top. Legos are perfect for letting your child explore their imagination and creativity. Unfortunately the set contains many small pieces and is only suitable for children at least four years in age. Other than that the set includes everything your kid needs to become a Lego expert.

The set includes a single mini figurine, building plate, and a wide variety of standard bricks in various colors. The set includes instructions on how to build a house, helicopter, dog, and car. Of course your kids aren't limited to building anything with their imaginations. The only flaw with this toy is that the instructions can be complex for some children who might require adult assistance.

#4 Hedbanz Game

Before we tell you about this game we're going to tell you that you've probably seen it before. If you've ever watched Inglourious Basterds then you've seen a "free" variation of this game. All you have to do is have each player write down the name of something on a piece of paper then pass it to the right. The player (without looking) then sticks the piece of paper on his favorite. At this point the has to guess what's written on the paper by asking questions.

Even though you can play the game entirely free people tend to buy the game from Spin Master. The reason being is that the actual game includes headbands that are worn to prop up the cards. Personally I've played this game before and it is kind of fun. Of course, when I played it we turned it into a drinking game. Which probably isn't appropriate for little kids.

#3 Bananagrams

Bananagrams is a fast and fun word game that doesn't require a pencil or keeping score. Which means you'll be able to enjoy the game rather than worry about who's winning. The game is extremely simple to play. Each player must draw tiles from a pile until the pile is gone. Then in a scrabble like fashion the player must build his own crossword. The goal is to use all of your tiles up before the other players.

When laying out your crossword you can move pieces even if you've already played them. That makes the game a lot easier for people who are just being introduced to spelling (kids). Overall this is another one of the best selling toys that we could find. It's actually won a variety of different awards. On top of that it's also been one of the best selling toys and games for three years straight.

#2 Lego Minotaurus Game

The mighty Minotaurus is a mythical creature that protects a temple inside of a labyrinth. In this game your kids have to lead their heroes to the center of the temple, avoid the minotaur, and place walls to block your opponents. The game comes with a customizable Lego dice, rule booklet, building instruction booklet, and 12 Lego mini figurines.

The way the game is played is simple. Players must begin by building the playing board. Once done each player takes turns rolling the dice. If a number comes up you must move your mini figure. However, you can also get a Minotaurus symbol that allows you to move the Minotaurus to attack your opponent. Another symbol allows you to move the walls to block your opponents. Overall the game does require some wit and strategy.

#1 The Settlers of Catan

This game is a best selling toy that should be purchased for older kids. The reason being is that it does have some complex rules and themes we don't think younger children will be able to understand. The game has won several awards that they're very proud of. In the game players must collect resources and use them to build roads, settlements, and cities to achieve victory. The board is almost unique every game making every game you play different each time.

The board consist of 19 hexes surrounded by an ocean. Each type of terrain produces a different resource like wool, bricks, ore, grain, and lumber. There are even terrains like the desert that don't produce any resources. Players then must use their resources to build roads alongside of the hex. Overall a single game can last up to 90 minutes. The game is extremely recommended by the community.

Bonus: Fushigi Magic Gravity Ball

If you've never heard of Fushigi it's a dynamically designed ball that's perfect for using in the art of contact juggling. Unfortunately the game being a best selling hit has received some negative reviews. The facts are that people don't need to buy a Fushigi call to practice contact juggling. Players can do so with any household items in the shape of a sphere. The reason people buy the Fushigi ball is because it makes contact juggling look a lot cooler.

With Fushigi the operator has to exploit the reflective properties of the sphere by using specific hand and body isolations that give the Fushigi ball the look that it's moving on it's own. Some body isolations will even make the ball look like it's floating in mid-air. Overall the ball is actually extremely cool. If you want to see exactly what can be done then I would recommend checking out some videos on contact juggling. You should be able to find a couple thousand of them.

Kids Glasses and Reluctant Little Shoppers

Kids glasses are surprisingly difficult to order, but the difficulty that many mild mannered parents face isn't the lack of variety that optometrist's offices and glasses stores manage to keep. Parents quickly learn that it's their reluctant, terrified, or defiant children that give them grief. It's a sad but regular occurrence in glasses shops - children in tears, sometimes arguing about even trying on a single pair of kids eyeglasses. Yes, shopping will be that difficult. However, parents can possibly avoid the tantrums, pouting, and embarrassment if they tackle kids glasses shopping the right way.

Toddlers' Kids Glasses Tantrums

Shopping during a toddler tantrum isn't conducive to a good bargain. Toddlers' glasses are quite inexpensive, and are outgrown very rapidly. The easiest choice for internet-savvy parents is to order a cheap pair of young kids eyeglasses from an online merchant. Online stores carry toddler glasses, and trustworthy glasses merchants might have plenty of them in different prescriptions. It's typically much more affordable than going to an optometrist's store, and enduring a mid-store tantrum will not actually be possible. Moreover, chances are very high that you probably didn't need or want your toddler to choose his glasses, anyway. Shatterproof, plastic kids eyeglasses often make great toddler glasses. Kids eyeglasses from internet merchants usually are delivered rapidly, without issue.

Craziness With Kids Glasses In Kindergarten

Kids glasses for kindergarten and elementary schoolchildren is chaotic at best. Online stores still have great solutions for children who aren't well-behaved enough. If you overhear tears or tantrums as soon as kids eyeglasses are mentioned, you should listen. Tantrums that are regularly related to an uncharacteristically powerful worry that kids eyeglasses will provoke a child's bully can be a serious reason for concern. Sometimes, those seemingly normal tantrums are a sign of already alarming issues that just need to be addressed. Other times, it could possibly be an unfounded worry your kindergartener may have. Talking to your tike is a good way to help give him that oft-needed confidence booster that's always a must for daily kids eyeglasses wear. Pep talks are incredibly effective with young children.

Going to a kids glasses supplier with your elementary schoolchildren is a major feat. Young girls will jump at a chance to buy swanky glasses, so many wise parents opt to let their little ones choose which pair to buy. Parents that are frequently bound by an even slightly tight schedule must consider setting a time limit on this family shopping trip.

Tweens, Kids Glasses, Terrors!

Tweens, preteens, or adolescents, are notoriously hostile to being called kids. Does your tween pout, whine, and groan over getting kids eyeglasses? Though tantrums are a thing of the past with adolescents, there are still pitfalls to an angry preteen. Avoiding preteen hostility is easy.

Parents of adolescents learn to step back and let tweens explore their personal fashion choices. Oftentimes, tweens fit adult glasses as well as kids glasses. So, instead of foolishly insisting on kids eyeglasses, give your adolescent permission to wear adult eyeglasses if they are steadfast in their desires. Tweens won't wear kids eyeglasses if they were pushed upon them. Also, if your preteen sees a fashionable pair of affordable glasses online, buy them. Popular online merchants are very trustworthy.

What Are The Best Toys And Gifts To Make Kids Smart?

A kid's eyes shine bright while opening his present. When he sees that his presents are clothes, his bright eyes suddenly turn dim. Kids are not known for hiding their disappointment. But give them a toy as a gift, and you'll see a display of appreciation that could warm the cockles of any gift-giver. It seems that instinctively, kids prefer something that will engage his mind, not just something that will make him look good. But not all toys or gifts are equal. There are those that engages him for a long time, and those that amuse him for just a few hours, and then forgotten.

Educational gifts get your child's attention for a longer time, as they feed his or her stimulation-hungry brain. More importantly, the impact of the best educational gifts lasts a lifetime. These gifts give him a head start in reading, math and science. They develop his love for learning, the most important attitude to make your kid grow up smart. A great educational gift even triggers what will be your kid's lifelong passion.

Because of the internet, you do not have to waste time and energy going through the mall looking for the best educational gifts. You could shop right in your bedroom in your pajamas!

The following are the top 10 educational toy and other unique educational gift ideas that you can find on the internet:

1. Educational Toys

The best toys and gifts are those that make your child learn while he is having fun. This way, learning happens while he plays. And the more he plays, the more he learns! Make sure that the toy you give is appropriate for his age and gender, and that it is safe. Avoid toys that can only be played with one or two ways. The more activities a kid can do with a toy, the better it is. For younger kids, find one that can be opened, closed, twisted, pulled, dragged, formed, changed, preferably all at the same time. For older kids, the best toys are those that stimulate the imagination.

2. Hobby and Science Toys

Brilliant engineers, inventors and mechanics get their beginnings from tinkering with toys when they were kids. Chemists begin by mixing stuff and biologists play with their ant farms.

Hobby toys catches your kid's interest and this could lead to a lifetime passion. Examples of hobby toys are science projects, electronic kits, Lego Mindstorms and robot projects, chemistry, biology, anatomy and physics sets, stamp, coin, and other collections.

3. Nature Toys and Pets

Nature toys make your child explore the wonder and mystery of the world around him. These can make him eternally curious and thus be a lifelong learner. Examples are microscopes, telescopes, planetariums, and globes.

Pets are also great gifts. An aquarium can teach your kid about aquatic life, and kittens and puppies can be a great way to introduce your kid to love for animals. Seeds will fascinate your kid when he sees them grow into a plant. Who knows, your kid's appreciation of nature may be key to his being able to help save the planet in the future.

4. Personalized Gifts

Studies show that children learn when their activities are personalized. When they are a character on a book they read, they are fascinated and their minds open up. Personalized books, music, and toys also improve your child's self-confidence and positive view of himself. Babies and kids will love hearing their OWN name sung in songs, printed in books, built with trains, or just hanging on the wall.

5. Computer Software and Games

The best educational software and fun and entertaining and helps your kid achieve success in school. They help build math, reading, and critical skills, as well as instill confidence, joy and excitement around learning. With the best educational software, your kid will beg to learn!

The best computer games are those that teaches him strategy and problem-solving, and not merely "fragging" the enemy. Although "fragging" the enemy is said to develop hand-eye coordination, some psychologist are concerned that the violent nature of these games can desensitize your child to hurt in others.

6. Magazine Subscriptions

Aside from books, magazines can be a great way to start kids off on a life-long passion for reading. Since magazines feature what is current and up-to-date, it is always interesting to your kid.

7. Puzzles and Board Games

Puzzles and games exercise the brain. And like any part of the body, the more exercise your kid's brain gets, the more powerful and tougher it becomes when faced with challenges. The best puzzles and board games teach your kid how to plan, decide, think and think through a difficulty. Board games, when played with friends or family, enhance social skills. He learns about taking turns, following rules and cooperating with teammates or opponents.

8. Musical Instruments

Many studies have proven that learning music has a profound effect on your kid's brain. Music is shown to increase IQ, improve school grades, and prepare your kid to learn the advanced concepts of math and science.

Most kids are interested in learning to play guitar, the drums, and the keyboard, although they may also want to take up the violin and brass instruments.

9. Educational Videos

Educational videos have proven beneficial to preschool and above kids. (Videos for kids aged 2 and below are more harmful than helpful) Kids who watch informative and educational shows as preschoolers tend to watch more informative and educational shows when they get older. They use TV effectively as a complement to school learning. On the other hand, kids who watch more entertainment program watch fewer informative programs as they get older. There are educational movies on the internet where kids of the "You Tube" generation not only watch, but also interact for a great learning experience.

10. Books

This list will not be complete without books! Books are and will always be your kid's brain's best friend. Among other benefits, reading builds the language neural connections in your kid's brain and expands his chain of knowledge.

Kid ATVs - Beware of Fraud Dealers!

Don't be fooled by people who claim to be Kid ATV dealers but do not have the proven record of their "sales". With the ever increasing of the popularity of ATV, it is not surprising that everyone is eager to make a profit out of ATV sales. There are, of course, genuine Kid ATV dealers out there, but just like it is in any other industry that makes money, there will be a couple of individuals or organizations that are out to make victims out of naïve, ignorant first time buyers. So, if you are one of those people who are looking to buy a Kid ATV for your child for the first time, I suggest that you continue reading this article so that you will not fall into the traps of unscrupulous Kid ATV dealers.

First of all, you must remember that Kid ATVs come in different sizes, shapes and models compared to adult ATVs. It is always better to go to a dealer that specializes in Kid ATVs as they are more focused on what they are selling and they have more choices of Kid ATVs for sale too. There are many Kid ATV dealers that you can find from the internet, and one of such is Check them out and see the range of Kid ATVs that they have - I am sure that you'll be spoilt for choice!

Another thing that you should know about Kid ATV dealers is that you should look for one with proven sales record. If you have never heard of their brand before (they could be off brand Chinese Kid ATVs around too, you know), ask around to see if others have heard of them. Better yet, put in your questions of such Kid ATV dealers at the forums of other ATV websites like and see what the other ATV fans have to say. Ardent ATV fans are always more than happy to help first time buyers with their tips and suggestions. They may even be able to point you to the best Kid ATV dealer in town!

Before you head out to the nearest Kid ATV dealer store you find, I'd suggest that you note down questions like the color, features and any other Kid ATV related questions that you may have so that you don't forget to ask the Kid ATV dealer. Asking questions and getting satisfactory answers is also another great way to gauge the sincerity and trustworthiness of the Kid ATV dealer. A reliable Kid ATV dealer is one that is able to provide you with a proven sales record as well as testimonials from their customers. Remember to ask the Kid ATV dealer about their ATV parts too - some ATV dealers do not keep the parts of the ATVs that they sell, which could be a problem when you need the parts later on because you'll never know when or if you will get them.

Shopping for your child's Kid ATV does not mean that you have to get the cheapest Kid ATV you find - cheap may not necessary means good. Getting a good quality Kid ATV should be your priority. Some dealers may tell you that you don't have to get an expensive Kid ATV for your child because your kid may outgrow it soon, but it is also important that you get your child a Kid ATV that will work for as long as he is able to ride on it - without it breaking into pieces before the warranty ends! Happy ATV shopping and beware of fraud dealers!

Going to Universal With Little Kids? Learn How Both Kids and Adults Can Have Lots of Fun

A lot of adults love universal because of all the rides and concerts. However, when traveling with children especially little children many families turn away from Universal thinking that it is adult oriented theme park. This is not true. Kids of all ages can have lots of fun at Universal. These 5 tips will explain how everyone can have fun

Adults and older kids can go to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and little kids can go to Jimmy Neutron

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is one of the world's largest roller coaster of its kind, it is an x-type roller coaster. It features a 160 ft drop and 90 degree tilt. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is one of the few roller coasters that has a loop which is inverted. This means that you never go upside down. Imagine being on top on the loop! It is breathtaking. Here is a problem! When traveling with little kids, adults and older kids want to go on the ride and little kids are screaming "Mommy..Mommy..I want to go too". Here is how to solve this problem. Have one adult take kids to Jimmy Neutron ride and another adult take older kids to a roller coaster. These two attractions are very close to each other and everyone will have fun. More than that, both rides are very conveniently located close to each other. Therefore, reconnection with the rest of your family after the rides will be easy.

What to do if little kids are afraid of rides and attractions?

Solution is easy. Do little kids like Barney or funny animals? Most little kids do! Guess what Universal has a Barney Show. Yes a Barney Show. Not only that, Barney show is conveniently located next to "Animal Actors on Location" attraction. These two shows are a lot of fun for both adults and children. If older kids and adults don't want to watch Barney show (I can relate to that) and/or animal show, then one adult can take little kids to these attractions. Another adult can take older kid(s) to enjoy nearby Men in Black and Simpson rides. All of the attractions mentioned above are very close to each other. This is yet another way for families to easily reconnect.

What if it's hot and little kids are bored?

A lot of little kids get very cranky at theme parks. Mommy..mommy I am bored, there is nothing in this park for me to do...I am thirsty...I am hot...etc. Sounds familiar? To solve this problem take your little kids to "Curious George" water attraction. They will never want to leave. It is so much fun that even adults can enjoy it. Kids can splash in the water with adult supervision and older kids can go to roller coasters and even Revenge of the Mummy.

Who loves E.T.?

Do you want your little kids to fly with E.T.? This is one of the most amazing rides at Universal. It is conveniently located next to other little kids friendly attractions such as Barney, Curious George, and Woody Woodpecker Roller Coaster. The whole family can enjoy this ride. If older kids are "too cool" for this ride then Men in Black is right down the road. We personally love E.T. It is fantastic.

Get an express pass!

I explained this tip in my other article titled "The 5 best ways to enjoy Universal Studios in Orlando". It is so important that I will go over this tip one more time. If you are tired of hearing "Mommy are we there yet...are we there yet.?", you will literally pull hair out when you are standing in line for 2 hours. Express pass will let you skip long lines to many attractions at Universal. We have a Premiere pass that has express pass built into it. Either way there are tons of attractions and rides. The last thing you want is to stand in long lines, tire your little kids, and stress out older kids. Not all the rides have express entrance. So make sure that you double check with a Universal attendant.

Party Gifts for Kids

If it's your kids been invited to a birthday party and you have no idea what to buy here are some basic suggestions. Keep in mind that when shopping for kids you're going to have to follow the latest trends. We know that shopping for kids is never easy. After all they grow up so fast. It seems like one day they're interested in Hockey and the next they're going on dates. However if your kids are still that magical age where they don't know how to drive and they still play with preschool products they might like some of these gifts. Each of this gifts were chosen based on their popularity, quality, and brand. We only wanted to recommend the best party gifts for kids.

#5 Crayola Color Wonder Sound Studio

One of the most popular gifts for kids is the Crayola Color Wonder Sound Studio. In fact this gift is actually one of the best selling gifts this holiday season. The majority of people who buy Color Wonder products have been long time fans. This sound studio is a neat twist and it turns out that the majority of parents like it. The package includes a sound studio drawing board, 12 color wonder pages, 6 blank wonder pages, 5 miniature markers, and six sound cards.

Each of the sound cards include ten sounds on them with a different theme. The themes included are Jungle, City, Dinosaur, Music, Farm, and Beach. What happens is that while your children are coloring the canvas will make wonderful sounds. It's a great way for introducing your children to art at a young age. The best part about this gift is that it's educational. It will help develop your kids imagination and their sense of creativity.

#4 Blokus Classic Game

Blokus is one of the best selling board games of all time. The game is a strategy board game that focuses on spatial reasoning. The best part is that Blokus encourages creative thinking. The game has even received several awards including the Mensa award for promoting healthy brain activity. The premise of the game is extremely simple. Each player must place each of their pieces onto the game board. When placing a piece it must not lie adjacent to another players piece. On top of that the piece that your placing must also touch the corner of one of the pieces that you've already played on the board.

The player who gets rid of all their pieces first is the winner. Overall we don't think you're going to get a better board game than this. Even though the game is simple and easy to understand. The complexity is soon revealed to players after they begin playing. The game is especially addicted to those who like playing abstract games.

#3 Illustory Make Your Own Story Kit

How would your kids like to be published authors? With Illustory your kids can do just that! This award winning kit allows future authors to write and illustrate their very own stories on the book pages provided in the kit. This kit is perfect for nurturing a child's enthusiasm, writing, and illustration. What we liked the most about this toy is that it will help spark an interest in writing. After all English is a major part of any career that your child might choose.

All your kids have to do is write their own book then send the manuscript with the included paid postage. The production time is approximately only 3-4 weeks time. Also your kids could choose to create their book entirely online. The Illustory Make Your Own Story Kit includes 18 special book pages, 2 cover pages, 10 washable markers, story web planner, instructions, order form, and a prepaid envelope.

#2 Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden

This party gift is perfect for kids who have a fascination with butterflies. This kit allows your kids to grown their own butterfly garden. This toy is highly educational. For example did you know that butterflies taste with their feet and have 10000 eyes? The kits comes with a relatively easy to assemble observation chamber, butterfly feed, an informational booklet with clear instructions and facts about butterflies.

The metamorphasis from a larvae to a butterfly takes about 3 weeks from when you receive the caterpillar larvae. Over that time your kids will watch the larvae transform dramatically and emerge as a beautiful butterfly. During that time waiting for kids can enjoy some of the many facts about butterflies. The kit includes almost everything you'll need except for water and sugar.

#1 Crayola Color Explosion Glow Board

For our last gift recommendation we wanted to suggest another great Crayola product. This gift allows your kids to take creation to an entirely different level. The kit comes with six vibrant neon markers that can be used to draw on one of the boards two drawing surfaces. After your kids complete their masterpiece they can illuminate the colored inks with a touch of a button.

This toy offers kids a unique way to display all of their artwork. When your kids illumate their artwork it will display their drawings in a vivid and intense light. The boards surface is completely reusable which means your kids can enjoy drawing as much as they want. Each of the markers has medium tips which can be used to draw quickly. Included with the set is a tracing sheet that helps jump start your kids creativity. Out of all of the party gifts that we've recommended in this article this is one of our favorite suggestions.

Letting Kids Spread Their Mobile Independence

We live in a society that demands we keep our kids under our watchful eyes for their safety; and, unfortunately we are becoming aware that we have taken our kid's independence away from them. What has happened to our kids? They have gotten involved in computer games and other technology "things". Kids have learned that it is safer to be at home; being by themselves in their room alone. There may be ways of changing this and provide a way to get our kids out in the fresh air more often.

You have to know each of your kids to know when it is appropriate to let them spread their wings in the outside environment. It still seems that boys earn their mobile independence before the girls do. It is not acceptable to let the older kids take care of the younger kills when playing outside. The younger kids are still the sole responsibility of their parents for their care and safety.

How much independence do you, as parents, give your kids daily? Because of our fear that something or someone may hurt our kids we have restricted our kids from finding some independence.
We are talking about kids when they reach the age of 10 years old or so. Do your kids ever walk to school (within reason distance); ride their bicycle around the neighborhood or how about walking to a friend's house to play without adult supervision? 
Parents are scared and reluctant to let their kids outside on their own because of traffic dangers, kidnapping and/or being molested. At times the parents just want to spend extra time with their kids and not let them out on their own.

Kids who have experienced independent mobility interact more with other children and their environments.  Kids who are dependent upon adult supervision/protection could "negatively influence children's emotional, social and cognitive development," and may lead to more sedentary behaviors, putting them at risk of obesity and diabetes.
Parents are more likely to drive their kids to where they have to go. It is faster and it is safer. Many kids are scared to go outside of their house without an adult being with them. The kids are uncomfortable with outside forces that "could" happen to them if they are alone.

If parents do not feel as if they can turn their kid loose outside by themselves, then do something together as a family. However, let the kids run ahead of you to develop their independence or stay behind you as you walk or play outside. Teach your kids about traffic; approaching strangers and what to do and not do; loan your kids your cell phone when they are outside so they can call you if an emergency comes up and give them a watch and deadline on when to come back home. Try some drills in 15 minute intervals and then you can extend the minutes outside when the kids understand the rules. If they disobey the rules, then take minutes away from them until they obey the rules. 
Our kids have to have fresh air; develop their mobile independency; parent's rules to follow and an affirmation that you are here at home waiting for them to come home or if they need help in anyway they can call you. I encourage all parents to do the responsible thing when your kid reaches the appropriate age to trust. I want to make it perfectly clear I am NOT talking about small children who are incapable of following rules nor do they have the knowledge of keeping themselves safe. Be smart parents - know your kid - and when appropriate - let them spread their wings safely.

Kid Internet Safety - Understanding When To Attach A GPS Location Tracking Device To Your Kids Ankle

Ever had to deal with a situation where your 'kid has gone missing for a couple of hours?' As a parent, this is a very scary situation indeed! It has happened to me on a few occasions -- one minute you've got your kid by the hand in a busy shopping mall, and the next moment they are gone! Vanished! You look around in a panic, you think about their safety, and you scan the horizon 360 degrees. You feel your pulse racing, the sweat starts to drip from your forehead, and this is when I wished I had some form of kid safety monitoring technology, similar to what is strapped to a convicts ankle, and who is monitored 24 hours a day by a Jail Warden. With this being said, maybe it is time to come up with a new kid safety formula. Part of my equation, is to combine GPS location tracking technology, your kids trust, and an Internet connected cell phone -- a fresh approach to kid Internet safety.

If my kid wore one of those GPS location tracking bracelets and I was able to monitor his whereabouts, I guarantee my pulse rate would never race & I would be a more relaxed person. However, it's probably not appropriate nor feasible to place one of those hi-tech ankle bracelets on your kid -- they are not criminals.

I'm sure you've experienced the 'kid has gone missing for a couple of hours situation.' Well, in the name of kid safety, modern day technology is available to you in order for you to keep an eye on the whereabouts of your children at all times. As a parent it is exceptionally important to make sure your kids are safe, and that means making sure you know where and who they are with at all times (well most of the time). Keep in mind, that tracking and monitoring smaller kids, say 12 years old and younger, is relatively straight forward, but as they approach their teens it becomes more and more challenging.

Consider arming your kids with a cell phone, especially as they approach their teen years. Your kids will love you for this. Trust me. From a kids perspective, they feel a cell phone is the best thing to stay in touch with their peer groups; And because their friends have cell phones they will belong to the group too -- they do not want to feel left behind and left out by any peer group.

Now combine the Internet connected cell phone with the latest GPS location tracking technology and it is 100% possible to keep track of the whereabouts of your teenagers. We are not talking about strapping an ankle bracelet to them like they do with convicts. Instead, this technology is similar to that of a car GPS system, except smaller, less obtrusive, and if used correctly, is safe and secure. From your (the parents) perspective, this combined technology will help you keep in constant contact with your kids -- speaking, voice mail, texting, and location tracking. Mission accomplished!

As embarrassing as it is, let me give you a real life example how this technology works. Recently, I went on a road trip with my family. My mother wanted to know when I reached my destination. Can you believe it? I am a grown man, a husband, a father, and help parents protect their kids on the Internet, but my mother wanted to know when I reached my holiday destination. Talk about an over protective mother, but that's another story.

So, I decided to make it really easy (for my mother, me and the rest of my family), and installed a GPS location tracking software on my Blackberry cell phone. The software was free and took less that 5 minutes to install. When everything was complete, not only did my mother know when I reached my destination, but she was able to monitor my exact location at any time, just by logging into the software system on the Internet. As long as I kept the software 'active' on my cell phone she knew my location -- right down to a 10 foot radius.

The technology is actually fantastic! It can help protect your kids, especially those that are approaching their teen years. Wouldn't you sleep easier if you knew that your kid was safe and exactly were they said they would be? On the other hand wouldn't you be concerned if you saw an Internet-based tracking icon of your kid at an undesirable location -- say for example a crime riddled part of the city? Wouldn't you feel relief if you are able to track your kid easily in either an emergency situation or after they had possibly gone missing?

This is kid Internet safety at its best. This GPS location tracking technology is not for everyone, and not for all situations too. However, I feel it definitely deserves at least 15 minutes of your undivided attention. You should assess it, and understand if it will work for you and your family.

Keep in mind that this technology is available for most mobile phones, irrespective of country. So your kid can be traveling through Europe or the jungles of Indonesia (with their iPhone of course), while you monitor their location from your Playbook or iPad at your home in Florida -- really anywhere, but I think you get the picture.

Blackberry's, iPhones, and other cell phone 'clones', if I can call them that, have many GPS location tracking options available. Some of the options are free -- no charge; While others options are subscription or one time payment based. Regardless of phone type or location tracking features you have a variety of options available to you that may just keep your kid safe, or at least under the watchful eyes of their parents.

Let me get a little serious now and talk about a very important aspect of this GPS location tracking software. You are able to track your kids location, and their ultimate safety; Then others also have the potential to track the location of your kid, which can potentially put them in danger. This is why it is exceptionally important for you as a parent to firstly, have an open and trusted relationship with your kid, and secondly guide them on how to configure and use the software features correctly. You definitely want to show them how to invite TRUSTED friends (only) into their GPS tracking circle. They need to know that they should not thoughtlessly invite anyone and everyone to have access to their location information. Once again, only trusted family and friends should be invited to the GPS tracking circle.

It's a great technology for kids to locate one another, but you should have a discussion with your kid about the serious nature and the intent of the software. It is meant for their safety & nothing more. Just to illustrate this further, here's another danger scenario -- your kid needs to understand that if they turn the software off or even uninstall the GPS location software without your knowledge, it is sufficient reason to be concerned about their safety.

Now on the lighter side, when it comes to letting your teens know that you are using a GPS tracking program on their mobile phone (albeit for their safety), there is a high probability that they will be unhappy with you, knowing that you are literally aware of every move they make. Therefore, you need to have a one-on-one with them, and explain why GPS location tracking software is important for their safety.

Since teens are almost adults, you may want to allow for some privacy. Instead of monitoring your kids location all the time, it is best to let them develop into responsible adults on their own, and let them come up with the monitoring criteria. It may mean that you and your teenage kid have to work through some form of compromise. As an example, if your teenage kid is planning on coming home late, then you and the kid may have an agreement that location tracking starts 30 minutes after curfew time.

It is best that everyone is on the same page about this, and especially that your teenage kid understands that using the kid Internet safety features of the mobile phone is to make sure that they are safe. Also, because their cell phone is Internet connected you may also want to remind them that it is extremely important to make sure certain details remain private -- don't share phone numbers, names, addresses with people they do not know. They probably know this already, but it does not hurt to repeat the information for reinforcement. Bottom line - the intent is keep your kid safe on or off the Internet.

Contact your mobile service provider to help you find the perfect tracking tools and to help you operate them properly. But, make sure that your kids are OK with the 'kid Internet safety' software in order to avoid conflicts and disappointments.

Approach GPS technology with an open mind. It can get your kid into trouble, but it can also keep them safe, and kid Internet safety is one of your top priorities. GPS location tracking technology does not have to be like a bracelet on your kids ankle -- an open and trusted relationship will keep the kid and the parent out of prison (figuratively speaking), and may even be saddled with moments of fun.

Piano Kids

I must note that the kids who learn piano the best are those whose parents or family members also play piano or music of some kind. How can we ask our kids to try music/piano if we don't include it in our own lives?

You don't have to be Paderewski or Sting or Beethoven. You can love country or classical or rock or gospel or rap or pop or anything, but listen to it, sing it, let your kids know that you think music is great.

Before we go any further, let's say it again. This our standard announcement:
Play piano, not practice. Say that to your kids. Go do it yourself, and then expect them to do the same.

Play piano, not practice.

You'd be surprised how many people forget the nugget o' wisdom above.

I often say I'm like a sheep dog, watching the piano student and trying to see their process. I never care about my "method." I care about the student's perception of the method, which is their "process."

The method, whatever it is, is useless unless appreciated by the student's "process." The practical result of the above is that I proceed incredibly slowly but persistently to include the concepts of sheet music after I have had the child play successfully at least two dozen songs by number.

This can take months or years, or weeks or days. It depends on the child. A nervous child makes a poor student. Set them at ease by lowering the bar imperceptibly until they are ready for more advancement. You are the gatekeeper to the mysteries of music.

It's as if there were a secret door to each individual child's perception of music, and all you have to do is sit there and guide them until they find that magic door themselves. You cannot force the moment wherein they perceive that they can play piano. It will come, and you can prepare them If you force reading sheet music before you have adequately prepared the child, you lose the child as a willing, excited student.

If you lose the child's interest in piano (85% of kids who start using conventional methods later quit) it's your fault, not theirs. Prepare them adequately, gently. It's not easy to learn to read conventional sheet music. It takes time. Indeed, an exceptional, brilliant child may indeed learn the skills of reading music in several minutes or days. I know, because I was one of them (I was seven when I learned to read music.)

But what about the other 99.99% of kids? Should these average, even gifted kids, be denied the wonders of playing piano music because the skills necessary to read conventional sheet music weren't immediately apparent to their particular current intellectual abilities? Set limits that the child can realize right away. Break down the elements until the child easily scales each carefully graduated step.

A Typical Lesson:

I teach 30 minute lessons for almost all kids. Here's the log of a hypothetical but typical lesson with a child who has not yet started reading conventional music:

Minute 1-5: Is the child uneasy or happy? If they're uneasy, haven't "practiced" (I don't use the word but countless parents do) I play number games and joke around and play TV themes or Rugrats or some silly pop or folk song or game until they calm down and see that I'm rather easy to please.

I'm not serious in demeanor in any way. I don't really care if they have practiced, because it's impossible to enforce: remember that the goal is to get kids excited enough that they go to the piano by themselves. The goal is not to get kids to play some song they don't understand like a robot. The goal is to get kids to play piano under their own steam, without forcing them.

My secret goal with each child is to be somewhere in between a game show host and drill sergeant, but I start out all game show host. It grabs even the most unprepared child. Who would you rather perform for, Bob Barker (Price Is Right) or some snarling negative military presence? These are kids, folks.

Minute 5-10: Assuming this is later than a first lesson, I try several skills to see what has stuck since their last lesson. I try a few songs by number, praising all the way if the child uses one or many fingers, slow or fast. Any initial effort is applauded if you see their attitude is clear and calm.

Even the most humble effort has in it something worthy of praise, for example: a child who bumbles through a song like London Bridge but never loses their place has done something remarkable. Tell them about it. Tell them about how preachers and actors have to read from a book, too, and look up at people but not lose their place in the book. A child who has been rightfully praised is readier for the next task.

Never forget this: whatever level of skill the child shows you is where you will start this lesson. It's pointless to berate or even chide a child for not having mastered a particular skill from the last lesson. I never ever let a child know they have disappointed me. Better to work with a positive attitude on that same skill again in this lesson, perhaps disguising the skill in a new way as a game.

Don't expect anything and you'll be pleasantly surprised with some tiny accomplishment. Take that tiny something and build on it. If you can't build on that tiny accomplishment, go back to earlier skills.

Never let them know they are being demoted from an attempt at a new skill. If you can't seem to get the next skill launched, just pull back the difficult activity like a magician and go back to something easier.

There's never time lost in going back and cementing earlier skills. In fact I look for each skill to be almost automatic and offhand (finding keys, use both hands, flats and sharps) until I go onto another more complex skill.

Minute 10-20: This is the main work period of the lesson. They're calm, they know it's fun and fast and they aren't being yelled at (but, rather, praised) and they know the lesson is almost over. Why not have fun and learn this piano stuff? As soon as they are comfortable, we work on a general level of competence, playing titled songs that they either know or have heard of.

What songs do they like, I ask. Let's play them! I often only let them play a bit of a song, whisking it away from them just as I see them get tired and confused. As soon as you put another song in front of them, they are refreshed and try again. It's better to play just a bit of 25 songs than one long song, painfully slowly, all the way through.

Kids learn the same principles from a variety of simple pieces as from a tightly limited repertoire. Variety is refreshing.

I play a game called "first line of the song" in which we zip through dozens of songs playing only the first line of the music, like a couple of greedy kids sampling chocolates. If a child is really wandering, we play "first note," in which we whisk through dozens of songs, and they only have to play the first note. The process is the same, but the kids have fun and don't feel overworked. They learn the same thing no matter how long the task: look at the page and then press the piano key.

Of course, other kids will demand to play all of certain songs, and then you sit back, help if needed, and be happy and praise them no matter how poorly they do. If they play poorly, don't make them aware of it, but instead find the basic skill that eludes them.

I'll say it again: never ever be negative. No matter how they do, it's an honest effort and you'll get much further if you take mental note of what skill they failed at and then attempt later to find a way to present it.

One of the great pleasures of teaching this way is making up the games that let the kids learn. Always break the skills down to the lowest possible level. Make it easy to please you and kids will never stop trying. Make it difficult to please you and only that .01% of genius kids will succeed.

One more thing: I bring new sheet music (conventional or numbers depending on the child) to each lesson. The kids come to expect it, and say, "What did you bring me?" Think about it: here are kids anticipating the new sheet music for the week, not a TV show or a junk food item. This anticipation of new sheet music can't be bad for them, and is in fact a miracle that affects their attitude profoundly.

No kid wants to play the same songs over and over until they find that first song they can't seem to stop playing. All kids seem to find at least one special song that they can play from memory. This song seems to be their way of saying, "See, I can play this great big piano all by myself!"

Some kids love Star Wars, other Twinkle, Twinkle, or The Wigwam Song (a staple of early kids piano books.) I've had parents come to me and say, "Can't you make him play another song? He plays it all day!" I point out that when he's good and ready he'll move on, but for now you better sit down and listen to him play "that song" again, and praise him mightily.

If the child wanders at all during the minutes 10-20, we play a quick game to blow off steam, then dive right back in.

Minute 20-30: By now the lesson has produced whatever advancement will be possible. All you can do now is cement the sense that piano is fun and easy to do. Be aware that the last 5 minutes of the lesson are practically useless.

I always ask at 25 minutes, "How's your brain doing? Getting tired?" If the honest answer is "Yes," we play a fun number or chord game or two, maybe play a line of a couple of songs, and then I let them go perhaps a couple of minutes early. These kids come back every week willing to do anything to try to learn to play piano. If the kids don't come back, you can't teach them.If the child is not tired, then I still proceed the same, making the last 5 minutes rather relaxed and easy.

A Student Story:

I once had a pair of brothers that I taught who both had limited skills and interests regarding piano. Frankly, they could take it or leave it. I'd put them in the quitter category for sure if they were taught by the conventional method. Their mom wanted them to play piano and didn't care if it took a decade (a very good attitude for a mom.) The younger brother was a handful, sometimes only going 15 minutes before he melted down and needed to do something else. You could go another 15 minutes, but I elected not to, stopping the lesson just about where he demonstrated that it was basically over.

Week after week this child came to the piano and bumbled his way through dozens of songs by number. Invariably I would say, at the end of a song or portion of a song, "Cool, let's try this one!" I never ever expressed dismay at his efforts. I could see he was simply doing the best he could. Slowly we tried the transition from numbers to sheet music again and again. Each time seemed a failure, but I never let him know that. I tried all sorts of crazy stunts for this child who had such trouble paying attention.

One time I put a coal scuttle (a sort of black bucket used to empty ashes from a fireplace) over my head and used the little fireplace shovel as a microphone. I called out the names of chords that

I "Gortok" the spaceman needed to hear, and my little troublemaker responded with glee. I count about a dozen games that I use every day that originated with this child, and I thank him for it. He forced me to be extremely creative. And eventually it worked for him. Here's how: After months and months he began to realize that I wasn't going to stop trying sheet music.

So he gave in, inch by inch, and slowly was able to read the first dozen notes of the "right hand" of simple sheet music. I acted as if I didn't care if he learned sheet music, always moving to another area as soon as he seemed to tire of trying to figure out new sheet music, always of the simplest kind. Finally we got to left hand, and after months of fun-filled battles he could figure out the essential dozen left hand notes kids have to learn to find on a piano.

After almost a year, this kid could play almost nothing from memory except the first ten notes of the theme to Star Wars (a performance I always applauded.)

One day his mom wanted to hear him read a piece of sheet music, so I opened a book of simple songs at random, as I always do, and said, "Play this, pal." All of a sudden this kid plays both hands at once, perfectly. It was a simple piece, but what a surprise. I said, "I didn't know you could play with both hands at the same time!" He looked up at mom, beamed, and said, "I been listening all along, mister!" with the charming lisp ("mithter") of a kid missing his two front teeth!

The moral of the story is, here's a kid who now loves to play the piano, who would have quit for sure with a less patient teacher, who now can read simple sheet music with no difficulty. The truth is, any kid can learn to read music. The hard part is finding an adult who is patient enough to sit with them until they figure it out.

This Issue's Fun Game: FOURS

"Fours" is the most basic rhythm game that I play with kids. I always use it on the first lesson, and on all subsequent lessons until the child seems too old for it. It's a fun but very childish game that teaches rhythm and piano geography without using printed notes or numbers of any kind. It's important for kids to actually play the piano without the encumbrance of graphic notation (notes or numbers) of any kind.

For example, you'll notice that kids in general can go to the piano and play three songs:


Heart and Soul

Knuckles: A funny piece KIDS play on the black keys with the knuckles

"Fours" is a piano game constructed in exactly the same mold. The child plays numbers and I play the chords. If the symbols below don't line up in your browser, remember that there are always four notes (numbers) for every chord (letter.)


The child begins on "Middle C," also known as the white piano key with the sticker numbered one:

CHILD: 1111 2222 3333 4444 5555 6666 7777 8888

I play a kind of funny Chico Marx oom-pah accompaniment using the chord pattern (C G C F C F G C, etc.) Kids find this very easy and refreshing. We play up the piano keys, moving to the right, with the natural goal being for the child to reach the highest key on the piano. I'm pretty "strict," that is, if the child breaks the rhythm or misses a key, we start over. Strangely enough, kids love to go back to the beginning and start over as much as they love going all the way to highest key.

Fun variant: Ask them to count up the white keys until they reach the highest white key (starting from Middle C, which to them is #1) and tell you what the "number" of that white key is (it's 29.) This has no musical value except that it makes the child an explorer of the instrument.

The object of these games is to make the child a keen and enthusiastic observer of their instrument, something impossible to do when the child is locked into reading only sheet music from a book. Kids need to improvise, however humbly, and essentially all of my games are designed to make fun music outside of sheet music, numbers or conventional.

"Fours" teaches a child that:

Sheet music is not always necessary to have fun with music
They have to count while they play
Music is divided into numbered units
Piano is a fun thing they can do right away

And finally....I speak to and hear from so many people (almost all adults referring to their childhood experience with piano) who had their fingers or knuckles rapped by a piano teacher. Whatever idiot thought up this "negative" method deserves our ridicule. How can you expect kids to learn the equivalent of algebraic formula when the teacher's main mode of expression is basically negative? Kids thrive on nurturing, creative and patient teachers.

Teachers who do stupid things like rapping knuckles expect more or less immediate results, and are always disappointed with the average child's less than brilliant performance. Teachers need to remember to teach the kids, not the teacher's method. Playing the piano is a great outlet for all kids, and no child should be denied the pleasure of making music at the piano because their abilities don't meet the expectations of an impatient teacher.

A year spent preparing a child with numbers and games is a year very well spent if the child ends up fascinated with piano and music.