Learning with Movies the LAIKA Way

Living in Southern California, we’re big movie buffs. I used to teach the children of movie stars when I worked at elementary schools in Los Angeles. My own kids have been immersed in Hollywood through numerous trips and even had a couple cameos in commercials. As viewers, we absolutely love film, so learning with movies is just one of the many ways we use our kids’ passions to broaden their horizons.

How to Teach Kids the Value of Money

The boys have hit that point in school where they start learning about money. Instead of adding ones and tens, they’ve started calculating pennies and dimes. Naturally, this prompted ALL sorts of questions. The day our 1st grader asked if he could purchase a house with a handful of change, Nate and I realized it was time to show them that coins are more than just numbers and placeholders. How to teach kids the value of money? For us, a piggy bank was the obvious first step!

How to Start a Kids Book Club Anywhere, Anytime

With all our independent study lately, the big kid has been looking for ways to dig through a book as a group when he doesn’t have access to the reading circles that are often found in a classroom. We read one-on-one, but a ton of learning and connection comes from reading with your peers. A kids book club was needed to help him solidify what he was reading and and really get engaged!

How my son overcame Phoneme Blending and (Finally!) Learned to Read

People often ask how we juggle the kids’ school work when we travel so much. Living in California, we’re able to do a blended approach with independent study AND local elementary school enrollment. I’ve explained a bit about how we meet our children where they are in the learning process and supplement with different tools at home. An online tool is actually what helped our son breakthrough and figure out phoneme blending when his school’s traditional approach failed!

Augmented Reality Books that Kids will Love

Teaching our oldest son how to read was a winding road. We shared a bit about our IEP process, how we dug into school choices for him, and how we set up an educational tablet to give him independence and gamify independent reading. Thanks to some amazing teachers and tools, he did eventually learn to read! However, he stuck strong to his claim that he “hates books.” Library time at school remained a problem. He couldn’t envision the characters, and kept getting distracted. We asked around for recommendations to help get him really involved with a story, and a friend suggested augmented reality books.

Nintendo for the whole family

Three Benefits of the Nintendo Switch for Young Children

Life is an adventure that is full of many twists, turns, lessons, hardships and joys. Hopefully, the overall net result is something that leaves one satisfied and fulfilled. Some vest their value in family and some find their pursuits aimed at the overall experience. Some seem to wander aimlessly while others are driven toward something great. I went to high school with plenty of aimless wanderers. They bounce off a lot of things.

Amazon FreeTime Unlimited Holiday

32 Festive Holiday Titles on Amazon FreeTime Unlimited

People often ask how we keep the kids occupied on plane trips or infinite-seeming stretches of road. I do have a magic trick up my sleeve, but it isn’t any big secret or surprise. Tablets. We hand the kids tablets. These long travel stretches are the one time they’re given total, unbridled (parental pre-screened) access to all the apps and videos their little hearts could desire.

Sensory Tubes for Story Time

DIY Sensory Tubes for Story Time

This kid. He loves story time, but his version isn’t quite as subdued as I’d like. When he asks for a bedtime story, I have visions of us snuggling up together, pointing out the characters and discussing the objects on the pages. In reality, he dances circles around the room and acts out the various scenes while I run a loud monologue over the various sound effects created by him and his three brothers.

Transitional Kindergarten

What to Buy for Transitional Kindergarten or Pre-K

My 4-year-old is going into Transitional Kindergarten in a week. Cue the dramatic mom tears! Actually, as a former elementary school teacher, I’m thrilled with the idea. Schwarzenegger signed the Kindergarten Readiness Act into law in California in 2010, changing the enrollment date so that all kids would be at least 5 when they enter school here. The law also created Transitional Kindergarten (or ‘TK,’ which is often called Pre-K or PK in other states) to bridge the gap between preschool and kindergarten for students whose birthdays fall just short of the cutoff date. The idea is that older 4-year-olds need more mental stimulation than a typical preschool or daycare might provide, but they aren’t ready for the full structure of kindergarten.