As a parent, I’m always trying to find a way to encourage learning in my kids. My son is in kindergarten and he’s great at math and reading, but homework is a struggle. He just gets antsy and I totally understand, as I think we all can; after a long day of learning, who wants to do more school?
If you’re anything like me, you want your kids to learn and absorb as much knowledge as they can, but you sometimes hit the “homework conundrum” where concerted extra education is met with resistance.
Convincing your children to play a game, however, is a lot easier than doing homework. There are tons of apps you can download and many are great, but most have a subscription fee or at the very least have ads. I wanted to find something that would engage my son and reinforce the math he was already learning, but that he could play on his own.
Teach Kindergarten Math Online
Browser-based math games
I was an adult in the 2000s when Adobe Flash games were at their peak. The nice thing about browser-based games is that they usually don’t require anything more than a click to play them, and they’re usually pretty simple. Especially right now while home learning is at its peak, finding new ways to engage little minds has never been more critical. I found this site that had all the browser-based math games I could possibly want, without needing an email or even creating an account. Better yet, they’re free, and there aren’t even any ads, which is wonderful because little ones LOVE to click on banner ads.
As I went through the site, I found dozens of math games for all manner of skill levels, but since my kids are in preschool and kindergarten, I wanted to focus in on games for them in particular.
After trial-and-error, I found that 1 and 2-star games were probably just right for my children. Using this information, I endeavored to find the best ones that would both hold their attention and be playable (ideally without my interference).
Here are some of the best ones I found, based on ease of play, ability to reinforce good math fundamentals, and of course how fun they are.
Math Plus Puzzle
I personally, as a real life adult, found this game to be pretty fun. It’s a matching game of sorts, requiring you to do some addition to clear colored blocks, not unlike Collapse. As you progress the math gets slightly more difficult, but my son did a great job, and it’s very forgiving.
It’s colorful, interesting and because of the increasing difficulty yet simple design, it’s pretty addictive. The best of the ones I played for sure.
This is the one my son liked the best, mostly because we’ve been on a Last Kids On Earth kick and he wants to fight monsters all the time. It is a little more challenging, offering math equations that you have to complete before a monster gets you. When you complete the equation, Math Boy does a flourish with his sword and vanquishes the horrible creature attacking him.
It gets faster and the math problems get more complex, and you can choose between addition, subtraction, multiplication or a mix of all operations, so this game would be good for older kids as well. In fact, of the ones I played it seems that most of the Calculators.org games scale in difficulty while sticking with a simple premise, which I love.
While my son liked this one for the monster-vanquishing, I found it tedious after a while because though the math get more complex, the monsters and levels don’t seem to change much. And how many monsters did I destroy before I came to this conclusion?
Way too many, but on the plus side I’m better at math now.
Math For Kids
This one is probably the best if you have younger kids. It allows you to set limits, like if your child only knows 1-10, the math doesn’t get more difficult than that. You can start with simple counting, then move on to addition and so forth.
Math For Kids is simple but engaging enough to keep them learning while playing a game and again the increasing levels of complexity keep it relevant as they progress.
For preschoolers – Animal Memory Game
This isn’t a math game exactly, but it does help with memory and logic. It’s literally what it sounds like – a memory match game – but without tiny cards that get lost all over your house. It’s good for preschoolers and younger, since it’s an engaging way to teach them how to use their tablet or laptop.
Math games for learning
Overall, I found the website to be a good grouping of games for kids to learn math but not realize they’re learning math.
The downsides I found were minor, though they could be improved upon. For instance, the games should be evaluated and grouped better for age range. The star-rating for difficulty is deceptive, as some games are listed as a 1-star (easiest) and involved multiplication and division, and a few games are higher difficulty but could be customized for young children just learning math.
In general I would say that was my biggest complaint – the games are there but there’s no way to search or determine what would be best for your particular learner. It took me actually playing a dozen or so games before I could hone in on the ones that would be good for my kids, which isn’t awful but again, it could be improved upon.
Ultimately these games are a good addition to your home-based learning. They’re engaging, somewhat addictive, bright and colorful and actually pretty fun. There’s really nothing to lose since they’re free and play right in your browser, so I do recommend giving them a try.
If you’re in college or considering going back, you probably want to soften the blow of tuition, books, fees and housing as much as possible. While we have posted about a number of different opportunities to earn money on the side, today we’re talking about something unique – OneClass.
When I had my first child in 2013, I had all sorts of delusional ideas about his childcare. Like many first time moms, I had serious plans to have it all – a small classroom, multiple teachers, video monitoring, organic meals, plenty of outdoor time…
Instead, despite over 50% of my paycheck going to said childcare, I got none of that.
Teacher to Parent Communication Failure
While there were many frustrating moments surrounding my son’s daycare, it all boiled down to a serious lack of communication between the teachers, the director, and the parents. Now I’m incredibly fortunate to no longer have to deal with such things, given that I now work from home as a blogger and business strategist, but the sting still remains.
The idea that there is such disconnect between families and those put in charge of watching their children just breaks my heart.
So when a lifelong friend of mine mentioned to me that he had created an app meant to bridge said disconnect, I couldn’t wait to hear more!
David is the founder of Lite Injen Labs and a father of three, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to creating a brilliant app that meets the needs of parent and daycare alike. There are certainly quite a few apps now on the market that allow for streamlined communication between childcare center and parent, but David wanted to take things a step further.
Thus Wundertots was born.
Unlike the “one stop shop” apps that many childcare centers may use these days, Wundertots is a custom built solution that allows the user to craft a tool specific to their needs (and the needs/desires of the parents!)
For example, should a childcare center or preschool be special needs oriented, Lite Injen Labs can customize the app to allow for additional features that similar apps fall short on.
Just imagine how nice it would be to remove the fear that your child is still crying an hour after drop-off! Instead of spending the day filled with dread, you could open up an app and see in real time just how your child thrives, even when you’re not around.
While I’m obviously all about the parent-focused features, there’s also a number of great behind-the-scenes that are greatly beneficial to those working at our childcare institutions. Not only do you get 3 months of back-end support, but there’s a backoffice feature that instructors can use to build a profile on each student.
I love the idea of being able to quickly and easily look back on my child’s growth and milestone achievements with just a few swipes of the finger!
Another personal favorite feature of mine is that Wundertots includes a fingerprint scanner function that does away with needing to remember what forms are due to be signed and when. No more worrying about forgetting to turn in a field trip permission slip or crossing your fingers that it makes it from your child’s bag to the teacher!
Invest in Wundertots
This app is perfect for any childcare institution – preschools, daycares, Sunday schools, camps, the list could go on and on. Basically any institution that wants analytical monitoring plus a way to better communicate with their parents should be looking to Wundertots. Not only will it make lives easier all around, but it’ll provide parents with serious confidence in knowing their children have been left in the best of hands.
If you want to be the best, you have to have the best – and that’s Wundertots.
Should you be interested in learning more about Wundertots (or being part of a case study for it) I definitely encourage you to contact Lite Injen Labs at 855-464-6536 or shoot them an e-mail at Support@liteinjenlabs.com.
Do you have experience with similar apps introduced to you via your childcare institution?
I’d love for you to comment below and share with me!
There are apps for everything now, so it makes sense that coupons are going the digital route. From grocery stores to fast food, there’s a discount app or several out there that will scratch whatever particular itch you’ve got going on. Some take some planning to make the most of them and some are automatic but no matter what, each of these are worth the time investment in the money you’ll save.
The Best Money Saving Apps and Extensions
Apps to Help Save Money
I’ve written an Ibotta review in the past and I use it every time I go to the grocery store. It’s a handy little application that allows you to save on things on your meal plan (you are making a meal plan, aren’t you?). You simply search, find what you’re looking for, and then buy it! Sometimes there are caveats like needing to buy something else as well (for instance, pizza with soda) but generally they’re things you were going to buy anyway, and you get a pretty amazing amount of cash back.
Simply snap a photo of the receipt and then the bar code on the purchased product and voila! The savings appear in your Ibotta account.
What’s more, you can use the Ibotta app when you’re shopping online to get automatic savings on the purchases you make through the app on the retailer’s store. Sign up through this link and get $5 deposited into your Ibotta account automatically!
Some stores also allow you to connect your customer loyalty account with the Ibotta app so you can circumvent the entire process of scanning receipts, which is very handy.
Find&Save is an interesting website that partners with local newspapers, media outlets, and retailers in your area to bring you solid deals. While it started as a website, it’s now also added an app as well. In addition to constantly updating their deals and coupons, they also have great leads on back-to-school and holiday sales at over 500 major retailers.
This one is an interesting blend of useful app and fun technology. It’s a points-based rewards program and a discount app all mushed together that sends you deals based on your shopping preferences. One big difference here is that ShopKick uses your GPS to reward you for simply going into a store. If you walk into a brick-and-mortar store with your GPS on using this app, you don’t even need to buy anything to get rewards points. Finally, it uses your location data to ping you with nearby deals, which is especially nice around the holidays when certain stores might have short windows of very juicy sales.
This is an interesting one. You download the app and scan in every receipt, every time, and you’re given an amount of points based on each item from participating vendors. You can then use those points at a huge variety of other vendors like Sephora, Best Buy, AMC Theaters and many, many more. The best part of Fetch Rewards is that it might pick up some items that your other apps can miss, so definitely give it a try.
More Money Saving Apps
SavingsStarworks a lot like Ibotta – you can link in your participating grocer’s rewards card directly to the app. Then you select whatever rebates are relevant to your purchases and shop, checking out and scanning your rewards card as normal. Instead of the discounts being taken off your bill, they’re added to your Savings Star account and once you hit $20, you can cash out through Paypal or your bank. You can also upload receipts too, just in case your store doesn’t have a rewards card.
In the same vein as Ibotta and SavingsStar,Checkout51 scans your receipts for savings you might have missed. Essentially it compiles a wide variety of coupons and then applies them in reverse, giving you money in your account rather than taking it off your total at the register. These various apps are useful independent of each other because some will definitely be better depending on where you like to shop and where you live.
KeyRing is great because it’s a decluttering app and a coupon app all in one. Download KeyRing and start scanning in all of your store loyalty cards and then throw them away because the app holds them for you. Then you can browse discounts specific to the store and have the cashier scan your phone rather than a clunky piece of plastic hanging from your car keys.
This app allows you to search your local area for great discounts on dining, shopping, or entertainment. One thing that differentiates Coupon Sherpa from other apps is that you typically need to print out these coupons to use them, which is helpful for people who are making grocery lists and trying to avoid impulse purchases. At the same time, the app has digital savings and gives you location-based savings information, so it’s win-win either way.
InboxDollarsis such a great way to make and save money! Not only can you access coupons via the app, but you’ll actually get paid to download those coupons!
Honey is a free browser add-on that simply discounts whatever you’re shopping for online. Click through to a store, and it will automatically scan for available discounts and pop up a little box asking if you want to apply them. It’s really super easy, and with their rewards program – Honey Gold – you can get rewards points, even if the store doesn’t have coupons available. Check out Honey and get started earning rewards and saving money on the online shopping you already do!
I’ve spoken at length about how much I loved Ebates and just because it changed its name to Rakuten doesn’t mean I love it less. This site allows you to get great discounts at various retailers online, as well as returning some of your purchase back to you in the form of quarterly payouts. Some retailers offer 1% cash back but some like Dell have 5-10% back, and when you’re making a sizeable purchase, that can translate to a lot of money. Check out Rakuten through our referral link and earn $10 back on your first $25+ purchase in addition to whatever you get back naturally from Rakuten.
Similar to Rakuten and Honey, RetailMeNotoffers another way to find discounts at online retailers through their app or browser extension. Having several of these will allow you to figure out the best possible savings for your needs by comparing and contrasting available discounts.
Find the discounts, wherever they might hide
Using these apps – particularly together – along with making a shopping list and meal plan will help you save a tremendous amount of money. Some give rewards, some save directly on your receipt, and some give you a nice payout each month. Regardless of how you use them, there’s at least a few that will benefit you, so check them out!
Did we miss any great coupon, savings or rebates apps and extensions? Let us know in the comments which are your favorites and we might add them in!
Kinetic sand and playdoh are two favorites in this house, but only one is allowed to be played with unsupervised…can you guess which?
Kinetic Sand VS Playdoh
If you’ve had experience with both, it’ll come as no surprise that my preference is definitely the kinetic sand. That’s not to say we’ve gone so far as to ban playdoh for the house, but it’s certainly tempting at times.
Both are great, though, for sensory play. Sensory play is any sort of play that stimulates the senses – be it taste, touch, smell, sight, and/or sound. What’s great about both kinetic sand and playdoh, though, is that they also bring in the opportunity to strengthen motor skills.
While they’re both fun to build and mold with (and there’s no doubt the kids love both!) this mama is all about the kinetic sand!
What is Kinetic Sand?
Kinetic sand, also known as magic sand, is mostly what you’d expect – sand. But if you’ve ever actually touched it, there’s clearly something magical about it that seems to defy expectations. It’s able to be molded like clay, but feels silky. At times it almost seems magnetic!
This magic sand is sand that’s been coated in silicone oil. The oil is part of what makes kinetic sand so great – it’ll stick to itself but not to other things, like table tops or clothing!
Is Kinetic Sand Messy?
Not only is it not messy, but any clean up needed is an absolute breeze! Because it sticks to itself, you can use a wad of it to “grab” whatever tiny bits might be laying about.
This stuff really does seem to defy physics. You can mold it into a variety of shapes, but hold it up and let gravity take over to see it turn back into what appears to be regular sand.
Why Kinetic Sand is Better than Playdoh
Beyond the fact that it’s easy to clean up, there are many other benefits that make kinetic sand better than playdoh. For one, it’s gluten-free. Now to be honest I hadn’t even thought about this until I came across a mom selling a HUGE lot of playdoh at a garage sale. When I asked her about it, she mentioned her daughter had a gluten allergy; I was floored!
Another thing I love about kinetic sand vs playdoh? No shards. We’ve all seen the memes and jokes about stepping on legos, but let’s be real – NOTHING hurts like stepping on a shard of dried playdoh. Kinetic sand doesn’t dry out, even when forgotten!
Why God why?!
Kinetic sand is also incredibly relaxing. As weird as it seems, there’s something very chill about playing with this sand. I’m not sure if it’s due to the feel, the way it moves, or what, but it’s a lot of fun.
But if you are going to opt to have it over kinetic sand (or in addition to) I very much recommend the brand Kiddy Dough. It has a great cloudy feel to it and is far more affordable than actual Playdoh. It’s still not better than kinetic sand, but it is a lot of fun.
When it comes to kinetic sand vs playdoh, obviously that’s a choice each parent makes for their own littles. That said, if you’re debating on which to give as a gift to someone else’s child, go with kinetic sand. Always! It also makes for a great gift choice because of the variety offered. (*psst* in case you’re wondering, yes I will fully accept sparkly pink kinetic sand for my next birthday!)
Which do you prefer – kinetic sand or playdoh? Or neither?
In honor of Pride Month, I’d like to share with you our favorite LGBTQ-friendly books for children. We’re avid readers in this house and I love that the world of children’s book is far more diverse than it was when I was growing up.
Children’s Books to Read in Honor of Pride Month
Teaching Children about the LGBTQ Community
While we’ve always reaffirmed to our children that “love is love” it’s great to have these books to help them learn all the more about LGBTQ history and icons, breaking gender stereotypes, and what it means to be nonconforming. I’m by no means an expert on this myself, but I nevertheless want to use this space to encourage you to check out at least one of these books (if you haven’t yet!)
Now of course some of the links below are affiliate links – which means I may make a commission should you click through to purchase – but this in no way impacts my recommendation of said books. And of course if you have a book to recommend that didn’t make the list, please comment below and share with us!
LGBTQ Stories for Younger Children
Julián Is a Mermaid
Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love is an absolutely beautiful book, both through the story itself and the imagery. In this story, Julián dreams of being a mermaid and one day decides to dress up as one….only to be caught by his abuela. Curious what happens next? You’ll have to read it for yourself!
This book by Robb Pearlman breaks through the stereotype of pink vs blue and empowers kids to express themselves using any color of the rainbow they wish. It also reaffirms the idea that each person should feel free to enjoy doing whatever is they love!
Love is Love by Michael Genhart is a story about how love is what makes a family. I’ve written before about why we should ditch the step in step-child, but this book goes beyond that. When a boy is taunted for “not having a real family” he quickly learns what that actually means.
This board book is absolutely phenomenal and one that the whole family is sure to love. It’s full of pictures, sound words, and a cute cat on every page for the little ones to find. Not only will this story help your child learn his ABCs but it’s sure to inspire and delight everyone!
When Errol finds his best friend Thomas feeling sad, he soon discovers why – Thomas wishes to be Tilly. How will Errol handle this unexpected change? Buy the book and share this “gentle story about gender and friendship” with your little ones today!
While the title may make it sound like this is a story is for little ones, it’s actually an in-depth book on sexuality and gender. It also includes a dictionary/glossary to help readers understand the various terms used. It’s a great book for older children and adults!
This story by Barbara Dee is absolutely brilliant. In it, Mattie finds herself crushing on Gemma during their school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Oh but wait – she’s also really into Elijah, a boy she’s liked for “like forever!” What will happen when Mattie suddenly has to step in as Gemma’s Romeo? Only one way to find out…
As if being twelve wasn’t hard enough, Shane (our story’s main character) has a secret that he feels he can’t tell anyone, even his family or best friend Josh. While I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that Shane’s assigned gender at birth doesn’t quite match up with who he really is…
George by Alex Gino is another story about a trans child who yearns for acceptance…well that and to play the role of Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Luckily George has her friend Kelly to help her make the world see her for who she truly is!
As if suffering through the destruction of a tornado wasn’t enough, our main character Ivy realizes her journal has gone missing…a journal filled with drawings of girls holding hands. Suddenly, though, the drawings start to reappear in her locker along with notes encouraging her to come out. The thing is, though, Ivy’s sister blew up over her best friend coming out…will she do the same when she finds out her sister likes girls?
This book by Mary Hoffman does such a beautiful job of featuring all kinds of families and their lives together. It’s not only great to help children better recognize that everyone’s family is different, but it’d make for a great classroom addition as well!
If you can’t guess from the title, this story by Stacy B. Davids is about how much Annie loves wearing her plaid shirt. Then one day she’s told she’ll have to wear a dress to her uncle’s wedding and she’s anything but excited. Annie doesn’t understand why her mom doesn’t get that she feels weird in dresses! Then Annie has an idea…
Entertaining yet insightful, Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall is about a blue crayon being mistakenly labeled as red. No matter what his teacher, friends, or mother says about being red, this crayon knows who he really is. It’s a great book to teach children about self awareness!
I’m not sure if I’m just a sap for sweet stories or if it’s because this one is based on a true story, but I LOVE this book. When two male penguins became inseparable and formed a bond unlike any other, the zookeepers at Central Park Zoo gave them a motherless egg. Then (much to everyone’s surprise!) the pair hatched the baby!
It’s hard not to know who Jazz Jennings is, but have you shared her story with the kids? From the age of two, Jazz always knew she was a girl born in a boy’s body. Through this book, the author shares how important it is to respect each other’s differences and recognize that everyone has the right to be who they are.
Oook so maybe this one isn’t actually a true story, but the idea certainly stems from one! When I heard about this book from John Oliver, I didn’t hesitate for a moment to pre-order it. It is by far and away one of our family’s favorite books…even if it has led to my children calling a certain man a “stink bug” (hehehe)
Last but certainly not least, This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman is a beautifully done reflection of the LGBTQ community and what it means to celebrate pride. What I love most about this it that it includes a reading guide full of facts surrounding LGBTQ history/culture as well as a guide on how parents can talk to children about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Narrowing in on this list of LGBTQ books to read to children wasn’t an easy task. There are so many great books out there to not only help you celebrate Pride Month, but to teach about diversity and acceptance all year long. While we still have an incredibly long way to go toward a more peaceful and accepting world, reading books like these to our children is a great place to start.
Are there any books you think I missed that are an absolute must for this list?