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Learn a new language quickly and easily with Drops and Droplets

 

How many languages do you speak? Personally, I can only fluently speak one language – English. I do know some Spanish, French and Italian, but only a few words and phrases.

Growing up, we had to take a language when we got into 7th grade, and we had to take at least two years of a foreign language in order to graduate. I took French, although I should have taken Spanish. Where I currently live we have a high Spanish speaking population, and I wish I had taken Spanish so I could communicate with people better.

After two years of French the only thing I retained was what we learned the very first day in class (I’m lucky if I remember what I had for breakfast this morning), and the numbers 1-10. That’s it!

Back when I was in my early 20’s I worked for AT&T as a long distance/international telephone operator (are there still operators?). We handled New York City and other areas of New York. As a result, we have a lot of foreign speaking customers. There was a special call center to handle non-English speaking customers, but the trick was to know what language they were speaking in order to figure out which foreign language speaking operator to transfer the call to.

I took it upon myself to learn different language. Back then all we had were books and cassette tapes. I took out books and tapes to teach myself how to say phrases that pertained to my job in Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Japanese and several other languages. I was so good at it that I impressed my managers and they promoted me to the in-charge person. I was 19 when I was promoted to that position (that made the long time employees not happy with me).

Sadly, a foreign language is a “use it or lose” it sort of thing. If you don’t use it frequently you forget it. That is what happened to me. I still know a few things in Italian, and how to count a little in Japanese, but that is about it.

Learning another language is not that easy. They say the best time to learn is when you are a child because you retain more of what you are taught. I wish I had known that when my kids were little, because I would have found a way to teach them another language when they were in elementary school, instead of junior high. My daughter to many years of Italian (7th – 11th grades). She graduated in 2015. Ask her to say something in Italian and she can’t remember any of it. Had she been taught in elementary school, she would have retained a lot of what she was taught.

I can always try and teach myself a new language, but I find it hard to read a book and learn. I’m more of a tactile/visual learner, which means I learn better by doing and seeing things.

There is a set of apps that can help you and/or your child learn a new language that is fun and easy. It’s called Drops (Droplets is the child version). They are both apps that are available in your app store.

I’ll focus more on Drops, but let it be known that Droplets is just the kid friendly, parent approved, version of the same app.

Drops is more than just a language app. It’s an interactive language app which helps you to learn words and phrases easily and in a fun way.

The app lets you learn so many different languages. You can choose one, or eventually learn all of them. It’s totally up to you.

Aside from the traditional languages that many people try to learn (Spanish, French, Italian, German), Drops also has Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Icelandic, Polish, Russian, and Turkish. They also have other lesser known languages like Tagaloc, Samoan, Maori, Estonian and Ainu. There are other languages not listed here. Droplets has the same available languages, so parents and children can learn them at the same time. For example, if you are planning a trip to France in the fall, both you and your child can use the Drops/Droplets apps to learn some French words and phrases.

Drops has a fun way of teaching you a new word/phrase. Take for example I want to learn Italian. The app starts off with something simple – Food.

Drops will say the word in the language you are learning, along with a drawing. I would recommend that you say the word along with the app so that you can learn it better.

Next, the app might show you two different drawings and a word in that language. You need to swipe the word towards whatever drawing you think represents the word.

Another option the app might give you is one of the words you just learned, but with the letters scrambled. It’s up to you to place the letters in the correct order to spell the word represented by the picture on your screen.

The app might also show you a drawing with two different words (in the language you are learning). It’s up to you to choose the correct word to match the drawing.

You might also get a screen with a drawing and and a bunch of random letters. It’s up to you to swipe through the letters to spell the word.

I know some of this might sound confusing, but it’s not. The app is super easy to use and to navigate.

You can download the app for free, but if you want to unlock all the “bells and whistles,” I would recommend purchasing the app.

If you use the free option you can learn any language you want. The downside is that you are timed on the app and only have a limited time to use it each day. But that is OK. You can still use the app every day. If you are like me, you’ll want to use it past the limited time (with the paid option you have unlimited time to use it each day). To be totally honest with you, I enjoy using this app so much that I find myself using it for 30-60 minutes at a time. You can easily get “lost” playing the app because it’s so enjoyable to use.

The app does keep track of how you are doing. It will let you know what words you got right and so forth. This will help you see your progress.

I have tried a few languages on both Drops and Droplets (I have both). Some languages are easier to learn than others. It’s not the apps fault. It’s just that some languages, like Spanish, is easier to learn than Mandarin. It’s because the words are a bit more difficult to pronounce. Some languages show how the word is written in their language, and reading Arabic (for example) is not as easy as French.

The languages appear to be spoken by native speakers too, so you can hear how the word is suppose to sound when spoken.

Overall I think Drops and Droplets are amazing apps. They are super easy to use and I personally have learned a lot. I have tried several languages and I’ve learned a lot. Right now I have resorted to only study one language at a time. I am currently using Drops to learn Spanish since I live and work in an area with a large Spanish speaking community.

I have tried several language learning apps, and I find that Drops and Droplets are by far the best one I have used.

If you are interested in learning more, visit LanguageDrops.com. You can also follow Drops on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Their official hashtag is #LearnwithDrops.

Are you, or your child, interested in learning a new language?

What language do you wish you could learn?

Kimberly

*I received a free membership to both Drops and Droplets in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Can’t go to the movies? Why not bring the movies to YOU with online screenings of the Northwest Film Festival

 

The COVID-19 virus has altered many things that were not only planned by individuals and families, but also for businesses and the like. School, sporting events, concerts, Broadway… it’s all been affected by the pandemic. The Children’s Film Festival Seattle, at Northwest Film Forum, was  also cut short in response to the virus, and the need to protect the public during this health crisis.

The virus was not going to keep the festival down. In response to the pandemic, the festival will return for it’s 15th season (May 13-17, 2020), but this time screenings will take place online.

The festival will be showing seven short film programs, showcasing the best and brightest in visual storytelling for children, and an award-winning feature film, “Supa Modo,” from Kenya. In addition, CFFS will also be including 60 animated, live action and documentary films from around the world (27 nations). All of the films and shorts are centered on the joys and challenges of childhood.

In this time of staying safe at home, the programs provide families and youth an expansive window to the greater world, inspiring empathy, understanding, and global awareness. Not only that, these films and shorts will provide hours of quality entertainment for children and their families.

“In this time, we want to reach out with high-quality content that has special meaning and can provide hope to kids and families,” says festival director Elizabeth Shepherd. “What better way to see the world than through the lens of international films that invite kids to use their imaginations and dream of ways to make the world a better place?”

All screenings will come with bonus activities—including coloring pages, discussion guides and links to filmmaking resources—to build upon the topics and fun found in the films. These are fun activities that families can do together.

Here are some highlights for this event;

    • Gentle animation for the youngest viewers
    • Action-packed fare appropriate for older kids and adults
    • A rollicking all-ages collection of films about cats
    • A topical program centering on urgent environmental issues
    • An all-Spanish-language program from Latin America, for native and student speakers
    • The acclaimed Kenyan feature film, “Supa Modo”

“We really look forward to welcoming both young and old to our online festival,” says Shepherd. “It’s a great place to see the world and feed your mind, and we’re aiming to provide screen time’s finest hour with these delightful short film programs and feature film.”

CFFS 2020 Online Festival Feature Film 

Supa Modo
May 13 to 17, streamable on-demand at nwfilmforum.org

Kenya’s official Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film winner and winner of Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2019 Audience Favorite Feature Film and Iron Giants Children’s Jury Prize for Best Feature Film.
(Likarion Wainaina, Germany & Kenya, 2018, in Swahili, Kikuyu and English, with English subtitles.)
For ages 11+, with a running time of 74 min.

Sometimes it takes a village to make our dreams come true. Jo, a nine-year-old, is obsessed with superheroes and dreams of becoming one to overcome her diagnosis of a terminal illness. Unable to force Jo to spend her remaining days in bed, her town community comes together to support her belief in her superpowers. Not all heroes have capes, but Jo sure does, and her powers are more inspiring than any of today’s superhero-based special effects blockbusters. Winner of more than 20 prizes at international film festivals. You can see the trailer here.

Content advisory: This uplifting film deals with difficult issues, including the impending death of a child. But the film has received acclaim for its hopeful and uplifting message and was recommended for ages 8+ at the Seattle International Film Festival. We believe it is better for older children.

CFFS 2020 [ONLINE] FESTIVAL SHORT FILM PROGRAMS

Icing on the Cake

Wednesday, May 13 — 11am
Saturday, May 16 — 9am
For ages 2+ with a running time of 68 min.

These gentle, colorful animated films — filled with curious animals and adventurous kids — are all about singing, growing up, flying high and celebrating the magic of life, in all its lovely rainbow colors.

Icing on the Cake — Selected trailers

A Chick’s Adventure (Italy & France)
Pen&Magic (Japan)
Sam’s Dream (France)
The Last Day of Autumn (Switzerland)
KUAP (Switzerland)

The Cat’s Meow

Thursday, May 14 — 11am
Saturday, May 16 — 11am
Sunday, May 17 — 9am
For all ages, with a running time of 71 min.

This feline-focused (and allergy-free!) animation program is filled with cuddly cats and their adorable antics. Kitties truly make the world go ‘round in this celebration of glorious stop-motion, painted, hand-drawn and CG animation from ten cat-loving countries.

The Cat’s Meow — Selected Trailers

Cat Lake City (Germany)
Hiro&Hana Favorite of a Sea Otter (Japan)
A Tiger with No Stripes (Mexico & France)
The Quintet of the Sunset (China)
Teofrastus (Estonia)
Odd Dog (USA)
Wild Lea (Colombia)

Valiente y Verdadero

Wednesday, May 13 — 1pm
Friday, May 15 — 11am
Sunday, May 17 — 1pm
For ages 6+ with a running time of 74 mins.

This all-Spanish language program is filled with Latin American children who are brave and true, lighting up the lives of everyone they meet. There are also two beautiful animated films from Puerto Rico and Colombia, which remind us to fly high and free in everything we do.

Valiente y Verdadero – Selected Trailers

Pasivo (Puerto Rico)
The Cubicbird (Colombia)
Wild Lea (Colombia)
Maria Camila’s Gift (Colombia)
Like Playing (Peru)

Home Sweet Home 

Thursday, May 14 — 1pm
Saturday, May 16 — 1pm
For ages 7+ with a running time of 68 min.

Home is the center of every kid’s universe, and family is the gravity that keeps their feet on the ground. This eye-popping animation program ends with a short documentary from a personal perspective that shows us why there is no place like home.

Home Sweet Home – Selected Trailers

Slurp (France)
Balance (Singapore)
Billie (UK)
Saturday’s Apartment (South Korea)
The Kite (Czech Republic)
Gallery Experience (USA & China)
Home Sweet Home (France)
London’s Home (USA)

Wild and Free 

Wednesday, May 13 at 3pm
Friday, May 15 at 1pm
Sunday, May 17 at 11am
For ages 8+ with a running time of 70 min.

In these live-action shorts from Europe, South America, India and the USA, you’ll meet kids who navigate all kinds of magical twists and turns in their lives. Time travel with two friends, meet a bike-riding girl who isn’t everything she appears to be and discover how friendships can build a bridge to understanding.

Wild and Free – Selected Trailers

The Bicycle Thief (UK)
All in Good Time (Ireland)
Apples and Oranges (India)
Like Playing (Peru)

Earthwise

Thursday, May 14 at 3pm
Saturday, May 16 at 3pm
For ages 8+ with a running time of 71 min.

This imaginative collection of animated films is meant to inspire the rising generation to walk gently on the planet and take good care of all the fabulous creatures who call it home. The program’s final live-action short shows how kids can teach important lessons to adults about doing what is right for the earth.

Earthwise – Selected Trailers

Floreana (Denmark and USA) Watch the film 
The Calves (Germany)
Mister Paper Goes for a Walk (Belgium)
Saving Mr. Green (India)

Lift-Off

Friday, May 15 at 3pm
Sunday, May 17 at 3pm
For ages 9+ with a running time of 71 min.

These stories of adventure will take you to outer space and back, with films showing what it is like to be out on your own, in a world of wild adventure and imagination, making decisions and, ultimately, finding your way back home again.

Lift-Off  – Selected Trailers

T-Pot (Canada) Watch the film 
Ray’s Great Escape (China)
The Girl at the End of the Garden (UK)

PRICING & ADMISSION

Admission to online shorts programs are “pay-what-you-can” ($0 to $25) Festival passes for shorts programs are also available. Festival passes for short film programs are available for individuals and groups/families.

Admission is $10 for “Supa Modo.”

If you are interested in learning more, please visit the Children’s Film Festival online.  You can also check them out online – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I am sharing this information for the enjoyment of benefit of my site readers. The opinions expressed are my own unless otherwise noted. 

Why Learning Still Matters Even As You Get Older

 

The Role of Learning Throughout Life

The ability to retain and manipulate knowledge in novel ways is one of the defining characteristics of the human species and the human experience. There is great debate over the role of education in our societies, but few among us doubt the importance of learning. Learning is such an important aspect of our lives we can easily overlook the way it permeates nearly every area of our culture. Whether you are currently attending music school or you are learning at home, it will continue to benefit you until you stop. Let’s take a look at how learning benefits you and why it is just as important at any age.

Learning Is Important Throughout Your Life

The formative years of most people’s lives today are spent in school. There they spend the majority of every day dedicated to learning ostensibly. Obviously, we, as a culture, have recognized the importance of learning for children. The fact of the matter is that it is incredibly important for kids to learn every day. Where most people lose track is with adults. It is just as important at an older age as it is for kids to continue learning for several reasons.

Beneficial for the Health of the Brain

As we age, the body and the brain undergo the natural aging process. Unfortunately, this can lead to several seriously negative health outcomes. Cognitive degeneration is common among the elderly in our culture once they reach an advanced age. These are the types of conditions that severely impact your quality of life while also having no cure. Learning continuously throughout your life and remaining cognitively active has been shown to reduce the risk of developing these types of conditions. If you want to grow into old age with a healthy brain and sound mind, make sure to keep your brain active. Even something as a daily crossword puzzle could make a big difference in the long run.

Allows You to Understand World Events

As you learn more about the world around you, it is easier to interpret the way that events are unfolding around the world. You can even anticipate how things could look in the future as use this information to plan better for the future. Try reading history books and finding historical scenarios that parallel whatever is going on in today’s world.

Diversifies Your Perspectives

If you stop learning, it is almost impossible not to get locked into one perspective while disregarding all others as false. This is only detrimental to the function of society and the structure of your own life. By broadening your ability to take on alternative perspectives, it will be easier to navigate throughout different cultural areas of the world among many other activities.

Continue Learning Even as an Adult

Learning has been shown to help slow cognitive decline as we age according to a study performed at Harvard University. While it is currently unknown what the mechanism is that makes learning so powerfully anti-aging for the brain, the effect is definitely there.

Helps to Build Competency and Skills

Learning when you are young helps to build the skills you need in the real world. This can be true for adults also but in an even more applicable way. One of the most impactful ways learning can affect is by boosting your income when you learn a new marketable and in-demand skill.

Develop Self Mastery

Part of the learning experience for children is developing the ability to delay gratification and take care of responsibilities that need to be done even if you do not want to do them. This is better described as the process of strengthening your self-mastery. You can continue into adulthood and truly have control over the environment and yourself if you pursue learning forever.

Discover New Things Everyday

As people grow older, it is often easy to fall into a pattern of the same activities day by day. This is boring. Life should be rich with new experiences and rewarding relationships for your entire time on this earth. Learning something new on a daily basis throughout your life is one of the most effective ways to break free from this stagnation and bring back some of the wonders to life.

Three “must see” films from IndieFlix for Education

 

I cannot imagine having to home school a child during this crazy time in our world’s history. My own kids are young adults in their early 20’s. I work with students from 4th – 9th grade in an after school program (back when we had school). It was hard enough getting them to do their daily homework, let alone an entire day’s worth of class work.

I’m impressed by how teachers and schools across the country were able to come up with an online curriculum for students so quickly. From what I have heard from people that work in our school district, the online schooling is working out pretty well.

Many teachers and schools have offered parents a plethora of resources to assist their children with their online classroom learning.

If you are a teacher, or know of one, I’d like to offer another resource – IndieFlix for Education.

IndieFlix for Education offers a film based social emotional learning curriculum that inspires positive action, personal revelation and social change for all ages.

IndieFlix provides social emotional learning experiences that has a long and lasting measurable impact. Their social-impact, film-based programs, and accompanying pre-recorded and live panel discussions, activities, resources, tips and tools provide up to 24 weeks of experiential learning appropriate for ages 10-100. They’ve hosted over ten thousand screening programs in schools, corporations and communities across more than 85 countries.

Some companies that have utilized IndieFlix films include Google, Starbucks, HP, Best Buy, ParentMap, and Microsoft. Some schools that have used their films include Johns Hopkins University, Berkeley, Stanford and the University of Michigan.

I had the opportunity to screen three of their films that are current available – Angst, Like and The Upstanders.

I love documentaries. I always have. I think it’s a wonderful way to learn about things you might not otherwise know about. I also think they help me do well when answering Jeopardy questions (ha ha).

I’m an adult, and I truly enjoyed the three films that I watched. Each one was very “eye opening.” I learned a lot from watching them. I most especially liked the one entitled Like. 

Below are my thoughts about each of the films. I will also include a trailer for each film for your enjoyment.

Angst

 

“Angst” by definition means anxiety or a feeling of dread. I can totally relate to the feeling of anxiety, as I’m sure many people can with what is going on in the world right now (COVID-19).

I suffer from anxiety, but not that bad. It’s more so situational rather than an on going thing. My husband gets anxiety in large crowds. He actually got anxiety so bad once recently that he had a panic attack while grocery shopping (he’s so worried about catching the virus). Our son and daughter also have anxiety. I guess to some degree it could be inherited. Our son’s anxiety used to get so bad he would twist the hair right off of his head.

This film explores what causes people to feel anxiety, what it’s like to feel anxiety, and what can be done to deal with it. Throughout the film you’ll see interviews with children and adults about their anxiety and what they are doing to deal with it.

The film also provides viewers with some tools and resources that can help you if you are dealing with anxiety.

I like that they included people of all ages, and didn’t focus on just one age group. Anxiety knows no age boundaries.

Some people have anxiety that is easily managed, whereas other people suffer from it at a much deeper level.

You don’t have to have anxiety to appreciate this film. Even if you don’t know anyone personally who suffers from anxiety (that you know of), the film provides you great insight into this emotion that could help you better understand someone in the future.

Like

 

Like is the film that I identified the most with. This film was very “eye-opening” to say the least.

In this day and age, most everyone has a smart phone. Let’s face it, a smart phone is an amazing piece of technology. You can use it to help you with directions to your destination. You can instantly connect with family and friends from around the globe. You can watch a movie during your train commute to work in the morning. The benefits of having a smart phone are tremendous…but…there is a downside to technology.

Our daughter is 23 years old and her phone is her lifeline. A few years ago she was grounded, and we took her phone away (we pay for it while she’s in college). SHE HAD A FIT! She was hyperventilating and ranting and raving like a lunatic. It was actually scary how she was acting – over a phone! Since that day, my husband refers to her phone as her life support. Sadly, he’s not far from the truth. That damn phone is stuck to her hand 24/7. She falls asleep with it.

I have to admit that I go on my phone a lot, but I can also put it aside for hours and never glance at it.

I like to use my phone to go on Facebook to connect with my family and friends. I use Instagram and Twitter for my blog, and Pinterest to find craft ideas for my “work kids.” I recently go on Tik Tok because I find some of the videos amusing – basically it’s mindless entertainment.

I use social media for blogging and to connect with people, which is great. It’s a positive thing. But I also know first hand the downside of it all. Here is just one example…

A few years ago I was scrolling on Facebook when I saw photos of my three best friends from my childhood. The three of them went out together to visit a local castle on a small island. They had a fun day together. The problem was I wasn’t with them! They never thought to invite me to go along with them. They were my BEST FRIENDS! One I knew since we were six years old.

That broke my heart. I was so upset and depressed about it for weeks. I unfriended all of them from social media. I figured if they didn’t want to include me, why should I continue to follow them on social media to see more photos of them having fun together?

Sigh…

Another downside is “likes” and comments on social media. It’s hurtful when you post something on Instagram (for example) and get only a few likes, but when I go to other blogger’s accounts, they have hundreds of likes and thousands of more followers than I do.

Social media has a way of making people feel bad about themselves. Smart phones and social media also turn people into mindless zombies that don’t know how to connect with other people in real life. It’s sad to see people on the streets looking at their phones and not each other. Is that the kind of world we should be living in? I don’t think so.

In my family we have a strict no phones at the dinner table policy. Even if we go out to eat, we are not allowed to look at our phones. That is family time.

This documentary takes a look at how this technology and social media has an effect on our lives, as well as the effect is has on our brains. It also makes you aware of the “dark side” to all of it.

The Upstanders 

 

The Upstanders is a film about bullying, especially cyber-bullying. Although a lot is being done is schools to help prevent bullying, cyber-bullying is a whole different beast.

This film features a story about a young man who was being bullied, including cyber-bullied. His family was unaware of how bad it was. It was so bad that the young man saw no other option but to commit suicide.

This film goes into depth about bullying and cyber-bullying among friends, co-workers and others. It also explores the brain science behind it.

The film also discusses programs that are in place to help put an end to this epidemic, and talks about what we/you can do to make a change to stop bullying and cyber-bullying once and for all.

I think this film is important for all students to see in effort to make them aware of how one mean comment can deeply effect another person, and how we all just need to learn to be nice to one another.

Like my mom always said, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

All three of these films are about an hour long.

Screen shot from the film “Like.”

If you are interested in learning more about these films, or other titles by IndieFlix For Education, visit IndieFlix.com. Once on the home page, click on “IndieFlix for Education” on the top right side of the screen.

They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Those links are found on the bottom of their website.

IndieFlix.com offers a variety of films including romance, comedy, thrillers, action and adventure and more. It’s a subscription service ($4.99/mo), but they do offer some free to view titles.

IndieFlix can be viewed in a variety of ways including ROKU, FireTV, iTunes, Android, AppleTV and more.

Right now IndieFlix.com is offering a FREE 7-day trial.

What do you think about these three films? Would you be interested in watching any of them? If so, which one(s)? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

Kimberly

*I received free screeners in order to watch these films. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Spend quality time as a family with Imagine Neighborhood

 

How is your family dealing with the recent events of the Corona Virus (Covid-19)?

I’m not sure how things are in your “neck of the woods,” but here where I live in New York, everything is shut down and families are told to self quarantine. There is no school, no day cares, no movies, no mall, no playgrounds… nothing.

My kids are young adults. They both have to work, as well as my husband. Since I work in an after-school program, I am out of work for at the very least two weeks (possibly longer).

I belong to a local Facebook group, and I am seeing the same issue being posted over and over again – what to do with the children to keep them entertained?

I have a few suggestions that might help if you find yourself in the same situation.

  • Go outside in your backyard and play games.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Play games.
  • Have a family movie night (or afternoon).
  • Do arts and crafts.
  • Spring cleaning.
  • Have a dance party.
  • Enjoy a picnic in your living room.
  • Bake a cake or cookies.

Another great idea would be to check out a new (free) podcast that was just released, Imagine Neighborhood.

The Imagine Neighborhood is a podcast designed to help children and their grown-ups grow their social-emotional skills.

Social-emotional learning (or SEL) is sometimes called emotional intelligence or people skills. SEL helps people build their empathy and relationship skills and manage big emotions.

Having strong social-emotional skills help kids and their grown-ups communicate better, manage their conflicts, and solve problems together.

Working with children for many years, I know the importance of Social-emotional learning. When my children were little, I made it a point of teaching them about empathy for others and expressing their emotions in healthy ways.

Imagine Neighborhood is a podcast available on various platforms – iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher, and anywhere podcasts are found. You can also listen on their website, ImagineNeighborhood.org.

Imagine Neighborhood uses entertaining stories, fun music and easy activities to help children and adults develop various skills. Grown-ups are also given extra tools, like activities and conversation starters, to relate to the topic in each episode.

There are three episodes currently available, with new episodes to be added.

Count Vacula Feels Afraid

Host Scotty has a tiny robot vampire who sucks up all the crumbs that Scotty drops on the floor during the day, and returns to his charger at night. 

Vacula expresses to Scotty that he’s afraid of the babysitter. Using music, Scotty lets Vacula know that it’s OK to be afraid, and lets him know that he doesn’t need to worry when he leaves the house, because he’ll come back. 

The Clouds are Made of Cake

Scotty starts off the episode talking about how wonderful it is to just sit outside, close your eyes, and listen to the sounds around you. Using background sounds of birds chirping, the beginning of the episode makes you feel calm and peaceful. 

Scotty and his friend, Doctor Apocalypso, talk about what it feels like to be very excited, and why it’s important to learn how to calm yourself down too. 

Macho Supreme Has an Accident (release date March 23, 2020)

Macho Supreme is stuck in Scotty’s doorway. He tries to make it seem like he did it intentionally, because he doesn’t want to admit to Scotty that he did it by accident. He also won’t ask for help, because he doesn’t think it’s “macho” to ask for help. 

Crossing Lava Lake (release date March 30, 2020)

In this episode, Scotty has to cross a very dangerous street called Lava Avenue. Lucky for him, he bumps into Princess Donnasaurus. Together they brave the street of rolling boulders and hot lava. 

This episode talks about dangerous situations, and using “SPEW” (stop, pay attention, use your ears, and wait), as well as using your “danger voice” to get other people’s attention. 

Imagine Neighborhood utilizes music in each episode. Some songs are familiar, for example, “Macho Man” by the Village People, and a song called “Powerhouse” which sounds like something I’ve heard on The Jetsons, or some other cartoon.

Children can listen to the podcasts on their own, but as a parent, I would recommend listening with your child. These podcasts are a great way to segue into a conversation about the episode’s topic. After all, these are all emotions children and parents feel. As a parent, you can discuss how you deal with the emotion, as an adult as well as when you were a child. It’s also a great way to find out how your child is feeling.

In addition to the activity suggestions offered by the show’s host, I think these episodes could also be turned into a craft and/or fun activity. Some activities are suggested (like pretending the floor is made of lava – something I used to do when I was a kid). Others you can use your imagination and create something. For example, why not make a cake the looks like a cloud in honor of the episode “The Clouds are Made of Cake?” Or build your own Vaula Robot using recyclables and other materials found around your home. The possibilities are endless.

Check out Google and Pinterest for activities and crafts to help support each episode.

Now is a great time to spend quality time with your child/children. It’s also important to know how your child is feeling during these trying times. I’m sure plenty of children are scared about the virus, and unsure as to why things are shut down and families are quarantined.

If you are interested in learning more about the Imagine Neighborhood, visit their website at ImagineNeighborhood.org. They can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

What do you think about the Imagine Neighborhood? Do you think you will check it out with your child?

What other topics would you like to see Imagine Neighborhood talk about in their fun, interactive podcasts? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. I always value the comments of my site readers.

Kimberly

*I have partnered with Imagine Neighborhood to bring you this information/review. Although compensated, the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way. 

Gift some fun and educational books from National Geographic Kids this holiday season

 

Are you still looking for gifts for your child?

I know that many parents try and get the “it” toys of the season for their child (or grandchild). That is fine and all, but there is a type of gift that is ideal for gift giving, whether it’s for the holidays, a birthday, or “just because” – BOOKS!

When I was a child I LOVED books. I could not get enough of them. I loved receiving books as a gift. I amassed a nice collection of books, many of which I still have. I kept a lot of my favorite books from my youth to share with my own children, and someday, my future grandchildren.

I loved to read all types of books – fiction, non-fiction, horror, comedy, drama, book series – you name it. I even enjoyed reading educational books. One of my favorite types of books to read were encyclopedias. I know that might sound a bit unusual, but I honestly enjoyed it.

Educational books are not boring. It just depends in the book that you read. Take for example National Geographic Kids books. I have been a fan of their books for many years. Not only are they filled with a lot of great information and facts about just about everything on Earth (and even space), but they are also filled with a lot of great facts.

I’m a smart person. I do very well when we watch Jeporady. That is because I know a little bit about a lot of things. Many National Geographic Kids books are a great way to let your child learn a little bit about a lot of things (that is a GOOD thing).

If you are considering gifting a child books this holiday season, here are some suggestions from National Geographic and National Geographic Kids.

I was sent a few of these books to review.

Nerd A to Z: Your Reference to Literally Figuratively Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know (ages 8-12, $14.99)

“You don’t have to be a nerd to be captivated by this combination of Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and short form encyclopedia…..the info blurbs are fun to know and in many instances educational.  A bushel of inviting, idiosyncratic subjects” – Kirkus

“VERDICT A treat for visually oriented and information-hungry browsers.” – School Library Journal

This super-stuffed alphabetical compendium of must-know facts from science, pop culture, history, and more is perfect for kids who already know the names of every single dinosaur or want to understand exactly how the Millennium Falcon works. It’s a book for grammar gurus, science snobs, music geeks, and history buffs. In short, it’s a book for nerds. Inside, you’ll find browsable, info-packed blurbs that’ll give you the lowdown on everything from augmented reality to zydeco, with larger features that dive deep into fascinating topics like UFOs, pirates, artificial intelligence, and daring circus acts. And you’ll hear from the world’s most notable (and quotable) Nerds of Note from history and today.

As I mentioned earlier, I know a lot about a lot of things. This book is the prime example of ways your child can be the same way.

This book covers a huge assortment of topics on just about everything you can possibly think of.

There are even fun tests you can take to find out what kind of “nerd” you really are.

I’m an adult, and I found this book extremely interesting. I learned a lot from it myself.

The book is filled with colorful photos and illustrations that bring this book to life.

The Book of Bling: Ritzy Rocks, Extravagant Animals, Sparkling Science and More! (ages 8-12, $19.99)

“Bling is all around us,” the author writes. Maybe so…but rarely is the razzle-dazzle this cranked up. Should come with a cautionary note: sunglasses a must!” – Kirkus

From upscale splurges to flashy fun in nature, this treasure trove is filled with wonders that will dazzle and delight. Read about how nature struts its stuff with tantalizing tidbits about animals, including a few that literally glitter with iridescence to confuse predators. Or maybe you’ll strike it rich after reading about Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, U.S.A., where anyone can go hunt for sparkling gems. Dig into info about the world’s mysterious minerals, gorgeous geodes, and ritzy rocks. Discover extravagant expenditures like Canada’s million-dollar solid gold coin. Learn all about the splendid science of diamonds that rain from the sky in space. Get the secret behind glowing bio-luminescence. And go back in time to uncover palatial palaces, the riches of royalty, and other ancient treasures. To show off the lush content in proper fashion, readers will be dazzled by hundreds of fun flashy photos throughout.

This is a fun book about everything that glitters, shines and costs $$$.

I love the sections on the world’s richest animals, as well as the section on “cursed” jewelry that you should never touch. The section on gems and jewelry is pretty extensive.

The cat, “Grumpy Cat,” made it into the book as one of the world’s richest animals.

I like that angle this book takes. Would would have thought about writing a book all about rich, fancy, sparkly things around the world.

Treasury of Bible Stories written by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Christina Balit (ages 8-12, HC, $24.99)

“Napoli brings her literary eye to yet another ancient tradition.  Balit’s bold illustrations accompany each tale and feature a diversity of skin tone that reflects the many lands from northeast Africa to the Middle East where the drama unfolds… Sidebars throughout add historical and scientific context to the stories presented while backmatter includes maps, timelines, and brief biographies of the major players. A worthy cultural treasury with appeal to both the faithful and irreligious.” — Kirkus

Noah’s Ark, Moses, David and Goliath, the ten plagues, Daniel and the lions’ den, Jonah and the giant fish, and many more of the Bible’s most powerful stories — 27 in all — are compellingly retold in this beautifully illustrated treasury. Readers will be fascinated by the ancient people and events they encounter, surprised by some of the lesser known accounts revealed, and inspired by the lessons these tales impart. Stories cover important ground beyond religion, such as culture, history, and geography, and they touch on issues that remain relevant today–faith, loyalty, kindness, violence, generosity, greed, jealousy, and more. These accessible, readible stories give kids a rich picture of biblical times, which encourages them to think about our role in the world and to learn more.

Dream Journal by Dr. Allan Peterkin (ages 8-12, $12.99 )

This stocking stuffer is what dreams are made of — literally!  Professor of Psychiatry Dr.Allan Peterkin helps readers uncover the power of their dreams and better understand the science of sleep. With lively text, vibrant imagery, and plenty of space for writing, it’s the perfect tool to help kids remember, record, and reflect on their nighttime adventures.  Catching Z’s has never been so much fun!

Brain Candy: Seriously Sweet Facts to Satisfy Your Curiosity – (ages 8-12, $8.99)

This offbeat, “stocking-sized” book is like a sweet treat that will satisfy any reader’s fun fact cravings. Cranium “cavities” will be filled to the brim with 500 fascinating knowledge nuggets about numbers, fun facts, and cool trivia on all kinds of topics.  With features that dive into why potatoes and tomatoes are a dynamic duo, amazing animal tongues and how they are used to ”lick” their competition and dental care through the ages, Brain Candy is a tasty approach to feeding kids tantalizing tidbits about the world.

This is another fascinating book filled with interesting facts.

I like how the facts are grouped by subject, such as size, heat, speed, numbers and more.

As with all National Geographic books, this book is overflowing with interesting and useful information, as well as beautiful, colorful photos and illustrations.

Any of these books would make a great gift for that special child in your life. To be honest, I think even grown-ups would appreciate these awesome books.

You can find these great books and more on the Shop National Geographic website. You can also find these books at book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Does your child/grandchild own any National Geographic and/or National Geographic Kids books?

Do you think your child/grandchild would like any of the books mentioned above? If so, which one(s)?

Kimberly

*I received free product samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.