At my house, the kids have what they call ‘The 4:00 Rule’. Meaning, if they are using any electronic devices on their school “breaks” (computer, ipods, tv, etc.) before 4:00, Monday through Friday, then it has to be something educational. * Note – They are homeschooled.
They feel like they have to gripe about this rule regularly, just because it’s considered a ‘rule’.
“I hate it!”
“Why can’t it just be 2:00??”
“It’s the worst rule in the world.”
“I would never make my kids have this rule.”
But, the truth is…they love it…they just don’t know it. They have learned so much, on top of their schooling, just because of this little rule. And, they have found many topics that interest them, that they wouldn’t have discovered, otherwise. They might be playing ‘Stack the States’ on the iPad, watching a nature documentary, making a new recipe, bird watching, playing ‘Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego’ on the computer, or doing a puzzle with picture of all the U.S. Presidents. There are so many things they can do and I am constantly on the lookout for great educational products to stock the house with.
Here are a few of our favorites…
The boys love to have a show on while they eat their lunch (a.k.a Ramen Noodles). Out of our whole DVD case of educational shows, they almost always want to turn on the Popular Mechanics for Kids DVDs. This awesome, award winning series, is hosted by kids who visit different locations, to learn all about the many areas of science. They might learn the mechanics behind roller coasters, how submarines work, what it takes to blast a rocket into space, what causes thunder/lightening, and so on. The shows are very engaging and super education for kids! You can buy this set, that includes several of the episodes, or buy them individually.
Snap Circuits is a great way to introduce kids to electronics, and how circuit boards are put together. The box contains instructions to piece together over 300 different projects. No tools are needed, the instructions are easy to follow, and my kids think it’s super fun to make a radio, a fan, an alarm, and many more.
We read a lot, in our home, for school. Half of the time it is me, reading to them. But, the other half of the time, they are reading, on their own. To avoid the “am I done, yet?” question, I bought the kids one of these reading timer bookmarks. They set their timer for the assigned amount of time, and it counts down until it beeps, letting them know that they are done. I love these, and the kids think they are pretty nifty bookmarks.
I am so in love with the Travel with Kids series. Each episode follows a family on their vacation. They have episodes in Paris, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and tons of places! They give you ideas of fun things to do in that specific location, and what will make it easier, if you have kids. So, it’s a great series for adults….but, I love it even more, for my kids. We’ve been using the episodes for geography lessons. My kids love seeing what each place really looks like and some of the fun things to do there. It makes it even better that they aren’t watching some boring adult blab about the country…they get to see the whole family having fun, which is way more engaging for them. They look forward to watching the episodes and even have to take turns picking the episode location, to avoid conflict. Beware, this show will make your kids hound you, day and night, to take them around the world.
You can order many of the episodes on DVD or, you can do what I did…I bought a Roku (a neat little device that enables you to stream Netflix, Hulu, and other wireless shows to your tv.) This is my husband’s current favorite thing, and I think I mentioned it in a Father’s Day gift idea post. Anyway, once you have the Roku, there is a Travel With Kids station on there that you can get for $4.99. You pay that, once, then you get 4 seasons of their episodes. It’s a great deal.
There is no shortage of coloring books in my house. The kids especially love the historical/educational ones…sweet! Me too. There are tons to choose from on Amazon, and they’re usually just four bucks.
Be prepared for some big messes, but with all the neat things that my kids learn from Beakman’s World, it’s worth it. There aren’t many DVDs available, but you can get this ‘Best of…’ for only 8 bucks. The dude is totally wacko, but highly entertaining for the kids, and they have learned some fun things. I’ve also heard great things about Bill Nye, so I ordered a few of his DVDs on eBay…I’ll let you know what I think.
The kids love gathering around the table, to play a game. A really fun one, that helps them develop their memory, concentration, and imagination is Stare! To play, you draw a card and stare at it for 30 seconds, on your turn. Each card has some sort of scene on it…people the park, a kid at the doctor, etc. After 30 seconds, an opponent will ask you a series of questions about the picture on the card. How well do you remember? The more you remember, the more you advance on the game board.