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Category: sites-we-love

{Civiballs on Cool Math}

Have you ever been looking for something for the kids to do to occupy them for a few minutes, without just letting them sit down in front of the TV?  Cool Math has lots of neat learning games on it. It’s one of the sites that the kids have been allowed to play in their classrooms during free time – so I guess you could call it teacher approved.

One of our favorite games on the site is called Civiballs.  It’s a game with balls that are hanging from chains.  The kids are supposed to make the balls fall into the correct colored baskets by cutting the ropes to make the balls fall, roll, or bump into each other.  You have to get the correct order and when cutting the chains you even have to time it right.

It teaches planning and problem solving (and patience, lol)  and really cements the “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” lesson. (The space bar resets a level and lets you try again – you’ll see how necessary that is, lol) A lot of times it isn’t apparent at first how to solve a level, but then as you try things, you can start to see how to make it work.  And it can work on cooperation and teamwork too.  It’s also one of the few games that the kids will sit down together and make suggestions to each other and work together to figure it out. 

All that while being fun and kind of addictive.  I’ve even sat down without the kids to try to solve a level that they were trying to figure out.
If you’d like to give it a try, you can find it at: http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-civiballs/index.html
Have fun.


 
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We are not connected with Cool Math or Civiballs in any way other than being users of the site.Smart and Trendy Moms finds products, ideas, projects, recipes, and other information that we have personally found helpful or interesting.  As always, it is up to you to determine what is appropriate for you, your children, and your situation.  See our Disclosure

Common Sense Media

This is an awesome site for parents.  As my kids are getting a little bit older and more influenced by friends, the things that they hear about and want to watch, play or read are not always the things that they should be watching, playing, or reading.  I like to know what my kids are watching, reading or listening to, and I don’t have time or desire to pre-screen everything.  This is where Common Sense Media comes in.

 The site information about all different types of media – movies, tv, games, apps, websites, books, and music.   They have lots of articles and recommendations on the site, but the part I use most is the reviews. Their reviews are based on child development stages, and are detailed – They provide an overall age suggestion and then break things down into the categories of educational value, positive role model, violence, sex, language, consumerism, and drinking/drugs/smoking. 

They rate each of those categories AND give you the specific information that the rating was based on.  I love being able to have the detailed info that the rating is based on so I can easily make the decision on what is appropriate for my kids.  A few times I have kept the kids from watching something inappropriate based on the info, but many times, the site gives me enough information to let me okay watching something that I might not have otherwise, and the best part is that I’m prepared to discuss the issues that might come up instead of being surprised by them.  In my experience, the reviews have been very accurate and I’ve been happy with the decisions I’ve made with information from this site.

Their ratings have a “What parents need to know” section that is very useful.  And they have a “Families Can Talk About” section that brings up great questions about the movie, show, book, etc… to talk about with your kids.

Common Sense Media is definitely worth checking out!

 
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We are not connected with Common Sense Media in any way other than being users of the site. Smart and Trendy Moms finds products, ideas, projects, recipes, and other information that we have personally found helpful or interesting.  As always, it is up to you to determine what is appropriate for you, your children, and your situation.  See our Disclosure

{Looking for Help to Get Your Kids to Read This Summer?}

Summer is coming up fast!  If you looking for a way to encourage your kids to read this summer, go check out the free Book Adventure website.    My kids used the site last summer, and it really worked to help get them to read.  
In school, the kids have a reading goal, and they take tests on the computer to show that they have read and understood a book.  Book Adventure allows you to do that at home.
It was created by Sylvan Learning, but the site is free to use.  (Like with all of our sites we love posts, we are in no way connected with the website and don’t benefit in anyway from writing about it.)  You do have to deal with a couple of ads on the site, but to me that’s worth it to have access to a site like this.
It has a book finder, where kids can put in their reading level and the types of books that they like to read and it gives them suggestions for books.  Then after they read the books, they take tests to earn points.  Points can then be exchanged for prizes.  There are some prizes on the computer (mostly online printables) that they can earn, but there is also a parents area that you can set up what they earn (i.e. you can set it up so that 1000 points can earn a trip to the ice cream shop or whatever else you want).  They print out their coupon with their points on it and give it to you to redeem.     There is also a parent’s page that lets you see reports for each child with what tests they’ve taken and their scores so you can see if they are understanding what they’ve read.
The books they include go from kindergarten up to eight grade level.   Definitely worth checking out if you have an elementary or junior high aged child who needs to be encouraged to read.

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{Jitterbug: Music for Hip Kids}

There’s a great site for parents of preschoolers that we came across recently called Jitterbug: Music for Hip Kids. When listening to kids music, most parents have had the feeling – “If i hear that song one more time I’ll scream!”  Head over to Jitterbug and find some fun new music to listen to with your little ones.

Jitterbug has tons of familiar music – songs from Jack Johnson, Lisa Loeb, The Song from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” or Nora Jones singing “Don’t Know ‘Y'” with Elmo; and they also have
“Kindie” (a combination of “Kids” and “Independent”) music groups that you may not have heard of yet – The Sippy Cups, Swingset Mamas.  My new favorite is “Goin on a Road Trip” by Suzi Shelton.

You can watch videos, listen to songs, or listen to the Jitterbug “radio” station. The site was founded by a couple of dads whose preschoolers, like most preschoolers, loved listening to music.  They said,”instead of subjecting ourselves to those awful tunes (you know, the ones that irritate and don’t hold up to repeated listening!), we found there are lots of musicians making music for kids that parents could love too.”

Check out Jitterbug to find some fun new music for your preschoolers.  Don’t miss”The Animal Song” by Aaron Nigel Smith, Suzi Shelton’s version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” or “Brain Freeze” by The Baby Grands.

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Smart and Trendy Moms has no connection in anyway to Jitterbug.    Smart and Trendy Moms finds products, ideas, projects, recipes, and other information that we have personally found helpful or interesting.  As always, it is up to you to determine what is appropriate for you, your children, and your situation.  See our Disclosure

{Scholastic – Iditarod Info for Kids}

The Iditarod is the annual sled-dog-team race across Alaska where mushers and their dog teams race 1,161 miles from Anchorage to Nome. This year it’s starting on March 5th. Lots of kids are fascinated by the adventure of it all and the awesome dogs and mushers that run the race.
Scholastic.com has a great Iditarod site for kids (probably 3rd grade and up) who would like to learn more about the race.

There is a section that lets the kids see more about the main points on the trail, some history of the race, a section with information about young mushers and the junior Iditarod, information about sled dogs and mushers, and some neat activities.  After learning about everything, kids can take a quiz. And there is a neat “be a musher” activity where kids make choices about what they would do it in the race.

You can find their site here: Scholastic Iditarod Info.

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We are not connected with Scholastic or the Iditarod in any way.  Smart and Trendy Moms finds products, ideas, projects, recipes, and other information that we have personally found helpful or interesting.  As always, it is up to you to determine what is appropriate for you, your children, and your situation.  See our Disclosure

{Sites We Love – Daily Mile}

I used to be fairly active and in shape — then I had kids.   I have decided to do something for myself and try to get back into shape (Yep, I crossed out “try to” — I will get the hang of this positive thinking thing!) So, I have been jogging.  It’s been going pretty well so far. I found a really neat free website called Daily Mile that I have been using to track my miles.  We have posted about Daily Mile before, but this seemed like a great time to mention it again when a lot of us are trying to stick to New Years Resolutions.

You can use it to track walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, cross training, and to record weight training and yoga workouts. You can look at your workouts by day, week, or month. And it has a thing that shows you your total miles and breaks that down into pounds burned and even number of donuts burned (love that one, but they don‘t say if it‘s a regular donut or a crème-filled Krispy Kreme doughnut.).  You can also put a little widget on your blog so your friends can help keep you motivated. And it has a cool “social” feature where you friend people and then can comment on workouts and offer encouragement to each other.

I really like being about to track my miles and see my progress. (or sometimes seeing my lack of progress can motivate me.) So if you are looking for a fun way to track your workouts, check out daily mile. I will be continuing to log my workouts there and when I get to 100 miles, I’m getting myself a new pair of running shoes and my husband is taking me out to dinner to celebrate!

If you use or are thinking about using daily mile or another workout tracking program, leave us a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

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{Snowline – Free Online Game}

My kids frequently come home from school with the names of websites with games that they get to play during free time. There is a free online game at primarygames.com (great site!) that my kids just love to play around this time of year. It’s called Snowline. It’s kind of a strategy, trial-and-error type game. My kids work together to try to figure it out and they even get along while playing it! lol

The story behind the game is that the reindeer had hiccups and have accidentially scattered presents across Europe. Santa is trying to collect up all the presents while the reindeer are taking the day off to get better. You draw lines of snow with the mouse that help guide Santa to collect all of the presents. Each of the levels have different challenges and obstacles and you need to figure out how to draw the lines to get Santa’s sled to move where you want it to.

My kids have a great time redrawing the lines and trying new strategies to help Santa collect the presents. I have fun playing it too.  When someone is playing, we usually gather around the computer and try to offer ideas.  We laugh when things don’t work out quite right, and cheer for Santa as he reaches the finish. It’s free online Christmas fun!
My daughter says that I have to include a tip for the “Snowtrain” level in this post because it’s a frustrating level.  She says once you get the lines drawn, click the “go” button when you see the train because then it’s gone when Santa gets there.  If you don’t time it like that, you can’t get past the train.  ( It will make sense when you get to that level. :-)  )

You can find Snowline here.   Happy Holiday Fun!

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{Sites We Love – Shelfari}

I used to love to read, but after I had kids my reading was limited to parenting magazines, medicine bottles, and Green Eggs and Ham. Now that my kids are getting a little bit older, I’m thrilled to have a little time to read things that I want to read – not that I don’t love reading Green Eggs and Ham forty times a day :-)

I wanted to tell you guys about an awesome free website for book lovers called Shelfari. You make your virtual bookshelf which displays books you’ve read and books that you want to read. You can mark your favorites and mark those that you own. It also has a rating and review system.  If you check out a lot of books from the library, or loan (read: give) your books to friends, or donate the ones you finish, it is really easy lose track of what you have read.  Since I check out most the books I read from the library, I love using Shelfari to keep from loosing track of what I’ve read.

You can also use Shelfari to find books to read.  There is a great online community where you can add “friends” who share the same taste in books that you do and get their opinions and recommendations. There are discussion groups. They also have ranking systems to see what books are currently popular.

I love having a virtual shelf that even shows the cover art of the books.  And they have a widget maker that lets you display your bookshelf on your blog or other website. You even get to pick the type of wood that your bookshelf is made out of. How cool is that!

If you love books, Shelfari is definitely worth checking out!

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This is not a sponsored post.  We are in no way connected with Shelfari other than being happy users of their site.   Smart and Trendy Moms finds products, ideas, projects, recipes, and other information that we have personally found helpful or interesting.  As always, it is up to you to determine what is appropriate for you, your children, and your situation.  See our Disclosure
{Timez Attack - Multiplication Game}

{Timez Attack – Multiplication Game}

Its that time of year again, the kids are back in school and hard at work. If you have a child that needs to learn their times tables this year – or needs to review them :-)  – we came across a great computer game called Timez Attack.

The game takes what is basically flashcard practice and turns it into an exciting adventure.

In the game, your character is an alien girl or guy and you move though the levels by fighting the bad guys off by answering multiplication problems.  The basic “dungeon” map is free and you can actually play all the way up thorough 12s on that map.  They also have other levels that you can purchase with different backdrops and different bad guys to help keep things interesting.   I made a deal with my son (who absolutely loves the game) that I would buy him the next level when he reached a certain point in the game. It was great incentive for him to keep working.

It gives kids a limited time to answer the questions and it is really good about showing the answer to a missed problem and then repeating the problem until they get it correct.  The game gets kids to practice like they are doing flashcards but makes it fun and keeps them interested.  With this game, my kids (ages 8 and 10)  have been doing a great job with his times tables and have been having a great time playing.  I love it when they are practically begging to play an educational game!

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{Cool Timer – Free Timer Program}

I have been using a free timer program that I wanted to tell you guys about.  My son used it in class last year and he was so excited by it that we had to put it on our computer at home.

It’s called Cool Timer.  It’s easy to set, and can be used as a countdown timer, a stopwatch, or an alarm clock.  The coolest part is that it lets you choose from a bunch of different noises that signal the end of the time – many of which make the kids crackup.  You can also use your own sound files as the end of time signal.  It’s so much more fun than the kitchen timer!

We use it a lot since my kids give little bits of time to the things they are learning – times tables, reading, typing.  And for school they sometimes have to do a timed practice for math or reading.  Sometimes I also give them a certain time limit for cleaning up the living room.  (Cookies for every one if we can beat the timer on the cleanup!)  Or we sometimes use it to make sure they know that they get equal time on the computer or a video game or to limit the amount of time they spend online. 

If you want to check it out, it’s a free program by Harmony Software and you can find a download link at: http://www.harmonyhollow.net/cool_timer.shtml%20

This is not a sponsored post. 
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Smart and Trendy Moms finds products, ideas, projects, recipes, and other information that we have personally found helpful or interesting.  As always, it is up to you to determine what is appropriate for you, your children, and your situation.  See our Disclosure