A Must See Film: He Named Me Malala on National Geographic

In October of 2012, the world came to know fifteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, targeted in an assassination attempt by the Taliban for daring to believe that all girls should have the right to an education.  The world rallied around her recovery, and she rose to carry on with her courageous and constant fight for girls education no matter where they are in the world.

The story of Nobel Laureate and activist, Malala Yousafai came to theaters last year, in the documentary film “He Named Me Malala.” Now, viewers globally can tune into the film’s television premiere, when it airs commercial-free on the National Geographic Channel, on Monday, February 29th, in the U.S., and globally, across 170 countries, in 45 languages.

A Phone Call with Malala

This powerful film moved my close friend and me to tears.  It shares an intimate glimpse of Malala’s life – both public and private – with her family, as a student, as a teenager, and as a courageous activist – inviting viewers to see the tremendous potential within themselves.

He Named Me Malala on National Geographic

Tune into the television premiere, access the film’s educational resources and join Malala’s movement to ensure that all girls have access to a quality secondary education.

This post is not sponsored in any way.  Images via Fox Searchlight.


Cultivating Our Future: Educational Gifts For Kids

It’s that time of year again – the house is decorated, the kids are pinning for snow, and signs of the Holidays are everywhere. The kids crayon inscribed holiday wish list is being tweaked and prodded, and now we’re counting down the days until Christmas.  I can’t help but become overwhelmed by a healthy mix of joy and stress. Between finding great gifts for all our loved ones and plans to host Christmas day, it’s a whirlwind of to-dos.

The good news is that we have another great holiday gift list to share.  As I could be raising a potential future stunt double or an aspiring novelist, I want to continue to motivate and inspire our children’s passions through learning. So, here’s a peek at some of our favorite holiday educational gifts.

the best educational toys

1. The Giant Book of Creativity for Kids $21.95

Recommended for: future artists
Ages: Ages 2–12

2. Zycom Cruz Scooter $69.99

Recommended for: future stunt doubles
Ages: 3–8

3. Maker Studio: Winches Set $19.99

Recommended for: future engineers
Ages: 8+

4. Build & Imagine StoryWalls $49.00; prices vary by set

Recommended for: future novelist
Ages: 4–8

5. New Sprouts Stir Fry $24.99

Recommended for: future chef
Ages: 2+

6. Clifford Water Science $19.00

Recommended for: future scientist
Ages: 3–10

4. Guidecraft PowerClix Organics 74 Piece Set $109.95

Recommended for: future architect
Ages: 5+

8. Zoomer Kitty $99.99

Recommended for: future vet
Ages: 5+

9. LeapFrog Epic $139.99

Recommended for: future filmmaker
Ages: 3–9

Looking for an educational toy for your kiddo? Check out this toy guide created by Noodle and Parents’ Choice Foundation.


LeapFrog Epic Android-Based Tablet (+ Giveaway!)

Whether we like it or not, tablets have become a part of children’s culture.  Kids are drawn to the touch-interfaces and want devices that function just like their parents’ gadgets do.  We’ve certainly been through our share over here, with several different variations sent our way for editorial consideration.  My seven-year-old can power down a device with one quick “time’s up!” reminder, but my five-year-old son appears to be hardwired to this sort of play.  It’s a challenge to have him shut off a game without some sort of struggle.  And that’s all the more reason for me to be vigilant about content, device parameters and kid-safe web environments.

LeapFrog, a long-term brand partner for us, recently launched the LeapFrog Epic. It’s a tablet for kids that runs on Android, and it’s been such a big hit that we had to share the news before our holiday gift guide comes out and offer a reader giveaway!

Tablet for Kids

With a 7″ touchscreen my kids noticed right away that the LeapFrog Epic looks and feels like a real tablet.  It’s my favorite device for the kids because unlike the other tablets in our home the LeapFrog Epic has robust parental controls, exclusive age-appropriate educational content, and a kid-safe environment.

The device accommodates three separate user profiles, which each child can completely customize with their favorite games, art, scenes, characters and more. My kids enjoy scrolling around their custom built (and completely different) cities, collecting stickers, and shifting from day to night.  They’ve been having great fun with the amazing camera that captures quality images and video, and the voice recorder alongside the Mad Libs type game.  The kids can even check the weather on the device right here in NYC!

LeapFrog Epic Giveaway

The Android functionality is perfect for kids since it doesn’t have any in-app purchases and advertisements.  The device comes loaded with more than 20 installed fantastic apps and the option to add popular Android offerings like Fruit Ninja Math Academy and Doodle Jump.  Like all LeapFrog learning games, the LeapFrog Epic intuitively adjusts levels to accommodate for the child’s growing skills.

LeapFrog Epic Tablet

I appreciate the ability to set time parameters along with the reassurance that all content is engaging and appropriate (unlike some of the mindless garbage that crept up on our other tablets).  The Leap Search browser is incredibly fun for the kids to explore kid-approved web content based on my parental parameters.  And as the kids grow and become more tech savvy, the Epic can be set to open the web – making it a device that truly grows with the child.

Win It! We’ve partnered with LeapFrog to giveaway a LeapFrog Epic ($140 value) to one lucky reader. Enter via the rafflectopter below and check back to see if you’re name pops up as the winner! Best of luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

We’re LeapFrog brand partners but opinions as always are my own. Thanks for reading!


5 Things Parents Should Consider When Choosing a Preschool

This post is from our friends at Noodle.

Choosing the right preschool for your child shouldn’t feel like racing at the Indy 500. Still, the experience of finding the right fit — both for your little one and for you — elicits a special mix of anxiety and excitement. Whether or not you’re gearing up for the first year of preschool, now is the perfect time to stock up on a set of rainbow gel pens and start searching for a preschool that best suits your child’s needs.

painting with preschooler

Check out these five things parents should consider when choosing a preschool:

1. Start your preschool search early.

Start searching for preschools a year in advance of the school start date. During your research, start a list of the top schools you’d like your child to attend, and apply to all of them. This way if you don’t get into your first choice, you’ll have a few as backups. Many schools have waiting lists, specifically in the New York area, so get your applications, attend open houses, and follow all the steps necessary to secure a spot at one of the schools at the top of your list.

To find preschools nearby, use a tool like the Noodle Preschool Search.  Simply enter your ZIP code, city, or state and filter by other criteria to generate and tailor a list of schools that fit your needs.

2. Schedule a tour.

After you’ve applied to schools, start scheduling tours at the ones you’ve chosen. Schools often have open houses in the fall, and many schools allow you to schedule an independent visit. Some schools, like The Goddard School in New York, will even allow you to schedule a tour online. Try to visit at least two to three schools to get a good sense of how they compare to one another. Here are a few things to consider during your preschool tour:
● Are teachers present to help with morning drop-off?
● How do the teachers tell the children “no”?
● How does circle time work?
● Can you see your child being happy in this environment?

3. Understand how long and how often you’d like your child to attend preschool.

Children usually attend preschool between the ages of 2 and 5. Many preschools run half-day programs around 4 hours every weekday for a typical 9-month school year. Some preschools offer both full-day programs and half-day programs. Montessori schools often have longer days.

It’s important to keep in mind that full-day preschool programs provide a more relaxed school day, and children can receive more independent learning. These also tend to be more expensive. Half-day programs allow children to engage with their peers and teachers in a less-structured environment.

preschool boy

4. Policies on potty training.

Many preschools require that children be potty trained. The stress of having to potty train your child for preschool is real for parents. As the deadline circles and National Potty Training month passes, parents can be frantic when it’s time to send their kids off to preschool. It’s important to find out whether your preschool of choice is pull-ups friendly or strict about its potty training policies.

5. Know the recommended child to adult ratio.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends that infant groups should be no larger than 12 children with an adult-to-child ratio of 1:4. Preschool classroom groups should not be larger than 20, and the adult-to-child ratio should not exceed 1:10. These regulations can vary between states. To learn more about the preschool regulations in your state, check out this guide.

As a parent, it’s difficult to choose what is the right fit for your child — cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Work schedules, finances, and educational environment are all factors that play important roles in the decision-making process. Ultimately, go with your gut feeling and with whatever is best for your family.

Anna Bates is a Marketing Manager at a leading education website that helps parents and students make better decisions about learning. Prior to joining the NY tech crowd, Anna was a digital marketing strategist working with a wealth of global brands like IHG, Bloomin Brands, and Mailboat Records, to name a few. In her free time, Anna moonlights as a volunteer soccer coach and mom to Norman & Mabel, her basset hounds.


On Supplementing Summer Learning

The countdown to summer is officially on! Although we still have a few weeks left to go, “last day of school” photos are firing up on social media everywhere.  The kids are standing a bit taller, and it’s amazing, really, to watch such leaps in learning throughout the academic year.  Whether your summer plans are super packed or fluid and spontaneous, we’ve teamed up with a solid supplemental summer learning program that we can stand behind.   Over the past few months, we’ve featured Brain Chase and shared details on the program’s structure and academic foundation.

Brain Chase online summer learning

Here’s why Brain Chase stood out among the influx of summer learning pitches that landed in my inbox.

  • Solid Academic Program: Brain Chase continues to take center stage in the national spotlight. This recent article in the New York Times gives a great profile on the company.
  • Flexibility: The program is built to accommodate all sorts of summer plans. In this five-week program, students commit to about five hours of online academic work per week.  That said, students can catch up on missed work – and as long as a high-speed internet service is accessible, work can be done anywhere.
  • Supplemental Aspect: Brain Chase offers a fun and exciting way to fit academic learning into the adventurous summer months. Even if the summer months are jam packed with camp, activities, and vacations –  Brain Chase gives students positive educational screen time that can fit into any schedule.
  • Premium Pricing: Alongside the regular pricing package of $199 for the first child, and $100 for each sibling, Brain Chase rolled out  Premium Price options that include a bunch of extras.  In comparison to the drop-in programs in our area, Brain Chase is reasonably priced – and you don’t have to worry about sticking to rigid schedules and lost funds for missing classes.

Brain Chase officially kicks off on June 22nd,  and our 7-year-old is incredibly excited to join in the hunt for actual buried treasure!

This post is sponsored by Brain Chase via the Motherhood.  Opinions, as always are my own. Thanks for reading!


How To Prevent Summer Learning Loss with Brain Chase

With a taste of high temps this week the countdown to summer has officially begun!  We welcome fun and adventure, and a break from the classroom, but we don’t want our children to loose academic ground over the fluid summer months.

A few weeks ago we featured an exciting online summer enrichment program called Brain ChaseThis flexible, five-week, summer learning challenge for grades 2 through 8 just released exciting updates to their 2015 program! Our daughter is joining in the massive global treasure hunt powered by reading, writing, language and math – and we’re thrilled to share the scoop and even giveaway an entire summer learning program to one lucky reader!

Brain Chase online summer learning

Beginning on June 22nd, participants will join the team of virtual explorers searching to find the lost artifact – The Sunstone of Cortes.  As students complete customized, academically-appropriate weekly assignments in reading, math, writing or language, they earn opportunities to locate the Sunstone of Cortes.  The first student to locate its whereabouts will be flown to the location to dig up the buried treasure, revealing a key to retrieve a $10,000 scholarship! Check out the dashboard demo to learn more about how kids’ work is tracked during the five-week program.


It addition to sound partners including Khan Academy and myON, Brain Chase registrants now have the option of a language module via Rosetta Stone.  In lieu of the writing module, students eager to learn another language can choose from 30+ languages at registration.

Supplemental summer learning for kids

Want in on this solid program recently featured in the New York Times?  Check out the Brain Chase pricing beginning at $199 with a sibling add-on option for $100.  And if you happen to be a teacher, be sure to take advantage of their teacher referral reward program, offering $15 for each referral.


WIN IT: We are so excited to giveaway a summer of Brain Chase ($199) to one lucky winner!  To enter, follow the simple instructions on our Facebook Fan Page.  Best of luck!

This post is sponsored by Brain Chase via The Motherhood.  Thanks for reading!