Posted in Brands we love, Christmas, Education, Family Life, Fun Mamma SA Products we love, Parenting, preschoolers, Toddlers, Tweens & Teens

3 Trending Technology gifts for kids this Christmas

Christmas time is the time for gifts and festivities, but how many of those gifts last into the New year?

Many parents are choosing to invest in technology gifts to help their children to foster a development of skills and knowledge that will equip them for tomorrow’s workforce.

Whilst the assumption that doing this may force children to grow up too soon, as parents, we also need to remember in our ever changing world, toys are advancing.

Technology toys range from STEM building kits to children’s tablets, loaded with software to encourage knowledge and learning in a wide variety of learning areas.

Making technology toys a winning combination of fun, imagination and learning.

The perfect gifts to invest in.

What are STEM toys

STEM stands for Science , Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Toys or learning kits that fall onto this category are thse that promote the learning of these areas.

You can read more about Stem for kids. And see an example of a first stem kit for preschoolers.

My top 3 technology gift guide

So, as a mom what would I be choosing ?

Here’s my list of the top 3 trending technology toys for 2019

1. Smart watches

Smart watches are widely available. They start at a price range of R300.

Most smart watches are touch screen and have a variety of features, but as parents our favourite feature is the GPS tracker.

With these watches you can also do two way chats, send an SOS, SMS, voice chat and have App remote monitors.

They are compatible with iOS or Android smart phones.

2. STEM kits

STEM is the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

There are many kits that encourage learning trough play by building and constructing these robots, solar transportation, creations and experiments.

You can buy simple kits that start at a price range of R50 from Game, Makro, 4akid and Takalot

3. Kids Tablets

Children love to use mom or dad’s phones and tablets.

Instead of fighting to use your phone or tablet, equip them with their very own safe educational tablet which usually comes equipped with educational games, pre-installed programs and applications.

These start from around R350 and are suitable from 3 years. Most tablets offer a warranty and come with parental control.

But how do you know which tablet to buy?

I found this guide from Pixelsmithstudios helpful.

This year give a gift that will keep them entertained, is durable and empowers your child to learn the skills through play.

Do you have any other Technology gifts you would add to this list? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

You may also enjoy reading about :

The Christmas kindness advent calendar

10 essential Christmas gifts for your baby

Posted in Brands we love, Christmas, Education, Family Life, Family Time, Giving back, Parenting, preschoolers, Tweens & Teens

Superbook brings back the heart of Christmas

As a mom I love watching my children enjoy all the magic of Christmas.

We decorate the tree and make our gingerbread houses. We fill our stockings, put up the lights,remember to move the Christmas elf and enjoy the many other traditions around this holiday.

But

As a mom I also very much want my children to grow up understanding the real meaning of Christmas and know that Jesus is the heart of this magical celebration.

So how do I do that?

Looking after their hearts

When my older children were younger we would prepare for the festive season by attending Sunday school and reading a chapter of Luke in the Bible a day.

We made nativity scenes and told the story of the birth of Jesus.

Often on Christmas day I would read to them from their children’s Bible all about the story of Jesus.

As my children grew older, these traditions faded and aside from my lonely nativity scene and a few Christimes carols there was very little to remind them of the true reason to celebrate.

A new beginning

After Hamish was born, it became important to me to once again share the true meaning behind Christmas and each year I’ve tried to include him so that he would understand that Christmas is so much more than just a day of gifts.

Last year was his first Christmas, at 2 years old, that I felt he could understand.

Last year I bought him a new Children’s Bible and we read the Christmas story before making a homemade advent spiral using some tree angels and a lot of imagination.

Each day we would move the Mary and Joseph up a bead and he would tell me it was nearly time for Jesus to be born.

But was this enough?

A heart for God

Would these simple acts over a month a year bring my child’s heart to God?

I was convinced I needed more and as I sat pondering this I came across the CBN Superbook advert on Facebook.

An invitation to experience the Bible like bever before.

For just R99 I could invest in :

  • A DVD combo with two stories (The First Christmas & The birth of John the Baptist)
  • Family discussion guide which help to open discussion and extend on the teachings behind Christmas time and how to apply the scriptural lessons in their little lives.
  • Stickers of the Superbook character

To order your own click here

Screen time

We were away the weekend Hamish recieved his DVD package and on our first Monday home I settled him just before nap time and told him we were going to watch the story of Jesus.

He was intrigued from the first minute. The characters, Chris, Joy and Gismo, are fun and relatable. Modern day kids just like him that set off on a big adventure to discover the Bible through animation.

Gizmo the lovable robot is Hamish’s favourite character and I was impressed that the Biblical character’s dialogue is mostly taken from scripture, whilst great care has been placed on the careful attention to detail within the illustrations.

Children love animated stories and I know how much knowledge Hamish picks up from the other animated stories he watches so I was certain he would walk away from this story understanding the birth of Jesus.

I was also sure he would have many question and was really greatful for the famiy discussion sheet that I pre read and assisted me to explain the story to his little heart.

About Superbook

The Superbook mission is to take the stories of the Bible to children of all ages and has been broadcast in over 90 countries and translated into 50 languages.

Superbook is created by an award-winning team of artists and storyteller, who have worked on some amazing Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Mulan.

Each episode invites you into the pages of the Bible to experience God’s word as never before through captivating animation videos.

Now, children of all ages can learn to apply scriptural principles to their daily lives by watching the biblical events unfold on a TV, and through the Superbook App on a computer,tablet or Phone.

The App is aimed at children 6 -12 years but Hamish who is 3 has been able to play some of the games.

We watch the videos, discover the heroes of the Bible, enjoy the daily devotions and have fun learning new fun facts.

You can download the Superbook App from Aapple App store, Google Play or Amazon Apps or for more information http://www.Superbook.CBN.com

A new Tradition

We will certainly be watching The first Christmas many times before Christmas and have added it to our Christmas traditions.

But

More than that, I now have a little boy who understands the true meaning behind Christmas time and I will be using the Superbook App, videos and activity books daily to build his heart and character.

Posted in Brands we love, Giving back, Tweens & Teens

Ms. Monopoly- Celebrating Women Trailblazers

Hasbro Introduces Ms. Monopoly – First Game in the Franchise that Celebrates Women Trailblazers

Hasbro has introduced the first-ever game in the Monopoly franchise that celebrates women trailblazers with Ms. Monopoly.

The Ms. Monopoly game marks the first time in the franchise’s history where a new character will grace the cover – and while Mr. Monopoly is a real-estate mogul, Ms. Monopoly is an advocate whose mission is to invest in female entrepreneurs.

Ms. Monopoly was created to inspire everyone, young and old as it spotlights women who have challenged the status quo. To celebrate, in lieu of Monopoly winnings, Hasbro surprised three young female inventors and entrepreneurs with the recognition they deserve – approximately $20,580 in REAL money to fuel their inventive spirit and further their projects – which just so happens to be the same amount of Monopoly money featured in the game.

You can see all of their reactions to the surprise

To celebrate, in lieu of Monopoly winnings, Hasbro surprised three young female inventors and entrepreneurs with the recognition they deserve – approximately $20,580 in REAL money to fuel their inventive spirit and further their projects – which just so happens to be the same amount of Monopoly money featured in the game.

You can see all of their reactions to the surprise here.

All of the young inventors come from very different backgrounds, but with a common goal to help others using their inventions:

  • Sophia Wang, a 16-year-old from Connecticut invented a device that can detect sinkholes before they occur, and after two years of work, her prototype is now 93% accurate. She is hoping to get it patented and in the hands of communities in Florida that are vulnerable to sinkholes.
  • Gitanjali Rao, a 13-year-old from Denver came up with an invention that helps detect lead in drinking water so that individuals can do the test themselves and get results sooner. Her goal is to create an inexpensive, easy to use, portable device so that people all around the world can use it.
  • Ava Canney, a 16-year-old from Ireland, invented a spectrometer that measures the amount of dye in candy and soda. After studying the harmful effects of additives in our food, Ava set out to help people make educated decisions about the toxins they put into their bodies.

Ms. Monopoly gives new meaning to the franchise, as properties are replaced by ground-breaking inventions and innovations made possible by women throughout history and instead of building houses, you build business headquarters. From inventions like WiFi to chocolate chip cookies, solar heating and modern shapewear, Ms. Monopoly celebrates everything from scientific advancements to everyday accessories – all created by women.

From inventions like WiFi to chocolate chip cookies, solar heating and modern shapewear, Ms. Monopoly celebrates everything from scientific advancements to everyday accessories – all created by women.

Ms. Monopoly is also the first-ever game where women make more than men – a fun spin in the game that creates a world where women have an advantage often enjoyed by men. However, if men play their cards right, they can make more money too.

Ms Monopoly will be landing in South Africa in early December, just in time for the summer holidays and will be available from leading retailers including; Toys R Us, Toy Kingdom, Toy Zone and Takealot.com

Follow @MonopolySouthAfrica on Facebook for more information.

Posted in babies, Family Life, Family Time, Parenting, preschoolers, Toddlers, Tweens & Teens

School Holiday challenge … Day 3

Sunday’s are family days. A time to connect and spend time together.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to get outdoors. Put on those Takkies and take the family for a walk. This is both healthy and fun.

A fun way to make this more exciting is to challenge the kids to a nature hunt.

A nature hunt is a list of items they need to find in your back garden, the park, or on your stroll through your neighbourhood.

Try to make your list relevant to your childs age and abilities. For example a little child may just look for a flower, whereas an older child can be asked to find a specific flower like a rose, sunflower or lily.

Here are some examples of a few fun nature hunts.

( photo credit unknown or on image .)

Make your own

Take a piece of paper or card. Draw or list a few items you want your child to collect.

Give your child the list and a marker to pick off each item found.

Just for fun

You could also divide into groups and see who finds the items fastest.

Happy hunting mammas.

Posted in Parenting, Tweens & Teens

What to do when the “mean girls” attack your teen

We’ve all seen the thousand and one different Disney and young adult movie where the “mean girl” rushes in to bully, shame, hurt or manipulate the new / shy/ odd or ordinary girl.

We let our teens watch these and giggle because …of course the victim is always vindicated.

But ….

What we fail to see is that the mean girl actually exists in our middle and high schools.

There’s an entire generation of tweens and teens out there who honestly believe they are entitled to victimise others without consequence.

Recently my 15 year old daughter became a victim of her friends mean girl attitude.

The friend spred a nasty rumour.

This blatant lie, which would have damaged my daughter’s reputation and could have resulted in an innocent boy being charged for something he didn’t do, was started because the friend thought this was an acceptable way to get back at my child after they had a falling out!

Consequenses

I’m actually still in shock.

This mean girl had no idea of the hurt it could cause both of the teens that she chose to victimise nor of the extent that this could have escalated to.

In a world where teens are comiting suicide through bullies behaviour, this being a typical example of bad rumours …she felt she could cause the damage and not be held responsible.

So what do you as a parent do to prevent this behaviour from your children ?

  • Start by remembering that tweens and teens do not always make the right decisions.
  • Have open discussions about sex, bullying, suicide, lying and other topics you may feel are hard to talk about.
  • Be aware of what’s happening in their friendships. Notice changes or complaints about a “friend” from your child.
  • Explain to them the dangers of cyber bullying from a bully and from a victims perspective.
  • Educate them on the law and their rights.
  • Let them know that even on a phone call, over a text or WhatsApp calling people names, threatening them and manipulating them to do what you want are all acts that can have charges brought against them.

What to do if your child is the victim

  • Get your child’s side first.
  • Listen to all sides and find the source.
  • If your child has any evidence on WhatsApp or a voice note save these as evidence.
  • Approach the parents, firmly but with the option for them to sort out their child. Nine times out of ten the parents will not believe their child is capable of such behaviour.
  • Lay charges …In our case I was, and still am should this issue rear it’s head again, ready to lay charges alongside the other victim.
  • Approach the school. Let them know who the children are and what has transpired. Even if the issue is resolved. It’s important that our schools know who the trouble maker children are and to look out for these children victimising anyone else.
  • Watch your child for signs of depression after the event.

What to do if your child is the mean girl

  • Listen to the other parents openly and look at the evidence.
  • Open up a firm discussion to your child and explain the consequences.
  • Allow them to know you will not tolerate that behaviour by having them appologise to their victim and accept some consequences, whether this is from you or from the law.

Conclusion

I’m still very disappointed in this young girl as she has been a friend to my child.

My own child was more fearful of things escalating if I stepped in which leads me to believe this is not a first incident and I am ready to lay charges if this rumour continues.

The child’s mother made excuses for her child from our first message but did manage to get her child to appologise.

I’ve sent an email to the headmaster and class teacher, with our evidence of the event and how it transpired and the girls apology, to outline the situation and asked them to please watch out for future issues from this child.

I’ll also be contacting the boys mom to fill her in so he is also not victimised by a young girls revenge plan.

Sadly, this mean girl is no longer welcome in our home.

I have a no tolerance policy for bullies and whilst we teach our children forgiveness we must also teach them that everyone makes their own choices and there is always a consequence to those choices.

Posted in All about Mamma bear, Tweens & Teens

A lesson learnt – why it is ok to fail!

Day 11 of #blogbosswinterblogchallenge asks me to share a lesson I learnt.

This was difficult, in 45 years I’ve learnt many, so how do I pick just one?

Instead I decided to share something I wrote for my youngest daughter in March about why it’s ok to fail.

It’s back to school for our children today and that means back to the stress and business of their day.

So often we only think about our business, our stress during the day but I’ve seen my teen enter high school and have to adjust to totally new environments, schedules, friend dynamics and work load.

She was in a panic as her marks dropped last term and I told her I thought they would, it’s a large adjustment.

She was shocked , thinking she may be grounded for the holidays. Now, by dropped I don’t mean badly- she came 9th in her grade for maths, but by a few percent.

She obviously wasn’t grounded ( nor would I have grounded her for marks but she’s only been living back with me for a year, as she lived with her dad, so we still learning each other’s reactions again)

Out of this , the biggest lesson she learnt was that it’s ok to find situations difficult.

It’s ok for you to struggle to adjust or be stressed.

It’s not the end of the world and you do not need to always be perfect.

You see as much as I want her to succeed I also want her to learn to fail and how to get back up. I want her to learn to deal with stress but also when to ask for help. I want her to learn that pushing yourself is important but so is knowing when to relax but mostly to know that no one ever has it all figured out.

Above all I want her to know that her worth will never be judged on a set of grades or test scores but on the strength of her character and the kindness of her heart.

Posted in Education, Parenting, preschoolers, Toddlers, Tweens & Teens

Teaching about bullies

As the mom of 2 boys with Asperger’s we’ve had our fair share of dealing with bullying over the years.

First from the bully and then from my boys as they retaliated.

Most of the time, it wasn’t physical bullying but verbal or emotional bullying.

But how do you assist young children to understand the damage that words can do?

I used this example both at home and in the classroom ….

(Source unknown)

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform.

She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up, but do not rip it.

Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was.

She then told them to tell the paper that they were sorry.

Now….even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it.

That is what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever.

The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.

Most children do not understand the effects of their words, teasing or hurtful behaviour, by giving them a practical way to understand the effect of bullying most often a child will change their behaviour.

Posted in Family Time, Tweens & Teens

4 every day ways to spend time with your teenagers

As the mom of a toddler it is often very easy to get caught up in looking after Hamish and ignore the teens unless they need me.

So, although we catch up daily after work and school, I realise they need a bit more of my time. Because of this I’ve made a special effort to spend more time with them.

Here’s how I’m intentionally spending time with my teens ….

1. shopping

By leaving Hamish with Brent, I’m able to take one or both of the teens with me to the shop. We walk so that gives us time to catch up on conversation.

2. WhatsApp

Technology has a wonderful place in today’s communication gaps if used correctly. I use WhatsApp regularly with the teens to send a quick message, a hello, a meme or to check up on them.

3. Get physical

Nothing beats spending time doing something together and if the activity promotes a healthy life style even better. I encourage my teens to join me in walks, the Park run, beach clean ups or other fun runs. This allows us to share and make memories.

4. Chores

If everyone in the family has chores they learn to work together and feel more of a family team. Often by doing chores your teen works alongside you, opening up opportunities to talk as you work to finish a task.

The thing I’ve realised with growing teens is to meet them where they are at and that at the end of the day our teens need us just as much as our toddler’s even if they push us away.