• Online Learning Resources for Kids and Tips for Parents

    So, the kids are at home, and they might be for a while. With the recent COVID-19 outbreak and many resulting school closures, parents are looking for support to keep kids learning without being at school.

    We’ve assembled a list of awesome, free digital learning resources for kids from kindergarten to middle school age and some tips to help parents make at-home learning fun and easy.

    For Reading: Project Gutenberg & Oxford Owl

    Online Learning Resources for Kids and Tips for Parents
    • Project Gutenberg has 61,604 free ebooks to download, including classics like “Little Women,” “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” and “Anne of Green Gables.”
    • Oxford Owl has a collection of free ebooks for children 3-11 years old. You can sort books by age, book type, reading level, and series, so it’s easy to explore!

    For Listening: Audible Audiobooks

    Image source wearetheteachers.com

    Amazon’s audiobook company is in-tune with the times, offering free stories to kids stuck at home. The service is simple to use on a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

    For Exploring: Google Arts & Culture

    Google’s revolutionary resource offers:

    • 360-degree videos of stunning architectural projects, paintings within museums, science and technology exhibits like the Hubble Telescope’s control centre, dinasours, and much, much more
    • The art camera, which lets you zoom in on iconic artworks in high-definition like “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh
    • Street view, which lets you tour famous sites and landmarks like the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt or the Colosseum in Rome

    For Creating: Doodling Apps

    Have a little artist in the family? Download a couple of free drawing apps like iOS’s Joy Doodle. Try apps out yourself to make sure they’re appropriate for your child’s specific age and talk to them about in-app purchases.

    Tips for Parents to Make Learning Fun and Easy for the Family

    • Look up reading age levels for books to help match your kids with stories they’ll love
    • Talk after learning sessions to figure out what they liked and what they’d like to try next
    • Take notes and keep handy links on-hand for future use to save you time
    • Don’t be too hard on yourself—you’re doing a great job teaching your kiddos!

    Like our resources? Keep tabs on our parenting blog for more real-world tips for busy moms and dads!

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  • The Safe Ways to Disinfect Baby Toys

    Parents, we know you do everything you can to keep your baby safe and healthy. That includes keeping your home and little one squeaky clean. But, are your baby’s toys looking a little grimy? Has your child’s sibling or friend been sick recently? Has food or spit-up landed on a toy?

    If your answer was yes to any of those questions, it’s time to disinfect your kiddo’s toys. Here are the safe ways to disinfect baby toys, broken down by material—because the route to clean toys varies depending on factors like absorbency and durability.

    Plastic Toys


    The best thing about plastic toys (other than their bright colors and fun shapes) is that they’re durable. Experts say you can put plastic toys in a pot of boiling water for five minutes and then let them cool. Alternatively, you can run them through the dishwasher in the silverware basket. Let toys washed in boiling water or the dishwasher and then let them air dry.

    Before you try either of these techniques, though, make sure there’s no batteries, fabric, or inside cavities that may retain water for extended periods and get musty.

    Wooden Toys

    Wooden toys are porous and tend to warp and become rough if they’re put in water. So, for wooden toys, wipe them down with a clean cloth that’s been dipped in a mixture of white vinegar and water (50/50) or mild soapy water that’s been made with gentle hand soap or your baby’s soap. Once you’re done cleansing the toy, wipe it down with a cloth that’s been soaked in plain water—this will get rid of any soap that’s left over. 

    For tough stains, wipe wooden toys with a cloth that’s been dipped in rubbing alcohol and then wipe the toy down with a different cloth that’s been soaked in plain water.

    Fabric Toys

    Does your little one have a growing collection of teddy bears or cloth books? If these items are free from battery packs and other plastic parts, you can put these toys in the washing machine. If your items do have battery packs or plastic parts, spot clean them with a baby wipe.

    Rubber Toys

    Rubbery toys like soft teething toys can be cleaned with the same 50/50 solution that we mentioned in the wooden toys section above.

    Bath Toys

    By nature, bath toys can stand up to heat and water. So, follow our instructions in the plastic toys section and put those bath toys in your dishwasher to disinfect them.

    Metal Toys

    Toys like trucks and trains will often have metal parts, and these pieces won’t endure the other cleaning methods we’ve listed above. Instead, wipe down metal pieces with a solution of bleach and water. Experts say one tablespoon bleach to each quart of water is the perfect solution (in more ways than one!).

    Want more parenting advice, tips, and tricks? Check out our blog for our latest posts, like Kids and Screen Time: The Parent’s Guide.

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  • Kids and Screen Time: The Parent’s Guide

    Screen time. It’s an often talked-about topic for parents, especially because it can go both ways. On one hand, some screen time is beneficial for development for kids older than two, while too much screen time has been linked to issues like obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral problems, loss of social skills, violence, and less time for necessary play. 

    So, how much screen time is too much for kids? In the following article, we’ve assembled some research to help you define screen time for your kids and enforce limits effectively.

    How Much Screen Time Should My Child Have?

    • Birth-18 months: No screen time is recommended at this age.
    • 18-24 months: Screen time should be supervised and limited to an hour or less.
    • 24 months to five years: Screentime says that this recommendation is similar to the recommendation for 18-24 month-olds, but with an added tip … help your kids make real-world connections with the material they’re viewing. Ask them what screen-based things remind them of in the real world, and how events and actions on the screen make them feel.
    • Six years to preteen: It’s advised that you keep screen time under two hours a day.
    • Preteen to teen: At this point, it’s less important to limit the number of hours they’re in front of a screen; it’s more important to monitor what’s being shown on the screen and figure out what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

    How to Establish Screen Time Rules with Kids

    There are a few ways to help set boundaries when it comes to screen time and your kids:

    • Set a good example: If they see you on your computer and smartphone all day long, they’ll be less obliged to stick with screen time limits.
    • Establish screen-free zones: Pick a few rooms in your house where screens are not allowed. For instance, the bathroom and the dining room at dinner time.
    • Explain the dangers: This is important for older kiddos, especially. If they hear a good reason for limited screen time, they’re less likely to just blame it on you being “unfair.”

    How to Manage Screen Time and Kids

    • Make it a group activity: Join your child in watching a video or playing an interactive game. If screen time is related to positive social interactions from a young age, it will make screen time an equally positive thing in the long run.
    • Research before you download: Read reviews and look through ratings before downloading apps for your child. If you have an older child, audit what they’ve downloaded by scrolling through their home screens.
    • Schedule non-screen time together: Arrange park playdates, time at the paint-your-own-pottery shop, or trips to Auntie Melanie’s house. Make sure that kids have plans away from their devices to help them limit overall screen time.
    • Leverage technology: Parents has a list of the best screen time apps for kids. Zift is one of those apps, and as Parents says, “We love this app because it goes further than just helping parents monitor screen time. Zift offers parental controls like instant reporting of online searches, updates on newly installed apps, and alerts if your child views inappropriate content.”

    Like our take on kids and screen time? There’s more parenting advice and tips just like this on our blog.

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  • Holiday Activities in the Cleveland Area for the Whole Family: 2019-20 Edition

    There is so much to do with the family this holiday season in the greater Cleveland area. We did the research so you don’t have to!

    1| It’s a Wonderful Life | Dec. 18

    Image via pluggedincleveland.com

    A classic holiday movie in a classic theater—what else could be more perfect for a December night? The Capitol Theatre is hosting the Jimmy Stewart classic, and tickets include more than just a movie: they include complimentary drinks, appetizers, and admission to live music in the lobby.

    2| Scuba Claus | Now through Dec. 24

    Image via thisiscleveland.com

    Old St. Nick … underwater? Santa Claus goes scuba diving at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium this December! Join him and ask questions about diving and more! It’s a great photo opportunity for little ones who love Santa.

    3| Glow with the Cleveland Botanical Garden | Now through Jan. 4

    Image via mrkringle.com

    If you’ve never been to this holiday mainstay, this year is the perfect time! Enjoy over 100 gingerbread houses, a gnome scavenger hunt, decorated trees, indoor snow play area, crafting, The Garden Express Railway, and much more.

    4| Wild Winter Lights | Now through Jan. 5

    Image via clevescene.com

    The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is hosting holiday celebrations for the public throughout December. You’ll enjoy more than one million lights, interactive zones, and the Zoo’s version of the Northern Lights. And, don’t forget to take photos with Santa!

    5| Skatetacular in the Square | Now through Jan. 7

    Image via facebook.com

    Strap on your skates for a season-long celebration including a light display, live choral performances, a Santa meet-and-greet, Trivia Night, Ugly Sweater Night, and a lot more. There will also be a nightly ticket giveaway for Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s show on December 27.

    6| Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live | Jan. 18-19

    Image via thisiscleveland.com

    Does your little one (or do you?!) love classic Hot Wheels toys? This is your only opportunity to see the life-sized versions of iconic Hot Wheels like Tiger SharkT, V8 BomberT, Demo Derby and Hot Wheelsr Racing 1. The show will also feature the return of the King of Monster Trucks, BIGFOOTr.

    Like our list? Bookmark our parenting blog for ideas and advice from (and for!) real moms and dads.

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  • Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Side Dishes

    If cranberry sauce and gravy aren’t up your kiddo’s alley, we totally get it! Thanksgiving can be tough for little ones, particularly picky eaters. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some yummy, healthy, kiddo-friendly Thanksgiving side dishes you can try this year and for years to come!

    1| Simple Roasted Apples with Cinnamon Sugar

    Does your child have a sweet tooth? Satisfy their desire for sweets while providing extra nutrition with Amy Gorin’s baked apple dish, starring lots of cinnamon. Yum!

    Recipe here.

    2| Cheesy Cauliflower Tots

    Registered dietitian Julie Harrington packs lots of nutrients into every child’s favorite package: the tater tot. She uses whole wheat panko for extra crispiness. 

    Recipe here.

    3| Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

    Chocolate Slopes knows how to turn vitamin-dense sweet potatoes into a smooth, creamy delight that kids will crave. The secret ingredient? Non-fat plain yogurt.

    Recipe here.

    4| Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

    Adults and kids alike love the smooth and satisfying texture of risotto, but it often takes a ton of care and time to make. With an Instant Pot, it can be easy! Try this earthy, cheesy risotto this Thanksgiving.

    Recipe here.

    5| Green Beans with Brown Butter and Toasted Almonds

    How can you get your picky eater to enjoy vegetables this Thanksgiving? Nutty brown butter and crunchy toasted almonds are a great start. Best yet, these beans come together in 25 minutes.

    Recipe here.

    6| Herbed Wild Rice and Quinoa Stuffing

    Onion, tart apples, garlic, wild rice, quinoa, pecans … once you read the ingredient list, you’ll be satisfied that this recipe has the taste and texture kids will be interested in (and the nutrients you’re looking for).

    Recipe here.

    7| Sweet Pumpkin Buns

    These buns from Lands & Flavors are just too cute, and they’re great as a dipper for soup and other sides. Kids will fall in love with the clever pumpkin shape!

    Recipe here.

    8| Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

    Simple ingredients, easy prep, and a delish outcome. These potatoes have a 5-star rating on Food Network, and your kids will agree with the reviewers.

    Recipe here.

    Want more parenting advice and tips for busy moms and dads? Our blog is an awesome resource!

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