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Jana Beauchamp

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How To Throw A Pandemic-Friendly Kids Birthday Party

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Fall birthdays are not canceled but instead are back and better than ever thanks to birthday party businesses working tirelessly and pivoting to bring happiness and joy to kids!

We found some special birthday services for virtual celebrations, small, in-person socially distanced celebrations, or however you choose to celebrate your child’s quarantine birthday. These businesses are bringing the birthday magic! 

Birthday Party Love

Jars By Dani, delicious handcrafted cake jars, look amazing and taste even better! We simply adore these treat jars! Jars By Dani are especially perfect for quarantine birthdays because they are individually packaged already so there are no worries about cutting a cake and everyone touching things since you have your own. The most popular flavor for kids and adults alike is the cake batter, but all of the chocolate varieties like cookie dough and cookies and cream are especially popular as well as the really, really delicious fruit flavors like lemon bar and strawberry shortcake. We also love that most flavors are nut-free and there are gluten-free and vegan options as well. The sky is the limit with customization of the lids to say happy birthday with the birthday child’s name, photo, or whatever you wish. Jar By Dani makes variety packs so party people can pick and choose their flavors and customization and then ship nationwide for special occasions or any ordinary day to bring someone a smile and decadent treat. Celebrate your birthday or any day in sweet style using the 10% discount code NYFamily at checkout on JARSbydani.com  

STREB Remote takes virtual birthdays to the next level through physical fun! We are all in need of some movement now more than ever during these staying-at-home times. Even if this is our “new normal,” that doesn’t mean that birthday party fun has to be compromised. STREB is now offering new ways to infuse extreme energy, enthusiasm, and creative physicality into your virtual kids’ birthday parties. Kids will have tons of fun participating in physical activities, PopAction and Circus Arts @Home, special games, “Zoom-ography,” and more! If this sounds perfect for your kids, email bobby@streb.org for more info or to book a special event party!

Balloon Saloon brings the fun to any and every occasion with their joyful balloons. This family-fun business has been bringing happiness for 39 years and counting! Everyone is always delighted by balloons and Balloon Saloon’s beautiful and celebratory creations will make a big day extra special. Balloon Saloon has been bringing joy throughout Manhattan and now they are offering curbside delivery as well as delivery service to the outer boroughs and suburbs like Long Island and the Hamptons. You can even arrange a socially distant pick up by having Uber pickup and deliver your bunch of balloons. Even through all the craziness, Balloon Saloon continues to bring the happy. Balloon names, clusters, age numerals, and organic columns are ever popular. We especially loved a balloon column with a giant, magical unicorn on top with rainbow balloons throughout. It made the birthday child and every onlooker and passerby smile from ear to ear! They do an expert job to customize creations to clients’ likes and colors. 

The Craft Studio is offering socially distanced outdoor as well as virtual birthday and special occasion parties. They can do any of the individual crafts from the shop and if virtual, ship materials for the main craft with special paper goods and party favors to each individual guests’ home, so they can have a virtual party with all their friends! The party hosts choose the guest list, the craft, and the theme, and then they do the rest! We especially love making their fluffy and glow-in-the-dark slime! To add extra birthday cheer you can even start with mini crafts like decorating little wooden birthday cakes! After crafting is complete, the party finishes with one of their signature dance parties. The Craft Studio can also do a party using craft materials everyone would already have at home, and create a project based on those materials (which brings the cost down to just the flat fee for the Zoom date)! Bring the energy and cheer of The Craft Studio to your next celebration! 

Thanks to BCake, “birthdays are not canceled!” BCake creates stunning, custom cakes in a variety of shapes, designs, and sizes to meet any vision and serving size. Throughout the pandemic, people were going out of their way to show their support for people in isolation by sending treats and the more custom and the more thoughtful — the better.  BCake NY’s most popular custom kids cakes are thematic and fabulous and perfect for smaller gatherings. They also offer an incentive for “celebrating safely,” which is all 6” cakes are over 30% off. Their new line of online custom cakes is simply stunning and fabulously fun! They have two types of custom cakes for online order which all feed up to 16 people: Kids Birthday Cakes and their Signature Celebration Cakes.  The Kids Cakes are thematic and include edible designs, a number topper and a custom banner message. There are four types of Signature Celebration Cakes in both Fondant and Buttercream styles. You can select your color scheme, create a custom banner message, and choose from four toppers. The options are absolutely endless. You can have your cake and eat it, too!

An American Girl Birthday “Take-Home Celebration”

American Girl is offering a way for kids to party at home with “Take-Home Celebrations” – it’s an all-in-one kit to celebrate birthdays! This fabulous and fancy kit includes the brand’s signature pink and white birthday cake, deluxe-themed goody bags, crafts, digital invitations, doll crowns for party guests, and of course a crown for the birthday girl. Currently available for curbside pickup at the NYC store, this makes every little girl’s American Girl birthday dream come true. Thanks to AG, kids will love having their dolls celebrate their special day in every way alongside them. There are extra sweet touches like doll birthday shirts and balloons with amazing attention to details, as well as cute crafts and fun games to play for an extra special AG themed celebration.

For the icing on the AG cake, gift your birthday love the newest American Girl, Courtney Moore! Courtney joins American Girl’s popular line of strong historical heroines whose stories impart important life lessons to build confidence and character in girls. Courtney teaches girls that people — especially girls and women — can be, do, and love more than one thing, and taking risks to follow your passions is always worth doing. We also love that American Girl has a charitable partnership with Girls Who Code, which leans into Courtney’s story of encouraging girls to put themselves out there and be bold.

Fun Little Gifts and Favors

The sweet and sentimental Make a Wish Adjustable Bracelets are the perfect party gift or favor right now. Wish Bracelets are a fun, fresh way to offer a loved one your wish for Health, Peace, Adventure, New Beginnings and eight other special sentiments. Pick your sentiment (or favorite color), tie it on, and when it breaks, your wish comes true (fingers crossed!). Little ones will love the colorful stones and tying them on to make their wish. Then they just have to wait for the birthday wish to come true! 

The L.O.L. Surprise! Present Surprise Doll has eight surprises to unbox and is the perfect gift or party favor for any occasion with L.O.L. Surprise! Present Surprise! Each doll is dressed to the nines in festive fashion inspired by a birthday month of the year. She comes already wrapped just like a present in a fabulous gift package with a bow and tag and includes party-themed accessories and a party hat. Every birthday girl will love them all. Continue the par-tay with L.O.L. Surprise! Deluxe Present Surprise! This birthday-themed unboxing is the perfect gift and features the limited-edition Sprinkles doll and her pet, Sprin-claws. Each package comes already wrapped in a fabulous gift package with a bow, tag, and the unboxing is filled with fashions and accessories hidden in colorful confetti! Kids will also love the party accessories for the doll, like a party banner, party game, and party invitation. 

Special Videos Messages

Cameo is the new greeting card! Imagine getting a personal birthday greeting from Snoop Dog or Michael Rappaport! Cameo has 40,000 talents around the world and delivers personalized video messages, live Zoom calls, direct messages, and more. Kids’ favs include personal greetings from the famous animals on Cameo, Coyote Peterson, David Henrie, and Fiona the Hippo. Since kids are following their favorite people on social media without being able to interact, this is a special way to get a personal message, interaction, and birthday satisfaction. Simply find your perfect star match, check the price, and fill in the recipient and occasion (use the text box to put in a message with relevant info) and ask for the shout out. To make it extra memorable, add as much color as you can to ensure the recipient gets the most out of it! Cameo features every type of talent and is sure to give the birthday kid major bragging rights! 

One-Stop Party Shop

With gatherings going digital, Party City makes it easy to have an extra special celebration over platforms like Zoom or FaceTime. Check out Party City’s Virtual Party Guide for easy step-by-step instructions on how to make your digital celebration a success. Pick up virtual party kits that are easy to drop off at guests’ houses in advance, with fun themes like Dream Crazy Big with JoJo Siwa (we love the photo props!), Disney Princess, and PAW Patrol. And don’t forget to deck out the background of the guest-of-honor with scene setters and balloons to complete the frame! Whether you are sending love from afar or bringing the party home, new convenient same-day delivery saves families time and stress by having the party delivered straight to the birthday kid’s door.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com

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How To Manage Kids’ Screen Time

Online tutors are here to help kids stay on track during the coronavirus school shutdown. (Getty Images)

When it comes to screen time and online content, what is age and content appropriate is different for every family. Families must figure out what is in their wheelhouse of comfort. To help parents navigate this, we spoke with Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, to get her insights and expertise and learn salient steps to help protect our kids’ safety, sanity, and overall well-being online.

Screen Time Can Be Many Different Things

Caroline Knorr shared with us that, “The idea we have identified at Common Sense Media is that parents and everybody have been indoctrinated to think about screen time as this monolithic block of something and we have been working toward a model to tell parents that screen time can be many different things. Everyone has learned in the past few months that it is so many things and some of it is really good. It can be educational and they can learn a lot and they can do self-directed learning. There’s social connection which has been so important to kids. Not a perfect substitute but it allows kids to have social connections. There’s play time and games. There’s family time with media. Some of the best moments can be media moments with kids. I think one of the best ways parents can approach this is to be really clear about the different categories and talk about balance and trying to achieve balance. So to some extent, we want to give the different types of screen time different weights in your mind.”

Create Your Family Rules and Routine

If you are a family that really enjoys doing contracts then get it all down on paper. Sometimes that can work in different formats. Ms. Knorr said, “I feel like it’s really dependent on your family. Kids like to have rules and we are in such an amorphous time so having a routine is good for parents and kids and it helps with the issue of creating boundaries around their work time.” Create boundaries around work time as a parent. Prioritize, incentivize, and motivate your kid. For older kids doing more hybrid learning you can give them a digital learning pledge. She added that we have to take this responsibility as parents since we have to take so much ownership over this and make sure there are clear boundaries. And check in to make sure how kids are feeling around the technology.

Technology is Manipulative So Always Monitor Activity

Technology is manipulative. It manipulates us to spend more time than is good for us. Ms. Knorr noted, “It’s really hard for kids to stop and parents to stop and kids have trouble saying no. We need to teach them to self-regulate and achieve balance for themselves by trying to tap into how they are feeling at a certain time.” It seems that a lot of parents are allowing kids to have access to social media at younger ages than previously the norm and she added that the tech companies are perfectly happy to have parents break the rules. Ms. Knorr flagged Facebook Messenger as a good example of a good social media program designed just for kids under 13. Parents are in charge of the whole platform. And TikTok also does that and parents can also have a physically adjunct account for their kids’ TikTok. She reminds us that it is very controversial but kids use it and the point is that “the social apps kids are using have built in settings on the app themselves so encourage parents to explore that. Do your own research on it and find out why they want to use the app and keep the account private to protect your kid from being contacted by strangers.” However, this doesn’t completely eliminate the potential since they are social apps and the company pushes potential contacts. For example, you can have a private account but it still might say you may want to be friends with so and so since they consider that opting in. And she doesn’t know of any apps that completely eliminate that.

For the full version of this story, visit newyorkfamily.com

For more education coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/education

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5 Educational Games For Summer Staycation Fun

Photo via Crayola

While a new version of summer fun is in the air and things are starting to open up, we still plan to have a lot of time safe at home. 

Here are some favorite resources and fun and games to help make summer staycations extra enjoyable while avoiding the summer slide:

Carnegie Hall introduced an ongoing series of free concerts and activities for kids and families. Families can sing and move to music from around the world, listen to the soothing sounds of lullabies, get creative with coloring pages, and learn about the instruments of the orchestra in an interactive game. 

Crayola developed an At-Home Creative Hub in which parents, teachers, and kids can visit for easy access to educational and crafting resources. It houses hundreds of craft tutorials with complimentary how-to videos and craft recipes, providing families with fun, clever and easy creative activities, in addition to a varied supply of Free Coloring Pages. 

Mattel Playroom is a free online resource that offers play-from-home activities, games, expert advice, and content from its iconic brands, including American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends, and more.

My Fairy Gardens’ Fairy Light Garden is an enchanted fairy mushroom home that doubles as a nightlight! Creating your own magical oasis has never been easier thanks to the easy-to-follow guide that takes children through each step on how to plant and water the seeds, while also teaching valuable STEM lessons. 

The Story Pirates offer screen time that parents can trust: live improv performances, educator-approved writing and music classes, and a variety of interactive musical and sketch comedy entertainment for young people, refreshed each and every day, along with free streaming content via StoryPirates.com

For more educational games, visit NewYorkFamily.com

Related Story: The Best Online Tutoring Resources For Kids During COVID-19 Pandemic

For more education coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/education

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