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Summer Reading List for Early Readers Through Young Adults 2021

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By Courtney Ingalls

Summer Reading List for Kids of All Ages 2021

There is nothing more relaxing and peaceful summer activity than enjoying a great book. Having a summer reading list is an awesome way to pass some time while also keeping your kids’ creative juices flowing and not falling into the summer slide! Whether the kids are sitting at home, away at camp, or on the beach during vacation, a good book opens our kids to adventure, new worlds and broadens their own world.

If looking for a subscription service for the summer and beyond, we are loving ouraan. com, a well-curated book subscription where books are vetted, read, discussed by a team of experts before they are sent to your reader.

In the world of books, there are so many stories and genres that will appeal to kids of all ages and reading levels. We’ve come up with a list of some summer reading books for each age group that will keep kids engaged all summer long!

Looking for cheap and easy activities to do with your kids this summer? Check out 37 Free Things to Do in New York City This Summer

Early Readers

 

Bye Bye Brain Bully: Knocking Out Self-Doubt by Carin Bail & Carina Hale

Trying to tackle life is something that every child has to navigate while growing up. With the help of Captain Communicator and Believer Achiever, Kate tries to fight against the evil brain bully and to be able to use her voice and develop some courage within herself! Your kids will learn how to combat any mental struggles they have while growing up and how to be confident with themselves! Grades Preschool-3.

Floaty by John Himmelman

Mr. Raisin lives alone in a little house, and that is the way he prefers it. One day he comes across a basket on his front step. When he opens the basket, he doesn’t see anything inside until he looks up to find a floating dog! This funny story focuses on embracing the unexpected and finding friendships that you didn’t know you needed. Floaty is the perfect first book to show little ones how fun reading can be! Grades Preschool-3.

 

 

 

Bo’s Magical New Friend (Unicorn Diaries) by Rebecca Elliott

This book is aimed at newly independent readers and includes easy-to-read text in order to boost reading confidence! Bo Tinseltail is one of the many unicorns that attend Sparklegrove School and has the cool power of granting wishes. Something that Bo wants more than anything is to find a best friend. A new unicorn named Sunny Huckleberry comes to the forest, and we are left wondering if Sunny will be the best friend Bo has been looking for. With this high-interest content and colorful illustrations, kids will not want to put this book down! Grades K-2.

 

 

Summer Camp Critter Jitters by Jory John

At this summer camp, all of the animals are nervous about going! The duck is nervous about the other campers finding out he can’t swim, and the sloth is worried that he will have to catch his own lunch. This hilarious book shows how each animal prepares for camp and brings up the question of if the animals will ever get over their nerves and make new friends. Grades Preschool-3.

Upper-Level Books

 

Marcus Makes a Movie by Kevin Hart

Marcus is stuck in a film class he has no interest in being in but realizes he can use it as an opportunity to make the cartoon superhero he has been drawing into a movie! This book, written by comedian Kevin Hart, follows Marcus’ journey through his film endeavors and how he and some helpful friends make his imagination become a reality! Hart shows through this book that if you have a dream you want to come true, you have to work hard in order to achieve it, which is something that all kids should learn. Grades 3-7.

 

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Ten-year-old Zoe has always dreamed of becoming a great piano player and is waiting to get her first piano in order to start her lessons. When her dad ends up buying her an organ instead of a piano, Zoe’s hopes and dreams seem farther away than ever. However, when Zoe enters an annual organ competition, she realizes that life hands you some unexpected surprises. This book shows kids that even though we might strive for perfection, sometimes it’s better to be a little off-center. Grades 5-7.

 

Jude Banks, Superhero by Ann Hood

This book is written by New York Times bestselling author Ann Hood and tackles the hard topics of loss, resilience, and how families start to heal. Jude’s sister Katie was his favorite person in the world. She was the one who always called him “Jude Banks, Superhero” and made him feel special. When his sister unexpectedly passed away, Jude didn’t feel like the superhero he was told he was. While trying to figure out how life will be without Katie, Jude meets a new friend with similar struggles and they decide that they will try to tackle their tragedies together. Grades 3-7.

 

 

 

Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein

Middle school can be rough, and as kids will be returning to school full time the next school year- this coming sweet book is a must summer read for Tweens and even adults. The story is about Will Levine and how the seventh grade is not going so great. With a considerable part of this from being bullied due to his funny-looking chin. His friendship with the ill older boy RJ changes Will’s life as a friendship is bonded through turtles and RJ’s guidance and bucket list. This book is a heartfelt coming of age story perfect for a summer read for this age group to learn about being brave and getting out of your shell. Grades 5-6.

Grade 8 & Young Adult

 

 

Lola: A Ghost Story by J. Torres

Lola is the Tagalog word for a grandmother who Jesse barely knew but was aware, like most of the family, she had visions and was able to see ghosts. Jesse shares this secret power, and while in the Philipines for Lola’s funeral, Jesse sees ghosts and realizes he must face his demons. The book shares Filipino culture and mythology. While this story is beautiful with many visuals, it does have a bit of darkness- like the grandmother trying to drown Jesse as a baby (it was not what it seems, as you will find out later) and a drunk adult. This is why we recommend the recommended age group read this book. Young Adult.

Firekeepers Daughter by Angeline Boulley

As an instant New York Times bestseller, Firekeepers Daughter has become a must-read for young adults this summer! The book follows Daunis Fontaine, a teenager who lives on the Ojibwe reservation, who put her dreams of getting out of her hometown on hold after a family tragedy struck. After witnessing a shocking murder, Fontaine gets involved with an FBI investigation and finds out that finding the truth behind these crimes is harder than she expected. If your kids love crime and mystery books, this will be one your kids will not want to put down this summer. Young Adult.

islanderbookshop.com

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

This book is based on a true story and is the perfect combination of funny and informative. Readers will be focusing on author and main character Sara Saedi as she tackles the struggles of being an undocumented immigrant in America.On top of the steady progression towards getting her green card, Saedi is also worried about normal teenage things such as whether or not she will be able to get a prom date or if she will ever be able to properly maintain her unibrow. Saedi’s memoir is relatable and is a necessary book to read during today’s climate. Young Adult

 

 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

This book is the start of the Shadow and Bone trilogy and takes you on an adventure with magical spells and monsters. Alina Starkov is a soldier who has embarked on her first trek into the Shadow Fold. When she and the other soldiers get ambushed, Alina unleashes powerful magic that she didn’t know she had. Now Alina is training with her country’s magical military elite and is uncovering secrets in her past that can put her family and country in danger. Grades 8- Young Adults.

 

Rule Of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

If Shadow and Bones seems like a book your kids would enjoy, pick up this other magical story written as part of Bardugo’s King of Scars Duology. This book is the second of the duology and follows three people, the demon king preparing for an invasion, the stormwitch who is embracing her powers for her country, and the spy that is going undercover to seek revenge. Together, these three are working to fight off the darkness that is taking over their country before it is too late. Young Adults.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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Signs of ADHD in Children and How to Address Them

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Wondering If Your Child Has ADHD?

Many children are fidgety at times, forget to turn in an occasional assignment, or misplace their favorite shirt.  However, if you find these scenarios frequently occurring with your child or you notice that he is constantly distracted, forgetful, disorganized, or unfocused, your child may have ADHD. ‎

Here are some signs of ADHD in your child to look out for:

  • Your child constantly loses belongings. Papers from school seem to disappear regularly, and she consistently misplaces her notebooks, lunch box, folders, tablet – you name it. One minute she has her belongings, and the next minute you are helping her frantically search your home for them, regularly.

  • ‎Your child misses class instructions. You may have a brilliant child, but he constantly completes assignments incorrectly (and thus loses points) simply because he wasn’t listening to the instructions and didn’t follow the directions correctly.

  • Your child is a daydreamer. His teacher notices that he frequently daydreams and loses focus at school, missing key information and notes from class.

  • Your child has trouble waiting her turn. When playing a game or completing a group activity, your child tends to compulsively jump in and interrupt her peers rather than waiting her turn. This may frustrate her friends and others around her.

  • Your child can’t sit still. When eating dinner, doing a homework assignment, or traveling on a plane, your child can’t sit still. He is constantly wiggling and squirming, unable to stay in one place for a long stretch of time.

  • Your child has trouble completing tasks. She starts one task and then impulsively moves onto the next one before completing the first one. This leads to a multitude of unfinished tasks, assignments, and projects.

  • Your child has trouble keeping his emotions in check. He has regular outbursts, both in private and public places, and can’t seem to contain his emotions.

  • Your child makes careless mistakes. She might be a rock star at math and can correctly answer complex long division and multi-digit multiplication problems, but answers  4+1 incorrectly, possibly even subtracting instead of adding, and rarely self-checks her work.

  • He is completely disorganized. His room is a mess, and the inside of his backpack looks like a load of garbage. Loose papers, notebooks, and old assignments are piled inside of it, and he rarely (if ever) cleans it out.

  • She has poor time management skills.  She rarely turns in ‎assignments on time and underestimates how long it may take to get ready for a party, eat dinner, complete a homework assignment, or study for a test. This makes her, and possibly the rest of your household, constantly late or in a rush.

  • He has trouble maintaining friendships. Your child may not always pick up on social cues, and you might find that his interruptions, lack of sharing and turn-taking, and impulsive behaviors negatively affect social situations. Thus, your child might have difficulty making and keeping close friendships.

So what should you do if your child exhibits some or all of these traits? First off, don’t panic! ADHD is more common than you may think, and it’s certainly not your fault. However, the sooner you can seek a diagnosis, the sooner you can identify a plan of action to help your child. Start by talking to your child’s teacher and see if he or she is noticing the traits above in class.  Ask the teacher whether he or she notices your child having trouble sitting still, remaining focused on activities, listening to instructions, waiting his turn, and staying organized.

If your child’s teacher notices these struggles, and if you are also noticing these challenges at home, you may want to consider having your child evaluated. An evaluation performed by your school district is free, or you can choose to have a neuropsychological evaluation done privately. The evaluation will help determine whether or not your child has ADHD (and/or other learning challenges).

At that point, he or she may qualify for support services either through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan. You can also help your child at home by creating routines, limiting distractions, breaking down tasks into individual steps, and encouraging movement. The more proactive you can be at identifying your child’s ADHD and seeking the right strategies and services to support him, the more successful and confident he will be as the demands of school progress.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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How Families Can Celebrate Pride Month With Their Kids

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Celebrating Pride Month 2021

Not only is June known for being the start of summer, but it’s also the month that we celebrate Pride month! Teach your kids about what Pride month stands for and why it is important that we celebrate it. Whether you want to attend events in person or would like to celebrate at home, there are a ton of ways for kids and their families to show support to the LBGTQIA+ community!

Read a Book About the LBGTQIA+ Community

Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson
Ages: Newborn to 3

Pride Colors is a great book to help you start the conversation about Pride month and the LBGTQIA+ community with your little ones! This book teaches kids that you are free to be with whoever you choose to and that you will always be loved through rhymes and colorful pictures. Stevenson also takes the time to talk about the meaning behind each color on the pride flag!

Our Rainbow by Little Bee Books
Ages: 2-5

In partnership with GLAAD, children can learn more about the colors within the Pride flag! Little Bee Books uses bright colors and simple text to break down what each color represents and what little acts of kindness we can do to show our support!

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman
Ages: 4-8

Gayle Pitman’s book won the Stonewall Book Award back in 2015 and has since become a book that many people use to teach their kids respect and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. This Day in June allows readers to experience a Pride celebration while also teaching them about the history and culture of the community.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders
Ages: 5-8

This empowering book tells the story of the Pride flag and how it became a symbol for the LBGTQIA+ community. Award-winning author Rob Sanders starts the story with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker in 1978 and how it has played a role in today’s world. This book has been named one of Amazon’s Best Children’s Book of the Year and has been a fan favorite for many families.

Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle by Robin Stevenson
Ages: 9-12

What better way to celebrate Pride month than learning about all of the amazing victories the community has had over the last 50 years. Robin Stevenson’s book has recently been updated and expanded in order to provide the most up-to-date victories and historic events. This book also emphasized how we need to continue fighting for change and how young people can play a big role in that fight.

Attend a Virtual Event

Youth Pride
When: June 26, 3 pm
Where: online
Price: Free, registration required

This iconic annual event is taking place virtually this year, so everyone can join in on the fun in the comfort of your own home! This year, NYC Pride has teamed up with youth-focused LGBT centers, organizations, and programs in order to put on this event. Look forward to watching musical performances, LGBTQIA+ center spotlights, and more!

Watch a Movie

Out
Rated: PG
Where to stream: Disney+

This short film is following the story of Greg, Pixar’s first gay main character, and how he tackles trying to feel that he doesn’t have to hide who he is. This film is a great starting point when having a conversation with your kids about the LBGTQIA+ community and will show them that love will always win.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Rated: PG
Where to stream: Netflix

Watch the Mitchell family embark on a journey to bring their daughter Katie to college while also fighting off alien robots! Although the film doesn’t make Katie’s queerness a central point of the story, many people have said it is a model for how queer people should be represented in films.

Freak Show
Rated: Not rated
Where to stream: Amazon PrimeiTunesDIRECTVGoogle PlayHuluNetflixYouTube

This witty and inspiring film follows flamboyant Billy Bloom as he decides to run for homecoming queen in his conservative high school. Freak Show is a very relatable movie for kids within the LGBTQ+ community, as well as opens other people’s eyes to the struggles teens within the community have to go through.

Make Pride Month Inspired Crafts

Dancing Ribbon Rings

These DIY rings are very simple and easy to make and are the perfect toys for kids to play with and dance with. All you need is a wooden ring and an assortment of ribbons and you can make this colorful creation. These would be a great toy to bring to any Pride month event kids and their families decide to attend.

Rainbow Shaving Cream Marbled Art

This project is a spin-off a classic rainbow art project. Using a combination of shaving cream and different colored paints, you will put the rainbow colors together to form a marble look. These art pieces will be great to hang up in your house or you can cut them into gift tags and cards you can send to people for Pride month!

Tissue Paper Rainbow

The tissue paper rainbow is the perfect craft for toddlers and preschoolers to try out. Not only is this a fun craft to make while celebrating Pride month, but it will also help kids learn the color order of the rainbow and will enhance their motor skills!

Rainbow Paper Flowers

Rainbow paper flowers are one of the most popular crafts for kids of all ages to make. These paper flowers will be great to wave in the air for Pride month celebrations and events. This craft is simple and doesn’t require many materials. Kids can also be creative and make different shaped petals or add their own decorations.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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What to Know About Facebook’s Instagram for Kids

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Parents should know what social media their kids use. (Getty Images)

By Analiese Dodd

Facebook recently announced that it will be expanding its popular video and photo-sharing app Instagram by launching an Instagram platform for kids under the age of 13. 

This new version of the app will encourage kids to create their own safe experience where they can share posts with their friends. There are some concerns parents should be aware of before signing their kids up for this new experience.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

As of now, Instagram doesn’t allow users under the age of 13 in order to protect kids’ privacy. This new Instagram for kids (younger than 13 years old) will allow kids to communicate with one another while limiting their access. The program is led by Facebook Vice President Pavni Diwanji, who has overseen many children-focused projects for Google including YouTube Kids. The exact layout of the kids’ app hasn’t been specified as the program is still in early development.

Instagram has said it needs to do more to protect its younger users from some of the dangers that come with social media. In particular, it is looking into ways to prevent the bullying, predation, and abuse that sometimes finds kids on its app. This new version of Instagram will severely limit access to these kinds of environments, and will give parents control or transparency over what’s happening on their child’s account.

WHY THE CONCERN?

While this new version of the app may invite kids to engage with one another, parents should still be wary of the new experience. Despite Instagram’s assurance that the app will be secure, there are still risks with getting young kids involved with this kind of social media. Sometimes when kids get involved with apps like YouTube Kids and other kid versions of apps they transition quickly to the adult versions of the app.

Buzzfeednews.com’s article “Facebook is Building an Instagram for Kids Under the Age of 13” points out several concerns that arose when Facebook started a similar kids version of Facebook Messenger called Messenger Kids. There were several problems with the program that allowed kids to enter chats with unauthorized users. The problems were limited to a select number of users, but it was still a danger to young kids who were using the app.

This new Instagram for kids app has not been fully developed or tested, but it might be best to keep as updated as possible while more information comes in. This new Instagram can be a great thing for kids in moderation, but it is easy for them to get consumed by it. Each family should make its own choice when it comes to downloading the app and deciding the parental controls that are appropriate for each individual child.

This article first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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13 Educational Apps for Children in Science, Math, Reading, And More

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By 

Especially nowadays, it may be important to supplement learning for your children. One easy way to do this is through exciting educational apps for kids.

For the generation growing up with smartphones, it’s a great way to use their time on such devices wisely. They can still engage in entertaining games but with a learning twist!

The programs on this list are available on any platform and most have their own website so that kids can use these apps on the computer as well.

Focused on just coding? Check out these 15 Fun and Free Online Coding Classes for Kids!

Chess for Kids

Cost: Free

Straight and to the point, Chesskid is an app that teaches chess to kids! Not only does it allow them to play, but it actively teaches them the rules and even, for the advanced, strategies on how to play. And there’s even a website for them, so children don’t always have to use the app.

Though it is free, they do offer a gold program for $10/month or $49/year which gives unlimited and unrestricted access for learning.

ABCmouse.com

Cost: $9.95/month but the first month is free

ABCmouse.com, which is both the name of the app and the url for their website, is a top-ranked and top-marketed educational site for kids. The recommended age range is 2-8.

It’s great for the tyke just learning how to develop and the more advanced learner who wants to sharpen their skills in language and memory. You can purchase a membership and cancel anytime.

Hungry Caterpillar Play School

Cost: $7.99/month or $59.99/year

Taking its origin from a fantastic children’s book, this preschool aimed learning app is the #1 learning app in over 25 countries. Developers are constantly adding to the app so kids continually have more content for learning with the best teaching techniques.

Categories specialize in: Shapes and Colors, Letters, Numbers, Art, and Reading. Watch as your child learns these disciplines, wraps themselves up in a cocoon, and turns into a beautiful butterfly.

Khan Academy Kids

Cost: Free

Available as both an app and website, Khan Academy provides in-depth resources for adults and kids alike in all areas of learning. Their Kid program helps develop kids academic ability and their creativity.

Five charming animal characters lead the learning session, adding a sense of whimsy and fun to a child’s learning experience. Easily one of the most thorough educational apps for kids on this list.

Priding themselves on being 100% free, they promise no ads or fees.

BrainPOP Jr.

Cost: Free

A mainstay in the world of education, BrainPOP Jr. uses animated videos and cute characters to teach science, math, and all the core subjects.

Sign up is free and most of their materials are open for anybody if you’re just trying to learn and not start a whole classroom program. They offer an accessible and diverse curriculum in this field of educational apps for kids.

Magnus’ Kingdom of Chess

Cost: $7.99

This is an app for parents who want their kids to learn chess through subtle means. It disguises itself as a game to help teach the rules of chess under a fun guise.

Those extra ingredients of enjoyment and subterfuge come at a price of nearly $8.

PBS Kids

Cost: Free

PBS is certainly a recognizable name that parents have trusted for over 50 years. And they supply multiple apps that specialize in different activities and ages. Visit their app site for more information, but you surely cannot go wrong with them.

Busy Shapes

Cost: $2.99

Specializing in the toddler age, Busy Shapes helps strengthen 2-5 year olds visual and association skills.

It comes from the Montessori Preschool, a renowned online establishment that offers great bundles of educational apps for kids dedicated to helping young ones learn and grow. Each of them is worth considering, but Busy Shapes is some of their best received work and deserves a special shoutout.

Duolingo Kids

Cost: Free

Easily the most universal of the apps on this list. Duolingo has become a household name in recent years with its great ability to teach people foreign languages. But they have a Duolingo Kids with a slightly cuter mascot.

It occupies the niche of teaching language, something that isn’t normally dedicated to kids who don’t grow up with it in their household. An incredibly important resource, it’s incredibly worth downloading.

Moose Math

Cost: Free

Yet another niche app, Moose Math has five different ways it approaches teaching young children math. From the basics of numbers and counting to geometry, Moose Math is a great program to help the kiddos grow their math skills. It’s a terrific free program that will help your child progress.

Epic!

Cost: $4.99/month but there is a free version

Epic! is a digital library that assists 91% of elementary schools in the US. Reading, and especially reading with your little one, is crucial to child development. This is the most comprehensive app on the market for that purpose.

It’s quicker than a library and more convenient and very much worth downloading.

Prodigy

Cost: Free for students and schools, otherwise $8.95/month or $59.88/year

Prodigy is a valuable math app for children that engages students while ensuring their growth. What more is there to ask for from an educational app for kids?

Prodigy does everything right, so it’s worth considering purchasing a subscription.

Hopscotch

Cost: Free

This one is geared for the older kids in the audience, closer to ages 9-16. Hopscotch is an app that teaches coding and adapts to the user’s skill level. That way, you child is guaranteed to learn and grow no matter their starting skill level.

And that’s the list of top educational apps for kids! Each of them you can’t go wrong with, but some are geared more towards specific age groups. Whatever you decide, I hope your child learns from them and enjoys them immensely.

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Nutritional Product Aims to Make Introducing Food Allergens to Kids Easy

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By Katarina Avendaño & Donna Duarte-Ladd

SpoonfulONE on Food Allergies in Kids and Their Quest to Help

Food allergies in kids are one of those things parents dread, and according to the CDC, “Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 8% of children in the United States.” Now with more scientific research, we want to educate ourselves in food allergens and find ways that we can help our kids.

According to the CDC, “A food allergy occurs when the body has a specific and reproducible immune response to certain foods. The body’s immune response can be severe and life threatening, such as anaphylaxis. Although the immune system normally protects people from germs, in people with food allergies, the immune system mistakenly responds to food as if it were harmful.”

Yet science is amazing, and now there is SpoonfulOne. Co-founder and inventor Dr. Kari Nadeau recently published a groundbreaking book: The End of Food Allergy. The book shares on preventing, diagnosing, and reversing food allergies from research by a team of trained experts.

We recently were invited to learn about SpoonfulOne. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAPpediatrician, and Chief Medical Officer of SpoonfulONE shares, “SpoonfulONE is a revolutionary, science-backed line of nutritional products that makes food allergen introduction & maintenance easy.”

Keeping all of this in mind, we touched base with Dr. Swanson on how SpoonfulOne works in decreasing food allergies.

Psst…These Parents of a Child with Autism are ASD Advocates and Authors of The Amazingly Sensational Kids Books Series

What is SpoonfulONE?

SpoonfulONE is a revolutionary, science-backed line of nutritional products that makes food allergen introduction and maintenance easy. Each serving of pediatrician-recommended SpoonfulONE includes the food groups commonly associated with over 90% of food allergies.

How does it work?

SpoonfulONE is science-based nutrition that works in the tummy to help introduce common food allergens early during the immune system’s development. We precisely portioned the amount of proteins (30mg) in SpoonfulONE so that each serving is large enough to safely increase the production of IgG4 (good, protective antibodies). When eating SpoonfulONE, 16 foods are introduced to a child’s immune system. The immune cells in the stomach begin to recognize the foods. When eaten on an ongoing basis, SpoonfulONE teaches the immune system that the 16 foods are just foods, not allergens. Unlike other products on the market that only cover peanut, milk, or eggs, SpoonfulONE covers the food groups associated with over 90% of food allergies.

When is it too late for allergen introduction?

Ideally, we want families introducing common allergens around 4-6 months and continuing routine feeding through early toddlerhood. It’s never too late to start, however the true risk is in delayed introduction.

Can you purchase SpoonfulONE products with EBT? Are there any programs for families to make this more accessible?

SpoonfulONE recently launched SpoonfulONE for Good. We believe all families should have access to diet diversity and common allergens. If you are a parent with SNAP, WIC, or EBT benefits, or have experienced loss of employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please apply for a free, one-year subscription of SpoonfulONE products.

What is the science behind food allergies?

Multiple studies show parents can decrease food allergy risk by feeding their babies common food allergens early and repeatedly. SpoonfulONE is powered not only by global landmark research like the LEAP and EAT studies, but also our own proprietary research.

Why have food allergies more than doubled in the last generation?

Likely, in part, due to our modern world environment is more sterile than ever with the increased use of antibiotics, hand sanitizers, etc. We know that things like exposure to pets like dogs, and playing in dirt are great for the immune system and help downregulate the risk of food allergies. In addition, outdated advice pediatricians gave to delay the start of common allergens led to an increase in allergies as babies delayed introduction and inclusion of common allergens in their diets.

Why are pediatric recommendations changing from what was recommended in the past as to when you should be introducing certain foods into your child’s diet?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting your child on solids between 4 and 6 months of age. In a reversal from decades of advice from pediatricians to avoid the foods associated with food allergies, research now shows early and regular dietary exposure to a food — especially foods often associated with allergies, like peanuts — helps reduce the risk of a child developing an allergy to that food. Waiting too long to introduce and regularly feed these foods, research shows, increases the allergy risk.

What are top allergen foods that you should be introducing into your child’s diet and when? 

Peanuts, milk, shellfish, tree nuts, egg, fish, grains, soy, and sesame. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting your child on solids between 4 and 6 months of age. Additionally, new USDA guidelines also recommend introducing common allergens around 4-6 months of age.

Why is early introduction important?

We know the immune system is primed in early infancy and toddlerhood. Delaying the introduction of common allergens can increase risk so helping parents get these foods in during critical, early periods of immune development is key.

What can you tell parents who are concerned about the risk of an allergic reaction when they introduce these foods into their baby’s diet so early on?

Most parents go straight to anaphylaxis when they hear “allergic reaction.” However, the two most common signs of an allergic reaction are hives and vomiting. You do not need to drive to your pediatrician’s office parking lot when offering new common allergens to your child. We need to move away from medicalizing feeding and instilling fear with first feedings.

Once you introduce these foods, how important is it to continue incorporating these foods into their diet as they grow and how?

Intermittent or “one bite” exposure to foods may not be enough for allergen introduction. Like any great habit (think toothbrushing), research shows the immune system works best when it’s exposed to a wide variety of foods regularly throughout a child’s early years. Scientists believe regular, consistent exposure to common allergens in the diet throughout early childhood is key to staying healthy.s

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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15 Fun and Free Online Coding Classes for Kids

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By Analiese Dodd

These 15 free coding classes for kids are available now to help your kids learn skills that are becoming more and more essential in our current times. Knowing even just basic computer programming is more important than ever with lots of businesses moving to online platforms. Your kids can start from a young age to develop these skills, and these options will allow them to do it in a fun and interesting way.

If you’re looking for other online coding classes, check out Scoop: Code With Penguin Coding School This School Year

Blocky Games

Blocky Games has several inviting activities that kids can use to learn about basic coding functions. Each game focuses on one element of coding, and shows kids exactly how changes to the basic code can make a huge difference in the results. It shows kids the basics of coding, and gives them introductions to important concepts they can use later in more advanced coding programs.

Code.org

Code.org provides an assortment of enrichment activities your kids can enjoy while also developing their coding skills. Their “hour of code” programs allow kids to spend time focusing on projects that relate directly to their interests. Whether they want to explore the world of Star Wars, Disney, or Minecraft, they’ll find an exercise that relates to it here.

Code Combat

Code Combat is an interactive experience in which kids can venture through a magical world with coding as their weapon of choice. This adventure game combines coding with magic warriors to keep kids invested from the first level. As they journey on, the coding gets more and more complex increasing their personal skill level as well as their character’s. If your kids already love video games, this one will allow them to have all the excitement of playing while also teaching them along the way.

Codemoji

Codemoji has created a unique coding experience with their playground in which basic coding commands are shown as fun emojis. Instead of remembering headings as <h1>, kids can remember that the ice cream cone creates their headings. Codemoji also offers more traditional coding options you can introduce after the emojis have lost their intrigue. The entire website will keep kids entertained no matter their coding level.

Code Monkey

Code Monkey is a fun animated website where kids can learn basic coding skills and techniques. It provides coding games for every age range and skill level to keep kids busy throughout their childhood. The animation and fun levels will keep kids glued to the screen, and learning code without ever realizing it. There are free versions of each game, but also paid longer versions if your kids get invested.

Crunchzilla Code Monster

The Code Monster provides an excellent source for those just starting out in coding. Crunchzilla provides two boxes; on the left they can see the code, and on the right they’ll see what their code is actually doing to the image. The fun monster takes kids step by step through basic codes to see how it all works. This website is a great way for kids to see exactly how their actions change their programs and will give them basic knowledge they can use in more advanced coding later.

freeCodeCamp

This website provides over 6,000 tutorials for kids to use to develop essential coding skills. These courses cover a variety of topics with great videos and instructions. Whatever your kid’s goal is related to computer programming, they’ll be able to find workshops here to develop the skills necessary to achieve those end goals.

Glitch

Glitch is perfect for any kid who is looking for traditional coding practice. It walks kids through how to build websites and apps from start to finish. Glitch provides basic instructions, but leaves everything else up to your kids. Once kids have even a small grasp of coding, this is the perfect place to uses those skills in a creative and unique way.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is known for its great math courses, but now they’ve entered into the world of computer programming too. They offer a variety of different classes within the realm of coding, so kids can learn a myriad of skills. Khan Academy is similar to a traditional classroom with videos followed by fun assignments. If your child learns best in this setting, these classes are perfect for them.

LightBot

LightBot is an entertaining game in which your child must light up certain tiles to advance. The entire adventure requires kids to think through programming logic in order to solve each problem. It teaches kids the basics of sequencing and procedures through a game they can get invested in. They can investigate the puzzles level by level, developing more advanced skills each time they level up.

mBlock

mBlock provides access to coding editors for python and block-based coding. Kids can also get involved with other coding projects working on things like facial recognition and a music lighting show. If your kids want to experience all different types of programming, they’ll be able to find lots of different options for some more advanced coding practice.

Scratch

Students at MIT created Scratch to encourage the next generation of kids to get involved in coding for free. The website allows kids to create their own programs that can do anything they set their minds to. Their tutorials will take kids through every step in creating their own interactive programs. With hundreds of possibilities, your kids will be able to share their creativity through coding in a way they never have before. They also have Scratch Jr. aimed at an even younger group of future coders.

Stencyl

Stencyl provides kids with an opportunity to create their own game using some basic coding skills. The app doesn’t go into full detail about all the coding that goes into creating the games, but it gives kids an introduction into the larger world of game design. If your kids are obsessed with video games and apps, this will allow them to develop their own adventure while learning along the way.

Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds is a fun and interactive app where kids can create their own world through coding. Similar to a puzzle, kids will solve problems through coding, developing their skills in a quick and fun way. It requires no prior coding knowledge and is an entertaining gateway to more advanced coding later. Do keep in mind that it does require either a Mac computer or iPad in order to run.

Tynker

Tynker has tons of different coding games you kids can create for free. No matter their interests, your kids will find a program where they’ll be creating something for themselves. There is also an option to create your own project that can be shared with others in the community. You can play up to 20 coding games for free, and pay for more if your kids still have interest.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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7 Tips for Researching Summer Camps Amid the Pandemic

summer camps
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By Jess Michaels

Researching summer camps is an important step to finding the right camp for your child. And this summer, after a year of remote learning and limited socializing and activities, your child is going to need a summer at camp more than ever before. 

Even in the midst of a pandemic, there are ways to go about narrowing down your choices and choosing the best camp for your child and family. Here are some ways to get your camp search started.

VIDEO CALLS WITH THE DIRECTOR

One of the best ways to learn about a camp is by speaking with the camp director. While many overnight camp directors have done home visits in the past so you can get to know the director (and for them to get to know you and your child), they have moved these meetings to Zoom! Facetime, Google Meets and Zoom have made it even easier to get to know a camp director and to inquire about the camp’s philosophy, mission, activities and more.

COURTYARD AND BACKYARD HOME VISITS

If you rather do a home visit, camp directors are happy to do outside home visits when the weather warms up. Backyard and courtyard visits worked very well this fall and they will start up again as the weather improves.

DAY CAMP TOURS

Since day camps are local, they offer camp tours all year long, even in the winter. If there is a day camp you are interested in, give the director a call to schedule a tour. Touring allows you to see the camp and facilities, even if it will all look different in the summer! Tours also allow you to ask questions while in the camp environment which often sparks additional questions.

SPRING OPEN HOUSES AND TOURS

When the weather warms up, many day and overnight camps will host some kind of socially distanced open house dates and camp tours where you can see the camp before deciding on a camp.

VIRTUAL CAMP FAIRS

Camp fairs typically allow families to meet with dozens of camps all in one day! Since in-person events are challenging during COVID-19, camp fairs have been re-imagined this year. New York Family will be offering a virtual camp fair that will be using an online platform with an algorithm that will create one-on-one video calls between camp directors and qualified families, based on the criteria both camps and families submit. There will be four virtual camp fairs, taking place on April 11.

CAMP WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Already have a few camps in mind to check out? Camp websites and social media pages are filled with information from activities offered to videos. Looking at a camp’s website is a good starting point for your search but it’s always important to speak with the camp director before registering to ensure the camp is the right fit for your child.

CALL THE AMERICAN CAMP ASSOCIATION, NY & NJ

Did you know that the American Camp Association, NY and NJ offers parents free, one-on-one advice for parents looking for a day or overnight camp? Families can call Renee Flax at 212-391-5208 to speak with Renee about their child and what they are looking for in a camp.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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5 Steps to Spring Clean Your Pantry and Get Organized

spring clean
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By Laura Kinsella

How to Spring Clean Your Pantry

It’s hard to believe we’ve been pandemic living for an entire year now! There’s no doubt our kitchens have been working around the clock for our families, and it’s time to give them the TLC they deserve.

Psst…For more cleaning tips, check out Back-to-School Organization Secrets!

Whether you’re swimming in pandemic related backstock items, or just need to hit the ole reset button to clear the clutter, I’m breaking down how to clear out and spring clean your pantry in 5 easy steps:

So let’s break it down, shall we?

What you’ll need before you begin:

• A vacuum/hand vac

• Hot soapy water or preferred cleaning solution

• Cleaning Cloths or sponge

• Sharpie & Post-its

• Measuring Tape

• Label Maker or Paint Pen

clean and organized pantry
Francesca Russell Photography

1. Clear Everything Out. Yes, Everything.

With spring in full swing, now’s the time to dive in, and give your kitchen the deep spring clean it needs. Whether your pantry is a single cabinet or a full sized closet, here’s how to begin:

• Pull items out one by one and place them on your counters, kitchen table, or if you’re really low on space, the floor!

Don’t worry about what you’re pulling out or where it needs to go (what is that sticky stuff on that can of beans anyway?), just focus on emptying every nook and cranny of your dedicated pantry. We don’t want to get too caught up in our feelings towards an item, so it may be best to set a 15-20 minute timer or enlist your kids to get the emptying done!

2. Wipe it Down

• Grab your vacuum or hand vac to do some of the initial work for you. Crumbs, dust, and all kinds of debris can sit loosely on the shelves, so give it a once over first.

• Depending on the type of cabinets you have, will depend on the best method to clean them. Hot, soapy water with a sponge or cleaning cloth is always a good option, but you can also utilize an all-purpose cleaner, white vinegar, or even baking soda (especially for those sticky spots!) Give your cabinets a thorough clean, and be sure to wipe them completely dry once you’re done.

Pro Tip: we all know how precious Clorox wipes have been, and if you’ve managed to grab a few, be sure to save those for your counters, doorknobs or high traffic zones. Although they work on all hard, non-porous surfaces, they can discolor or eat away at certain finishes or sealants. This is why it’s always best to stick with good old fashioned hot, soapy water!

3. Edit & Take Inventory

It’s true that we don’t really know how much or what we have until it’s all staring us in the face. This is where you’ll need to roll up your sleeves a bit to assess what you have.

• Toss anything expired, stale, or near empty (also known in my house as the Triscuit box with exactly 1 1/2 crackers left – thanks family!)

• Separate unused, non-expired, questionable items (if you have to think about whether you would consume it, or how you would begin to cook with it, it’s a go.) We want to make sure we are setting aside anything worthy of being donated. If there ever was a time to phone a neighbor to see if they may need something you would never use, now is it!

• Take inventory of your remaining items and start to group them into broad categories of what they are and how you use them. This can be as simple as breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, or you can further categorize how you see fit: canned goods, pasta, grains, baking, kids snacks, etc. The last thing we want to do is overly categorize and complicate our systems, so aim for 10 categories or less. If you’re swimming in Costco sized quantities (15 boxes of mac & cheese), or pandemic related items (extra water or canned food), place those items in a separate category labeled “bulk” or “backstock” so that multiples aren’t cluttering those everyday zones.

Pro Tip: Place items that overlap categories in one single category that makes the most sense to you. For example, if you consider applesauce a snack and a baking staple, but more often utilize when you bake, place ALL of your applesauce in the baking category. We don’t want it in both because we will inevitably forget it’s stored in multiple spots, and we’ll mistakenly keep replacing it.

4. Put it All Back

Once you’ve determined what’s remaining, give everything a good wipe down, and assign “homes,” or a designated spot for each category to live. Frequently used items should go in those prime real estate areas so they are within easy reach for you. Try space planning by writing down the category names on Post-its, and placing them on your shelves or drawers to test the flow before anything gets put away.

Don’t forget about items your kids need to access themselves (think healthier grab ’n go items lower down), as well as items you don’t wish for them to have easy access to (like that secret stash candy jar above the fridge because moms should be allowed to snack in peace too!)

5. Contain & Label

This is everyone’s favorite part (your hard work is about to pay off big time!), but it’s important to resist the urge to excitedly purchase organizational products before measuring.

While categories help you determine how much containment you need, taking careful measurements is the only way to ensure what will actually fit (and maximize) your space. You may have a few organizational items on hand already, or you may wish to completely streamline and start anew. No matter how you choose to contain, don’t skip this essential step!

Deep shelves? Try deep bins! Tricky corner? Try a lazy Susan! Sprawling drawers? Try a few drawer dividers! Have fun with it, and choose containment that elevates your style and that will work seamlessly for you and your family. I love utilizing products that are wipeable (glass, plastic, etc.), or have a machine washable lining (inside certain woven baskets) for ease of spring cleaning and overall upkeep.

Once everything is contained, it’s time to label! I recommend utilizing a label maker, or simply hand writing labels with a paint pen. Customize the categories with language you and your family use (ie: if you refer to pasta as “noodles,” label it noodles!) Labels are essential, as they make everyone in your family accountable, from putting groceries away in their proper place, to taking inventory before a grocery shop, or simply for setting limits on what gets overly stocked.

Pro Tip: When organizing, consider decanting frequently used items (that you buy week after week) into air tight containers like your favorite snack or cereal. Packaging can be cumbersome and bulky, and while there is an initial time investment with this method, your pantry items will keep fresh longer, and you’ll have a clear visual when something is running low (no more near-empty boxes of Triscuits or cereal!)

Remember, there is no right or wrong here when it comes to the hub of your home, as long as the solution is practical and manageable for you and your family!

Laura Kinsella from Urban Organyze
Francesca Russell Photography

Laura Kinsella is the founder of Urban Organyze, a New York based home organizing company that transforms your mess into meaning and clutter into calm. Since 2015, Laura has empowered hundreds of women to gain more clarity and control, by creating homes that are efficient, elegant, and easily adapt with the demands of a growing family. As a born and bred New Yorker and mom to a growing preschooler, Laura’s mission is to support fellow moms towards their vision of a healthier, lighter, and more organized life. Laura has been featured in New York Post, New York Family, Apartment Therapy and more. For inspo, please visit urbanorganyze.com, or follow @urbanorganyze.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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Tips For Supporting Your Kid’s Emotional Well-Being During the Pandemic

emotional well-being
Parents need to talk to their kids about their feelings. (Getty Images)

By Cara Zelas

With children’s education being disrupted during the pandemic and with ongoing school closures, hybrid and remote learning, Zoom fatigue, and finding the right access to technology, a lot of pressure has been put on the shoulders of parents and caregivers. 

It is difficult, at times, to maintain positive emotions within ourselves, let alone for our children. However, as we move into 2021 and remote school continues for some children, it is important to help them build positive routines, nurture emotional self-regulation, and build resilience. 

“People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have, and a better understanding of how to live life,” says Richard Tedeschi, who developed the theory of post traumatic growth with fellow psychologist Lawrence Calhoun.

Here are some strategies and tips on supporting you and your children’s emotional well-being that may help your family get through this new year with firm footing. 

KEEP TALKING

Clear and honest communication is important to maintain with your children. Listen, show understanding, and acknowledge that this is an uncertain and difficult time. Successful communication can deepen relationships as it brings awareness to each other’s needs. 

NAME FEELINGS

Noticing and naming our emotions can help diffuse a situation and assist children in processing their feelings. Naming our emotions helps us to step back and think about the choices we have in that moment. 

MODEL POSITIVITY

Try and think of one positive thing that you can focus on. And in a moment of despair or sadness, bring your attention back to that one positive thing. When your children see you being positive, they copy or model what they see. 

SUSTAIN ROUTINES

Be consistent with when you eat, work, play, and go to sleep. Pepper your day with rituals: Create a family dream board that you all add to; at bedtime, talk about one positive experience of the day; do a short breathing exercise together; make up a special hug that you give each other; or think up a little mantra or saying that you repeat, such as “I love you to the moon and back.” 

MAINTAIN INTERACTIONS

Stay connected with others in a small group, where you can comfortably social distance and wear a mask but be together. Have your child be old-school and write a letter or card to a loved one via snail mail. Make a video or record voice messages to send to family and friends. 

This story first appeared in New York Family.

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