Math Games for Back-to-School Fun!

There is no doubt that math learning takes time and practice. Before your kids head back to the classroom, work them back into the routine with a few fun and engaging math drills and exercises. While there are a number of exciting tools aboard the Math Blaster Space Station, you might want to make an event of this end-of-summer warm up by inviting your kids’ friends over for a back-to school party with food, familiar faces, and best of all – interactive math games that get those competitive juices flowing in the direction of learning!

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Head on over to our official Pinterest page to get started and find some active math activities to share with your kids and their friends. Don’t feel tied down to these game ideas. Get creative and tailor some traditional yard or party activities to incorporate educational components like math!

Linking Icequakes and Earthquakes

How much do you know about icequakes? The terminology is not nearly as common to hear as ‘earthquakes,’ but in fact the two have some undeniable links. In its most basic form, icequakes or frost quakes are the breaking up on large frozen masses like ice sheets, glaciers and the like. So what does this all mean and how are these things linked? Read on to learn more!

Recent studies have linked the high impact 2010 Chilean earthquakes to noticeable changes in Antarctica in the form of these ice quakes. What makes the link between this case of earthquakes and subsequent icequakes is the 3,000 mile between the two areas. Not Studies since the 8.8 earthquake in 2010 have revealed that the ice in Antarctica is vulnerable to seismic waves even originating from remote locations.

This ripple effect can be explained to young learners through basic cause and affect principles. Learning about links like these can help them understand how science and the environment work through interlocking systems. Ultimately when one major even like high magnitude earth quakes occur, they can still have repercussions thousands of miles away.

Share this bit of knowledge with your kids to spark their interest in science!

Teach your kids about animals!

While science can sometimes seem difficult and boring to your kids, it does not have to be that way at all! There are so many fun science activities that can help create a passion and excitement in your kids about learning. Since the weather’s nice and warm as summer begin to wind down, why not get them outdoors to observe the local flora and fauna? Take your kids to a local pond or marsh to search for minnows, frogs, tadpoles, butterflies, and more. Here are a few tips to get this cool field-trip started!

Supplies. You’ll need a small mesh net, some good, waterproof boots, and a few moderate-sized jars. Make sure to poke holes in the jars so that air filters in while you’re observing the creatures! This is a good opportunity to teach your children about being respectful towards nature.

Where to go. Swamps, marshes, ponds, and creeks are all great places to go to search for this kind of wildlife. For butterflies, parks and fields are great places — as long as the weather is good, they’ll be brightening up any afternoon sky! Check near bushes and flowers especially. To find tadpoles, look along the edges of ponds, where algae is located. They can best be found in shallow spots. Fish are generally found in streams and ponds.

What to do once you’re there. To catch tadpoles, grab your mesh net and dip it in the pond water where the tadpoles are located. Put them in a jar — but first make sure that the jar is filled with water from the same pond you caught the tadpoles in! Put some weeds and algae in there. Be sure not to mix in ANY tap water — chlorine will kill the tadpoles. Have your kids observe them and note the key characteristics, and then let them go! Don’t take the tadpoles from their natural habitat unless you’re sure that the area you’re in allows it.

Then, to compare, have your kids find frogs! They’ll be amazed to see that the tiny tadpoles they just saw can turn into these cool, slimy creatures. Frogs generally hang out near bodies of still, fresh water. They’re fast, slippery, and scared of people — so don’t make any loud noises and step carefully! You can catch frogs with your mesh net — just make sure not to injure them in any way. Let your kids carefully cup the frog in their hands, making sure they’re gentle, and observe its features. Teach your kids some facts about frogs — for example, that they’re amphibious! If you can, bring a chart that lists different types of frogs so you can find out what species of frog it is. Then release the frog back to where you found it.

You’ll also be sure to see fish swimming around. Bring a chart with different kinds of fish listed, as well as their photos, and have your kids identify the ones that they see! Bluegills, minnows, catfish, carp, and sunfish are all common pond and stream fish that have distinctive characteristics. As for butterflies, they’re easy to spot, as they’ll be flying around! Grab your mesh net (making sure it’s dry and clean) and gently try to catch any butterflies that you see. They’re light and fast, so you have to be very quick. Let them crawl on your kids’ fingers and hands — this will teach them not to be scared of these beautiful and harmless creatures. Have your kids note the markings of the butterflies and try to identify them.

This will surely be a fun day out with your kids! They’ll learn a lot about nature — especially about how to respect it. Your kids will also come home knowing a lot more about the different species of animals than they did before! An outdoor science-themed day like this is a great way to get your kids active while still keeping the day educational.

 

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Photo by: Trish Hartmann

 

Get Your Kids Outside this Summer with a Scavenger Hunt!

This summer, when the birds are chirping and the sun is shining, why not get your kids outside to do a nature scavenger hunt? It’s a great way to get your kids more in touch with the world around them. Get a big group of your kids’ friends together, and split them up into twos or threes — working together with their pals will teach them teamwork and cooperation. Some fresh air, some good friends, and a fun, lively game — what’s not to love about this great summer activity?

Depending on where you live, there are a few types of scavenger hunts you can do. If you live in a coastal area, or near a lake, you can do a beach-themed scavenger hunt! Make sure you have chaperones, then head down to a body of water near you. Have your kids find something slimy (seaweed or algae), something scaly (fish), something feathered (seagulls, pigeons, shells, driftwood, something that scuttles (crab), etc! Obviously they won’t be able to bring these things back to you — so have them write down what they saw, as well as describe it, on the scavenger hunt list. This will teach your kids to be descriptive and thorough, as well as be able to recognize certain characteristics of objects.

If you aren’t near a coastal area or a lake/river of some kind, you can do a scavenger hunt at a local park or forest-y area. Tell your kids to find something green (leaves), something colorful (flowers, berries), something furry (squirrels), something that flies (birds, beetles), something sticky (sap), etc. If you’re going to a more rural area, be careful and make sure your kids are always accompanied by a chaperone, as there is always a possibility of snakes. Your kids will really get a feel for nature, and the outdoors!

However, if you happen to live in a more urbanized area, you can tailor a scavenger hunt to your neighborhood too! Your kids will become more familiar with the locations of different, important places in your area. For example, on the scavenger hunt items list, you can put ‘mailbox’, ‘bus stop’, ‘construction zone’, etc. You can also add animals like ‘dogs’ and ‘pigeons.’ Finally, you can have them observe people and be able to distinguish defining characteristics of the passers-by — for example, ‘hat’, ‘sunglasses’, ‘black hair’, ‘person driving a red car’, etc. Have them write their observations down, or (if they’re too young), describe them to you.

Your kids will not only have a fantastic time doing a scavenger hunt this summer, but they’ll also get better acquainted with the world around them! Do you have any other ideas for cool, themed scavenger hunts? Comment below and let us know!

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Photo by : vastateparkstaff

Planning for National Vanilla Ice Cream Day!

This July 23rd, it’s National Vanilla Ice Cream Day! If you have a sweet tooth and can’t resist sugary treats, this is the holiday for you. Celebrate this day by whipping up some decadent ice-cream based desserts with your kids — the following desserts are an easy, luscious way to serve everyone’s favorite ice cold and creamy delicacy this summer!

Hot fudge sundae – This is a classic dessert that you can customize to your liking. All you need is vanilla ice-cream – and toppings, toppings, and more toppings! Grab caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, M&Ms, nuts, oreo bits, cookie dough bits, sliced strawberries, and more. Pile them to your heart’s content on top of a big bowlful of vanilla ice-cream,and voila! You’ve got a heavenly treat.

Root Beer Float – Another super easy dessert to make! Just fill a glass about 3/4 full of root beer, and then put 1-2 scoops of vanilla ice cream on top. For a well-blended drink, just mix the ice cream and the root beer together. Grab a spoon, or a straw (depending on how fast you want to gulp down the float) and have at it! A great tip — chill the glasses in the freezer for about a half-hour beforehand; that way you have a deliciously chilled drink that’s perfect for a warm summer night.

Ice-cream sandwich – There are few things as satisfying as sinking your teeth into a soft ice-cream sandwich that’s both warm from the cookie and cold from the ice-cream! Take some of your favourite cookies (we recommend gooey chocolate chip, but anything works) and spread a sizeable chunk of vanilla ice-cream onto the flat side of one cookie. Make sure it’s evenly spread out — then put the other cookie on top! Press them together so the ice-cream is properly distributed. Then dig in! For added flavour, mix some chocolate chips or peanut butter chips into the ice-cream beforehand.

If you find yourself having made more of these tasty treats than you can devour, why not have an ice-cream party? Invite your friends and your kids’ friends over for dessert. Keep all the ice-cream in the freezer, of course — if you have an upright freezer, that works best. Lay all the toppings, cookies, and root beer out on the table, alongside a bunch of big bowls, and let the kids go wild! They’ll have a blast making their own dessert — although keep a bunch of napkins on handy, as it could get a little messy. An ice-cream party is the perfect way to celebrate National Vanilla Ice Cream Day.

What other ice-cream based desserts do you love? Tell us in the comments!

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Photo by: stu_spivack

Celebrate with School of Dragons!

Congratulations to School Of Dragons for an awesome first year! Their game is a great blend of education and imagination, and we’re so excited to see what incredible updates they have in store for the future. If you haven’t checked out School of Dragons already, go to http://Ez.com/SoD1YrPlayNow and take to the skies!

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Catch Fireflies with Your Kids This Summer!

On the next warm summer night, take the time to head outdoors and teach your kids about the beauty of nature. If your neighborhood has an abundance of flora and fauna – and, you happen to live in a relatively humid climate, you might have the opportunity to spot some vibrant fireflies! Share some of our top tips and learn how you can take your kids firefly-catching, so they can learn about this interesting insect. All you’ll need is a net and a jar! With such a fun activity, your family is bound to remember these warm summer nights fondly.

Fireflies love bodies of standing water, and tend to be found towards marshy areas with tall grass. However, depending on where you live, they can be found in fields, in wooded areas, and even in your own garden. To spot fireflies, you simply have to look for the blinking lights! It’s best to go firefly-catching when it’s pretty dark, as you’ll be able to spot them easier and they won’t be confused by any artificial light sources; however, for safety purposes, be sure to have a flashlight on hand in case you need one. When you and your kids find fireflies, catch them with your nets! Be patient; catching the bugs might not be easy. Also, be careful and make sure not to injure the fireflies; catching one or two at a time is recommended. After each catch, put the fireflies in a jar. Your jar should have small holes in the lid for ventilation, as well as a damp paper towel at the bottom of the jar. The towel will keep the jar humid, so that the fireflies don’t dry out. You want to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible! Don’t keep the fireflies longer than a day; if they’re kept any longer, it’s probable that they will die. When releasing them, it’s best to release them at night, as that’s when they are most energetic. Your kids will have so much fun catching and examining these fascinating creatures!

So what exactly makes a firefly bioluminescent (meaning that they produce and emit light)? The light comes from a chemical reaction within a firefly’s abdomen – the main chemical in this reaction is luciferin, which is responsible for the yellowish luminescence. Along with some other chemicals, plus the addition of oxygen, the chemical reaction is activated, causing the fireflies to light up! Interestingly enough, the fireflies’ light produces very little heat.

A firefly’s glow serves a few purposes…

1) It warns predators that might want to eat the firefly! Fireflies taste bitter and often contain some chemicals that may be toxic to certain animals.
2) It allows the fireflies to communicate with each other.
3) It attracts firefly mates. Each species of firefly has its own special flashing pattern, which enables them to recognize potential mates.
4) It attracts prey.

Teach your kids these facts about this marvelous creature and watch their eyes light up – figuratively, of course!

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Photo by: Takashi Ota

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