Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Finds: Epic! Online Library for Kids

Whether you're worried about summer brain drain or ready to get your kids prepped for their next year of school, there's a cool app and website that makes reading extra fun for the smartphone set.

Epic! is an online library that offers more than 15,000 children's e-books for kids ages 12 and under. It's pretty, well, epic!

CC talked about Epic! a lot last year during 3rd grade. Her teacher used it in school, and one of her friends read books from it all the time. So when I had the opportunity to check it out, I jumped at the chance.

The service, which costs $4.99 per month for unlimited access, is bright, user-friendly and organizes the books into different categories and age groups. There are topics such as Fantasy & Magic, Animals (which CC loves) and Historical Fiction. Not only that, but kids who are pre-readers can also get in on the action with favorites such as "Goodnight Moon" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" at their fingertips. (That's good news for Will!)

Epic! also has a large selection of award winners, too.

While we've used it mostly on my phone, you can get Epic! on all iOS and Android devices, as well as on laptops and desktops, too, via the Web.

What I love as a parent is that I get weekly updates that chart what CC is reading -- book titles, how many pages and minutes she's read. It gives me such a great idea of what she likes and how she can further challenge herself.

What she loves are the variety of books, the easy-to-read graphics, the fun characters that accompany badges and rewards for all of the books she's read. I even got a reading certificate emailed to me to print and give to her.

Epic! offers kids lots of incentives to keep on reading -- which is exactly what I want to keep her motivated for 4th grade and to hit the ground running on her first day of school!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Getting Eco-Educated at Discovery Cube Los Angeles's Inspector Training Course

Enjoying some summertime fun at Discovery Cube Los Angeles
While summertime might mean lazy days at the pool or lounging on the couch with a great read, another fun option is to head over to Discovery Cube Los Angeles for a little science- and eco-friendly fun.

We made a special trip to check out the science museum's Inspector Training Course, an exhibit that features a replica house and a hands-on game that has kids and grown-ups alike learning how to conserve energy and resources at home.

The eco-friendly California Craftsman inside Discovery Cube LA.
Will and CC loved being in charge of their own touch pads -- aka inspector belts -- that they picked up just outside the house. The trivia-based scavenger-hunt game is super kid-friendly and even offers different options, depending on the age of the child. (Will was in the under-5 category.)

CC sizes up the available games.
Once the kids got their pads and selected their age group and games, they were off and running. First, Will had to find the rain barrel that collects rain water to be used for watering plants or grass. That way, we don't waste water (especially in a drought!).

Will discovers the rain barrel.
The game has kids exploring different spaces in the house, sending them searching for items in places like the kitchen, garage, bathroom and back yard. After that, they answer trivia questions about everything from low-pressure shower heads and low-flow toilets to how much energy different light bulbs use. It's really a cool game and makes everyone reconsider just how much energy they use.

Will loved pushing the button that made the shower splash (recycled) water.
The realism and hands-on aspect of the game makes it extra-fun for kids while also giving them a real-world example of how things like shower heads work. (Part of me also kind of wanted to live in this house, mainly because there was no clutter!)

We find out which bulb uses the most energy to light up.
While I spent most of my time walking around with Will and reading out the questions for him (he is only 3 after all), CC was able to be independent and search out her own clues. And they were both thrilled to become Super Inspectors after the game. I love that Discovery Cube celebrates kids' successes by placing their digital pictures on the wall. Great thinking!

We were also able to connect what we learned at the Inspector Training Course with what we're doing at home to be eco-friendly:

* We have a recycling bin right next to the trash can, and the kids have learned what's trash and what can be re-used.

* We donate clothes and books every month, so that other kids can re-use what CC and Will have outgrown.

* We have an adorable air plant that CC has named Prince. He requires literally a spray of water per week.

* We turn off the water while we're brushing our teeth.

* And we buy energy-efficient light bulbs, have low-flow toilets and low-pressure shower heads.

What a great experience for the family!

11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $12.95 for adults and kids through Labor Day. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post in my position as a #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassador. All opinions, however, are my own.)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July 2016!

Have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July! We'll be heading down to the beach to celebrate, but if you're looking for places to see fireworks, the L.A. Times has a few suggestions.


Image via Wikipedia


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