Archive for the 'Technology' Category

WeeMade.com

I found this website today and think that it could be something that all parents can use.  You all have budding little artists and you have all of their artwork, or you can be like me and have a lot of your husband’s childhood artwork, what to do with all of this stuff? (His mother was great at keeping a lot of little things from his childhood.)  I have his first drawing, his first writing, and many more.  Right now they are in my draw at work (why it is there, I have no idea), and I am not sure what to do with them.  I have thought about framing them, and I just might do that, this way Magnus can put them in his office, but after finding this website, I might upload them to WeeMade.com . By uploading your child’s artwork, you can make them feel extra special.  At this site you can share your little one’s artwork, with the whole world. Let me know what you think about the site.  

Safe Toys for your little one

ParentDish has a list of safe online toy stores, for your little ones.  If you have bought any toys from these company, please tell us, your thoughts on them.

All My Faves

I found this wonderful site that list over 50 sites that are great for you and your child, called All My Faves.  If you have problems with coming up with new ideas that your child can do to have fun and learn, look no further.  This website has ideas for Books, Games, News, Movies, Comics, Coloring, Homework, and Learning.

You can also subscribe to their RSS feed and get all the latest updates.  Let me know what you think, and if you know of any other good places online where you can get wonderful ideas.

Children Podcasts

I found this website with a great collection of podcasts for you and your children, called Educate.  The podcasts start for age 5 to college age.

Myths about Children Watching TV

Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News story in the Gulf News, Watching TV makes children smarter? This article covers different myths about children watching TV.

1. TV makes children dumb

Actually, high-quality TV shows such as Sesame Street and Blues Clues improve children’s cognitive abilities. Study after study has shown that children 3 to 5 years old who watch Sesame Street for an hour a day are better able to recognise numbers, letters and shapes than those who don’t. When 500 children who had participated in some of those studies were followed up as teenagers, those who had watched educational programmes as preschoolers had higher grades, were reading more books, placed more value on achievement and were more creative than those who had not.

2. TV makes kids violent

The real story is more complicated. In 1994, researchers reviewed hundreds of studies involving thousands of children and concluded that there was clear evidence that watching violence on TV makes children more aggressive. Similarly, preteens and teenagers exposed to sexual content on television are more much more likely to engage in the kinds of activities they see on the screen.

But a study of more than 5,000 children also found that “pro-social” programmes (think Mr Rogers’ Neighbourhood) make children kinder and more tolerant. In fact, the linkage between good behaviour and watching good programming is as strong as the link between bad behaviour and bad programming. The problem is that children are increasingly watching shows with violence and sex instead of programming that is appropriate for their age.

3. Educational videos make infants smarter

The names such as Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby suggest one thing, but the data suggest otherwise. According to a 2005 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, no programme targeting children younger than 2 has demonstrated any educational benefit.

Evidence from studies my colleagues and I have done suggests that early viewing (under age 3) may be harmful to children’s cognitive development. We found that children who watch TV before age 3 score worse on tests of letter and number recognition upon entering school than those who do not. And for each hour of television a child watches on average per day before age 3, the chances that child will have attention problems at age 7 increase by 10 per cent. A 2005 University of Pennsylvania study found that even watching Sesame Street before age 3 delayed a child’s ability to develop language skills.

4. Sitting around watching television instead of playing outside makes children overweight

In fact, being a couch potato is not what causes obesity. Children sit around to read, too, but no one suggests that reading causes obesity. A 1999 Stanford University experiment found that when elementary school children watched less television, they did lose excess weight; however, reducing their television time did not make them more active.

What that suggests is that television-watching itself unlike other sedentary activities such as reading, block-building or working on art projects encourages overeating. Snacking in front of the tube is a widespread habit (for children as well as adults) and the barrage of junk food advertisements only heightens that temptation. About 70 per cent of the ads children see on television are for food products, and virtually none of them are for healthy choices. A 2005 Harvard University study found that, on average, children eat about 170 more calories per day for each hour of television they watch, and all of those calories are derived from foods commonly advertised in television commercials.

5. Television helps kids get to sleep

The opposite is true. In a 2005 study of more than 2,000 children, my colleagues and I found that the more television children watch, the more likely they are to have irregular sleep and nap patterns. As common as it is about three-fourths of children had television as part of their bedtime ritual, according to a national survey allowing children to watch television because they can’t sleep is part of the problem, not the solution.

6. Children watch too much television

Actually, the bigger problem is what they watch and how they watch it. In what some consider the halcyon days of television, families used to gather around a single centrally located set and watched high-quality, family-centred programming together.

Nowadays, the typical household has multiple television sets; family members (including young children) sit alone and watch programmes that too often are violent and sexualised. When parents watch with their children, the value of the best television programmes is enhanced and the harm of negative programming can be curtailed.

Google helping Teachers, with free software

USA Today has a story about how Google is using teachers, to spread the word about it’s new online software. By helping teachers use the software to teach children, they are reaching the next generations of users. How do you will about having documents and spreadsheets online? Will they be safe on the interent? The good thing is that it is free, and for teachers and students, this can be a big help. So if you like free software, this just may be for you.

As it tries to usher in a new era in computing, Google is promoting its software applications in kindergarten through high school classrooms, where kids who have grown up with the Web are more likely to experiment with different technology.

“It’s the perfect place for them to target the next generation of computer users,” said James McQuivey, a former Forrester Research analyst who is now a Boston University professor specializing in technology and communications.

The free-software approach poses a challenge to Microsoft, whose success revolves around sales of its long-dominant Windows operating system and Office suite. The programs — including Word and Excel — are installed on hard drives and information is usually stored locally as well.

Google views its educational initiative as a public service for teachers who often lack the money and expertise to introduce more technological tools into their classrooms. The company doesn’t allow advertising in its word processing and spreadsheets programs, leaving it unclear how Google expects to make money.

Google isn’t the first high-tech company to use education as a marketing tool. In the most conspicuous example, Apple Computer Inc. has positioned its Macintoshes as a student’s best friend for the past 20 years. Despite those efforts, the Mac holds a U.S. market share of just 6% with virtually everything else going to Windows-based personal computers.

Unlike Apple’s computers or Microsoft’s programs, Google’s software is free — an enticement that gives it a built-in advantage, especially in schools hard-pressed to buy enough computers, let alone software licenses, to accommodate students.

Baby’s first words

Baby's First Language

Minireview: Schoolhouse

Schoolhouse is a very nice little application that can help organize schoolwork. The developer describes it this way:

With the ability to sort and organize your assignments, exams, and projects quickly and easily Schoolhouse is a must have for any student on-the-go. The power of smart groups allow you to interact with your work as simply as your iTunes library. Newly introduced in this version are Classcasts, the ability to publish your assignments to the web automatically for anyone to subscribe to. And with powerful automatic graphing of your grades and a GPA & Finals calculator you’ll never be in the dark at the end of the semester.

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What struck me first about Schoolhouse was how Mac-y it looks. You know, sometimes you run software and you just get a feeling that whoever designed it just doesn’t get the Mac, Mac programming, and the Mac OS X interface. With Schoolhouse, they’ve done a great job. It looks, works, and feels like a true Mac application, full of nice, helpful functionality. That starts with the icon, which is a work of art in itself.

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Schoolhouse’s developer, Logan Collins, is 18 years old and he’s still in school himself. Actually he just started college, it seems like, so perhaps Schoolhouse is born out of his own need for organizing his studies. The basic functionality in Schoolhouse is to keep track of courses and assignments. You set up basic course information, and then create assignments for those courses

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Schoolhouse supports something Logan calls Classcasts, which is simply a way of publishing and subscribing to RSS feeds. So as long as your class-information is published as a RSS feed you can from within Schoolhouse subscribe it.

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The interface is very Cocoa, and if you’ve ever used apps like Apple’s Mail you know what it looks like and how it works. Schoolhouse has support for Smart Groups. Smart Groups is based on the same idea as Smart Playlists in iTunes. You could, for example, set up a Smart Group for all your A-grades.

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There is integration to iPod and iCal. Assignments in Schoolhouse can be added to iCal, and you can put assignment information on your iPod. In addition there is some integration with Mail to be able to send assignments to the teacher and ask them questions via email.

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I’ve tried other similar apps before and I can say Schoolhouse is the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had. For a student with a Mac it’s a great piece of software that I hope will keep improving. As a teacher, I wish Logan would now write a corresponding client app that I could use to plan my teaching and keep in touch with my students. Now that would be really interesting.

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Also posted to Emirates Mac.

Tux Paint, free paint program for kids

If you’re a parent with small children it’s sometimes hard to find software that your kids can use, especially if you don’t want to pay a lot for it. Here is a simple suggestions for free software that you may want to have a look at.

Tux Paint is a simple paint program and it’s free. It’s certainly not as slick as some commercial paint programs but it does its job well. It has a simple interface with buttons to press for different options and drawing tools. It even has some cool effects like drawing in all the colors of the rainbow, for example.

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Also posted to EmiratesMac.

Kaboose Website

Today while I was working on something else, I came across this website called Kaboose, that is all about kids. They have computer games (PC and Mac friendly), crafts, healthy kids, travel, party ideas, holidays, clip art, and a section just for Moms. Check out this site and let me know how you like it.