Regal Offers $1 Summer Movies! Summer Movie Express

Regal Summer Movie Express

2016 Summer Movie Express

Summer-Movie-Express-1-Dollar-Movies

Admission to the Summer Movie Express is only $1. Tickets available for purchase at the box office and all movies start at 10:00 am. Each week both movies play on both days. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.

Most look like they are Tuesday & Wednesdays at 10am starting June 14th, but check your local theater for starting dates as they are different by State and Theater!  Find a Theater near you

  • Week 1
    The Lego Movie
    Max
  • Week 2
    Goosebumps
    The Iron Giant: Signature Edition
  • Week 3
    Pan
    The Smurfs 2
  • Week 4
    Despicable Me 2
    Home
  • Week 5
    Minions
    The Peanuts Movie
  • Week 6
    Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
    Curious George
  • Week 7
    The Book of Life
    Hotel Transylvania 2
  • Week 8
    Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
    Shaun The Sheep
  • Week 9
    The Croods
    Dr. Suess’ The Lorax

 

The one book young readers must have.

Kindle -The One Book to Replace Them All

Kindle -The One Book to Replace Them AllWhy is the Kindle the one book every child should have?

Our kids are inundated with electronics, ipads, xbox, computers, toy dogs they have to train, heck even Barbie is becoming digital. So I get the reluctance to buy one more electronic item for my kid! This one is very different though. I bought my kindle before my daughter was born, so I am guessing at least 8-9 years ago. It was one of the first ones out there, it does nothing but let me read books. Mine doesn’t have a built in light (the newer ones do) so I can snuggle down in bed with a book light clip and read to my heart’s content. It is so light weight that I could take it to the beach, read for hours in the bright sunlight and never worry about it running out of batteries. (This was before I had a child and could do such frivolous things as read on the beach.)

When I first brought it home I was so excited. First I walked around the house with it, had a Geek moment and pretended it was a Star Trek Data Pad for awhile. Next I bought a cheap leather case for it so it felt like a book in my hands. Now don’t give me that line “I need the feel of a real book in my hands” because it simply an excuse. I get it to some extent, I have kept a few special books in print, but this Kindle -The One Book to Replace Them Allreally does feel like a real book to me – minus the germs that come with a library book. My cover is so worn and is as comfortable as an old shoe. It’s the cover that holds all of my favorite books. Every single book I love in one light weight book cover! I have read 100’s of books on it and it’s been one of my favorite things. I think I would give up my ipad before I would give up my Kindle! I have now handed it onto my daughter (unwillingly at first), and it’s the best thing I have ever done. Here is why:

1. Free Books:

You can borrow library books over the internet for free! Having a young reader starting on chapter books is a tough time. TheyFree Books for Kindle at your local Library have no idea what type of books they like. Before I thought of handing over my Kindle we bought books that she decided were not for her and we raced back and forth to the library with books. Nothing like spending money on things you don’t need.

The Kindle makes it easy to hop on your computer, go to your local library page, find the link to eLibrary and from there you search for ebooks (you will need to have your library card number). My kid can now try all types of stories -so can you- and if she decides she doesn’t like it……No Problem….Return them without leaving the house! If she loves them, we can buy them on amazon way cheaper than in a book store.

If you are a member of Amazon Prime you can borrow books from the Amazon Loan Library for free too!

2. No more Lost Library Books:

Kindle -The One Book to Replace Them All

Never worry again about or losing library books, leaving them in the car or under the couch and forgetting to return them. Well, your Kindle can be left in all those places too, but the library will never know because the book loans go back automatically.

Kindle -The One Book to Replace Them All3. Less Dusting:

Found a book your kid loves? You can buy it and it is forever yours, tucked neatly inside this one book. No dusty book shelf required. How many times have I had to rearrange the book shelf because the book she wanted was there, but she has to pull all the books out to find it? Easy, it’s all in the Kindle. It really is the One Book to Rule Them All….uh…eh hem, I mean replace them all.

3. Promotes Independent Reading: Kindle Dictionary

The Kindle comes with a Built in Dictionary with Phonetic Spelling. I remember hating to have to sit with the dictionary, stop reading my story in order to look up words. Frankly, I just didn’t do it. The dictionary comes with a touch of the screen and doesn’t interrupt reading time at all. My daughter has recently gotten into the Percy Jackson series. There are all kinds of names and words in it that she doesn’t know how to say or spell. She can tap and hold on the unknown word and the dictionary comes up with the definition and the phonetic spelling. I love the way it promotes independence for our young reader!

I forgot to mention that you can adjust the size of the words for easy reading. I like it slightly larger so I can read without my glasses on. My daughter likes it larger as well so that it’s not so easy to lose her place while reading, which is sometimes a problem for kids who are just getting the hang of reading chapter books.

On a side note: If your child is interested in Greek myths, I recommend the Percy Jackson series by Rick Rhiordan, I wish I had written these myself!

 

4. Easy Travel:

Have you ever had this conversation? Me: “Let see, we are going out of town for a week,what books do you think she will want to read? Husband: “No idea, but we can’t take too many the suitcases are already full.” This is no longer a problem, all our books are in the Kindle and if we get desperate we can always download a new one from the library or Amazon whenever / wherever we want.

No Distractions Just Reading5. No Distractions:

This is my favorite point. My daughter cannot play mine craft, watch youtube, surf on the internet, chat, facebook or anything else on this device. Did I mention no Mine Craft? If this device were handed to me as a kid I would have thought that it was simply a magic book giving me amazing library access wherever I was! (Yes the geek stuff started early for me.)

I was glad to see this statement right on the Kindle homepage. It sums up my feelings about it and there is no truer advertising statement.

“No distractions

By design, Kindle is purpose-built for reading and creates a sanctuary so you can lose yourself in a book. Unlike tablets and phones, Kindle doesn’t distract you with social media, emails, and text messages.”

I am off to replace the Kindle I gave to my daughter with the All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers.

 

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Diary of a Rogue House CatDiary of a Rogue House Cat

Have you ever had a pet that just seemed to cause havoc at every turn? Has your cat ever knocked over glasses, hidden your keys or generally created chaos for no apparent reason? Have you ever wondered what on earth your pet could be thinking? Baby Girl the Rogue House Cat explains all her crazy and funny actions in her new diary. Her journey to become a good house cat will help explain why cats do some of the things they do. I hope you enjoy her antics as much as I do.

Thank You for you support!

Available on Amazon in Print and on Kindle

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

How you can help keep this site running.

If you have found this site helpful and want to keep me writing please use the Donate Button on the right side of this page. This helps us pay for our domain, ip address and hosting, maybe even a cup of coffee as I sit at Panera searching for more free events. Some sites require membership fees in order to pay for their site. We really want this information to be free and available to all. Thanks for your support!

If you would like to learn more about our partnership opportunities Contact Us today!
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The Week Ahead for South Florida with My Favorite Holiday Sites

Cyndi’s Favorite Kids Holiday Websites

Norad Tracks SantaIf you read this blog regularly you know that I am always on the search for the most educational types of recreation for the kids.  I have once again posted and updated some of my favorite Holiday Websites.  All of them have at least a nominal amount of educational value. Well may not the Elf Yourself site, but it’s the Holidays and you gotta have some fun too.

decorationBear with me for a moment, I had a deep thought I wanted to share.  They are rare for me so here it is.

I thought I would share some of our Holiday decorations with you.  My daughter put together this little assortment. I love how she added some of her stuffed Christmas toys to our regular decorations.   I was so touched that she included my book on the Holiday Shelf.  I think the best thing I could have ever done was publish this little book, because she sees it as a major accomplishment. I want to encourage you in this Holiday Season to live out your dreams in a visible way to your children.  Not just your success, but the failures too.  For me tell her that she can be anything doesn’t mean as much as allowing her to see me try, fail and sometimes succeed.  Including her in the struggle to get published demonstrated that sometimes things don’t always work the first time you try, but together we really can do anything as long as we don’t allow ourselves to become discouraged.   I wanted to say “Hey girl, you can do anything, so I have to show you it’s possible”.  Okay, onto more fun things!

 

Flamingo Gardens of Light Holiday Event

Don’t forget to head out to Flamingo Gardens, Garden of Lights!  Even if they weren’t a wonderful sponsor for our site I would advise you go this event.  In fact it is one of the reasons that I decided to invite them join our Sponsor Family!

The calendar is filling up quickly!  Please make sure that we don’t miss your next event and submit your event today!

Click Here for the full list of upcoming events!  or scroll down for this weeks events!

Diary of a Rogue House CatDiary of a Rogue House Cat

Have you ever had a pet that just seemed to cause havoc at every turn? Has your cat ever knocked over glasses, hidden your keys or generally created chaos for no apparent reason? Have you ever wondered what on earth your pet could be thinking? Baby Girl the Rogue House Cat explains all her crazy and funny actions in her new diary. Her journey to become a good house cat will help explain why cats do some of the things they do. I hope you enjoy her antics as much as I do.

Thank You for you support!

 Available on Amazon in Print and on Kindle

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

How you can help keep this site running.

If you have found this site helpful and want to keep me writing please use the Donate Button on the right side of this page. This helps us pay for our domain, ip address and hosting, maybe even a cup of coffee as I sit at Panera searching for more free events. Some sites require membership fees in order to pay for their site. We really want this information to be free and available to all. Thanks for your support!

If you would like to learn more about our partnership opportunities Contact Us today!
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Click Here for the full list of upcoming events!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of Rogue House Cat

Diary of a Rogue House Cat

I wanted to share some fun news! I finally published a book! It’s little and a bit silly, but I think it’s cute. (My 7 year old likes it for what that is worth.) This project is certainly a learning experience! It is available on Kindle US and Kindle Europe now and I am working on the print version at the moment. The print version should be available for purchase within the next 3 weeks.

Diary of a Rogue House Cat

Have you ever had a pet that just seemed to cause havoc at every turn? Have you ever wondered what on earth your pet could be thinking? Baby Girl the Rogue House Cat explains all her crazy and funny actions in her new diary to help explain why cats do some of the things they do. I hope you enjoy her antics as much as I do.

Free Preview

Get a preview of Diary of a Rogue House Cat by Cynthia Yates Buckley. The book will be available to purchase in about 3 weeks. https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1179567

Amazon Kindle US

If you like the preview and just can’t wait to read it, the book is available on Amazon Kindle right now.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0161QL9AQ?keywords=diary%20of%20a%20rogue%20house%20cat&qid=1445352453&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Amazon Kindle in the UK

Diary of a Rogue House Cat is now available on Amazon Kindle in the UK! So all our British friends can feel free to share the link around. I would very much appreciate it! It is only £1.99!
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0161QL9AQ?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

How you can help keep this site running.

If you have found this site helpful and want to keep me writing please use the Donate Button on the right side of this page. This helps us pay for our domain, ip address and hosting, maybe even a cup of coffee as I sit at Panera searching for more free events. Some sites require membership fees in order to pay for their site. We really want this information to be free and available to all. Thanks for your support!

If you would like to learn more about our partnership opportunities Contact Us today!
[logo-slider]

Click Here for the full list of upcoming events!

Things I Wish I Knew Before my First (4) Hurricane(s)

Hurricane Wilma – Fort Lauderdale by LM Burton
Palm Beach Zoo - Hurricane Frances
Palm Beach Zoo – Hurricane Frances

Hurricane season is right at our doorstep.  I wanted to compile some of the things we learned in 2004 & 2005.  I wish I knew these things before the storms.

I worked in West Palm Beach at the time and lived in Fort Lauderdale and as anyone who was down here during these hurricane seasons will tell you it was a trying time.

In  September 2004 we were hit by Hurricane Frances which according to FPL left 1,715,400 addresses out of power in 6 counties. Frances had an eye that was reported to be 70 miles wide.  Hurricane Jeanne visited a little more than 2 weeks later, this time leaving 2.6 million homes and businesses in the dark, some had not gotten power restored from Frances yet.   The following August Hurricane Katrina found us as a Category 1 and went onto become disastrous for the Gulf Coast.  Last and certainly not least was Wilma which arrived in late October 2005. This huge storm affected virtually all of South Florida.  I hope that you find this information helpful, for us this was BC (Before Child), but I think much of what we learned will be helpful for families.

Below you can find the list that the National Hurricane Center website recommends.  Everyone of them is important so make sure you have them.

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape  Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Okay so here are some things that we didn’t think about before 2004.  For some of the storms I mentioned above we went many weeks without power or water.

Make sure you have plenty of cash.  No power means no ATM’s and certainly no stores can use plastic either. Many gas stations and Publix Stores have generators, but there will still be no way to use credit or debit cards.  I remember after one of the storms  a local Duffy’s managed to open.  It was the best meal I had ever had. (We just ate whatever they served us). Of course, cash was required!

Hurricane Wilma – Fort Lauderdale by LM Burton
Hurricane Wilma – Fort Lauderdale by LM Burton

A Bathtub full of water and a bucket.  Scrub your bathtub out as well as you can and fill it with water. I forgot to do this during Wilma and boy was I sorry!  We had no water for about 2 weeks.  No water, means no way to flush the toilette.  If you have this extra water you can pour a small bucket of water into the toilet bowl and force it to flush itself.  You can also carry buckets of this water to the kitchen sink to wash dishes or use it for sponge baths.

Paper plates, paper cups and plastic utensils. Normally, we wouldn’t use these items, however if your water is out, you won’t want to waste what precious water you do have on dishes.  Also remember that after a storm there are often boil water orders because of flooding and contaminated water, so even if do have water, you may not want to use it on anything you eat off of anyway.

Freeze as much water as you can.  I didn’t figure this out till much too late!  You can fill Tupperware containers, bottled water, and even gallon jugs with water and freeze it to keep coolers cold.  A couple of frozen 1 gallon jugs set inside your fridge can help keep food for a bit longer.  You can also drink it as it melts.  Friends of mine say they even use zip lock bags.  If you lay them flat they freeze flat and take up less room.  I remember being so hot when the ice ran out that I would have given anything for an ice cold drink of water.  Bags of ice cubes melt quicker than blocks of ice do.

I know the guides all say 1 gallon per person per day, however I know that when it is hot we get through more than that. Don’t forget you will need to brush your teeth with it too!  The more water the better.

Hurricane Katrina - Pompano Beach by R. Mackenberg
Hurricane Katrina – Pompano Beach by R. Mackenberg

You need bug spray and sun screen.  It is usually desperately hot with clear sky’s after these storms and you will probably rather be outside in the shade than inside.  All the water from the storm means that the mosquitoes will be in full force, so be ready to protect yourself.

 

Get a battery operated Carbon Monoxide detector.  Sadly, there are always cases of fatal and non fatal carbon monoxide poisoning after hurricanes caused by generator fumes.  Even if you don’t have a generator, your neighbors might, so be careful and take precautions. The National Center for Environmental Health published a paper on the numbers in Florida for the 2004 storms.  These detectors are very inexpensive and can save lives.  Foundation like the Caitlin Brondolo Foundation are great resources for more information on this topic.  It is one that hits pretty close to home for me and our family friends the Brondolo Family.

Get the right food.  We were so desperate for fresh food and cold drinks.  The usual hurricane fare will keep you alive, but it won’t make you happy!  Peanut butter, crackers, Easy Cheese, trail mix and water get old fast.  A Camping Stove or a Barbeque Grill can be used to boil water for Mac & Cheese or heat canned soup.

Don’t forget that the heat outside can dehydrate you quickly, especially if you are out cleaning up the neighborhood.  Juice boxes  (can also be frozen ahead of time) and work well in conjunction with water to provide electrolytes. I like the ones that have veggies in them, just for a little extra nutrition.

Individual fruit and applesauce cups don’t have to be refrigerated and though we don’t normally eat these, they are extremely welcome after a storm.  Individual sized box milk and things like Earth’s Best Organic Fruit Yogurt Smoothies  do not require refrigeration and freeze well before the storm too.  (Again, these can be frozen ahead of time, are you getting the idea that I like frozen stuff?) A big bag of apples and oranges seem to last longer in the heat than any other fresh fruit, so I now make sure that they are on my supply list.

Shop early. Many years ago, I remember waiting to the last moment to shop for hurricane supplies. The only cans left on grocery store shelves were some sort of Dinosaur spaghetti, they were disgusting. When the storm missed us we were faced with giving them away or eating them ourselves. If you shop early, then you are guaranteed to get the kinds of things your family will actually eat.  In addition you will also avoid major long lines and frustrated people in parking lots.

Hurricane Shutters and candles do not mix. DisasterCenter.com advises to “Avoid using open flames (candles and kerosene lamps) as a source of light. Flashlights provide the safest emergency lighting source. Between 1984 and 1998, candle-related deaths from home fires following hurricanes were three times greater than the number of deaths related to the direct impact of the hurricane. Kerosene lamps require a great deal of ventilation and are not designed for indoor use.”  Remember to remove your hurricane shutters immediately following a storm because these shutters make emergency exit from home difficult, if not impossible.

Heat up water in your garden hose.  It sounds silly, but when it is so hot both outside and inside your house, the shower water (if you are lucky enough to have water) feels really cold and can be almost shocking. Coiling a water filled garden hose in the sun will give you enough water for a sponge bath that will still cool you off, but not give you the shivers.

Don’t expect to use the phone.  After both Francis and Wilma landlines did not work and cell towers were damaged so calling out was difficult at best.  What seemed to work best was to use text.  It sometimes took awhile, but texts seemed to get through eventually.

Fill it up.  Charge your phones, your laptops, Leap-Pads and Game Boy type devices, and well, anything you can before the storm. Make sure your cars are full of gas too.  After Francis and Jeanne gas was difficult to get, not because there wasn’t any, but because there was no power at the gas stations for the pumps to work.  We planned on recharging our phones with our cigarette lighter in the car, but as it turns out, our cigarette lighter port only works if the car is running (which uses up precious gas). Many gas stations have since put in generators, so hopefully that situation will be different in the future.

Fort Lauderdale-Hurricane Katrina - Lisa Magnes Burton
Fort Lauderdale – Hurricane Katrina – Lisa Magnes Burton

There may be a curfew.  After all the storms we had, driving was difficult and dangerous.  There were trees, poles and wires down everywhere.  Make sure that you do not drive over live wires, standing water (unless you are certain you know how deep it is) and be courteous to other drivers.  When lights at intersections don’t work they must be treated as 4 way stops.  All those lessons we had as preschoolers about taking turns really come into play in this situation.  Everyone is usually asked to stay off the streets after dark until the streets are completely cleared and power and lights are restored.

Backyard camping.  If you have a tent or a screen room, plan on sleeping outside in it.  With no fans or AC indoors, this is often the best way to get a good night’s sleep.  I talked to a few people who admitted to going and sleeping on the beach.  Not sure if I would recommend spending the whole night there, but the good news is when the lights are out all over the town, the stars are amazing!

Other things I like to have on hand:

    • A battery operated TV during the storm
    • Battery operated fans
    • Solar phone charger
  •  A couple of new games or toys to be strategically given to the kids during and after the storm.

For more information be sure to print out  your local Hurricane Guide and keep it with your supplies.

Printable Hurricane Guide: Broward County, Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade, Monroe County

The Be Red Cross Ready Power Outage Checklist is another great resource.

Save

Kids Bowl Free for the Summer – Nationwide

Kids Bowl Free Logo

A friend pointed me towards this website, if you sign up for free, your kids get to bowl (2 games a day) for free all summer long!

I looked at some of the areas available and there are many.  South Florida unfortunately is a bit lacking and the nearest one is in West Palm Beach.

There is a page on the website that can suggest a bowling center near you and they say they will attempt to get them to participate and then let you know when they succeed.

Here is the link to the participating alleys.

Florida : http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/state.php?state=FL

Nationwide: http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/

 

 

 

(eh hem) Have you donated to Keeping Up With Kids yet? Thank You!

Patch Reef Park Winter Carnival
Grovelands Park Winchmore Hill Review
Grovelands Park Winchmore Hill Review

I have hit a huge mile stone today! I and am so honored, blown away and basically gob smacked that I have had over 46000 hits this year! Thank you all for seeing and acknowledging the work and love that goes into this blog.

However here goes the fund raising request for help:  Once again it is time for me to pay the bills!

If you have enjoyed the blog and found it

Castaway Island at TY Park interactive pool.
Castaway Island at TY Park interactive pool Review
Turtles at Gumbo Limbo Review
Turtles at Gumbo Limbo Review

helpful, there is an easy way to help me pay for the ip address hosting. (about $300 a year). Just go to my site and hit the Donate button (paypal) on the right hand side to send a couple of dollars to keep the blog running.  $1 or $2 could make a huge difference! Thank you all! Please don’t make me a do a public radio style pledge week (insert embarrassed giggle here).

Thanks to all of you for reading and supporting me and a special thanks to my family who puts up with me sneaking off to a quiet place to write a couple of times a week!

If you feel you are able, please Donate a dollar or two using the Donate Button on the Right hand side of this page (paypal) and share this with your friends.

Thank You!
~Cynthia & Family

IKEA Play Place and Fun for the Family

Ikea Lips Pillow

We as moms often hit the mall on a rainy day, just to get a cup of coffee and let the kids play in the play area.  It is easy to forget that IKEA is the perfect place for a wander with your Littles!  Our Fort Lauderdale store even has special close parking for families with Littles and strollers.

Ikea Dining Room Kids Area

When I go to IKEA, I always start with breakfast.  They offer specials throughout the week and you will never spend more than a few dollars on a plate of food.  The is food is okay, it is not stellar, but the dining room is always clean and has wide windows all along the wall to make it a bright happy space.  There is a kids space in the dining room where the Littles can eat together in front of a flat screen TV, allowing the adults a chance to brush up on conversation that involves words with more than 2 syllables.

According to Charles Wing Local Marketing Specialist IKEA’s founder wanted the store to reflect his belief that the should store be “a day out for the whole family”. This influence is certainly felt throughout the store and.IKEA seems to work hard to make their store a family friendly place by offering strollers for Ikea Dining Room Bottle Warming Stationthe kids and family bathrooms. The dining room has a bottle warming station, with a toaster, microwave, bottle warmer and bibs.

The family bathroom has a chair in case you need to find a quiet place with baby for moment.  The bathrooms are generally pretty clean, but on the weekends when the store gets crazy busy and they can get a little bad.  They do seem to make a huge effort to keep them clean and I have always seen them spotless first thing in the morning.

Ikea Kids BedroomAt our IKEA you start out on the top floor, this has all the furniture for adults and kids.  My daughter likes to walk around this floor with me and check out all the rooms.  We love to see the way storage and whimsy works in the kids areas and dream about the kitchen we would someday like to have.

The bottom floor is full of the housewares, which is less interesting to my daughter. This floor has everything from silverware to picture frames and glassware, so not really an area where I want to worry about what my Little might try to pick up when my head is turned.  Ikea Lips PillowSo we head on over to the Smalland Play Area, where there is a supervised play area for kids. The Play Area is open daily from 10 am to 7:30 pm.  Usually, the kids can stay for about 50 minutes, they give you a beeper and tell you when you are due back to pick up your child.  Kids must be at least 37 inches tall, no more than 54 inches, and must be completely potty trained.  My daughter had a great time didn’t want to leave when her time was up.  The staff in the play area were courteous and seemed to be very capable. My daughter didn’t want to leave, so that is always a good sign.

Smalland Store Promo Photo
Smalland IKEA Store Provided Promo Photo

On your next rainy day call up your friends and meet at IKEA for a morning of shopping, food and fun. It is a great alternative to the mall when the weather rules out the outdoors.

Kaplan Kids Smart Track Keeps Kids on Track for the Summer

Screen Shot of Kaplan Kids Program

We decided to give Kaplan Kids Smart Track a try this summer to keep my 5 year old DD’s skills up. She will be starting Kindergarten in the fall.   I think overall it is a good program.  My DD loves to be on the computer, so this was right up her alley.

Screen Shot of Kaplan Kids Program
Screen Shot of Kaplan Kids Program

I feel that the Kaplan Kids program works hard to keep things fresh and interesting. She flew through the first assessment test and did get a little frustrated practicing things that she knows well. The second assessment was more difficult for her and she did start to get flustered about halfway through.  However with a little encouragement I managed to keep redirecting her back to it.  A little frustration is good, it is a matter of finding the balance.  I can see that the assessments may be a bit stressful for some children, and it is important they understand that they are not expected to know everything they are presented with. The children must choose the best answer they can without a parents help.  These assessments are truly the most difficult for the kids.

As with any learning tool, repetition, while important can be frustrating for children. Those that already know the material and those who struggle with it can get overwhelmed and not want to continue. Kaplan Kids handles this pretty well for all the practical materials (practice lessons) although the assessment portions can be a little more intense, especially when they are asking things the child has never seen.

I wish that it started out with a few games to set up momentum for the kids, however it jumps right into the assessment.  Knowing that more games are coming may provide extra motivation for the kids to stick out the assessments.  All in all, my daughter did not struggle very much and was able to cope pretty well.  I think this will depend on the child to a very large extent.  Right now she is a bit stuck on coin counting and I wish there was a way to skip it, go onto the next material, and then come back to it. For now we will focus on the reading portion, and then go back to maybe next week.

Kaplan Kids Virtual Room
Kaplan Kids Virtual Room

The Rewards Zone:
This section seems like it would work very well for an older child.  There is a virtual room that the child can “buy” items with points earned from practice to place in the room.  My daughter loves it, but I have to help her with it, I don’t think that the interface is the easiest for little ones.

There are also other things to do in the rewards section.  Like spin a wheel to win things like entry into drawings for Target Cards and  “plant a seed” which helps grow food for those in need. These options are fabulous for a slightly older child, but finding yourself trying to explain heady concepts like world hunger to a 5 year old is a bit exhausting. My DD just kept asking who exactly would be planting the seed, who would get to pick the vegetables and who was going to eat them, why didn’t she get to plant them because they were her seeds and don’t the neighbors just give food to their friends if they are hungry and………………  Yeah, well, these kinds of virtual rewards are difficult for younger children, and frankly a bit of a headache at least in my case.  I found myself trying to explain world hunger, companies who plant things for people to eat, and conservation to a 5 year old with insatiable questions.
At this point in order to make it easier and more concrete, we decided together to keep her

Examples of Kaplan Kids Reward Zone
Examples of Kaplan Kids Reward Zone

points and not spend them until she reaches certain numbers.  Instead, we set up specific goals for her (at 2000 points we would go to the green market and buy a bag of fresh fruit and vegetables and deliver them to the food pantry and at 5000 she would get a coveted toy she has been asking for).  I will also help her spend some points on things for the virtual room (when she gets enough points) and spin the wheel once a day. This plan seemed to keep her much more motivated.

Real Time Skill Status:
The parents section is pretty useful.  At first I was not sure how to read it but as I saw my child progress in her lessons,  it began to make more sense. It shows you in green the percentage of the academic skill that she has mastered, and compares it to the first day  she started (or whatever day you specify) so you have a reference of how far she has progressed  Skills not yet mastered show in red and white means that she has not yet been introduced to the skill by Kaplan Kids.  The nice thing is, it automatically moves up a grade when the child is ready.  My daughter is working on some skills at the Kindergarten level and has just started on a few skills in the 1st grade level.  This important to keep the material challenging, but not overwhelming.  Clicking on Details will show the parent an even more detailed breakdown of where the child is working, and excelling.

Kaplan Kids Skills Progress Report
Kaplan Kids Skills Progress Report

Clicking on Details will show the parent an even more detailed breakdown of where the child is working, and excelling.

All in all, I think it is a very good program.  In general, I think it would be best for older kids (at least 1st grade) although it is working very well for my almost Kindergartner.  I would recommend it to my friends to try it.  Leaning is an individual style and it is going to be different for every child, so while it may not work for every child, I think it will work for most.  On the Kaplan Kids main website, they have  a 1 week free trial, then it is $29 a month and you can cancel anytime.

Keeping Up With Kids did not receive any incentive or from Kaplan Kids to use this product.

5 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Fern Forest
Fern Forest Hiking Trail in Margate
Hiking with your family, can be an incredible bonding experience, that will build memories for your kid that will last a lifetime.  Here are 5 tips on how to get started.
Tip # 1: Start out small!
It is important to know what your child is capable of. If your child is one that will not want to walk far, make sure you choose a short path. If the kids are overwhelmed the first time out, they may not want to go again.  So make it short.  Most parks here in the Fort Lauderdale area have shorter trails that would be more manageable for small children. You can gradually choose longer paths as your child begins to get used to hiking.

Tip #2: Give them something to do.
For younger children this may be something as simple as counting trees. For older children you can print out a few pictures of native plants, trees or birds so that they can treat the hike like a treasure hunt. National Parks, State Parks and County Park websites usually have lists of the Flora and Fauna that are live in the parks so you can make sure to choose pictures that the children will be able to find.

Tip #3: Be prepared for weather.
Remember children dehydrate faster than adults do and they are far less likely to mention they are thirsty or hot when they are having fun. Be sure to put the sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and water bottles to good use and remind the kids to take a drink every now and again. Try to avoid high energy activity in the summertime during the hottest part of the day between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm.

Tip #4: Be prepared for bugs.
It is especially important to keep Safety in mind. South Florida mosquito’s can carry Hiking Trails at Birch Park in Fort Lauderdalediseases so be sure to bring the bug repellent and wear protective clothing. Long lightweight pants and long sleeves will help to keep the pesky critters from making a meal of the family. Wear layers so these protective layers can be peeled off later. The best time to avoid the mosquitoes is winter time.Some parks even post a “Mosquito Report” at trail heads, so you can call ahead.
I really like All Terrain Herbal Armor DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent Spray (4-Ounce).  I have been using it since my daughter was born and found that it works pretty well. Socks and light weight pants will help protect you from ant bites and poison ivy.  That handy dandy hat that keeps the sun out of your eyes so well will also help deter ticks.

Tip #5: Make hiking a rewarding experience.
Make sure to follow your hike with something the kids will enjoy.  A little picnic with some favorite snacks on a blanket, or a swim in the ocean will give the children something to look forward to and reason to finish the trail.  Many Local South Florida parks like Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale and John U Lloyd Beach Park in Dania Beach have playgrounds, picnic table are on the beach and have nearby parking so it would be easy to return to pick up swim gear and a picnic basket.  With a little planning, hiking with the family can be very rewarding and lots of fun for all. So get out there and hike South Florida!