Teaching Kids about Charity

10452338_10203331566763656_2243826486205563877_nWith Thanksgiving approaching, all of us tend to  think about the spirit of the holiday and what we we are grateful for.  They say charity begins at home and it’s really true, at least that’s where teaching kids about charity and charitable giving does. Modeling behavior is one of the best ways to teach children about giving. By doing charitable acts yourself, it shows that reaching out to those in need is a core part of your belief system and a good way to start integrating this belief into the values you share as a family.

An article in Todays Parent by Stacey Stein suggests that you “…bring kids along when you donate blood, give change (or food) when you see a homeless person or volunteer at your chlldren’s school.” Some of the other ways to teach charitable giving suggested in the article include throwing a charitable birthday party where guests bring bring non-perishable food items for a local food bank or toys for a children’s hospital. Or starting a donation jar where allowance or gift money are divided among jars for spending, saving and charity – an interesting way to teach children about money at the same time.

Almost every child understands the first jar and has a long list of things they want to spend money on now. The save jar teaches patience, a concept that parents are constantly trying to reinforce in all sorts of ways.  “But the give jar is more mysterious.” says  Ron Lieber in his article “To Teach Children to Give, Tell Them How Much Your Family Has Been Given” that appeared in the New York Times last month.


“Give to whom? And why give at all?” are the questions that often come up Mr. Lieber explains. “Quite often our instinct is to answer children’s questions about giving in the abstract: Because it’s the right thing to do. To give back. Our religious tradition requires it. As the article elaborates, “Many of these answers won’t satisfy your children’s curiosity and intense desire for specificity, so let me suggest another one: One great reason to give is to honor your own family’s history of being helped.”

There isn’t any of us who hasn’t been helped in some way, and help isn’t always financial. It may have been time from a mentor in studying for an exam or preparing for a job interview. Or a bowl of chicken soup from a neighbor when you had a cold. Or someone offering to help fix a broken toy they noticed wasn’t working properly.

However and wherever you decide to give, you and your children can even research together where your time, items or charitable dollars will go. Take a look at both articles referenced here for some other suggestions on how to talk about giving and ways you can integrate this value into your home. It’s a good way for those more fortunate to share with others and those less fortunate to pass the spirit of giving on as well.

At Edventure More, we are appreciative of; our staff who gives of themselves and innumerable hours to develop our programs and bring them to families and schools, all of our camper families whose attendance at summer camp provides the opportunity for those who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to attend camp, our donors and grant providers whose support provides camp scholarships and subsidizes our in class programs, and all of those who appreciate the value of what we do and and bring to the Bay Area and now, Greater Sacramento Area, communities.

The Importance of Social & Emotional Intelligence

EQThis blog is a re-post of one on Facebook from our friends at Kimochis who remind us that “focusing on social and emotional skills in early childhood pays off for a LIFETIME.”

Study: Behavior in kindergarten linked to adult success

Every parent intuitively knows it’s a good thing to teach their child how to share and play well with others, and how to deal with emotions like anger and sadness, but do most of us have any sense of just how important these so-called social and emotional skills can be to our child’s long-term success?

A new study, a comprehensive 20-year examination of 800 children from kindergarten through their mid-20s published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, found a link between a child’s social skills in kindergarten and how well they were doing in early adulthood.  Said Damon Jones of Penn State University, the lead researcher for the study, “He and his fellow researchers knew the importance of social and emotional competency in a child’s development, but didn’t quite expect to find as strong a correlation between those skills and a child’s long-term well-being, even with other variables factored out, such as a family’s socioeconomic status and the child’s academic ability.” What’s heartening from the findings, Jones said, is “how social skills can be taught and learned throughout a child’s development”.

“The implications of the study’s findings are far-reaching,” said Kristin Schubert of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. First, there’s a message to educators that social and emotional learning can be just as important as cognitive skills. “Business leaders understand the importance of emotional intelligence”, Schubert said. “In some ways, they grasped this before many who study early childhood”. “They know they want to hire people who can play well with others because they know it actually impacts the bottom line,” she said.

“Parents, there’s a message here for all of us, too,” Schubert said: “This stuff matters”. “These skills are very simple and it’s something that any parent can work on at home, in their living room, in the car, in the grocery store line, while cooking dinner, while eating dinner,” said Dickens, a mom of three and former television host.

Read the full article by Kathy Wallace from CNN here and learn some of the ways parents can teach their children strong social and emotional skills.

Understanding Children’s Learning Styles

11831782_10154097769049535_2146952761654711965_nNo two children are alike and either are their learning styles. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher or a school year and summer camp enrichment provider (anyone know who we’re talking about?), recognizing and understanding how a child learns is important. “Educators have long been aware that learning is not “one-size-fits-all”. In a typical classroom, some kids process information best by hearing the teacher explain it, some learn by seeing what’s on the chalkboard, and others learn through hands-on exercises.” explains Emily Graham, Senior Editor for School Family Media in a recent article on Edutopia.  When a child is fidgeting as you try and explain something to him or her, “Although it may seem like he’s trying to drive you crazy”, Emily explains, “he’s probably just using the strategies that help him learn.”

Along with children’s different learning styles, there are also different teaching approaches. Within Edventure More’s programs,  we incorporate four different approaches to learning that start with fun and end with reflection, sharing and discovery:

  • Guided Instruction: Starts with a series of curiosity- inspiring questions or facts, then transitions into a hands-on activity that exemplifies the concept being taught.
  • Design Challenge: Children work in groups to create solutions towards a common goal. Groups brainstorm solutions to a problem, use available materials to prototype and test solutions, then make modifications based on their observations.
  • Free Exploration: Kids are given a wide assortment of materials and are encouraged to use their creativity to build something unique, artistic or that serves a specific purpose.
  • Observational Learning: Individuals learn to hone their senses and practice focus, attention and awareness. They record what they perceive and then report their findings.905774_10154042191179535_476770617433645859_o

In any environment, some children may respond better to one or a combination of approaches. Also, while one approach may be effective when children are young, another may be more effective when they’re older. Sounds confusing, doesn’t it? The key is, recognizing what works best for your child, talking with your child’s teacher and agreeing on what method is best at that point in time. “Although it may be tempting to stick with what works, keep in mind that a child’s preferred learning style may change as she grows and that people who can learn in a variety of ways can more readily absorb information.” says Author Maureen McKay the person behind the website Optimistic Outcomes, who advises parents to help their children practice using different kinds of skills. “Really well-balanced students will be able to be comfortable learning in all ways. Knowing that and working on that when they’re young gives them a competitive edge,” she says.

Our Listening Teaches Kids to Do the Same

Alameda072815-064There are always differences of opinion regarding almost any parenting technique. But as we all know, different techniques can work better for some parents and not for others, certain children are more responsive to one approach and some are much better with an entirely different one, and the same solution doesn’t always work in every situation, etc….

The latest topic up for discussion is “Does giving a child our undivided attention create a child who thinks the world revolves around him or her? Or, does having a parent or another adult who listens create a child who believes he or she has a voice that matters in this world? Being heard, whether we agree with what is being said or not, is important for any of us.

An article by Rachel Macy StaffordNew York Times Bestselling Author and Certified Special Education Teacher published in the Huffington Post, believes that listening to our children is “the single most important parenting action we can take today”. As she goes on to explain some of the ways to give your child a voice, she also outlines the thinking behind it, “Because someday our children will find themselves in a difficult situation and they’ll have a choice — either to suffer in silence or to speak up. And perhaps that is the moment they will remember your eyes, the nodding of your head, and your thoughtful response. And suddenly they will be reminded that their voice holds value. And when you believe your voice holds value, it can be a life-changer.”

Talking and listening to children does lots of important things. It improves your bond with them, and encourages them to listen to you. It helps them to form relationships and to build self-esteem. Research also shows beyond question that it is through having many opportunities to talk as well as to listen to teachers, parents and peers that children gain language skills valuable for their success in reading and writing. PaloAltoYoungStaffIGotThisjpg

At Edventure More, we try to give staff and campers a voice and incorporate The Common Core Standards for Speaking and
Listening into our programs. Many of our programs help to strengthen camper’s communication skills through Collaborative Conversation, the infusion of Academic Vocabulary and positive group interaction.

If you want your child to be a good listener, make sure you’re a good role model. Take the time to listen to them, which when we’re busy, can be hard. If you ignore your child, however, you send the message that listening isn’t important and that what your child has to say isn’t important either.

Take a look at a few more tips for talking and listening, as well as techniques from Better Health for communicating with any age child.

Can I ask you a Question?

I did the unthinkable, everyone, I asked parents about parenting. If there’s one thing I know, aside from that fact that parents comments are wonderfully unique and interesting, it’s that when you ask a parent for ONE piece of advice, you usually get three or more little tidbits…it’s kind of wonderful.

So, what question did I ask? Who did I ask this question to? Why am I just going around asking parents questions? Why am I listing all these questions now?

THE QUESTION: What is one tip that you would give mothers/fathers of young children today; something that you learned, something that changed you, something that helped you become the mother/father that you are…?

THE AUDIENCE: Parents, of course! These are parents from every facet of my world; family, friends and parents of friends.

THE REASON WHY: One parent’s successful parenting techniques (and lessons learned) can be a good model for others.

Without further ado, a short list of tips that seasoned parents want to “gift” to those who may be less experienced.

  • Lynn: 3 Children; 5 Grandchildren
    • “Teach your children respect. Respect for authority, parents, teachers, each other, and themselves. Also, manners should be taught to children. Please and thank you go a long way in life.”
  • Dana: 2 Children; 1 Grandchild
    • “Think before you do or say anything, because once it is said or done, you can never take it back.”
  • Josie: 2 Children
    • “Teach yourself to step back. Allow your children to make mistakes. It’s how they learn. Get used to the fact that they can’t be good at everything. Expose them to what you love, they may love it too! When they see the joy it brings you, it will bring them joy! Also, get used to the fact that they are not perfect!”
  • Grayson: 2 Children
    • “Read with your child. From day one, every day. Make it fun, make stuff up, but make it consistent. A love of reading means a love of learning.”
  • Maranda: 3 Children
    • “Parent as two people who are ready to parent (if you can) with the goal of raising children. Kids need a lot of attention; sometimes more than one person can give. Be ready to put down the cell phone and give of yourself!!”
  • Jennifer: 1 Child; 2 Grandchildren
    • “Tell your child every night to remember…The ONLY thing you can’t do is what you tell yourself you can’t do. You can set your mind to do anything you want.  Some things you will achieve, others you won’t, but never EVER let someone ELSE tell you your limitations and if someone does, don’t for one minute believe it. It’s not all about education, grades, etc. ”
  • Ruth: 2 Children; 1 Grandchild
    • “Stay calm and positive, and just be you. Listen, but end up doing what you feel is best. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
  • Evan: 2 Children
    • “Be patient, provide structure and a culture of understanding.  A good dad is not afraid to get his hands dirty, you have to provide guidance but let them find their own way. Sometimes the struggle is the lesson.”
  • Richard: 2 Children
    • “At the risk of being too zen – No matter what age, always listen!”
  • Audra: 2 Children
    • “Teach kids how to live independent lives. After all, I’m not going to be here forever, so I tried to give my children lots of freedom to make decisions and to make mistakes too. For my own sanity, having a support group was invaluable. It was so nice knowing I wasn’t the only mom who sometimes wanted to throw her kids out the window!  Also, the kids learned a lot by playing together when we had our weekly Play Group.”

  • Sara: 2 Children
    • “Take the time to play and have fun with your kids while they are growing up.  The laundry, cleaning, dishes, etc. aren’t important chores, they will eventually get done but your kids don’t stay young forever.  While you’re raising your children, it seems like forever for them to become an adult, but in hindsight you realize how quickly that time goes and you wish for some of it back.”
  • Wallace: 1 Child
    • “Any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad.”

Take this advice with a grain of salt, or start implementing things in your own world. I can personally vouch for all of these individuals and say that their children are well on their way to becoming (or are already) successful adults.

Please note: all names have been changed to protect the innocent parents.

LindseyGuest blog written by Lindsey Friedberg, School Year Presenter & Marketing Assistant

Lindsey Friedberg has had a passion for the arts, science, technology, and camp for as long as she can remember and is excited to bring her love and passion to the position of Marketing Assistant. Having studied film, television and technology analytics for the past eight years, Lindsey brings a wealth of knowledge to the Edventure More crew. Lindsey was awarded a Bachelors of Art in Film and Screen Studies from Pace University in Lower Manhattan. After falling in love with big cities, she set out for San Francisco to study film more closely. After finishing her studies in Film & Television Editing at the Academy of Art, Lindsey started working with boutique companies in the Bay Area to help them reach their social media potential.

What Playing Games Teaches Kids

Alameda072815-583Many of us grew up in families that enjoyed playing games or even instituted a game night as part of the regular weekly routine. It’s also a tradition that some of us have started with our own children.

Games not only promote togetherness but are an effective tool for family communication. It’s easy to make conversation over a board game or when outside playing croquet. Games set up a relaxing atmosphere, so laughing and sharing stories about school, work, friends, and life flow more easily. Board games in particular, depending on the game and the age of your children, can:

  • Help with number and shape recognition, grouping, and counting
  • Reinforce letter recognition and reading
  • Improve visual perception and color recognition
  • Build eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity
  • Increase attention, listening and concentration skills
  • Enhance vocabulary
  • Encourage higher level thinking skills
  • Promote mental agility
  • Teach taking turns and good sportsmanship
  • Demonstrate making choices and the resulting actions and consequences
  • Build the ability to think ahead
  • Allow for bonding
  • Facilitate teamwork, and more

This article on Scholastic Parents has some smart ideas about which games do what and how to pick the ones you want to play.

Video Games are another type of game that provides benefits for your child. As Mindshift explains, “We’re in the midst of a AlamedaYoungGirlsTabletmultiplayer video game renaissance that’s bringing people together. Equally exciting is the trend in design toward video games that build social skills and encourage players to reflect on themselves and their relationships.” Take a look at the KQED Mindshift website and some of the games that build social and emotional intelligence in children.

There are also lots of outdoor family games that promote learning as well. Outdoor scrabble anyone? Tell us what some of your family’s favorite games are on our Edventure More Facebook Page.

Who is your Learning Hero?

superstudentWith World Teachers Day next Monday, it’s a great time to think about our teachers and all they do. Teachers wear many hats and have an integral role in kids development. At an education conference last year, we were challenged to think about those people in education who have most inspired us, what the speaker called, our learning heroes. Each of us were told to think not only about who we admire and have learned from, but what they taught us.

Teachers spend a lot of time and energy each year helping students become their best but they don’t always receive praise for all they do. As stated in an article on inspiremykids.com, “Why is it that a professional baseball player gets national attention for hitting a home run one night, yet a teacher who devotes her life to her students is often forgotten.” Although teachers good actions are recognized. In small ways by students and parents, it’s also nice that several times a year there are days like World Teachers Day to show our appreciation.

Several years ago a number of celebrities put together a video thanking their teachers. Tell us about your teachers or learning heroes and what amazing things they’ve done for you or your children on our facebook wall, and don’t forget to share your post with your learning heroes and recognize the contributions they’ve made.

Pictures tell a story, and more

PaloAltoYoungGirlsFunnyWe have said before that the pictures taken at camp tell a story. Not just of what is happening when the camera’s shutter captures the moment, but what might have happened just moments before or what is going to happen in the moments, and minutes afterward.

Photos can provide a great start to conversation with a child or a springboard for imagination.

“A picture can tell a thousand words,
but a few words can change it’s story.”
― Sebastyne Young

PaloAltoTechBoyJoyAs a recent article on commonsensemedia.org stated “some of the greatest stories have been told in pictures.”  Whether it’s a single photo in a magazine, a photo on a gallery wall or a picture book, they can open a whole new world.

Here are some of the things commonsensemedia.org says picture books in particular can develop:

  • Literacy
  • Vocabulary and verbal skills
  • Confidence
  • A love of books and art
  • Easy access

Read more on commonsensemedia.org or better yet, pull out a book, a photo or a piece of art and share it with your child and see what develops.

How do you Define Character?

CharacterAs Character Day approaches this coming Friday, schools and educational organizations are coming together to talk about what character means in the 21st century. Here is an excerpt from an article on CNN published several years back with students’ definitions of character:

Maggie: Character is whatever defines you – how you act, your personality, everything that you do has a lasting effect on your character. However, you have to be careful and make sure you have a good and positive character so you build a good reputation among others as you grow older.

Sara: When I hear the word character, I think of people and the way they act, behave, do etc. Character is a word that basically portrays who we are, not only on the outside, but on the inside, too.

Bryce: I define character as being a role model to others who want to be successful in life.  I think anyone who does not want to be successful in life still needs a character to show them how to live life better.

Santiago: Character can be defined in different ways, there is no right or wrong. Having character means to have courage and be willing to do the right thing at the right time. Character is not only “moral excellence and firmness” because excellence is an illusion. People with character always do their best and never give up. They have no limits and will not stop supporting what they think is right without a fight.

Liam: “Character is what you do when no one is around.” – Unknown

Iva: I think of someone having character like a hardware tool box. Everyone has different qualities and strengths that can be used for many purposes. When life gives you a tough situation, use the resources in that tool box.

Nykolas: To me, character is who you are on the inside. It’s not who you pretend to be, or who you become so others will like you. Character is what makes us who we are. It is who we really are and always will be.

Joy: To me, character is how you act when you have to make a difficult decision.

Character Day and the organization behind it, Let it Ripple, will be bringing together an amazing collection of thinkers, films, and resources to mark the day and calls upon participants to “introspect and examine their character, while engaging in dialogue with peers about how to improve it.” Visit the website for Character Day to learn more and see how you can help your children develop character.

What’s on Your Back-to-School Checklist?

Going anywhere for the first time can be hard. Whether it the first day of school ever, or just the first day of a new grade, kids, parents and teachers may all be a little apprehensive. Children especially can be reticent if there had been struggles the prior year. As Common Sense Media explains, “Past struggles with grades, schedules, and friends can make kids anxious about the start of a new year. Even determined kids may find themselves playing out the same patterns, engaging in the same old conflicts, or stuck in last year’s situations.”

back-to-school-checklist-2013Each new year however is truly an opportunity to start with a clean slate. Take a look at Common Sense Media’s Back-to- School “Clean Slate Handbook” and just one example of a Back-to-School checklist for starting out the first day of school and every day on the right foot.

Bringing the Edmo Vibe to Schools

Bernal group watches science diversity

Even once camp is over, we are thrilled that we get to keep the camp “vibe” alive and bring camp to schools by way of our School Year Programs. Edventure More brings In Class Programs to Teachers, runs After School Programs, brings science, makers and technology Booths to events and even offers Mini-Camps for during teacher professional development or in-service days.

We’re excited to have Kendra Watkins, formerly a stellar Camp Director, Instructor and School Year Presenter, now heading up our School Year Programs. Many of you in Palo Alto, know Kendra already but for families that don’t, take a look at her bio on our website.

Kendra PicNow, here are a few things that no one knows about Kendra but that we learned in a short interview…

What is the favorite stump question that you’ve been asked?
Who was the only Giants player to play every position in a single baseball game? (It’s Buster Posey…)

What is the best thing about being at camp AND getting to go to schools too?
The best thing about being at camp is getting to act silly and dress up every day. Is there any other job where it is like Halloween every day?!! The best thing about getting to go to various schools throughout the year is getting to see the differences in each classrrom and the variety of teaching styles. It is alo interesting to see the differences in the schools we serve and the resources they have. It really makes you realize how valuable programs such as ours can be in every school environment.

What did you take away from being at camp that you think you can bring to school?
The main thing that I take from camp that I always bring into our School Year Programs is the confidence that camp has given me. This confidence allows me to rock the Edmo Vibe all year round!!

Is there any inside scoop on something new coming to Edventure More’s School Year Programs this year?
We will be offering our first ever Maker program in our After School Programs this year! Students will get the chance to explore circuitry while building a variety of unique, one of a kind creations.

Is there any “fun fact” that campers and families may not know about you?
I am allergic to Koala Bears! In high school, I had the chance to go to Australia for three weeks and while I was there I discovered my unique allergy.

Kendra also has a great sense of humor and we can count on her to provide the jokes we put in our newsletters. Here’s one:
Question: Why do bananas use sunscreen?
Answer: Because they peel!

Learn more about our School Year Programs and all of our stellar School Year Presenters on edventuremore.org.

Surviving Back to School

11577-school-kids-waving-goodbye-mom-landsc.1200w.tnEvery resource out there has some sort of survival guide for the start of the school year. For parents on how to make the transition easier, for kids on how to bravely make it through the first day and for teachers on how to anticipate what parents need.

There is also one now for Mom’s from She Knows on how to make the most of their long awaited “alone” time. As the article states “You’ve got a to-do list longer than your arm, but it’s probably not the same as the one you’ve been telling people about.  Sure, you’ll get to the laundry and the dusting and the bill paying one of these days. But for now, you have six hours of me-time five days a week….”

So, enjoy your coffee, read a book, catch up on TV shows, work without the kids interrupting or pay those bills if you must. Then have fun when your excited children come home with stories about their day at school.

Using a computer alone or sharing. What’s better?

Alameda072815-200Although some parents worry that a child’s time alone on a computer can be isolating, others are sometimes disappointed when a child doesn’t have a computer to themselves. Studies over the years are showing that shared computers in the classroom can have many advantages over working solo. Having children share computers can:

  • Serve as a catalyst for social interaction
  • Result in more focused conversation about the work
  • Lead to peer teaching and helping
  • Foster collaborative groups
  • Encourage turn-taking and healthy competition
  • Improve children’s social behavior, and
  • Provide a format for goal setting, planning, negotiating, and resolving conflicts.


The bottom line, as we see at camp, shared space at the computer causes children to talk more, get to know each other, laugh more, and definitely have more fun. What’s your opinion?

It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s Robo-Mo!

It’s been an absolute joy visiting our camp sites and seeing the weird and wonderful things our campers have been dreaming up and creating all Summer. I have seen prototypes of devices to assist the hearing impaired, cardboard robots that can do remarkable things and sound responsive circuits.  On a routine trip over to the Burlingame location I was shocked and amazed by a collaborative creation from the EdTech Circuit Hacker group, a plush toy replica of Robo-Mo!

This replica is amazing.  It is to scale and made with plush versions of all of the collectable pieces from The EdTech Vibe Game. It also has a touch sensitive LED switch embedded on Robo-Mo’s heart. This creation is truly “next level.”

I interviewed the Burlingame EdTech Circuit Hacker Instructor, Isabella Linares, to get the full scoop on this Robo-Mo plush toy and the team of campers that created it.

Conrad:  “Tell me, Isabella, where did the idea for this project come from?”
Isabella: “Well, the campers began making their LED Plush toys the day before so they wanted to make Robo-Mo for the camp.”
Conrad: “So the plush Robo-Mo was a collaborative project?”
Isabella: “Yes, I broke the campers up into groups of three and they worked on it as a group; sketching it out and putting it together.”
Conrad:  “That is so great to hear!  I really like that this plush Robo-Mo has a working circuit.”
Isabella: “I helped Eva make the switch because she made the heart.  Then we attached the switch to the heart when she finished it.”

I also spoke with Gabby, Burlingame Camp Director, about this group of extraordinary EdTech Circuit Hacker campers.

Gabby:  “I was so impressed by this amazing, creative and collaborative group of EdTech campers.  They came up with incredible ideas, they were enthusiastic about helping each other and were consistently giving back to their camp community during their week here.”

There you have it!  The EdTech Vibe is strong this Summer and I can’t wait to be blown away as Camp EdTech comes to a close for the season, Camp Directors send in all their photos and we see even more amazing camper creations. I’d like to give a special shout out to the EdTech Circuit Hacker group at Burlingame from the week of July 6th! Ro-bo Mo rocks!

As shared by Conrad Guevera, Curriculum Manager

Five Photos – Hundreds of Possible Captions.

We have a lot of favorite photos from summer so far. We made up the captions. What’s your caption for each?

11232022_10154095345814535_2506228273900908775_nBet you can’t do this…


And I see Benji, and Samantha, and Kirk and …


Wait till you see what I’m going to add next!

11811585_10154090558069535_5928572590238247980_nIf only our pies were chocolate.

11753648_10154082030339535_7783887220062819801_nWill the real Mo The Monkey please sit down.

What is Your Dream Playground?

One of the best things we remember about summer when we were all kids was lots and lots of time to play outdoors; in the backyard, out front with neighbors or in the local playground. Playgrounds were and are a place to gather with friends, share stories, play games, maybe get just a little competitive and definitely let your imagination and your body run wild. 10857088_916260731753845_6989621572204541827_o

As many of us already know, playing in general is integral to developing a healthy brain and body and that taking risks (and overcoming them) during play is an important part of child development. What this means is, that playgrounds where children can climb high, spin fast and potentially hurt themselves aren’t just more fun—they’re better for childhood development.


We have lots of different kinds of playgrounds in the Bay Area. Some with all sort of “bells and whistles” and some with just the basics and even others with just lots of open space. The one thing they all have in common is kids, friends and fun.

Have you every thought about what would make the “dream” playground? Everyone has memories of their favorite aspects; a castle where you can hide, a huge dinosaur you can climb on, walls to scale, etc. There are a couple of playgrounds in the area that were actually built with the input of “dreamers”, combining the wish list of the area’s residents.

  • Millennium Playground in San Anslemo was built by 1,500 volunteers in May 2000 during a one week period. The playground was designed by the children of San Anselmo and incorporates themes of the town such as a train depot, seminary tower and Town Hall tower. This playground has everything any neighborhood child could want, literally.
  • Adventure Playground opened in 1979 and was kid designed and crafted out of all sorts of creative and recycled materials.  This amazing spot has been written up as a top 10 playground in National Geographic and was featured in Newsweek as one of the top 5 play spaces in the country. At Adventure Playground, kids climb on  forts, boats and towers, ride the zip line or hammer, saw, and paint.

Here are some of the other great Bay Area playgrounds as featured in BayAreaParent Magazine, as well as a few of what some consider the coolest playgrounds in the world.

Ahhhhh Summer…

As you might imagine, summer is one of our favorite times of year. We love seeing our staff in action, reconnecting with returning camper families, meeting new ones, checking out some of the cool projects created, and seeing all of the fun kids are having at camp. We especially love the feedback we get from staff and families and hearing about or seeing some of the ways our campers are rocking the camp vibe! Here are a few of our favorite quotes and pics to date…

“I want a chance to pie a staff member.”

“I love Camp Edmo, Mom. I want to go here for the next 20 weeks, ok?”

“Wanna hear a brave story? Today there was a bug on my arm. It looked like it wanted to pinch me and lay eggs in my skin. In my head I just said, ‘Pfft. It’s just a bug,’ and blew it off of my arm.”

“I’m going to be EDMO When I grow up!!”




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Please keep sharing your favorite stories, quote and pics with us on the Edventure More Facebook page or on Instagram.  We love hearing from you!

Family Fun for the 4th

The Fourth of July is a wonderful time to celebrate family, community and the things that make our country special. 4th of July is a holiday that all kids especially love with all of the parades, parties and fireworks!  To get everyone in the spirit a few days early,  involve your child in planning and preparation for the day. Whether you’re going to a parade, hosting an event at home, visiting friends, or going to the local fireworks celebration, here are a few ideas on how to get everyone involved and make the holiday fun and festive!

  1. Make Balloon Fireworks ka100079_su03_balloon_vert
    Fireworks are an important part of Fourth of July festivities. This firework confetti balloon craft is an indoor activity that’s creative, simple and will elicit giggles and squeals from the youngest revelers. Your short shopping list will include balloons, confetti, a funnel and some sharpened pencils.
  2. Bake Red, White and Blue Treats cookie bars
    Sugar cookies are as American as apple pie, and a delicious dessert. This recipe for sugar cookie bars gets kids in the kitchen cooking. It’s simple, and the finished product is a great canvas for children to decorate in a patriotic theme. Red, white and blue sprinkles are in abundance this time of year and you can find them in fun shapes like stars.
  3. Decorate the Yard Stars
    Give your lawn some “flour power” this Fourth of July with a simple stencil and a dusting of flour. Draw a star shape on cardboard and cut it out. Lay this stencil on the lawn and spray the grass with water from a spray bottle. Leaving the stencil in place, use a flour sifter to cover the damp star shape with flour. Remove the stencil and repeat to fill your yard with a galaxy of stars.
  4. Decorate the Dog Decorate the dog
    To dress your canine for Independence Day, cut the collar off an old shirt (be sure it’s big enough to button around your dog’s neck). With fabric paint and a brush, add stripes. Fold a 2 1/2- by 4-inch card stock rectangle accordion-style and wrap the center with a pipe cleaner. Button the collar onto your dog’s neck, then attach the bow with the pipe cleaner ends.

Check out a few more ideas for how to make your 4th festive on parents.com and care.com.

Have a favorite idea you’d like to share? Be sure to tell us and to have a fabulous 4th!

Creating a Summer “Bucket” List

Summer for many families is like a blank slate. It’s a time to forget schedules. A time to do those things you can’t get to when the kids are in school. It’s also a time to be creative, explore new things and to turn the simplest of activities into something amazing. As greatschools.org stated in a recent post, “The temptations are great for children to spend hours watching television or playing video games, but with a little ingenuity and planning, the summer can be transformed into a time to stretch the mind, explore new hobbies, learn about responsibility, and build on skills learned during the school year.”

We took a look at a few different lists of things for families to do this summer and here are a few of the ideas we found interesting:

  1. zucchini21Grow the biggest zucchini in your neighborhood
    What better way to learn the basics of science and how things grow than to plant your own garden? You can start with seeds or small plants. Talk about what plants need to be hardy: air, water, sunlight and nutrients. Vegetables are especially fun and educational to plant because your child will learn where food comes from and will also get to eat the end product.
  2. bug hotelBuild a bug hotel
    Poke holes in the lid of a jar, plastic container, or shoebox and allow children to decorate the outside. Have children collect grass, sticks, leaves, and more to fill the box then lead them in a bug hunt. Catch bugs and let them stay (temporarily!) in the “bug hotels” the children have created. Children can take photos, draw pictures or write about the bugs they find.
  3. ice blockingGo ice blocking
    Cover a block of ice with a towel, put in on a hill and go…suddenly you’re sledding. Your block of ice may not last long in the hot summer sun but what a fun way to cool down.
  4. Family reads the newspaper

    Family reads the newspaper

    Make a family newspaper
    Talk to your children about newspapers and magazines and show them examples. Ask older children to create their own family newspaper featuring stories, advertisements, cartoons, and more. Newspapers can be written, feature pictures or both. You’ll be surprised at the day-to-day family events that your kids will turn into newsworthy articles!

Teachers also have some great ideas for summer like starting a family book club, or having your child plan a summer adventure. Or what about volunteering?

Jill Tipograph, summer expert and founder of Everything Summer, suggests that you: “Take advantage of those bright sunny days and warm summer nights and plan something new a couple of times a week.” Care.com suggests building a “Summer Bucket List” so you can plan ahead. Having everyone in the family participate and put ideas on the list is also a great way to get “buy in” from all family members. Lists can go on the refrigerator or you can separate them out, put them in a hat and a couple time a week, pull one out.  That way everyone’s ideas get a chance and it’s always a mystery as to what you’re doing next!

What activities does your family like to do in Summer?

Celebrate Summer Learning

summer learning daySummer Learning Day is a day designed to spread awareness about the importance of summer learning for our nation’s youth, help close the achievement gap and support healthy development in communities all across the country.

Summer Learning is about bringing together fun activities and learning. It’s:

  • A chance to use the great outdoors as a classroom.
  • A way to make sure your child is eating healthy and staying active during the summer.
  • A way for older youth to discover a career through job experiences.
  • A step up to the next grade or school level.
  • A tool for helping children and schools perform at their highest level.
  • An opportunity to help your child exercise his mind by turning everyday errands and outings into a learning experience, and more.

Check out this map with some of the summer learning events in our area. Also, take a look at some ideas for fostering summer learning at home.

Bernal group of campers with brainbow

We’ll be celebrating Summer Learning Day this coming Friday at camp by creating a rainbow made of cut-out Mo the Monkey heads, which will include a sentence or two about something each camper learned  at camp.  Make sure you visit our Edventure More Facebook Page to see rainbows and other photos from your camper’s location.

Learn about Metamorphosis: Caterpillar and Butterfly Craft

Teaching our younger generations about natural processes is not just about them passing science class. It gives them a deeper understanding of the world and all it’s critters.  Metamorphosis is a process some animals go through to become adults! It is a series of physical changes. Metamorphosis is especially common in insects. Genes and chemicals called hormones control the process. Learn more details about this amazing process here!The wonder of metamorphosis

Teach your little one’s about this natural process with a hands-on craft project! First make a recycled caterpillar craft and talk about how the caterpillar must eat lots of leaves before making his cocoon. Explain that this biological transformation into an adult happens with in the pupal casing spun of silk.


Craft Supplies

-Glue or Tape

-Construction Paper


-Hole Pincher

-Pipe Cleaners or any other material to make antennaes

-Google eyes or a marker/pen to make the face and eyes

-Toilet Paper Roll (for Butterfly body)


  • First, cut two inch-thick strips of paper in two different colors (or the same color, it’s up to you!).

Caterpillar Craft

  • Then, either tape or glue the two strips of paper together at a right angle.Caterpillar Craft
  • Now, just fold one strip of paper over the other, going from color to color, until your reach the ends of the paper! Then secure with glue or tape.

Caterpillar Craft Caterpillar_4

  • Add antennae by punching two holes into your caterpillar’s head, cutting an 2 inch long segment from a pipe cleaner, and stringing it through.Caterpillar5Caterpillar6Caterpillar7

Now for the Butterfly! When he’s ready, the adult unravels the silk to enter a new world of flight! Much like when your little one leaves home for college or other pursuits, the newly-formed butterfly must learn to take care of itself. Complement this information with an adorable butterfly craft made from a recycled toilet paper roll!

Butterfly Craft


  • This is a very simple craft. First, fit a strip of construction paper around your toilet paper roll and secure with tape or glue.
  • Then cut out wings (best way to do this is fold a paper in half, draw half of the wings with a pencil. then cut out!).
  • Attach the wings to your toilet roll body with glue or tape and then decorate! Use glitter, googly eyes or whatever you can find around the house. Add antennae like you did with the caterpillar or add a string to hang your butterfly creation around the house or outside!

Avery looking through the binocs

Once your crafts are made, take them outside and see you if you can spot caterpillars, cocoons and butterflies in your own backyard or nearest park! Making a set of recycled binoculars can be a fun additional craft to take outside and explore! Your little one(s) will not only learn about this natural process but get to look for it themselves. This hands-on approach solidifies their newly found knowledge into their minds so they will remember it and connect with it throughout their lives. “Edventure” More outside today!

Behind the Scenes: Camp Instructor Training

For the last month Conrad has been working with our Instructors, preparing for the 2015 Summer Camp Season.  “I must say that I am very excited about the Instructors I have met.”, Conrad shared.  It never ceases to amaze me how excellent all of our Instructors are. During trainings you can really get a sense of the dedication, excitement and wackiness our Instructor team will bring to our campers this Summer!”

Meet our EdTech Maker staff and check out some memorable moments from Conrad’s training:


Here is Eduardo, Minh, Derek, Alicia, and Ian on a coffee break during Maker training.


Here is the Maker team hard at work soldering together microbug kits.  Practice makes perfect.


Meet our EdTech Coding staff.  Pictured here are Minh, Derek, Jude, Nicole, Sara, and Rex deep in contemplation.

During our 2-D Video Gaming, 3-D Video Gaming and App Creation training days, our Instructors were tasked with creating example games to show their campers.  These folks know code!


Next up is an action shot from our Camp Edmo Tinker Town training.  Our Tinker Town instructors worked in small groups to solve a Design Challenge where they had to create “something that moves something somewhere”. Take a look at some of the pictures from what they did as their Design Challenges below.


First we have the Edventure Recyclers.  They created a device that people and animals use together to collect recyclables.


Next up we have the Bravery Bug team.  They create a the Bug Bravery Barge that helps our Kimochi friend Bug build confidence. This Barge also helps Bug find the other Kimochi’s.

Photo7Finally we have the Bumble Bee Team.  They created a bee powered car that campers can ride.  Using this car, bees and campers work together to pollinate plants around the Bay Area.

Conrad“Our instructors are rock stars and I am sure that all of these wonderful people will be getting pies in the face all Summer long! See you at camp, Conrad.”

Enrichment After School

Cupertino Kids ScienceAfter School Programs make a difference in America’s communities by keeping kids safe, helping working families and improving academic achievement. Statistics from the Afterschool Alliance show that participation in programs improves attendance, engagement in learning, test scores and grades, and puts kids on a path for success.

Programs held outside of the school day also can widen children’s areas of interest by offering an array of activities not always available during the traditional school day. After school programs give students many opportunities for growth and learning they might not find elsewhere and can also allow them to go into more depth with activities that interest them or that they got only a taste of in class.

Take a look at two new programs that Edventure More will be offering after school next fall!Castle Building1

Maker Circuit Station (5 – 10 weeks)
Budding engineers and at-home tinkerers will learn all about conductivity and make projects that move, blink, twinkle and flash. Sample projects include:

Squishy Circuits: You won’t believe your eyes! You will connect electronic parts together with specially made dough to make a squishy circuit powered animal friend!
Robo-Mo Paper Circuit: You will give your Robo-Mo storybook the Makers edge as you light up drawings with LEDs.
Silly Spinners: You will be amazed as you bring a drawing to life with wacky materials and a tiny motor. Don’t get too dizzy from all the excitement.

Science Smorgasboard ( ≈ 10 weeks)
Explore the vast world of science with our most varied program, offering our best science activities covering a variety of topics. Sample projects include:

Oobleck: Explore the properties of matter while making a “goo” that breaks the boundaries of states of matter.
Exploding Volcanoes: Discover the different types of volcanic eruptions and the forces that cause them before creating one that erupts 3-4 ft. in the air!
Magnificent Magnets: Explore the magic of magnets by making a paper clip fly and creating art using magnets!

If you’re interested in having your child do more after school, tell your school about our programs. Summer camp is almost here and we know you won’t want it to end. Have Edventure More come to your school during the 2015-2016 school year so you can have the feeling of camp – at school. There are advantages to booking In Class Programs, After School Programs and our new In Service Day Workshops and Mini-Camps early! Visit the Edventure More website to learn more about each and share this blog with your Principal, Teacher or After School Program Coordinator now!

Building With a Purpose

IMG_0450Just having come from Maker Faire this past weekend, everyone at Edventure More is alive with creativity and “jazzed” by the Maker Movement. We really can’t wait to bring this exciting movement to camp and MAKE this summer great with all of our new Maker sessions at both Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech.

We’re also very excited that Camperoo has invited us to bring the Maker Movement to our camper families and friends via one of their weekend workshops. On May 31, Instructors from Edventure More and Camperoo will guide participants age 6-9 and 10-13 through age specific workshops where they are sure to have busy minds and hands! From egg crash cars to structures that can withstand winds of varying speeds, students spend this weekend workshop building with a purpose!

Ages 6-9: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Slow and Steady Racers:  In this fun session, kids will work in pairs to convey a ball down a track as sloooowly as possible from a height of 4 feet to the ground.  This Design Challenge has a time limit though so participants will have to hustle to build a functional prototype to test against their peers!

Racers will need to be quick on their feet as they experience the engineering design process in action and learn about the forces of motion, friction and rapid prototyping!

Ages 10-13: 12:30 am – 2:30 pm
Egg Crash Challenge: In this exciting workshop, kids work in pairs to create a special model vehicle that keeps an egg safe during a crash.  Participants will design, test and re-evaluate their ideas, work with provided materials and hustle within a strict time limit. Controlled chaos will ensue!  Once time is called, participants will test their functional prototypes against their peers.

Teams will really work together as they experience the engineering design process while creating a solution to protect eggs across the globe!

Both workshops are located at the Alma Community Room, 3441 Alma Street, Palo Alto.

If you’re ready to get a taste of camp and see some of the learning we’re integrating into camp this summer, be sure to sign up for Building With A Purpose on May 31!  Both workshops are great for those with all experience levels of Design Thinking. Kids attending should bring their creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness and get ready to have fun!


Summer Matters – Really!

Summer Matters is the first-ever statewide campaign focused on creating and expanding access to high quality summer learning opportunities for all California students. Chaired by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, and co-chaired by Jennifer Peck, Executive Director of Partnership for Children & Youth, the Summer Matters campaign is raising awareness about the devastating effects of summer learning loss and the beneficial impact of summer learning programs.

Burlingame Boy Happy

As many parents know, high quality summer learning is essential to preventing summer learning loss and improving students’ academic achievement and readiness to learn. Summer Matters tries to ensure that all California students have access to high quality summer learning opportunities, and that engaging academic, enrichment and recreational activities are a part of every child’s summer experience. The freedom of summer learning also provides unique opportunities for learning and enrichment that the regular school day cannot.

ConradOur Curriculum Manager, Conrad Guevera, is getting ready for the Summer Matter’s Staff conference on May 8 and invites those passionate about Summer Learning and/or having a role in the planning or management of summer programs to join him.

“I am getting pumped for the Summer Matters Conference! I’ve attended Summer Matters conferences in the past and have always had a blast! This Summer I am honored to have been selected to present at the conference!

I will be leading two sessions, both called “Making Learning Active: Design Challenges and the Maker Mindset”.  I plan on getting attendees (line staff from Bay Area After School Programs) up and out of their chairs!

Design Challenges are perfect for experiential learning. Participants will take an active role and experience science and engineering concepts in real time, instead of just reading about them. I expect to have controlled chaos in both of my sessions, as participants scramble to create a solution to a challenge. I won’t give too much away, but participants will need to channel their inner slo-mo.

Sessions will also focus on developing a Maker Mindset, which is centered on allowing students to follow their natural curiosity through open ended activities. The Maker Mindset is a boost to traditional models of teaching and makes space for a more personal connection to learning experiences.

I will be presenting at the Nile Hall on Friday at 11:20am and 1:50pm. I hope to see you there!”

Learn more about the Summer Matters conference on the Summer Matters website and register here.  Tickets are free.

Want to know more about what makes a great summer learning program? Take a look six important elements from Summer Matters.

Thank You to Bay Area Teachers – You Inspire us!

national-teacher-day-19404839With National Teacher Appreciation Week approaching, we wanted to reach out and thank those people who provide inspiration and are role models for our children every day. Exceptional teachers are life-changers and it’s rare that someone can’t recall the name of a Teacher (no matter how long ago) that made a difference in their lives. Whether it was the subject they were teaching, the example they provided, the qualities they brought out, or some situation they guided us through, Teachers have an impact. Teachers can make a positive difference in the lives of children, families and communities.

People in the United States started celebrating National Teacher Day in 1953 when Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded Congress to set aside a day to recognize educators. It didn’t become a national day until 1980, after the National Education Association (NEA) lobbied Congress. A few years later, the National Parent Teacher Association designated the first full week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week and then the NEA voted to make the Tuesday of that week National Teacher Day. This year we celebrate May 4th – May 8th with May 5th as National Teacher Appreciation Day.

Although we believe Teachers, as well as others who inspire us, should be celebrated every day, it is nice to draw attention to them and reflect on the contributions they make during this special week and day. Teachers play a key role in student success and sometimes a simple “thanks” is all a teacher needs to feel valued. Be sure to give thanks to all of the “educators” in your life next week and share your stories of Teachers who have made a difference in yours or your children’s lives with us on the Edventure More Facebook page.

Celebrating Earth Day

earth dayEvery year on April 22, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day. From San Francisco to San Juan, people plant trees, clean up their communities, contact their elected officials, and more—all on behalf of the environment.

Today is Earth Day’s 45th anniversary and what the Earth Network says may be “…the most exciting year in environmental history. The year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands. The year in which world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty. The year in which citizens and organizations divest from fossil fuels and put their money into renewable energy solutions.”

Although we all need to think about protecting our planet every single day, Earth Day is the one day each year that all of us can take a stand together and make an impact. This year’s Earth Day theme, It’s our turn to lead, is designed for all of us to show the world a new direction so our world leaders can follow by example.

There are many ways to participate in Earth Day. Take a look at 15 Ideas and Ways to Celebrate Mother Nature And Become An Environmental Steward, and some Earth Day events taking place in the Bay Area.

Please post a picture or tell us how you are celebrating Earth Day today on our Edventure More Facebook page!

Oh The Places We’ll Go…

AAUW 2Edventure More is on the road bringing amazing presenters and hands-on science and technology activities to areas throughout the bay. Here are just a few of the places you’ll find us over the next month. Our events are a great way to get a taste of camp a little early. Tell your friends so they can come enjoy the fun too!

Dog Fest 4/18
Duboce Park
Duboce Ave and Noe St.
San Francisco
11am – 4pm

Silicon Valley Camp and School Fair 4/18
Cherry Chase School
1138 Heatherstone Way
11am – 2pm

Silicon Valley Camp and School Fair 4/19
Cubberley Community Center Pavilion
4000 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto
11am – 2pm

DV Makers Night 5

Twin Pines Park Earth Day 4/25
Twin Pines Park
9am – 12pm

Alameda Earth Day Festival 4/25
Washington Park
740 Central Ave.
10am – 3pm

Cal Academy 2.27 2

Los Altos Earth Day Celebration 4/26
Westwind Community Barn
27210 Altamont Rd.
Los Altos Hills
1pm – 4pm

Hands on the Arts Festival 5/16
Sunnyvale Community Center
550 East Remington Drive
10am – 4pm

Ingenious Fun

Anyone who has ever been to one of our camp locations could tell you that Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech feature an incredible spirit of teamwork and collaboration.  Within a single week or over the course of an entire Summer season, campers make friends and create bonds with people outside of their immediate school year lives.  Our campers make cheers, team names and a whole world of inside jokes.

This coming Summer, we are excited to harness this spirit of teamwork and collaboration during our enrichment activities at camp. Specifically, campers will be working in groups and/or pairs on a series of Design Challenges.  Design Challenges are amazing for making learning active.  In each Design Challenge, campers will be presented with a question, issue or task, it is then up to them to work with their teammate(s) to create a solution.  Campers will have their creativity tested with additional constraints including time limits, specified materials and special rules during their challenges. These challenges are part of our Art & Science, Makers and Tech Programs in Camp Edmo.  Our EdTech campers in Makers: Bot Builders and Makers: Circuit Hackers also get a chance to compete against each other in a few Design Challenges.

Cupertino Park Building BoysWe are excited to see our classroom become active laboratories with campers scrambling to create truly inspired designs. Ingenuity is paramount during Design Challenges.  Campers get to actively prototype, test hunches and rethink their ideas. Our campers also get to experience engineering principles in real time, instead of just hearing about them in a traditional classroom lecture.  On top of all of this, campers get invaluable experience working with teammates to accomplish a goal.

Here’s a Design Challenge that campers will get to experience during Tinker Town:

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.50.26 AMThe Mo Tower

Our friend Mo needs to build an Edventure More Tower. The new Edventure More Tower needs to be as tall as possible to reach all of our fellow campers and staff across the whole Bay Area!  This tower should also be able to stand up and resist strong gusts of wind.

The Rules!

  1. Camper must work in groups of 4
  2. Camper have a 20 minute time limit
  3. Campers Must use ALL of the following materials:

1 Straw
1 Piece of Yarn
2 Cups
Scotch Tape
1 Piece of Tin Foil
1 Piece of Metal Wire
1 Piece of Cardboard
2 Wooden Sticks
1 Piece of Foam
1 Wildcard Object

Please try this Design Challenge at home and please, please, please post on facebook,  tag us on instagram (@edventure_more #edventuremore #MoTower) or send in pictures of you and your family creating your own special Mo Tower.  We can’t wait to see what our Edventure More families come up with!

Empowering Kids with Daily Routines

Michele-at-waterfall-200x300The following in an interview with Michele Berman, Founder of MyZAZOO. We were interested in talking with Michele as MyZAZOO is all about creating healthy family habits, making them fun and empowering and raising confident, independent kids!

First, tell us a little bit about MyZAZOO and how you came up with the idea?
I had night owls as kids; they were up in the middle of the night, and they truly did not understand the concept that nighttime was sleep time. I took to standing at the window with my child in my arms and pointing to the moon to talk about what we do at nighttime. This was the beginning. Of course, the natural moon is inconsistent with the time kids go to bed so I created a photoclock to help tell the story and prompt the action. It has evolved into “ZazooTime.”

What do you feel are the keys to helping children build independence?
Consistency is key along with giving kids the chance to do something on their own. Become a prompt and acknowledge each step of the process. Kids also need to know what is expected of them. They are so pleased with themselves when they are able to accomplish tasks on their own.

What are some of the routines you think are important to create?
Bedtime and morning routines, as well as naptime or rest time is key to healthy sleep habits. The bedtime routine can take on many forms but almost always contains the same components: change clothes; bath/shower; brush teeth; go to the bathroom; sip of water; reading a story and lights out. Parents and caregivers begin to sound like a broken record so kids love it when the pictures do the talking.


Are there different routines for different ages?
Being mindful of capabilities is half the battle for parents moving through the day. Age-appropriate tasks like putting shoes away, bathroom time and so on for children up to five, and older kids can have routines related to housework, chores and homework just to name a few.

You wrote a blog about generating a spirit of giving. What are your suggestions?
It is amazing when a young child is exposed to anyone less fortunate and realize for the first time that not everyone on earth has equal life needs and wants. Also, just by baking cookies for a neighbor or watering plants empowers empathy in a child which will lead to a greater sense of contribution as they age and can take on bigger volunteer roles. Taking a pre-teen to a soup kitchen or dropping off canned food at a local pantry as a family are great first steps. There are also organizations my kids are involved with such as Love4Lacey that help to send cards to sick children in hospitals.

MyZAZOO features the ZAZOO KiDS PhotoClock which gives creative visual cues to actions so children have a non verbal way to learn routines and feel pride in accomplishing things on their own. The ZAZOO ClockManager provides more robust media featuring music, audio books and playful icons to symbolize specific action items.  Learn more about MyZAZOO, their PhotoClock, the ZAZOO ClockManager and their new mobile app on their website.

A Day in the Life of an Edventure More School Year Presenter…

As part of the School Year team with Edventure More, I get to live the very exciting and glamorous summer camp life, all year long! During the school year, teachers invite us into their classrooms to give 1-hour science or tech presentations. The job is fast-paced, requires lots of preparation and is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. For a sneak peek into what my day looks like, keep reading!

As I mentioned, each presentation requires a certain amount of preparation. This is not only for the materials, but for the presenter so we know what our day looks like; what school and area we’re going to, what presentation we’re giving and whether or not we have an after school program in another location on that day. A lot of how smoothly our day goes is based on how well we prepare the night before.

Arrive on Campus

Each day has a different starting time based on when the teachers have us scheduled to come in. As a rule of thumb, presenters arrive about 30 minutes in advance of a presentation to check in at the main office, triple check all supplies are ready for the next action-packed hour and find the classroom that we’re expected in! By the time we arrive at a school, a presenter has been preparing either materials or mentally for the presentation for the last 12-24 hours.

Enter the Classroom

When we first roll into a classroom with our very stylish hand cart, a lot of very important steps happen very quickly. One skill that each presenter has finely honed is being able to ‘read’ a classroom. This includes noting the relationship the teacher has with their students and the layout of the room so we know how to best utilize the space. We also quickly meet with the teacher and figure out how we’d like to work together in creating the best possible experience for their students. Of course, we’ve also got our best fun-face on because we are now in front of the students we’ll be teaching in just a few minutes!


We are on! We introduce ourselves to the kids, we talk as a group about the expectations of student behavior in a science or tech setting and we jump right into the lesson! We bring not only the materials for each lesson, but more importantly the Edmo Vibe! We do our best to ensure each student participates fully and has a positive experience! It’s really important not only to me, but to our entire School Year staff that students really recognize that learning can be a fun experience and that for science (or tech), whether its oobleck or volcanoes that they are learning about, can be absolutely amazing! After each presentation, we do a quick re-set of our supplies and then head into the next classroom and start the process all over again!

After School

Once our In Class Presentations are done for the day, we make our way to our After School Programs (ASPs)! I get the honor of being at Montclair Elementary twice a week to have a fun science lesson with a handful of kindergarteners! We offer various After School arts and science themes (either 5 or 10 week programs) and tech themes to older students! The After School Programs are very dear to us, because this is the chance where we really get to make the program our own and get to know the students on a more in-depth level. While all of us make great connections at schools for an hour at a time, we’re lucky if we get to run into those kids twice. At an ASP, we really get the chance to become influential educators in the lives of students.

After our ASPs, we head back to drop off today’s materials and pick up what we need for the next day to start it all over again!

alyssaBlog provided by Alyssa Scharf, School Year Programs Presenter 
Although a presenter during the school year, Alyssa Scharf is ecstatic to be a Camp Director at our Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech, Noe Valley/Twin Peaks location this coming summer! Alysa graduated with her Bachelors at Dominican University in 2014 and is currently applying to graduate programs to earn her masters and teaching credential! When she’s not at work, Alyssa can be found either exploring the Bay for new places to eat or at home trying to finish reading the Game of Thrones series!

The Many Benefits of Summer Camp

“It’s so critically important that summers be seen as a time for innovation, for something new, for something different that can help drive these broader systemic changes and ways that we address the whole child.” —Ron Fairchild, former CEO, National Summer Learning Association

At Edventure More we couldn’t agree with the above quote more and believe that all children should have access to high quality Summer Camp and School Year enrichment programs that contribute to children’s whole child development. We feel so strongly that we allocate 5% of camp proceeds and 100% of donations to fund camp scholarships for underserved kids and subsidize science and technology programs in local schools. As another way to make camp accessible, we’ve also developed our Sliding Scale (Financial Aid) Program so that even those families who just need a little help can come to camp.

We could list all of the reasons we think that kids should go to camp but we’re not alone in our beliefs with both educational experts like Madeline Levine, PhD, and other summer camp representatives agreeing.

An Inside Look at Edventure More Events

We have an extraordinary team at Edventure More. Our home office, school year and summer camp staff is made up of a variety of individuals coming from a range of backgrounds and experience. Our staff also wear many hats. Some of our home office staff works at our camp sites in the summer (and visa versa) and some of our presenters, not only rock the vibe at In Class or After School Programs but also work at our many Bay Area camp fairs and hands-on activity booths at events. Having Edventure More at events has in fact become so popular that we wanted to share a little bit more about them. The following guest blog was provided by Jessica Tong, one of our stellar Edventure More team members.

Hello! My name is Jessica and I’m a member of the event staff for Edventure More. Over the last two summers I served as a counselor for Camp Edmo, so I know what goes on during camp. Now I’m working behind the scenes to help prepare for this year’s fun camp season.

For the past few months, we have been part of science nights, fairs and all sorts of events. One of my favorite events so far has been the AAAS Family Science Days at the San Jose Convention Center. There were so many great booths set up where families could explore the realm of science. There were booths about volcanoes, big cats, marine life, outer space, and many more. We even got to hear performers transform a few pop songs into songs about carbon dioxide and the the Ozone layer!


The first thing we do at every event is to set up our stations. We have one station with all our camp information for interested parents and we have another station where kids (and adults!) can do some hands-on activities with the staff. We always have someone readily available to answer questions. We also encourage parents to participate in our Win-a-Free-Week-at-Camp raffle and to use our coupon codes for $50 off when registering new campers.

Some of our staff members facilitate the activities station. The activities we bring with us to events allow people to get a sample of what kinds of things campers learn in a day at Camp Edmo. One of our newest and coolest activities is called “LED Bling”, where campers have the opportunity to learn to utilize the positive and negative sides of a battery as they attach LEDs to make them light up. They then use pipe cleaners and various art supplies to turn their LED component into a piece of light-up jewelry or decoration. We brought our LED Bling to Strawberry Point School recently and this is what Catherine Marhefka, from the Strawberry Point PTA, had to say: “Thank you so much for your great booth on Science Night!! The kids had a blast with the LED lights, especially in the dark. The people manning your booth were fantastic too.”

LED Bling is an activity that is a part of our new Makers and Technology options for event booths this year. During summer camp season, we offer programs such as Tinker Town, Circuit Station, Gaming Studio, and Animation Studio in order to have Makers and Tech activities like LED Bling available for all ages.

I really enjoy being part of Edventure More’s event staff. It’s like having a slice of camp before summer starts! I can already tell that this camp season is going to be great and I’m looking forward to another summer with Camp Edmo! Be sure to take a look at our website to see what events are happening in your community!

Jessica Tong Art Instructor and CounselorJessica Tong – Field Marketing Team Member and Palo Alto Counselor

A Day in the Life of a Camp Director

courtneyAs we begin our countdown to the start of Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech, we thought we’d provide you all with an inside peek into a typical day at camp for one of our stellar Camp Directors. Although at our camps, no day is typical, we do know that each day is enriching and lots of fun for campers, and staff. Here is Courtney Hann’s (4-year veteran Camp Director in Palo Alto) day…

This past summer as I sat in my office, I was enthusiastically visited by a camper who couldn’t wait to tell me that he had figured out what he wanted to be when he grows up! He had decided that he wanted to work for Camp Edmo! With equal amounts of excitement,, I asked him which role at Camp Edmo he would want to take on; a Counselor or an Instructor, or even a Camp Director like me? Without a second’s hesitation, he responded back, “I don’t want to be a Camp Director, I want to have fun!”

This is not the first time I heard about the position of Director and what it looks like from a camper’s point of view. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I once had a camper tell her Counselor, “Courtney’s job looks so easy – she doesn’t even do anything!” Rather than simply explain that in actuality my job is a TON of fun, (and yes, I actually am rather busy throughout the day) I think it is time to break down the walls and give everyone a sneak peek into the day of an Edventure More Camp Director and what it is that keeps us pumped, smiling (and busy) during camp.

7:15 – 7:45 Open Camp

The day starts the second I walk in the door. While navigating questions from early arriving staff, I multi-task to get that day’s schedule written and printed and to get the school unlocked before everyone arrives.Palo Alto Staff Dressed up

7:45 – 8:00 Staff Meeting

Then comes our AM staff meeting. Each day, I lay out a list of announcements and points for the staff to concentrate on throughout the day. I also work to create a level of energy that will be duplicated by the staff once our excited campers start to arrive.

8:00 – 8:45 Beginning of AM Care

Next, our AM Campers begin walking in and all of the staff jumps into gear. I walk around checking in with each staff member and classroom to make sure we are prepared for the day. I field staff questions, make adjustments and greet our campers.

8:45 – 9:15 Check-In

Check-in begins with a bang as we work to seamlessly check-in an average of over 100 campers and get the fun started. I make myself available for all special questions and requests from parents, while addressing any and all concerns and auditing our staffing numbers and flow as more campers enter our site for the day.

9:15 – 9:30 RallyPalo Alto Staff Pie

It is time to lead rally – my personal favorite time of the day! I call out “What’s up, Camp Edmo?” to be greeted with a loud response of “What’s up, Courtney?” I then get the exciting task of using skits and songs to get our campers pumped for the day!

9:30 – 2:30

During the bulk of the day, there are endless tasks on my plate. I take roll, making sure the information on our clipboards matches the campers in each group. I make any data updates and changes to information that we received during check in. I audit each classroom and provide in-the-moment feedback to a staff of fourteen, trying to give each of them tips and hints on ways to improve the experience for each of our campers. Meanwhile, I work to learn the names of all of our campers and make personal connections with each of them. One way I do this is with STUMP TIME! I make sure to visit Team Time for each of our 5 groups to give them a chance to try to “stump” me with their awesome science, art and animation knowledge. I also make myself available with office time for coaching and mentoring any staff that needs it, while simultaneously being present for any camper who needs to spend time in my first-aid/nap station. I make sure to send out our daily emails to give our parents a sneak peek into what we have going on at camp that day, trying to add a meaningful Director’s note with any additional notes I think will be relevant to our parents in providing a better experience for our campers.

Palo Alto Staff Hula Hoop2:30 – 3:00 Rally

Again, it is time for exciting skits and songs! These moments make all of the time I spend on administrative and logistic details during the day so worth it! I love the opportunity to sing, dance, and just be “goofy” with my fantastic staff and amazing group of campers.

3:00 – 3:30 Check-out/Transition into PM Care

Every day we strive to provide the smoothest check-out for our families that we possibly can. Counselors pass out projects and work to keep the kids engaged at the picnic tables, while others walk each individual child out to their parents. Staff members check IDs and lists vigorously to make sure we are keeping our campers safe and sending them home with the correct person. Again, I audit the flow and efficiency, while making myself available for any concerns or special requests our families might have.

3:30 – 6:30

Though camp is over, my day is far from done! I oversee our three extended day programs (LEGO, Media Lab, and PM Care), run an end of the day staff meeting hearing staff’s feedback on the day, and finish any administrative tasks that did not get done. I check in with the staff working our extended day programs to make sure they have what they need for their lessons and to make sure they are prepared. Once everyone has been picked up, I count computers, check windows and lock up our site. On a smooth day with limited interruptions, I leave camp around 6:30, over 11 hours after I arrived. On a busy day, it is even later. Many days, I stop at the store on the way home to pick up any supplies we still need at site while fighting the Bay Area traffic home.

9:30 I’m asleep!

Running camp is rewarding but exhausting, and I am lucky to squeeze in dinner when I get home before I make a beeline for bed. I am fast asleep the second my head hits the pillow. After all, I probably have to get up early the next day to dress for costume day, run to the store on my way to camp, or both!

Courtney Hann has been working to educate children in a variety of settings for 10+ years.  Starting out working with children as the manager of a kid’s martial arts program, she then found her passion for summer camp when she began directing a Humane Education camp while working towards her Animal Science degree.  After graduating from Calpoly San Luis Obispo and spending many years in the shelter industry, including working for two years as a surgery technician for veterinary medicine, she decided to make the exciting switch to a full time emphasis on summer camp with her move to the Bay Area to join Edventure More.  At Edventure More, she has the exciting role of Outreach Manager during the year and a Camp Director during the summer.

Former Campers Debut Movie at School Film Festival

DSCF0182We don’t always get to hear about the digital media interests our campers pursue outside of camp so were pretty excited to get a chance to follow two of our longer term campers turned CITs, Harrison S. and Charlie W., to a film festival at Hall Middle School and the debut of a film they created. It was hard to get through all the paparazzi but we did manage to not only get a copy of the film (see below) but ask them a few questions about their film and the thoughts behind it.

What’s the name of your film and how did you come up with it?
“The name of the film is Break Free. We came up with the name when we were discussing the film. It comes from the idea of ‘breaking free’ of the clutch of technology and actually looking at the world around you.”, explained Harrison.

Was there a message you want people who watch your movie to take away from the film? According to Charlie, “The film shows what might happen if you look away from your device.” Added Harrison, “The message that people should take from this film is that they should get off their phone. They should look up and realize that life only happens once and they should enjoy it.”

How does your film making process work? Do you collaborate on all aspects from script writing to final editing or do you divide up the tasks? “We all worked together” said Charlie. “The process takes a long time”, added Harrison. “We worked for 2 to 3 months. We, Charlie and I, spent a lot of time discussing various shots, props, and VFX. Then we talked to our director, Helen, about what we thought the best ideas were.”

As for how we did the various tasks, Harrison added, “I wrote the script, did a lot of discussing, some editing, and all the on set work except for operating the camera. Charlie did most of the casting, a lot of discussing, the rest of the editing, and the on set camera operating. There are a lot more details, but they are kind of boring to talk about.”

What first sparked your interest in making movies?
Charlie explained, “My older brother is a cinematographer and he sparked my interest.“ As for Harrison, he got his inspiration from the various YouTube channels he watches. “If I had to choose one channel, it would be RocketJump. They made the incredibly popular web series, “VGHS.” They started out as a bunch of guys with a camera and an imagination. Now they are making a popular web series, which is incredible. I would love to be on their level someday, but as of right now I am at the beginning and have a lot of learning to do.”

I know you both took animation at camp, are there things at Camp Edmo or Camp EdTech that played a part in developing your interest? Or things you learned at camp that you were able to apply?  “In the animation class, we learned how to storyboard, and come up with a good story” explained Charlie. For Harrison, he said his learning was “from examples and demonstrations from RocketJump and others.”

What advice do each of you have for those coming to camp and making a movie for the first time?
Charlie: “Come to camp!  It is really fun and you learn good stuff.  If you are making a movie, my only advice is if it doesn’t work out the first time, keep trying.”

Harrison: “My biggest piece of advice is don’t give up. Yes, this advice is a bit cliche, and film makers should avoid cliches, but it is the singularly most important piece of advice. We were originally planning on something way more complicated, but we quickly realized that we needed to keep it simple. It’s a process, don’t give up at the first difficulty. It’s hard to do. I know this, Charlie knows this. Every single film maker knows this. The only way you will become better is doing it again, and again, and again. As for technical advice, keep it simple, only use actors/crew/extras that are committed to your project. Gear does not matter. It helps, but what makes or breaks a film is the story or lack thereof.”

Watch Charlie and Harrison’s film “Break Free”, winner of the coveted “Best Message” Award.

Charlie and Harrison have been friends since before they were a year old, campers since 2005 and CITs in Mill Valley the past two summers.

Have a camper who has pursued their interest in art, science, nature, making, or tech outside of camp? Email their story to margot@edventuremore.org and maybe we’ll feature it in our next blog or newsletter!

The Scoop on our School Year Programs

Everyone loves the inside “scoop” on what goes on at Edventure More. As result, we thought we’d give you a peek into our School Year Programs; what goes into training our enthusiastic presenters, one of our newest presenters and our new technology In Class Programs and new City Builders After School Program.
Stomp RocketA School Year Presenter’s Journey
What goes into preparing an Edventure More School Year Presenter for the excitement of bringing hands-on science and technology programs to schools throughout the Bay Area? It might be more than you think! Before going out to train in a classroom, all presenters spend their first month becoming experts on program curriculum and practicing rocking the Edmo Vibe with other presenters. Once presenters have an understanding of the curriculum, it is time to head out into a classroom to practice their newly honed skills with the full support of the School Year Team behind them. Then, throughout the school year, presenters are continuously afforded the opportunity to enhance their skills through professional development that aligns with new movements in education so they can bring fresh ideas and methods into classrooms. Along with all the technical trainings that go into preparing presenters, they also get to have a little fun and grow personally along the way. Each presenter gets in touch with their inner child while testing out each project and putting their unique twist on each presentation. Being a School Year Presenter is like being at camp all year round, and we all know there is nothing better than that! Look for our amazing School Year Presenters at a school near you!
DannyKirkMeet Danny Kirk – New School Year Presenter 
This is my first year with Edventure More, and I am so excited to be joining the school year presenter team. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in history, and have spent many years teaching, tutoring and working at summer camps. My first jobs were counselor-in-training positions at summer camps, and more recently I was a summer activity leader and counselor at a UC Berkeley Rec Sports camp, and an after school teacher in San Francisco. I loved all of this work and I am thrilled to continue bringing awesome In Class and After School opportunities to schools around the Bay Area as part of the 2015 Edventure More team.When I am not working at Edventure More…you can find me cooking, trying new restaurants, watching movies or playing Scrabble or Settlers of Catan!

New Technology In Class Programs Featuring Coding and Design
Edventure More is now offering two technology programs as part of the In Class Programs we offer to schools. These exciting hands-on sessions are taught by spirited presenters and make kids want to learn more.

  • 2-D Video Gaming: Students will unlock the power of Scratch and create their very own maze-themed video games with treasure, opponents, obstacles, and motion.
  • Makers Lab: Students will create “LED Bling” while exploring the power of conductivity and creativity by creating their very own LED-powered jewelry.
City Builders After School Program
In this new engineering focused After School Program, students will be faced with a unique design challenge each week! From designing, building and redesigning structures such as skyscrapers, bridges and cable cars, participants will hone their skills working with the design process to create solutions! We bet you want your school to have one of our After School Programs like City Builders!


If you can’t wait until summer camp to experience the fun of camp, tell your child’s Teacher or School Principal you’d like Edventure More to come to your school. Visit our website for more information about our School Year Programs, Events and Summer Camps!

Great Ideas for your Family’s Time Off

This weekend marks the start of a couple of days or the whole week off for many families around the Bay. To keep your time off fun-filled, here are a few ideas for things to make or do!

borax-crystal-decorationsValentines Day Craft: Crystal Hearts
Make simple but elegant Valentine’s Day decorations for your home or to send to class as a cute little gift for teachers or classmates!

Borax (found in the laundry aisle at most stores)
Empty Jars
Boiling Water
Pipe Cleaners (colored or white)
Popsicle Sticks
Paper Towels
Ribbon (optional)

Food Coloring (optional)

1. Use pipe cleaners to create heart shapes (or any other shapes).
2. Attach each pipe cleaner to a popsicle stick with yarn.
3. Fill jars with boiling water and add about 1/3 cup of borax. Stir to dissolve. Add food coloring if you want to create colored crystals.
4. Place your hanging shapes in the solution and let it sit overnight.
5. In morning, remove crystals and place on paper towels to dry.
6. To add extra flare to the hearts, add some ribbon to the yarn and any other decorations and then hang them up in a window or any other place around the house.

FSD-AAASAAAS Family Science Days – Free Science for Everyone!
February 14 – 15, 2015, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm at the San Jose Convention Center
Explore interactive science exhibits, learn about cool science jobs and have your questions answered by scientists! Science Days are FREE and feature hands-on demos, shows, talks by scientists, and other activities appropriate for K-12 children and their families. Science Days will also include a rocking booth by us – Edventure More! Make sure to swing by, say hello and sign up for our raffle to win a free week of camp! Learn more about Family Science Days.

Photo exhibitCalifornia Academy of Sciences
Big Picture: Natural World Photography Competition
What on Earth have you photographed? Enter your photos now through March 31st to win prizes and fame. Winners will be featured in an exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. The adult division welcomes photography enthusiasts and professionals alike to compete for a chance to win the $5,000 grand prize. Young photographers, up through the age of 17 on the closing date of the competition, may enter images, too! Visit Big Picture’s website for more details.

CCMChildren’s Creativity Museum
NASA is landing in San Francisco on Thursday, February 19 to share a unique experience with families! Stop by the Children’s Creativity Museum and enjoy a full day of “Destination Station” activities led by NASA’s team of experts. Learn how space suits are designed, build your own robotic arm and participate in challenges that you might encounter in outer space. Doors open at 10:00 am.
Visit the Children’s Creativity Museum website for more details.

computer history museumEven Computers Have a History
Visit the Bay Area’s Computer History Museum at 1401 N Shoreline Blvd. Mountain View. The Computer History Museum is the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society.

The Museum brings computer history to life through large-scale exhibits, an acclaimed speaker series, a dynamic website, docent-led tours and an award-winning education program. If you have a child who loves computers, take them to the museum so they can see the history of computers and maybe even get a peek into where they are headed in the future.


A Mindful Journey By Charles Higgins

charles higginsIt takes many great minds to make one great camp. One of those talented individuals who lends their expertise and works with us in developing our curriculum is Charles Higgins. We feel fortunate to not only have Charles consult with us, but to also have him share the following article about how parents can bring Mindfulness into their homes.

Soon after my first child was born in 2001, I started to practice Yoga. I experienced a tremendous feeling of euphoric clarity after the second and third sessions. When I made it a twice weekly part of my schedule, I started to understand more deeply how breathing and stillness affected my general well-being and ability to cope with anxiety and stress.

For many years, I relied on yoga to reboot my system and strengthen my core. It was a powerful fortifier in the face of debilitating disappointments and losses. When I lost a job or experienced the deaths of people close to me, I turned to yoga.

The yoga I practice is characterized as a 90-minute open-eye meditation, but I did not learn mindful meditation until I was given a mantra by a teacher who coached me on the Vedic method. Once I integrated twice-daily meditation into my routine, I experienced a new kind of euphoric clarity.

For people working with or raising children, patience and awareness of thoughts and feelings while listening to others are critical attributes. We want children to feel good about themselves while expressing their thoughts and questions.

The practice of Mindfulness is very much about building an awareness of how things work, particularly those things rattling around in our brains constantly. The brain is always firing and conspiring to make us react to stimuli. It never stops.

We react to triggers that cause us to feel fear, anger and sadness. We are overwhelmed by a sense of despair when we can’t make sense of all the things our brains want us to think about, usually things from the past or in the future.

With a practice of Mindfulness, the focus is drawn to the present and we are able to press “PAUSE” for that moment between the stimulus and the response rather than reacting with the natural fear, anger or sadness that might be triggered. We may still FEEL those tough feelings, but now we are aware of them and can decide, make a choice, how to proceed – in a more mindful and measured way.

Building a practice of meditation and Mindfulness is just like learning anything that helps the brain learn. It takes dedication and practice to regulate the impulses that cause us to be reactive. When it doesn’t take the first time, you have to be kind and forgiving to yourself while finding your way back to the practice.

As a parent, the best thing I can do for my kids is model Mindfulness and let them see me practicing. Sometimes I’ll ask them to sit quietly with me and close their eyes, but I don’t force them to do it. From early on, however, when either of them is experiencing anger, I ask if he needs to take some time for himself. Quiet time.

For families or groups that want to try meditation and explore Mindfulness, I suggest a simple ten-minute method for getting started:

Sit quietly in chairs or on the ground, indoors or outdoors, and close your eyes. Allow the sounds around you to flow over you gently, even if they are loud.

Think of something that makes you feel really safe and happy. It might be a place or being anywhere with certain people. While you are thinking of this, relax your shoulders and make your belly soft so that when you breathe, your belly goes in and out. Sit so that your head is balanced lightly atop your neck and they are balanced lightly above your straight back. Feel your soft belly rise and fall as you breathe. Keep thinking of that safe and happy place and feel your belly go in and out.

This exercise can be expanded with other visualizations of stillness (e.g. water or a forest of trees) and integrated into a twice daily routine. It can be challenging to fit with all the other things we have to do, but I have found that the practice makes all the other things easier and more joyful.


Charles Higgins, MSW, one of Edventure More’s Curriculum Advisory Board members, is the Executive Director of the Richmond District Neighborhood Center in San Francisco. He was in the same role at Slide Ranch, Enterprise for High School Students, Youth Tennis Advantage, and the Bicycle Community Project.   Charles leads workshops and retreats for teachers, counselors and others working with children. Learn more about Charles on the Edventure More website.

Applying Inquiry Based Learning to Our Programs

As an organization, we want to deliver the best enrichment opportunities we can to Bay Area families, schools and communities. To do this, we are constantly attending workshops, talking with experts in different educational fields, conferring with our partners and Executive and Curriculum Advisory Boards, keeping abreast of new information through publications and webinars, working together to brainstorm fresh ideas, and more. Below is a blog from Kendra Watkins, our School Year Programs Coordinator, focusing on a workshop she attended whose content is being woven into our School Year Programs and staff training this year.

In October, I had the pleasure of attending a week-long workshop on the Fundamentals of Inquiry hosted by The Institute for Inquiry at the Exploratorium. During this week I gained invaluable knowledge that will assist our team in revitalizing and improving our School Year Programs! The Institute for Inquiry, as outlined on the Institute’s website, grew out of a desire to transfer to other settings the Exploratorium’s approach to engaging people of all ages in hands-on exploration.

We began the week at the workshop exploring the Next Generation Science Standards and shift in science practices, focusing on the connection to inquiry-based learning. As the week continued, we went on to discover the concepts of inquiry and spent time participating in a full inquiry unit to further our understanding even more.


An example of applying what we’ve learned is our new City Builders After School Program. This program is focused on engineering with students working through the engineering process each day to create a unique product. Providing students with the materials to create, as well as a challenge they need to meet, allows them the freedom and creativity to explore engineering in their own way.

Another area where Institute for Inquiry ideals are being implemented at Edventure More is in staff training. By training our staff using inquiry-based techniques, such as questioning and observing, we are able to give staff a thorough knowledge of what inquiry is all about and its impact on science learning and increasing student understanding.

Edventure More would like to thank the Institute for Inquiry for this wonderful opportunity and we look forward to creating a program-wide shift towards inquiry for years to come!

Kendra PicKendra Watkins has been with Edventure More for several years as a Camp Director, Instructor and School Year Presenter prior to her latest position as School Year Programs Coordinator. Kendra graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  


Throwback Founder Pics & Interview

As we start out the new year, it’s always fun to look back and reflect on the years that have passed. At Edventure More, we’re now going into year twelve and our founders, Ed Caballero and Sharon Mor, are just as involved as ever, steering the organization to fulfill its mission of creating “equal access to high-quality enrichment programs that prepare children for a successful, fulfilled future.”

Take a look at the organization’s history to see where we’ve been, what gives us The Edventure More Edge, how we’re bringing our quality enrichment programs to even more children in Bay Area communities through our Sliding Scale (Financial Aid) Program, as well as  all of the unique, new sessions we’re bringing to Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech this summer.

Here are also some snippets from an interview with our famous founders and some “throwback” pics that show how Ed and Sharon have evolved themselves over the years:

Ed and Sharon, how would you say you’ve grown over the organizations last 11-12 years?



One of the biggest things we’ve learned since we first began in 2004, is to let go of what we’ve started and empower others to shine through our organization. We’re really only as good as our people. What we focus on now is not just doing everything ourselves, but creating an organizational culture that promotes productivity, ingenuity, self growth, and of course lots of fun.  Having fun while working keeps everyone motivated. It’s incredible how much of what we do at camps with kids makes it into the office. We’re all still just a bunch of kids inside.

What do you think makes people so receptive to Edventure More’s Summer Camp and School Year Programs?


Why have we grown so much over the years? We started with a great product and then adapted and changed along with the educational landscape and the needs of the community; we enhanced curriculum, The Vibe Game, hours, extended day options…We never do things exactly like last year. We’re always growing, evolving and staying balanced. Our field staff are also incredibly talented, heartfelt and mission-driven.  They also adapt based on feedback from other staff members and parents and kids. It’s that culture of self-growth with the home office, kids and staff that ultimately have led to the growth of the entire organization.

Is Edventure More today what you imagined it would be before you launched in 2004?

“When we launched, I wanted to have one really “kick-butt” summer camp”, said Ed. “Sharon on the other hand, saw camps all over California. Obviously we met in the middle.”

One thing we didn’t imagine at the beginning, was how crucial an enriching summer experience was to a child’s future. Sure we wanted every day to feel like an adventure coming to camp, but we never imagined that experience could ultimately affect the graduation rates of children. We didn’t realize we were part of a national movement to reduce Summer Learning Loss. Now that we fully understand the impact of summer, we feel a tremendous responsibility to get as many children as possible into our programs.


What fun things have you learned about each other in the years you’ve been friends and business partners?

“I learned about unconditional love from Ed,” said Sharon.  “I learned patience from Sharon,” said Ed. “Partnership isn’t just in business – you need to stay focused on the big picture and have some give and take in the process. I’ve also learned from Sharon’s genuine management approach. She truly takes the time to get to learn what moves someone first, then moves on to the responsibilities – she’s very person centered and heart centered.  It’s the right way.”


We’re curious, is there a favorite moment in the organization’s history you’d like to share?

We really have a favorite moment type, more than a favorite moment. It’s those times we look at each other and no words are needed.  One example is when we left a meeting with the California Academy of Sciences and they agreed to be our partner. We looked at each other but were poker faced until we got into our car, then we jumped for joy. Or at our Thanksgiving potluck last year, we had people come that were no longer with Edventure More. We both looked at each other during the meal and saw the impact their experience with us still had on their lives. We knew at that event, that our team and our organization are something special.


Ways to While Away Winter

Want something to do? You could try and put together sentences with lots of words starting with the same letter like we just did in our header, or you could do something much more fun. We know you’re ready for summer camp but since it doesn’t start until June, we had a few ideas on fun activities to keep you and your kids busy until then…

Habitat Earth_networksHabitat Earth at the California Academy of Sciences
Narrated by Frances McDormand, the Academy’s latest original planetarium show takes audiences on a journey through the vast networks of life on Earth.

Habitat Earth viewers will discover what it means to live in today’s connected world, where biological networks intersect with our own increasingly complex environment. Through stunning visualizations, audiences will dive beneath the ocean’s surface to witness the dynamic ecological relationships within kelp forests, burrow beneath the forest floor to see how some of Earth’s tallest trees depend on tiny fungi to survive, and journey to new heights to witness the intricate intersection between human and ecological networks—all from within the world’s largest all digital planetarium dome.

Habitat Earth will play several times daily in Morrison Planetarium starting today. In addition, the Academy will host a special one-day festival on Saturday, January 17, highlighting the people and technology behind the show’s cutting-edge science visualization. Academy visitors can also enjoy a daily suite of interactive, ecology-themed programs within the Academy’s walls and beyond, including a presenter-led show in Hohfeld Hall titled Extreme Life, walking tours that explore the ecological corridors around the museum, citizen science bioblitzes, and more.  Visit www.calacademy.org/habitat-earth to learn more!

MLK DayThe Children’s Creativity Museum is Open Monday, January 19, 2015 
Celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a variety of events and activities hosted throughout San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens. Contribute to a collaborative mural at the Children’s Creativity Museum, visit the MLK, Jr. Memorial Waterfall, and more. In addition to special events, the Children’s Creativity Museum will be open from 10:00am to 4:00pm for general admission. Visit www.creativity.org for more details.

IMG_3197Science Saturdays at Heron’s Head Park EcoCenter
The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park is an incredible space for environmental education, public outreach and for connecting people with the beauty of San Francisco’s wild landscapes. It represents San Francisco’s best example of sustainable solutions to adverse human impacts on the environment and is a model for green building, sustainable resource use, environmental justice, and experiential learning. Visit the EcoCenter website to see what is happening each Saturday in this living classroom! Science Saturdays take place all year round!

PaloAltoBoys sharingFun Reading Ideas to Share
Edutopia has some great ideas for reading apps that can be used at school and by parents. If you have an ipad or iphone or an android device, use an ebook to read-aloud. Or if you’re simply looking for an alternative to tablet games, these interactive storybooks suggested on Edutopia will support and engage young readers, keeping them busy on winter afternoons.

sbShop Sports Basement
If you’re a skier, our partner Sports Basement has all you need to hit the slopes. Plus, if you use this coupon when you make a purchase at their store, you get 10% off and 10% of the sale goes to our scholarship fund. You get to ski, save and contribute to camp scholarships.

Connecting the Blocks for a Great Summer!

ConradThis blog is courtesy of Conrad Guevera, Edventure More Curriculum Manager…

I have to admit that since I have been researching and exploring gaming options for camp, I have also been having fun creating games with the Scratch programs we are going to be using.  One of the things I like best is that In Scratch and Scratch Jr., you can arrange and connect coding blocks that create the action in your games. Recently, I was programming a game that featured a pegasus moving through a maze and avoiding a flying fire hydrant in order to reach a magical bowl of cheese puffs!

Screen shot 2015-01-07 at 2.34.54 PM

While I really loved the design of my game, I was more drawn to the scripting area of the program. This is the section where you can see your blocks link up and see how your instructions connect.  As a Scratch game designer, you first create your goal for winning.  From there, you reverse design all of the elements of your game so that you can reach your goal. This includes the movement of characters, the size of obstacles and the intensity of hilarious noises that occur at each stage.  It was the scripting or sequencing of the coding blocks that really had me thinking, not just about the game I created, but more in terms of  Edventure More’s winning goal for Summer 2015 – awakening your camper’s awesome!

This Summer we are folding a number of educational approaches into our camp day to give campers the skills needed to become their most honest, kind, curious, creative, flexible selves. These strategies include the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening, Design Thinking, the Makers Mindset, Integrated Literacy, Mindfulness, Social and Emotional Learning, and 21st Century Life Skills. From all of my Scratch designing time, I have come to see these strategies as coding blocks leading up to our goal.

Let’s use a Design Challenge from one of our new 2015 Summer Themes at Camp Edmo: Tinker Town, and consider how’d we’d script a thoughtful lesson plan.

  1. First, we’d need to drag the Design Challenge block into the Scripting Area.
  2. Next we’d snap in the Work in Teams block and choose 20 minutes from the Timing Tool Bar. So far we have teams of campers creating a design within a 20 minute time limit.
  3. We now need to input blocks to give our campers the tools to solve this Design Challenge. We’d then start the next sequence of block by snapping the Design Thinking block under the Work in Team block.  Our campers are going to strategize using deductive reasoning to create a solution to the Design Challenge.
  4. Next, we’d add in the Common Core block and select the Standards for Speaking and Listening. Campers will need to communicate, evaluate and combine ideas together to work successfully.
  5. Following that, our campers will need some Science knowledge, so let’s snap in the Next Generation Science Standards block.
  6. Finally, let’s give our campers the skills to put those Next Generation Science Standards to use by clicking in the Makers Mindset block.


Additional upgrades could include snapping in the Social and Emotional Learning block to give our campers tools in self management, empathy and conflict resolution.  We could also add in the block for Integrated Literacy to give our campers the skills to verbalize and record their steps and processes involved during the Challenge.  When these strategies are linked together, our campers  have access to an incredible tool kit of skills for our modern age and what they need to awaken their awesome and become their best selves. Now that’s a game win for everyone!

We can’t wait to hit the “Green Flag” and see our campers spring into action! Make sure you visit our websites at Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech to learn more about Tinker Town and all of our themes and sessions and the skills your campers can develop in each.



How Will You Spend Your Hour of Code?

It’s Computer Science Education Week, a week celebrated every year to emphasize that, in our information economy, students need  a strong set of coding and computer science skills. The Hour of Code, introduced by code.org which you may have heard about, is one of the most popular ways to take part and is a great introduction to coding for students of all ages! Learning how a computer works and understanding how to solve problems with computers are foundational skills for kids. The increasing importance of technology means that tomorrow’s leaders will need a strong understanding of computer science and programming, no matter what their field of study.


You’ll seeing coding in our 2015 Summer Camp curriculum when we launch enrollment in January, but in the meantime, here are links to some for places like the Apple and Microsoft stores where classes are taking place and activities teachers, parents and/or kids can do to participate in an Hour of Code this week. Take a look at all of those who support an Hour of Code. Be sure to comment on this blog or post on our Facebook page, the ways in which you’ve taken part in an Hour of Code!

Holiday Happenings

Looking for some fun holiday activities? Here are some happening in the Bay Area, as well as one to keep kids busy at home!

nutcrackerNutcracker Under the Dome – San Francisco
The Westfield Mall’s iconic Dome in San Francisco comes to life each night with this 3D light show that showcases the beloved holiday tradition in a new format, promising to capture the imagination of young and old. In addition to nightly screenings of Nutcracker Under the Dome, shoppers will enjoy exciting activities for the holiday season including San Francisco Ballet Meet and Greets, a magical holiday Sugar Plum Fairy Breakfast with Santa, a Hanukkah celebration with the Bill Graham Menorah Project, and more. Nutcracker Under the Dome runs nightly from November 20 through December 31, every half hour from 5:00pm until the Centre’s closing.

christmas in the parkChristmas in the Park – San Jose
Each year, this two-acre park is transformed into a holiday fantasy with over 60 musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and the 60-foot Community Giving Tree. Guests enter a winter wonderland of lights, songs and local entertainment while strolling through an enchanted forest of trees decorated by San José schools, community groups and businesses. Christmas in the Park is a non-profit organization that is supported through fundraising efforts and is free to the public. Children can have their photograph taken with Santa, watch nightly entertainment and enjoy holiday themed refreshments.

tistheseasonHoliday Activities at Our Museum Partners
Don’t forget to visit our Museum Partners the California Academy of Sciences and the Children’s Creativity Museum this season and once your children are off from school. They have lots of holiday activities and are the perfect place to spend  any day!



carCreative Cars
To get ready for our new City Builders After School Program, we’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of structures there are in the city and how these are affected by the forces of nature. If you were to create a city structure, how do you think it would fare in a windstorm? What would it look like? Would the winds make it move? Make these creative cars and your own “wind storm” to see how they move!

Materials Needed: 3 straws, 4 Lifesavers, 1 piece of paper, 2 paper clips, 50 centimeters of tape
1. Make a car out of 3 straws, 4 Lifesavers, 1 piece of paper, 2 paper clips and 50 centimeters of tape
2. Race them
3. Here’s the catch: you can only blow on them to make them move!


pop-rockets-aweHaving Your Own Event in 2015?
It is that magical time of year …. when you can start booking your Edventure More events! Edventure More hosts thrilling hands-on science, hands-on technology and marketing events January through May, and we are starting to take reservations now! Check out our website and make sure you think of us for your next school or community event!

Making An Impact on Art and Kids

Conrad ArtEdventure More’s Home Office, School Year and Summer Camp staff are all from a variety of different backgrounds and educational fields. What most have in common though is an amazing energy and passion for what they do both inside and outside of our organization.

One of the more recent additions to the Edventure More Home Office team is Conrad Guevara, our Curriculum Manager. Conrad is not only passionate about developing curriculum that brings together all of the latest educational trends, engages and excites kids and helps them develop life skills, but about art.

Conrad, also a sculptor and painter, is involved in something called LLA’s Guest Artist Workshop at the Life Learning Academy. Learn more about the workshop, Conrad and the impact his artistic experience has had on students. “I learned that art is about more than just creating something ‘pretty,’” reflected sophomore Karla Ceja. “It’s about making things that are different, weird. It’s about making you think.”

Take a look at some of what Conrad has created on his website.

Holiday Happenings from Our Partners

Take a look at what’s going on with our fabulous partners this season:

penguins_and_pajamas-4173California Academy of Sciences
Book an unforgettable sleepover at the California Academy of Sciences! Listen to the evening songs of rainforest birds and sing “twinkle twinkle” to a sea star. When the lights go out, unroll your sleeping bag in African Hall, next to the swaying kelp of the California Coast, or outside the Swamp of our albino alligator, Claude. Tickets are now on sale for Penguins+Pajamas events through June 2015 and they do sell out in advance.  Learn more at the California Academy of Science’s website.


Children's Creativity Carousel - NightChildren’s Creativity Museum
Put a new spin on a classic holiday tradition. Join the Children’s Creativity Museum in lighting the Bay Area’s oldest carousel. This event welcomes all ages to enjoy an evening of free rides and holiday-themed activities in the heart of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens. Visit the Children’s Creativity Museum website for details and to RSVP.

Take advantage of Kimochis Holiday Special for Edventure More Families and Friends! 30% off Mini Kimochis! Fun, collectible stocking stuffers, each mini Kimochis character comes with a feeling keychain (emotional attachment) and a comic book. At 30% off, you can collect all 7! Use promo code: Minis4Edmo14 at the Kimochis website through December 15.

Sports Basement

Getting ready for the cooler Bay Area weather? Get everything you and your children need at Sports Basement! Use this coupon when you go and not only will you save 10% on your purchase, but Sports Basement will give 10% to our Scholarship Program so even more kids can come to camp next summer. Located in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Sunnyvale, Campbell and soon to be Berkeley, make sure you check off all your needs for this fall!


A Story of Friendship & Innovation

LP_SamCharlieFratShotWe were very excited to be introduced to Charley and Sam from LivingPlug. Their story is inspiring for two reasons. First, it’s a story of friendship and how it grew and later turned into a business partnership. But it’s also a great story of innovation where two men recognized a need and with creativity and ingenuity found, per their website, “a smart, functional and attractive solution”.
We asked Sam, one of the Co-Founders of LivingPlug, a few questions about his friendship with his partner Charley, and how their business was formed.

How did you and your partner Charley meet?
Charley and I met my Freshman and his Sophomore year at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware Ohio. We ended up pledging the same fraternity together and ultimately both settled in California.

Did you always know you were going to form a business together?
Charley and I had been close ever since we met in college. We did a lot of things socially, but it was pretty serendipitous that we found ourselves in related fields (he is an architect and I worked for the design retailer Design Within Reach). Our discovery of wanting to do more with the outlet had less to do with a vision of starting a business and more about a fun way to socialize and ask ourselves challenging questions like, how can we do something like this better?

Your product, LivingPlug, was created for a few reasons, one being safety as kids were sticking hairpins into traditional outlets and getting hurt.  How does the LivingPlug system address this? 
There is an attitude of complacency when it comes to the electrical outlet. As our attention grew to fixation on what is literally a century old design, we found four key issues that are endemic and do not need a hi-tech solution: child safety, energy efficiency, overall aesthetics, and general utility.
We replaced the two outlets with three tamper resistant outlets – in a nutshell, the tamper resistant outlets will not produce a charge if only one point of contact is made with a metal object like a hairpin. Two points of contact must be made simultaneously to yield a current. Last year over 2400 children went to the ER for shocks and burns associated with electrical outlets, many of those visits could have been avoided with the tamper resistant outlets. Additionally, there is the option to secure the unit to the wall via the center anchor screw, thus protecting children from the dangerous outlets underneath.

What suggestions do you have for our campers as to how they can come up with cool ideas like yours?
The secret is really just to have fun. The idea was not born out of the prospect of getting rich, but really just hanging out and letting our imaginations run wild.

This blog is courtesy of Charley Curran and Samuel Leichman, Co-Founders of LivingPlug. LivingPlug is a simple, innovative system that improves the utility, safety and looks of the humble electrical outlet.

Life Lessons, Learned Every Day

me and leo at ice creamAll parents want their kids to grow into happy adults, or at least into adults with a great propensity for experiencing happy moments, right? There are no methods I know of to guarantee happiness, but one thing is clear to me: It takes skill and real-life knowhow, and these lessons are picked up starting in infancy. As a mom, I’ve seen this in action and it’s amazing. From conflict resolution to delaying gratification, life skills are not only garnered in summer camp or in the classroom but in everyday life at home, and in everything children do.

Consider a recent conversation I overheard in my boys’ room one Sunday afternoon as they engaged in building a fort using their bunkbed frame as support along with every sheet and blanket in our linen closet.

“You go over there and hold the corner. I’ll stay here and keep it tight,” said August, the natural leader and initiator.

“Ok, but we need something tall in the middle,” Leo added, not to be overwhelmed by August.
At this point August’s voice took on a more strident, aggressive note. “No we don’t. This will work.”

“It won’t. We will not be able to fit. Our heads will hit the top,” Leo said, keeping his cool.
I was dying to chime in and prevent a full-blown fight. The thought of refolding all those sheets was heavy on my mind. But I stayed in the hallway to give the kids a chance to work out their problem on their own.

Following his intuition, Leo left the room and returned with a standing lamp, which he wriggled under the sheet to create a large, comfortable space beneath.  “Wow,” said his brother, squeezing himself enthusiastically inside the new hideout and almost immediately upending the lamp, fatally bending the (fortunately Ikea- made) lampshade.

Before I could begin my mean-mommy lecture, Leo stepped between me and a teary August and offered: “It was my fault, mom. I decided to use the lamp in the first place.”

In just one 20-minute exchange on a lazy afternoon my kids came face-to-face with a few of life’s most crucial skills: collaboration, conflict resolution, problem solving, and accountability. Plus, I learned something, too. I learned a little about letting go of my compulsive need for an obsessively organized linen closet!

headshotBlog courtesy of Elisabeth Schriber, Camp Edmo Parent and Writer


Our New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

PaloAltoTechBoyGirlGroupIn 2016, the CAMP EDMO and EDMO360 teams resolve to bring you, your school and community, not only high quality enrichment but exceptional staff and customer service by:

  1. Continuing to participate in grants and elicit donations to allow even more kids to come to camp
  2. Always paying attention to parent, camper and staff input in shaping our programs and services
  3. Growing our program offerings and locations to meet the needs of communities, helping them combat summer learning loss and allowing more youth to experience the benefits of hands-on learning
  4. Bringing the latest and greatest in educational approaches to CAMP EDMO and our EDMO360 School Year Programs
  5. Selecting the best of the best partners and staff to develop and bring our curriculum to your children

Make sure you visit our website on January 6th when we launch 2016 Summer Camp enrollment so you can see how we’re already putting some of these resolutions into practice.

Wishing everyone an enriching new year!

All Things Are Possible

He’s only 10 years old, but a boy from Southern California has already achieved the honor of being a video game champion. A great accomplishment, but the bigger story is the skills he developed along the way.slgminecraftJulien Wiltshire bested more than 1,000 competitors (many high school age) in a national tournament to be named the inaugural Minecraft National Champion. It was the first contest of its kind, contestants playing Minecraft in 40 movie theaters against one another for the top prize. 

“It’s wonderful that there’s this opportunity for them to play with others across the country. It’s truly a unique experience and there is plenty of data that shows how Minecraft can help with STEM principles.”, says school head Margarita Pagliai, from Seven Arrows Elementary where Julien and his teammates attend school.

“Julien’s skill, creativity and teamwork during this season was amazing to watch…” said John Miller, Chief Visionary Officer of Super League Gaming who ran the competition. ” Julien’s parents indicated that they are always searching for activities that are super fun and super educational. This “taught teamwork, sportsmanship and other social skills; while playing Minecraft has proven to give kids an edge in math, science and computer technology”, they said.

“I really didn’t know what to expect when Julien started this league,” his mother, Victoria Wiltshire, added. “I think we all hoped he would do well and enjoy it but we had no idea there was this potential for him to accomplish so much and go so far.”

We can’t wait to see the new skills our Summer 2016 Minecraft campers develop and all they can accomplish!

Content courtesy of prnewswire.

Family Activities for Over The Holidays

It’s the last day of school before holiday vacation. However your family spends the next two weeks, we hope you enjoy your time together and send good wishes for the new year.

If you’re looking for ideas of what to do with your children during their time off, here’s a great list courtesy of handsonaswegrow.com. Visit their website for more great ideas.


What the Holidays Truly Mean

Holiday-Card-Drawing-2015This time of year is supposed to be fun and joyous but with gifts to make or buy, parties to attend and holiday food preparations, fun can sometimes turn to stress for parents, and for children. Although holiday traditions are wonderful for all, a recent article on the Parenting Blog, turnaroundanxiety.com, states, while all this can be a positive, “…the reality is that sometimes in all the hustle and bustle, children’s schedules and routines are disrupted, bedtimes are pushed back, and social skills are put to the test.”

So how can anxious or easily frustrated children (and parents) survive this season in one piece? Here are some of seasonal tips for helping children and parents enjoy this time of year.

Focusing on the “end goal” and what the holidays truly mean for your family is another way to survive the season if it becomes a bit crazy. The end goal however can differ from family to family.There’s of course the religious significance or origin of whatever you celebrate, but for some, it’s just the time off, break from routine and being together as a family that is important.

One of the most meaningful things about the holidays is the memories we create. We can’t get time back, and it’s the time we spend together with our family and friends that is what the holidays really mean. It’s the memories that are made, the laughs and smiles that are shared and the special moments that are created that we all cherish.

Tell us what the upcoming holidays mean to you and your family on our Facebook wall. Want to have a little fun in your house, have your children draw a picture of what the holidays mean to them or use this sheet created by a school in Philadelphia to have your child write down the meaning of the holidays for them.




Modeling Digital Citizenship

We can talk to our children about all sorts of things; how to look twice before crossing the street, which strangers are okay to talk to, how to behave in a new environment etc. but sometimes, it’s not what we say, but what we do that makes the bigger impression and provides the best lessons.

Digital Citizenship, or what can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use, is one one of those important things to teach children and a fairly easy one to model behavior for. Or is it?

Technology usage starts with us and we have the opportunity to set an example by using media the way we want our children to use it. According to Common Sense Media,  “Parent role-modeling shows kids the behavior and values you want in your home. Kids will be more open and willing participants when the house rules apply to you, too.” Here are some of Common Sense Media’s other reminders about media usage:

Start good habits early. The secret to healthy media use is to establish clear time limits and place, and stick to them. Start when your children are young by setting screen limits that work for your family’s needs and schedule.

Use media together. Whenever you can, watch, play, and listen with your children. Ask them what they think of the content. Share your values, and help children relate what they learn in the media to events and other actives in which they’re involved.

Keep distractions to a minimum. Get rid of the stuff that distracts you from your child. Turn off your dings and vibrates when you are interacting with your child. Let your children know that they are more important than the device.

Turn off work. Many parents feel they need to be constantly accessible to their jobs. But that’s stressful, frustrating and not realistic. Set boundaries for work time and family time.


For more information, read the full article “Be a Role Model: Find a Healthy Balance with Media and Technology.” on commonsensemedia.org.

The Pursuit of Passion

PaloAltoTechBoyMakerWhat do we most parents want for their children? For the most part, to be happy and to live fulfilling and successful lives. As such, from an early age parents expose their children to a variety of activities to see what interests them, what they are good at and what ultimately is their “passion”. The concern is that if a child doesn’t find a special passion early on, how will they stand out, get ahead, get into college, and ultimately achieve this success we want for them.

As an article by Susan Newman, Ph.D. from Psychology Today explains “Passion is a source of interest and excitement and it’s unique to each individual, but passion isn’t a life sentence. It can shift and change as kids grow. And it can’t be forced.” Some experts feel that the pursuit of passion has become so big that it often:

  • Comes at the expense of downtime, playtime and self-exploration; the process by which kids ultimately develop interests on their own.
  • Sets kids up for disappointment if finding a passion is the ultimate message and not finding it means you will not be fulfilled.

AlamedaYoungGirlsTabletAccording to Dr. Newman, “When parents support instead of push, kids find their passions and interests and learn to follow their own paths toward success and happiness.” Dr Newman suggests:

  1. Know your child’s unique interests. Observe your child, ask open-ended questions and listen when your child shares their dreams.
  2. Think outside the box. Interests don’t always have to be organized activities and can develop right in your own home.
  3. Nurture optimism. Optimistic kids are more willing to take healthy risks and are better problem-solvers.
  4. Avoid judgment. Resist the urge to critique your child’s choices even if they don’t align with your own.

PaloAlto072215-280Children’s interests come and go and we can’t predict where our kids will end up and pushing them toward a certain passion won’t guarantee happiness or success, but we can support them in the present tense and allow them the freedom to pave their own road to happiness.

So how should we introduce our children to potential areas of interest, knowing that we can’t create a passion for any particular endeavor, Scholastic.com asks.  Take your clues from your child.

Read the aforementioned articles in their entirety and get some additional perspective on this topic on ParentMap. Please share our thoughts on the pursuit of “passion” and experiences you’ve had with your child on our Facebook wall.