I learned to play chess as an adult. Really. Last year. I am still a work in progress. Before I knew how to play chess, I didn’t think it would be a fun game to play, but I should have known better. I am a very analytic thinker. I like solving puzzles and looking ahead to see where things will end up, and this is why I think chess is a fun game. I wish that I had learned to play chess a LONG time ago! I now look at everything through a strategic lens, as if I am playing chess all of the time. Developing these analytic thinking skills is just one benefit of playing chess. Some studies* suggest that kids who play chess have better problem-solving abilities and higher reading and math scores.
ChessKid.com provides a fun way for you to learn or help your child to learn chess. The website has you choose a playful username, such as “AlabasterWolf,” “FlatCobra” or “SlimyWing.” If these aren’t to your liking, you can create your own. You also get to choose from a variety of avatars. Here is the cool part: as a parent, you create your own username and password to link to your child’s account so that you can monitor his or her online activity, friendships and more. You can even play against your kid! You can play fast chess, slow chess or tournaments. There are tools that your child can use to learn how to play. One drawback: there are a limited number of features available with a “basic” free membership. The website gives you the option to “upgrade” (as a parent) for a fee. It gives your kid the option to “tell your parent you want to upgrade,” which can be kind of annoying.
Want real-life practice playing chess? Join us in Ashland on March 26 from 1-3 p.m. for Checkmate. All skill levels and ages welcome.
*Mitchell, Deborah. 2006. “CHESS Is Child’s Play.” Mothering no. 139: 68. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed March 7, 2013)
You may read to your child before bed every night, but have you ever thought about playing with math problems before bed? Laura Bilodeau Overdeck has created Bedtime Math, which uses current events and everyday occurrences to make math fun and relevant to your life. “Our mission is simple: to make math a fun, natural part of kids’ everyday lives, just like the bedtime story,” writes Overdeck. The questions are not a “test.” The goal is to have an entertaining conversation as your child comes up with an answer. Each day’s entry includes a paragraph of information followed by math exercises for three different age groups: preschool, K-2nd grade and 2nd grade and up. The February 3 entry offers math problems based on the Super Bowl. The February 4 entry explains why a skunk smells bad and presents a recipe for creating a mixture that smells like a skunk’s spray. The website includes a parents’ guide and links to news articles on the importance of math in our lives.
Now, I should probably state here that I personally enjoyed math as a kid. I think of math problems as fun puzzles, but it never occurred to me to work math puzzles with my kids. I like the idea of playing with numbers before bed. Why not visit Bedtime Math and discover how much fun math can be? And of course, for more fun with numbers, you can check out some math-themed books for kids from your friendly neighborhood library!
I never really think about how much I like science until I see something really cool, like the periodic table. Why am I so drawn to this chart of elements? Could it be my librarian brain enjoying something so organized? Or is it the chart’s bright colors? Maybe the appeal lies in how the letters and numbers are arranged in each square and have a meaning. Not sure. Whatever the reasons, I like it. A LOT. But I digress. The reason I am obsessing about the periodic table at all is the website Chemicool.
This site displays the periodic table with an awesome feature: you can click on each element and find out everything you ever wanted to know about that element. (Well, I am assuming it lists everything…I’m not a scientist!) Things like the atomic weight, history, classification and many other interesting tidbits are included. Visit Chemicool and see how cool it is for yourself. I don’t think you will be disappointed! Continue reading
Do you want to save the trees? Help them, help them–won’t you please?
Okay, I’m no Dr. Seuss, but I am quite a bit like the Lorax. I worry about the loss of wild spaces, endangered species and kids becoming disconnected from nature. The Lorax Project is an initiative launched by Conservation International, Seuss Enterprises and Random House to raise awareness of environmental issues and the everyday actions people of all ages can take to help conserve the places and species that are critical to the future of the planet.
The Lorax Project website, with its appealing and familiar whimsical Seuss illustrations, provides many tools and resources to keep the budding environmentalist in your life busy. Continue reading
From decoding signs to understanding menus, reading is an important everyday task. This is why it is essential to expose children to reading at a very early age. The mission of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is “to motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.”
Leading to Reading is a portion of the RIF website dedicated to children ages 0-5 and their parents. Your child can join cuddly characters Rita and Riffy to discover an online playground where there are matching games, lullabies and fingerplays for babies and toddlers. For preschoolers there is a doodle page where kiddos can draw and color online or print out coloring pages to decorate and hang on the fridge. In the website’s reading section, your child can follow along with Eric Carle while he reads “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?“ Exposing your child to literacy in different formats will keep learning interesting and fun.