Category: Guides

Back to School: Advice for Parents

Back to school season is a mess of excitement, nerves, and dread for kids. They want to see their friends again, but they’re less excited about getting up early or taking the bus. To help ease your kids into the school year, make sure everything gets prepared ahead of time- from supplies to attitude to schedule. Here’s our back to school advice for parents and guardians as the year begins!

Set a Schedule for Back to School

back to school schedule

Transitioning into an early morning wake-up time can be hard, especially for older kids. Encourage your children to start gradually shifting their sleep schedule as the school year gets closer. Getting a good alarm clock can be a place to start.

Sleep is very important for kids in all stages of development. Without enough sleep, students find it hard to focus on their classes and other social activities. Although school might not work with their preferred sleep schedule, trying to get enough hours is essential to encourage healthy development. Learn more about the importance of sleep for each age group here.

Get What Your Kids Need

back to school supplies

Teachers often let students know exactly what they need on the first day of school but grabbing some basics beforehand may save you a shopping trip later on! Double-check to see if there are school supplies left over from previous years first, then collect some basic necessities. Pencils, pens, notebooks, and folders are all guaranteed to be important.

However, that’s not everything! Backpacks, lunchboxes (if your student packs lunch), and clothing also fall under back to school supplies. All of this can get a little pricey, but there are plenty of resources to help you keep within a reasonable budget if it turns out you need more than you thought.

Double-Check Summer Work

back to school work

Did your student have summer homework? Nothing’s worse than heading to school and realizing that you’re already behind! Therefore, make sure your students double-check that they’ve completed any assignments they needed to do. 

That goes for parents too! Make sure forms are filled out and information is up to date. Meeting your students’ new teacher is also helpful. Make sure you know what they expect from their students and how to reach them if there are any issues. While it’s good to let kids be independent, they also need a solid support system.

One Last Hurrah!

back to school season

End the summer vacation with a bang! Take your kids out on an adventure of their choosing so that their last memory of summer is fond rather than bitter. 

If you want to make it educational to help them start enjoying learning again, that’s even better! There’s tons of ways to incorporate learning into everyday fun. Check out our blog on summer learning to get you started with ideas.

You Might Be Interested In:

  • This complete list from Edutopia with all the resources you could ever need.
  • Tips from the official blog of the United States Department of Education.
  • Our Excavate! games are 30% off until the end of September. Ease your students back into learning with the code BACKTOSCHOOL18 on our online store.

Our Summer Gaming List 2018

Summer is a great time to get gaming. Libraries are always handing out summer reading lists, so we assume that you’re already covered when it comes to setting yourself and your family up with great books (but if you’re not, here are a few recommendations). But do you know what games to set yourself up with? Look no further than this list, where we give you a few recommendations for what to tackle when you’re trying to avoid the heat.

Younger Players

When picking games for younger players, it’s important to keep a few considerations in mind. Games must be appropriate for the age group in content and difficulty but they still have to be fun too. Check out our recommendations.

Grow Home

Summer Gaming List 1: Grow Home from Ubisoft

Ubisoft

Grow Home is a short and sweet little adventure from Ubisoft. Play as B.U.D. (Botanical Utility Droid) as he attempts to grow a plant which will oxygenate its home planet. The open world offers many opportunities for exploration as B.U.D.’s actions and movements adapt to the environment. Controls can be a bit difficult, but that’s just a way for parents to play along. Overall, it tells a sweet story with an adorable art style and a fun sense of discovery.

Grow Home is available on Windows, Linux, and PlayStation 4.

Super Mario Odyssey

Summer Gaming List 2: Super Mario Odyssey from Nintendo

Nintendo

The Switch is the big new thing for good reason. While the amount of games remains small, the game available are stellar. Like Grow Home, Super Mario Odyssey offers a great sense of discovery. Take Mario and his friend Cappy on an adventure through the many lands the game has to offer. From urban to jungle, Mario explores all kinds of places in his journey. Controls, particularly the motion controls, can also be finicky, but they’re not bad.

Super Mario Odyssey is available on the Nintendo Switch.

Older Players

As gamers get older, they want more complicated games to play. Fast-paced, thoughtful gameplay or narrative heft are both considerations when picking a gamer for bigger kids (or even for parents!) to play. Here’s a few suggestions.

Fortnite

Summer Gaming List 3: Fortnite from Epic Games

Epic Games

Battle Royale is the big craze and Fortnite is the king among them. Like Overwatch, Fortnite offers player vs. player gameplay without an excess of gore. The game features a building mechanic where players can craft walls or ramps for themselves with material they collect in the environment. Just watch out for the online interactions to make sure your players are not harassing others or being harassed themselves. Best way to prevent this? Make sure they’re playing with known friends or keep the voice chat off.

Fortnite is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Shadow of the Colossus

Summer Gaming List 4: Shadow of the Colossus from Bluepoint Games and Team Ico

Bluepoint Games

Shadow of the Colossus is one of the classics of video games, and it’s more accessible than ever with the remake that came to PlayStation 4 this year. Experience a great example of storytelling through games. An added bonus- if you’re not quite caught up to the current generation of systems, a remaster of the original version of the game can be played on the PlayStation 3. For gamers who enjoy narrative, Shadow of the Colossus is definitely a can’t-miss.

Shadow of the Colossus is available on PlayStation 2, 3, and 4.

Summer Gaming for the Whole Family

Gaming doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Make a night of it and bring the whole family together to play games. While local co-op can be hard to find, we’ve got you covered with these two awesome possibilities.

Overcooked

Summer Gaming List 5: Overcooked from Ghost Town Games

Ghost Town Games

Test your family’s ability to cooperate with Overcooked where your group of chefs must work together to save the world from a ravenous beast. First, however, you must train in an increasingly complex set of kitchens. Deal with cooking on top of two trucks, on a sailing ship, and in the middle of a busy crosswalk. Overcooked supports up to four players in both cooperative and competitive modes.

Overcooked is available for Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Human Fall Flat

Summer Gaming List 6: Human Fall Flat from No Brakes Games

No Brakes Games

Human Fall Flat challenges you to take control of the most awkward, clumsy humanoid creature there is and solve physics-based puzzles with nothing but your genius and a bit of nonsense. While Human Fall Flat only supports two players locally, it’s easy to pass the controllers back and forth if your family expands beyond that. The game offers a lot of fun and a lot of laughs as you try desperately to clear challenges in the most awkward way possible.

Human Fall Flat is available on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Dig-It! Games’ Gaming Catalogue

Summer Gaming List 7: Dig-It! Games

Of course, we have our own catalog of games! While our focus has always been on education, we’ve been applying those experiences to puzzle games recently. For fans of match 3, there’s not a better fit than Silk Road! Head on down the famous trade route with Matthias, the friendly but sassy camel who serves as your companion. Also, coming this year is Roterra, our map traversal game where players take on the role of Angelica. Help guide Angelica home through the twisting, turning world of Roterra. Both of these games will challenge your mind in different ways.

If you’d like to beta test for Roterra or just stay up-to-date on the development, make sure to sign up for updates on the game page.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Filament Games also has their own reading and gaming list for the summer with even more recommendations, once you get through these.


Guide to Holiday Gifts for Teachers

Gifts for the holidaysAsk a teacher what gifts they want for Christmas and they might smile and say any of the following:

  • A snow day
  • Longer prep period
  • To use the restroom whenever they want
  • To reach that one student that needs help

Obviously, none of these options can be bought or wrapped, so let’s discuss some viable options to show your appreciation for someone who does so much for your child.

Gift Options

  1. Water bottles are useful gifts for teachersGift Cards – I know a lot of people don’t like to give gift cards because it seems a little impersonal. However, gift cards to coffee shops, Target, or Amazon can be used to buy supplies for the classroom (or for themselves).
  2. Reusable water bottles or travel coffee mugs – Nice water bottles and travel mugs can get pricey very quickly. Find ones that are insulated and don’t leak so they can throw it in their bag without fear of soaking students’ papers!
  3. A Donation – Many teachers are turning to crowd-sourcing websites to fund projects and supplies. Check out donorschoose.org, adoptaclassroom.org, or classwish.org.
  4. A personal gift – It’s great to get to know the teacher and their interests. I once received a knot blanket from a student that had my university’s logo on it. It’s one of my favorite gifts to this day.

The holidays can be tough.

Parents have enough to stress about over the holidays and this shouldn’t add to it! Teachers sincerely appreciate any gesture no matter how big or small. If your budget or time doesn’t allow for a gift, IT’S OK! A nicely worded note or email is enough. Not to mention, those notes of thanks are great year-round!

There can also be a big difference between elementary teachers and high school teachers. It’s much easier when your child only has one teacher versus 7 or 8. Don’t feel pressured to buy a gift for EVERY teacher, but do try to be discreet about giving the gifts out.

The perfect gift for the history teacher!

The Excavate! Card Game could be your gifts for teachersHave a history teacher to buy for? Or have a child that loves history? Check out our Excavate! Card Game. It’s a great way for students to make connections with ancient artifacts. Buy a few decks to make sure the entire class can enjoy! Check them out here!


Fun Educational Summer Activities!

Now that summer is in full swing check out these great activities to do with your family or send the information along to your students. Educational summer activities are a great way to help students learn while they are having fun as well as giving teachers beneficial professional development.

The Smithsonian is hosting a variety of programs every day this summer! The Mystery of the Megatherium Club: Mustaches and Mayhem is going on every day at the Smithsonian Castle, sometimes twice a day! This scavenger hunt will excite the whole family! Also, on select days there are films after 5 p.m. at the Anacostia Community Museum! Check out their summer activities and events to see which museum is hosting something that will entertain and enrich your child’s summer. If the events are not your thing and you love just to check out their exhibits, hurry some of these programs leave this fall!

Looking for some professional development to do from the comfort of your home? Twitter is your place to be this summer. With a variety of edchats being conducted on various days and new porch PD, it is safe to say that an educator could enjoy gaining new information, tools, techniques, and resources from other educators around the world from the comfort of their home! There are many chats to participate in, and I guarantee the schedule will keep you busy! Some notable chats to participate in are #edchat, #satchatWC (West Coast Leadership Chat), #satchatOC (Oceania Coast Leadership Chat), #mschat (Middle School Chat),  #sschat (Social Studies Chat),#ntchat (Ed Tech Chat), #engchat (English Chat), #mathchat (Math Chat) and #games4ed (GBL Chat).

Summer is also a great time to learn at summer camps, workshops, and conferences and most summer activities on Eventbrite are free!

Going on right now is the Modern Robotics LocoSummer Camp Series by LocoRobo Innovations Inc. This camp is from Mon. July 10th – Fri, July 14th.

The Urban Institute is inviting educators to a forum on Wed. July 12, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on The Impact of Early Childhood Education on Health and Well-Being: The Latest Research on Policies for Action.

Also on July 12th is the Microsoft Inspire IAMCP Women in Technology Charity Luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Excited about Legos? Send your kids to a 1-Day Lego Summer Camp on Sat. July 15th from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m hosted by e2 Young Engineers.

Make the trip to Norfolk, VA on July 21st from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for the Inspiring Teacher Conference from YAV and Old Dominion University College.

Women in Tech Demo Day Presented by Capital One is a two-day event from Fri. July 21 – Sat. July 22. This program is by the Women Who Code and AngelHack.

Lastly, on Sat. Aug. 12 send your daughters to the Product Designer (World Fair Event) hosted by the DAR from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Have fun this summer and don’t forget that there are a lot of free, fun, and educational events going on all over the states. Check out museum sites, Eventbrite, and Twitter for great ideas!