Celebrate Literacy this Year

Teaching a child to appreciate reading not only promotes academic achievement, but it also it opens opportunities for the imagination to soar and for kids to learn about topics beyond their wildest dreams.

This year, you can help promote children’s literacy with these ideas:

Give books to children. You can find a book on virtually any topic, aimed at nearly every age and reading level. If you’re not sure what a child likes to read, simply choose a book about a topic he or she enjoys, or a favorite fictional character.

Support organizations working to promote literacy. Many organizations you conduct regular business with may have selected literacy as a cause that they support. For example, the Toys for Tots Literacy Program was developed by The UPS Store and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. This program, celebrating its 10th anniversary, provides books and educational resources to underserved communities. As part of the program, $10,000 worth of children’s books will be donated to 10 nonprofit organizations in support of children’s literacy in 2019.

Create traditions around reading. Making books part of family rituals can help instill a love of reading among kids. You might set aside an evening for a reading marathon or read a bedtime story every night. You can also find creative ways to get young readers involved, such as assigning one child each night to read that day’s mail aloud to the family.

Attend events that shine a light on literacy. One of the year’s most anticipated events is the annual Tournament of the Roses Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, which will include The UPS Store’s float titled “Books Keep Us On Our Toes” which aims to inspire people to experience life through the joy of reading. After the parade, spectators can view the float up close, and the store will hand out 10,000 children’s books – many of which were donated by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company – to parade-goers and post-event attendees.

Encourage kids to get hands-on with books. Reading isn’t the only way to appreciate books; kids can get creative and make their own literature, too. Encourage them to write and illustrate their own stories they can share with the family.

For more information on the float or to make a contribution to support literacy, visit theupsstore.com/literacy. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
The UPS Store

One Tip for Choosing a Safer Video Game for Kids

While many parents and others shopping for young people know to look out for violence and sexual content in video games, they may not be aware of something else found in many popular games that is raising serious public health concerns.

Research shows that exposure to images of tobacco — its use still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. — can influence young people to start smoking. In fact, 44 percent of adolescents who start smoking do so because of smoking images they see in movies. Tobacco use in video games is likely to promote youth smoking in similar ways and may even pose additional concerns since video games are more active and intense experiences. Some games even include storylines or elements where tobacco use benefits a player.

Despite the risk, tobacco content in video games is not a well-known issue. Here are some important things to be aware of so you can avoid games with tobacco content.

Many youth- and teen-rated games include tobacco.

Just because a game is rated appropriate for youth and teens does not mean it is free of tobacco imagery. While a methodical review of games on the U.S. market has yet to be conducted, it is clear from past research that tobacco use is frequently depicted in video games geared toward young people.

For example, between 1994 and 2011, 60 out of 78 large video game publishers included tobacco imagery in at least one, and often more, of their games rated appropriate for youth. A 2012 paper on the prevalence of tobacco in games found a significant increase in tobacco content in games rated for young adolescents since 2005.

More recently, Truth Initiative, the national public health organization behind the tobacco public education campaign truth, conducted a partial review of 2016 releases from top publishers and found more than a dozen video games with tobacco imagery, including at least five rated “Teen.”

Warnings and content descriptors are not always reliable.

Video game content descriptors often fail to mention tobacco use, making it difficult for parents to use them to monitor for tobacco imagery.

A 2015 survey by the University of California, San Francisco, confirmed tobacco content in 42 percent of the video games that participants reported playing; however, only 8 percent of these games had tobacco warnings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the gaming industry’s self-regulatory organization that rates video games and apps.

In its report, “Played: Smoking and Video Games,” Truth Initiative called on the ESRB to consistently identify and disclose if any game contains tobacco use or tobacco references. The organization is also urging game developers and publishers to stop including tobacco use and tobacco images in their games, particularly those marketed to or played by youth, regardless of their ESRB rating. Research suggests that pressure on movie producers has succeeded in decreasing tobacco imagery in youth-rated movies, and the same efforts should be used to influence game developers and publishers.

Even as national smoking rates have declined to record lows, smoking continues to be portrayed positively on screens. Glamorizing and re-normalizing smoking, and making it appear “cool,” could threaten the progress the U.S. has made in decreasing tobacco use, which kills 1,300 Americans every day.

For more on the topic of tobacco in video games, visit truthinitiative.org. (BPT)

Building Babies’ Brains

3 indoor activities to encourage fun and education

(Family Features) Being stuck inside with a baby during the colder months can leave even the most seasoned parents feeling a bit stir-crazy.

Consider these activity ideas from Ann Fisher, an award-winning teacher at KinderCare, that you and your baby can do together no matter the weather or where you’re traveling. Because these ideas involve materials you likely already have at home, that means you can entertain baby without going out to buy new toys or materials.

“The important thing is to show your baby how excited you are to teach them something new,” Fisher said. “You just have to be down at their level and make lots of eye contact. Talk to your baby about what you’re doing and ask questions. It’s OK if they can’t answer you yet – it’s all about the interactions you have while you’re exploring and learning together.”

1. Explore a world of smells.

Spicy cinnamon, sweet vanilla, crisp mint – your pantry is probably already stocked with tantalizing scents that can help your baby learn about the world. It’s easy to grab a couple spice jars and introduce your baby to new smells right in your kitchen.

Take an empty spice jar (the smell typically lingers) and hold it under your baby’s nose. Choose plastic instead of glass so your baby can play with the jar after taking a whiff. He or she may be captivated by all the new smells, and you’ll be putting old things to good use – it’s a win-win.

Safety tip: Make sure the jar is big enough that it won’t end up in your baby’s mouth, and always keep a close eye on him or her.

2. Reuse all those old boxes.

Turn any empty cardboard boxes lying around the house into a brain-building activity for your baby – it’s never too early to start playing pretend.

Whether you make a box fort to explore together, a maze for crawling through or a make-believe drum set, your old cardboard boxes are full of imaginative possibilities for play.

When you’re all done, it’s easy to break the boxes down and either store them for next time or recycle them.

3. Bring the outdoors in.

Snow, sand, dirt – wherever you live and whatever the weather is like outside, you can let your baby dig with his or her little hands right in the comfort of your home. All you need is a bucket and some extra wipes for the inevitably messy fun.

Getting down and dirty lets your baby practice fine-motor skills and explore with his or her senses. Just scoop a few small shovelfuls of (pesticide-free) snow, sand or dirt into the bucket and bring it inside for your baby to play with. Adding some “homemade” sandbox toys like a big spoon and spatula can make the game even more fun.

To keep cleanup easy, consider laying down a sheet of cardboard or a plastic tarp on the floor.

For more activities you can do with your baby any time of year, visit KinderCare.com/blog. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
KinderCare

Texas Book Festival to Host Reading Rock Stars at 10 Elementary Schools in Austin on October 26

Texas Book Festival Adds 5 Campuses to Program This Year and Will Donate 5,500 Books to Austin Students with Reading Rock Stars Author Presentations

Texas Book Festival is proud to bring its successful school literacy program, Reading Rock Stars, to Austin on Friday, October 26, serving 10 Austin elementary schools and the Helping Hand Home. The Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars presentations bring books to life for children in low-income schools by inviting authors and illustrators into classrooms with entertaining presentations that inspire students to read, write, and create. Texas Book Festival is excited to expand their Reading Rock Stars presentations this year with 4 more campuses than last year, featuring 27 participating authors and illustrators who are all taking part in the 2018 Festival Weekend and over 5,500 books that will be donated to students.

Thanks to support from sponsors, including H-E-B Tournament of Champions, the Wright Family Foundation and the ECG Foundation, the Texas Book Festival provides each student with an autographed copy of their author’s book and provides the school library with a new set of books by the visiting Reading Rock Stars authors.

The authors will present to classes and then personally hand out signed copies of their books to students.

With this latest round of Reading Rock Stars, the Texas Book Festival will have coordinated 433 author visits and provided more than 93,000 books to students in Title I schools across Texas since its inception.

Media are invited to cover the Reading Rock Stars program at KIPP Austin Comunidad Elementary School. Beginning at 8:15 a.m., the school will host three authors who are part of the 2018 TBF Weekend Lineup – Arree Chung, who will present his new picture book MIXED: A Colorful Story; Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, who will present Hurricane Heroes in Texas, the latest installment in the award-winningand bestselling Magic Tree House series; and Ryan Calejo, author of the middle grade fantasy debut Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows, which is inspired by Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths. Texas Book Festival will donate a total of 800 books to KIPP Austin Comunidad Elementary School students.

For more information on the Texas Book Festival and Reading Rock Stars literacy program, please visit www.texasbookfestival.org.

Arree Chung – MIXED: A Colorful Story

Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce – Hurricane Heroes

Ryan Calejo – Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows

Friday, October 26

8:15 a.m-8:45 a.m. – Kindergarten and Grade 1 – Arree Chung

9:15 a.m.-10:00 a.m. – Grade 2 and 3 – Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Boyce

10:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m. – Grade 4 and 5 – Ryan Calejo

KIPP Austin Comunidad Elementary School

8004 Cameron Rd

Austin, TX 78754

About Texas Book Festival 

With a vision to inspire Texans of all ages to love reading, the Texas Book Festival connects authors and readers through experiences that celebrate the culture of literacy, ideas, and imagination. Founded in 1995 by former First Lady Laura Bush, Mary Margaret Farabee, and a group of volunteers, the nonprofit Texas Book Festival promotes the joys of reading and writing through its annual Festival Weekend, the one-day Texas Teen Book Festival, the Reading Rock Stars program, grants to Texas libraries, the Fresh Ink Fiction Contest and year-round literary programming. The Festival is held on the grounds of the Texas Capitol each fall and features more than 250 renowned authors, panels, book signings, cooking demonstrations, and children’s activities. The 2018 Texas Book Festival Weekend will take place October 27 – 28. Thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and 1,000 volunteers, the Festival remains free and open to the public. Visit www.texasbookfestival.org for more information, and join the conversation using the hashtag #txbookfest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @texasbookfest.

Chasing Childhood Passions

(Family Features) As education continues to be more accessible to American workers, lifelong learning is increasingly important. Pearson, a digital education company, surveyed working adults as part of its “Dare to Learn, Dare to Change” campaign celebrating those who take steps to change their lives while empowering adults to rediscover childhood passions through education. Visit pearson.com/daretolearn for more information and to watch the campaign videos.

SOURCE:
Pearson

How to Choose the Right Preschool

Things to consider when researching child care providers

Finding the right preschool or care provider for your child doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Because your child’s early years are crucial in his or her development, choosing the right child care facility is one of the most important decisions you can make to prepare him or her for both school and adult life.

While most parents start the process by asking friends and family for recommendations, keep these tips from the child care experts at KinderCare in mind when searching for a child care center:

Find Locations Along Your Existing Commute. The rhythm of drop-off and pick-up will soon become a reality of your days, so take into account how a new routine will impact traffic and drive times during your commute. Looking into child care facilities near your home or office, or along your route, can be a sanity saver, especially on those mornings when you’re rushing out of the house behind schedule.

Do Your Research. Child care has come a long way in the past couple decades, and nationally accredited centers like KinderCare can provide everything your child needs to reach his or her potential. Awarded by an independent organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, accredited centers meet rigorous standards in everything from teacher qualifications to curriculum to safety. A simple search online can provide a list of accredited centers near your location of choice.

Make a List of Requirements. Before you tour a facility, it can help to find your focus. Make a list about what you need from a program, what you want for your child and any concerns you may have, no matter how large or small. For example, consider potential concerns like kindergarten preparation, teachers’ management of conflict between children and more. Use your preferences to guide conversations when you’re ready to take tours.

Take Tours. Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a few preferred facilities or programs, schedule tours to check out the spaces, meet the directors and watch how the teachers interact with the children. Keep your requirements in mind and look for clean, safe facilities that focus on nutrition and encourage exploration and reading while building a sense of belonging. If you’re still on the fence or need more information about one or more centers, don’t be afraid to go back for a second visit and ask more questions to ensure you’re picking the right place for your family.

Trust Your Instincts. After taking tours, you may have a lot of information to process. Narrowing down what’s right for your family can seem overwhelming at first, but asking yourself questions such as these can help you in the long run: Did you feel listened to, heard and understood? Was the center warm and welcoming? When in doubt, trust your gut. This is your child, after all, and you know him or her best.

Find more tips and information to help pick the perfect child care center at kindercare.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
KinderCare

10 Tips To Make College Move-In Day Easier for Incoming Freshmen

Take the Stress Out of Moving Into Your New Dorm with These Helpful Tips

Hey, new freshman. It’s almost the day you’ve been thinking about all summer: college MOVE-IN day. No need to stress! The tips below will help make this day as easy and enjoyable as can be.

1. Start Packing Two Weeks in Advance

Going to college is as stressful as it is exciting. When you leave things to the last minute, it takes all the excitement out of the experience and leaves you only with stress. It’s a good idea to start spending just 30 minutes a day, two weeks before you leave so you’re not overloaded with a huge to-do list.

2. Use Storage Bins to Pack Your Stuff

Instead of cardboard boxes or plastic bags, use storage bins because (1) they’re easier to pack, (2) you can use them for storage later, and (3) if you’re using the kind that go under your bed for things like extra linens, towels or clothes, unpacking is unnecessary.

3. Keep It Light

You don’t need a heavy overcoat in August. It will make the first day a lot less overwhelming if you just pack the basics for move-in day. Winter clothes can be picked up when you visit at Thanksgiving, or your parents can possibly ship the bulky stuff to you.

4. Talk to Your Roommate

Find out who your roommate is and let him or her know when you’re planning to move in so that you can avoid stepping on each other’s toes by moving in at the exact same time. You can also figure out and coordinate who might be bringing what shareable items, like a TV or a coffeemaker (if your school allows it).

5. Bring an Overnight Bag Of Essentials

When you’re exhausted from lugging stuff around and meeting new people, you won’t want to go scrambling through bags for a toothbrush and a change of clothes. Keep your essentials in an overnight bag or backpack so you have everything you need for that night and the next day easily at hand.

6. Bring Drinks & Snacks

Because move-in day is tiring and you’re going to want them. Just keep it lightweight and preferably without a strong odor.

7. Bring Cleaning Supplies & Tools

You’ll need items for the sole purpose of moving in. Bring items like trash bags and cleaning wipes for tidying up, scissors, and wall mounting strips for hanging things on the wall. These items will come in handy.

8. Check the College Website

To make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, check your college’s website and read about their move-in policies and important info. Look at the campus map and figure out where you need to park, pick up your key, and unload your stuff. Also check the to see if there’s a banned items list and don’t bring those things.

9. Wear Comfortable Clothes

Sneakers are a must! Also stylish athleisure is perfect, as you can comfortably and fashionably go from unloading items to grabbing dinner with your new roomie later without having to change into a new outfit.

10. Bring 3 People Or Fewer

There will inevitably be a lot of commotion on campus, so you don’t want your whole family along for the day. But some extra help and support is key too. Just try to limit it to three people. As chaotic as college move-in day can be, it’s also a day you’ll always remember. So, don’t stress yourself out too much. Follow these tips and they will help. Above all, enjoy the day.

Credit for Justin Lavelle

Justin Lavelle is the Communications Director for PeopleLooker.com. PeopleLooker is a leading source of online background checks and contact information. It helps people discover, understand and use public data in their everyday lives and can provide peace of mind by offering a fast, easy and affordable way to do background checks on potential dates. PeopleLooker allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses and property records. Visit https://www.peoplelooker.com for more information.

Making the Back-to-School Transition Seamless and Stress-Free

It’s not always easy to make the transition from family road trips, backyard barbecues and longer days to school bus pickups, homeroom assignments and school supply lists.

These tips can help get your busy household organized and make the transition easier to ensure your kids look and feel their best when they head back to the classroom.

Make Shopping for Supplies Fun. Take a special shopping trip with your kids to get all the supplies they need. Be sure to stock up on essentials, but try to make it fun by letting them pick out personalized folders for each of their classes or colorful pens to take notes. A shopping trip is also an opportunity to get your children excited about their classes. Remember to shop early so kids can pick from a variety of options and items will be less likely to be out of stock.

Prepare a Homework Space. Creating a designated space in the house for doing homework can get your kids ready to start schoolwork again. A designated space stocked with necessities like pens, pencils and other supplies can also limit distractions so they can focus on their schoolwork.

Simplify Your Laundry Routine. Between school clothes, sports uniforms, linens and play clothes, laundry can easily pile up. To simplify your laundry routine, try a detergent like all mighty pacs 4-in-1 with Odor Lifter, which provides four aspects of clean by tackling odors, fighting stains, whitening and brightening.

If your children have sensitive skin, consider all free clear mighty pacs, which are tough on stains but still gentle enough for sensitive skin with a hypoallergenic formula that is free of fragrances, dyes and irritating residues.To learn more, visit all-laundry.com.

Ease into the Routine. Make the switch to busy school mornings seamless by easing into your morning routine in the weeks leading up to the start of school. Set your alarms, go through morning rituals and make sure your children are comfortable with how they are getting to school whether they are taking the bus, walking or carpooling with friends. Practicing the routine can make everyone feel confident and prepared when the school bells start ringing.

By implementing these simple tips, you can make the transition both seamless and stress-free, and set your kids up for a successful and fun school year. (Family Features)

Content courtesy of all®

SOURCE:

all

School Mornings Made Easy

Most parents know the first few weeks of school season and new daily routines can be hectic. From stocking up on school supplies to finishing up homework, there’s few unused minutes in the day.

One thing that’s particularly easy to forget in the mad dash to catch the bus or make it to morning drop-off is a well-balanced, protein-packed breakfast. According to a No Kid Hungry study, when students have a balanced breakfast in the morning, they are more likely to attend school and perform better on standardized tests.

Start the school year off right by giving your kids a breakfast they’ll love that also provides the protein they need to kick-start their day. Recipes like Simple Ham and Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches or Baked Eggs in Avocado can be ready in minutes and provide fuel long past the first morning school bell.

As a simple time-saver, Smithfield offers pre-diced, cubed and sliced ham that can make breakfast a breeze any day of the week. Incorporate it into a simple breakfast sandwich for a protein boost you can enjoy on-the-go. Served crispy or chewy depending on your preference, Thick Cut Bacon also puts a savory spin on nearly any breakfast plate, whether paired with eggs and avocado or a simple side of toast.

For more information and breakfast ideas, visit smithfield.com.

Simple Ham and Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

  • 8 frozen prepared waffles, toasted
  • 8 ounces Smithfield Anytime Favorites Quarter Boneless Sliced Ham, any flavor
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices cheddar or American cheese
  • maple syrup (optional)
  1. Prepare waffles according to package directions; keep warm.
  2. In nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook ham slices until lightly browned, about 30 seconds per side; keep warm. In same skillet over medium heat, fry eggs until desired doneness.
  3. Lay out four waffles and top each with sliced cheese, ham and fried egg, topping with remaining waffles to finish. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.

Tip: Try spreading fruit jam on your sandwich for a change of pace.

Baked Eggs in Avocado

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 6

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 large avocados
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 strips Smithfield Thick Cut Bacon, diced and cooked until crispy
  • 1 cup blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  1. Heat oven to 450 F. Spray baking sheet or glass baking pan with cooking spray. Cut avocados in half. Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of avocado to create well for eggs. Place avocados flesh-side up on prepared baking sheet or glass pan.
  2. Gently crack one egg in each avocado well, making sure to keep yolk intact. Bake 10 minutes, or until eggs reach desired temperature. Remove.
  3. Top with bacon pieces, blue cheese and cilantro. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Smithfield

Florida Memorial University Awarded Scholarship by Kevin Hart’s “Help From The Hart Charity,” a New $600,000 Scholarship Program

UNCF, KIPP team up with charity to help 18 students attend HBCUs

Following up on his generous $100,000 scholarship gift made through UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) to four deserving college students back in 2015, actor and comedian Kevin Hart has joined forces with UNCF and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) to help 18 more KIPP students earn a college degree including Laibela Faraba, a freshman at Florida Memorial University.

Through a new UNCF scholarship program launched in partnership with Kevin Hart’s “Help From The Hart Charity” and KIPP Public Schools, the $600,000 scholarship will provide funding to support KIPP students from eight different cities, attending 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Hart and the UNCF for helping advance Florida Memorial University’s agenda along with the other HBCUs,” said Dr. Jaffus Hardrick, Interim President, Florida Memorial University.

“Education and knowledge are powerful,” said Hart. “I just wanted to do my part in providing opportunities for our future leaders, especially from my Philly hometown, and show support for HBCUs. This is just the beginning; trust me when I tell you there are a lot more kids who want to go to college who don’t have the money to make it happen.”

UNCF is the largest provider of college scholarships for students of color in the U.S., awarding more than $100 million in college scholarships annually to deserving students. The 18 “Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship” recipients have been selected based on their academic and personal accomplishments and may receive substantive renewable awards based on need.

“The ‘Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship’ will not only support students, but will also demonstrate support for HBCUs,” said UNCF CEO and President Michael L. Lomax. “Research shows that HBCUs matter, and that HBCU students are having a positive college experience, but they also have an unmet financial need. Together, Kevin and KIPP have made an investment that will have a significant impact. We can’t thank them enough for their support, and we want to congratulate these 18 students for keeping their eyes on their goal of a college education.”

Hart’s gift to fund this new scholarship program puts him in line with many other renowned celebrities who have supported UNCF over the years. “Giving back to build better futures is the name of the game, and we hope that others like Kevin will understand why educational investments are so important, especially now, and step up to help more deserving students,” said Lomax.

“Nothing brings me greater joy than to see the hard work of these 18 KIPP students recognized by Kevin Hart and UNCF through this generous scholarship program,” said John Fisher, chair of the KIPP Foundation Board of Directors. “Michael Lomax has been a longtime KIPP supporter and friend and a tireless champion for young people. We are incredibly grateful to both UNCF and Kevin Hart for their partnership and support to help our students thrive in college and achieve their dreams.”

Lomax added, “Over the last decade, UNCF has been building a relationship with the KIPP public school network, and we are so excited that KIPP’s board of directors and their Chairman John Fisher are behind this outstanding new venture. There are more than 1,300 KIPPsters currently enrolled at HBCUs, and together, we are bringing resources and shining a spotlight on these students who are doing all they can to get a college education. This unique partnership will help UNCF continue to bridge the gap from high school success to college achievement and enables UNCF to help more students get to and through college.” 

About UNCF: UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

About KIPP Public Schools: KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of 224 public charter schools dedicated to preparing students in educationally underserved communities for success in college and life. KIPP schools are part of the free public school system and enrollment is open to all students. Started in 1994 as a middle school program, KIPP has since expanded to enroll 96,000.