3 Tips for Spring Break with Kids

Spring break takes on a whole new meaning after you have kids. With winter winding down, Spring Break is rapidly approaching on the calendar. A lot of stress can come from travel in general – busy airports, long car rides, and the crowded destinations are only the tips of the vacation icebergs. Before you decide to shut you and your family in your house for the break, here are some tips to keeping your cool on even the hottest spring break beach!

       1. Countdown Calendar

Before you even get on the road, get your children prepped and pumped for their trip with a countdown calendar. While the underlying meaning of the calendar is to have your kids help you pack and plan activities, it will give them a space to get excited about the trip beforehand. If you’re traveling to a destination include interesting facts about where you are going. Are there any unique animals that are native to the area? Any interesting festivals happening while you’re there? Write down little fun facts a few weeks in advance on the calendar for your kids to look at, and as you get closer to your trip pair these facts with different things they can pack. Is it sunny where you’re going? Better pack some sunscreen and sunglasses! 

Photo by Jake Hawkes on Unsplash

       2. Up Your Reading Game

One of the easiest distraction during a long car ride is something almost everyone resorts to – screens. Anything to keep your kids from asking the dreaded “are we there yet?” Every hour on the hour. While this certainly get the job done, there is something magical about reading a good book while you travel. For your kids, Novel Effect takes it to a new level by adding engaging sound effects and follows along with your voices to make every moment magical where it counts. There are hundreds of stories to choose from, including some great travel stories (I suggest “Wherever You Go”). 

Photo by Domenico Daniele on Unsplash

        3. Soothing Soundproofing

The first time traveling with a child is anxiety inducing. What if they don’t get their nap in before the airport? What if they scream? How will they handle that much time in the car? If you’re going to be in a busy airport or amusement park with a sleepy baby, a pair of soundproof headphones can do wonders for your child. It keeps all of the new sound as muffled as possible for them so they can enjoy a nap almost anywhere. Headphones like these help children who might be more prone to over stimulation by loud or new surroundings. Sound machines, especially if they use one at home, are another way to ensure that even in the strange surroundings of a hotel room, your child can get the rest they need.

 

Regardless of your travel plans this spring season, at the end of the day the process can be just as fun as the destination. The fun far outweighs the stress in the end!

Books to Celebrate with in February

Looking for the perfect book to pair with all the February holidays? Then look no further!

Despite being the shortest month of the year, February is packed full of reasons to celebrate. From month-long tributes, to candy-worthy days of glee, to major sporting events, we’ve got a book to join you and your little one no matter what the celebration might be. Here’s our suggested pairings:

 

For Black History Month (All Month Long)

We suggest: Emmanuel’s Dream

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Share with your child this incredible, true story about a man with a disability who rides his bike 400 miles to prove that dreams can become a reality.

 

For the Super Bowl (and the aftermath of no more football season) (Feb. 4th and after)

We suggest: Goodnight Football

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Sharing hobbies is a great way to build family time and bonding. This is the perfect night time story to keep football, and those family memories, around all year long.

 

For Mardi Gras (Feb. 13th)

We suggest: What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night

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Everyone needs to let their hair down and celebrate on occasion, even toys. What sort of mischief will be unleashed this time?

 

For Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14th)

We suggest: I Love You Through and Through

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Incredibly sweet and very relatable for young kids, this rhyming story is a great one to snuggle up with on the day celebrating all kinds of love.

 

For President’s Day (Feb. 19th)

We suggest: Grace for President

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Use this very colorful, fun, and accessible book to teach kids about politics, public service, and the electoral college during presidential elections.

 

For Tell a Fairy Tale Day (Feb. 26th)

We suggest: Zen Shorts

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Stillwater the giant panda loves to tell a good story that always helps his young neighbors learn important lessons.

 

Tell us what books you celebrated with this month! Join the conversation on social media or email us at info@noveleffect.com.

 

4 Ways to Survive Winter When It Starts to Get Cold

For the first month or so of winter, we embrace the colder temperatures, shorter days, and festive spirit of the season, dazzled by the snow and the outdoor activities that go along with it. The onset of winter is synonymous with the holiday season and all the celebrating and merriment that envelope it.

This winter magic feels good for a while, but not too long after New Year’s it can start to get old! Reality sets in that winter also means cold & flu season, shoveling driveways, slushy sidewalks, frozen toes, and cabin fever. If your winter wonderland excitement has worn off, we’ve got some fun tips and practical ways to utilize your time to help you survive until spring!

 

1. Stock Up on Cold Remedies Early

Sure, you don’t feel ill right now, but when the cold eventually hits your household, you will want to be prepared. Now’s a great time to check your medicine cupboard for the essentials. Is there anything expired? Anything running low? Head to your local grocery store now to pick up refills on cough drops and cold remedies, that way you won’t be stuck headed to the store sick as a dog or spending money on delivery. Load up on fresh fruits and veggies so your immune system has the nutrients it needs to fight off invaders.

2. Game Night In

Baby, it’s cold outside, and that means people want to stay indoors in the comfort of home! So there’s truly no better time of year to start a game night tradition with family and friends. Board games are a fantastic way to unplug, reconnect, and have a blast with those you love, especially during a season that tends to be stressful or sad for some.

3. Embrace Being Active

Sure, it’d be easy to loaf around on the couch and binge on Netflix over the chilly months. But think how you’ll feel when everything thaws out in the spring? Take up a new hobby, explore free home work-outs on YouTube, and spend time playing with your kiddos in the snow! Whether sledding or building a snow fort, you’re not only burning off all those Christmas cookies but creating memories your child will cherish always.  Whatever activity you choose, remaining active in the winter will not only keep your body healthy but also keep the days and weeks from dragging on!

4. Change Up the Bedtime Story

Winter nights are the perfect time to introduce your kids to Novel Effect! Before they drift off to sleep, get their giggles out and switch things up by reading a bedtime story that pops right out of the book! We have tons of stories ready for you to check out on the app, and it turns story time into a fun, involved experience for you and your kids. With new titles added every week, it’s easy to find new stories that you’ve never read before!

 

Our Favorite Books to Try this Winter

My mother kept the Christmas decorations in the attic, where the heat escaped and you had to turn your head hard to the side to fit under the ceiling. We had three boxes full, containing colorful lights, wreaths, and crooked ornaments made from our little hands while in preschool. My favorite was a long garland with electric bells that would begin a carol at one end of the line and then pass the song along to a random bell somewhere further down; we used to wrap it around our banister and run up and down the garland trying to guess from which bell the music would play next.

However, the holiday season would never truly begin until my mother would unpack from the boxes our small library of Christmas books and arrange them on the coffee table. There, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg would usher in the season’s sense of magic and wonder. And Santa Cows by Cooper Eden would… well, that one was a bit odd, I admit, but it truly was the most cherished Christmas book of my midwestern family.

Books were one of the best ways my family celebrated winter. They allowed us to snuggle in our wool socks on the couch and laugh and think and learn what the holidays were all about. In an effort to celebrate the season and share good books with good people, here is a selection of holiday stories from the Novel Effect shelves this winter:

 

The Snowy Day

If any book perfectly captures the sense of joy and excitement of freshly fallen snow, it is Ezra Jack Keats’s Caldecott winner, The Snowy Day. Peter, the story’s protagonist with a red snowsuit, crunches and struts and slides in the snow, building snowmen, making angels, and exploring every way his imagination can think to play in it. The narrative, uneventful and unforced, allows for Peter’s delight to flourish and to represent something universal and genuine. For those who have not read this beautiful story, enjoy this version narrated by LeVar Burton.

 

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Hena Khan’s book of rhyming verses and lush illustrations demonstrates the importance of celebrating your family and your faith. The young female narrator uses a range of splendid colors to identify and introduce significant components of her life. The radiant orange of her henna designs illuminate a two-page spread, while the gentle ripples of her mother’s sapphirine hijab stand out from a powder blue background. This book is beautiful and enriching for a family of any faith to read year round.

 

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Taking inspiration from folklore, the story of the Maccabees, and Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Eric A. Kimmel manages to strike the right balance between spiritual and spooky in this entertaining tale about Hershel, the itinerant prankster. Determined to thwart any Hanukkah celebrations, a horde of goblins prove worthy antagonists for Hershel as they become increasingly vile and repulsive on each successive night. However, they forget that Hershel has some tricks up his sleeves. Armed with an egg, some pickles, and his clever wit, Herschel sets out to rescue the town and vanquish the goblins from the synagogue. Celebrate the Festival of Lights this year with Hershel and his thrilling adventure.

 

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming

As Lemony Snicket observes, “Nearly everything in this world is born screaming, and the latke was no exception…” His main character’s outcry begins in a frying pan but continues as he meets Christmas decorations painfully oblivious of Hanukkah. The latke’s ire leads to humorous explanations of the holiday and a defense for potato pancakes, until he is eventually recognized by an understanding—and hungry—family. This hilarious book is a great way to gain perspective on the holiday season and to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

 

Owl Moon

Wordlessly, a father and daughter walk through the cold New England snow, hoping to catch a glimpse of a Great Horned Owl. Their adventure, told through Jane Yolen’s patient prose and John Schoenherr’s gentle watercolor illustrations, embodies a winter night’s magical ability to leave you both at peace and full of wonder. Best read by a warm fire with the winds howling outside your window, this book is perfect for bedtime during the holiday season.

 

You can find all these titles in the Novel Effect library with soundscapes to get you in the spirit: http://apple.co/2uQXDod

5 Holiday Break Activities to do as a Family

When the last bell rings at your kid’s school before break, to them it means one thing only: freedom!  Many kids would be perfectly happy to spend a good chunk of that time watching Netflix or playing video games, so turn to old-fashioned, inexpensive activities to limit screen time. They might bemoan the idea at first, but before you know it, they’ll be absorbed in their own imagination and the magic of quality time together!

Holiday memories are some of the most special that kids hold onto for a lifetime. Here are a few ideas to keep in your arsenal of activities this holiday break, Moms & Dads:

1. Build a Blanket Fort

The simple things can remind us what is important, and that includes revisiting activities that never go out of style. Pull out those sheets, round up the dining chairs, and turn the den into an epic fort. Add panache by stringing white lights inside. Pretend you’re on a camping adventure or read books together with the help of our app and bond under the “stars.”

2. Have a Giving Party

The holidays are a time to give thanks and, even more importantly, to give. It is a wonderful opportunity to teach your children about being charitable to fellow family members, the community, or even complete strangers. An excellent way to give back beyond monetary donations is by creating care packages for our armed forces stationed overseas or your local homeless shelter. Be sure to check online for what is acceptable to pack – not all items are accepted. Make a festive party out of it by inviting their friends over, setting up an assembly line, playing holiday music and serving yummy treats. There’s no doubt everyone will be feeling the holiday spirit!

3. “Lights” Show

Every family seems to put their blood, sweat, and tears into their holiday decorations. For every Christmas Vacation-esque house, there is a dad just itching for people to see the lights. What better way to spend your holiday together by seeing what your neighborhood has in store? Get bundled up and go on a neighborhood stroll or drive. Bring hot chocolate, pick your favorites, and enjoy a moment in the present with your family.

4. Competition

If your family is competitive, maybe it is time to take old traditions to a new level. Plan a Christmas cookie baking and decorating contest. Alternatively, how about turning your tree de-trimming into a playful game that kids will love (and you get some much-needed assistance). Give each child a small box or bucket and see who can collect the most ornaments in a certain period. A little competitions can be fun!

5. Ornament Making

Little and big kids alike will enjoy this one! If you have never made ornaments before, it can be a fun way to sit around the table and tell stories to each other while you explore your creative side. For the little ones, you can start with easy ornaments with foam and pipe cleaner. For older kids, you can make glass ball ornaments with paint or stuff them with glitter. Make a theme for each year so as they get older your family can look back on memories made.

……………

Sometimes over the holidays, it can be easy to plop in front of the TV and zone out to endless Christmas movie reruns and football, but in several years those moments will not be the ones you necessarily remember. Being active with your kids, engaging, creating, talking, reading…. those are the times your kids reap the most rewards and the ones all of you will cherish for years to come!

3 Tips to Survive “Back to School”

Now that Labor Day is behind us, there’s no getting around it. School is back! The change in routines, peers, teachers, and workload can be a daunting task for kid and parent alike. We’ve compiled three tips to help you through the transistion!

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