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Engaging your children – there has to be a better way than just watching movies

Engaging your children – there has to be a better way than just watching movies

Yesterday, as I was eating breakfast, I watched a few segments of the Today Show. And I happened to catch a segment about keeping your kids engaged while they are stuck inside during a snowstorm. Friday’s weather forecasted the east coast to be hit with a snowstorm again this weekend.

I wasn’t really paying that much attention yet, but I think plug for the upcoming segment said something about technology being a part of 5 ways you can keep your children busy when they can’t go outside this weekend. Goodhousekeeping magazine was sponsoring the segment, as the full story is in this month’s issue.

So, I thought, okay, this might be interesting. Let’s see what they have to say.

• Make a digital photo album at Shutterfly, CVS Photo Center, or OurHubBub.
• Get a high-quality iPod dock station.
• Make popcorn by putting the kernels in a specially made bowl that allows you to pop them in the microwave.
• Join a DVD movie exchange service.

Yes, I know that’s only 4. But that’s all we were shown.

When I heard about the idea of using Shutterfly, I thought, sure, that is fun and engaging. It also allows parents to bond with their kids and tell stories about the memories preserved in the digital pictures. And you can tie in a bunch of math without even knowing it – cropping, changing the resolution, placement of the photos. I myself am a fan of Shutterfly, and thought this a worthy idea.

I was surprised when the next idea and recommendation was to buy a high-quality iPod dock station. And I think Meredith Viera was a little surprised to. She said something on the lines of “Oh, to listen to music while you read a book perhaps.” I love music, and usually you can hear something playing in the background no matter where I am at. But, go out and buy a high-quality iPod dock station right before a snowstorm so that your kids are engaged? Meredith even questioned the price and practicality of having a two-foot tall dock station.

The next two ideas obviously went together. Make yummy, delicious, and healthier popcorn in a bowl that allows you to pop the kernel instead of using the pre-made popcorn bags. Why not? Personally, I like air-popped popcorn better. I might even go find one of these new popping bowls. And now that you have your healthy popcorn, put your kids in front of a television to watch a movie that you just happened to receive in the mail before the snowstorm hit. (Kung Fu Panda was the DVD most visible among the stack of 20 or so DVDS.)

You’ve got to be kidding me. These are the best ways to engage your kids if they can’t go outside?

I was quite dismayed, and bothered, that this was the advice that the Today Show and Goodhousekeeping were giving.

There didn’t seem to be much thought in the quality of how to use these gadgets as activities to stimulate the brain and open the door to learning (except for the digital photo album idea) while stuck inside because of a snowstorm.

So, let’s see what we can do with these 4 (not 5) recommendations.

• While listening to music through a high-quality iPod dock station, spend 60 minutes reading your favorite childhood stories to your children. When you are done, choose your favorite short story, or selection, and insert the text to create a Wordle.
• Choose a topic such as the ABCs of math or science, and have your children search the house (and even outdoors if the snow stops falling) to take pictures of those items. Then, use a digital photo album service to create a mini-photo book of their ABCs. Oh, and don’t forget to have some music playing in the background!
• Plan in advance to have a copy of movies that will inspire your child to be the best they can and embrace learning and the world around them. I recommend 3 documentaries: Spellbound (2002), Paperclips (2004), and Mad Hot Ballroom (2005). Pop some popcorn and sit together and discuss the issues and stories while doing everything you can to not dance while watching young kids from Brooklyn learn how to ballroom dance, or spell as any words as you can during the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

For those of you on the east coast, I hope the storm wasn’t too bad. And I hope you found ways to keep your kids busy!