Monday, June 29, 2009

Super Why from PBS

I got to attend another fun and enlightening event with the Silicon Valley Moms. PBS hosted a discussion about kids and learning and their Super Why program at the Stanford Park Hotel, with delicious food and wine (in fact I was inspired to make their sliders for a dinner party).

If you want to see the thoughts on PBS, educational TV, all things PBS, check out the tweets under #pbsparents. Here's one of mine:
Words don't have power until we read them. We can change the story by changing the words. #pbsparents from twhirl

They talked about the development of Super Why and all the research and work that goes into each episode. It is a really cute concept, solving a problem, super heroes, fairy tales and reading. My kids used to watch it, now they'd prefer the online games. The PBS website is actually a bit nicer than others for kids, since the online games are customized for each show. The characters are Alpha Pig, Wonder Red, Princess Presto, Super Why. Even though my son is obsessed with stuffed piggies and pig books, his favorite is Super Why/Whyatt.

What they really wanted to know was how to get parents more involved, how much information they want. Personally I rarely watch TV with the kids, although they don't watch much anymore, it's been replace by the Wii and computer time. Every bit of research shows that reading, and talking to your kids, and reading to your kids, is absolutely critical in doing well in school, in life, to put it in a very simplistic way. I do love how PBS and Super Why focuses on that. My son who's been reading for a while is clearly to old, although he'll watch if it's on. But my 5YO, who is learning to read, very excited when he learns new words, gets completely engaged and likes the web games as well.

A huge shout-out to PBS for giving us wonderful programs for us as children as well as our children. They spoke about a Super WHY reading camps outreach program, which looks wonderful. They also gave us activities to take home, as well as a backpack, book which we read tonight (Jack and the Beanstalk), the Three Little Pigs DVD and one other musical DVD. I've started the activities with Donovan so will be blogging all about that at the end of the week.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thanks Acitveion and Tech Museum

Silicon Valley Moms blog came though again last week, arranging a fun day for me and the kids. Last week Donovan and I got to attend a very cool and science-filled event at one of our favorite places, the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Bill Nye, the science guy, gave us some great experiment ideas and we are now big fans, we just need to snag some of his videos. It was all sponsored by Activeion, which I admit I kept reading as 'activevision" and imagined some futuristic screen.

When I found out it was Activeion, a non-toxic cleaning technology, my enthusiasm waned just a smidgen. I confess, I don't clean all that much, and usually stick to water and elbow grease for the occasional burst of cleaning, resorting to bleach if the sink is really yucky, along with my Roomba for the dog hair. I find myself a bit lost in the cleaning section of the store, so have purchased a variety of various cleaners and have only recently given thought to the chemicals and environment.

When we saw the thing in action, though, my kids and I were sold. It looks like a gun, to begin with, glows green, and you can spray it right in your mouth, does it get any cooler? Those of us with little boys figured we'd need three, and wondered if this would turn our kids into mad little cleaners. The real test, though, was would it work? The idea is it ionizes regular tap water, does something with the bubbles so it changes the way the water affects the dirt, similar to how soap attaches to dirt. Okay, I had to step out for that part of the talk, and unfortunately my more scientifically oriented son was at a soccer game during the demonstration.

I wasn't sure how I could test it. I don't clean much, and like I said I usually use water, anyway. I tried it on windows, not bad, but not streak free. Just the fact that it got me to clean a few windows is a feat in itself, I must admit. I then sprayed the thing all over a grease spattered sink, courtesy of a lamb curry dinner. Wow, have you ever tried to clean grease with plain cold water? It doesn't work. A few squirts of this stuff and the grease was easily wiped away. I love the fact that my kids can play around with it and not risk ingesting anything icky or leaving residue around. And I can madly clean the kitchen without worrying about getting chemicals on food or dishes, meaning I might have a clean kitchen more than once a week. I's not only harmless to the environment, but after the initial cost (which is quite steep, and for full disclosure we got them free) you just use regular tap water.

Don't just take my word for more next week at Silicon Valley Moms blog and check out Bill Nye on the Active Ion website. Thanks again to the Tech Museum and Active Ion for a great day, including an awesome IMAX show about space. Stay tuned for a possible giveaway of one of these babies.
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