Get Your Kids Outside this Summer with a Scavenger Hunt!

This summer, when the birds are chirping and the sun is shining, why not get your kids outside to do a nature scavenger hunt? It’s a great way to get your kids more in touch with the world around them. Get a big group of your kids’ friends together, and split them up into twos or threes — working together with their pals will teach them teamwork and cooperation. Some fresh air, some good friends, and a fun, lively game — what’s not to love about this great summer activity?

Depending on where you live, there are a few types of scavenger hunts you can do. If you live in a coastal area, or near a lake, you can do a beach-themed scavenger hunt! Make sure you have chaperones, then head down to a body of water near you. Have your kids find something slimy (seaweed or algae), something scaly (fish), something feathered (seagulls, pigeons, shells, driftwood, something that scuttles (crab), etc! Obviously they won’t be able to bring these things back to you — so have them write down what they saw, as well as describe it, on the scavenger hunt list. This will teach your kids to be descriptive and thorough, as well as be able to recognize certain characteristics of objects.

If you aren’t near a coastal area or a lake/river of some kind, you can do a scavenger hunt at a local park or forest-y area. Tell your kids to find something green (leaves), something colorful (flowers, berries), something furry (squirrels), something that flies (birds, beetles), something sticky (sap), etc. If you’re going to a more rural area, be careful and make sure your kids are always accompanied by a chaperone, as there is always a possibility of snakes. Your kids will really get a feel for nature, and the outdoors!

However, if you happen to live in a more urbanized area, you can tailor a scavenger hunt to your neighborhood too! Your kids will become more familiar with the locations of different, important places in your area. For example, on the scavenger hunt items list, you can put ‘mailbox’, ‘bus stop’, ‘construction zone’, etc. You can also add animals like ‘dogs’ and ‘pigeons.’ Finally, you can have them observe people and be able to distinguish defining characteristics of the passers-by — for example, ‘hat’, ‘sunglasses’, ‘black hair’, ‘person driving a red car’, etc. Have them write their observations down, or (if they’re too young), describe them to you.

Your kids will not only have a fantastic time doing a scavenger hunt this summer, but they’ll also get better acquainted with the world around them! Do you have any other ideas for cool, themed scavenger hunts? Comment below and let us know!

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Photo by : vastateparkstaff

Planning for National Vanilla Ice Cream Day!

This July 23rd, it’s National Vanilla Ice Cream Day! If you have a sweet tooth and can’t resist sugary treats, this is the holiday for you. Celebrate this day by whipping up some decadent ice-cream based desserts with your kids — the following desserts are an easy, luscious way to serve everyone’s favorite ice cold and creamy delicacy this summer!

Hot fudge sundae – This is a classic dessert that you can customize to your liking. All you need is vanilla ice-cream – and toppings, toppings, and more toppings! Grab caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, M&Ms, nuts, oreo bits, cookie dough bits, sliced strawberries, and more. Pile them to your heart’s content on top of a big bowlful of vanilla ice-cream,and voila! You’ve got a heavenly treat.

Root Beer Float – Another super easy dessert to make! Just fill a glass about 3/4 full of root beer, and then put 1-2 scoops of vanilla ice cream on top. For a well-blended drink, just mix the ice cream and the root beer together. Grab a spoon, or a straw (depending on how fast you want to gulp down the float) and have at it! A great tip — chill the glasses in the freezer for about a half-hour beforehand; that way you have a deliciously chilled drink that’s perfect for a warm summer night.

Ice-cream sandwich – There are few things as satisfying as sinking your teeth into a soft ice-cream sandwich that’s both warm from the cookie and cold from the ice-cream! Take some of your favourite cookies (we recommend gooey chocolate chip, but anything works) and spread a sizeable chunk of vanilla ice-cream onto the flat side of one cookie. Make sure it’s evenly spread out — then put the other cookie on top! Press them together so the ice-cream is properly distributed. Then dig in! For added flavour, mix some chocolate chips or peanut butter chips into the ice-cream beforehand.

If you find yourself having made more of these tasty treats than you can devour, why not have an ice-cream party? Invite your friends and your kids’ friends over for dessert. Keep all the ice-cream in the freezer, of course — if you have an upright freezer, that works best. Lay all the toppings, cookies, and root beer out on the table, alongside a bunch of big bowls, and let the kids go wild! They’ll have a blast making their own dessert — although keep a bunch of napkins on handy, as it could get a little messy. An ice-cream party is the perfect way to celebrate National Vanilla Ice Cream Day.

What other ice-cream based desserts do you love? Tell us in the comments!

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Photo by: stu_spivack

Celebrate with School of Dragons!

Congratulations to School Of Dragons for an awesome first year! Their game is a great blend of education and imagination, and we’re so excited to see what incredible updates they have in store for the future. If you haven’t checked out School of Dragons already, go to http://Ez.com/SoD1YrPlayNow and take to the skies!

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Catch Fireflies with Your Kids This Summer!

On the next warm summer night, take the time to head outdoors and teach your kids about the beauty of nature. If your neighborhood has an abundance of flora and fauna – and, you happen to live in a relatively humid climate, you might have the opportunity to spot some vibrant fireflies! Share some of our top tips and learn how you can take your kids firefly-catching, so they can learn about this interesting insect. All you’ll need is a net and a jar! With such a fun activity, your family is bound to remember these warm summer nights fondly.

Fireflies love bodies of standing water, and tend to be found towards marshy areas with tall grass. However, depending on where you live, they can be found in fields, in wooded areas, and even in your own garden. To spot fireflies, you simply have to look for the blinking lights! It’s best to go firefly-catching when it’s pretty dark, as you’ll be able to spot them easier and they won’t be confused by any artificial light sources; however, for safety purposes, be sure to have a flashlight on hand in case you need one. When you and your kids find fireflies, catch them with your nets! Be patient; catching the bugs might not be easy. Also, be careful and make sure not to injure the fireflies; catching one or two at a time is recommended. After each catch, put the fireflies in a jar. Your jar should have small holes in the lid for ventilation, as well as a damp paper towel at the bottom of the jar. The towel will keep the jar humid, so that the fireflies don’t dry out. You want to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible! Don’t keep the fireflies longer than a day; if they’re kept any longer, it’s probable that they will die. When releasing them, it’s best to release them at night, as that’s when they are most energetic. Your kids will have so much fun catching and examining these fascinating creatures!

So what exactly makes a firefly bioluminescent (meaning that they produce and emit light)? The light comes from a chemical reaction within a firefly’s abdomen – the main chemical in this reaction is luciferin, which is responsible for the yellowish luminescence. Along with some other chemicals, plus the addition of oxygen, the chemical reaction is activated, causing the fireflies to light up! Interestingly enough, the fireflies’ light produces very little heat.

A firefly’s glow serves a few purposes…

1) It warns predators that might want to eat the firefly! Fireflies taste bitter and often contain some chemicals that may be toxic to certain animals.
2) It allows the fireflies to communicate with each other.
3) It attracts firefly mates. Each species of firefly has its own special flashing pattern, which enables them to recognize potential mates.
4) It attracts prey.

Teach your kids these facts about this marvelous creature and watch their eyes light up – figuratively, of course!

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Photo by: Takashi Ota

Make some cool homemade ice cream this summer!

While coming home in the summer with a tub of store-bought ice-cream will send your kids into a sweet-toothed frenzy, there is perhaps nothing better than whipping up some homemade ice-cream for the family. Not to mention that cooking activities in the kitchen can be a great way to encourage kids to practice math skills like measuring quantities or calculating conversions. This recipe is super easy to make and can be healthier option for summertime sweets. Best of all, you do not even need an ice-cream maker to do it! Just follow these steps for a delectable dessert – your kids will have as much fun making it as they will eating it!

 

You will need:

–      8 eggs

–      1 cup sugar

–      2 cups milk

–      2 cups heavy or whipping cream

–      1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract

–      Any other extracts you would like to add, e.g. rose, peppermint, rum, coffee, etc.

–      Any add-ons you’d like to put into your ice-cream, e.g. pecans, cookie dough bits, chopped fruits, etc.

 

  1. Whisk the eggs (or just egg yolks, if you prefer) until they are all one consistency. Mix them in with the cup of sugar, as well as the vanilla extract. Add the sugar slowly, so it’s easier to stir in. For a healthier alternative, use brown sugar instead of white sugar. If you’d like a lower-calorie option, artificial sweeteners would work well.
  2. Put the milk in a saucepan on the stove; heat it over medium, until it simmers.
  3. When the milk is sufficiently heated, pour it very slowly into the egg mixture, whisking all the while. It’s important that you do this slowly and that you keep mixing so that the eggs don’t get too hot.
  4. Heat the new mixture in a saucepan over low heat until it thickens. Make sure to stir constantly so that the consistency stays correct. Do not let it get too hot, as it will get lumpy. You want to make sure that everything stays smooth.
  5. Chill the mixture
  6. When the mixture is chilled, stir in two cups of heavy cream. Now you can add any other add-ons you’d like. Make sure they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  7. Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream maker; alternatively, if you don’t have one, just pour the mixture in a freezer-safe container and put it in the freezer. Take it out every hour and stir it, so that it does not harden into a block of ice. Repeat this until the ice-cream has frozen.

 

Voila! Your homemade ice-cream is now ready to eat. Serve it as a delicious Friday night dessert. It’s the perfect end to any meal!

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Photo by: Ginny

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day! What are you all doing to observe this patriotic holiday? Be sure to hoist that star-spangled banner and immerse yourself in all the exciting, fun-filled 4th of July festivities. Sing songs, watch parades (or even partake in them!), barbecue, play games, and most importantly, spend time with your loved ones honoring this country’s history and triumphs. We hope you and your Cadets have an awesome time partying and celebrating this Fourth of July!

 

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