Everything You Need to Make the Perfect Paper Airplane

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Does your little aviator have a hankering for flight? If you’re looking for the perfect paper airplane that even the tiniest of fingers can figure out, look no further. Here are the eight easy steps to make a simple “Dart” (the fastest, easiest-to-make and longest-flying paper airplane):

You’ll need: 

  • 8.5 X 11 Paper (printer paper works)
  • Tape
  • Crayons or markers to decorate (optional)

Step 1: Make a Crease Down the Middle of Your Paper

Fold your paper in half (lengthwise) then unfold, leaving a crease down the middle. This line will serve as a reference for the rest of your folding. 

Step 2: Fold Top Corners into Center Crease

Step 3: Fold Right Side Toward Center Crease

Fold the right side into the center crease again, being careful to keep the point of your airplane sharp. You should end up with a long triangle, with one side of the triangle running just along the center crease.  

Step 4: Do the Same With the Left Side

Step 5: Fold Onto Side So Flaps Are On The Inside

Step 6: Fold Down Outer Sides To Make The Wings

Carefully fold the outer sides of your airplane down to make the wings. Be sure that the front of your plane ends in a point and that the outer edges of your wings line up with the center fold; otherwise, your plane won't fly as well. 

Step 7: Seal the Body With Double-Sided Tape

Make a loop of tape and affix it to the inside folds of your plane's body. Then squeeze the folds shut. This will keep your plane "closed" so that it will get the most speed while in flight!

Step 8: Fly!

You're done! Send your plane soaring with a quick flick of your wrist. If you'd like to make your plane a little more personal, use crayons or markers to decorate it before takeoff.

BONUS: Make a Trick Plane

Want a simple hack to make your plane spiral through the air instead of a straight soar? Fold up one corner of one wing and you've got a stunt plane! 

—Story and photos by Melissa Heckscher

Feature image: Victoria Boridinova via Pixabay

 

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The Best Apps to Learn a Language (for Kids)

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Hola! Bonjour! Shalom! If introducing your kids to a new language is on your list of learning, use your tablet or phone to make it happen. From sign language apps to Rosetta Stone and even an Eric Carle word app, scroll down to see our picks for the best apps to learn a language.

LinguPinguin

Kids as young as preschool age can get in on the learning fun with one app that offers multiple languages. Each language has 90 new vocabulary words that are practical, everyday words around subjects like the body, nature, clothing, etc. It’s playful and you’ll be surprised how quickly the kids start picking it up.
For ages 4 and up.

Available on iTunes, a bundle of 4 languages for $3.99

Montessori Letter Sounds

This phonics program teaches basic letter sounds in English, French, Spanish and Italian and, like the Montessori approach itself, is not full of loud noises, bells and whistles. It’s very simple, which makes it great for younger kids and nice for parents sitting in the same room with their learners as well as sensitive kids. Very self-directed (again, Montessori approach) but also very effective.

Rated for ages 4 and up (but we think 3-year-olds would gain from it, too).

Available on iTunes for $3.99

Little Pim Word Bag

Kids can play along with a panda bear named Pim as he teaches common words via flashcard drills set to music. Using everyday activities to teach kids and available in 12 languages—including Chinese, German, Spanish and Italian—you can browse the whole catalog online at littlepim.com. They even offer streaming now offer streaming videos you can download to your device for offline travel.

For ages 4 and up.

Available on iTunes, Free.  

Rosetta Stone

Want your English-speaking child to learn a little Spanish? Or one of 23 other languages? Rosetta Stone allows you to download lessons for the kids and will give you a personalized plan.

For ages 4 & up.

Available on iTunes and Google Play, free.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar First Words App

Smaller linguists will enjoy this colorful app that uses familiar Eric Carle illustrations to teach a handful of basic words in different languages. The app is simple enough for little kids to use on their own, though it's meant for parents and kids to peruse together. Language options include English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and German.   

For ages 2 and up.  

Available on iTunes, $3.99 and Google Play for $2.99.

Futaba

Got a brood of kids who need language practice? Up to four kids at a time can play this game-show-style app that asks players to pick which word matches the given picture. The first to hit the correct button wins. Along with a roster of basic K-3 school subjects (math, geography, sight words), Futaba (which means "seedling" in Japanese) also has a Spanish and Japanese word game. It is also customizable, so you can add words and pictures to suit your language-learning fancy.   

For ages 4 and up. 

Available on iTunes, $0.99

The Wanderful Collection

Kids will recognize some of their favorite characters (Berenstain Bears! Arthur!) with this nine-app bundle of interactive storybooks read in French, Spanish, or English (one app also offers Portuguese). Through songs, stories, and interactive pages, kids can learn proper pronunciation, recognition and meaning. Kids can navigate the stories themselves—all the pages are animated with characters and features that "come to life" with a touch—or choose the "Read to me" option. 

Ages: 4+

Available on iTunes for $29.99.

American Sign Language Kids App

Not all languages are spoken. Kids will love watching other kids use common signs from the American Sign Language dictionary. Some of the "expert" signers on here are still toddlers themselves, so as long as your kiddo's got the attention span to follow along, he's old enough to play. The layout is simple enough for kids to navigate without a parent and includes fun quiz games with 21 free signs (an optional pack of 87 more signs is available for $1.99). 

Ages: 1+

Available for free on iTunes and Google Play.

Gus on the Go

Kids will think they're just playing a memory game as Gus the friendly owl schools them on numbers, colors, shapes and more. Got time to spare? Conquering basic lessons "unlocks" more games, so the more they play, the more they'll learn. More screen time? OK!

There are 28 language apps available. Check out Gus On the Go to browse more options.

Ages: 4+

Available on iTunes and Google Play for $3.99.

—Melissa Heckscher & Amber Guetebier

Feature photo: iStock 

 

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Does your little influencer want a worldwide stage? Join the club! With YouTube beating out TV for kids’ attention these days—and with its young stars mostly being regular kids who stumbled into stardom—it’s no surprise that kids everywhere want to be Youtubers more than any other job.

“YouTube has become a learning tool,” said Trevi O’Neill, who along with her kids, Jake and Gianna, and her husband, Matt, started The Adventure Buddies channel on YouTube to document the family’s travels. “It’s how our kids taught themselves how to skateboard, surf, play soccer and guitar. It’s just the up-and-coming way to learn. Kids see it as an opportunity to see other kids in action.”

So how do you launch your child into the You-Universe the right way? From finding the right gear to having fun with special effects, here’s our step-by-step guide to making YouTube videos with your kids:

Getting Started

First, Know the Rules

Here's the deal: Kids under 13 are technically not supposed to have their own YouTube channels since YouTube collects data on its users (and that goes against the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). That said, anyone who's ever given their phone to a toddler knows that Youtube is teeming with kids. That's because children can have a YouTube channel as long as their parents approve the account and agree to the fact that data is being collected. 

Creating a YouTube channel requires a Google account, so you'll need to set that up first. Once you do, you can easily create your channel by going to YouTube and clicking "add a channel." If you already have an existing channel and want to give your littles their own, sign in to your Youtube account, click on "settings," then "Add a channel." From there, you just need to name your channel and upload your videos.

 

Decide What You Want Your Videos to Be

Maybe you already have an idea for a YouTube channel, or maybe your kids just want to get their faces out there. In any case, some fun themes for family YouTube formats include:

Cooking - Got a little chef? Consider letting her show off her skills in the kitchen like these adorable sisters do in the Bow Girls YouTube channel. 

Product reviews - If your kids are talkative enough, let them give their viewers a mouthful by reviewing various toys and products as these kids do.   

Travel Vlogs - Got wanderlust? Want to be like The Adventure Buddies, who travel the world in the name of documenting it? A travel Vlog is a perfect way to include the whole family in on the fun. 

Tutorials - Is your kid an expert at something? Have them offer tutorials for other kids. 

Animation/Claymation - Do you have a creative kid that would prefer to stay behind the scenes? Let them learn a little about the animation process by starting a YouTube channel for their creations (This works perfectly if you don't want your kids' actual faces to be out there for all to see.). There are plenty of kiddified apps and programs that teach basic animation using LEGO, drawings or clay, including Flip-A-Clip, which uses simple drawings to create animated clips, and Stop Motion Studio, which lets you animate real-life drawings, clay figures, LEGO or anything else you don't mind moving frame-by-frame to create a movie. 

Make Sure Your Kids Know What They Can and Can't Say

Before giving your kids the spotlight, make sure they understand what's OK to post—especially when it comes to privacy. That means getting permission if they include anyone else in their videos and making sure nothing they post is potentially offensive. Kids should also make sure not to wear clothes that tell others where they live or go to school (like school uniforms), and they should keep their last names offline at all times. It's also a good idea to have you and your kids sign a media agreement, like this one from Common Sense Media, so they know what's expected of them.

Decide How "Public" You Want To Be

Do you want anyone to be able to watch your family videos, or are you more comfortable with only people you know seeing your kids' antics? Decide how much privacy you want before you upload videos. Setting your videos to "public" means anyone can tune in while setting them to "private" requires an invitation. Videos set to "unlisted" are a good middle ground as they don't appear in searches or on your main channel's page, and they can only be viewed by those with the link.

Tip: We recommend turning off comments for your child's videos because let's face it, people can be mean. Encourage your budding filmmakers to seek feedback from friends and family rather than strangers. 

What You’ll Need

A Good Camera (but a Phone Works Fine Too)

For your child to compete with the Baby Sharks and Ryans of the web (or even just to make videos that you'll want to post on your social media pages), you'll need a good digital camera. The good news? Your phone is good enough—most YouTube videos are shot on phones without professional help. If you do want to go a step further, try one of the ones below.

Best splurge: Tech Radar calls the Sony ZV-1 the "ultimate compact for YouTubers," ($748 on Amazon).

Best action cam: If you're looking for a camera you can prop on the edge of your surfboard, sled or bike, the GoPro ($399 on Amazon) is your best bet. 

Best compact camera: The DJI Pocket 2 ($349 on Amazon) is an adorable little camera that will fit in your pocket but still has powerful image-capturing and stabilizing capabilities. 

Overall Winner: Your smartphone. We're all for keeping it simple. 

A Microphone

It's true, your phone has a microphone. But that's meant for talking on the phone, not making videos. If you want to capture crisp sound and block out background noise like wind, traffic, crowds or your smaller kids screaming in the other room, an external mic will help. Here are some good choices: 

If you're going to be shooting in one place and you need your hands, consider a clip-on mic so you and your kids can keep your hands free. This also gets the microphone close to their face without being obtrusive in the shot. Try the Rode Lavalier GO, available at Best Buy for $80.

If you're going to be moving around a lot or if there's a lot of action in your video, a shotgun mic is your best bet. This attaches to your camera (or camera rig) and moves with you as you follow your subject around. If you want something small that can fit on your smartphone, try the Rode VideoMic Me Compact Mini ShotGun Mic, which is available on Amazon for $46. If you want a rig that'll hold your phone and microphone, try the iRig (available on Amazon for $130). 

If your subject is too far away for a connected mic (or you don't want to deal with cords), PC Magazine recommends the Rode Wireless Go II, which is available at Best Buy for $300. 

If you're going to be recording voiceovers post-production, studio mics work best. CNET recommends the Yeti Studio Microphone, which is available on Amazon for $100.

Note: If you're using your smartphone as your camera, you may need an adaptor (like this) to be able to plug in an external microphone.  

A Tripod or Portable Camera Rig

People are only so good at holding still—so when it comes to getting a good, even shot, it's best to use a tripod or a camera rig, both of which can keep your shots relatively jitter-free. 

Best tripods for smartphones - PC Magazine recommends the DJI OM 4 ($129 on Amazon), a tripod and image stabilizer that has a magnetic mount so you can attach your phone quickly and easily. 

Best tripod for selfie shots - If you want something you can wrap around various surfaces (say, a tree branch or railing, for instance), this Cloudsfoto tripod ($17 on Amazon) has flexible legs that can bend around various surfaces or fixtures. It also comes with a remote button if you want to start filming from afar.

Best tripod for (non-mobile phone) cameras - The JOBY GorillaPod Magnetic tripod ($20 on Amazon) has thick, bendable rubber legs for mounting larger cameras on various surfaces. It also has magnetic legs; you can pop it onto anything metal to capture cool angles and perspectives. 

Best all-in-one camera rig - The Rode Vlogger Edition Filmmaking Kit ($149 on Amazon) is more than just a portable tripod—it also contains a mini shotgun mic as well as a small light, all of which improve your smartphone's filmmaking capabilities. It's not the best quality mic or lighting, but it's good enough that it'll make your kids feel like bona fide YouTubers in no time. The tripod can be set onto a table for studio shots or handheld for on-the-go use.  

Good Lighting

Proper lighting is key to making your videos go from grainy home movies to proper film quality without much effort on your part. The good news? Natural light works great! Shooting outside or indoors by a window will usually be all it takes to give your videos a crisp, clear picture.

If you're shooting at night or indoors without much natural light, external lighting is a must. The UBeesize 10" Selfie Ring Light ($36) is an easy choice and comes with a built-in holder for your phone, so all you need to do is put the phone in, turn on the light and go. If your kids are doing product reviews, performances of some kind or cooking shows (anything where they'll be in one area for the whole shot), three-point lighting systems like the Kshioe Photography Softbox Lighting Kit ($86) use three lights to fill in shadows and make your subjects look great, even in dimmer environments. 

For more details on how to set up a three-point lighting system, this video from Think Media makes it easy to understand.

Tips to Make Your Videos Shine

Always Shoot In Landscape Mode

Since most TVs and computers are horizontal, not vertical, shooting in the landscape orientation ensures that your picture will fill the screen when viewed on YouTube. That said, some people think vertical videos appear more "authentic" since it suggests that the videos were shot on a phone (by an amateur), so if that's the look you're going for, own it! 

Use Fun Video Effects to Wow Your Audience (and Your Kids!)

Here are some fun apps that'll make adding video effects easy.

Reverse Vid (or Reverse Movie FX on Android) - This makes everything you film go in reverse. Use it right, and you can make your kids look like they just summoned an object to jump into their hands or like your magical gymnast can dive backward out of a swimming pool. 

Action Movie FX - Watch out for that meteor! Get out of the avalanche's way! Alien invasions! This app generates effects that your kids will love; just put your kids in the right spot and film, and the app does the rest. 

FX Guru - Want to make the next Jurassic Park? This video effects app offers a stomping T-Rex that can make an appearance wherever you want. There are also other fun video effects, including a swarm of cockroaches, a whirling tornado and a "Zoo escape."

Superhero Power FX - Your family can become a superhero team with this simple special effects app that lets you take on various powers. Shoot laser beams from your hands! Disappear into a ball of fire! Throw giant ice crystals, Elsa-style. It's all possible. At least, it looks like it is. Once done, be sure to use this Movie Poster Maker to promote your up-and-coming blockbuster.

Use Editing Software & Apps to Splice Together Clips

Depending on your tech-savviness, there are a ton of options that'll help you get you a "like"-worthy finished product. We love the simplicity of the iMovie mobile app, which can be operated completely on your iPhone, but if you want to go a little deeper and you feel comfortable working with editing software, try Adobe Premiere Rush, which is a simplified, social media-centric version of Adobe's award-winning video editing software. For something that requires no design skills, including templates for you to use to make your videos insta-worthy, Animoto is a fun program you can install on your mobile device. GoPro also comes with easy-to-use editing software that helps you make pro-quality flicks.

Some things to keep in mind while editing:

  • Short clips are better.
  • Background music helps pull together the final product (watch the tutorials on the app to learn how to do this; it takes some practice but is easy once you get the hang of it).
  • Use text or captions when you can (since 92% of people view videos with the sound off when viewing on their mobile devices, according to a report from Verizon Media.

Most importantly, have fun! Making a movie—and sharing it with friends—is a fun activity the whole fam can enjoy together. And, save all the mess-ups for the blooper reel—because, let's face it, that's always everyone's favorite part.

—Melissa Heckscher

 

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All-New Hanukkah Books Your Littles Will Love

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If you buy something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.


Light the lights, spin the dreidel, eat some latkes—and read a book! There’s no better way to tell the story of Hanukkah than by, well, telling a story. Lucky for your littles, there are plenty of new books on the market to bring the festival of lights to life in their imaginations. From The Rugrats and Pout-Pout Fish to a book that actually becomes a menorah itself, here are our picks for the best new Hanukkah books:

If you buy something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.



The Speedy Menorah, by Cider Mill Press

$15   BUY NOW

This isn't really a book; it's a decoration! This colorful board book contains all the pieces to make a decorative foldout menorah, perfect for spaces where you don't want littles lighting up (I.e. in their rooms, at school, etc.). Kids will love popping out the pieces, putting them together and adding the candles each night.


You're My Little Latke, by Natalie Marshall

$9   BUY NOW

An adorable board book for toddlers that uses sweet, rhyming text and the hallmarks of Hanukkah (latkes, jelly donuts, menorahs) to celebrate the love between parent and child. Includes page cutouts and raised elements to captivate little readers.


A Rugrats Chanukah: The Classic Illustrated Storybook, by Kim Smith

$16   BUY NOW

Millennial parents will love introducing their kids to this infamous '90s-era baby crew, who learn—after a series of misunderstandings about the ‘meany of Hanukkah’—the real meaning of the holiday.


Larry’s Latkes, by Jenna Waldman

$18   BUY NOW

An alligator with a food truck sets out to find some fresh new flavors for his Hanukkah latkes in this rhyming story that centers around tradition, cooking and friendship. If peach or turnips aren’t your kids’ thing, the included recipe for rainbow latkes will hit the spot.


The Three Latkes, by Eric A. Kimmel

$18   BUY NOW

A threesome of latkes bicker over which one of them is the most delicious—with consequences none of them could see coming. Kids will love this silly story that will make them hungry for Hanukkah’s fried potatoes (of any color). There’s a recipe inside to make the perfect snack.


Goodnight Bubbala, by Sheryl Haft

$14   BUY NOW

“In the small blue room, there was a bubbala”…and a mishpacha (Jewish family), and a kiss on the keppelah (head)—and a host of other Yiddish phrases that match the rhythm and tone of Margaret Wise Brown’s classic bedtime tale. This simple parody pays homage to Jewish culture and values and will amuse the bubbies (grandmothers) maybe more than the bubbalas (darlings) themselves.


Pinky Blum and the Case of the Magical Menorah, by Judy Press

$11   BUY NOW

Looking for a Hanukkah-themed book that your independent readers can tackle on their own? This short chapter book follows kid detective Pinky Bloom as she takes on the case of an Israeli coin stolen from her synagogue. Strange events ensue—and Pinky solves the case with the help of her little brother.


Happy Hanukkah, Pups!

$8   BUY NOW

Get ready for the holiday with the Paw Patrol pups in this colorful board book that counts from one to ten with dreidels, latkes, snowflakes and more.


Happy Hanukkah, Pout-Pout Fish, by Deborah Diesen

$6   BUY NOW

Everyone’s favorite scaled grumpy face is back to light the lights (underwater!) in this sweet rhyming story that toddlers will love. Follow Pout-Pout Fish as he lights the menorah, spins the dreidel and celebrates Hanukkah with his fishy friends.


Red and Green and Blue and White, By Lee Wind

$15   BUY NOW

This picture book for older children loosely tells the true story of a community, that in 1993, stood up to bigotry. It follows Isaac, whose family is Jewish, and his best friend, Teresa, whose family is Christian, as they gear up for the holidays in their traditional ways. But when Isaac’s window is smashed in the middle of the night, the children bring the community together to stand up for what’s right.

—Melissa Heckscher

Featured image: iStock 

 

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15 Full-Length Free Movies on YouTube for Kids

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If your Netflix queue is looking a little stale, you might want to think about the treasure trove of free movies on YouTube. You don’t need a subscription to watch, and even though you’ll have to sit through a few commercials before your movie, don’t let the ads turn you off—with fun flicks like A Turtle’s Tale and Alice in Wonderland to choose from, it’s well worth your time. See our top picks for free movies on YouTube below.

The Neverending Story

One of the '80s best cult-favorite films, take a trip with Bastian into a world of fabulous characters, adventures and the ultimate quest for true bravery. 

Watch it here

photo: YouTube

Snow Queen

Before there was Frozen, there was Snow Queen. A more direct take on Hans Cristian Andersen's iconic tale, a young girl named Greta must battle the evil queen and rescue her friend. 

Watch it here

photo: YouTube

Coraline

The classic and a little-creepy animated film about a girl who finds a portal to an alternate version of her life is always a crowd-pleasing film for older kids. 

Best for ages 10 & up.

Watch it here

Jack and the Beanstalk

A funny twist on a classic fairy tale, young Jack must perform a heroic deed before he fails out of Fairy Tale school. He sells Computer of Wonder for magic beans and a magical notebook and heads out for his adventure. 

Best for ages 5 & up. 

Watch it here

The Secret of NIMH

A classic '80s animated film that your older kids will be sure to love! 

Best for ages 7 & up.

Watch it here. 

The Reef

A young fish named Pi loses everything and heads to the Reef and his family. There he meets a beautiful fish who is trying to ward off the affections of a bully shark. Will Pi save the day? 

Best for ages 4 & up. 

Watch it here

Free Birds

Featuring the voice talents of actors Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Pholer and George Takei, this time-traveling turkey caper follows the story of two turkeys determined to change the fate of Thanksgiving, in the name of saving turkeys everywhere. 

Best for ages 6 & up.

Watch it here. 

Khumba

This South African-made film is about a zebra prince born without all of his stripes who is cast out from the herd. Khumba isn't quite The Lion King, but there are a few similarities, namely the trio of goofy animal outcasts (here it's a wildebeest and an ostrich) that team up with the misfit zebra and help him learn to love himself—half-stripes and all—before returning to the herd.

Best for kids ages 6 and up.  

Watch it here

A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventures

A Turtle's Tale follows the story of a young turtle hatchling who must endure countless obstacles—from hungry seagulls to manmade perils—on his journey to reunite with a lost friend. Starring the voices of Melanie Griffith and Tim Curry, the film has some pretty clear messages about the dangers of global warming, as well as some educational lessons about the turtles themselves.  

Best for ages 4 and up. 

Watch it here

Alaska

An adventure film for older kids, Alaska follows the story of two kids who must venture through the wilds of Alaska to find their dad. The scenery is gorgeous, and kids will be inspired to brush up on their survival skills after watching the young duo climb, run and kayak their way through a series of perils.  

Best for ages 8 and up. 

Watch it here

White Lion

Older kids will appreciate this gorgeous film about a young African boy who befriends a white lion cub before embarking on an epic adventure. The film uses beautiful real-life nature footage to tell its story. Consequently, expect sad scenes depicting the cruelty that infamous "circle of life" imparts. 

Best for ages 10 and up. 

Watch it here

photo: Minecraft: Into the Nether

Minecraft: Into The Nether

For kids who can't get enough creepers, mobs or mods—Minecraft: Into the Nether will give them an educational look at how the blocky building game took the video gaming world by storm. It's a documentary, so it's probably best for older kids, but any kid who wants to share her love of Minecraft with the fam might want to check it out (if anything, it's a good way for parents to see what the hubbub is all about).   

Best for ages 7 and up. 

Watch it here

Jack and the Beanstalk

This is it: The film with Chevy Chase, Gilbert Gottfried and James Earl Jones that you've never heard of. This 2009 Jack and the Beanstalk rendition went straight to video, but the star power alone—plus the silly modern take on the classic fairy tale—make it worth a watch. The story follows Jack Thatcher (Colin Ford), who must perform an act of heroism or flunk out of fairy tale school. Consequently, he climbs the famed beanstalk to rescue a little girl who has been transformed into a harp by an evil giant. 

Best for ages 6 and up. 

Watch it here. 

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella

Fairy tale-loving tots will want to sing along with this 1965 version of the classic story. With minimalist sets and tons of musical numbers, this Cinderella feels more like watching a stage show than a movie—so don't go in expecting special effects. But anyone who loves the story of the cinder girl who finds her prince will be all in. 

Best for ages 5 and up. 

Watch it here

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972)

This 1972 adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic tale is a bit closer to the book than the Disney version, which means it may not be as lighthearted as the animated film. Still, kids who love all things Wonderland will be happy to fall down the rabbit hole.  

Best for ages 6 and up. 

Watch it here

Dino King

If your pint-sized paleontologist is all about everything dinosaurs, this prehistoric pick is IT for them. Dino King is everything your dino-lover wants to watch right now. 

Best for ages 7 and up. 

Watch it here

—Melissa Heckscher with Erica Loop

Featured image: Andrea Piacquadio via Unsplash

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Does your kid obsess over YouTube videos like they’re the only thing on a screen worth watching? It’s only a matter of time until she wants to have a YouTube channel herself. But what does that mean, exactly? More importantly, is it OK? The answer, says Common Sense Media, is mostly yes—as long as parents keep a watchful eye over their kids’ online endeavors and follow a few basic guidelines to help safeguard their kids’ privacy. Keep reading to find out everything from how old do you have to be to have a YouTube Channel to how to create a YouTube channel and why screen time limits are still important.

Why the Obsession?

It may seem foreign to parents, but making a YouTube video isn't all that much different from wanting to stage a talent show for friends and family; it's just the audience that's bigger.

"Even though you may have concerns about the risks of broadcasting on the web—and they are legitimate," says this article from Common Sense Media, "your kid may see it as a way of expressing herself, learning digital video skills, sharing with friends and experimenting creatively. It's important to balance your concerns with the benefits she can reap."

"With your guidance and support, she can do it safely, and it might be a fun project that may be useful down the road. In fact, more and more kids are using their online channels—whether it's a Tumblr blog, an Instagram photo collection or a Snapchat story—as digital portfolios to showcase their work to employers, colleges and potential collaborators."

Know the Rules

Officially, YouTube forbids children under the age of 13 to create their own accounts, and children between ages 13 and 17 are only allowed to open accounts with parental permission. Of course, these rules don't say anything about parents opening an account for their child; this is allowed. Ryan, the eight-year-old star of Ryan's World, is one of YouTube's biggest stars, with over 24 million subscribers tuning in to watch him play and review toys, do science experiments and more. It's no paltry gig—Ryan earned a reported $24 million in 2019, which includes revenue from not only his YouTube Channel but also his line of toys that can be found at big box stores everywhere. 

"Ryan was watching a lot of toy review channels—some of his favorites are EvanTubeHD and Hulyan Maya—because they used to make a lot of videos about Thomas the Tank Engine, and Ryan was super into Thomas,” his mother said in an interview with TubeFilter. "One day, he asked me, 'How come I’m not on YouTube when all the other kids are?’ So we just decided—yeah, we can do that. Then, we took him to the store to get his very first toy—I think it was a LEGO train set—and it all started from there.”

photo: iStock

How to Set It Up

1. Create a Gmail account for your child if he or she is under 13 years old. This will give him or her a YouTube account, but not a YouTube channel.

2. Create a YouTube Channel by clicking on "Select My Channel" on the sidebar on the left side of the YouTube homepage. This is where users can select the name to be associated with their YouTube channel. For kids, do not use their real/whole names, since these names will be broadcast to anyone watching the videos.

3. Set the privacy settings so that everything is private or unlisted. Private means that only those you invite to view the channel will be able to watch the videos; unlisted means only those with the particular video links will be able to see them. Also, turn off comments so your kid won't have to read any unkind or inappropriate remarks from other users. Note: These privacy settings will make it so only friends and family can view your child's page, which is great when it comes to keeping her safe; not so great if she's trying to build a following.

For more details on setting up a YouTube channel, click here, and for points to consider before doing it, click here

Some Tips on Keeping Kids Safe Online

Edit for Privacy Purposes
Since putting up videos on YouTube essentially allows anyone (depending on your channel's privacy settings) to see and hear your child, parents must keep a close eye on what their kids are doing to make sure they aren't accidentally revealing any personal information. We recommend that you don't allow your children to show their faces in their videos. This means OK to narrating Minecraft games, sporting events and stop-motion animation shows, and yes to a stuffed animal or puppet performances where they do the voices.

Also, YouTube has just announced new safety measures when it comes to kids. Parents will be able to create a supervised Google account, which will come with content settings and limited features. You can see all the details here

Be Their #1 Viewer
Be sure to watch all of the videos your child posts. This can be tedious, but you have to make sure your kids aren't accidentally revealing any personal information (where they go to school, where they live, etc.).

Put Limits on Recording Time   
Like any other screen time activity, it's best to limit your child's recording sessions to 30-60 minutes, just so they can spend their time doing a variety of activities.

Make Videos with Them
It can be a fun family activity if you help your kids make a video to publish online. They'll love getting YouTube time, and you'll love being able to add some grown-up finesse to the project. Here's our step-by-step tutorial that'll give you all the details, plus the best gadgets to buy. 

—Melissa Heckscher

Featured image: Pexels

 

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Hanukkah-Themed Gifts for Your Holiday Wish Lists

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The Festival of Lights comes early this year (it starts a few days after Thanksgiving!), which means time is running out to find the perfect Hanukkah-themed gifts for your latke-loving littles. Whether you’re looking for seasonal PJs, a memorable menorah or a scented candle that’ll recreate the sweet smells of Hanukkah all year long, we’ve found some unique gifts to add to your list. Read on to find out more.


RBG I DISSENT Menorah

$200   BUY NOW

This handcrafted menorah comes with a gavel-wielding RBG who also acts as the shamash (lighting) candle with the eight other candles sitting atop blocks that say I DISSENT. Be sure to order one now, as they are made to order and may take several weeks to get to you.

 


Pottery Barn Pajamas

$46   BUY NOW

Celebrate baby's first Hanukkah with these adorable 100% organic cotton pajamas that feature a festive print. Available in sizes 0 to 24 months.

 


Hooded Menorah Blanket

$20   BUY NOW

This luxurious blanket/cape is perfect for any kid who doesn't mind a few giggles at their expense (and who likes being cozy and warm, of course). It's made of a snuggly faux-fur fabric, has a 3D menorah head with nine branches on the hood and golden hand muffs for keeping fingers toasty.

 


Hanukkah Magna-Tiles

$36   BUY NOW

Kids can use these Magna-Tiles to build a gingerbread house that also works as a holiday countdown. Night by night, kids flip each tile over to reveal a new Hanukkah candle. On the last night, knock it all down and use the tiles to construct a decorative dreidel.


8 Nights of Delight Hanukkah Tasting Collection

$28   BUY NOW

Why should Advent calendars only be for Christmas? This eight-day collection has a little drawer of Kosher-certified candies for each passing night of Hanukkah. Kids pull open the drawer to find a handful of yummy treats including dark chocolate sea salt caramels, sugar cookies, toffee almonds and sour candy.


Hanukkah Candies from Dylan's Candy Bar

$3.50 and up   BUY NOW

You can't really go wrong with candy (at least, that's what the kids will tell you), and Dylan's Candy Bar has an assortment of Hanukkah-themed candy collections that will satisfy any sweet tooth—from Star of David gummy kabobs to milk chocolate menorahs. Who needs jelly donuts when you've got a Hanukkah-themed whirly pops?


Hanukkah in a Box

$65   BUY NOW

This kit contains a whole roster of fun for kids, including a DIY metal menorah, a clay mold for making dreidels, jelly donut decorating stencils, gift boxes for passing out treats, menorah candles and a booklet that'll lay out the story of the season.


Hanukkah Fitted Sheet

$39   BUY NOW

Put your baby down on a sheet fit for all eight nights. This decorative fitted sheet is made with 100% organic cotton percale and has elastic around the top and bottom (rather than the entire edge) for added safety.


Latkes and Lights Candles

$34   BUY NOW

These sophisticated candles are made to smell like Hanukkah's token treats—latkes and applesauce mixed with jelly donuts—so you'll be able to keep the Festival of Lights feeling going, any time of year.

 


Hebrew Letters Bracelet

$67   BUY NOW

Handcrafted in Israel, this cotton string bracelet has a 24K gold-plated brass plate with the words Anything is Possible stamped in Hebrew.  

 


Ugly Hanukkah Sweater

$60   BUY NOW

Don't let Christmas revelers have all the ugly sweater fun! The super-soft sweater comes in unisex sizing from extra-small to 3XL, so anyone in your family can spread the Holiday Schmear. 


Hannukah House Decorating Kit

$25   BUY NOW

For those who feel like traditional gingerbread houses are too Christmasy, this Hanukkah-themed cookie house decorating kit is kosher parve (contains no meat or dairy) and comes with everything you need including three icing colors, sprinkles, mini beads, fondant, six-point star, menorah and mezuzah, sugar decorations and sanding sugar. 


Kid Kraft Wooden Menorah Play Set

$25   BUY NOW

Parents shouldn't get all the candle-lighting fun of the holidays to themselves! With this sturdy wooden menorah, children can make-believe Hanukkah all year long. The 10-piece set includes nine colorful removable candles.


Hanukkah-Themed Face Masks

Prices vary   BUY NOW

It wouldn't be 2021 without a Hanukkah-themed face mask—and there is no shortage of options. Just search the term on Etsy, where you'll a slew of menorah, dreidel or latke-laden masks for everyone at your Hanukkah gatherings.

—Melissa Heckscher

 

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Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, all items were available for purchase.

All images courtesy of retailers.

 

Our 19 Favorite Gifts for Kids Ages 6-9

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They may be “big kids” now, but they’re still littles at heart. As such, grade-schoolers need toys that can both wow them and teach them; entertain and challenge them—and there are no shortage of options! From handheld drones and high-flying footballs to American Girl sets and LEGO kits, here are our holiday gift picks for grade school kids. 


Little Tikes Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatch

$68   BUY NOW

This super-cool smartwatch is perfect for kids who want a high-tech model just like yours. With two cameras, fitness-tracking abilities, 50+ watch faces and the chance to go head-to-head in games with other Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatches, there is plenty of fun to be had.


Adventures with Luigi Starter Course

$60   BUY NOW

Whether your kid is a gamer or a builder, they'll love this LEGO set that comes with pieces that work just like the Super Mario Brothers video game. As kids embark on a digital coin-collecting spree through the self-constructed course, Luigi's tiny LCD screen displays various reactions, while his speaker plays songs from the video game.


Rebel Girls Postcards

$20   BUY NOW

Fans of Goodnight Stories of Rebel Girls will love this postcard pack featuring 50 world-changing women—from First Lady Michelle Obama to the Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini. Each card contains a short bio and a quote, plus Rebel's signature artwork. Use them as conversation starters at dinner—or send one to a friend or family member to spread the knowledge.


Sonic Fin Aerodynamic Football

$15   BUY NOW

Think your budding quarterback can't make a 100-yard throw? Think again. This aerodynamic football—endorsed by NFL quarterback Russell Wilson—is designed for max distance, without max effort.


Little Tikes Tobi 2 Interactive Karaoke Machine

$52   BUY NOW

With this interactive karaoke machine, the whole family can enjoy a night of tunes. Take advantage of built-in songs or connect to an external smart device to play your favorite jams via Bluetooth® technology. Either way, the pitch correction feature will help you hit those high notes.


Treasury of Magical Tales From Around the World

$22   BUY NOW

This gorgeous book from National Geographic brings you stories from Ecuador, Italy, Morocco and other far-off lands that teach lessons and inspire readers both young and old.


American Girl Coffee Shop

$280   BUY NOW

This American Girl Doll-sized coffee shop has everything a little barista needs, including a bar big enough for two AG dolls; a built-in cash register; a pretend espresso machine and more. If you're a parent who loves a good latte, your mini will be right there with you.


Air Hogs Jump Fury Truck

$40   BUY NOW

Take your kid's RC-driving skills to a new level with this “extreme jumping” truck that literally leaps into the air with the flick of a finger. With its soft, bouncy wheels, this little car can instantly lift up to 22-inches and bounce back down with ease.


Dimpl Pops Deluxe

$25   BUY NOW

Popits are all the rage these days and we love how this one has a rainbow of colors that are just waiting to be popped!


Mini Brands Mini Toy Shop

$40   BUY NOW

There's just something about tiny versions of things that kids just adore—and this miniature store won't disappoint. New for this year, the Mini Brands Toy Store let kids put lots of little things on little shelves for hours of pretend-play fun!


Echo Dot Kids Edition

$60   BUY NOW

Kids can ask Alexa questions, listen to music, set alarms and more. With a year of Amazon Kids+ included, they can access tons of kid-friendly content all on their own.


A Magic Box

$35   BUY NOW

Aspiring magicians will be waving their wands for this magic set, which provides an assortment of easy-to-learn magic tricks, including disappearing coins, marble mysteries and simple card tricks. Your purchase also gets you a membership to the online studio, which teaches more than 100 tricks to help budding magicians grow and practice.


Wireless Headphones

$40   BUY NOW

Wires can be annoying—so get rid of them! These colorful wireless headphones have kid-safe volume controls and three pairs of changeable ear plates to let your kids show off their personal style while they listen safely. Zooming into school? The headphones offer high-quality sound and a high-definition microphone for clear calling. 


MyFirst Camera Insta 2

$90   BUY NOW

If you thought Polaroid cameras were cool, you and your kids will be even more wowed by this adorable digital camera that prints out 12-megapixel images in just 10 seconds. Kids can frame their subjects using the digital screen, then print out high-quality black and white prints on the included thermal paper or stickers (no ink needed!). Want color pictures? Just attach the camera to a computer and print them out on your home printer.


Pizza Parlor Kit

$39   BUY NOW

These colorful sensory boxes let your child press and squish oregano and basil-scented pizza dough to make mini (pretend) pizzas with loads of colorful toppings. Comes with three different colors of scented dough, as well as a menu, pretend money and various pizza-making tools.


Cutie Cuts

$27   BUY NOW

Your elementary schooler is (hopefully) past the cut-their-own-hair phase—but that doesn't mean they don't want to get a hold of some clippers and trim away! Cutie Cuts lets littles shave the unruly fur off a colorful pup to reveal the coiffed pooch beneath it all.


Squishy Golden Dumpling

$15   BUY NOW

Not only is this little doughball adorable, but he “comes to life” when you squeeze him, with 50 reactions and emotions and a cute little chrome body that pops out when he’s pinched. He also lights up and makes sounds and comes with accessories (in case you prefer your stuffed buns with bows or glasses).


Fresh Dolls

$14   BUY NOW

Created by the world’s largest black-owned multicultural doll company, these dolls also have realistic proportions, with fuller hips and thighs and more realistic waists—plus custom-blended skin tones, varying hair colors and textures, and authentic facial features.


MyFirst Drone

$30   BUY NOW

This palm-sized drone is designed to be kept close—you control it by putting your hand beneath it and waving it gently one way or another—which means it's much less likely to fly away. The best part? There’s an altitude sensor that keeps the drone no higher than 10 feet up—high enough to wow your kids, but low enough that they’re less likely to lose their new holiday gift to the neighbor’s roof.

—Melissa Heckscher

Editor’s Note: Prices and availability reflect the time of publication. Images courtesy of retailers.

If you purchase something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.

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Looking to unload some of your kids’ massive candy stash? Make like Bill Nye and use it up in a science experiment. From melting marshmallows to growing Gummy Bears, make good use of your leftover Halloween sweets with these 10 yummy science experiments for kids. Bonus points for making a hypothesis and taking notes on each science project!

skittles-rainbowphoto: Melissa Heckscher

Skittles Rainbow 
You’ll be doing more than just tasting the rainbow. Put some Skittles into water and marvel as the colored coating dissolves into an Instagram-worthy design. Head to Little Bins for Little Hands to get the science behind the sugar.

candy-science_peep-geyser_melissaheckscher_posthalloween_redtricyclejpgphoto: Melissa Heckscher

Exploding Peep Geysers
Poor Peeps; they’re just so much fun to torture. This easy science experiment teaches your kids a little bit about how microwaves work—at the expense of a few marshmallow candies. Just put those Peeps into a bottle, stick ‘em in the microwave, and watch as they erupt. It’s quick and sticky fun, but kids will love watching those sugary faces expand and explode. Get all the details at Housing a Forest.

geyser-tubephoto: Steve Spangler’s Geyser Tubes on Amazon

Make a Mentos Geyser
Kids will happily hand over an entire pack of Mentos to watch a soda geyser explode skyward. Just drop a few Mentos into a bottle of soda and stand back! Charlene at My Frugal Adventures explains how it’s done. Psst! If you don’t feel like assembling the ingredients yourself, you can buy an actual Mentos Geyser Tube online.

candy-science-gummy-bearphoto: Melissa Heckscher

Gummy Bear Science
Plunk a few Gummy Bears into different solutions and let them sit for a few days to see what happens. Kids will love checking in on their bears every day for a status update. Get more ideas on how to do it here.

m-and-mphoto: Holly Hopson

Take the “m” Off the m&ms
M&Ms may not melt in your hands, but it turns out they may not last so long when plopped into a cup of water. Kids will love watching the “m” peel off their m&ms; parents will love the patience this experiment requires of their little scientists. Little Bins for Little Hands has the scoop.

electric-eelsphoto: Courtesy Bitz ‘n Giggles

Dancing Gummy Worms
Observe as a simple chemical reaction makes a bunch of yummy Gummy Worms come alive. Younger kids will think you’ve actually put life into candy; older kiddos will be simply mesmerized. Sara at Bitz ‘n Giggles takes you step by step through the process (Note: Make sure your baking soda is fresh; we tried this with long-opened baking soda and our worms hardly moved.).

candy-science-jellybeanphoto: Christie at Childhood 101

Jellybean Taste Test
Your child might say he likes blue jelly beans the best, but is it a taste thing? This experiment explores the relationship between sight and taste as kids are asked to identify the kind of bean they’re tasting without seeing it. Christie at Childhood 101 has more.

sink-or-float-candy-sciencephoto: Courtesy Reading Confetti

Sink or Float – Hypothesis Tester
This experiment lets kids make a hypothesis and test it. Which candies will sink, which will float— and why? Get more ideas here.

balancing-candyphoto: Trisha Stanley via Inspiration Laboratories

Balancing with M&Ms
Give kids a simple physics lesson with this experiment that lets them balance various objects against a handful of m&ms. Another opportunity for kids to hypothesize— and a great excuse for them to eat enough m&ms to make the scale even. Get inspired from Mama Trisha at Inspiration Laboratories.

candy-science-balloonphoto: Melissa Heckscher

Candy + Balloons + Soda = ?? 
See what happens when you fill a balloon with Pop Rocks and dump it all into a bottle of soda. Then, try it again with Nerds candy. Your kids will be amazed at which one blows the bigger balloon. Get the simple steps over at Learn Play Imagine.

—Melissa Heckscher

Featured image: Dennis Mueller via Unsplash

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Messy (& Fun!) Painting Projects to Try at Home

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Want to let your little artist express themself but worried about the mess they’ll make in the house? Take it outside! From squirt guns painting to balloon paint bombs, unleash your little Picassos with these fun outdoor painting projects (and don’t forget the baby-safe paint!).

Dart Art

Drip a little paint into small party balloons, then blow them up, tack them onto a canvas, and give your little artists some darts. They'll love seeing the paint splatter when they hit their mark. Find out more from Northern California Mama Agnes Hsu at hello, Wonderful. Note: You'll need darts and thumbtacks for this project, so we recommend adult supervision.

Swing With It!

Turn your pint-sized painters into pendulums with this clever art project that lets kids swing and paint at the same time. Get the simple instructions (and a video to show your kids what they can do) at Homegrown Friends.

Paint Like Pollock

Jackson Pollock-inspired art may be the perfect paint project for kids. Why? Because all little Pollocks need to do is drip, pour, and splatter globs of baby-safe paint onto a giant canvas floor. Sound fun? Find out more from kindergarten teacher/mom Dana Gorman's Playfully Learning blog.

Load and Shoot! 

Kids will love this colorful excuse to use water guns ("But it's art, Mom!"). Just fill up a few squirt guns with paint (and water) and let your little ones aim. Get the scoop from Melissa Lennig at Fireflies and Mudpies.

 

Use Your Feet

Give those little hands a break and let your kids step, slide, and dance their way to painted masterpieces. Young artists will love getting their feet messy and seeing their footprints in action. Head over to Homegrown Friends to get the simple step-by-step instructions.

Pop Goes the Artwork 

Bubbles! What kid doesn't love them? With this simple project from Christie Burnette of Childhood 101, your little soap artists can use bubble solution (mixed with a little food coloring) to create magical bursts of color.

Hammer Time!

Let your kids smack a hammer or mallet down on cotton rounds to splatter the "hidden" paint beneath. Young painters will love trying to guess what color will splat with each swing. Get the step-by-step from blogger Michelle at Crafty Morning.

Bombs Away!

They’re going to get paint all over them; might as well get to it, stat! Just fill up a few dozen water balloons with paint, lay down a canvas (or drop cloth), and let your kids stomp, squish, and jump away. Get all the details at Craftulate.

 

Egg-citing Art

Drip a little paint into hollowed-out eggs and let your kids smash away with this fun project from Growing a Jeweled Rose. Note: To avoid making a stinky art project, be sure to rinse the eggs out before you pour in the paint!

Wrap It Up!

Kids will love becoming a human roller stamp with this whole-body activity courtesy of The Chaos and the Clutter. Just dip your crazy kiddos' bubble-wrapped bodies in paint and let them slam against or roll around on their canvas of choice. Will they make a masterpiece? Who cares! Note: If you'd like to keep your human bubble wrapping on a smaller scale, try this bubble wrap stomp painting project from Mess for Less.

 

—Melissa Heckscher

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