Scandalous gifts?

I’m waiting to hear buzz about the “gift cap” that was the focus of so many web chats last year at this time.

The issue: districts that cap the amount of money a family can spend on teacher gifts during the school year. Actually, ethics laws in some places already include teachers and school administrators. In other areas, the gift policy is outlined in the school handbook.

Gift caps are intended to remove the potential for student favoritism and level the playing field, but some parents chafe at limits on ways they can express appreciation to the people who spend all day with their child.

Gaming goes to school

Students aren’t bingeing on video games yet, but this school year has marked a dramatic increase in using action-oriented gaming in classrooms.

Screen-focused generation

Twelve year olds who didn’t get a cell phone during the back to school season are hoping one will be in their Christmas stocking.
In recent studies, a majority of parents said they’d buy their child a cell phone between the ages of 10 and 14.

Classic toys (Monopoly, Pretty Pony, etc.) that have ridden a wave of nostalgic popularity will compete for attention among all the digital gadgets which dominate wish lists.

Today’s Lego-loving parents share the same click-ability with their kids that they enjoyed during their childhood. But I wonder: what will today’s digi-kids pass on to their children?

Full STEAM ahead

Kids will find more STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math)-related toys in their Christmas stockings than in previous years. Many of these next gen toys incorporate both technology and creativity.

Motors, robots and all types of hands-on science and building toys will be featured on Black Friday or on holiday flash sales. Paying attention to recommended ages will be critical, as many of these toys involve substances or parts that could be dangerous when used by younger or unsupervised kids.

The search is on

Perhaps it’s a season of “searching for something that works in schools” that has spilled over from the disastrous Common Core State Standards rollout, but educators are floating all kinds of ideas.

Some schools are testing standing desks.

At least one governor has proposed longer school days.

Other schools have eliminated recess, while others are filling classrooms with exercise bikes so students can exercise while they read.

The unanswered question remains: What will help kids learn?

The ultimate edible

Have you sampled the Frozen Yogurt that comes in an edible skin?

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls come in an edible skin, flavored like the fruit yogurt: peach, banana, coconut or strawberry.

I don’t know if the environmentally friendly packaging will replace plastic cups, but it would make a buzz-worthy holiday dessert.

Online stranger danger and more

The research summary from last week wasn’t surprising:

Parents are more concerned about their children’s use of social media than any other online activity.

That was the conclusion of research conducted for the non-profit Family Online Safety Institute. (Link below.) A significant three-quarters of parents worry about inappropriate content; 69% worry about their child communicating with a stranger.

Using parental controls that prevent certain content and suspending in-app purchases are common ways that parents buy peace of mind.