What Makes Bedtime Reading Important and Fun

 

 

This blog has been written by AccordingtoJ.

 

The importance of the bedtime story cannot be underestimated. It creates a strong bond between parents and children while also having a great impact on children's learning. This blog looks at the importance of storytelling, the benefits for a children, and how technology is making the bedtime story possible even when the parents are not at home.

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world”. I love this quote from children’s author Philip Pullman. We all live busy lives and the bedtime story is a great way for both parents and children to take a step back and enjoy some quality time together. It is chance for the family to discover new stories, and for parents to read their children the books that they loved when they were growing up.

Aside from the pleasure (and isn’t that enough) of the bedtime story there are many health benefits. The chief of the child development and behavior at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has stated that “neural research shows that when parents and caregivers interact verbally with children -- which includes reading to them -- kids learn a great deal more than we ever thought possible.” These include sharper memory, improvement of language and vocabulary, and better communication skills. Even better is that bedtime stories are fun so children enjoy developing these skills.

There are many ways to make the bedtime story fun. Experts have often stated that active adult participation is the key to keeping children interested. This can involve anything from putting on voices to singing.  The more parents interact, the more likely the child is to become interested in the story. 

Technology has changed the way bedtime stories can be read. Smartphones have enough memory to hold multiple books and story apps, which means that parents can carry many different types of books on the go. Another example of how smartphones and tablets have changed is how children read through interactive books. These books combine storytelling with gaming to create a much more immersive experience for children and parents. Combining classic stories with technology can make the bedtime story enjoyable for parents who are experiencing a well known story from a different angle and children who get to discover something new with their parents.

Kindoma has taken this one step further with video call storytelling. A vital part of the bedtime story is the presence of an adult reading to their child. The Kindoma allows parents to read to their children via video call and interact with books in the same way they would with a physical book. Reading is usually a solitary activity, yet the bedtime story is the opposite of solitary with an emphasis on the child hearing their parent’s voice. Apps such as Kindoma Storytime ensure that children never miss out on this vital part of their upbringing.

 

 

Behind the scenes at Kindoma

Can you spot the differences?

Have you ever wondered what goes into maintaining the user experience of an app like Drawtime or Storytime? 

If you've been a long time user of our products, you may (or may not) have noticed some incremental changes that have happened in both our Drawtime and Storytime apps over the past two years. These changes are often subtle and generally go unnoticed—but the iceberg below the surface of those incremental changes will likely surprise you!

If you're interested in knowing more about how Kindoma is constantly working behind the scenes to improve our products performance and user experience, check out this Medium post by our Product Designer Kevin Guenther.

Have some of your own ideas on how we can change our products for the better? We'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

Summer read'n, had me a blast

With a 6-year-old emerging reader under my own roof, this is the first year I’ve personally had to think about our families’ approach to the Summer Reading Slump. A well-documented phenomena demonstrating how over the summer, children can lose some of the hard fought gains they've made during the school year.

For more detail, check out this great article written last week by a Purdue University Professor in the College of Education: Fight Children's Summer Slump with Fun Reading.

The Cole’s Notes: summer reading should be less about developing the skill of reading and more about developing a love of reading.

There are lots of ways to keep kids reading during the summer, ranging from non-traditional selections such as comic-books to having book themes based on your kids’ interests.

I love this list from Red Apple Reading, especially the book scavenger hunt!

Kindoma Storytime, which allows young children and their loved ones to read together over video chat, is the perfect way to shake up your typical reading routine. Last night one of our users sent me this great video of her 14 year old neice in Vancouver reading to her 6 year old daughter in Winnipeg. That’s a win on both sides!

So moms and dads here's my advice—don’t stress about summer reading. Just be mindful of it. Keep things light, fun, and differentiated from the school year.

Call grandma and have her read aloud with your young child. Take a moment to relax yourself with a glass of wine! How’s that for stress-free summer reading!?

Anyway, happy summer, happy reading, and we hope you will consider Kindoma Storytime a part of your families’ summer reading routine.

Please stay in touch. We have some big news coming in the fall!

Breaking News ... Kindoma joins coLab!

As my good friend, Hubba's Ben Zifkin recently said, "Running a tech startup is generally bad days with the occasional terrible day thrown in. Every so often, you have the opportunity to take 2 minutes to appreciate the ride."

Today is one of those days. Kindoma is excited to finally be able to share that we have joined the next cohort of CoLab, the edTech accelerator run by Zynga and Reach Capital! This means that Tico, Kevin and I will be spending the next 3 months in San Francisco, improving and scaling our products, preparing to raise our next round, and thinking hard about our role in the future of education.

At Kindoma, children's learning has always been at our core. CoLab, like us, believes that high-quality digital educational experiences hold the promise of educational transformation. In the almost 3 years that co.lab has been operating, they have supported 29 educational games startups that have collectively raised more than $45M in capital.

We are honored to join their 5th cohort, and excited to take advantage of their deep edTech and gaming expertise to help Kindoma grow to the next level. Learn more about our new family and our home for the next 3 months here: http://playcolab.com/co-lab-announces-cohort-5/

We're talking about ... Diwali

This Wednesday is Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and one of the largest and brightest festivals in India.

We are so fortunate to have a wonderful Diwali book on Storytime, The Diwali Gift by 3 Curious Monkeys.

Families come together around the holidays. For anyone separated from their loved ones this Diwali, instead of just a regular call you can have a more meaningful connection by reading this special story together. Even if you don’t celebrate Diwali, this book provides a great educational opportunity to help your children learn about another culture.

Below is a suggested reading guide for 3 Curious Monkeys - we hope you enjoy it!

 

Step 1: Briefly explain Diwali

"Today we’re going to read a book about Diwali, a very important holiday especially in India and all over the world. Diwali is the festival of lights, and is about light winning over dark. Diwali is celebrated on a very dark night when there’s a new moon, so people light lamps to light up the night. Diwali is a special holiday when people wear their nicest clothes, decorate their homes with lights, and exchange candy and presents. During Diwali, people think about the good things they would like to happen in the next year"

Step 2: Read The Diwali Gift in Storytime

Open Storytime on your iPad or iPhone. You will find The Diwali Gift featured at the top of your bookstore.


Step 3: Point out the following in the book

  1. Dekho thinks the box has sparklers. Many children light sparklers on Diwali night. People also shoot fireworks into the sky.
  2. Suno thinks the box has bangles. People dress in their nicest clothing for Diwali night. A lehenga (lehenga) is a fancy skirt.
  3. Jaano thinks the box has diyas. Diyas are small oil lamps that people light on Diwali night
  4. Talk about the pictures engraved on the coin: Laxmi (luckshmi) is the Goddess of prosperity and wealth, and Ganesh (Gunesh) is the God of new beginnings. He has an elephant’s head.
  5. Point out the rangoli (rungoli), colorful floor art that Jaano is putting the diyas around
  6. Explain how the coins will bring Suno, Dekho, and Jaano good luck in the next year. The friends will hold their coins, and wish for something that they hope will come true.

Happy Diwali from our family to yours!

 

Have a good first day, Drawtime!

Last week had plenty of milestones. As did many children around the world, my kids started school. My daughter had her first day of kindergarten and my son had his very first day of nursery school.

When the week began, I didn’t know that Kindoma was going to have a big week as well. But in fact, our little company had a pretty serious milestone all of it’s own. Our new app, Drawtime, was selected by Apple as one of the best new Apps on the same day that they launched iOS9, and also featured in the main carousel in the Kids Category ... on its first day out of the gate!

We created Drawtime based on our personal experiences as parents, and based on what our users asked us for. As a company, we aim to bring families separated by distance together using technology. Drawtime is the first of it’s kind, allowing children and their loved ones to draw together over video calls. Imagine being able to do anything you can with a pen and a piece of paper – be it draw a picture, practice letters and math, or play tic-tac-toe – even from 10,000 miles away. This App is a game changer for grandparents, divorced families, or parents like me who travel for work.

As an entrepreneur, in many ways, launching your App feels a lot like sending your young child off to his first day of school. You are so excited for him, but also so nervous. Until now he’s been with you, or people that you know will tell you if he’s had a good day or bad.

And then the day comes to send him off. You take a deep breath and send him out with butterflies in your stomach.

Drawtime is still in it's early days. Only through your feedback can this product reach its potential. We made the decision to let our users be our guide. Want more colors? Tell us. Stickers? Tell us. Coloring books? You get the point. My daughter has already requested that we move “pink” to the top of our roadmap. Why I have a 5 year old that knows the term ‘roadmap’ is another story.

Most importantly, something not working well ... please ... please ... tell us! My personal email is carly@kindoma.com. Feel free to reach out at any time with thoughts, suggestions, complaints, or just to say hi!

 


How To: Use Drawtime with FaceTime

The Picture-in-Picture multitasking feature on iOS9 allows you to use Drawtime with your other favorite video calling Apps like Apple's FaceTime. Here's how:

1. Open FaceTime and start your call as you would normally.

2. Press the home button. Rather than disappearing as it would in previous versions of iOS, the video call stays around and pops out to become its own floating window.

3. Open Drawtime.

4. Tap on the "Link Canvas" icon.

5. Send the link by iMessage to your contact.

6. Your contact will need to download the App and click on your link.

7. Draw together!

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Kids About...SOFIA THE FIRST!

The first little girl princess has arrived from Disney and your kids are sure to go bananas over her! Sofia is a young, ordinary girl who's life changes overnight. When Sofia's mom marries the King, she instantly becomes a princess! 

The TV show follows Sofia's transition into a life of royalty. The best part? There are many cameos from our favorite Disney princesses such as Ariel, Belle and Jasmine, who all help Sofia with her transition into a royal family! Of course, it wouldn't be a Disney movie without a lesson. Sofia learns that it isn't titles that matter, but your character is all that really counts! 

 

Let's get talking with our kids and see what they have to say about Sofia the First! 

 

1) Who is your favorite Disney princess? 

2) Would you like to be a princess (or prince)? What would you do all day? 

3) What is Sofia's special power? (Sofia can speak to animals!)

4) If animals could talk, what do you think they would say? 

5) Sofia LOVES the outdoors! What is your favorite activity to do outside? 

 

Well folks, thats it for this weeks Top 5! I hope the kids in your life enjoyed this activity and you started some fun conversation! For more fun Sofia the first activities click here

Top 5 Questions to Ask Kids About....YouTube Kids!

If you have ever watched a child play with an iPad, chances are you’ve seen them open up youtube to watch videos. Kids love searching everything from animals, their favorite tv shows and toy unboxings (more on that here)!

The downside of regular YouTube is that your kids have access to anything. Unless you are watching your kids every second they are playing on the iPad, there is a chance they could come across something you are less than thrilled for them to see.

Whats the solution to that problem? YouTube Kids! An app that only shows kid friendly videos, along with easier navigation, bigger buttons and instant full screen. To make parents even more comfortable, parents can access settings to further control the content their kids can see!

With four of the five most popular youtube channels targeted at children, we know our kids love it!

So what are kids watching on YouTube anyway? Lets ask our kids to share with us what they love!

1)   What is your favorite thing to search for on YouTube? (I know for my little cousins ages 5, 4, 3 and 2 they LOVE searching The Wiggles videos!)

2)    Have you ever watched an unboxing video?  (The most popular channel is called ‘FunToyzCollector’ – get your kids to watch some and you can discuss the different toys!

3)   Do you listen to songs and nursery rhymes on YouTube? (The second most popular channel is called ‘Little Baby Bum’, filled with amazing songs and nursery rhymes. Watch these together!)

4)   What is the funniest video you have watched on YouTube?

5)   Have you ever made a video at home? What was it about? (If not, would you like to?) 

Top 5 Questions to Ask Kids About Magna-Tiles!

A children’s toy where the slogan is: “Where math, science and creativity meet”.

 

Sounds like a parents dream to me! What could be better then a toy that’s educational and children LOVE?

 

Magna tiles were created by a math teacher in order to teach children about shapes through play! With Magna Tiles you can create 3D shapes, make flat patterns and develop fine motor skills. The magnets on these tiles are super strong, so you and your kids can make some pretty amazing structures!

 

Winning titles such as best education product and toy of the year, it’s easy to see why this toy is so popular. There are tons of resources online for activities your kids can do with Magna Tiles specific to age or grade level too!

 

If your kids don’t already have this toy, this is one to put on the list!

 

Now, for this weeks five questions…

 

1)   What is your favorite shape to make with Magna Tiles?

2)   Ask your kids to find the shapes of these tiles. Can you find an equilateral triangle? A small square? A right triangle?

3)   Have you ever tried putting a light under the tiles? (this is really neat, and has a stained glass effect)

4)   What was the biggest structure you ever built? How long did it take you?

5)   Have you found anything else magnetic in your house that the tiles can stick to? 

Getting Started with Kindoma is Easy as 1,2,3!

First time using Kindoma?

Here's our 3 step guide that will have you chatting with loved ones in minutes! 

Download Kindoma Storytime on the app store by clicking here or by searching 'Kindoma' in the app store. Once downloaded, open the app and follow these 3 easy steps to get started. 

1) Invite a family member. Tap 'add a family' pictured in image 1. You will then be prompted to enter their email address. Once they accept you are ready for step 2! 

2) Tap their picture (or name if they didn't upload one) to make a call. Once they answer you are ready for step 3! 

3) Choose a story to read together. You can begin by reading a free book like 'The Three Little Pigs', or click on the word 'book store' to purchase other favorites! 

As always, if you have any trouble please contact us: 

tico@kindoma.com or carly@kindoma.com 

Happy reading! 

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Kids About Doc McStuffins!

“The Doc is in and she'll fix you up. If you’re a toy then you’re in luck!”

(from the Doc McStuffins theme song).

 

This week I’m going to talk about a TV show that is very popular with many Kindoma families – Doc McStuffins!

 

Doc McStuffins (or ‘Dottie’) is a 6-year-old girl who is the go-to doctor for stuffed animals and toys in need. Dottie has a magic ability – when she puts on her stethoscope, all the stuffed animals, toys and dolls come to life! Isn’t this every child’s dream? Kids quickly fall in love with Dottie and her stuffed animal medical assistants: Stuffy the dragon, Lambie the lamb and Hallie the hippo.

 

There’s no denying this show is absolutely adorable with its catchy songs, and lovable toys. But, my favorite part is how it makes the act of going to the doctor seem a lot less scary. As a child I was TERRIFIED of the doctor. I vividly remember screaming fits, sleepless nights, and asking “but what if she gives me a needle?” until I was blue in the face!  I can’t help but think if there was a show like Doc McStuffins that made the doctor seem fun and safe, that it may have eased a little bit of that fear!

 

Now for this weeks Top 5 Questions…

 

1)   Who is your favorite toy in Doc McStuffins? Why?

 

2)   Have any of your toys ever gotten hurt? What did you do to help them?

 

3)   Would you like to be a doctor like Dottie? What do you want to be when you grow up?

 

4)   How do you think Dottie learned how to be a toy doctor?

 

5)   If you could have any magic power, what would it be?

 

Does the child in your life watch Doc McStuffins? Did they have fun answering these questions? We’d love to know! Let me know in the comments below, on social media or email me: alexa@kindoma.com.

 

Until next time…happy chatting! 

Top 5 Questions about 'Inside Out'!

I’m sure you saw this one coming from a mile away. The newest Disney/Pixar craze is on it’s way (June 19th to be exact) and you KNOW all the kids (and adults) are going to be talking about it! Don’t panic, I’m going to bring you up to speed on all you need to know so you can continue to be the coolest grandma, uncle, cousin (the list goes on…) ever!

The movie is called ‘Inside Out’ and its an animated film with voices of big names such as Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Diane Lane and Rashida Jones (to name a few). ‘Inside Out’ is about a young girl named Riley who moves to a new city leaving her familiar life behind. The characters in this movie are Riley’s ‘feelings’, joy, sadness, fear, etc. We go along on Riley and her feelings journey to navigate her new life. Sure to be a fun-filled comedy with great lessons for children, and a profound tear-jerker for adults, ‘Inside Out’ will be a movie for all ages to enjoy.

Here we go with our ‘Top 5’. We want to hear what the children in your life have to say!! Share your answers with us in the comments below or on social media.

1)  Do you know all the feelings that are in ‘Inside Out’? (Disgust, Fear, Joy, Anger, Sadness).

2)   Have you felt all of these feelings before? (Prompt your child to explain scenarios where there were joyful, fearful, etc).

3)   In the movie, the little girl Riley has to move away from all of her friends to a new school in a new city. Do you know anyone who has had to move away?

4)   Riley moves to San Francisco. Have you ever been there or anywhere where the weather is hot?

5)   Would you like to go see the movie ‘Inside Out’? What is your favorite part of  going to the movie theatre?

That’s all for today’s blog folks! As always, we want to hear your opinion! Did you like this topic? Is there a children’s topic that you know is trending right now? Let me know and I just may use it for my next blog!

 

Top 5 Questions to Ask Kids about Shopkins!

Once you shop…you can’t stop!

That is the tag line for the latest kids craze: Shopkins.

I could see myself getting into these toys as a child. I loved to pretend grocery shop and I loved all things mini! Shopkins is a line of grocery themed toys that are all super cute and super tiny! Kids have been going absolutely bananas over these toys, with over six million Shopkins sold within the first four months (you read that right)! Parents have been scouring the aisles of toy stores everywhere to get their hands on the latest character to add to their child’s collection. With 148 characters to collect – that is no easy task!

To make things more interesting, in every package you get 10 little Shopkins that you can see, and 2 secret characters hidden inside the grocery cart. You won’t know which characters you get until you open the package! Can you feel how excited this makes me? So much fun!

 P.S. Every Shopkins character has its own name and personality profile on the Shopkins website. Think names like Carrie Carrot Cake and Marsha Mellow…too cute! 


 Lets move onto the kiddos. Here is this weeks...

 Top 5 Questions to Ask Kids about SHOPKINS!!

1)   Who is your favorite Shopkins character? (describe what it looks like!)

2)   If you could be any Shopkins character which one would you be and why?

3)   How many Shopkins do you have? (Name them all if you can!)

4)   Do you like grocery shopping with your mom or dad? (tell me what your favorite part is!)

5)   What was the best ‘surprise’ Shopkin you ever got in your pack?


Are the children in your life into Shopkins? Let us know in the comments or on social media. Happy chatting! 

 

Kindoma joins GSVlabs' EdTech Innovation Lab!

Kindoma is excited to announce that we were selected to join GSVlabs' EdTech Innovation Lab, led by former Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education, Nancy Lue!

We will be joining about 30 startups that will be supported by an ecosystem that inlcudes corporate partners, seasoned mentors, and an amazing Advisory Board.

We are already reaping the rewards of being surrounded by such an amazing network. At our first GSV event, we had the chance to learn from advisory board member Guy Kawasaki (!) about the art of visual marketing. Amongst many things, we learned that every post should have a picture, as adding a picture doubles engagement.

SO, in that light, check out this picture of our logo in the lobby, 1 row down, 3 in. Hurray!