Category: Homeschooling

Global Educator Institute has awarded Super Genius it’s Seal of Endorsement

Global Educator Institute has awarded Super Genius it’s Seal of Endorsement

GEI LogoSuper Genius has just earned the Global Educator Institute (GEI) Seal of Endorsement! This Seal of Endorsement is an outstanding honor for Blue Orange. We are thrilled to be recognized and supported by an organization so passionate about classroom education.

What is the GEI?

GEI is an organization of educators who joins with teachers and companies to review classroom products. GEI sends new education tools to teachers for them test in the classroom. If the item gets outstanding reviews it earns the GEI Seal of Endorsement! In doing this, teachers can better understand the product they are trying to buy.  It’s a great process that encourages innovative ways to educate future generations.

Playing Super GeniusWhat it means to win the Seal of Endorsement

The Seal of Endorsement places Super Genius among the best tools used in a classroom. It has passed the reviewers tests with flying colors, proving to be an educational hit in the classroom. As GEI puts it, products awarded the Seal of Endorsement are “the best-designed, most effective classroom products in the world.” We are very honored to be recognized by this highly esteemed organization.

Testimonials from the GEI Reviewers

“Super Genius would be an asset to any educational institution.”
— Cherie K., DE, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

“I would recommend this to anyone that has struggling students and limited time. There is a lot of self-checking that the children can do. Super Genius increases independence, awareness, and confidence.”
— Lisa W., NC, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

Super Genius Collection“I loved using these in my classroom! My students couldn’t get enough of them — a product that is helping students learn and making them eager to play.”
— Erika B., MI, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

“There are so many interactive games and ways to use these tools to review and teach basic fact fluency as well as high frequency and new vocabulary words. The Super Genius games are colorful, sturdy, and more current and fun than basic flashcards. Knowing this, I would definitely buy these if I saw them in a store.”
— Laura G., OH, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

“Super Genius is worthy of the GEI Seal of Endorsement. This is a product that gets children of every level of reading engaged. Students lose inhibition when using it and begin to take learning risks they never would have before. They make an effort to keep trying and, therefore, are constantly increasing their growth mindset.”
— Lisa W., NC, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

Products bearing the GEI Seal of Endorsement have earned the distinction for improving learning and the learning environment. We look forward to bringing you more fun and educational games to help your Super Geniuses grow and learn!

10 Fantastic Holiday Crafts Kids of All Ages Will Love

10 Fantastic Holiday Crafts Kids of All Ages Will Love

Schools out, the air is chilly, and the Holidays are here again! Make this time of year extra special with these 10 fun DIY crafts kids and their parents will enjoy! Here in San Francisco, snow is a scarcity, so many of these crafts involve turning your home into an artificial winter wonderland. All of these amazing crafts foster sensory development and encourage creativity—something your child won’t even notice amidst all the fun they’ll be having.

1. Snow Dough

This incredible recipe creates “snow” that crunches in your hands—just like the real deal! Recipe here.

imagination tree

 

2. Christmas Crackers

Fill these with candy, small toys, and other goodies for a fun and interactive stocking stuffer. Instructions here.

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3. Crayon Drip Holiday Ornaments

These adorable ornaments are so easy to make but look like professional abstract pieces of art! Find out how here.

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4. Yarn Wrapped Winter Wreath

This festive wreath is fun and easy to make! Instructions here.

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5. Felt Houses

Turn your home into a Christmas village with this display of tiny homes. Put LED lights in them for a cute and festive night light! Instructions here.

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6. Tissue Paper Tree

Douglas Firs are nice, but this tissue paper tree is just as impressive and takes up virtually none of the space! Have fun making it using the instructions here.

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7. Tabletop Holiday Village

This printable village will make any tiny space festive! Print it out here.

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8. Mason Jar Winter Scene

Make your own tiny winter wonderland with just a few materials and a mason jar. Add lights for an adorable holiday effect. Get the instructions here.

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9. Winter Rhyming Activity

Just because school’s out doesn’t mean the learning fun has to stop! This fun rhyming activity can be customized for a range of activities, from vocab to addition and multiplication! Instructions here.

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10. Winter Photo Backdrop

Just because you don’t live in a snowy city doesn’t mean you have to forsake gorgeous winter photos! This snowy backdrop is perfect for winter family photos. Get the instructions here.

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We hope you have fun making these fun and easy crafts! Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

 

Your friends,

The Blue Orange Team

 

****This lovely blog post was put together by our intern, Gina Campanelli!

gina

Information and Tools for Educators

Information and Tools for Educators

As a mother to a school-aged child, I’m always on the look out for what would help my little boy at school. And with a child with special needs, you could say that I get hyper-focused on stuff like that. I’m amazed at what his teachers and therapists will recommend to better aid him in the classroom.

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I was so pleasantly surprised with a phone call from Katy at GlobalEducator Institute, a new organization looking to aid teachers in the classroom. They have a robust blog and are committed to providing information and tools for educators. In fact, they are looking for teachers to help pair them off with great products for review. Learn more about Global Educator Institute below.

 

 
geiGlobal Educator Institute— is a new organization with a mission of evaluating educational products and improving education. The goal is to pair great products with great teachers, who then test them with their students for at least six weeks and provide us with valuable feedback and recommendation. Teachers have a voice in determining which products are elevated to becoming endorsed and receive our GEI Seal of Endorsement.

If you are a teacher or know of anyone that is (pass along), it takes 5 minutes to sign up and create a confidential profile. To sign up to be a member, simply visit:  http://geiendorsed.com/how/teachers/

GEI will then start sending FREE product to evaluate for GEI.

Celebrate Summer but don’t Let the Summer Slide. Keep Kids Engaged Through Game Play!

Celebrate Summer but don’t Let the Summer Slide. Keep Kids Engaged Through Game Play!

When I was a kid and summer approached, the song by Alice Cooper played in my mind. “School’s out for summer…” I think most Americans know that song or at least can sing that famous line. So many kids are relieved to have the school year over and that includes my 7 year old. I want my child to enjoy being a kid with everything that summer has to offer. There is endless swimming, hiking, camping, road trips and so much more! I have such fond memories of my summers as a child and I want the same for him.

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 Spot It! Splash being played on a slip n slide.

Being a parent to a school age child, I worry that no school for that long of a period will cause a regression in his learning. Luckily you can make the summer months about playful learning! At Blue Orange we strive to create and publish games that are fun but still provide elements of learning. Whether it’s working on improving processing speed or practicing reading words, we have a wide variety of games to help you and your kids. Last year we wrote a blog about some games that help with preventing summer learning loss. This year, we have NEW games plus some travel favorites.

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My son loves the Spot It! games so I usually try to keep a game in the car or in my bag. I love that this game builds his speech and language skills and keeps him sharp. He wins nearly every time! You can even get versions in different languages like Spanish and French that work on simple sight words (match the word to the picture). For those long road trips, I recommend Spot It! On The Road. Not only is it great to play with siblings in the car or during those rest stops but you can play Travel Bingo with the cards. And if your destination is at a campsite, bring along Spot It! Gone Camping.

 

For those parents that want a little bit more reading and math in their child’s summer time, try Super Genius. There are 5 games. They are stored in a cute magnetic box for easy storage and travel.

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First WordsReading 1Reading 2AdditionMultiplication 1

What do you do to prevent the summer slide? Post your comments below!

Why Play is Important in Child Development

Why Play is Important in Child Development

image001 Parents want to give the best opportunities to their children. Music lessons, language lessons, extra tutoring, after school learning programs, the list can go on and on. We all want to give our kids the advantages and opportunities to succeed and/or perhaps we didn’t have as children. All of those activities are wonderful opportunities. However, play sometimes gets a bad reputation as being frivolous. On the contrary, play is very important in child development! If you want to learn more, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report about the importance of play in promoting healthy child development (read here). Play can reduce stress and anxiety for kids AND adults so make some time to get silly! The National Lekotek Center , a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, provides an array of services to improve the lives of children with special needs through the utilization of toys and play. They have 20 wonderful reasons to encourage play for ALL Children.

Top 20 Reasons to Encourage Play for ALL children

  1. Play advances many cognitive skills like learning to focus and paying attention to details.
  2. Play produces an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind that benefits a child greatly.
  3. Play opportunities help a child develop problem-solving, organizational and planning skills.
  4. Play promotes both long-term and short-term memory.
  5. Play stimulates language, negotiation and communication skills.
  6. Play teaches a child how the world works from gravity to how things move, float or fly.
  7. Play experiences allow a child to explore symbolic play, imitation and his own creativity.
  8. Play allows a child to build confidence, one trip down a slide or throw of a ball at a time.
  9. Play provides the feedback a child needs to develop self-knowledge and self-esteem.
  10. Play is an excellent way for a child to connect to nature and to explore its many facets.
  11. Active play can enhance a child’s mood, coping abilities and defuse emotionally charged events.
  12. Play teaches the cornerstones of relationship building, cooperation and compromise.
  13. Leadership along with group skills are learned through team or collective play.
  14. Active play promotes a healthy body for children and lowers their risk of obesity.
  15. Play promotes brain development through the use of both the body and mind.
  16. Play can teach a child the lessons of strengthening and balancing his body and coordinating his hands and eyes.
  17. Play stimulates resiliency by prompting the child to try again and learn patience towards self and others.
  18. Play fosters courage to swing higher and jump farther.
  19. Play teaches empathy by allowing a child to explore the role of both winner and loser.
  20. Play leads to engagement and enjoyment that provides a child with both physical and emotional release.

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Top Ten Toys – April Store of the Month

Top Ten Toys – April Store of the Month

Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games.  We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible.  That’s how our monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about! We are pleased to announce that Top Ten Toys in Seattle, Washington is our Store of the Month for April!

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Xavier, from our sales team, nominated this store because of their dedication to the local community and their passion for creating fun times with their customers. Xavier also recognized Top Ten Toys because of their loyalty and being one of our oldest customers. Katie, a Top Ten Toys employee, remembers Julien, Blue Orange Owner, coming into the store of Blue Orange’s first big road trip!

Top Ten Toys has been open since 1987 and is the largest toy store in Seattle! Top Ten originally opened as a store for homeschoolers which is why they bring in toys with an educational flare. When speaking with Kristi, Top Ten buyer, she stated “Our mission statement is keeping healthy play alive. I have been working here for over 10 years. I became the game and skill toy buyer shortly after I started working here because I am a board game lover and a skill toy enthusiast!”

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Top Ten Toys is ready to share their secrets to success, “I think the secret to having a successful toy store is knowing your customer base and being part of your community.  We donate to local charities and school auctions.”  There is no doubt that Top Ten Toys puts their community first. With cheerful employees and ready to help at anytime service, customers never leave the store disappointed. Even when visiting the website, the contact button is always available if you have a question when shopping! Their dedication to customer satisfaction is evident when Krista shares “I get the most satisfaction out my job when a customer falls in love with an item we carry.”

It is a joy to have been working with Top Ten Toys for many years. Since Kristi is familiar with our game selection, we thought it would be fun to hear her personal favorites, “Blue Orange has many games I enjoy but my favorite is Flash or Fastrack but I have to say I am really enchanted with Thumbs Up!  That one is lots of fun!!!” It is always great to hear that our current and classic games can be lumped together as someone’s favorites.

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While all of the spotlight is on Top Ten Toys, we couldn’t help but to be tickled by Kristi’s comment, “My favorite thing about Blue Orange is how everyone who works for the company is enthusiastic and fun loving. Every employee believes in the products, which is not hard to do since all your games are AWESOME!

And of course, we think that Top Ten Toys is awesome too!

For more information, check out: http://www.toptentoys.com/

Prevent Summer Learning Loss: Play Games to Sharpen Young Minds.

Prevent Summer Learning Loss: Play Games to Sharpen Young Minds.

Summer vacation means fun and sun, but it can also be a major learning setback for kids (click here for article).  Parents express how summer is the most challenging time to esnsure their kids are productive. Maintaining learning skills can be as simple as incorporating games that strengthen math, language skills, visual perception, and creativity. Although the brain is not a muscle per say, it does benefit from regular workouts to stay sharp. Incorporating educational games into their routine will help ensure that once fall approaches, students will have a much easier time transitioning back into school.

Math Skills

Can Math be fun? Many kids struggle with math, and that struggle can lead to frustration. Introducing them to mathematical concepts through games is a less formal approach that will take some of the pressure off because it’ll be fun! Sumoku is a game that will strengthen addition and multiplication in a simple, yet challenging format. The game is made up of colorful number tiles and a die. After you roll the die, players must spot a combination of numbers which adds up to a multiple of the key number. This sharpens math skills because you need to quickly calculate in your head to come up with the right answer. The game is made up of high-quality tokens, and comes in a travel-friendly bag. Another game that introduces children to addition is Double Shutter. Made up of two columns of movable tiles, the object is to flip down as many tiles as possible. Children will learn how to count by adding up the tiles to match the number on the die. The game can be played alone, or with up to 4 players.

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Visual Perception

Visual perception skills are the ability for the brain to process what the eyes are seeing. Kids who struggle with visual perception might struggle to write on a blackboard, or find an object within a busy background. Doodle Quest develops this skill through drawing challenges. Children follow instructions on the quest cards, then complete the quest on transparent sheets. There are 36 quest cards with two separate levels of difficulty, so kids can work up to more difficult challenges surrounded by underwater images. Children will develop the ability to measure visually and develop hand-eye coordination. These skills will help in a range of tasks and assignments that require spatial awareness and fine-motor-skills.

Language Skills & Creativity

Language skills, such as reading and writing, also fall by the wayside during the summer. Reading a book to children, and having them read too, is a great way to spend time together while strengthening this important skill. Tell Tale is a storytelling game which is like a book, but that you and your kids can improvise together! Illustrated cards act as story prompts, sparking your imaginations. You pick a card, or make a storyboard, and spin unique stories together. Tell Tale sharpens creativity and improvisation, while encouraging social play. From a creative writing perspective, you could take out a pen and paper and write down the stories that emerge, developing writing skills along the way.

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Many of our games introduce preschoolers to letters, while older kids get a head start with vocabulary. Our most popular game, Spot it!, strengthens language skills in a simple matching game. Summer is a great time to learn a new language, and Spot it! French and Spot it! Spanish are easy introductions. For advanced play, use the word in a sentence, or spell it out without looking at the card. To practice writing, write a sentence using the word, or create a poem with words that rhyme with it. Speedebee is another game that strengthens language skills, but with a spelling feature. The goal is to be the fastest player to create a word based on a few letters on the dice. The fast-paced dynamic develops spelling skills and reaction time, which will come in handy during spelling bees or during in class writing exams. 

We look forward to summer vacation for the time off and to be with our loved ones, but summer can also be a time to think creatively about how to engage children’s minds so they don’t fall behind. Most of our games are compact, so it’s easy to bring them along with you on your next vacation. Summertime will still be the most anticipated time of the year for kids, but with the added bonus of discovering fun ways to learn.