Here are some useful sites and organizations we appreciate and recommend.
Our Book & Podcast List
What we read and listen to as a family.
The Family Dinner Project
The Family Dinner Project is a growing movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter.
Printable Road Trip Games
I found this list of printable games for road trips. I thought I would post it here because this is a cool resource for traveling families like ours.
Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is a great place to check movie reviews to see what other parents and children have to say. It's also a great place to get recommendations for kids apps and movies.
350+ Aquariums and Zoos for the price of 1 (Reciprocity Passes)
We found this really awesome pass that gives us free or reduced admission to 300 aquariums and zoos around the country. We had to share.
Your public library probably participates and gives you access to this, but Hoopla is an ebook, audiobook, and video repository with tons of great content. We use it a lot for audiobooks when we're in the car, and ebooks for our older kids. We also have found some great titles available. All for free!
Screentime Device Monitoring [Android Devices]
Screentime is a device monitoring software that enables you to control what your kids have access to on smartphomes and tablets. We have android tablets for the girls so they can watch videos, read books, and play games. But those devices are internet enabled, which means the kids can access things that could be harmful to them. Screentime enables me to lock down their apps, control the amount of time they spend on apps, and sends me reports of what they did on their devices. This provides so much peace of mind. Well worth the money.
Joseph is a nerd. Before deciding to become a programmer, he was studying to be an engineer. We love all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in our house.
Hopscotch is an app that teaches kids the fundamental rules of programming. We'll probably do some videos on this in the future, but with Hopscotch, kids can learn to build their own interactive games using real programming principles. I highly Recommend this for parents who want to introduce their kids to programming.
Tinkercad (3d Modeling)
Tinkercad is an excellent tool for kids to get hands-on experience with a 3d-modeling software. Tinkercad is browser-based application, so it doesn't require a specific operating system (though it does require an internet connection).
We love playing games together as a family. Here are some of our favorite games to play.
This game is the brainchild of Matthew Inman, who creates a web-comic called The Oatmeal.
How it works: This is a last-man-standing game. You don't want to draw the exploding kitten. All other cards are used to help you avoid drawing the exploding kitten. During each players turn, they must draw, so the game gets more exciting as more cards are drawn from the deck and the probability of the exploding kitten is higher.
Watch Ya Mouth
This hilarious mouthguard game provides tons of fun for the entire family. You put the mouthguard in and try to say nonsense phrases and others on your team have to guess. Everyone looks ridiculous, which makes it more difficult to keep a straight face when guessing.
This game is best for the older kids, but it's also super fun. In Carcassonne, you draw tiles to assemble a game board that consists of roads, cities, fields, and monasteries. You get points for joining roads and building cities. Block your opponents, or team up with them to pool your resources. This is an extremely simple game and even young kids do well with it.
HedBanz / Heads Up (iPhone app)
We love this game 'cause even our 4 year old can play it. The way this game works is that each player wears a headband that has an image of what they're supposed to be. They can't see it, but everyone else can. Each player takes turns guessing what they are while the rest of the players try to describe it to them. Heads Up (the iPhone app is great to break out for restaurants and long-waits).
Is there anything better than being snowed in and having a perfect excuse to sit around and do a puzzle, with no obligations whatsoever? Oh...yes, a fire in the fireplace is certainly a bonus. Especially cool if you have a Puzzle Mat.
We got this over Christmas break and have used it constantly. Shuffling cards is something that the kids can't do, and I grow tired of constantly doing it, so we bought this handy card shuffler. If you haven't thought about doing it, you might want to.
We love camping and RVing, these resources are some we use while planning trips.
Campendium is a website that provides a source for campground reviews. It's especially useful, since people post what their cell phone reception was at the campground, which can often be problematic.
I LOVE this app. I actually have TWO licenses for it so Meg and I can plan our trip most effectively (the interface only allows one person to be logged in at a time, and it makes sense when you understand how it works). It's what you get if you overlay Allstays onto google maps. We use it to plan our trips, and I recommend at least trying it out.
Allstays is an incredible resource for RV Travel, and small campers alike. For only $32 a year, it provides the mapping of every campground in the US, along with links to their website, reviews, and allows for you to filter your results by amenities (like, wifi, pool, pet friendly, full hookups etc).
Google Maps (obviously)
It's so helpful to be able to see what your route is going to be, then plan your stays based on how close they are to your current mapping.
I love that we live in a world where people make videos of everything (including when they camp, or visit popular sights). To research a specific area, we often use Youtube to see if it's a good fit.