Three Subscription Websites that Will Benefit Elementary Schools

Three Subscription Websites that Will Benefit Elementary Schools

There are many wonderful resources on the Internet for elementary education. Even though budgets are currently tight for many school systems, some of the best resources require a subscription fee and deservedly so. The good news is that due to the tough economy, it may be possible to get discounts on these subscriptions making them affordable for many schools that might not have considered them previously.

#1 Educational Videos and Lessons with Discovery Education

The first of three subscription websites that will benefit elementary schools is Discovery Education. This service was previously called United Streaming and offers schools the ability to either download or stream high quality educational programs from the Discovery Channel and others. All videos are organized by grade level and topic and usually even by state curriculum standards. One very nice feature of Discovery Education is that all the videos are broken up into segments so that you can download and show only the portion of the show or documentary that you want your students to see. One final benefit to Discovery Education is that most of the videos come with lesson plans and even manipulatives to provide you with a complete lesson for your K-12 classroom. If you are looking for a video on demand service for your school or district, Discovery Education is one of the best services that you could choose.

#2 Teach Vital Skills with Education City

The second of three subscription websites that will benefit elementary schools is Education City. Education City is a skill building website that can be customized to the specific needs of a student. Using the My City feature teachers can pick skills that the student needs to work on and then receive detailed reports as the student uses Education City. Education City is highly animated and students seem eager to use it whenever given the chance. Education city is divided into grade levels and then subjects offering Language Arts, Math, and Science modules. They even offer the modules in Spanish if your school has a high ESL population. The activities are varied and the animation never gets in the way of actual learning with a good ratio of work vs. animated reward. If you go to EducationCity.com you can request a free 22 day trial for your school and give it a shot. Education City has had several great discounts lately so if you are looking for skill building and review software for your school there may not be a better time to obtain this valuable resource.

#3 Professional Development with PD360

The third and final of three subscription websites that will benefit elementary schools is PD360. PD360 is a professional development service combined with a quasi social networking platform for teachers. With PD360 your school gains access to a wealth of professional development videos from some of the top names in Education. These videos are broken up into segments and include reflection questions for both after the video has been watched and for several days later when you have digested the information. The second part of PD360 is a professional social network for teachers across the United States to ask questions, compare strategies, and share lesson plans and other resources. If your district needs an economical platform for staff development that doesn't require substitutes and travel then PD360 might be what you are looking for.

Conclusion

In these times of economical turmoil it can be difficult for school systems to justify spending money on subscription services. However, if the resources are available these websites offer materials and activities that can substantially enhance the elementary curriculum. Finally, if you are looking for free software alternatives that might enhance your elementary school then take a look at my guide on free alternatives to expensive software.

Best Free Web Browsers for Your Children Online

Best Free Web Browsers for Your Children Online

As a parent we want to give our children the opportunity to play games on the internet. There are many educational games, and ones that spur the imagination. Of course our first priority is to be sure while they are having fun they are safe. Here are some web browsers that you can download for free, they can play the games and you will be able to monitor them.

KidZui.com

Both my elementary school age daughters love to play the games on the kids web browser. It was first brought to my attention by one of her teachers. It is free and easy to download, it is also super easy for my four year old to navigate through safely on her own. It features two and a half million different internet websites, videos and games that are approved by teachers and parents alike.

It is designed for children ages 3 to 12, there are even resources available on it for your child to get help with their homework. Once you are signed up parents get a weekly email that tells you where and what your children are doing on Kidzui. It comes with a parental account where you can control even more safety settings. The site is sponsored by Comcast, another great feature is that is has no chat rooms, texting or anything similar. You will see on their website they have receive positive press from: The Today Show, CNN, USA Today, The New York Post and even The Wall Street Journal.?

BuddyBrowser.com

This award winning browser for children is very cute and appealing for your kids, but also has all the features parents want to keep them safe while on the internet. This internet browser is 100% free to download, and also free of spy ware, ad ware, hacker safe and has a pop up blocker. It has been featured by: USA Today, C/Net, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. New, The New York Times and CNN.

Made for children ages 4 to 14, this browser is colorful, fun, engaging and easy for them to use. It has user friendly parent controls, flash games for children to improve their learning and rewards for children to encourage their learning. Parents have options of limiting time use online, receiving parental reports and locking controls.?

McGruffbrowser.com

Many parents remember McGruff the crime dog fro school when we were young, teaching us about all kinds of safety. With help from “The National Crime Prevention Council” and “The Children’s Educational Network” they launched “The McGruff Kid Safe Internet Browser For Kids”. This free web browser for children allows them to surf safe approved internet websites and play games. With over 10,000 websites available with just one click they will have access to all kinds of educational and cool games.

As a parent you have the freedom to create separate accounts for each child in your family, with custom age appropriate content. You are also able to choose from different themes for boys and girls. You will also be able to ban certain words, change passwords as you see needed and ban or add websites that you want your child to have access to. You will also receive a free trial to “Club Tuki – The Ultimate Kids Internet”, the first Internet Safety Education Arcade. Where children not only get to watch Tuki television, which shows clean, appropriate entertaining television. And as they play the games they have the opportunity to earn Tuki moola for their online bank account, to help them learn about finance and money responsibilities.

Great, Funny & Useful Websites for Bridesmaids

Are you a bridesmaid? Are you going to be one very soon? Being a bridesmaid is a lot of fun – but it is also a lot of responsibility. Every bride really wants their day to be perfect. And planning a wedding has lots of little details. A bride typically asks her bridesmaids and Maid of Honor for help with various things in planning her wedding. Traditionally the Maid of Honor and bridesmaids plan a bridal shower, and sometimes also a bachelorette party.

Many women have walked in your satin dyed-to-match pumps before you. Fortunately they have sage and funny advice to offer you that will help with your bridesmaid's duties. Here are some great websites that every bridesmaid should consider visiting before putting on that great dress, you know, the one that you'll be able to wear again – at least the bride said so…. hey, they always say so!

Bridesmaid Aid http://www.bridesmaidaid.com/

This website was created by two friends, Ellen Horowitz and Joanna Dreifus who have attended nearly thirty weddings and have been bridesmaids countless times. They created the website as a resource for fellow bridesmaids with lots of tips on how to be a great bridesmaid, but also a place where you could have a good laugh.

Ugly Dress http://www.uglydress.com/

There is truly nothing like an ugly bridesmaid dress. Many bridesmaids have endured a bridesmaids dress that wasn't their taste, and some have worn a dress that was truly horrific. This website is for the truly tacky, the totally horrible. If you are preparing to wear an ugly dress at a wedding, or you are looking at bridesmaids dresses, you will no doubt laugh out loud at this great website.

Blissweddings, Bridal Showers section http://www.blissweddings.com/library/bridalshowers.asp

The Bridal Showers section of Blissweddings.com has lots of great games that you can plan for people to play at the bridal shower. It also has ideas for a Jack and Jill (co-ed) wedding shower. There are more than eighty bridal shower themes given. You can also find poems to use for the bridal shower at this website. Great for Maid of Honor and fellow bridesmaids planning the bridal shower.

A Bridal Shower http://www.abridalshower.com/

This website has lots of great ideas for planning a bridal shower. There is information on bridal shower games, favors, food, themes, centerpieces, invitations, gifts, party ideas, decorations, and even clip art that you can use on the invitations. This website has so many great tips that you can use to plan a bridal shower.

Bachelorette Party Tips http://www.bachelorpartytips.com/

This website is for planning either a bachelorette or a bachelor party. You'll find lots of great party planning tips for planning a bachelorette party. The website is written using the male pronoun however, so simple substitute all of the "he's" with a "she". The tips are great, but they should have built a different website for bachelorettes.

Best Places on the Web to Purchase Roland Digital Keyboards

Many people are looking for something to do in their spare time. For those looking for simple hobbies, many people look to music lessons, specifically piano or keyboards. There is a wide variety of keyboards available on the market. However, Roland is a brand synonymous with professional keyboardists. Here is a list of online retailers that offer a variety of Roland digital keyboards.

Keyboards USA

The selection of keyboards at this online retailer includes ten different models of Roland digital keyboards. The prices are reasonable. The most expensive of the models offered is the Roland Fantom G8 Workstation, which they sell for $3,495. The least expensive model is the Roland Juno-D 64-Voice Synthesizer at $495.

Andy's Music Online

Andy's Music Online is just as it says an online retailer of music products based in Mobile, Alabama. They offer 11 different Roland digital keyboards. The most expensive mode that they sell is the Roland Work Station Fantom X8, which sells for $2,895 and there is presently a $400 rebate offered. The least expensive model is the Roland Juno D Synthesizer at $495.

zZounds.com

This online retailer has a vast variety of Roland digital keyboards in stock. The have 20 various kinds available. The most expensive being the Roland Fantom-G8 88-Key Sampling Workstation. This keyboard sells for $3,495. The least expensive is the Roland Juno-D 61-Key Synthesizer Keyboard, for $495. This retailer also offers installment payment plans. You are able to make four even payments of the total amount. Therefore, if the keyboard is $1,995, you can make four payments of $498.75 each. However, you must call them to take advantage at 1.866.996.8637 and mention priority code ARFSDZ.

Musician's Friend

Musician's Friend carries 11 different Roland digital keyboards. The most expensive is the Roland Fantom-G8 Workstation. This has a list price of $3,995, but they sell it for $3,495. The least expensive is the Roland GW-7 Keyboard Synthesizer Workstation, which ships free and sells for $695. They currently are offering free shipping on all purchases over $99, including heavy items.

American Musical Supply

This online retailer offers the largest selection of all those found. They sell 16 different models. The most expensive is the Roland Fantom G8 Sampling Workstation Keyboard, which sells for $3,495, and is available for $494 down payment, and five payments of $699 per month. The least expensive is the Roland E09 Interactive Arranger Keyboard, which sells for $439.95, or three payments of $183. All items come with free shipping and a free extra year added onto the warranty.

Same Day Music

Same Day Music has a unique offer. They will ship the keyboard the same day or they will give you $100 cash. That along with a great deal you cannot beat. This retailer stocks 14 different models of Roland digital keyboards. The most expensive is the every popular Roland Fantom – G8 Sampling Workstation, which sells for $3,495. The least expensive is the Roland Juno-D Synthesizer Keyboard, which sells for $495. This retailer also offers free shipping.

Web Sites with Guides to Family Friendly Movies: Protect Your Kids

As a mother of four, I can tell you that raising children in today's society requires a certain amount of diligence on the part of a parent if you hope to prevent exposing your child to unnecessary violence, gratuitous sex and other nasty things. With Hollywood locked in a seemingly endless competition to see who can push the lines of decency the furthest, many parents are left wondering if there is anything safe for children (or adults for that matter) to watch anymore.

If shock value isn't your cup of tea, you'll be delighted to know that there is help in the form of family friendly movie reviews. Turning to the internet for these resources has made it allot easier to know ahead of time if a movie is appropriate for members of our household and it could do the same for yours.

Some of my favorite review sites are:

Screenit.com – This site has in-depth information about specific criteria, including violence, profanity, sexual innuendo and mature situations. Their database is very comprehensive and updated frequently with new releases both in theaters and on video. The search function is non-existent, making the navigation of this site a bit difficult, but once you learn your way around screenit.com, you will find yourself turning to their database quite often.

IMDB.com – Parental reviews is a rather new feature to the web's largest movie database. I can only imagine they finally added it due to overwhelming demand. IMDB's parental reviews are user contributed, making it less comprehensive at this time than other parental review sites. Over time however as more families volunteer to contribute reviews, their selection will surely grow. Like other sites, there are a variety of specific criteria that movies are reviewed on including sexuality, violence, and profanity.

ParentPreviews.com – Another new addition to the family movie review scene, this site boasts a large database of new and old movies with detailed reviews on each. They also have parental reviews on video games that highlight areas for concern such as violence and gore.

As parents, it's our job to make sure that our children are surrounded with positive influences and age appropriate entertainment. The recent trends towards in-your-face adult situations fueled by Hollywood dreams of banking in at the box office have left us with a choice. We can choose to let our children be exposed to concepts and imagery that we don't feel comfortable with. Or, we can choose to take matters in to our own hands and respond proactively by screening our children's videos and movies for objectionable content.

While it may take more time and effort, it's nice to know ahead of time that when we sit down as a family to enjoy a movie that there will be no unpleasant surprises.

Top 5 Mutual Fund Research Websites

If you are like me and many other investors, it is quite likely that at some point you have been looking for information regarding the top sites to research mutual funds. With over 8,000 mutual funds available, there is certainly a need for some diligent research to find which one may be the best to fit into your portfolio. Today I'm going to take a look at the top sites where you can find comprehensive data to analyze the best funds in each area. You can then match that information to your personal portfolio needs and find the perfect fund for you. For this list I intentionally only included websites that are available to everyone, so while your broker might have great on line mutual fund research, it isn't available to everyone and therefore it isn't on the list!

Top Five Mutual Fund Research Websites

  1.  Morningstar- They have to be number one. Though they now have a nice stock research site as well, the mutual fund research has always been the number one priority at Morningstar. The free fund screener here is very impressive, and the fund picks and pans are always very helpful. The innovative Morningstar ranking system has changed mutual fund research as a whole, and while it may be slightly backward looking it is a great tool to use in finding the consistently top performing funds.
  2.  Wall Street Journal Online- As recently as a couple of years ago I had no idea that the WSJ Online site was so helpful in finding valuable information about mutual funds. This site is great to use after you already have a list of funds you are considering and want to look them up individually. I really like the risk assessments that they give each mutual fund. They do a very good job of breaking down performance vs. peers, which in most cases is even more important than performance against the overall market.
  3.  Yahoo Finance- Though I like their site a little better for individual stocks, the mutual fund research is quite good. The mutual fund center page is a page that I find very easy to navigate through. The education portion of the site is also very helpful if you are still curious as to which kind of mutual fund would be the right type for you. The Prospectus Finder is a tool that many people don't know about, but it can prove very useful. Yahoo scores points for a quick and easy site.
  4.  MSN Money- MSN has a very underrated stock and mutual fund research area at their site. The mutual fund research site includes some nice pre-built fund screeners for those who want to move quickly. The top performers search is also faster on this site than it is on most of the other mutual fund research sites. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the others, MSN Money is a helpful and quick way to compare funds.
  5.  CNN Money- This site has different strong points than many of the others. The columns here tend to be very well written and extremely informative. While the actual fund research is not as stellar as the others, the columns make this site worth a look. They have a nice little mutual fund education section as well which can help with when to get rid of under performing fund or determining the actual expense ratio of top funds.

The next time you are looking for a mutual fund to add to your portfolio keep these five sites in mind.

Top Websites that Offer Free Online Painting for Kids

Creativity is so important to kids and it is essential as parents to provide creative opportunities for kids. However, sometimes as parents we do not necessary feel like pulling out all the artistic materials such as paint, as it be very messy.

There is nothing like working with paint and other art materials, but fortunately technology has developed to the point that painting online is very easy to do. I was not aware there were so many sites that offered free online painting, but when I was looking for creative activities for my niece to do online, I came across a few websites that offered free online painting for kids and decided to research into it further. Here you will find the top websites that offer free online painting for kids.

Free Online Painting for Kids

This wonderfully creative website is great for kids of all ages and the painting themes offered will creative much excitement. The free online painting themes offered: jungle painting, space painting, fairy tale painting, blank painting, snowman painting, Santa painting, funny face painting and then there is the Pixie Paint gallery.

Paint Online for Free

Here you will find really cute images to print, many of the images are geared to the younger child but older kids may find some of painting images interesting too. The free online paintings available on this website are: angel, Doggi, Ariel, butterfly, bear, hare, ship, plane, Belli, helicopter and gnome.

Online Painting Games

There is a huge selection of free online paintings for kids offered on this site; this website alone could keep a child busy for hours upon hours. Be sure to take time to check out this website and be ready to spend some time on it.

Free Online Paint Games for Girls

This website is geared specifically towards girls and not only does it offer some nice free online painting opportunities but it also has many other coloring and drawing activities. Girls of all ages will enjoy this creative and entertaining website.

Paint Online for Kids

Here you will find a blank canvas, perfect for your child to experiment with paint and go in whatever direction he or she chooses.

CafeMom.com – The Perfect Spot for Moms on the Web

If you are an internet savvy mom then you will love CafeMom.com. It is a hot new place on the web where moms get to meet other moms and share pictures, stories, advice, and much more. Here is a little bit of what you can expect if you open an account with CafeMom.

Create a Profile
When you sign up you create a basic personal profile. After you get the hang of everything you can customize your profile the way you want. You can pick out a CafeMom profile theme (they come in Nature, Baby, CafeMom, Pattern, Interests, and Fun) or design your own page with colors of your choice. Later you can add photos to your profile to show off your family, write a short profile for each of your children and add widgets which include music, slideshows, videos, glitter text or whatever you like.

Journals
CafeMom is a great place to start up a journal. You can write about raising your children and share stories with other moms or just write about your life in general. Whenever you post a new entry your journal will show up on the Journals page so that others can read and comment on what you have written. You can also check out your friends' journal pages from your profile page and other popular journals.

Make Friends
Find moms in your area to hang out with or make long distance pals. You can add other people as friends just like other social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook. Friends can write in your chatterbox which will show up on your main profile page.

Participate in Groups
CafeMom offers a wide variety of groups created by its members. You can participate or read the threads from groups about raising children, great recipes, relationship and sex advice, politics, moms trying to conceive, plus-sized moms and more. Groups on CafeMom are an awesome way to gain advice from other moms. If you are a new mom (like myself) and need a little bit of comforting from someone who has "been there" or some quick advice the moms on CafeMom are always available to talk to through group postings!

Messaging System
Keep in touch with friends by using the messaging system. CafeMom has its own mail system so you can talk to other moms online anytime.

Pictures Galore!
The best part about joining CafeMom is picture sharing. Love looking at cute babies? Well you will love the way everyone shares pictures of their children. You can click on Photos to see what photos have been recently uploaded, add your own photos, and check out photos posted in Group threads. The abundance of cute pictures are what make CafeMom an awesome community.

If all this sounds great to you check it out for yourself at http://www.cafemom.com

Antiwar.com: The Best Website for Antiwar Information

Are you opposed to the Iraq War? If so, you are like most Americans now, but this was certainly not the case when the war began. Although many of us (myself included) look down upon our elected leaders in the United States Congress for voting in favor of this disastrous war, and then changing their minds about it now that the war is unpopular, the fact is that many (if not most) average Americans followed the exact same path. While we can certainly expect our leaders to be better informed about the issues than the rest of us, they are susceptible to the same mistakes as the rest of us and we must accept some responsibility for the overwhelming support we gave the war in its early stages.

However, there is one group of Americans who were "right" about the war from the very beginning. Non-interventionists (also called isolationists) opposed Americans involvement in the Iraq War well before it began, for precisely the same reasons the rest of us oppose it now. The online center of the non-interventionist movement, and the best source of daily antiwar information, can be found at http://www.antiwar.com/.

Antiwar.com was established in a different era. This was a time in which Bill Clinton was the President of the United States; most Americans had never heard of Osama bin Laden; and the United States seemed to be on top of the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many intellectuals argued that America was in fact the leader of the "New World Order," in which the American military would be used around to world to prevent chaos wherever it might appear. While most Americans were enjoying the benefits of a booming economy, a brutal civil war and ethnic conflict was brewing in the heart of Europe as the Former Yugoslavia broke apart. At the time, the very same people who we now label as "neoconservatives" were advocating loudly for strong American intervention overseas. If this sounds familiar, it should. To counterbalance the urging of the neoconservatives, a group of non-interventionists established Antiwar.com as a forum for news and analysis on behalf of American national security.

Ever since, Antiwar.com has served as a central location for opposition to war – no matter who is championing it. Originally, when Antiwar.com was opposing American involvement in the conflict in Yugoslavia, it was put in the position of opposing a Democratic administration under Bill Clinton. While most Congressional Republicans at the time had no problem opposing a Democratic war, their qualms about foreign military interventions mysteriously disappeared when Iraq (a Republican war under President Bush) came along. This was not the case with Antiwar.com; no matter who is championing the cause of war, Republicans or Democrats or anyone else, they are there to tell the other side of the story.

Every day on Antiwar.com, you will find between 5 and 10 insightful articles that have been collected from the best non-interventionist thinkers in the country and around the world. These articles, unlike most you will find in the mainstream media, are always cited with links throughout the text that reference the actual facts and important background information. Furthermore, many articles include links to the authors' older work from years past, which invariably demonstrates that they really have been "right" all along. For instance, in a current article discussing the latest car bombing in Iraq, you might find a link to an article by the same author from 2003 before the war even began, foretelling extensive ethnic conflict and insurgency if America invaded Iraq. You won't find this feature in the New York Times (or any other mainstream media source) because, frankly, they would prefer that everyone forget how wrong they have been time and time again.

In addition to the insightful analysis on Antiwar.com, you will find extensive news coverage from all over the world. If you are interested in more than just the big headlines which are available on the main page, you can easily select any country on Earth from a pull-down menu and view articles from a wide variety of news sources (including foreign publications). This is an invaluable resource if you want to truly understand the conditions around the world that have led (or could lead) to conflict.

In short, if you want to stay informed about America's current wars – or, more importantly, about its future ones – you must visit http://www.antiwar.com/ on a regular basis. No matter who is in charge – Republicans or Democrats – they will be a reliable source of the best antiwar information.

New Stars of Creative Video, Web, and Social Media Grace Sydney, Australia

It's not often that a group of incredibly talented musicians, artists, photographers, designers, computer graphic artists and producers explode on the art scene. One rare and surprisingly versatile group has done just that: meet The Creative Foundry from Balmain, Sydney, Australia.

"My business partner and I worked together and for a company and then wanted to start a business. We have always had a keen eye for film and saw a gap in the market for high quality video production."

That's a bit of an understatement. This group has flourished in a down market by being capable enough to gain prominent clients such as Ugg Boots and The Porsche Store. Their video production of the events is professional, posh, swanky, heart-pounding, and cutting-edge. From local bands to fashion shoots, it seems that they are capable of anything. I wouldn't be surprised a year or two from now to see that they've created an independent film worthy of worldwide praise. And there's no stopping them.

Photo shoots, high end product launches and band vids aren't the only thing they're reining in. Videos of large concerts, complete with mixing and editing seem like child's play to The Creative Foundry. Recently finishing up with two concerts of wizard spinners Andy Moor and John O' Callaghan, they've also launched two music vids for Mission In Motion "New Skin' and Justine Eltakchi's debut single 'Autumn Love'. Mastery of social media is another of their products, from websites that tantalize the eye and ear to specialized advertising, and design of social media web pages to garner more awareness of up-and-coming products.

The Creative Foundry is a company that is a creative hub for all the creative industries, where the young and most talented people want to work. For a company that started only several months ago, they are leaping forward as if they've got the energy of giants, and the muses are with them. They are shining stars in a new sky, and are going to excite, entertain, and delight both their audiences and their clients for a long, long time. Check out their videos of photo shoots, launch parties, music videos and concerts at:

http://www.thecreativefoundry.com.au
http://www.facebook.com/thecreativefoundry
http://www.youtube.com/user/creativefoundry