April 17th, 2014
So far we have featured Smart Apps for Special Needs and Shannon Des Roches Rosa in our Blogger Spotlight for Autism Awareness Month, and today we are thrilled to talk to Jack Kieffer from Autism Plugged In about his experience using ACC apps with autistic children. Read about his favorite apps and tips for parents below!
Oceanhouse Media (OM): When did you create Autism Plugged In? What was the motivation behind it?
Jack Kieffer (JK): I started volunteering with special needs individuals through a local organization, Northwest Special Recreation Association a few years ago, during the summer after 8th grade. I worked with several non-verbal autistic kids, and most of them had to carry around bulky communication boards in order to express themselves. Shortly thereafter, I started hearing about the benefits of technology like the iPad and decided to launch the website, Autism Plugged In, as a way to help parents find the apps that they need! Essentially, Autism Plugged In was created to help with the navigation of the digital app marketplace.
(OM): What has been your experience using apps with autistic children? How do you think it has helped them?
(JK): My personal experience has primarily been with AAC applications (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). I have found that children on the spectrum have much more going on in their minds than they are able to express. In particular, I have worked with a non-verbal teen now communicates quickly and at a relatively high level with the Proloquo2Go application, and this has really improved his life. When kids can express themselves more easily, there’s a lot less frustration.
(OM): What are some of your favorite apps for autistic children?
(JK): I’m glad you asked! We get a lot of parents asking about apps that address specific issues. For instance, communication apps, or AAC apps, allow non-verbal kids to communicate by tapping pictures on their iPad. Proloquo2Go is probably the most comprehensive AAC app available for the iPad, but it’s a bit pricey for some families. So, I like to offer alternatives such as Alexicom AAC or LetMeTalk – for Android. A wonderful scheduling app is First Then Visual Schedule HD, which lets kids see and plan for “what happens next” in their daily routine. Another group of essential apps for kids on the autism spectrum is social skills apps. i Create… Social Skills Stories is an iOS app that lets parents create sample storylines that demonstrate a particular activity, like feeding the family dog. By adding sequential photos of the child opening the dog food container, then a picture of he or she scooping dog food, and finally a photo of the child pouring the food into a bowl, it creates a visual step-by-step guide to everyday activities. Readers can also check out a list of my favorite applications on the website.
(OM): What tips do you have for parents, teachers, and therapists when selecting and using apps with autistic children?
(JK): Remember that one of the huge benefits that technology brings to the table is “fun!” If you are trying to use the iPad and its apps in a very conventional and rigid way, you’re not going to see the benefits – you might as well be working with a low-tech chalkboard. Apps work because they’re stimulating, interactive, colorful, and easy-to-use. As a parent, teacher, or therapist, your job is to facilitate the use of these apps and chime in where necessary. I would also say this: have your child try new apps, instead of letting them use the same one or two over and over again, but don’t force it. If your kid doesn’t like a particular app, for whatever reason, let it go and move on! If you keep pushing that program, kids will associate those negative feelings with the iPad as a whole, and they won’t want to work with the technology.
(OM): What is your favorite thing about Autism Awareness Month?
(JK): Autism Awareness Month is an opportunity for innovators to showcase their work, whether that is from a sociological viewpoint or from a medical perspective. It’s also a great opportunity for parents to learn about new technology, research, and therapies that they didn’t know about before.
Thank you so much to Jack for sharing his insight with us! Tune in again next week for another Blogger Spotlight as part of Autism Awareness Month.
Read More Blogger Spotlights
April 11th, 2014
The days are getting longer, the weather is warming up, and flowers are starting to bloom- spring has finally arrived! This is a wonderful time to plan a heap of outdoor activities to get your family physically active and healthy, all while strengthening your bonds and making unforgettable memories. Below are 10 of our favorite spring activities to get your kids outside in the warm weather, utilizing their creativity, and learning just how fun being healthy and active can be!
1) Take a nature hike or walk together.
2) Plant a flower garden.
3) Enjoy a healthy picnic at the park.
4) Visit a farm to see the animals.
5) Draw with sidewalk chalk.
6) Go on a bike ride.
7) Visit the farmer’s market.
8) Fly a kite.
9) Build a bird house.
10) Visit a botanical garden.
After the sun sets, we encourage you to snuggle up together with some of our favorite springtime book apps!
Just A Day at the Pond – Little Critter
A Great Day for Pup (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat)
My, Oh My-A Butterfly! (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat)
Ladybug at Orchard Avenue – Smithsonian’s Backyard
The Lorax – Dr. Seuss
And don’t forget take advantage of our Easter app sale through April 21st!
The Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule: $.99
The Berenstain Bears Go to Sunday School: $.99
The Berenstain Bears Faithful Friends: $.99
The Berenstain Bears: God Loves You!: $.99
The Berenstain Bears Discover God’s Creation: $.99
The Berenstain Bears Living Lights Collection #1: $7.99
All other Berenstain Bears Living Lights apps: $1 OFF
Happy Easter, Little Critter: $.99
April 9th, 2014
Today we are honored to have Shannon Des Roches Rosa of Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and Squidalicious for the second installment of our Autism Awareness Month Blogger Spotlight! We featured her back in November, but this time we wanted to talk to her specifically about her experience using apps with her son Leo. We also encourage you to read this article she published last week: World Autism Awareness (or Acceptance) Day: Hope and More Hope for Autism Parents Like Me.
Oceanhouse Media (OM): How did you discover that iPads and tablets are great tools for autistic kids?
Shannon (S): Completely by accident. Leo won an iPad in a raffle, about a month after they were released in 2010. I’m not an early adopter, so I was skeptical. But he dove right in and hasn’t stopped learning and having fun with iPads & apps in the nearly four years since. It was amazing how suited the iPad is to Leo’s visual learning style, how easy the touchscreen is for him to use (compared to a mouse), not to mention how competent he feels when can entertain himself with favorite videos and apps, completely independently (though of course if he needs help, we help him).
(OM): What is the first app Leo ever tried?
(S): I believe it was the drag-and-drop spelling app FirstWords. At the time, I wrote that “Leo loves First Words because it’s fun and easy. I love it because he’s learning to spell words, and the interface makes that learning error-free.” Leo and I both still really appreciate well-designed apps like FirstWords, and Oceanhouse Media’s OMbooks, of course.
(OM): What are some of Leo’s favorite apps right now?
(S): He’s a thirteen-year-old boy, so he loves the YouTube app. He especially enjoys watching videos of rollercoasters, and somehow finds the rollercoaster channels, even though he’s still working on reading. But he’s interested in Lego, and really enjoys their Duplo: Food app. He also likes to revisit favorites he’s had for a while, like Oceanhouse Media’s Rudolph Run! game, and Byron Barton’s Trains. And he really loves reading the custom photo and story books we make for him with Kid In Story.
(OM): If you could snap your fingers and instantly create the app of your dreams, what would it do?
(S): We’re lucky in that some of those apps are already here, like Oceanhouse Media’s Mr. Brown Can Moo, which lets Leo read one of his favorite books of all time to himself. I suppose I’d like a really flexible visual scheduling app that would be easy for Leo to use himself. Good basic-to-complex visual scheduling apps do exist, like First-Then Visual Schedule and ChoiceWorks, and their interfaces work for me, but they don’t work for Leo.
(OM): What tips do you have for parents using apps with their autistic child?
(S): Heh. I have a lot of tips! Remember that you are the parent, and need to set reasonable limits with the iPad as you would with any other media. I say this because I think there is too much brouhaha in the news about parents using iPads as babysitters, when in fact iPads are just another tool — and it seems silly to blame tools.
Be careful about buying apps, especially those specifically for autism. Do your research first, as apps can be expensive, and app purchases can pile up quickly. To help people with their app decisions, I work with an SLP, Jordan Sadler, and an autistic adult, Corina Becker, to maintain a curated spreadsheet of recommended autism apps. But there are other good resources, like CommonSenseMedia.org, MomsWithApps.org, or TechInSpecialEd.com.
Make sure you buy apps that your kids find fun as well as those just for learning! Sometimes parents of autistic kids feel as though everything in their kids’ lives has to be therapeutic or educational. Don’t forget that autistic kids need opportunities to chill and relax, too.
Thank you so much to Shannon for sharing her insight and experience with us. We look forward to following her family’s journey in the future!
More Blogger Spotlights
April 4th, 2014
Another fun and successful quarter is in the [digital] books at Oceanhouse Media, which meant we got to celebrate together at our quarterly team outing! Last quarter, we celebrated by volunteering at Feeding America San Diego, and this quarter we were very lucky to feed ourselves at a completely out-the-box experience: a group cooking class at The Center for a Healthy Lifestyle.
The majority of us had no idea where we were going or what we were doing when we showed up to the office before the outing. Last time the team outing was a secret, we ended up at a high-ropes course, so those of us who are scared of heights were happy to hear that we would be spending the afternoon in a sunny garden rather than suspended 50 feet above the ground!
The Boys & Girls Clubs’ Center for a Healthy Lifestyle is an adorable, sunny yellow cottage nestled in Solana Beach, California. The center is dedicated to “inspiring children & adults to live healthier lives through cooking, gardening and fitness”. Complete with a beautiful kitchen space, communal organic garden, and peaceful patio, the center was the perfect place to spend a sunny morning in Southern California!
We were very lucky to have Amanda Mascia of The Good Food Factory, an Emmy-award-winning healthy cooking show for kids, as our joyful and energetic teacher. She curated a menu to coincide with our 5 core values:
-Creative problem solving: brown rice (she taught us the perfect way to bake it)
-Efficient excellence: carrots & thyme
-Always learning: blueberry vinaigrette for our salad
-5 stars or no stars: salmon
-Passion for the work: whipped cream and berries
The first item on our to-do list was to peel a giant box of carrots (not as giant as the box at Feeding America San Diego!), so we all grabbed a peeler and got to work. With all of us chipping in, we were able to peel and chop the entire box in just a few minutes! Amanda had all the recipes we needed printed out so she instructed us just to start cooking and let her know if we had any questions. We all loved that she let us take initiative and figure things out on our own. We were able to modify some recipes to fit certain team members’ dietary restrictions, create our own perfect marinade for the salmon, and pick anything we wanted from the garden to add to our fresh salad! We self-organized into groups to make various items such as the salad dressing, salmon, croutons, whipped cream, etc. It all tasted absolutely delicious! So often in today’s world, meals are rushed and “convenient”, so it was relaxing to slow down and really savor the process of cooking, especially with a group of people. Working together outside of the office was so much fun and really helped us to get to know each other better.
As we ate our lunch on the beautiful patio and took in the gorgeous day, we discussed how the experience relates to our company culture. One aspect we really value at Oceanhouse Media is getting the chance to take initiative on projects, just as Amanda let us do with the recipes. Team members are always taking the lead on new ideas or processes, applying forward-thinking knowledge (always learning), and trusting of one another to try something new- even if it fails. When one team member told the group how much he learned about gardening after one season of an unsuccessful garden, we discussed how important failure is in the learning process (FAIL = first attempt in learning), and how if you are not failing, you are not taking enough risks. Finally, the carrot peeling resonated with us because of how quickly we were able to power through a huge task when we all pitched in and helped. The exercise was demonstrative of how much more efficient we are as a group. Now when an individual employee has a big project to tackle, we all pick up our theoretical carrot peeler and help out!
“Building software is like making whipped cream. Things get mixed up for quite some time and then voila!, something magical appears.” – Greg U.
“Seeing our team in the context of a kitchen made it clear to me that the sweetest things come from working in tandem with one another.” – Chandler
“Our morning with Amanda at The Good Food Factory was really fun and educational. It was so nice to take time as a team to make a healthy and delicious meal together in a beautiful setting where we could grab anything we needed for the meal right from the garden. Working together made the job easy and we all brought great, tasty ideas to the table that resulted in a a fresh and delicious lunch!” – John C.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to The Center for a Healthy Lifestyle and Amanda for making our team outing a wonderful experience!
April 3rd, 2014
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, April’s Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight will feature a handful of our favorite bloggers and app review sites related to special needs and autism. We’re kicking off the series with this insightful interview with the staff of Smart Apps for Special Needs.
Oceanhouse Media (OM): When did you launch Smart Apps for Special Needs? What was the inspiration behind it?
Smart Apps for Special Needs (SAFSN): Smart Apps for Kids, the sister site for Smart Apps for Special Needs, hit 1 million pageviews during Autism Awareness Month in 2013. This proved a high interest in apps and resources for individuals with special needs, so the idea of a new site to focus on this audience was born. Smart Apps for Special Needs was launched as a Facebook page in June 2013. It grew much quicker than expected, so in August 2013 the blog was launched to further support our expanding audience.
OM: Briefly describe how iPads and apps help children with special needs.
SAFSN: IPads and apps are beneficial to special needs children because of their ease of use, easy accessibility, affordable cost and use across a wide range of subjects including math, science, English, shapes and communication. Many apps are customizable to support various learning abilities. Kids can often learn and play at a speed that works best for them with apps. They empower children by giving them control of their learning, and by allowing self-correction much more than when their learning is directed by teachers and other adults.
OM: What tips do you have for parents using apps with their special needs child?
SAFSN: Follow your child’s interests! If your child likes planets, find apps that teach around characters based in space or characters that are planets. If your child is fascinated with a certain character, find that character on the App Store. Getting a child engaged with the device under controlled circumstances (apps you approve of with characters they love) allows leverage to be built on how the child may utilize the iPad as they progress with their education. Make sure to set screen time limits and make sure you still do hands-on stuff with your child! Apps are wonderful, but people should not be replaced.
OM: What are the most important features you look for when selecting apps for special needs?
SAFSN: We look at six different elements for an app for special needs. We rate if it meets the intended goal, if it is worth the price, ease of use, educational value, entertainment and level of customization. We also think about apps for longevity. An app that is easy to use, but has no growth potential has a short shelf life. An app that is difficult for a child to maneuver without adult guidance prohibits independent learning and lowers the chances for building autonomy and growing self-esteem. Individuals with special needs are each unique; therefore, an app has to be considered for each person individually.
OM: What are some of your most trusted resources for special needs parents, teachers and therapists?
SAFSN: In order to best support our audience, we openly discuss with members of the special needs community — parents, therapists and developers. We trust the developers we work with and the suggestions from family and friends. We want to remind others that it is important to trust the therapists and teams that work with an individual child. It is great to get ideas from different places, but those working closest with an individual will be the best resources.
Thank you so much to everyone else at Smart Apps for Special Needs for participating in the Blogger Spotlight. Tune in again next week!
More Blogger Spotlights
April 2nd, 2014
April is Autism Awareness Month- a special time dedicated to spreading knowledge and understanding about autism, as well as coming together to bring comfort, love, and acceptance to those in the autism community. Throughout the years we have had the pleasure of working with a handful of bloggers who are committed to sharing their experiences parenting (and loving) children with autism. Witnessing their journeys has showed us that autism is so much more than just a label, and this month we want everyone in the autism community to know that they are loved, accepted and appreciated just the way they are!
Throughout April, the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight will feature bloggers who have found apps to be effective tools in helping children with autism communicate, have fun, and learn important skills. We are very excited to share their insights and hear more about their amazing kids!
-Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
-Alpine Learning Group
-Kind Tree- Autism Rocks
-The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
-The Autism Women’s Network
-Left Brain/Right Brain
-Organization for Autism Research
-Quality Services for the Autism Community
-Snack and Friends
-Pacific Autism Center for Education
Read and share this incredible article:
World Autism Awareness (or Acceptance) Day: Hope and More Hope for Autism Parents Like Me
by Shannon Des Roches Rosa
March 24th, 2014
Today we are excited to feature avid blogger and literacy advocate Melissa Taylor for the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight! She runs one of our favorite parenting blogs- Imagination Soup- and is also the author of Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader. See what she has to say about the importance of reading, book apps, and more below.
Oceanhouse Media (OM): When did you first create Imagination Soup? What was the inspiration behind it?
Melissa Taylor (MT): People used to ask me how I came up with such creative ideas to do with my kids. I thought, why not share what I do with other people who don’t have my background in education. So, I started blogging. At first, I did it just for fun while working as a freelance writer for magazines but it really has grown into a passion and a business.
OM: How did you come up with the name Imagination Soup?
MT: My husband thought up that name. We spent one evening brainstorming words and concepts for the blog – and would check if the URL was available. Kudos to him – I love the name!
OM: What is the mission or goal of your site?
MT: To share information with parents so they can make learning fun and part of everyday life.
OM: How has your site evolved throughout the years, and as your daughters grow older?
MT: Good question! Since I don’t have preschoolers anymore so I have to borrow friends’ kids to do some of my blogging ideas. Also, every year I’ve grown as a writer and storyteller.
OM: As the author of Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader, why do you think it is important for children to love reading?
MT: Reading is everything! It’s the way we learn new information, find we’re not alone in the world, and experience life from a new perspective. I wish the goal of early elementary was getting kids to love stories and books.
OM: How do you think book apps help inspire a love of reading for kids?
MT: Book apps give children another way to love stories. Technology is an enticing medium and so often motivates those kids who may not want to sit down with a paperback book. I’m a big fan of book apps!
OM: What piece of technology can you not live without?
MT: Oh, wow. Hard question. First, Google. Second, my Mac. I am a writer after all!
OM: What resources do you use to find out about the best apps for kids?
MT: I read a lot of reviews and buy a lot of apps that I find by searching key words in the app store. But it always comes down to what my kids and I actually enjoy.
OM: What children’s books do your daughters love right now?
MT: My 12-year old is really into Wendy Mass books – like 11 Birthdays. My 9-year old is devouring The Chronicles of Narnia.
OM: Who is your favorite Dr. Seuss character?
MT: This is so hard! I love the animals in Apples Up On Top because they’re so silly and lovable Horton, who dares to follow his convictions of kindness toward others.
Thank you so much to Melissa Taylor for participating in the blogger spotlight! Stay tuned for more.
More Blogger Spotlights
March 19th, 2014
Apps Playground is a phenomenal children’s app review site, headed by one of the most esteemed journalists in the industry, Stuart Dredge. We are very excited to pick his brain about predictions for the app industry, running an app review site, and being a parent in the technology age for the next edition of the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight!
Oceanhouse Media (OM): When did you first launch Apps Playground? How has it evolved since the beginning?
Stuart Dredge (SD): My wife Alice and I launched it in September 2010 as a side-project from our regular jobs (both freelance: I’m a journalist and she’s a market researcher).
The motivation was partly because we wanted to work on something together, and partly because we had two small children – three and one at the time – and had spotted a growing number of apps for kids on smartphones and tablets.
I bodged together a WordPress theme and away we went! But I’d say it became a serious thing at the start of 2013, when we started devoting more time to writing several posts a day. Later that year, we got it professionally redesigned.
We’re currently attracting 60,000+ unique visitors a month, and earlier this year launched our first e-book on Apple’s iBooks store, as an experimental spin-off.
OM: Do you remember the first app you ever downloaded?
SD: In my day job I’ve been writing about phones and apps for a LONG time – back in the days of downloadable Java games on the first colour-screen mobiles in the early 2000s. I think it might have been Jamdat Bowling.
In modern apps times – if you think of the launch of Apple’s App Store as the start of that – I was covering that launch for a mobile games site in 2008, so it would have been Super Monkey Ball most likely.
OM: Which apps would you say are essential for every parent to have on their iPad?
SD: Weirdly, I find it hard to answer this: it’s such a personal thing based on how old your children are, what their interests are, and which apps they respond to. It’s difficult to say ‘every parent and child will love THIS app…’
In general terms, though, a good mix of stuff is important I think – some creative apps, some stories, some educational apps and some just for playing. We’ve tended to plonk lots of apps from all genres on our iPad and let our children figure out which ones they like best – admittedly a benefit of having access to lots of promo codes.
OM: What are your kids’ favorite storybook apps?
SD: They love the Nosy Crow fairytales, and our six year-old is currently going through a wildlife phase, so anything with animals. They’ve enjoyed the Me Books app too: the option to re-record the dialogue as a family has been particularly fun. As two young boys, they’re also delighted by anything that references bums, poo, farts and so on! But they’ll also happily follow a Dr Seuss storybook for cleaner fare…
OM: What are the most important features that you look for in children’s apps?
SD: A spark – of creativity, of design, of storytelling… Something that stands out from the crowd. As a nerdy journalist who literally does scan an RSS feed every morning of new releases in the major App Store categories, a lot of rubbish passes my eyes, but the good stuff still leaps out.
SD: For educational apps, I’m keen to see if there’s a solid basis for the learning – how is it rooted in the curriculum, who are the advisers etc. And as both journalist and parent, I’m quite sharp on checking out how in-app purchases work when they’re used: finding a game whose virtual items go up to £69.99 is always disheartening.
OM: Complete the sentence: My favorite thing about being a parent in the technology age is ____.
SD: My favourite thing about being a parent in the technology age is the flurry of creativity and experimentation going into apps – every day there are two or three new things worth further investigation.
OM: What predictions do you have for the app industry in the next year?
SD: I hope some of the talented developers we’ve been writing about find it a bit easier to make money: all too often we’ve raved about a marvellous app only to hear later that it made peanuts from sales. If there’s a prediction here, it’s that more parents will realise the merits of paying for apps, and that Apple, Google, Amazon and others will continue working hard on helping them discover the best ones.
We’re seeing an upswing of releases for Android devices in response to the growing number in parents’ (and children’s) hands. Here in the UK, for example, supermarket Tesco sold hundreds of thousands of its Hudl tablets last year, a lot of them to parents. There’s a growing audience out there for Android apps, so I think more developers will target them.
I think the concerns about in-app purchases (IAP) will gradually ease as parents get more savvy about how IAP works and set the necessary restrictions; and as developers who’ve sailed close to the wind either clean up their acts or get scuppered by a combination of app store crackdowns and bad word-of-mouth.
OM: What is your favorite thing about reviewing and writing about apps?
SD: It’s fun: I’m a geek! And it feels like it’s a useful thing to be doing for parents – not just us, obviously, but the peers that we’re inspired by.
It can sometimes feel overwhelming when there are hundreds of apps we could write about, and only so many hours of writing in the week. My least favourite thing is the awareness that we often struggle to reply to every developer who emails us, let alone write about every app we’d like to. We’re going to try to improve on both in the coming months.
OM: What app can you not live without?
SD: Impossible to pick one! Mailbox for trying to swipe my inbox into shape; Twitter for work and personal communication alike; Feedly for working my way through those RSS feeds; and Spotify for keeping the music playing throughout the day.
OM: If you were stranded on a desert island, which piece of technology would you want to have with you?
SD: An ocean-liner ;o)
Thank you so much to Stuart Dredge for participating in the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight! Stay tuned for more features from our favorite bloggers.
More Blogger Spotlights
March 14th, 2014
If you want to take the guess work out of picking the best apps for your kids, look no further than the Children’s Technology Review.
Since 1993, the Children’s Technology Review has been one of the most trustworthy publications related to products and trends in children’s interactive media. Their goal is to help parents, teachers and children’s librarians navigate the ever-changing tech landscape by providing objective, rubric-driven reviews based on child development theory. Because of their thorough and objective nature, we value the Children’s Technology Review’s feedback of our apps immensely and are always honored when their staff rates our titles highly. Ratings are based on ease of use for children, educational value, entertainment value, design features and overall product value.
The prestigious Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Awards are given to only the highest quality children’s products in the interactive media category. These products are considered to be “no fail”, worthy of their cost, and able to keep children engaged for days at a time. We are thrilled to have received several Editor’s Choice Awards throughout the years for the following apps:
Miles and Miles of Reptiles (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat)
The Berenstain Bears Lose a Friends
If I Ran the Horse Show (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat)
Alphabet of Dinosaurs
Oh, the Pets You Can Get! (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat)
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins – Dr. Seuss
Just Going to the Dentist – Little Critter
Dr. Seuss Band
The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories – Dr. Seuss
Oh Say Can You Say Di-no-saur? (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat)
Trick or Treat – Picture Me®
Five Little Monkeys Go Shopping
Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! – Dr. Seuss
There’s No Place Like Space! (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat)
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Once Upon a Potty: Boy
Once Upon a Potty: Girl
The Berenstain Bears’ Bedtime Battle
The Cat In The Hat – Dr. Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham – Dr. Seuss
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish – Dr. Seuss
Up With A Fish!
Want to tap into the Children’s Technology Review’s insightful app reviews? Subscribe to their monthly newsletter or learn more here.
March 5th, 2014
In October, the Oceanhouse Media team celebrated the end of our third quarter with a team-building challenge at the UCSD Ropes Course in La Jolla, CA. We unanimously walked away from the experience feeling happy, inspired, and most importantly, trusting of one another as a unified team. For the end of quarter four, we opted to celebrate by giving back to our community and making a difference in the lives of others. Healthy and nutritious food is important to all of us at Oceanhouse Media, so we decided to volunteer as a team at Feeding America San Diego (FASD), the largest hunger-relief organization in the county.
We arrived at the FASD distribution center- a 50,000 square foot warehouse in Sorrento Valley- in the morning where we were greeted by our very friendly and enthusiastic volunteer coordinator Theresa, who was fittingly wearing a t-shirt that said “I believe in helping others”. Before getting started, she shared some striking statistics with us that helped put the day’s work into perspective:
-15% of the people in San Diego County are food insecure, meaning they do not always know where their next meal will come from.
-1 in 4 children in San Diego are at risk of hunger.
-Nearly half the people served by FASD are under the age of 18.
-FASD feeds 73,000 children, families and seniors in need each week.
FASD seeks to alleviate hunger in the county by distributing nutritious food items directly into the hands of local students and their families. Because families with a limited budget are often forced to buy cheap, unhealthy food that increases their chances of developing long-term health problems (diabetes, obesity and heart disease), FASD is committed to providing fresh, healthy food by partnering with more than 160 local grocery stores and retailers to claim an average of 800,000 pounds of food each month- this also helps eliminate food waste because 60% of food that would have been thrown away is still edible, nutritious, and delicious!
We helped out with the School Pantry program, which provides nutritious food for low-income students and their families to take home. This program alone serves more than 1,500 children and families in San Diego each month! Our task was to glean (a fancy word for “sort”) through massive boxes of fruits and vegetables to discard any items at the end of their shelf life. After Theresa explained the process, we split into two groups and got to work!
“It is staggering to know that 1 in 4 children in San Diego are not sure where their next meal will come from. Volunteering at Feeding America was simple, easy and very rewarding.” – Greg U.
The “lucky” group started by gleaning a box of oranges, followed by fresh, organic broccoli that looked quite appetizing. The “not-so-lucky” group got to sort through slightly suspicious potato boxes- proving that it is possible to bond while elbow-deep in taters!
For the next few hours we worked in our teams to glean 4,000 pounds of fresh produce for distribution to students through the School Pantry program. The best part was we had a blast doing it!
“It was great to work as a team with OM members! I always enjoy offering my time to help those in need, but working together to do so felt even more rewarding.” – Haley O.
The volume of food the FASD sorts and distributes on a daily basis is mind-boggling- they even had 1,400 pound box of carrots (that’s A LOT of carrots)! FASD depends solely on philanthropic and community support for its mission, so volunteers are essential in making sure those in need have access to quality food. We especially enjoyed sharing the warehouse with a group of young school children who were oh-so carefully bagging sweet potatoes near our station!
“Feeding America has created a great opportunity for community members to get involved and help people receive vital fruits and vegetables. As a member of the Oceanhouse team, I am glad we all got a chance to contribute to their high demand of food packaging needs.” – Cyrus K.
Working together in a new environment allowed us to hone our communication skills and come together as a group- especially for fellow employees who do not work with each other regularly in the office. Stepping away from the office and doing something for the greater good in our community was an easy, uplifting way to raise all our spirits. Overall, volunteering at FASD was an incredible experience and many of us plan to return soon!
“I found our volunteer time with Feeding America to be a rewarding and educational experience. We had the opportunity to learn just how staggering a problem hunger is in San Diego and how many families and children are unsure as to where there next meal is coming from. Taking the time to give back with the team really feels good and I would love to volunteer with Feeding America again in the future.” – John C.
Feeing America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief and charity, and it is easy for you to join their fight to end hunger. Here’s how you can help:
-Volunteer: Get your family, school or office together for a fun and rewarding experience that benefits your local community. Find a list of Feeding America volunteer opportunities near you here.
-Donate Funds: Monthly donations, meal donations, virtual food drives and more- there are so many ways for you to donate your funds so that others don’t go hungry. Every dollar you donate helps provide 8 meals to families in need! Learn more here.
-Donate Food: Large and small food donations from companies can make a significant impact. Reach out to your local Feeding America representative to find out how you can donate food or even organize a food drive.
-Advocate: Raise awareness of hunger in your community and spread the word of the available resources and solutions. You can also get involved with public policy to promote supporting legislative change. Learn more here.
-Educate: Teach your kids about hunger in your community and encourage them to help those in need. It’s never too early to teach your kids how to give, and to show them that helping others can be fun!