Learning is Fun When it’s all in the Family!

Does your child just yawn when you mention history?  It can be hard to teach your children just how important history really is and how learning history can be fun.  So, how can you teach them that where we came from, the founders of our country and how America became the nation that it is today, really is important?

Sharing The Memories

Learning about history can be fun when you start with family.

Here is a CWIST with a family tree that will make history personal.  Even more fun, this will become a family affair!

Once your children see how interesting it is to learn about their own family, they may become more interested in all the history they are learning in school.  Before you know it, they will be having fun learning about our country and its leaders, maybe even the history of other countries as well.

My Family Tree

  1. Get your supplies together:  large paper or poster board and markers or crayons.

  2. He can start by drawing out the tree and a box for the bottom of the page.  He can build out with siblings and up with parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

  3. Let your child do the research himself.

  4. He can get a notepad and pen and do some interviewing to get all the information he needs. It make sense to start with his parents.  But from there, he can call living grandparents and aunts and uncles.

  5. To make it even more personal, he can get stories on how his parents met, how his grandparents met, and so on.

  6. Not only will he learn about his family, he will get some history on the different time periods in which each family member has lived.

The educational opportunities are endless when you make a family tree.  If your child becomes particularly interested in certain member of the family or a time period, let him research it further.  Maybe his grandfather or great-grandfather fought in a war.  This creates a personal connection to our history that will make learning about history even more fun.

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How to Turn Chores into Educational Games

Chores are a part of just about every child’s life growing up. Contributing with the household chores is a way of teaching kids to be responsible and the benefits of team work. Chores may be part of growing up, but not all kids embrace them with open arms.

CWIST can help change your child’s attitude from grumpy to willing, by pairing daily chores with two important factors — fun and rewards.

CWIST can help you to make your kids’ chores FUN!

Making chores fun with CWIST will make mundane tasks feel more like a game and less like, well, a chore.

  • With the Grr… We Have Chores! activity, kids will do their chores for five days to help learn responsibility. Parents will fill out the chore chart, and kids will answer some easy questions and have fun checking in through the week. Friday will come and everybody can celebrate by letting your child show off his completed tasks. This activity only requires a free printable chore chart (link provided) and a pencil. You will love this activity because it won’t feel like pulling teeth to get your child to help out and your house will look great!

Making chores fun, will encourage most kids to be more willing to help, but adding rewards will certainly motivate even the most stubborn child to do her part. On CWIST you can find tons of WISHES, which you can apply to your children’s chores or they can request on their own. The wishes range from homemade treats to remote control cars. You can even contribute your own WISH ideas to the CWIST community.

  • The Creating a Chore Jar activity wonderfully pairs chores with fun and WISHES. Your child will start by filling the jar with as many EXTRAORDINARY chores that she can come up with that aren’t currently expected of her. Some of these chores might include clearing the table after dinner, doing laundry, washing the dog, reading a book to a younger sibling, etc… Once the jar is empty, your child will earn a reward. This simple activity requires minimal materials — just an empty jar, pieces of scrap paper cut into one inch strips, and pens or markers.

Let CWIST help your child learn responsibility and team work, while making is fun and engaging.

Also, you help other parents by being a CWISTMAKER and contributing your own chore-related activities to www.cwist.com.


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3 Science Activities Girls Will Love

As studies have shown, getting girls interested in science at an early age is a key component in them pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers.

A great way to engage girls with science and cultivate those interests is through fun activities that they can share with their friends.

Kids In Uniform Playing With Microscope

Making Science FUN with CWIST!


Here are three ideas that are really fun activities and will get them thinking about science:

  1.  Egg Shell Geodes: Geodes are rocks that have a hollow cavity in which crystals grow. They occur in sedimentary and volcanic rocks. While these most likely will not be found in your neighborhood, they are simple and fun to make. Making your own geodes out of eggshells, alum powder, and a few other simple ingredients could get your daughter interested in geology and geological engineering. Use this activity to spark conversations about different terrains all over the world.
  2.  Magic Secret Messages: This activity will spur conversation about chemistry. It will teach girls how to write secret messages to their friends that have to be carefully uncovered. Using just baking soda, vinegar, and a few other supplies, girls write a message that can only be revealed when the reader washes over it with grape juice. Girls will learn about chemical reactions while having fun sharing secret messages.
  3. Colored Flowers: This activity explores the natural sciences. Here, girls will learn where water goes when you water plants. All you need are some white carnations and food coloring along with a few other supplies. One flower will sit in plain water, while the others will sit in colored water. They will see the slight variations of color in each flower. If you have a garden, take the time to carry this new knowledge outside and talk about your different plants and how they grow.

All of these exciting activities, plus many more, can be found here at CWIST.  Explore some fun science games and motivate girls to study STEM subjects at a young age.

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Fun Math Games to Play Outside

Is it spring yet?  If your family is anything like mine, you have been craving some warmer outdoor weather!  Now that spring has finally made its grand entrance, it’s time to find some ways to use that outside playtime for learning.

Math is one of those subjects that can start to feel tedious when you spend time indoors doing math sheets and word problems. Here are some fun math games to get your children moving and make learning math fun!

Lively Family Playing With A Ball

Beach Ball Math is FUN and educational!

Beach Ball Math

  • All you will need is a beach ball, a wet erase marker, and kids who are ready to learn and play!

  • Depending on the level of math you are working on, write math problems on each different color of your ball.

  • Toss the ball around to each child. When players catch the ball, they should see where their left thumb lands (this part will also help children distinguish left from right).  They will then have to answer the math problem written on that color.

  • You can go several rounds, rewriting the math problems each time to make them more difficult.

  • You can even time it to see how long it takes to finish each problem on the ball.


  • Get your kids outside with some vehicles and have them set up a short racetrack for each vehicle.

  • Let them guess which they think will move the fastest and which will move the slowest.

  • Race the vehicles.  You can do this with a push at the starting line, or you can use motorized cars.

  • Time each vehicle.

  • Take it a step further and find the average race time.

  • Next, compare your cars’ race times to a real race car with this CWIST called Race Cars and Spinning Tires.

100 Steps

  • This is a great game for kids of all ages. Start by telling your kids to each take 100 steps from the same starting point.

  • You can even have them guess where they will end up at the end of 100 steps.

  • You can do this activity over and over using different methods.  For example, take 100 huge steps, 100 hops (this one will wear them out!), or 100 tiny steps.

We all know the importance of both learning and exercise.  Use the above activities, plus many more at CWIST to get your kids moving and learning.  Learning math really can be fun.  They will see it’s more than just worksheets and textbooks.  There are educational opportunities just outside your back door.


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Football Learning Games for Your Sports Loving Child

Watching football game and playing the sport is a great American pastime and a favorite sport for many kids.  Football is a learning game because kids learn important lessons about rules, sportsmanship and strategies.  But did you know that sports like football can also teach your child math?  Some of the best ideas for teaching your child tough math concepts and other educational subjects can be found in the things they love the most.  And let’s not forget that challenging kids to get outside and actively playing the sports they love can also bring the whole family together for one big learning experience that burns calories while bringing joy and happiness to all.

Turning tough learning subjects into fun games that connect with your child’s passions is a great way to motivate them to learn things they may otherwise resist.  The good news is you will find some great examples of how this twist on making learning math and other subjects on CWIST.  And for your young football lover in particular, CWIST has all the tools and activities you need to challenge your family to “tackle” learning games that embrace his or her passion for football.Football Games for Your Sports Loving Child

  • Even if not everyone in your family loves football, they can all enjoy some family fun out in the sun. The Family Flag Football game will challenge your family to get outside and have fun together with football. You don’t need to be a skilled athlete to get involved in this game. Your crafty kids can enjoy making the flags for the game.  And everyone can learn some great lessons on sportsmanship. Encourage your kids’ friends to join the fun. This game only takes a few materials and a place to run around.
  • If you want to use football for a more educational activity, then Map the NFL is the game for you! This is a simple game where your child can practice geography. All you need are colored pencils and a printer. The game provides internet links for you to download a blank map and list of all the NFL teams. Your child will simply label states with their respective NFL team. Encourage your child to label all of the states without NFL teams as well. This activity is a cool way to let your child practice memorizing the map while you learn more about the sport he loves.
  • Believe it or not, with CWIST  you can encourage your child to practice math while enjoying his favorite sport too. The Monday Morning Math: Football Passing Yardage and Place Value challenge takes a look at the best quarterbacks from the 2013 regular season. Using their regular season passing yardage, your child will practice identifying place value.
  • Try Monday Morning Math: Pro Football Add and Subtract for younger children who need to focus on lower-level math skills. This CWIST lets you look at the scores from professional football games while your child does a little math. If you don’t get a newspaper with a sports section, you can look up the scores online.

These are just a few of the great football related educational games on www.cwist.com. It doesn’t matter what you did on Sunday, or how much you know about football. CWIST can help you educate and have fun with your child while talking about his favorite sport.

Is football not your child’s favorite sport? You can find other cool games focused on basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer and more on www.cwist.comSearch through tons of great educational sports games today!

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Help Your Child Complete Homework Assignments

Encouraging your child to complete any task can be challenging at times.  Whether it is finishing dinner, doing household chores, or cleaning their room, it can quickly become a battle if your child is not in a motivated state of mind. Homework may be the biggest culprit in finding ways to motivate your child to complete assignments.

Homework is a great way for children to work on study skills, learn independently, and further their knowledge of the subjects they are studying in the classroom.  All of these things are important, but your child may not see that.  Whether they are struggling completing homework in all subjects, or just the ones that they are not inspired by, here are a few tips to help you encourage your child at home…

Homework Frustration

Homework Battles? Motivate Learning & Make it Fun!

  • Establish the importance of completing homework by setting an after school schedule.

    • Get them involved and make a chart of after school activities with a timeline.  Let them help decide when homework will be done.  They can have the option of having some  play time and a snack first, then working on homework.

    • When they feel more involved and in control, they may be more willing to complete the task.

  • Be available to help them with their homework, but don’t take over.

    • There will be times that they will need your help, but also times that they just don’t want to do the work themselves, either out of frustration or rebellion.

    • Learn the behavior patterns so that you know when to help and when to take a step back.

  • Find fun activities and cool games that go along with their assignments.

    • CWIST has games and activities for every school subject that make learning all subjects fun.  Be in-the-know about what your child is learning.  Let him choose a CWIST challenge  each week that will go along with his studies.  Show him that learning can be fun!

    • For example, if they are studying history and learning about early explorers, check out this cool challenge on becoming a Lewis and Clark Jr. Ranger!

  • Show your children that what they’re learning applies to the real world.

    • If they are working on math and learning about estimation, show them how you use this skill every day.  This can be done with almost any subject in elementary school.  If he can see how it is important beyond just the homework assignment, they may be more encouraged to learn more.



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Encourage Your Child to be a Reader

When children are little, it can be so easy to get them captivated with a book.  The stories are short, often rhyme, and have colorful pictures.  As parents, we  hope  this passion for reading will carry over so our kids will become avid readers when they reach grade school and beyond.

But, as we all know well,  sometimes  distractions become greater as you get older.  The distractions of today are much different from when we were kids.  iPads, video games, and the internet are just a few of the types of activities that draw our children’s attention away from traditional reading.  So what can you do as a parent, to encourage your child to not only pick up a book, but to finish a book, and even enjoy it?

Girl Reading in Park

Inspire your child to become an avid reader.

Here are a few tips that will encourage your child to read.  As always, it is important to tailor your approach to your child’s personality and learning style.  So just try a few of these, and hopefully you’ll have an avid reader on your hands!

  • Be a good example.

    • We’ve all heard the saying “Actions speak louder than words.”  Telling your child to read and that reading can be fun will only get you so far.  If your child sees you reading, they may become more curious about it.

    • Read aloud to your child.  This may be especially helpful with assigned reading that your child may not be as interested in. Take turns reading aloud.  You can read a few paragraphs, then have your child read a few paragraphs to you.  Take time to discuss what you read when you are finished for reading comprehension.

  • Find the right books for your child.

    • According to James Patterson, it’s important to look beyond traditional books for some reluctant readers, specifically boys.  As he says, boys can be a bit “squirrelly” when it comes to things like reading.

      • Reading does not just mean literature.  Reading anything is good for literacy.  Get your son started with simple books that he is interested in.  This can be sports material, science experiments, the Guinness Book of World Records, or even comics.  The point here is to get them reading!  Once you can get them interested in reading about subjects they care about, you may be able to slip some fiction and literature in there.

  • Get your child involved.

    • When it comes to reading, your child will be more likely to finish a book that he chooses.  Of course, there will be required reading by your school.  Your child will need to understand that those books must be finished as well.  But the point here is to show him that reading can be fun.  The more he reads, the better reader he will become.

    • Head to your local library or school library.  Have your child make a list of topics and stories that he would like to read.  Your child’s teacher or librarian can then suggest some titles from that list.

  • Set aside time to read and set up incentives.

    • Many children are driven by incentives.  CWIST has many reading activities and wishes you and your child can set up as goals. There are reading lists set up by grade and activities to go with specific books.

    • You can set up a reading log for your child. Set aside time each evening for your child to read.  You can even let him stay up later some nights, but only if he is reading.

  • Think outside the book.

    • Reading books will be the end goal here, but we read things other than books all day, every day.  Encourage your child to read street signs and billboards as you drive around town.  He will soon feel confident in his ability and that can translate to other places.

    • When you’re cooking dinner at night, have your child read the recipe aloud to you.

    • These activities will introduce new words to your child while showing them how reading is one of the greatest and most important skills they can acquire.
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Is Your Daughter Feeling Intimidated by Science?

On average, just 10% of college graduates in the computer science field are girls.  To change this trend girls need to be confident, engaged and provided opportunities to learn science at a much younger age.

Getting girls interested in science, computers, math, and other similar subjects remains a challenge. One problem is that girls sometimes feel intimidated, as this is a field  that has historically been dominated by men.   To overcome this unfortunate trend, girls need to feel less intimidated by male dominated fields.  They also need to become assertive in the  classroom to ensure they get ample computer time,  questions answered, and can take the lead in science experiments.Girl leads science experiment in primary school.

Here are a few practical ways to make sure girls feel less intimidated, and more encouraged, when talking science.

  • Find great female role models for your daughter. There are women in science doing great things. Teach her about Pamela Melroy, an Air Force Pilot and astronaut, or Ada Yonuth, who won a Nobel Prize for her research on the structure and function of the ribosome (part of RNA).

  • It is pretty likely that your daughter will be making presentations in her science classes. Encourage her to research some female scientists and share this information with her peers.

  • Bring science to life. Find some fun science games and experiments to do at home. CWIST offers free science games and incentives for girls that make learning science interesting, fun and rewarding.  Science games and activities completed for school and especially during leisure time at home, and over summer months will challenge her brain while boosting her confidence.

  • Get involved in the classroom. Find out if free time in school can be spent on the computer learning programming and researching interesting science topics.. Consider talking to your daughter’s teacher about assigning time on the computers and in science labs, ensuring that the girls are getting as much exposure to computers, coding, and science experiments as boys.

  • Buy toys and games that promote math and science skills. Legos and construction sets really aren’t just for boys.  Some companies are drawing girls in to science and engineering early with more colorful building blocks, even in pink and purple, to encourage girls to play and build.

  • If your daughter is involved in some extra-curricular groups, such as Girl Scouts, lead the girls on a science adventure.

    • Start a Science Club for Girls at your daughter’s school.
    • Take a trip to a science museum.

    • Develop some cool science projects for the girls to do together.

    • Have a local female who works in the science field come talk to the girls about what her daily work life is like.

All of these tips will help your daughter feel less intimidated by the field of science. It is important that she sees at an early age how science is not only fun, but practical and useful. Encourage her interests and help her pursue them. Remind her that girls can do anything boys can do!

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Improve Your Child’s Study Habits w/ Small Rewards

Serious boy doing his homework against a white background

Small Rewards to Improve Study Habits

  • To encourage good study habits, it’s important to give your child a little bit of free time when he gets home from school. His mind needs a break in between school and homework, and exercising his body can help him learn. If the weather permits, getting outside is even better reward for a long day at school.

  • Sign up or Login to set up a CWIST challenge that gets your child prepared to study — and studying well — while working toward a special reward that you choose together:
    • Challenge him to play a quick game of basketball, run around the yard, or ride his bike when he gets home. (Once he has had a little bit of playtime, he may feel more relaxed and ready to tackle schoolwork).

    • To use this as a motivator, tell him that he can continue this activity after he’s completed his exercise challenge and finished his homework. Then set a completion reward or “wish,” such as allowing him to invite a neighborhood friend over to play after his CWIST challenge is done, or use the challenge as an incentive to earn a small toy or gadget he has been asking for.

More tips and ideas:

  • If your children have been asking you to allow them to listen to music while they study, consider a compromise. Allow them to listen to music during one subject of work. If they can continue to do their work well and in a timely manner, reward them by allowing them to listen to music for longer periods of time each day or week.

  • Motivate them with breaks in between long study sessions.

  • Have a quick 15 minute dance party in between sessions. This will get their blood flowing and add some exercise to their day. Reward them with their “wish” to earn a special snack that they can have in between study breaks.

Few things work better than positive affirmation. Continue to remind your children that you are proud of them. Give them the space to talk with you about what they are studying in school. Let them see that you are interested in what they are learning.

Lastly, always tailor the goals you set to your child and agree on a reward or “wish” that you can both feel good about. Remember, even within your own family, each child is different. Try out different rewards and study techniques and see what works best for your family. It may take some time, but it will pay off in the long run. Good study habits will follow them through their entire education.

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Fun Activities for Kids on a Rainy Day

As parents, we do our very best to provide some sense of consistency and predictability for our children while preparing them to be flexible with whatever the day has to bring. One thing that is universally out of everybody’s control is the weather.

The weather may not seem like a big deal, but I’m sure we’ve all had those weeks where too many rainy days makes it  feel like we might never see the sun again. It’s at these times the kids always seem to be filled to the brim with pent up energy. And it’s so easy to take  the path of least resistance (usually TV, video games, or movies). So, when bad weather hits, what what are parents supposed to do with kids when day number three of being stuck indoors is looming?rainy day-indoor-fun-activities

At CWIST, helping you raise children into well-rounded and flexible young adults takes first priority. With hundreds of activities, every parent can find educational and challenging games on cwist.com to make rainy days just as fun as being outdoors.

  • The weather might be freezing and snowy, but the Create a Snow Globe! activity on CWIST will let your kids access their creative sides and stay warm, too.
  • Maybe your older child has an artistic itch on a rainy day. The Puzzle Me This, Puzzle Me That! will keep your little artist busy for hours. As an added bonus, the puzzle can be shared as a unique gift for a friend or teacher.
  • Do you have a little one with a big imagination? Try Creating a Kingdom: Pirates on Stage as a fun way to let her exercise her creative muscles. This activity will walk your child through every step of planning and producing their very own pirate play. You will need a journal, pencil, costume and prop supplies — and a sense of adventure! A video camera is optional if you want to document your child’s new grand production. This activity is sure to keep your child engaged and productive for hours!

Maybe you’ve had your fair share of bad weather days and you have go-to-activities you know any kid would love. Share your great ideas on cwist.com to help make other parents’ lives easier. Become a “cwistmaker,” and add your own activities to the CWIST library of “crowd-sourced learning” challenges. Your ideas will be shared with others looking for fun things to do that motivate kids to learn. Rainy days are no longer wasted days with the great learning and playing ideas on cwist.com.

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