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Top 5: Albums for Kids & Parents

July 7, 2014

By Jessica Vician

Top 5 Albums for Kids & Parents

Every parent needs adult music every once in a while, but it’s difficult to compromise with kids when all they want to hear is “Let It Go.” Fret not, parents. I’ve done some research and found five artists you know (well, you might know most of them) who recorded children’s albums. Listen to these albums with your kids to keep everyone in the car happy.

Here Come the ABCs by They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants has a few children’s albums and all of them are great. They have the quirky charm of their regular albums but are perfect for kids to sing on repeat. The only problem? You might find yourself singing a list of nations from A to Z, too (see “Alphabet of Nations”).

Baby Loves Hip Hop Presents The Dino-5
The Dino 5 recorded an album that is part hip hop, part audiobook with catchy rhymes and beats even a baby will nod his head to (if he’s strong enough yet to nod his head). The stories about each of five dinosaurs, narrated by Grammy-winning poet Ursula Rucker, keep kids engaged, while members of Jurassic 5, Digable Planets, The Roots, and more play the dinosaurs in songs that will make you dance.

Papa’s Dream by Los Lobos
With a built-in story about hopping in a balloon and flying to Mexico to see Grandpa, the lively songs are sure to make any road trip more fun. It’s also a great opportunity for English-speaking kids to learn a little Spanish and for English-Spanish bilingual kids to have fun with songs in both languages.

Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George by Jack Johnson and Friends
If you’re a Jack Johnson fan, you might already own this album. It’s a happy yet mellow album in Johnson’s signature style that starts catering more directly to kids in the second half with songs like “The Sharing Song” and “The 3 R’s” providing lessons for your little ones. An added bonus for adults? Johnson’s cover of The White Stripes’ “We’re Going to Be Friends.”

The Johnny Cash Children’s Album by Johnny Cash
If you love the Man in Black, this album is for your family. The lyrics are easy to understand thanks to Cash’s enunciation, which helps your kids to learn and sing along. Some songs speak very directly to kids, like the math lesson “One and One Makes Two,” and they all have that classic Johnny Cash sound.

For an extensive list of children’s albums, check out Parent Dish’s Top 25 Albums for Kids.


Top 5: Affordable Family Vacations

May 27, 2014

By Kevin Rutter

Top 5 Affordable Family Vacations

Growing up, my dad regularly took our family on summer vacations and instilled in us the joy of exploring new places. There were five kids, so he had to be pretty good at finding affordable places to go. Based on the places he brought us, combined with what I’ve learned in traveling myself and with my students, here are my top five suggestions for affordable family vacations.

  1. Camping. Staying at hotels or motels was out of reach financially for many of the trips we took as a family, so we invested in tents and later on a pop-up camper that allowed us to travel all over the country and stay at campgrounds overnight or for a couple of days. It was great fun setting up camp, cooking, and learning about the outdoors.
  2. State and National Parks. Parks maintained by the federal and state governments are a great, affordable, and local option. Near Chicago, where I live, there are many different places to visit, from Lincoln’s boyhood home to the Indiana Dunes. For more information, check out your state’s tourism board or the National Park Service. 
  3. Washington D.C. I have taken students to Washington D.C. many times over the years and have found it to be a great place to visit for the following reasons:
    • The D.C. Metro system is clean, inexpensive, and easy to navigate. Therefore you do not have to stay overnight near the main attractions, but can stay somewhere less expensive and hop on the Metro.
    • Admission to all of the national museums and popular sights like the Washington Monument, White House, and Capitol Hill, are free.
    • The main attractions are also centrally located on the National Mall, making it easy to plan a day of events without spending much time or money traveling.
  4. Visit Out-of-State Relatives. To save money on family vacations, my parents would have our family visit relatives and close friends who lived far away. It was a great idea because they often would coordinate activities and meals for the planned visit and we did not have the expense of staying at a hotel or campground. Plus, we were all glad to see each other.
  5. Caribbean. If you’re wishing to step out of the USA, I would suggest giving the Caribbean islands a look. Many of the hotels offer family and budget-friendly options with lots of activities, beaches, and relatively short flying times.
Tags :  Top 5socialfamily funbudget

Top 5 Favorite Kids’ Books

March 31, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

Top 5 Favorite Kids' Books

With the abundance of children’s books in the world, it is hard to narrow down five of our top favorites. I asked a few parents about the message they are trying to send when reading books to their children. Is it adventure? Is it to learn something? Below I listed some classics that have a mixture of education, family value, and growing up. These books are great for children of all ages, and honestly, adults, too.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Although this book is sad, there are many lessons to be learned. A young boy has a strong friendship with a tree. They make each other happy by spending time together and playing. As the boy grows into adulthood, he becomes more demanding of materialistic items such as money, a house, and a boat. Generously, the tree gives the boy what she can until she is left with only a stump. This book teaches us the value of friendship and the stages of life until death.

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Grab a tissue box when reading this one. This book has much to say about youth, parenting, and the circle of life. A mother sings a song about loving her boy forever. She sings him this song through his growth spurt until she is too old to mutter the words. The son sings it to his dying mother, and then goes home and sings it to his newborn daughter.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
Wonderful book. At any age you can pick this up and feel inspired. The straightforward, enjoyable rhyming story breaks down the successes and failures of taking a risk.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
This book beautifully describes a child’s nighttime. The boy cannot sleep until he tells everything in his bedroom “goodnight,” lastly saying, “Goodnight, Moon.” It’s a fairytale-like story told in rhymes.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This book is a simple text with great educational themes such as counting numbers, learning the days of the week, different types of foods, colors, and a caterpillar’s life stages before transitioning into a beautiful butterfly. It also has punchhole cut-outs on the pictures of the foods the caterpillar eats, making it visually appealing to young children.

What are your favorite children’s books? Tell us in the forum


Top 5 Winter Movies and Lessons to Learn from Them

January 23, 2014

By Amanda Gebhardt

Top 5 Winter Movies

Growing up in the Midwest, I’ve learned to look forward to cold, snowy afternoons bundled on the couch under blankets and sweatshirts. Spending time snuggled together as a family, enjoying classic winter movies that promote positive values is a great way to make memories and strengthen family bonds.

While there are plenty of fantastic holiday movies that families can watch together every year, now that the holidays are over, the YOU Parent staff wanted to highlight the movies that are fun all winter long. We took a staff poll, and pulled out five of our favorites and the lessons our kids can learn from them.

  1. Home Alone, PG 
    Not only does Home Alone promote resourcefulness in the face of adversity, but it also serves as a reminder that help can come from unexpected places—namely a misunderstood neighbor who ends up saving the day.
  2. Harry Potter, PG 
    Much of the Harry Potter series is set in the deep snow of winter, while students warm themselves by the fires of the Gryffindor Common Room. Families can enjoy watching a plucky underdog realize his potential for greatness through loyalty, compassion, and a strong sense of justice, or even read along with the books to find more adventures with Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
  3. Groundhog Day, PG 
    My own personal favorite, Groundhog Day is an annual tradition in my house. We get friends together on February 2nd and sit around with hot chocolate and watch Bill Murray get a second (and third, and fourth, and…. thousandth) chance at being a good person and finding happiness.
  4. About a Boy, PG-13 
    About a Boy follows a man with no close friends or family living his life by wasting money and lying to women. Through an unlikely friendship with a lonely boy, though, his world opens up and his life becomes one of meaning and joy. While it may not be appropriate for young audiences, this movie shows the value of honesty, compassion, and selflessness.
  5. Adventures in Babysitting, PG-13 
    A universal favorite of everyone polled, Adventures in Babysitting is a timeless comedy that still makes us laugh and cheer. Ultimately, this is a story of friendship and the lengths one friend will go to for another in distress. It also is about the push and pull of growing up and of being young but having responsibilities—something even those of us who are all grown up can still remember and appreciate.

As the snow lingers and you want to experience winter vicariously from the warmer states, snuggle close, and happy watching!