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This month is all about LOVE and expressing that love through kindness!

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it and let’s face it– we’re parents and we’re always busy! Instead of heading out to the store, simply fire up your printers and print these original HOMER cards. You and your little ones can personalize them together by coloring, adding glitter, leaving notes and so much more– that way they stand out! Best of all, these adorable cards don’t require candy additions, so you’re following the teachers’ directions and everyone in the class can feel special!

Happy ❤️ Day!

 

HOMER CARD

MILLIE CARD

NIP CARD

 

Get to DIYing and don’t forget to share your cards with us on Instagram using #KidPoweredLearning

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From recruiters to engineers, and graphic designers to member experience associates, there are so many passionate people bringing #kidpoweredlearning to life here at HOMER. In this new series, we’ll introduce you to the team, one by one.

First up: Chris Gelles!

 

What do you do at HOMER and what’s your favorite part about your job?
I lead the Art & Media Production Team! You can call us “AMP” since we love acronyms so much. 

Oof. So much. I’m surrounded by a brilliant, talented and deeply experienced team. And, where I like to dig in is in brainstorming ways our characters, stories, media in general can leverage our technology to create a unique experience for the kids.

Which interests would you pick in the HOMER app?

Dinosaurs, Robots, science. Do we have monsters?

 

What were you passionate about as a kid and how has that shaped you into the adult you are today?

Passionate…That’s a good question. Dinosaurs blew my mind (giant monsters that were real!). I loved animals of all kinds. As I grew, this migrated to very science-focused interests. I loved biology and mechanical–anything. Eventually, in my early college years, I tried to combine those by studying biomedical engineering.

But, underneath it all, I could draw. My mom was an art teacher. So, I learned to see shapes in everything. I learned to jot down my ideas, give form to my imagination from a really early age.





Where’s your happy place this season?

This season? Well…I just got married in November. And, I’m still hanging onto happy memories of being in a cabin on the ocean (in freezing cold weather). We had two fireplaces and pretty much most of Cape Cod to ourselves.

 

Who is your favorite HOMER character?

Tutt. Always Tutt. The trickster, the rascal. The force of chaos.

Tutt is the most fun-loving of all the HOMER characters.

What are your top emojis?

❤️ and 💩, naturally.

 

If you could be a contestant on one game/reality show what would it be?

What’s that one that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hosts? I’d do that one just to say hi to him…again. Fun fact: I went to high school with him. We shared a moment in the Track & Field bus as we traveled to an ‘away game.’ “Hi, Dwayne!”

 

 

What does reading mean to you?

Gaining knowledge. Being inspired. Living dreams.

What are the words you live by?

I try to keep up with Gandhi’s “be the change you want to see in the world.” Not sure I measure up to that all the time. But, it’s a worthy goal. 

Actually, I looked this up to make sure I was quoting him correctly…turns out the sentiment is a bit more ambitious:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a [hu]man changes [their] own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards [them]. … We need not wait to see what others do.” (cleaned up to be less gender-centric)

 

Want to learn more about Chris and the HOMER team? Follow @learnwithhomer to see more of what happens behind the scenes in the office.

Let us know who you want to hear from next!

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Before coming to HOMER to work on the Learning Team, I spent 8 years as a preschool teacher in New York City. Let’s face it, the teacher’s desk can sometimes become a catchall place for everything under the sun. One of my main struggles was keeping my desk clean and organized. As a teacher you want to be a role model for your students, so that they keep their desks (or cubbies) clean and organized. In prep for celebrating “Clean off your desk day” here at HOMER HQ– I went to a few experts to get their perspectives. The family business is education, so I asked my sister and mother who are both teachers how they manage to keep their desks clean.

Here were the best suggestions from the three of us:

  1. Set aside time each week (either on Friday afternoon or Monday morning) to clean off your desk. As much as you try to keep things organized during the week, there will inevitably be those stray papers and other items that accumulate during the week. Start the week off right by spending the time to tidy it up! (I carried this over into my current job and try to tidy up my desk and close as many tabs and documents on my computer as possible each Friday afternoon!)
  2. Keep a small drawer organizer on your desk for things like paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands, staples, etc. so they don’t just pile up everywhere. As an extra bonus, you will know where to find them quickly when a student asks for one! 
  3. Color coordinate your files. Make sure all of your files or folders are color coordinated based on subject, for both your students and yourself! This makes things much easier to find quickly and helps your students keep their work organized as well. If space is limited, hang something around your desk to organize your folders, with one for each subject.
  4. Use binder clips so that your chords aren’t all over your desk and you can even label them! This is a game changer! 
  5. Use a file organizer to keep track of holidays. As a preschool teacher, I was always decorating the classroom based on the season or holiday we were celebrating. I kept a file folder organizer on my desk that was organized by month, with each holiday having its own file folder. With folders organized by month, I could easily access the appropriate holiday without digging through stacks of papers! 
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It’s getting cold outside, which means more time indoors, earlier bedtimes (more sleep, please!), and lots of opportunities for cooking and snuggling up with a good story. And, with the holidays coming up, lots of kids will be out of school and away from their normal learning routines.

The learning experts at HOMER have put together a Winter Reading Challenge to encourage you to keep your kids excited about learning and give them some breaks from all the sweets. So find a nook to nestle in and start our challenge!

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Update your iOS, Android, or Amazon app to the latest version and visit the menu in the HOMER Reading app.
  • Read a story. Download the full winter reading list here.
  • Cut out a snowflake (either make your own or download ours with your reading list.)
  • Write the story title on the snowflake.
  • Punch a hole in the snowflake and add it to a string you hang in your child’s room.
  • If your child completes all stories on the reading list for her age group by Jan. 12, we’ll send her a special certificate and HOMER goodie bag to celebrate her achievement.
  • Share pictures with us on Instagram, including #KidPoweredLearning, for a chance to win a Parker The Augmented Reality Bear!
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Written by Peggy Kaye, HOMER’s Chief Curriculum Officer

Featured on Jim Henson’s Family Hub

We’re big fans of learning AND playing. In fact, we often find ourselves doing both and don’t even realize it. Our very own Peggy Kaye, shared a few activities to get your family reading and playing, which were featured on Jim Henson’s Family Hub!  

 

Reading and play – do the two intersect? They can and they should – because when they do, the mix can be magical. Presenting reading tasks, or any other skill, in games or engaging activities lowers children’s anxiety and increases their involvement.

TREASURE HUNT:  

Saturday morning… nothing special on the agenda… might be time for a treasure hunt.

First, decide what the treasure will be. It could be a small toy, a cookie or a special trinket.  Then find a hiding place.  Next, take five to ten index cards (the more cards, the longer the treasure hunt) and write clues on them.  

The first card will direct your child to the second card.  “Look under the red pillow in the living room.”  The second card — which you will hide under the red pillow — directs your child to the third card. Your child goes from card to card until…the treasure…. is revealed.  

This game will take you about ten minutes to prepare, but the fun will last a lot longer than that.  Better yet, your child has a powerful motivation to read each card, which is the unspoken agenda for the game.

SCAVENGER HUNT:  

Next week, you might try a scavenger hunt.  This game works best when there are several players. Make a scavenger hunt list: something soft, something blue and red, something green you can eat, something orange you can wear, and so forth. Each hunter gets a bag to gather their goodies. The first to find everything on the list wins.

FAMILY JOURNAL:  

A shared journal offers a perfect way to make reading and writing an integral part of your family’s life.

To begin, you need a book with unlined paper to use as a journal. Drawing books work beautifully for this job. Once a week, each member of the family picks something that happened during the week that was great, or awful, or especially fun, or something worth remembering.

On the top of a fresh page, write the date, and then each person adds their experiences. Take dictation for young children, or let them use invented spelling. If what’s written isn’t understandable, you can translate underneath.  You might decide to use drawings, with or without captions, to share the week’s memory.  You might decide to include something you all did together rather than have different contributions.

After a few weeks, go back over the book and remember together.  Leave the book in an available spot so that anyone, including your child, can pick it up and thumb through it. If making this a weekly event isn’t optimal in your house, that’s fine. You can pull out the journal when it makes sense to do so.

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