Summer Road Trip Winners Announced!

Screen shot 2010-07-08 at 8.55.04 PM.pngWe finally have our winners in the road trip tips contest! The producers at MobiStories combed through nearly 100 comments and the following entries have come up on top!!!
Grand Prize Winner – iPod Touch:
Wendy Toone comments: “For the sheer fantasy aspect – I wanna party with this family!”
EWalsh40 – on June 27, 2010 1:23 AM
“Use your imagination, in order to encourage your kids to use their own. Especially when they’re little. It’s not just a trip to the Grand Canyon. You have to go there so that you can yell into the canyon so that the rock king will release all the fairies that he has captured and is keeping in a cave to keep him company.
And is that just a cow standing by a fence? Or is it really one of the Rock Kings minions, waiting to report back to him that you’re on your way?
Go to the thrift store and buy old funny clothes and hats, and to the dime store for fake glasses with the nose and mustache and make up a disguise bag so that everyone can travel incognito.
Use the keypad on the iPod touch to send secret messages or make phone calls to the Fairy Queen and let her know that the mission is on schedule.
Have binoculars for scoping out the territory for spys, special foods that make you temporarily invisible and books about fairies so that you’ll recognize them if happen to catch a glimpse of any that might be following you, to make sure that you make it safely to your destination.
Before you know it, you’ll be there and they might even be disappointed that the trip is over
Runner up – $25 iTunes Gift card
Rick Toone: “For bringing the reality of real-life parenting into play.”
Diane Baum on June 26, 2010 6:17 PM
My top tips for traveling with kids….Always figure it is going to take more time than Mapquest says. Add bathroom stops times two- I leave early in the morning at 3:00
AM, so I don’t have to deal with traffic and my kids are slepping for a good part of the trip. This is also a great time to introduce new games, especially handheld ones. We also love approriate books on tape and sing along CDs (Sorry, I want to kill Barney or Ernie on the drive back home-after hearing the song 500 times! We pick up lots of little indidvual , easy to eat none messy snacks. This is not the time to worry about keeping a clean car. We also play, yes the license game, find a word starting with a, b, c.. and the kids must learn some new history item about each place we stop.
Runner up – Tom Paxton Autographed copy of “The Marvelous Toy”
Jennifer-dunne on June 15, 2010 6:42 PM
Popular car games include finding words in signs that start with every letter in the alphabet, or for older kids, “Movie matchups”: Pick a question, like, “Who would be better at getting out of a traffic jam?” and offer two movie characters. They have to not only choose one, but defend their choice. (Note that the non-driver should act as MC for this.)

In “Despicable Me,” Julie Andrews Takes on Mean Mom Role

Never in my life would I imagine sitting across from the legendary Julie Andrews, but during the “Despicable Me” press junket, my dream came true! We started with a standing ovation from all the mom bloggers to which she politely commented, “I think it’s all of you ladies who deserve that.” Sigh.
Julie Andrews.jpgFrom “The Sound of Music” to “Mary Poppins,” Julie Andrews has always been the mother that you wish you had. That is, until now…..
In “Despicable Me,” Julie plays the mother of Gru (Steve Carell) and this is one mother you would not want to meet in a dark alley. Nothing is ever good enough for her and from the time he was a young boy, Gru has been seeking her approval and he’s always been left disappointed. At one point in the movie she calls to taunt her son, “That was you wasn’t it, or was it a villain who is actually successful?”
Andrews admits that “they broke the mould with that girl,” but she believes her character doesn’t necessarily mean to be mean – she just has absolutely no idea she’s totally appalling and self involved.
In order to pull off a totally unique accent that matched Gru’s, Andrews says she worked with Steve Carell to create a unique voice of Eastern European descent. She says it was truly an emancipating feeling to just “go for it” and says a lot of people didn’t realize it was her. If you’ve never imagined there could be a dark side to Julie Andrews, then you will have to see this movie and watch her play her meanest character yet!
Listen in to the entire interview with Julie Andrews and then take a look at this behind the scenes featurette on the making of Gru’s mom!

Tips to Avoid the Summer Reading Slump

9b7ac7de-ec5f-4524-a087-7556ec0ec3ea.jpegGuest contributor and producer Wendy Toone, offers great tips this week on how your kids can avoid brain drain when they’re out of school.
It’s Summertime! Yipppee! Time for swimming, trips to the beach, camping, and all sorts of “no more school” activities. However, many kids suffer from a backward slide in their reading development when reading activities wane over the summer months.
Students can lose as much as three month’s worth of reading level during the school break. Research shows that younger elementary school students rarely make up deficits in reading once they fall behind. Conversely, students who read during the summer could end up three months ahead, too.
Children will benefit more if their reading activities are fun and not looked upon as ‘homework.’ While reading books is important, games that use letter-recognition, alphabetizing, syllable, rhyming and rhythm skills can keep kids’ reading skills sharp without cracking open a book. If you have a road trip or plane excursion planned, use that travel time wisely. Here are some games to try when traveling on summer vacations:
Create a New Ending:
Exercise their storytelling skills by rewriting their favorite story or a book they just finished…’It could also have ended like this….’
Write That Tune
Remember the game show “Name That Tune”? Pick a familiar song and rewrite the lyrics….a topic such as “gardening” sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques” ?? This exercise works on rhyming, syllable recognition, creativity, and can expand vocabulary.
Kids get carsick reading but can watch movies on DVD? Try digital books.
Amazon’s Kindle is amazing for Young Adult and adult digibooks, but they don’t have children’s titles. Only publishers such as provide children’s picture books in color, narrated and ready for on-the-go reading practice. Order from digital publishers that offer downloads to your mobile devices for convenience.
Car Games:
Animal ABC – 2 ways to play…either start w/ “A” and name as many animals (aardvark, alligator, antelope) as you can, or take turns (Cindy does “B”, Joey has “C”). Great for young readers (K – 2nd grade). Can make it more challenging by starting the next animal’s beginning letter w/ previous animal’s ending letter, i.e. dog -> goose-> elephant.
Roadsign Roundup – Same idea, but this time call out words seen alongside the road in alpha order: billboards, safety signs, signs of businesses being passed. Good for intermediate readers (2nd – 5th grade).
Pimp My Plate – Using letters found on license plates, create what the personalized plate meaning would be (phrase, name of their business, whatever you can come up with). Can work on alliteration, homophones and creativity. Good one for advanced/older readers who need something more challenging.
Where Do I Turn – This one isn’t really a game, but why not let the kids pass a little time reading the map and becoming the navigator. You trust them, right??
TrueText – If they’ve got the phone and you have unlimited texting, you could institute a ‘must spell it correctly – no text jargon’ rule for a portion of (or the whole?) trip. Of course, no texting to or from the driver, please.
So whether you’re traveling by car, plane, train, or sticking around for a “staycation,” remember to incorporate reading activities into your children’s summer schedules. Read to them, read with them, and give them plenty of encouragement to keep their reading skills from sliding in the wrong direction. Happy reading!!
a5b224b2-03de-47b6-ac1f-08120eaf7d35.jpegWendy Toone is a child expert, having owned and operated a leading children’s fitness center and now produces MobiStories, Digital Books for KidsTM. She is a cableAce-award winning television producer and has worked on hundreds of television commercials as a Production Manager after spending a decade onstage as a professional dancer. Wendy’s two children have been inspirational in the creation of MobiStories.
To download a free digital book for your PC visit, click on Summer (in the Ages 2 – 4 category) add it to the cart and Michelle Obama then enter the code SUM0710 in the Coupon Code Box.
*This post is sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network.