Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Zoobean Blog Has Moved

Hello! If you’re following us on Tumblr, we hope you’ll check in with us on our new blog over here, where we expect to be for a nice, long time! Thanks for your support!

XO,

Jordan

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lessons in Failure and Motivation from Jessica Lahey

Imagine this scenario: You have been working for several weeks with your child to help improve his organizational skills, creating systems for remembering assignments and keeping schoolwork in order. He has been improving, and you feel proud.

One morning, you’re at home and you see your child’s homework assignment, one that you know he worked oh-so-hard on last night. You were already planning to stop by the school for another appointment…would you just drop off the assignment since you’re already headed that way?

Our recent Expert on Air, Jessica Lahey, found herself in this exact situation, and the answer was easy for her. No! As she said, “This is a specific lesson that I’m trying to teach him. And I will undo that entire lesson about being responsible for your papers if I take it in for him,” even if it was painful to imagine him not getting to go out for recess as a result. For Ms. Lahey, this is all part of building her son’s intrinsic motivation to succeed, and giving him the autonomy he needs, even if he has these small failures along the way.

While Ms. Lahey’s writing with the New York Times and The Atlantic, along with her own blog, focuses mostly on older kids, we found many of her lessons to be applicable to the younger set as well. She told us that she hesitated to write initially because, “Who wants to read about teaching middle school?” but we sure are thankful that she did!

During my Zoobean Expert on Air conversation with Ms. Lahey, she had several useful pieces of advice and anecdotes to help us in our journey toward autonomy-supportive parenting, and giving our kids the gift of failure. Here are a few of my favorites, and if you’d like to see the whole hangout, you can watch it here. Psst….the homework story is at 12:56!

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today — I’m looking at you, moms of preschoolers. It’s far easier to build kids’ intrinsic motivation by starting early than it is to wait until later in life. “It gets harder because the stakes get higher. Which is why it’s great to start early, when the stakes are low. That’s one of the reasons why I love to teach middle school because the stakes are still low enough where the kids can still make mistakes. Middle school is made for making mistakes.” And, ahem, giving even littler kids space to fall on the playground or discover by “making mistakes” is even easier (minus the tantrums, but those come no matter what we do).

Try giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt…at least to start the conversation! As Jessica says, “When a teachers suspects something going on with your kid, too often the immediate response from the parent is to get defensive and get angry with the teacher for what they claim to have seen.” Instead, listen, and react first by seeking to understand the teacher’s perspective.

So long, cheat-ah. Building your kids’ intrinsic motivation has the added benefit of reducing the chances they will cheat. “When kids are involved in lessons and work in school that they are intrinsically motivated to complete, they are a lot less likely to cheat. The stuff that kids cheat on tends to be stuff that they don’t care as much about and so if they really care about the subject…if they care, they don’t cheat as much.”

What advice from Ms. Lahey did you most take to heart?

Stay tuned for upcoming Expert on Air series with Zoobean via our G+ community.

Posted by Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Chief Mom at Zoobean

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Flipping the Gridiron: Tackling My Son’s Obsession with Football

When I met my husband fourteen years ago, he turned me into a football fan. He was passionate about his team, and I joined his bandwagon. Now, our four year-old son has done the same. But he, well, he has taken it to an entirely new level.

The kid is obsessed, and until lately, it was driving me crazy! What did he want for the holidays? A football helmet. What does he do every single morning with his basket full of horses and other animal figurines? Set them up to play a rousing game of football, of course. “Who do you think will win, Mom?” he asks me repeatedly. I was finding myself worried about this scenario. He loves football, but I absolutely do not want him to play football as a little kid. Beyond this, I was also concerned that being crazed for football was making him—I’ll be honest— less intelligent. I know I shouldn’t care about that, but it frustrated me to ask him what he did in preschool that day, only to be answered, “We played football,” followed by a detailed description of the game that I know they didn’t play.

Yes, I want to spark other interests in our son, and believe me, we try. But in the meantime, instead of fighting against this football obsession, I’m embracing it and turning it to all of our advantage! Taking this new perspective has been such a relief, and it’s making us happier. Below are the four key ways that we are using our son’s obsession to springboard to get him excited about math, reading, and other cognitive skills through football.

Jersey Numbers: He always wants to know players’ numbers. “What number is RGIII? What number is Peyton Manning? What number is RGIII?” He has them on rotation! Now, instead of simply telling him a number to satisfy him, I’ll write it out and ask him to identify the number for me. It has been the quickest way yet to get him recognizing larger numbers. Ok, so he might still say “two-ty-three,” but he’s getting there.

Memorization: We’ve started keeping track of information that we already shared with our son. What is the name of Seattle’s team? Who is the 49ers quarterback? Does Baltimore have a team? We used to answer the same question multiple times just to get peace and quiet. Now, we track what he already knows. I’ll say something like, “Hey, I remember Daddy told you about Seattle’s team yesterday. Can you remember what it is? I’ll give you a hint, it starts with a s-s-s sound.” Now, he knows it’s coming and earnestly tries to remember on his own before asking us.

Score Math: We play all sorts of games with scoring and football. When his horses are “playing football,” our son will shout, “They scored a field goal!” I’ll be honest, I used to try and get him to play quietly. Now, I ask him, “How many points do the Austin Familiars [yes, that’s the name of his favorite made-up team] get for a field goal? And how many points did they have before the field goal?” Then, we count up the points together and keep a running tally as he plays.

A Reading Habit: We still get the paper newspaper delivered each morning. We used to answer incessant questions about the sports page. Now, my husband sits him on his lap, peruses the entire paper, saving Sports for the end. It has gotten our little guy truly excited to read the newspaper each morning! Of course, he asks about every single football photo, but now he also reads the comics with his dad, and I’ve noticed an uptick in his interest in any children’s book that has to do with sports. His new book obsession is with wrestling, and a great little story called The Mighty Lalouche, a tale that builds on his interest in sports, and also allows us to talk about characters and emotions with him.

So, while I’ll still try to get our little guy to turn his attention to the arts, or other sports, I’m going to go ahead and indulge this interest for now. What tricks do you use to turn your kids’ interests (obsessions?!) into something positive?

image

Posted by Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Chief Mom and Co-Founder at Zoobean

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

14 Curator Favorites For 2014

It’s the last day of 2013, and we’re celebrating the year by sharing our curators’ favorite new books and apps from this year. Of course one size doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to learning, but many of these selections are loved by a diverse array of kids. We hope you enjoy them, and have a wonderful start to your 2014!

What are your favorite new releases from 2013?

1. Nelson Mandela, by Kadir Nelsonimage

2. The Enduring Ark by Gita Wolf

image

3. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brownimage

4. Black Dog by Levi Pinfoldimage

5. Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idleimage

6. Night Sky Wheel Ride by Sheree Fitch

image

7. Journey by Aaron Beckerimage

8. My Father’s Arms Are a Boat by Stein Erik Lunde

image

9. Mary Wrightly So Politely by Shirin Yim Bridgesimage

10. Doll Bones by Holly Black

11. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula Freedman

12. A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar

13. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

14. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Apps Focused on Literacy

  1. Learn With Homer

  2. First Words Deluxe:

  3. Stella and Sam

  4. Kidspiration

  5. Bobs Books #1: Reading Magic

  6. The Monster at the End of This Book

  7. Word Magic

  8. iWriteWords (Handwriting Game)

  9. Stack the States

  10. Cinderella

  11. The Three Little Pigs

Posted by Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Chief Mom at Zoobean

Friday, January 17, 2014

Day After King: Reflections on My Life with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Two years ago, my husband was serving as the “Chief Professor” for a company he co-founded call MoneyIsland. When his company first celebrated MLK Day, he was asked to write up what the day and man mean to him.

Since this article, we have moved to a new city, had another child, and started up our family’s passion, Zoobean. I sure wish Felix’s dad was around to see what an amazing man and father his son has become, and how he is living out his values through our business. I hope you enjoy this insight into the life and background of our Chief Dad, or as I like to call him…the best decision I ever made.  xoxo, Jordan

image

My father was an entrepreneur, so I always thought it was a dirty word.  Before I was born, he set off to Africa to sell fertilizer and, as legend goes, ended up in jail without enough money to make it home.  When I was in fifth grade, he started a sedan service — “Private Cars.”  He drove a Lincoln with a hood that caught the sun and spread it like oil.  He called my mother’s house from a car phone.  By the time I graduated high school, he had moved to Atlanta to open a grocery business, moved back to D.C. with an eye on the Internet, and taught me to tie a tie.

When people asked, I would say, “Pop is an entrepreneur,” with an intonation on the last word.  Everyone in my world understood it that way.  My father was a Black man of the post-Civil Rights city.  He didn’t live with us or come around all too often.  He didn’t work a good job.  He had big ideas and said he would be rich.

In his sixties, with nowhere else to go, my father ended up in Saint Louis in the same subsidized apartment for seniors where his mother lived.  As life would have it, I also moved to Saint Louis to attend graduate school.  My father and I spent more time together in my first semester than we did at any time before.  We had grown man conversations.  We drank Wild Turkey.  Once, I asked him what he thought of Saint Louis.

“They didn’t riot here when Dr. King died,” my father told me.  And that was the whole thing.

Growing up in Washington, DC, my schools and family celebrated Black History Month every February.  Invariably, Dr. King was the most central figure of discussion.  He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott after Rosa Parks wouldn’t give up her seat for a White man.  He marched across bridges where sanitation workers held up signs that read, “I Am A Man.”  He wrote a letter from a Birmingham jail.  Later in his life, Dr. King spoke out against the Vietnam War, turned his attention to poor people’s economic rights, and won the Nobel Peace Prize.  He went to the mountaintop.  He had a dream.  And on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was shot dead in Memphis.

In my mother’s house, we hung portraits of Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Nelson Mandela.  The same was true in my grandmother’s house in Magnolia, North Carolina, as it was in my bourgeoisie Black friend’s house on the other side of 16th Street.  Dr. King, we understood, had broken history into pieces across the spectrum.  Stevie Wonder wrote a song for his birthday to be named a national holiday.

The fact that DC had riots on the day Dr. King died did not sit well with my mother.  In 1964, she had been the first in our family to graduate college.  She marched with Dr. King and went to jail for their convictions.  To my mother, Dr. King had fought through non-violence.  It made no sense that our people would therefore turn to violence at the end of his life.  Even 28 years after his death, her face would fade when we drove down U Street and saw buildings still boarded from the places that had burned.

A life so significant that a city’s reaction to its end could say so much.  My father spoke out loud, “They didn’t riot here when Dr. King died.”

He was the first to tell me to marry my wife Jordan.  I told him, “Sure thing, Pop.”  He said it again.  “You’re young, and you think it happens like you two all the time.  I made that mistake with your mother.  Marry that woman.”  He never bothered with Jordan being Jewish and White.  Dr. King’s dream, after all, didn’t mean our races didn’t matter, but it did make them not worth mentioning.

Pop was on his way to New Orleans to start a salvage business after Hurricane Katrina, when he was in a car accident.  Less than a week later, he died in a hospital in Springfield, Missouri.  

In one of the last conversations we had in his apartment, he went on about an idea he had for our neighborhoods, where liquor stores, Chinese food carry-outs, and check-cashing businesses dotted the blocks.  These businesses had a right to be there, my father believed.  Who was he to stop any man from making money where there was a market?  But if that business’s goods and services clearly set back the health of the community, then an additional tax would be levied against those goods and services.  The revenue gained would then be invested back into financial education for local residents.  An individual who understood money, ultimately, would look out for his own interest.  He called it the Spare Change Tax.

Of the many ideas my father had, I locked on to this Spare Change concept.  I was in my late 20’s and paying off debts from no one having taught me about money.  Perhaps because Jordan and I had been teachers, an enterprise that focused on education, and financial education in particular, seemed to get closer to the heart of the matter.  Even Ambassador Andrew Young, who marched with Dr. King, called financial education the first global “Silver Rights” issue of our time.

The summer after my father died, Jordan and I started a business named Spare Change.  When the domain sparechange.com was taken, we incorporated as Skill-Life, Inc. and built a financial education game called CentsCity.  Three years later, BancVue bought our company and changed the name of its flagship product to MoneyIsland.

It would be too simple to say that Dr. King’s life made it possible for me to write this.  So, I’ll skip that line and assume what’s left is in the sum of it.

Posted by Felix Brandon Lloyd, Chief Dad at Zoobean

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

14 Curator Favorites From 2013

It’s the last day of 2013, and we’re celebrating the year by sharing our curators’ favorite new books and apps from this year. Of course one size doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to learning, but many of these selections are loved by a diverse array of kids. We hope you enjoy them, and have a wonderful start to your 2014!

What are your favorite new releases from 2013?

1. Nelson Mandela, by Kadir Nelsonimage

2. The Enduring Ark by Gita Wolf

image

3. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brownimage

4. Black Dog by Levi Pinfoldimage

5. Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idleimage

6. Night Sky Wheel Ride by Sheree Fitch

image

7. Journey by Aaron Beckerimage

8. My Father’s Arms Are a Boat by Stein Erik Lunde

image

9. Mary Wrightly So Politely by Shirin Yim Bridgesimage

10. Doll Bones by Holly Black

11. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula Freedman

12. A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar

13. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

14. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Apps Focused on Literacy

  1. Learn With Homer

  2. First Words Deluxe:

  3. Stella and Sam

  4. Kidspiration

  5. Bobs Books #1: Reading Magic

  6. The Monster at the End of This Book

  7. Word Magic

  8. iWriteWords (Handwriting Game)

  9. Stack the States

  10. Cinderella

  11. The Three Little Pigs

Posted by Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Chief Mom at Zoobean