Welcome back from the holidays! I found that I learned something just watching my 6 year-old open her presents this year. She asked for a Hatchimal and got one for Christmas, and as I helped her through the box opening and hatching process, I learned what many of you may already have - toy manufacturers are designing toys specifically for the unboxing process.
To understand why, you need to know a bit about YouTube. YT is full of "unboxing" videos these days, and they are exactly what they sound like - videos of kids taking toys out of the box, and yes, other kids love to watch these.
With traditional toys, that might be pretty boring, but with Hatchimals and LOL Surprise, and other "gacha" toys, the unboxing is part of, if not all of, the fun. As my daughter spent a lot of time opening the toy and then almost no time actually playing with it, it became obvious that the toy was designed expressly for the unboxing experience, so kids would film it and talk about it on YouTube, thereby providing free marketing. Very clever! But I sure do hope she ends up playing with that thing...so far the replay value appears to be small.
And now, on to this week's links:
Why Men Are Falling Behind in Schools - Minding The Campus
Universities are well over 50% female at this point, and the ratio continues to increase over time. What is keeping men from going as far with their education as women, and how can we help men improve their education outcomes?
Which States Provide High Quality Schools at Low Cost? - Cato Institute
Results from a recent study showing which states give the best education outcomes per dollar spent.
Scratch 3.0 is now available - TechCrunch
If your kids aren't programming in Scratch yet, they probably will be soon. Scratch 3.0 brings a much nicer new interface, new programming blocks, and a new sound editing tool (which was much needed!) I love how my daughter tells me she wants to "play" Scratch - it definitely doesn't feel like traditional learning!
Yes, there are online preschools. And early childhood experts say they stink. - My San Antonio
Preschool is a difficult thing to tackle online. Have you had any good experiences with one? If so, please respond to this email to let me know!
"Juuling" and Teenagers: 3 Things You Need to Know - EdWeek
Quick public service announcement for parents here - you need to be aware of vaping and how easy it is for kids to mask their use of it.
Why doesn't every teacher know the research on reading instruction? (Opinion) - EdWeek
Why is the fact that reading skills need to be taught, and that there is a well-documented way to do it, not something highlighted in many teacher-preparation programs?