Critical thinking skills online: the very best filter for our kids

critical thinking onlineOne of the very best ways we can teach our kids to be safe and responsible online is to arm them with the ability to think critically.

We can talk about safety filters and privacy settings and security software, which are all good and necessary, particularly when our kids are young. As they get older however, we begin to lose that control over what they are doing, where they are hanging out, who they are interacting with and what they are sharing. To prepare them best for this time, we must instil in them the ability to think critically about all that they do online.

The following questions are questions we need our kids to be consciously thinking of all the time so that as they continue to grow and learn, these questions to themselves become subconscious behaviours.

Examples of questions our kids must ask themselves in order to be critical thinkers

Is this person someone I know and trust? What proof have I got that they are who they say they are?

Is this interaction likely to open myself up for a positive or negative experience?

At what point do I shut myself off from an interaction when I feel it heading in the wrong direction?

When I read anything online, what proof have I got that it is true?

How do I know that it is fact or opinion?

What sorts of things can I do to verify information?

Is what I am sharing, looking at or who I am interacting with, sending out the correct message? Am I being  perceived the way I want to be?

Have I accurately articulated what I meant to say? Could my words be read differently without context or tone of voice? Likewise am I reading something the way it was intended or am I misinterpreting due to lack of context or tone of voice?

Now of course it is no good reading out these questions and expecting our kids to remember them and then actually think about them when they are next online.

These are lessons that must be learned over time and of course with our help.

critical thinking
When they start out using the internet and interacting online we need to have these questions in the back of our minds so we can help get the messages across through practical examples. When they are researching for an assignment or simply to find something out, we can be asking them the sorts of questions to get them thinking about content, and what is true, what is real, what is advertising etc. When we see an interaction that is nasty or disrespectful, we can talk about possible consequences.

Every time they do something online whilst we are with them, these questions can be in the back of our minds ready to pounce on any teachable moments.

We know that lectures rarely work and often result in eye rolling, especially when it is about the online world where our kids feel much more at home than many parents. Just as I love to give my kids one minute conversations to help things sink in, we also need to make sure our information is spilled out a little and often. We need these lessons and understandings to become part of their natural but critical thinking.


Treasured Milestones and a Treasures Nappy Giveaway

treasures nappiesThis is a sponsored post and giveaway by Treasures Nappies. Whilst I was paid to write this, all views are my own honest opinion!


When you know you are not going to have any more kids, and especially if you have had a few already, then certain milestones the ‘baby’ reaches can leave you feeling a little nostalgic.

When you have to finally pack up the cot, the last breastfeed, when they no longer fit in to growsuits, when they graduate from the pram, school, high school, university (well I am sure that will all happen within a blink of an eye too!) then you start to be a little proud but a little sad. Last week I had my final swimming lesson in the pool with the 2 year old before he goes up to independent swimming next term. I thought I would really rejoice in not having to get wet, not have to remember to take my underwear when I wear my bathers to the lesson, to not have to avoid stopping at shops where I might see people with my wet hair haphazardly and unglamourously dangling down my face. But I was actually a little taken aback. You mean my baby doesn’t need me anymore? Am I redundant? Is this what it feels like when they move out of home?

I may be exaggerating a little, but there are certain things you look forward to with your kids and then when they happen,  you know there is no going back.

Take toilet training. After my first child I actually found toilet training pretty easy as they all seemed to copy one another and just do it when they were ready. I don’t ever think I made a really conscious decision to start toilet training. With my youngest now, he has not been as super keen so I have kind of had a half hearted go , then just chucked a nappy back on because I cant be bothered taking extra clothes, or having him wee on the floor of a shopping centre. Or maybe I am just trying to keep my baby a little bit longer!

So whilst I will not have to be doing the nappy thing for very much longer I still opted to have a go at the ‘new to Australia’ Treasures nappies that claim to be as effective as the much more expensive brand I have used forever.  The first thing that took my eye was the very cute Hairy Maclairy picture on the front and back. Now I know a ‘pretty nappy does not an effective nappy make’…..but again as this little puppy was a favourite of all my boys I think this is a pretty cute way to finish off my nappy journey.

treasures nappies

I have tried plenty of other cheaper brands over the years only to have leakages. I have tended to get a bit lazy with the nappy changes and I sometimes stretch it out as long as I can! I am happy to say that the Treasures Nappies withstood even my prolonged nappy sessions!

To win a whole heap of nappies (8 packets valued at $75), just leave a comment below answering the following question and be sure to head over to my Facebook page when you are done and give it a ‘like’ so you can get many more pearls of parenting wisdom!

Question: What is something your kids accomplished that made you proud but a little sad or nostalgic for the past?

Competition is only open to Australian residents. Closing day is 5pm AEST Tuesday 29th April.



Aussie Giveaway Linky
Hosted by Kellie O’Brien Media


Apps for all ages: some more family favourites

Sometimes finding a good app is like hairdressers. It’s much better going on recommendations than trawling through the directories! With kids of all different ages and stages, I am always on the lookout for different apps that hopefully help them learn a few things as well. Whilst I am usually the one finding them for the little kids, the tweens and teens tend to have no trouble finding their own. Some of them are a little mindless, but there are also plenty that help them learn some great skills and get a little general knowledge as well. Here are a few that are keeping them occupied during their downtime (when they are not wrestling, arguing or throwing balls in the house) these holidays.

 Toddler and Preschooler

Jonty and the dinosaur who could not go to sleep



A beautifully illustrated and interactive  bedtime story ebook about helping Jonty to get a good nights sleep. It has four play options. Kids can be read to, they can read themselves and get help for any unknown words, they can put in on autoplay or they can add to the story. Cost: $2.49



Alien Buddies

alien buddies

Available on ipad and iPhone this app is a favourite of my nearly 3 year old. It has matching, dot to dot, shapes, colours, letter and number recognition. Great for preschoool and kindergarten and early primary.  Cost: $1.99





chatterpixThis one has given my 4 year old (and the 12 year old) many many moments of laughter. You take a pic or use an existing photo, draw a line where the mouth is and record a message. The picture then plays the message with the moving mouth. You can imagine some of the things they have come up with..lots of talking babies and animals and messages that can be sent to each other. Whilst it is aimed at the preschooler, the older kids certainly can have just as much fun! Another app from Duck Duck Moose who make many other great toddler apps. Cost: free





Build your wild self


Start with a boy or girl animation and have fun creating your wild self. Very easy to navigate so great for toddlers and preschoolers.

Here is one I created earlier…and sent to myself!

Cost: Free and available from website







Pre-Tweens, Tweens and Teens

Mystery Math Museum

Mystery Math Museum is aimed at lower to middle primary for a fun way to learn essential maths skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Players use their maths sills to unlock the different rooms with a colourful cast of characters to meet along the way. Mystery Math Town is another great maths app from the same creators.  Ipad only Cost: 2.99










Speed Geography

speed geography

I love this app and do get a little excited when I see the 12 year old playing it. It has certainly been the most effective way to teach the countries and cities of the world without him feeling like he is learning! Thankfully the competitive streak means they keep going back to better their score. $2.49 Ipad only



Flow Free

flow free app

This is one of those addictive puzzle games where you think you are going to finish on one level and then keep trying for the next! Another favourite of the 12 year old, this app requires you to match colours to create pipe that covers the board. Lots of levels so good for all ages.Available on iphone and iPad.

Cost: free






Just a few to add to the collection. Here are some others I wrote a while ago that still get a good run. Family Favourite Apps Part 1

Do you have any family favourite apps that you all enjoy? I’d love to hear your recommendations.


Kids Sport: Winning, losing and getting it right

WillFootyApril-8531Learning to win, learning to lose, participation, having a go, developing skills, encouragement to try new things, have some fun, make new friends. These are all the things we want for our kids when we sign them up for kids sport. We rarely join them up to the local footy or basketball club to become the next Gary Ablett or Michael Jordan.

Recently there has been some discussion about kids and sport and winning and losing as the AFL (Australian Football League) wanted to remove the scoring and finals at lower age groups to encourage the participation element. Most of the sporting clubs already seem to have been doing this, so that for me is not so much the issue.

For me the issue is two-fold. [Read more...]


Confide, Whisper and Yik Yak: should we fear online anonymity?

anonymity onlineThe online anonymous user has in recent times been viewed with suspicion, neglect and even fear. Their animated avatars providing a false sense of bravado that also serves to minimise conscience and decency.  As parents, should we be protecting our kids from anonymous online users, or is this all part of the online world that may even have some cathartic beneficial value?


There are many social networking sites that have cropped up recently that base their interactions on the very premise of anonymity. Sites like Whisper, Yik Yak and Confide are just some of the apps encouraging honesty as their best policy.  The theory being, that to be really honest, one must be anonymous. [Read more...]