Apple Camp – Everything You Want To Know About Apple’s Free Camp For Kids

Apple Camp – Everything You Want To Know About Apple’s Free Camp For Kids

Apple Camp 2017 is in the books. We all want our sanity during the summer months and between child care, camps and what have you – things can get pricey quick. Thankfully one week of the summer we were able to enjoy a FREE activity for our son. If you are an Apple fan, you won’t want to miss learning about Apple camp!

All Things Apple CampWhat is Apple Camp?

Apple Camp is a free camp put on in the summer months by various Apple stores. There are usually a few options on topics to choose from. The camps are available for ages 8-12 years old and last 90 minutes, 3 times during the week.  BONUS! The kids are given a free Apple shirt!

This year, we had 1 kid eligible for Apple Camp. Not familiar with Apple Camp – keep reading. He went, he learned and now he won’t stop playing with his Sphero collection! 

This is our second time doing camp with Apple. The first time, our son learned all about Garage Band and iMovie. This time around it was all about robotics and baby stepping into learning code. My husband is a software engineer and has taken our son to several of coding club meetings – so he has a general interest in coding. 

Our son spent his time at camp learning in more detail how to program Sphero. We have a few Spheros at home. The Apple Genius taught him a whole new array of tricks and gave him some tips for maximizing his play with the device.

Learning to program the sphero at the apple storeNow he is obsessed. He has hooked the Sphero app up on his sister and brother’s devices and showed them how to play. We have these robotic devices flying thru our house like it’s nobodies business! 

2017 Apple Camp Choices

In 2017, Apple is offering 3 different camps.

Creating Characters and Composing Music

Kids ages 8-12 will create their own stories through drawings and sounds. Campers will start their session by sketching characters and scenes with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, then they’ll explore the basics for composing a track using GarageBand. They’ll bring their story to life by adding vocals and finishing touches.

Stories in Motion with iMovie

Future filmmakers ages 8-12 will explore the creative process of turning their ideas into real movies. In this three-day session, Campers will learn how to brainstorm and storyboard. Then they’ll get hands-on with movie-making techniques like learning camera angles and editing with iMovie. On the final day, they’ll present their masterpieces.

Coding Games and Programming Robots

In this three-day session for kids ages 8-12, we’ll introduce programming through interactive play. Kids will learn visual-based coding by solving puzzles with Tynker. Then they’ll learn how to program Sphero robots, and even create fun stories starring Sphero as the main character.


parent camp at the apple storeOne caveat I should note – while Apple Camp is free, parents must stay in the Apple store while camp is in session. So no leaving. This is such a smart move on Apple’s part. I mean, come on – leaving me in the Apple store for 15 minutes is dangerous, let alone 90 minutes on 3 different days. On the first day I made the mistake of bringing our 2 younger sons with us. It was hell. I don’t recommend bringing small children for your sanity and their’s. 

No Kids Apple Store

An Apple Genius called my kid Darth Vadar so he turned his shirt around and told him he was talking to the wrong person.

Parent Camp

Something new this year, for 2 of the sessions they offered a “parent camp” while the kids were in camp. An Apple Genius walks the parents thru what the kids are learning. He or she also talks about setting up iTunes for family sharing, setting perimeters on your Mac and more.

Apple genius teaching parentsI was able to attend on the second day of camp and the Genius was super helpful in answering my questions and suggesting various apps and configurations that would help with certain issues. 

Sign Up Early!

If you are wanting to sign your child up for Apple Camp, SIGN UP EARLY! Every spring, I sign up on to receive a notification when camp registration opens. Last year we went on an epic road trip that spanned the course of the whole vacation. This year, we vacationed early and was able to get our son in no issue. 

If the camp is full at your local store, I suggest giving the store a call and seeing if there by chance any openings or perhaps a wait list. OR wait, have you heard of Kids Hour?

Kids Hour

One thing I learned about at Parent Camp was another free opportunity for kids at Apple. Various Apple stores offer Kids Hour. This is an hour where an Apple Genius teaches your child on subject. This varies by stores and appears to be offered once a week, but looks like this could vary as well.

The closest Apple Store near me this week offers Garage Band Kids Hour and Making Movies Together Kids Hour. Again, you will need to stay in the Apple store, but this gives your kids a chance to learn and BONUS – IT IS FREE AND YEAR ROUND! So if you missed out on this year’s camp, at least give the Kids Hour a try!

The best place to find information on Apple’s Kids Hour is

Technology Tickets – Limiting Your Child’s Screen Time

Technology Tickets – Limiting Your Child’s Screen Time

Technology tickets and screen time. Let’s discuss.

Recently I attended the Activision Games for Girls Summit and a topic several of the moms were discussing was in regards to whether or not to limit your child’s screen time.

Screen Time and the Kids

In our house, screen time is defined by any electronics for our kids. These can include: TV, computer, iPod, Wii, xBox 360 or iPad.

Limit Screen Time with Technology Tickets

Personally in our family, we have a liberal policy. A few rules we try (hey, we aren’t perfect) to enforce are:

  • No screen time an hour before bed. (Also read: No Screens in the Bedroom!)
    (This is the rule that most likely is to be broken)
  • Homework MUST be complete before any screen time.
  • If anyone is giving attitude or fighting occurs, no one gets screen time.
  • If friends are over, screen time is limited.
  • We really try to encourage educational games.

There have been times where we have thrown are hands in the air, like many parents as to how to control technology with our kids.

Technology Tickets

Recently, I was introduced to the idea of technology tickets. These are tickets that are given to your child at the beginning of the week.  A set number is given to each child and each ticket represents an allotted amount of time with technology.

Mom and Dad can have extra technology tickets to hand out as rewards.

Once a technology ticket is used, that’s it for that ticket until the next week.

Of course rules would need to be put in place per household, such as no using after 7 or only using up to 3 tickets in a row. Depending on each child and each parent a variety of rules could be set.

I love this idea – especially for parents looking for a solution to allowing kids screen time but without being overly strict.

download technology tickets

Moms Who Use Technology Tickets

Here are several blogs talking about using technology tickets, see how they do it!

Technology Tickets – was originally published on December 14, 2011

Read more on Screen Time

How Do You Handle Screen Time with Your Kids?  Have you used technology tickets? Leave a comment and tell us!

5 Tips for Taking Texas Bluebonnet Photos With The Family

5 Tips for Taking Texas Bluebonnet Photos With The Family

Texas bluebonnet photos with the family is a nearly annual event. I force the entire family out the door, somewhat dressed to capture photos of the kids together. In case you aren’t from Texas, family bluebonnet photos are a thing. Yes, you will see crazy people on the side of the road in a patch of bluebonnets, snapping pics. We try to be safe and find out of the way places, but yes – file us under the Texas crazies.

This past weekend we headed out take some pics, in hopes of actually having all of the kids in 1 photo. 4 kids together at the ages they are at – are NOT easy to photograph!

Beautiful Texas bluebonnet flowers bloom all along the highways March thru April. Here in North Texas there are a few spots and hidden gems – but the real deal is down south in the hill country. The roads are lined with these gorgeous flowers. (Side note: the bluebonnet is our state flower.) 2 years ago, we planted a nice patch of bluebonnets, hoping that this year is the year that they bloom!

On any given spring weekend that the flowers are in bloom, you can see lines of cars surrounding these patches (or fields) with people taking bluebonnet photos.

tips family bluebonnet photos

This past weekend, the bluebonnets were perfect. They will soon be dying out, so if you haven’t shot you pics – you have probably 1 more weekend before they start dying. If you are headed out, I’ve rounded up a few tips I learned while shooting the kids the last few years. These aren’t photography tips – but real life mom of 4 taking family photo tips.

5 Tips for Taking Texas Bluebonnet Photos With the Family

Bluebonnet photos of the kids

1. Clothes

We went with 3 different colors, mixed and matched that would work well with the color of the bluebonnets and the greenery for the photos. Looking back, I’d put our oldest boy in a different shirt – but we headed out last minute and the fact we could even find clothes is amazing.

Also, make sure the clothes fit right. Poor Zeke, the overalls just didn’t fit him right. Mom fail, but whatever – the kids are all together in the blue bonnet pic and aren’t screaming.

2. Boredom

Kids WILL get bored. Let them run around, don’t worry so much on the smiling face (that would be way to easy!). Capture a few photos of them in the moment, whatever they are doing.

Zowie in the bluebonnets

3. Get Individual Photos

Make sure to capture individual photos. It’s fun to look back thru the years of Texas bluebonnet photos to see how much the kids change.

Izaiah in the bluebonents

4. Make it an Event

Every year we do this, it’s like the pumpkin patch. The kids expect it (hence the yelling anytime we drive by any Texas bluebonnets) and we try to make it fun. Let the kids play. That being said, make sure they are fed, have gone to the potty and nap if needed. We missed 2 of those 3 and due to that couldn’t stay as long as I would of liked. We are also NOT above bribing the kids. One year we brought M&M’s but uhm that made for messy photos. This year, we promised ice cream – and delivered.

Zeke in the bluebonnets

5. Bring a Blanket or Quilt

I can never remember this little ditty. While you maybe able to capture a few shots here are there, the truth is the ground is rough and totally uncomfortable. Watch out for ant beds, I may have found the perfect spot – sat my kid in it to only have my husband start yelling ANTS!

Where is Your Favorite Place to Shoot Texas Bluebonnet Photos?

Updated: original bluebonnet post: April 2012

Texas Bluebonnet Photos With Kids by Digital Mom Blog

Raising Good People – Talking Charity & Doing Good with Your Kids

Raising Good People – Talking Charity & Doing Good with Your Kids

attempting to raise good people

Good People

Having kids is a big huge ball of responsibility. When helping craft the foundation of our kids, there are a few things that we make a point of teaching. While we know all of these may not stick, at least we can say we tried. Our biggest goal for our children is to raise good people.

When our kids grow up, we want them to know love, purpose, acceptance, grace and global perspective. 

We live in the suburbs, where everything appears to be hunky dory. Monday through Saturday our mail lady drops off our mail. We turn on a light switch and we have electricity. The bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper.  It’s all dandy.. except our kids need to know how spoiled we are. Our kids need to know about what really happens in the world. They need to know that people suffer and that this neighborhood is an exception to what the world really is. The most important thing they need to know is that we can help by making minor adjustments to our life we can be world changers. This can be done both financially and by attitude.

raising good people

Our 2 oldest kids are E who is 6 and Z who is 8 years old.  They listen and ask lots of questions about what’s going on in the world. Exposing them in a age appropriate manner is a part of our parenting style.

When learning about Members Unite, I knew this would be a great opportunity to show Z & E how a wee bit of money can make a big huge difference. And the fun part? Each month members get to vote on what project they feel should receive the money. The project with the most votes win.

After signing up for the site, I sat the kids down and showed the various projects.  This site gave us a great opportunity to have a conversation about how our $5 is going to make a difference. Also about the various real life situations that occur that are outside of our daily bubble. One by one the kids read the descriptions and we talked about the various charitable goods for each project listed. I then let them decide which project we would vote for.  The kids bantered back and forth on which to choose.

E loved the project in giving wounded vets a dog.

Z adored the smile cards and the idea of random acts of kindness.

But when our conversation was done, the kids and I agreed the idea of helping infants eat for us was the most worthy cause.

The kids were perplexed that infants could go without the nutrients they need. They asked questions about Zeke going hungry (their 7-month old brother), then asked how they could help. So our vote for this month’s Members Unite project was for the Give Infants a Lease of Life.

Give Infants a Lease on Life

members uniteStunted growth, brain damage, emotional distress, and even death. What terrible affliction can cause these symptoms in an infant? Chronic malnutrition. More than half of Guatemalan children younger than age 5 don’t get the food they need–the highest malnutrition statistics in Latin America and among the highest rates in the world. Thankfully, good people are working together to alleviate the problem of chronic hunger among Guatemala’s children—and we can help. Casa Jackson Center for Malnourished Infants provides in-house and outpatient care to hundreds of infants and young children each year, supplying food, medicine, and care to those most in need. But the center can’t make it happen without funding. Just $10 can buy enough nutrient-rich milk to feed 20 infants for a day. If this project wins, we will provide 20 infants with milk for 500 days – over a year’s worth of sustenance.

The take away from this for our kids was fabulous and it was engaging experience to be able to look at charitable acts that as a family we can reflect on.

Now, we play the waiting game to see if our project makes it to the next round! We’ll rally the kids next week to see if we move forward or choose another charitable project to vote for.

Learn more about Members Unite. You can join the cause for just $25 to start and $5 a month. The $25 goes to running the organization – the $5 goes 100% to the charity of the winning organization!

Other charitable projects that we currently or have participated in with our kids include: World Vision, Love Drop, Kiva, Charity Water and Kony 2012.

What core values do you want to establish with your kids?


How Young is Too Young for a Facebook Profile?

How Young is Too Young for a Facebook Profile?

how young is too young for facebook?

My daughter Z asked me sign her up for Facebook. In which I quickly replied, NO. I didn’t even think about it.

To her unfair disadvantage, it could easily be that I had just been on Facebook dismayed by a friend’s sad taste in displaying tacky images of herself. But regardless, my then 7-year old wasn’t going to get her own profile.

Since that initial ask (my daughter is VERY persistent), several family members and a few friends with kids her age, have asked “Is Z on Facebook?”. This has had me thinking.

I love Facebook. Sure I complain – mostly about it’s ability to suck time right out from under me – but it has it’s purpose. And that purpose is connecting. Should I keep my 8-year old from that? What if I moderate and set her privacy settings up? I’m personally still not sold on it. Probably because I know my daughter’s smartness and her ability to potentially lock me out from her account.

But something I did think about – what if I had Facebook when I was 8. And what if through the years (minus the good friends and bad friends and the thought of cyber bullying!) – I had been able to keep in touch with them.

Now a days, sure I hate it when a friend moves away, but honestly sometimes with Facebook it’s like they didn’t even move. What if my daughter was able to experience that?

Mark Zuckerburg recently announced he thinks that children under the age of 13 SHOULD be able to use Facebook. As it stands now with COPPA, children under 13 are not permitted on the site (though there are several, with a few simple hacks such as not putting in your child’s REAL birthdate). Mark sees Facebook as an educational opportunity for children.

Zuckerberg said he wants younger kids to be allowed on social networking sites like Facebook. Currently, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates that websites that collect information about users (like Facebook does) aren’t allowed to sign on anyone under the age of 13. But Zuckerberg is determined to change this.

“That will be a fight we take on at some point,” he said. “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.”

But just how would Facebook’s social features be used by younger children?

“Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process,” Zuckerberg said. “If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.”


Image source and read another opinion of kids on Facebook:

What Are Your Thoughts? How Young Is TOO Young?