6 Things Every Smart Home Needs

Dictionary - if your child is wondering about the spelling or meaning of a word have your child look it up.

Table for jigsaw puzzles - Puzzles help build visualization skills as well as memory and pattern recognition.

Brain-boosting library - Stock it with books of crossword puzzles, mazes, brain-teasers and Sudoku.

Domino Set - Play the classic game to reinforce kids' number skills, then build knock-'em-down courses to enhance their creative thinking.

Special Reading Spot - It could be as simple as a corner with big pillows on the floor, a good light and a basket of books.

World Map - Post it on the wall for easy access. Have quiz show in which family members compete to answer questions such as "Which U.S. states border Mexico?"

(from Create & Learn, Disney FamilyFun)

Develop Your Child's Writing

Writing is just as important as reading in a child's development.

Word Power - Create a "Word Jar". As children's vocabularies grow, they are drawn to new words they hear. Help them practice using new words by writing notes to each other, creating a "word jar" with your child's favorite words and talking about new words you hear in songs.

Reading Aloud - This is a great way to teach kids grammar, syntax and other structures of writing. Try all genres: poetry, non-fiction, picture books.

Identity - Just the way your child's favorite color changes by the minute, so will her style of writing. As she tries out new ways of expressing herself on paper, expose your child to a variety of writing styles, then let her develop her own writing identity.

Time - Make writing time sacred and consistent.

Environment - To create the ideal writing environment for your aspiring writer, you'll need a surface, writing tools, good lighting and a little bit of inspiration.

(from LiveSmart by Cara Hedgepeth)