A Parent’s Guide to Video Games

A Parent’s Guide to Video Games

The video game industry has vastly grown over the last 20 years, people of all different ages play videos games now. With more people over the age of 18 playing video games than ever before, the industry is now catering games to an older demographic. It is very easy now-a-days for a parent to see a video game that their kid may want and think that it is “safe” just because it’s a “game” but that is no longer that case. This blog post will serve as an easy guide for parents to spot out games that might have content they might not want their children seeing.

On the front cover of all video games on the bottom left hand corner there is rating of the video game for content. Also on the back there will be a brief explanation by The Entertainment Software Rating Board(ESRB) about why that video games has that specific rating. The ESRB’s mission is to “provide concise and objective information about the content in video games and apps so consumers, especially parents, can make informed choices. Below you will see a breakdown of all the different ratings the ESRB gives;

EC-Early Childhood: Content is intended for young children.
E-Everyone: Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal carton, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
E10+-Everyone 10+: Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

T-Teen: Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

M-Mature: Content generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and or strong language.

It is recommended that if you are still looking for information about the ESRB and their video game ratings you refer to: www.esrb.org.

Some of the Kid friendly Titles that Level One Childcare recommends are: Just dance, Any Mario brand games, Madden NFL, NBA 2k, FIFA Soccer, Dance Dance Revolution, Kinect Adventures, Any Lego brand games, and Harry Potter.

A few games we warn against due to inappropriate content are;: Call of Duty brand games, Max Payne, Grand Theft Auto, Need for Speed, Saints Row, Rainbow Six, Medal of Honor, Assassins Creed,  Red Dead Redemption, and Fight Night.


As a parent it is solely your discretion on which games your kids can and cannot play. This is solely a recommendation based on the information given by the ESRB.

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Kid Safe Websites

Kid Safe Websites

With the unlimited reach that the internet provides, many parents are weary to allow their kids to go online but you must remember that our kids are growing up in a time were technology rules. I’m sorry but computers are here to stay and by not allowing you child access to computers and the internet, you are putting them at a disadvantage to their peers. The internet can be a great place for kids when given access to age appropriate sites and content.

Websites for Younger Kids:

Sesamestreet.org: You can never go wrong with Sesame Street. The classic children’s show also has a website that offers interactive games, printable coloring sheets, as well as fun activities suggestions.

Moshimonsters.com:  Moshi monsters is a free online game for kids that allows your child to adopt and care for a monster. The best part about this site is that you child is learning while playing by solving fun logic puzzles to earn “Rox” to buy food and other items for their monster. There are also reading, arithmetic, and vocabulary enforcing aspects to the games on the site.

Jumpstart.com: Jumpstart is another educational gaming site.  The best part about jumpstart is that they offer mobile app games too! So when you are on the run you can open the app and know that your child is playing a game with some educational content.

PBSkids.org: The PBS Kids site offer access to some of your kids Favorite shows such as Clifford, Arthur, The Cat in the Hat, Curious George, and The Electric Company. They also feature games and other offline activities.

Websites for Big Kids:

Kidsbop.com: a social network and music site for your tween. The site features clean music videos and games and allows child a safe place to explore online.

This is a short list of many kid safe websites. If you are still hesitant to allow your child online you can also choose to change the settings on your computer to exclude or only allow certain sites. So let your kid online and let us know how it goes!

Tell us your child’s favorite site? Comment here or post it on our Facebook page!




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Great Bay Area Places to Take Your Kids in the Winter

Great Bay Area Places to Take Your Kids in the Winter

Here are few great places in the Bay Area to take your kids in the winter months that are sure to create lifetime memories.

The Oakland Zoo:

I know what you’re thinking, “Why would I go to the zoo in the winter?” but the Oakland zoo has a great zoo light exhibit in the winter. It’s not the typical a Christmas light show but it’s a great place to take the kids for a fun night out.  Also Santa will be there so you can kill two birds with one stone and skip the trip to the mall. This year the show runs nightly from November 30th to December 31st.

Cost for non-members: $6.00 per child / $8.00 per adult.

Oakland Ice Center:

If you want to get your kids moving again the Oakland Ice Center is the place to go.  They also offer skating lessons for both kids and adults. If you’re not into skating, you can also come to see the San Jose Sharks practice

Cost: $7.75 per child/ $9.25 per adult for admission and $4.00 each for skate rental

Chabot Space & Science Center:

The Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland offers many exhibits planetarium shows and displays that help explain the mysteries of the universe.  Our favorite feature is the giant telescope!

Cost: $11.95 per children/ $15.95 per adult

The Lawrence Hall of Science:

Located in Berkeley the Lawrence Hall of Science offers hands on science exhibits to kids of all ages and I mean all ages.  They feature science, animal, earth and space, as well as building and design exhibits. Trust me, there are hours of fun packed in to this building.

Cost: $12.00 adults (ages 19–61)/ $9.00 students/seniors/disabled (ages 7–18; 62-plus)/ $6.00 children (ages three to six; children under three are admitted free).


Easy Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

These very simple thanksgiving craft ideas only take a few minutes to create but are tons of Thanksgiving Craftsfun for the kids.

Thanksgiving Table Coasters:

All you need are flat foam squares, foam stickers and some paint. You can use the foam squares as they are, or you can cut then into circles, stares or any other shape you desire. After you have your basic coaster just decorate with the paint, stickers or markers as you wish.

Alternative: If you can’t find the flat foam pieces , you can also make them out of construction paper, regular stickers and markers and simply laminate your creation to make it water proof.

Thanksgiving Placemats:

You can also make thanksgiving placemats out of large sheets of construction paper.

You can make a collage on your mat using pictures and stickers or draw straight on the mat. In my example I used a white sheet for the background of my drawing and an orange sheet with the center cut out for the boarder.Thanksgiving Placemat

Whichever style you choose, don’t forget about the additional embellishments like glitter or stickers. Laminate your child’s creation to make it waterproof  so they can use it at the Thanksgiving day table!

Pilgrim Snack Hat:

Another idea is to make a pilgrim hat snack holder. For this project you will need a paper or plastic cup, black and white construction paper and a paper plate is optional to make the base sturdier.

All you need to do is cut a circle with a 7 inch Pilgrim Snack Hatdiameter from the black construction paper and the paper plate. Then you glue the two circles together (Remember the paper plate is not required but it makes the holder sturdier).

Next you need to cut a strip of black construction paper that is long enough to wrap around your cup and is a little wider than the height of the cup. Then you wrap the strip of construction paper around the cup and glue them together.

Next you glue the cup to the center of your black circle. Now you have your basic hat.

If you want to be more detailed you can make a band with a buckle. To do this cut a 1 inch wide strip from the white construction paper that is long enough to wrap around the hat. Also cut a 1½ inch square from the black paper. Fold the square in half and cut a small square along the fold. Unfold the square and glue it to the center of the white strip you cut out. Then glue the band to your hat.

Now set your hat aside to dry. Then you can fill it with your favorite treats!

Thanksgiving Cards:

This one is super duper simple. Just take a piece of construction paper and fold it in half to make your cards. Then have your kids decorate them with festive stickers and drawings. You can have your kids make them  for each of your guests on thanksgiving. Then on Thanksgiving day, let them pass their creations out  to your guests!

Post your kid’s finished Thanksgiving creations on our Facebook page!

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How to Pick an Out-of-Home Childcare Provider

How to Pick an Out-of-Home Childcare Provider

Whether you’ve just made to decision to put your child into childcare for the first time or you just need to move to a new provider this guide can help inform you to make the right decision on the care of your little ones.

Do your research:

Is the facility licensed?

Licensed facilities are required to meet certain standards that vary depending on where it is located.  Licensed daycare centers are regularly inspected to insure that these standards are maintained. An unlicensed facility may look acceptable but you cannot be sure that the facility is maintaining the proper paperwork on other children and has met the proper safety regulations that a licensed childcare provider is required to maintain. State licenses are there to keep your children safe, make sure you take advantage of them!

How’s the background of the facility?

Ask the provider for referrals but also make sure to do your own snooping. Look out for violations with the state licensing board. Don’t forget to look for complaints or compliments on review sites like Yelp or Google as well, they can be very insightful.

Visit the facility:

Is it clean?

Make sure to check the cleanliness of the environment. We’re not saying go through the place with a white glove and magnifying glass, but make sure to pay attention to your surroundings. It doesn’t have to be spotless because it is inevitable that children will make messes, but make sure that there is a balance between cleanliness and messiness. A facility that is too clean can be a sign that the provider is more focused on cleaning than the well being of your child.

How do the caregivers interact with you and your child?

day care provider with child

Are they more focused on talking to you or your child? The caregiver should be more focused on adjusting your child to the new environment and judging if your child will be a good fit in the facility. At the same time you should be judging their ability communicate with both you and your child. It is very important that you can speak  openly with your caregiver about any concerns you may have with your child.

Finding a quality childcare can difficult job but remember who you’re doing it for. In the end, you will find a safe and loving environment for the one you love the most and it will have all been worth the time and effort.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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The Halloween Pumpkin Carving Alternative!

Pumpkin Face Drawing: The Quick and Easy Alternative to Halloween Pumpkin Carving

Halloween is right around the corner and your family has yet to carve the pumpkin sitting out on your front porch. Here at Level One Childcare, we completely understand;  Carving a pumpkin can be messy, time-consuming and attempting it with younger kids can be down right frustrating. Luckily there are easier ways to show your Halloween spirit.  Drawing your pumpkin’s kisser verses carving is cleaner, faster and not to mention EASIER!

So now that you’ve decided to draw your pumpkins face,  here’s what you will need:

  1. A nice pumpkin
  2. A good set of markers (Use bright permanent markers for deeper colors or if you plan to leave your pumpkins outside)
  3. Newspaper (if you decide to use permanent markers)
  4. Imagination

Now that you have your supplies, here’s how to make your pumpkin.

  1. Spread out your newspaper

  2. Clean and inspect your pumpkin:

    Make sure the skin is smooth so its easy to draw your face(unless you’re going for the wart covered witch face effect) Also make sure your pumpkin is free of  bruises  and cuts extend the life of your masterpiece.

  3. Put your ideas on paper:Practice doodles

    Before you and your kids go haywire on the pumpkin, make a few practice faces on paper. Have them try a few variations and then let them pick their favorite. These were the doodles I came up with.

  4. Transfer the winner to the pumpkin:

    You can transfer the final  drawing to the pumpkin free hand or  make your drawings into a stencil and trace the image onto your pumpkin.( Remember if you want deeper colors use permanent markers)



level one childcare pumpkin face


After you’ve transferred your drawing if you want to be more artistic  you can also try adding additional flare by using glitter, googly eyes and other crafts to for additional effects.

Bonus: The best part about drawing on your pumpkin verses  making a Jack-o lantern is that you can still use it to make pumpkin pie after Halloween is over!