Zoodles Blog Learn and Play Every Day

July 30, 2009

Six great summer activities for learning about money

Filed under: Family Activities — Erin @ 4:25 pm

Summer is a great time to encourage the entrepreneur in every child!  Whether it’s setting up a lemonade stand or learning how to save, Zoodles has tracked down some fun ways for you and your child to learn about money together.

Make your own piggy bank

  • piggy_bankMake a piggy bank using paper mache and a few simple materials.
  • Talk about saving money with your child and discuss good strategies for using a bank.
  • While the project does take a few days, the personalized outcome is worth the wait!
  • For detailed instructions, see EnchantedLearning.com
  • For a simpler version of the same activity, use a coffee can instead!

Enjoy an easy, one-day fundraiser

  • l_standGo classic with a lemonade stand, host a car wash, create your own inventions, bake cookies, or have a yard sale!
  • Keep track of expenses, and of course profits too!

Share some funny jokes

  • Why didn’t the dime jump off the bridge when the nickel did?  The dime had more cents.
  • Where do penguins keep their money? In snow banks!
  • Where can everyone always find money when they look for it? In the dictionary.
  • Mother: Why did you just swallow the money I gave you?    Son: You said it was my lunch money!
  • What kind of food is crazy about money?  A dough-nut!

Design your own currency


  • Draw or print out dollar bill templates and start decorating!
  • You can also visit Festisite to design dollar bills using your child’s own photo.
  • Use them around the house and develop your own currency system!

Come up with a one week pledge

image credits to gardner elementary

  • Come up with a fun pledge that your child can make
  • The pledge should be something simple but beneficial to your child, like wearing a pedometer and tracking the number of steps per day, counting the number of hours your child spends reading, or the number of hours they spend off the TV!
  • Choose a cause together that your child can earn the money towards – maybe a charity or desired gift
  • Call up friends, neighbors and relatives for small donation amounts
  • Keep track of pledge amounts on a big and visual chart
  • Kickoff the pledge and let the donations begin!

Check out 4 Zoodles-approved games and websites!

hip catch

moneys Your child helps Ed save money to buy things from the store.

July 23, 2009

Why we started Zoodles

Filed under: Zoodles Blog — Erin @ 9:19 pm


My daughter Abbie (pictured left with me at her “preschool graduation hoedown”), like many 5 year olds, loves to play on the computer.  She first showed an interest in the computer after watching my wife, Tara, and I use our laptops.  At the age of one and a half she would toddle over and want to simply bang on the keyboard (kids love to mimic their parents!).  One of her birthday gifts when she turned 2 was a custom “kid’s keyboard” along with some CD-ROM games that taught some of the most basic of concepts – color recognition, shape recognition, and simple cause & effect.  She really loved playing on the computer, and so when her fine motor skills progressed she had her first taste of the internet – PBSKids.  While she loved being on the computer, she would also exhibit signs of frustration and every 15 – 20 minutes we would invariably get called into help her with some computer problem.

Last fall I had a chance to sit down and really observe Abbie on the computer and it was clear that her online experience was broken:

  • Abbie would constantly bump into games that weren’t age or skill level appropriate – for example some games would start with written instructions that she couldn’t read
  • The browser interface for children is a mess – Abbie would would accidentally close a tab in the browser, minimize the browser, or click on the “Start” button in Windows
  • Veteran internet users have found a way to “tune out” the bright motion based ads on a page, but those are magnets for children, which would result in Abbie clicking on ads and having her land on some random site… frustrating for her, and scary for me
  • Once Abbie got bored of one site she had no way of switching to another site without calling out for help

While Abbie’s experience as a child was painful, I think I was in as much pain as a parent watching this, but often for different reasons:

  • The mind of a child is a sponge, and I was frustrated by the fact that Abbie was clearly receptive to learning through online games and activities, but the games she was interacting with weren’t targeted toward her cognitive abilities (she was migrating from letter recognition to early reading skills)
  • With ads on most kid games sites I was worried about what Abbie might stumble into after a few clicks online
  • Abbie’s favorite character at that point in her life was Dora the Explorer, and while I was ok with her playing Dora the Explorer games I really didn’t want her playing with the Wonder Pets because she started mimicking one of the character’s speech impediments (having grown up with a speech impediment myself this was something I wanted to stop quickly!)

I quickly started looking for a product that could solve these problems, and to my dismay there simply weren’t any products designed for younger children that solved these problem.  After talking to other parents it was clear to me that millions of parents were all looking for a safe way for their children to get online and have an engaging and educational experience.

It didn’t take long to convince Rich, my co-founder and technical mastermind behind Zoodles, that this was an important and meaningful problem to solve.  We started Zoodles with the intent of not only creating a better online experience for children, but a safe, engaging and educational experience that kids would love and parents would value.  In future posts we will talk a bit more about the Zoodles offering, but understanding our motivation for starting Zoodles will put those posts into better context.

– Mark Williamson (co-founder and CEO of Zoodles)

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