Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts
AS220's FOO FEST returns to downtown Providence on Saturday, August 13th, 2016 for the annual block party of music, art, performance, kid and family-friendly activities, hands-on interactive art experiences from local artists and organizations, DIY technology, delectable food and drink, and much more, all highlighting arts, culture, and creativity in Providence and the Ocean State!

Printmaking at Foo Fest

Also at Foo Fest, AS220 is also producing the 8th annual Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire, featuring hands-on making, building & hacking, crafting, garage technology, arts and creativity for sale, and robots. Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement. It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning. Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.

Soldering at Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire (photo credit Mary Johnson)

Kidoinfo is a proud partner of Foo Fest! Visit countless artist and maker demos, performances and musicians and check out these not-to-be-missed activities with Foo Fest and RI Mini Maker Faire:
The Details:
When: Saturday, August 13, 2016, 1:00PM - 6:00PM for activities (the event goes on until 1AM for grown-ups)
Where: Empire Street, Providence
Tickets: $7 in advance here. $10 day-of. Kids 10 and under are FREE!
For a full list of activities, artists, music and food vendors check out the website

Nathan Bishop Middle School PTO presents the film, SCREENAGERS Growing Up in the Digital Age, a documentary about one of the biggest parenting issues of our time. The screening takes place, Friday, May 20 at 7pm and is open to the community. (Tickets required, see details below.)

Are you watching kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span? Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston saw that happening with her own kids and began a quest to uncover how it might impact their development. As with her other two award-winning documentaries on mental health, Ruston takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Through poignant, and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, SCREENAGERS reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and also offers solutions on how adults can empower their kids to best navigate the digital world to find balance.

This film brings up some interesting issues - and as a parent of teenagers the digital world is full of challenges but also exciting opportunities for our kids and families. Thinking about my own multi-tasking digital use and how it impacts my life and the example I set for my kids. Looking forward to the conversations that unfold.


Sponosred by Nathan Bishop PTO
Friday, May 20, 2016 @ 7pm
Nathan Bishop Middle School - 101 Sessions Street, Providence, Ri
Tickets: $10 Adults / $6 Students (All funds support Nathan Bishop PTO school programs)
Buy tickets here:

More about the film:

In 1984, 37% of all computer science graduates were women, but today that number is just 18%. 20% of AP Computer Science test-takers are female, and 0.4% of high school girls express interest in majoring in Computer Science.

Reshma Saujani founded the Girls Who Code organization to change those statistics with a mission to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.

Girls Who Code website screenshot


Girls Who Code promotes clubs during the school year, summer immersion programs, and inspiration all the time (

The Girls Who Code Club offer computer science education and tech industry exposure to 6th-12th grade girls throughout the academic year. Young women who join the club will learn everything from mobile development, to cryptography to video game design.  Find a local club

In Rhode Island, the Providence Community Library’s Rochambeau branch hosts a Girls Who Code Club, and it’s free and open to the public. Gryte Satas from Brown University’s Computer Science Department leads the club.  Meetings at 708 Hope St. on Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m.  Club membership requires registration, visit the library, email or call 401-272-3780 for information.

Girls Who Code created a Summer Immersion Program, a 7-week computer science course inside technology companies and universities. Students learn the fundamentals of computer science - from robotics to how to build a webpage - while gaining exposure to the tech industry and mentorship from women working in technology. Apply Now ( ) for the 2016 Summer Immersion Program! Limited to current high school sophomores or juniors. Applications are due March 1 at 11:59pm PST.

girls who code on laptops

In 2016, Girls Who Code is teaming up with a record number of major companies and philanthropic foundations for its annual Summer Immersion Program and providing $1 million in scholarships for girls to attend. In all, the companies will host 78 free programs serving 1560 girls. Available in 11 cities including Boston, New York, Chicago, DC, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, Newark, and across the San Francisco Bay Area, with programs being held in Austin and Atlanta for the first time. The scholarship money will go towards helping girls make up for lost wages due to program participation and transportation costs. Scholarship recipients are determined based on financial need.


For even more ideas about girls coding, check out’s “8 ways you can empower girls to learn coding”

The 7th annual Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire will be happening during Foo Fest on Saturday, August 8, 2015 from 1pm to 8pm! The Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire is an awesome event for kids of ALL ages celebrating New Englanders’ do-it-yourself ingenuity and innovation. Great place to explore and connect with a cool community of builders, inventors, and designers here in Providence and across the state!
At the Maker Faire, you’ll find builders, designers, tinkerers, innovators, craftspeople, engineers, hackers, scientists, garden wizards, and robots from across the Northeast. You’ll also find hands-on making experiences.

Tickets are $7 in advance (before fees; $10 day of the show) and free for kids 10 and under (both in advance and day of the show)! Your Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire ticket will get you into the Foo Fest and vice versa!

State’s Only Public Club Will Offer Instruction in Coding, App Building, Game Design and More

GryteSatas_pic Providence Community Library (PCL) will launch a Girls Who Code Club at its Rochambeau location on January 22.  Led by Gryte Satas, a female instructor from Brown University’s Department of Computer Science, the Club will offer girls an opportunity to learn about artificial intelligence, cryptography, graphics, mobile development and many other computer and coding skills.  Rochambeau’s club will be the only public Girls Who Code club in Rhode Island and any girl in grades 6-12 will be eligible to join it.

Affiliated to a national non-profit organization, Girls Who Code, the club’s mission is to inspire, educate and equip girls with skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that 1.4 million computer specialist job openings will exist by 2020, but currently, women are very much a minority when it comes to technology careers. In 2013, women held less than 25 percent of technical jobs, despite representing the majority of the labor force. Less than four percent of high school girls expressed an interest in studying computer science in college and fewer than one in five AP test-takers were girls.

gwc-logoPCL joined forces with Girls Who Code after a mother and daughter approached the library with the idea of starting a club.  “Girls Who Code is an amazing organization” said Ed Graves, Rochambeau Regional Librarian, "We're excited to expand programming offered by our computer lab and to get more girls involved in a widening computer science field.” Gryte Satas, the Club’s Instructor, is a role model for any girl considering a career in computer science and technology. Satas graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Physics and Computer Science before working as a programmer, creating molecular dynamics simulations, in the Department of Biochemistry at Saint Louis University. She joined Brown University’s Cancer Genomics group in 2014 and began a doctoral program in the same group.

Rochambeau’s Girls Who Code Club will meet at 708 Hope Street on Thursdays from 6:00p.m. to 8:00p.m.  Membership of the club requires registration; visit the library, email  or call 401-272-3780 for more information.

For more about PCL, visit
For more about Girls Who Code and its mission, visit

By Megan Fischer, Director of Communications, Providence Children’s Museum

ScreenFreelogoShut down the video games, turn off the TV and step away from your screens — May 5-11, 2014 is Screen-Free Week. This international celebration, organized by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, encourages children, families, schools and communities to turn off screen media for a week — to unplug, play, read, create, explore.

Excessive screen time has long been an issue, but the problem is growing as more kids have individual devices and near-constant media access. A national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8-18 year-olds average more than 7½ hours per day in front of screens and consuming entertainment media, which adds up to more than 53 hours a week — nearly twice as much time as they spend in school.

May2014-IPhoneAnd although American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend less than two hours of entertainment-based screen time per day for kids and no screen use for children under 2 years, very young children spend an astonishing amount of time at screens. According to Nielsen, preschoolers average more than 32 hours of television viewing each week, putting their screen media use at an all-time high.

Dr. Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, notes that while not everything on screens is bad, in general screen time encourages passive media consumption and limits the time children spend engaged in creative play. “Unlimited access to miniaturized screens means that even when children are out and about, we are depriving them of opportunities to engage in the world,” explains Linn. “They learn to look to screens rather than to their environment for stimulation, to expect to be entertained rather than entertaining themselves.” In addition to being habit forming, screen time can also make kids less physically active and more prone to attention problems, poor school performance and sleep disruption.

So take a break during Screen-Free Week and see what you and your kids can do without. Click here to take the screen-free pledge and to get ideas for screen-free events and more.

Worried about screen time withdrawal? That your kids will whine about being bored without screens? Let them figure it out! It’s amazing how boredom can inspire creativity if you allow the space for it to happen.

Whether you choose to limit screens a little or turn them off entirely, have a wonderful unplugged week!

Other Resources

For more unplugged fun, visit Providence Children’s Museum to create Fairy Houses on May 3 & 4, explore the art of Origami on May 10 & 11, and discover many more imaginative hands-on activities. Visit  for more information.

Image credit: Flickr user ttwice

Our family are now big fans of Shuttercal – a new way to journal – utilizing today's technology to document everyday life though photos and text. Designed to store one photo per day in a personal online calendar Shuttercal challenges us to reflect on and curate the single photo / story that best represents each day. The bonus add on (and what convinced us to sign up) is to have real prints delivered to your house each month.

Living in a digital world surrounded by so many cool gadgets offers us numerous ways to document our daily lives. The abundance and ease of today's technology does not necessarily make us more creative, rather the volume of photos and video I take on a daily basis can dilute or distract from what is significant. My computer is bursting with media captured with a camera (point and shoot, iPhone, video…) and rarely do these get "printed" to hold and share in real life instead of the rotating slide show on a digital screen. Sharing photos is so easy today with a touch of a few buttons we can easily email first day of school pictures with the grandparents living across the country but at the same time I'm nostalgic for and crave things that feel more personal and tactile and do not always involve my laptop…sitting around the living room with my family listening to albums on the turntable looking at photo albums or reading books or magazines made of paper is a favorite way to spend family time in our house.


My boys learned about Shuttercal this summer while attending their first Providence Geeks Dinner with dad. Not only did they have a blast hanging out at AS220, they liked hearing local entrepreneurs share their business story. How cool is that?

Both boys enjoy using the written word and images to tell stories, and often incorporate technology into their storytelling. They liked how Shuttercal could be used to document their daily life. And after seeing how easy it was to upload a daily photo, add a caption, text, or story they both put a Shuttercal subscription on their holiday wish list.

Although hesitant at first whether they would commit to the daily photo updates, my husband and I decided to take a chance on what seemed like a perfect opportunity for our kids to manage their own web accounts while giving them the freedom to make their own creative choices on how they documented their days. And if they do stick with the project for the year - their box of photos will document their transformation from a preteen to a teenager.


The Shuttercal folks live locally in Providence and asked our family to be in a short commercial. We had a blast getting to know Kim and Scott, the brains behind the company along with their local film crew, Andrew and Andreas. By the end of the session, we felt like old friends. As you can tell from the unscripted commercial, we are huge fans.

This is hot topic among many of my friends with grade school and middle school aged children. phone_pile-300x158Since phones today are often more than just a telephone, loaded with additional features such as video, texting, and social media apps, deciding when to let our kids have a phone is a bit more complicated these days. has a great list of questions here that parents can answer first including assessing your child's independence and maturity level, how the phone can and will be used, cost, and school policies to help guide the cell phone dilemma and assist in making a plan that will work best in your family.

I should be happy for this since it's another way to encourage and inspire readers or would-be readers to read all summer long. Fabulous that our local library is always looking for new ways to help young readers advance their skills and hopefully become life-long reading lovers, however I am still old-school when it comes to reading books.  I'm on a computer all day for work, so at the end of the day wanting to give my eyes a rest from the screen I still prefer curling up outside with "real" books. And while my kids still enjoy reading paper books, I'm not encouraging any extra screen time in our house–for now. - Anisa

6a00e54faaf86b883301538df4789e970b-800wiAward winning personalized system helps the city’s children fight the summer slide by making books with multiple learning supports available anywhere, anytime

Providence Community Library (PCL) is rolling out a new online literacy program called myON Reader to compliment its regular Summer Reading Program. The myON Reader provides access to over 3,000 digital books, more than 10 percent of which are in Spanish, with special multimedia features to assist learning.  The program’s software assesses a child’s reading level, monitors progress and gradually increases the level of reading challenge through a recommended book list.

PCL is offering exclusive access to the myON Reader as it trials the system in the state. Aimed at kindergartners and elementary school grades 1-6, the myON reader can be accessed through any computer or mobile device with internet access. It was used with success in Connecticut last summer when 1,378 children at four schools read more than 10,000 digital books during a reading pilot conducted by Hartford Public Schools.

“Research shows that reading just six to eight books during the summer months can eliminate reading loss” said Michelle Novello, PCL’s Program Coordinator. “With less than half of Providence students reading well by 3rd grade, myON is just one of the innovative methods PCL is using to support the school district and to help young people graduate high school on time.”

Students can sign up for the Summer Reading Program and the myON Reader at any PCL neighborhood library. Kick-off events featuring children’s entertainers are scheduled at all branches and every library will have special performances sponsored by the RI Office of Library and Information Services. Toddlers to teens who join the program get the chance to win prizes and earn vouchers for free entry into Rhode Island attractions. Last year, eight-year-old Angelique Montes de Oca, a PCL member, read 130 books on her way to the state’s grand prize of a trip to Disney World. “Prizes such as Kindles are a real incentive for kids” said Novello. “Last year’s program was so successful that PCL doubled the number of participants from 2011 and we are going to build on that success”.

Full details plus recommended reading lists can be obtained from any PCL branch or the from the library’s website at Additionally, PCL offers Cyberkids computer workshops, a Comics Consortium for young graphic artists, regular storytimes, music and movement, Spanish and ESL classes, fun and games days and much more.

First published in the April 2013 issue of East Side Monthly.

Until fairly recently, I have not spent a lot of time thinking about bullying at our neighborhood schools. While I don’t believe that the East Side is a magical conflict-free zone, and I have certainly heard about bullying incidents in school buildings, on school buses and other settings, neither do I think that bullying poses a virulent threat to our neighborhood. Nevertheless, my work (as director of publications and communications for Educators for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit that works with schools to improve school climate and culture and academic success for all learners) has opened my eyes to persistent prevalence of bullying and prompted me to better understand the ways that we (all of us who work and coexist with young people) need to take responsibility by moving from passive bystanders to active allies.

Sticks and StonesSticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy is a fantastic resource that has informed me as I’ve gotten my thoughts organized about what adults need to do about creating safer environments for children. Author Emily Bazelon reports that bullying is verbal or physical aggression repeated over time involving a power differential between aggressor and victim. Bullying doesn’t describe the relationships of rivals, however contentious they may be, nor does it describe isolated violent incidents, however distressing they may be.

Statewide school survey data reported in 2012 by Rhode Island Data Hub indicate that 57% of public school students in grades four through 12 report that they have experienced some form of bullying; as far as I am aware, no such statistics are available for independent schools. (If you wish to know the sorts of bullying students reported and the data for specific schools, you can dig into the report; click on Reports, and enter bully into the search box.) While the specific experiences that Rhode Island students reported may be somewhat broader than Bazelon’s bullying definition, the prevalence of such experiences shocked me.

So what are we to do? In Sticks and Stones, which dives into specific cases of bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying, Bazelon explores solutions and recommends that we have collective responsibility for our own communities.

Schools, as the main institutions that impact the lives of children, clearly play a role. In 2012, the Providence Public Schools launched a campaign that took a stand against bullying and offered some educational components. The campaign likely helped raise awareness among adults. This is critical, because bullying is worse in schools where students don’t think that adults are listening and responsive. Schools that support good behavior and implement strategies for addressing persistently challenged and challenging students tend to see a reduction of bullying. Some of our city’s schools are working on implementing such measures and all must find ways to do so effectively.

At the same time, we cannot expect schools to be the only source of solutions for bullying or for any of the other difficulties that young people face. Many forms and instances of bullying, particularly cyberbullying, happen outside of school. Sticks and Stones offers compelling analysis of adolescent cyberbullying and its potentially devastating impact. Online taunting, accusations and threats spread easily and are often difficult to delete. What happens online does not stay online; it follows young people to school and through time. Bazelon argues that Facebook and other social media outlets must do more to collaborate with schools and families to educate their younger users and keep them safe.

Those of us who are parents must take primary responsibility for our children’s wellbeing. As this relates to bullying, it means both protecting them and helping them build resilience. Though statistics tell us that many of our children will neither be aggressors nor victims, some of us will need to face this with our kids. Our best move is to help them become empathetic so they will not become bullies and to build character to help them navigate difficult situations. Both empathy and character will also help them stand up for their peers who are being bullied.

Most of all, we need to communicate well. In whatever ways make sense for us, we need to keep the channels open so we can listen to what’s happening in our kids’ lives. Asking questions, paying attention, and getting help when needed can make all of the difference. Because their worlds can be rough, be a safe haven for the kids in your life.

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