Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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November 21, 2017

Smarty Holiday Gift Guide: Ages 0-2


The 2017 Smarty Holiday Toy Gift Guide is sponsored by our favorite local toy store, Toys & Co in Cotswold. Find everything on your child’s wish list and then some at Toys & Co! And guess what? They will wrap every gift BEAUTIFULLY and oh-so-expertly – so you don’t have to pull an all-nighter on Christmas Eve! Check out Toys & Co’s 2017 100 Best Toys List – you’ll have everyone covered on your list!


Gender Neutral:

Spin Again Stacking Toy:
Drop the vibrant discs onto the threaded corkscrew pole and go ooooh as they spin fast and smooth to settle onto the reversible base. Choosing how to set the base is half the fun for your toddler. Pick either the wobble base or turn it over for a solid seat.


Grippies Builder:

Combines tactile and sensory exploration, early engineering, and science and discovery. The soft textured rods and balls, subtle colors, and unique magnetic construction system provide multiple STEM-oriented principles in an early-learning construction toy system.


Tree Top Adventure:

This wooden activity center is packed full of exciting features! Includes 4 quadrants with a variety of activities: 6 tracks with animal-themed gliders, 6 bead runs with colorful wooden beads, a spring flower and more.

treetoptoysco Read More →

Please Remove Technology from Your Preschooler’s Holiday Gift List

By April Whitlock of Fundanoodle

Fundanoodle no tech 2

As the holiday gift giving season approaches, I am begging parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles of preschool age children to strike any touchscreen based gifts off the shopping list.

And I’m not asking you to do this because I own a non-tech, hands-on learning products company. Though, interestingly, I think the founder of all things “i”, Steve Jobs, would have agreed with me since he didn’t allow his own children to use the iPad.

This request comes from years of observing young children in the classroom, meeting with teachers and discussing motor-skill development with occupational therapists. The steady decline in children’s motor skill development is intense, especially over the last 10 years with the prevalence of touchscreen technology being made available to children at younger and younger ages.

“As a pediatric Occupational Therapist, I now get referrals because typically developing, bright children are unable to unzip their lunch boxes or open containers, “said Michelle Yoder an occupational therapists and Center Manager for Carolinas Rehabilitation Pediatric Therapy in Pineville. She continued, “Children often lack the visual motor skills and endurance to color a picture. Their fine motor skills and hand strength are so weak that they are unable to use scissors to snip paper. They can’t put their coats on for recess, button their shirts or manage their clothing at potty time. Many of them are not ready for Kindergarten.” Read More →

November 20, 2017

From the Fletcher School: The Orton-Gillingham Approach to Teaching: How It’s Implemented & How It Benefits A Child’s Learning

An interview with 3 Associate-Level Certified AOGPE Lower School Teachers at The Fletcher School

About our interviewees:

This spring, three Fletcher teachers will be presenting at the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) conference. Held in Charlotte, the conference will be focused on “Unraveling the Mystery of Dyslexia”. In their presentation proposals, Christi Kubeck (M.Ed, A/AOGPE, 3rd grade teacher), Stephanie Sanders (MS, A/AOGPE, 4th Grade teacher) and January Reed (M.Ed, A/AOGPE, 3rd Grade teacher) demonstrated their knowledge and expertise in assistive technology and how it compliments the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach, resulting in tremendous positive impacts on student learning. Working in teams, they submitted two presentation proposals, both of which were accepted for this conference.

(Photo/Mike McCarn)

(Photo/Mike McCarn)

What’s New in Assistive Technology?, presented by Christi Kubeck and Stephanie Sanders, will focus on specific built-in iPad features, including apps and strategies that support reading comprehension, speech/oral expression, written expression, executive functioning, and data collection using digital portfolios. The session will explore the rich set of accessibility features Apple devices offer and how you can customize them to help diverse learners succeed.

“Appy Hour: Innovation with iPads”, presented by Christi Kubeck and January Reed, will empower educators with innovative lessons to remediate struggling readers, improve spelling, and increase attention using the iPad. During the presentation, a variety of apps will be presented that educators can use to enhance the Orton-Gillingham lesson. The activities will keep students on-task and engaged while sharpening essential reading and spelling skills. Read More →

November 18, 2017

From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: Volunteering with the Library

Volunteer Blog Top Image

It’s that time of year again – for family gatherings, being thankful and giving back. While the Library may not be the first place you think of when choosing an organization to support through volunteerism, it is because of our many dedicated volunteers that Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is able to expand our capacity to serve and do more for the community.

In the last year, more than 1,400 volunteers donated 61,000 hours of their time to support the Library – valued at more than $1.8 million in donated services. Thank you to those who have given of their time so generously to help the Library improve lives and build a stronger community.

Here are a few ways you can get involved too!

Become a library volunteer

With 20 locations across Mecklenburg County, opportunities to get involved aren’t hard to find. Are you looking for a way to help children improve their reading skills? Do you have a green thumb and can help maintain library greenery? Or, do you have a knack for organization and want to help by shelving books? Check out the Library’s website for these volunteer opportunities and more. Read More →

November 12, 2017

Smarty Alert: This Week’s School Open Houses


Don’t miss this week’s School Open Houses we’ve listed below. This is NOT the full Open House listing for each school or school system – it’s just this week’s. For our full listing of open houses, please see our 2017 Smarty School Open House Guide.

Charlotte Country Day School

Come experience how Country Day can help prepare your child to succeed in a world none of us can yet imagine. Call our team, or visit during an Open House:
November 16 (5-8) Read More →

November 9, 2017

3 Smarty Tips to Help Your Child’s College Essay Stand Out

By Amy Haskell, founder of Total Writing Enrichment, where she helps teens master college admissions essays that stand out; she founded her company with a mission to ease stress, build confidence and teach writing skills to teens.


If you have a high school student, you know it’s never too early to start thinking about college. This time of year, students are perusing college options and narrowing down their choices – in fact, some early admission applications were due Nov. 1. Short of sharpening their pencils for those nail-biting ACT exams, one of the most difficult parts of preparing a college application is the much-dreaded, often-procrastinated, admissions essay. A common lament: “Can I pleeaase work on this later?”

Maybe your child already selected his or her top college choices, filled out applications and completed the essay. (Congrats!) Or perhaps your student needs a few reminders not to wait until 11:59pm the night before an application is due to hit “send.” Either way, getting the college essay nailed down early (ideally before the holidays or sooner if applying for early admission) will make the entire application process go more smoothly.

If your student leaves enough time for revisions and follows some tried-and-true advice, there’s a good chance the essay-writing process will be no more difficult than picking out posters for that first dorm room!
While solid grammar, engaging storytelling, and a clear essay structure are a must for any essay, here are three less-common tips for students on how to keep essay writing effective and manageable: Read More →

November 6, 2017

From the Smarty Education Corner and The Fletcher School: 5 Workshops That Lead to Success For Kids With Learning Differences

By our Smarty friends at The Fletcher School

Did you know that 1 in 7 kids in the U.S. is diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability (SLD)? Since 1982, The Fletcher School has been here in Charlotte to serve them, and YOU can too!IMG_1754

This fall, The Fletcher School, through the Rankin Institute, is offering several workshops and trainings to educate teachers, parents and professionals on the various types of SLDs and techniques to help children with learning differences reach their full potential. We invite you to explore our programs and join our community of dedicated parents and professionals striving to best serve and support those who learn differently!

(To learn more about SLD and early identification, click here) Read More →

November 5, 2017

Smarty Alert: This Week’s School Open Houses


Don’t miss this week’s School Open Houses we’ve listed below. This is NOT the full Open House listing for each school or school system – it’s just this week’s. For our full listing of open houses, please see our 2017 Smarty School Open House Guide.

Charlotte Christian School

CCS front entrance

Why Charlotte Christian? Click here to learn more.

Charlotte Christian 2017 Fall Open Houses

JK-Grade 5
Thursday, Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Read More →

November 3, 2017

Smarty Book Review: ‘Small Victories: The Off-Camera Life of an On-Camera Mom’


Okay, first of all, for those of you who don’t know, Molly Grantham is an Emmy award winning anchor and investigative reporter who has been named TV News Reporter of the Year for both Carolinas, one of Charlotte’s top “40 under 40” and one of Mecklenburg County’s “50 Most Influential Women.” If all that isn’t enough, she’s now written a book based on a popular series of personal Facebook posts, Small Victories: The Off-Camera Life of an On-Camera Mom, in which she chronicles the first few years of her children’s lives.

It seems a little unfair that a person so genetically gifted with talent and beauty and wit is also able to write, but after having read her debut book, I have to admit she is, in fact, a terrific writer. By now you might be thinking Molly is one of those people overly burdened with accomplishments. You’re right. However, she balances all this achievement with a personality so genuinely nice and goofy it’s hard not to think of her as regular person. She’s like the best friend who tries to comfort you after a bad breakup by bringing over a bottle of wine and spilling it all over both of you, or the room mom who accidentally sends multiple emails to the entire class in which the teacher’s name has auto-corrected to Mrs. Salivate. (Oh wait, that last one is me.)Molly 1

But you get my point. Molly is real. And her authenticity as a mom and a fallible human being shines through every one of her pages in this compelling collection of parenting essays. She takes no special measures to burnish her telegenic image or promote the seeming perfection of her life. Instead, the stuff she writes is raw and honest. Sure, most of it is funny-honest, or lovable-honest, but some of it is straight-up embarrassing-honest. Take this passage, for instance:

Hutch added a new food group to his diet this week: sand. Read More →

November 1, 2017

Smarty Town Hall on Social Media Parenting 2.0 Parent Resources


Thank you so much for coming to the Smarty Town Hall on Social Media Parenting 2.0. And a HUGE thanks to Charlotte Latin School for hosting such an amazing event. The following is a list of resources parents and educators can use to further educate themselves on social media parenting. Let’s keep the conversation going!

Social Media Parenting Resources


Should you post that? Sharenting

Common Sense Family Media Agreement K-5

Family Device Contracts

What you need to know about SnapChat

SnapChat on Common Sense Media Read More →

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