Now that Spring is here (as I look outside to 36″ of snow), it’s time to do a little PC cleaning. Saving space on your PC has a lot of benefits. Not only does it mean your machine files stay tidy, it also keeps it running smoothly.

Most users aren’t aware that there are hundreds – if not thousands – of unnecessary and unused files sitting on their PC, just gathering virtual dust. Some are tiny note files, others are larger installation packages, but big or small, you don’t need them and they are a useless waste of space. If you want to give your PC a good clean, follow these tips.

1. Uninstall bloatware and unused software

Bloatware are programs that are already installed on your PC when you buy it but you don’t necessarily need. These can range from free trials of anti-virus software, to DVD players – you don’t really need these at all, so you can just uninstall them.

Are there other bits of software you installed ages ago but don’t use? These could also be uninstalled to free up a lot of space.

To do this, open the Start Menu, select the Settings cog and click Apps. You will see a list of apps on your device which you can install – a word of warning, it’s probably best to keep anything marked as ‘Microsoft Corporation’.

A good way of seeing whether you use something is by looking at the date next to the app’s name; this indicates when you last used it. If it has sat idle for a while, you should consider getting rid of it.

2. Clear temporary files

Your PC stores loads of temporary files which aren’t needed. They’re small, but over time they will build up and take space.

To clear temporary files, search ‘Disk clean-up’. Tick all the options in the list and then click the “Clean up system files” button.

3. Disk defragment

Defragmenting the hard disk is a classic way of keeping your PC running efficiently. The defragment tool basically tidies up how everything is stored on a hard drive – think of it as a librarian putting books back in the right places on the shelves so they’re easy to find.

To defragment your PC, search ‘Defragment’ in the search bar at the bottom of your screen. Select the (C:) drive and click the Analyse button. To defragment the drive, click Optimize.

4. Tidy up your files

It might take a little bit of time, but tidying up your documents, photos, videos, music and more will help.

More often than not, people discover duplicate photos that are just wasting space. Get organized and gain some space.

5. Move files to Cloud

You could go one step further and move your files to a cloud service. This will not only save up a lot of space on your hard drive but will also save them from any potential loss should your PC breakdown.

Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft all offer reliable cloud services.

6. Delete old downloads automatically

Many people forget about files they download and all those little images, PDFs, and other documents can soon add up. Windows 10 has a nifty way of letting you manage this without having to do anything. You can set your PC to delete any downloads that have been untouched for 30 days automatically – however, this only applies to anything in the Downloads folder and it’s always best to check that there isn’t anything you want to keep before doing this.

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

Dr. Seuss had it right when he concluded that there is no age restriction on sitting down with a child and sharing a story.  No matter the age, the mind thrives on imagination and information – Oh, the Thinks you can Think!  This is why the NEA enacted the Read Across America (RAA) program, celebrating its 20th year, on Dr. Seuss’ birthday – March 2nd.  The program is intended to motivate everyone, young and old, to read more by organizing local events and offering a smorgasbord of resources to make reading as easy as One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish!

Let’s face it, In a People House we don’t all have libraries adorning our spare rooms, so if you’re limited on books don’t be discouraged!  There are a ton of online resources to find a plethora of books and activities.  You may also come across some summer reading programs that you and your young readers can make a pledge to commit to in order to keep the momentum going!  Check out the Library of Congress for additional online books not specific to the Dr Seuss or RAA theme for continued adventures for kids, teens, and adults too (because You’re Only Old Once! – okay, we’re stretching it here…)

Do you need some ideas for inspiring the young readers in your life?  Of course, a quick Pinterest search will reveal a ton of printables and activities at your finger tips.  For toddler crafts, my personal favorites are Thing 1, Thing 2 blow painting!  Pull out your favorite book on the adventures of these two crazy characters, like the Cat in the Hat or How Do You do? by Thing One and Thing Two, then have your Little One blow into a straw to turn some watered down paint into crazy blue Thing hair!  Another favorite in our household is Oobleck!  Let your older readers (6+) save the kingdom by mixing this recipe of special slime after reading about Bartholomew and the Oobleck!  If you enjoy these, here are some other activities to check out on a Rainy Day.  If your reading adventures have left you exhausted, then before you Sleep Softly, kick back with some family time and watch Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat featuring Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Sean Hayes and Dakota Fanning.

For continued inspiration, you can get a calendar from the NEA that will outline a book a month with diverse topics as well as activities and resources that support the message of neighborhood and community.  Literacy Central has a great set of tools that can help keep the momentum going for continued reading, such as a mobile app that will scan books bar codes to bring up free resources based on that title and they will soon be adding a Literacy Tracker  tool to see how your child’s literacy skills will progress throughout the year!  With all of these resources, you’re bound to be immersed in some fun stories and activities while teaching the importance of reading and exploration to our younger generation.

So what are you waiting for?  Pick up those books and Go, Dog. Go!




We’re all well aware of the controversy on how much screen time, if any, is healthy for kids, so I’m not here to debate the subject but rather inform you of a new side product that Facebook has launched.  Have your kids ever used your messenger app to talk to their grandparents, aunts, or uncles, but gotten distracted by messages from your friends popping up that you’d prefer they didn’t have access to?  Now, we all know children under the age of 13 are prohibited from creating their own Facebook account, so Messenger Kids is an attempt to satisfy this need for communication in the younger age group, while keeping safety and privacy at the forefront.

Messenger Kids is a standalone app that parents can install on their kids’ tablet or Smartphone, but the app is connected to the parents Facebook account.  Kids do not have their own accounts, it acts more as an extension of the parent’s.  The kid version has simple, kid-friendly features with basic functions like text and video chat with filters and stickers to decorate photos, however, they do not have the option to add or remove contacts.  Only the parent can control who is in the kids contact list and parents get notifications on what the child is doing.

So, why would we want to encourage our children at such a young age to be subjected to the world of texting?  It’s not so much that you may want to encourage more screen time, as I said, we are all aware of the studies that are for and against this, but instead, consider situations where this could be a very useful tool.  I can say from personal experience, that living far away from family presents a challenge when you start a family of your own and want to keep your kids connected to everyone.  If this was available several years ago, it would have made communication between my daughter and her grandparents more efficient and fun!  If a parent travels a lot, they can still stay in touch throughout the day instead of waiting for a specific phone call time.  With Messenger Kids they can send decorated photos to mom or dad quick to let them know they’re thinking of them or to ask quick questions that don’t merit a phone call.  Parents can retain a piece of mind knowing that they are connected with their kids without the risk of contacting and communicating with strangers.

We also can’t deny the fact that this is the age we live in.  Social Media is a huge part of our society and for current and upcoming generations, it has become the primary means of communication for the majority of kids.  If we consider apps like Messenger Kids as an introductory tool to teach them appropriate use while we, as parents, can still have full control, then maybe we can instill appropriate online behavior right out the door instead of waiting until they’re older and create a full account on their own.