Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Toddler Activities: Marching Music (Olympics Week)

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

You have just watched the spectacle of the athletes marching in to the Opening Ceremonies, now stage an opening ceremonies of your own. Toddlers love to march around the house to music. All you need for this activity is a flag or two and some fun marching music. 
Find some great marching music here:
Or use some of your own. Just start the music and march with your toddler around the house. Any casual bystanders (i.e. kids to cool to participate) can become the screaming and cheering fans. 

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Mealtime Activities: Foods Around the World (Olympics Week)

by: Deborah Pace Rowley
In honor of the Olympics, fix a dinner of kid-friendly cuisine from around the world. Below are links to recipes from Greece, Mexico, China, Korea, Italy, Hawaii, France, and Germany. Or search for other kid friendly international recipes online or at Family Fun Magazine: Recipes
Greek Stuffed Cucumber Cups: Recipe Here
Mexican Sushi Bites: Recipe Here
Main Course:
Korean Chicken Fingers: Recipe Here
Chinese Peanut Sesame Noodles: Recipe Here
Italian Focaccia Bread: Recipe Here
Islands Tropical Fruit Toss: Recipe Here
French Cherry Galette:  Recipe Here
German Chocolate Pretzel Cookies: Recipe Here
Set the table with a colorful table cloth and add a centerpiece of souvenirs you have collected from your travels around the world. You could even invite family members to come in unique hats or fun costume pieces from different countries. Dig out that old Sombrero, retrieve that Chinese fan, and let the feast begin! 

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Parenting Tips: Following the Olympics (Olympics Week)

By: Deborah Pace Rowley
I learned about this activity in a recent issue of Family Fun Magazine. This idea came from Wendi Brandow of Glenville, New York. See a snapshot of the article here:

I knew I wanted to use it to kick off a fun blog week centered around the Olympics. With its unusual sporting events, unique views of the host country, and spotlights on athletes around the world, the Olympics make an irresistible learning experience. To engage your kids in following the Olympics, start by choosing a “home” country for each child. Below are the countries that traditionally win the most medals during the Summer Games so make your selections from these ten countries. You can have your child draw his country out of a bowl or simply choose his favorite from the list: 

United States
Great Britain
South Korea

Next make a chart that lists the countries that you have selected next to each child’s name. Award coins to that child for each medal that his or her country wins: a quarter for every gold medal, a dime for every silver medal, and a nickel for every bronze medal. You can find the medal count on the internet each night where you can also watch highlights of the different events. Tape the coins to the poster and watch each child’s collection grow. At the end of the Olympics you could remove the coins and use them for a mini Olympic event of your own. Bike to a local burger joint for an ice cream cone, try horseback riding at a local farm or go swimming at a local pool.  Watch the Opening Ceremonies tonight and stay tuned next week for more ways to make the Olympics come alive in your home. 

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Elementary Activities: Math Game- Coins Under a Cup

by: Deborah Pace Rowley

The best math students can quickly add and subtract one-digit numbers in their heads. They don’t even have to think to rattle off 7 + 3 = 10 or 8 - 5 = 3. This quick mental calculation is immensely valuable once students start to learn more advanced math concepts such as 2-digit division and 3-digit multiplication. 

Making these calculations automatic doesn’t come naturally. It takes lots of practice. The most fun activity I have found to teach this skill involves 10 pennies and a large lid or wide-mouthed cup. (Make sure that the cup is not glass or clear plastic. That would be cheating!) 
Here is how you play: Lay out the 10 pennies on the table. Have your child turn his heard while you hide a few coins under the cup. When he looks back, he tries to quickly calculate how many coins are hidden by seeing how many coins are on the table. If there are 6 coins on the table- there are 4 coins under the cup. Remove the cup to check your answer. You are right! 
In the beginning, give your child as much time as he needs to come up with the correct answer. Then you can increase the fun and challenge by adding a time element to the game. Count to 10 in your head before picking up the cup. If your child hasn’t guessed the correct number of coins under the cup by the count of 10, you get the same number of points as hidden pennies. If your child has guessed the number of coins correctly, he gets that many points. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins. As your child gets faster, decrease how long you count, from 10 down to 5 then eventually down to 2 or even 1 second. Playing Coins Under a Cup for just a few minutes a few times a week will dramatically improve your child’s recall of these simple math facts. 

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Preschool Activities: Feel Bag

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

Preschoolers are getting more adapt at identifying things by touch alone. Capitalize on this developing skill by creating a feel bag. Any simple draw string bag or even an empty pillow case will do. All you need to do is gather 5 or 6 unique items to place in the bag. Begin with simple objects that your child sees regularly such as a a ball, a marker, a toy car, or a Barbie doll. Have your child reach his hand into the feel bag and try to identify an object without looking at it. If he guesses correctly, he can remove the item from the bag. Continue playing until all the objects have been guessed. 
Increase the challenge by putting less familiar and more similar objects in the feel bag. Can your child feel the difference between an apple and an orange or a pencil and a pen? How about a quarter and a dime? Let your child gather items to put in the feel bag so you can guess. Try to “feel” the color of an object before pulling it out! Now you can tell your preschooler you have “magic hands!”

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Toddler Activities: Texture Box

By Tiffany Rudd

It's rare for any activity to hold a toddlers attention for more than a few minutes, so I was extra excited when this super easy activity had Anniston playing happily for almost 20 minutes!
One of Anniston's favorite books is about animals on the farm and every page has a small section with a piece of fabric to feel. Anniston loves rubbing the different textures. This morning as I was reading this book to her I got to thinking how fun it would be if she could manipulate those textures and be able to feel them better. So, I started gathering. It took just a few minutes of searching to find quite a few different textures. Rough sand paper, soft felt and flannel, a smooth discarded costco card, a bumpy kitchen sponge, etc. I cut/gathered two of each item so we could do some matching together and threw them all in a box.
Anniston was absolutely inthralled with her new texture box. She felt each item, took them each out of the box and put them back in one by one, and even rubbed every item on her cheek saying "Oh" to the soft items and "ouch" to the rough. It was so much fun to watch!
After she had played alone for a little while I sat with her to play along. She rubbed items on my arm or cheek and I helped her label the different textures, I rubbed items on the bottom of her feet to enjoy some giggles, and we worked together to match each item with its pair. Priceless moments spent with my little miss that cost me absolutely nothing. :)
I hope you'll give this activity a try with your toddler or preschooler. No need to buy anything, just look around your craft room (fabric, ribbon, textured paper), bedroom (scraps from old clothing or socks), kitchen (spoons, tin foil, textured food items) and even bathroom (toilet paper, hair brush, curlers). I bet you'll have as much fun as we did! 

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Meal-time Activities: Time and Space Travel

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

Recently my oldest daughter posed this question to her younger siblings. If you could travel anywhere in space and time where would you go? Who would you want to meet? This daughter is a huge “Dr. Who” fan so I know where this question came from! Tardis, anyone? But I was delighted to hear my kid’s answers. One child wanted to go to Paris in 2012. One child wanted to go back to Jerusalem in 30 A.D. to meet Christ. Other suggestions that we tossed around included visiting China during the Ming Dynasty and attending a ball with Mr. Darcy during the Regency period in England.  Does visiting Hogwarts qualify as traveling through time and space?

Try out this fun question at your next family dinner. The experience will be out of this world! (How was that for a corny ending to this post?)

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Parenting Tips: A Lot of Smelly Teachable Moments

By Tiffany Rudd

Now that I am enjoying life with 4 children, including a 16 month old and a 1 month, my life includes a lot of diapers. Mountains of diapers...piles, scads, and oodles of diapers! And of course a lot of diaper changes. Tons, gobs, an abundance, and a plethora of diaper changes. Yep, I spend a lot of time wiping bums. One sweet tiny newborn baby bum and one cute chubby toddler bum. The toddler bum is definitely harder to keep in one place long enough wipe. The other day as I was using all my tricks to keep said bum from wiggling away, I realized again what a valuable diaper changing lesson I had learned from my mom.

In case you hadn't figured it out by now, our mom is awesome.

Anyway, early in my diaper changing days, some 2.13 million diapers ago (give or take a few :) she taught me how to use those diaper changes as everyday teachable moments. A few simple question and answer activities and not only will your toddler hold still, she'll even learn something!

So, here are my go-to Diaper Changing Activities:

1. Animal Sounds! This has always been a favorite. All you do is simply ask what different animals say. Right now at our house it sounds like this, "Anniston, what does a {dog, cat, duck, lion, monkey...} say?" At first you will also supply the sounds, but pretty soon your little one will be doing that on her own. There is nothing cuter than a little growl and 10 or so animal sounds later that bum will be clean!

2. Body Parts! For this activity you just ask where different body parts are. "Anniston, where's your {tummy, hair, mouth, nose...}?" Then of course you point to said body part and tickle. Eventually your child will be pointing on her own and laughing before you even begin to tickle. This one makes diaper changing slightly more difficult, but at least you aren't chasing a running naked bum across the room.

3. Who Loves You? This activity also evolves over time. At first I ask "Does {Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Cameron...} love you?" And then nod and say, "Yes!" Eventually I just ask, "Who loves you?" and enjoy the responses.

These 3 basic activities have gotten me through a lot of bum wiping! And, by the time my two oldest were potty trained they knew a ton of animal sounds, could point to all their basic body parts, and hopefully felt very loved. Totally worth the smell.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Elementary Activities: Summer Star Gazing Guide

by: Deborah Pace Rowley

I love staring up at the stars on summer nights. Something about the stars makes you feel so small and yet so close to heaven at the same time. My kids love to find the Big Dipper and the North Star. I thought it might be fun to try to find some other constellations and learn about the myths behind them. 

I found this great website that gives you a free print out of the night sky as it looks where you live and the constellations that you can look for. 

Here are some pictures of a few of the constellations and the Greek myths behind them. The pictures and text come from this web site: http://www.theoi.com/Cat_Astraioi.html

Latin : Leo (the Lion)
A lion whose hide was impervious to weapons which terrorized the countryside of Nemea. When Hercules was commanded to destroy it as one of his twelve labors, he throttled the beast to death with his bare hands. The lion was then placed by Hera amongst the stars as the constellation Leo. 

Latin : Orion
ORION A giant hunter who was set amongst the stars as the constellation Orion. Some say he chased Lepus, the hare, across the heavens with his dog, the constellation Canis, others that he was in pursuit of Taurus the bull. In the story of his death, Orion was either killed by Artemis or by a scorpion sent by Gaea to punish him for boasting that he would slay all the creatures of the earth. The scorpion was also placed amongst the stars and continued to plague him, for as it rose in the east, Orion fled beneath the horizon in the west. You may be able to find the three main stars of Orion’s belt. 

Latin : Scorpio (the Scorpion)
SCORPION OF ORION A scorpion sent forth by the earth-goddess Gaea to kill Orion when the giant boasted that he would slay all the animals of the earth. The pair were placed amongst the stars as the constellations Scorpio and Orion. The ancients sometimes combined a pair of constellations to create the scorpion, with Libra forming the claws. 

Latin : Ursa Major (the Great Bear)
Callisto was an Arcadian princess who was loved by the god Zeus and transformed into a bear by the wrathful goddess Hera. She was later placed amongst the stars as the constellation Ursa Major, along with her son Arcas, who became Bootes. Hera was still furious and forbade Callisto's stars ever to set in the river Oceanus. 
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preschool Activities: Choo Choo Train Counting

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

Preschoolers love linking train cars together and pushing them down a track. Here are some printable trains your little engineers can link together to do number sequencing or simple addition. Simply print out the train cars at the link below. They include numbers from 1 to 20 and several math signs including plus, minus and equals. 

Cut out the train cars out and laminate them for added durability. Then place them in front of your child. Preschoolers can link the numbers from 1 to 10 or 1 to 20 in order, creating a really long train on the living room floor. You can also give your child some pieces of cereal to “load” onto their train. Place three pieces of cereal on the Number 3 car, four pieces of cereal on the Number 4 car etc. 

Older children can link trains by adding or subtracting numbers. You can start the train by creating the first part of the equation such as: 2 + 5 = ____.Then you child can finish the train by putting the caboose with the correct answer on the end. You can also leave off the first car or the middle car in the equation for an added challenge. 

Your child can also make as many trains as he can by linking up cars and creating equations on his own. Time your child as he creates a train. Or try to make a really long train by creating an interconnected equation. 1+2=3+4=7+5=13+6=20-12=8+9=17. How long a train can you make? Have fun thinking up new ways to play.

Thanks to Melissa at  melissa.depperfamily.net for the cute train images. 

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Toddler Activities: Follow the Piggy Game with Printables

 By Deborah Pace Rowley

I just love the book Piggies by Don and Audrey Wood. I created some printable piggy finger puppets you can use after you read the book. Cut out  the finger puppets, laminate them, and tape them together.

Then use the finger puppets to play the simple game of Follow the Piggy. Have your child choose his favorite piggy puppet and put it on his pointer finger. You choose another puppet to put on your pointer finger. 

Lead your child through a short narrated story. Have him copy with his puppet the movements that you make with yours. 

Note: These stories were adapted from an early story time presented by children’s librarian Melissa Depper. You can find it here: http://melissa.depperfamily.net/blog/?p=3668. Thanks Melissa!

Follow the Piggy Stories:

*Your piggy is playing Hide and Seek with his piggy friends. The piggy looks up on top of the hill (move the puppets straight up in the air), down in a tunnel (move the puppet straight down), across a bridge (move puppets left to right), and all around town (move the puppets in a large circle in front of your bodies). He “finds” his friends in a silly place, like on top of your head, or in your ear!

*Your piggy is lost on the farm and can’t find his way home. He looks up in a tree, down in a hole, across a log, and around a pond, before finding his way back to his own muddy pig pen. (Make the muddy pig pen by rolling the puppet around in the palm of your other hand.)

*Your piggy goes to play on the playground: he climbs up the slide and slides down, swings across the monkey bars, he goes over the climbing dome, and rides around and around on a merry-go-round.

*Your piggy is running away from the big, bad wolf. He crawls under the straw house because the wolf has blown it all down, he goes around the stick house, he goes on top of the brick house and down into the chimney. He is finally safe from the big bad wolf!

As you tell these stories, make sure to use the directional language words like up, down, across, and around. Knowing directional words is an important pre-writing skill.  Your child will hear their teachers use these words when they are learning how to move their pencils to write their letters! If they already know what these words mean, they can concentrate on making the marks on the page.

Piggy Printables: Here

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Meal-Time Activities: Adventurous Eaters Dinner

By Tiffany Rudd

Do you have picky eaters at your house? Have a hard time getting you kids to try new foods? If so, this "Adventurous Eaters Dinner" may be able to help.
Last Saturday I mentioned a few times throughout the day how excited I was for our special dinner. "Special plates, special foods, and awesome adventurous appetites!" When dinner time came I asked the kids to help me look through the fridge and pantry for foods we'd like to try. Some of the foods we chose were favorites like chips, carrots and sugar snap peas. We also found some less common foods like raw mushrooms, green and red bell peppers and polish sausage. I made a quick cheese sauce (See recipe below), got out our funky appetizer plates, and set the table for our special dinner.
The first thing we did was discuss the rule for the evening. The one and only adventurous eaters rule was that everyone must TRY one of everything. Being an adventurous eater isn't about loving everything you try, and it definitely isn't about eating everything on your plate, it is just about being willing to try!
I chose fondue for our first adventurous eaters dinner because anything is easier to try covered in cheese. :) It was definitely a success. Both Cameron and Brooklyn gave everything a try and Cameron even tried his least favorite food twice, "Just to make sure he still didn't like it." Next time I think I'll try an assortment of dipping sauces and get even more adventurous in our food selection. I'll let you know how if goes.

Basic Cheese Sauce
1. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan. Add 1/4 cup flour and stir until well blended. Let bubble for just a few minutes.
2. Gradually add 2 cups milk and stir constantly until thickened. 
3. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and heat until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Parenting Tips: Family Word Collage (Writer's Workshop)

by Deborah Pace Rowley

On the first day of Writer’s Workshop, I challenged the students to create a word collage about themselves. They flipped through old magazines and sorted through stacks of junk mail to find the perfect words to describe themselves. Kids are often asked to create picture collages at school but word collages can be so much more interesting and fun. Who knew that one of my students recently had her best friend move to Singapore? Who knew she would find the word Singapore in a magazine just waiting to be cut out? It is always interesting to see what words or phrases students use to describe themselves- Wild Child, Funfetti, Cuddle Up, Cleaning is a Dirty Word, Fashion Queen.  

This parenting tip involves creating a word collage, not about an individual, but about YOUR FAMILY. Set out a piece of poster board, some scissors, some glue sticks, and a stack of old magazines or junk mail. Cut out some big letters to spell your last name and glue them to the top of the board. 

Then let your family add their own words to your family collage. You don’t need to find the words intact. You can spell out the words that you would like to include by cutting out the individual letters that you need. You can also cut out complete sentences, phrases, or slogans. This can be an activity you complete in one evening together or an ongoing activity that the family adds to over several days or weeks. It can be very eye-opening to see what words family members choose--- crazy like a fox(?!), FOOD, spiritual, service, making the grade, BOOKS. What words do your children associate with your family? Did they use the ones that you thought they would? 

Ask your children about the words that they chose. Be careful not to be critical or judgmental. If kids sense any negativity, real honesty flies out the window. (What do you mean you think our family is FRUIT CAKE?!) Keep your voice calm and neutral as you smile and ask, “That is interesting word. How does this word remind you of our family?” You will be amazed at what you learn. This collage can even help you reconsider the things you focus on and what you want to prioritize with your family in the future. 

Note: The Family Word Collage at the top of this post was created at the website: Wordle. If you haven’t already discovered this website, you need to check it out. It makes fun word “clouds” that you can print out and use for gifts, birthday cards, recognition events or any occasion. 

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Elementary Activities: Knights of Right Challenge with Paper Dolls (Writer's Workshop)

by: Deborah Pace Rowley
On the third day of the Writer’s Workshop, my oldest daughter Melissa M’Lin Rowley came to talk to the kids about her books. She had the first book in the Knights of Right series published when she was just 16 years old. (See the side bar for more information on these amazing books.) During her senior year of high school, she was able to travel around the country visiting different elementary schools, talking about writing and making positive choices. It was fun for the students in the Workshop to meet a real “author” and to learn that you don’t need to be old like ME to publish books. It was especially fun because several of the students at the workshop were serious fans of Knights of Right! 
During her elementary school presentations Melissa would hand out paper dolls of knights and challenge the students to complete different activities to earn the armor for their knights to wear. In the books, the main characters earn armor for completing quests like being honest and saying ‘No’ to drugs. The elementary school students were challenged to complete their homework and thank their teachers. They were asked to help a friend and stand up for someone being bullied. For each task on the list that they would complete, they would earn a new piece of armor for their knight. 
I thought it would be fun to share the knights and their armor with you for your own summer Knights of Right Challenge. Your kids can color the knights and hang them on the fridge or the wall. The armor page is purposefully left blank so that you can write your own  challenge beside each piece of armor. Would you like your child to read more this summer or to do more outdoor activities? Write these things down next to a piece of armor. Would you like your child clean up his room or do the dishes? These would make great armor challenges. Maybe you would like to award a piece of armor for each time your son is kind to his sister or each time your daughter helps her little brother. Personalize the armor for your own family and let the Knights of Right tournament begin!  
Note: These Knights and Armor were drawn by Melissa’s illustrator: Michael Walton! 

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Preschool Activities: Homemade Books (Writer's Workshop)

By Deborah Pace Rowley

Preschoolers love to create homemade books. I think it makes them feel all grown-up. They are “authors” after all! I have boxes full of the little creations my kids made when they were small. Books filled with pictures and dictated words. Books covered in magazine cutouts and collages. Books with numbers and objects from 1 to 10. Books with illustrations for all 26 letters of the alphabet. Books smeared with watercolors and crayons, colored pencils and finger paints. Homemade books are so much fun to fill!

As I prepared for Writer’s Workshop I found this awesome website full of different homemade book ideas: http://makingbookswithchildren.blogspot.com.
The simplest and most versatile book that Susan Gaylord writes about is the hotdog book. Print out the instructions below or follow this simple tutorial. 

First, fold the paper vertically- hot dog style. (I used legal size paper for a larger picture book, but regular 81/2 x 11 sheets would also be fine.)
Then unfold it and fold the paper horizontally or hamburger style. 
Now hold the paper with the fold away from you and fold one side up to meet the center fold. 
Turn the paper over and do the same thing again, folding the other side up to meet the center fold. 
You should have now created a W that you can set in front of you on the table. 
Take a pair of scissors and cut the center of the W just down to the side folds. 
Now pull both halves down toward the table. 
Crease the folded paper closed so that it forms a book. 
If everything went smoothly with the above instructions, you should now have a 6-page booklet complete with a cover and back flap for your preschooler to fill. Now that you have made one homemade book, I guarantee that it won’t be your last!

Print out instructions on how to make the hot dog book here: 

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Teen Activity- Speech and Thought Bubbles (Writer's Workshop)

by Deborah Pace Rowley
The first day of Writer’s Workshop we created Comic Books. As an attention-getting activity, I set out a pile of speech and thought bubbles with markers and turned the kids loose in my house. Their job was to add speech and thought bubbles to all the paintings and pictures they could find. I gave them a wad of sticky tack to stick the bubbles in place but I think some tape would work just as well. 
Soon all the photographs and paintings and murals were filled with funny one-liners and the kids were so excited to drag me around the house to share what they had written. When you try this activity at your house, it doesn’t need to be done all at once. It can be an activity that evolves over time. Set out some speech and thought bubbles on the kitchen counter. Do the first speech bubble yourself, then see how your kids add to the dialogue a little bit at a time. Pictures will soon be talking back and forth to each other, making funny comments and observations about life in your home. If you have portraits of wizards or knights or fat ladies hanging around, it might even start to feel like Hogwarts! 
Print out your speech and thought bubbles HERE

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Mealtime Activities: Create A Web (Writer's Workshop)

by Deborah Pace Rowley

Last week I held a Young Writer’s Workshop with 12 amazing kids. The workshop was filled with fun ideas to foster writing. I decided to share a few of the ideas this week and will include others in later posts. Each day we began the workshop with a different idea organizer. Organizers are great because they help kids get thoughts from their heads on to paper in a simple and non-threatening way. What is it about a blank piece of lined paper that can be so scary for kids? One of my favorite organizers is a web. This organizer can be used for everything from writing essays and planning summer vacations to composing shopping lists!

Kids who are comfortable putting ideas on paper have a tremendous advantage in their school work. Using organizers in a fun way at home can really improve this skill. Simply print out the web from the link below and set it on the dinner table with some markers after an adventurous summer day. For example: I could set out the web after the kids and I spent the day at the local water park. Announce to Dad during dinner that the family is going to tell him all about their day using a spider web of words. Begin by filling in one of the bubbles with a topic related to the day, then pass it on to another family member. They can add a detail to that topic or start a topic of their own. Continue until all of the bubbles are filled. You can even add some more bubbles of your own. One of our topics about the water park could be: “Scary Slides.” Some of the details included in the bubbles that branch off “Scary Slides” might be: 
Mom closed her eyes on the Boomerang. 
Katie and Addie rode the Free Fall. 
Joseph learned the trick to catch as much air as possible off the biggest slides. 

Other topics we could include in the big bubbles: Getting There, Injuries, and Safe Old Lady Slides. Trust me, there are some stories behind those topics! It is amazing how many things you can remember to tell Dad once you are prompted by the organizer. Try it and see how much fun spinning your own “spider web” can be!

Note: I found the idea web organizer on the Scholastic website. They have lots of other great organizers at this site as well. Check it out. 
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Friday, July 6, 2012

Parenting Tips: What Arguing with Your Teenagers Really Means

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

By now, you know that I love the book Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman. One of my favorite chapters is called The Science of Teenage Rebellion. I was fascinated to learn that when our teenagers argue with us, these arguments are actually positive. The chapter describes an extensive study that found that honesty was correlated with conflict. If teens are not arguing, they are pretending to go along with their parents’ wishes, but are actually going behind their parents’ backs and doing what they want to do anyway. “In families where there was less deception, there was a much higher ratio of arguing/complaining. Arguing was good---arguing was honesty.” (Page 148)  

Parents didn’t recognize this fact. Mothers were surveyed and most felt that arguments were destructive to their relationships with their daughters. 77% of daughters, on the other hand, felt that fighting strengthened their relationship with their mother. “They saw fighting as a way to see their parents in a new way, as a result of hearing their mother’s point of view articulated.” (Page 149)
The key is how the arguments are resolved. Teenagers need to feel heard and when reasonable, parents need to budge a little. Kids need to feel like they can win a few arguments and get small concessions as a result of others. “The type of parents who were lied to the least had rules and enforced them consistently but they had found a way to be flexible that allowed the rule-setting process to still be respected.” (Page 151) The book gives this example as a guide: Imagine a child’s normal curfew is eleven p.m. and the child explains to their parents that something special is happening on a certain night. The parents listen to the argument and accept that it is a reasonable request. Ultimately, the parents say, “Okay, for that night only, you can come home at one a.m.” This encourages kids not to lie and to respect the rules. 
After reading this chapter, I know that I have looked at conflict with my teenagers completely differently. I hope this post has given you something to think about as well. 

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Elementary Activities: New Ways to Play with Sidewalk Chalk

By Deborah Pace Rowley

Drawing with sidewalk chalk is an essential summertime activity at our house. Here are some new ways to play with sidewalk chalk that your children may not have tried before.
  • Use chalk to write cheerful messages on the driveway of an elderly neighbor or on the porch at Grandma and Grandpa’s House. Try not to get caught!
  • Create a City. You can draw the perfect place for Little People or Matchbox Cars to hang out. Include the school, the grocery store, the police station, the hospital and everything else that your chalk city needs.
  • Bug Race Course. Create a start and finish line then round up critters to try out the course.
  • Play paper games such as Tic-Tac-Toe, Bingo or Dots and Boxes.
  • Play Scrabble. One person writes down any word. The next person has to write down a word that connects with that word in some way. For added fun, choose a scrabble theme like Girl’s Names, Toys, Foods etc.
  •  Write in Secret Code. Put the code key next to the secret code on the driveway or sidewalk so that anyone who comes along can decode your secret message.
  • Finish the Scribble. One person draws a scribbled line. The next person has to complete the picture by turning the scribble into an object such as an animal or a person or a thing.
  •  Play Pictionary. One person draws while the other person tries to guess what they are drawing.
  • Create magic chalk art like in the movie Mary Poppins. Draw a scene you could imagine jumping into and visiting for the day.
  •  Lead someone on a sidewalk chalk trail. The path you draw could include instructions to “Stop Here and Do a Dance” or instructions to “SKIP” or “GALLOP” to the next place down the road. Make sure that your sidewalk chalk path leads to a fun treat or other reward.
  •  Draw a sidewalk chalk treasure map. Create a map on your sidewalk that shows where buried treasure is hidden in the backyard. Be sure that X marks the spot for a fun snack or surprise.  
  • Come up with your own fun sidewalk chalk ideas. 

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