Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Kick-Off: Build a Solar Oven out of a Pizza Box

By Deborah Pace Rowley

Every year during our science unit on the sun, I have my students build their own solar ovens. This project is so much fun. All you need are the following supplies:

Pizza Box
Heavy Plastic - We used a plastic page protector
Black Construction Paper
Wooden Skewer- A pencil or a ruler would also work to prop open the solar flap.

You probably have most of these things already and next time you get take-out pizza, ask the pizza place for an extra box. I have never had to pay for my pizza boxes. All the local chains have readily donated boxes once they knew it was for the cause of science. (Even when I ask for 25 boxes! Thank you Dominoes.)

1. Trace around your plastic page protector in the middle the lid of your box.

2. Cut an opening in the lid using a heavy pair of scissors or a knife. Cut the opening approximately a 1/2 inch smaller than your tracing line around the page protector. Be sure and cut on only three sides. Leave the back side attached to make your hinge.

3. Now lift up the cardboard that you have cut and crease the back side of the cardboard to make the hinge for the solar flap. Now open the whole pizza lid and tape the page protector in place over the opening. Make sure that there no gaps so that air could escape.

4. Next line the solar flap with tinfoil. Line the bottom side of the flap that faces the rest of the box. Position the tinfoil shiny side out and try to wrinkle the foil as little as possible so it has a nice reflective surface. Katie used a big glue stick to position it in place and then folded the sides around the hinge.

5. Line the inside of the box with foil, shiny side out. Then position the black paper in the center of the foil. Glue it into place.

6. You are done! Now all you need to do is lift the solar flap and stick the skewer or pencil into place to hold it up. Place your solar oven in sunny place and turn it so the suns rays shine onto the foil and reflect down into the box. You can adjust the flap to get the maximum results.

7. You can cook lots of things in a solar oven. We did s'mores today but you can also try chocolate chip cookies with prepared cookie dough, hot dogs or English muffin pizzas. Be creative as you experiment with your solar oven.

8. One tip on doing s'mores: the chocolate melts super quickly. So start with your marshmallow on a graham cracker in the box first. Check back regularly and when the marshmallow is getting soft and gooey, add your squares of chocolate on another graham. The chocolate usually takes 2 minutes. The marshmallow more like 20 minutes. But the result is education and delicious! Yum!

Here are Tyson and Joseph getting a fire ready to cook s'mores the old-fashioned way. Katie was able to eat her s'mores much sooner than they did! Girl Power!

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Kick-Off: Go Iceskating

Iceskating isn't usually the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of summer. But summer is actually the perfect time to try this fun winter sport. Rinks are not as crowded during the summer and skating is the perfect activity to beat the summer heat and cool off for a few hours.

You really do not need to bundle up from head to toe to be comfortable at a skating rink. My older kids skated in short sleeve shirts. Katie did wear a light zip-up hoodie and fashionable ear muffs. It is amazing how sweaty you get just circling the ice for an hour. I must have burned a ton of calories!

I do like to skate with mittens since my hands seem to get cold before everything else. Katie says that she likes to wear mittens to protect her hands when she falls. Katie wore flip flops to our local rink and brought along a pair of long socks to wear underneath her skates.

Iceskating is such a fun skill to master and really gives kids' confidence in their abilities. This trip to the rink Katie was perfecting the art of skating backwards. Even little kids can have fun iceskating. Most rinks have walkers like the one pictured below to help steady little ones on the ice.

Some rinks even allow parents to walk on the ice in tennis shoes to help teach their children how to skate. So next time you are sweltering in the sun and don't feel like coating on sunscreen and heading to the pool, try going to your local ice rink instead!

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Past Summer Kick-off Posts

We are excited to kick-off summer of 2013. What better way to do that than to look at past summer kick-off posts.

Toddler Fish Pond

Summer Reading Wall Charts

Come back to see our summer kick-off ideas for 2013. We will be making solar ovens and more!

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

What We Are Up To Now

You may have noticed a few changes on the blog. With Tiff moving away, we have decided to simplify things a little bit. We will still be posting all your favorite toddler, preschool, and elementary activities. We just won't be posting them according to a strict schedule.

Tiff is getting more and more involved with her Feel Great in Eight Challenge as it grows. You can find more about it under the Healthy Living Tab.

Deb is putting on a Hogwarts Summer Fun Challenge this year and she hopes that it will become an annual feature. You can find information about how to register under the Summer Challenge Tab. There are still a few more spots available.

We are holding one Science and Math Summer Camp for any Utah County Residents that might be interested. It is going to be held on June 10th to June 14th, 2013 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $50. You can find more information under the Camps and Classes Tab.

That about does it for us! We are looking forward to adding ebooks to Our Store Tab including Family Nights for Little Tikes and Begging for Bedtime. Stay tuned for more information coming soon.

Thanks for reading. We love the excitement over Tiff's Letter of the Week series and Deb's QR Code Treasure Hunts. We are planning on more free printables including summer packets so see you back here soon!

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Elementary Activities: Last Day of School QR Code Challenge

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

I just finished my last day of school! Yipee! You think kids are excited, you should see teachers! If your child finishes up this week or has another few weeks to go, here is a fun activity you can do on the last day of school.

I have planned this as a QR Code Activity. When you pick up your child on the last day of school, give him/her your smart phone and some QR codes to scan. Each QR code contains a challenge. When the QR code reader scans the QR code it takes you to a URL with a last day of school challenge. I created ten different challenges in all, but you can give your child the QR codes for just 3 or 5 or 7 or whatever. Choose as many or as few of the challenges as you desire. Here are a few examples of the challenges:

**Note that some of the challenges need to be done while you are still at school or on the way home so be sure and give your child the QR codes as soon as he or she gets in the car. (Or if you won't be picking up your child on his/her last day, just choose challenges that can be done at home.)

All the challenges are listed below. Choose the ones that fit your child.

1. Run through the sprinklers at home.
2. Yell "I am Free!" out the car window on the way home from school.
3. Shake hands with the principal and thank him/her for another great year.
4. Ask your teacher, "Can I please come back to school every day in the summer?"
5. Jump on your school papers while you laugh a crazy laugh.
6. Draw your summer plans on the sidewalk with chalk.
7. Make some homemade lemonade.
8. Cut off some old jeans to make shorts.
9. Break a pencil over your knee with a karate yell.
10. Do some somersaults or cartwheels across your yard.

After your child has completed the chosen challenges, there are five more QR codes that list the possible rewards. You can choose which reward your child can receive. Below are a few sample rewards:

All the rewards are listed below.
1. Go get ice cream.
2. Go to the pool.
3. Make Cookies with Mom.
4. Play catch with Dad.
5. Stay up past your bedtime.

The great thing abut using the QR codes and a free QR code scanner on an smart phone or tablet is that they are in black and white and you don't need to use any colored ink to print them out. (*I use the app Qrafter Pro but there are lots of great QR code readers out there.)  Print out all 15 QR codes here then choose which ones you want your child to do.

If you don't have a smart phone or tablet, I have included access to all the challenge and reward pictures without QR codes here.

I hope you enjoy celebrating in a fun and unique way on your child's last day of school!

Note: All the great clip art that I used in creating this QR code challenge came from!

QR Codes for the Challenges and Rewards

Last Day of School Challenge/ Pictures Only

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Update: Moving Out and Memories

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days. We have been crazy busy around here. On Saturday Tiff moved to her new house. Since then we have both been scrambling to get our mother-in-law quarters as well as the yard ready for our parents to return. As excited as my kids are to have Grandma and Grandpa back living next door, we are all in mourning the fact that Tiff and Adam and their kids are gone.

How we will miss those adorable kids! Just one favorite memory that I have to share. When Brooklyn moved in two years ago she was 3 years old. Like other three-year-old little girls, she was way into Disney Princesses. She was often seen traipsing through our house wearing one Disney Princess ball gown or another. Whenever my husband Lin would get home, he would invariably greet Brooklyn with the phrase, "Hello Princess!" If she was not dressed up she would respond, "I not a princess, I Brooklyn."

One day, Lin walked in and said to Brooklyn, "Hello Sweetheart!" Brooklyn automatically responded, "I not a sweetheart." Then she thought about it for a moment, "Oh yes I is!"

All of my nieces and nephews are such sweethearts and it has been such a pleasure to share a few years of their precious lives. Even though they have moved just an hour away, it just isn't going to be the same around here.

Oh, we will keep blogging and get together regularly for massive photo shoots. But I am already looking forward to getting some grandkids of my own!

In the meantime, we promise to make this week up to you! Come back tomorrow for a Last Day of School QR Code Scavenger Hunt. And then we will launch our Summer Kick-Off Series.
Should be lots of fun!
 These pictures are of Brooklyn being a model at our photo shoot last summer!

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Parenting Tips: Fostering a Family Identity

By Deborah Pace Rowley

Last night, my oldest (20) and youngest (10) daughters put on a restaurant for our family. One of my favorite activities as a Mom is watching my children create memorable events for each other. My baby's nickname is "Kitty." My oldest daughter's nickname is Melon. They combined their names to create "Kitty Melon's Restaurant." You can see the theme of cats and watermelons in their menus and even in the face paint that adorned the waiters and waitresses of this fine establishment.

They even served this amazing Watermelon cake. It was the core of the watermelon covered in whipping cream and topped with kiwis and mandarin oranges. Delicious and healthy too!

It is easy as Moms we feel like we are totally responsible for creating memorable family events that forge a family identity. But I think it is even more fun as our kids get older to surrender some of that responsibility to them.

For example: Last August my 17-year-old daughter and my 15-year-old son created a "House of Anubis" treasure hunt for their big sister Melissa when she left for college. They had enjoyed watching this internet series together over the summer and wanted to send her off in style. Melissa returned the favor by creating a "Once Upon a Time" treasure hunt for Natalie a week ago. The treasure hunt had everything from coded clues to secret messages and ended up being so much fun... to watch! I really think it is okay to step to the sidelines sometimes and let our family identity evolve without Mom doing all the work.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Elementary Activities: Rethinking ADHD

By Deborah Pace Rowley

Today I came across a fascinating article about ADHD. This article by Marilyn Wedge, PhD. was published in Psychology Today in August 2012. It is entitled "Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD." The title caught my attention but I was even more interested when I learned that French Psychologists are more likely to look for social and situational causes of ADHD while American Psychologists are more likely to look for biological causes. What this means is that American Therapists prescribe ADHD medication like Ritalin much more often.

I have had many students that struggle with ADHD. I have been impressed with the amount of time and effort their parents spend on helping them succeed. None of these parents have chosen medication for their children lightly. By and large, all of the parents of ADHD students in my class have been more involved and not less involved in their child's education. Working with these parents has been a privilege. I count as one of my greatest successes as a teacher helping several young men go off their ADHD medication in my class.

Perhaps that is why this paragraph caught my attention: 
   "In my own work as a family therapist for twenty three years, I find that searching out the underlying cause of a child’s distractibility, inattentiveness, fidgetiness, etc. in the child’s social context (family, school and friends) is a safer and more effective way to help the child get over his problems than by dosing him with amphetamine drugs like Ritalin. As French psychiatrists found before me, diagnosing the child with ADHD does not help at all if one’s goal is to solve the child’s problem rather than mask his symptoms with potentially harmful drugs. The cause for a child’s antsy, disruptive behavior in the classroom may well be due to a social context factor like having a teacher who “doesn’t know what to do with boys.” 

As a teacher, I agree that we can be part of the problem. Each day I work hard to keep all of my students engaged in learning and try to accommodate all learning styles. But it isn't easy. And teachers need all the help they can get. If this is an issue that you are concerned about, I would encourage you to read the two part series here and here

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