Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Share It : Philosophy for Kids

Guest blogger, Rochelle A., is the mother of 6 children, ages 6-18.

image via bn.com

Little Big Minds, by Marietta McCarty is a wonderful book on getting kids into Philosophy; it has a world of ideas for summer reading, listening, doing, creating, experimenting and getting kids talking about their "big" ideas. Each chapter highlights a philosophical idea to be shared with children and includes background on the philosophers who explored the idea, music and literature that explore it, and even a craft or experiment or creative expression of the idea, all with ideas for discussion and exploration specifically for kids.

I am really excited about sharing the ideas with all of my kids-from the 6-year-old, to the 18-year-old.

Here is a sampling of some of the chapters:
Chaper 1: Idea-Philosophy. Philosophers-Socrates and Plato. Music-Haydn's Symphony #22. Literature-Saint Exupery's "Little Prince", Emily Dickenson and William Carlos Williams (of "The Red Wheelbarrow"). Experiment-Taste Testing (exploring how each child describes the taste in a way that is as unique as they are).

Chapter 2: Idea-Friendship, Philosophers-Karl Jaspers, the apostle Paul, existential ideas. Music-Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" and "Friend of Mine" by Kate Wolf. Literature-"The Centaur" by May Swenson from the collection Cage of Spies, Joyful Noise, Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman and Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. Topics for discussion include the art of listening and an exploration of bullying.

Other ideas (chapters) that children and parents can explore together include: Responsibility, Happiness, Justice, Time, Courage, Death, Prejudice, God, Humanity, Nature, Compassion, Freedom, Love and Thanksgiving.

Check out Ms. McCarty's site at http://www.littlebigminds.com/.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

15 Minutes : Make It : Vegetables

image via here
My kids are even more interested in eating an assortment of raw vegetables when they are hungry. Since they are extra hungry five minutes before dinner, I try to have some carrots, zucchini, broccoli, etc. ready on the table as an appetizer. My kindergartener is a great helper in arranging the vegetables on a tray and acting as server.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1 Hour : Play It : Quiddler

image via bn.com

I have a 10-year-old who enjoys word games as much as I do. Quiddler, a game that is kind of a mix between Scrabble and Phase 10, is a new favorite for the two of us; he's gotten so good that I really have to use all my skills and brains to win (no mercy for the cackling super-smarty!). While we play, my eager-to-be-included younger kids use their cards to spell out their names and other words.


Monday, July 13, 2009

15 Minutes : Make It : Snack Trays

image via here
Here's a fun way to have healthier snacks available for my family. I know some munchkins who would be happy to both prepare and munch on their culinary creation.

More muffin tin snack inspiration at My Happy Little Life.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Focus : Swimming Fun and Safety

Ruby collecting rocks in Hawaii
Marrying a boy from the islands certainly has its perks when family vacations are concerned. Last month we spent a few weeks enjoying Hawaiian beaches and my children are definitely missing their daily trips to the blue waves and white sand. Although the beach and pool are fantastic summertime activities for all ages safety is always my main concern. Check below to find fun swimming activities as well as keeping everyone safe.

Swimming Activities
- Do you remember playing "Marco Polo"? This game never gets old.
- Jumping/Diving/Splash contests off the side or diving board.
- Dive Rings. My kids LOVE rings. Our favorite game for younger tots is putting the ring on the first step of the pool and encouraging them to put their face in the water to pick it up. This is a great way for them to get comfortable getting their faces wet.
- "Monkey Wall" Teaching babies and toddlers how to grab onto the side wall. You'll be amazed how well they can hold themselves up.

Swimming Safety:
- Never leave a child unattended near water.
- Invest in swim lessons. It's important for kids to learn to have fun in the water but also to have a healthy respect as well.
- Always have one adult on "lifeguard duty." If you're with a group of adult friends who want to chat, take turns designating one adult to be on duty--carefully scanning the water counting every head. It only takes seconds for dangerous situations to occur and having a sharp eye could make all the difference.
- Have younger swimmers wear life jackets. Although tubes and arm floaties are cute, children can easily remove themselves when mom and dad aren't paying attention. For our non-swimmers life jackets are non-negotiable if they're in the water; unless of course the kids are having one-on-one time with mom or dad practicing their swimming techniques.
- Remember the sunscreen. It's best to put it on before you leave the house to give it time to start working. Always re-apply for longer activities.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

1 Day : Visit It : Tracy Aviary

image by redroko

My family loves Tracy Aviary, in Salt Lake City. We plan to take a day trip soon, and hope to see/do some of our favorite things at this "bird zoo".
  • Have a picnic with friendly peacocks who enjoy bits of our lunch.
  • Try to pet the tinamou (above).
  • Get up close to the flamingos.
  • See turkey vultures, black swans, emu, owls, and even a bald eagle.
  • Interact with birds at one of the programs.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

1 Hour : Play It : Water Buckets

image via here

A couple days ago I filled a bucket with water, collected a few objects--funnel, scoop, toy boat, paintbrush, cup--and took the kids outside. I watched as they played in the water, "washed" bikes and patio furniture, and filled and emptied a dozen containers. It was a great way to cool off on a hot July afternoon.
**Be sure to practice water safety by keeping young children in your view at all times.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Share It : Poetry & Penmanship

Guest blogger, Jill T., is the mother of four boys.

image via here

This summer, I am helping my kids memorize poems. To improve penmanship, I also have them copy out the poems. It's so fun to hear my children reciting the poems they're learning. I'm hoping to instill a love for literary beauty and a greater ability to memorize and retain information.

I have found some wonderful poety books at our local library (usually found in the non-fiction section). A few of our favorites are:

Writing the poems down helps the kids with both their memorization and their handwriting. This site has a good assortment of printable writing paper.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Focus : Travel Time

Listening to stories or books on CD is a great way to make the miles fly by during a long trip. Here are a few we picked up at the library and enjoyed on our most recent drive. (We like shorter CDs that are a mix of both new and familiar stories.)

Donald Davis uses his cozy Southern voice to re-tell old favorites like The Little Red Hen and Three Little Pigs. The man paints pictures with his storytelling.

Who doesn't love fairy tales? Hans Christian Anderson's are charming and familiar.

Fast-paced, fun, and full of rhythm in the way that no master like Dr. Seuss. Kids know these stories that are best when read aloud.

The Mercy Watson series is a light, silly mixture of reality and fantasy, starring a pig. Kate DiCamillo has a good way with words: simple, appealing, clever.

Images via bn.com


Thursday, July 2, 2009

15 Minutes : Know It : Fireworks Safety

Nothing says Fourth of July in this country like fireworks, but home firework shows can be quite dangerous. According to the CDC children 14 years and younger sustain about 45% of injuries related to fireworks. Thankfully my two youngest are still too frightened to even get near anything hot but my 7 year-old's curiosity is growing. Below are some ideas to help the kiddos (and adults) stay safe this Saturday night.

- Only buy fireworks legal for your area.
- Have an adult supervise all lighting of fireworks.
- Always have a bucket of water nearby and never leave hot, used fireworks on the ground (i.e. sparklers).
- Light only one firework at a time.
- Wear shoes.
- Use lighter sticks instead of matches.
- Light fireworks outside in wide open areas but not close to any kind of dry vegetation.

Since we have so many little ones around our house my favorite Fourth of July purchase has been glow-in-the-dark bracelets. The kids (and even teenager) love being creative designing their own glow-in-the-dark wear and it makes it much easier for mom to keep an eye on them when it gets dark.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

1 Hour : Play It : Magnetic Letters

image via lakeshorelearning.com

Magnetic letters are a classic learning tool. I love these ideas that my kindergartener's teacher gave me:
  • If you can't use the traditional fridge for a board, try a cookie sheet.
  • Help your child make her name, family names, and friends' names.
  • Sort consanants from vowels; uppercase from lowercase; by colors.
  • Make food words (corn, peas, apple, milk), then have your child draw a picture of that food.
  • Make number words: one, two three...
  • Cut out pictures from a magazine; make the words next to the the picture.
  • Build word families: start with "at"...then create "sat", "mat", "hat", "cat".
  • Place the letters in alphabetical order, then in backwards order.
  • Choose a letter, then ask you child to find the one that follows (in the alphabet).
  • Make sentences: start with "I am..." or "I love...", then have your child fill in the blank.
  • Create words, then have your child write those words on paper.