Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First RedRoko Giveaway!

RedRoko is having its first ever Valentine Giveaway!

Up for grabs is this adorable valentine card kit that you and your kids can make together.
Everything you need for 30 valentines is included in the box.

Interested in winning? Please leave us a comment.

*Leave your name and comment on this post anytime until Midnight PST, Sunday, Feburary 1st.
*Duplicate comments and comments without a name will be ignored.
*Winner will be picked at random and announced Monday morning.
*Winners should email redroko{at}gmail{dot}com
within one week of the giveaway closing or a new winner will be chosen.


Monday, January 26, 2009

15 Minutes : Read It : Dragon Dance

image via bn.com
We love this book for its simple overview of Chinese New Year traditions. It also has instructions in the back for a darling dragon hand puppet. We'll be making some tonight.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
I hope your Chinese New Year Celebrations were a success!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

15 Minutes : Know It : Red Envelope

My kids' favorite part of our Chinese New Year celebration certainly includes receiving Red Envelopes from Mom and Dad, aunts and uncles and grandparents too. According to wikipedia the red envelope is a symbol of good luck and good fortune and usually contains money in even numbers (except the number "4" which tone is similar to that of "death").

Our family traditions include giving red envelopes (or Lai See) only to younger children or siblings who are not married. We also ask the children to tell the adult who is giving them the envelope "Gung Hay Fat Choy" (Happy New Year in Cantonese) and accept the gift with both hands. It's almost like our second Christmas.


Friday, January 23, 2009

1 Hour : Make It : Igloo

image via familyfun

Making igloos from sugar cubes: an oldie, but a goodie. This activity not only helps building skills, but also counting and small motor coordination. I'm going to try to include all three of my oldest children in the construction, so we'll be working on teamwork as well.

Start by laying a base row of sugar cubes around a 7-inch-diameter cardboard circle, leaving space for the entrance. Using a mortar of 2 egg whites mixed with 3 cups confectioners' sugar, add subsequent layers of cubes, one row at a time, decreasing the circumference gradually as you go. Apply the mortar to the top cubes, not to those already in place. Be sure to work alternately left and right from the entrance toward the back of the igloo and stagger the cubes the way a builder lays bricks. Build a total of 10 layers, stopping halfway through the construction to let the igloo dry. Make the arch and roof separately, working on a flat surface. When they are dry, glue them in place. Allow the igloo to dry completely, then sprinkle with a blizzard of sugar.
from FamilyFun.com


Thursday, January 22, 2009

15 Minute : Know It : Chinese New Year Foods

image via eatingchina.com

As with most holidays, food is a huge part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Although I'm still learning some basic Chinese cooking, a chicken that's completely intact (head, feet and all) will probably never be on my dinner list. We do, however, make a special effort every Chinese New Year's Eve to serve some of our favorite Chinese dishes and we always include some sort of noodle. (We all want long lives don't we?) This year will be feasting on our favorite hot pot dish with family and friends and sharing with our kids some of the fun facts and superstitions that accompany traditional Chinese New Year cuisine.

Some superstitious food:
  • lotus seeds: signifying having many male offspring

  • black moss seaweed: homonym for exceeding wealth

  • dried bean curd: homonym for fulfillment in wealth and happiness

  • whole fish: togetherness and abundance

  • WHOLE chicken: completeness and prosperity

  • Noodles (uncut): long life

  • No fresh bean curd or tofu is used. Their color is white and unlucky because it signifies death and misfortune.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

15 Minute : Know It : Chinese New Year Basics

image via travelblog.com

Chinese New Year falls on January 26th this year and is always a great time of year for my family. Since my children are half-Chinese my husband and I feel it's extremely important to pass on this part of their heritage.

Have you ever wondered why the Chinese celebrate the new year in January or even February?
  • Chinese New Year start with the new moon on the first day of the first month of the year and ends with the full moon 15 days later. This is why their New Year's is a different date every year.

  • 2009 is the Year of the OX. According to the year you were born you may display certain characteristics of the 12 zodiac signs. The OX is known to be dependable, calm, narrow minded and materialistic, among other things. Check out wikipedia to find out what your zodiac sign is. My kids love knowing they are a horse, monkey and boar.

  • Along with a big New Year Eve's celebration the Chinese close out this 15 day holiday with a lantern festival where at night children and adults light all kinds of lanterns (lots of which are made with paper) and solve riddles that are written on them.
  • If you're in the Salt Lake City, Utah area the Tianjin Cathay Future Children's Art Troupe of China will be doing a special cultural performance on Saturday, January 24th from 7pm - 9pm. Check here for more details.
  •

    15 Minutes : Play It : Music Time

    My little boy really responds to music so I have tried to set aside more time for a "mommy & me" singing time. It's not much longer than 15 minutes but he sure does love the songs and pictures/objects we play with.

    For example, for our first singing time one of the songs we sang was "Five Little Speckled Frogs", I let him hold some fake bugs I had while we sang "eating the most delicious bugs" and when the frogs "jumped into the pool" I had him jump onto a blue blanket . I hope to build on ideas, props and activities but for now they have been simple and with things I have around the house.

    You may be surprised how well your child responds to music and a little bit of structure.


    Monday, January 19, 2009

    15 Minutes : Read It : A Winter Concert

    image via education-world

    A Winter Concert, by Yuko Takao, is a short, sweet, imaginative story of a mouse who attends a piano concert. As she walks home the music she heard gradually changes her surroundings from black and white to full-blown color. This simple book absolutely delights my four-year-old.

    (This book is available used at several sites, such as alibris.com and half.com. I found a copy at the local library as well.)


    Friday, January 16, 2009

    15 Minutes : Play It : Favorites

    We often play "Favorites" at our dinner table. One person asks a question such as: "What's your favorite color?" Each person (including parents) around the table answers the question, and then the next person asks another question. It's been a great way to learn more about each other in a way that even my four-year-old can participate and understand.

    Some questions to get you started...
    Favorite movie?
    Favorite animal?
    Favorite book?
    Favorite sport?
    Favorite season?
    Favorite food for breakfast/lunch/dinner?

    Occasionally, we make our game more challenging by asking: "What's Dad's favorite sport?" or "What is Matthew's favorite book?" I'm impressed at how often the kids know the facts about each other.


    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    15 Minutes : Play It : Alphabet Game

    image via flickr

    I like to use the alphabet to help relax my little girl when she is falling asleep for a nap or bedtime. It's the perfect activity when I can't think of anymore stories to tell or want to have the lights off so we can't read books. She is just learning how to talk so I use different versions depending on how tired she is (or how tired I am!).

    Option 1: Go through the alphabet and list all the words that your child is learning that start with a letter. For example, A is for apple, animal, aunt....

    Option 2: Say goodnight to something that starts with every letter. For example, good night apple, good night baby, good night cow, good night dog....

    Option 3: Now that she is starting to copy what I say, I will also pick specific words and go over them and let her repeat the word and then try and remember what that words was the next time around. With this option, I usually just pick 3 or 4 letters to repeat. For example, A is for apple (let child repeat word), B is for baby, C is for cow, D is for dog...then repeat A is for (let child guess word).


    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    15 Minutes : Make It : Icicle Painting

    image via flickr.com

    Draw a thick line of glue across the top of a black piece of construction paper (with the paper turned landscape style). Pick the paper up and let the glue run down the page. Sprinkle with irredescent glitter. Let dry


    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    15 Minutes : Know It : Snow

    image via flickr

    Did you know...the greatest North American snow storm in history occurred on Feb. 13–19, 1959 when 15 feet, 8 inches of snow fell in a single snow storm at Mt. Shasta Ski Bowl in California.

    Snow crystals are born in the clouds when water vapor freezes on a particle of dust, a floating bit of bacteria, or another solid material. While no two snowflakes are alike, they can be generally classified into six basic patterns. Each type of flake is a result of unique atmospheric conditions. Think of them as a kind of "cloud diary" or a record of weather conditions when the crystal was formed.

    Star: Star crystals are born at temperatures near -15 degrees C, and are among the most common type of snowflakes. They are as delicate as they look, and superstars are rare, because large flakes tend to become broken by wind and midair collisions with other crystals. Under ideal conditions several stars my join to form a larger snowflakes. The largest snowflake on record was reported to be a whopping 8" by 12" (about the size of a sheet of typing paper). It was reported to have fallen, probably with a thud, in Bratsk, Siberia in 1971.
    Dendrites: Dendrites are stars with attitude. Essentially, they are three dimensional star crystals with branches growing on more than a single plane. Branches (or arms) connect randomly to a central structure. These complex critters form under extremely cold conditions (-20 to -25 degrees C) when high levels of atmospheric moisture are present.

    Columns: Columns are produced when the air is dryer. They are generally smaller, have a higher density than star crystals, and form over a wide range of temperatures (15 to -25 degrees C).

    Plate: Plates are wanna-be stars that are essentially moisture starved. They form at temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees C when there isn't enough atmospheric water vapor available to form the delicate arms of a classic star.

    Column capped with plates: Capped columns are composite flakes formed when the particle of snow passes through different temperature and moisture zones on its journey to the ground. The columns form first, usually at higher and dryer regions of a cloud, and combine with star flakes as they fall through lower and wetter cloud elevations.

    Needles: Needles are formed at the upper end of the temperature spectrum, usually when ground temperatures are at or near the freezing point. To grow, these crystals need an air temperature in the -5 to -10 degrees C range. Needles tend to produce a dense, stiff snow pack which can produce an avalanche under the right conditions.


    Thursday, January 8, 2009

    15 Minutes : Play It : Snowman Song

    image via here

    My little girl is at the perfect age to sing songs with actions. Right now we sing this song about a snowman several times a day.
    "Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman.
    Once there was a snowman, tall, tall, tall.
    (Move hands higher each time you sing tall and reach as high as you can.)
    Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman.
    Once there was a snowman, small, small. small."
    (Get smaller each time you sing small until you are on the floor.)


    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    1 Hour : Play It : Snow Chateau

    We're getting dumped on here in the Rocky Mountains and my kids are loving playing in our little winter wonderland. I think we'll try building these snow castles from FamilyFun. I love that you simply use the outdoors as your own personal freezer to set these structures the night before.

    Craft Material
    Plastic Containers
    Food Coloring
    Natural Materials
    1. Fill containers (pails, gelatin molds, plastic storage containers, cups) with water. Then add food coloring (about 20 drops of color per cup of water) and freeze outside overnight.
    2. Before building, bring the ice to room temperature. When you see a bit of water on top or when the ice turns in its container, that means the ice is ready to slip out.
    3. Build away. Decorate the completed castles with sticks and mini pine boughs, if desired.
    Tips: If the ice shapes aren't sticking when you stack, add snow between to "glue" them together.


    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    15 Minutes : Make It : Q-Tip Snowflakes

    Lay a sheet of wax paper on a table. Use Q-tips to make a snowflake on top of the wax paper. Squirt glue on any spot where 2 Q-tips meet. Let dry completely and peel off of the wax paper. Don't forget, you don't have to use whole Q-tips, you can break them up and use pieces too!


    Monday, January 5, 2009

    1 Hour : Play It : Snow Sports

    image via greenerloudoun.

    Beyond angels and snowmen...I want to try some unusual "snow sports" with my kids.

    --Play snow "basket"-ball. Scoop out a large bowl-shaped area in the snow and make a ton of snowballs, then see who can land the most into the basket.
    --Try snowball catch for variation.

    --Team up for snow hockey or golf. Use a broom for hockey, or bring along a toy club for golf.

    --Have fun with outdoor tic-tac-toe. Use a long stick to draw the grid and the Xs and Os. Or color snowballs (use a spray bottle filled with watered-down food coloring) and throw them into the grid to play - red against blue, for example, instead of X vs. O.

    --Go snow bowling. Line up inverted pails of snow, then try to knock them down with snowballs.
    (via scholastic.com)


    Saturday, January 3, 2009

    15 Minutes : Play It : Nursery Rhymes

    image via here
    To pass time in the car as we run errands, my children and I often take turns repeating nursery rhymes. Even the littlest can fill in the words at the end of a familiar line. For my older masters of verse, I've tried to add a couple of easy poems to test their skills. I like to think that this quick activity helps their memories and their vocabularies, as well as providing some fun.

    A few rhymes to refresh your memory:
    Hickory, dickory, dock,
    The mouse ran up the clock.
    The clock struck one,
    The mouse ran down.
    Hickory, dickory, dock.

    Hey, diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
    The cow jumped over the moon.
    The little dog laughed to see such a sport,
    And the dish ran away with the spoon.
    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the king's horses and all the king's men
    Couldn't put Humpty together again.

    Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
    How does your garden grow?
    With silver bells and cockle shells
    And pretty maids all in a row.

    And two of our favorite poems:
    Flower in the crannied wall,
    I pluck you out of the crannies.
    I hold you here, root and all, in my hand.
    Little flower--but if I could understand
    What you are, root and all, and all in all,
    I should know what God and man is.
    (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

    To see a world in a grain of sand
    And a Heaven in a wildflower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.
    (William Blake)

    **Just when I think my brain no longer thinks deep thoughts, I find myself trying to memorize and understand poetry to teach my kids while we drive to the bank.