Friday, June 29, 2012

Keep it Local: Summer Outing Ideas for Families

Keep it Local: Summer Outing Ideas for Families

by:  Mariah Shell
It’s a great American tradition: the summer road trip. Every year, thousands of families set off on the open road for far-flung destinations. Whether it’s an excuse to visit distant friends and family, to expose children to new and different places, or just an excuse to shake off the cabin fever of the winter, road tripping is an ever popular activity for many families.
Yet for those who care about the rising impact on our planet as much as they care about the rising cost of summer gas prices, it can be a tricky balancing act. How do you balance an American tradition with a desire to tread lightly on the earth? A sustainable road trip may sound like an oxymoron, but it is possible. There are many ways to incorporate sustainability and (don’t tell the kids) education into summer vacations.
The best way to keep your impact down is to stay local. It’s a mantra I’m sure we all have heard before, but it makes sense. Staying local for vacations keeps impacts from traveling long distances to a minimum, promotes in-state economic development, and fosters an appreciation for Colorado’s diverse regions. Plus, Colorado is full of great places to visit for families. Some ideas include:
1) Berry Patch Farms is a working farm in Brighton that allows would-be farmers, of all ages, to pick their own strawberries and raspberries on the 40-acre plot, accessible by a short wagon ride. Along with berry picking, livestock are allowed to roam the area and more produce is available for purchase in the small shop. The certified organic operation is a fun, local way to learn about fresh, sustainable produce and serves as an example of the hard work that farmers put in around the country.
2) The Littleton Museum includes 2 historical farms from the 1800s, including costumed interpreters, an original log schoolhouse, a working blacksmith shop, and an ice house, spread over 14 acres. The chance to see farm animals, interact with many aspects of the farmhouses and schoolhouse, and see interpreters working directly on the farm makes history, farming, and sustainable living come alive for many children. The free entrance and free summer concerts make parents pretty happy, too.
3) NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) has a working research laboratory, science exhibit, art gallery, and nature preserve all wrapped up in one at the Mesa Lab, located just south of Boulder. Not only is the facility home to world-class atmospheric research, but it features several interactive areas that tell the story of Earth’s climate, as well as an audio tour to learn about atmospheric science and the nature reserve that surrounds the building. It’s a great way to get young minds interested in climate and science.
4) If you’re looking for a longer trip, check out the Mesa Verde area. A recent grant prompted the development of an agri-tourism industry that is reshaping southwestern  Colorado. Along with a range of activities relating to the ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings, local farmers, growers, and ranchers have started offering agricultural experiences for tourists. These include visiting an alpaca farm, seeing Churro sheep (recently brought back from extinction), joining a cattle drive, picking your own produce at various farms, and purchasing locally brewed wine or beer. More information can be found here.

These are just a few ideas for local trips that can be made, but many more can be found online. Check out Go Colorado for more great ideas. Summer trips don’t have to be a drain on natural resources or your own personal ones. In fact, everyone can win when you plan fun, local trips, and what better state to explore than Colorado? Happy Trails!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Charting a course to college

This video explains why parents should start preparing their children for college while their child is still in elementary school – and the best ways to start planning. Starting when their children are in elementary school, parents should talk regularly with their children about college and keep track of their progress in schoolwork. The video is most appropriate for parents of kids in third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade.
 See video

Recycling for kids

Explore the amazing world of recycling for kids with our range of fun experiments, free games, crazy facts, cool projects, interesting videos, quizzes and more!
 Learn why we recycle, where it happens, how it happens, what materials are easiest to recycle, how much energy it can save and much more. As well as activities for children, there are also lesson plans and worksheets for teachers, ideas for parents and a whole host of free teaching resources for anyone interested in the topic of recycling and learning about science online.Learn about recycling
Read more

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The History of Father's Day

On July 19, 1910, the governor of the U.S. state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first “Father’s Day.” However, it was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official, that the day became a nationwide holiday in the United States.

Mother's Day: Inspiration for Father's Day

The “Mother’s Day” we celebrate today has its origins in the peace-and-reconciliation campaigns of the post-Civil War era. During the 1860s, at the urging of activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, one divided West Virginia town celebrated “Mother’s Work Days” that brought together the mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers. In 1870, the activist Julia Ward Howe issued a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” calling on a “general congress of women” to “promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, [and] the great and general interests of peace.”

However, Mother’s Day did not become a commercial holiday until 1908, when--inspired by Jarvis’s daughter Anna, who wanted to honor her own mother by making Mother’s Day a national holiday--the John Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia sponsored a service dedicated to mothers in its auditorium. Thanks in large part to this association with retailers, who saw great potential for profit in the holiday, Mother’s Day caught on right away. In 1909, 45 states observed the day, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution that made the second Sunday in May a holiday in honor of “that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.”

Origins of Father's Day

The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm--perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.
Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. However, many men continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products--often paid for by the father himself.”

Father's Day: Controversy and Commercialism

During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park--a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.” Paradoxically, however, the Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards. When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.

In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last.  Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.

READ from Source

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Peer Pressure Prevention

Peer Pressure Prevention

Peers are the most important influencers in your student’s life. As your student seeks social acceptance, they may be tempted to do things that they normally wouldn’t in an attempt to garner the support and approval of their peers.Peer Pressure.jpg

Students give in to peer pressure when they are seeking validation and acceptance. Belonging to a group and identifying with them is an important part of character development. If your teen feels like a member of your family and if they are confident and self-assured, they will be less likely to need external validation from friends. Build up the confidence of your students by spending time with them, complimenting them and congratulating them when they succeed. Avoid unconstructive criticism. Letting them do things for themselves shows that you trust them and have confidence in their abilities.

Code words
Pre-empt difficult peer pressure situations by discussing with your student what they would do when they find themselves in a situation where they feel uncomfortable. Discussing what to do in various situations will help to prepare them and give them options on how to deal with the situation in a mature and responsible manner. Have a code word that they can say in a phone conversation or text that lets you know that they are in over their heads. You can then call them or come and pick them up. Sure, you will have to look like the bad guy so that they are not embarrassed in front of their friends, but isn’t that better than them being pressured into doing something that they don’t want to?

Ask for help
If your students ask for your help in a situation, don’t punish them for reaching out. If they call you to pick them up from a place they weren’t supposed to be or help them out of a situation they shouldn’t have gotten into in the first place, then remember that even though they showed poor judgment initially, they had the good sense to ask for help. Knowing that they can ask you for help without retribution will encourage them to call you first if things start going wrong.

Ultimately, your student needs to learn to say no. They must learn to choose friends that are true friends and wouldn’t ask them to do things they don’t want to do. This is a learning process that you can guide them through. Remember that communication is the key to success here. Communication means that your students should be able to talk as well as listen. Create an atmosphere conducive to talking by really listening to them and offering constructive advice rather than criticism.

Read from Source

Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 Emotions That Block Learning

The fact that emotions trump reasoning isn't new. What is new is knowing why this happens. Thanks to advances in brain science and imaging techniques, researchers are uncovering the biological links between our emotions and our ability to learn, remember, make wise decisions, and think clearly. They know, for instance, which parts of the brain are responsible for memory and language and how they fire up, or lie dormant, when we're excited, happy, sad, or depressed. Parents who know how to tap into a child's emotions can help those who are angry, overwhelmed, or just plain bored not only learn better, but actually enjoy it.
Recognizing the emotions that may be holding your child back is the first step to harnessing their energy for the purpose of learning. The following strategies can help:

  1. If your child is anxious: set reasonable expectations. When kids are tense or irritable, when they have trouble sleeping or concentrating, their minds close down. Nothing is more exhilarating than success, and children, like all of us, learn more when they're successful. So create ways for them to feel good about their accomplishments. Cut back on extracurricular activities so they have time just to play

    Of course, kids also watch the way you behave in difficult situations and model their actions accordingly. Do you fall apart because your computer deleted an important file? It's fine to be upset in front of your kids, but they also need to see and hear you work through tough issues. You might say: "I'm upset that my file was lost. From now on, I'll post a note on my computer reminding me to save my work." Don't forget to talk about the things that go well in your life too.
  2. If your child is angry: find out why he's upset, without minimizing those feelings when you do. Anger is a signal that something, somewhere, in a child's life is not going well. But it's not always bad: handled effectively, anger can help solve problems that sparked the ire in the first place. For example, when a child is angry at not making the travel soccer team, he may be motivated to practice more and try again. The child who is furious about his parents' divorce alerts others that he's hurting. Yet while anger may be understandable, not all ways of expressing it are appropriate or acceptable. And the kid who doesn't know how to handle it effectively goes through life shattering relationships and shooting himself in the foot.
  3. If your child is pessimistic: show her how to catch life's curveballs. People with a can-do attitude are healthier and more productive. Parents play a crucial role in modeling perseverance and resilience. Remind your child that anything worth doing takes time to master, whether she's learning to write a five-paragraph essay or skate backwards.

    So help her recognize, then dispute, self-defeating thoughts. "I didn't do well on the science quiz because I didn't spend enough time studying" leaves room to change and improve. "I didn't do well because I'm dumb" stifles any motivation that might be left. Show her, too, that mistakes are opportunities to ask questions. Instead of "I can't," teach her to say, "I can, if I get help." Or, "I can try it another way." You might say: "What's going on in math? Maybe we can talk through the hard parts together." 
  4. If your child is insecure: raise his social IQ. In the social crucible of late elementary and middle school, kids who are teased or rejected by classmates may need prepping in basic social skills to feel more comfortable with others. Social competence is linked to academic success, and while most kids learn these skills naturally, some need coaching to skillfully gauge facial expressions and tone of voice, think about what they say and how to say it, listen and pay attention to the feelings of others, as well as work cooperatively. Ask the school psychologist or your child's teacher for suggestions, or check out self-help books aimed specifically at students. Meanwhile, find other outlets for him to meet friends in shared activities — gymnastics class, swim team, summer camp — so he's less preoccupied in school with being popular.
  5. If your child is frustrated: nurture his strengths. Perfectionism often shows up in school-age kids as procrastination. When everything is a competition, your child may feel so overwhelmed by a project that she delays beginning it and loses confidence. Don't ignore the fact that she has trouble in math, but be sure she has time to build that dollhouse, draw cartoon characters, or shoot baskets if that's her passion. You could also ask her to describe the problem that stumps her and talk it out. A recent study at Vanderbilt University found that kids learn best when they explain their reasoning to a parent or other interested person. Instead of having a parent swoop in with the right answer, the process of explaining allows a child to figure it out for herself and apply what she's learned the next time she faces a high hurdle.

5 Emotions That Block LearningArticle

10 Ways to Boost Your Child's Math Success

  1. Make sure he understands the concept, or he's facing the daunting challenge of memorizing meaningless rules and drills.
  2. Teach her to write clearly and neatly. Tracing letters or writing on graph paper will improve her number writing.
  3. Be around to refresh his memory or explain forgotten concepts.
  4. Review math vocabulary to ensure she can define the skills she's learning.
  5. Promote putting down the calculator. Computing math problems in his head will reinforce concepts more quickly.
  6. Check to make sure your child is approaching her homework properly. She should study the textbook and practice the sample problem before starting the assignment.
  7. Encourage him to tackle more than just the assigned problems.
  8. Approach word problems together. Suggest that she read aloud, repeat, and draw a picture of each problem.
  9. Explain how math applies to real-life situations and challenge him to help you solve the math problems you encounter when you're out together, such as figuring out how many apples to buy or calculating change. He'll be more interested in mastering math if he realizes its value.
  10. Does she really know it? If she can answer a basic math question within three seconds she's mastered the concept. Try drills and flash cards to get her up to speed. 
  11. 10 Ways to Boost Your Child's Math Success

Five tips for painless writing

Searching for ways to turn the page on your child's writing? Look no further.


The History Of Flag Day

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.  Read More



Thursday, June 7, 2012

50 Inspiring Children's Books with a Positive Message

"The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -- Dr. Seuss
With technology developing at a record pace and kids mastering iPads before they're even out of diapers, it's more important than ever to instill the love of reading in our children.
Read more

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How Boys and Girls Learn Differently

How Boys and Girls Learn DifferentlyScientific studies show that boys  see things differently than girls. Themale eye is drawn to cooler colors like silver, blue, black, grey, and brown. Boys also tend to create pictures of moving objects like spaceships, cars, and trucks in dark colors.Read more.