Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Affordable Gifts

Well, January is almost over and if you are like me, you have already been to a few kid's birthday parties. With your kids being invited to so many parties, it can get expensive to supply gifts to everyone. I have scoured the Internet to come up with affordable gift ideas that you can use.

First up is Teaching Good Eaters. She put together several activities but I especially love the monster kits. How fun to "build" your own monsters.

Next we have Poopscape Projects with a great homemade Shrinky Dink project. You could put together a kit that includes the pre-cut and roughed plastic and some colored pencils, along with directions on putting together pieces.

The Artful Parent has a tutorial for dying play silks using kool aid. I just love the colors and the process seems simple to follow. You can also go to Tried and True to print out a graph of mixing kool aid packages to get certain colors. Very handy and affordable.

Creative with Kids is making me flash back to my own childhood. How cute to make the Paint with Water Pages. You could make several of the pages and also give the child a couple of paintbrushes and a small lidded container to carry water in.

Well, there are a few ideas to get you started. Each birthday party that your child gets an invitation to, does not have to cause you to panic. Put together a gift that you can afford and your child will be happy to give and make for their friend.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Doodle 4 Google

It is that time! The Doodle 4 Google contest is up and running. If you use Google, then you know that they frequently change their logo with a great doodle. They are holding a contest that is open to all K-12 students in the US. You can click the link for the full rules and the registration form.

The best news, you can win a $30,000 college scholarship and your school can win a $50,000 grant! All entries must be postmarked by 3/20/12 and received in the Google office by 3/23/12 to be eligible. In addition to the amazing cash prizes, the winner's doodle will appear on the Google page and it will also be featured on a Crayola 64 box!

The theme for the doodle contest is: If I could travel in time, I'd visit... Get your markers, crayons, pens and pencils and get doodling!! Best of luck to everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cutting Preschool is Not the Answer

Earlier this week, USA Today, ran an article entitled "Expansion in pre-k programs curtailed in recession". This saddened us for several reasons. The article states that one quarter of all 4 year olds and one half of all three year olds attend no preschool programs. This can make it difficult for students entering kindergarten to catch up with the other students that did attend preschool.

Low income families face tough decisions when public preschool programs are cut. They can not afford a private preschool program and by the time they return home from work in the evening, it can be hard to teach a child vital skills needed for school. The children are not as receptive to learning when it is almost bedtime and the parents are mentally and/or physically drained after putting in a day at work. This is why some children begin kindergarten an estimated 18 months or more behind their peers. It can be difficult, if not impossible for the child to catch up.

When a recession hits, there must be cuts made. We understand this, but why punish the smallest citizens? In roughly the 2009-2010 season is when cuts to pre-k began. We need to turn around this cycle! We need to provide for the kids of the pre-k age. There are many vital skills that are learned in preschool, it is not all about play.  When you walk into a classroom and see the kids "playing" pizza shop in the dramatic play area, they are not just playing. They are learning vital life skills such as: taking turns, role playing, buttoning aprons onto themselves, reading a menu, writing an order, following the necessary steps to put together a pizza, accepting payment for food, counting out change, manners and etiquette. When you look into a classroom, look past the noise; look past the running around; look at what is really going on. Everything that a child does in a classroom, is a learning experience for them.

We understand that kids can learn at home, but it is hard, if not impossible for a working family to teach a child all that a preschool can. A typical home does not have a variety of cultures in one room; a variety of beliefs in one room or a magnitude of endless ideas in one room. When you send a child to a quality preschool program, that is what you are getting. The teachers are trained to recognize what your child needs to learn, they are trained to teach your child reading, writing, arithmetic and so much more. It is time for us to stand up for Kids!

Kids Matter - Invest Early, Invest Often.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Shirt Designs

Well, winter is here and as I write this post, the temperature outside was 16 degrees! We need something creative to do indoors! Started looking around and we decided to look at some shirt designs.
Check these out!

First up is Family Fun Magazine with this great Slam Dunk shirt! We are huge fans of basketball in KY and this fits us to a T!

Next is Watch Me Daddy with home made muscle shirts for all of the Super Heroes in your life. Who needs the gym?

Time for Sharpie Markers to make an appearance. Did you know they had a blog? I love this tie dye done with Sharpies.

The Ribbon Retreat is up next with the perfect shirt for Super Bowl!

I love bleach pens and Homemade Mamas gives me something to do with them, other than cleaning my grout lines.

Lastly, we have PANJO with some great freezer paper stencils. These are the ones that we have already completed and I can assure you that this is easy and totally addictive! We made a shirt with a shark on it and my son loves it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Children's Advocacy Day

Have you heard the great news? Have you signed up yet? On February 16th, the Child Care Council and Kids Matter are excited to send people to Frankfort for Children's Advocacy Day.

This is the 8th annual event and it is exciting to see so many parents, teachers, concerned citizens and kids at the Capital. In the past, we have had representation from 50 different counties. We begin the day with a Rally for Children, which runs from 10:00am - 11:00am in the Capital Rotunda. After that, we disperse and visit legislators and bring the issues of Ky's youth to the forefront.

If you would like to attend Children's Advocacy Day, you can register here. This helps us keep an accurate count of the people attending and the counties being represented.

If you would like to meet with a legislator while in Frankfort, you will need to schedule an appointment. Not sure who your legislator is? Check out the Legislative Research Commission and then you can schedule an appointment by calling 502-564-8100.

We hope to see you in Frankfort on February 16th. The evening is capped off by a Legislative Reception from 5:30pm - 7:30pm.

Join us and let the state know that you think Kids Matter!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Martin Luther King Jr

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Here are some activities to do to celebrate the life and legacy of the great Dr. King!

First is First Grade in One Year with an activity showing a child's dream on the inside of the booklet and their hand print art on the outside to signify diversity.

Next we have Learning & Laughing in First Grade with a great experiment between brown eggs and white eggs. The children graphed what is different and what is the same with the eggs and then wrote out what they learned.

This is not a project that I think you can do at your home, but this is a mosaic created in 2010 by artist Pete Fecteau and is entitled "Dream Big". Can you guess what it is made of? It is 4,242 Rubik's Cubes. It took over a year of planning and weighed in at about 1,000 pounds at completion. It is amazing!

I will leave you with two of my favorite quotes:

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 13, 2012

When do you learn to trust?

I recently read an interesting article from Science Daily. It discussed whether infants trust and imitate everyone or whether they learn not to trust people that are "unreliable". The general basis of the experiment is that they tested children in the age group of 13-16 months. They then paired the infants up with an adult. All of the adults opened a box and acted surprised and excited with the contents. The difference is that some boxes contained toys, others contained just air. The babies then were allowed to open the boxes.

When the testers then tried to turn on light switches with their foreheads, a much smaller (about half) percentage of the "tricked" infants tried to imitate the behaviour.

This is an interesting experiment but I wish the testers had gone further. I know my son at that age would imitate us, regardless of tricking him or not. Did they test the infants with adults that they were familiar with? Will an infant that is with a warm and loving person over a standard tester still use these instincts? I think there are several factors to take into consideration. I have no doubt that infants can learn more than science realizes and that they have an instinct for trust. I just wish the reporters have given us more real clues.

Parents and teacher - what are your thoughts on infants and trust?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Noah's Dad

Have you heard of the amazing blog, Noah's Dad? It is the daily life of a family after their son Noah is born and diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Some things it is not:
A happy go lucky fairy tale. It does not paint the picture of a rosy, sunshine day for every day of their lives.
An advice column. This is not written by a Doctor and is not written to tell you how to "cure your child".

What the blog is:
It is a real live look into the family's everyday life. They post a one minute video of their son every day. The videos do not seem staged, they seem like a real glance. The videos are of things that are going on in Noah's life right now.

I learned about the blog after the Dad wrote a post about the latest Target ad. The post went viral! It was picked up by several major websites, was tweeted over 3,000 times and received over 16,000 Facebook likes! That is amazing! If you have not seen the latest Target ad, you can see page 9 on his blog. It features a child with Down Syndrome, which is great news. The best part, Target does not acknowledge it at all! They shot the picture with a group of kids and did not pick out any individual child.

If you have not checked out Noah's Dad yet, I highly recommend it. It is heartfelt, moving and amazing. Noah's Dad is proving what we have known all along - Kids Matter, All Kids Matter!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Explore the Land

I was recently looking around on the Internet and was impressed to find so many activities discussing landforms.

It was amazing to see how detailed and beautiful some of the activities were. When I was in school, you just looked at a topographical map, but that is no longer the case.

Look at some of these great projects.

The Kennedy Korral Blog made these amazing edible landforms. Looks like Jello and a cake?

Here is another edible landforms project from Moments with Maisie. This is amazing! It has brownies, marshmallow supreme mountains, chocolate chip cookie island and so much more!

I found this salt dough landforms project on Secular Homeschool and think it is a great alternative if you want to keep your work around a bit longer.

Take your studies to the next level! Make learning fun and engaging and kids will absorb more knowledge!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Investing in Kids - to help our future

While perusing the local newspaper's website, we stumbled upon this great opinion article. The author (Mira Ball) is encouraging the leaders of the great state of Kentucky, to invest in our future.

How is she encouraging this? She is bringing up great points in reference to the preschool debate and the Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS). The proof is there to encourage our continued support of these services.

Currently, the state of Kentucky has preschool services available in our public schools, but the preschool services are only available to families with incomes up to 150% of the federal poverty level. Ms. Ball encourages the state to increase that to families with income up to 200% of the federal poverty level, which would serve an additional 16,000 children. Ideally, Kids Matter would like to see preschool services available to all kids, much like the other grades of public schools. Investing in the education and care of all children, improves the future of everyone.

Please go read the article and then come back here and weigh in your opinion. What can the state do to help kids have a successful future? We want to know what you think!