Danger Is My Middle Name: A Guide to Playing Adventurously

April 16th, 2015 | Posted in Adventuring, Features, Play + Learn

a guide to playing adventurously

The other day I asked a friend who treats kids for anxiety what she thought about free range parenting. She said, “Did you ever read that article in the Atlantic about the adventure playground where kids play freely without hardly any adult supervision? I love it.”

And she’s not alone. Experts say that allowing kids to engage in perceived dangerous activities helps them become well-adjusted adults. And having my kids become well-adjusted adults sounds pretty darn nice. Although truth be told, I’d settle for even marginally well-adjusted.

So in the spirit of playing adventurously, I’ve created a list of activities for all those out there who say, a little danger does a childhood good. Continue Reading...

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Text Speak – A Guide To Understanding WTH UR Kids R Saying

April 14th, 2015 | Posted in Parenting, The Tween Years

text speak a printable guide to understand wth your kids r saying

Have you ever picked up your tween’s phone and tried to decipher what in the world they were attempting to communicate through a text? Or maybe you received a text from them and couldn’t make heads or tails of the acronyms. Well, the good news is you aren’t alone. The bad news is that you have to become bilingual to understand ‘txtspk’, or ‘text speak’ for all you beginners. Continue Reading...

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Math Love

April 9th, 2015 | Posted in Play + Learn

5 projects + activities for kids who love math and those who don't (yet)

Does math make your kids groan? Well, here are five projects and activities that are big on math without being too overtly math-y. Because let’s be real, sometimes you need a soft sell up your sleeve to get kids excited about something they think they don’t/won’t like. You can surprise them later with, “You just did math and you liiiiiiked it.” And for kids who are all about math? Well, they’ll love these too. Now, let’s celebrate math love! Continue Reading...

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Book Spine Poetry on PBS Parents

April 6th, 2015 | Posted in Play + Learn

Book Spine Poetry

Happy National Poetry Month! Today I’m over on PBS Parents with an activity celebrating modern poetic art: Book Spine Poetry. Hop on over for a brief history about the internet sensation along with tips to help your kids get started. They’ll be hooked in no time. So will you ;)

ps. Did you know that having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on whether or not children seek higher education? The impact is even more significant than parents’ level of education. You can read more about it here.

Stack of books

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Make Art, Not Stress! 5 Steps for Making Kids Art Projects Fun

April 1st, 2015 | Posted in Art School, Creativity, Play + Learn

Guide to taking the stress out of kids art projects

Does the idea of doing an art project with your kids stress you out? I get it. The mess, the prep, the supplies, the directions, the meltdowns, the mess…oh wait, I think I said that already. To help ease that stress, we’ve put together a simple guide to finding the joy in art at home. Continue Reading...

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On Marbling and Educational Trends

March 24th, 2015 | Posted in Features

how to marble with shaving cream and a lesson in art and culture!

Well hello there! I’m hanging out over at PBS Parents sharing a technique for marbling and tying it in with a geography/art & culture/world history lesson. Basically, I’m kitchen sinking it, educationally speaking.

Hey, speaking of education, have you heard about the latest educational trend coming out of Finland? It’s called phenomenon teaching. Instead of organizing classes by traditional subjects (e.g., math, science, etc), students study topics in which many subjects are covered. Here’s a quote from an article about the shift:

“Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.”

Sounds intriguing and reminds me of the passion projects in the piece Deborah wrote about homework. I’m sure the world will be looking to see how it plays out for the Finns. At first glance, it sounds pretty awesome:

“We come across children playing chess in a corridor and a game being played whereby children rush around the corridors collecting information about different parts of Africa. Ms Jaatinen describes what is going on as “joyful learning”. She wants more collaboration and communication between pupils to allow them to develop their creative thinking skills.”

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Houseplants That’ll Make You Smarter

March 19th, 2015 | Posted in Arts & Crafts, Kids DIY

these flower pots are a cute and easy craft that boosts brain power!

Did you know having houseplants in your home makes you smarter? Science says it’s true, and who are we to argue with science? So today, let’s increase our brain power by making some ahh-dorable planters. Put one in every room and feel that gray matter grow. Ready?

You’ll Need: Continue Reading...

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The Great Homework Debate

March 17th, 2015 | Posted in Parenting, The Tween Years

the great homework debate

Recently, I’ve seen quite a bit of debate about homework and the effects it has on our children. Just in the past week I’ve read this newspaper article, and upon doing further research, I found this Stanford news article equally interesting.

I have to admit, as a parent I feel strange when my teenager or my tween comes home with no homework. I ask, “Well, did you do it all in class?” or “Any project you can work ahead on?” Instead, I probably should be savoring those days and letting them enjoy their free time without interrogation. I was raised with the perception that All homework is good homework! Homework is necessary! You won’t learn without homework!

My seventh grader attends a progressive school where they do not believe that all homework is good. In fact, their view is that an aggressive approach to homework can result in a negative view of learning in general. That’s right, homework may cause kids to hate learning. Continue Reading...

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