Thursday, November 11, 2010

Idea: Audiobooks

Some Audiobooks Bought from the Library Sale
Just a quick thought...

Who doesn't love a good story?! While reading is an awesome activity, it isn't the only way to ingest a good book ;-)

Over the years, we have listened to a multitude of audiobooks encompassing all kinds of genres. Sure, in the beginning, we put on them on for our son before he could read well, but continued enthusiastically even when his reading surpassed grade level. I love listening to a well read book just like my son and we often enjoy an afternoon engrossed in stories read by a stranger. Where? At home, out and about, or in the car are all great places we've enjoyed audiobooks. I even bought a double headphone adapter so my son and I can listen to the mp3 player or disc player together! 

I find audiobooks a great excuse not to read those books that grow tiresome for me to read, but that my son enjoys listening to. Now he has a choice: read them on his own or listen to them if there is an audio version. And that leaves time for me to read aloud the books I do enjoy reading to my son, lol! Win-win!

Monday, November 8, 2010

RAM-- Wizard of Oz!

Here Be Munchkins!
Much to my surprise, my son LOVED the Wizard of Oz exhibit up at the Royal Alberta Museum. It runs until January 9th, 2011. It looked like a great exhibit and I figured kids would love it, I just had no idea that it would be one of my son's favourites at the RAM. His other main favourite being the Insect section.

There is much to do in this exhibit and it covers a wide range of possibilities.

Anybody Home?
The first to catch our eye was the Wicked Witches' Castle where my son had fun building with the wooden blocks. Then we tossed flying monkeys at the yellow cow bells ;-)

The Munchkins' area was next with a home, tables and chairs, puppets, and more. We didn't dally much in this section. Just long enough for a photo opportunity.

There's a black and white section called Dorothy's House. A very simple section. Tipping over the watering can triggers corn to grow. And a rotating cube puzzle would be fun for the young ones.

Sort the Eggs...Sort of
Further down the line, there's an egg sorter and a Tornado Alley. Recreating tornadoes in three different ways went over well with my boy, lol.

Next section had us seeing green (extra large green lensed glasses) in Emerald City and building yellow brick roads with four different shapes! All fourteen of the Wizard of Oz books could be found and read in this section as well as some other similar themed books. This was also the "act out the story" section complete with costumes.

So those are some of the places, what about the characters? Well check your pulse rate in the Tin Man section after getting your blood pumping and feeling a heart beat! Test your courage with the Lion in the 'cave of courage' after spotting all the hidden things in the forest. Play 'whose brain?" with the Scarecrow and tackled some brain twisters too!

Spinning Tops

Emerald City and Air Balloon

Follow the Yellow Brick Road!


Let's Get That Blood Pumping!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Idea: Gratitude

One Clear Coat and Ready to Be Painted!
Gratitude Rocks! So why not grab a nice sized rock, wash it up, paint it if you feel like it, and carry it around with you in your pocket as a physical reminder to feel gratitude, to find gratitude from every situation, and to express gratitude. In fact, why not paint some extra for family and friends! Give the gift of gratitude.

Many Coloured Pages
Family Gratitude Binder. It really doesn't get any easier than this. A simple three ringed binder and several blank pages within. We chose unlined pages of various colours for fun, to mix things up a bit. My son had lots of fun stamping and colouring a title page. His title: The Big Book of Things We Love and Are Grateful For! And any time we feel like adding to it, we write down the date and then what we are grateful for. I like to start each piece of gratitude with the words "I am grateful for..." I like the rhythm; I like the emphasis of the repetition. Often someone doodles or draws an illustration, but it's all informal and reflects our current moods of creativity.

Family Gratitude Binder
The Gratitude Journal. Articulating gratitude in a journal format is similar to that of the Family Gratitude Binder, but can be more formal and certainly more private and personal. I've heard it recommended to jot down at least three things you are grateful for each day. I challenge you to write up a whole list, a whole page, of gratitude. This is a great way to find the extra little things you are grateful for, not just those big ones. Of course, it all depends on what size your journal is as to how much of a challenge this truly is ;-)

Prayer/ Meditation/ Mantras. An expression of gratitude before a meal or before bedtime or upon waking are all common and wonderful times to verbalise gratitude. Why not meditate on gratitude too?! Meditating on the word 'gratitude' would be one suggestion. Meditating on the concept of gratitude would be another. Or simply meditate on all the things you are grateful for. Try googling "guided gratitude meditation." I don't have any to recommend as I have not done this, but guided meditations can be great-- hopefully there is a good one on gratitude. Let me know if you find one!

Gratitude Peace Beads
Gratitude Beads. Similar to prayer beads, gratitude beads can be a wonderful reminder and tool for gratitude. Like the gratitude rocks, you can carry these with you where ever you go and use them for comfort when you're stressed or to count off all the things that fill you with gratitude. They can be used any way you wish, but one idea is to say one thing you are grateful for per bead. You can use any string of beads or, better yet, make your own. This is an excellent craft for the young and young at heart ;-) My son enjoyed making his "peace" beads so much he made a set for me. He wanted peace beads to help him remain calm and peaceful, but he also used them as gratitude prayer beads.

Gratitude Poster. As a family, a group, or individually, make a gratitude poster. This is a fantastic idea for a special occasion: Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve, someone's birthday, or some other milestone. Depending on personal preference, the poster can be drawn, painted, collaged from magazines, etc. The theme/occasion will inspire the direction of the poster. For example, if it is for someone's birthday, it would make sense to express all the things the guests are grateful about that person. If it is New Year's Eve, perhaps a poster of all the things you are grateful for from the past year.

Garland of Gratitude. Use string, yarn, ribbon, or streamers and tape/glue written gratitudes onto it. Write the gratitudes out on paper leaves, flowers, or a shape of your choice. This would be a fun party or dinner activity whereby the guests help decorate!

More ideas?

Sing a song of gratitude.
Dance a dance of gratitude.
Write a poem of gratitude.
Start a gratitude blog... a 365 day challenge!
Collect quotes on gratitude, create a booklet... give it as a gift.
Create gratitude cards... with quotes, or your own expressions, or as thank you cards.
Tell someone why you are grateful they are in your life.
Give a gift just because, in the name of gratitude.

I found this lovely idea on "Show Me Crafts" blog: Gratitude Tree

How do you like to express your gratitude?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Idea: Boredom Jar

Boredom Jar on Shelf For Easy Access
"I'm bored."
The dreaded words.

Why is it that that kids always seem to find a stage in their lives where they can not think of things to do?! And, unfortunately, never really leave this stage? Where did their innate creativity go? Or am I stereotyping children too generally?

Even though I comprehend that boredom is just an opportunity to use one's imagination, try and explain AND convince your child of that!

I figured my highly imaginative boy would have avoided this stage, but, sadly, did not. Where did his creativity go? Well, truth be told, I figure that half the time he is bored only because he wants to do something specific that can not be done in that moment. For example, I'm in the middle of something on the computer and he now wants a turn, NOW.

There are a ton of books out there with creative boredom blasters, but what if you have none in the house? How about make a boredom jar?!

I finally sat down with my son and, together, we came up with a massive list of ideas which we wrote out on coloured strips of paper and put into a jar. This jar rests on our book shelves always available at the drop of a hat.

Our Growing Pile of Ideas
Originally, so tired of the 'I'm bored' phrase, we agreed to some ground rules, lol. If my son was bored he could go to the boredom jar, pick out a slip of paper and decide if he wanted to do it; he could keep on choosing slips till he found something he felt like doing. On the other hand, if he said the dreaded phrase, he would *have to* complete which ever task he picked out first. This included the chore like items I threw in for my own diabolical enjoyment: sweep floors, clean up toys, etc!

Colourful is Definitely the Way to Go!
Did it work? In short... yes and no and yes. For the first couple of weeks my son would utter the "I'm bored" statement on purpose just to have fun with this novelty. And he *did* sweep the floors ;-)
Then things died down and it sat on the shelves. Every once in a while he would go to it and pick through the ideas.

Just recently my son, after a very long time of neglect, opened the boredom jar and did three things from it: searched his bookshelves for a book to give away, wrote in the family gratitude binder, and conducted a science experiment (actually it was a quick science activity, but close enough).

I admit the boredom jar is not active daily, but it is very useful to have around. And it was lots of fun coming up with ideas for it. I suppose we should throw in some new ideas that are more seasonal and use a new colour of paper specific to the season. We can easily remove it later if it is colour coded! Or leave it in for laughs: "oh sure Mom, let's go build a snow fort during summer time... hahaha!"

And those dreaded words... they are few and far between.

Super Scary Long Post of Boredom Jar ideas

Here is the initial boredom jar list my son and I made up in case you are interested, want a running start, or want inspiration. It is obviously personal and much may be of no use for your own boredom jar. Hopefully you can copy and paste this easily into your own word program and edit and add. Too bad I can't post pdfs into my blog. Well, at least I don't know how without using a service I need to subscribe to.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Product Review: Ology Germ Soap Kit

The Ology: Germ Soap Kit by American Museum of Natural History is a fun and quick science activity. My son is actually excited to wash his hands with germ-shaped soap ;-)

The kit comes with an instruction/information booklet, two soap molds, two blue bars of glycerin soap, 12 inches of red string, two knowledge cards, and two field badges.

The instruction booklet contains fun facts while defining good and bad bacteria with specifics about Ruminococcus and Lactobacillus, the two 'good' germs turned into soap by this Ology kit. As an extra, the booklet tries to communicate that antibacterial soap is no better at cleaning or preventing illness than regular soap, but fails to explain how. Instead it implies the negative impact of antibacterial traces contaminating the water supply and possibly encouraging more dangerous bacterial strains. 

Like I said, this is a very quick activity and easy for all different ages. Just cut up the glycerin into smaller pieces, melt in the microwave (or double-broiler on the stove), pour into the molds, and let set in the fridge or freezer for 5 minutes. The red string gets cut up to become the flagella of the Lactobacillus.

Overall, this is a nice kit, quick and easy, with some fun information. However, the pure glycerin soap has a distinct perfumey smell. Personally, because I am sensitive to smells, I can't wait till these bars are done and we can use the molds with a non-smelly soap. And I'm disappointed the kit didn't explain that it is the mechanical action of hand washing that really cleans our hands. On the other hand, pun intended, it does recommend hand washing at least 4 times a day for 20 seconds and has a hand washing chart.  

Need Newspaper to Protect Area

Ruminococcus and Lactobacillus

Linked up with...    Science Sunday
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...