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Tidbits For Parents – Celebrate Earth Day

TIDBITS FOR PARENTS Celebrate EARTH DAY Every Day! Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd and events will be held worldwide to celebrate. WHY? Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 to demonstrate for environmental reform.  At that time, most people did not concern themselves with taking care of the earth or trying to leave it in a better state for their children.  But Earth Day changed all that with a challenge to change human behavior and countries’ policies to protect the earth and all that live on it.

    So how can we protect the earth and teach our children to do the same?  One way to remember the many ways we as individuals can help the earth is to:  REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.  Here are some ideas to help!

REDUCE:  use less, waste less (of paper, water, electricity)
  • Try not printing as much off your computer
  • Use the back sides of paper
  • Unplug your appliances when not in use – especially those recharger cords!
  • Buy things that have less packaging
  • Save wrapping paper to use again
  • Save grocery bags to use to carry other things
  • Donate clothing for the less advantaged
RECYCLE:  We are fortunate in our neighborhoods to have a recycling program through our waste removal companies.  Have your children help you collect:
  • Plastic bottles & containers
  • Mental or glass containers
  • Newspapers
All can be recycled at your curb!  You can also find depositories in your Village Hall for electronics, batteries, medications & eye glasses. All of these ways to save the earth from large amounts of garbage and poisoning our water supply are incredibly easy and worthwhile ways to teach your children good habits early to care for our environment.  You can also take them down the “natural products” aisles at your grocery store to find detergents, floor and glass cleaners, etc. that are made naturally so that chemicals don’t seep into our earth. In the words of Chief Seattle who warned the U.S. government when signing the treaty that took his people’s land, “Teach your children what you have been taught, The earth is our mother. What befalls the earth befalls all the sons and daughters of the earth.” KS April 2016 P.S. If you would like to read a beautifully written and illustrated book with Chief Seattle’s message to your children, look up Brother Eagle, Sister Sky, illustrated by Susan Jeffers, c1991.

Tidbits for Parents – Unplug This Winter

We all know how important technology is to us these days. It keeps us connected with family as well as the global community. It gives us easy access to information, and helps us do our jobs more efficiently. But did you know some of the side effects of extensive use of technology? Researchers are finding that children who spend a great deal of time on electronic devices have a higher risk of near-sightedness as they grow, in addition to eye strain when on devices too long. The light emanating from computers, smart phones and other devices cause our brains to be stimulated, so using them late at night makes children and adults have difficulty falling asleep. Sociologically, we are also seeing poorer communication skills in our children as texting and “chatting” seem to be the most prevalent means of communicating in this new generation. This means that short, abbreviated messages that don’t include greetings or closing comments are the means of communication today. This takes away the “polite manners” that we learned in the past, as well as narrowing the focus of the message so that it doesn’t include the style of the person’s meaning. Also, without actually hearing a person’s voice or seeing his/her facial expressions, many messages can be misconstrued. How can we alleviate some of these problems? I suggest we ‘unplug’ a little this winter and see how we, as parents, and our children can spend more time together enjoying each other’s company and communicating effectively. Why not try to stay off our devices just ½ hour a day for a week and see what other things you and your family can do with your time? Here are some suggestions: (1) Play board games together – from Candyland, to Clue, to Monopoly or Scrabble, this can be a fun way to interact with each other. (2) Try a game of Charades – this will be a good test of your family’s ability to communicate in a variety of different ways. (3) Listen to music together – sing/dance/talk about the musical era – find commonality in a different type of expression. (4) Read a book – a ‘real’ book with pages to turn and feel the thrill of jumping into another time or place within the pages. You can read aloud together and discuss the story as you go, or each read your own book and share each other’s tales. These are just a few suggestions of how you and your family might get away from technology and interact with each other in more meaningful ways. It might also make the winter go just a little faster by adding this variety to your daily life! KPS

Tidbits For Parents – Holiday Math

Did you ever think that Math could be incorporated into your holiday fun?  Try some of these ideas and see how your child relates to math in a new and enjoyable way. If you decorate with lights, measure how many strands of lights go around your tree, or across your house.  Measure in feet, then convert to yards. If you light candles, measure how far the candles burn down each night and how long it takes them to burn.  Do all the candles burn at the same speed? For younger children, you can practice counting by counting how many ornaments you have to decorate your tree or how many decorations you have in your house. Then there is my personal favorite for using math during the holidays – BAKING!!!  In addition to measuring the ingredients correctly, you can double your recipe and practice fractions at the same time.  What is double ¼ teaspoon baking powder?  It might take your child some thought to answer that question.  You can also practice multiplication facts when putting your cookie dough on the baking sheets.  Four cookies across times five cookies down makes 20 cookies per sheet.  If you bake 3 sheets, how many dozen cookies do you have?  Try different arrays on each baking sheet to practice different math facts. When you are finished baking, what better way to reward yourself and your child for a “math” job well done than to light a fire, make some hot cocoa and eat some cookies relaxing in front of the fire? ENJOY MATH this Holiday Season!! KPS December 2015

Tidbits For Parents – Fall Into Science

Fall is such a beautiful time of year with the air getting crisper and the leaves changing so many vibrant colors.  Have your children ever asked you, “Why do the leaves turn colors?”  What a perfect time to inject a little Science into your child’s life by answering that question! First, your child should know that the leaves make food for the tree by using the chlorophyll in them (the green color), to mix with carbon dioxide, water and light.  When the days get shorter and there is less light, the leaves stop making food and the green chlorophyll disappears.  Then we begin to see the yellow and orange colors that have always been in the leaves but not visible because the green predominates.  Bright purples and reds are caused by some of the glucose or “food” having been trapped in the leaves.  And brown is caused by wastes left in the leaves.  All this leaves us with a beautiful array of colorful fall foliage! You might want to pick up some leaves and look at the veins on them to see how food travels to the different parts of the leaf.  Leaf rubbings can be made by putting a piece of paper over a leaf and rubbing it with a crayon which is a great way to enhance the veins and a fun art project, too. You can continue the theme by explaining the life cycle of a tree and how it drops its leaves, stays dormant all winter, and comes back to life in spring with new buds, new leaves and more chlorophyll to make food for the tree.  Are there any ways in which we become “dormant” in the winter?  A little less exercise, feeling sleepier, wanting to snuggle with a good book?  Ask your children how the season affects them! Fall is also a great time to talk about why the days get shorter and the nights get longer.  As our earth rotates around the sun, it does so on a slant on its axis.  The northern part of the earth is slanting away from the sun so we get less sunlight in the daytime.  Try demonstrating this by having one child stand in the center (as the sun) while your other child walks around the sun slanting in one direction – your children will find it fun and educational!  Ask your children, “How do our lives change with less daylight?”  (Less time to play outdoors/using more electricity for light and heat, etc.)  This will encourage them to see how Science fits into their own worlds. Carving pumpkins is another way to see how Science works.  First we harvest the pumpkin from the vine in the fall.  Then when we open it up, we see the “meat” inside that can be used as food for us or for animals.  The seeds are another interesting part of the pumpkin, making sure that more pumpkins will grow next year – and so the cycle of life starts again.   You can also bake the seeds and have a tasty & healthy snack! Enjoy the Science of Fall!! KPS October 2015

Tidbits for parents – On The Road With Reading

We all know how reading books can take us to places we’ve never been, but have you ever thought of going to places you’ve read about in books?  That is where some of our favorite family vacations have been!  When our daughter was going through her “horse phase”, we read Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry, and were so fascinated by the wild ponies she described that we took a vacation to Chincoteague Island off the coast of Virginia.   There we were able to drive or bike over to Assateague Island where there is a wildlife sanctuary for these wild horses.  There was also a wonderful beach to enjoy and a Wildlife Center with a great deal of information about the ponies and other protected wildlife there.  The best part of all, though, was walking the trails and coming within a few feet of these beautiful ponies!!  What a vacation to remember!  (Or read Brighty of the Grand Canyon, also by Marguerite Henry, with a trip to the Grand Canyon to accompany it.) We also read Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, which is set on Prince Edward Island on the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada.  Who could have imagined such an idyllic sight to have a vacation?  We stayed at a bed & breakfast, saw the cliffs and shores that “Anne” walked along, and even went into Charlottetown to see the musical of “Anne of Green Gables.”  (There were even great golf course and cycling paths for all the family to enjoy!) If your child is more interested in sports, you can always read about baseball heroes, and then plan a trip to Cooperstown, NY, to see the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Or try Football’s Hall of Fame in Canton, OH! Or if your child is interested in history, read about Gettysburg and travel there to see where the real battle took place.  There are wonderful tours filled with exciting information about the battle of Gettysburg.  You might also enjoy Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia if you & your children have had a chance to read about Colonial times.  (Even the American Girl doll, Felicity, has a whole series about this era in history!)  Colonial Williamsburg is a wonderful place to “step inside” history and see what living during Colonial times was like from the blacksmith shop to the making of candy! Whatever you and your child read together, or wherever their tastes lie in reading, you are sure to find a vacation spot that can bring those stories to life.  Try it!  It’s a wonderful way to encourage reading and find a way to enjoy new ways of vacationing as a family. KPS

Tidbits for Parents – The Great Outdoors

Did you know that June was “Leave No Child Inside” month?  Now that summer has come, it is important for us as parents to recognize the need to get our children away from their technological “devices” and spend some time in the great outdoors. Extensive research from Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods has shown us that spending time out-of-doors is a necessary component of children’s growth and development.  Not only do they get fresh air and exercise, which is important for physical health, but there are positive effects on the brain as well.  Being outdoors helps children with ADD/ADHD rewire their brains to be calmer and more focused, and works wonders for all of our children to de-stress and relax. There are so many ways you can encourage outdoor activities with your children.  Your own backyard and neighborhood are wonderful places to play and learn. Even a walk down the block identifying trees by their leaves or noticing the different types of birdsongs you hear is a great way for children to use their analytical skills. Of, course, the park, pool or beach are all good sources of outdoor spots to play ball, frisbee, swim, and just gaze at the colorful surroundings.  Time to daydream and play are some of the best ways for children to synthesize what they see and learn.   The Glenview Park District even has a “Get Out and Go” outdoor treasure hunt every year in honor of Leave No Child Inside month! Did you know that the Chicagoland area has some of the best forest preserves in the country?  Take advantage of them by hiking in the woods, having a barbeque or picnic and noticing the lush surroundings that once covered this whole area before it was populated.  Imagine you are a Native American living in these woods and what you would find to create a life in them! And as you take the trails in the forest preserve northward, you will reach the Chicago Botanic Gardens, a place that offers something for everyone in the outdoors.   The grounds are meticulously landscaped so that you can enjoy everything from an English Garden, Rose Garden and Japanese Garden to plaques that describe each plant along the way.  The colors are magnificent creating a beautiful place to de-stress and enjoy the many opportunities to learn about the plants that grow in our region. So get up and out with your children this summer, and enjoy all the possibilities of the great outdoors! P.S.  Don’t forget about the Dog Park - your children and dogs will love the freedom of running and playing together there! KPS

Distracted Parenting

As parents, are we too distracted?  Are we distracted while parenting? Below is an article with an interesting perspective about parenting and the distractions we face as adults and parents.

Math and Baking Cookies From Scratch

Baking cookies today is very different from baking cookies in the past.  Today, you can buy frozen cookie dough that is ready for your cookie sheet.  Another option is to buy the packaged dry mix.  All you have to do is add softened butter and eggs and mix. While either of the above methods is fast and convenient, there are many educational lessons that can be taught from baking cookies from scratch.  Below are some examples:
  • Units of measure - Kids can learn about tablespoons, cups, and ounces while mixing the ingredients.
  • Multiplication - On a cookie sheet, there are 3 columns and 6 rows of cookies.  How many cookies are we baking?
  • Multiplication - One recipe found on the internet is for 5 dozen cookies.  What is the total number of cookies made?
  • Ratios and proportions - How many cups of sugar is required to make 15 dozen cookies?
  • Units of measure and conversion - Rather than using a 1 cup measuring cup, use a 1/2 cup measuring cup.  How many 1/2 cups equal 2 1/4 cups of flour?
  • Density versus mass - When measuring 1 cup of flour, is there a difference between flour that has been sifted and flour that has been scooped from the bag?
  • Chemistry - What happens to to cookies if you change the ingredients slightly such as using 1/2 teaspoon of salt instead of 1 teaspoon of salt?  What about 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda versus 1 teaspoon of baking soda?
Adding context to math problems can help your child remember units of measure and understand how to solve various math problems.  If your child is having mental block in converting 1 cup to ounces, try baking some cookies from scratch.

Ideas For Practicing Math Facts Effectively – Primary Grades

For some students, math is difficult.  For many students, math has become more difficult as local schools are transitioning to Common Core that emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving.  Though our focus is to complement your child's school curriculum, we help students memorize math facts when appropriate.  Below are some strategies parents can do at home to help their child with math facts so that we can focus on the more difficult word and math problems. Provide students with manipulatives to "show" addition or subtraction fact.  Make this simple.  Manipulatives can be pieces of cut foam, paper, or magnets. math manipulatives foam math manipulatives magnet Then write it in a number sentence on a card (e.g., 3 + 5 = ) and practice a few of these facts per week, starting from the most simple to the most difficult. math manipulatives train Take a one-minute time test each week on the facts the students have practiced.  Check with student to see improvement each week. Show students "patterns" in addition and subtraction facts (e.g., ones, zeros, multiples, nines). Provide a time test of all addition facts, then all subtraction facts, to be timed for 3 minutes, once a week.  Then check with student to see improvement and graph on a chart to show visual improvement.