Category Archives: education

Snow Day Alternatives – 10 Tips for Kids To Beat the Winter Blues

While record snow fell on the northeastern states last week, more snow is still in the forecast. That means, you guessed it, more snow days!

Just because snow days are nearly always synonymous with play days you can always get your kids prepped for school again by keeping learning fresh, even after a day of playing in the snow.

Here are a few tips courtesy of to beat the winter blues.

1. Read. Yes, of course. Everyone has his or her favorite book, so read them to each other. It’s fun for the older kids to read their favorite childhood books to their younger siblings. Act out your favorite scenes for the enjoyment of everyone.

2. Tell stories. This is a great time to trot out the old family photo albums and tell stories of your happy memories. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, favorite friends and neighbors. Connect the kids to your past — and theirs.

3. Keep a snow journal. As a family, write a few sentences every day about the snow. What time did it start to fall? What did it look like on the trees? How did it affect the traffic on your street? Did you feed the birds? Does your dog like the snow? The cat? Write about sledding, snowman building, snowball battles, snow forts. Write how you felt when you learned there’d be no school. What friends will you miss for the days you’re away from the classroom?

4. Do some weather science. Measure the snow as it’s falling. Keep a log of the temperatures hourly. How long does it take for the snow to melt on the south side of the house? On the north side? How do those icicles form?

5. Play games as a family and, for some quiet time, as individuals. Some mind-engaging activities include board games, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, coloring, finger painting, water colors, scrapbooking.

6. Keep up the lessons. Check those spelling words — if there aren’t any from school, assign your own. Practice math facts. Read the next chapter in the social studies book.

7. Organize. Take this found-time to organize notebooks, planners, back packs, and study areas at home. Make sure everyone’s up-to-date on assignments that will be due when school starts again.

8. Try to keep up normal routines. Yes, the snow throws everything off, and that’s okay. It’s good to take a break (or have one thrust upon you) from time to time. But try to keep bedtimes, mealtimes, study times, and other important personal routines (medications, for example) as close to normal as possible. When you know schools will reopen again, start to get back into the swing of things right away.

9. Be a role model. Use your homebound time for catching up on some put-off tasks. Enlist the kids’ help in rearranging furniture, organizing closets and donating unused clothing to the homeless shelter. Talk about how warm and cozy you are — not everyone is as lucky.

10. Stay positive. Spring will arrive. Promise.

For resources and additional information, visit or call 1-800-31-SUCCESS.

Discovering the Real John Henry + a Review of the TwitterPeek

Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry Ain’t Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Even though Ain’t Nothing But A Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry is a children’s book I had a real problem putting it down. That is certainly not to say the content will fly over the head of children. Rather, the content is so stellar it will keeps kids and adults alike riveted to the pages as the author recounts his quest to find the real John Henry. Read more after the jump.


On Christmas Eve I decided to take my TwitterPeek with me when I went shopping to see how it worked. I received the TwitterPeek to review and I wanted to take it out into the field, so to speak.

The TwitterPeek is a device that allows you to mobile tweet only. You can’t check your email and you cannot surf the Net. The only function of the TwitterPeek is to use Twitter.

Although I had some initial problems with it because apparently you can’t use the same email as the one that’s synched to your Peek ( if you have one), the TwitterPeek proved to be a great device, especially for those who can’t tweet from their phone.

The TwitterPeek allows you to see tweets come in, respond to tweets, write your own tweets and see your @ mentions. Additionally you can see images that people upload into their Twitter stream and read links.
Continue reading Discovering the Real John Henry + a Review of the TwitterPeek

Harriet Tubman: Secret Agent and the TwitterPeek

I had no idea that National Geographic publishes so many books with African-American themes. I was thrilled to received several books to review and will be posting my reviews now through the beginning of the year.  Today I am posting my review of Harriet Tubman: Secret Agent, Also look for thorough reviews of 500 Miles to Freedom, Students on Strike, The Ground-breaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver, Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry and Liberty or Death.


If you are looking to tweet when you’re on the go, you might want to check out the TwitterPeek. It’s the first dedicated Twitter client, allowing you only to tweet from it. You can’t check your email or upload pictures, but you can tweet, read tweets, read your @ mentions and also reply to your Twitter followers.

I am currently reviewing the TwitterPeek. Look for a review next week during Books and Tech Wednesday.

On the Net:
Continue reading Harriet Tubman: Secret Agent and the TwitterPeek

Nearly Two-Thirds of Children Have Been Bullied in Past Month, Resources Included to Help Your Child

iStock_000009411150XSmallWhen I was in school I used to be bullied and picked on. I don’t think any of us haven’t been there. I used to hate it! It certainly didn’t make school any easier. Thankfully I was a bookworm who cared only about my studies, but still to this day I think about how being picked on really hurt my self-esteem. At least all of that is past me, but children still have to be subjected to bullying day in and day out. Some think bullying is a right of passage for children and that it’s a fact of life. I think that’s wrong! That’s one of the reasons my husband and I homeschool our children. We’d rather them concentrate on becoming smart young ladies and not have to deal with the haters.

A new study released by the American Public Health Association reports nearly 2/3 of all children have been bullied in the past month. And although it was once believed bullying happened most often where children weren’t supervised, new data shows children are most bullied inside the classroom.
Continue reading Nearly Two-Thirds of Children Have Been Bullied in Past Month, Resources Included to Help Your Child

10 Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

iStock_000006627762XSmallAlthough the school year has just begun parent-teacher conferences are quickly approaching. One of the perpetual complaints you hear from parents and teachers when a child is struggling is a disconnect between one other. When a child is having problems in school parents tend to blame teachers and teachers blame parents, but these problems can be addresses early and remedied with the cooperation of teachers and parents.

Donna Henderson, professor of counseling at henderson1Wake Forest University, says, “A good attitude and a spirit of cooperation are the keys to successful parent-teacher conferences. Go in with an attitude of collaboration and a mindset that everybody is working toward the same goal.”

Henderson gives 10 tips on how to ensure a successful parent-teacher conference.

1. Start off on the right foot by asking teachers what excites them about teaching a particular age group or subject. Providing an opportunity for teachers to share some of their enthusiasm for what they do sets a positive tone for the discussion.

2. Parents should keep their children involved by asking them what they would like discussed with a teacher and then providing feedback after the conference. Ultimately, the child must assume responsibility for learning, while adults assume the responsibility for creating and enhancing those opportunities.
Continue reading 10 Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

Oscar and His Frisky Adventures

Candlewick Press
has a  wonderful series of books with an adorable character named Oscar who learns all about the world around him from his animal, bird, and insect friends. Some books are enjoyable because of their storyline and illustrations and others are adored because they are instant classics, and still others are well-loved because of all three. The Oscar series of books falls into the third category in my opinion.

Continue reading Oscar and His Frisky Adventures

Imparting Art

natural_soy_crayons_imageI am a huge proponent of teaching children art and art appreciation. I believe children should not only experiment with art in its various forms, but also be reared in art museums and galleries from a young age. I’ve always believed art helps people grow intellectually and be more attuned to their creativity and intuition. At least that’s what art has given me.

Since I let my daughters delve into art each day, I was thrilled to receive a box of soy crayons from Boulder, Colorado based Clementine Art. I have never purchased soy candles before; I’m pretty much a Crayola mom. But I must say I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the Clementine Art soy crayons and am even more impressed by how safe they are for children.

Before I even gave the crayons to my daughters I had to test them out for myself. For some reason I thought they would feel soft like pastels and be just as messy. But I was completely and utterly mistaken. Behold: the evidence:

Continue reading Imparting Art

Packing a Healthy School Lunch from Disney FamilyFun

1552854The nice people over at Disney FamilyFun have offered up some really great tips about packing healthy lunches and since I know making school lunch nutritious and fun to eat is a challenge I’m happy to share these creative ideas.

  • Use A Bento Box: Japanese-style bento boxes and their nesting compartments are perfect for kid-size nibbles. Best of all, when your child pops the lid, the entire spread is at her fingertips, which puts the carrots on par with the PB&J and grapes for super-easy grazing.
  • Sneak In Extra Veggies: If the produce in your kid’s lunch is making the return trip home, consider hiding it. Add finely grated carrots to tuna and chicken salad, swap lettuce for nutrient-dense baby spinach, or try Horizon’s new Little Blends yogurts, which offer surprisingly tasty fruits and vegetable combos, such as Strawberry-Carrot and Banana-Sweet Potato.
  • Add (More) Whole Grains: Pack whole wheat pretzels instead of other salty snacks. Or take a cue from nutritionist Barbara Storper, author of Janey Junkfood’s Fresh Adventure!, and make a checkerboard sandwich. Use one slice of whole wheat bread and one of white, then cut the sandwich into quarters and rearrange the squares to create the checkerboard pattern.
  • Offer Nutritious Snacks: Apples not making the grade? Try freeze-dried fruit, such as Brothers-All-Natural or Crispy Green. Another option from chef and school-lunch reformer Ann Cooper: homemade gorp. Kids can choose the ingredients, then mix up their own combinations each night before school.
  • Serve Low-Sugar Drinks: In lieu of traditional juice boxes, pack a juice-and-water blend, such as R.W. Knudsen Family Organic Sensible Sippers, or fill a thermos with flavored water (make your own or try a store-bought variety – just be on the lookout for artificial sweeteners).

On the Net:

Is Your Baby Racist?

NEWSWEEK SEPT 14 ISSUEJust as some believe we are on the cusp of turning the corner to a post-racial society a new study comes out to negate those lofty dreams.

A study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin and written about in this week’s Newsweek in Nurture Shock: Is Your Baby Racist? says children as young as six months judge others based on skin color and that older children often label white people as nice and blacks as being not nice.

Even though the study took place in liberal Austin, Texas researchers found that children often heard from their parents that people are all the same and that God created all of us equal, but these words don’t always match up to the everyday attitudes of their parents and are reflected in children’s emerging racial attitudes.

Although fascinating research, it is just another reminder that we all have a long way to go for racial equality in this country. Read the full article at