Make a Family Treasure Book

One of the best ways to save family memories and create new traditions is to make a family treasure book. It can be small and quaint or large like a scrapbook that is made to hold fond memories and unique family traditions. Collecting these items and including them in a book is the safest way to keep them from being forgotten over time.

Include Cultural Traditions

Most families attempt to embrace their culture. Many have cultural traditions that are associated with each holiday. Write them down. Take pictures and share stories about how the traditions have changed over the years. Your culture is a link to where your family came from. It is important to pass the traditions down to future generations, so they understand history and how it has affected the family.

Add Drawings and Handwritten Poems or Prose

Allow each child or family member to add something of themselves. Let them draw a picture, write a poem or tell a short story. It will give future generations an idea of what each family member was like, long after they have passed away. Each year, get the book out and let each person add a new thought or small drawing. It will allow people to see how everyone has changed as the years pass.

Include Favorite Family Recipes

Everyone loves food! All families have recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Investigate where the recipe came from and include a short history. This way, the recipes will be safe and available to shared with many generations to come. Every year, pick a new recipe or two to include in the book. Ask other family members to contribute theirs as well.

Add Photos of the Family Members

Include photos of all of the family members present at reunions and other holiday gatherings. Make sure to have a sign-in list so that you know who was in an attendance and find out who each person is in past photographs. A family treasure book would be lacking the most valuable pieces if photos of the members of the family were not included.

A family treasure book can include anything that is important. Some families may embrace farm living, while others travel for their holiday celebrations. Each book will be completely unique, but that is what makes it so special. Follow your family tree. Retrace the roots and find out where you came from, but most importantly show the present and include future hopes and dreams.

Reach for the Stars! Exploring the Night Skies with Kids

One of the best things about being outside after dark is looking up and seeing the stars. There is a virtual storybook in the sky for anyone who is interested enough and will take the time to explore the constellations and what they mean. It is a great way to spend bonding time with your children as well. Teaching them the constellations also gives them an insight into history for those who know the stories about how the stars were used to help navigate the seas.

Read the Stories Behind the Stars

If you are going to help your children learn about the constellations that make up the designs in the night sky, find a book that tells the stories behind each one. Many are grounded in Greek mythology while others find their roots in astrology. The majority of stars within constellations are also named. As you tell the stories behind the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Orion’s Belt and Aquarius, you can also let it be known how each was used by sailors to help navigate the largest of the seas.

Use a Map of the Galaxy to Find Your Way

There are several maps of the night skies that show how stars were basically used as a road map. Because of how the earth moves through the galaxy, constellations were used to not only navigate the seas but also to help travelers on land find their way to each respective destination. In some cases, it wasn’t so much the constellations that helped them achieve their goals but single stars that followed a specific path across the night sky.

Recreate the Constellations

Once the stories have been told and the constellations identified, recreating them can be a fun way to make the information real. Three-dimensional models can be easily made to help the kids retain the information they have learned. Using black or dark blue construction paper, draw a constellation on one side. For each star, make a hole in the paper. Smaller stars need smaller holes while larger stores should be somewhat larger than the others. When it’s finished, hold the paper up to a window or light, and let the light shine through, recreating the constellation on paper.

Another way to make a model is using small dowel rods and various sizes of marshmallows. Smaller marshmallows are used for the smallest stars, and the larger stars are represented by the biggest marshmallows. The dowel rods should be cut in different sizes according to the distances between the stars. Once the model is put together, it will show children just how wide-reaching many of the constellations are.

Whether you use a telescope or just lean back and gaze upwards, the stars can provide hours of enjoyment for both you and your child. Providing your children with the history of each constellation allows them to see them from a different perspective. They aren’t just stars anymore. Each has a story and a purpose that makes them more interesting than ever before.

Positive Parenting: How to Break Those Bad Discipline Habits

Parenting is not taught in a classroom, and sadly, our parent’s manual is out of date. With that said, each new generation is a new breed of child, so it is up to us to forge away, and hopefully, not keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Everyone tends to get frustrated and make a few of the more common parenting mistakes. The key is to learn from the mistakes and find positive ways to discipline your kids.

Mean What You Say

You should always mean what you say. Instead of shouting out an answer before you know what the questions is, listen to your child. Give him a straight answer, and don’t hedge when he starts to try and change your mind. Saying one thing and then twenty minutes later rethinking the decision gives the kids the idea that you can be persuaded if they hound you long enough.

Keep the Yelling to a Dull Roar

When frustrations run high and things start to get out of control, the first thing most parents do is yell in an attempt to get their kid’s attention. That’s not always the best option. Yelling may get their attention, but it can also teach them to tune you out. Try something new. Talk to them in a low voice, just above a whisper. Not only will you throw them off their game, but you’ll also keep the neighbors out of the family business.

Make the Consequences Count

The old standby of sending a child to his room no longer works, especially if that is where he has his gaming system, computer, television and cell phone. Instead of sending them to their room where they literally have all of the comforts, give them a few chores to do or have them sit with you and talk things over. Find out what the problem is and look for a solution. Sending them to their room is not a punishment anymore, at least not one that works effectively.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

If you want your kids to do the right thing, then you need to give them an example to follow. Saying one thing and doing another shows them that it’s okay not to keep their word or follow through on responsibility. If you say something or make a promise, stick to it. The most important things you can teach your child is integrity and responsibility.

Converting your bad parenting habits to good ones will take some time. The important thing is breaking the patterns that will eventually set your child up for failure. If you want them to succeed, you need to find positive ways to reach them. Good discipline tactics teach solid lessons and will give them a foundation to build on as they grow.

Your Back to School Night Action Plan

The end of summer can be traumatizing for kids. Heading back to school is the signal that the days of playing outside and staying up late are truly things of the past, at least until next year. The kids are going to try anything and everything in their arsenal of tricks to stay up past their bedtime for one last late night of fun before school takes over their lives in the morning.

Get a Head Start

Before the kids come in for the night, know what you have to get done before they finally turn in for the night. Know which kid is first in line for taking a bath, and have a list of the chores ready as they walk in the door. Keeping them busy will not only tire them out but will also distract them from finding ways to drive you crazy with the mantra of “just another 15 minutes”. Make a list if you have to and then stick to it.

Have Dinner Ready Early

Have dinner ready and on the table when the kids first come inside. It can be difficult to get everyone in the house at the same time for a meal. The night before the first day of school is a good time to start. Talk about your plans for the school year, and make plans to spend time together at least once a week. Having dinner early gives the kids a chance to begin settling into a new routine and also helps them to settle down a little before getting in the shower and heading to bed.

Have a Family Meeting

If not everyone can make dinner, have an impromptu family meeting when all the kids are finally in the house. Let them know what you expect of them and ask them what you can do to help them get into the swing of things for the next year. Set some ground rules, and make plans to share some fun activities if everyone cooperates. Have fun being a family. These years go by way too fast.

Get Things Ready the Night Before

Once the kids have finished their baths or showers, have them get everything ready for the next morning. Backpacks should be packed and ready to go. Outfits should be gotten out and set on the dresser, ready to be put on. Have everyone make sure their alarms are set and that all of their chores are done at least 15 minutes before bedtime. This gives them a little time to relax before they turn the lights out.

While it is inevitable that there will be a glitch or two, take them in stride and keep moving forward. Make sure the kids stay on task. Try to get as much done before bedtime as possible. With everything being completed the night before, the morning won’t be so rushed and the kids won’t be stressed or upset for their first day of school.

Books Kids Love By Age

Reading to children has been proven to be one of the fastest teaching methods ever. Kids who learn to enjoy books when they are young have an entire world open to them as they get older. When parents begin reading to their children during infancy, by the time the children are old enough to hold the book for themselves, they can identify letters and know the sounds associated with them. As kids get older, they will often choose books based on the things they like, but they will also go after books that look interesting.

0-3

This is the age where pictures are everything. They help children identify objects and allow them to associates letters with words and objects. Look for books that are visually appealing. The more pictures they have, the more your child will like them. This will help you teach your child the names of objects as well as spur their imagination.

3-6

At this age, kids are learning to identify not only letters but words as well. Finding ways to help string them together is the key if you plan to hold your child’s interest. The books for this age group should contain pictures as well as words. The words should be easy to sound out as well as a little challenging. This is also the age when social interaction begins to make a difference in a child’s personality. Give your children books that talk about making new friends and having fun at school.

6-10

Kids at this age want something that will expand their mind and allow them to use their imagination. Prompt them to learn new things by offering books that are a little different from what they are used to. Encourage them to explore and go on exciting and new adventures. Keep looking for things your kids find interesting and offer them books to help them learn as much as possible. Take them to the library and see what kinds of books they are drawn to on their own.

9 to 14

Kids at this age have become somewhat worldly. Open the door to different cultures and let them move forward on their own. Offer them books that touch their mind and make them think for themselves. Include books that have a touch of history and allow your child to begin to venture into short novels designed for kids. Older kids tend to look for books that challenge their thinking and explore new concepts. Biographies are also a good idea, especially if they have someone they consider a role model.

Providing your child with age-appropriate reading material is the best way to make sure their interest in reading continues to grow. Peaking their curiosity when they are little is the best way to keep them focused on reading well into their teenage years.

Your Teenager Is About to Drive. Don’t Panic!

Your child is about ready to be mobile. If you were the one to teach him how to drive, you know more than anyone whether or not he is ready to go solo behind the wheel. With today’s technology, you have the opportunity to closely monitor his every move, whether he knows it or not. In most cases, your child is going to be extremely careful, simply because of the fact that he is nervous about being on his own in the car for the first time.

Make Sure to Have a GPS in the Car
Always make sure there is a GPS unit in the car. Not only will it help him get where he is going, but most units also track where the car has been. Clearing the unit every few days will help to keep better track of where the car goes and which addresses were logged into the unit. It should be understood that the GPS must be treated like a cell phone. It should be set to navigate prior to the car being put in motion, and if something needs to be checked, the car should be stopped and put in park before the device is touched.

Subscribe to Triple A
Subscribe to Triple A. AAA, or the American Auto Association, offers roadside assistance to subscribers. This includes if you run out of gas, have a flat tire or the car breaks down. Make sure that anyone who drives the vehicle has the phone number for Triple A in his phone, so he doesn’t have to look for it in case of an emergency. Triple A offers 24-hour service and will notify you if something is wrong and where the car has been taken if it was towed to a repair shop.

Teach by Example
You will always be your child’s first teacher. This includes when you are behind the wheel. He has watched you drive since he was old enough to look over the back seat of the car. If you want to make sure your child learns how to drive properly, let him drive with you. Give him pointers and answer his questions. Allow him to drive in different weather conditions, so he knows what to expect when he is out on his own.

Safe Driver Monitors
Take advantage of the Safe Driver Monitors that many insurance companies offer. The small device plugs directly into your car’s computer and monitors how the car is driven. This will also let your insurance company know how everyone in the family drives and may result in Good Driver Discounts if you qualify.

Getting a driver’s license is just one rite of passage for a teenager. You’ve taught him well and have the best technology to help you monitor how well he does while he is on the road. Don’t panic! He is going to do just fine!

How to Help Your Children Stay Academically Sharp During the Summer

The summer months are a time of freedom for school age children. Many parents and educators look for fun ways to help their kids retain the information they learn throughout the school year. Keeping the information fresh in their minds through the summer months can be taxing, but it can be done. It can also be fun!

Inspire Creativity

Encourage your children to create something. Provide them with clay, colored pencils, paper and any other materials they need to create something useful and beautiful. Guide them in creating something they can use either at school or home.

Keep a Journal

One of the best ways to keep grammar and composition lessons fresh in your children’s minds is to encourage them to keep a journal. Sketching and writing about events that have happened throughout the summer is a good way to keep their writing skills on point and gives them an opportunity to practice good grammar and composition techniques.

Spend Time in Nature

Make frequent trips to nature preserves and recreational parks. Allow your children to hike, swim and investigate the world around them. Collect rocks, leaves and seeds and help them to identify different animals, trees, and locations.

Build/Make Something

Show children how to build a bird house or flower box. Both girls and boys can enjoy learning how to cook, and using the measuring spoons and cups will keep their math skills sharp. Allow children access to tools to perform different types of activities. If you are going to fix something, let the kids help.

Include the Arts

Above all, include the arts. Expose your children to various art mediums, and play different genres of music throughout the day. Play games that involve naming a song or the artist who plays it.

The key to retaining information from one school year to the next is to keep the brain activity and the senses sharp. Learning does not have to be boring. There are several activities parents can include in their child’s day-to-day routine that will help them use the information they have learned so that it won’t be wasted during the long, hot days of summer.

Preparing Your Children for Summer Camp

The first time your children go to summer camp is a big deal for all involved. Your children will experience a wide array of emotions, ranging from fear to utter excitement. While you may be apprehensive for them to go, it is their chance to begin to learn about themselves. Prepare them well, and they will have an adventure to remember.

Talk About What to Expect

Talk to your children about what they can expect while they are at camp. Discuss the activities that are being offered and the possible sleeping arrangements. Ask them if they have any questions, and do your best to answer all of them to the best of your ability.

Help Them Pack

Help your children gather the items they want to take and will need while they are there. Show them how to pack their bags, and check that they have the essentials like their toothbrushes, toothpaste, swimming trunks and towels.

Let Them Take Something From Home

Allow them to pick one or two small items to take with them. It can be a family picture or a favorite item of clothing. Make sure the items are allowed at the camp, and then have your children pack them carefully in their backpacks or suitcases.

Tour the Camp Before They Go

If you can, take the children on a tour of the camp before they are set to leave. This gives them an idea of what the place looks like and what they can expect to find when they get there.

Have a Camp Out at Home

If your children have never slept outside before, pitch a tent in the backyard and spend a couple of nights under the stars at home. This will allow them to get used to the noises they will hear in the wilderness and gives them a chance to be outside in the dark before they go camping with other kids for the first time.

Take the time to help your child understand what camp is all about. Let them ask questions and allow them to help pack their gear and get things in order for their trip. Encourage them to have fun and learn all they can about the outdoors.

5 Quick School Lunches Your Kids Will Love

Coming up with quick lunch ideas for your kids’ can be a difficult task when you have to compete with other options like pizza and nachos. Encouraging your child to try new foods on a regular basis can open up numerous lunch options that are full of nutrients and taste good too. Foods can be mixed and matched so that new lunch combinations are always available.

Shredded Chicken Pitas

Pitas are great for a kid’s lunch. Fill one with shredded chicken and include a small container with tomatoes and onions in a little Caesar salad dressing. Throw in a small bag of kettle cooked potato chips and small cup of applesauce for a well-rounded lunch that your child will love. Let the kids add the veggies to the pita at lunch. Any kind of dressing can be used, so ask your child to pick one or two and then alternate them occasionally.

Finger Food Fiesta

Finger foods are great for a kid’s lunch. They are easy to package, and your child won’t need to take utensils. Celery sticks, baby carrots, string cheese, cheese cubes and pretzel sticks are just a few of the items you can include in a finger food lunch. Include a small container of peanut butter and another of your child’s favorite veggie dip and you will have an easy-to-serve fiesta. Apple wedges, orange slices and grapes account for the fresh fruit.

Ham and Cheese Hoagies

Most kids love ham and cheese sandwiches. Use a small hoagie bun, and add sliced ham and cheese to suit. Use two or more kinds of cheese for a change of pace. Add pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayo or whatever condiments your child prefers. Include chips and a small fruit cup to complete the meal. The key is including foods that your kids will enjoy and that they will be able to eat without making a huge mess. Thinly sliced ham and cheese slices are easy to eat and won’t crumble or tear.

Coldcut Sliders

Use small slider buns, and add different types of freshly sliced meats and cheese. Add tomatoes, olives and pickles. Let your children choose the ingredients, so they can build the sliders when its time for lunch. Snack-size bags of chips and a fresh fruit will wrap up the lunch menu.

Tuna/Chicken Salad Stuffed Green Pepper Halves

One of the easiest ways to get the kids to eat their veggies is to turn them into small boats. Cut a green pepper in half or quarters and fill with tuna or chicken salad. Sprinkle on some grated cheese, and include chips and apple. This makes for a nutritious meal that packs a powerful punch when it comes to sustained levels of energy.

Making sure you kids eat a good lunch just got easier. Simple meals they can help prepare the night before make ideal lunches that provide the nutrients they need with an energy boost that will help them get through the day.

How to Prepare Your Child for School This Fall

It doesn’t matter if this is your child’s first year in kindergarten or their fifth year in school. Children can still get the first day of school jitters. As a parent, you want to make things as easy for them as possible, all the while knowing they are still going to have to face that first day on their own. The key is to give them the support and tools they need to make it through those first few days.

Encourage Your Child to Ask Questions

You won’t know exactly what your child is worried or nervous about unless they tell you. Encourage your child to ask questions. Let your child know where you will be when he is in school and that the teacher knows how to contact you if there is an emergency or problem that needs to be addressed. Show him where the bus stop is and let him know where he can find you when you come to pick him up after school.

Be Excited

When you talk about the upcoming school year, show some excitement. Let your child see how happy you are that he going to a good school and making new friends. Each school year offers new opportunities when it comes to friends, activities and learning experiences. It is important to make learning fun and exciting. When kids begin to enjoy the learning process, they look forward to attending school and may even look at every day as a new adventure.

Put Notes in Their Backpacks and Lunchboxes

It’s important to let the kids know you think about them during the day. For young children who don’t like being away from you for long periods during the day, you can help make the absence a little easier to bear by putting a note in their backpack or lunchbox. It lets them know you are thinking of them and will also remind them that you are never that far away. For kids who are just learning to read, send a few stickers with a small note that simply says, “I love you!” with a heart.

Find out Which Afterschool Activities Are Available

Talk to your child about activities he or she likes. Check with the school to find out if any afterschool activities are available that would interest your son or daughter. Sign your child up, and see if there is any way you could help with the team. This gives you an opportunity to spend time with your child and show your children you are interested in what they do.

One of the most important things about sending the kids back to school is addressing their fears. Talk about their feelings, and let them know that it’s normal to be nervous. Make sure they understand that first-day jitters are something that everyone deals with it some point. Above all, let them know that you will be with them every step of the way.