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St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Adventure

March 12, 2015

By Jessica Vician

St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Adventure | Try these DIY activities with your kids to create a magical leprechaun adventure for St. Patrick's Day.

According to Irish legend, leprechauns worked very hard as cobblers and craft specialists, earning a lot of gold. But they were very thrifty, and it’s said that leprechauns would bury their gold in pots at the end of the rainbow.

The legend says that if you catch a leprechaun—which would take a very smart person because leprechauns are clever—you can ask him where he hid his gold and he must tell you the truth.

St. Patrick’s Day can be a magical holiday for your kids with the mystery and wonder of these old Irish tales. This year, why not expand on this magic and send your kids on a treasure-hunting adventure? They can help you with some of the crafts this weekend, and you can arrange the rest on Monday night so they wake up to the fun Tuesday morning. If your kids are in school already, then arrange the crafts while they’re away so they can hunt when they get home.

Here are the DIY crafts you’ll need to prepare this St. Patrick-themed leprechaun adventure.

  • Leprechaun footprints. Leave a trail to where the leprechaun may be hiding.
  • Leprechaun trap. Encourage your kids to design their own leprechaun trap this weekend. Before they wake up on St. Patrick’s Day (or once they return from school), move the trap to the end of the trail you created with the Leprechaun footprints. 
  • Create a handprint rainbow that leads to gold. Make the rainbow with the kids this weekend, then put it above the leprechaun trap on St. Patrick’s Day so that the trap appears to be at the end of the rainbow.
  • Turn your child into a leprechaun. Print a photo and follow these directions. When they find the trap after following the footprints, your kids will be surprised to see that one of them is actually a leprechaun! Giggles should ensue.
  • Dig for coins. Make this shaving cream and green food coloring concoction for your kids to dig through once they find the end of the rainbow and leprechaun trap at the treasure hunt’s end. For effect, it’s a good idea to have a pot full of gold chocolate coins as a fun reward once the kids have cleaned up from the shaving cream.

For more St. Patrick’s Day crafts and activities, visit our St. Patrick’s Day Activities Pinterest board.

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Find + Adapt to Your Child’s Learning Style

March 11, 2015

By Lorena Villa Parkman

Find + Adapt to Your Child’s Learning Style | No matter how bright, creative, or hard-working your child is, he or she may need a little help in school. An easy way you can help is to understand how he or she learns. | The image shows children smiling as they use magnifying glasses to look closely at small objects.

No matter how bright, creative, or hard-working your child is, sometimes he or she will still need a little help in school. One easy way that you can help is to understand how he or she learns.

Figuring out your child’s learning style can make his or her education a better experience. Each child has a different way of learning, so when parents know their child's best way to learn, they can help him or her more effectively with homework, tests, and overall academic tasks.

Test your child
Try these online resources to help determine your child’s learning style:

Study tips for each learning style
Once you figure out your child’s preferred style, you can create a study plan to help him or her understand concepts better.

  • School Family has homework and study tips for auditory learners (those who learn best from spoken words), kinesthetic learners (those who learn best while being active), and visual learners (those who learn best from seeing information written or illustrated).
  • About has learning suggestions for each style and lists the worst types of tests for each learner.
  • Indiana University’s Bepko Learning Center lists helpful tips for each of the aforementioned learning styles.

Include your child’s counselor or teacher
Share your child’s learning style with his or her teacher. While the teacher won’t always be able to accommodate each child’s learning style, it’s helpful information that may be useful when assigning homework or tests.

Remember that information and engagement is the key to successful education. Knowing your child’s learning strengths before you begin a study or educational strategy is important for his or her progress.

Learn more about how strong parent engagement can help your child succeed in school and in life in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books. 

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What to Know About National Women + Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 10, 2015

By Nely Bergsma

What to Know About National Women + Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day | Use these talking points to start your conversation about HIV/AIDS with your daughter.

Image courtesy of WomensHealth.gov.

Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This is an annual, nationwide observance that reminds us all of the impact HIV and AIDS continue to have on women and girls.

If you are feeling uncomfortable and have not engaged your daughter in a conversation about sex or drugs, this may be a great month to do so. As parents and mentors, we are faced with how to best approach the subject and begin the conversation. First and foremost, we need to educate ourselves on the virus and syndrome so that we remain current and available to offer any support our girls may need.

For example, did you know that about one in four Americans living with HIV are women 13 or older? In addition to this statistic, about 50 percent of women living with HIV are getting care and only four in 10 of them are managing the virus with the help of effective medication and treatment. Talk with your daughter not only about the decision she will make as to whether or not to be sexually active, but also about HIV and AIDS in particular. They are not just acquired through sexual activities, but also through use of intravenous drugs, so your conversation should also address drug use.

HIV and AIDS can be confusing, but an ongoing conversation is necessary so that she can learn how to stay safe and healthy. Perhaps you and your daughter can research the subject together and make it a mother-daughter project. Either separately or together gather information from credible sources, like AIDS.gov. Come together with your findings and launch a social media campaign this month to encourage the conversation between your parent and her friend communities. Make it an annual event and continue the discussion throughout the year.

This year marks the 10th observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is key that all women, young and older, learn and share this information with one another both in advocacy and support. Creating an open environment—and one that is free of judgment—for an honest and informative exchange of experiences is critical to preventing future generations from contracting HIV and AIDS.

Join the conversation today on social media by searching and using #NWGHAAD.

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5 Ways to Make Flying with Kids Easier

March 5, 2015

By Amanda Alpert Knight

5 Ways to Make Flying with Kids Easier | 5 tips that help traveling with kids on a plane easier for all involved, from the parents to the kids to the other passengers. | A young girl sits on a plane and sticks her tongue out.

Flying with kids. Many of us get anxious just thinking about it. As parents we start asking the what-ifs, which change depending on the age of our children:

  • What if I run out of formula?
  • What if my baby cries and the other passengers hate me?
  • What if my baby has explosive diarrhea on the flight?
  • What if my toddler won’t stop kicking the seat in front of him?
  • What if my toddler screams for the entire flight?

The list goes on and on.

I’ve flown many times with my sons, now ages 5 and 7, throughout their lives. From short flights to long ones to overseas, I’ve had good experiences and some that I’d rather forget, but overall I would say that flying has been manageable with them at all ages. Having just returned from a flight with them last night, I reflected on these experiences and stories I have heard from other parents to put together five tips that will make flying with kids easier.

  1. Don’t try the Benadryl trick. I’ve never done it and from every story I have heard, it seems to backfire. While some people think Benadryl will calm children down, the odds of it backfiring and making them more hyper is far too great.
  2. Pack healthy snacks for the plane. Too much candy and sugar will also make the kids more hyper. Instead, try pretzels, raisins, nuts (if they aren’t allergic), and dried fruits.
  3. Play a game with toys. One of my favorite tricks on the plane is the 15 Minute Game: every 15 minutes that the child behaves, I pull out a new toy. Before the trip, I go to a dollar store and stock up on inexpensive toys. Sometimes I will even wrap them for added fun. Then every 15 minutes I give them something new. It can keep them occupied for nearly the entire flight.
  4. Remember the electronic devices. Of course, Ipads, video games, and other electronic devices are another way to pass the time and keep the kids out of trouble.
  5. Bring extra clothes. No matter the age of the child, always pack an extra set of clothes. You never know when you might need it. I learned that the hard way.

Safe travels and enjoy! And don’t worry too much about those around you—we were all kids at some point, so they will hopefully understand. Do you have any tips to share for flying with kids? Tell me in the comments below.

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Register for These Low-Cost Summer Programs Now

March 4, 2015

By Kevin Rutter

Register for These Low-Cost Summer Programs Now | There are many options for low-cost summer programs out there, but the least expensive and most fun book up fast, so start your research this week. | A group of kids run through the grass while smiling and holding hands.

Summer seems like a long way off, especially to those of us in the colder states, but it’s already time to start planning your children’s summer activities. Summer is a great time for kids to learn something new, socialize with their peers, and play. But the best and least expensive programs book up well in advance, so now is the time to start your research.

Growing up, my mom gave me the brochure for summer activities at the local park district and told me to choose one myself or she would choose one for me. I’m glad she did because it got me out of the house to meet new friends, exercise, and learn about things I would not have encountered in my daily routine.

As a teacher, I receive countless letters and emails about summer programs for my students from a wide variety of institutions. There are many low-cost summer programs available in your community. Here are some places to start looking:

  • YMCA. They offer day camps, specialty camps, and overnight camps, in addition to daily activities for children. 
  • Park districts. Many park districts offer summer day camps that include field trips, learning activities, and sports. They can even cost less than $5 an hour per child.
  • Library Reading Camps. Your child or teen can join others to read together and discuss books. All they need is a library card.
  • Church camps. Ask your church if they offer youth programs in the summer. These are usually free or discounted compared to other organizations.
  • Local colleges. Local colleges and universities offer various programs for children of all ages, from early childhood daycare to teen theatre programs.

Over the years I have had several students who were accepted into really amazing summer camps, only to have the parents say no because they were too afraid to let them go overnight. I strongly encourage parents to let their child attend these types of trips for the experience after checking with teachers, counselors, and program administrators about the details of the camp including itineraries, safety, and ways to communicate while away.

Summer is a great time for your child to step away from school and take advantage of the great opportunities out there to expand horizons and develop skills. Feel free to use my mother’s motivational technique: your child chooses an activity outside of the house or you do!

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