Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day Fun for You and Your Child

Happy Columbus Day!

While you may not have a chance to experience New York City's amazing Columbus Day parade in person, there's no reason you can't take time out to enjoy this special day with your child -- and celebrate the spirit of exploration and discovery that Christopher Columbus stands for!

Why not go on an exploring adventure in your neighborhood, or a local park? Head down to the library for a peek at the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria? Or try one of these other fun Columbus Day activities that your child will definitely love.

Get out and start exploring!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Everyone Loves a Mystery, Especially Kids

Who doesn't love a mystery? I'm sure there's someone (it's a mystery to me who it could be...) but it's certainly not young readers -- they love them!

Mysteries are a great way to teach young readers critical thinking and problem solving, and the thrill of the chase as you tear through a real page turner is one reason our love of books will be forever strong.

The year 2010 has been designated the "Year of the Children's Mystery Book," and each October, KidsLoveAMystery.com celebrates mysteries with online games, teaching tools and fun activities to share with your kids.

Do you have a favorite mystery series? Be sure to share it. I still have a treasured box of Hardy Boys books in the attic...or is it the basement? Another mystery to be solved!

Some other recommendations include Gordon Korman's 39 Clues series, R.L. Stein's Goosebumps series, the Encyclopedia Brown series from Donald J. Sobol, and Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House books.

And speaking of mysteries, here's one for you, dear reader. What actress played Nancy Drew, one of the most popular children's mystery characters of all-time, and also starred in the television drama "Dynasty"?

Not a difficult case to solve, if you had a TV in the 80s...or www.imdb.com.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Perfect Learning Tool for Kids...And They Deliver!

No, I'm not talking about pizza. (Though if you're ever stuck for a way to explain to your kids how a pie chart works, I recommend a half plain, half pepperoni.)

One of the best ways to engage your kids with reading and language -- and in the process, give them a real-time sense of the world around them -- is with the daily newspaper.

In honor of National Newspaper Week, take some time to share your local paper with your child. There's so many ways a newspaper can encourage learning, creativity and curiosity. Things like:

1. Try a word search. Has your child just learned a new vocabulary word? Pick an article and see if you can find the word there, or words that start with the same letter, or words that mean the same thing.

2. Make me laugh. Give your child a section of the paper, and take one yourself. See who can find something funny the fastest.

3. Shopping list. Look through circulars or advertisements and see if you can find brands or items you use in your home.

4. Learning the "5 W's". Read an article together, or have your child read one aloud. Then try to identify the basic tenants of any good story: who, what, where, when, and why.

5. Time capsule. Does your child have a birthday coming up, or an other special day to remember? Make sure you save a newspaper from that day, or look online for headlines from the day he or she was born. Or, share the headlines from the day YOU were born. ("Daddy, who was Richard Nixon? And what's AM radio?")

And even when you're done reading, the fun isn't over. Paper mache anyone? Super-cool newspaper hats? A boat that actually floats?

Plus, here's a great printout to make your own newspaper story, along with a colorful picture, courtesy of Crayola.

Long live newspapers!