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Teacher Appreciation Week May 5, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, People.
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Mr-Mackey-mmkayIt’s Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3 – May 7) . . .

As noted in the last post, The Right Frame of Reference, educators can make a profound difference in the lives of our children.

If you’re looking for a Green Gift Idea for the Teacher(s) in your child’s life (to present now or at year-end), consider creating a hand-made Thank You card:

* Ask your school-aged children to create a list of their five favorite things from each teacher’s classroom this school year. An option for pre-schoolers:  have them draw a picture.

* Insert the list (or drawing) into a Thank You note to each  teacher.

* Personalize each card with a photo of your child.

If the educators in your child’s life have inspired, encouraged, or applauded your child’s efforts, maybe it’s time to give them a pat on the back.

And if you are a teacher . . . THANKS!

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Right Frame of Reference May 5, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Gratitude, People.
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Last week, I watched The Blind Side (starring Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron).  Hands down, it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year.

Based on a true story, Sandra’s character, Leigh Anne, and Quinton’s character, Michael, epitomize the spiritual qualities we should all strive to unleash on the world ~ love, compassion, unity, courage, and hope.

A few days later, I watched Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire  (with award-winning performances by both Gabourey Sadibe and Mo’Nique).

Grittier and not as uplifting as The Blind Side, Precious excels at demonstrating the resiliency of youth even under the most abusive conditions.

Here are a few parallels between the two:

Both teens grew up in ghettos where they faced extreme hardship and challenges without parental support ~ one abandoned and neglected, the other abused.

Both teens were under-educated and over-weight ~ which made them less likely to “stand out from the crowd” in a positive way.

Both teens had yet-to-be discovered talents, skills, and abilities which came to light only after they received attention, nurturing, and love  from caring adult role models who encouraged them to believe in themselves both in and out of the classroom.

Both teens earn our respect and admiration ~ we stop pitying them, and start rooting for them.  Instead of sympathy, we gain empathy.

Both movies end on a positive note ~ Michael succeeds in sports; Precious continues to live, love, laugh, and learn (although her future is decidedly less certain).

I plan to use both movies as my Frame of Reference for the foreseeable future ~ not only for the spiritual qualities seen on screen, but for what I felt as the credits rolled by frame by frame:

Gratitude . . . overwhelming gratitude.

Ten Almost FREE Activities For Kids May 5, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure.
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Huey,-Dewey-And-LouieKids grow up fast.  Before they do, take time to enjoy their energy and enthusiasm for life by living, loving, laughing, and learning with them.

In Ten FREE Activities To Enjoy With Kids, we covered activities that don’t require any special materials ~ other than basic arts and crafts supplies (crayons, paper, scissors, glue) that most households with small children probably have on hand already.

In contrast, this list may require a bit of advance planning to purchase the needed materials and ingredients . . . like FOOD!

1.  Belly up to the bar!  Encourage your kids to play with their food by creating a Salad Bar from A to Z ~ artichoke hearts, asparagus, broccoli, baby corn, celery, carrots, croutons, cheese, endive, fennel, garbanzo beans, green peppers, haricots verts, iceberg lettuce, jicama, kidney beans, lettuce, Monterey jack, nuts, olives, pasta, peas, pinto beans, pecans, quinoa, raisins, red peppers, romaine lettuce, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, vinaigrette, water chestnuts, walnuts, yellow squash, zucchini.  Let kids create their own salads using all the letters of the alphabet, and all the colors of the rainbow.  (Any ideas for “U” and “X”?)

2.  Have an Afternoon Tea Party in the backyard.  Serve dainty finger sandwiches cut into small rectangles, hearts, or triangles.  Some filling ideas:  (1) cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumber, (2) peanut butter and banana, (3) bacon, lettuce, and tomato, (4) tomato, basil, and mozzarella cheese, (5) tuna salad.  To drink:  sweet iced tea or lemonade served in tea cups with saucers.  For the finale:  perhaps some homemade sugar cookies decorated by your little sous chefs?

3.  Build a campfire (or use the grill) to roast marshmallows for S’Mores (graham crackers, chocolate, and melted marshmallow sandwiches) after dinner.  Even better, set up a tent, climb inside, and tell stories by flashlight while chowing down.

4.  Have a cooking class for kids to teach them how to make healthy snacks ~ like hummus, or raw veggies and dip.  Or get them to help set the table and decorate for a special ethnic meal (Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Scottish) complete with hand-written menus and place cards at the table for each family member.

5.  Create your own Sundae Bar ~ ice cream (in 2-3 flavors), chopped nuts, strawberries, bananas, peaches, chocolate chips, crushed up Oreo cookies, brownie bits, M&M’s, mini marshmallows, hot fudge, butterscotch sauce, and whipped cream.   Can you say, Sugar Buzz?

6.  Build a fort ~ indoors or out.  Use blankets, chairs, pillows, pool rafts, and even foam swimming noodles to make it suitable for a Sultan.  If it’s big enough, let the kids camp in (or out) in the fort for the night before deconstruction begins in the morning.

7.  Enjoy family game night.  Take turns picking which game to play.  Or make up your own games to help kids learn while you play.  For example, the Alphabet Game ~ every player gets a sheet of paper and has to come up with a word for each letter of the alphabet in the assigned topic (e.g., vegetables, fruits, animals, games, groceries, sports, towns, boys names, girls names, etc.).

8.  Create montages of favorite events, activities, or colors.  Grab all your old magazines and let your kids cut them up to get photos, words, logos, and letters which appeal to them.  They can then glue their finds onto stiff cardboard to make montages to display at the next family Art Show ~ boats, trains, and cars for a transportation themed montage; waterfalls, beaches, lakes, and forests for a parks and rec  montage; cats, dogs, and (eek!) snakes for a pet montage.

9.  Enjoy a movie marathon ~ with plenty of hot popcorn, nachos, and other favorite snacks.  Or cool down with root beer floats (root beer and vanilla ice cream in tall glasses with straws) while the movie rolls.

Starting with the youngest member of the family, take turns choosing the next movie to watch until . . .  everyone . . . falls . . . sound . . . zzzzzz.

10.  Cool down with a water balloon or water pistol fight.  Pick a sweltering hot day, put swimsuits on, and have at it.  Just remember to pick up all the bits and pieces of broken balloons when you’re finished.  Another way to cool down ~ race homemade “boats” across the surface of the pool or kiddie pool . . . splashing allowed!

Whatever you do . . . relax, go with the flow, and be a kid again!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related Resources:  www.familyfun.com * www.wondertime.com * www.teachnet.com