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Archive for September, 2013

21 Blogs Featuring the Best Puzzles Kids Can Make or Solve

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

From simple shape puzzles as a toddler to the crossword puzzle in the newspaper as an adult, solving puzzles is an activity that’s fun for everyone. Young children can benefit from puzzles because they help them work on their ability to solve problems, apply reason to find a solution and successfully deduce an answer, according to Barbara White, an educator and author of the article Are Jigsaw Puzzles Educational? White also notes that solving puzzles helps physically with hand/eye coordination. These 21 blogs will provide ways to make your own jigsaw puzzles, as well as supply puzzles where your kids can solve logic and work out brain teasers.

Jigsaw

Instead of spending money purchasing jigsaw puzzles at the store – a practice that can get expensive if you only assemble them once – try your hand at making your own puzzles to put together. These seven blogs will provide a variety of ways you can create your own jigsaw puzzles to solve.

Logic

Logic puzzles like Sudoku are a great way to provide a workout for your brain. These puzzles vary in difficulty, so you can start your kids off with the easy ones and slowly increase the level of difficulty as they master each. Learning to solve these types of puzzles lets your child practice critical thinking and reasoning skills according to Deborah Reynolds, an educator certified in K-12 gifted education. The more puzzles a child works on, the more comfortable he will become with the thought process required for solving puzzles. In these seven blogs you will find a variety of logic puzzles that you can provide for your child.

Brain Teasers

You’ve probably heard people say that you have to think outside of the box to solve a problem.  Well, solving brain teasers will train your child’s brain to think outside the box in everything he does, not just when he’s solving a puzzle. Take a look at these seven blogs to find puzzles for you and your kids to try.

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How to Get Siblings to Sleep in the Same Room

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Any parent of two or more children who share a bedroom will probably be very familiar with the issue of sibling rivalry. Although sharing a bedroom seems like a great way to encourage kids to develop stronger relationships, room-sharing can easily become a fiasco due to more confined living quarters, lack of personal space and arguments over the delegation of janitorial tasks and the positioning of personal items. Without a good technique, parents are likely to encounter those piercing complaints teeming with fault-finding and frustration.

Keren Perles, contributor at Education.com, provides some valuable insight regarding the issue of sibling bedroom-sharing. Perles cites the parenting guru and psychotherapist Alyson Schafer, who says that bedroom-sharing helps kids learn to cooperate better by working through conflicts and delegating tasks. Siblings often bond with one another naturally in a more confined space. By sharing a greater quantity of life experiences in the same area, siblings mature together and learn how to manage those challenges that stem from cohabitation. Perles explains that overcoming these conflicts will prove invaluable when the child becomes an adult and encounters roommates, spouses or other living situations that call for cohabitation.

Although there are many positive benefits that stem from bedroom-sharing among siblings, it is not always easy to arrange. Since children are often very different in their personalities, it can be difficult for some siblings to mutually develop peaceful solutions to their conflicts. Thankfully, the experts have concocted some effective methods for parents to use that will help children learn to live in relative peace. Schafer encourages the use of boundaries, such as a curtain or bookcase, to help define rooms. Children are able to mark their own private spaces, which gives them a sense of autonomy and privacy. This is where the infamous “boundary line” tape comes into play. While parents may not wish to place an actual line of masking tape down the length of the floor to divide the room, it might be a good idea to set a boundary so that siblings can feel that they have a special little place all of their own. Children can keep their own belongings on their designated side to prevent squabbles over cleaning responsibilities. Each child will keep his own side of the room clean and return any objects not belonging in the assigned areas.

Lauren Jimeson, contributor at Babble.com, also gives some great advice for parents on sibling room-sharing. Jimeson’s two daughters share a room, so she has compiled an ample list of useful tips concerning successful sibling cohabitation. Jimeson encourages a gradual assimilation of the children into a room together. For example, before the birth of her second child, Jimeson discussed the change with her other daughter to prepare her for the transition. When her daughter was born, Jimeson would then bring the newborn into her daughter’s room and get them used to being with each other in the same space. This helped to naturally make that transition more effective. Although Jimeson provides specific boundaries in the room for each child, she also promotes the use of a common area, which is a special place for the girls to play with their shared toys, and sibling interaction is especially encouraged.

Jo Harris, at Kidspot.com, also provides a brief and highly useful rundown of specific conflicts for children of different ages and how to effectively resolve those conflicts. Younger children should be taught how to treat each other’s property with respect, and staggering sleep times might prove a successful remedy to prevent the children from keeping each other awake. Additionally, extra safety precautions should be taken when a toddler shares a room with a baby. If a school-aged child shares a room with a baby, then the baby’s nap times must be respected, and the older child should be assigned some personal time in his room a few times a day. Finally, giving older children responsibilities to care for their younger siblings in the room is a great way to create a bond and to encourage a positive, healthy sharing of space.

Although sharing a room can pose a challenge for kids, there are many important life lessons that can be learned through this arrangement. Siblings learn to value teamwork and to manage conflict, which are fantastic attributes that prepare children for their futures. They will certainly never forget the special memories that they create with their siblings as they grow and experience life together.

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Top 10 Reasons Siblings Fight and How to Stop Them

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Fights between siblings are so common they are practically a rite of passage of growing up. Even the most well-behaved children fight from time to time, and the fights are often over the silliest things. (Toys, candy, shoes, you name it.) While fighting can be a normal childhood behavior, it can also lead to serious stress, both for the kids and the parents. Too much sibling aggression can lead to depression and anger in children, too. The key to stopping it is figuring out what is causing the fights. Here are the biggest reasons siblings fight:

1. Spending Too Much Time Together
Anytime people spend as much time together as siblings do, arguments are bound to happen. After seeing the same person all day every day, siblings are sometimes simply ready for a break. Sometimes children need a chance to pursue separate activities without brothers or sisters tagging along.

2. They’ve Got Different Personalities
Personality conflicts are another common cause of sibling fighting. When one sibling prefers to play quiet games and the other prefers rambunctious games, someone is bound to not get his or her way. While parents can try to plan activities that all the children will enjoy, sometimes children have to take turns getting their way.

3. They Perceive Favoritism
Whether or not parents and caregivers actually have a favorite child, the children usually think they do. This perceived favoritism can cause children to lash out for attention. Children always know which child gets the most praise, even if parents are unaware of the difference.

4. They Have Difficulty Sharing
Unless parents buy duplicates of every toy that they bring in the house, at some point children are going to have to learn how to share. While this difficulty usually gets easier as the children grow up a bit, it can be a long process.

5. They Have Unequal Privileges

As children get older, they usually get more privileges. Younger children may feel this is unfair, and they may be right. Even within the same family, the age limits for various activities often changes with successive children.

6. They’re Jealous of Each Other

One is better at school while the other is better at sports. One excels in music while the other wins pageants. It is no secret which family members excel at which activities and which do not. Those who do not excel may feel jealous of the praised sibling, even if they excel in other ways.

7. They’re Unable to Handle Disagreements and Frustrations
Sometimes children, young children especially, do not know how to handle disagreements and frustrations. Instead of talking out problems and finding a good solution, siblings will often turn to fighting to get their way.

8. They Lack Boundaries or Personal Space
Whether they are constantly in the baby’s face or reading their older sister’s diary, sometimes children do not understand boundaries or personal space. Sometimes fighting is the only way that children know how to get their siblings to leave them alone.

9. There Are Accidents and Misunderstandings
Not all fighting is the result of a purposeful wrongdoing. A child may accidentally hurt a sibling or take a toy he didn’t know his sibling was still playing with. Rather than talk over the situation, children often turn to fighting to solve the problem.

10. They Need a Safe Person
Families are people that love each other no matter what, and children know this. If a child starts a fight with a friend, he may lose that friend. If he starts a fight with a brother or sister, he can work off some of his aggression without losing a friend. Siblings provide a safe way for children to get out some of their pent-up frustrations.

How to Stop Sibling Fighting

The best way to stop sibling fighting really depends on why the siblings are fighting in the first place, but there are a few general strategies parents can implement to help siblings keep the peace. First of all, parents should cultivate a loving, accepting environment for their children instead of a competitive one. Siblings should be encouraged to support each other and cheer for each other’s successes. Parents should avoid comparing siblings, even if the comparison seems harmless. (This applies to all areas: grades, personality, athletics, etc.) When siblings are busy looking for ways to build up their brothers and sisters, they are not busy finding ways to tear them down.

Secondly, parents and caregivers should teach children how to solve conflicts peacefully and then only intervene when necessary. Children need to be taught skills such as taking turns, asking permission before borrowing others’ possessions, and finding ways to play together peacefully. Once they have been taught how to do this, they should be left mostly alone to practice these skills. If you’re constantly stepping in to be the moderator, children never learn how to solve problems for themselves.

Lastly, parents should set a good example for their children of how to interact appropriately with other people. If parents are constantly yelling at the children, the children will learn to yell. If parents talk negatively about other people, the children will learn to do this as well. By modeling appropriate behavior, parents will teach their children the proper way to behave.

Raising siblings is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. With the right guidance and attitude, you can teach your children not only to stop fighting, but to lean on each other as they grow up.

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24 Blogs with Easy to Make Nature Crafts for Kids

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

In this day and age of technology, sometimes you just need to power everything down and get back to nature with your kids. Nature-themed craft projects are a great way to engage the kids and teach them a little about the world around them. Instead of sacrificing another day to the TV or computer, take the kids on a nature walk one afternoon and have them collect different twigs, leaves, flowers and rocks that they find. Once you arrive back home, use these supplies to create craft projects that highlight the beauty of nature. These 24 blogs will help you get started.

Getting Crafty with Leaves

As you explore the great outdoors, encourage the kids to look closely at the different leaves they see. Each type of leaf will have a different texture and shape. Collect all sorts of leaves on your hikes, and then use those leaves to create different artistic pieces. You’ll find ideas for pictures, suncatchers and more in these six blogs.

Shells and Sand

If you live near a beach or visit one frequently, you may already have a collection of sea glass, shells and sand. If not, be sure to collect as many as you can during your next beach adventure so that you can bring the beach home with you. From crafts as simple as gluing some googly eyes on the shells and making shell friends to more elaborate ones like necklaces, the bloggers in these six posts have come up with several sea shell craft ideas for you to choose from.

Flower Fun

There’s no telling what kinds of flowers you and your child will find while out on your nature hike. From beautiful wild flowers picked fresh from the ground to spent blooms, you’re likely to find an array of flowers to bring home with you. You can keep the flowers fresh until you get home by bringing along a damp paper towel and wrapping the blooms in it. Once home, use these six blog posts for flower craft inspiration.

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones are probably the simplest things to find during your nature walk, and you’ll likely see a variety that are interesting shapes and colors. Use your imagination as you collect them, and look for animal shapes and different colors in rocks and sticks that branch out in different directions. To get started crafting, read through these six blog posts to find creative ways to use your nature walk finds.

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27 of the Greatest Blogs with Ideas for Planning the Perfect Back-to-School Party

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

When summer ends and school begins again, there are a variety of responses you can expect from both parents and children. Parents are usually excited for the kids to go back to school and to establish a more consistent routine again. Kids, however, typically have mixed feelings about going back. To make the experience a positive one all around, consider inviting your child’s friends over and throwing a back-to-school party to get everyone excited about going back to school.  These 27 blog posts will help you with decorating ideas, party activities and party treats.

Decorations

Spruce up your backyard or house with a few school themed decorations.  You can find many different ideas at the dollar store in the teacher section. Keep the colors bright and cheery. These nine blog entries are full of back-to-school party decoration ideas, and even have some free downloadable print-outs you can use!

Activities

You’ll want to pick out several different activities for the kids to do at the party. Make sure to have a few extra ideas on hand, too; the last thing you want is for the party to break into a free-for-all because the kids ran out of things to do. If you are planning an outdoor party, it’s a good idea to plan some inside games just in case it rains or the kids get too hot.  These nine blog articles will help you plan plenty of activities that the kids will love.

Treats

Sometimes simpler is better when it comes to party snacks and treats. If you are not a baker, you may want to order simple cupcakes and add some printable toppers to tie them into your theme.  Make sandwiches and cut them into special shapes using a large cookie cutter if your party will be near lunchtime.  Treats like crackers and popcorn can be purchased prepackaged and set out in large bowls or individually packaged in cellophane bags with a clever tag.  Check out these nine blog postings to see more clever back-to-school treat ideas.

Back-to-school parties are a great way to get your kids excited about getting back into the school routine.  Instead of dreading the first day of school, the kids can look forward to the back-to-school party and seeing all of their friends again.

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