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Great Read Aloud Books

30 Jul

THIS IS IMPORTANT!

Now that I have your attention, I wanted you to know that you should read to your kids until they are at least 11 or 12 years old. (Some kids will let you read to them until they leave the house.) Select books that are at a higher level than they can read by themselves, but can still understand. Reading aloud to your kids will encourage their imagination, build vocabulary and model reading skills. Most of all it will be a great bonding time for your family.

It’s important not to change the vocabulary words or ask your child to help you read. You are the reader and they are the listener.

Here’s a list of books we think your kids would enjoy listening to.

Ages 5 and up

  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Lois Sachar
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  • Stuart Little by E. B. White
Ages 7 and up
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L ‘Engle
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
  • The Cay by Theodore Taylor
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Ages 9 and up
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

What Do the Library of Congress and Asthma Have in Common?

17 Jul

Today, our guest blogger is…my sister. We’re very similar but, she is very environmentally friendly and I, uh, well, uh, I try! She’s got some healthy options if you are going to be making some changes to your home that will keep your asthma suffers happier and healthier. And, yes, I’m very late in posting this.

By: Beth Barnes

May is Asthma Awareness Month! According to the EPA, about 25 million people, including 7 million children have asthma. In the past year over 12 million people have reported suffering from an asthma attack and the numbers are rising. An unbelievable 17 million doctor office and hospital visits can be attributed to asthma but despite the astounding statistics, the good news is that there are preventive measures that could help…and are helping!

Through my work at Green Goods in San Luis Obispo (www.slogreengoods.com) I’m constantly reassured that help is not only on the way, it’s here! When I raised my young daughters in rural England I was oblivious to the perils of indoor air pollution and can now easily point to many things I could have done differently, had I only known. Now, armed with what I’m learning, I hope I can teach other parents with young children what they can do to be the first line of defense when it comes to raising their healthy children, with healthy lungs and strong immune systems. We are faced with countless choices during the course of a lifetime, and choosing to be parents is the greatest and most rewarding choice of all. Now I’d like to work together with other parents to get it right and give our children the knowledge they need as they grow up and start making their own healthy choices.

Dr. Zoe Wells, ND (www.drzoe.com) of San Luis Obispo, California has spent years studying the effects of our environment on the young and undeveloped immune systems and like me, she has a vested interest in educating parents with young children…she’s a mother too! Dr. Wells says, “Re-current exposure to toxins and contaminants can trigger an incomplete immune response; the young body is then overwhelmed with histamines which allows the development of asthma.” The Environmental Protection Agency shares Dr. Wells’ opinion (http://www.epa.gov). From 1980 to 1994 the number of American children under the age of five, afflicted with asthma grew by an astounding 160%! This is a call to arms in the name of making our children’s worlds a healthier place, so time to arm ourselves against mold, toxins, allergens and chemicals in our children’s worlds.

Our choices walk hand-in-hand with responsibility, and both Dr. Wells and I agree that good and healthful choices don’t mean sacrifice when it comes to furnishing homes that are beautiful and fashioned to reflect your own personal design style. Non-toxic does not equal boring or cost-prohibitive, it equals thoughtful and informed. The green and sustainable home decorating revolution is in full swing but it no longer is an exclusive movement, reserved for those who can afford it. “Green” and sustainable is available to all of us and I have a list of firm favorites, with cork flooring riding high on that list.

Did you know that Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors? As you watch your children you will see that a great deal of their time is spent on the floor. It’s a confined world where they often crawl, roll and nap, where they sometimes eat and where they spend countless hours playing and…living in their own little worlds. The world they call home is the same world where we walk, where animals sprawl and where dust and pollutants naturally land after playfully floating inside of our homes looking for a final resting ground…ah-ha, the floor, what a natural place for these pollutants to land! Parents shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that the beater bars of expensive vacuum cleaners will solve the problem…very often beater bars only stir up dust and disengage the staple of the carpet from the backing, creating ‘fur’ that can end up in the child’s mouths.

This world, the only one our babies and toddlers know and find accessible is ‘ground zero’ for indoor allergens and irritants that play a significant role in triggering asthma attacks. “Triggers” are things that can cause asthma symptoms, an “episode” (attack) or make previously diagnosed asthma even worse. If a child has asthma, they may react to just one trigger or they may find that several things act as triggers. Be sure to work with a doctor to identify these triggers and develop a treatment plan that includes ways to reduce exposure, but in the meantime also look at what you can do to perhaps limit attacks or prevent them altogether. Eventual asthma could be averted if we remove those things that can play a role in encouraging asthmatic reactions.

If a child spends most of its day on the carpet it will surely be keeping company with more than toys. Carpets are notorious for collecting dust, dust mites, allergens and contaminants and during their useful life it has been said that a carpet doubles in weight! This weight-gain can be attributed to the unfortunate and unavoidable collection of dirt that cannot be extracted by daily vacuuming or rigorous cleaning so it is a sad fact that carpets attract things that our children should not be breathing. They are the same things that can dangerously compromise the developing immune systems of our precious charges.

As building techniques become more advanced, our homes are sealed more tightly trapping chemical irritants, dust mites, molds and indoor air pollution that the EPA claims is worse indoors than it is outdoors! Our children and their developing immune systems are being held hostage but in all fairness, who knew? I wish that my daughters once had the benefit of my knowledge today, but the sad fact is that their early years were spent crawling and playing on toxic, industrial carpet. The turning point came when our old carpet tiles made way for wall-to-wall carpet. As the old carpet was removed the years of dust build up, disintegrated foam backing and unexplainable residue was enough to make me start asking questions. It was only after I returned to the United States that the pieces began to fall into place….I had been raising my young children in a toxic environment!

As it has been said, prevention is the best medicine but when did prevention become so fun, and fashionable? At Green Goods, I am very fortunate to be able to educate consumers who want to promote healthy indoor air quality in their homes. Very often it is parents who have only heard about cork flooring but don’t really understand the benefits. I want to give parents the knowledge that I did not have and let them make their own informed decisions.

The truth is that carpet, as beautiful and cozy as it is, would not the best choice for a floor covering if small children, are in the home, or will soon be welcomed into the home. As previously stated, it attracts pollutants that we would rather not introduce to developing immune systems and unless it is pure wool, the chances are very high that it contains chemicals that can cause off-gassing for a long time after installation. Cork flooring, on the other hand is not only unusual, beautiful and child friendly, it possesses some amazing natural qualities that are one step short of miraculous.

At Green Goods one of our goals is to carry products that we know come from FSC forests which means they are well-managed and rapidly renewable forests. We also look at the carbon footprint of the products we offer and also at the production processes to ensure that they are socially responsible in the way they treat their employees, their neighbors and the environment. Unlike hardwood trees that will spend up to fifty years reaching maturity, only to be cut down once, cork trees have a life span of almost 200 years and can product 9 ‘crops’ during their lifetime. The cork tree (a member of the oak family), nor the soil structure is destroyed during one of these 9 harvests so it is a highly renewable resource. This is a great teaching opportunity for parents hoping to give their children an idea of the world they are growing up into!

Cork shares many great qualities with carpet, without the allergens and pollutants. It regulates a temperature of about 71° and is very soft, naturally cushioning a little body during the formative years. It is naturally mold, allergen and mildew resistant, involves no off-gassing of harmful chemicals and it is easily cleaned with a damp mop! Another great feature is that it’s self-healing! Have you ever removed a cork from a wine bottle and two hours later found that it has re-shaped itself and seems impossible to re-insert into the neck of the bottle! Imagine a small fracture on your new cork floor….it’s the same concept. The flooring comes in tiles of different dimensions, styles, colors and designs and can easily be self-installed with click-together technology.

Cork has been used throughout history but is only coming into the limelight now as more and more people understand the importance of making healthy choices for themselves and their families. If our founding fathers thought cork was good enough for our very own Library of Congress in 1897 then it’s good enough for me! How about you?

Beth Barnes contact@slogreengoods.com 805.543.9900

Your Family Matters

10 Jul
Image

Running your kids………..

I usually don’t compare people to dogs, but then again, we are all animals by nature. As a dog lover of 6 ( 4 are rescue dogs ), I have 2 labs and a Golden and energy are their middle names, especially the Labs. I know quite well that if they don’t get that 15 to 20 minutes of exercise a day ( we play fetch and an interesting version of dog/person baseball ), they will likely get into trouble or dive me crazy . On the other hand. If they are given the attention to get things off their “paws”, they are loving, relatively calm ( Labs?) , and rest peacefully at night. If this sounds familiar to kids, you are dead on.

The plethora of studies emphasizing the beneficial effects of regular exercise for children far exceed the amount of space for this week’s column. I will instead suffice it to say, exercise is better than any magic pill for both the physical and emotional sides of life. What’s nice is that the effects are immediate and long lasting if they are fun and enjoyable.

But for most kids, exercise is boring unless they are really into sports. This lasts into the teenage years when some then decide to pay attention to their bodies and decide to get into shape or are forced to by that high school coach The motivation here for most of the teens is to attract the opposite sex and become stronger than the concept of exercise as a form of self-therapy and self-care. That comes into play for many adults. The rest of the teens and adults alike tend to be sedentary and often overweight and depressed.

Now, getting kids to exercise when they don’t want to is a common parental battle often compared to bring a horse to water. On this one, I think we pick this battle for it has to do with both the physical and mental health of our kids. As a loving parent, we owe them a long and healthy life. So, how do we win this one? It’s actually pretty easy especially if you have dogs.

1. Exercise yourself as an example to your kids. Modeling behavior as a parent carries a lot of weight. Most kids identify with their parents – both the good and not good stuff – Exercise and fitness is obviously a good one.

2. Exercise with your kids on a daily basis. I personally love this one. My kids and I do a variety of challenges daily. Running time trials ; swimming; tennis; or we make up games like “tickle monster”. We engage in one of these for 20 minutes a day and we all feel and act better towards one another.

3. Reward the behavior. Make the outcome a celebration – make a healthy smoothie together. Kids love to win by the way and parents need to be okay with losing.

4. Take turns making up sport or activity games. The rules might get a little confusing and change frequently, but the idea is that everyone plays and gets the benefits of exercise. Consider NOT keeping score to reduce competition unless they are all against you make a big deal if they beat you.

I officially recommend adding running to your parent list of “things to do with my kids everyday”, and watch the benefits before your eyes. Stay healthy.

Dr. Keith Kanner

Anchor/Host Your Family Matters

Mental Health Expert/Contributor

NBC California Nonstop

http://www.kanner.tv

What’s your Fruit Scale This Summer?

13 Jun

Is your patience already running out with your kids home for the summer? Our friend, Christine Cook, from truebluematch.com, shared this great idea on how to tell your kids that your patience is running out.

The Fruit Scale–Where are YOU at?

One of my all-time favorite parenting books is How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.  It is full of great tips and helpful strategies to create and improve communication between parent and child.
One tip I took and morphed into my own years ago was creating a mood/energy scale.  This is a great tool to help your child visualize your mood/energy level.  The scale we used in our house for years was known as The Fruit Scale.  A typical conversation went something like this:
“OK boys, it has been a long day and my energy level is about at an orange.  We have showers, teeth and bedtime still to go.  Let’s see what we can do so that my energy level stays the same or gets bigger by the time we read stories tonight.”
Now THEY could see how their actions (or lack of) impacted my energy level.  If things were going well I would say, “Guys, this is great.  You got into your PJs right when I asked you to.  That just made my energy level go up to a grapefruit!”  Or, if they were not being helpful I’d say, “This is the third time I have asked you to start brushing your teeth.  That’s too bad because now my energy level is more of a kiwi!”
When it was time to read stories I used the energy I had to read.  If it was a large cantaloupe we’d read a few books.  My reading would be enthusiastic and upbeat, sometimes with accents and actions!  On the flip side,  if my energy level was more of a clementine I would read less and it would be much more subdued.  Raisin energy had me reading very little in a very dull, unenthusiastic tone.
The Fruit Scale (*read below about different scales) proved to be a very, very helpful tool.  It helped make the unknown (Mom’s energy level) very concrete.  Knowing that they could raise my energy from a grape to a watermelon by being helpful, kind and by following directions gave them some power.  It also turned it into a game which they loved.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes by clicking on “Contact Us” at truebluematch.com
Wishing you many WATERMELON days,
Christine Cook
Founder truebluematch.com

 

*Make it your own!

Try making your mood/energy scale fit your child’s interests.  Animal lovers might enjoy an animal scale where your mood/energy could go from a mouse to an elephant!  One child who loved memorizing the states responded well when his mom said, “My energy is Rhode Island!  What can we do to make it Texas again?”

Summer Fun

1 Jun

If you’re having difficulty reading this post, click on the blog title.

Summer’s here and our family is ready for some rest and relaxation. How about you?

Click on the calendar above to download a month of fun activities for your whole family. We’ll be posting fewer blogs this summer so we can spend more time with our kids. We’re using this calendar in our house to provide a little routine and some ideas so the summer doesn’t slip by.

We really want to see what you do this summer and we hope you’ll post some pictures on our Facebook page. We have so many followers from around the world that and there’s so much to share to bring us closer together. We also LOVE to look at pictures!

Here’s hoping you and your family have a great time together and enjoy the summer, or winter, if you’re south of the equator

 

Glowing Bubble Bath

30 May

Fill a tub with bubbles, then add some glow sticks. Turn out the lights for a unique bath time!

Daily Planning

23 May

Now that the big activities and events are on your summer calendar, it’s time to look individual days.

If you have younger children, you probably have a regular routine that you can continue during the summer. However, if you have a mix of younger kids and school age kids, it might not be so easy. Your school age kids aren’t used to being home with you every day and will want a plan that revolves around what they want to do.

Here are some suggestions to make everyone have a happy summer, and remember, this is a routine so it needs to remain flexible.

Before 9:00 Parents can do their things and the kids can have breakfast, sleep in, watch some cartoons, etc.

9:00 Everyone is out of their pjs, breakfast eaten and ready to start the day.

9-10:00ish Get in some time outdoors, play a game, do a simple art project, science experiment, run some errands, etc.

10:00-11:30ish Major day activity: Library, Volunteering, etc. Depending upon the age of your kids, you can incorporate the 9-10 time with this time.

11:30-12:30ish Make, eat and clean up lunch. The kids should help with all aspects of this

12:30-1:30ish Quiet time for everyone, even mom! Everyone retreats to their room for some time away from each other. This may mean naps, resting, reading or other quiet activity. We don’t recommend video or hand held games during this time because kids need to learn how to relax their body and mind.

1:30-4:30ish This is our get outside, learn how to play independently, go to the pool, have a friend over, tire the kids out time. Summer may seem like kids should stay up until all hours, but you will have less meltdowns and drama if the kids go to bed at a reasonable time. So use this time to get the kids worn out.

4:30-6:30ish Clean up, dinner prep, quiet play and dinner. This is a great time to have the kids help clean up after the outdoor activities. They can also help you prepare for dinner. At 5 years old, we think kids are ready to plan and cook a full meal with you at least once during the summer. Having them help you prepare daily meals will prepare them for making a meal on their own. It also gives you great time to talk to your kids. Younger kids can “cook” by playing with old spices and mixing bowls. Older kids may want to make pictures using left over cereal, dried beans, etc. while you cook. (Check out this idea our faculty member, Gretchen Stout, did with her kids at dinner time prep.)

6:30-7:30ish Special time with a parent. This is a great time to spend with mom or dad if they work outside the house. Or, you can spend individual time with just one child.

7:30-8:30ish Bath, bed and story time. Just because the kids went in the pool for the day doesn’t mean a bath isn’t important. The point of the bath is to set a bedtime routine and relax them for sleeping. You can make the bath fun by putting some glow sticks in the water and turning out the lights or fill the bath with lots of balloons. We’ve pinned a few fun bathtub ideas on our Pinterest board. Because it’s summer, you also don’t have to rush bath time, so let them play. After the bath, have the same routine about brushing teeth, putting on pjs and reading a story. Again, you don’t have to rush.

9:00ish Lights out and the grownups can spend some time together.

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