Problem-Solving: Kids See Potential In Everything

Kids See Potential In Everything.

We’re In The Middle Of A Move and it’s been an adventure, sometimes fun, sometimes funny, sometimes groggy (cross-country driving with the kids), and sometimes even a bit cranky (did I mention we were driving cross-country with the kids?).

Coffee has helped with the groggy-crankiness…and sometimes earplugs.

I have often been amazed at how clever children prove themselves to be, so naturally and innocently, unencumbered by the learned parameters of “expectation”. Kids truly do see potential in everything around them.

(This same ability, can arguably, also be a “CON” when experiencing a child’s developing IMPULSE CONTROL, but that is something to explore in another post….)

Last month, while watching our son transform a large yellow pipe cleaner and plastic pirate chain into a pretty convincing Spinosaurus costume, I was in parental awe at the sheer simplicity of the solution.  You can read about that HERE.

And, I hear the best stories from other mothers who view the ingenuity of their own children with a combination of delight and exasperation.   For instance, my friend, Gretchen, who co-authored the Laredo Splash Park Review, recently told us about a plan her kids were concocting to conduct an experiment in the house.

“This conversation just happened in a New York household…

FOUR YEAR OLD:   “Mom, get out of the kitchen.”

MOTHER:   “Why?” 

FOUR YEAR OLD:   “We are going to do an experiment and the refrigerator might explode.”

BEST reason not to vacate said kitchen. EVER.”

That’s probably A Good Call!  Although, I have to admit I’d be a little interested to know what they were going to try….   

I was reminded, again, of what a child will do to overcome boredom this morning in our sparse hotel room, with few toys and other conventional forms of child entertainment.

We gave our son a tangerine.

And, the play commenced.

Kids See Potential In Everything.

 

As a mom pursuing her own entrepreneurial pursuits, working to build a new company from the ground up, and trying to do it as practically as possible, these resourceful reminders are fantastic.   I’m not going to build a company on tangerine peels or plastic party chains, but I can remember that simple solutions using available resources might be, literally, right in front of me.

During this business Work-In-Progress, I have found that the solutions that have worked best, were often simple and available at the onset of the task or plan. But, those solutions were not necessarily clear or even part of the brainstorming process. Much work and energy can go into implementing a plan or a model that is more complicated than it needs to be. I want to strive for an elegant solution, and I think making a crocodile out of tangerine peels when there is nothing else to play with, is pretty darn elegant.

I think we can all benefit from re-routing traditional thinking when it comes to problem-solving to find the potential in the things, opportunities, and people around us….and, let’s not forget about the potential within ourselves!
 

SO….The Next Time A Challenge Presents Itself, 

 

SIMPLY LOOK FOR THE CROCODILE

HIDING IN THE FIGURATIVE CUTIE PEELS.

 

ALSO, TRY NOT TO BLOW UP ANY REFRIGERATORS….

 


Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit

We recently watched the movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and have a little boy how says he wants to grow up to become an archaeologist to find dinosaur bones, OR a Dragon Scientist.

SO, when we walked past this cool looking fruit today in HEB Plus, we had to pick it up and put it into our cart!

It was named “DRAGON FRUIT” and we had no idea what to expect!

 

How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons

Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit

 

When we got home, we looked up a few facts about it, and learned that a Dragon Fruit is actually a member of the Cactus Family!

They are found in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Israel. We found ours at HEB Plus in Laredo, Texas!

The most  interesting thing that we learned tonight is that the cool multi-purpose tool we use to help us in our Guacamole preparation to slice and pit avocados, The Avocado Shark, actually is the PERFECT Dragonfruit Slicing And Scooping Tool!  

 

WHO KNEW?

 

You can see the process we used to slice and eat the dragon fruit below.

 

How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-1

Step 1: Try New Flavors….Buy The Dragonfruit When You Find It!

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-2

Step 2: Slice The Dragonfruit Down The Center Lengthwise.

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-4

Step 3: Open The Dragonfruit To Reveal The White & Black Inside!

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-6

Step 4: Prepare To Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit. A Multi-Purpose Avocado Slicing/Pitting Tool Like The Avocado Shark Is Awesome For This Step!

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-8

Step 5: Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit After Cutting Around The Edges Of The Peel!

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-9

Step 6: Slice The Fruit Like You Would Slice An Apple

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-10

Step 7: Cut The Dragon Fruit Into Bite-Sized Pieces.

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-12

Step 8: Eat The Dragon Fruit!

 

I’ll admit, the inside of the dragon fruit took everyone in the family by surprise!

It was entirely new and unexpected, and so was the flavor!

The Flavor, by the way, was very much like a mild kiwi!

 

We’re going to keep trying new flavors, particularly for exotic fruits and vegetables we find at markets.

Our Family Night Dragon Fruit Adventure Was A Hit With The Kids!

 

It’s Got The Kindergartener’s Seal Of Approval….

And That Is A Hefty Endorsement!

 

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A Child Will Build What His Mind Sees

Like a lot of kids, our son is fascinated by wild animals and ancient dinosaurs.

He loves to dress-up and build habitats, watch documentaries, and read books about dinosaurs and crocodiles.

And, our son had been running around with an attached leopard tail that belonged to his sister’s halloween costume because it was the only tail he could find to pretend he was a full-fledged Spinosaurus when he’d create makeshift costumes.

 

I told him that we’d figure out a way to make a better tail.  I considered cutting out scute-like ridges from cardboard, painting them green, or maybe cutting pieces of scaly felt and gluing them together to trail behind him.

I went to do some chore and forgot about the whole missing-dino-tail-and-I-promise-to-make-one predicament.

When I went back upstairs, I was reminded that I had forgotten that task when I saw our son, again.

But then, I was also reminded that it didn’t matter that I had forgotten, after all.

 

Our 5 year old son had figured out a perfectly workable and realistic solution, himself.

And, I must say….It is absolutely Brilliantastic.

 

A Child Will Build What His Mind Sees

 

It’s True.

Kids won’t allow a seeming lack of available resources to inhibit their goals.

It is refreshing to watch a mind work in creative ways

because it hasn’t learned to place boundaries on solutions.

 

A Child Will Build What His Mind Sees.

A Child Will Make Her Thoughts Come To Life.

 

I mean, I can almost not even see our son in this photo….He becomes a Spinosaurus down to those perfectly curled therapod claws and that realistic hissing roar that sounds like the ancient reptile actually needs to clear his throat.

 

Can You Just Hear It?

 

It’s A Good Lesson For Us All, To Remember, Really.

 

Don’t Just Love The Spinosaurus, Become The Spinosaurus.

 

Learn Everything You Can About That Spinosaurus.

 

Use Whatever You Find Available To Make Spinosaurus Happen.

 

Don’t Wait For Mom To Go To The Craft Store To Cut Green Scutes Out Of Tag Board.

 

There’s No Need For That Kind Of Unnecessary Delay!

(She’ll Probably Just Forget, Anyway!)

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS PUT ON That Cheap Dollar Store Hat That You Begged Your Very-Resistant Mom To Buy (Because It Might Be A Buck, But, Seriously, How Long Is It Going To Last?   Over A Year, Surprisingly),

 

TWIST That Over-Sized Pipe Cleaner Into The Neck Of Your T-Shirt Until The Head Hole Stretches To Fit A Beach Ball Through It When You Finally Take It Off To Make A Spiny Sail,

 

TUCK That Handy Plastic Pirate Chain Into Your Belt Loop (Which, Interestingly, Also Doubles As The Leash You Fasten Around Your 2nd Grade Sister’s Waist When You Pretend To Use Her As Bait To Catch Crocodiles) And Make A Long And Fearsome Tail,

 

CURL Your Fingers Into Terrible Three-Fingered Claws That Look Like Perfect Garden Rakes,

 

ROAR A Throaty Roar That Would Inflict Laryngitis On Lesser Humans, I Mean, Ancient Reptilian Crocodylomorphs…

 

AND STRIKE Fear Into The Hearts Of ALL The Other Dinosaurs In Your Imagination As They Tremble In The Sharp-Toothy Face Of Your Boundless Cleverness.

 

PROVE Just Why YOU Are The Apex Predator In This Food Web Of AWESOME…AGAIN.
 

WHEN YOU DO ALL THAT, YOU ARE A SPINOSAURUS.

 

When I see children solve problems by seeing the potential in

the simplest things that lay in front of them,

I am reminded that we, parents, might not be missing

as many spinosaurus tails as we thought we were.

 

The solutions to our everyday conundrums might just require

an adjusted approach,

a less conventional perspective,

or, at the very least,

one really awesome plastic party pirate chain.  

 

Everyone should have one of those.

 

 

 

 

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Why Would Anyone Live By A Volcano? { Kid Conversations }

 
 
critters and crayons, Photo Of Volcanic Rock From "Why Would Anyone Go On Vacation Near a Volcano?"
 
 

EVERY DAY, THERE IS NEWS THAT MAKES US GASP.

 

EVERY DAY, THERE IS NEWS THAT MAKES US SAD.

 

AND, EVERY DAY, WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE,

 

I FIND HOPE IN SIMPLE KID CONVERSATIONS.

 

My children are not unique in the way that they can turn DNA-infused maternal worry into comforting hope that THEY/WE/THE PLANET will be okay.
 
In the elfin voices of children, we hear the barebones logic of kindness.
 
I was reminded by our nearly seven year old daughter of this in a bedtime conversation as we read another chapter from The Magic Tree House Series , this time from Book #13, Vacation Under The Volcano.
 
By Chapter 3, the kids were introduced to the concept of The Gladiators, a strong, soldierly-looking group of men, who were fighters bound by ankle-chains.
 
Our daughter asked,
 

“WHY?  Why would such strong men have chains?  Did they do something wrong?”

 
I explained they had not.  I tried to break it down for them as succinctly as I could so they could understand the concept.

  • These days, if we see people in physical chains, it would normally be for prisoners in jail.
  • The chains would be there to protect others, and to keep them from escaping.
  • But, we are lucky to live in a time where most people in the world understand that people should not be treated like prisoners in chains if they have done nothing wrong.
  • The word for those people is “SLAVE”.
  • And, all around the world, and throughout history, many people had slaves.
  • Slaves were owned by other people.
  • In the case of the gladiators in Roman times, they were slaves who were owned by people who made them fight.
  • But, other slaves had to do other types of work, and it was a hard life.
  • People were not free.
  • And, if your parents were slaves owned by someone, the children were often born as slaves.

 
Our kids, 5 and 7 years old, seemed genuinely horrified.
 
Our daughter shouted,
 

“I DO NOT AGREE WITH THAT!!!!!”

And, this made me a very happy Mom.  But, she kept on.
 
She said,
 

IT MAKES NO SENSE!   A HUMAN SHOULD NEVER OWN ANOTHER HUMAN LIKE A PET!  

AFTER ALL, THEY ARE THE SAME SPECIES!”

 

Our son gave his ardent support by adding that it was true!

 

“HUMANS ARE NOT THE SAME SPECIES AS CROCODILES!”

 

{You’d have to have been following this blog for some time to understand why that crocodilian reference makes complete sense.….}

 
The conversation morphed from discussion of why it was not right to own humans into another very salient topic:
 
 

“MOM?  WHY WOULD PEOPLE GO ON VACATION TO A PLACE WITH A VOLCANO?!?!”

 

This question arose because Chapter 2 of the book indicated that Pompei, Italy was a place where ancient Romans would visit on vacation.

 

The kids were serious when they asked the question of why anyone would visit a place for fun knowing that a volcano was right in the middle of it.

 

Our daughter said,

 

“It just seems….UNSAFE.”

 
I’ve never lived near a volcano but know a lot of folks who have lived in Hawaii.
 
Perhaps, one of them might be better equipped at explaining their reasons for choosing to do that to our daughter.
 
I was thinking that there must be some science on our side now-  seismological Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs that gave enough forewarning to make millions of people feel safe, but I thought using “Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs” in a sentence might harm my credibility, even in the eyes of these kids.
 
So, I thought about how to explain why millions of people live in, around, and on active volcanoes, by choice.
 
All I could recall about living near volcanoes in my youth was the observation of the panicked dispersal of former Subic Bay High School students to other high schools throughout the Fareast after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 in the Philippines.
 
Some of the students came to our high school in Seoul, Korea and they brought with them, the awesome footage of the aftermath.
 
The images showed a thorough destruction that laid deceptively beautiful sheets of chalky basalt in its cooled-magma wake.
 
(The other short-sighted downer for my then-high-school-self was that the volcanic eruption seemed to send some of the best Subic Bay athletes on the Girls’ basketball team to rival Fareast Tournament schools in Okinawa, Japan, and Guam.)
 
I chose not to relay that example to the kids to explain why it’s safe to live, or even better, to emplace an entire military base and billions of dollars in sensitive military assets, near an active volcano, which totally exploded.  
 
Maybe, folks just needed one of those seismological Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs, so a more geothermally-stagnant location could have been chosen…
 
Oh, wait! I remembered, there might be another story to tell.  Her Papa, my dad, actually gave the kids a rock this past Christmas that he picked up on his own visit to Pompei.  It’s a piece of pumice from one of Mt. Vesuvius’ many eruptions.
 
The very reason their Papa visited the city was to see the recovered ruins that had been unearthed after having been completely covered in volcanic ash in 79 A.D., that were only discovered in 1748 B.C by a survey engineer.  
 
This didn’t seem to support an answer about why anyone should go on vacation or live in a place with a volcano considering the mass death and destruction that has cyclically ensued over Mt. Vesuvius’ lifetime. But, it appeared that Papa was lucky that he made it home, especially since he had no special early warning Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs.
 
So, I just agreed with her.  She appeared to be right on, again.
 
We finished the chapter, gave Goodnight Kisses, and as I prepared to flip out the light, I asked the kids one last question.
 

“You know, guys….We’re leaving Laredo soon.  
  What place, here, are you going to miss the most?”

 
I figured I’d hear “The Imaginarium!” or “The Science Center!” or the name of some park.   But, instead, I heard something even more special and profound.
 

“WELL?  
  What I’m gonna miss the most is not really a place…..
  Actually….It’s actually the people here.  

I’m gonna miss my friends the most.”

 

And, for another moment, I had to stop and think about our conversation, again.

 

When you spend a lot of time moving in your life, “Friendship” BECOMES A Place.

It turns into a proper noun, entitled to capitalization,
with all the grammatical rights of any fixed city on a map.

 
So, I answered….
 

“Me, Too, Kiddo.  

My Friends Are The Place I’m Gonna Miss The Most, Too.”

 
 

The Simplest Things Can Make Us Happy And Hopeful.

 

There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Gasp.

 

BUT, There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Laugh.

 

There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Sad.

 

BUT, There WILL Always Be Something That Leaves Us In Awe.

 
 

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE BRILLIANCE OF A CHILD TO REMIND US THAT THINGS ARE GONNA BE ALRIGHT.

 
 

And, If The Brilliance Fails To Inspire You, Just Follow The Unbridled Laughter….

 
 

 
 

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Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gift ~ Teacher Appreciation Week

 

This year we wanted to do something fun and nature-oriented for Teacher Appreciation Week!

You might remember the kids’ School Supply Cake last year?   That was a fun project, too!

 

To Make The Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gifts You See Here, You Will Need:

  • 1 Small glass bottle with cork
  • Dandelion(s), preferably with seeds still attached to wispy parts
  • 3 Feet of thin leather cording, ribbon, or other cording for each glass jar
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbook Paper or Card For Haiku
  • Pen or Marker

 

We found some pretty little glass bottles at a craft store and our daughter wanted to place dandelion wisps inside for her teachers.

The children picked the last dandelion we could find in our backyard for this project!

Surprisingly, one dandelion was plenty to fill 9 little glass jars!

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

The kids placed one to two dandelion seeds into each glass jar.

Handling the seeds and getting them into the small openings was a fantastic fine motor skills activity!

We tried to keep the wispy parts of the flower attached to the seed because we just love the way they look inside the bottles!

 

Some Quick Tips:

  • If you have a knitting needle, or something similar like a rubber band loom needle, you can use it to help move the dandelion seeds into position inside the bottles.
  • I recommend placing your dandelion in a small container to protect the wisps from flying off!
  • I don’t recommend gluing the cork onto the bottle so the recipient can change contents later if he/she would like to.

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

We had more seeds and wisps to add, but we loved the simple, beautiful look  of each bottle with one to two seeds.

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

The remaining seeds DO look quite pretty in the extra bottles…

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

I helped the kids with the last part of the gift by cutting 36″ lengths of thin, tan leather cord for each of the bottles the kids had prepared.

I tied the knots around the neck of each bottle and then knotted the very ends of the cord so that the teachers could use the bottles as a necklace or lanyard.

 

The very last thing we did to complete the gift was to develop a short poem called a Haiku to give with the gift.

 

HERE IS A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THE JAPANESE POEM CALLED “HAIKU”:

  • Haiku refers to a traditional Japanese Poem consisting of 17 syllables broken into three lines following  a rhythm of 5-7-5 for on/off syllables.
  • That may sound very technical but it was easiest to explain to our kids by clapping as we practiced saying possible stanzas as we built the poem.
  • Haiku also usually contains a “nature” element, and a clear break between two ideas.
  • Haiku are often witty.

 

I realized after we settled on our finished poem for the teachers, that we had mixed up the number of syllables.

Instead of 5-7-5, our poem was set to a  7-5-7 rhythm.

 

Apparently, English-Contemporary Haiku has been breaking the rules for some time now, so I’m going with “It’s an English-Contemporary Haiku Pattern”.

Haha!  :)

 
Here is our English-Contemporary Haiku the kids helped to develop for their teachers!
 

   “You taught me to ride the wind.

I landed safely

by MYSELF.  Thank You.”

                                                                   ~Tricia,  Critters And Crayons

 
Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

THANK YOU TO ALL

OF THE TEACHERS OUT THERE

HELPING OUR LITTLE

DANDELION SEEDS LAND SAFELY

BY THEMSELVES! 

 

#TeacherAppreciation

#HaikuWithKids 

 

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“Great Work! For a Girl!” A Conversation With My Daughter On International Women’s Day

 
 
 

 “Great Work! For a GIRL.”

 

These are words that I heard from my first grade daughter’s mouth this morning about her OWN work.

 

There was a major learning event in our home this morning, and it is fitting that it unexpectedly happened to happen on International Women’s Day 2014.

 

As our daughter worked on a very intricate Rainbow Loom rubber band bracelet, I heard her utter the words with pride and seriousness,

 

“Great Work! FOR A GIRL!!!”

 

Time Stopped.

 
It is not an exaggeration to say that I felt like my heart stopped a little.

 

What did she just say with such happiness?  How?  HOW????!!!

 

It was clearly time for a serious talk.

I asked where she’d heard that phrase and she said she heard it on Scooby Doo.

 

I explained to our daughter that it was a line meant to be an insult because whoever said it didn’t think that a girl could do great work in whatever situation they were working in.

 
Both our 5 year old son and our 6 and a half year old girl found this very confusing.

 
How was that an insult?  That was not an insult.  They said, “Great Work!” and it WAS “Great Work… For A Girl!”
 

Oh My. Oh My.  Oh My, My, My, My, My…….
 
 

There is work to be done in this home…

in this home where we celebrate women….

NO…

In this home where we celebrate PEOPLE

who work hard and achieve,

who do good things, and who make a difference.   

There is work to be done in this family of open-minded people,

from our ancestors,

to our extended family,

to the friends we laugh with,

to the teachers we honor,

and in the way we live,

where we recognize

and exalt and read about

THE PEOPLE WHO DO GREAT WORK….

 
 
The first answers to the questions I asked were a bit alarming from our little Pre-Schooler and First Grader.
 

  “Do you think girls can do the same great work boys can do?

‘Do you think girls can be just as strong or fast as boys?”

“Do you think girls are as smart as boys?”

“Do you think boys can be just as good as girls at art, or cooking, or fashion as girls?”

 

(*I used those fashion & cooking examples because they are traditionally ascribed to stereotypically “girly” pastimes and commercial toys-  like the color pink.  And, I know these are the activities my children associate with activities that GIRLS should be better at than BOYS).

 
 
And, then, I recalled a Super Hero episode I overheard recently where Batman and Superman ordered burgers and milkshakes and then cut Wonder Woman off as she ordered a salad and whole wheat toast.
 

“She’ll have the same! Make it 3!” Superman yelled.

“You’ll work it off later, Princess,” Batman responded.

Wonder Woman sat quietly and waited for her burger.

 
 

The Messages. Those Messages.

 

The Subliminal and The Overt.

 
 

They had already chipped away at the developing worldview of my perspective-vulnerable kids, and I had not seen it.

 

I remember watching an Independent Lens Documentary about the rise and fall of Wonder Woman.

 
She went from empowering icon to a female super hero who needed to be rescued herself as her own powers had devolved to be…Just….LESS THAN.
 

It was called “Wonder Women!  The Untold Story of American Super Heroines”
 

I watched that documentary because it happened to follow the other Independent Lens Documentaries I’d DVR’ed.

 
The Wonder Woman episode followed one about a man obsessed with Chinese Mail-Order Brides and another on the dwindling number of nomadic Mongolian tribes still bartering with precious strands of silk that had to be vigilantly protected from mold or rot to avoid complete destitution.
 

It was just a documentary between documentaries.
 

It was just a documentary because we really had moved forward and past that kind of thinking.

 

UNTIL TODAY.

 

TODAY, WONDER WOMAN LOOKED AT THE NEW LASSO OF HOPE

THAT SHE MADE HERSELF

ON THE UBIQUITOUSLY AVAILABLE AND AWARD-WINNING

TOY OF THE YEAR!”,

AND SHE EXCLAIMED,

“GREAT WORK! FOR A GIRL!”

 
 
And, it happened, of all days, TODAY, on International Women’s Day.
 

By the end of our talk, I feel like both of our kids understand why saying “Great Work! For A Girl…” is NOT a compliment.

 

“Great Work” Is Very Simply “GREAT WORK”.

 

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US IS CAPABLE OF IT.

 

EVERY ONE.

 

AND “BAD WORK” is equally, and simply, “BAD WORK”….

 

For instance:

“BAD WORK” = Bad script writing where Wonder Woman isn’t capable of ordering her own lunch.

 

 

I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW, PARENTS….

IF YOU HEARD THOSE CRAZILY ANTIQUATED,

HEART-BREAKING,

AND SO INNOCENTLY UTTERED WORDS

COME FROM YOUR OWN AMAZING, CAPABLE, SMART, DEVELOPING CHILD’S MOUTH…..

  WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID?

 

 

 

AFTER OUR TALK, I HAD BOTH OF MY KIDS YELL SOMETHING.

 

OUR BOY YELLED IT.

 

OUR GIRL YELLED IT.

 

I YELLED IT.

 

I HOPE YOU AND YOUR KIDS YELL IT, TOO.

 

"I WILL DO GREAT WORK!"  A post by Critters And Crayons On International Women's Day 2014.
“I WILL DO GREAT WORK!”

 
 

MAY EVERY SINGLE PERSON

ALL OVER THE WORLD

ORDER HIS OR HER OWN LUNCH,

AND BE GIVEN CREDIT FOR GREAT WORK

BECAUSE IT IS JUST, SIMPLY, GREAT.

 
 

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

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Making Molecules With Kids!

I woke up yesterday morning to quite a surprise.

Back in November, I posted THIS to The Critters And Crayons Facebook Page.

Santa was going to be bringing the kids a cool Molecule Building Kit.

He totally did.

But, the kids thought it was more like a set of tinker toys and they built car shapes, and crocodiles, flowers and other things out of the contents immediately.
 

BUT YESTERDAY Our daughter said,

I made the particles on the back of that box Santa brought us.

 

PARTICLES?

I promise I have never used the word “particle” with my child.  Where did she learn that word?

She says she learned it when Batman was talking about splitting up something called “Particles”.   Go figure.

She didn’t know what she had made, but it was a real joy to  RELEARN all of the molecules I hadn’t looked at since 11th grade Chemistry class!

Water Molecule (H20) From Critters And Crayons "Making Molecules With Kids!"

Water Molecule (H2O). Two Hydrogen Atoms Linked To One Oxygen Atom!

 

Our 6-year old was fascinated to learn that the water we drink and that comes flowing from our faucets looks like the model she’d made in its tiniest, tiniest building block form!

She had also formed the molecule below  without knowing exactly what she had made while following the diagrams on the back of the kit box…..

 

Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule From Critters And Crayons Post "Making Molecules With Kids!"

The Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule (H2O2).

 

I explained that the stuff we use to clean her ears and earrings looks just like the model she made if we were able to see it in its smallest form-  Lots and lots and lots of these make up what we use in that brown bottle!

WHOAH.

And, then we had fun looking up the rest that she had constructed so quietly in the play area….

 

Molecules From Critters And Crayons Post "Making Molecules With Kids!"

 

Can you guess what they all are?

Don’t worry.  I had to look them all up, too!

Top Left:   Diatomic Nitrogen Molecule (N2) 

Top Right:  Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule (H2O2)

Middle Left:  Diatomic Oxygen Molecule (O2)

Middle Right:  Water Molecule (H2O)

Lower Left:  Methane Molecule (CH4)

 

What I love about this molecule kit is that it invites kids to play and learn without even realizing it.

There is a lot to build upon from this very beginning point of building the molecules according to the diagrams and explaining what each of the molecules actually IS to a first grader.

We can keep these models up, or break them down again- but, as the years progress, we will be able to delve into more complex concepts like the differences between Diatomic Molecules, Ionic Bonds, Covalent Bonds, Organic Compounds, and other things I’m going to have to get smart on, all over again.

I found our kit at a local craft store, but you can find them online, too!

I am so glad I happened across this “Making Molecules” activity for kids.

 

The FloraCraft Molecule Kit

 

I need to remember to thank Santa next year for the awesome toy.  And, I think I may have him throw in a “Chemistry For Dummies” book for me, too.  :)

Speaking of Chemistry…..

 

I came across some amazing ideas centered on Chemistry and Molecules….

 

Hostess With The Mostess did a round-up of Clever & Creative Mad Scientist Party Ideas For Girls

Lightbulb Books Made Molecules Using Straws And Play Doh

High Hill Homeschool’s Marshmallow And Toothpick Molecules

Kids Activities Blog Atoms & Molecules:  10 Fun Ways To Learn!

 

So, do you remember anything from your 11th grade chemistry class?

 

Oh, Good.  I thought I was alone. 

 

HAPPY SCIENCE LEARNING!

 

 

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Parenting Is Like Sledding. Sled Optional.

My kids often surprise us with the unspeakably comical things that they say.

They also make us pause when their questions require an honest and thoughtful answer.

We’re coming off of a holiday trip that bore some of the typical challenges of traveling during an already busy season.

Sometimes, reality didn’t match the idyllic scenes in a Hallmark Movie for the various tugs and pulls of life, and family, and obligations.

Essentially, it was a normal holiday season- one that many might relate to, and one that might lead a child to ask a simple, but very thought-provoking question of her parents like our six-year old daughter did tonight on the way back from a drugstore where we bought vitamins for immunity support to stave off any more festive seasonal illness-on-the-go.

 

“Mom?  Is It Easy Having Kids?”

 

I could have answered her quickly with a fleeting and dishonest, “YES! It’s Super Easy!”, but I’ve got a sort of rule about not lying about that kind of stuff. 

I don’t want to be the Army Recruiter who promises someone a job in a highly marketable computer field who then lands him in a basement working with dot matrix printers circa 1985.  That’s just bad Mommy PR.  So, I told her the truth.

 

“No.  Having Kids Is Not Easy.”

 

Our First Grader looked concerned so I elaborated,

 

“But….It IS Awesome!”

 

Our daughter was confused.

 

“How can something be hard and awesome at the same time, Mommy?”

 

I didn’t have any concrete examples to give in that second.

 

But, I told her that most things that are completely awesome

in our lives are usually not that easy.  

BUT, THEY ARE USUALLY WORTH IT.

 

I may have blanked on examples but our daughter threw one out.  She said,

 

“You mean like if we’re sledding

and we have to walk all the way up

to the top of the hill in the freezing cold

so that we can sled down super fast

and have all that fun

spinning all the way down?”

 

I didn’t think I could put it any better myself so I told her that was pretty much exactly right.

Really, that is about the best metaphor I could think of that I didn’t think of at all.

Maybe, to complete the parallel, I could have added a few crash-and-burns at the bottom of the hill, some broken sleds, or a dud slope or two to round out the analogy, but I felt pretty good she now understood that something can be TOTALLY NOT EASY while still being simultaneously TOTALLY AWESOME.

That’s Us.

We Parents.

 

We’re all trudging up a slope,

looking for a safe route,

eyes on the peak,

moving forward when it hurts,

striving upward when we fall,

willing onward when we’re cold,

and getting to the end

as honestly and happily as we can

so that the long and arduous trip

might all be worth it

for one magnificent launch,

followed by a brief 

and validating

soar to the bottom,

on a cheap, round sled

that spins you like a top

until you crash,

or fall,

or coast to a stop,

Hoping For The Coast,

Always Hoping For The Coast,

so that we might trudge back up

to do it all over,

Again.

 

That’s Us.

That’s Parenting.

It’s Not Easy Having Kids.  But, It IS Freaking Awesome.

 

It’s Like That.

 

 IT’S ALSO LIKE THIS.

 

Parenting.  We Got This. From Critters And Crayons.

 

Trusting Clutches, Giant Smiles, And Closed Eyes

 

 Astride Quiet Screams And Immense Hopes

 

 That You Will Coast,

 

Coast Without Crashing,

 

 Still Smiling, Still Laughing,

 

Without Breaking Anything,

 

After That Fervent And Amazing Ride

 

Hoping You Didn’t Lose Your Sled On The Way…

 

But Even If You Had,

 

It Would Have Been Worth

 

Every

 

Terrifying

 

 Moment. 

 

So, to wrap it all up in a nice, pithy little phrase:

 

Parenting Is Like Sledding.  Sled Optional.

 It’s  Easy  AWESOME!

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Teaching Kids About Culture With The Elf On A Shelf

We have a very Curious Elf On A Shelf.

 

Teaching Kids About Culture With The Elf On A Shelf

 

Time is scarce so our elf, is very thankfully, not too into mischief and messes.

He IS a very curious Elf, though.

Each morning, the kids find him on top of something that came from a different place in the world.

And, each evening, we sit down at the computer together and they excited ask questions about whatever it is that they found the Elf sitting on or in or under that morning.

We simply Google Away together.

And, each image or map or costume they see triggers another question and another search.

An example of what our curious Elf On The Shelf taught the kids this morning when they found him on the Mongolian String Instrument was that it was not simply a “HORSEY BANJO”, which is what they called it when they found Snowflower Flaky Sassypants sitting on top of the traditional horse-handle like a rocking horse.

It’s called a “MATOUQUIN“.

 

It is from MONGOLIA.

 

MONGOLIA is in ASIA.

 

 The MATOUQUIN is shaped like a TRAPEZOID.

 

 

The kids now know that Snowflower The Elf is NOT simply  sitting on a Horsey Banjo.

So far, we’ve explored Mexico, Afghanistan, and Mongolia alongside our very globally curious Elf On A Shelf.

I wonder where she’ll take us tomorrow?

 

HOW DOES THE ELF ON THE SHELF BEHAVE IN YOUR HOME?

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A Hopping Popping Christmas Literacy Event!

I hope you’ll come out to to see me and my friends at Laredo 8 HEB Plus for a super fun literacy event on November 30th!

I’ll be reading some old Christmas favorites and the kids are going to enjoy some fantastic stomping on the Bubble Wrapped Floor and Christmas Tree Painting With…..

 Bubble-Wrap, of course!

 

 

HEB Plus Critters And Crayons Literacy Event A Hopping Popping Christmas

 

 

SEE YOU THERE!

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