Archive for March, 2013

fun fun elmo, sesame street chinese, learn chinese, kids learn chinese

Teach Kids Mandarin Chinese in a Fun Way

Teach Kids Chinese Through Songs

When my kids were younger, I found that Spanish Sesame Street, Plaza Sesamo, entertained my kids while also teaching them Spanish. Songs were also an effective and pleasant way to expose my kids to foreign languages. As my kids got older — 2nd or 3rd grade — they rebelled and no longer would allow Plaza Sesamo DVDs in the car. They preferred silence. Ditto to foreign language CDs.

My point is that there is a window when kids are open to learning foreign languages. Both their brains and attitudes are receptive. As they grow older, not only do they not want to learn, but also making the sounds are more challenging.

I was excited to discover that Sesame Street is now in Chinese with a series geared for teaching kids Mandarin. For a CD of fun songs to accompany your Chinese language experience, try A Little Mandarin by NYC mom Toni Wang.

I’m not saying that this combination will have your kids conversing in Mandarin, but you are laying a foundation both for training their ear and for exposing them to the concept of non-word for word translation. Who knows? This might be the introduction that makes them actually want to learn Chinese when they are older. I’m still shocked that both of my girls are choosing to learn Mandarin as their mandatory foreign language in middle school!

How about you? Are your kids getting exposure to foreign languages? How do you manage this? Please share your tips!!! Read more…

ADHD, ADD, ADHD parenting, parents with ADHD kids, ADHD TEDTalk, Square Pegs, special needs and education, ADHD and boys, ADD and boys,

Parenting ADHD Boys and Girls

Parenting Advice for ADHD Kids

When I think of troubled kids — drop-outs, drugs, and delinquency — who’ve made good, I invariably think of certain celebrity chefs who also happen to write beautifully. Tony Bourdain of the TV shows No Reservations and The Layover. His first book No Reservations was supposed to be his fifteen minutes of fame. Fifteen minutes isn’t enough though because he’s that perfect balance of funny, snarky and soft-hearted.

Gabrielle Hamilton, chef owner of Prune, also comes to mind. Her poignant memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, chronicles her improbable climb from waitress and drug dealer to chef and author.

My latest discovery via my husband is bad boy Eddie Huang of Bao House. His memoir is a laugh-out-loud kind of book but you might have to be Asian to revel in the uncomfortable and meant-t0-be-secret Tiger Parenting antics that we’ve all endured.

L. Todd Rose’s book, Square Pegs, is a book — part memoir, and part parenting book —  that the chefs’ parents might have benefited from. Rose challenges us to rethink education constructs. Square pegs, he argues, are also innovators and visionaries. They are exactly what the U.S. economy needs to compete in the new global economy.

Square Peg: My Story and What it Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, & Out-of-the-Box Thinkers by L. Todd Rose with Katherine Ellison Read more…

Asian American books for kids, kite flying books, kite fighting books for kids, 3rd grade books, 4th grade books, 5th grade books

Let’s Go Fly a Kite! Books and Activities for Kids

Kite Flying in Kids’ Books

The Blossom Kite Festival is an annual event that is traditionally a part of the festivities at the National Cherry Blossom Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The Cherry Blossom Kite Festival in Washington, DC, includes the rokkaku kite battle mentioned in Flying the Dragon, modern kite-making, and the children’s best handmade kite contest.

For anyone lucky to be in Washington D.C. at the end of March, here are the details:

Date and Time
March 30, 2013
10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

On the grounds of the Washington Monument, Constitution Avenue & 17th Streets, NW Washington, DC.

For those of us who can’t be there, we can recreate this experience!

Kite flying dates back to Ancient China, but in Japan, there is a special day called Children’s Day (a.k.a. Boy’s Day) dedicated to flying kites including these Koi windsacks.

Japanese Koi Kites

Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi) is celebrated on 5th May in Japan. It is a national holiday honoring moms and kids, historically boys. Until recently, 5th May used to be known as Boy’s Day (Tango no Sekku, or the Feast of Banners). In Japanese culture, the carp (or koi) represents courage and perseverance, as the fish is known for its strength and determination as it swims against the current upstream. Read more…

educents, discount educational products for kids,

Educents: Discount Educational Products!

Discount Educational Toys and Games

Educents is a daily deals website featuring educational products at 30-90% off!

They are about to launch their site and to get the word out, they are offering a free $15 gift card to my readers if you sign up before launch! Click here to sign up.

educents, discount educational products for kids,

They will have programs such as foreign language, reading, math, science, art, and more including educational toys and games, as well as books and other items. Basically everything you can think of in terms of educational materials to help kids learn. I asked about exact brands and items but the paperwork is not quite done yet so they can’t disclose it.

I received a small stipend to help get the word out. I am personally excited to buy educational products at a discount!  I just signed up myself.


pi day, what is pi?, what is the number pi?, books on pi for kids, the golden rule and pi

Pi Day!

What is Pi?

Today is Pi day!

Get it?

3.14. March 14th. 3/14.

Yes, a math joke!

I wanted to celebrate Pi day by showing the relationship of math to the world around us including circles, pyramids and great works of art!

pi, pi day, pi phi and fibonacci numbers

p.s. I have a post on the math of spirals if you want more math in nature.

Pi is a name given to the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. That means, for any circle, you can divide the circumference (the distance around the circle) by the diameter and always get exactly the same number. It doesn’t matter how big or small the circle is, Pi remains the same. Pi is often written using the symbol  and is pronounced “pie”, just like the dessert. from


Another way to think of Pi. You can measure Pi by constructing a physical wheel and rolling it out. Read more…

best books for kids, best children's book authors, best new books for kids, best chapter books for kids, Waterstones prize,

Best New Children’s Authors: Waterstones Children’s Book Prize

Discover Hidden Talent in Children’s Authors

The shortlist for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize have been announced for 2012 and it’s a great place to discover new and wonderful children’s books! The Prize is only open to authors who have published three books or less, with the aim of uncovering hidden talent in children’s writing. The Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize was first awarded in 2005 by the bookchain that shares its name.

Six books are shortlisted in each of three categories – picture books, fiction for 5 to 12 year olds, and books for teens. What do you think of this children’s book award? Does it make you want to try out new children’s book authors?

I am personally glad to see Wonder by R. J. Palacio on the short list! I was shocked that it didn’t win a Schneider Award or a Newbery Honor! Are there any books that tempt you for your kids?

Best Picture Books

Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb

Rebecca Cobb is an illustrator turned picture book author. This is her third picture book that she’s both written and illustrated.


Rabbityness by Jo Empson

Rabbityness was up  for the Kate Greenaway Medal 2013, the UKLA Book Awards 2013. It was a Finalist of the Peoples Book Prize 2012/2013 and was included in ‘The Independent’ Books of the Year 2012: Children’s books aged under 9. 

  Read more…

Renn, 5-year-old, epilepsy

Our Best Wishes to Renn, A Jedi Master

May The Force Be With You Renn!

This Kid Reviews Books alerted to me to the blogging tour to cheer up 5-year-old Renn who is undergoing extensive testing for epilepsy this week. Bloggers are joining forces, under the leadership of author Susanna Leonard Hill, to send our best well wishes and posts to entertain and cheer him up.

I offer Renn this clip from the Star Wars section of the new YouTube Lego Channel.

Can we send Renn a lego kit to share with his siblings too?  Star Wars, of course! Read more…

books for kids about appropriate touch, books for kids about safety, books for kids about sexual abuse

Keeping Kids Safe from Inappropriate Touch

Top 10 Books to Empower Kids About Their Bodies

The stats on child sexual abuse are alarming.  I met author and mom, Jay Dale, on Twitter and she asked me if I was going to cover this issue. I usually post lists of books but wasn’t familiar with books on this topic, and honestly, I struggle with the Birds and the Bees Talk. Still, this is a really important topic and I am delighted that Jay agreed to guest post for me.

Here’s a few more books:

Do You Have a Secret? (Let’s Talk About It!) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, illustrated by Marta Fàbrega

A very gentle book describing the difference between good secrets and bad secrets and what to do if you have a bad secret. [picture book, ages 4 to 7]

No More Secrets for Me by Oralee Wachter, illustrated by Jane Aaron

In four separate stories on the theme of sexual abuse of children, young victims are able to articulate their feelings and defend themselves, often with the help of another person whom they trust.

Laurie Tells by Linda Lowrery, illustrated by John Eric Karpinski

It’s been two years since it first happened when Laurie was nine-years-old and she still can’t understand why her dad is hurting her.

But now it’s not monsters and spooks

that scare me.

Now it’s my dad.

The first time it happened,

I was nine.

He was saying good-night,

scratching my back.

And then he reached

under my nightgown

and touched my body all over.

I hated what he was doing to me.

I began to cry.

[advanced picture book, ages 9 and up]



We teach our children water safety and road safety — it is equally important to teach our children ‘body safety’ from a very young age. As both a teacher and a mother, I strongly recommend to all parents that ‘body safety’ become a normal part of your parenting conversation. The sexual abuse of children has no social boundaries, and providing children with body safety skills empowers them with knowledge of what is good and bad touch. Read more…

March Madness reading competition, school wide reading competition, school reading competition,

Our School’s March Madness Reading Competition

School Wide Reading Competition: March Madness

I blogged a lot about our elementary school’s March Madness reading competition and have tried to answer emails about the rules of engagement. The rules have changed over the last 8 years since we’ve first started. Also, my recollection is hazy at best.  All I know is that my kids read like crazy to win that extra P.E. session and we all win in the end, no matter what place their class ends up in.

getting kids reading, kids and reading, reading strategies, reading competitions, school reading competition

This year, the competition has started again and I am posting the rules in hopes that it inspires your school to pick up the torch and try this reading competition next year. It’s a lot of fun and I do really notice a marked improvement in my kids’ reading abilities after just one month of reading madness!

march madness reading competition scoreboard


  • The Peirce School March Madness Reading Celebration will begin on Friday, March 1 and run through Thursday, April 4.
  • The kickoff will take place at our town meeting on March 1 and each classroom will be randomly assigned the name of an actual NCAA basketball team.
  • Students will earn points for their team based on the number of minutes read daily at home during March Madness.
  • Each student will log their daily reading onto the paper reading log and enter their WEEKLY MINUTES read into an online database AT HOME every Thursday evening. 
  • Students will hand in the paper copy of their reading log to their classroom teacher every Friday morning and should begin to log their weekly minutes read into the online database on Thursday, March 7.  Students should continue to log their weekly minutes read every Thursday evening up until Thursday, April 4.
  • Team points earned will be tallied and recorded every week onto a large graph in the main hallway.
  • Books read in school are not eligible for points.
  • Books read as part of nightly reading can be counted.  (March Madness reading does not have to be in addition to regular home reading, although we hope students will be more inclined to read).
  • There will be a separate point system for grades K-1 and for grades 2-5. 
March Madness reading competition

My mom friend Melissa says, “Quietest play date ever! Everyone is reading for the March Madness reading competition.”

Read more…