Archive for August, 2013

Great Expectations from PickyKidPix and Funny Things Kids Say

Our middle child wants to become a billionare when she grows up. She must have overheard her dad talking about his golf trip to Ireland to celebrate his friend’s 60th birthday/Father’s Day. They plan to walk several courses and take caddys the first round. My husband sent me this transcript of their conversation under the heading of Funny Things Kids Say.

I have no idea how she has ascertained her hourly rate either but I was pleased to see that she is able to divide!

PickyKidPix: How much does a caddy make?
Her Dad: Around $50.
PickyKidPix: For how many hours?
Her Dad: About 5 hours.
PickyKidPix: 10 bucks an hour??  I need at least $100 because I charge $20 per hour. Read more…

making your own bow and arrow, bow and arrow from sticks, DIY bow and arrow

Stick Toys: A Stick is a Excellent Thing

I lured my son out to the dog park which is a wooded path around a reservoir with the promise of finding sticks for making bows and arrows. Left to his own devices, he will stay in front of screens for hours upon hours.

We made several trips in search of sticks, which are excellent, we found, for bows, arrows, wind chime paths, ninja weapons, balance beams, and climbing (when attached to a tree). A stick is, indeed, an excellent thing!


A Stick is an Excellent Thing

A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer

Poetry about outdoor play may entice kids to both play outside and read poetry. What a wonderful combination! [poetry, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

Kid LIt Giveway Hop

Back to School Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

I’m excited to be participating in the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop again!  Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews are again the hosts — the last one was in May — and we think it’s a great way to start the school year off with each of us giving away children’s books! We hope it will get kids excited to read this year!

Back to School Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

To win my short stack of books, please enter my Rafflecopter.

Kid Lit Giveaway HopRead more…

teaching kids google search skills

Google Teaches Search Skills for Kids

I thought this was great for parents and teachers. Google has teaching videos on how to use Google for search:

Web search can be a remarkable tool for students, and a bit of instruction in how to search for academic sources will help your students become critical thinkers and independent learners.

With the materials on this site, you can help your students become skilled searchers- whether they’re just starting out with search, or ready for more advanced training.

The idea here is that kids need to be visually literate, digital search literate and literate with search in print. It is becoming the new digital divide: those that can search online. It’s not just about screen time, but about critical thinking skills and being an independent learner. Read more…

best free ebooks for kids

Best Free eBooks for Kids

Are you reading ebooks with your kids this summer? I find that my son likes to read both paper and ebooks. Sometimes when I’m trying to get something done, an eBook that reads to him is a big convenience. But we are picky readers. A free eBook is only good for us if it’s a great book. I’m sure you are the same! It takes time and data storage to download an ebook. These are the best free eBooks for kids that passed our test.


1) Oxford Owl (click to right by age to find free eBooks) has 250 free ebooks. You can sort by age, book type, or series.

These are especially good!

Read more…

Los Alamitos High School Swim Team 1981

A True Tale of Two Cheaters: 30 Years Later

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. 

When I went to college, my boyfriend informed me that I was provincial. From a province. He was from Queens, New York, and commuted an hour each way to a New York city magnet school. I protested that I was from a beach town. A suburban beach town! But he was right. I was provincial and my local politics prove it. Corruption is easy to pull off in a province.

The year is 1983. The month is June. Seniors are about to graduate but there is one thing left for me to do: I have to run the All Student Body Elections.

This cast of characters at Los Alamitos High School 30 years ago:

Tom Anthony: Vice Principal and in charge of Student Council. He’s going to University of Southern California (USC) at night to get his PhD in Education. He’s a young, affable guy and everyone really likes him, myself included, at least until THE CHEATING INCIDENT!

Tom AnthonyRead more…

Colita Rosita, Spanish songs for kids

Kids Can Learn Spanish Through Songs

I’m trying to get back in the swing with Foreign Language exposure again this year. We fell off the wagon last year. We lost our Spanish tutor due to scheduling conflicts and commute distance and we could not squeeze in Chinese with the soccer schedule. Grasshopper and Sensei took Chinese in Middle School again (year 2) and PickyKidPix did a few months of classes with a new Spanish tutor whom she really liked. Not optimal but it was the best we could do. PickyKidPix will be taking Spanish this fall in Middle School.

My 8-year-old son did nothing and, as a result, promptly forgot every word of Spanish and Chinese he ever knew. Seriously. I asked him to translate a few colors in Spanish — it came up but I don’t remember why — and he got 100% of them incorrect. Easy ones too, like verde (green) and azul (blue) which he used to know because they are his favorite colors.

Ah well. What can you do? It goes in and it goes, just as quickly as the moving tide, back out again.

When Little Seas emailed me with their Colita Rosita videos, I thought music to get my kids exposed to Spanish is not a bad idea. Ease them in gently. But then I had trouble translating the music so I asked for lyrics. And I also needed them in English. I don’t love animated computer graphics in picture books but I’m ok with them for Spanish language videos for kids. Read more…

Mrs. P writing contest for classrooms,

Writing Contest for Elementary Students

What a small world! I went to KidLitCon in 2012 and I met exactly one teacher there. There were tons of librarians and authors, but just one mom blogger (me) and one teacher (I think).

She was really nice and showed me how to set up a Wiki right on her computer during lunch one day. She taught 4 subjects in the equivalent of a 1 room school house in rural Iowa. I was so impressed with how she connected her kids with author visits via Skype, all for free! Her name? Karla Duff … and then I find out through Mrs. P’s Be-a-Famous Writer Contest that she is a judge of Mr.s P’s Writing Contest for Elementary Students!

Small world, right?!

Mrs. P writing contest for classrooms, Be-a-Famous Writer Contest Puts “Magic” in Classrooms for Kids

Mrs P invites classrooms to write a story on the topic of “Magic”, no less than 250 words and not to exceed 1,000 words. It may be fiction or non-fiction. Any classroom from Kindergarten through 4th grade may enter. Just one story per classroom!

It can be a collaborative story, or a class vote on which child’s story to enter.

Entry is easy and free.

The teacher just needs to email  the story. The contest opens September 1st for entries. Prizes too!

Read more…

Dinosaur T Rex: Not the Fiercest!

This fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex (T. Rex) is the mascot of Boston’s Museum of Science. He (or she) can be seen as you enter the museum, and enticed my son down two stories to the dinosaur exhibit. I mean, who can resist a life-size T. Rex?

T. Rex, Tyranosaurus Rex, Museum of Science Boston, Gigantosaurus versus Tyranosaurus Rex, Gigantosaurus vs T Rex

I told my son that scientists have no idea what the skin color of the T. Rex actually was. There are no records of it so it’s their best guess. They most likely had some kind of coloring to blend in to help them hunt, but your guess is as good as mine as to pattern and color! Read more…