Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Scholastic Book Fair

scholastic (adjective): of or relating to schools

Both of the schools my children attend hold Scholastic Book Fairs at least once every year. A few months ago I volunteered to work at the Scholastic Book Fair booth for a couple of hours. Usually, I let my kids pick out one or two books each as I would steer them clear of the junk books. But during my volunteer time, I was able to really see the full Scholastic Book Fair selection available at this school. I must say I was a little disappointed to see so many junk books. My definition of junk books are books that are just cartoons or movies repackaged. Books are supposed to excite your imagination, not regurgitate already over hyped images. I was especially sad to see that a good portion of the non-commercial books targeting girls were of the Clique, Sealed with a Diss and Once Upon a Prom- 3 pack set variety.

I checked out the featured fair books on Scholastic's site. Thankfully the number of non-commercial vs. commercial books was at least 3 to 1 in each age category. I think if your company's name is Scholastic, then your first priority should be quality and not catering to what is in fashion.

Back to our book fair.........I didn't really comment much to the other parents at the time. I have since learned some of the parents also felt the same way. I found this article. I understand the schools hold these book fairs for two reasons: to encourage reading and to earn money. And I understand the need for more funding for the schools. But how much are we willing to sell out our kids? The article seems to imply that each school can tailor the book selection to some degree. I plan on talking to the organizers about the book selection before the book fairs next year.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Poetry is Fun

And kids don't have to stop at Dr. Seuss anymore. I was checking out poetry for kids on the web. I am continually impressed with the great resources the Internet provides us all today.

I found this excellent interview with Kenn Nesbitt where he explains just how good poetry is for young minds. If you like Shel Silverstein, you may enjoy Kenn Nesbitt's poetry and site. He has set up a rhyming dictionary, poetry writing contests, funny poetry pod casts and poetry discussion forums for kids on his site. You can even vote for your favorite funny poem.

And please, if you want a big fat smile on your face, check out Shel Silverstein's site. Our kids have lots of fun with the games and puzzles there. And so so I ;)

The poetry zone site has a great links list- for all kinds of kids' poetry, including the gross and grosser kind!

I hope you and your smart girls (and boys) can enjoy some fun poetry. Instead of a half hour of cartoons, try a little Suess or Silverstein instead.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Beyonce's Clothing Line for Girls

I heard a lot of hub bub about her new ad for her company Dereon Girls. So I did some research. By the way, while doing this research I tried to download a video ad for her girl's line and my laptop got infected with a horrible virus. It took me all morning to fix the problem, my two anti-virus cleaners didn't so diddly squat. So $60 later (thank you Stopzilla- but I wish you were cheaper) it is finally removed. I hope the $20 rebate is for real.

Already I am not happy because I figure out Dereon is a play on the word derriere. So basically her company is called House of Booty. With a subdivision Booty Girls. Nice message for our girls. I checked out the clothes first. They carry girls size 7-14, some toddler and infant sizes. Clothes are not risque. Some are cute, most are not my taste. But there are no horrible text designs and nothing revealing or overtly sexual.

Next I check the ad. Hmmmmm...not showing any skin. But it is creepy to see toddlers pout suggestively, toddlers wearing more makeup than I did in the 80's, and toddlers not looking dressed up for fun, but instead dressed up for sex. I am all for women having healthy sex lives. But it is not appropriate, in my humble opinion, to flirt with your sexuality when you are 3 or 4 years old. Not even when you are 7-12 years old.

So Beyonce gets a thumbs down on her advertising campaign from Smart Girls Fun. Hopefully some of the bad press they are receiving will prompt them to rethink their girls' campaign.
If you have a Macy's store near you, they are carrying Dereon Girls. If you see any ad, in print or at the store, that you find offensive- consider speaking up about it to the manager. I complained (nicely of course!) to our local K-mart manager about their selection of girls' graphic tees here. He was considerate. Who knows? Maybe the more we complain, the more things will change.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Art of Art

A lot of smart girls (and boys) love to create. Whether it is finger paints, dried pasta and glue, watercolors or crayons, the possibilities are endless. The kids and I have always loved art projects. Every summer, I make sure to include one big project for us to do together. Last year we got some 2"x6"s and cut, sanded and painted them. Then we painted on "Captain's Jack's Treasures" etc. and nailed on some clips. The kids still love the art boards and clip up their artwork and awards from school. It is so easy, for me anyway, to get busy and forget to take the time to encourage art at home. The kids enjoy it so much, so I now literally put it on the calendar.

Of course now we have many online resources. Great art for kids site, an interactive kids art site and an online kids gallery are just a few. If you can, check all three sites- they are fabulous!

I also wanted to mention a great computer graphics program you can download. Paint is free, although they do appreciate donations.

You and your kids can use the program to draw and paint, edit photos, add text, make graphic compositions. I have used it regularly for a few months for my graphic design work. It took a little trial and error to become familiar with all the "tools" and get used to working in layers. Usually, I sketch out a design, scan it and enhance and paint it with the Paint program.

If your kids are younger, you may have to help them. My six year-old son drew this penguin. We scanned it and added a little color and the text with the Paint program.

You can email your child's art to relatives, print it on postcards, t-shirt transfers, photo paper, cards etc. I love today's computer possibilities! Just check out your office supply store to see what kinds of print stock you can use in your printer.

I hope you can find the time for art projects this summer. Summer time is a great art time because you can be inspired by the great outdoors and you can make the messes out there too!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bird Watching

Here is a photo of what we call "Fat Bird in a Little Tree" They are golden-crowned sparrows arriving with spring. The apple tree was still bare.

Birding is a great activity for kids. It is fun, educational and relatively low cost. As one of the following websites states, you can give your kids a "lifetime ticket to the theater of nature." From colors, songs, habitats, nests, feeding habits, migration, and personalities- birds have so much to offer. We love it when we get a bird surprise around town, or a new bird visitor at home. Our kids love the birds. I once overheard my daughter describe her pets as "three dogs, two cats and a whole lotta birds."

The kids helped put up our bluebird houses and they got a real kick out of looking at the used nests once nesting season was over. Lots of bird poop- LOL.

To get started you need a good bird field guide and a pair of binoculars. You can check your local library for bird watching books and field guides to see which ones work best for your family. Good binoculars can be expensive, but you can buy an inexpensive pair and do just fine. I found a few online birdwatching resources for kids and their parents:

We got into birds a few years ago. Put up some feeders, learned about the birds that frequent our yard. It is a whole new world out there when you can appreciate all the different birds. We hike in our neighborhood and see new birds regularly. We put in a small pond on our property and we get even more types of bird visitors. And when we got out of state on vacation, we are treated with new birds too.

I have a special love of bluebirds. They are in decline since finding a good nesting spot is so challenging for them. They are very beautiful bug-eating birds! Putting up a bluebird box can be a rewarding experience. Please check out the bluebird website as they have special requirements for nesting and the boxes should be monitored.
I hope you have or can find time for birds in your life.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sporty Girls

A friend found this article. Heartwarming story. I think sports are so great for girls. For health, for sportsmanship, for leadership, for body image, for fun.
Our daughter is fairly active and played her first organized sport last fall. She played soccer. She was four years old and that sounds young. Both her brothers started playing at the same age and they loved it. We asked her and she wanted to play. She did spend some time following Cute Boy, good grief, on her team around and did almost score a goal or two.
This year, she wants to play football. Actually girls are allowed to play football in our town's youth football league. There have been some girls playing over the years. Unfortunately it only lasts a year or two, because the opposing teams are merciless. Our little girl will stick with soccer for now. You have to be in third grade to play football. We are very much hoping she finds another sport to try by then.

If you have a sporty girl or want to encourage your girl to participate in sports, check out the girl go girl website. And lace up your sneakers, cleats, hiking boots, golf shoes, fins, skis, or skates yourself. An active and adventurous parent is a fantastic role model.
I can't wait to show our kids all the world's great female athletes in the upcoming Olympics. I especially enjoy the women divers and gymnasts.
Think of all the active and not-so-active activities your girls will be doing this summer. Hopefully, there is a good balance. And I hope you all will be able to enjoy the Olympics!