Sunday Post: Culture…What Do Children Really Need?

Today is Easter Sunday.  It is also the second day of Passover.   Just as with Christmas and Hanukah, these Christian and Jewish holidays are usually celebrated around the same time.  It’s not by chance, of course. 

If you trace most major religious holidays back to their beginnings, you will find they have the same roots and seem to be based on pagan festivals that were held thousands of years before.

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is CULTURE.

The word ‘culture’ has many definitions.  Because of the holidays that are upon us, I’ll use this one: the set of shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, practices and social behaviors of a particular nation or group.

And it seems that no matter what the holiday or which religious or ethnic group is celebrating…presents are involved, especially for the children.  Easter baskets filled with candy and stuffed animals, Christmas trees surrounded with gaily wrapped gifts, eight days of presents during Hanukah, gifts given as ransom for returning the afikomen (piece of matzoh) during Passover get-togethers. 

 

Children love presents…but the most important gift we can give them is our time and attention.  This is another similarity that is cross-cultural.  Children need to be treasured no matter whether their parents are Christian or Jewish, Muslim or Hindu, American or French, Canadian or Spanish, rich or poor, highly educated or unable to read. artistic or sports-minded.  If we look at cultures all over the world, we see that this is true…in most societies, parents, and often the entire community, strive to cherish the children.  Of course, in war-ravaged areas or when epidemics of famine rage, it is often the children who suffer the most.

If we want to be in our children’s memories tomorrow, we need to be in their lives today.  Read with your child.  Talk with your child.  Walk with your child.  Play with your child.  Cook with your child.  Paint with your child.  The bond you form now will last a lifetime.

Today is also the first day of National Library Week.  Why not go to your local library with your child this week.  Help your child pick out some books and read at least one every day. Studies show that children who are read to on a daily basis are more likely to succeed in school. 

 

Don’t forget to nominate your favorite library in the comment section!  Twenty-five libraries across the US and around the world can receive a free copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  Nominations close the last day of the month…don’t let your library lose out on the chance of getting this award-winning resource for parents and teachers.

 

If you’d like more information about Jake’s Sunday Post:

 http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ 

And here are some other bloggers who are doing Jake’s Sunday Post:

http://imagesoftheheart.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/sunday-post-culture/

http://wp.me/p2iujW-2J


 

 

I will try to add more as they are posted.

Building Self-Esteem: The Chocolate Rabbit

 

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources. 

I’m always looking for books with characters who are engaged in self-esteem building.  Not only is this the case with my selection today, but the book is also a perfect choice for the upcoming holiday of Easter.  I know that parents and teachers will enjoy the simple eco-friendly craft project at the end of my review.

Do you know where the first chocolate Easter bunnies were made?  Here is the scoop, according to picture book author and illustrator, Maria Claret.

 

  

The Chocolate Rabbit

Written and illustrated by Maria Claret

Translated by Jane O’Sullivan

Publishers: Barons Juvenile (originally published in Spain)

Ages: 2 – 8

Themes: Mastering tasks and skills, Easter, crafting, dealing with disappointment, family togetherness

Opening: “Not so very long ago, the Rabbit family lived in a little town not far from here.”

Synopsis:  Bertie Rabbit and his sisters want to help their artistic father who paints beautiful Easter eggs, but they are too young.   Bertie decides he is old enough to help his father and buys eggs with his own money, intending to decorate them and surprise his father.  The little bunny is sadly disappointed when he trips and the basket tips over, breaking all of the eggs.  Bertie’s mother makes a pot of chocolate to lift her son’s spirits…but when Bertie climbs up for a taste, disaster strikes and Bertie is covered in lukewarm chocolate.  Bertie’s father looks at his son and has an ingenious idea…chocolate bunnies! 

Why do I like this book

Success often comes on the heels of failure!  I love books that encourage children to keep on trying as they learn to master tasks and skills.  Self-esteem is not built with empty praise…it is developed and strengthened as young children learn to do things for themselves.  A child’s sense of self-worth increases as he takes these important steps…and learning to deal with disappointment is one of those steps.  This is a sweet story about working together as a family…relevant with the busy hectic pace many families experience today…each family will find their own unique ways of spending quality time together.

The illustrations are charming…they remind me of Beatrix Potter’s work.

Related Activities:

Child Care Lounge has quite a few lovely Easter crafts as well as bunny poems here

Angel Fire has an Easter/Spring Unit with many book and craft and cooking ideas here.

Mama-Knows (colored egg picture below) has lots of recipes for coloring Easter eggs here.

Children love arts and crafts!  Here is an activity that will please every eco-minded parent.

PAINTING EASTER EGGS WITH NATURAL DYES

 

You will need: Hard-boiled white eggs (cooled), Q-tips, one or more of the following depending on how many colors you want: ¼ cup blueberries (blue), ¼ cup cranberries (red), 1 tsp tumeric (yellow), markers, a small bowl for each color, cover-ups, two small pots and water to boil.

1.      Cover the work surface and workers to protect from staining (wear disposable plastic gloves if desired).

2.      Boil ½ cup water, add crushed blueberries, simmer for 5 minutes and then pour into small bowl and let cool for a few minutes.  Do the same for the cranberries.

3.      Pour 1 tsp tumeric and ½ cup hot water in a small bowl, stir and let cool.

4.      Put an egg into each bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes, turning several times with a spoon.  Then lift each egg out and let dry.

5.      Use markers to add designs.

6.      Tip: while waiting for the eggs to absorb the color, go on a color-naming hunt throughout your house…how many red, blue and yellow items can your child find? 

 

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

Cinema Sunday: My Picks of Great Flicks: The Ten Commandments

Cropped screenshot of Charlton Heston from the...

Image via Wikipedia

Cinema Sunday: My Picks of Great Flicks: The Ten Commandments

This past week was filled with holidays, for people of both the Christian and Jewish faiths.  Today is Easter Sunday and tomorrow will be the last night of Passover.

Have you seen The Ten Commandments lately?

The networks usually air it during these holidays and it was on TV last night…ALL NIGHT…it’s such a long movie, but, in my opinion, well worth the time invested.

Of course, I had to watch it…although I’ve seen it many time before and actually own a copy that my dad had purchased and then had sent it to me as a gift.  My dad LOVED watching movies and had an enormous collection of VCR tapes.  He was very eclectic in his movie viewing and enjoyed comedies, action/adventures, westerns, romances and thrillers.   He’d worked, in an office on the distribution side of the movie industry, for Warner Brothers and other motion picture companies ever since he was a teenager and so movies had always been part of his life.

As a young child, I would watch television on Saturday mornings with my father…this was before Saturday mornings were flooded with cartoons for kids and cooking shows for adults.  There was always a movie…The Thief of Baghdad, a 1940 film starring the Indian child-star Sabu, was one of our favorites.  Perhaps it was the idea of having three wishes or maybe it was the fact that Sabu was such a little boy and the genie was SO HUGE…my dad was only 5’4” tall and quite sensitive about his lack of height.  It must have made him feel better about himself to see this tiny person triumph.  My dad also loved James Cagney movies…perhaps for the same reason, as the famous actor was only about 5’5” tall.

 

I’m always encouraging parents to spend “quality” time with their young children – reading, crafting and cooking – because participating positively with a child in these activities really does build self-esteem, develops their pre-reading skills, and creates a life-long parent-child bond.  I don’t remember ever reading, crafting or cooking with my dad (my mom was the one who did those things with me)…but the time my dad spent with me, watching old movies on the television, was his way of participating positively…and it certainly worked!

I know this was going to be a review and recommendation of The Ten Commandments…it became a post on how my dad found a way to spend “quality” time with me.  Perhaps The Ten Commandments doesn’t need any help from me.  If you are looking for a movie that kind of explains the Jewish holiday of Passover and you love epic movie productions with a cast of thousands, and you like watching films with Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner and a host of other icons of Hollywood…get a copy and a BIG bowl of popcorn (or maybe two) and enjoy!

Just a reminder – tomorrow is the last day of the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop and Giveaway.  The giveaway of a copy of Show Me How! ends at 11:59pm on Monday night.  Just click on the Blog Hop link above and leave a comment telling me you have subscribed to this blog.  You can get extra entries by grabbing my button, posting the giveaway on your blog or facebook or tweeting about it. 

 

 

Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?

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Image by Amy Bonner via Flickr

The school year is winding down

Thursday was my next-to-the-last Show-Me-How Story-time presentation.

So, I was just a little bit sad as I walked into Trailblazer Elementary School in Colorado Springs.

But, you can’t remain sad long when surrounded by smiling eager kindergarteners!

The children sat on the story rug and I sat in the story rocking chair and I read them Frederick, by Leo Lionni.  This picture book is definitely a favorite with young children.  The simple yet engaging illustrations clearly convey the frustration of Frederick’s family as they assume the young mouse is just trying to get out of collecting food supplies for the winter. 

The story shows that each of us is a unique individual with different qualities and strengths.   As a poet, Frederick used words to create pictures in the minds of his family members.  And this, the story brings out, is equally as important as food…in fact, you might say it is a different type of food.

The teachers and their aides had done a stellar job of preparing the simple materials needed for the craft project.  There were so many different colors and shapes of construction paper flowers; I thought there was a spring garden blooming on the teacher’s desk.

I am always amazed and excited by the comments I hear from the children.  All three kindergartens were able to take part…the teachers split them into two groups for back-to-back story and craft presentations.  After the story, the children were eager to tell me what supplies Frederick brought and what foods his family collected.  They also discussed poetry and were able to come up with many rhyming words.  Each time I would ask a question, almost every hand would wave excitedly as each child wanted to be the one to provide the answer.

Next month I have one more presentation and then the school year will be over.  I look forward with anticipation to reading and crafting with a new group of children in August.

Please don’t forget about the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop and Giveaway of a copy of Show Me How.  All you need to do is click on the link and subscribe to my blog and leave a comment on why you’d like to win the copy of this great resource for parents and teachers.

Make-A-Meal Monday: Holiday Treats for Easter and Passover

The Last Supper

Image via Wikipedia

Right now, we are in the middle of two important week-long religious celebrations…for Christians, there is  Easter which is next Sunday, but the entire week has significance as yesterday was Palm Sunday and Thursday is Maundy Thursday and Friday is Good Friday.  For those of the Jewish faith, there is Passover, which starts tonight with the first Seder and continues for an entire week.  For more detailed information about either of these holidays, you can go to http://www.infoplease.com/spot/easter.html.

I thought it would be fun to see if I could find a recipe from my book for parents of preschoolers that would be appropriate for each of these important celebrations.  When you invite your child to help with food preparation, you help build their self-esteem.  It is also a wonderful way to teach young children about holidays and traditions that are important for your family.

CHILD-FRIENDLY NOODLE APPLE CASSEROLE

Here is a really simple recipe that is similar to Noodle Kugel, a delicious treat enjoyed by many during Passover week.

You will need: 4 cups cooked wide noodles, 2 eggs, ¼ cup honey, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 cup grated apple, ½ cup  raisins, 1 Tb margarine or butter, a large bowl and a 2-quart greased casserole dish.

1.     In a large bowl, combine eggs, honey and cinnamon and beat well.

2.     Stir in apples, raisins, noodles and butter.

3.     Pour into a greased casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

4.     Be careful when you pull away the aluminum foil…there may be a lot of steam!

5.     Makes 4 lunch-size servings or many more side dish, snack or dessert servings.

 

CHILD-FRIENDLY HOT CROSS BUNS

This simple recipe forgoes yeast and uses muffin tins…so easy and delicious; you’ll want to enjoy it all during the year, not just at Easter.

You will need: For the buns: ½ cup orange juice, ¾ cup seedless golden raisins, 2 cups flour, 1 Tb baking powder, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ cup milk, 1/3 cup canola oil, 2 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract, zest of 1 orange, 3 mixing bowls and a 12-cup greased muffin tin.  For the icing: 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 Tb orange juice.

1.     Combine orange juice and raisins in a micro-wave safe bowl and micro-wave on high for 1 minute.

2.     In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.

3.     In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, oil, eggs, vanilla and orange zest.

4.     Add the milk mixture and the raisin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

5.     Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean and dry.

6.     Remove the muffin tin from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before placing the muffins on a rack to cool completely.

7.     When the muffins are completely cool, prepare the icing (in a small bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar and 1 Tb orange juice until smooth) and drizzle on top of each muffin to form a cross.

Please stop by tomorrow…and don’t forget that THE HOPPY EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP starts here on Wednesday…and at over 200 other blogs.  You will be able to enter to win a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking and then hop over to the other blogs to enter their giveaways.