It is the day set aside each year to remember those who have given their lives in combat for our country throughout the years. It might be a grandparent, uncle, neighbor, friend of your parent’s. Many families have cookouts, go camping for the first time this season. It is traditionally, the kick-off off summer. Some kids will already be out of school while others may get out in a day or two. The younger child probably thinks of it as a picnic day or a day when the family gets together. As you take attendance or have circle time, ask each child what their family is going to do for the holiday.
This is a perfect time to start growing seeds in your home or classroom. Save jars so that children can see the changes as they occur. Some seeds begin to root without soil, while others require some soil. Each child can assume responsibility for their own jar by watering. Later in the Spring after the last frost, you can help them replant outside, after together you pick a spot for a garden, prepare it for planting. Think of the pride they will feel for create a fruit, vegetable, or flower from the start.
This is a reason to celebrate and yet it proves frustrating for some parents and children. March 11 brings more daylight at the end of the day because we add an hour, which means more outside time, whether gardening, playing, talking to the neighbors, taking children to ball practice, or actually playing games. It is confusing and frustrating at the same time because children who were used to going to bed in the dark may now being put to bed while it is light. It can lead to a wonderful discussion about changing our clocks twice a year, why and when it started, how just a few years ago, it was changed to start the 2nd Sunday in March and the 1st Sunday in November. It is easy to make a clock out of a paper plate, and by using a brad, even make hands which move so that a child can see the change. Pull it out again in the Fall and reverse it. This way, it keeps it simple, but at the same time, engages the young child in the process. Emphasize the positives of more daylight, like more play time, more outdoor time.
I have a brother who was born on February 29 and we somehow manage to find a way to treat him like however many 29ths he’s had in his life, not how many years he has been with us. On his 36th birthday, but his 9th actual birth date, we took him roller skating to treat him like a 9 year old. Then we walked down Bardstown Rd to a place that played music from when he was nine. It was great fun.
This extra day every 4 years can incorporate science, history, and many other learning ideas. In the not too distant past, the Olympics, both Summer and Winter, were held only in Leap Years. It became such an expensive undertaking and logistical nightmare, that eventually, the Winter and Summer games rotated every two years. It allows people to plan on attending each bi-ennial Olympiad, rather than having to choose one or the other every 4 years because of the expense involved.
Have children bring in pictures of their favorite President and ask them why they chose that particular one. Discuss how many presidents we have had. This is somewhat of a tricky question, since some have served more than one term. Since we live in Kentucky, design top hats (like Abraham Lincoln wore), beards from construction paper, bring in their Lincoln Logs and make a log cabin, draw a log cabin. What did Lincoln accomplish that makes him stand out in history? Who was the 1st president? Who is the president now? The topic is wide open. However you bring Presidents’ Day to your young person or people), it is certain to lead to a fascinating conversation.
It is much more commercial in recent history than it was when it began hundreds of years ago. It took on a more marketable characteristic in the Middle Ages. During the 1900s and 2000s, it has grown significantly. Valentine was a Saint in the Catholic faith, although in 1969, he was “down-graded” in importance. Nonetheless, it is a huge financial success for card makers, florists, and candy makers, even jewelers. This is another occasion when creativity abounds. Most all children love making cards for their families, teachers, classmates, and well, close friends. There is no right way or wrong way to make them. Many choose humor, while others pour out deep-held, heartfelt emotions. Just have lots of glue, paper, scissors, buttons, anything to stimulate the individuality of each child. By all means, have fun and tell those you care about what they mean to you.
February 2nd. This is the day each year when a groundhog emerges and, depending on whether or not he sees his shadow, supposedly predicts how many weeks of winter are left. Many communities have week-long festivities in anticipation of the emergence. The most famous, of course, is Punxatawney Phil. He lives in Pennsylvania but all across the country, people wait for his fearless prognostication.
Color groundhogs, find a spot outside where any animal, such as a squirrel, is likely to make an appearance, and see if he sees his shadow. Make it a fun day in what is usually a cold mid-winter time. It is also a perfect time to talk about the seasons, especially the Spring which is around the corner. What are some signs of Spring that are noticeable? Are there buds on the trees? Are there tall clumps of grass all over your yard? Are birds chirping? Do you see violets?
Let’s hope we have a short Winter, although so far it has been tame. May it continue!
In most school systems, the 100th day of school occurs during January. This can be a reason to celebrate for teachers and children alike. It’s fairly common to think of January being the beginning of the end of the school year. Some children and teachers even begin counting how many days left. So, when you make snowflakes for an art activity, why not add 100th activities, as well. Kids can use cheerios to glue on papers, make funny looking faces out of the number 100 by adding hair, glasses, nose, mouth. Have each child bring in a picture of their favorite thing and see if they can make them add up to 100. Counting beads is a good activity and making necklaces with 100 Cheerios, Fruit Loops, pieces of pasta helps develop fine motor skills. You may have many, many more ways to celebrate the 100th day of the school year. Just remember to have fun! Children learn by playing!!
I had the opportunity to read the book, The Help, recently. January is when the country celebrates the birth of Dr Martin Luther King, JR, so it seems fitting to talk about where we were, where we are, where we still need to go. Needless to say, this book brought back terrible memories of a much darker era in the history of our country. It is thanks to Dr King that we have made significant progress in how we treat others. I vividly recall going to Sears at 8th and Broadway with my parents and seeing two water fountains and two bathrooms, one marked colored, the other white. It’s difficult to believe now that it was a reality then. A Parish bingo hall where I worked sent all of the minorities up a long flight of stairs and kept the “whites” downstairs. (Wonder if they patted themselves on the back for being integrated)? Yes, every bit of it is in my conscious memory, and it bothers me that it happened. Thanks to Dr King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, the countless marches attended by people of many races, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, things are better now. Our children and grandchildren may not have any sense of the injustices suffered by minorities and that is a good thing. Discuss it. Talk about how it feels to not be included. How many times have our children told us they feel like outsiders, especially when it comes to sports or birthday parties they aren’t invited to? Talk about Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and how one man’s resolve, refusal to quit, can change the world for the better.
Happy New Year to everyone. In many ways, a new year brings hope for brighter days. For some, it’s the beginning of the end. How, you may ask? Gone are the days of rich foods, parties, feasts, and unreasonable resolutions begin to fill the brain. There is a tendency to start out like gangbusters, making mental lists of all the improvements desired. The reality of implementing every single one sets one up for defeat. It is very difficult to try to change too much at the same time. Yes, the good intentions are there, but we are humans and can only do so much. You may wish to make one or two resolutions and stick to them. Good luck to all who opt for this plan. One thing that works for me is to make a one day resolution. My self-control needs help in the worst way, and by making this for a single day, I can more easily do that. The next day, I re-up for the same plan and so on. Before too long, three or four weeks pass and it is becoming a habit. If it becomes routine after a couple of months, I add another resolution and do that one a day at a time.
It is pretty much a universal trait that when we fail, we beat ourselves up and feel terrible for being a “loser”. By streamlining changes and/or introducing them a day at a time, there is a whole lot less to beat about our shortcomings.
Good luck with your hopes for the New Year, regardless of what they are. Maybe you will try to get more sleep, speak in a softer tone, eat a fruit a day, take a walk. Be positive when everything seems like it is overwhelming, enlist a support system for like-minded friends or family etc, and remember, if you fall off the today’s wagon, tomorrow is another opportunity.