Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 14
July 29, 2001


Hi folks!  Annalee is sleeping and Victoria and her daddy are at a nearby museum, so I thought I'd throw together another issue.

I felt like playing with fonts today but I don't want to do it at the expense of anybody's eyes.  Let me know if you need a plain text version & I'll send yours separately.  Please give me input as to what works and doesn't on your end.  This is your newsletter!

I began getting to know my father's family for the first time ever this week.  They are truly wonderful, warm people.  It's terrifying, exciting and overwhelming.  I am so thankful to have found them at last. If I'm a bit flaky this week, please forgive me.  :)

On the continuing theme of trying to make a difference in the lives of children, I brought some nice clothes, toys and books to a nearby crisis nursery.  The director said she had just given some out to a family in need and could always use nice things.  You might want to consider donating your extra children's things to a crisis nursery or shelter in your area.  While I usually give to organizations like GoodWill, I like the idea of our things going to a family who could really use them more than someone just out for a bargain.  Give the older stuff to GoodWill, but save the nicest things for a family who could probably really use something special.  I know that all charities use the profits to do good work, but it's nice to know that your baby's outgrown little jumper is going to a baby who could really use it, and it's also a great lesson for our kids.  Make sure you involve your children in deciding what to give to the children.  Victoria was more generous than I was!

I also talked to the crisis nursery about volunteering, but they don't need volunteers other than answering phones.  I'm still on a quest for some good places to help out.  I wouldn't have thought it would be so hard to find folks who wanted free help!  <G>

I hope you and your families are enjoying the summer (or winter, for those of you in South Africa and such).  Kiss your babies and have a great week!

And now, on with the newsletter.......

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Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
While loving someone deeply gives you courage.

  Lao Tzu

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Here's a great way to make snack time fun, nutritious and time consuming!

Gather up a plastic bowl (like a cool whip container) for each child, some ice cubes, and some blueberries, raspberries, or any other fruit that freezes well.  Toss some ice cubes into the bowl, then sprinkle with berries and layer it to the top with ice and berries.  Slowly fill with cold water and freeze.  The ice cubes will keep the berries evenly dispersed.  When frozen, run it under water just long enough to pop it out.  Put each child someplace that can get wet (high chairs for toddlers, or even the tub!) and give him his ice & berry chunk plus a bowl of warm water or a spray bottle filled with hot water.  Let him spray, soak, splash, or otherwise melt the berry-berg and eat up the berries as it thaws.  Make sure you're close enough to watch, and tailor the foods to your little ones in terms of choking hazards.

The best part of all is how long this takes.  Sit down and take a break!  ;)

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Make tracks!

Here's a set of activities to combine arts and crafts with science and nature for different ages.  Make animal tracks!  Here's a whole range of ideas to try....

Potato prints
Let older kids draw paw prints and other tracks onto the cut half of a raw potato.  Then you carefully cut out around the prints (just a bit lower is fine) and let them stamp the potatoes into paint or ink.  They can make paw print cards for younger siblings, make greeting cards or gift wrap, or even track up a wall or around a sidewalk with washable paint outside.

Mix and match
Print out pictures of animals and their tracks.  Color or paint them, and talk about the animals.  Have kids use safety scissors to cut them out and paste them onto index cards, cardboard, or whatever you like.  Show your child which prints go with which animal, then mix them up and let her try.  For younger siblings to get in on the action, print extras of each and let them match the same prints to each other and the same animals.  (In other words-- have older kids match the cat print to the cat, while younger ones find two matching cats or paw prints).

Fool your neighbors!
This one is great fun for all ages.  Grab a pair of old shoes and an assortment of materials, plus glue.  Now cut out odd shapes to make creepy toes, claws, or tentacles and glue them onto the bottoms of the shoes.  You can use foam, cork or even carve right into an old pair of flip flops (have parents do this part).  Take the hose so some dirt and make a good mud pile, then let the kids track all over the sidewalk with their funny feet.  Wait for folks to walk by and notice the giant bird tracks, 3 toed footprints, or monster feet!  For variety, use great big slippers to make even bigger tracks or cut up an old piece of foam and use your hands to stamp giant funny prints down the sidewalk.

Human tracks
Find a good expanse of wet sand, mud, or anyplace where you can leave prints (wet feet on cement will work too).  Show kids how their footprints look when they're walking normally.  Then ask them to walk on their tiptoes and see how they look.  Now have them run.  Do the tracks change?  How many ways can they walk to make different footprints?  How do they think you could use footprints if you were a police officer looking for clues?  How could scientists use them when studying animals?

Gradual growth chart
Here's a fun way to mark the years.  Have your child press his hand or foot in some paint and press it onto the wall or piece of furniture.  Carefully write his name, age and date.  Every month, season or year, add another print and watch him slowly growing up.  Alternate feet or hands going up the wall.  You can also do this with footprints on homemade garden stepping stones.

Here's some sites to help you on your tracking journey:
Read the story of someone tracking the mysterious footprints in the woods and unraveling a mystery here: http://www.humboldt.net/~tracker/story.html
After you read it, click on the link to the main page for GREAT information about all sorts of animals and the tracks they make.  Kids will like the "tracks" the cursor will make as you move around the page.  The bear den has links to everything from police sites about tire tracks and forensic evidence to "lost person behavior characteristics" to good places to find animal tracks.  (Note: I don't agree with all the stuff on this site, but there's too much neat stuff to discount it).  :)

How to make a plaster cast of tracks you find: http://charlottemason.tripod.com/plaster.html

Printable animal tracking cards: http://www.princeton.edu/%7Eoa/nature/trackcard.shtml

Printable sheet for matching tracks to animals (basic): http://www.daniellesplace.com/animalprintssheet.gif
(This one is great for the matching game above)

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Magical mama Jacqueline suggested this wonderful song idea (use whatever tune you like).  Fun!

I see great big beautiful cloud
It looks like a _______ (child inserts something).

I see another beautiful cloud
It looks like a _______. (sometimes you have to pause for them to think of something Madison will say turtle or octopus a lot!)

Oh the clouds are way up high
Way up in the sky
I wish that I could reach them
(Pause)

But I really just want to eat them! (pretend to munch on clouds talk about how they might feel or taste like cotton candy or whip cream)

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Here's every children's recipe you could want, plus some!  The site is called 100+ Goo recipes but it's for everything from slime to dryer lint clay to eggshell chalk to puffy paint.

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/3893/Goo.html

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Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.
                      Mildred Berthel

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Weed painting:
Enlist your kids in helping you weed next time you're outside, and gather up a bunch of different kinds for art time.  Some wheat-like tassels make fun paintbrushes, while other flower tops make great stampers.  Spread out some newspaper, pour out a little paint, and let the kids experiment.

Note: since stems are very flimsy, we found that using a few twist ties to attach the weeds to upside down paintbrushes or pencils made them much easier to handle.

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Here's a great page of links for preschoolers!  There are places to go for songs, coloring pages, learning activities, worksheets, scissor skills, you name it.  http://www.fastq.com/~jbpratt/education/links/preschooltoddler.html

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10 Ways to make today special....

1.  Buy a pack of toilet paper for the sole purpose of goofy fun.  Wrap your kids up into mummies, make toilet paper streamers and run through the yard, toss it and see how long you can get the tail as you throw, experiment with getting it wet and having "snowball" fights with it... If you can, compost it when you're finished.

2.  Take a field trip to someplace you've never been in your community-- a factory, museum, or even an old graveyard.  Really explore it and talk about what you find.

3.  Play detective.  Take the kids to a "scene of the crime" like an empty lot or quiet park.  Give them notebooks and have them really look at the surroundings, then have them make up a story of what happened there based on the evidence.  All of those Marlboro butts by the water must have meant someone spent a long time sitting there, and he was probably male... There are two tire tracks but only one set of footprints, so one person never got out of the car.... have them come up with their own story.  It's a lot of fun and there's no right answer.  :)

4.  Make a canopy out of fabric or sheets over your child's bed.  You can make something for the night or something more permanent.  Kids love the privacy and the fun of canopies!

6.  Sit down and paint, sketch or sculpt with them.  Sure, you give them crafts to do but how often do you sit down for an hour and join in?  They'll love the extra attention and you might not realize how much fun you'll have!

7.  Look at old videos of them as babies, and even the times before they were born.  Talk about how you felt during those times and retell the stories that go along with them.

8.  Do 3 sweet things today for each child and for your partner.  They can be tiny little things, just something to show you love them that you know will make them happy.  Buy your honey a big bag of his favorite snack and bring it to him after supper.  Leave the dishes and go read a story to your toddler.  Give extra monkey hugs (in our family, we dip kids upside down and holler "monkey hug!" and swing them back up-- then repeat until exhaustion).

9.  Have the kids put on a show for the family.  They can dance, sing, act, you name it.  Ask them to spend the day preparing it, then offer to charge admission after supper (to you, older relatives, whoever).  It can be a talent show, variety show, or whatever they like.  Help them put together costumes, music, and the works.  For little ones, you can do the same thing but scale down the preparation.  Let them wear tutus and spin around with scarves, then sing "I'm a little teapot" for doting onlookers.  :)

10. Find a park that offers something different like paddle boats, horseback riding, or even horseshoes.  Spend a lazy day connecting and having fun.

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Now, go take a break and do something just for you!  Remember, one of the best ways to have happy children is to have happy parents.  :)

Till next time........
Alicia

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A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2001, Alicia Bayer
http://www.magicalchildhood.com

A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something I throw together because I love children and those who love them.  To subscribe, send a message to abayer@magicalchildhood.com.  We do not use ads.  It's not about money.  :)

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