Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Holiday Spirit

This is such an exciting time of year for children. How do you temper their excitement without making yourself crazy? After all, you will not have time to get things done as early as TV commercials suggest. So, I have some suggestions for keeping your holidays spirit-filled.

Make time for children to be involved with your holiday planning. An Advent calendar is very helpful for counting off the days. Another fun way to count with young children is a paper chain. You can make one out of colored paper, or have the children decorate paper with rubber stamps, crayons and markers and then cut the paper into strips. You can glue a chain together as each day begins, or make the chain as long as you want and subtract a link every day. Hang the chain in the child's room and count it often, out loud.

Pick out holiday books from the library. Every night read one holiday book before bed. You will be amazed at the sheer number of books and stories that you have never heard of. Save the best for last. What would that be? Tradition in our family is The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas are the last books read on Christmas Eve. Even the grown-up children expect that! Include books from different traditions. During Hanukkah, even if you don't celebrate that holiday, read a couple of books that children will begin to understand this holiday about light and hope.

Let children help. They can help with cooking and baking even if they only pour in the ingredients that you will mix. If you participate in projects to help others make sure children go with you and help pick out presents that will be going somewhere else.

TURN OFF THE TV! Children are being overexposed to commercials and products. Put on video tapes and DVDs that you control and do not have commercial interruptions.

Put on music. Borrow CDs from the library and enjoy the many artists that have recorded holiday music. If your child wants one over and over again, try and purchase it for a gift. Let your children play near you as you work on cards and letters to loved ones. If you are inserting pictures, let the children decorate paper with rubber stamps and fingerprints. Family members will love it, and so will the kids.

Looking for book ideas? Here are some of my favorites!
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Merry Christmas Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Nutcracker Noel by Kate McMullen
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri

Check back here for more book suggestions and ideas for enjoying your holidays. If you have favorite books, please share them.
Joyce Laiosa

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Full Moon

Every time I see a full moon, I think of moon stories, moon landings and moon songs. I love looking at the moon and stars, especially on a clear night. Well, that means I should know something about the moon. I know some things and you should, too.

A brand new book will help you with moon landings. It's called Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh. It is a book to linger over with great photographs and a fascinating plus well written text. I still remember where I was when Apollo 11 lifted off, and about the night they walked on the moon. You have to check out this book. It is a wonderful intergenerational book for the whole family to share. (Although my children are a bit tired of my memories of this great event!)

If your family is interested in the space program there are other books to read, most notably an award winning book from Sweden that has been translated into English. It is The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins by Bea Uusma Schyffert. It is a book that will keep younsters interested because of the mixture of photographs, technical line drawings, interesting text, plus quotes from Collins' own diaries and notes. It is very clever, and Michael Collins is ignored in many other books because de did NOT walk on the moon.

Alexandra Siy's Footprints on the Moon is filled with stunning photographs of the moon and from the moon. Lastly, I recommend Faith McNulty's If You Decide to Go to the Moon. The illustrations are by Steve Kellogg and bring the reader into the story of preparing for a trip to the moon. The information is all accurate about the moon and what you would need, and how you would get around on the moon.

There are many other books about flight, the history of the space program and books about the space station. Don't forget to look at biographies of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, too. I would also recommend one of my favorite movies - although my children tell me it is only OK and even a little boring. It is 'The Dish' starring Sam Neill. It is an Australian film, made in 2000, and very funny. It is about the huge satelite 'dish' (Parkes Radio Telescope) that played an important part of the moon landing. This dish was responsible for the television pictures the world watched. (There is a chapter on the dish in Team Moon.) Anyone who remembers the moon landing will enjoy the movie.

So whenever you look at the moon, remember the lucky astronauts who actually walked on it and check out some of these books. You won't be disappointed!