New Release – Freshly Baked Pie

Playful. Mischievous. Impatient.

Meet Emily, the unforgettable star
of the new picture book
Freshly Baked Pie

Released May 13, 2017 by Words Publishing


Freshly Baked Pie is a whimsical tale about five year-old Emily who struggles to do the right thing when she is told to stay away from a cooling pie. Cleverly written by Lora Rozler and beautifully illustrated by Daniela Vasquez, Freshly Baked Pie invites readers along Emily’s imaginary battle with a mischievous pie. Never has examining rules and consequences been so much fun!


AVAILABLE MAY 13, 2017 AT VARIOUS ONLINE AND IN-STORE RETAILERS 


FREE Parent and Teacher Resource Kit NOW AVAILABLE

Feel free to use the templates and activities in the Resource Kit for your personal use at home or in the classroom.

Click on the image below to download.

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Freshly Baked Pie Resource Kit

Thank you for stopping by! Stay tuned for Book Signing and Reading Events in the Greater Toronto Area!

– Lora


 

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Six Tips to Balance Work and Home without Completely Losing Your Mind

work-life-balanceAnyone who has ever spent a day in mommy-mode, knows just what a demanding role it can be. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing, after-school activities, laundry, homework, you name it, the list is endless. But for many of us, our day’s work doesn’t begin and end there. Add a full-time career into the mix, and you’ve barely got time for yourself.

Here to give us some tips on keeping it all together is Jennifer Raskin. Jennifer is an internationally-published writer and blogger. She and her husband have two darling daughters. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys reading, wine tasting, dining, shopping, and weightlifting at the gym.

Feel free to share your thoughts, or a tip or two, on what best works for you, in the comment section below. Have a fabulous week working moms (and dads)!


Six Tips to Balance Work and Home without Completely Losing Your Mind

Working moms are the hardest working people on the planet. Not only must we go into our jobs and give it our all, but when we get home we’re clocking into our other job as Mom. It’s exhausting but rewarding, however no matter how rewarding, it can be draining. If you feel like you’re being ripped apart at the seams, here are some tips to help you bring a little more balance into your life so you can do your best in every role you play.

1. Get organized and prioritizedtodo

In both work and at home, make sure you’re organizing everything that needs to be done and prioritizing those things. Does it need to be done immediately? If so, put it on your daily list and handle it like a boss. If not, add to your weekly list so you can handle it when the more important things are finished. By managing your time effectively, you’ll find you have more time to do what you want and less stress.

2. Leave office work at the officeworking-at-home-too

Don’t take work home with you. Leave the drama at your desk and start fresh each day. You owe it to yourself as well as the people you love at home to focus on them instead.

messy 3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

So the kids made a mess in the living room. Just chill. It’s not the end of the world. Enlist their help in picking up. If they resist, maybe it’s time to offer an allowance for doing chores.

delegate4. Delegate whenever possible

You might be Super Mom, but no one likes a martyr. Both at work and at home, make sure you’re delegating tasks that someone else can handle, leaving you to take care of the bigger things that only you can do.

slow-cooker5. Take some shortcuts

No one says you need to come home from a busy day at the office to make a 5-course dinner. Make it a taco night, or better yet, use your slow cooker to have dinner waiting when you get home. It will give you extra time to relax.

6. Make time for yourself

It sounds selfish, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Not at all. You need time to yourself to refresh and recharge so you can be your very best. Running yourself ragged and overlooking your own needs is not good. Whether it’s curling up with a book, taking a nap, soaking in the tub, going for a run, or gabbing with a friend, make that time to unwind each and every day, even if it’s only 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll feel so much better!relaxing

If you’ve been feeling like a circus clown trying to juggle everything in your life, take these tips and incorporate them so you feel more fulfilled. Everyone will thank you, especially yourself!


Summer Fun and Safety

Summer is upon us at last! If you are anything like me, you want to spend as much time outdoors as possible, walking, cycling, swimming, enjoying time with family and friends on patios, having barbecues, exploring amusement parks (I can go on and on). With all that summer fun comes the need for sun safety as well.  I was delighted when blogger, social worker and stay-at-home dad, Sean Morris, contacted me and wanted to share some of his tips on planning fun and safe family activities. Thank you Sean for a very informative article.


As a stay-at-home dad, I love the summer because it means family vacations, warm nights catching fireflies, day trips to the amusement park, and sleep-away camps where my kids will make lifelong memories. But I also know that summer means traveling in a cramped, noisy car for long periods of time, mosquitoes and other pests (not to mention the threat of disease), and standing in line for roller coasters in the hot sun, and that uneasy feeling every parent gets when their child leaves the nest. Summer comes with its share of dangers. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to prepare your family and stay safe.

Four Fun, Safe Activities for Summer Break

kidsSummer is the time when children are out of school and ready to play. But the excitement of a long break with no responsibilities can often get the better of them, and rigorous activities may lead to scraped knees, bruises, or even something more serious. The best way to ensure your kids don’t invent their own, potentially dangerous game is to come up with specific activities targeted to their interests. Here are a few things you might suggest to keep your kids entertained and safe.

Chalk Art: Beautify Your Driveway

chalkChalk art is a low energy activity that can prevent injuries resulting from wild behavior. The color is nontoxic and is perfectly acceptable to get on the skin. If possible, find a shaded patch of sidewalk or driveway for your kids to decorate. Though shade can help prevent sunburn, it is still important that you apply sunscreen every two hours.

Also, keep in mind that your kids are likely too distracted by their chalk to think about re-hydration. Prompt your kids to drink water every half hour. Avoid sugared beverages as they are far less healthy and likely less hydrating.

Make Your Own Art Supplies

puffypaintCreating your own art supplies both entertains your kids and guarantees the safety of the materials they are using. You can even make a homemade sidewalk chalk paint. Some other fun, easy-clean art mediums you can make in your own kitchen are bathtub puffy paint and water color paint.

A recipe for water color paint, a kid-sized easel, and some cheap brushes can make for a wonderful backyard activity. The homemade, biodegradable paint allows you to take your kids outside to enjoy the fresh air and channel their inner Da Vinci.

Freeze Your Own Healthy Popsicles

popsicleFrozen, tasty treats are part of what makes summer, summer. Unfortunately, most of those treats are loaded with unhealthy ingredients and are chock full of sugar. Instead of chasing down the ice cream truck, spend some time in the kitchen and make your own healthy and delicious treats.

With the right equipment, making homemade popsicles is easier than you think, while a homemade smoothie may be just what your child needs to replenish during a break from playing. Letting your kids create their own summer treats is a fun way to get them inside and out of the sun.

Consider making cherry juice popsicles for the end of the day, which can help your kids sleep better at night. Often, it is still hot by the time your kids should be in bed, and the last thing they want to do is curl up under a blanket.  A cool, healthy popsicle that is low in sugar might be a great way to end a long, hot day of playing and cool your kids down enough for sleep. Cherry juice itself contains melatonin, the hormone your brain produces for sleep.

Gardening Small-Scale

gardeningFor some kids, nothing is more exciting than taking care of a plant and watching it grow, bloom, and maybe produce food. Even if you only have a pot sitting in your window sill, taking your kids out to pick out their own flower seeds and a small, inexpensive bag of soil can be the start of a summer-long activity.

Not only will planting the seeds be exciting for your kids but providing them something to water every day can maintain a sense of responsibility. If you have access to a garden, tending to all the plants with your children can become a long, daily activity that might even result in healthy foods for your family.

sleepThough summer is not necessarily fraught with risk, minor injuries, sunburns, dehydration, poor nutrition, and lack of sleep are all very real and common problems kids can experience in the summer. By building your activities around avoiding these unnecessary injuries or health issues, your kids will be able to enjoy summer to the fullest.

Let your kids get creative, help them make healthy snacks, and maybe spend a dollar or two on some flower seeds to brighten your window. Summer is supposed to be enjoyable. Keeping your kids safe does not mean they shouldn’t get to have fun.


Sean Morris became a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get to spend more time with his kids. He enjoys sharing his experiences via LearnFit.org and hopes writing for the site will help him provide other parents with tips and advice on juggling life, career, and family.

Boredom Buster

Boredom Buster is a term my daughter recently coined for an activity I introduced her to while she was waiting for her brother to finish his lunch (I should mention that sledding was next on our agenda and so she was impatiently nudging our slow eater along). I drew a letter in her sketch pad and challenged her to turn it into a picture. Before long, her sketch pad was filled with dressed up letters. My son, who had been eagerly watching, asked to join in. With the promise of eating faster and multi-tasking efficiently, he set to the boredom buster as well (which by now was serving a different purpose entirely). Five minutes later, the lunch plate was empty but neither of them were in any rush to go sledding anymore (gotta love those moments).
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     IMG_20151229_141746     IMG_20151229_182319
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Boredom Buster or Time Filler activities are great for the classroom Image result for kids working together in schoolas well. They certainly come in handy when there are a few minutes to spare between lessons or transitions in the day. In my classroom I use these kind of activities as add-ons when students complete their work (or during indoor recesses). As a variation to dressed-up letters, you can also use numbers, punctuation marks, symbols and different kinds of lines. For the older students, a writing piece (i.e., poem, caption, etc.) can also accompany the illustrations.
What Boredom Busters do you use with your kids and students? Feel free to share.
Lora

 

Shark Tank with Recycled Products

boxThe other day, I came home with a small box of groceries. As I emptied out the box, an idea struck. Knowing kids love to make crafts (especially out of boxes) I challenged my children to think of something useful they could make out of the box. I gave them one condition – they had to agree on what they would use the box for. Excited by the venture, they set on their way, thinking and planning. I overheard them talking about what they each wanted the box to be used for (yes, you guessed it – they were not on the same page). I continued eavesdropping, pretending to be busy in the kitchen, hoping they’d soon come to a consensus. Five minutes later the arguing began and so I stepped in. My goal was for them to present their idea together, but perhaps a little friendly competition wouldn’t hurt.

For those of you who are familiar with the show Shark Tank, you know where this is going.

I asked the eager participants (then aged 4 and 8) to draw a picture of their master plan for the box and then come up with a convincing statement outlining the usefulness of their product. I suggested that next time we had a family gathering (which was the following day, so it would be quite immediate), we could have everyone act as judges and listen to their plan of action. We reviewed what they’d need to cover in the sales pitch: usefulness, durability, and of course, any cost I would incur as part of the construction (tape, paint, etc.).

With the prospect of a large audience and an exciting game plan, the sketching and designing began. Continue reading

Second Stop – WORDS Book Launch Tour

Hello Everyone!

Join us for the second stop on the WORDS Book Launch Tour
this Saturday August 29, 2015 from 12 – 3 pm at Indigo Richmond Hill.

Come and enjoy a meet & greet, book signing and children’s activities.

See you there!

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To Build or Destroy – The Power of Our Words

pink-shirt1Bullying is a major problem in our schools, workplaces, homes, and over the Internet. During the month of February, many organizations across Canada will work to raise awareness on this issue and give us the tools needed to stand up against bullying and step in when we see it happening. February 25th is Pink Shirt Day and it is recognized in schools across Canada and worldwide by wearing pink in support of anti-bullying. 

I would like to share an animation that highlights the power of our words. Words (which is also the introduction post to Words on a Limb) has truly become one of my favourite videos to share with students when discussing issues around bullying and raising awareness of the impact we have on others through speech and actions. The power of our words can never be underestimated. To build or destroy, it is always our choice.

Creative Commons License
Words by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Here is a snippet of the Globe & Mail article that describes how Pink Shirt Day began:

“David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied [for wearing a pink shirt]…[They] took a stand against bullying when they protested against the harassment of a new Grade 9 student by distributing pink T-shirts to all the boys in their school.

‘I learned that two people can come up with an idea, run with it, and it can do wonders,’ says Mr. Price, 17, who organized the pink protest. ‘Finally, someone stood up for a weaker kid.’

So Mr. Shepherd and some other headed off to a discount store and bought 50 pink tank tops. They sent out message to schoolmates that night, and the next morning they hauled the shirts to school in a plastic bag.

As they stood in the foyer handing out the shirts, the bullied boy walked in. His face spoke volumes. ‘It looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders,’ Mr. Price recalled.

The bullies were never heard from again.”
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It is not always easy to broach difficult topics with our children and students. This is where great literature comes in handy in opening a platform for discussion and reflection. Below is a collection of wonderful picture books to provoke questions about bullying, both as victims and perpetrators. Feel free to share other great books you’ve come across in the comment box below.  I will be more than happy to add them to our list. Continue reading

Talking About Difficult Topics With Children

by Teresa Villegas co-author and illustrator of children’s book “How We Became a Family”

Talking with children about difficult topics (such as sex, birth, death, war, politics, etc.) doesn’t have to be so difficult, if you have already established an open style of communication with your child. What exactly is an “open style of communication” and how to achieve this?

Well, it turns out that it’s basically the same kind of communication style that you would have with anyone; adult or child, relative or friend. And it’s founded on a handful of common courtesies: listening, respect, empathy and love.

Open positive communication with children means paying attention by listening to them without interruption, respecting the child’s thoughts and feelings, and connecting with them by empathizing with their opinions and views. Love is what binds this all together in how we express ourselves to children and watching the tone of our voice when we speak can either cause the conversation to open or to close.

Listening and respecting others are pretty much self-evident, and is only a matter of allowing yourself to put them into action. Children learn “active listening skills” from their grade school teachers and keep us reminded of this elementary skill we adults and parents now call “being present.” When we talk to other adults, we can openly challenge that which we do not agree with. However, this approach can stifle a child’s willingness to speak openly. Since their desire is to please us, we need to make sure we do not curtail their emoting by our statements. We need to acknowledge their point of view, and then we can proceed to explain why we believe our point of view.

Empathy can be defined as the ability to feel or imagine another person’s emotional experience. An innate quality we are born with that allows us to make personal and social connections with others and to further the line of our species. Children are closer to their feelings than most adults, and that’s a good thing! We can all respect and understand the feelings of anger, frustration, uncertainty, loss, grief, and joy.

Love and the tone of voice when we are communicating, are not always one and the same. Our tone of voice conveys more to our children than any words. Statements can spill out of our mouths without our realizing how it can sound to a child. Tone of voice and listening were the two skills I immediately noticed and admired when I first met my husband before I knew what he did as a profession. As we became friends, then newlyweds and then as new parents, his listening-skills-training as a psychologist and physician, fostered an open communication style within our relationship and with our children. But you don’t need to be a doctor or married to one to put these skills into use. When attention is given to listening and noticing our projected tone of voice with our responses, we learn a lot about ourselves and how we come across to others with whom we are communicating, especially our children. When we convey patience and serenity in our conversation, it opens up discussion.

When our children ask us questions and/or interrupt us, our tone of voice may often be saying “what now?”or “can’t this wait?” or “I really don’t know how to answer that” combined with our curt words answering “yes, sure, maybe, no, not now, later, ok?” When I catch myself doing this dance of communication avoidance, especially with tough questions or topics I’d rather put off for an eternal “another time”, I’m reminded of two thoughts I’d like to share with you. I don’t remember which of the gazillion parenting books or articles where I read these, so I apologize for my failure of referencing the particular sources. Their emphasis on focusing on the moment and their wisdom reached out and grabbed my attention and my heart. They have helped me and have stayed with me to this day. I hope they do the same for you.

• Ask yourself “when your child walks into your room, does your face light up? Is your child aware of how important they are to you and how much you value their presence?”

• When you find yourself talking with another person or child, ask yourself
“Is love available here? Can I make space for love to enter into this conversation?”

When I can stop (this is a conscious ongoing process for me), and if I can remind myself of these two concepts above, it helps me to come to center with every tough question or conversation our children bring up and it becomes easier to communicate in an open, honest and authentic way.

One of the toughest topics we are very familiar with and have been talking a lot about
since our children were born, has to do with how many different ways that families are made. In today’s society, along with the advocacy of open communication and open information on the internet we know that there are many different kinds of families. For some families like ours, it takes more than the traditional concept of family. Sometimes, it takes science and the help of others.

Talking about infertility and how you built your family via IVF and an egg donor or a sperm donor is more accepted now than it was 10 years ago. Awareness is growing. However, it’s still a topic that can be hard to broach with your family, friends, and your children. It is our hope that creating a family with donor assistance will become as common to talk about and accepted in our society as adoption has become.

Within the U.S., more than 10% of all couples suffer from infertility and one in eight couples need medical help to create their families. Fortunately, there are many options with the help of medical science and a donor, but many parents are at a loss to explain this process to their child.

With so few role models to follow, it’s hard to know how to approach this conversation with young children. The following tips will help parents feel comfortable and begin telling their donor-conceived child, how they became a family through science and the help of others.

For more in-depth information please visit our website HowWeBecameaFamily.com.

How To Talk With Your Child About Their Donor Origins

1. Let Go of Your Genetic Dream Family. Acknowledging that you wont be raising a child with yours and your partners’ genes combined is heartbreaking for most couples, and it’s normal to experience this grief – if you allowed it. After experiencing years of infertility, and in your drive to become pregnant, you may have skimmed over or delayed this first crucial step. If you have not begun this subtle, yet necessary step, it may be part of what’s holding you back from feeling ready to talk about it.

2. Define Your Beliefs About Family. Defining what family means to you will strengthen your ability to communicate about how you chose to build your family, should you encounter any negativity about your decisions. Perhaps what you’ve discovered is that love, trust, relationships and support are the foundations that make up a family – not genetics. Understanding how you feel about your choices will make it easier for you to explain them to your child.

3. Affirm The Donor. Regardless of whether you chose to have an open or anonymous relationship with your donor, it’s a good idea to talk with your child about the significance of the donor’s role with appreciation and respect. Children intuitively tune in to your feelings about the donor. Because the donor will forever remain in your awareness, and because how you think and feel about the donor will affect your child, embrace them and celebrate them wholly.

4. Tell Your Child Early. Generally, it is not conception that you want to communicate about as much as the unique path by which your child has entered into your family. Therefore, begin to practice talking about the presence of the other people in that child’s life to whom they may be genetically related, normalize it as it is – a basic fact about their life. “Before you were born, we needed help from a very kind person, for us to make you.”

5. Embrace Your Child’s Curiosity. As your child learns about their donor origins, they may be curious about the donor and wonder and ask questions such as “What are they like?” What do they look like?” As your child grows, they may ask more mature questions such as “Why did they donate?” “Do they have children too?” Research shows that donor conceived people are inquisitive about their donor origins even when they experience positive parent-child relationships. Curiosity will continue and evolve and they will look to you to help them understand it all.

Using a children’s book to introduce the conversation with your child about their donor conceived beginnings is an easy way to start. The How We Became a Family children’s book series is a welcome relief for parents of children born through IVF with donor conception.  There are four versions available depending on your family’s needs. Two versions are for families whose children were conceived with an egg donor, resulting in either a single child, or twins. Two other versions are for families whose children were conceived with a sperm donor, resulting in either a single child, or twins. The books are beautifully designed, with highly-nuanced illustrations with remarkable combinations of depth and whimsy to be read with children ages 2-10. Introduce the conversation with ease by simply reading together. Published by Heart and Mind Press it is now available. Each book is a high quality hardcover children’s picture book with a matte varnish cover, full color, 32 pages of heavyweight uncoated interior pages, 8″x 8″ for parents to read with their child. For more details on how to purchase a book, for your family or as a thoughtful gift, visit HowWeBecameaFamily.com.

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I was able to connect with Teresa and Bernard through our site’s various communications with authors and illustrators. After reading their book, I felt their story shone a light on a topic that most of us do not typically have a chance to discover, unless of course our lives are touched by this miracle. As a bonus, we also learned some healthy tips on relating to the most important loved ones in our lives.

I want to extend a warm thank you to Teresa for taking a moment to enlighten us today. We wish them love, happiness and continued success with their blessed home and their endeavor to help educate. I encourage you to visit their website and “fill your tool box”.

Lora

Making Back-to-School a Success

Making Back-to-School a Success
by Stacy Cline


In my blog in July, I noted that old refrain “…no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers…”
Guess what? We’re baaaa-aack!

I have heard the following phrase often in the last few weeks: “School is a dirty word in our house.” No one wants to let go of summer. But school is around the corner and it’s time to think about it (even if you don’t want to say it, being a dirty word, apparently) so that we’re well prepared to return to you-know-what.

Summer is often a time of lazy days, with a side of ice cream. School is a time of routine. It’s critical to return to those old routines, so that the first week of September isn’t such a shock.

Bedtime routines should be back in place before school begins, if you’ve been lax over the summer. Morning routines should also be revisited. If they have been sauntering into the kitchen to eat breakfast in PJs, then get back into the old habit of getting dressed first, if that had been procedure. Write a checklist for the first week to remind you of all that needs to be done to get out the door. I will, because I know I might not remember to pack their water bottles or something like that. Two summer months is sufficient time to forget.

If nightly read alouds or your child’s independent reading time fell by the wayside over the summer because of late bedtimes, restore that good habit now. A new book of their choice is a great back-to-school gift. A reluctant reader might like a graphic novel or even a comic book.

Ensure there is ample time to eat a nutritious breakfast every morning. This is crucial, and one of my greatest worries as a teacher. Children who arrive at school nourished are energized and perform far better. Aside from nutritional concerns, hungry kids often have difficulty focussing.

Practice new skills. Maybe they are learning to tie shoelaces, dress themselves or pack their own lunch (preferably the night before). Homework policies should be planned and discussed. Where will homework be completed, such that it is a quiet space with little distraction? What time of day? Before or after TV? Prepare for effective and consistent study habits now, and this will help avoid conflicts later.

Organize their supplies. Assuming that the zipper on the pencil case isn’t busted, there aren’t holes in the knapsack and the lunch bag doesn’t smell like feet then all can be reused. Purchase only what needs to be replaced, and teach responsible spending and good environmental stewardship to your children. That doesn’t mean a fresh box of crayons or a fancy pencil isn’t in order. A few little back-to-school treats might brighten your child’s day.

If your kids, like mine, have mostly been wearing sport sandals all summer, then try their running shoes to ensure they still fit. They’ll need them for phys ed.

Some children experience anxiety prior to the start of school. They might even have trouble sleeping. As a teacher, this is something that I have struggled with. I’m excited, nervous, tense, a bit scared, you name it. Perhaps your child is too. New teacher, new grade, new challenge, new faces…

Remain upbeat, optimistic and calm. Listen and demonstrate empathy by validating their concerns. I can’t tell my daughter, “It’s nothing!” when I can barely eat. Remind them of old friends they will see, and the fun things they will learn and do. Talk about favourite subjects, even recess! Set up play dates with friends who they haven’t seen all summer to reconnect and to give them some comfort, and something to which they can look forward.

Last but not least, your pen-and-paper, traditional school teacher here strongly recommends you use a wall calendar to help your family organize your weeks. I know, you have everything stored on your tablet/desktop/smartphone but a wall calendar is a visual aid that your family can use for reference at any time. Anyone can add notes to it so everyone is literally on the same page. It will never fail you. It will also engage your kids to take responsibility and participate in daily planning. And if GYM TODAY is written down for your child to see, it will take one thing off your plate to remember.


STACY CLINE
Stacey Cline is an elementary school teacher and educational consultant. She is amazed by what she learns from her students every day. Stacey is passionate about reading, and has amassed a fantastic collection of children’s literature that her family enjoys daily. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two daughters and two cats. As a result, she loves strong espresso and good wine.
Stacey can be reached at sclineconsulting@gmail.com.


Check out this article and more at: Her Magazine

Kings in the Corner

GravatarHappy Tuesday everyone. I would like to share a cool card game that I was introduced to this past weekend, Kings in the Corner. I played it with my children and was quite surprised how interested and engaged they were the entire time. In fact, they insisted we play again and again. I didn’t dare tell them how much they were learning at the same time (shhh, our secret).

Warning: Don’t be overwhelmed by all the instructions and rules. Once mastered, it is a relatively simple game to play. What’s more, it builds and reinforces many valuable concepts and skills including: focus and concentration, strategic thinking, numerical concepts (counting backwards, patterning), following rules, building social skills, turn-taking and having fun! Continue reading