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
Summer 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
Chalk 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
Creating 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
Frozen, 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.
For 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.
Though 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.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This Father’s Day, we want to thank our Dads and all the father-figures in our lives – grandpas, step-dads, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends….whoever your hero happens to be – Words on a Limb would like to wish you a Happy Father’s Day!
defaultJoin me at Chapters Brampton on Sunday, April 24 from 11:00 to 1:00. I’ll be reading from my picture book WORDS and then hang around for fun activities and book signing. Hope to see you there!
Words on a Limb would like to wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year! Here’s to a year filled with abundant blessings, the greatest of health and plentiful smiles and laughter. May 2016 bring joy to our hearts, comfort to our pockets, love to our homes and peace among all nations.
May yesterday’s mistakes build brighter tomorrows – welcome 2016!
Nothing fills the classroom with more excitement and cheer – and gives you instant celebrity status (the coolest teacher ever) faster than the declaration of Game Time!
While students see this is as a well deserved break from all their hard work, what they don’t suspect is that it’s actually a way to consolidate their learning, albeit outside the typically structured setting (but they don’t need to know that). Playing cards reinforces important math skills (number sense; number recognition, counting, adding, subtracting), social skills (taking turns, sharing, sportsmanship) and builds on children’s strategic thinking and planning. As a teacher, of course, observing my students play is the perfect opportunity to also assess their strengths and weaknesses in these areas and plan future lessons based on their needs.
So go ahead – roll up your sleeves, gather eager players, hand out the cards and let the games begin!
A few notes:
- For the purpose of the games listed below, an ace represents the number one.
- Unless otherwise specified, each game is played in a group of 3-4 students, but can be modified to include more or less players.
- If you want your students to keep score, have some paper and pencils handy.
- Remind students to shuffle the cards well before each game.
CARD GAMES FOR THE CLASSROOM
Give Me Ten
Place all the cards facing down in the centre of the table. Each player picks up 4 cards and holds them up, not revealing their cards to the other players. Four additional cards are drawn and placed in the middle as the ‘bank’ reserve. The first player tries to match one of their cards with one from the bank to add up to 10. For example, if a player holds a 6 and the bank has a 4, they collect the card and place it aside as a ten-point. They can also add up to 10 by picking up various other combinations (i.e., 6, 2, 2 or 5, 1, 4) and by using as many of their cards as possible in one turn. The aim is to make as many sets of 10 as possible. If/when the bank is ‘empty’ the current player must put down any random card from their hand and the next player continues. With each round, players continue to pick up 4 cards and aim sets of 10. A king can only pick up a king, a queen only a queen, a jack can pick up all the number cards. When no cards remain, the player with the most sets of 10 wins the game. As an alternative, instead of adding to 10, choose another number (i.e., 11, 12).
Each player picks up 4 cards from the deck and place them face up. Players rearrange their cards and try to create number pairs that add up to 100, or else as close as possible. For example, the cards 9, 1, 4, 5, can be arranged to create two larger numbers: 51 and 49. When added together 51 and 49 equal 100. When everyone’s ready, they should share their final numbers. Whoever is closest to 100 receives a point. Play for 10 rounds. The player with the most points at the end of the final round wins.
Spread the cards face down on a table in a random pattern or in a grid. Players take turns turning over two cards while all the players can see them. If they are not a matching pair, they turn them back over. The next player turns over two cards. If they are a matching pair, that player removes them from the table and keeps them, and then has another turn. When all cards have been removed from the table, each player counts up the number of cards they have collected. The player with the most matching cards wins the game. This is a great game to enhance memory and concentration skills.
Divide all the cards equally among the players. Players may organize their cards without showing them to the others. The first player places a card face down in the centre of the table saying ace. The next player must place down a card higher up in value (i.e., number 2). The following player discards threes, and so on. Players announce their cards as they lay them. After kings have been played, aces start again. Players can discard up to four cards at a time. Players don’t have to play the cards they announce – they can be bluffing. After each turn, any player can challenge the last player (if they believe they are lying) by saying You’re bluffing! When this happens, the challenger can look at the discarded cards. If they match what the person who played them said, the challenger picks up all cards in the discard pile and adds them to his personal pile. If the cards are not what the person said they were, the player who discarded them must pick up the entire discard pile. The player to lay down his entire hand of cards first will win the game.
Divide all the cards equally among the players. Cards facing down, each player turns over a card from their ‘bank’ and puts it down in the centre. When all of the players had a chance to put down a card, the player with the highest ranking card takes them all and places them aside. With each round, players continue to place down cards from their ‘bank’, until no cards remain. The player with the most cards at the end wins the game. As an alternative, the player that can make the most sets of ten wins the game (i.e., 5, 2 and 3 is one set of 10; 9 and 1 is another, a king and a king is a ten, etc.)
Each player is dealt five cards. The rest of the deck goes facedown in a pile, with the top card turned up beside it. This is the discard pile. The player to the left of the dealer discards a card from his hand that matches either the number or suit of the top card in the discard pile. For example, if the card is a five of hearts, he could play any heart or any five. If he does not have a matching card, he continues picking up cards from the deck until he gets one that is playable. Eights are wild and can be put down on any suit. For example, an eight could be played to match a heart. The next player must match their card to the number or suit that the eight was meant to cover. Play continues with players matching the card at the top of the discard pile. The first player to use up all his cards wins. If the deck runs out before the game is over, the discard pile can be used.
To download a free copy of Card Games for the Classroom for your personal use in the classroom, click on the image below.
Hello everyone. I hope Fall is off to a wonderful start for you (quite frankly, I miss summer already).
We are once again delighted to feature an article, written by high school student, Kathleen Carter, a teen living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Today she writes to us about the impact of having an autism support dog on her day to day life with AS. We thank her for allowing us a glimpse into her life and sharing her insight.
A couple of years ago when I was really struggling in middle school, my parents decided to put me on the waiting list with an organization that trains autism service dogs. I was being bullied often, and as a result of the bullying, my self-esteem had plummeted. I no longer liked or wanted to go to school. It had also caused some of my Asperger’s-related symptoms to worsen. For example, when I feel overwhelmed or anxious, I wring my hands. I was wringing them so often at school that when I came home each day my hands ached. The process of getting a dog can be lengthy, but my wait is about to come to an end. I’ll be getting my service dog a couple of weeks after school starts back. While I’ve made a lot of positive changes in my life that have helped me improve my self-esteem, the timing for my dog’s arrival is actually perfect because I’ll get to work with him for a couple of years before it’s time for me to start college, which will be overwhelming, I’m sure! (Photo by Sonja Lovas)
Here are a few reasons why I’m looking forward to working with my autism service dog:
The dog will be a calming presence. As mentioned above, in a couple of years, it will be time for me to start college. It took me a long time to adjust to being in high school so I worry that being on a college campus will simply be too overwhelming for me. As this article from Canine Journal on psychiatric service dogs notes, trained service dogs can help keep you centered in difficult situations. They “provide a focal point when situations become difficult to cope with.” I think having my dog there with me in college will help me get centered when I start feeling overwhelmed.
He will help me manage repetitive motions. My hand-wringing has been a big source of embarrassment for me over the years. The truth is often I don’t even realize when I’m doing it. But back in middle school, there were a couple of bullies in my class who were always quick to point it out. Of course, that usually only made things worse. While this is a habit that I’ve gotten largely under control, I worry that it might creep back in when I start college. As this article on service dog tasks notes, my dog and other service dogs are actually trained to nudge a child on the autism spectrum when they give in to repetitive behaviors. This nudging helps the child recognize what they’re doing so that they can stop.
He will keep me safe. As this article notes, one reason autism service dogs are so valuable is that they can reduce a child on the autism spectrum’s ability to wander. And while wandering isn’t an issue I’ve ever had to deal with, my dog will keep me safe in other ways. For example, he can be my eyes and ears in public situations that I might find overwhelming. When I do feel overwhelmed, it can be difficult for me to figure out what to do to get myself out of the situation. When I’m in reaction mode, I don’t always notice everything in the environment around me. My dog will help calm me down and help lead me through these situations.
He will be a great companion. My service dog will be able to help me in many ways, but one of the most important roles he’ll play is as my companion. Who wouldn’t want to spend their time with a friend who can, as this article from Mental Health Dogs notes, boost self-esteem, improve mood, help in social situations, reduce feelings of loneliness, and so much more!
The wait to get a service dog has been long, but I think he will be well-worth it. While I’ve gotten to spend time with him while he’s been in training, I can’t wait for him to become a more permanent part of my life and a member of my family.
Kathleen Carter enjoys educating her peers and others about AS. Recently, she began writing proudly about how her experiences differ from other people her age. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to write for EducatorLabs.
A review of WORDS by Lian Wright at Reese Speaks…
The VP of Cuteness began school this September, and she could not wait to start this new adventure in her life! As a parent, I was super excited for her to become more independent by starting school, but I also worry about how she will interact with her classmates since she has been at home with me and her younger brother. I do not know how she will take kids not liking her or being picked on. This is why I was thrilled to review Words by Lora Rozler to help reinforce some of the things we have been teaching her at home.
Words is a fascinating children’s book about a lonely letter, Little e, trying to find its place in its world of words. After a lot of searching, Little e has a choice to make. It had to choose between hate and love; Little e ultimately chose to…
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A collection of Fall favourites by Adrienne Gear
It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers
Ooooooo…. I just can’t help myself! The new picture books that have been coming out in the last few weeks are SOOOOOO good – I am bursting with book love! There are so many that I have decided to share a few each Monday this month. Here we go with Part 1….
Steve, Raised By Wolves– by Jared Chapman
LOL! This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves. Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice: “Just be yourself!”. So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class…
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Hello everyone. I’m excited to share the news of my upcoming book signing at Chapters-Indigo, Woodbridge. If you live in the Toronto area, I would love to see you there. Come and say Hello.