Banana Toothpicks and Other Creative Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthy


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One of my kids is an adventurous eater, while the other is choosy. My older son will gladly take a taste of anything our family serves. Well, almost anything. He did tell my mom, in a non believing voice, “Grandma, we don’t eat food out of a can!” when she tried to serve him a bowl of Beefaroni. My younger son, on the other hand, won’t eat anything colorful. That is, with the exception of lollipops, candy and other not-so-healthy choices.

In order to get my younger son to try fruits and vegetables, we experimented with lots of things – renaming foods, bribing him, testing different cooking methods…and so on.  While renaming tofu to “cheese” seemed to work for miso soup, we hadn’t found any foolproof ways of getting him to eat fruits and vegetables until we stumbled on the power of sticks. Turns out, kids love eating food on sticks. My son loves to say, “Mom, anything tastes good on a stick!”

Rather than eating bananas from the peel, we slice them and eat them using toothpicks. Voila, the birth of banana toothpicks. We also make kebabs, or “meat on a stick” and order terriyaki when we get take out. It seems the unexpected nature of eating food with sticks turns the focus from nutrition to fun.

Just what the kids need!


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Creative Ways to Finance Non-Profit Organizations

Washington Street

Image by Jef Nickerson via Flickr

I attended a fundraiser for the South End Community Health Center a few days ago. Growing up in the South End helped to make this fundraiser even more special. As I took in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood, I considered how much the neighborhood had changed since I was a kid. When I lived in the neighborhood, the area the South End Community Health Center occupied was a vacant and unkempt lot. Now, the Center serves thousands of residents annually. In speaking to folks at the Center, I learned of the creative way the South End Community Health Center was financed.

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Imaginative Thinking Isn’t Just for Kids

"We are told never to cross a bridge unti...

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Over the past week the word “imagination” has been popping into my mind. I just celebrated a birthday and was remembering the many articles I’ve read about creativity and aging. Studies have found creativity dwindles with age as people hit their 60’s. Though I’m a few decades shy of my 60’s, I began wondering what  effects age has on my personal creativity. Given children are more prone to imagination than adults, I looked to my 5-year old for comparison.

What I enjoy about my 5-year old is his randomness. On my birthday, we celebrated by having a family lunch at a local restaurant. My 5-year old asked if his stuffed pet, Gussie Lion, could come along. He stated, “It’s a very special day and Gussie Lion would like to come to lunch.”

Of course, I enthusiastically replied, “Yes.”

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A Forbes Study Finds Diversity & Inclusion are Good for Creativity and Innovation

For Two Bits Tuesday:  B A L A N C E

Image by EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin' hooky ;o) via Flickr

Chances are if you work for a large organization, your company has a diversity and inclusion policy. Organizations around the world are realizing diversity in the workplace is good for business. In fact, a July 2011 Forbes study found, a “diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas. When asked about the relationship between diversity and innovation, a majority of respondents agreed that diversity is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that foster innovation.” While a diverse workforce fosters creativity and innovation, I believe how companies define diversity should be broadened.

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Designing for Kids has Adult Sales Appeal

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I’ve never been much of a parade person. Not that I have anything against parades, but they’ve just never held my interest. However, this year has been different. And, it had a lot to do with how the parade was designed. Our town, probably like many others, was experiencing a dwindling parade population. In thinking about how to solve the problem, parade organizers designed a creative parade experience with kid appeal.

First, they invited the town’s little leagues to march in the parade. Second, the little leaguers tossed candy into the crowds. While some little leaguers aimed candy towards their siblings, others were happy to throw the furthest, throw to the loudest fans, or throw to unsuspecting parade goers. What a great way to engage attendees and to workout to those future-baseball arms. Lastly, little league families were invited for a free ice cream social after the parade!

Designing the parade with kids in mind had great adult “sales” appeal as well. Some of my learning from this experience included:

  • When your kids are invited to march in the parade, your entire family is more likely to attend the parade
  • Giving the marchers an activity, like throwing candy, is fun and helps pass the time
  • Siblings enjoyed watching the parade go by, spotting family members, and catching candy
  • Happy kids = happy parents!

For me, this year’s parade experience has changed my perspective. Our town did a great job of changing my mind by changing how I feel. By incorporating my son into the parade and making the parade fun for his brother, it put a smile on my face. So, each year as the weather gets warmer, and the parades become more plentiful, I look forward to Memorial Day parades, July 4th parades, and so on…

And, if you think designing for kids just pertains to parades, think again. Look no further than the cereal aisle, toy store, or video games for the explosive potential in designing for kids. The next time you pass by a product geared towards kids, think about how marketers might be subliminally (or not so subliminally) talking to parents with packaging, advertising and emotional appeal.


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The Global Innovation Index 2011 is Out

Coat of Arms of Switzerland.

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Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore lead The Global Innovation Index 2011 as #’s 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Interested in seeing how the 125 countries stack up? Read more. Beware, the report is a beefy 381 pages.

While I haven’t read the entire report cover to cover, I have made it as far as the framework. Here is a synopsis of the measures The Global Innovation Index used to rate each of the countries. Each of the pillars below capture elements of the country’s economy that enable innovation.

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Do You Believe in Multiple Intelligences?

Badminton racquets

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When I first learned of Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, I immediately believed. Over this past July 4th weekend, I was reminded of Multiple Intelligences when my son challenged me to 4 days of badminton tournaments. Though only 7, my son is really good at badminton. So much so, that I stopped “going easy” on him and fought heartily for every point I scored. Though I unleashed all the skill I could muster, my son only became better and better as I grew more and more tired.

As I considered Multiple Intelligences, I liked how Gardner defined intelligence by various modalities rather than a general ability. Multiple Intelligences include:

My Sons’ Reactions to Creatively Ever After

Chapter 1, Creatively Ever After

Every night for nearly 7 years my husband and I have read bedtime stories to the kids. Now that the kids are older, they are excited to choose their own books. With shelves of books, I was surprised when my boys asked to read my book, Creatively Ever After. Though it is being published in just a few short weeks, I have never read my book aloud to an audience.

At first, I wasn’t sure if a soon-to-be second grader and a soon-to-be kindergartener would understand the “grown-up” concepts of creativity, innovation, and the creative problem solving process. I was a bit nervous as I started reading. My kids tell it like it is..the good, the bad and the ugly!

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Curiosity and Creativity go Hand in Hand


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When my youngest son turned 5 in April, he received a gigantic 17″ pencil as a gift from one of his friends. The pencil was so big that my son had to grip it like a badminton racket. He walked around the house for days happily carrying his pencil around. After making sure my son knew enough not to draw on anything except paper, I rest assured I wouldn’t need to scrub pencil markings off the walls.

However, my son’s curiosity got the better of him and it had nothing to do with drawing on walls. Instead, he decided to test his pencil on the window screens. While curiosity is a key ingredient in creativity, this once, I wished my son could have been a tad less curious. My son was became fascinated with the pencil and wondered what would happen if he poked holes in the window screens with it.

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