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

toothpicks

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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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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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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:

Letting Kids Win at Games Builds Creative Thinking Muscles

View of a game of Strange Synergy, a card and ...

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My 5-year old loves playing board games. He also loves creating his own rules and ways of playing which drives my 7-year old crazy because he views this as “cheating.” Recently, rather than playing board games or card games with both kids at the same time, I’ve been playing with each child individually. This gives my 5-year old time to stretch his creative thinking muscles and my 7-year old a chance to enjoy an age appropriate playing environment.

In separating play time between the two boys, I’ve gained some insights. My oldest son tends to be more literal, by-the-book, and logical. To him, it doesn’t make sense to create your own rules. He sees right and wrong…and there are never any gray lines. My older son loves building things, math, science, IT class and sports. On the other hand, my younger son tends to be more imaginative. He enjoys divergent thinking. With him, there’s always lots of gray. My younger son seems to be drawn to coming up with ideas, inventing things, creative story telling and art.

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A Yard Sale Find Brings Out the Scientists in the Family

Microscope icon

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Over the weekend our local high school held a yard sale. The new high school is set to open soon and the organizers of the yard sale collected all of the unused items from the old high school and pulled together a fundraiser. At first my boys hemmed and hawed about going to a yard sale. But once they entered the gym, they were fascinated. Both kids immediately set their sights on the table of microscopes. A few minutes and a few dollars later, we were the proud owners of one of them.

When we returned home, the boys couldn’t wait to use the microscope. Luckily, my husband has been taking science classes for the past two years and set the course for exploration. First we had to think up some ideas for what we could use to hold our specimen. Unfortunately, the microscope didn’t come with any slides. Though we began ideating on ways to use plastic food wrap, we settled on using the glass from wallet-sized photo frames.

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Creativity and Getting into Flow

Sparrow Paper Airplane

Image by bre pettis via Flickr

For Father’s Day, my husband and I went out for dinner. We invited the girls down the street watch our boys. When we came home, both boys were happier than you could imagine. For, after running around and playing outside, their sitters suggested they try their hand at making paper airplanes. After making a few “expected” airplanes, the four experimented with making the “coolest” airplanes possible. All of the airplanes (a half ream of paper worth) were proudly displayed on our coffee table when we returned home.

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Homework Wars: Why Limiting Homework is Not the Solution

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

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Ever since the invention of school, there have been debates over homework. Should we institute more homework or less homework? Or, should we ban homework all together?

In The New York Times article, New Recruit in the Homework Revolt: The Principal, parents, teachers and educational administrators sound off on the homework debate. After reading the article, one thing is clear. Limiting homework is not the solution. Why, you ask?

Parents, teachers and administrators are not aligned on the problem we are trying to solve by limiting homework. This misalignment only adds fuel to the fire.

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Bringing Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity to a School Near You

Magnifying

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Last summer The Creativity Crisis made the cover of Newsweek. The report documented the decline in creativity in U.S.  school children. This leaves American children at a disadvantage when it comes to competing in a global economy. With social, economic, and political challenges getting ever more complex, creative leadership is rising in importance. In fact, a study of 1500 chief executives identified creativity as the most important competency for the future. If creativity is that important, shouldn’t it be taught in schools? Though embracing creativity within schools is slow going, I am hopeful change is coming soon. On June 10, 2011,

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Kids (and Adults) Learn Better When They’re Having Fun

happy(07-08-16)

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It’s a fact – kids learn better when they’re having fun. Actually, adults do too. To test out the theory, all you need to do is survey a group of folks who have just sat through a two hour PowerPoint meeting. How much of the presentation do you think they absorbed? In probing, I’m sure you’ll hear more about “death by PowerPoint” than tangible lessons from the meeting. The complaints you’d hear from adults are the same as the ones you’d hear from kids who are expected to sit quietly in class and absorb the lesson plan.

But, this doesn’t need to be the way. There are many engaging ways to teach.

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How an Arts Education Improves Academic Achievement

4-year-old boy starts painting Revell model of...

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One of the biggest differences between my oldest son’s preschool education and his elementary school education lies in the arts. When he was enrolled in preschool he brought home fantastic art projects. Every year our family looked forward to the art open house where we were invited to the gallery (i.e. transformed classroom) for a showing. Many of the students would dress up in formal attire to proudly walk their parents through the gallery. On the long awaited day, the teachers would hand out index cards with open-ended questions parents could ask to start a dialogue about their child’s work. And, at the end of the year, each grade would put on a play. One year my son was in the Wizard of Oz and the next year he was in The Sound of Music. I treasure these memories and proudly display my son’s artwork in my office.

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