Sunday, December 27, 2009

Parenting Tip #19 Best Toys this year

As a grandma, I'm always wanting to give my grandchildren "The Best Toy" there is-whether it's for their birthday or Christmas or whatever. This Christmas I tried to notice what toys were played with the most or enjoyed. It seems that dolls are always a hit--if the girls likes dolls. Boys like to play with cars, helicopters, anything that moves, etc. One grandson got boxing gloves that talked when you hit with them and though I didn't give them to him, he and I had lots of fun running around outside with one glove on each hand, trying to punch each other.

I always think, "if they already have a doll, they don't want or need another one," or "if they have building toys, they probably don't want another one." But then I remember I had 22 dolls at one time in my life! I gave them all to Deseret Industries one summer when I was a teenager.

Then I start thinking, "I want to have the coolest things at my house that they'll love to play with", like one of those IKEA chairs that swivel around or the scooters they use in P.E. at school And I once saw a really cool chair on some website that was from Europe. It was like half an egg shell that the child sat inside of. It looked really fun.

So---tell me. What are fun toys your children like to play with or that you have bought or seen lately.

Music Tip #19 Willoughby Wallaby Woo

One of my favorite Raffi songs is Willoughby Wallaby Wee, an elephant sat on me, Willoughby Wallaby Woo, an elephant sat on you ( This is a fun song because you can make up funny rhymes for the names of your children or anyone in your family. It's a great way to teach and reinforce rhyming words, which is a big help in teaching your child to read.

I like to sing this song with my grandchildren. I rhyme the names of their cousins, aunts and uncles and feel like I'm helping them keep connections with their extended family.

This is also a fun song to sing at school. We do it with the children all standing around holding onto a parachute. When the name of the child is rhymed, they get to run under the parachute and come out on the other side. If you don't have a parachute (and why would you?), then use a tablecloth or bedsheet.

Any other ideas?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Parenting Tip # 18 The true meaning of Christmas

I was teaching the Kindergarten class a new song called "Must Be Santa". After singing it, one of the little girls said, "Santa's not the true meaning of Christmas. Baby Jesus is." Wow, I thought. Her mother would love to know that her daughter had really grasped the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas time is such a busy, hectic time, that it seems hard to focus on anything at all except running here and there, buying this and that, and decorating more and more.

One year I wanted to teach my children that all our activities did tie into the "true meaning" of Christmas so I got a big poster board and divided it into 3 categories: Christ's Birthday, Love of Family, and Service to Others. We talked about how these 3 things are what Christmas is all about. Then throughout the Christmas season, we jotted down the activities we did and put them under the proper category. It was a relief to me to see that most of our activities did fall under one of these categories. It made the busyness seem worth it.

Music Tip # 18 Christmas CDs

Now is the best time in the world to listen to music. I love listening to Christmas music as so many of you do too. Every year I try to buy a new Christmas CD to add to my collection. This year I bought Josh Groban's CD called Noel. I really like it. Other favorite CDs are one by Amy Grant and a Celtic Christmas CD. It's a fun tradition to listen to Christmas music.

Other traditions kind of evolve and become locked in as you pass them on to younger children or the next generation. That's what happened to a Wee Sing Christmas video that I bought years ago. Every year my children would watch it and love it, but as they got older and older, they began to watch it so they could make fun of it! Now the grandchildren have to see it each year. But wait, I forgot. The VCR doesn't work. Yeah, a reprieve this year!

Do you have some favorite Christmas CDs or movies that you watch and listen to each year? Pass them on-I'm always looking for new Christmas CDs to buy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Parenting Tip # 17 Imagination

While taking my morning walk yesterday, two little girls passed by me. They each had a doll stroller with a doll sitting in one of them and Winnie the Pooh sitting in the other stroller. The child strolling Winnie the Pooh was wearing her mother's high heel boots and necklace and earrings. I couldn't help but smile as they walked by.

I LOVE watching children play and use their imaginations. I LOVE listening in on children's conversations as they play and pretend. I LOVE hearing children sing or hum as they busily play.

One year for Christmas when I had three young boys, money was tight (well to be honest, money has always been tight-especially at Christmas). Anyway, there was no money for Christmas presents. I decided to hit the thrift stores and see if I could find some dress up clothes for my boys. It was the most fun I've had in a long time. It was like a scavenger hunt going from store to store looking for items to complete 3 ensembles. I ended up with a yellow slicker, rain hat and boots for one son, a hard helmet and tools and boots for another son and a football helmet and jersey and shoulder pads for another son. They were in 7th heaven that year as they opened their gifts and immediately put on their clothes and began to pretend.

Give open ended dress ups. You don't have to buy the cutest dance tutu you can find or make. Instead give a yard of the glitziest pink fabric you can buy and watch the imagination soar.

This year for Christmas, give the gift of IMAGINATION!

Music Tip #17 Most important concert

This is a true experience told by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Boston Conservatory.

"I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70's, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece [but]...we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we desribed the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: 'During World War II I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?'"

Parents, music is POWERFUL! Give the gift of music to your children. Please.


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