100 Links (August/September 2009)

100 Links (August/September 2009)

Nearly every day I add recommended links to the Hilltown Families bank of on-line resources.  Some of you might find these links well suited for your family, others, maybe not so much.  But it’s a fun and useful list worth perusing!  If you have a link you’d like to share, post it in our comment box.

Where are these links? You won’t find them on your blog reader nor via email if you subscribe to our newsfeed.  But if you visit the blog on-line and scroll half way down, on the left you will find the column, “Links We Recommend,” with a list of our most recent recommended links.  If you haven’t been visiting the site regularly to peruse these great resources, not to worry – below is the last 100 links we’ve posted in the past two months: (you will need to use the “back” button to return to this page).

Archived Lists of 100 Links: If you’d like to peruse our List of 100 Links from months past, click HERE and then scroll up or down.

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Hands-on Sustainability Curriculum

If You Give a Kid a Shovel
by Joe Gillespie

Have you ever watched kids dig potatoes for the first time? It is like a treasure hunt. Or experienced the joy of pulling a beautiful, long orange carrot, washing it, and eating it right then and there? There is no substitute for these experiences.

I have been gardening with students for a long time. More recently, I have written a couple of successful grants to purchase wind turbines and solar panels, along with community educational materials on alternative energy. For years, I did all of this with sixth graders. When I got bumped to eighth grade, I began teaching a course called Sustainable Living. I believe that I am teaching important life skills, and preparing students for a new future that may be much different than our current way of living.

Sustainable Living is a semester-long, elective class designed to teach students about sustainability through the use of our extensive garden, our rooftop solar panels, and small wind turbines. We immerse students into the world of gardening and eating the good food that we grow. With our thirty raised beds, a greenhouse, extensive worm bins, and composting area as an outdoor classroom, we learn about everything from building good soil to seed germination to preserving our crops. We monitor our own solar and wind energy production, and cook and prepare food twice a week.

Every day is a little different and always very hands-on. I have found something very interesting about teaching gardening over the years. There is usually no immediate gratification, which is what students are used to and what they desire. Other than seeing a radish seed pop out of the soil fairly quickly, most plants take two to three months to grow to a harvestable size. And there is all of the weeding and watering to do. Yet the reward is often so great, that if you can just get them that far, the concepts they learn are deeply ingrained in their being.

Read the rest of this entry »

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood
New Documentary Film Premiering in Northampton (2009)

The consumer embryo begins to develop during the first year of existence.  Children begin their consumer journey in infancy.  And they certainly deserve consideration as consumers at that time.

– James U. McNeal | Pioneering Youth Marketer

This unsettling quote by a “Pioneering Youth Marketer” opens the critically-acclaimed new documentary film, Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood. Produced locally by the Northampton-based Media Education Foundation (MEF), Consuming Kids zeroes in on the increasingly brazen practices of the multibillion-dollar youth marketing industry in the wake of deregulation, exposing how marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to target American children and transform them into one of the most influential and profitable consumer demographics in the world.

I was glued to my seat as I watched a review copy of this film, feeling the heat of anger rising up into my cheeks as I learned how marketers are scheming to influence my kid (our kids) to consume their products… for life! My family doesn’t watch commercial television in our home, so it shocked me to see the different television ads aimed at marketing to children, trying to sell them everything from junk food to the family car. But as the film reveals, advertising to our kids isn’t found just on the TV, it’s also found on the school bus, the classroom, cell phones, the internet, movies, and even churches. It’s insidious!

Offering a time-line tracing the evolution and impact of this unprecedented phenomenon, Consuming Kids illustrates how the childhood of American kids has become commercialized and explores how the effect of hyperconsumerism impacts the actual lived experiences of our children.

I think the thing that upsets me the most is that it’s not just products that are being marketed to children, but values. And the primary value that’s being sold to kids over and over and over again is the value that things or stuff or brands will make us happy.

– Susan Linn | Director, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood


Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Play

The Power of Play

While parental involvement is key to great playtime experiences, parents shouldn't feel a need to join in every aspect of their child's play. In fact, active time spent alone or with peers is an equally important part of a child's development. (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Whether it’s a family checkers tournament or an afternoon spent examining anthills in the backyard, play is an integral part of a happy, healthy childhood. Parent-choice.org has put together a collection of articles and essays to offer a starting point for exploring how children play and how powerful play can be.  Click HERE to read more.

The Wonderment of Museums

Making a Family Museum Visit Fun …
By Marilyn Anderson and Patricia Sullivan

More Art, Please!

Museums are places of wonderment, exploration, learning, and fun for the entire family. Just ask Jean L. Sousa, associate director of museum education, The Art Institute of Chicago. “Don’t be intimidated or worry that your children will cry or misbehave at the museum…and don’t worry that you need a degree in art history,” she said. “If the museum offers family programs, these are non-issues.” Sousa said that parent workshops at museums build on issues in child development and learning theory to make family visits more comfortable.

Today, many museums are interactive learning centers that give families an opportunity to explore, learn, create their own art, and, yes, even touch some exhibits. With all of this variety and activity, how can parents ensure that their children won’t become overwhelmed, tired, or too distracted to enjoy the experience? The key is in the planning.

A Look at Art Museums

“It’s important for children to distinguish between beautiful, masterfully rendered art and mass-produced art or what you see on television,” Sousa said.

For children’s first art museum experiences, she recommends that parents keep the visit simple. “See three pictures and then have lunch,” she said. Be flexible. When the children start becoming restless, do something else.

Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden at Springfield Museums. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Following are suggestions from Sousa and The Art Institute of Chicago on how to cultivate your children’s curiosity through art.

Look for recognizable things.
Simply identifying things in a painting can be fun for families with young children. Parents can ask their children how many people and animals they see, how many fruits are in a still life, what kind of activity is taking place, and what colors and shapes they see.

Find visual clues that uncover meaning.
Ask older children to describe what they see and help them determine the meanings the artist intended. For instance, ask your children to determine the time of day, season, or which person is oldest in a painting. Then ask them to explain how they came to their conclusions.

Imagine the work of art coming to life.
Let children’s active imaginations run wild by asking them to make up a story for a picture. “In some ways not knowing much is an advantage,” Sousa said.

Modern art offers plenty of room for interpretation, too.
Parents can ask, what just happened? What’s going on now? What will happen next? What sounds or smells do you imagine while looking at the painting?

Listen and respond to each other.
Sharing time with your children at a museum also means communicating well. Be sure to ask your children why they feel a certain way or made certain comments about a piece of art.

Eric Carle Museum

Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA.

How to prepare for a museum visit

“A child is going to get out of an experience what the adult is willing to put in,” said Nancy Kolb, president and chief executive officer of Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. “The parent has to be patient.”

Before the visit

  • Get the information. Explore the museum’s website to learn about the permanent and special exhibits, hours of operation, accessibility, admission fees and discounts, and family programs. Request a brochure or activity sheet that is used for school groups. (More than half of museums are free to the public. Of those that charge fees, nearly 60 percent have free days.)
  • Ask your children what they’re interested in and what they’re studying in school. Then try to build upon their responses.
  • If you have a book at home that’s related to one of the exhibits you plan to see, sit down and leaf through the book with your children. It will help build their excitement.
  • Consider becoming a member if you plan to visit several times during the year. Museum memberships often provide discounts for the museum store, food vendor, and special museum programs. (The median museum admission for a family of four is $15. The median membership fee for families is $25.)
  • Determine how long you will spend at the museum. Ninety minutes to two hours should be enough

At the museum

  • Find the information desk and ask, “What do you recommend for families?”
  • Help children figure out how things work, but don’t do it for them. Use open-ended questions and try to get to the how and the why of things. For example, while at a dinosaur exhibit, ask, “How do you think they ate? Where did something that big sleep?”
  • Keep the visit simple and don’t try to see everything. Take a break.

After the visit

  • Ask your children what they liked or didn’t like, and why. Ask what they enjoyed the most.
  • Have them share their experiences with friends and relatives.
  • Help your children find the answers to their unsolved questions.
  • Talk about items in your home and have them relate what they learned to everyday objects.

Source: www.pta.org

Here’s a sampling of  museums in Western Mass (check with your local library for free museum passes):

Bundle Up!

Cold-Weather Checklist
Keep kids warm when the temperature drops.

Snow Play in Cummington, MA

(c) Sienna Wildfield

When the weather outside is frightful but your child thinks going out is delightful, it’s important to follow a few simple guidelines and know what too much cold looks like and what to do about it. Then you can let him go in the snow, worry-free.  Review Toby Leah Bochan guidelines for keeping kids warm.

In addition to bundling up our own kids at home, there are several ways to help children other than our own keep warm:

FREECYCLE – Seeing as kids grow like weeds, even when it’s cold outside, they outgrow their hats, mittens, jackets and boots nearly every winter season. Places like Hilltown Freecycle are free outlets for local hilltown families to offer their winter warm hand-me-downs. They go directly to the families without much of a “middle person.”  Other Freecyle listservs in Western Mass include Amherst, Greenfield, Holyoke, Northampton, Springfield, and many others.  Click here to find the listserv that serves your locality.

HILLTOWN FAMILIESHilltown Families assists in the distribution of child sized hats to families in need in the hilltowns (click here to read more).  Hats are available to individuals on a first come, first serve basis. To reserve a hat for a child in need, email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.  Hilltown Families also has a local listserv open to local families.  Participants are encouraged to offer their hand-me-downs to other members, organize clothing swaps, and to post resources for families in need.

WARM UP AMERICA! FOUNDATION – A national foundation that has caught the attention of children & adult knitters is Warm Up America! Foundation. Warm Up America! (WUA!) is an organization made up of volunteers who create handmade afghan blankets, clothing and accessories to help those in need. Volunteers donate their time to crochet and knit a 7″ X 9″ rectangle (or more). Sections are either joined by individuals or groups in a community and donated locally or sent to Foundation headquarters for joining and distribution.

The beauty of so many different participants is that a WUA! afghan resembles a patchwork quilt of many colors and textures, just as the participants and recipients represent the varied faces of America.WUA! afghans are distributed to individuals and families in need through community service organizations as well as through chapters of national organizations such as the American Red Cross. Sponsors of WUA! in communities around the country are encouraged to donate completed afghans within their own community in the true spirit of “neighbor helping neighbor.” Agencies to which the Foundation has donated afghans include women’s shelters, children’s hospitals, daycare centers and other community service centers.

WUA! also has a program called Kids Warm Up America! Young people across the country are teaming up with their peers to Warm Up America!, helping others, and in the process are discovering these crafts are fun and relaxing. Kids who participate benefit from providing community service while developing self esteem, problem solving, and math and motor-skill development while participating in an intergenerational activity that is a fun group project and provides the learning of an enjoyable skill that will last a lifetime. Additional ways to keep kids warm outside of our local community are accessible through the Warm Up America! Foundation.

If you know of any additional resources for families to either received or donated (services or articles of clothing) please share them with us in the comment section below.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968)

Illustration by Bryan Collier.Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968)
by Jacqueline L. Harris
Coauthor, Marching to Freedom: The Life of Martin Luther King Jr.

“I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream…a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

These were the words of Martin Luther King Jr., a black Baptist minister, speaking at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The occasion was the largest civil rights rally in the history of the United States. More than 200,000 people filled the grassy area around the monument on that sizzling August day in 1963. Since that day the words “I have a dream” have become the symbol of Martin Luther King Jr., and his nonviolent efforts to secure justice for black Americans.

Read more at Scholastic News …

House Passes Ban on Lead in Toys

Tainted Toys

The Associated Press reported that on Wednesday the House of Representatives has passed legislation that would ban lead in toys and other children’s products. Following a 424-to-1 vote, it’s now up to the Senate to approve this legislation. While the White House is opposed to parts of the bill, it has not threatened a veto, yet.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Alarmed by a year of recalls involving millions of tainted toys, the House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to ban lead and some dangerous chemicals from toys and other items that could end up in children’s mouths.

Click here to read more of the article as published in the New York Times.

Sight Word Bingo

Learning Sight Words: Grades K-3rd

My daughter is in kindergarten this year (a K/1st mix) and one of the learning techniques in language arts that her teacher employs is the use of “sight words.” The idea is to learn a bank of words that do not correspond to the basic phonetic rules. Words like away, blue, ate, and, the, put, buy, because, why and so on.

I recently read “Make Friends with Sight Words” by Liana Mahoney, a K-12 teacher from upstate New York. She writes:

“With phonics, what beginning readers see is what they get. But unfortunately, some of the most common words in our language–such as have, what, or who–just don’t follow the rules. Just by looking at it, for example, you’d think that “what” should rhyme with “cat,” but no; it rhymes with “hut”! The word “have”, one of the top 100 words in the English language, doesn’t follow that long vowel, silent “e” rule that we see in a word such as “cake.”

In school, we call these “sight words,” and in first grade, teachers spend lots of time purposely building a “word bank” so that kids can recognize and read them instantly. Having a strong sight vocabulary builds reading fluency and confidence, so it’s well worth some time and practice at home.”

In her article Play Post-It Bingo, posted on Education.com, Liana gives the outline of a game you can play with your kids that supports the learning of “sight words.” Click here to read on.

Are Children Too Clean?

Are Children Too Clean?
The Scotsman

[April 29, 2008] There was a time, in the days before anti-bacterial wipes, sprays and ointments, when children and nature were at one, not separated by the substantial layers of cotton wool that parents are so often accused of swaddling them in today.

This was a golden age when children could pick up unidentified objects in the street and shove them in their mouths largely unnoticed; when bathing involved the occasional scrub behind the ears whenever you were too slow to wriggle free of your mother’s grip; and where snotty-nosed urchins mixed freely, coated in a paste of outside dirt and body fluids (not all their own).

Today, anyone would think that children are supposed to be clean. Terrified yummy mummies and faddy daddies spend their days wiping down their pristine infants with chemicals and keeping them indoors lest they are seen as bad parents for allowing their children to come in contact with a germ-ridden world. Well, such harassed parents may now be able to put down the wetwipes with a sigh of relief as two separate studies reveal that grimy youngsters might not be such a bad thing.

Read more …

Why Are Schools Designed Like Prisons?

Why Are Schools Designed Like Prisons?
By Allison Arieff, New York Times

[May 12, 2008] School design, particularly public school design, is often lumped in with the design of other institutional structures like jails, civic centers and hospitals, to detrimental effect. My high school, for example, had the dubious distinction of having been designed by the architect responsible for San Quentin. (The convicts got the better building.) Schools fulfill a practical function, to be sure, but shouldn’t they be designed to inspire?

Many preschools already are: outdoor activities are emphasized — swinging, walking, digging. But as kids get older, in this generation more than any that has preceded it, the time they spend in nature decreases significantly.

Read more …

Salamander Crossing Guards & Vernal Pools

2008 Annual Amphibian Migration
By HF Contributing Writer, Sheri Rosenblum

After a winter of indoor activities, this is a great time of year to get outside and explore the local woods, especially if you are interested in the lives of amphibians. The snow is melting and vernal pools are appearing all over the Hilltowns. Frogs and salamanders are still in the woods, thawing out from their winter spent frozen under the snow. They are waiting for the first warm, rainy night of Spring to tell them it’s time to move to their breeding habitat, the vernal pools. Unfortunately, this first activity of Spring often requires crossing roads where most drivers are completely unaware they even exist. This recipe for disaster results in millions of deaths every year, with so many of them completely preventable. To follow is a look at what vernal pools are and how your family can help participate in protecting the amphibians that migrate from the every year.


A vernal pool is body of water found in upland hardwood forests in places that were previously glaciated (Ten thousand years ago these Hilltowns were covered up to 2 miles deep in ice!). In summer and fall, vernal pools appear simply as depressions in the forest floor, some as diffrent sized puddle, others as large as a couple of acres. But in the late winter, due to snow melt, spring rains and a high water table beneath them, they fill up like ponds and maintain their water generally into summer. The key feature about their formation is that since they are not associated with any running water system and because they dry out periodically, they cannot support fish. Hence, they have become a safe habitat for a variety of wildlife species that rely on these pools for breeding. Read the rest of this entry »

Parents Who Fight May Harm Children’s Future Emotional Development

Leaving Your Child Home Alone


It is natural to be nervous about leaving your child home alone, but if both you and your child are prepared, this can be an experience that boosts his confidence level and increases his sense of indpendence and responsibility. It is generally recommended that children under 10 years-old should not be left at home alone. However, even if your child is older, it really depends on many factors, including how responsible and mature you feel your child is, how comfortable both you and your child are, and the length of time your child will be alone at home.

Preparation and communication are key

Talk it over. Make sure your child is comfortable with being left home alone. Leave a list of do’s and don’ts and any information your child might need. Go over situations that might come up and how to handle them. Make sure your child knows where you will be, when you will be back, and how to reach you. Make sure you are back on time, and talk to him afterwards about the time that he was home alone.

Try it out. Before you leave your child at home for a long period of time, you might want to do a test run. See how it goes for you and for your child when you go out for an hour or so to run an errand. Check in once or twice while you are out, and talk to your child afterwards about the time she was alone.

Safety first. Go over some important safety information with your child. Make sure he knows not to open the door to anyone, even if they are familiar, and not to tell telephone callers that he is home alone. Discuss how he can exit the house in an emergency: there should be at least two ways he can exit. Make a list of important phone numbers, such as that of the police and fire department, doctor’s office, and a trusted relative or friend he can call if you cannot be reached, and make sure he knows his full name, address, and telephone number. You can ensure that doors and windows are secure, check that smoke alarms are working, and store anything dangerous that your child could get into, including firearms, car keys or alcoholic beverages. Put together a first aid kit with your child minor cuts or scrapes, and make sure he knows what to do.

Ground rules. Set and discuss limitations on having friends over, TV and computer time, kitchen and cooking, and the safety information mentioned above. Discuss what your child might do while you are gone. You can ask that she does her homework, read for a certain length of time, or finish some chores. Having a schedule to follow while you are gone will occupy time safely. When you return home, discuss with your child what she did during your absence.

Be available. Let your child kow that you will call to check in once in a while, and that he can always call you (or a relative or neighbor on the list) if he is lonely or feels unsafe.

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Toxic Toys: A Consumer Action Guide


Toxic ToyWith the holiday season upon us, many parents are justifiably concern about toxic toys. Holiday favorites, including Hannah Montana & Circo, are being found contaminated with high levels of toxic chemicals, including lead, cadmium, arsenic, and PVC! The good news is there is a consumer action guide now avaiable at www.HealthyToys.org where the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based nonprofit organization, released the results of their testing of 1,200 popular children’s toys for toxic chemicals

Working with environmental health groups across the country, the Ecology Center led the development of the site to inform consumers about products they will be purchasing this holiday season. Parents and other holiday shoppers can now easily search by product name, brand, or toy type to learn how the products rate in terms of harmful chemical content.

Toxic Toy“The government is not testing for toxic chemicals in toys, and too many manufacturers are not self-regulating, so we created the nation’s first toy database to help inform and empower consumers,” said Tracey Easthope, MPH, Director of the Ecology Center’s Environmental Health Project. “Ultimately consumers need to compel the federal government and toy manufacturers to eliminate dangerous chemicals from toys.”

Researchers chose to test these particular chemicals because they have been identified by regulatory agencies as problematic, and because of their association with reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer and because they are found in children’s products. Babies and young children are the most vulnerable since their brains and bodies are still developing and because they frequently put toys in their mouths. The testing was conducted with a screening technology – the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer – which identifies elemental composition of materials on the surface of products.

Toxic Toy“Toxic chemicals have no place in children’s toys, period,” said Ted Schettler, MD, Science Director at the Science and Environmental Health Network. “Even low-level toxic chemical exposures can have lifelong impacts. Getting toxic chemicals out of children’s toys is a moral and medical imperative.”

HealthyToys.org tested 1,200 children’s products and more than 3,000 components of those products.

Following are highlights of the HealthyToys.org findings:

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Home School Program in Greenfield

Home School Happenings

The Greenfield Recorder printed an article yesterday about a home school program at the Greenfield library.

GREENFIELD — Home schooling can be as much of an education for parents as for their children — especially when it comes to discovering new resources to tap into…

Click here to read the article, “Greenfield library tailors some new programs to kids learning at home,” written by Recorder staffer, Richie Davis.

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Social First Graders More Likely To Become Good Readers

North Street Comes Alive

Third Thursday in Pittsfield

Berkshire Eagle writes:

[Pittsfield, 06/22/07] – On a slightly rainy Thursday evening on North Street, when shops are usually closed, the sidewalks are usually empty and the traffic is light, there was music in the air, dancing and dining on the sidewalks, and smiling faces everywhere.

“It’s so nice to see North Street alive again,” one woman was heard saying to her friend.

It was a sentiment that seemed to be common among the people walking up and down the street and the shopkeepers who remained open late to take part in the city’s inaugural Third Thursday. There are four more Third Thursdays, scheduled every month through October.

Click here to read more.

Froot Loops’ days are numbered!

Kellogg to Curb Marketing of Foods to Children

[NY TIMES, Andrew Martin – 6/14/07] Froot Loops’ days on Saturday morning television may be numbered.

The Kellogg Company announced today that it will phase out advertising its products to children under age 12 unless the foods meet specific nutrition guidelines for calories, sugar, fat and sodium.

Kellogg also announced that it would stop using licensed characters or branded toys to promote foods unless the products meet the nutrition guidelines.

The voluntary changes, which will be put in place over the next year and a half, will apply to about half of the products that Kellogg currently markets to children worldwide, including Froot Loops and Apple Jacks cereals and some varieties of Pop Tarts.

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Failing Schools See a Solution in Longer Day

Failing Schools See a Solution in Longer Day

By Diana J. Schemo

[Fall River, MA., March 26, 2007] — States and school districts nationwide are moving to lengthen the day at struggling schools, spurred by grim test results suggesting that more than 10,000 schools are likely to be declared failing under federal law next year.

In Massachusetts, in the forefront of the movement, Gov. Deval L. Patrick is allocating $6.5 million this year for longer days and can barely keep pace with demand: 84 schools have expressed interest.

Click here to read more.

Families effected by delay of MA health insurance requirements

Girls Summer Science Camp in Western Mass

Biotechnology Summer Camp for girls

Girls who want to explore the field of science will have a special opportunity to do just that this summer. Girls who are currently in 7th or 8th grade are eligible to attend a free Biotechnology Summer Camp (2007) , thanks to a Pioneer Valley Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (PV STEMNET) grant.

High School Biotechnology Teacher Cyndi Jensen applied for the funding, and the award was announced two weeks ago. “This program is just for girls, taught by young women who have a passion for biotechnology,” explained Jensen.

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Should Sixth Grade Be in Elementary or Middle School?

Should Sixth Grade Be in Elementary or Middle School?

A recent study found that sixth graders in middle schools fare worse than their peers in elementary schools. It also found that the negative effects of grouping sixth graders with older students are lasting and persist at least through ninth grade

Sixth graders placed in middle schools have more discipline problems and lower test scores than their peers who attend elementary schools, according to a study by researchers at Duke University and the University of California, Berkeley.

In addition, the negative effects of grouping sixth graders with older students are lasting and persist at least through ninth grade.

“These findings cast serious doubt on the wisdom of the historic nationwide shift to the grades 6-8 middle school format,” said Philip Cook, Duke professor of public policy and economics and an author of the paper.

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MA Health Care Plan Moving Forward

Massachusetts health care plan moving forward

BOSTON (AP) — The average uninsured Massachusetts resident could obtain health care coverage for as little as $175 a month under the state’s insurance law, less than half of earlier estimates, officials said Saturday.

The plans are a critical piece of the state’s landmark insurance initiative, which requires all state residents to have health coverage by July 1, 2007, or face tax penalties. Some insurers had suggested earlier that the premium would be $380 a month.

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Daddy, Are You Listening?

Listen Listen and Listen Some More
by Joe Kelly for Dads & Daughters

Girls tend to be a riddle to fathers. Like any mystery, the relationship with our daughter can be frightening, exciting, entertaining, baffling, enlightening or leave us completely in the dark; sometimes all at once. If we want to unravel this mystery, we have to pay attention and listen, even in the most ordinary moments.

Why? Because a girl’s voice may be the most valuable and most threatened resource she has. Her voice is the conduit for her heart, brains, and spirit … Dads must help nurture these qualities…

To read more of this article visit www.dadsanddaughters.org.

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Sanderson Academy & Hilltown Charter School

Valentine Contra Dance Fundraiser in Ashfield

(c) Hilltown Families - Valentine Contra Dance

A Heart-felt Dance Party

by Victoria Worth
for Hilltown Families

The songs are still humming in my head, and when I look down, my feet are still moving to a recent rhythm. Long after Saturday night’s Valentine’s Family Contra Dance has ended, the joyous gathering lingers on in my mind. At the Town Hall, good food filled our tummies downstairs, and when dinner was over, we joined a crowd of children and adults already moving to the beat of the music.

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The Fids & Kamily Awards

Terri Hendrix - Fids & Kamily Award WinnerThe Fids & Kamily Awards
by Bill Childs

Late last year, two family music bloggers (Stefan Shepard of Zooglobble.com and Amy Davis of TheLovelyMrsDavis.com ) and myself organized the “Fids and Kamily Awards.” Inspired by the Village Voice’s annual “Pazz and Jop” awards, F&K is a compilation of year-end kids and family music “best of” lists from critics, writers, radio programmers, and others involved in the music industry. You can check out the full list of nominees and winners at www.fidsandkamily.com.

Read on to discover the top vote-getters …

Read the rest of this entry »

The Homeschool Option

Dads, Daughters & Sports

Tips for Dads & Daughters Watching the Super Bowl Together

Dads & Daughters watching TV sports together–one of life’s pleasures. But what about those moments (like during some commercials) when you want to cover her eyes with your hands?

Here are a few simple tips from the national nonprofit Dads & Daughters for fathers and stepfathers watching the Super Bowl (and other TV sporting events) with their daughters.

Read the rest of this entry »

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