Web-Based Space Explorations Blast Off Through NASA Kids’ Club

Web-Based Space Explorations Blast Off Through NASA Kids’ Club

Offering a wealth of space-based information presented in a playful way, NASA’s online Kids’ Club presents opportunities for studies of a fascinating yet largely inaccessible realm. Relevant for most ages and easy to use, the Kids’ Club can be a great resource for space enthusiasts!

Space is a fascinating place, and a big part of its appeal is the fact that it’s just out of reach for most human beings. While curious kids aren’t very likely to be able to visit space anytime soon, NASA offers a kid-friendly online space filled with information about the many different missions, projects, and technologies that the organization is responsible for – allowing aspiring astronauts to learn about the ways in which humans research and explore the vast wilderness that is outer space.

The NASA Kids’ Club is an easy to use portal that connects kids to a wealth of information in many forms. The Kids’ Club offers everything from printable games and coloring pages to detailed descriptions of specific aircraft and their uses. Highlights of the website include a section dedicated to NASA’s current and recent missions and a photo gallery filled with images of the many people involved in NASA’s programs at work on a variety of tasks. Smaller sections within the site offer a look at nutrition and menu planning in space, the locations and inhabitants (both human and nonhuman) of NASA center’s across the country, the reasons behind the exploration that NASA guides, and the difference in time and gravity on each of the planets in our solar system.

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EEC Provides Resources for Early Learning

Lesson Plans & On-line Activities Address Critical Learning Period For Children

Families with young children and early childhood educators will discover an abundance of online educational resources at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education’s Resources for Early Learning! Lesson plans and activity suggestions offer support for encouraging young learners to develop essential skills.

During the very earliest days of a child’s life – from birth until they’re five – the learning that takes place will look very different from the learning done throughout the rest of their life. While learning eventually evolves into something that a child can reflect on and communicate about, early childhood learning happens in tiny baby steps (literally) that, after accumulating over time, provide the solid foundation upon which they will build the rest of their lives.

While the basics of educational activities for children may seem simple (read stories, play peek-a-boo, count everything), in order to truly pinpoint a very young child’s developmental needs, attention to detail is necessary. Using the Massachusetts Department of Early Education’s (EEC) online tool Resources for Early Learning, parents and educators can learn about the many different ways to support young children in developing skills in language, numeracy, and movement, while also teaching them how to explore, observe, and become curious about the world around them. Read the rest of this entry »

PBS LearningMedia: Digital Media for Educators

PBS LearningMedia: Online Media Educational Resources for Educators

PBS LearningMedia is an online educational service offering media resources appropriate for PreK-16 curriculum, for use in classrooms, homeschool, and informal educational environments, such as after-school, community facilities, and museums.

Every season, family activities tend to follow a common thread, dictated by changes in weather and routine, the foods that are in season, and the activities that kids are participating in. Life has a way of presenting learning opportunities to kids that easily relate to the things they’re experiencing, and if the opportunities don’t present themselves, kids are quite skilled at finding ways to satisfy their own curiosity. However, their ability to do so is dependent on the resources available to them. There are endless books available from libraries, and the out-of-doors offers a plethora of possibilities, but some topics are difficult to learn about without digging deeper.

PBS Learning Media provides a wide variety of educational resources to help curious families expand their learning! The extensive content, presented in the form of videos, still images, games, audio clips, rich text, and lesson plans (which can easily be adapted for use at home!), covers almost every possible topic and is designed to reach kids from pre-K through 12th grade…

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STEMBite: Bite Sized Videos Supporting STEM Education

STEMBite: Snack-Sized Science Videos

Add some science to these hot summer days with STEMBite, a YouTube channel that offers snack-size videos focused on topics in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the things in our everyday lives that they are related to. Most of the videos are between one and a half and two minutes long, and are shot from the perspective of the narrator using Google Glass, who explores a different topic, item, and/or surroundings in each one.

Interesting topics include the form and function of animal adaptations and evolution (Form, Function, and Chickens), the physics of sound waves and the concept’s application to shower time singing (Physics of Singing in the Shower), the science and design behind the barcodes found on mass-produced items and price tags in stores (Barcodes), and many others STEM topics.

While most of the topics addressed in the videos are best for older students (grade 4 and above), the videos are short and use fairly simple terms to explain each idea. Younger students may absorb less than an older student would while watching, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t learn at all! Perusing the channel might be a great way to help kids develop curiosity in parts of science that they may not discover on their own – like simple machines or light diffusion. The narrator’s fun tone and the sometimes silly activities that he does help to draw kids in, and the examination of everyday objects helps to provide ways for students to see how each topic applies in their own lives. Try viewing videos related to some of the topics that your child studied in school last year, or ones covering some of the topics that they might encounter once they return in the fall. Not sure what they might be learning? Contact your school for a copy of the district’s curriculum frameworks, or access the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for science online at  www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/current.html.

Crash Course: 100+ Episodes in 6 Online Courses

Crash Course: 6 Courses. 112 Episodes.

Crash Course… six courses in one channel with 112 episodes! John Green teaches you US History and Hank Green teaches you Chemistry. Check out the playlists for past courses in World History, Biology, Literature, and Ecology too!

Research has shown that students can lose two months (or more!) worth of their learning in mathematics and language arts during the summer if they aren’t exposed to meaningful and enriching learning activities while they’re out of school. Of course, informal learning can take place for students in almost any situation where they have a little bit of freedom. They’ll learn while climbing a tree, they’ll learn while watching cars you pass on the highway during summer travel, and they can even learn while watching food cook on the grill at your 4th of July party. But when (and how) will they get to learn about things that they won’t or can’t experience? Perhaps they’ll read a book about a time in history or a scientific concept that interests them, but the knowledge that they can gain from reading is limited by their reading level and the accessibility of such materials.

This summer, try supplementing your child’s informal summer learning with some educational videos online. YouTube channel Crash Course! offers a plethora of educational videos focused on U.S. & World History, Biology, Ecology, English Literature, and Chemistry.  Created using fun and funky graphics, bright colors, scientific charts, and historical photographs paired with fast-paced, high-energy narration, the videos are dense but exciting. Viewers are exposed to a huge amount of information fairly quickly (hence the name!), and may need to watch the video again in order to fully absorb all of it. However, kids watching the videos just out of curiosity will retain basic information about the War of 1812, stoichiometry, entropy, and the emergence of political parties in the United States…

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ZooBean: Handpicked Books for Kids

Zoobean: User Generated Curation of Children’s Book Recommendations

Sometimes, browsing the children’s department at the local library for a perfect new book to read as a family can be overwhelming. If you’ve brought your kids with you, chances are there is little time to peruse the stacks, or you might just be at a loss as to what titles will match your child’s current interests.  Librarians in the children’s department are a great resource for finding out about interesting titles, as is our monthly column, Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews, but what if you could add to these great local resources with recommendations made by parents too?

Well, there is just the thing, and it’s called Zoobean…

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DIY: Social Platform for Kids Aims to Build Confidence in Creativity


DIY is a free online community where young people become Makers. They discover new Skills, make projects in the real world, and share their work online to inspire and learn from each other.

Kids of all ages love to explore and be creative – everything from duct tape to cardboard boxes can inspire creativity and the desire to develop and hone new skills. By experimenting with materials, kids can learn new artistic techniques, practice designing and problem solving, and learn STEM skills that will stick with them.

California-based website, DIY, provides a social platform upon which kids can share their work and ingenuity with others! The DIY site is filled with hundreds of unique and interesting projects that kids of all ages have completed at home – they’ve made everything from miniature lithograph machines to time lapse videos, pocket amplifiers to new knitting patterns!

DIY provides a space to share work, and can be used as a database, too – kids interested in learning new skills on their own can find directions and tutorials for learning everything from basic baking to metal soldering.  Read the rest of this entry »

Green Mama: A Brilliant Way to Upcycle Your Kids’ Clothes

Hilltown Families Contributing Writer

Solutions for the Fashionista’s in Our Lives

Thirteen-month-old Kylee knows that stripes are making a comeback this season. (Photo Credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

My niece is a mini-fashionista. She has an outfit (or two) to wear for every day of the month (at least) before my sister even has to think about running a load of wash.

Wait a minute. Strike that. Unless my little fashion-forward niece (did I mention she’s only 13 months old) wants those clothes to curdle in her hamper, there is a little washing that needs to happen — but you do get my point. Don’t you?

Kids today have clothes, clothes and more clothes; many of them more stylish than their sweat pant-wearing, jeans-buying, comfort-seeking moms and dads. The problem? Many of those clothes occupying their overfilled closets and broken bureau drawers have never seen the light of day.

Come on all you moms out there. Admit it. Most of us have donated an item or two to the Goodwill, a friend or another worthy person or charity in need of clothes for their children with the original price tags still on them. I know I bought Kylee — that’s my niece — a Patriot’s onesie that for some reason or another she never wore. (Yes, my dear sister I just outed you online!)

Not to mention the money we parents are spending on outfitting our little divas or models-in-training. And just wait until they reach their “preteen” years.

My 11-year-old twins — one boy, one girl — are all about looking stylish. My son tried on shirt after shirt after shirt before beginning middle school this fall, each time asking his twin sister, “Does this look cool?”

My daughter McKenna had me toting her all around the county to find a sporting goods store that carried basketball sneakers that were stylish enough for her newfound “divalicious” tastes. Seriously? They’re basketball sneakers for God’s sake: last year’s sneakers still looked brand-new and if they wouldn’t cause blisters or her toes to permanently curl or resemble something right out of a Chinese binding ritual I would have made her continue to wear them.

I know I’m not alone with these concerns. Our kids are growing up and out of their clothes faster than many of us parents can get our busy selves to the stores or click the mouse on to our favorite online department store. But thanks to the new online company thredUP we now have an answer to our clothing prayers.

The company established in the spring of 2009 is the brainchild of James Reinhart, Oliver Lubin and Chris Homer based in Cambridge, Mass., and advised by current Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The company is by far one of the greenest, most environmentally-friendly solutions I’ve seen for parents looking to keep their kids clothed, in the styles (and sizes) they want all at bargain prices, too. It’s virtually free!

Here’s how it works. ThredUP eliminates (or at least significantly decreases) one’s need to head to the department stores every other month for new clothing for the ever-growing children in our lives. The company does this by offering a way to “shop” for the sizes and type of clothing you want or need for your children. Essentially the company is a one-stop second-hand store that takes the hassle out of second-hand shopping by doing the work for you. Basically, parents can exchange full boxes of kids’ clothing, in the sizes they want on the company’s website (www.thredup.com) without ever leaving the house.

Kylee making a fashion statement in her JLo-like leisure suit and snuggling with her Aunt Kelly. (Photo credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

How do they do it? Parents find other parents on the site who have the sizes they want or who want the sizes they have. Parents looking for clothing — browsing by size, season and gender — pick a box of clothes for their children from the thredUP site. (Approximately 15 articles of children’s clothing fits in each box.) Parents pay only a $5 shipping charge for the box. Parents looking to donate gently-used clothes list their clothes and sizes online and when your box is picked you send it free of charge to its new owner via thredUP’s home pick-up and delivery option. Parents also can find a favorite sender and receive notifications when they list new boxes.

This idea is absolutely brilliant. Not only are parents finding a low-cost way to keep their children in the styles they want, but there are also a number of added environmental and overall parental benefits to the system.

According to thredUP’s press packet their system helps “Keep it Green”: “Over 20 billion pounds of clothing and textiles are tossed into landfills each year,” their press release said, “ThredUP helps combat the waste, encouraging families to “upcycle” kids’ clothing.”

ThredUP also claims to eliminate the number of hours many parents spend “selling kids’ clothing one painfully tedious item at a time” via eBay or consignment stores. In just 10 minutes, without uploading pictures or leaving their couches, parents can get rid of the clothing cluttering up their hallways, closets, attics and more.

ThredUP even allows you to send care packages to military families stationed domestically or overseas.

Currently I have two garbage bags full of items that no longer fit my 9-year-old son, who also no longer fits into his older brother’s hand-me-downs. They wear the same sized shirts and in another month or two their pant sizes will be the same size, too. That can get pretty pricey, not to mention the 11-year-old fashion diva living in the room next door. With her eyes on brand-name items I need to take on more freelance work just to pay for her wardrobe or better yet, she needs to get a job!

Or we can just find another young fashionista to swap with. It won’t be long until you see my name on thredUP’s “Super Swapper” or “Top Rockstar” list.

As for my favorite little 13-month-old fashion icon … You can bet Miss Kylee that I’ll be turning your Mommy onto this site very soon.

To learn more about thredUP and how the company works visit their site at www.thredup.com.


Kelly Bevan McIlquham

Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, two black labs, a cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate in the Berkshires where she especially enjoys writing family- and education-related articles and her monthly “Parent to Parent” column. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her work published by Wee Ones online family magazine. Her new blog “Green Mama” chronicles her journey as a “green” parent in every sense of the word — from her parenting naiveté to living greener. When not writing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. kwm229@msn.com

Web Review: The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

New Website for The Food Bank of Western Massachusettsnew website

After months of development, The Food Bank is proud to announce the launch of the organization’s new website. Check it out at www.foodbankwma.org.

In addition to providing the same in depth information on the history and mission of The Food Bank that was previously available online, the new site is easy to use for anyone who would like to:

The Food Bank site has a dynamic user interface that will encourage visitors to learn about hunger issues in Western Massachusetts, read about food and nutrition legislation and how to advocate for food policy, and participate in Food Bank events.

Click here to read this page en Espanol.

Eco-Friendly Holiday’s (Web Reviews)

Eco-Friendly Holiday’s (Web Reviews)

Hanukkah: Let There Be (Renewable) Light: A New Look at Hanukkah

This site considers “the connection between Hanukkah [Festival of Lights], energy use, and the environment,” and provides “holiday tips and resources for families, schools, and congregations to infuse Hanukkah celebrations with additional meaning,” and “tips for what you can do save energy in your congregation/school and at home.” Includes a “CFL installation ceremony,” an essay about the meaning of the darkness of winter, and more. From the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL).

FamilyFun: Have a Happy Green Holiday

Collection of children’s craft activities for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve that “give a gift to Mother Earth … [by turning] holiday and household surplus into festive decorations and eco-friendly packaging.” Includes instructions for a bubble packaging advent calendar, new uses for old greeting cards, fabric wrapping (inspired by Japanese furoshiki), and more. From FamilyFun magazine.

Eco-Friendly Kwanzaa

Craft ideas for making your own Kwanzaa celebration supplies. Includes instructions for making a Kwanzaa candle holder and mat. Also describes how to create other Kwanzaa symbols. From Care2, an activist organization.

Source: Librarians’ Internet Index, http://www.lii.org

Asian-Pacific Heritage Month

Web Review:  Asian-Pacific Heritage Month

“You and your students can celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage month [May] by taking a trip to Asia with a host of original EDSITEment lesson plans and reviewed Internet resources.”

Includes lesson plans on

  • Angkor Wat
  • haiku
  • Chinese zodiac
  • Indian epics (such as “The Ramayana”)
  • George Orwell’s essay on life in Burma
  • and more!

From EDSITEment, a joint project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and other organizations. (©  LII.)

URL: http://edsitement.neh.gov/monthly_feature.asp?id=125

Web Review: St. Nicholas & Sinterklaas Celebrations

St. Nicholas Center: Discovering the Truth About Santa Claus


Material about St. Nicholas, “lover of the poor and patron saint of children.” Features background about this 4th-century saint, illustrated descriptions of St. Nicholas customs from around the world (such as Sinterklaas celebrations on December 6 in the Netherlands), and activities, crafts, recipes, and stories related to St. Nicholas celebrations. The gallery provides images of St. Nicholas from cards, toys, church banners, and more. From two enthusiasts. www.stnicholascenter.org


Discover the Science of Fall Foliage

WEB REVIEW:  Arboretum Plant Photo Gallery: Fall Foliage

This fall foliage collection includes photographs, an explanation of the science of autumn leaf color, and a list of selected plants that provide colorful autumn leaves. The list notes the specific colors provided by the plants (such as orange or dark red), and includes links to the gallery images where available. From the United States National Arboretum. (c. LII.org)
URL: http://www.usna.usda.gov/PhotoGallery/FallFoliage

Web Review: Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

Web site: teacher.scholastic.com.

Scholastic presents a collection of material for homeschooling families, school teachers and students in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15.


Celebrate Hispanic Heritage
  • An interactive map showing Hispanic history in the America
  • An annotated listing of Latinos in history
  • Interview transcripts with recent famous Latinos (such as astronaut Ellen Ochoa)
  • Research guide on the Spanish missions in California
  • Teacher guide, games and more!

Web Review: Fireworks, Chemical of the Week

Chemical of the Week: Fireworks

This explanation of the chemistry of fireworks discusses the compounds that produce specific colors of fireworks, the production and ignition of fireworks, the reactions (oxidations and reductions) that cause the explosions, fireworks safety, and the origins of gunpowder. From a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Click here to review the site. [(c) LII]

An excellent site for students of home studies.

Local & On-line Resources for Dads

Dads, Fathers, Pop pops & Daddys

(c) Hilltown FamiliesHappy Father’s Day! Our featured web review focuses on Father’s Day and includes on-line resources with perspectives on fatherhood.

Local Resources

Along with on-line resoureces, we’d like to point our readers from the Hilltowns and Pioneer Valley to the Men’s Resource Center For Change in Amherst, MA.

Also in Amherst is a free drop-in father’s group that meets every Tuesday from 10am-11:30am at the Amherst Family Center (AFC) for fathers to come to talk about fathers’’ issues, meet other dads and socialize. Childcare is provided. The AFC is located in the basement of the Unitarian Church at 121 North Pleasant St. in the center of Amherst, entrance is at the back of the building.

If you have a local resources you’d like to see added to this list, let us know.

On-Line Resources

Web reviews are for the following sites:

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Web Review: Earth Day Movies

Celebrating the Chinese New Year with Your Kids

Chinese New Year 2008: The Year of the Rat

Last year was the Year of the Boar. This year, on February 7th, it’s the rat’s turn. Read Celebrating the Year of the Red Fire Pig, our Chinese New Year post from last year on Hilltown Families, and learn about superstitions, traditional foods, decorations, length of celebrations, great reading list for kids and a list of resources for actvities, lessons and crafts.

    Web Review: Chinese New Year on Kaboose
    Chinese New Year: “Celebrate the Chinese New Year holiday with great kids’ activities and crafts.” Crafts include making red envelopes, a Chinese orange tray, and paper plum blossoms. Also includes Chinese-style recipes and a short list of Chinese New Year books for children. From Kaboose. http://crafts.kaboose.com/holidays/chinese_new_year.html
    [(c) lii.org]

    Reading List

    • Dara’s Cambodian New Year
      by S. Chiemruom,. D. Pin (illustrator)
    • Happy New Year, Everywhere!
      by A. Erlbach, S. Holm (illustrator)
    • My First Chinese New Year
      by K. Katz
    • Goodbye Old Year, Hello New Year
      by F. Modell
    • This Next New Year
      by J. Wong, Y. Choi (illustrator)

    Web Review: ArtsEdge

    Web Review: ArtsEdge

    ArtsEdgeThe Kennedy Center has a fantastic web site for teaching art called ArtsEdge.  Discover an abundance of arts-integrated resources that both teachers and homeschooling parents with kids of all ages will appreciate.  Resources include featured lessons, how-to highlights, national standards for arts education and a fantastic list of recommended links.  Check it out at ArtsEdge: Teach.

    Web Review: Eco-Friendly Kwanzaa & The Official Kwanzaa Site

    Craft ideas for making your own Kwanzaa celebration supplies. Includes instructions for making a Kwanzaa candle holder and mat. Also describes how to create other Kwanzaa symbols. From Care2, an activist organization.
    [www.care2.com/greenliving/eco-friendly-kwanzaa.html] (c.LII.org)

    “The Official Kwanzaa Web Site” focuses on the philosophy of Dr. Maulana Karenga, the African-American professor who created the holiday in 1966. It describes in detail the African roots of the holiday, the seven principles, and the seven basic symbols. Includes a comprehensive guide for those celebrating Kwanzaa for the first time. [www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org] (c.LII.org)

    Hilltown Families Gets Crafty with Kids Craft Weekly


    Kids Craft WeeklyOver at Kids Craft Weekly Hilltown Families (that’s us!) is featured in their Holiday Favourites Issue. Editor Amber Caravan has selected our DIY: Christmas Spider Holiday Cards project which includes a video of Persephone (age 5) demonstrating how to draw a Christmas Spider – and we’re thrilled! And we’re in good company too. Other featured projects for this issue include Gwyn from My Kids Art’s Paper Plate Holiday Decoration, Meg McElwee from Montessori by Hand’s Holiday Accordion Cut-Out, and Jessica Wilson from scrumdilly-do!’s Paper Sack Holiday Cards. All fun projects to do with the kids this holiday season, and great web sites worth checking out if you’re looking for some inspiration.

    If you like doing craft projects with your kids, definitely check out Kids Craft Weekly. Amber Caravan, a mother of two who lives in Australia, is the heart and soul behind KCW. She does an excellent job of putting together ideas and projects for inspiring both parents and young artists to create. Each project is illustrated in a pictorial “How to” style with a list of supplies and directions. She writes:

    Each issue of Kids Craft Weekly outlines a selection of activities for young kids. The ideas are intended to be cheap, educational and fun and can be used as suggested, or simply as a starting point from which you can develop your own plan of attack. Every issue draws inspiration from a particular theme because I’ve found that my kids seem to love the focus and sense of continuity that it provides. Also, from a learning perspective it reinforces key ideas and helps little minds to put two and two together.

    The Holiday Favourites newsletter is Issue 46. Click here to see all her archived issues.

    Get updates posted to Hilltown Families sent to your inbox! Click here to subscribe.

    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:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Web Review: The Online Menorah

    The Online Menorah

    CCL (c) HeatherIntroduction to the meaning of Hanukkah and the Hanukkah menorah. Features background about why Hanukkah is celebrated, the basic rules associated with the use of the menorah (what one may use to light the candles, and how one lights the candles), and audio, with English translations, of three blessings that are recited when the candles are lit. Also includes links to more detailed material about Hanukkah. From a Jewish outreach and education group. [(c) LII.org] www.torah.org/chanukah.html

    Chanukkah E-Card

    The National Yiddish Book Center has cooked up some e-cards, featuring images from Yiddish books in their impressive collection. Send a free e-card to your friends and family for with your own personal message for the holiday. They are offering three different designs:

    • Chanukka Menorah
    • Cooking Latkes
    • Dreydl

    The National Yiddish Book Center is located in Amherst, MA. www.yiddishbookcenter.org/e-chanukka

    Web Review: National School Lunch Week

    National School Lunch Week

    Website for this mid-October event, which recognizes the importance of school lunches in providing America’s children with access to nutritious meals. Features recipes for five suggested meals (including a wrap with dip, a burger with potatoes, and a rice bowl), and an opportunity to vote for your favorite meal. Includes printable material about health and nutrition aspects of each meal. From the School Nutrition Association. [c.LLI]

    October is National Book Month

    Web Reviews for National Book Month


    Web Site: www.crayola.com. Collection of craft ideas inspired by National Book Month in October. Includes ideas for making bookmarks, learning about the Braille alphabet, and making handmade books. Also includes lesson plans with ideas such as making models of fantasy characters out of clay, and making a card and writing to an author. From Crayola. Note: While activities suggest the use of Crayola products, such use is not required. (c. LII)


    Web Site: www.nea.org. Collection of ideas for monthly reading activities for children. Includes ideas for Newbery and Caldecott Awards for January, Black History Month in February, National Poetry Month in April, Christopher Robin’s birthday in August, National Book Month in October, and the winter solstice in December. Also includes short lists of author birthdays and links to reading lists. From the National Education Association (NEA). (c. LII)

    Web & Book Review: Lughnasadh (Lammas) Celtic Harvest Festival


    Lughnasadh was one of the four main festivals of the medieval Irish calendar: Imbolc at the beginning of February, Beltane on the first of May, Lughnasadh in August and Samhain in November, and is related to Lammas.

    Lughnasadh, A Celtic Harvest Festival (Web Review)

    Lughnasadh Celtic Harvest Festival BreadsThis website offers a background about “the Celtic harvest festival on August 1st [that] takes its name from the Irish god Lugh.” Includes a description of the history of the festival and its celebrations, and recipes for dishes inspired by the events, such as bilberry jam [blaeberry] and potato griddle cakes [boxty]. [LII]

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Ketchup Sandwiches

    Born from the American Weiner …

    I’m not a fan of hot dogs. Just the thought of eating one makes my throat close-up in preparation to gag. I don’t even like the vegetarian knock-offs, Soy Pups. Didn’t like them as a kid either. I used to remove the Oscar Meyer Weiner and eat the rest. Thus, was born the Ketchup Sandwich. I became so fond of Ketchup Sandwiches as a kid my mother would actually pack them in my lunch for school. I’ve since outgrown Ketchup Sandwiches but have tried to introduce them to my daughter. She obviously has more culinary class than I did as a kid and refuses both dog and ketchup. But as a group, American’s and their kids love hot dogs. This weeks web reviews is just for you folks…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Web Review: Summer Reading and Resources

    Guides, tips and information of summer reading.

    Reading Is Fundamental: RIF’s 2007 Summer Reading Guide

    This compilation of summer reading resources includes suggestions for family activities (such as a “book-nic”), summer reading tips, and reading lists for children. The “Travel Reads” list features books with settings in many U.S. states and some international locations. From the non-profit literacy organization Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). [LII]

    Tips for Summer Reading

    Compilation of summer reading suggestions for parents, covering reading aloud to younger children, encouraging children to read and write, and tackling school summer reading lists. Includes a small section of annotated website links (some broken). From PBS Parents. [LII]

    Reading Rockets

    “Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.” Features articles on strategies to help children who struggle with reading and techniques for teaching reading, and suggested book lists (such as “Beyond Harry Potter” and “Young Detectives”). Also includes author interview videos and podcasts, blogs, research reports, and more. From public television station WETA. [LII]

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    Web Review: What’s Cooking Grandma?

    What’s Cooking Grandma?

    Small collection of video clips of grandmothers “sharing their special recipes.” Features selections such as “Nana Ruth’s Jam and Scones” and “Nannie Webb’s Apple Crumble.” Includes information about sending in a recipe and brief tips for recording audio and making a film. From the design collaborative Human Beans. (LII) www.humanbeans.net/whatscookinggrandma

    Nana Ruth’s Blackcurrant Jam and Scones (8:21 minutes)

    Nana Ruth from Arneside, UK shows grandaughter Lauren how to make blackcurrant jam and the scones to spread it on. Read the rest of this entry »

    Web Site: The Airship is Coming

    The Airship Is Coming!

    Material about the history of blimp transportation and communication. Features an exhibition about these giant airships, “from the very first zeppelin that flew over Lake Constance in Germany in 1900 to the last, which was broken up there in 1940.” Also includes a video clip, maps of zeppelin routes over Denmark, and a game. In English and Danish. From the Post & Tele Museum, Denmark. [LII]
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