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Why Kids Love Jigsaw Puzzles

6990665335_2e94cf6202_oI could still remember my first jigsaw puzzle. It has a small cardboard backing and has the image of one of my favorite cartoon characters. I did the jigsaw puzzle because I like to see how the image will look like. Although I can see it on the box, it is still a challenge to see it on the cardboard.

As a kid, my mother encourages me to use my mind. Aside from reading children’s books and memorizing names and letters, I am also given jigsaw puzzles to solve. I can’t really remember what kind of magic they had on me. All I know is that once I sat on the floor to solve a jigsaw puzzle, I cannot stop until I finish it. I am sure that other kids feel the same.

True enough, there seem to be some reasons why kids continue to love jigsaw puzzles. Here are three of them.

Kids Find Them Entertaining

Kids are quite receptive to colors and shapes. Show them a vibrant mix of colors or some weird shapes and you will most likely get their attention. Their mind functions like a sponge that is ready to absorb information. They are curious on what their world is made of and they find it entertaining to see different images.

With jigsaw puzzles, children are able to focus on a certain image and remember every detail of it. They get to remember the shapes and colors as well as the color hues and shadows. They remember the image in its entirety. Believe it or not, absorbing this kind of information is quite entertaining for children. You can also make Jigsaws a bit more personal by having a personal photo puzzle created from your own digital images. Children love doing puzzles and seeing a picture of themselves coming together.

Kids Find Them Mentally Challenging

Do you remember the first time that you left your toy because it is too boring for you? This comes with a child’s age. When a child’s brain has developed, simple games or toys are not enough anymore. They need more stimulation. You will know if the time has come when you give your child some puzzle blocks and they left it because it is too easy.

When your child leaves your puzzle blocks on the floor, it is time to introduce a more challenging game – solving a jigsaw puzzle. Sure, they may not get how it works at first but the more they understand how pieces fit together, the more confident they will be in solving more puzzles.

Kids Enjoy Solving Them With Their Parents

Most of all, kids simply enjoy solving puzzles with their parents. They enjoy it because they get to do three things at the same time – playing, learning and having some quality time with their parents. While most kids enjoy the act of playing all day, they enjoy any type of activity as long as it is spent with their mother or father. Kids have this constant need to connect and that can be done with some quality ‘jigsaw puzzle’ time.

With the rise of game consoles like Xbox, PlayStation and Wii, it seems like old toys have no more space in a modern child’s bedroom. But there is one traditional toy that has persists through the decades. Nothing can beat the mental stimulation and entertainment of jigsaw puzzles.

An Introduction To Hydroponic Gardening

3601814381_3d76f12cbb_zWhen a lot of people think of gardening, they think of plants growing in dirt, however this isn’t really the only way to grow plants. Hydroponics is another technique to grow plants that does not make use of soil. Well, it is rather simple to grow plants without soil.

When growing a plant without soil some kind of vitamins and mineral complimentary medium is utilized to hold the plant in location and the real food and vitamins are feed to the plant by means of a total fertilizer. I utilize the term complete fertilizer since many fertilizers are created for plants that grow in soil, so they are missing out on a few key vitamins that the soil is anticipated to supply.

There are dozens of ways to construct a hydroponic garden. There are passive systems that do not use electronic pumps and bubble devices, and the plants just grow roots that are submerged into the water. The Kratky technique is an example of this and is being utilized by industrial lettuce and veggie leaf gardens.

Other techniques use a recirculating pump to aerate the water to supply plants an abundance of oxygen and water. Some use misters that straight spray water on the roots of plants.

So, why would anyone desire to do hydroponic gardening. There are a number of benefits to utilizing hydroponics and I will certainly list then shout:.

(1) Hydroponic plants grow much faster.

(2) Hydroponic yards have fewer pests.

(3) Hydroponic gardens grow larger plants.

Plants grown in hydroponic gardens grow faster and larger than plants that are grow in soil. In a hydroponic system, plants constantly have access to well oxygenated water, this allows them to grow at a faster rate.

With hydroponics, you also deal with fewer bugs and illness. The soil that plants are grown in is typically a major cause of invasion. The lugs insect larvae and offers them the ideal environment to grow, you do not have this with hydroponics.

Another benefit of hydroponic gardening is that they are much easier to keep. You do not need to bring around bags of dirt or handle weeds. It ares possible to automate the water and feeding process so that your yard is self-sufficient.

Is hydroponic gardening much better than growing in soil? This is a hard question to ask. Hydroponics does have some significant advantages over growing over soil, which we provided above. Better is such a value judgment. I will only state that hydroponics needs less upkeep.

As you can see, hydroponic gardening is a wonderful option to growing plants in soil. It is much easier to keep, plants grow faster and bigger in hydroponic gardening. Provide this technique a try and you will be pleasantly surprise at how well it works.

Learning Differences in Children

Children develop physically, emotionally and socially at different paces and in all kinds of ways, so learning differences can be difficult to spot in our children. As a parent, it is essential that you keep a close eye on your child’s learning patterns. If they seem to be experiencing a hard time at school, pay attention to your gut feelings and act on them.

Have you ever felt that your child might benefit from a different way of learning than the method that the teacher uses? Maybe your son doesn’t understand as well when things are spoken to him as he does when things are demonstrated? Or maybe there are other signs you have picked up on that signal the possibility of a disconnect with your daughter’s school work? Sometimes kids have social issues that manifest themselves through poor grades. Other times, a child might need glasses or a hearing aid to catch up to the other children in their class. Between third and fifth grade, children with learning differences will really start to stand out from the children who are typical learners. This can cause a lot of bad feelings and guilt for a child who is trying hard, but just cannot make the grade.

What Are Learning Differences?

Learning differences are just that, differences. They do not mean that something is wrong with your child, simply that they do not learn the same way that the “average” child does. Just as there are different styles of teaching, there are different styles of learning. Some children are auditory learners, meaning that they absorb the most information through hearing information. Some children are more visual learners and need to see what is being taught to them. The third type of learning is kinesthetic or hands-on approach, meaning the child will learn better from actually feeling or experiencing what is being taught.

No matter what style of learner your child is, the following is a list of potential indicators that your child has a learning difference:

  • Difficulty rhyming.
  • Difficulty saying the alphabet, numbers or counting and color names.
  • Mixing up words, using similar words, but not the word that was intended for the conversation.
  • Confusion with the relationship between letters and sounds
  • Inability to tell time
  • Inability to follow directions in a sequence
  • Inconsistent spelling of the same word
  • Unable to recall or understand what is being read
  • Needs a much longer time to complete tasks
  • Frustrated while working on school work

Often times children with learning differences avoid reading and doing math homework that involves word problems. They might complain of stomach problems or headaches due to anxiety or to avoid school work. They also might have sleep issues as a result of school anxiety. Can you imagine feeling this way? It must be terribly difficult and uncomfortable. That is why it is very important for parents to be supportive and understanding.

How You Can Help

If your child is having a challenging time with school work or is exhibiting the above mentioned symptoms, talk to your child about it. See if he or she feels that she learns differently than the rest of the class. Make an appointment to meet with his or her teacher to discuss the options , but DO NOT GIVE UP. Many times a tutor or learning differences specialist can make all the difference in the world to your child’s future academic progress. Work with your child’s school to find a solution that works for your child. If your child’s school does not offer a program that will help him or her, it might be best to find a school that does.

Your child’s future is in your hands and education is one of the key factors to future success. If you suspect that your child has a learning difference, early detection will be a tremendous benefit to your child’s learning and to his or her emotional well-being. Be your child’s advocate and make sure that you do not stop until your child is feeling good about learning. Many people with learning differences go on to become very successful members of society and with the right help, your child can too!

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How to Keep the House Clean with Kids Everywhere!

By now, you have probably heard of feng shui, which helps promote balance and harmony in the home. Well, with three kids, I don’t have time to focus on the four corners of the room or the universe. Someday maybe I will, but right now I am just trying to keep things organized and the dust bunnies from swallowing us whole! So, here are a few tips I have come up with to help all of the other homes out there with multiple kids, to stay relatively clean and clutter free.

  1. Hardwood floors? The swiffer is your friend. Swiff once a day and you will be happy.
  2. Do your laundry frequently, but only wash full loads. If you let things build up, you will put them off for longer and it will just get stinky and embarrassing. I put the wash in after dinner and throw it in the dryer before going to bed. In the morning, I fold while the little one naps. ***If you really want to give your wife or husband a treat- get him or her a laundry washer (no, not the machine, a person!) for a holiday gift!
  3. Don’t let messes build up! If you have a toddler who runs from one mess to the next, keep the child in one room and contain the mess! Then, when he or she is finished, pick everything up- together- and put it away. Do not leave a room that has a mess in it. This way, you will never find yourself at the end of the day with a house that looks like a bomb went off (well, not very often anyway)!
  4. Clean mirrors, sinks and toilets at least once a week. My kids LOVE to put their greasy fingers all over the entry way mirror, so I am constantly cleaning it. But, I have noticed that when the mirrors and toilets are clean, the house FEELS so much cleaner!
  5. Have a “shoe” basket by the front door to throw miscellaneous shoes and bags into. This really helps to clean up the clutter and keep the entry way clear. Just make sure to empty the basket back to everyone’s closets every week or so.
  6. Every night before you go to bed, do a sweep of the house and put away toys, clothes, shoes, towels etc that are laying around. It feels so good to start the day with a clean, organized and well put together house!
  7. Hire a cleaning person to come in and wash window coverings, mop, sanitize etc once every other week, if you can. This is a god send for me! The house is only sparkling clean for about 5 minutes, but it is so worth those 5 mintues of knowing everything is disinfected and clean!

I will write more on organzation soon, but this should help for the overall clean factor for now! Have a great day!

Encourage Family Bonding: Make Your Own Holiday Gifts

The holidays are coming and shopping is on a lot of our minds, but maybe not in our budgets. Is your bank account running a little low or do you want to test your own creativity this season? Have you ever thought of making gifts for kids? We came up with some ideas for great gifts that are easy, cheap and fun while promoting family bonding! Making a gift or two will show how much you care and that you want to spend some time with your child.

The following is a list of gift ideas that won’t leave your check book bouncing and will put a smile on your wee one’s face.

1. Puppets!

Grab a colorful paper bag topped with a big bow and fill it with brown lunch bags, googly eyes, pipe cleaners stray buttons (watch out for choking hazards for kids under 3), scissors, markers, a glue stick, yarn and cotton balls. Draw a big smiley face on it and watch your child’s eyes light up!

2. Dress up!

A hat box filled with old clothes that you and your friends don’t wear anymore. Go through your closet and then ask around for donations… dresses, scarves, neckties, high heel shoes, cowboy hats and boots, purses, anything furry, sparkly or colorful is fun for a kid. Second-hand stores have great selections of all of the above and more. This is a great way to clean out your closets and put your old junk to use!

3. Jewelry Box!

A shoe box or wooden box filled with string, beads, bobbles, buttons, pendants and instructions that you download off the internet for friendship bracelets and more. This is not an ideal gift for a child under 3, but over 3 it is a gold mine! Go to a bead shop to find treasures, buy what is on sale and have fun!

4. Bird Feeder!

Get a big box and fill it with jars of edible decorations (oats, peanut butter, sesame and sunflower seeds, dried fruit, nuts). Don’t forget to add glue and string. Include instructions to decorate the jars with the edible treats and when it is all decorated, place the feeder on a balcony or in a yard.

5. Sweater!

Buy an instructional video , needles and yarn (consult the sales people in the yarn store about amount of yarn and needle size!) and maybe even schedule a class to learn how to knit together!

7. Book!

Either make a kit yourself with paper and book binding supplies or you can buy a kit and send away for the assembled book. But, think of a story together then write the beginning, middle and end and illustrate a story together!

Discovering Your Family Tree

The idea of a family means many things to different cultures and people. There is your family of origin, meaning the family whose blood you share and whose history is in your DNA, sometimes the family you were raised with, sometimes not. Family can mean a group of genetically related or non-related people who live together. Family can even mean a group of close friends to some people. Oftentimes families get together to celebrate the holidays, birthdays, weddings and other momentous occasions together and many times they do not. Whatever family means to you, it may be grounding to study your own family .

As people age, they tend to look back on their life and become interested in their family history or genealogy. There are a number of books that can assist in this process and a number of helpful resources . There is even a Family Tree Magazine !

If you are looking for gift ideas for a grandparent or family member, the gift of family history can be a wonderful idea. You can put together a family tree with names and dates or you can assemble a handmade (or store bought) book with pages for each individual family member. It is interesting to include as many photos as possible. If photos of family members are not available, another alternative is to use photos of relevant locations, such as photos of homes or churches.

Assembling a collection of information about family history can help people connect with their own identity and understand who they are and where they come from. It is not only a wonderful gift to give others, but a very special gift to give to yourself.

Fun Family Easter Activities

Get out the Easter duds and get ready for those egg hunts! Spring is here and so is Easter. But, what else is there to do on Easter Sunday besides dress up and eat candy eggs, have an egg toss or an Easter egg hunt? Lots! Holidays are great family bonding opportunities, so grab some pens and paper and get ready to giggle…

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Here are a few ideas for those of you who might be looking for some fun activities to keep the troops entertained.

Easter Pictionary

You need at least four people to play this game. On index cards, write the following words (each on it’s own card). Place them into a hat and team up. Decide one person who will draw and the other person will try to guess the word within 30 seconds to 1 minute (if you have a timer, use it or for kids under 6, forget timing). The person who will draw picks a card from the hat (without showing anyone) and tries to draw the word on the card. Give each team who guesses correctly within the allowed time a point. Whoever gets the most answers correct wins! Here is the list of words:

  • Easter bunny
  • Carrot
  • Eggs
  • Jelly beans
  • Chocolate
  • Basket
  • Grass
  • Easter Lily
  • Tulips
  • Bonnet
  • Church
  • Pin the Tail on the Easter Bunny

Using a large piece of poster board, draw the back of a large bunny with a star where the tail belongs. Have each player draw an Easter bunny tail on a separate piece of paper and cut it out. Place tape on the backside of the tails. Then, have participants pick their names out of a hat to see the order in which they will play.

Use a scarf, tie or bandana to cover the eyes of the first participant. Spin the player around a few times and direct him or her towards the bunny with the tail in hand. After everyone has placed their tail on the bunny, whoever is closest to the star wins. If there is a tie, have them play again until one person is the clear winner.

Musical Eggs

Cut out large (at least 12 inch wide) eggs from newspaper, grocery bags or another reuseable source. Make enough eggs for each person playing, minus one. Place the eggs in a circle. One person will be the music conductor. This person will turn on music and have players walk around the eggs in a circle until the music stops. When the music stops playing, everyone must stand on an egg. One person will not have an egg and they will take over for the music conductor until the next person is out. Continue playing the game until there is one person left and this is the winner! Think musical chairs with eggs instead of chairs.

If all else fails, you can always play Duck, Duck, Goose, Tag or Hide and Seek, just call them something that has to do with Easter like Duck, Duck, Bunny, Catch the Easter Bunny or Hide and Squeak. Most importantly, have fun! And have a very Happy Easter!