Saturday, September 25, 2010

day 251: smart after school snacks for children

Today we have a guest author writing for PP 365. Take a look at her byline and visit her site, especially if you have kids preparing for college!

Smart Snacking for Children

According to the American Medical Association, more than 23 million children and teenagers nationwide are overweight or obese. Maybe that’s why congress dubbed September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Health experts say efforts to prevent obesity must start early before unhealthy habits are formed. So while your children are in class feeding their minds with knowledge, it’s up to you to feed their stomachs with nutritional goodies when they come home. Here are a couple of Do’s and Don’t’s when planning your child’s next healthy snack and a few fun recipes to try.


-Avoid anything sugary like cookies and candy.

-Stay away from junk food like greasy chips

-Avoid soft drinks.


-Make portions too big, this is a ‘snack’—a little something to curve your child’s appetite. It’s not intended to replace a meal.

-Buy store-bought snacks that are partially hydrogenated or high in trans fats

-Don’t be fooled by juices. Just because it says contains fruit, make sure that it’s 100 percent and be cautious of sugar content.


Peanut butter and fruit spread sandwich. This twist on the traditional PB&J is just as high in protein as the original sandwich, but is a healthier alternative. Your child won’t even notice the jelly/fruit spread difference.

Ingredients: 100% whole grain bread, one tablespoon of strawberry spread (without sugar, just fruit and juice), one tablespoon of reduced-fat peanut butter.

Assemble sandwich accordingly. Cut up into fun shapes using cookie cutters to make the sandwich look more appealing.

Nutritional value: 193 calories, 25 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 220 mg sodium, .7 g protein, 3 g fiber,

Fruit Kabobs. These colorful treats are both interesting to look at and fun to eat. Chop up the ingredients beforehand so your child and can make the kabobs his or her self. The more active they are in creating their own snacks, the better.

Ingredients: 1 apple, 1 banana, red seedless grapes or green seedless grapes, cup pineapple chunks, and abob skewers.

Place chopped up fruit in varying order on the skewer. Serve immediately or chill for later.

Nutritional value (one serving): 141 calories, 3 g fat, 28 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 52 mg sodium, 2 g saturated fat, 103 mg calcium, 0.5 mg iron, 3 g fiber

Fruit Smoothie.

Fruit smoothes are both delicious and nutritious, no matter what fruit you choose to use. Smoothies in generally tend to be somewhat thick, but stay clear of ice cream as a thickening agent. Plain ice and frozen fruits are a better alternative. You can also use low-fat yogurt (which is a great source of calcium and amino acids).

Place fruit of choice with thickening agent in blender. Blend for 30 seconds. Serve chilled with a crazy straw for some pizzazz.

Nutritional varies depending on fruit choice and thickening agent but usually falls along these lines (one cup): 130 calories, .29 g fat, 33.52 g carbohydrate, .88g protein

Additional good-choices: Fruit pops, hummus dip, cheese sandwiches and granola.

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:
This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes for bachelors degree.

Friday, September 24, 2010

day 250: “shoeless” joe jackson—teaching at all times part ii of ii

"You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up…”

To get your mind churning about the many ways we can start powerful, life-affecting discussions with our children as we “walk by the way” on vacation, field trips, at the park, in the zoo, and within our homes, I want to give you a short list of some of the talks we had as a result of our hour long visit to the infamous baseball player’s home place. (See yesterday’s post to learn more about our visit there.)

Read through this list and jot down some notes for your family—what things have you watched, read, seen, or experienced that could lead to true spiritual, mental, moral, and ethics teaching in your children’s lives?

*Could a person who broke sports records in a certain game actually be involved in “throwing” that game? Is Jackson’s record breaking that day proof that he was not involved in the cheating? (Jackson made baseball history with his remarkable performance on the day that he supposedly cheated.)

*Does poor leadership and unfair treatment by an authority give us an excuse to take things into our own hands or even “cheat” to get what is due us? (It was purported that the “throwing” was initiated because of the owner, Cominsky’s, mistreatment of his players.)

*What does a hasty response lead to? (It was thought that perhaps Joe Jackson agreed to the cheating on a whim or as a joke but then didn’t really want to or plan to.)

*Does trying to return stolen goods or “dirty money” make everything all right? (It was said that once he did get the money, he went to Cominsky/coaches to give it back as proof that he didn’t want to partake in the activity.)

*What role did illiteracy play in all of Jackson’s troubles? How important is literacy at a basic level and critical thinking at higher levels in not getting involved in things unknowingly? (Again, another reasoning for Jackson’s trouble was his inability to read/write and his signing of documents that led him into more trouble.)

*How did getting involved with evil companions lead to “Shoeless’” downfall? What does the Bible say about negative companions and peers? (It was suggested that Joe Jackson got involved with gangster type of teammates, which led to his demise.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

day 249: "shoeless" joe jackson--teaching our kids all the time part i of ii

"You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up…”

We have recently spent some time in the Greenville, South Carolina area, first of all visiting our daughter who was working there at the Academy of Arts (and seeing her in the drama, “Little Women”) and then picking up our son from his summer drama ministry travels (and attending the closing ceremonies of the traveling drama teams). One day we had a little extra time and, like we often do, found ourselves at a local museum—the “Shoeless” Joe Jackson Museum. (For more about the Joe Jackson story and more about his little homeplace/museum, see the links at the end of this post.)

With three boys left at home, we try to go to museums and events that will be interesting to guys—robotic exhibits, football museums, IMAX theatres, baseball games, action movies, etc. So when we discovered that Greenville has a “baseball museum,” we headed out to it one afternoon.

As we had our little mini tour (they have “Shoeless” life-long fan club members narrating his story in this tiny museum and defending Joe Jackson against the accusations brought upon him), a myriad of spiritual, moral, and relational teaching was opened up to us with the boys.

I was reminded once again of how many, many opportunities we have to teach our children God’s Word and God’s ways.

Today I will leave you with the verse that reminds us of teaching our children at all times—and the “Shoeless” Joe Jackson links—and tomorrow I will detail some of the lively discussions that resulted from a sixty minute tour into a man’s life and indiscretions. Truly, we have “material” everywhere to teach our children!

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up…” Deuteronomy 6:5-8

**Info about museum/homeplace:

**Story of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

day 248: don’t leave your little one at mcdonald’s—say what you mean, part ii of ii

Yesterday I talked about not threatening to leave your child at my remote office (McDonald’s)—and an excellent piece of advice we received from our early mentors: Say only what you mean. Think back over the past few days. How many times did you give a command to your little one that you didn’t really care whether he obeyed or not? How many times did you tell him to do something that you did not follow through on?

These are things like when you are waiting in line at the grocery and he wanders a few feet away from you to look at the candy, and you say, “Come right back here and stand next to me.” Why? I mean, do you mean that? Does it matter if he is two feet from you looking at the candy (assuming he has learned not to take any or touch things that are not his)? If you don’t care if he is two feet from you and you are not going to make him do it anyway, why say it?

Or how about the old, “If you do that one more time, we are going to go home” or “…we are not going to Grandma’s,” or “…you are going to bed”? Do we mean that? Will we really take Johnny home if he stands up in the booth one more time? Then don’t say it!

There are so many commands that we give our kids that we simply do not mean. They either aren’t that important to us or we do not have the backbone to follow through on them if they are not obeyed. In these instances, we would be better off not saying anything at all.

When we give these empty commands, we are really training our kids to disregard our instruction. We are essentially training them to disobey.

In the past month or so, here are some classics I have heard at “my office”:

--“If you scream one more time, we are leaving.” (Followed by scream after scream, of course!)

--“If you don’t come right now, we’re not going to Grandma’s.”

--“If you don’t come right now, we’re not going to the park—but we’re going home to take naps instead.”

--“Don’t climb on that display.” “Get off of that display.” “Don’t stand on that display.” “Don’t climb on that display.” (over and over and over and over….)

--“Come here right now” (followed by a cat and mouse chase that had to be absolutely humiliating to that dad doing the chasing…)

Two tips for implementing this “say what you mean” parenting strategy:

(1) Do not give commands that really don’t matter. I mean, honestly, does your child HAVE to stand with his arms down at his side? We have a tendency to focus on outward behaviors—some of which have no bearing on our child’s important behavior or heart training. When we do this, we teach our child that all behaviors are equal. That standing just so is as important as not talking back or running from us when we call.

(2) Do not give commands of which you are not willing or able to follow through. When you tell your child to do something, be sure you mean it. Be sure it is important enough to warrant a command—and important enough to be sure it is followed.

More child training tips to follow—thanks for joining us at Positive Parenting 365!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

day 247: don’t leave your little one at mcdonald’s—say what you mean, part i of ii

As a mother of seven kids who has written over thirty thousand pages of curriculum and more in the past ten years, I find it difficult to get a whole lot done in our little fourteen hundred square foot house (that doubles as a small press publishing company and a family ministry to Christian parents/homeschoolers). Thus, two or three afternoons a week, I can be found writing away at my “remote” office known as McDonald’s.

Our McDonald’s was re-built a few years ago, and it is such a great place to write and edit—huge booths to spread out my work, unlimited drinks, and limited distractions. (Yes, it can be a busy place, but I don’t have a problem with noise—I can work with tons of noise (I have seven kids!). I just work so well there because nobody needs anything. I put on my headphones and dig in. Before I know it, a few hours have gone by, and I got tons of writing done.)

I often find inspiration for my curriculum AND parenting writing in unique places—a tree that could not stand strong against high winds; a milk shake spill that remains sticky until it is cleaned thoroughly with a very wet cloth—no dry cloth will suffice; a mis-spelled word on the “caution wet floor” sign; and even little kids who are not able to be controlled by their well-meaning mom, dad, or grandma. The latter is the one that inspired me today.

If I had ten bucks for every time I have heard an adult threaten to leave his or her child at my remote office, I would not be driving the non-air conditioned vehicle that I am driving this summer! We’ve all heard it (and maybe some of us have even used that tactic ourselves!), but upon closer examination, what is really wrong with the old, “If you don’t come now, I’m going to leave you here for the Hamburglar to get” routine? (Are you too young to know about the “Hamburglar” at McDonald’s??? Wowsie, I am old!)

Besides the fact that it is just plain mean spirited to threaten to abandon our children, it is evidence of a larger problem in parenting young children---not saying what we mean. Some of the best pieces of advice that our early mentors (Terry and Esa Everroad—I’ve written about them before) gave us were (1) Do not ask our small children to do what we want them to do –but to tell them what we want them to do; and (2) Say what we mean.

The first one was easy enough to change. No more, “Joshua, could you please, please, please, please put your coat on for Mommy?” Agghh….it never got results anyway. I mean, after all, we are giving the child a choice to do it or not, aren’t we? And how can we enforce his obedience when we let him decide whether to do something or not by posing it as a question? It made perfect sense to me to stop begging Joshua to do what I wanted him to do. It was just a simple matter of re-wording my instructions to him (since my question really was a statement with an emphasis at the end to make it sound questioning!).

The second one was harder to curb. Tune in tomorrow to find out why this tip is so important in parenting young children…. smile….

Monday, September 20, 2010

day 246: creating an environment conducive to learning to read part iii of iii

Children who learn to read naturally, without reading instruction, are raised in an environment that is conducive to learning to read naturally—an environment that creates a love for learning and a very perceived need to learn.

While I have never had a natural reader myself, I tried all throughout my children’s learning days to create this type of environment. It has created outstanding learners and avid readers in the Reish home.

One of the “rules” that Ray and I had for our children’s early education was that if something could be taught informally (and painlessly), we would teach it that way (as opposed to using workbooks or “curriculum” for something that can just as easily be learned while driving down the road or snuggling on the sofa).

That is one thing that I truly loved about the “natural reader learning environment.” Why get a workbook to teach capital letters when you can teach it while you are running errands (from all of the store signs)? Why get a program for rhyming words when nursery rhymes, silly songs, and I spy games on the road can do the job without the stress? The “natural reader learning environment” fit how we thought young children should be taught—regardless of whether our kids truly became natural readers or not.

The environment described in the last couple of days’ posts is extremely conducive to teaching a myriad of things that kindergarten and first grade curricula often use workbooks, worksheets, and other “formal” approaches. And kids do not even know they are doing “school” with Mom and Dad while running to the hardware store or cuddling during an extensive story time!

Here are just a few of the skills that the research on natural readers indicated are learned/enjoyed by kids in this environment:

1. Contact with print

2. Thinking skills

3. Comprehension (especially when a wide variety of materials is presented and discussion follows)

4. Expanded vocabulary

5. Enunciation and pronunciation

6. Love of and need for reading

7. Sentence patterns

8. Relationship between parent and child---the most important one of all, of course!

Create a “natural reader learning environment” in your home—regardless of your kids’ ages….and watch the interaction with print increase; the love for learning grow; and the positive relationships bloom.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

day 245: creating an environment conducive to learning to read part ii of iii

"You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold,

But richer than I you could never be; for I had a mother who read to me."

So what were the commonalities I found in studying the environment of “natural readers”?

Common Characteristics of Natural Readers:

1. Interaction with adults—these kids were with adults a lot—and definitely not around peers more than adults. They had adults on hand to discuss things with, to answer their questions, and to provide examples of proper speech patterns, etc.

2. Much book handling by the child—these children were surrounded with books that they were permitted to interact with. They were often found at very young ages with stacks of books around them, just looking at the pictures, making stories in their minds from the pictures, etc.

3. Print abounds and interest in print is evident by itself—not only did the homes of natural readers contain books themselves, but they also contained all type of print. The parents of these children read magazines, journals, newspapers, etc. I think the “interest in print” part probably began with something like a parent saying, “Honey, look at this whale they found beached on the coast of Florida,” as he or she brought the little one up on to her lap to see the picture that was provided with the article in today’s newspaper, etc. This type of activity causes a child to become interested in print.

4. Tapes and books are used—nowadays, of course, this would say “cd’s and books are used”; however, this is the reason why I began using book and tape sets a few times a week for my preschoolers and elementary children—and why we have used audios (talking books, radio dramas, etc.) every week of our lives since our oldest was one year old. “Tapes” and books show our children the benefits and “fun” that reading provides.

5. Memorization takes place—these natural readers often followed a certain pattern—they memorized a picture book (usually many), then through the memorization, they began making print-sound-word connections. That is, when they turned the page and recited, “If you give a mouse a cookie,” they began to understand that i-f says if and y-o-u says you. Natural readers were experts at memorizing large portions of text.

6. Interest in writing words and “language experience” activities—many years ago, there was a movement in education to replace phonics instruction with “language experience” activities (also called a “whole language approach”). Phonics proponents everywhere were up in arms at the thought of “activities” of writing what the child said (dictation) for him, making little homemade books, etc. taking the place of phonics instruction. While I am a strong phonics proponent, I believe that these “language experiences” and “whole language” activities augment the reading instruction greatly. And, of course, the natural readers in the research were exposed to these types of activities early and often. These kids were the ones who dictated thank-you notes to Mom to go to grandparents and colored a picture to send along with it; they were the ones who had a chalk board in the kitchen in which Mom or Dad wrote the day of the week each morning; they were those who “said” stories aloud and parents copied it in little “journal” books for the child. And on and on. Why wouldn’t these types of experiences and activities increase a child’s relationship with print and love for learning?

7. Experiences related to literacy and books—these obviously include the types of activities listed in number six, but these kids knew from birth that books and reading were important. They were the ones in a double stroller at the library lawn sale as toddlers—child in front seat with back seat full of picture books. They were the ones who had their own “book basket” in the corner of the nursery almost from birth. In other words, they were immersed in literacy and books from an early age.

8. Self-regulated behavior and risk taking—This characteristic related to how they “organize” their little lives. These kids would pull all of the Curious George books off the shelf and stack them up to look at after lunch. They often had little learning systems in place at ages four and five. And they were not afraid to be wrong. This, of course, stems from not being talked down to or made fun of when they did ask questions. These kids were risk takers because taking risks in learning (“Mommy, is this word (dapper) ‘Daddy’?”) yielded information that helped them in their quest to learn. The questions did not yield put downs or “you should already know this.”

9. Read to often—Obviously, a link has to be made from the squiggles on the page to the sounds that those squiggles make in order for a young child to teach himself to read. Thus, a child must be read to (or follow along with books and tapes) in order to learn to read without formal instruction. Now, this is not to say that a child who is read to will automatically learn to read early and on his own. I read aloud to our first three kids three to five hours everyday for years and years—and not one of the three was a natural, or early, reader! But it certainly created a love for print and learning in my children!

Tomorrow—how does this reading environment teach informally what could take years of instruction to learn?

day 244: creating an environment conducive to learning to read part i of iii

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves”

Continuing study skills but looking at creating an environment conducive to learning to read, especially this week. If you do not have a new reader, please read anyway! Lots of info that pertains to families with all kinds/levels of kids!

During my graduate studies (in Reading Specialist) at Ball State University, I did a master’s thesis about children who learn to read without any reading instruction. That is, the kids just suddenly started reading books without ever having phonics lessons, basal readers, or other “formal instruction.” It was a challenging thesis simply because there is so little data about it because of our “early school attendance age.” Seldom does a child learn to read “naturally” before age six or seven, and with kids going to school at age five (and often beginning reading instruction in kindergarten), the research was sparse concerning these “instructionless” readers.

I did find enough, however, and I was also blessed to find a family who had a natural reader to compare the printed data with. My observations, coupled with the studies in teaching journals, etc., led me to find what I called the “environment” in which natural readers are raised. This led me to other lines of thinking—if a child can learn to read with absolutely no instruction in a literary-saturated environment, wouldn’t this environment be conducive to helping those who DO receive instruction learn to read better, more easily, and more naturally?

The answer, of course, was yes. Study after study shows the type of environment that causes kids to learn better. Duplicating the “natural reader’s” environment can only help our kids learn better. Maybe our creating this “literary atmosphere” will not automatically make our six year old pick up a book and begin reading, but if it makes the learning process (actually any/all learning processes) easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful, why wouldn’t we want to duplicate it in our homes for all of our kids?

Tomorrow and the next day I will detail this environment and its outcomes. But today I will leave you with a little hint: one of the characteristics of the home of a natural reader has something to do with the quote at the beginning of this post. Smile…