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Category Archives: Children’s Education

Birthday Party Activity for a 7 Year Old: Fun and Educational Treasure Hunt

My favorite and most memorable birthday party when I was a kid was the one where my Dad created a treasure hunt for us. I was turning 9 and it really made an impression on me. He made rhyming clues, one leading to another, and all us kids had to figure them out and sleuth around to discover which one led where. I have no recollection of the prize, I just remember how fun it was for us to figure out and decipher the hidden messages.

So I created one for my daughter’s 7 year old party last night. There were 9 kids at the party and I think if you have a fairly small group, this hunt is a lot of fun. (I also believe parties should always be as small as possible. I’ll get into that in a another post). The clues were invented quickly and easily while I was in line at the post office, notating them on my iphone.

The clues, written in simple language (kids are just learning to read at this age) on little pieces of yellow construction paper, rolled into scrolls and then taped on to hiding places, led to a treasure map. The map I drew with a regular pen on white office paper. I drew a rough layout of the house and then used a darker marker to make dots leading outside to the back yard. I shredded the sides by ripping a little here and there and then tied it with a ribbon, The treasure was a pretty box I borrowed from my mom, filled with golden chocolate coins (gelt), mint chocolates and sugar-free bubble gum that I found at Smart ‘N Final (a kind of super-store… Costco restaurant supply type place in California). I hid the pretty treasure box under a plastic pin outside, stuck a big X on it and the hunt was ready!

Before we began, I laid down the rules:
1. No running
2. When they find a new clue, they are to put there heads together, talk about where it might be and walk to the place they thought they might find it. (problem solving)
3. They are to take turns reading the clues. (literacy)
4. When they find the treasure, they are to slowly come to the living room, dump it out (birthday girl gets to carry it), look at it, then slowly divvy it up. Now kids these days are trained to go nuts and hoard and grab candy (think piñata frenzy). And with our party it took about 7 reminders that there was no need to hog and fret about the goods. The key to this is buy a lot of treasure. I bought 160 coins (come in bulk for $10) and about 100 chocolate mints and one 12 piece pack of gum. The more there is, the more they relax about trying to get some.

Then I hand out empty goodie bags, so when they find the booty, they can divide up the spoils evenly. (counting…sorting).

This hunt was the highlight of the party and I thought I would teach you how to do it for your 7 and up year old. This is the kind of thing you could do every year, making the clues more and more difficult to solve.

Here’s what you will need.

6 or more clues (write your own or use mine)
6 pieces colored construction paper
tape
paper for map
ribbon for map
pretty box for treasure
something to hide treasure under (blanket, box… or you could even bury it…but i believe simple is best for mom)
LOTS of treasure
empty bags (zip-lock or what-ever you like)

I started by sitting all the kids down, going over the rules and then giving the first clue to Delilah.

Clue #1:

You’ll find the map where it gets hot
between the toaster and the pot

(all kids figure out kitchen…walk there, find toaster and on a pot near the toaster there is the second yellow clue.)

Clue #2:
Now go into Delilah’s room
and look up high beside the moon
(all kids go to Delilah’s room and look up to a moon that was already stuck up there, and see a yellow scroll taped to the ceiling. I jump up and get it and we read the next clue)

Clue #3:
Go out the front door and by the dome
look to find a little phone

(we walk outside where by our play structure dome, I had taped a clue onto a little plastic toy phone that the girls had and stuck it under the dome. You can easily find things you have to use to make rhymes!)

Clue #4:
You are smart but there is more
taped onto the bathroom door

(they all walk to bathroom, go inside and up taped on the back of the door, they find it!)

Clue #5:
Close your eyes and make a wish
Now go and feed our little fish
(they walk to the aquarium, and taped on the fish food container, the last clue)

Clue #6:
One last clue will take you there
On the red couch there is a bear

(I found a teddy bear in their animal basket and had hidden the map behind the bear)

The kids were out of their minds with excitement, anticipation and cleverness at this point.

Delilah opened the map and looked at it. I had the layout of the house sketched roughly, and she needed to figure how to go out the kitchen door to the backyard and turn left. She got out the kitchen door and turned right, so I gently redirected, as all the kids walked down the driveway looking for the X. And then one girls said “The X!”. Delilah got to lift the pink plastic bin and find hidden below, the magical box.

We brought it inside and sat in a circle, dumped it out (this is where daddy and I spoke in pirate voices and complained that our treasure had been found and stolen).

The kids divvied up the goods squarely and put their shares in their bags. They were allowed 3 pieces (it was before dinner, and again I am a big believer in not saying…”just one”.. that creates deprivation and then bingeing…more on that coming in a new post!). So 3 it was and the kids were thrilled.

And that was that. A good time is guaranteed with this treasure hunt and kids learn so much. Most of all it’s empowering, thoughtful and super fun.

AAAAAARRRRRRRR!

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Letting The 4 Year Old Lead (Saying Yes to Kids)

Wood Monkeys are Clever!

My 4-year-old daughter is very creative and strong-willed. After all, her chinese astrological sign is “wood monkey” (most kids who are 4 at this moment in time (and were born before feb 2005) are wood monkeys). Monkeys are imaginative, responsible, humorous, witty, curious and clever. They can also be sneaky. But the wood monkey is a real dynamo. And boy is she! So much passion and always a plan… a big plan.

But sometimes all this kinetic and curious energy, coupled with her speedy mind, seems to stop her in her tracks. It’s almost as if she blows a fuse from time to time. She gets really UPSET when she loses. And the beautiful thing is that she knows it. She says, “I get angry when I lose”. What a blessing to us (her parents) that her self-awareness can help us pave a way for her for even greater self-understanding.

So as the mother of a wood monkey, here’s my  PLAN:

LET THE MONKEY LEAD

My self-imposed task now is to let her lead, let her call the shots and say “yes” as many times a day as I can. Now, of course I don’t mean  that I’ll say “yes” to 10 gallons of chocolate sauce or dangerous sky-diving activities. But I am trying with all my might to NOT suggest too  much to her and to let her come up with HER OWN plan.

We are currently in Hawaii, so every day is an adventure. Swimming is the most exciting thing going on around here, and my daughter in the past, has been very nervous in the water. I’ve tried with swimming lessons and she just gets freaked out and panic-y. So now… I let her lead. I don’t say, “Oh, try to kick with big splashes” or “Do you want to try jumping off the side and I’ll catch you?”. She just doesn’t respond well to my ideas and suggestions. And I see that as I back off, she gets more adventurous and becomes more brave, becoming more in-control of her world. And I am happy to report that in just one day (yesterday) she learned to swim! All the way across the pool AND in the Maui waves (with floaties).

One more thought on letting her lead: yesterday she wanted a chocolate covered macaroon cookie. I said “ok” and her Daddy said, “You’re not going to like it”. They had a little battle over it and then we decided… let her try it – let her have the power to choose and we’ll see (and the old “choose your battles” rule also applies here). So we bought the baked item at the Maui Coffee Store and she liked it…kind of.  Will she order it again? Who knows?! Who cares! The important thing is that she is free to choose, lead and follow her curiosity, and for wood monkeys (and for most of us) that is one of the greatest perks of our liberal democratic nation. Power to the wood monkeys!!!

Aloha –

DP

 

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Farmer’s Market teaches Seasons to Kids (and keeps them healthy!)

We like Sunday mornings here in Mar Vista. Every week we walk over to our local farmer’s market. I can’t remember what life was before we had fresh picked lettuce and fresh laid eggs available a few blocks from our doorstep. I was raised with frozen spinach in a box. It was the most disgusting, slimy, inedible stuff I’d ever seen or tasted! And even now, when I go to the “super market”, I pick up a tomato and wonder where it was born, how many chemicals are in it and how long it sat in a truck before it got into my hands. I appreciate all the people who worked hard to get that tomato to the super market, but there’s no question that I’d rather eat the one radiating vitamins that was picked this morning, an hour away from home.

Anyway, how lucky my girls (2 and 4) are to “know” fresh food. We wander, looking , tasting and smelling the wonderful summer fruits and veggies spread on the tables at the farmer’s market, or as we call it The Crepe Market. There is a french man there, Tierry, who whips up these delectable crepes. Sugar/Lime is now Delilah’s favorite.

The colors of the market are always breathtaking… it’s like a party for the senses and Hannah likes to touch everything – which is OK! (But not in Italy! Once I got slapped for touching a cucumber at a market!). We also get a great sense of seasonal change as we explore every week. For example, the peaches will only be GOOD for another 2 or 3 weeks, says the farmer who grows them. Oh how those white peaches have gotten us thru the summer, kept us cool and hydrated… and the yummy fresh peach yogurt we made with our wedding present ice cream maker. Alas… seasons change, fruits change, but last week we saw something REALLY exciting…. a few small pumpkins in a pile, glowing in the sun, calling us toward the fall and saying, “BOO!”

 

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The Cool Alphabet Song Lyrics

hooray! now you can sing along…

AA play today      BBB beside me with      CC celebrate      DD do you like me

EE eat an egg     FF flip and fry it      GG gee that’s great      HH Honey I like it

I spy blue    Jays above you       K come kiss me     LL let me love you

MM your my best friend your    NN never naughty    OO oh let’s go

PP in the potty – potty   Come now    Oh how

Q cute cute you are you    R so really right my    SS Spinning star for all

T-I-M-E tic-toc time   UUU you   VV very good with that vacuum

W know what to do with that wooden broom – you got   X-tra energy

Y anyone can see – I gotta catch some    Z’s (cuz you’re busy busy)

You’re busy as a bee I’m getting dizzy dizzy – I gotta catch some Z’s Cuz you’re a busy busy busy busy  busy bee

 

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Lyrics to "Potatoes and Cabbage" by DidiPop

I love, just LOVE, knowing that children all over the world are learning from DidiPop. I am driven to teach (and always have been) and since I can’t swing a teaching trip to Brazil this week, this will have to do.

I got this email from a tracher in Brazil this morning:

On Mar 11, 2011, at 10:29 AM, Júlia wrote:
Hello,
My name is Julia and I am an English teacher in Brazil. I got to know your work during a search for material to use in my St. Patrick’s day class, and simply adored your music! I’m going to show it to my 5 year old cousin and use it in my classes as well.
I was wondering if you could send me the lyrics for “Potatoes and Cabbage” so that the students can sing along to it!
Thank you very much, and congratulations!
Julia 

Thanks Julia! Here they are:

Potatoes and Cabbage (lyrics) ©Poppinksongs 2011

St. Patrick’s Day is so much fun
Coloring shamrocks in the sun
So do a dance and bang a drum
And eat potatoes and cabbage

St Paddy’s got a history
He was kind and good you see
He followed all his magic dreams
And ate potatoes and cabbage

He was kidnapped at 16
By Irish raiders cruel and mean but
He got away and studied and prayed
And ate potatoes and cabbage

He brought the Irish people faith
He built a church, became a saint
Some people say he scared the snakes
And ate potatoes and cabbage

We celebrate March 17
So don’t get pinched and wear some green
Welcome in the sunny spring and
Eat potatoes and cabbage

Let’s be Irish, sing a song and
Look for clovers on the lawn
A leprechaun may come a long he’ll be
Eating potatoes and cabbage
Eating potatoes and cabbage
Eating potatoes and cabbage

Happy Paddy’s Day to you!

 

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Musical Parenting Tip: Make up new words to songs you know

I like to accompany most activities in life with music. I sing A LOT. It’s just my nature. It’s also my nature to teach and I love teaching music to children. They are so excited about playing piano and learning songs. It is like I am giving them the tools to fly a 747. I sometimes feel that a piano looks like a wonderful spaceship to kids (and maybe to everyone). All those buttons and pedals – Come ON! Fly me To The Moon!

Back to today’s tip: Make up new words to songs you know. This is so easy and fun to do. Do it while driving, in the bathtub, on a picnic and in the grocery line! One really fun and funny one is to start with is The Alphabet Song (the traditional one). When you get to the last letter (or word) or each section, instead of singing the letter/word, make a raspberry sound (you know, the sound that comes from putting your tongue between your lips and gently blowing out on a “P” sound, letting your lips flutter in the wind). Let’s try it!

1, 2, ready, go:

a…b…c…d…e..f… PLLTHLTHTHLT!
h….i…j…k…l.m.n.o.. PLLTHLTHTHLT!
q…r…s……t….u…PLLTHLTHTHLT!
w….x….y…and PLLTHLTHTHLT!
Now I know my A… B… PLLTHLTHTHLT!
Next time won’t you sing with PLLTHLTHTHLT!

Isn’t that fun and funny? I sing it with my kids and I did it at a Didi Pop Show last night…kids love it! I mean they LAUGH HARD!

You may be thinking, “OK Didi Pop, this sounds fun, but what exactly does that teach?”

Firstly, it teaches the alphabet in a more cognitive way. Kids are not simply singing what they have memorized (a series of sounds accompanied by melody), they are thinking and processing about what comes next. They are also learning breathing technique (it takes a different kind of air flow to create the raspberries) and therefore, musical phrasing. It teaches creativity (they learn that words and sounds can be  substituted for other words/sounds) and empowers children around music and language (Yes! There are no rules! Music and language are tools that can be altered according to one’s mood!). It also inspires general silliness and family FUN. I mean, who doesn’t want to see their grandma singing:

h….i…j…k…l….m…n.o…… PLLTHLTHTHLT!

And here is my ABC song for you to enjoy!

 

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