Archive for the 'Cedar Valley Fun' Category

Aug 27 2009

How to Get Hooked on Reading by Stacey Kannenberg

I will never forget the day I was finally hooked on reading. I was blessed by the presence of my friend Mary Isham one day in 9th grade.

Yes, you read it right. It took me until 9th grade to finally love reading. I wasn’t a born a reader, nor was a child-bookworm.

Even my school librarian knew I dreaded school assignments that forced me to check out books and report on a particular subject—or any subject at all. I was not a struggling reader, but I never found an interest to read anything beyond my homework assignments; which had too much reading in and of itself.

So, back to that glorious day in 9th grade…

I was walking into the school library and noticed my friend Mary Isham having an animated conversation, mostly to herself, as she openly expressed her concerns with the librarian. She was a cute and bubbly girl, dressed in her cheerleading outfit for the big game that night and seemed to be having some sort of problem.

I walked closer and overheard Mary tragically exclaim, “I can’t bear to part with it, I just can’t, you know.  I can’t stand the thought of it being put back on the shelf and no one reading it – I have checked it out three times and have read it over and over for weeks and the thought of it all alone waiting for someone to read it makes me sad.”  Mary spots me walking in and gushes, “Stacey save me!  This is such a great book and I have to turn it in today and I hate to see it sitting on the shelf alone, please, please take it and check it out…it is such a great book.”

I remember her words vividly.

That was it! 

I couldn’t believe that someone could love a book so much that she was having such a dramatic scene about returning it to the library,

So, I figured it must be good, right?  As pleaded, I took the book and checked it out.  I went home, rushed to my room, and opened its first page. I was hooked!

I even missed the football game that night.

When it was time to return it, I checked out another Victoria Holt romance book and the librarian smiled as to say something about that being a life changing event for me.

I didn’t appreciate it until now. Yes, being hooked on reading became a life-changing event for me.

Thank you Mary Isham!

What’s your favorite book? What title can cause you to get dramatic and overly-animated?

Well, whatever book it is, please introduce that book to your child, friend, family member or co-worker.

You never know, it might be a life-changing event for them too!

Copyright 2007-2009 – Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Care to share your favorite book with us?  What about a favorite author or series?  Reading can be a wonderful life-altering experience; the right book can be the key that unlocks the door.

94 responses so far

Jul 02 2009

Let’s Get Ready for Some Trip Tips to Make Vacation a Blast!

  1. Empower the kids to be involved in packing and planning and being a part of organizing your trip!
  2. Purchase small travel-size dry erase boards and plan some activities using them such as:
    • The Drawing Game:  draw a cow, draw an octagon, draw a car, draw the number 48, etc.
    • The True or False Game:  Have kids put a T for True or an F for False to a series of family questions such as:  Grandma Martha used to drive a motorcycle; Aunt Beth is adopted; You have 4 first cousins; etc.
    • The Person, Place or Thing with 10 clues Game:  Select a category between, person, place or thing and write down the answer and have the kids ask clues to figure out the answer.  For example – for a person, the kids might ask, do I personally know this person or is it someone famous?
    • The Yes or No game:  Ask questions and the kids will write yes or no – Do you like pizza?; Would you like to scuba dive someday?; Might you be a teacher?; Sail the ocean?; Travel to the North Pole?
    • Perfect for Tic-tac-toe and hang man games!
  3. Bring books for quiet time reading for the kids to enjoy.  Set the timer and tell the kids it is quiet time to either take a nap or read! Of course our books are perfect for kid fun or playing school or teacher in the car:  Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten!, the Spanish/English of iA Prepararse Para Kindergarten! or Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten!
  4. Bring travel-size colors and a coloring book with a tray to do activities!
  5. Purchase blank books in the dollar bin and create travel journals documenting the trip.  Purchase some vacation-themed stickers and allow the kids to either use the camera to take some pictures or get them cheap disposable cameras that they are in charge of using!
  6. Print off the computer start and stop maps to where you are going and let them draw points of interest that they have seen along the journey!
  7. Bring electronic devices, if they already use and a DVD for movie time!
  8. Bring prepacked healthy snacks ready to go to keep the kids happy!
  9. Crank up the radio and sign along together to your family favorites!
  10. Share family stories about how they will be seeing on the trip or about how Mom and Dad met, some of the things Grandma and Grandpa used to do and stories when Mom and Dad were kids!
  11. Pack travel-size cold water for the kids, put them in pull-ups to avoid accidents in the car seat or plane, bring wipes for quick clean ups and toilet paper for emergency stops!
  12.  Have an extra change of clothing with easy access as well as favorite stuffed animals and blankets to encourage sleep time.
  13.  Count to 25 by finding 25 white cars; 25 red cars, trucks, cows, etc.
  14.  Before you leave home, guess the number of VW Bugs you will see along the way or Smart Cars or Windmills or flags and start counting.
  15.  Play “I Spy” something red, something red, white and blue or something moving, etc.


Happy traveling with kids!

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Jun 24 2009

Let’s Get Ready for some Iced Tea!

Gretchen at Tea Safari was sweet enough to give us some of her amazing tea.  Heidi and Megan loved the Strawberry Kiwi Iced Tea.  It is unbelievably delicious and caffeine-free.

Iced Tea Preparation Instructions:

  1. Brew a tea concentrate by following the regular brewing instructions printed on the tea bag or tin, but using twice the amount of leaves. If sweetener is desired, we recommend using sugar, stevia, honey, etc. while the tea is hot.
  2. Fill glasses or pitcher approximately 2/3 with ice (preferably made using filtered water). Use plastic or tempered glass only.
  3. Immediately pour the hot tea over the ice, separating the leaves with a strainer. If necessary, add more ice until the concentrate is diluted to nearly double its initial volume.
  4. If desired, add a slice of lemon, lime or orange or decorate with a sprig of mint leaf.
  5. Example Measurements: To prepare 36 ounces of iced tea, brew 18 ounces of tea using approximately 6 teaspoons of tea leaves.

Tea is a great way to stay hydrated and healthy.

11 responses so far

Apr 17 2009

Let’s Get Ready To Volunteer at School!

It’s nearing the end of school and you know what that means don’t you?  Field Trips!!  What a great opportunity to volunteer as a chaperone.  Not only do you look like a hero in the eyes of your child, but you get to know your child’s classmates as well.  Remember, your child is less likely to be bullied in school if you personally take the time to get to know each child in your child’s class.  Mike and I love field trip time, and try to make as many of the trips as we can.  We have been to the zoo, the museum, the apple orchard, the pumpkin patch, the dairy farm, the corn maze, the animal safari and so much more.  Each trip has been an amazing experience with wonderful stories to share – and I not only get to share them with my daughters, but with the parents of the other children who weren’t able to attend.  

Last week, Mike and I were in charge of four kids (out of 57) from our school at the Milwaukee Public Museum.  Mike was with one of the girls, revisiting the butterfly exhibit and I had Megan and the two boys looking at insects…when the fire alarm went off.  We could smell smoke and could hear the fire trucks coming.  I am so proud of how all the kids stayed calm as we exited the building and waited patiently outside until we were given the “all clear” sign to return.  Thankfully, it wasn’t anything serious and no damage was done.  We were so happy that the weather was a mild 55 degree day with sunny skies while we outside waiting.  In April, one never knows what kind of weather we will have in Milwaukee! 

Now that the Museum Trip is done we are looking forward to the River Walk and the Zoo for Megan and Field Day with Heidi and Megan.  I love Field Day!!  At our school, Field Day, is an entire day spent outside doing active circuits like: duck-duck-goose, tug-of-war, sack races, bean bag toss, etc. 

Ask your school if you will be having a Field Day and get involved.  It’s a great way to meet other parents and teachers from your school.

Happy Volunteering!

One response so far

Mar 23 2009

Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten!

Here are the 7 things kids will be tested on in their first Kindergarten assessment test:

  1. Know the uppercase alphabet and name the letters out of sequence or mixed up, such as: B, D, X, K, J, M, O, etc.
  2. Know the numbers to 0-10 and identify the numbers out of sequence or mixed up, such as: 2, 5, 9, 8, 1, 3, 4, etc.
  3. Identify basic colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  4. Identify basic shapes: circle, diamond, rectangle, triangle, oval, and square.
  5. Identify basic coins: penny, nickel, and dime.
  6. Count objects to 10.
  7. Show how far they can count toward 100.

Make learning this fun!!! Practice this information when driving with your child, searching for shapes, colors and letters to make learning interactive.  Counting is a great activity for bath time.  Shopping with your child is a great time to practice coins.  Empower your child to get ready for Kindergarten!

Some more tips to help include these seven things in your daily living with your youngsters:

  • Pick out shapes, one a day, in a room.  First, print a circle and hang it up in that room and then all day, find that shape in the room and make a list.  Go slow to begin with, perhaps one shape a week.
  • For the grocery store, give each child their own list (around ages 3-5), that they had to pick out themselves, find the price and write it down on their list paper.  If we just had a few things to buy, one child would stand up by the register and read the price of the item as it was scanned – sometimes, the checker even let the kids scan the items themselves!
  • For ABC letters, use the newspapers – a different letter each day.  By dinner, the kids must choose one page and circle all of that letter (upper- and lower-case letters being separate).
  • Kids count change each day when hubby comes home from work – one child counts per day and then have them put the money in a bank that has separate slots for each coin.
  • For colors, take the kids to a fabric shop.  Tell them the colors you are looking for, for a project, and have them go find what they like and talk about the colors and selection options.

1,056 responses so far

Mar 03 2009

Let’s Get Ready For the 100th Day of School!

It usually happens in February or early March, the 100th day of school – only 80 days until summer vacation!!

When my youngest, Megan, was in Kindergarten and they celebrated the 100th day of school she came home upset.  “Mom, I thought when we reached the 100th day we were done with school for the year,” she exclaimed.  It was a bit of a let down for her!!  In the Kannenberg house we make it a celebration!  When they were younger we would practice counting to 100.

Our 5 favorite activities to celebrate the 100th day of school:

  1. Have each child count out 100 food items to make a trail mix snack.  Our favorites are raisins, dry cereal, pretzels, marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, m & m’s, popcorn and peanuts.  Thankfully we don’t have any peanut allergies!
  2. Make a picture, gluing 100 items on the page using buttons, dry pasta or our favorite, a snowman using 100 mini marshmallows!
  3. Do 100 jumping jacks!
  4. Read for 100 minutes!
  5. Walk for 100 minutes!

What will you do?

5 responses so far

Oct 16 2007

Parents Are Our Children’s Best Teacher

As a nation, we need to do a better job of educating our parents that we are our children’s first and best teacher. After all, we were the ones who taught them how to eat, drink, walk, and respond back to the call of their names.

In my experience as an early childhood education author, advocate and mother of two; I’ve witnessed far too many parents fear “teaching” when they send their child to pre-school. I don’t see that parents fall victim to laziness; rather they fall victim to not knowing the unknown. Parents start to feel that they no longer have the skills and abilities to keep up with the educational standards and techniques to teach their child correctly. And, the higher their child proceeds through the primary grades, the parent becomes less and less involved in the education of their most beloved child.

We need this to stop!

Remember when learning was fun?

One of my most memorable “educational” moments happened in the bowling alley when I was 5 years old. I was with my friend Steve Barnaby and his older sister Laurie. Laurie was taking Spanish in school and decided to teach us how to count to 10 in Spanish.  To this day, I can recite 1-10 in Spanish, without any problems.  Ask me what I retained from a semester in high school and college; my answer…“No Habla Español!” 

Why does my mind retain what I learned in 30 minutes when I was 5?  It’s because I retained the memory of a fun game and the laughter shared. I remember our parents being equally excited and proud of us as well. We felt satisfaction and joy, rather than a bored lesson plan and structured reading assignment.

As a nation, we need to break the myths that our preschool teachers are babysitters and our Kindergarten teacher will teach them to become good students.  The shift in education is apparent as more families choose to home school.  The old stereotype of the isolated home-schooled child is no longer a reality.  Homeschool groups provide unlimited networking opportunities for social and sporting activities; and teachers at home and school are realizing the importance of making learning fun! 

I thank all the homeschool parents who have inspired me to bring a home school mentality to our family. Even though we have opted for a different route, I know I’m my child’s ultimate teacher and I must foster learning anytime of the day wherever we are. 

A teacher leading a lecture at the podium may be appropriate for large core classes in college; but that’s years away from elementary school.

A perfect example of an interactive parent-teacher-student lesson plan is when a teacher invited her students’ home for a day of cooking to end their unit in fractions.  She had parent helpers, permission slips and buses. Undoubtedly, the students retained their understanding of fractions. I know it would have helped me.  To this day, I get a pained look on my face when I think about fractions, one of dread and gloom.  While not all teachers can host children in their homes nationwide, we as parents can introduce fractions while we’re preparing our daily dinners and make learning fun for the whole family.

I challenge our nation’s parents to remain confident in their roles as their child’s first and best teachers. Involving our children in our daily duties and responsibilities can be a fun learning experience for everyone involved.

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Pairing household chores and errands with learning can be both fun and productive.  In what ways do you make learning fun for your child? 

275 responses so far

Oct 05 2007

How to Start a Playgroup

Are you a stay-at-home parent who needs an escape from the daily grind?

You love your life but some days…you just need to release?

If you are not already involved in a playgroup – you need to be! 

I agree with most people who believe the benefit of a playgroup is for children to have social interaction. 

But, having a playgroup for my kids was also a break for me as well.

Whether you’re already involved in a playgroup but feel that you are not connecting with that group, or are interested in starting your own, here are some helpful tips to get your play time scheduled and ready to go:

  1. Set a date.  Once it’s scheduled on the calendar, you committed to making it happen. 
  2. Select a time.  Pick a good time for you and your kids, i.e., mornings before lunch and naptime, seem to be the favorite.
  3. Pick a place.  If you don’t want the fuss and mess at home, go to the park or pick a place with a play area such as the local mall.  
  4. Plan for a healthy snack.  If you are on the go, have something simple for the park or a healthy treat (such as crackers, grapes, baby carrots, celery sticks, etc) at the play area for parents and kids to enjoy.
  5. Invite fun people that you want to come for both you and your kids.   The key to a successful playgroup is surrounding your family with fun people who both you and your child will enjoy.  Decide if you want a big group or a small group and decide if you want to invite people you don’t know as well, such as a friend’s friend.   
  6. Don’t know any fun people?  Go find them.  Meet people at the library, the park, the zoo, or your favorite play land and start a conversation.  Do you enjoy talking to them?  Are your children playing well together?  Are you having fun?  Trust your gut!  If it feels right, make a date to meet with them again.  Invite them to your existing playgroup or start a new one and include this new family. 
  7. Always be on the look out for a new friend.   You can be standing in line at the grocery store or at pre-school registration, since you may never see them again, if your eyes meet, and they seem nice, start a conversation. If it feels right, invite them to your existing playgroup or decide to meet solo and ask yourself, “Does it feel right”? “Do I want to meet again”?  If yes, do it.
  8. Parenthood can be difficult and creating friendships with other parents just makes sense.   If you feel like the isolated family who isn’t having much fun, you need to make the decision to make a change.   Start talking. Even if you are a shy person, when you see your kids making friends on the playground, it’s your job to get to know their parents. If everyone is getting along, try to get together again soon.

Always remember: families that play together—stay together!

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Have you started your own playgroup?  How did you meet your members?  Share your tips for a successful playgroup here!

249 responses so far

Sep 30 2007

Getting Kids to Rise to the Occasion

If two brothers can change the face of aviation, then I can tackle education!! This is my platform. 

I was a mom who was trying to get my own kids ready for school and was shocked at how advanced Kindergarten has become.  Starting the education process in Kindergarten is already too late. We need to empower kids at ages 2-4 to inspire parents and preschool teachers to all work together to be involved in education. 

A generation of children were taught to wear seat belts and they taught their parents and grandparents.  Teach children what they need to know and they will inspire their parents to become vested in education as well.  That’s the key!

A homework assignment for parents everywhere!!! Do these 6 things daily and your children will succeed!

  1. Stop, Drop, and Listen.  Stop what you are doing, drop to their level and listen to your child talk about their day, daily!
  2. Unload the backpack/ homework folder with your kids daily.  Be involved in helping them stay on track for the next day!
  3. Read with your kids every night for 15 minutes.
  4. Play a repetitive game with your kids for 15 minutes.  You could even do 10 pushups and 10 sit-ups as a family!
  5. Ask open ended questions to help your kids learn to communicate effectively. 
  6. Be involved in school activities and join your PTA/PTO!

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Letting children know you care is one of the best ways to help them stay on top of their game.  What’s your favorite way to stay involved?

12 responses so far

Sep 27 2007

On Staying Home…

I loved staying at home with my kids.  I gave notice the same day I dropped my baby off for her first day at a sitter’s home.  She was 5 months old and I cried the entire day.  I had called my husband crying several times that morning and we agreed to meet at noon in a parking lot not far from his office.  We were both in tears.  I told him that I could not let someone else take care of our child; I wanted it to be me.   So we both decided that I would give up my job and I would stay at home. 

I was already working from home, my boss was 3,000 miles away and I would have a conference call with the home office once a week.  The only downfall was the weekly overnight travel schedule.  I was still nursing with not much success pumping.  My heart was not in my existing job; my new passion became our new baby. So I gave notice that day.  My company allowed me to work out my notice around my child’s schedule and our family started to make some changes to our lifestyle for me to be a full-time mommy.  Here are some things that worked for our family:

  1. Crunch the numbers.  In our situation, we were in a higher tax bracket with two salaries, so without my salary, we dropped down to a lesser tax bracket and found most of my salary was going to Uncle Sam rather than in our pocket anyway.
  2. Make sure both of you are on the same page for one of you to stay at home.  Set the ground rules with responsibilities on both sides:  not because one goes to work all day, the other has to do everything else.  That is never a fair arrangement!
  3. Trust your gut.  Being a 24/7 at home parent is hard work.  It’s not for everyone.  Be honest with each other to determine if it is the right decision for your family.  If you decide that working gives you a release and makes you happier, for goodness sakes, don’t let guilt get in the way.  Instead embrace your outside opportunities with the positives and stay focused on the benefits!
  4. Run your household like a corporation: upper management needs to have meetings to discuss human resources, operations, engineering, delegation, maintenance and scheduling. 
  5. Set a schedule.  Plan exercise time, snack time, reading time, playtime, nap/quiet time and clean-up time and act accordingly.  When it’s nap/quiet time you can be starting dinner, folding laundry, reading a book or mediating.  Exercise time means everyone needs to get up and burn calories, walking around the yard, dancing to a favorite tune, doing jumping jacks or hopping on one foot.  Moving is exercise!
  6. Have fun!  They grow up so fast, before you know it they don’t want to take naps cuddled together on the sofa, play puzzles with you or help set the table for dinner. 
  7. Make it a point to have your children get into the habit of welcoming home both parents from work or shopping.  Everyone likes a welcoming committee complete with the sound of running feet after a quick trip to the grocery store or when Daddy comes in from a day at work.
  8. Make your own special rituals.  If my children are awake when Daddy leaves for work, we do group hugs.  My husband and I each put a child in our arms and we all hug together.   A family that hugs together stays together!

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade! 

Are you considering becoming a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM)?  If you’re on the fence, get out the paper and pencil and get busy.  Make a list of pros and cons, crunch the household numbers, and most importantly consider what is really right for both you and your family. 

14 responses so far

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