Thursday, February 23, 2012

FREE kids seed planting and pot painting day

Can you believe its almost SPRING, which means time for planting seeds and twiddling those green thumbs :) What better way to spring start the season with a FREE event for kids coming up on Sunday, March 11 in Lincoln Square.  Matty K’s is offering a free kids seed planting and pot painting day 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.  NOW is the perfect time to start seeds for spring planting, plus kids can design their own planter pots! The store is located at 4874 N Lincoln Ave (at Ainslie).  Reservations must be made in advance by calling 773-654-1347 or emailing

A family-owned and operated general hardware store, Matty K’s is dedicated to serving all members of the Chicago community. A dedicated kids’ area in the store makes it easy for parents to shop or spend time working with experts in the design center, who are available to help with home projects, painting and more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Of Presidents and so much more

Niño has been learning about the 44 US Presidents at school for the last month or so. And I am astonished by the fact that in just over a month's time, he now knows the name of all 44 by heart along with at least one interesting fact about each one of them, an insatiable desire to learn more and an enthusiasm to share with us everything new that he learns each day. Just before writing this, I just wrote to his music teacher who has been working with them in teaching the president song and sharing very interesting tidbits about all of them, thanking her for the brilliant way she is doing it. The children sing the song which goes like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and so on, complete with actions like they hold up one finger for Washington because he was the first President, they make the White House with their hands for John Adams because he was the first one to stay there, they hold their hand on their heart for a President who died while in office, etc. I tried searching on you tube for the song that they have been learning at school. I couldn't find that one but I did find another very interesting one which I have linked to at the top of the post and which is being thoroughly enjoyed by both the siblings ever since!

Which makes me think how effortlessly such important information is being shared with the children. I mean my jaw literally dropped to the floor when Niño told me that Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the United States during World War II and the participating countries were Japan, Korea, France, Germany and the United States. And Japan attacked US and that's why Truman, the next American President asked for two bombs to be dropped in Japan. My mind immediately raced back to my Grade 9 classroom when I learnt about WW II and the Japan nuclear attacks and how I struggled to memorize the notes that were dictated by our History teacher. While Niño's knowledge is far from complete and may be even inaccurate in places, but at 6 years of age, teaching the children how their present day country was shaped and getting in them the voracious desire to know more is extremely commendable in my eyes. 

He shares several anecdotes like how Abe Lincoln was very lean but so strong that he once lifted a 600 lb load all by himself or that it was during Andrew Jackson was the President during whose term the train was invented. I am so glad to be learning something new almost everyday with him. And at times even ashamed that I don't remember anything about some important events like the Civil War when he talks or asks me more about them. Luckily, while at Target last week, I chanced upon a great pack of US President Flashcards in their Dollar aisle and needless to say they are being devoured like crazy by a very excited little boy who goes over the information on the behind of the pictures and remarks that James Madison shares his own birthday and to everyone's amusement, when a friend of mine playfully asked him a couple of weeks back "Whose birthday is coming up soon?" (referring to Niño's upcoming birthday in March), in all earnest he answered Abraham Lincoln's (which was the next day). 

How I wish I could do something similar for making the kids learn about our Indian Presidents and Prime Ministers. While we composed our own similar song for Indian President and we are through to President No. 4 VV Giri, Niño wanted me to also tell him something about each of them and I couldn't find much information that would interest a child, except for the Teacher's Day information about S. Radhakrishnan. When I put Indian President Song on you tube, what came up was a clip of Obama dancing funny to a hip hop song in Mumbai, India. Pretty promising! However as I write this, I realize that it would be more interesting to teach them about our Prime Ministers because Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi seem more interesting than their Presidential counterparts. Whatever little they learn at this stage is anyways good, I feel :) 

Do you know of some ways you or someone you know have shared this kind of information with their kids? Please do share :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Cutest "Chicks" in Town at Kohl Children's Museum


MARCH 19 - MAY 13, 2012

Children can Experience the Life Cycle of the Rare Black Java and White Java Chicken in Cooperative Exhibit with Garfield Farm Museum in LaFox, IL

Young "peep-le" looking to get a first crack at Spring will delight as the annual "eggs-hibit" Eggs to Chicks returns for its 12th year to Kohl Children's Museum of Greater Chicago, MARCH 19 - MAY 13.

Featuring a special child-height egg incubator, hatchery unit and a pen for newborn chicks, Eggs to Chicks provides a memorable educational opportunity for children. With more than 100 eggs being hatched at the Museum, the delivery and incubation times of the eggs ensure there will always be new chicks hatching any given week for the duration of the exhibit. As the chicks grow, they are delivered to farms in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana to be used for egg production and species repopulation.

The exhibit will feature the rare Black Java and White Java strains of chicken, which were an endangered species less than a decade ago.

To the astonishment of Museum workers and guests alike, 2010's Eggs to Chicks hatched not one, not two, but three Auburn Java chicks, one of the rarest strains in existence. The Auburn Java strain, common in the 1800's, actually disappeared over time, but the recessive gene has remained dormant in the Black Java variety and has only recently been rediscovered. Approximately 300 Auburn Javas are currently known to be in existence.

We had a fun experience at the museum a few weeks back and would love to visit again to watch this exhibit especially since both my kids are now at a stage where they are pretty fascinated by how life begins, how different creatures come into being and the like.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Of Benjamin Franklin and Kissing

If you are finding the title of the post totally bizarre and wondering why the great Benjamin Franklin and kissing are sharing the same space, well let me just give you the exact conversation that took place between me and the kids last night. We were reading How Benjamin Franklin stole the Lightning and getting amazed by the various inventions he made and at the various experiments he did with electricity when we reached this page.

This is the conversation that followed.

Chica: Mom, but is this the right thing to do?

Me: No, it can be very dangerous to hold on to electric wires and do anything.

Chica: No, I mean even without the the electric wire, its not good, no?

Me (a googly when I was least expecting it and haven't lent a thought to by far): You mean kissing?

Chica: Yes, a boy and girl kissing?

Me: Yes it is not at all right for young children because they have very soft skin and lips and they'll get all damaged.   What, I had to say something, right! Thankfully she bought it.

Chica: Only grown ups can kiss?

While I am still thinking about the most appropriate answer, Niño pitches in with his two cents.
Niño: Its not good for grown ups either! Mom and dad don't do it!

Chica: You and dad don't?
Second googly in 20 seconds!

Me: Well one shouldn't do it in front of others for sure!

Niño: (very emphatically) I'll NEVER do it. Its ewwww!

Chica: You and papa can only do it when I and Niño close our eyes?

At which point, totally flummoxed by all the googlies being thrown at me in quick succession, I quickly turn the page and  begin reading the book again.

Well, time to do some thinking, I say! Any ideas?

As for the book, if you think in advance about the questions your children my have about the said page, its brilliant to share it with them! About a rather fascinating personality, it does exactly that - fascinate the reader with the variety of qualities Sir Benjamin Franklin possessed and used. An inventor, printer, publisher, mail man, contributor to America's freedom struggle and the Constitution, one is inspired to be so much more proactive in life. And many of his inventions like bifocal lenses, chairs with stairs to grab books on top shelves, wood grabbers were of such everyday things that kids also understand very easily and think he was one cool man! Plus they also start thinking about what lightning really is and how electricity works! The illustrations are very appealing too.

Another great book about the same man is Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin. This one is very well suited for younger readers too. While the former book goes in some detail about the various experiments he did and how he did them, this book is more of illustrations about the things that we use now, which were inspired by his inventions then - hence the title.