Saturday, February 27, 2010

203rd Birthday of Henry Longfellow followed by Holi celebrations...

Did you know? It's 203rd Birthday of Longfellow on 27th February 2010. My fav line and even a friend had given me an autographs with words 'Lives of great men...." and the most memoral piece. Many of the lines of Longfellow is so familiar to us and quoted as inspirations, he is the best loved and popular American Poet in the world. Easy to understand, his poems touches our hearts as he had the rhythm and beauty of a song, optimistic vision and extreme faith in goodness of life and living. He was greatly influenced by the book of Washington Irving's 'Sketch Book' apart from 'Don Quixote' which was his favorite read. In Hiawatha, the long poem begins with Gitche Matino, the Great Spirit, commanding his people to live in peace and tells how Hiawatha is born. It ends with the coming of the white man and Hiawatha's death. The publication of 'Hiawatha' caused the greatest excitement. For the first time in American literature, Indian themes gained recognition as sources of imagination, power, and originality. The appeal of 'Hiawatha' for generations of children and young people gives it an enduring place in world literature.

Read more and find Worksheet link on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow page in Literature.

Btw, it's Holi Celebrations on 28-29th.Colours of Love, Colours of Life!

It's Holi Festival on 28-29th February and we fill our lives with the colors – Colors of Love, colors of life. Colors fill our world with beauty. We mix and blend our life with colors in various ways.

What’s Your Favorite color? Check out your own personality with FS cool wise wisdom predictions forecasting your character like your sun signs. So, next time if someone happens to ask you ‘What is your favorite color?’ Be Alert – You are somewhere revealing your own self, exposing your personality and character traits undoubtedly with your color choice.

ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Climate Change

Recently, Polar explorer Paul Rose was in town to attend the climate talk on 'The Global Meltdown - What's really happenning with our Climate" organised by British Council in association with CEE at its auditorium. He mentioned that the world leaders lack climate change leaders but in future, youth from developing nations who have access to internet has opened a world of imagination, encouraging them to come up with innovative change ideas. Humans are responsible and they will have to do what it takes to set things right.

Paul addressed the following issues:

- Can we drastically slow down the human effects on our climate and make sensible, sustainable adaptations to the changes that are happening now?
- Can we reduce our rate of population growth to sustainable levels?
- Can we protect our ecosystems and biodiversity?

With the Climate Change Department, first in the country, we now have the Gujarat Government's State Awareness Campaign on Climate Change. Launched on Tuesday, 23rd february - The Gujarat Ecology Commission under the State Department of Forests and Environment has been made the nodal agency for the campaign. Educating masses and that is the need of the hour (Read in Kidsfreesouls News)

Btw, Gujarat's low lying coastal regions in the Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Khambhat may face erosions as seas have risen. This means, Projects in this regions will need to be planned on the basis of the studies and risk management exercise need to be taken. Human population may be affected by this coastal erosion. I gather, a workshop organised on Climate change by State Forest and Environment Department, Isro and Bisag was held when experts opined their concerns.

Well, here's this week's Earth Talk Questions:

Dear EarthTalk: If the ice caps are melting, what is happening to the salt content of the oceans? And might this contribute to weather patterns or cause other environmental problems? - George Boyer, via e-mail

"The melting of the polar ice caps is sending large amounts of fresh water into the world’s oceans. Many climate scientists fear that if the climate heats up fast enough and melts off the remaining polar ice rapidly, the influx of fresh water could stall out the Gulf Stream and rob the northeastern U.S. and northwestern Europe of their natural heating source, plunging the two continents into a cold snap that could last decades or longer."

Dear EarthTalk: Where do I recycle old ski boots (hard plastic)? My recycling center does not take hard plastic. - Beth Fitzpatrick, Stamford, CT

"Americans recycle more plastic than ever these days, but there are still plenty of items that are not accepted by municipalities, including many hard plastic items like ski boots."

Find In English In Spanish

Wondering what's in for kids here? Well, log on to Kids News section and the news for the day can be read in classroom sessions (many teachers call for news read out in the class) or gather the information in their Project Books.

- ilaxi patel
Kids Newspaper
Author of Guardian of Angels: A practical guide to Joyful Parenting

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Make your child Stress Free - Parent Stress,Kids Stress

Recently, Kidsfreesouls Counsellor Expert Dr.P.V.Vaidyanathan launched the Marathi version of his English book 'Make your Child Stress Free' - The event was held at Crossword Book Store at their Linking Road, Bandra West outlet, at 4.30 pm on Saturday, the 20th of February, 2010. The English version has been published by Ameya Prakashan originally in June 2007 which is now translated into Marathi by Mrs. Ashwini Latkar and released on 20th Feb.

Chief Guest, Priya Dutt graced the event and launched the book. She spoke about her own motherhood, upbringing a two year and four year old children. She felt the importance of balancing work and her family and inspite of being born to celebrity parents (Sunil Dutt and Nargis), she led a simple childhood with nurtured care of her parents. Her father, Sunil Dutt was quite strict, but her mother used to cushion the children from their father's strictness. Priya Dutt lamented how today's life and society has become materialistic, with people only worrying about how to buy a better mobile, a bigger car or a bigger house. This places a burden on the parents which in turn is passed on to the children. She asked parents to prioritise their lives so that they can lead a more balanced life.

Dr. Vaidyanathan narrated his experience while he wrote on Why children feel the stress and what could be the possible solutions to help them grow 'stress free.' He asserted, how things changed in last three or four decades. Pushy parents have led kids to go for more activities. As a result, they are stressed as they do not get enough sleep, enough rest, have irregular meals and are on the edge, running from one class to another. He said, "Parents too are not always around to help children. Children can take pressure from one direction, but not from both sides. Parents, apart from providing the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter should enhance their child's good points and support the bad ones. They should act as a cushion for the children's emotional problems. The desire to acquire more---more of everything-----and where the more is never a destination only a journey, never to be reached, is making both adults and children stressed out. Nowadays, children are forced to develop their own mechanisms of stress release and to combat stress."

Kidsfreesouls Moms Zone has articles for Parents and Teachers. I do feel 'Parents Stress, Kids stress' - Alarming figures are on a rise with internal and external factors responsible for the cause. Multiple complications have arisen for health and psychological well being of not only children but parent too. It is a high alert and need of the hour to think, understand and act.

Grab the copy of Dr. Vaidyanathan's books 'Make your Child Stress Free' (In English and Marathi) and 'Managing The Unmanageable Child' - available on all leading Bookstores and online stores. Find his column here Kidsfreesouls Counsellor Expert Dr.P.V.Vaidyanathan

About the Book: Make Your Child Stress Free by Dr. Vaidyanathan

Is your child suffering from stress? This book is an handbook & guide for parents having children of ages from early childhood to teenage, giving the causes and remedies for stress.

The book highlights the need for parent education. Questions related to identifying if your son / daughter is under stress is handled with ease in the book. The book also discussed how the situation should be handled. The author guides you on how a parent can understand and reduce the stress in a child's life and make him more relaxed and balanced minded.

You can even pick up 'Guardian of Angels' which cover 'Problem Solving' - 'Temperament and Values' chapters that cover up 'thought provoking' articles on parenting.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels: A Practical Guide to Joyful Parenting

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Traffic Congestion

While I recently got an opportunity to talk to Mr. J P Gupta, Transport Commissioner (person behind City Disaster management), he has a vision to work out disaster traffic congestion on Ahmedabad roads. Always concerned and a keen listener, the team is all set up to minimise traffic issues.

Traffic will be a part of school curriculum from next year beginning from class IV as per the Government decision. You can read more on this on Kidsfreesouls earlier news.

With the following Question on Traffic Congestion in US, I think, ideas need to be implemented. Traffic congestion pricing is a good idea as, if the toll is higher, the drivers will cancel the trips which are unnecessary rides. Carpooling is a nice idea too and students can sort for such practices. Even Corporates can provide 'by bus' facility to its employees. A vigil check on teenager rides without licence and most of, three track lanes to be implemented for different 2-3-4 wheelers - a biggest hurdle in creating traffic congestion where everybody wants to overtake the other.

Much more suggestions and if you facing traffic problem in town, do drop in your suggestions too...they're heard!

Children 5-15 years can draw-color to project their Traffic congestion ideas and even be encouraged to point their suggestions in ten simple points.

So, lessons to learn with the answers...Environment Questions for this week:

Short of massive efforts to build a public transportation infrastructure, which doesn’t appear likely anytime soon, what is being done to address traffic congestion, which is reaching absurd levels almost everywhere? - John Daniels, Baltimore, MD

I have a new linoleum floor, which I chose partly for its eco-friendliness. How do I clean and maintain it without using harsh or toxic chemicals? -- A.J. Maimbourg, via e-mail

- In English In Spanish

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

That's what friends are for, In good times, In bad times...

A recent Question popped up in Counselling Section:

"I am a 13 year old boy studying in a reputed school of Mumbai. I have a difficulty making friends and fitting into groups. I don’t talk too much and brag too much like the other popular boys. My parents have always taught me good values and I think I am a good person but looks like no one wants me as their friend. That makes me sad. I don’t know what to do. Can you help me?" (Find the Counselling zone answer here)

Parents are the ones to instill good values but having no friends and not mixing up isn't a good idea either. You can't expect all friends to be good as some may be nasty. Neither, bragging or blowing trumpet is necessary to impress someone. I always feel that's the other way round sometimes. Friendship is natural and it comes along well with positive conversations and mutual interests. It is not forceful neither prolonged if your ideas don't match the other.

I believe,One thing really important for a child is Making connections and parents should encourage children to choose them when they are younger kids. Children do make friends on their own but yet, a parental guiding help can add to his positive friendship :

1. Help the child to be friendly. Simply listening or talking, sharing and appreciating the other and even sharing alikeness - for a video game or a even an activity in class.
2. Help the child to compete - In the sense, master the skills the others have and admire. Be it playing a keyboard or guitar, playing sports or arts.
3. Avoid being negative and impulsive. Listen to the child on what he has to say of his friends rather than stop him and showing your distaste of his friend. He may strong feel of his friend that you don't, maybe.
4. Help the child to solve conflicts. Social skills are necessary as they can learn to settle themselves at times of disputes with others.
5. Don't involve in small arguments of children. If they go physical, take your stand. Let the kids work out on their own.
6. Let the kids practice co-operation and understand feelings of others.
7. Help the kids to share, care and be kind and gentle with friends.
8. Know your child's friends. Invite them for play, birthday celebrations, etc.

This way, a parent can know of how well your child's friends are and also learn from their positive ways to help your child set example. If your child has a bad friendship, it makes you alert to guide.

In friendship groups, you children are apt to have friends with good or bad habits. Parents should always guide on how to handle nasty friends. This necessary do not mean ditching them but either guide them to be better or keep distance.

If your child has no friends, it is a signal to be alert as social skills are lacking and in such situations, he becomes a loner and all work, no play makes Jack always a dull boy!

Check in to Counselling zone and explore for more such answers.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sidney Sheldon - How he met his wife

I have ever been a Sidney Sheldon Die-hard Fan and have almost read and lended books that were never returned! Sid's Books are Interesting Reads that glues from start to finish read. His novels are royal touch that walks one mentally through the series of events that are emotional, sensational, touchy, investigative, gripping. Till the end, Sid keeps mystery and thats the charm of his novels.

In an Interview, he asked a reporter, “Do you know why is it simply impossible to put down a Sidney Sheldon book?” The reporter had many answers on my mind: “Because he is a maestro, a genius...” But before he was able to say anything, Sheldon “revealed the secret”: “It’s because the publisher puts glue on the cover.”

So very true! Born on 17th February 1917 and even died in February, the Author met his wife in a very strange manner. He said, “One stormy night I was in my kitchen and suddenly I heard a noise outside the door. A gorgeous woman was holding a puppy in her arms. The dog was cold and wet, so I wanted to bring the puppy in, and I had to bring Alexandra in, too. And I liked the dog, so I decided to keep them both.”

Hmm...Thank the dog, Alexandra was lucky. Well, we all are lucky some way to meet our mates in some or the other fashion....

Well, Find the Sidney Sheldon Profile page on Kidsfreesouls and explore my Google Buzz too. Enjoy.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels: A practical guide to Joyful Parenting

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's day - explore....

It's only words and words are all I have, to take your heart away.....
Come Valentine and love is all around....

A teenager said today, 'I've nothing to do with the Valentine's day' and it surprized me when most of the teenagers celebrate the day by sharing chocolates, giving away cards and hanging around for pizzas and burgers.

Well, for children and especially teenagers, we have the Valentine theme Projects on Kidsfreesouls. Awareness is one thing that we always need to create and children are no exceptions as today's savvy kids almost knows all.

You can find my Best Valentine Song Pics on my Playlists on You Tube and these are the best everlasting songs that we all love to listen and gift a CD pack to our loved ones. Also find the Valentine pages and it will give an insight to What is Love, What is Crush, stories, myths, flowers and birds....A lot more to explore my one time hobby of writing shayaris and poems too.

For children, find Valentine Projects and download sheet to stick on bedroom wall.

Happy Valentine's Day - Enjoy.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

'Just Like Abraham Lincoln' - Book for kids

Abraham Lincoln was born in a one room log cabin on Nolin creek in Kentucky on 12th February 1809. On November 6, 1860 - Abraham Lincoln is elected as 16th U.S. president and the first Republican.

Here's the review of a book 'Just Like Abraham Lincoln' written and illustrated by Bernard Waber and published by Scholastic (1964). Waber has created a wonderful book that introduces this famous president to young children. He begins his story by introducing a modern-day little boy who has a next door neighbor that looks just like Lincoln. This man not only looks like Lincoln, but he has many of the same likes and habits that our famous president had. Waber has made a connection for our young readers from the familiar to the more abstract.

Threaded throughout his book are well-known facts about President Lincoln: his outdoor pioneer heritage, his love of books, and his occupation before he became president are just a few of these facts included in this book.

As the review reflects on this site, you can conduct a classroom session with the facts, quizzes and resources here. Here's a quick quiz on Lincoln that you would like to conduct in classrooms after you check out the Lincoln Timeline.

Lincoln was shot in the head by John Wilkes Booth while Lincoln watched a play 'Our American Cousin'. He never regained consciousness and died on 15th April 1865.

Well, while you find the Lincoln worksheet interesting as much as I enjoyed doing the quiz, here are easier quick help yourself worksheets for classroom in Grammar Fun section in case you have not visited. And, for February Projects, visit the Projects page. Also find Literature section here on Kidsfreesouls. Enjoy.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels: A practical guide to Joyful Parenting

Sunday, February 07, 2010

BT Brinjal and Env concerns on food thrown away in US.

Bt cotton was the first transgenic crop to be released in India in the year 2002. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Bt cotton. Its performance, impact on the environment, biodiversity and health of cattle has been widely debated.

Now comes BT Brinjal - the genetically modified crops in India with the controversy. If cleared for human consumption, Bt-brinjal will be the first GM vegetable crop approved for cultivation anywhere in the world. However, how safe is it? Controversial debates and decisions yet to be taken, prime concern is health of humans and the food that we eat is almost getting adulterated and harmful. Public health and potential benefit to farmers with pro and anti opinions stirring in with verdict to comeon 10th February.

Well, I read a comment somewhere "we must educate the public never to eat it and will arrange to distribute traditional brinjal plants to save the seeds for next generations through terace cultivation etc where cross polination from bt can be avoided." - thoughtful, eh!

10 States Govternments say 'No' to BT Brinjal and have decided not to allow in their states. I guess, the Gandhian philosophy of 'home made - Swadeshi' is being revived some way.

Well, this week's Environment question related to US :

What are the environmental implications of all the food we throw away here in the United States? - Mike Schiller, Cambridge, MA

"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Loss Project, Americans throw away more than 25 percent -­ some 25.9 million tons -­ of all the food we produce for domestic sale and consumption."

A fisherman friend of mine told me that trout populations in the Interior West of the U.S. are already shrinking due to global warming. Is this true? And what is the long term prognosis for the trout? - Jon Klein, Portsmouth, NH

I wonder, how much Indians worry about the food waste at the major marriage functions with multiple cuisines and the genetically to modify products like BT Brinjal?
How much do we educate our children on food and their eating habits? Rather a concerned topic and almost overlooked!
- ilaxi patel

Newspaper for Kids

Friday, February 05, 2010

Charles Dickens, a journalist

Charles John Huffham Dickens, the famous Novelist was born on 7 February. It might surprise some that he was a Journalist. Charles became a reporter on the Parliamentary newspaper 'True Sun', where his natural talent for reporting and keen observation was first recognized. He taught himself shorthand and, on the Mirror of Parliament, and then the Morning Chronicle, he was soon acknowledged as the best Parliamentary Reporter of the age. Later, he started a daily Newspaper, the 'Daily News' and a weekly Magazine, Household Words.

Each one of us have read Oliver Twist and David Copperfield for Literature Supplements in school. Oliver Twist is the most widely read of all Charles Dickens Reads and this Book has been the second Novel of CD after the Fun and humour of The Pickwick Papers. This book added to reputation of Charles. The story says of a boy's journey from hell to heaven. The end is winning edge `Good over evil'.

Whenever we select Classic books for reads in the class, it is very important to note that the book is well and thorough read. For the February Projects, children can study the characters of Oliver Twist and make profile sketch. A man of tremendous energy, Dickens had spent hours a day walking the London streets from which his characters and scenes came. Kids can list out all Charles Dicken's books and a classroom session / individual child session can be held on which story of Charles Dickens they like the most and why. Here is Sparknotes with Analysis of major Characters in Oliver Twist which might be helpful for the project.

Find February Calendar events and Projects for February. As I add more to Literature in Classics Corner of Kidsfreesouls, stay tuned for Book Kids Read section to find reviews on Charles Dickens Books. Enjoy.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Kids Book Recommendations and more on Books

Books and they are always the windows through which the soul peeps out. I have always been an ardent reader through years as I possess a wonderful Library - Shelves with books on Parenting and Child Care, Fiction & Romance, Management, Children's Books, Spiritual, Cooking, Art & Beauty, Health & Fitness, Music, War & Political ...Endless reading and it's always an ocean of knowledge. "Children who formed the habit of reading at Swagat Children Library are never alone" quips a student's mother whose son stepped to Swagat world and is now a business man. Books have remained his constant companion while travelling too, she says.

Reading workshop every Saturday is a routine at Swagat Children Library . During this time, students are reading self-selected books independently. However, guided, they choose the books from library and it is important to make sure that the same is “just right” level based selection. While students are reading their books, I am conferring with individual students, conducting guided reading groups or strategy lessons, facilitating project ideas, etc. For this reason, it is important that I have clear routines and procedures in place to keep my independent readers on task and truly engaged in their reading.

Keeping Book logs is encouraged where students must record ALL Books they read throughout the year in their Reader’s Log. This reflect on their own reading habits, set monthly reading goals, and also helps to assess their reading progress.

Well, my fix routines of reading books landed me up to amazon books and I started reviewing all books that I have read and can recommend to others. You can find my Amazon Reviews Page on Kidsfreesouls and for now, here is the new page of Kid Book Recommendations.

Every week, I plan to present a book recommendation+review and apart from kid books, I also plan to add books from other categories too. Slow but steady, its always winning a race. If you are a teacher or a parent, help kids to make Reviews Project and encourage them to read books/stories and write reviews to add to the project. An example is Shril's Blog with Story Board. Even send across to kidsfreesouls to place on Kids Reviews Blog (coming soon).

Click to read more on Kidsfreesouls.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids
Author of Guardian of Angels

Monday, February 01, 2010

Mind is a thought factory - We are prisoners of our thoughts

Too many things at a time and you are apt to make mistakes! This happened to me while with the posting of the weekly environment column today. The other day, the whole house was on fire when my hubby misplaced his purse! And maybe, this calls for being more organized and even not losing patience!

Such things occur maybe due to slip of mind and our mind is a storehouse of thoughts. It is in continuous process of thinking - a thought factory which produces ideas. However, sometimes we need to meditate. We are all prisoners of our thoughts. Here is where we need to take a break from the routines, sit and relax. Close our eyes and go blank.

How much of us do this, I wonder. But sure, when children make mistakes, many parents make the mistake of losing patience. While anxiety mounts, the child ends up with fear complex. Mistakes are a part of learning; being aware; being conscious and cautious. There is endless growing gracefully as we cuddle our child with love, fill her world with wonders and above all, step aside and watch her grow with your loving care. Let the steps be small but firm, positive and strong - losing patience to her mistakes is no way to get irritated.

Well, till I get to frame a new Parenting blog note, here is this week's Environment Question and Answers:

What are the primary environmental concerns in the aftermath of the big earthquake in Haiti?- Frank Dover, Portland, OR

We’ve all heard about the abysmal food served in prison, as well as the economical, nutritional and even therapeutic value of growing one’s own food. Are there any agricultural programs or garden projects in U.S. prisons? -- Jerry Mullins, Tennessee Colony, TX

Read the answers in Environment column on Kidsfreesouls : In English In Spanish