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5 Nutritious Breakfasts for Kids to Start the Day With 5 TIPS FOR GETTING FAMILY FIT

ACTIVE AND HEALTHY Spending Time With Your Kids at the Dinner Table

THE STRESS-FREE WAY TO TEACH YOUR CHILD TO CLEAN HER ROOM 5 Surprisingly Fun and Educational Things to Do with Your Children

Enjoy the Burn 6 Ways to Help Your Child Be More Active FREE ISSUE! Compliments of

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OBESOGENS AND OBESITY

8 TASTY FRUIT DESSERTS Go Out and Play

KIDS AND SEAFOOD

What are Good and Safe Choices? FAMILY PROJECT: SUMMER LEARNING TO KEEP YOUR CHILD’S MIND WORKING

7 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EXERCISE IN THE MORNING TAKE A NATURE WALK RAINY DAY ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN

MINIMAL LIVING


09 INSPIRE SEPTEMBER 2018

CONTENTS OBESOGENS

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What are obesogens?

The number of people who are overweight or obese has grown dramatically over the past few decades.

STRESS FREE

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The Stress-Free Way to Teach Your Chid to Clean Her Room Nobody likes cleaning a messy bedroom, but when a child balks at this chore, it may be more than simple dislike..

FAMILY FIT 16

KIDS AND SEAFOOD

5 Tips for Getting Your Family Fit.

What Are Good and Safe Choices?

MINIMAL LIVING 19

NUTRITIOUS BREAKFASTS 28

Minimal Living

For Kids to Start the Day With

Getting your family fit and active can be difficult if it’s not a lifestyle you’re used to.

If ever there was a movement whose name was a misnomer, it is the movement for ‘minimal living’.

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Seafood is healthy, with all kinds of good lean protein with low saturated fat.

Breakfast sets young and old up for the morning, so eating well first thing gets your day off to a good start.


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EAT DINNER TABLE

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ENJOY THE BURN

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Spending Time With Your Kids as the Dinner Table

Dinner can be a chaotic time for many parents. Often, it’s simply easier to turn on the television, but that’s not really quality family time.

FRUIT DESSERTS 33 Eight Tasty Fruit Desserts

Fruit is tasty and delicious, whether it is a quick snack or as part of a balanced breakfast or lunch.

PAY IT FORWARD 34 How to Pay it Forward Everyday

When we’re fortunate in life, it can often be somewhat of a mixed blessing--we’re thankful, of course, that the pendulum has seemingly swung in our direction, but it often ignites feelings of unworthiness born out of our desire to give back.

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LEADING A GOOD LIFE

INSPIRE

THE FENG SHUI WAY

STAGNANT CAREER? TROUBLED RELATIONSHIPS? FINANCIAL PROBLEMS? HEALTH ISSUES? FENG SHUI MAYBE THE SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS! Introduction Feng Shui is primarily based on the idea that the earth is filled with diverse energies, which bind the universe and man together. Feng Shui literally means wind-water; the two fundamental elements essential for our survival. Healthy flow of wind and water can nurture our body and the surrounding environment. Feng Shui harmonizes human existence with the surrounding environment. When the energy in an environment is not flowing properly, it can lead to disharmony. Feng Shui is a technique, which helps in aligning the energy of space in order to achieve greater efficiency, contentment and wellbeing. Feng Shui is believed to bring good fortune to those who practice it. Evolution of Feng Shui Feng Shui is an ancient science, which was developed in China thousands of years ago. It relied on astronomy to find a connection between humans and the universe.? In the medieval era, many of the Chinese structures including palaces, tombs and graveyards were aligned in a particular direction based on careful examination of land and its formations. They realized that each piece of land manifests its own energy and is subject to various influences from the surroundings. The Chinese wanted to bury their ancestors in the most auspicious manner so that their descendants could lead healthy and prosperous lives. All major cities in China were built by following rules of Feng Shui for design and layout.

Feng Shui Tools & Techniques The tools used in Feng Shui analysis help in identifying the different energies present in vicinity by accessing deep information on the energies. They help in solving all the mysteries of the universe. The most commonly used tools for Feng Shui are the compass and the energy map. The compass helps in accessing deeper information about a site. The energy map helps in building a connection between specific areas of one’s home to specific areas of one’s life. In order to optimize an environment, Feng Shui uses a host of colors and objects which when positioned in the right direction can lead to free flow of energy. Feng Shui & Spirituality Feng Shui is often used to orient spiritual buildings in an auspicious manner; the orientation depending on the energies present. In present times, Feng Shui is being used to strengthen spiritual connection. Ancient sages from various religions and cultural backgrounds assert that one can feel at peace by connecting to the divine source within. However, today people live such busy lives that they seldom take out time for spiritual activities. Feng Shui helps them by providing an environment that supports pursuit of genuine spirituality. Feng Shui & Religion Feng Shui helps bring sacredness into people’s lives. A variety of Feng Shui aids act as powerful healers and invite the energy of the divine into daily life. The use of deities and other icons reminds us to seek the blessings of Heaven. In order to activate one’s home’s spiritual sector, Feng Shui advises placing religious articles in the northeast portion of the house. This direction coincides with spirituality, wisdom and self-growth.

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MINIMAL LIVING

OBESOGENS AND OBESITY

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THE STRESS FREE WAY TO TEACH YOUR CHILD TO CLEAN HER ROOM

5 Tips for Getting Your Family Fit PAGE 11


OBESOGENS

AND OBESITY

The number of people who are overweight or obese has grown dramatically over the past few decades. Some experts blame it on high-calorie convenience foods and technology that makes people move around less. But still, other experts believe there’s more to the obesity epidemic than fast food meals and too many hours spent in front of the computer. They believe that chemicals in the environment called obesogens are a factor. If so, it makes sense to eliminate exposure to these fat-forming chemicals as much as possible. What Are Obesogens? Obesogens are chemicals widely found in food and household products that interfere with hormones, including hormones that control appetite and keep body weight in check. Unfortunately, we live in an

obesogenic environment since these compounds are in foods, beverages, fragrances, the lining of cans at the grocery store and even some prescription medications – and most people aren’t even aware of their existence.

Obesogens cause problems by disrupting hormones like leptin and insulin that control appetite and fat storage and, possibly, by causing inflammation and damage to mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles inside cells. When rodents are exposed to obesogens in utero, it increases the ability of their fat cells to store fat so they’re able to expand and enlarge more. In other cases, it increases the number of fat cells they produce, boosting their risk for being overweight or obese as adults. More fat cells, bigger fat cells, it’s not a healthy situation.

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WHERE YOU FIND OBESOGENS: START WITH THE FOOD YOU EAT

HOUSEHOLD EXPOSURES TO OBESOGENIC COMPOUNDS Food isn’t the only source of chemicals that impact weight gain and obesity. BPA, also known as bisphenol-A, is in the lining of most cans at the grocery store and in some plastic items like water bottles and children’s toys. Another surprising source of BPAs is cash register receipts. Best to tell them to hold the receipt when you check out. It too is a suspected obesogen that triggers insulin resistance in animal studies and causes enlargement of fat cells.

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Unfortunately, obesogenic compounds are all too prevalent. Organic fruits and vegetables may be worth the extra price when you consider that some pesticides disrupt hormones by mimicking the effects of the female hormone estrogen and also by disrupting thyroid function in pregnant animals and their offspring. Even if you buy organic produce, you may still get exposure to obesogenic pesticides when you drink tap water. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges that tap water contains impurities that can alter hormone function. Non-organic meat and dairy is another source of obesogens. Animals raised for food are treated with hormones their size and the amount of milk they can produce. These hormones enter the milk supply and may contribute to obesity. Then there’s high-fructose corn syrup, so prevalent in processed foods at the grocery store. Research shows it alters leptin and insulin levels in animals, thereby increasing appetite and making it easier to store fat.

Do you use non-stick cookware? Non-stick skillets, pots, and pans are lined with perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA also believed to be an endocrine disruptor and obesogen. So it’s not just waffles and pancakes that are making people fat, it’s the cookware they’re prepared in. PFOA is also used on carpeting and mattresses to repel stains and in water-proof clothing. When pregnant mice were exposed to PFOA in utero, they became obese as adults. Think about the number of kids who crawl around on carpeting and put their face and mouth against it. Do you use scented cleaning or beauty products? Most fragranced items contain endocrine disruptors called phthalates that can wreak havoc with hormones. Even the plastic used to shrink wrap food and vinyl shower curtains are a source of phthalates. PAGE 13


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HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM OBESOGENS It’s especially important to avoid obesogenic chemicals when you’re pregnant since exposing a fetus to them can impact their ability to control their weight later on. Here are some tips for reducing exposure to obesogens: Buy fresh, organic produce, meat, and dairy whenever possible. Skip the processed foods and foods packaged in plastic containers, many of which contain high fructose corn syrup and packaging that contains BPA. Carry water in a stainless steel water bottle rather than a plastic one. Eliminate plastic containers from your refrigerator and cabinets. Avoid canned foods. Eliminate non-stick cookware from your kitchen. Spray pans with a light layer of olive oil to keep things from sticking. Read the labels of household and beauty products you buy. Look for ones that are free of phthalates and parabens. Use a mineral-based sunscreen rather than a chemical one. Avoid products with fragrances unless they’re scented with essential oils.

Avoid eating farmed fish. Buy wild-caught fish whenever possible. Since wild salmon is difficult to find fresh, canned salmon, which is usually wild, may be your best choice. If you buy salmon canned, soak it in water before using it since the can contains BPA. Consider adding a water filter to your faucet to reduce pesticides and other chemicals that could affect hormone activity. THE BOTTOM LINE? You don’t have control over everything you’re exposed to, but you can take steps to reduce the number of endocrine disrupting chemicals in your home and diet that may be obesogens. Be aware of what you’re eating and using in your home and keep it as free of synthetic chemicals as possible. Do it for your health – and your waistline.

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5 TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR FAMILY FIT etting your family fit and active can be difficult if it’s not a lifestyle you’re used to. But there is good news! By implementing healthier choices slowly, you can change your entire family’s well-being. Try making these 5 changes within your family:

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1. Create one new habit at a time Trying to change every bad habit at once won’t work well. It will be too much of a shock to your family. Try changing one thing at a time. If you want your kids to watch less TV, start cutting back slowly. If you want to replace unhealthy nightly desserts and snacks with better choices, slowly begin to make the change a few times a week and the increase the number of healthy desserts/snacks as time goes on. 2. Make activity non-negotiable Chances are when you were a kid you were always outside. You went out in the morning and didn’t come home until dinnertime. It didn’t matter if you had one neighborhood friend to play with or ten, you could always find

something to do. Kids these days are very different. They prefer to stay inside cuddled up with their game systems, laptops, and phones. It’s important to remember that as the parent, you make the rules. You can usher your children into the backyard without their electronics. You can walk them to the park. They won’t know what to do with themselves in the beginning, but don’t give up. They’ll soon figure it out. 3. Go for family walks Getting fit as a family means the adults too. Children live what they learn, so get out there with them and be active. Go for nightly walks after dinner. If your family is used to plopping down in front of the TV after dinner, this likely won’t be a welcome change but keep enforcing the new habit and you will all get used to it. Walks are great exercise, especially if your family isn’t used to being active. As time goes, on you might get into more activities to fill your time with. PAGE 16


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4. Encourage sports Physical education class in schools isn’t enough activity for children for the week, so playing a sport is a good idea. Encourage your child to play something that interests him or her. If your child isn’t very athletic, something like cross-country might be a good alternative. This way your child can get into the activity by running, but not necessarily having to play a sport such as hockey or football. It’s important to teach your children that activity is important to their overall well-being. 5. Be an example This is probably the most important part of becoming an active family. You’ve probably noticed that active parents tend to have active children. It was their lifestyle before children and they continued on after they had children. Even if you have never been active before, you can start now and be the example your child needs to get inspired and motivated. You don’t have to be the best athlete to be a role model for your child; you just need to do it. Getting fit as a family doesn’t just benefit your children, it benefits you as parents as well. Most people want to make healthier choices in their lives but never get around to it. Children are the perfect motivation for doing them now rather than putting them off for another day.

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MINIMAL

LIVING

If ever there was a movement whose name was a misnomer, it is the movement for ‘minimal living’. Because, at its heart, the move away from a consumerist, high speed, and ‘stressed out’ life, to one based on those fundamentals of life that make for true happiness, is really maximal living. It is a move towards making the most of all those parts of our lives which truly enrich us, and the family and friends around us. Of course, the ‘minimalism’ of the minimal living movement is used in recognition of the need to tread more lightly, on a world we have abused for so long. It means the pulling in of superfluous wants, back to just our primal needs, giving the planet room to breathe,

and ourselves the space to flower. The minimal living movement is as old as man himself, as minimalism was a necessity of existence when humans were part of the planet’s rich tapestry. But the return to such values has been heralded for as long as the industrial society brutally uprooted us from simpler ways of life. Simple living has been held up as in ideal by figures as diverse as Epicurus, Francis of Assisi, and Gandhi- but in it’s more modern form has developed from concerns about the environment, and the extreme poverty and unhappiness that global capitalism has left in its wake. Today’s minimal living proponents are also looking to simplify their lives, and for a greater freedom in their day to day livelihoods.

The motives for those seeking to adopt a minimalist lifestyle might stem from worries about how our current society is creating misery in many parts of the world, or even risking our children’s very future, but the result of living minimally is to enrich your life. Minimal living can involve a move to work from home, to grow your own vegetables, or to stop taking part in excessive consumerism. It might mean stopping to talk to your neighbors, to enjoy the pleasures of daylight draining away as the sun set, or to relish your children’s laughter, and recognize it as your own. In short, it is to be happy – and to make every simple moment count.

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THE STRESS FREE

WAY TO TEACH YOUR CHILD TO CLEAN HER ROOM

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Nobody likes cleaning a messy bedroom, but when a child balks at this chore, it may be more than simple dislike. From her perspective, the disorganized room looks like impenetrable chaos — her mind is simply overwhelmed. How can a parent help without just doing the chore for her?

The ability to look at a complex task and break it into logical, manageable chunks is a valuable life skill. Your child wants to learn, and the experience can be a positive one if she has your support. Draw her attention to one task at a time, and help her focus on it until it’s done. Give this a try. • Go into your child’s room with her. • Give her a hug and say that you’re going to teach her an easier way to clean. • If you have storage bins for each type of toy, set them in the middle of the room. • Tell her to throw all the stuffed animals in one bin. Some children really enjoy the idea of literally tossing the toys into their designated box, which makes the chore more like a game. • Direct her to place (or throw!) her dirty clothes into the hamper. • Continue pointing out one mini-job at a time until all the clutter is organized. • Finally, direct her toward any remaining tasks, such as making her bed or vacuuming.

The next few times your child cleans her room she will probably still need your assistance, but she may feel ready to select her own tasks. You will be there to offer encouragement and to help her get unstuck, should she begin to feel overwhelmed. With your guidance, she can learn to handle organizational challenges with more confidence and less stress.

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EIGHT TASTY FRUIT DESSERTS 5 NUTRITIOUS BREAKFASTS FOR KIDS TO START THE DAY WITH

KIDS AND SEAFOOD: WHAT ARE GOOD AND SAFE CHOICES?

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Spending Time With Your Kids at the Dinner Table PAGE 23


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Kids and Seafood

What Are Good and Safe Choices?

How to Feed The Kids Fish without a Side of Mercury You want to give your children safe and healthy food, naturally. Seafood is healthy, with all kinds of good lean protein with low saturated fat. Fish also has minerals and vitamins like iron and zinc, Vitamins A, B, and D. And then you keep hearing about those nice omega-3 fatty acids, which can enhance brain development and help your kids’ behavior, vision and learning. So, why not feed your children seafood all the time? Like with any other food, moderation is key to good health; however, with seafood, there are other issues to consider.

Contaminants like PCB’s and mercury have made some fish very dangerous for children’s growing bodies. Also, over-fishing and wasteful fishing practices are making some types of fish socially irresponsible to serve, not to mention closer to extinction. The Atlantic Cod was once plentiful and now is so severely depleted that it is almost impossible to find. So what is a responsible parent to do? Here are some facts you should know before making dinner tonight. Mercury and PCBs Mercury does occur naturally in the environment, but usually in

very low doses. Mercury is also the by-product of industry and coal-fired power plants, and in those cases, the levels of the pollutants can be quite hefty. The problem with mercury is that when it goes up in smoke from factories and electric plants, it mingles with moisture in the air and then falls to earth as rain. Mercury then enters the water system, flowing into rivers and lakes, where fish live. Here’s where it gets even worse. Bacteria in the water change the mercury into its lethal cousin, methyl mercury. Fish eat and absorb the methyl mercury when they feed on small aquatic creatures that feed on the bacteria and in turn the mercury.

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Mercury has been shown to have detrimental effects on the central nervous system, the kidneys, and immune systems. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that ” Mercury in all of its forms is toxic to the fetus and children, and efforts should be made to reduce exposure to the extent possible to pregnant women and children as well as the general population.” (Pediatrics2001). Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) were developed to be lubricants and insulators for electrical equipment. The Environmental Protection Agency banned them in 1977 as carcinogens. However, PCBs don’t break down, so once they enter a waterway, they are there forever. PCBs accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals, so fish with higher levels of fat tend to have PCB contamination. The highest levels of PCBs have been found in bluefish, wild striped bass, and Atlantic salmon (especially the farmed raised variety), but keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration has not even gotten around to testing many types of fish and shellfish. You can cut down on possible PCBs in your fish by trimming the fat or broiling the fish and allowing the drippings to fall through a rack. Do not use the drippings to make sauces.

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In order to guarantee fish for the future, we as consumers must make our wallets speak out for sustainable fishing practices. Recently, researchers have reported that two-thirds of all commercial seafood is being over-fished. One study showed that 90% of all fish stocks are depleted. (NatureMay 2003) Commercial fishing is also wasteful. Remember why we have the “dolphin-safe” logo on cans of tuna? Many species of fish are caught up in nets that are thrown back, but by the time they are released, they are already dead. Some fisheries report that almost a quarter of the fish they catch are tossed back. Furthermore, some fishing practices, such as dredging, in which a huge weighted net is dragged across the ocean floor, pull up coral and anything else that makes its home at the bottom of the ocean. PAGE 25


1. Wild Pacific Salmon Look for the Coho and Pink varieties. It can also be called chum. You can find it fresh or frozen. You can also use the canned salmon. Canned salmon is usually an easy substitution for canned tuna, which is high in mercury.

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WHAT FISH ARE SAFE AND RESPONSIBLY CAUGHT?

Avoid chinook or king salmon, as well as sockeye salmon. These have elevated PCB levels. Also, do not use Atlantic salmon, which is usually farmed. Atlantic salmon has very high levels of toxins, and the farms have additional issues with pollution. 2. Tilapia Tilapia is a light, mild fish that can be used in any recipe that calls for fish fillets. Always buy fresh fillets, as most frozen fillets come from China, where pollution is a problem. Tilapia is almost always farm-raised, so it is important to make sure you know where the farms are located. US tilapia farms operate according to strict standards, as do farms in Ecuador and other Latin American countries. Also, Tilapia is a safe choice as tilapia are vegetarians. Most fish that have problems with higher levels of toxins are larger species that feed on smaller fish. Tilapia avoids this problem by feeding on seaweed and algae. 3. Northern US and Canadian Shrimp Shrimp is the most popular seafood choice in the US, but it is important to choose shrimp from either Canadian waters or US farms. You can also be safe with Oregon shrimp, which is also called cocktail or ocean shrimp. Everyone thinks Gulf shrimp when they think of shrimp, but trawling practices are not only destroying the Gulf of Mexico’s floor, but also depleting the shrimp stocks there. US farms are popping up, and they are following safe and sustainable practices that are much better than farms in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where regulations are virtually non-existent.

4. US Farmed Crayfish Also known as crawfish, crawdad, or freshwater lobster, crayfish look like little lobsters, and they have a sweet taste that substitute well for lobster or shrimp. Crayfish are farmed in Louisiana, so obviously if you live in the Southeastern US, they are easier to come by, but several companies offer frozen and fresh crayfish that you can order and have delivered to your home. If you get them fresh, make sure that you are buying them alive, much like lobster. 5. Farmed Bay Scallops and Blue Mussels Bay scallops are small and sweet, so kids tend to like them. You can find them year-round frozen, or you can buy them fresh in the early spring. Blue mussels may not seem like a kid-favorite, but they can be a great substitution for clams or oysters in pasta dishes. You can get mussels canned, frozen, pre-shucked or fresh. If buying them fresh, remember to look for the shells to be closed. Once the shell opens, the mussel is dead. Steamed mussels can be quite an adventure for older kids. Obviously, there are many other types of fish out there that can be served to your children, but as previously stated, the FDA has not tested many species of fish and shellfish. A good website to check out is the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. The Aquarium has extensive listings of all varieties of fish and shellfish, how it’s caught, and if it is considered safe and environmentally friendly. To avoid food allergies, pediatricians recommend waiting until age 3 before introducing your children to shellfish. Also, you should limit seafood to once a week. The recommended portion size is 3 ounces for kids less than 32 pounds, and 4.5 ounces for older kids up to 67 pounds in weight. PAGE 26


5 NUTRITIOUS BREAKFASTS

FOR KIDS TO START THE DAY WITH They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast sets young and old up for the morning, so eating well first thing gets your day off to a good start. If your kids leave the house having the same breakfast most days, it might be time to mix things up for them in the morning. Varying children’s meals helps to boost their nutritional intake and keeps their interest, so you’re less likely to encounter resistance to eating. Why not try the following five breakfast suggestions that are both healthy and appealing? Porridge

Breakfast Sundae

Sadly, there’s no ice cream involved, but your kids should still enjoy this healthier alternative to an ice cream sundae. All you need to do is layer fruits of your choice with seeds, natural yogurt, and oats. Greek yogurt not only makes for a creamier breakfast, but its higher protein content will help keep your youngsters fuller for longer. Seeds are also packed with essential fatty acids, which play a crucial role in brain function.

Although your kids might pull a face when you offer them porridge, you can’t beat oats for breakfast. Oats have a low glycemic index, so they release their energy slower than popular cereals like cornflakes and branflakes, helping to keep your children going all morning. Traditionally, porridge was made with water, but use milk to up your youngsters’ calcium intake. Just watch what you let your kids add to their oatmeal though, as sugar, jam, and syrup can lead to blood sugar spikes. Instead, serve porridge with fruit. Sliced banana and blueberries is a nice combination, while raisins will appeal if your little ones have a sweet tooth.

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Eggs are another good source of protein, as well as vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and folate, and the minerals iron and selenium. Besides simply seasoning your scrambled eggs, stir fry diced peppers, zucchini and tomatoes to add a splash of color and flavor. The vitamin C in these vegetables will also help your body to absorb iron more effectively. Serve these scrambled eggs on granary toast to keep your kids going till lunchtime. Pancakes Whether you have a tot or a teen, the chances are they love pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes get a bad rap though, as a plateful of pancakes loaded with maple syrup is probably an excessive breakfast for most people and gives a huge sugar rush. However, stick to one or two pancakes and concentrate on serving them with healthy toppings. For instance, whizz up a berry purĂŠe, grill peach slices or stew apples

and serve with a dollop of fat-free natural yogurt and a sprinkling of cinnamon or ginger. Alternatively, serve pancakes with nut butter and sliced banana. If your kids prefer a savory option, grill turkey rashers, tomato and mushroom as a healthier choice to streaky bacon Top toast toppers Toast will give your little ones the energy they need to start the day and a dose of B vitamins. However, on its own, toast isn’t that filling, as it provides carbohydrate and little else. Make toast a bigger event by topping it with mashed avocado and sliced hardboiled egg, or cream cheese and berries. Alternatively, make a healthy chocolate spread using canned chickpeas, cocoa powder and orange juice blended together, which is lower in sugar and higher in protein and fiber than Nutella. These are five breakfast suggestions just to give you a start. What other nutritious breakfast ideas can you come up with for your kids?

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Scrambled eggs with a difference

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EAT

Spending Time

WITH YOUR KIDS AT THE DINNER TABLE Dinner can be a chaotic time for many parents. Often, it’s simply easier to turn on the television, but that’s not really quality family time. As an alternative, turn off the television, call everyone to the table, and have a real meal. With a little effort, dinner can be a time to look forward to, rather than simply a boring ritual. Dinner Teams Those parents who prepare dinner alone are missing out on valuable time with their children. Instead of having everyone scattered while one parent prepares supper, try turning meal preparation into a team event. Younger children can set the table, while slightly older children can easily prepare a salad. Teenagers can do almost everything an adult can do. Giving everyone a task will speed things along, and give everyone a chance to share little tidbits about their day. Kid-Friendly Meals Let the children make up the dining table. Use no-iron napkins, and let the kids decide what kind of centerpiece to use. If they just want a paper flower or even a favorite toy as a centerpiece, let them have it. And remember to be a little flexible when it comes to where you dine. If your child wants to eat at the patio table, or even have a picnic on the lawn, indulge them if you can, weather permitting, of course.

Take Your Time Don’t let dinner become an eat-and-run event in your household. Dinner should take at least thirty minutes. This way, not only does everyone get the chance to sit still and talk to each other, but there’s some respect shown to the cook. If someone can take the time to prepare a meal, then the rest of the family should be able to sit still and appreciate the meal. For very young children, try giving them toys in the high chair, or placing them in a playpen beside the table. Don’t let them wander off, but impress upon them the importance of meal times. Dinner Music Play some quiet music in the background while you eat. To be fair, assign everyone a specific dinner and let them pick the music. But don’t let them turn it up too loud. The point of dinner is to be able to have a conversation. Make sure your family spends dinnertime together. This will give everyone a chance to express their thoughts and feelings, and catch up on the affairs of the day. Give everyone, and especially, every child, a chance to speak and to be the center of attention, and dinner will quickly become an event to look forward to in your home.

Routine Try to have dinner at the same time every night, no matter what. If there are occasions where dinner must be later, perhaps because of an extracurricular activity, then plan that out ahead of time. If possible, serve a portion of the meal before you leave, or even in the car. Call this an ‘appetizer’ and younger children will certainly feel special.

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EIGHT Tasty FRUIT DESSERTS Fruit is tasty and delicious, whether it is a quick snack or as part of a balanced breakfast or lunch. But there’s nothing better than using some of your favorite fruit to create some yummy fruit desserts. Forget about apple and peach cobbler when you taste some of these quick and easy desserts that include some of your favorite fruits. Here are eight top ideas that you’ll want to taste as soon as possible. Fresh Berry Shortcake A very traditional dessert, it can be modified with the addition of a fresh biscuit, or mademore traditionally like strawberry shortcake. Stuffed with sweetened berries, a touch of cinnamon or syrup adds an extra burst of flavor. For maximum flavor, you’ll want to ensure your berries are in season. Quick Strawberry Cake A true southern recipe, this cake can be whipped up in a jiffy if you substitute white cake mix for any homemade cake made from

scratch. This cake is truly perfect for any occasion, be it a baby shower or just sitting down for family dinner. Lemon-Blackberry Cake Made with blackberry jam and then coated with lemon buttercream. A coffee cake can also be made using frozen or fresh blackberries, which creates a rich cake that is both moist and buttery from the mixture of buttercream and buttermilk. Coconut Custard Pie If you want a fruity dessert that has a more tropical taste, then this recipe is right up your alley. To make this recipe a bit more homemade, you can make your own flaky pie crust which makes this recipe feel a little bit more at home. Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Another southern delicacy using strawberries and rhubarbs, this is an unusual mix that is actually quite delicious. This pie has everything you need in one slice:

fruits, veggies, and fiber, too. If you want to make this pie a little more fun, pastry cutters add a little touch. Fried Apricot Turnovers Little pies that can also double as a breakfast treat, these turnovers are a spin on the traditional fruit turnovers as it utilizes apricots. Spoons and forks are not a requirement: these treats can be eaten on the go. Raspberry Spoon Fruit If you’re making cupcakes, you can add a fruity twist with raspberries. A large spoonful of raspberry filling along with whipped cream or a topping of your choice creates a dessert that is easy to make that you can revisit over and over. Orange Meringue Pie Changing up the age-old lemon meringue pie, Orange Meringue Pie is made with orange zest and orange juice concentrate. Add in fresh orange wedges and you can completely change up the texture of this age-old recipe.

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HOW TO PAY IT FORWARD EVERYDAY When we’re fortunate in life, it can often be somewhat of a mixed blessing-we’re thankful, of course, that the pendulum has seemingly swung in our direction, but it often ignites feelings of unworthiness born out of our desire to give back. How can I do the same for others? Do I deserve good things in life when some people are much less fortunate? What if I have nothing to offer? If you’re feeling this way, know that it’s pretty common. If when receiving good fortune your mind automatically drifts to the well-being of others before yourself, you’re on the right track. The truth is, we all have something to give and even the little things we can do for others will go a long way. Paying it forward is about making the lives of others just a little bit better, and sometimes all that takes is a kind word or gesture--for others, it’s much more. Whatever it is you can do, do it.

INSPIRE

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ways you can pay it forward, but most of them can be broken down into four categories: donating, volunteering, being courteous and random acts of kindness.

Random Acts of Kindness Not everything in life can be calculated and planned--we know by now to expect the unexpected. But just as we don’t know what the day will bring, we also don’t know how or when we’ll be able to offer a helping hand. Opportunities present themselves all the time, however, and there is never a shortage of things we can do to make life a little easier for others--when you find a way to make someone’s day better, it’s important to act on it. Simple things, like giving a homeless person spare change or tipping a street performer, can not only help them out, but make them feel worthy and included. If you’re paying for food at a drive-thru, offer to pay for the car behind you, too. Similarly, if you’re in a restaurant and you see a young couple dining with their children, offer to pay their bill anonymously. These acts of kindness are spontaneous but also selfless--you know the recipients won’t get an opportunity to thank you, but it’s not about the thanks, it’s simply about helping others. Even if you don’t have money to offer, lending an ear or offering support or inspiration to someone in need can lead to a shift in perspective for both you and them. Offer whatever you have, because we all have something to give. PAGE 34


Donate While not random, it’s certainly a generous act of kindness. Offering others some of what we have is selfless and, by extension, inclusive--it’s a thoughtful gesture and one that doesn’t go unnoticed. If you’re like most of us, you probably have a lot to give when you really take a look at things. Clothing that no longer fits but is still in good condition can be donated back to the community in a number of ways: through Goodwill, for example, or places like Value Village, in which those donated clothes create a source of revenue for non-profits. Besides clothing, almost anything can be donated somewhere and there is always someone who can benefit. Donations of money also go a long way, especially when it goes back into your own community and you have the chance to see the difference if makes. There are thousands of charities, though, and doing your research for a worthy cause will help you find one that speaks to you. If you’re one who’d prefer not give money and instead donate what is being asked for, food banks generally have a list of their most desired items. A quick trip to the grocery store can result in mouths being fed and prevent children from going to bed hungry. Finally, if you really want to give a part of yourself, donating blood is always necessary. Your blood, especially if it’s a rare type, can genuinely be the difference between life or death for those in need.

Volunteer Volunteering is essentially donating, but instead of a monetary value, it’s your time--your time, however, can sometimes be even more valuable than money. Because non-profit charities don’t keep any money for themselves, paying workers is out of the question. That’s when volunteers step in. Doing your part and asking

for nothing in return helps others receive the things they need. Be it helping at a food bank to ensure families have access to good food, to working a fundraiser to raise money for a special cause, volunteers are the backbone of each non-profit organization and the ones who get the work done. Most volunteers don’t need any prior experience, either--almost anyone can do their part. Generally, organizations love to have as many feet on the ground as possible and each extra pair counts. If you do happen to have a special skill, offer your services pro bono. If you’re have a trades job, donating your time and services can help immensely. While most organizations could use a helping hand in this area, they tend to go without if it means the money spent on wages can instead go to a family or individual in need. It doesn’t have to be your profession, either--if you’re an amateur musician but know of a fundraising concert or event, offer to play for free; if you have knowledge in graphic design, offering to help create a logo or poster for a charity can really make all the difference in raising awareness.

Be Courteous Paying it forward doesn’t require that you have any physical thing to give. Thankfully, we know just how much a kind gesture is worth, and the amount of times we can offer it is limitless. Being polite and courteous in your day-to-day life is something that benefits everyone, especially when we take into account how careless some people can be. Simple, everyday things, like holding the door for others, letting drivers merge into traffic or helping someone carry their groceries can renew their faith in the common man. Many of us encounter the person who lets the door swing closed behind them or prevents a driver from merging if they think it will get them where their

going quicker, and it can slowly chip away at our positive view of the world. Doing your part to be an upstanding citizen can make other’s lives a little better and hopefully help them see how small actions can create big change. Being courteous, polite and accommodating doesn’t cost a thing but its ability to create good is undeniably valuable. We all have the capacity for good and the ability to pay it forward. Though we’ve been told these acts are selfless, we really do get something out of the experience--it can be fun and fulfilling and it’s something you’ll find yourself doing more and more. The positivity it creates in ourselves and in others is a feeling that can’t be bought, try as some might. It’s unique and something that helps us feel connected and shows just how impactful we can be when we decide to be. You may not always get the chance to see the change you make, though. Everyone is fighting their own battle and a small gesture might change someone’s life in a way you won’t quite comprehend. But just because you can’t see the difference you make doesn’t meant you shouldn’t do it; it’s important to do every day. Pay it forward simply because you can-you never know who might need it.

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6 WAYS TO HELP YOUR CHILD BE MORE ACTIVE

7 Reasons Why You Should Exercise in the Morning

ENJOY THE BURN: TEN FUN, EASY WAYS TO BURN 100 CALORIES

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FAMILY PROJECT: SUMMER LEARNING TO KEEP YOUR CHILD'S MIND WORKING PAGE 37


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Family Project: Summer Learning to Keep Your Child’s Mind Working

Children look forward to summer vacation with good reason. Summer brings warmth, fun and most importantly, no homework. However, during those summer months, children can lose some of the academic progress they have made in the prior school year. Developing a balanced at home program for review and the introduction of concepts upcoming in the new school year will keep your child’s mind fresh and relieve anxiety when they return to school. Develop the program with your child. Depending on their age, they may be able to contribute more than you expect to the process and enjoy doing it with you. First, print out a calendar which shows their last day of school from the preceding academic year and their first day of school for the upcoming year. It is helpful to first fill in the calendar with as many “fun” things planned as possible. This will get your child excited about the summer. For example, if you have scheduled a week long family vacation to the beach, have your child write those vacation days on the appropriate dates on the calendar. If an important family member is coming out for a visit, have them identify those days as well. Not only will this remind them of their fun plans

for the summer, it will also serve as an easy ongoing response to their sometimes pesky and repeated questions throughout the summer about how long it will be before these events occur. Next, schedule a “break” in school work for a time period after the former school year ends. It can be a few days or an entire week, depending on your child and any planned vacation schedules. Talk to your child about what is means to “take a break” and ask them how many days they think should be part of this break. Once your child has marked off the days of break, vacation and other fun, ask your child how they felt about the prior school year. What was their favorite subject? What subject was hardest? What do they think they need to work on to improve for the next school year? You may be surprised at their insight. You may also provide your child with some direction regarding areas where they might improve. It is important to make sure your child does not view the summer work as a form of punishment, but as a form of help and fun. PAGE 38


Once you and your child have identified issues to focus on, determine whether these issues are best addressed with busy work or a more involved project. For example, if your child struggles with multiplication math facts, there are very few projects that will supplant worksheets or flash cards to help them improve. If they struggle with reading comprehension, you might add a project to the schedule that involves summer reading, over and above your school district’s summer reading program. For example, perhaps you and your family enjoy going to a particular ice cream store during the summer. Schedule time to go to the library with your child and find a book or two they can read about ice cream. Then, schedule reading time and reflection time. If your child has difficulty writing, or enjoys writing, this can be an opportunity for a book report. Try to avoid “book report forms” that they see in school.

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Suggest they write a pretend newspaper article or even a letter to their grandparents, telling them about what they have learned. If grandparents are coming to visit in July, you might direct your child to a topic or book that they can read and discuss with grandma and grandpa during their visit. Planning a vacation? Have your child choose a book about the vacation destination as a reading topic before you go. Avoid writing designated start/ finish times or rigid time parameters during the day for academic work. Instead, talk to your child about what time of day they think it would be best to dedicate to learning. Parent work schedules, summer activities and vacations can all be taken into account. For practical purposes, you may find yourselves using a designated time for learning, but writing it down can add pressure to your child and lead them to dread the work they will be doing. PAGE 39


Using at least three days a week, schedule different subjects to address. For projects, you may designate more than one day. There are a variety of flashcards, worksheets and project ideas available online.

THERE ARE EVEN INTERACTIVE WEBSITES THAT ARE SAFE AND CHILD FRIENDLY WHICH CAN BE USED TO PROMOTE NOT ONLY LEARNING, BUT COMPUTER EDUCATION. Organize any printed materials in colorful folders for your child by subject. Do not place all the work for the entire summer in the folder. Rather, each week, print out the materials for each subject. When the time comes for your child to perform the work in the folder, take out the folder with your child and remove the assignment for them to complete. Once they have completed it, sit down and review their work with them and address any issues. You might have them cross off the day’s work on the calendar you created. Most importantly, stick to the schedule when possible. You may be surprised at how many idle days are eaten up during the summer. By mixing activities with worksheets or flashcards, you can keep your child interested in learning throughout the summer and ready for the upcoming school year.

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7 REASONS

WHY YOU SHOULD EXERCISE IN THE MORNING Everybody needs exercise. Whether you’re trying to gain weight, lose it or build muscle, exercise is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. But when is the best time to exercise? Most people have a hard time exercising after a hard day at work and some don’t even have the urge to exercise in the first place. The best time to exercise is in the early morning. Here are seven reasons why. Hormonal advantage In the early morning, your hormones (like testosterone) are at their peak. Exercising in the early morning allows you to better tap into your hormones compared to later in the day when your hormones are settling down. With your hormones peaking, you’ll also have an easier time building muscle mass.

making exercise feel more like a chore. Getting your workout done in the morning frees your mind of the worry of needing to exercise later on. Burn more fat Morning exercise can burn 20% more fat if you work out before eating breakfast. This is of course especially useful if you’re trying to lose weight. After working out, remember to refuel. It’s never a good idea to starve yourself after finishing a grueling morning routine. Not eating until lunch can also cause you to overeat, which is counter-intuitive if you’re trying to lose weight.

Easier to turn into a routine You’re less likely to skip your work out if you make it a part of your daily routine. There are less distractions in the early morning. There are more distractions in the afternoon and evening, ranging from friends, to family, to your computer, and television. Later in the day, you’ll also feel much more fatigued and less motivated, PAGE 42


Improves metabolism Working out in the morning will increase your metabolic rate. This allows you to burn more calories for the rest of the day. This, however, is largely dependent on the type of workout you want to go with. Still, if you’re trying to lose weight the improved metabolism will work wonders for you. Easier to focus Working out in the morning means that you have other things to do after your routine. This usually means either work or school. Knowing that you have to be somewhere important in a few hours can translate to an increase in focus. Exercising in the morning will also help you start your day with a bit more energy. This energy can then be used to improve focus and productivity at work or school. Improves your mood Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that make you feel good. Working out in the morning can also fill you with a feeling of accomplishment, which can help you feel better for the rest of the day. You’re also less likely to feel stress after a good workout. Can improve your social life Exercising in the morning frees up your schedule for the rest of the day. You don’t have to worry about missing out on your routine if your friends invite you for a drink, because you’ve already finished said routine.

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If you’re struggling with exercise, then trying to establish a morning workout routine just might be what you need. Most people struggle with exercise not because they lack motivation but because they just don’t have the time. Morning exercises are great because there are fewer distractions in the morning and because your mind and body are more geared for activity. Your hormones are also at their peak, giving you a boost in strength and improving your metabolism. PAGE 43


6 WAYS

TO HELP YOUR CHILD BE MORE ACTIVE Limit your child’s television and computer time Set limits on the time your child can be on the computer or watching television. Encourage him to spend the remainder of his time outdoors. If it’s safe, let your child walk home If you live in a safe area and your child is old enough, allow him to walk home from school. If you’re worried about his safety, organize a group of children to walk home together each day led by a different parent each week.

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Encourage your child to participate in school sports Sports participation is a great way for your child to get regular exercise as well as build self-esteem. The skills and team values he builds as a child can be of great benefit to him later in life.

Give your child errands to be done on foot Do you live near a grocery store, shopping center or Childhood obesity has become a significant problem in post office? If your child is old enough and responsible, our country as more kids spend their free time engaged give him the job of walking to the grocery store or post in sedentary pastimes. Unfortunately, many kids would office for you on a regular basis. This teaches your child rather watch T.V. or play video games than pursue outa sense of responsibility plus gives him a chance to get door fitness activities. Is there a way to overcome this out of the house and exercise. problem of child inactivity? Here are some suggestions for helping your child be more active: As you can see, there are a variety of ways to encourage your child to be more physically active. It’s a great Lead by example way to promote positive health. If you want your child to be more active, it’s important to set a good example. Be sure to incorporate physical exercise into your daily routine and invite your child to come along. A 30 minute after dinner walk with family can be just what a child needs to discover how much fun physical activity can be. Other exercise options for you to explore with your child include bike riding, swimming, roller skating, and ice skating. Try several of these activities so your child is exposed to a variety of physical challenges. Enroll your child in a class Encourage your child to be active by enrolling him in a class that promotes a physical skill such as martial arts, swimming, tennis, ice skating, or gymnastics. Who knows you may end up with the next Olympic hopeful on your hands!

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Enjoy the Burn

TEN FUN, EASY WAYS TO BURN 100 CALORIES Working out at the gym isn’t the only way to burn those extra pounds. We all have those days when going to the gym feels like drudgery. Ridding yourself of those extra calories can be fun, too. Burn just 100 calories and you’ve just lost the piece of cheese, extra cookie, half-cup of sherbet or chips and salsa you devoured. Consider these 10 quick and fun ways to burn 100 calories. Keep in mind, the number of minutes are approximate and will vary based on your weight. • Make calorie-burning a family affair. Play hide and seek or tag with your children for 20 minutes. You’re never too old to play. • The next time someone tells you to “Go fly a kite,” go fly one for 20 minutes; you’ll burn 100 calories. • Let the child within come back to life. Remember the hula hoop? Twelve minutes of gyrations and you’re good to go. • Watch a good comedy that provokes laughter for 35 minutes. • Instead of a good belly laugh, indulge in a belly dancing class for 20 minutes. • Sports are about more than competition. Shooting hoops or playing kickball or soccer will dissolve 100 calories in 20 minutes. Go bowling, play miniature golf or throw a Frisbee for 30 minutes. • Clean the house. Okay, …it may not be fun; but isn’t the vacuuming and dusting more inviting if you know you’re burning all these calories in just 30 minutes?

• Put on the music and sing for 50 minutes. • Start the music and dance for 25 minutes. Of course, the number of calories will vary a bit depending on whether you’re a rock and roller or a slow waltzer. • Kind of like sex, the variance of the time reported to burn 100 calories is astonishing—from 20 to 43 minutes. Again, the more you put into it, the more calories you burn; so don’t just lie there.

Do any of the activities for twice as long and burn twice as many calories, or mix several of them up for a fun-filled calorie-burning afternoon. Making it fun means you are more likely to do it. So go ahead; enjoy the burn.

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TAKE A NATURE WALK WITH YOUR CHILDREN

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GO OUT AND PLAY Rainy Day Activities for Your Children 5 SURPRISINGLY FUN AND EDUCATIONAL THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR CHILDREN PAGE 49


5 SURPRISINGLY Spending time with your kids can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. You want them to grow up well rounded and to have every possible advantage you can give them, but at the same time you want them to know how to have fun. Here are some games you can play with your kids that are fun to play and they can’t help but to learn a little bit at the same time.

FUN AND EDUCATIONAL THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR CHILDREN

1. Scavenger Hunt A scavenger hunt isn’t a new idea. People have been doing them at camps and family gatherings for decades. Sometimes an old idea is still a good idea. The concept is simple. Just make a list of items around the house or yard that your child can find. Then set them loose to look for them. Make clear boundaries so they know where they can search, though.

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You wouldn’t want them running across the street to find the ball that’s just sitting in their room. This game teaches children to observe the world around them and discover new things. You can also change the difficulty in a few ways. You can set a time limit on the hunt if you’d like and then see how many items your child found before the clock ran out. This can give them time management skills as well. The game can also become more imaginative. PAGE 50


Try telling your children to find something that can be rolled, instead of telling them to find a ball. This way they have to think for themselves a little bit more, and you’ll be delighted to see what things they come up with and why. Scavenger hunts can be done with one child or with many. They can be teamed up or play individual. Just tweak the idea until it fits your own situation. 2. Riddles and Puzzles Children love to see things differently. It’s fascinating to them to find out that things aren’t always set in stone and straight foreword. This is why a lot of kids enjoy doing puzzles and solving riddles. Puzzles can be as simple as jigsaw puzzle, or a more complex brain teaser. Find a puzzle that you understand the rules for and then explain them to your child. Work together to solve the puzzle. Solving things like this promotes analytical thinking and gives a sense of accomplishment when you’re finished. Riddles, on the other hand, typically promote a different kind of thinking. The solutions to riddles are often not as cut and dry as puzzles. It makes kids think outside the box and helps them develop the skills they need to solve unique problems. 3. Make a Grocery Store This game doesn’t really have any clear objective. It’s more like just playing pretend than finding an answer. But you can still make it a learning experience. A pretend grocery store is full of opportunities to work on mathematics, social skills, and even a bit of reading. Set up a little store in your home or yard with displays of whatever items you’d like to sell there. You can use toy food, clothes, pillows, or anything else you’d like to add. You can even just make cards with pictures of items you’d like to pretend to sell. Once your displays are up you should label the items and put a price on them. The supply your child with play money or a good substitute. After creating your grocery store try playing as the cashier so your child has a place to check out all of the items they wish to “purchase.” Now you should figure

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BONUS: IMPROVISATION up the cost of these items for them. Have them count out their money to you and give them proper change. Then you can switch roles and become the shopper in their store. You can make the game more complex if you want to by adding concepts like sales and haggling. Maybe open two stores. One for you and one for your child and take turns shopping at one another’s. This can keep the money in circulation. 4. Pictionary and Charades The rules to Pictionary and Charades are very similar. With pictionary you are assigned an object, concept, person, or place and then you are asked to draw it to the best of your ability.Then the other players try to guess what you drew. Charades is the same, except instead of drawing you have to physically act out your word. In both cases the artist or the actor is not allowed to talk. These games help children learn communication skills as well as developing motor skills. 5. 20 Questions 20 questions is another simple game that you can play with your children. All you have to do is think of a person, place, or thing. Then you allow your children to ask questions in which the answer will be: yes, no, or sometimes. Once someone has correctly guessed what you are thinking of, you switch and let them choose something to think of. 20 questions helps kids work on deductive reasoning and find out how to ask good questions.

Improvisation games feel silly but they are surprisingly good for your mind. The point of an improvisation game is to create a fun and coherent skit on the spot, with no script. You can look up several improvisation games and exercises online or even make up some of your own. Try simple ones at first. Some children, and even adults, find it hard to get into the swing of it all right away. Now that you have some fun ideas to work with, it’s time to go play with those kids of yours without feeling like you aren’t teaching them something useful.

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GO OUT AND

PLAY

It’s a sad fact that children today don’t get enough exercise, and even sadder still that there are now interactive video games to “help solve” the problem. For parents faced with pasty-skinned, overweight kids sitting like zombies on the couch, the problem can be an emotional one; we wonder what weadid wrong to turn our kids into sofa slugs. We wonder if our children would feel safer in a better neighborhood. We try to provide “activities” to fill our children’s need for exercise and social interaction, but the simple fact is, they just need to go out and play. Telling your kids to go out and “do something” is easier said than done, though. A lot of children just don’t know what to do when they’re left to their own devices; unlike children of only a few generations ago, digging for worms in the dirt just isn’t entertaining. Going fishing is unsafe in a lot of areas. Playing in the park is often out of the question, due to drug and gang activity, bullying, etc. A lot of people don’t even have yards, and even those who do are sometimes reluctant to allow the neighborhood kids to come over and “tear things up” playing kickball.

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You may have to go out and play with your children at first, until they’re comfortable with the idea of playing outside on their own. (Yes, there really are children who are afraid to play outside alone. And you really shouldn’t leave your young ones outside by themselves, in any case.)

THERE ARE EVERAL WAYS TO ENCOURAGE OUTDOOR PLAY, THOUGH, PROVIDED THAT YOU CAN FIND A SAFE, EASILY OBSERVED SPACE FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO PLAY IN.

You can start with something as simple as starting a patio garden with your child. Kids-especially young ones-love to watch things grow, and a patio garden only requires a small amount of effort. Plant some flowers in pots, maybe a salad box, a few herbs, etc. Let your kids take care of the plants. If you grow edibles, teach your children how to cook whatever they’ve grown. Another idea is to start a sidewalk art mural. Get a big bucket of colored chalk, and have the kids start drawing. Help them design a mural if you need to. Get down there on the sidewalk with them and color! If you really have no outdoor play space near your home, take the kids to a park at least twice a week. Pack a picnic lunch, bring sunscreen and drinks, and watch your kids play. Teach your children basic safety rules, such as not going with anybody they don’t know, avoiding people who look or act intoxicated, etc.

If there’s a vacant lot in your neighborhood, start asking around to find out who owns it. If you can petition enough neighbors, you can sometimes get the city to buy a vacant lot and turn it into a pocket park. The most important thing you can do to encourage your children to play, though, is to get down on their level and play with them. Indoors or out, play is the business of children, and should be taken just as seriously as their education or health.

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TAKE A NATURE WALK WITH YOUR CHILDREN PLAY

W

alking is a great activity to do as a family. You can simply take a stroll around the block, of course, but it is far more interesting to do a nature walk. This takes things to another level. Rather than just get some exercise, you pause to appreciate the sights and smells along the way. Children are naturally curious and pay attention to their surroundings. It’s quite an adventure to take children into a forest or through a park. They will enjoy taking a closer look at an insect or listening to a bird’s call. To help children pay explore the world around them, you can also introduce some simple activities on your walk. Take a camera with you and try to capture photos that follow a theme. For example, you might try to take a dozen photographs of red things. These could include red leaves in fall, a ladybug and a reddish rock. You might try finding ten different types of leaves or see how many heart shapes you can find in the forest. These photos can be printed and put into a scrapbook to remember your trek. Leaf rubbings are another way to preserve memories and get a closer look at nature. Pick up several interesting leaves during your walk. The best ones for rubbings will have thick, raised veins. When you get home, lay the leaves upside down on a table. Place a piece of

blank paper over them. Rub the side of a crayon over the paper. The veins will cause darker lines to appear and you can recreate the shape of the leaf. These rubbings can go into a nature book or you can use them to create unique birthday cards or wall hangings. Collecting a few flowers to press later is another good activity. Only take one or two of each bloom, leaving the plants unharmed. You want to let other people enjoy the beauty, too. At home, put some newspaper inside a heavy book and lay your flowers on it. Cover the flowers with two or three layers of newspaper and close the book. Stack a couple of heavy books or bricks on top to help press the flowers. Now you have to be patient and leave them for three weeks or so. When the book is opened again, children will be delighted to find the pressed and dried flowers, which can then be used in crafts. Children will also enjoy taking a notebook with them and sketching or painting interesting things that they find. Insects or animals are good things to draw, since you can’t press them in a book. Nature walks make a simple trek through the woods special. Children will be on the lookout for whatever you are seeking and will enjoy the walk even more. For those who tend to complain about walking, looking for a heart shaped leaf or rock will keep their mind off their feet. Just think of a quest or activity before each walk and watch them enjoy it.

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Rainy days bore active kids. Even inactive kids feel the dreariness of a rainy day. You could spend rainy days curled up on the couch watching television with your children or do something interactive like creative homemade activities. The following activities are just a few ways to keep your kids active and happy on rainy days. Depending on your children’s ages, imagination games can be a good way to spend a rainy day. Turn a room into a pirate ship with just a few eye patches (easily made with a little black fabric or even construction paper and string). Go on a camping adventure by turning a few sheets into a tent (just drape them over furniture and improvise until you have a workable tent). A small pup tent in the middle of a large room is another way to make this happen. You can even make s’mores to go along with this rainy day imagination game. Create any imaginary adventure you want by finding things around the house to turn into an imagination game. One fun science activity you can do with your kids on a rainy day is making colored milk spirals. All you need is a little bit of milk, a shallow bowl, food coloring and some grease-cutting dish liquid. First, pour a shallow puddle of milk onto the bowl (or edged plate). Next, add one drop of each shade of food coloring near the center of the puddle. Keep the drops away from each other by at least half an inch. Lastly, place one or two drops of the dishwashing liquid in the center of the bowl. Your kids will be amazed at what happens. Instead of being distracted by the rainy day, they will focus on the color swirls that are appearing in the bowl of milk. If your kids are home all day on any given rainy day, you have a lot more time to keep them occupied. You can do this by taking a traditional Christmas past-time — making gingerbread houses — and turning it into an everyday homemade craft. All you need is some frosting, candy and graham crackers. Instead of making them Christmas themed with candy canes and sprinkles, you can make them suit the rainy day’s season. If it is summertime, put watermelon slices (the candy) and bright-colored frosting on your house. If it’s autumn, use browns, yellows, and oranges to decorate. This can occupy kids for hours if you decide to make a big enough house. These and a number of other indoor activities can fill a boring rainy day with family fun. Instead of sitting and listening to the rain bouncing off the windows, you can fill your house with the sound of chatting and laughter to drown out the raindrops. That is, of course, if you do not need the raindrop sound as a backdrop for a rainforest adventure.

Rainy Day ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR CHILDREN

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VOLUNTOURISM: MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE ONE TRIP AT A TIME Voluntourism is a popular form of international travel that combines the good intentions of volunteering with the excitement of tourism. Aimed at those looking to make a positive change in the world, voluntourism provides a safe and easy way for tourists to help others in developing or devastated communities around the world, without the typical time commitments seen in more traditional forms of international volunteering.

building, public relations, and employee morale.

To help keep costs at a minimum, voluntourists often live with host families while staying in their selected region. Such arrangements are dually beneficial. Not only is the local community rewarded by the efforts of generous volunteers, but the volunteers themselves are rewarded by being directly immersed into the local culture, giving them a perspective not easily seen from the vantage point of a standard tourist.

Before finalizing any voluntourism plans, it’s important that you research a number of different voluntourism organizations as not all offer the same options or experiences. It’s also worth noting that in some cases, the organization may help subsidize costs like airfare, insurance, and personal allowances, while in other cases, it’s the volunteers who must cover the full cost of the trip.

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Reaching all areas of the globe, voluntourism spans countless interests including archeology, building, care, conservation, farming, sports, and teaching. Various programs focusing on interests such as these are then tailored to each volunteer’s age, schedule, and level of commitment. Business voluntourism is also becoming popular and can be great for team

For youths interested in voluntourism, programs are available for high school-aged individuals through several organizations over the summer months. There are also spring break and gap year voluntourism opportunities aimed at college-aged individuals looking to make a difference. Not only does participation in such programs leave many youths with a new perspective on the world, it can also make for an interesting addition to the participants’ college applications or resumes.

So, if you want to see the world while doing something meaningful with your life, it’s time to give the idea of voluntourism some real consideration. By becoming a voluntourist, you can build lasting friendships, have rewarding experiences, and make a real difference in the lives of those living in developing or devastated communities around the world.

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KIDFITSTRONG DIGITAL MAGAZINE - INAUGURAL EDITION  

Monthly Digital Magazine designed to help keep kids active and healthy!

KIDFITSTRONG DIGITAL MAGAZINE - INAUGURAL EDITION  

Monthly Digital Magazine designed to help keep kids active and healthy!