Bask in the glory of summer games

August has officially arrived.  Since this is the last official month of summer, we encourage you to make the most of your time with your little ones.

One of the best gifts parents can give their children is attention and time. Think about ways you can create some final summer memories together and get outside to enjoy the sunshine while also adding in exercise.  Here are some of our favorite summer games.

  • Red light, green light.  For this game, one child acts as the stoplight and all of the other children line up across the yard.  The person who is the stoplight will call out “red light” and “green light.”  Children get to move on green light and must stop on red light.  The person who is the stoplight will start the game by facing the kids.  He then jumps around saying green light and let’s the children run.  Then, he will turn around and say “red light.”  Children who don’t stop can be asked to take steps backwards or go back to the start line.  The first child to tag the stoplight gets to be the stoplight next.

  • Hide and seek.  Children will take turns hiding around the house.   One person will be “it” and seek to find all of the children hiding.  The person who is it needs to count to 10, 20 or 100, whatever number you prefer.  When the seeker is done counting, she will say “ready or not, here I come.”  She then proceeds to search around the yard to find the hiders.  The last one to be found becomes the next searcher.
  • Hopscotch.  This is a great game to learn writing, numbers and add in movement.  Start by creating your own hopscotch board on the sidewalk or driveway using sidewalk chalk.  Next, write the numbers 1-10 in the squares.  Practice jumping on one foot then two feet and one foot again all the way across the board.
  • Tag.  In this activity, one child will be the person tagging the other children.  Have the person who is “it” count to 20 while the other children run farther away.  When the person who is “it” catches someone else, they become the tagger.  The game continues until everyone has been caught and has been it or until you get tired.
  • Statute swing.  This was one of our favorite games growing up.  Start by having one person spin all the other people around.  We would hold hands criss-crossed and spin around in a circle.  You spin until you can’t hold on anymore.  When you stop, this is your statute pose.  You need to hold this pose until everyone is swung into position.  The person to fall out of their pose first becomes the next spinner.  You can also try holding the poses the longest.
  • Jump rope.  Get a long rope and have two people hold the ends.  Say rhymes as one person jumps in the middle.  You can swing the rope to the jumper’s waist or go over the head of the jumper.  Take turns jumping and swinging the rope.

We hope you enjoy playing these old-fashioned, fun games with your children.  We appreciate that many of the games are ones that have been around for generations.  Ask your children what they like about the various games and also tell them stories of when you played your favorite games growing up.  Enjoy making memories this week with your children.

© Let’s Talk Kids, LLC 2015

The forgotten letter X

When teaching about letters, parents should sing the alphabet song and also practice writing letters and identifying letters in words.  One of the most challenging letters to teach about is the Letter X.  It tends to be a more difficult letter to teach about and seems to be a forgotten letter in our vocabulary. However the letter X is still part of the alphabet and should be taught.

Here are some fun activities for the letter X.

  • Write an X.  The letter X is a very easy letter to write. Talk about how you start at one side of the paper and draw a line down diagonally to the other side of the paper. Add one more line starting in the other corner of the paper and move up in the opposite direction. During this lesson, you can teach about diagonal lines and how the lines intersect in the middle.
  • Tic tac toe.  Play a game of tic tac toe with your child.  Allow him to be the X shape and you be the O shape.  See who wins the game.
  • Find an X.  Write down words that have the letter X in them.  Use words like xylophone, explain, fox, ox, or x-ray.  Have your child identify the X in the words.
  • Explain an X-ray.  Show your child a picture of an x-ray and explain that she is looking at a picture of bones that are inside our bodies.  Next, show her an x-ray from humans’ and animals’ bodies.  See if you can determine what the x-ray is a photo of.  Explain to your child that the first x-ray was taken in 1895.
  • Random X’s.  Use supplies around your home to make the letter X. Consider using butter knives, q-tips, paint brushes or sticks.  Show your child how when they crisscross, an X letter is formed.
  • Color an X.  Print out pictures of the letter X on your computer or draw a bubble shape letter X.  Allow your child to color or paint the letter X.
  • Stick an X.  Draw a letter X on a sheet of paper and let your child put stickers along the letter.  This will teach him fine motor skills while learning about shape that the letter makes.
  • Eat an X.  Start with a graham crackers and spread an X on the cracker with peanut butter or frosting.
  • X marks the spot. Draw a treasure map for your child to follow and find a treasure. Let her know that X marks the spot where the treasure is at on the map. Have her use their map to find the X hidden around your house or yard. Place a special treat or surprise where the X is located.
  • Sing X-Ray Man-Sung to “Muffin Man”

Do you know the X-RAY man,
the X-RAY man,
the X-RAY man?
Do you know the X-RAY man?
He takes pictures of my bones.

Oh, he loves the letter X,
the letter X,
the letter X,
Oh, he loves the letter X
and likes to X-RAY me.

Have fun learning about the letter X. While it is not the most used constant in our alphabet, it is an important letter for us to learn about.  Make it an eXcellent week!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2015

My dad is cool

Dad’s play an important role in raising their children. A father brings a new perspective to parenting.  Children with many loving adults in their family become more well-rounded.

As we write this article, we realize that there are many different types of families.  Some might be intergenerational, some might have two parents of the same gender and others might be single-parent families.  We like to celebrate diversity but also want to focus on why adult males matter to children.  Please know that your family does not need to be traditional to be extraordinary.

Here are some ways that parents can support their children, particularly dads or loving male adults.


  • Pay attention. Children have a lot of fun things to say and do. Being with kids brings out the kid in you. Listen when they talk and engage in conversation. Find hobbies you like to do together.
  • Cuddle. Sometimes the best thing you can do with your child is to lay down together and cuddle on the couch. The warmth of your body lets a child know that you are there for them.
  • Protect them. Tell your child that you will keep her safe. Show her by role modeling safe behaviors yourself. Wear a helmet while biking, use your seat belt in the car, and eat healthy foods. Provide him with protection from strangers or when he is in uncomfortable situations. Talk with her about her fears. Keep her away from unsafe situations.
  • Financial protection. Kids don’t always see this but can feel it. It is important your children learn about money and how to be safe with money. For instance, don’t go out and flash your money to strangers.  Help your older children understand how money pays for the home where you live, the food you eat and the clothes you wear. Do this in a gentle way so children can learn about money without being burdened by it.
  • Help around the house. Show your children that both men and women do chores. Share the responsibilities of diapering, cleaning, doing laundry or dishes. Your child will learn from your example that it takes everyone’s help to run a household.
  • Read to your children. Children love books and will enjoy reading if they see you reading. Men read in different tones and use different voices than women. Role model to your children that you like to learn and take an interest in their books. When you are reading, point out your favorite parts or pictures and explain why. You can also create your own stories about people in your life or make up funny stories just to laugh.
  • Give hugs and kisses daily. Children love the affection from male role models. Kids should be hugged and kissed daily, ideally numerous times. Snuggle together before bed and say ,“I love you!” These three words can never been spoken too much.
  • Encourage your child to follow his dreams. You can encourage him by learning about what that dream is and listening. For example, if he wants to be a doctor, ask him what will it take to be a doctor and together research the steps in the process.  You can also ask younger children about short term goals- maybe they want to paint a picture, play soccer or ride a pony.  Whatever the dream is, find a way to support your child to accomplish their dream.

We greatly encourage you to take time to get to know and love your child. You might find it is the best adventure ever. There is no time like the present to start!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2015

Discovering science through play

Take a moment to think about how play and science are the same process.  The person playing observes things around him and might mimic what he sees.  He discovers about the world through play.  When rules are added to play, the process becomes a game.

“Uncertainity is celebrated in play,” Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist said in his TED Talk entitled, “Science is for everyone, kids included.”

Lotto drew the conclusion that science and play are parallel processes.  He wanted to test his theory by conducting a science experiment with children.  However, no one would fund his research.   Funders said small children could not make useful contributions to science while teachers feared their students couldn’t do it.

That did not stop Beau from trying.  He teamed up with a local school and more than 25 children scientists, ages 8-10.  He posed questions to the children and asked them to develop their own.  He provided the child scientists with latitude to develop their own experiment.

The children came up with an idea to research bees.  The specific question the children wanted to understand was, “Do human and bees solve complex problems in the same way?”

Amy O’Toole, one of the youngest scientists published, shared about the experiment.   “We wanted to know if bees could also adapt themselves to new situations.”

The kids developed a game/ experiment to determine how bees would respond.

Amy was quick to point out, “No one had done this before, including adults.”

The children conducted observations and recorded data.  Like scientists, they also wrote a report of their findings.  It included the traditional introduction, methods, results and discussion.  However, the results were presented a bit different than a traditional scientific paper.

Lotto said he simply recorded their words.  The children scientists began the report using, “Once upon a time.”  When the answer was unveiled the kids added the words, “duh duh duuuhhhh” into their report.

When the paper was sent for consideration of publication, the results were harsh.  It was rejected numerous times over a two year period.  Finally, Dale Purves from Duke University and a member of the National Academy of Science, read it and commented, “This is the most original scientific paper I have read … and certainly deserves wide exposure.”

The paper was later chosen as the “Editor’s Choice” in Science Magazine and can be downloaded.

“This is what science offers us,”  Lotto explained.  “It offers the possibility to step into uncertainty through the process of play.”

Amy added that the experiment allowed her to see that science was much more than a “boring subject.”

She explained, “A small question can lead to a big discovery.”

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

Being generous this holiday season

Teaching generosity comes easy to the Smith family of Charlotte, North Carolina. This holiday season, the family of five is working together to make another family’s Christmas more Merry.  The family has created their own charity, “Seed Bead Santa.”

Seed bead bracelet

“We are making safety pin, seed bead bracelets and donating all of the proceeds to a family in need,” said mom, Jen Smith.

Making the safety pin, bead bracelets is a family affair.  Dad, Kyle, and 8-year-old Kate enjoy putting the beads on the pins. Olivia, 6-years-old, likes to lace the safety pins on elastic.  Jen takes the orders and ships the packages.  Elowen, 3-years-old, even has her role.

“She likes to play with the beads,” Jen said, with a laugh.

Jen and Kyle are using the charity to teach their children about giving back.  Both explained how this concept is reinforced through Seed Bead Santa.

“Generosity is part of our Smith Family Mission Statement,” Kyle said.  He continued to explain that the family Mission Statement was created when he was tired of simply asking his daughters, “What did you do today?” at dinner.  Thus, he wrote down values that were important to him and ran it by his wife.  They agreed it would become the Family Mission Statement.

The Mission Statement includes values of “We believe in craftsmanship and quality,” “We value joyfulness”, and “We do things properly.”  Perhaps, most fitting, the Smith Family Mission Statement declares, “We give of our time to those less fortunate.”

Kyle said you can teach kids to give part of their allowance or you can teach to give of their time.

“We wanted to show our children that giving of your time is as important, sometimes more important, than giving of your money,” Kyle said.

Jen agreed, “We live in an instant gratification society.  We thought it was important to teach the kids that giving is more important than receiving.”

The Smith family has sold enough bracelets this season to provide a family in need with gifts.  The Smiths have chosen a family of an honorably discharged veteran who has 4 sons and a wife.  So far, the family has sold enough bracelets to give each child one gift.  If more bracelets are sold, the Smiths can provide more gifts to the family in need.

The bracelets sell for $8.95 plus $2.95 for shipping.  Customers can choose the bead colors, buy a predetermined design or have a bracelet custom made.  If you are unsure what you want, Kate has a suggestion.

“For a girl, I would make a bracelet with light purple, light pink and light blue beads,” she said.  “For a boy, I would use black beads, dark pink, because some boys like dark pink, and dark blue beads.“

The lesson of giving back seems to ringing true with Kate.

“I am very excited to pick out gifts for the other kids,” she said.

The family plans to continue Seed Bead Santa next year and will sell bracelets throughout the year to raise more funds.  For more information, to make a purchase or to nominate a family in need, please contact Jen here.

As an added bonus, if you make a purchase, you are likely to get a customized thank you note from Kate or Olivia.

“They really seem to embrace the lesson of giving back,” Jen said.

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

Teaching your children about numbers

Learning about numbers lays a foundation for good math skills.  Numbers are to math like letters are to literacy.  In order for children to be good at a skill, they need to understand the components that make up the problem.   More specifically, children must know how to count and identify numbers before they can add, subtract or multiple.

This week, we share some tips to teach your children numbers at home.

  • Five little frogs.  Say this nursery rhyme while holding out your hand.  Each time a frog goes away, put down one finger.  “Five little speckled frogs sat on a speckled log, eating the most delicious flies (yum, yum).  One jumped into the pool where it was nice and cool.  Now there are only four speckled frogs.”  Continue singing the song and counting down until you get to the end of the song with no frogs.
  • Meal count. During breakfast or dinner, take an opportunity to count.  Identify how many plates are at the dinner table, how many glasses and how many utensils.  Discuss how many things you put on your plate or eat.
  • Trace numbers.  Start by drawing numbers on a sheet of paper with a marker.  Use your finger to trace the number shapes.  Next, try tracing the number with a crayon or pencil.
  • Hopping game.  Choose a number and hop in place that many times.   For instance, if you choose 7, hop 7 times.   You could also make this into a race and hop across the room.
  • Zero.  Learning about nothing tends to be difficult for children.  To teach this concept, we encourage you to give your child three items.  Ask him how many he has if you take away 1.  Then, take away another object and see how many items he has left.  Continue this until you get to zero.
  • Number claps.  Start with 10 sheets of paper and write down the numbers 1-10 on the sheets of paper.  Have one person hold up a number from the deck while the others clap that many times.
  • Face count.  Take turns looking at each other’s faces.  Ask your child how many eyes you have; then count his eyes.  Repeat the process for ears, teeth, tongue, nose, eyebrows, etc.
  • Polka dot counts.  For this activity, you will need bingo daubers, paper and markers.  Start by writing and drawing a number on a sheet of paper.  For instance, you can write 3 and three.  Have your child accurately daub the correct number of dots on each sheet of paper.
  • Toe count.  Count how many toes your daughter has.   Then, count how many toes her dad has.  If she has a sibling, count everyone’s toes.   See if everyone has the same amount.
  • Money and numbers.  Show your child real bills and how they have numbers on the bills.  Explain how a $10 bill is worth more than a $1 bill.  Practice putting the bill numbers in order from smallest to largest.

Counting together gives everyone an opportunity to practice numbers and learn the basic building blocks for math and science skills later in life.  By teaching your child about numbers today, you are instilling skills for life.

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

Kids need structure

Imagine one of the nation’s most powerful public figures at a school near you.  He shares ideas about being a leader and a good citizen.  Then, he yells, “At ease!”  The kids quickly stop talking and listen.  He has their attention.

Colin Powell, the former U.S. Secretary of State, has been traveling the country and sharing an important message with children that discipline and respect is essential to be a good citizen.  He also encourages parents to provide structure at home and says this is where success starts.

“It begins, the first time with a child in his mother’s arms, he looks up and says, this is my mother, she is the one that feeds me,” Powell said.

He continues the message by sharing how a young child trusts the loving adults that provide for her needs.  The mother, father, grandparent or sibling will talk with the baby, feed the baby and change the child’s diapers. This is when structure begins.

“By three months of age … that is when language, love and structure begins,” Powell says.

He emphasizes the importance of reading to a child, teaching a child and spending quality time together.  His message states that this is the nation’s responsibility- with Head Start, preschool and prenatal care.  But it is also the responsibility of parents.

“The education process begins, even before the child is born,” Powell says.

He says that parents should be reading to their children.  A high indicator of lifelong success for a student, and a child, is their ability to read in third grade.

“If you are not at the right reading level in third grade, you are a candidate for jail at age 18,” he said.

Powell freely offered that he was not the best student in preschool or elementary school and got his records to prove it.  He even tried a few college programs, which didn’t work for him.  Finally, he found structure with the ROTC and excelled.

He notes how the military provided him much success because of the structure.

He then traced his success back to his upbringing and having a community that believed in him.

“You can self-improve and self-educate as you go along.  But, this begins with the gift of a good start,” Powell said.

He attributed his good start by being raised in a nice family, a family that believed in him.

“It is so essential that we put this culture back into our families.,” Powell said.  “We are not just investing in our kids, we are investing in our future.”

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

What role does birth order play in shaping personality?

Have you ever noticed how children from the same family can be so different?  Do you often look at your children thinking how am I raising these kids with such opposite personalities?

In his book, The Birth Order, Dr. Kevin Leman explains that many of these differences can be attributed to the order in which your children were born.  We share some of his theories below.

  • First born.  A child who is born first tends to be a perfectionist. This child has a lot of adult attention since they are the first baby in a family. Parents have high expectations and ask their children to perform well in school. First-born children tend not to break rules and like to follow directions to please people, namely their parents.
  • Middle child. The second child, or those born in the middle of other siblings have characteristics of being a peacemaker. They tend to be more quiet or easy-going.  This child typically likes their older and younger siblings and might serve as the bridge between the two.  At times, this child will try very hard not to be their older sibling.
  • The youngest.  Older children will say that this child gets away with everything.  Some believe that parents are more tired and just don’t have as many rules or are less concerned about enforcing the rules. This child tends to like attention and have things his or her way.


Leman’s book goes on to describe how birth order affects children throughout their lives. Sometimes it shapes the careers that is chosen and/or whom we marry.  Leman’s theory argues that first born children will tend to marry youngest or middle children; whereas, a middle child will marry a younger or oldest child.   He states that we like the roles we play in life and enjoy abiding by what we know.

In the career world, older children take something stable like a government job, accounting or a leadership role. Younger children like to have careers that are noticed- a radio deejay, a politican or a dancer.  Middle children will find a role where they can nurture or keep the peace, like a teacher or in healthcare.

Similarly, children might have different interests based on when they were born. An oldest child might enjoy academic activities or be the captain of the football team. As a reminder, the oldest likes to excel in what he does and possesses maturity in his role.  Younger children will be more outgoing and seek to perform- dance, music or acting might be more their style.  They enjoy the spotlight.

Parents should not be concerned if their children do not easily fall into one of these categories.  Kids who are the only child can possess each of these characteristics. Likewise, if there is a big gap in your children’s ages, you might have two children with first-born characteristics.

Overall, it important to love and nurture your child where they are at without having expectations that the second or third child should be just like the first child. Enjoy celebrating the different characteristics in each of your family members.  Variety is the spice of life!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

It’s a Wacky, Wacky Wednesday!

Dr. Seuss inspired us to celebrate the days of the week. In his book, “Wacky Wednesday,” he specifically focuses on the middle of the week and the numerous funny things that can happen in one day.

Children love to read this book. It is extra fun for them since that have to interact with the pictures in the book by identifying and counting all of the wacky things that are out of place.

We thought it would be fun for you and your family to recreate some of the funny things that happen in the “Wacky Wednesday” storybook. Here are some of the ideas we came up with.

  • Wall shoe. Since the book starts out with the “crazy shoe on the wall,” mimic this. Tape a shoe to the wall or many shoes. Put one or two on the ceiling, if possible.
  • Wacky alphabet. Start by writing the letters A-Z on note cards. Mix them up so they are not in order. Even put some of the letters upside down. Can your child identify which ones are wacky? Ask him why. Then, help him rearrange the letters into the correct alphabet order.


  • Upside down photos. Turn the photos or wall hangings in your house upside down. We found that command adhesive strips work well for this. See if your child notices the wackiness of upside down photos!
  • Backwards nap. During naptime, sleep on the opposite end of your bed. Put your head where your feet should be. Make sure to put your feet on your pillow.
  • Fruit tree. The book shows upside down bananas in a tree. Can you creatively put fruit in a tree by your house? Ask your child to find the fruit. If you don’t have a tree, hide fruit around your home. Take turns finding the fruit. Eat it together as a snack.
  • Mixed-up clock. Put removable labels over the numbers on your clock and mix up the order of the numbers. Put the 12 where the 6 should be and so on. Ask your child if he notices anything different about the clock.
  • Shoe table. Place a shoe on one of your kitchen table legs. This would be similar to what happens at the school in the book.
  • Count the wackiness. Have your child count how many wacky things she can find around the house.
  • Roller skating parent. If possible, put on roller skates or rollerblades in the house. (Make sure to be safe!). Act like everything is perfectly normal.
  • Funny signs. At one point of the book, there is a sign outside that says “Four Sale.” To highlight this idea, put funny signs all around your home. See how many funny signs you can create. Ask your child to count how many funny signs he sees.

When you are finished hosting your real-life Wacky Wednesday, we encourage you to end the day by reading “Wacky Wednesday” by Dr. Seuss.

As your child gets ready for bed, ask him what was his favorite part of the day. Discuss which wacky thing was the funniest and why.

Ask him if Wacky Wednesday was going to happen again, what wacky thing would he like to see? Consider incorporating this into your next Wacky Wednesday day!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

What to expect at doctor appointments

Bringing your newborn baby to the doctor for the first time can be scary. Some parents wonder what to expect, others may fear that the “mean” doctors will make their babies cry with shots whereas some are excited to see how much their child has grown.

We, at Let’s Talk Kids, believe that information is power. Thus, we have created this “cheat sheet” for parents on what to expect for doctor’s visits.

  • Time.  Most appointments are relatively quick and take less than 30 minutes. Some appointments may take longer if children need to have blood tests.  You can call the office ahead of time to ask.

  • Weighed and measured. Little ones most likely will get weighed and measured at every doctor’s appointment. Please note that it is helpful to bring extra diapers since babies usually get weighed nude.
  • Temperature. Oftentimes, nurses will take the temperature of your child. Most are now taking the temperature in the ear or across the forehead.
  • Shots. You can call your doctor’s office beforehand to see if your child needs a shot during the visit. You can also give your child Tylenol before the appointment to help minimize the pain associated with getting a shot.
  • Development questions. Please note that your doctor will ask how your child is developing. He or she might ask questions like, “Is your child eating, walking or talking properly?” These questions will be geared towards your child’s age and the appropriate skill levels for his age. Please note that it is good to be honest with your doctor as there are special services that can aid a child in developing properly. Catching any problem early is more likely to result finding a workable solution and getting your child appropriately caught up. For instance, a child who is not crawling can meet with a specialist to help strengthen his core so he can start crawling.
  • Car seats. New government regulations help ensure children will be safe while riding in vehicles. Your doctor may ask if your car seat is expired, has been in a car accident and/or if it remains current. As you may know, car seats should be replaced every 6 years. Your doctor might also discuss proper installment of your car seat.
  • Living conditions. A doctor may ask about your home life and if you have pets, if anyone smokes or if your child attends daycare. These questions are being asked to help your doctor understand about your child’s health and if she has allergies.  Make sure to answer truthfully to best prepare your child for a healthy upbringing.
  • Examination. When your doctor is done asking you questions about your child, she or he will examine your child. The doctor will look into your child’s ears, nose, throat and at her eyes. She will check your baby’s neck, chest, back and stomach. She will examine the diaper area for rashes or infections. Doctors will also check a child’s legs and feet. Basically, doctors are checking to make sure your baby is healthy.
  • Ask questions. If you have any concerns or questions, a doctor’s appointment is the perfect time to ask. Make sure you feel confident in caring for your child’s health. There is no time like the present to ask a simple question or two.
  • Finishing up. Your doctor will finish the appointment by asking any necessary follow-up questions, by providing advice or giving you a report from what was found. Your doctor will advise you on when your child should come back for his next appointment. If necessary, a doctor will provide you with any prescriptions that you may need filled and may give you a handout of the day’s progress.

Remember that the going to the doctor doesn’t have to be scary. Arm yourself with questions you may have, bring your child and consider packing items to entertain your baby during the appointment.  Knowledge, love, doctor visits and attentiveness are all in the recipe for good child health!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014