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Monday, March 30, 2015

Energizer Asks You to "Join Our Journey" #TransformingInnovation

Boo is all about the science. Even in kindergarten his favourite books were what he called "fact books." Non-fiction, learning about the world and how it works. Animals, space, technology, the human body - it all fascinates him, and I am delighted to encourage that interest. This past weekend we attended an event with Energizer at the Ontario Science Centre, where he had the chance to create a battery-operated Scribble Bot and learn about a great contest Energizer is currently hosting to encourage kids' interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
All the kids were excited to meet the Energizer Bunny himself. Quite the cool dude.
The event was in part a celebration of Energizer's latest battery innovation - the new EcoAdvanced AA batteries, which contain 4% material from recycled batteries. That may not sound like a lot, but they are the first in the world, and have a goal to reach 40% recycled content by 2025. In addition to the more eco-friendly content, these are Energizer’s longest lasting high-performance alkaline battery. Long-lasting, earth-friendly innovation. I like it!

We used these batteries in our Scribble Bots, which the kids constructed with some very simple materials - a styrofoam cup, small motor (available from hobby shops), clothespin, tape, googly eyes and pipe cleaners for decoration, and a marker.
The Energizer Bunny was very interested in the proceedings.
Scribble Bot!
And here's our finished Scribble Bot in action:

video

We had such a good time, and it was awesome to see the kids so excited about creating their robots.  I wonder who among them will go on to careers in STEM and be the great innovators of the future??

And then there's this great contest!

Energizer invites young Canadians (aged 5-12) to Join Our Journey by entering drawings of their dream creature at JoinEnergizer.ca for a chance to work with experts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to see their creature brought to life with the Energizer® EcoAdvanced™ battery, and win $10,000 towards an RESP! How cool is that? Boo is stoked and has started to work on his ideas for a creation to submit. I'm sure he doesn't care about the RESP (I do!), but he is thrilled at the idea of seeing a drawing of his come to life.  Have a look at this video, which we viewed at the event, and see the excitement on these kids' faces when they receive their creatures!



This contest is open to Canadian residents only, and submissions are being accepted until midnight, May 4, 2015. See JoinEnergizer.ca for all the details, and to enter.

What will your child build?

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Energizer EcoAdvanced. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own, or those of my family.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Staycation? Or Vacation? Which One Is for You?

March Break, Spring Break, Easter Break. It's the time of year when kids get a week or two off school and many families hit the road for vacation time. Especially if you live in the snowy northern zones, a little bit of sunshine and warmth is very tempting.  But not every parent takes time off work, and not every family goes away.  I actually prefer to travel at less busy, less expensive times, and so we've always stuck close to home during March Break.

Our March Breaks have always been a combo of work and play. When the Teen was little, we'd share the break with his mom, taking just a couple days off each. With Boo, while I was still working downtown, we did a combo of daycare and days off, and now it's even easier. We do some day trips and outings, and on the days I need to get work done, he plays video games and watches movies in the man cave. This year we visited the Toronto Zoo and Ripley's Aquarium. We usually try to hit a sugar bush as well for a maple syrup demo, but didn't get to that this time around. We also had a pajama day with movies. Low key! 

It's easy to find fun activities in your own area. Exploring a maple sugar bush is a big hit in our neck of the woods.
Whether you decide to take off on a fabulous beach vacation, or to staycation in your local area, this break time is a great opportunity to rest and recharge, and to get back into a more active life after a long, cold winter.  Church and Dwight share these tips and ideas to help you make the most of your spring break -

Vacation

1. Getting out of town, sitting on a sandy beach or strolling through city streets is exhilarating. Make sure you look and feel your best, and take lots of pictures to capture the memories. Tip: for a huge time-saver during your action-packed vacation, try Batiste™ Dry Shampoo in Tropical to tackle oily hair. The light and clean scent will refresh your locks, giving you more time to check out the sights.
I LOVE this product
2. The choices are endless. A cruise to the Bahamas? Seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris? A change of scenery and broadening your horizons is good for the soul. Tip: read fellow travelers' reviews online. This will give you some great insight and ideas for what to see and do on your vacation.

3. If you’re going somewhere warm, this is your chance to escape the end of winter’s wrath. Don’t forget to pack all the essentials. Tip: Get rid of unwanted hair with Nair™ Moroccan Argan Oil Ultimate Roll-On Body Wax. You’ll be left with smooth, soft and hair-free skin for up to four weeks.

Staycation

1. You can get some ultimate relaxation. While jet-setting is exciting, you don’t have to deal with the stresses of travel or expenses. Staying home also doesn't have to mean sacrificing fun. Tip: Don’t start running errands—do all the things you can’t do while working, like catching up on some much needed sleep!

2. You know the area. There’s no getting lost, or feeling uncomfortable in unfamiliar territory. Take the time to explore your neighbourhood and do the things you've wanted to do but haven't found the time for. Tip: Check out a museum, unwind at a local park, or try a new restaurant. You might be surprised what you’ll uncover in your own backyard.

3. Learn a new skill. Most of us don’t get the time to try something new. Tip: try painting, take a cooking class, or even try a new sport. You’ll be amazed at the vast amount of new and exciting experiences that are out there. Look for family classes to get everyone involved.


Have you had March/Spring Break yet? How did you spend it, or what are your plans?

Disclosure: I am a member of the Church & Dwight Ambassador Program, and as such receive special perks, products, and other compensation for my participation. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

Top 5 Bedtime Books Every Young Child Needs

Stories have always been a part of our bedtime routine, since even before Boo was born. I read to him every night for years, while rocking and nursing him, or while cuddling with him in his big boy bed. Eventually he started reading some of those stories to me, and now he reads himself for a half hour or so each night after I tuck him in. Some nights he'll be into a chapter book and get carried away, so I'll find him still reading an hour or more later. But it's difficult to be too angry with him for that.

Including stories as part of his routine from the beginning helped with establishing his sleep routine and signalling to him when it was time for bed. It also helped lay a solid foundation for his learning to read later on. As you read to your small child, follow along the words with your finger so they can see the letters that make the sounds and help them to make the connection between those printed symbols and the words they hear. As they get older you can encourage them to "read" familiar words like "cat" or "play." And if they memorise a story after hearing it over and over, you can encourage them to repeat it back to you while looking at the words on the pages - this will help them forge those connections between letters and sounds.

We're read masses of books over the years, but here are our top 5 bedtime specific stories. Ones that we enjoyed so much together and know that you will too! If you are looking to start a library for your little one, or as a gift for a friend, these would be a great place to start.



Good Night, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown


Let's just get this one out of the way right at the start. Every child should have a copy of this classic on their book shelf. "Goodnight room, and goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon." Simple rhymes and silliness as a young boy avoids settling down to sleep. I bet your little one will start adding to the list of good nights once you close the cover!




The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton


Thank goodness Sandra Boynton wrote a bedtime book! I love everything she's ever done, and this is no exception. The animals go through their bedtime routine, brushing teeth and getting into their pajamas, and exercising. (Wait! What?) Boynton's signature fun rhymes will both entertain and lull your child to rest. The pace of the story naturally slows to the end, as the moon rises and the ocean waves "rock, and rock, and rock" the animals to sleep. This was a great story to read in the rocking chair! (Also check out her Pajama Time.)



How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

I actually love this entire series. Awesome for the dino lovers, each book addresses a question of social skills or behaviour (playing with friends, eating their food, etc.) in an entertaining way. Do dinos jump on the bed? Do they mope and whine? No, of course they don't! A series of "bad" examples are presented, and in the end we learn the proper way to behave. Along the way, each dinosaur pictured is identified with their name written somewhere in the image. The text is rhymed and the illustrations entertaining. Boo loved this one, both learning the dino names and laughing at their antics. It ends with kisses and hugs goodnight, just as your night will.


If Animals Kissed Good Night, by Ann Whitford Paul

Pure poetry. This book is exquisitely illustrated and beautifully written. We learn all about how a series of animal parents and children - moms, dads, sons, daughters - would kiss goodnight, if indeed animals did kiss goodnight. A refrain of sorts runs through the book, exploring how sloth and her cub would kiss goodnight. Suffice it to say, it takes a long, slothful time, and the author keeps coming back to them to see how they are getting on. The writing flows beautifully in a lulling rhythm to ease your own little one to sleep. I particularly like that both moms and dads are represented here. And I would love to have framed prints of many of the illustrations. It's luscious!



I Love You, Little One, by Nancy Tafuri


I read this pretty much every night for months before I could get through it without choking up. A series of adorable baby animals ask, "Do you love me, Mama?" And each Mama answers in beautiful, lyrical prose just how much she does indeed love her little one, "forever, and ever and always." Each answer relates to the environment or habits of the animal, so you can create learning moments too if you wish. The last entry is a small child (carefully non-gendered), being tucked into bed. And Mama's answer gets me every time. This is a wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated book, with a lovely, reassuring message for all children.


How about you? Do you have any favourite bedtime books I haven't mentioned here?


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, but it does include affiliate links, and I will receive compensation from Amazon.ca for any purchases made after clicking through.
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