Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Recently at a parent grade meeting, the seventh grade dean at Riverdale Country School described the multiple facets of the community service program in the seventh grade. She explained that at the homebase level, the smaller groups of kids would select and devise their activities and that she was hoping to steer them away from the traditional bake sale. Bake sales and lemonade stands are time-honored, tried-and-true traditions but this year's seventh grade is encouraged to think more broadly and consider programs that require some engagement in the community they are seeking to assist beyond presenting a check or an envelope with cash - like painting a school or community center or reading to younger children or donating books, toys and clothing. So much good work to be done!
Though off limits this year to our seventh-grader, the bake sale remains a favorite way for kids to raise money for a cause. Pick up a copy of Jarrett J. Krosoczka's Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit to read with your 3rd-5th grader and follow Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch hot on the trail of missing goodies from the bake sale intended to raise money for an all-important field trip! And while you're at it, pick up a copy of Sara Varon's Bake Sale to enjoy with that same child and experience the life and dreams of bakery owner Cupcake who is in a baking slump and wants desperately to meet the famous pastry chef, Turkish Delight. These bake sale selections are both in the form of comic books/graphic novels and each goes well with a generous serving of fresh baked cookies!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Frindle home several years ago, I have been a huge fan of author Andrew Clements (who, incidentally, has recently agreed to present an award at the 2012 Children's Choice Book Awards and I'm so excited that I'll be meeting him in May). He's one of those awesome young-middle grade authors who has a book for everything and they all extol the power of children to make a difference. Pick up a copy of The Report Card by Andrew Clements, illustrated by the amazing Brian Selznick, and you (and your child, duh!) will not be disappointed.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
A few weeks ago, upon posting my most recent past blog post, I fully expected to post daily from that day on and chronicle our family's 10-day experience hosting a foreign exchange student. The whirlwind of activity that began around 11 pm on Tuesday, October 25th threw me for a loop and resulted in a change of plans. Our student left last Friday, though - just in time for the rest of us to rally behind Jeff who, superhumanly, ran the NYC marathon for the third time on Sunday - and now I'm back to recap. I should start by acknowledging that we won the foreign exchange student jackpot. Our 13-year old young lady from Bordeaux, France was intelligent, interested, interesting, fun, kind and exceptionally polite. It was a pleasure to have her in our home and to see our city through her eyes. I expected the experience to be a positive one for our family and hoped that our children would benefit greatly from the experience. It was and they did. We all did. I will admit, though, that I didn't fully realize how demanding this adventure would be (for me, I mean). It's not easy for anyone to be "on" all the time and, as much as I appreciated the opportunity to practice speaking French, it's is particularly difficult to be "on" in a language other than your mother tongue. Our daughter, with whom the exchange student was paired, was performing in her school play (which was awesome) and mending a badly sprained ankle during the visit, which made things more challenging than they might have otherwise been. In addition, our daughter does not speak a word of French. None of our kids do. And that was a challenge as well. Still, on the first night, when we all sat down to dinner together, somehow teenage girls from different worlds, speaking different languages, were able to communicate the fact that mean girls exist in all of their schools and none of them had any desire to be part of "that" crowd. It was fascinating and fabulous.
The experience really did teach everyone to be a little more sensitive and a little more flexible. It also taught me that, in an effort to make our guest feel comfortable and make my own family look good, I am perfectly capable of not yelling at my kids for 10 whole days. C'est bon!
The Little Prince. Actually, we read it in French, Le Petit Prince (not boasting; it's just that I grew up in Montreal), and it has turned out to be one of those classic stories forever etched in my memory. In English or the original French, it's a highly recommended adventure. If you want a slower start at the French language with your younger child, I suggest you pick up a copy of Fancy Nancy: Bonjour Butterfly. by Jane O'Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. That Fancy Nancy - she's always a crowd pleaser!