Category Archives: Parenting Tips

Introduce Kids to Poetry During National Poetry Month

Fun Books, Movies and Activities to Try

April is National Poetry Month, a great time to introduce children to poetry through books, movies and activities.


“Pocket Poems,” selected by Bobbi Katz, illustrated by Marylin Hafner, is a great start for young children. The collection features short poems from famous and lesser-known poets, with child-friendly illustrations.

“The Usborne Book of Poems for Young Children,” selected by Philip Hawthorn, illustrated by Cathy Shimmen, includes poems from dozens of poets, with full-page color illustrations.

“The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry,” edited by Martin with Michael Sampson, is a terrific overview of poems on a variety of subjects, colorfully illustrated.

“Splish Splash” by Joan Bransfield Graham, illustrated by Steve Scott, is a collection of concrete poems (poems in specific shapes), all relating to water.

“A Jar of Tiny Stars: Poems by NCTE Award-Winning Poets,” edited by Bernice E. Cullinan, highlights the best modern children’s poets.

“April Bubbles Chocolate: An ABC of Poetry,” edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Barry Root, contains 26 short poems with realistic art.

“Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World” by Jeanette Winter uses fanciful artwork to introduce children to Dickinson’s work. “Grassroots” combines poems by Carl Sandburg with nature paintings by Wendell Minor.


“Classical Baby: The Poetry Show” (2008) is a lovingly animated 23-minute video with poems by Shakespeare, John Keats, Gertrude Stein and more, read by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Susan Sarandon.

“Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who” (2008) is a playful feature animated film, with the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carrel and Carol Burnett, based on the children’s classic.

“A Child’s Garden of Poetry” (2011) is a 27-minute collection of poems by greats like Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Frost, performed by readers like Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson, with animation and live footage of children.


Create and decorate a paper pocket to carry a short poem, using this handy template. Our librarian had children do this as well as writing rain poems by putting words inside the droplets of a printed-out picture of an umbrella in the rain.

Grade-school children may be inspired to write poems by reading “Ten-Second Rainshowers: Poems by Young People,” edited by Sandford Lyne, illustrated by Virginia Halstead. The collection features free-verse poems by children in grades 3 through 12.

Look for online interactive National Poetry Month activities for grades K-12 from, helping kids to write and appreciate poetry.

Originally published on the Yahoo! Contributor Network

The Best Attractions for Kids in Historic Philadelphia

There’s more to see in historic Philadelphia than the Liberty Bell. Kids will love these attractions in the historic district, also known as Old City.

Franklin Square

If you have small children, make Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street, part of your visit. Within easy walking distance of other attractions, such as the Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street, the park is packed with activities. Ride the Parx Liberty Carousel, play miniature golf at a course filled with miniature versions of historic Philadelphia buildings, or play on the playground, which includes a toddler section. There are fees for the carousel rides and the miniature golf, but the playground is free, as are the storytelling benches around the central fountain, where you can hear a tale from real-life raconteurs. The park also features food stands and (thankfully) restrooms!

Independence Seaport Museum

Whether your child loves transportation, history or science, the Independence Seaport Museum is guaranteed to entertain. Admission is $13.50 for adults; $10 or children, free for ages 2 and under, and AAA discounts are available. The museum houses attractive, well-lit exhibits on topics ranging from sea exploration, to ship building, to a hands-on exhibit about how boats work. For my 4-year-old, the main attraction were the numerous intricate models of real ships. Admission includes a self-guided tour of a World War II submarine and a steel warship, first launched in 1892.

Fireman’s Hall Museum

A museum dedicated to firefighters was an easy sell for my preschooler. The Fireman’s Hall Museum, 147 N. 2nd Street, packs centuries of history into a relatively small space, a former firehouse. For my son, the highlight were the firefighting vehicles, ranging from 19th-Century hand-pumps to a 20th century gas-powered engine. There’s also an exhibit on fire safety, firefighting coats and boats to try on, and oodles of info about Philadelphia firefighting history. Admission is free; donations requested. The gift shop offers some great toys and souvenirs.

National Museum of American Jewish History

The National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall E. (at the corner of 5th and Market streets), features state-of-the-art exhibits on the history of Jewish-American citizens. Admission is $12 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Kids can pretend to ride west in a covered wagon, sit in turn-of-the-century school desks, and don masks for a ballroom dance. We visited for the current special exhibit on baseball, a must-see attraction for both boys and girls. In addition to focusing on Jewish players, the exhibit addresses other “outsider” groups, such as women and African-Americans. A family guide at the exhibit entrance includes activities and discussion questions. A computer interactive game allows visitors to field balls from baseball’s greats, and a pitching mound in the concourse invites you to pitch like Sandy Koufax.

Originally published on the Yahoo! Contributor Network

A Busy Mom’s Guide to Exercising

Getting Them Involved Makes You Both Happier


As the mother of a 4-year-old boy, I know how challenging it is finding time to exercise. Not long after bringing him home, I learned the easiest way is often to get him involved.


Babies love to be held; it’s great for bonding and helps them feel secure. As an infant, my son loved riding in a baby carrier as I shopping, walked or engaged in household tasks. While he cried when I tried to do one of my exercise DVDs, he giggled and lit up when I engaged in workout moves similar to these exercises from Even though he weighs a lot more nowadays, I still sometimes lie on my back and do “baby presses” with him, as he shrieks in delight.

Another activity started then was taking walks around our neighborhood, pushing him in the stroller. I’ve found this to be a great way to coax him into taking a nap, especially on a warm summer day. Of course, for babies too young for sunscreen, you’ll want to be sure to use a hat and clothing to protect against harmful rays. I found a sun shade that would attach to our stroller, which provided additional protection. A friend of mine, an amateur athlete, bought a jogging stroller and has even participated in a 5K with her little guy!

Toddlers & Preschoolers

As my son became more mobile, our options increased. I rented several kids’ exercise videos to find the ones he liked best. Our favorites are now a permanent part of our routine and a fun way to exercise together. I’ll ask my son if he wants to “have a party,” and we’ll groove to “Sesame Street Get Up and Dance” or “Curious Buddies: Let’s Move.” Thanks to that video, my son grew interested in yoga, so we got the Gaiam video, “YogaKids 3: Silly to Calm.”

Any activity that involves movement is great for you both. In addition to dancing, we go to a park and kick or throw a ball; play tag; or go swimming. He loves playing hide and seek, happily racing around the house for a half an hour or more, trying out new hiding spaces or searching for me. Remember: even though playing may not be as intense as an aerobic workout, movement of any kind helps you burn calories and helps your little one to tone muscle and improve coordination.

originally published in 2005 on Yahoo! Contributor Network

Thanksgiving Safety

Family at Thanksgiving dinner

A family enjoys Thanksgiving dinner.

Just in time for the holiday, I’m happy to share a guest post by Amy Patterson.

Thanksgiving is synonymous with family and food. It is the season of holiday feasts. Usually every person in the house is involved in the holiday preparations, including the little ones. While this may be a festive time, it can also turn dangerous. Safety in the home is especially important during this time, since there are many people and activities going on around you. Distractions can lead to disaster. Being prepared and aware is essential.

The kitchen is the heart of the house

Safety in the kitchen is more important than in any other place in the house. This is because there are many unseen hazards that can lead to a hazardous results. Hot pans, boiling water, and other food preparation equipment can cause injuries if not attended to properly. More serious injuries can also happen here, such as kitchen fires.

Because of this, everyone should follow some basic safety measures while preparing for Thanksgiving gatherings.

  •  Those cooking should not wear dangling sleeves and loose clothes. That type of clothing can easily catch on fire.
  • Always turn off the gas/stove when you are going out of the kitchen. Always stay in the kitchen when you are boiling, frying or grilling food. Remain in the house while cooking and check food regularly.
  • Keep items away from the gas which can catch fire such as oven mitts, paper and plastic items, wooden utensils, food packaging, curtains, and towels.
  • Keep your children away from the kitchen.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher at your house so that you can access it quickly if required.
  • Always check the regulator of gas before going to sleep. Make sure that all appliances are turned off.
  • Install smoke alarms that can alert you if anything catches fire.
  • Keep knives and sharp or hot objects out of the reach of children.

Having friends and family over for the holidays

Prepare your house so that is it is ready to welcome your friends and family. Make everyone feel at home by creating a nice atmosphere. A clean and decluttered home is essential in making guests feel comfortable, as well as helping to prevent injuries caused by a trip and fall accident. Make sure rugs are properly placed, and that floors are not slippery if there is rain. Be sure to prepare a list that can help you remember the tasks that need to be done ahead of time. This can be a hectic time if you are unprepared. Organization and preparation ahead of time can help you stay focused on the day of the festivities, thus helping to avoid distractions that can lead to mishaps. If you are creating a festive entry for your house, or using lights and garland as decoration, be sure that they are not placed in a manner near flammable objects or in the path of young children. Avoid candles and opt for battery operated lighting. Help keep things out of the way by providing plenty of options for your guests to hang and store personal items. Purchase a coat rack as well as some storage baskets or bins to collect gloves, scarves and hats. You can also arrange a basket for the storage of car keys. By keeping these safety tips in mind, you can help to avoid a potential disaster and focus on enjoying this time with friends and loved ones.

Amy Patterson is an avid reader on trending topics and a writer in her spare time. On the beautiful coast of North Carolina you will usually find her catching up on the latest news with locals or on the beach. She loves to write pieces on health, fitness, and wellness, but often writes about families and safety.

Halloween for Your Child with Diabetes

Halloween on Harrison Court
“Halloween on Harrison Court” by Kevin Dooley from Flickr

Today, I’m happy to share a very timely guest post by Amy Patterson.

Halloween poses some unique challenges for kids with diabetes. Halloween is about many things: costumes, ghost stories, jack-o-lanterns, and late-night fun with friends. It’s also about candy. Lots of candy. Kids, costumes, and candy. If your child is diabetic, that last item will pose a problem.

If your child has diabetes, you’re likely familiar with the hazards of candy. Pure sugar with nothing else to balance it out. Halloween is probably the most intense celebration of candy in the United States these days. Halloween is also a wonderful night for children, giving them a chance to get outside in the night with friends, dress up in wild costumes, and generally celebrate their imagination.

So what’s a parent to do? You don’t want your kid to miss out on a special night with friends. You don’t want your kid to be alienated by the neighborhood kids. You don’t want your kid to feel like diabetes makes her feel like an outsider. You do, though, want your kid to learn to manage diabetes at an early age. Here are some basic tips that you, as a parent, can take to ensure your child’s Halloween is safe AND fun this year.

Communicate Ahead of Time

Speak with your child about his condition ahead of time. Speak clearly about proper diabetes care, stressing the concrete dangers of hyperglycemia. He’ll understand your concern, learn self-dependence, and be thrilled to earn your respect by getting the opportunity to take care of himself. Plan ahead. If you’re comfortable with this, tell him he can bring home anything he wants, as long as he waits until coming home to eat. This will ensure you can observe what exactly he eats on Halloween. Also, this plan will allow your child to have a normal, fun Halloween with the neighborhood kids.

Trick or Treat With Your Kid

If you would rather have a hands-on Halloween experience with your child, go along for the ride! This will allow you to observe your child as she has safe, spooky fun. You can build memories, speak about pedestrian safety, and get an interesting perspective on her imagination. You’ll have fun and get to make sure you see what your kid eats. Remember that diabetic care be difficult for a child, both intellectually—it can be difficult to understand what the proper care actually consists of—and as a matter of willpower. Throwing off her blood sugar may make it more difficult to treat her; and improper use of diabetes meds is a common reason for emergency room visits. Your presence as a parent can help her with understanding as well as keeping her on task.

Ration the Night’s Find

After you’ve gathered the sweet, precious hoard, gather it up and organize portions. As a parent of a child with diabetes, you’re aware of your kid’s blood sugar and eating patterns. Diabetic children can, of course, eat sweets. But diabetic children, even more than other children, need to be careful. Rationing candy can help your child keep track of her sweets. This will also allow her to eventually eat all of that good candy WITHOUT overindulging. Wrapped candy can last a long time, after all. You could even make your Halloween harvest the entire year’s candy ration, doling it out in small doses when the occasion calls for it.

Amy Patterson is an avid reader on trending topics and a writer in her spare time. On the beautiful coast of North Carolina you will usually find her catching up on the latest news with locals or on the beach. She loves to write pieces on health, fitness, and wellness, but often writes about families and safety.

Article: Best Kid Attractions in Old City Philly

Here’s the first installment in a short series I’m writing about kid-friendly attractions in Philadelphia, this one focused on Old City. It’s also giving us an excuse to check out a lot of places we’ve never gone before!

The Best Attractions for Kids in Historic Philadelphia