Friday, February 12, 2010

Rockin’ Music Kids Learn From

I was sent a new CD for elementary school-aged kids this last month. The music is perfect for children who crave catchy music with an adult like quality. This is not like your normal children’s CD. The sophisticated music covers a wide range of genres you find in the adult market making this music CD one of a kind.

The biggest thing I noticed is unlike other children’s CDs that do not deliver the goods and/or are intended for older audiences; Read to Rock Kids does what it says. Don’t get me wrong, I love putting in some of my children’s CDs that have songs like “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” or others which have the current Top 10 billboard songs song by kids for kids. Trust me when I say I have heard the Smash Mouth “All Star” enough times I can sing it in my sleep. But what about songs with great beats that also teach a lesson? Ready to Rock Kids gives parents this option.

As I parent, I want a CD that has appropriate lyrics, while still providing entertainment for my kids to rock out to. Free Spirit Publishing has done that with volume 1 and 2 of Ready to Rock Kids created by Don R. MacMannis, Ph.D.

Ready to Rock Kids entertains kids while teaching them about issues they deal with every day in school and at home without being preaching. Topics you’ll find covered in this CD are sharing, feeling included, manners, respect, relationships, and much more. Parents pop this CD in and play songs like “Cleanup Time” to encourage children to do their share when playtime is over and before you know it . . . you’re child will be singing along as they pick up their toys. Something I witnessed my daughter doing just last night before bedtime.

With messages parents support, children and adults will want to rock-out together to the catchy beats of this CD. You can learn more and hear sample songs at

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February Craft Idea!

Paintbrush Cookies

By: Wendy Dickson

What You Need:

½ cup margarine (1 stick)

¼ cup vegetable shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups unsifted flour

1 tsp salt

Egg Yolk Paint (see below)

Small artist paintbrushes

Parental supervision

Instructions as Easy as 1-2-3:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl combine butter, shortening, and sugar.

3. Add eggs, almond extract, and vanilla extract.

4. Beat well until smooth.

5. Add flour and mix until you have a smooth dough.

6. Chill for one hour.

7. Divide the dough into three balls. Work with one ball at a time. Leave remaining dough in the refrigerator.

8. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 3/16-inch thickness.

9. Cut out cookies with heart-shaped cookie cutters (or whatever seasonal cookie cutters you desire).

10. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.

11. Repeat with remaining dough.

12. Using Egg Yolk Paint, decorate your cookies.

13. Bake until cookies are golden brown at edges, 8-10 minutes.

14. Makes about 30 cookies.

Egg Yolk Paint

For each color you want to use, mix one egg yolk with ½ tsp water in a small bowl. Tint with liquid or paste food coloring. If your “paint” is too thick, thin with a few drops of water.

Whether they’re a gift for someone special or just for you and your family to munch on, these cookies are a lot of fun to make!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Boy Scout Day!

We don’t have Boy Scouts in Storyville, but we do have Book Scouts very similar to what the Boy and Girl Scouts do. Being a Scout is fun and exciting: you get to make new friends and do things you might not normally do with your family.

I’m lucky to know many Boy Scouts from your world and they are really excited to be celebrating the 100th year of Boy Scouts of America! Some of them have shared some great information so I can join the celebration with them. Here are two links to help you join the celebration, too!

Join the Boy Scouts of America as we celebrate 100 years of Scouting! If you missed it, you can still catch the energy and excitement of our 100th Anniversary Audiocast Kick-Off Rally!

Ten Ways You Can Get into the Action!

Parenting Tip:
Looking for some guides to help children improve their reading? Reading Rockets has free guides created for parents, teachers, and others who want to improve a child’s reading achievement. The best part is, you may download and print these guides for your own use or to hand out.

You may find these wonderful reading guides at

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bargain-Priced Family Vacations . . . Do They Exists?

What could be more cost effective than a family camp-out? Of course, the cheapest kind is finding a local campsite in your area and pitching a tent. Kids do not need many extras to have fun. However, if your idea of enjoying the woods, watching the leaves change colors, and later, playing in the snow (without paying for a pricey ski condo) includes a bit more comfort then here are some other ideas for you and your family to look into.

There are kids' activities, meals available, and plenty of wildlife. The best part . . . during the summer there are plenty of affordable packages, too!

The YMCA of the Rockies' Snow Mountain Ranch in Winter Park, Colorado, has 5,100 acres near ski resorts. There is enough room for 2,500 people between the lodges and cabins they offer. All activities are organized for children ages three and older, which include; miles of hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing trails; an indoor pool and gym, even a climbing wall (something my 13 year old totally enjoys); and horseback riding in summer for those horse lovers like my daughter.

The two-bedroom cabins are fully equipped with kitchens. This means stop by the local supermarket on the way up and save a bundle on food. These two bedroom, 1-bathroom cabins also have a fireplace and sleeping accommodations for five, making it a nice place to stay even for a bigger family. Rates per night are about $183. They do offer bigger cabins, too.

Right now, the YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch has some great offers. Here they are:

**Offer is based on availability and is valid from August 1, 2009 through May 27, 2010 excluding holiday periods and the month of March or for groups. Offer not valid with other rate packages and based on availability. Call 800-777-9622 and ask for the 2+1 package.

SKI FREE: Guests staying at Snow Mountain Ranch can ski FREE this winter. All guests will receive a FREE Nordic Center Pass, which will include admission for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding and tubing. Learn more about Nordic Center activities here.

For reservations visit Snow Mountain Ranch On line Reservations, or call 800-777-9622.

Elsewhere in America, Montecito-Sequoia Lodge (between Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks on LakeHomovalo in California) is another place to explore the outdoors while enjoying two big stone fireplaces and a deck to take in the view of the Great Western Divide. You can stay in a lodge room with a private bathroom or in a rustic cabin with a wood-burning stove and bathhouse nearby for those who want to feel like they are roughing it slightly.

Stuff to do includes: hiking, fishing, canoeing, tennis, and of course, organized kids' activities such as all-day programs in summer and plenty of sing-alongs around the campfire. In winter, you can tube, sled, cross-country ski, or snowshoe.

Packages include meals and they also offer midweek stays in fall (until just before Thanksgiving). You can book a Thanksgiving package for 4 nights and five days, which includes meals, kids' activities, guided hikes, and more.

For more information on packages (cost less in cabins, slightly more for stays in the lodge) visit or call 800/227-9900 or 650/967-8612.

On a visit to the Badlands of South Dakota, kids can count all of the different license plates in the parking lot of Mount Rushmore! (Get more Mount Rushmore information at or 605/574-2523.) Kids cannot climb on the monuments, but Mount Rushmore can still serve as a centerpiece for a family vacation certain to please.

You can explore caves, pick up rocks blasted from the mountain, join a "dig" at the Mammoth Site where more than 50 giant mammoths were trapped more than 26,000 years ago, and take a Jeep tour through a buffalo herd.

To keep the theme going for an outdoor adventure, make sure to stay at Custer State Park, where besides seeing buffalo, you can rent an old-fashioned cabin on the lake where you can go panning for gold, make animal tracks with kids on hands-on junior naturalist programs, and so much more. Contact 800/658-3530 or

To learn more about Mount Rushmore call 800/952-3625 or visit South Dakota's official tourist site at or, the site of the Black Hills, Badlands & Lakes Association, which lists 50 "G-rated" family attractions in the region.

One thing to remember before planning your family outdoors trip is to include the kids in your decision. You can do this by getting out a map, talking about where you want to go, and what you want to do. Even your four-year-old will have an opinion.

Make sure everyone gets at least some of their picks on the itinerary. If the kids are old enough, suggest each one plan a day's activities. This helps the kids feel more involved and excited about what you are doing as a family on vacation.

Another thing you can do is surf the web as a family to find where you want to go. Sometimes the best deals are found there and ideas on what to do once you arrive.

Lastly, consider inviting a friend for an only child or for a sole preteen/teen in the family. He or she will be much happier.


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.