Using the Game Upwards with Young Children

Durability There are various levels of quality in this game. Mine is an older version but it has lasted quite well.

.Play quality This is a fun game for adults as well as children. It is a great way to teach children spelling and reading.

Safety The tiles should be kept away from children under three as they are a choking hazard

.Age interest The game is designated for eight years and older but the ideas below can show you ways to use it with much younger children.

Storage and portability Everything fits neatly into a small box.

Price Price varries from this featured $14.00 version to $80.

Recommendation highly recommended.

https://amzn.to/33ndzDV

This post is suggesting a cooperative way to play with young children. Opponents can’t have large differences with spelling abilities so it isn’t suitable for a four year old and a ten year old. But there’s a way even young children can enjoy it. Play my cooperative version.

How do you win?

If you can use all the tiles in the box to form words, you are Word Champions! If you don’t get them all (pretty difficult) on the board, set a goal to have fewer orphaned letters the next time you play.

Only use one rack. Let the child pull out ten letters from the bag and say their names and sounds. Together, create a word to place on the boards. Pick enough letters out of the bag to get back to ten on your rack. Keep working together.

Variations

  1. Just make words.
  2. Make a list of simple rhyming words. You make one and the two of you make the rhyme Some interesting variations in spelling sounds will come up.
  3. Create short vowel words. What ones can be changed to long vowel words by adding an E?
  4. Show them how to join words.
  5. Show them how to lengthen the word with suffixes like “ed”, “s” and “ing” and prefixes like “re.
  6. Show them how to change a word by building up. This is the only way you can ever use all the tiles.
  7. Now they are ready to play real “Up”.

Toy Review – Spuzzle Game by Disney

“The crazy racing puzzle game” Frozen by Disney

Two to four player build the characters Anna, Elsa, Hans, Olaf, and Kristoff containing four puzzle pieces each. Players take turns blindly picking up puzzle pieces. Duplicates are left behind. For added fun a player can occasionally put back an opponent’s piece. Once a four piece character is complete they are locked and safe from opponents. A “Spuzzle” card means every player gets to pick up a piece. When a player completes all five four-piece puzzles, they win.

There are other movie variations of this game.

Durability Four stars Well made heavy cardboard. Thick puzzle pieces.

Play quality Five stars. Loads of fun for small children especially Frozen fans. Rules are easy.

Safety  Five stars.

Age interest Four stars. Labeled 4+ but teens might be bored. Some three-year-olds could play this.

Storage and portability four stars. Fits into a comfortably sized box.

Price Three stars. Averages $45 to $50 on Amazon.

Recommended for children ages 4-9.

Other variations.

Buy link https://amzn.to/2JfR8XC

Buy link https://amzn.to/3muCxG4

Recycled Sundays – Where Is That Lego?

Having a normal Canadian son, I’ve had my share of trips to the emergency room. Mercifully, though, they’ve usually turned out to be less serious than at first panic. The case of the missing Lego is a good example.

Set the scene: Mother is shampooing her hair in the shower, little boy comes into the bathroom. Mother responds with a five minute lecture on the ill matters of interrupting, respect for privacy, mother’s deserve some peace and quiet, I can’t hardly hear you with the water running, you’re only supposed to come in here if you’re bleeding or the house is on fire.

“So,” she finishes grandly. “Are you bleeding?”

The child shakes his head no. His eyes look teary.

“Is the house on fire?”

“No,” he whispers,  “I have a Lego stuck in my throat.”

Since he was breathing and had survived my ridiculous lecture without turning blue, I took the time to rinse most of the shampoo out of my hair and get dressed. After all it was 28 below celsius outside.

It seems my son was trying to pry a part two small Legos with his teeth. (yes, we bought the official Lego separating tool. Two in fact. Fortunately, we did not buy the official separating tool finder.)

This was not our first trip to the emergency room (other stories involving bodily fluids which I will probably spare you). Being experienced in waiting area zombie -land, you can imagine my surprise when we were ushered right into an examining room. The doctor actually ignored the man with a missing ear and a teenager receiving oxygen to serve us. I really started to worry.

They poked and prodded. Nothing there. They listened to him breathe, in and out, in and out,. Nothing there. They shone lights in, on and around. Nothing there. They xrayed his stomach and even his nasal passages (has happened). Nothing there. I really, really started to worry.

“Tell me exactly what you did,” said the doctor.

My son describe how, while tryingto bite apart two double pegged lego pieces, one became lodged in his throat. He couldn’t breathe and he couldn’t spit it up. I felt the color drain from my face as I imagine myself blissfully shampooing my hair while he faced a life-and-death struggle with a building block.

“I ran to the stairs,” he continued, “I coughed and and then I could breathe. I told Mommy. I could feel it in my throat before but I can’t now.”

As the hours dragged by, my son felt better and better. The of medical personnel had begun shrugging their shoulders.  My son wanted to go home.

“Well,”  said Dr. Sherlock, “the only place left to look is at home.”

Which we did. On the bottom step, was a block that fit the one described by my son. He must have coughed it up as he was running to me. The combination of panic and the scratched throat convinced him it was still there. We also found a quarter and a missing earring. He kept the quarter. I kept the earring.

He certainly learned his lesson, I thought. He’ll never stick a Lego in his mouth again. I didn’t warn him about Thanksgiving.

At school, he was making a turkey mosaic with buttons and such. He couldn’t do much with the such, but the buttons were just the right size.

“I saw Logan at the principal’s office today,” my daughter informed me.

Whereupon I launched into a lecture on how he was supposed to stop rough-housing and getting into trouble and I couldn’t believe my own son would have to be sent to the principal’s office twice in his life. Talk about not learning from your mistakes.

“But Mom, I had a button up my nose!”

The principal, thankfully, had experience. It seems his own daughter was a nose packer.

“Don’t worry, Mom, the principal got it out,” said my son when I gasped. “It shot right across the room and smacked into his filing cabinet with a ding sound.|”

“What did you do then?” I asked, expecting a tale of his humble gratitude.

He shrugged. “I washed it off and glued it on my turkey.”

 

First published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times News

Sunday, January 12, 1992

My First Best Friend by Derek Washington. Book review.

This picture book is a sweet story of a father’s unwavering love for his child. He expresses his admiration for his son’s determination and his enjoyment of his boy’s growth. Throughout the book he builds the child’s confidence and sense of adventure. They do everything together and their lives are filled with joy and affection.

Then his son takes a major step toward independence. The father confesses that sending his child to school is difficult because his son is missed. When his son says he has a new best friend named Miles, the father reminds him that he will always love him and be his first best friend. I think it is important that when a child has to negotiate the scary and unpredictable world away from home, especially the social quagmire of school, that he knows his father is always there to back him up and support him. However, I would have liked the dad to show more interest in Miles and encourage his son to make friends outside the family.

The book is written in rhyme which holds together fairly well but it isn’t really necessary, especially considering the story’s focus. The illustrations are full color, full-page, cartoon style. There is a color page and a maze the back of the book.

This would make a lovely gift for a new father or father to be.

Edu Baby 5 Games Around the World – Toy Review

Durability four stars The cardboard and plastic pieces are solid but some pieces don’t stay together very well.
 
Play quality three stars  Children learn animals and their habitats, rooms in the home,  and children of many nations in cultural clothing. They put together puzzles, play bingo, learn shapes and colors, and play a memory game. Unfortunately, it is mostly jigsaw puzzle based.
 
Safety four stars The game is recommended for 2+ but I would closely supervise children who still put things in their mouths.
 
Age interest four and a half stars Two is a little young for most of this although they would like sorting the pictures of children. They can play with the puzzle animals but might struggle to fit them together. Definitely engaging for three to five-year-olds.
Storage and portability five stars Everything fits back  into the box which has a handle and is light to carry. I recommend putting the memory game pieces in a ziplock bag.
Price three stars I bought it for $9.99 at Home Sense.  It is no longer available on Amazon so I don’t  know what they charge.
 
Recommended (with reservation) as long as it is under $10.00. Watch the video for suggestions.
This less than three minute video explains the games in more detail and gives ideas on how to use them. https://youtu.be/I_cSrkLvKGU

Words are Confusing – Recycled Sundays

Considering the complexity of the English language, rich with synonyms, homonyms, and metaphors, it is amazing that humans understand each other as well as they do. Still, if we could eliminate misunderstanding most therapists, lawyers, marriage counselors, and peacekeepers would be out of a job.

 

Children play an old game called telephone or gossip which also illustrates how garbled messages can become once they leave the first pair of lips. A single misunderstood word can give the sentence a widely different meaning.

 

It can be very confusing for a child when they have missed understood a word and then hear it in a different context. I remember when my son was first learning to play Monopoly before he could read most of the words. He thought Pacific Avenue was Specific Avenue. He finally asked me to explain this oddity when I use specific in a non-Monopoly context too many times.

 

He also thought Qaddafi was a car. I wondered what brand of oil Gaddafi would use.

 

News broadcasts, often told too quickly, are a great source of misunderstanding. When President Bush made a cultural faux pas and offended the Australians, it was the topic of discussion at our dinner table.

 

“Did you hear?” said our daughter. “The American president gave the V for victory sign wrong when he drove past some Australians in his car and now they’re mad at him.”

 

“That’s not true,”said my son.

 

“It is so,” I said my daughter. “I saw on the news. We even talked about it in school.”

 

“That’s impossible,” continued my son who was an avid student of geography. “How can the president of the United States drive. his car to Australia?”

 

Perhaps in a Gaddafi.

 

After further discussion of the history of the V sign, my son offered his own interpretation. He thought that perhaps politicians use the two fingers up to signal the postal employees to raise the price of stamps two cents.

 

Even simple words used in slightly different ways can be misleading. My husband said they were 2000 applications to attend the faculty of education this year but only 400 seats were available. My son wanted to know if the rest would have to stand. I hoped it wouldn’t have to be in an unemployment line after graduation.

 

I often wonder about the hidden messages in questions. Recently a waitress asked if I wanted something tall and fruity or short and tart. Neither sounded appealing to my tastes.

 

You can often tell a lot about someone by what they don’t say. In a West Coast First Nations burial ground, time is marked by centuries. The headstones say which century a person died in. That certainly speaks of a long-range view. Without ever having met them, you suspect they are the kind of people who would support Spaceguard. Spaceguard is a proposed project that would track asteroids and comets heading toward earth that are capable of killing  one billion people or more.

 

We are living in a time when the information highway is spreading, yet few people can read the road signs. If you’ve ever followed a debate on a computer bulletin board you will have seen communication and miscommunication at its highest level. Unfortunately, those who don’t learn to ride the information highway will be bypassed or perhaps driven right over. Still, it is a message labyrinth even King Minos would find puzzling.

 

Numerous episodes of  In Search Of and Ancient Mysteries are devoted to unraveling messages left by previous cultures. I shutter to think what future cultures may deduce from our leavings, Madonna videos, Beavis & Butthead cartoons, newspaper war coverage, Snow CDs, bathroom graffiti, and income tax guides. If we have trouble understanding it as we live through it, future civilizations will be stunned. Anthropologists and archeologists will probably term it as the Time of Insanity. The general public will ask them to be more specific, especially about the game called Monopoly.

 

Originally published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times News

February 6, 1994

Christmasese – Recycled Sundays

The Christmas season is once again upon us. The older I get, the shorter the 11 months in between seem. I could swear I sent my Christmas column off just last month if the calendar didn’t insist differently. The children, though, contend that it has been at least 47 months since the last Christmas.

I need more time to gear myself for writing Christmas cards. Each year I am determined to keep notes for this seasonal greeting and each year I compile a list of special events in our lives, all of which happened in January and February. I’m sure we did something during the next ten months, but for the life of me, I can no longer sort one year from the other. Thank Nikon for cameras. Between photographs and scrapbooks, I am stunned by what I’ve forgotten.

Christmas card notes require a delicate balance. I try to share my gratitude for the year’s joys (without bragging), mention a few learning experiences (without whining), and tell a humorous family anecdote (without alienating my offspring until the next Christmas).

Some friends enjoy creating a long, detailed computer-generated family biography while others prefer the challenge of a handwritten note. I try to write clearly, since I’ve received some eligible notes that threw me for a loop: “Joe had children poo on a lover” or “Joe had Christmas panic odor” turned out to be “Joe had chickenpox all over.”

I try to inquire about the recipient’s family, ever conscious that I must not leave anyone out (including newborns, spoiled pets, and recently acquired significant others), must keep up with the current nicknames and shortened versions, and must wish everyone peace and happiness without drawing attention to unemployment or older children returning to the nest. If the representatives at the United Nations were required to write their familys’ Christmas cards for a decade before being admitted, they would learn true diplomacy.

Another Christmas tradition which requires diplomacy is attending school concerts. It is sometimes difficult to identify when a good belly laugh will be appreciated by the performers and when it will trigger tears. Most children, though, know when to seize the moment.

One unplanned concert gem occurred when the Smurfs were the rage. One class had spent a great deal of imagination and artistic endeavor in preparation. Children stood behind a large, hand-painted mural and stuck sculptured Smurf puppets in the holes. In falsetto, syrupy voices, they sang Chrismurphy songs. Just when the audience was experiencing sweetness overload, the mural fell. It not only expose the puppeteers crouched and crowded in hilarious positions, but ripped the fuzzy blue fellows right off their hands. The audience gasped, unsure whether to laugh or commiserate with the students. Undaunted, the performers kept right on singing, and, several continue to move their hands as though the Smurfs were still there. It was a Smurftastic presentation.

I always love the unexpected, big or small. I remember pumping my littlest child full of antibiotics, vitamins, cough syrup, juice, and TLC so that he could sing in the Christmas concert. For two weeks he had been croaking the words against my admonition to let his throat heal. The special day arrived. Sporting his handsome red tie and dressy clothes, he marched up on the stage, took one look at the audience and seized up. Silently, he mouthed the words, standing as stiff as a candy cane, staring at a man with a video camera.

The cameraman was filming his own daughter in an entirely different role. She wasn’t even mouthing the words. Instead, she concentrated on unraveling the handknit sweater of the child in front of her. This child didn’t notice since he was too busy playing with a partially chewed balloon he had found in his pocket. The only person I could actually hear clearly was the teacher kneeling on the floor in front, performing the actions with exaggerated enthusiasm while the other students stared as though she was speaking an alien language.

Perhaps she was. Christmasese. The language we use at concerts and when writing Christmas cards. The language that gets us through a season of 16 hour days, each with four scheduled events, and the greeting and departure of more people than we encountered during the other 11 months. The language of laughter, tact, and gratitude. The language that, if continued throughout the year, could get us graciously through bouts of chickenpox or Christmas panic odor.

Chronicle-Journal/Times-News December 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Digby of the Dinosaurs by Linda Yiannakis. Book Review.

I don’t think I can actually do this remarkable book justice.

Summarizing the plot, a little boy inadvertently finds himself in a secluded world where some species of dinosaurs still exist and have evolved to a higher level. But it is so much more than that.

Told mostly from the point of view of Digby, a orphan who feels unloved, the book strikes at the core of personal identity and need for family. The author avoids the trap of info dump even though the culture she is portraying is complex and rich. She allows the background to unfold slowly through the eyes of the little boy who wants, so badly, to fit in. The reader becomes deeply attached to this child and wonders how he is going to possibly survive in this world.

The concept of unconditional love is beautifully portrayed by the mother dinosaur who adopts her foster child without giving into any reservations. In many ways, the dinosaur culture is far superior to that of human culture and give us much pause for thought. This would be a discussion stimulating book to share with your child or class.

The story is not all serious message though, as there are many humorous moments. The ending is exactly what it needs to be and we are left with a full heart and a satisfied sense of completion. Linda Yannakis shows herself to be a superior writer and storyteller in this masterpiece.

Strongly recommended for readers aged nine and up.

Buy link http://a.co/0mb8M48

smilesmilesmilesmilesmile

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

An Attitude of Gratitude Creates Happiness

The second edition of Rayne Shines is now published. The characters are people instead of frogs and the text has been tightened. Here are the first few pages.

Rayne is bored with life, until a new family moves in next door. Why do they look so happy? Rayne wants to know their secret. Rayne Shines is a humorous and thought-provoking picture book for ages 5-7.

In a subtle and humorous way, the story shows how attitude and perception create either happiness or misery. Rayne learns that gratitude, playfulness, optimism, and simplicity bring joy.

Buy link http://a.co/agCf1sP

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

 

 

 

All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang. Book Review.

This is an unusual book of thanks. It reminds me of a Buddhist gatha where we thank our body for everything it has given and done for us. In this text, the child thanks his feet, hands, knees and elbows, head, five senses, and other parts of his body. He expresses appreciation and wonder at the gifts given to him through his body. For example:

“I smile and talk and sing with my mouth. My lips kiss Mommy and Daddy. My teeth bite crackers. My tongue licks ice cream. My most tastes all my food before it slides down here, into my tummy.”

There’s one exceptionally beautiful moment where, after expressing thanks for all the things he can hear such as honking, singing, barking, laughing, purring, ticking,and rumbling, he hears between the noises… Silence. This illustration is a double spread of a night sky with a crayon outline of the boys face, eyes closed, calm and serene.

The illustrations are large and bright, done with crayon and cut out pieces of felt and graphics.

This book is a excellent reminder to be thankful for the simple things we receive, to express gratitude for our bodies with which we experience the whole universe.

It ends “And right now I also know that I am part of this whole world – this universe! All this is my home. I am ALIVE. And this whole universe is inside… All of me! What a wonder.
What seems at first to be a simple picture book is actually a profound and wise way of looking at the world and oneself. This would be a beautiful nighttime story for a child, a wonderful book to share on Thanksgiving Day, a Sunday school or Dharma school treasure, or even a reminder to adults not to take their lives for granted.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages