Monday, October 19, 2015

Sons of Liberty - Fabulous Book to Teach Kids about our Colonial Heroes

I love to use older books to teach history - the older the book the less history has been rewritten.  The Sons of Liberty, published by Julian Messner in 1969, is one of my family's favorite books that teaches about how our great nation was born.  It's one of those books that the kids will treasure forever. It was written by Felix Sutton of Virginia whose ancestors came to Virginia from England one generation before the Revolutionary War.

Sons of Liberty covers five of the colonial heroes that helped to form the United States - Sam Adams, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere and Joseph Warren.  Joseph Warren?  Yes, Joseph Warren.  He was a doctor in Boston that spied on the British.  I had never heard of him myself until I sat down and read this book with my children.  Rest assured, my children know who he is.

Because this book focuses on just five of the colonial heroes, kids learn a bit more about these fine and brave men.  Here are some facts that aren't usually mentioned in other books on this time period for kids:

Samuel Adams - Most adults thinks of the beer when Sam Adams is mentioned. He lead the men who comprised the Sons of Liberty.  Sam Adams was never a soldier yet he brought about the Revolutionary War more than anyone with his words and thoughts.  He is called "The Great Agitator" because it was he who created all the excitement and made people angry enough to fight for the cause of freedom from Britain. 

John Hancock -  He was the richest merchant in Boston and paid all the bills for the Sons of Liberty.  John Hancock was quite the opposite of Sam Adams, but they had one thing in common - the desire for freedom from Britain.  Did you know there is no inscription on his tomb stone?  Even without that everyone knows who he is with his large signature on the Declaration of Independence, which is clearly his epitaph.

Patrick Henry - He was from Virginia and inspired the colonists with his famous words "Give me liberty, or give me death."  He was a boy who did not like school.  He played hooky all the time until his father finally let him stop going to school.  His father decided to teach him at home and that is where Patrick thrived!  He eventually became an attorney and became a great speech writer. 

Paul Revere - A Boston silversmith, Paul Revere carried secret messages all over the colonies.  He will best be knows for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem . . . "Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere."

Joseph Warren - Warren was a spy from Boston who obtained many of the Redcoat's military plans.  He was one of the first members of the Sons of Liberty and was dedicated to the cause for freedom.  As he was a doctor, he cared for both the British and the colonists.  He would listen in on the conversations of the British military members and pass that information on to the Sons of Liberty - hence his importance to the cause of freedom.  He was the one who gave Revere the messages that Paul had to spread. 

As you can see, the actions of these brave men were pertinent to the United States gaining their independence from Britain.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ten Halloween Jokes for Your Kids

Kids love to tell jokes.  They also love to be told jokes.  Here are some fun Halloween jokes and riddles you can try on your kids:

What do mummies dance to?

  Wrap Music

What is a witch's best subject in school?


What room do zombies not go into?

  The Living Room

What kind of dog does Dracula have?

  A Bloodhound

What did the vampire say to the invisible man?

  Long Time No See

What do you call a witch that lives at the beach?

  A SandWitch

Who's the best dancer?

  The Boogie Man

Why do witches fly on brooms?

  Because Vacuum Cleaners Are Too Scary

Why did the vampire go to the orthodontist?

  To Improve His Bite

What is a baby ghost's favorite game?


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Don't Stop the Goth Look

"My son wants to dye his hair jet black, what do I do?", I asked a friend of mine.  "Let him do it." was her answer.  Those four words were just about the best parenting advice I have ever been given. 
As a child who had been homeschooled through 8th grade, entering high school at a big public school was a huge adjustment for my son.  He made some really nice friends right away, joined some organizations and was on his way to a rewarding high school career. 
Soon after school started he wanted to grow his hair out.  That was fine with me.  Then he went from wearing his khaki pants and plaid shirts to black jeans and black t-shirts. Then black coats.  Then the black eyeliner started.  Goodness! I didn't know what to say to that, but he actually looked great in the eyeliner! And I still don't know how he learned to put it on so well!
The end all beat all was when he asked to dye his hair jet black.  His hair was dark brown to begin with, but he wanted it BLACK!  That is when I called my friend to see what on earth I should do.  This was my son wanting his hair dyed, not my daughter.  She had already raised two teenagers and she is the one that said "Let him do it. There's a lot worse things he can be doing at his age.  If you fuss, he'll fight you on it.  Just let him do it, and let him get through this phase. It'll pass."  I had another friend who told me her son went totally goth in high school and college and is now a clean, cut wall street broker.  So there was hope of normalness after the "goth era".
Sure enough two years and four months after his first day of high school my son came bounding down the stairs asking me to take him shopping. "What do you need?", I asked.  "Colored clothes.  I'm sick of wearing all this black."  That sentence was music to my ears. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Goodness! Look What Was Happening When Last the Chicago Cubs Won the World Series.

1908, the year the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series.  I'm 50 and my own grandparents weren't even born yet.  My great grandmother was only 20 years old in 1908.  I wonder what she would have to say about that day the Cubs last won.  Let's see what all was going on that fateful day. 

Interestingly, the 1908 World Series had the least attendance with only 6,210 watching.  That's a significant amount less than what we see today.  290,985 was the attendance of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals.  There was also a ticket scalping scheme which caused many to boycott the 1908 World Series.  That's Chicago for you!

In 1908:

General Baden-Powell started the Boy Scouts.

Postage stamps came out in rolls.

First railway tunnel opened under the Hudson River.

Oklahoma joined the Union as the 46th state of the United States. We didn't even have all 50 states yet when last the Cubs won the World Series!

Mark Breith, the Mayor of Cincinnati, announced that "women are not physically fit to operate automobiles". Really?

The Murdock's were the first to travel by car across the United States.  It took them 32 days! And 5 hours and 25 minutes to get from Los Angeles to New York City traveling in their Packard.  It only takes 32 hours to drive from Chicago to Vancouver, Canada now.

London hosted the fourth modern Olympic games.

The first Mother's Day was celebrated.

First passenger air flight occurred.

General Motors was incorporated in Janesville, WI.

Elgar premiered his 1st Symphony in A.

First time numerals were used on football uniforms.

Crazy!  These last two are just mind boggling that they were occurring as the Cubs won their last World Series:

The Model T was introduced by Henry Ford! The Model T, for Pete's sake!

Albert Einstein presented his quantum theory of light. Yes, even Albert Einstein was alive when last the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Top 10 Things Teenagers Do in 2015

What did you do when you were a teenager?  We drove around, I think that was called "cruising' " back in the day.  Listened to our records. We went to movies. Out for pizza.  Miniature golf.  Just plain goofed off. 

What do teenagers do today in the year 2015?  Here are their top 10 activities:

1.  Scroll through Instagram on their phone

2.  Text their friends on their phone

3.  Listen to music on their phone

4.  Watch videos on their phone

5.  Snapchat on their phone

6.  Surf on their phone

7.  Take selfies on their phone

8.  Share selfies from their phone

9.  Charge their phone

and if we're lucky . . .

10.  Text mom or dad on their phone

Unfortunately this is true!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why It Is So Important To Take Your Kids on Living History Field Trips

Lincoln Presidential Library
History.  Did you enjoy it as a kid?  Most kids don't.  There are ways, however, to make history come alive and make it so much more exciting rather than just reading it out of a textbook.  Reading living books about history makes it come alive, and taking a field trip to the site of it makes it come even more alive!

My kids thrived on learning history this way.  In fact they had no idea they were even working on history.  Oh, the joys of tricking them into learning by doing something fun. 

Granted, it gets costly to go on field trip after to field trip.  So plan accordingly.  There are three ways to do this:

1 . Choose a trip based on a subject that is cherished by someone or all in your family;

2.  Choose to study a topic based on a place you are already going to;

3.  Choose a place you'd like to go and study that.

This gives kids a hands on and visual approach to learning about history.  It makes it real.  They can imagine the people in the time period as the event or events occurred. 

For example here are some of the living history field trips we have done with our kids:

1.  Helen Keller home in Tuscumbia, AL.  My son got very interested in Helen Keller when he was in 6th grade. He read everything he could find on her.  He even taught himself braille! So when he found out that you could actually visit Helen Keller's home, we made a special trip to Tuscumbia, Alabama just to see it.  He was fascinated to see the house where all the work that Helen and Annie Sullivan did together.  And, of course, the most poignant part of visiting her home was to see the well where Helen's huge transformation began.  You can't get this sense and feeling out of a book.  To really experience it and see where Helen's transformation began is just breathtaking.  It gives a child a completely different viewpoint of history.  And guess what.  They will remember it!

2.  Lincoln Sites and Presidential Library in Springfield, IL.  Our daughter is a huge Abraham Lincoln fan.  At the age of 10 when girls had Miley Cyrus posters (back when she was with Hannah Montana) she had posters of Abe Lincoln in her room.  What better place to take children to learn about good Ol' Abe than Springfield, IL.  There we went to the home he and Mary Todd owned.  The house is full of Lincoln relics.  And the neatest part of all, is Abraham Lincoln has actually touched the handrail on his staircase.  To see the look on our daughter's face when she ran her hand up that banister was priceless and the thought of it still is today. 

3.  Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.  When our son was younger he was very into dinosaurs.  What better way to show him how enormous they were than to take him to the Smithsonian to actually see real dinosaur fossils.  We did not tell him there were going to be dinosaurs in the room before he entered, so when he walked in and saw the bones of a ginormous T-Rex his jaw just dropped and stayed dropped for quite some time.  This was a great lesson as it put all those different sizes of dinosaurs into perspective for him - much better than just comparing them on a page of a book.

4.  Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.  We were in Memphis so we hopped on over to the Civil Rights museum to see where Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot.  We had studied him in school, of course, but this was an added treat.  It really gave some perspective as to where exactly he was when he was shot.  The new James Earl Ray museum across the street actually shows the vantage point Earl was at when her shot King.  This was a field trip we never planned ahead on going to.  It just happened because we noticed it was there when we were in Memphis and thought it was something the kids should go see. It really depicts the times well with racial strife and even has a bus where you can sit with Rosa Parks on it.

5.  Revolutionary War and Civil War sites in Charleston, SC.  We were fortunate to live in Charleston, SC until the kids were in high school and junior high.  Charleston is known for it's Civil War history, after all the war did start there at Fort Sumter.  But did you know it's also rich in Revolutionary War History as well?  Magnolia Plantation and The Old Exchange are two such places that bring the Revolutionary War to life.  It's also quite fascinating to walk the halls and be in places where George Washington actually had been.  When it comes to the Civil War, there's not much better place to live to learn living history of the war than in Charleston.  One of the best places even is Magnolia Cemetery where all the men who died on both Hunley submarines are buried.  And, of course, the Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship in battle, can be seen right in North Charleston.  Again, rather than just seeing a picture of that submarine, seeing it live puts it really into perspective what those men went through to accomplish what they did.

Whether you can go one field trip a week, or one a month or year, take the time to do this with your kids.  If you home school of course you will have more time and reason to do this.  And even if you don't home school, this a wonderful way for your kids to learn something new, and it also creates a great time for family bonding.  It's something your kids will always remember and will talk about for years to come.  Mine do.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Do Your Kids Know Why We Celebrate Labor Day?

Labor Day.  When I was a kid I had mixed emotions about Labor Day.  Labor Day meant the end of summer.  It also meant that when you went to bed on Labor Day evening you'd wake  up to the excitement of the first day of a new school year.  Not many schools start the day after Labor Day any more.  Now Labor Day is a day off after a few weeks of a new school year.

A day off.  That's what kids think Labor Day is.  It is also a day off for workers - which is its original intended purpose.  Here are the facts of how Labor Day came to be a holiday:

- Workers used to work in harsh conditions with long hours and very little pay.  Children were also subject to working under the same conditions as adults.

- Labor unions sprung up to fight for workers.  They worked to get the US worker higher wages with less working time and to protect children from working at a young age.

- Peter McGuire started the first Labor Day rally in 1872.  Tired of working in horrendous conditions he got 100,000 workers to go on strike and march through the streets of New York City demanding a better work environment for all.

- In 1882 McGuire proposed that workers deserved their own holiday.  On September 5, 1882 10,000 workers marched in the streets of New York City for the first Labor Day Parade

- In 1884 the celebration was moved to the first Monday of September.

- In 1894 Congress passed a law making Labor Day a national holiday.

Kids should know that it was the work of the labor unions that ensured they would not be spending their days working in factories rather than in school. And they can thank Peter McGuire for this day off of school.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Having Girls Play More Video Games is NOT the Answer to Getting Them into the STEM Fields

"Goodness! Do we really want more kids playing more video games?"  That was my first thought when I came across an article by Samantha Parent about how girls should be encouraged to play more video games.  The article is pure absurdity!  Parent states that because brothers and fathers play, girls should too. Video games apparently have gender disparity as does everything else on this planet these days. 

FYI!  Some kids don't like playing video games - just like some kids don't like to read or play board games.   My daughter is one of those kids.  Her brother is a video game junkie.  He tried to get her to play with him to no avail. She is the type of girl who likes to paint, cook and read. She does things that girls like to do!  And these are things that girls, as well as humans, have enjoyed doing for hundreds of years. The few video games she has enjoyed playing involved dogs and cooking.  Both girly topics.  Which is fine, because she is a girl! 

The article also stated that girls still are not going into the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Unfortunately these numbers have dropped dramatically in recent decades.  The fix?  Play more video games!  This will spark a new found interest in these fields.  Has anyone considered that most kids are on tech gadgets all day long?  They are on them at school.  They have to do their homework on them.  They play on them.  They communicate with all their friends on them.  Watch movies on them.  Some may actually choose to go into careers or spend their free time where they are not chained to a tech gadget.  Quite frankly, the numbers of girls entering the STEM fields has dropped since the rise of girls playing video games. In all actuality maybe we should be trying to have them do other things rather than play video games.

Why coerce a child who loves to paint, cook and read into playing games that will just suck her in on more tech gadgets?  She is enjoying life like kids SHOULD be enjoying life.  She is one of the few who is not majorly technologically connected.  Why do people think that all kids need to be so full of tech and games?  Why can't they just be kids? And another FYI, after reading this article as well, my teenage son claims that of his friends it's pretty even (55% boys 45% girls) as to what genders play video games. There were no stats on gender disparity in the article, but according to Wikipedia "the gender ratio has become closer to equal and since the 2010s females have been found to make up about half of all gamers."  As my son pointed out, there really is no gender disparity of video game use.

My daughter has long mentioned that if they made science and math more interesting to learn she may actually like those subjects.  She initially began her education in a Montessori school.  In 6th grade she moved into a public school.  After learning in an exciting hands-on environment and then being moved to dull textbook and computer learning, these subjects have become extremely boring to her.  If the education system would utilize a teaching method that made these classes more interesting to girls they may be more apt to go into the STEM fields.  Playing more video games certainly is not the answer.

Full text of the article can be found here: 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Do Your Kids Know Who Christopher Columbus is and Why He Sailed the Ocean Blue?

 In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  We all know the exact year Christopher Columbus set sail and found the Americas because we all have learned this saying.  But have your kids learned it?  Do they know why Christopher Columbus set sail?  Do they even know who Christopher Columbus was?  Here are some quick and fun facts to teach your kids so they can learn a bit more about this great explorer.

Christopher Columbus was born, Christoforo Colombo, in 1450 or 1451 in Genoa, Italy.  They didn't have birth certificates back then so we are not sure which exact year it was.  He lived during the Age of Discovery when Europeans explored for lands and wealth.

When Christopher Columbus was 14 he became an apprentice on a trading ship.  An apprentice works for no pay to learn a trade.  Back then this is how many learned a trade instead of going to high school or college.

When he was 19, and then again when he was 24, he went on a long voyage to an island called Chios.  This island is in the Aegean Sea.  On these trips he learned how to navigate long voyages on an open sea.

During the time of Columbus people thought there was one landmass on a flat surface surrounded by one ocean called the Ocean Sea.

Columbus' first expedition was funded by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.  He set sail in 1492.

Of Columbus' three ships, The Nina, The Pinta and the Santa Maria, he favored The Nina for its swiftness.

His first voyage took 43 days.  The ship was full of fleas and rats.  The sailors were full of lice.  They wore the same outfit the entire voyage and went barefoot.

When Columbus landed in the Americas he thought he was near China, Japan and the Indies.  He actually landed on Watling Island in the Bahamas.

As Columbus thought he had landed in the Indies, he called the native people of the Americas Indians.  More than 500 years later we still call the native inhabitants of the Americas Indians.

In Europe and in the Americas, October 12 (the date he landed on his first island in the Caribbean) is celebrated as Columbus Day to honor the great explorer and circumnavigator.  Since 1970 the United States celebrates it on the second Monday of October with lots of sales rather than sails.  (Sales / Sails is a great way to introduce or reiterate homonyms - words that sound the same, but have a different spelling and meaning - to your kids.)

Although Christopher Columbus was credited as the person who discovered the Americas or New World as many called it, he was not the first one to arrive there.  Human beings had lived in the Americas for over 20,000 years.  Norse Viking, Leif Erickson, beat Christopher Columbus to the Americas 500 years earlier. Many before Erickson may have been there as well. 

His goal was to find a direct route from Europe to Asia.  He never found Asia, but he did find the Caribbean Islands, Central America and South America. 

Christopher Columbus was the first European to see the coast of South America.

Columbus never set foot on North America.

Columbus brought horses to the New World.  They were one of the first European exports to this area of the world.

Natives traded tabaco for horses with the Europeans.

May 20, 1506, Columbus died in Spain not realizing he had found a New World.  He still thought he had found a different path to the Indies. 

For more fun learning about Christopher Columbus:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

12 Home Schooling Tips from a Seasoned Home School Mom

As our last year of home schooling our eldest son begins, I thought I'd write out this list to help others through their home schooling years.  Having home schooled preschool through high school, with a few private and public school years intermingled, I've seen and dealt with it all.  Here is my advice to others who have the blessing of home schooling their children.
1.  Treat each kid individually.  Just as not all kids thrive in a public school setting, not all kids thrive in a home school setting.  We have one child we home schooled 2nd - 8th grade and 11th and now 12th grade. He is the poster child for home schooling as a traditional classroom is too noisy and too disruptive for him.  It was also too slow-paced.  He was bored out of his mind! Our other child went to an arts-based Montessori preschool through kindergarten.  We then home schooled her until 6th grade.  Being such a social butterfly, the school setting and being among her peers all day suits her well.  She loves doing homework (used to beg for it as a home schooler!), loves her classes and her teachers.  For her she thrives better in a classroom setting.  School your kids where and how they will thrive best.
2.  Follow your state's educational standards. Even though you want to dictate what your kids learn and when they learn it, be sure they are on par with your state's educational standards.  One never knows what life may bring, so you want them to be prepared properly if they end up having to go to a traditional school.  If you follow your state's standards, your child will test at least at grade level when they enter the system.
3.  Teach your kids cursive writing.  Kids need to know how to read and write in cursive.  Schools that have pulled away from it are reintroducing it.  They must be able to sign their college and mortgage applications some day.  It's also helpful for them to be able to read Aunt Martha's note in their birthday card.
Have your kids take tests.  Get your kids taking tests, and more tests.  I'm not an advocate of tests showing a person's knowledge on a subject, but if kids are not used to taking tests they will not perform well on them if they have to enter the public school system. They certainly won't test well on the ACT or SAT either if they are not accustomed to taking tests.  When they go off to college they will definitely be taking tests.  Prepare them well.  After all for most of us, aren't we preparing our kids for college?
5.  Get your kids involved in other groups besides just home school groups.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Have the kids mingle, play and associate with other kids outside your home school group(s).  Put them on a non-home school sports team.  Get them involved in scouts and organizations not associated with your home school group.  This gives them more diverse interaction with others and doesn't limit them to one certain group or type of kids.  This was something my own son taught me.   There are more kids out there within your community that your kids may really enjoy being friends with.  Don't limit them. 
6.  Foster each child's individual interests.  Whatever they are interested in, run with it!  My son couldn't soak up enough science.  He loved it, and was good at it, so we fostered it.  His home schooling years focused on science topics with English, math and reading added in as unit studies.  History was done separate as well as other fun subjects such as art.  When he went to high school his science teacher told me he had the most knowledge of science concepts out of any of her advanced students. He is now planning on a career in the medical field.  Our daughter spends much of her time on art and loves to draw and paint.  We fostered her curriculum with art.  She now is in the fine arts track at our local high school. What ever it is that makes your child "tick", foster it.  Run with it.  Use it to make learning fun for them.
7.  Take advantage of the co-op classes offered by home school groups in your area.  Most areas have home school co-op classes available.  This is where groups of parents get together to teach each others' kids.  A former English teacher or writer may offer to teach English classes.  An artist teaches art classes.  This is a great way for kids to learn from some experts. It also gets the kids together with other kids. 
8.  Go on field trips!  The more field trips the better. There is no better way for kids to learn than to see and experience what they are learning about first hand.  Take advantage of all the places you can go to in your area - historical places, museums, farms, aquariums, nature centers.  If you are able to travel, travel for field trips.  One of my kids' favorite field trips we ever went on was when were were studying Helen Keller.  My son actually taught himself braille.  And then he asked to go see the Helen Keller house.  Her house is in Alabama! Over 1,000 miles away.  But we drove to Tuscumbia, Alabama just to see her house. I was bound and determined to foster that interest!  Those kids were so excited to see where that well was where Helen had her big break through.  They were able to see first hand how Helen had lived and where she learned.  Our greatest memories of home schooling and being together as a family are from all those field trips we went on.  These could be yours too.
9.  Read to your kids! It makes them strong readers and better thinkers.  You can introduce the real versions of the classics as soon as your kids are born.  Read to them.  Read them living books. Read them every book they want read.  And once they learn to read, don't stop reading to them.  You can always read more advanced books to them than they can read.  This is a fantastic way to build their vocabulary.  Kids also still love to be read to even after they learn to read themselves.  Reading together builds a huge bond among families.
10.  Follow through.  For that child who thrives in your home school environment, don't send them to the wolves just because you may think he/she will miss out on the fun middle school or high school years.  Follow through and finish what you set out to do.  There is nothing worse than seeing your bright child squashed by the public school system and a 16 year old boy literally crying days on end because he cannot bear another day at school.  Spare yourself and your child this. 
11.  Let them know the option to come home is always open.  If you put your child in public or private school, keep the option open that they can come back home.  Just because you put them in public school does not mean they have to stay there. If it becomes clear that putting them in school was the wrong choice for them, pull them out.  Don't make a whirlwind decision right away at the first inkling.  See how things progress and you will know if it is right to pull them back home.
12.  Teach your kids how to take care of themselves.  We all want to raise independent adults who can take good care of themselves.  Be sure they know how to do their laundry, cook, clean the house properly, manage their money and all other basics of taking care of themselves.  Have them make their beds and straighten their rooms each morning.  Have them help with making breakfast and lunch - even dinner.  They can set the table.  Set up a bank account and teach them how to manage it.  I made sure that if anything happened to me the kids would be able to take good care of themselves.  This will carry them into adulthood.  Of course, these learning activities need to be age appropriate.  You know your kids and what they are capable of doing.  By the age of eight my daughter could whip up an awesome lemon cake!   Now by almost the age of 18 I am confident my son will be able to live on his own and survive just fine. After all, isn't raising them into adulthood another of our purposes?
I certainly hope these tips save you some heart ache and also provide some guidance as you advance through your home school years.  Bless you for what you are doing for your children.  Enjoy these years with them.  They will be the best of your life.  And always remember, you know what is best for your kids.

Friday, August 21, 2015

When Did Kids Stop Playing Kick the Can?

Do you remember playing Kick the Can?  Do your kids play kick the can?  For some reason, I think my generation may have been the last to have enjoyed this evening past time that kept us busy on hot, summer nights.  After dinner, as the sun started to set, every kid on our block, about 20 or so of us, would meet down the block to play.  All you needed was one coffee can, which someone stole out of their basement.  Moms kept coffee cans for no apparent reason back then, so I'm sure it wasn't missed.  This blast of a game didn't cost any of us one penny!  The best part of the game was all the noise that can made when someone got to it and kicked it really hard!  It's truly amazing what small things amused kids back then!

How do you play Kick the Can?  It's simple.

~ Gather a group of friends

~ Someone needs to bring along an empty coffee can (no lid is needed)

~ Select your play area (a large space with lots of bushes, trees, and things to hide behind)

~ Put your coffee can in the middle of your play area (this should be an open space)

~ Pick someone to be "It" for the first round (volunteers are always nice)

~ Whomever is "It" stands by the coffee can, closes his eyes, and counts to 50 or 100 while all the other players hide.  When "It" gets to the end of counting he or she shouts really loud so everyone can hear "Ready, or not, here I come!"  Then "It" proceeds to look for other players.

~ When "Its" finds a player, he or she must shout there name and that person must run to the can and kick it really hard.  If "It" catches them and tags them then they are out.  If the player makes it to the can and kicks it, he or she may hide again while "It" resets the can.

~ This play continues until there is only one person left to kick the can. 

~ Then the group selects another "It" and you replay for hours and hours of great fun!

*What's even more amazing is we played this not only in the dark, but in the street and the entire neighborhood.  We hid in people's bushes, back yards, you name it.  And not once did anyone get hurt, hit by a car and most of all yelled by an adult for us being in their yards!  People let kids play back then.  This was the '70's.  If kids were playing Kick the Can on my block tonight, I may just join them!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions Shows How This Game Has Evolved

Last night my 17 year old son took me to the symphony at the historic Chicago Theatre.  Of course it was Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions, but it was still the symphony as the Chicago Philharmonic played the music.  It was fantastic!  
The entire night was set to music from all the Pokemon games from the past 19 years.  Interestingly it appeared that the audience reveered the first set of Pokemon games the most.  This was proven by my son's statement "I liked when they played the music from the first games, because those were the first games I played that made me fall in love with Pokemon."
The audience cheered, yelled and threw out loud comments throughout the performance.  Everyone was so excited about the production it was reminicent of being at a Rocky Horror Picture Show.  People were dressed in costumes and as previously mentioned really got into the music. When the Chicago Philharmonic played  the second to the song the entire audience, except maybe myself, was singing to it.  Loudly!  No karaoke words required.
What made this evening so enjoyable was seeing how much my son was enjoying himself.  He and everyone in that room have spent their entire lives with Pokemon.  In fact I don't think my son remembers life without Pokemon.  I don't think I remember him not having a game device in the car as we drove places.  Because of that I recognized all the music without ever having played the game!
Another thing that was incredibly interesting was seeing the transformation in the games and even the music in them from 1996 to now with Pokemon X and Y.  As the graphics and characters adapted and became more intense so did the accompanying music.  The games saw a big transformation in 2013 as graphics in games adapted with technology and more mythology was introduced into Pokemon.  The music changed at this time too.  The music became more electronica with more power to it.
Did you know Pokemon has motivational quality within the games?  I had no idea!  It consistently mentions "following your dreams"  and the greatest quote from the game is "Make your dream your reality, and it will become your truth."  Wow! What a concept! And to teach kids, and adults, that as they play the games is fabulous.  Makes me happy my son chose these games to become so involved with rather some others we won't mention.
The show ended with an encore.  The last song played, Kiseki, was a tribute from the composer of the Pokemon music to the game's fans.  Again, this song had great meaning to it.  I only wish I had been able to write all the words down.  The gist of the song was how if there was more love the world would have more peace - we get to live this life together so treasure it.  A fitting tribute, especially with what has been going on in Charleston, SC this week.
If your city has the pleasure of hosting Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions, I highly recommend attending.  Not only will you enjoy yourself, it's a great way to introduce the symphony to the non-symphony goer and you'll definitely learn a thing or two about this iconic game and its characters.