The antidote to the controlled, indoor world of modern kids might be Adventure Playgrounds. Messy, chaotic, but counter-intuitively, safer than traditional playgrounds, there are only two in the US: Listen to Berkeley's Adventure Playground on NPR, or check out some flickr shots. In Europe, where they originated from the rubble of WWII, and in Japan where they are also popular, the importance of play that involves risks is better understood. There are hundreds of Adventure Playgrounds outside of North America.
Sterling is a kid from Mesquite, Texas with T-cell lymphoma. When the Make-a-Wish Foundation asked him what his dearest wish was, he said he wanted to be the President of the United States for a day. So hundreds of people from 12 government agencies made his wish come true.
"Give your children a program that Jesus could join. Why not step beyond a politically correct scouting program in which a Christian might not feel completely comfortable at activities, or with the materials furnished by a central committee? Are you tired of pretending to be neutral?" Keepers at Home and Contenders for the Faith are Bible-based alterntives to traditional youth scouting groups. Keepers at Home features lessons to prepare girls for their future roles as help meets, mothers, and keepers at home," while Contenders for the Faith learn "everything a Christian boy needs to learn to prepare him to be a man." Just like traditional scouting, Keepers offers uniforms, badges, and handbooks. girls. Keepers is just one of many Christian approaches to scouting; others include American Heritage Girls, Awana, and Mpact.
The ethics of infertility: After taking fertility drug Clomid, Ryan and Brianna Morrison conceived sextuplets. Their religious beliefs steered them away from undergoing a selective reduction procedure in favor of bringing all six fetuses to term. Four of their newborns have died; the remaining two are in critical condition. This mother of multiples says that while she's grateful that insurance and Medicaid covered her million-dollar hospital bill, her "quest to have a family resulted in a significant drain on society's resources."
"I just like to have the hottest of the hottest. Whatever's hot at the time" In the spring of 2007, Lauren Greenfield conducted interviews with Los Angeles teenagers on the subject of money and how it affects their lives. The link is a 15-minute selection of those interviews.
Kids Rock! Reaching puberty is not a prerequisite to rocking out. Check out Gary and the Hornets, Tony and the Tigers (featuring two sons of Soupy Sales), The Collins Kids (with more clips here and here), a 10-year-old Fergie singing the Pretenders' "The Middle of the Road," mini-skatepunks Old Skull, the Minibeats, Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 3rd Grade Class, the Electric Company's Short Circus (featuring a pre-teen Irene Cara and intros from Morgan Freeman as DJ Mel Mounds), the Double Deckers, Smoosh on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Les Poppys, the Bantams, and Mulligan's Stew getting down with the four food groups. (YouTube-a-palooza!)
The Wrong Trousers (Quick! If the goofy song "Calvin" starts playing, click to play the other song, "Had") are an unconventional three-piece folky music group, with an average age of 16. Their stated influences are: Alfred Lord Tennyson, Joseph Campbell, Joni Mitchell, Salvadore Dali, Neil Innes, Thomas Jefferson, Matta and mom & dad. A friend of mine found them when he was nostalgically searching for an 80's music video and instead found this. At first watch, I thought it was a gag (either intentional or not), but found it somehow compelling to watch. I think they remind me of what my brother and I and our friends would do in hish school, except with some talent. I really like I their original song,"Had." (The other song is a burlesquey thing that I don't). The word on this odd-looking group is apparently spreading.
The year is 1978. A group of 12 year-olds have decided to make a Super 8 film of their own based on Jaws. Presenting... SHARK!
Super(-expensive) Playgrounds are nice to look at, but what makes a playground fun? Experiments in play: Snug & Outdoor (1, 2, 3) Mcdonald's (1, 2, 3) KaBOOM! (1, 2, 3) Boundless Play (1, 2, 3)
Five For Fighting (John Ondrasik) is pretty cool and has some good music (enbedded audio). This video, created by school kids, really rocks. You can watch and submit your own home vids for in support of some good charitable causes.
Bioluminescence singalong and other almost-Friday-Flash-goodness from OLogy, the American Museum of Natural History's site for kids and kids at heart. Make a DNA bracelet, investigate the Inca, and lots more.
If Mittens chose to save Baby Penguin based on his beliefs, and Mittens' beliefs are not under his direct control, does Mittens really have freewill? SNL's spot-on parody of "Dora the Explorer."
"The Create a Comic Project (CCP) is an activity that teaches children creative writing through comics." In New Haven, CT, John Baird works with children to teach writing, art, and creativity in an afterschool program. The results are often surreal, and frequently entertaining. His inspiration? The Penny Arcade Remix Project. (from today's QC newspost)
Keepon and Roillo are two robots designed for non-verbal interaction with children. Keepon is shaped approximately like a snowman, with two cameras for eyes and a microphone for a nose. After one bar of music, he starts getting down in his robotic-type fashion. (two videos that need flash are the attraction here)
Monkey Fluids --20th century book and magazine illustrations with new text. ; >
Living With a Dying Baby. "Families can choreograph their child’s very brief life with their family . . . Sometimes they may have a matter of minutes, so they decide beforehand who can hold the baby, who will cut the umbilical cord, who will hold the baby when you know he is going to die."
FosterClub is an online resource for kids in foster care, providing answers, inspiration, even downloadable forms to give to caseworkers, as well as a sister site for older kids.
Ask a Biologist. "We think that kids don't always get the access to real scientific information (or real scientists!) outside of the classroom so we are here to do just that." One of the newest in a line of question-and-answer sites, this one is run by fifty professional scientists and directed toward school kids. Is is possible to clone dinosaurs? Why do I sneeze when I look at the sun? How many mutations do I have? How do polar bears keep their feet warm?
Let's not do that again, okay? Little Miles gets hung up in a cat door. [Quicktime requiring ActiveX] via
Jack's Big Music Show features Nuttin' But Stringz, an extremely talented duo featuring Damien and Tourie Escobar, Julliard-school violinists and brothers who kick out some amazing Hip-hop/R&B tracks. They're most recently featured as an interstitial musical performance on Jack's Big Music Show, my daughter's favorite show on Noggin, a cable channel from Nickelodeon aimed specifically at preschoolers. N.B.S joins other Jack's favorites like Laurie Berkner and the Flaming Lips (who tear up the dance floor with guest singer-songwriter Steve Burns, who you may or may not remember as Steve from Blue's Clues). You don't have to be a preschooler to enjoy the show or the music. N.B.S., in particular, were recently featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Ellen Show, as well as making an appearance at the Apollo Theater. Amazon has some listen links if you want to check them out. The track featured on Noggin is "Thunder".
Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online. They have virtual friends instead of real ones. They talk in illiterate instant messages. They are interested only in attention—and yet they have zero attention span, flitting like hummingbirds from one virtual stage to another.So goes the common wisdom but things in fact are more complex.
"All families in OECD countries today are aware that childhood is being reshaped by forces whose mainspring is not necessarily the best interests of the child."
How does your country measure up as a place to raise kids? It turns out that growing up in the UK is a bleaker experience than in any other wealthy country. UNICEF studied all the wealthiest nations (full report PDF here), and the US and UK came in at the bottom on almost all indicators (material wellbeing, health and safety, education, family and peer relationships, behaviours and risks, and the subjective feelings of kids and teens themselves ). Doing best for kids were the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. It turns out that GDP and material wealth alone does not ensure healthier or happier or more well-educated kids--the Czech Republic scored very well despite being one of the poorest nations surveyed.
A Day in the Life (nsfw, youtube, two minutes of your life you can't have back)
So cute, I could just eat 'em right up! (pdf) Nothing's better for teaching your kids than a good activity book. Perhaps you prefer turkey or fish to veal. Before your delicious meal, practice food safety. And after, remember the importance of dental hygiene.
In 1982, ten-year old Samantha Smith from Maine wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov asking whether there was going to be a nuclear war. Andropov responded, and Samantha accepted his invitation to stay at a Russian pioneer camp with Soviet children. Tragically, within the following two years both the young Samantha and Secretary Andropov passed away. (wmv)
Hey kids! Ever wanted a page about rabies just for you? Well now you have it!
Attention all precociously edgy kids: Have you bought your costume yet?
Your parents may insist on insist on something a bit tamer...
Your parents may insist on insist on something a bit tamer...
1970s toy commercials. From an era when things were more fun, cool, and fresh. Whether you were a hipster or a genius type, there was some creative and smart toy to be had. Many toys were educational and prepared you for the vicissitudes of adulthood. (YouTube alert!)
The politically incorrect alphabet: an alphabet using only subjects that, while they might have been unremarked a few decades ago, are now outside acceptable usage. But only just. (mildly nsfw)
The Toymaker offers over 40 free paper toys and pretties you can print out (PDFs) and make yourself, as well as "Stories to be Told by Firelight" - online versions of author/illustrator Marilyn Scott Waters' children's stories and lots of other fun goodies. For people who have kids, people who know kids, people who are kids, and people who love papercraft, illustration, toys, and tales. [more...]
Harlem's in the house. More specifically, 5-10 year old rappers from Harlem are in the house. Unbridled innocence, spacey '80s electro-scifi production and candy as a metaphor for candy. Brought to you by the fine folks at WFMU.
Science sites of all kinds for kids. Archeology. Entomology. Natural Symphony. Baseball in Space. Philosophy. Process or Content. Science songs. Physics songs, relativity. String theory. Science and Art.
What did kids do before the Internet? Well, some bought makeup magazines, grabbed their parents' Super-8 cameras, and made their own horror movies. Now that kids have the Internet? Well, more of the same (albeit with slightly less sophisticated monsters). (YouTube, Google Video).
Chic-a-go-go is an all-ages dance party that airs weekly on local access in Chicago, hosted by Miss Mia and Ratso, a teenage rat puppet. Costumed hipsters, youngsters and oldsters shake their groove things in a sparsely decorated studio, often while musical guests lip-synch their hits. Ratso gets to interview some real legends too. (Although Lemmy dissed him, and Vanilla Ice was too freaked out.) They've spawned at least one imitator. This Saturday, they'll be taping their tenth anniversary show. (More inside)
Things we already knew: Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. ... A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity. The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests.
The J Marimba Ponies have performed at Carnegie Hall, as well as in concert halls from Vienna to Japan. Even more impressive, the oldest member of the group is 12, and the youngest is 4 years old. Musical prodigies or novelty act? See them play Khachaturian's Sabre Dance (Coral link to Quicktime video) and judge for yourself. Via Music for Maniacs. Previously mentioned on MeFi but worth its own thread.
vegan lunch box... In a meat eaters world, a stay at home mom's blog about packing school lunches for her vegan kid.
Babies, Footsies, Holdies. Carry, Foul, Slam. Tea Parties, Fairbacks, Cherry Bombs. Double Taps, Underhand, Blackjack. Bitch Serving, Jedi, Extreme. Chicken Drops, Peppermint Sticks, Kamikazes. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus. Land Mines, Demons, Black Magic.
A scientist is... Before and after drawings of scientists by seventh graders. Discussed at Cosmic Variance.
CryptoKids Hey Kids! Want to learn about how to spy on your friends? Do you like to snitch on your siblings? Here's a fun site for you where the U.S. Government can start to let you know about the fun world of cryptography and violating the Fourth Amendment rights of your fellow citizens. For you parents, check out the NSA's Responsible Citizen page! Note the funny ellipses after the references to the Fourth Amendment and Government Oversight. Your tax dollars at work.
Did you ever wonder where nursery rhymes came from? Of course, the etymology of some rhymes is contentious, but at least you can get the tune right [uses flash] while you argue about them.
The first bear kill of the Maryland hunting season was made by an 8-year-old girl, notes Joel Achenbach's blog. It's quite an interesting news story that makes one wonder what values many of us are teaching our kids these days. Just as interesting, however, are the comments, which at least in one case deals with gender stereotyping: I think that it is important for our kids and especially our girls to experience life and if part of life is killing game, then so be it. After all, if our girls just sit in their little bubble wearing pretty dresses and playing Bach on the piano, we may just end up with lots of Condi Rice's (re: Eugene Robinson's Op Ed). The blog got lots of comments -- many more than my measly entry will.
Thinking of the (obese, cavity-ridden, materialistic, insecure, grasping, nagging) Children... for fun and profit!
Won't somebody please think of the children? Oh, don't fool yourselves! Americans under the age of 12 now spend or influence the spending of $565 billion a year - up from $2.2 billion in 1968, and kid-spending has roughly doubled every ten years for the past three decades, tripling in the 1990s. Which means someone is always thinking of the children. The American Association of Pediatrics (pdf) cites this bludgeoning of kidvertising as creating in children "a fever for shopping and spending, swollen expectations about material needs, decreasing immunity to the assaults of advertisers, self-concepts defined by brands of clothing, and a rash of of debt by the time they leave college". [more...]