Friday, September 29, 2017

Owning Our Mistakes

“We all make mistakes. It’s how we come back from the mistakes that matters.”
-Tom Welling
 Welcome back, Moonlighters!  We hope you're settling into the new school year and that you've managed to find some quiet moments in the midst of the chaos that this time of year usually brings.  As a reminder, here's a link to our Pits and Cherries activity to help get children to open up about their days at school.

Tonight's activity is inspired by the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur that are celebrated this month.  For those who don't know, Rosh Hashana is the start of the Jewish new year and Yom Kippur is a day of atonement.  I like to think of this time of year as a chance for a fresh start.  If you made some New Year's resolutions in January that didn't work out, here's another chance!

Being a parent or a child is a lot of learning on the fly.  There isn't a manual for our lives and we have lots of bumps in the road.
  • Have your children been coming home from a long day at school and melting down?  
  • Have you lashed out at your kids for a silly reason after a rough day at work? 
  • Did you ever make a promise but then were unable to keep it?  
We don't always apologize in the moment (and children shouldn't be forced to), and we often forget to model graciousness.  We all make mistakes.  How will you own up to those mistakes?

Our favorite audio stories, Sparkle Stories, has a great [free!] story for Yom Kippur called Stones in the Brook, in which the family takes turns tossing stones into a brook and apologizing for ways they believe they had wronged a family member in the past year.  Tonight, we'd like to turn that idea into a MM activity to connect with your child before bed.

For this activity, try to come prepared with 1-2 recent examples of times you "messed up" as a parent and acted or responded in a way you wish you hadn't.  Take this opportunity while it's just the two of you in a quiet place to get it off your chest.  Talk to your child about those times, what went wrong, how you felt before and after, and what you should have done differently.  Ask your child how he/she felt about what happened.  Now give your child a turn.  Maybe they can't think of one and that's OK.  If they do mention one, try to use active listening and not judge what's being said.

Modeling this kind of behavior and showing them how to own up to mistakes and give sincere apologies has lasting benefits for your child.

From this article:
Offering your child an apology when appropriate extends respect for her that will eventually boomerang back to you. Children are incredibly forgiving, especially if we meet them halfway by acknowledging our mistakes, and with a foundation of mutual love and respect in place, kids will be more likely to say sorry to mom and dad when they screw up—just like us.
That's all for tonight.  Just a simple way to reconnect with your child and show each other how you make mistakes, take responsibility, and try to make yourselves better people.  If we all did this, the world would be a better place!  Tell us about your experience with this activity on Twitter or Facebook!  Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, we hope you take the opportunity for a fresh start.  And as always, mind the nap!


Friday, June 23, 2017

Beds Are For Sleeping

Welcome back, Moonlighters!  Tonight we bring you another quiet, calming game that's perfect for connecting parents and kids before bed.

"Beds Are For Sleeping" is a simple word association game that's great for all ages.  It can be played a couple of different ways in order to change the difficulty level.

Bring it around full circle!
  1. Begin by saying phrase, for example, "Beds are for sleeping."  
  2. The next person says a new phrase that's related to the first, for example, "You sleep when you're tired."
  3. Take turns saying new phrases which are associated to the previous phrase.
  4. Finally, you both "win" when you can finally bring it "full circle" by connecting to your first phrase.

Let's see how this might happen in action!

"Beds are for sleeping."
"You sleep when you're tired."
"You get tired when you run."
"You run on a trail."
"Trails go through the woods."
"Woods are full of trees."
"Trees give us lumber."
"My bed is made of lumber."
And... "Beds are for sleeping!"

Another version of the game would be to use only single word "free association" to connect the ideas together, but still end by bringing it back to the beginning.  For example:

"Music" → "Instrument" → "Song" → "Lyrics" → "Words" → "Speech" → "President" → "News" → "Radio" → And... "Music!"

Have fun seeing how many words or phrases you can go before bring it it full circle!  And we'd love to hear from you.  Leave a comment below with some fun phrases you and your child used to play.  Also, you can always find us on Twitter or Facebook!

See you next time we come full circle, and...mind the nap!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Create a Bedtime Haiku Together

A warm April night
Spring peepers begin their song
Windows open wide

Hello again, Moonlighters!  Tonight, let's make poetry together!  In celebration of International Haiku Poetry Day, here's a thoughtful, quiet activity you and your child can do.

A haiku is a poem of seventeen syllables, written in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.  It originated over 1500 years ago in Japan and was popularized and formalized in structure by the great Japanese poet, Bashō.
Basho Horohoroto
Quietly, quietly,/ yellow mountain roses fall –/sound of the rapids. -Bashō
To get started making your own haiku with little ones, worry less about the syllables and focus more on the story.  You can make the syllable aspect mostly about simply clapping the beats and counting as you go.  For older children, explain that haiku poems are about capturing a moment in time, especially as it relates to moments in nature.  Then challenge them to form that into a haiku with the specific syllable structure, 5-7-5.

Writing haiku can be a great way to calm before bed because it forces you to slow down and become mindful of your natural surroundings.  A great haiku will elegantly and colorfully capture a special moment in a certain place.  As we enter the spring months and it warms here in this part of the world, we are starting to get outside and connect more with nature.  Perhaps some moments from your day or from your child's day have a haiku waiting to be revealed!  You can use those moments or think about what's happening in the natural world around you right now while you lie in bed next to each other.

Ok, now it's your turn to create these special poems with your children.  But before we go, here are a couple more we wrote to help get you started!

Fresh green leaves emerge
From the twisted old tree branch
The last dead leaf falls

A robin splashes
In the puddle in the grass
Filled by last night's rain

We want to hear from you.  Leave a comment below with your best bedtime haiku.  Also, you can always find us on Twitter or Facebook!

Have a poetic night, and...mind the nap!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Math Monster Story 4 - A Trip to Vertex Village

Welcome back to Moonlit Minds!  Tonight we return to the top of Math Mountain where we rejoin our good pal, Marvin the Math Monster.  If you want to get caught up, check out:
  1. Math Monster Story 1 - Meet the Math Monster
  2. Math Monster Story 2 - Feeding the Dragon
  3. Math Monster Story 3 - The Case of the Mixed Up Seeds

What Village?

You wake up with the sunrise feeling refreshed after yesterday's gardening work.  You stroll through the castle looking for Marvin.  It doesn't take long before you hear a clamoring coming from the kitchen.  You enter the doorway of the kitchen and have to duck as an empty box flies over your head.

"Whoa!  What's going on here?" you shout over all the noise.
"Inventory!" Marvin shouts back.
"Inventory for what?" you ask.
"Food and supplies for the castle.  We're running low!  Going to need to head to the village today."
"What village?" you ask, confused because you haven't seen any sign of a village since you arrived a few days ago. 
"Vertex Village.  Let's prepare for the hike with a little math!"

Warm up: Marvin says, "The village is 3 miles away.  How many miles will the journey to the village and back be?"

Jog: "We'll know we're halfway to the village when we see a patch of wildflowers," Marvin explains.  "How far is it from the castle to the wildflowers?"

Sprint: "The village is in a valley at 1500 feet above sea level.  My castle is 2500 feet higher than that.  How many feet above sea level is my castle?" Marvin asks.
You're feeling great after those math questions and head outside.  Marvin wants to bring Digit along for a little exercise and you give a thumbs-up!  After putting Digit on his leash, the three of you set out together on a narrow path that leads around the back of the castle.  You pass through a lovely woods and then the trees open up to the valley below.  You can barely see the village in the distance as you begin walking down the windy mountain path.

Vertex Village

You arrive in Vertex Village around noon, the warm sun casting barely a shadow anywhere.  Marvin leads you through the streets bustling with monsters and dragons of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Although everyone looks quite different from anything you have ever seen, they all have kind faces and you feel safe with Marvin.

You walk into what looks like a farmers market filled with all kinds of wonderful things: ripe fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, warm just-baked bread, and even some interesting-looking cheeses.

Marvin says, "The garden we just planted won't be ready for a while so let's pick out some food for the week."

Warm up: "We need enough food to last a week.  Is that more than 5 days?  If so, how many more?"

Jog: "Let's eat our fruits in this order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, then repeat" Marvin suggests.  "We'll start on Sunday.  What color fruit will we eat on Saturday?"

Sprint: "I eat half my weight in fruit every week.  I weigh 280 pounds," Marvin states proudly.  "How much fruit do I eat each day?"
When you finish shopping for groceries, Marvin says, "Digit could use a new collar.  He's growing so fast!  Are you ready for a really tough problem?"

Just For Fun: "If Digit's neck is 10 inches wide, how long does his new collar need to be?"

You've had a wonderful day hiking into the village, exploring all the shops, and seeing all the interesting new creatures.  You, Marvin, and Digit head home to taste some of your purchases and get ready for another exciting day together!


What Village?
WU: 6 miles
J: 1.5 miles
S: 4000 feet

Vector Village
WU: Yes, a week is 7 days which is 2 more than 5 days.
J: Orange
S: Half his weight is 140 pounds.  Divide that by 7 days to get 20 pounds of fruit each day.
JFF: To find the circumference (distance around his neck) you need to multiply the diameter (width of his neck, which is 10 inches) by the number π (pi, which is about 3.14).  That means his collar would need to be at least 31.4 inches long.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Make Someone's Day Today

We lost a very special person in our town this year when our superintendent, Dr. Steve Mayer, was taken from us too soon.  He was a man who was in some ways larger than life, yet in other ways so completely down to earth.  And while many lives have been devastated by his death, maybe even more have been touched by the powerful ideas and movements that have come forth since the tragedy.

Within the days following his death, we learned of the many ways he touched people's lives beginning with his life at home.  Every morning when he said goodbye to his family, he would tell them he loved them and ask them to, "Make someone's day today."

Whose day needs a little brightening?
What a beautiful mantra to instill in your family and those around you.  And to him, they weren't just words- he truly lived by that ideal too, always looking for ways to improve his community by uplifting others.

At Moonlit Minds, we've become so inspired by this message that we've been repeating it to our own children everyday too.

October 5th is National Do Something Nice Day.  This got us thinking about how we could share the "Make Someone's Day" message with our readers too.  So tonight's activity is a simple one.

How can you make someone's day?

Like all of our activities, start by lying quietly in bed with your child at bedtime.  Take turns thinking of small ways in which we could brighten the days of the people around us tomorrow.

Every day we come into contact with a variety of people.  As parents, it might be our customers, store cashiers, managers, bankers, even total strangers.  Our children interact with their friends and teachers.  And we all see our families (hopefully) every day.

Could we...
  • give our little brother an extra turn on the swing?
  • let someone go in front of us in a long line?
  • greet the UPS driver with some cookies?
  • offer to help a neighbor with some yard work?
  • give up a parking space to someone who looks tired?
  • let your coworker know you appreciate their effort?

There are lots of ideas for simple acts of kindness, but tonight try to really visualize these acts actually happening.

Where will you be?
What will you say?
Whose day will you make?

Did your child have ideas you hadn't thought of?  What did this tell you about what might make his or her day someday?

Often, it's the simple ideas which might have the most impact and which are often overlooked.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world.
~Anne Frank

Share and inspire

We want to hear from you.  Leave a comment below with ideas for how you or your child made someone's day.  Also, you can always find us on Twitter or Facebook!

More importantly, if you like this activity, please share this with others using the buttons below.  Imagine the difference it would make if everyone began treating one another with kindness. 

This is the legacy of Dr. Mayer.

Please enjoy this short clip of him speaking about this idea he was so passionate about:


Have a great night, make someone's day tomorrow, and...mind the nap!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Imagine Yourself Into a Better Day

How will you envision your day?
Hello again, Moonlighters!  We're now in full swing of the back-to-school season.  Hopefully, the transition back has been smooth for you.  Things are exciting here in the MM household with a 2nd grader and a new kindergartener.

Tonight's activity came about during the ride to school on the morning of our second day of kindergarten. Although our DS seemed to really like his new school, he kept repeating that he didn't want to go back.  I knew it was probably just some nervousness about the new experiences, but I wanted to do some active listening to make sure he felt like he was being heard and to avoid putting my own bias into what he was feeling.  But while the active listening technique is usually very helpful, it didn't seem to help him shake his nervousness that morning.  He sounded really upset and he kept saying that he didn't want to go.

So while sitting in traffic (feeling quite on edge myself) I decided to improvise.
Me: Hey Buddy, I have an idea.  I have noticed that the way I think about something can change how I feel when it happens.  Like if I think a food will be yucky, oftentimes it tastes yucky.  Or if I think an activity won't be fun, then it might not be.  Some people call that "negative thinking."  But if I think I might enjoy something, it can make me feel really good and I do enjoy it.  Even if a few bad things happen, I might feel really good about how the whole day is going.  Some people call that "positive thinking."  So how we think can change how we feel.  Would you like to try a "positive thinking" game with me?

DS: Okay.

Me: Great.  First let's each take a few minutes and imagine each other having a great day. I'll imagine you at school having a great day and you imagine me at work having a great day.

<60 second quiet pause>

Me: Okay.  Now, can you tell me about my day?  What was it like?

DS: You see your friend, Tom, and go for a walk at lunch, and fix some people's computers.

Me: Yes, that sounds like a great day!  Now, I'll tell you about your day.  First, you get to school and have your yummy snack.  You do some art projects and read some good books.  You see your new friend and play blocks with him. Then you go for a hike with your class and play in the stream.  You play in the sandbox and then you go home.  Does that sound good?

DS: Yeah!

Me: Okay, now let's switch.  You imagine your own day and I'll imagine mine and then we'll share it.

<Long pause>

Me: I'll go first this time.  I start off with a nice bowl of cereal while I check my email.  Then I talk over a hard problem with Tom.  I get to fix some people's computer problems which really makes their day.  My boss is really happy with my work.  I get to take a walk and the weather feels great.  Your turn now.

DS: I build a castle with blocks and find some crayfish in the stream.  Then we play in the outdoor kitchen.

Me: Wow, now that does sound like a great day!

<Short pause>

DS: Can we do this every day?

Me: We sure can.  Why?  Do you feel better about going to school?

DS: Yeah, much better!

Reframe your tomorrow tonight

For tonight's activity, try this kind of thought experiment with your child.  Is there any part of the day that makes them nervous or that they feel negatively about?  How can we reframe how we think about our days to make us feel better about them?

There's a great article about how the Danish people are great at reframing their lives to see things in a positive light.  From the article:
If you ask a Dane about the weather when it is freezing, gray, and raining outside, they will unwittingly answer: ‘There is no bad weather, only bad clothing’ or ‘I am glad we can get cozy inside at home tonight.’ If you say, ‘Too bad it’s the last day of our vacation,’ they might reply, ‘Yes, but it is the first day of the rest of our lives.’ If you try to get them to focus on something really negative about any topic, you may be mystified at the way they can reinterpret it. Danes are what psychologists call ‘realistic optimists.’ They don’t negate negative information like overly optimistic people with rose-colored glasses. They tend to be brutally realistic about life, but they are also incredibly gifted at finding angles of reality that aren’t so dark, upsetting, or negative.

It's important when reframing not to negate the negative because you want to make sure your child feels heard (a critical piece of active listening).  Instead of telling them how to feel, try to focus on other details to help lead the child to seeing the situation more positively.

This is an important contrast with our Your Best Day Ever activity, which was just for fun and imagination.  Instead, in tonight's activity, we focus on reality but try to visualize it with a positive mindset.

I also wrote a little rhyme to help you remember the activity the next time your child needs a little help with a transition.
I'll imagine your great day
Then you'll imagine mine.
Next we'll imagine our own great days
To help us to feel fine.
We hope you find this post useful.  Please share with your friends and leave a comment about your experiences.  Also, you can always find us on Twitter or Facebook!

Have a great night and...mind the nap!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Name That Tune

When we at MM were growing up, records were on their way out, CDs were being developed, and for a long time we recorded our songs on cassettes.  During the heyday of cassettes, we thought we had the ultimate in music variety!  And while (sadly) our kids will never know the magic of the "mix tape", they have access to more music than we ever thought possible with today's streaming services.

Audio cassette tapes
Be kind, please rewind.

With so much music in our house, we find ourselves having impromptu dance parties with Justin Timberlake in the kitchen or mellowing out with some Bach at bath time. It has such a big impact on our family's mood and provides a lot of amazing bonding moments.

John Denver put it best:
Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.
Dr. Suttie at Berkeley lists 4 amazing ways music strengthens social bonds:
  1. Music increases contact, coordination, and cooperation with other
  2. Music gives us an oxytocin boost
  3. Music strengthens our ”theory of mind” and empathy 
  4. Music increases cultural cohesion 

Since music is connecting us so wonderfully, let's extend it's effect right up to the end of the day!

So, Moonlighters...are you ready to rock?!?

For tonight's activity we're going to play "Name That Tune!"  This is a simple game that can be a lot of fun.  The object is to pick a song and then hum or whistle the song to your child.  The child then tries to guess the song.  Then you switch and continue taking turns being the guesser.

This has always been a favorite in our house and always gets some good laughs!  :-)

Tonight we have a very special treat for you because the Moonlit Minds crew has hummed, whistled, and "scatted" a few examples for you. 

See if you can Name That Tune!

One.  More.  Song!


Remember, as with all of our activities, it's about connecting and helping children ease into sleep time.  If your kids are having trouble calming down, try to pick slower, more relaxing songs.

James Hetfield live in London 2008-09-15 2
Metallica counts as relaxing, right?
As always, we'd love to hear from you.  Send us some of your hums or whistles.  Comment below or message us on Twitter or Facebook!

Have a musical night and... mind the nap!


  1. Darth Vader's Theme
  2. London Bridges
  3. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Ba Ba Black Sheep / The ABCs
  4. Star Spangled Banner
  5. The Twist
  6. Hello (Adele)
  7. Yellow Submarine
  8. Puff the Magic Dragon