Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tales of Your Roots

Tales of Your Roots

This week Moonlit Minds suffered the loss of a dear grandparent.  And while in the days following there has been sadness in our hearts, there was also a lot of joy.  For one thing, we got to spend time with family members we hadn't seen in years.  We looked through a lot of wonderful old photos.  And most of all, we told a lot of stories.

Humans have been telling stories about their ancestors for thousands of years as a way to pass this history on to the next generation.  Before written languages, this was the only way.  However, these days it feels like the telling of these family stories is somewhat of a lost art.  We have a lot more ways of entertaining ourselves than ever before, and it seems like less and less time to do so.  But I can remember as a child sitting at the dinner table listening to my parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents tell these stories again and again.  I've always been fascinated by our connection to the past and loved hearing how similar or different I was to these relatives.  The stories were like a window into the past, and it was a thrill to look through it.

For many years now I've been working to capture stories, documents, and photos for our family tree.  (We use, a collaborative online family tree.)  With our recent loss, I'm even more invigorated to keep gathering all these artifacts.  But there's still something extra special about the word-of-mouth preservation of a family's history.  And I have found great comfort in knowing I can keep part of a loved-one alive by retelling their special story.

Tell Your Tales

For tonight's quiet, thoughtful Moonlit Minds activity, tell one or two of your favorite family stories to your child.  Some ideas to get you started:
  • Family stories range from funny to exciting to tragic to the mundane.
  • Find a story that you really connect with and your child will probably connect with it too.
  • Describe the people as you remember them or how you've heard them described.
  • Explain what they mean/meant to you.
  • Talk about how things were different back then.  Paint a picture with the details.
  • Help your child understand his/her roots by connecting the people back to him/her.
  • If you can't think of any stories, ask a relative for some ideas. 
  • Tell your child what your family and family history means to you.

Related Thoughts

First: We love this poem from Listening to the Littlest, by Ruth Reardon:
Where did I come from?
And you?
Knowing there were grandmas far, far, back
(and grandmas I can be with now).
Knowing there are cousins, aunts, and uncles
gives me a feeling of belonging.
Of being a part of something older,
something wider,
something safe.
I feel important.
Second: These two articles are about how important it is to tell family stories because according to research done by Bruce Feiler, having a higher level of family knowledge is "associated with higher levels of self-esteem, an internal locus of control (a belief in one's own capacity to control what happens to him or her), better family functioning, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and better chances for good outcomes if a child faces educational or emotional/behavioral difficulties."

Third: Sparkle Stories has a fantastic series we highly recommend called Martin and Sylvia's Family Tree of Stories.  "This audiobook will inspire your children (and you) to seek out and collect childhood stories from all generations – so they can not only see where they come from, but bring family lessons into their own life."

Final Word

We just wanted to end tonight by thanking everyone who has been reading and sharing our blog and activities.  It's been such an honor to become part of your family traditions.  Tell us about your experiences with telling family stories in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

All the best and...Mind the nap!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Math Monster Story 2 - Feeding the Dragon

Math Monster Story 2 - Feeding the Dragon

Welcome back!  Tonight we're excited to bring you the next part in our Math Monster series.  And in honor of Appreciate a Dragon Day, today we'll meet Marvin's pet dragon named Digit!  (Honestly, we just discovered that there's really a "holiday" called that, so we're going to roll with it! :-)

And now, let the story begin!

If you'll recall, when we last left our new friend Marvin, the Math Monster, you had just dined with him and fell peacefully to sleep, but not before crossing the Sea of Learning and climbing to the top of Math Mountain- and not to mention solving some great math problems along the way!

Tap, tap tap.

There's someone tapping on the door, but you're soundly sleeping and don't stir.

Thud, thud, thud!

Now someone is banging on your door, but you're sleeping like a baby and still don't wake!

Bounce, bounce, bounce!

You're awake now, as Marvin is now jumping on your bed to wake you up!
"Time to wake up!" he shouts, grinning from ear to pointy ear.
"Why so early?" you ask with a raspy morning voice.
"Because we need to feed Digit!" Marvin replies, clearly excited.
"Who is Digit?" you start to ask, but before you even finish the question, Marvin has you by the hand, pulling you out the door.

You're running hand in hand, back down the hall and out the castle doors.  You run along the edge of the steep mountain pass with the early morning sun just peaking over the horizon.  Just when you think you can't run anymore, Marvin lurches to a stop at the entrance to a cave.  You're about to ask again who (or what) "Digit" is when Marvin puts his big green finger up to his big yellow lips and says, "Shhh, you don't want to scare him!  He doesn't know you yet.  There's no telling what he might do!"  Now you're getting a bit nervous, but for some reason you feel safe with Marvin.

"I'll go in first and let him know you're here," Marvin explains.

You mind is swirling with what could be in the cave, and after what seems like forever, he comes back out.

Ok, we can go in now," laughs Marvin, "but Digit needs to ask you some questions first."
"Wait, first tell me who Digit is," you demand with a hint of frustration in your voice.
"He's my pet dragon, of course!" giggles Marvin, clearly enjoying this.
"A dragon?  Really?  Is"
"Of course, silly," Marvin says confidently.  "Now go on in!"

You step tenderly into the cave and walk through a narrow passageway.  Then you step down, down, down some windy stairs and right into a massive underground room.  It's warmer and cozier than you expected, and right in the middle of the room sits a wonderfully friendly looking dragon next to an easel with some paper.

Marvin introduces you.  "This is Digit.  He's very friendly, but in order to really trust you, he's going to ask you some math questions first.
Then Digit, in a most unexpectedly silly voice says, "Well hello there!"  You have to stifle a giggle- it's just that silly!  "I'll give you some questions to get to know you.  Then once we know each other, you can feed me breakfast and we'll go outside and play, OK?"  You don't feel like you really have a choice, but you nod your head just the same.  [Parents: Digit asks these questions in just as silly of a voice!  Don't be shy, now!]

Warm-up: If you're 1 person and I'm 1 dragon and Marvin is 1 monster, how many of us are there now?

Jog: If dragons lay 5 eggs a year and I'm 3 years old, how many eggs have I laid so far?

Sprint: Dragons warm up their breakfasts by breathing fire onto their food. The fire is 2000 degrees and they wait to eat it until it is half as warm. How hot would the food be then?

Just For Fun: Dragon babies lose their teeth just like people (and Math Monsters). If I have 9 baby teeth now and I have lost 17 so far, how many baby teeth did I start with?

Digit pauses for a long time, considering your answers carefully.  Then suddenly he lights up and gives you a great big dragon smile!

"You love it too!" he shouts with glee.
"Love what?" you ask, confused.
"Math!  Math!  You love it too.  I'm so glad you came to visit us!"

You smile and nod.  You feel really glad you came.

You and Marvin help get Digit's breakfast ready and then stand waaaaaaaay back when he warms it up.  When he finishes breakfast you all head outside for a day filled with play and exciting adventures together.  You can't wait to find out what else awaits you in this mathemagical land!

The end...for now!

Stay tuned for more activities, including more in this series by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

Good night and...Mind the nap!


WU: 3
J:15, but it's a trick question because Digit is a boy dragon so he doesn't lay eggs!
S: 1000 degrees
JFF: 26 teeth

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Your Best Day Ever

Your Best Day Ever

Welcome back and happy new year!  We hope you had a great holiday season.   This time of year people like to think of ways to improve themselves through resolutions.  This got us thinking about how we love spending our time and what we want to do more (or less) of in the new year.  Reflecting on how you spend your time is a very mindful thing to do, and often you'll find you're grateful for many of the things you're already doing.  You may resolve to continue doing those things or maybe do them more often.  You may decide to stop doing some things you aren't enjoying.  And finally you may opt to start doing something you've never done before!

Tonight's activity is essentially describing your perfect day to each other.  Think about what you love doing, where you love doing it, and who you want to be with you.  Here are some of the areas we contemplated with our kids last night:

  • Where would you wake up?
  • What would be your favorite breakfast?
  • What's the first thing you do?
  • Who will you spend the day with?
  • Would you make an art project?
  • Where will you visit?
  • What will you eat for lunch?
  • What songs will you hear?
  • Will you dance?
  • What's your favorite outfit to wear?
  • Will you play with a pet?
  • What favorite toy or game would you play with?
  • Would you read a favorite book?
  • Would you go for a swim?
  • Would you get pushed on the swings?
  • Would you see you friends?  Make a new friend?
  • Where would you eat dinner?  What would you have?
  • A special treat for dessert?
  • Would you get to stay up late?
  • Would you sleep in your own bed?

We had a lot of fun adding more and more fun things into the day.  (It turned out to be a very long day!)  But the conversation was a lot of fun and filled with delight.  I would imagine it helped facilitate some very pleasant dreams too.  It also got us thinking about how we want to spend our time this year, since all our ideas couldn't really all fit into one day.

We hope you'll give this a try tonight with your child, and leave a comment here or on Twitter or Facebook with some ideas for your perfect day.  Have fun and...mind the nap!