Posts tagged ‘teaching kids’

A Presidential Pooch

I'm a Chipper Mom | Expert Advice for Moms and ParentsThe ads in the papers, TV, and push notifications on our apps all say “Presidential Savings” to capitalize on a day meant for celebrating our US leaders whom have lead this country to where it is today. You might not like where we are today as a nation but if you turn off the noise and focus in on family you’ll quickly realize the most important guidance starts in the home and empowers the core character of our children. And feel lucky that you only have to guide your family and not the many layers of government that help the President run a country of billions.

My own parents instilled in us the understanding that we are all a part of what makes a home, community, country and world, good. Treat your neighbor with respect, care for the environment around you, and never shy away from lending a helping hand.

There are many ways to instill a sense of giving in your children. The basic assigning of age-appropriate tasks like making the bed to taking out the trash teach responsibility which is at the core of self-discipline. Introducing your children to experiences, which include people or animals in need, will activate their hearts and emotions allowing everyone to tap intoPresidential Puppy empathy. It’s empathy that drives our compassion to help others and perhaps that is why so many presidents had dogs in the White House. Sure, it makes for incredible photo ops but research shows caring for an animal or having an animal in the home reduces stress and increases compassion.

Schools across the nation are beginning to welcome pets into the classroom to help teach responsibility and care for others. This tail-wagging program is helping reduce the stress of bullying cases for these participating schools. I’ve often wondered why we need a pet to teach us this when human-to-human interaction should excite these emotions. After years of working with animals through 4-H and now as a foster family for Rocket Dog rescue I realize it is the innate understanding of Adopting dogs as family petsunconditional love. Dogs and most pets don’t hold anything against us. They will give love, be an enthusiastic participant in play and stand by your side no matter what you choose to do. They won’t judge. They lift you up when you feel down.

Research shows having a companion beaming with unconditional love and attentiveness strengthens our own emotions and helps us with relationships. Our four-legged friends keep us physically fit; they stop to say hello to neighbors which helps strengthen our awareness of our community. They help us think beyond ourselves. As we celebrate President’s Day – remember: to lead is to guide others with decisiveness based on realizing what is best for all and with compassion for everyone.

Imagine if our world leaders met at dog parks instead of windowless rooms with hardback chairs. I imagine we would treat each other differently. Like Harry S. Truman once said

Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads.

February 16, 2015 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

Chipper Tips: Develop Healthy Learning Habits with Play!

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” –Leo F. Buscaglia


Through play, children try out new skills, explore their imagination and creativity, and develop relationships with other people in their lives. Play can be an especially powerful bonding time for you, as a parent or caregiver. Playtime with your child also brings out the best in you. The beauty of this learning and growing time is that the motivation for a young child to play is already there – it is enjoyable!

Chipper is an ambassador in the national movement to prevent Summer Learning Loss, build 21st Century Life Skills and save hands-on learning in schools. Now, more than ever, kids need resources to develop healthy habits in a playful way. According to a recent article from Scientific American Magazine, “Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed.”

Chipper Outdoors playing kids fun happy exercise nature inspired play based learning

Here are 5 tips for parents and teachers to help their children develop healthy learning habits:
    • Encourage play. Playing alone and with others not only builds brain development, it also helps children develop social skills and a sense of ethics. The most effective play is free of evaluation and correction (after all, throwing a ball shouldn’t be “right” or “wrong”), while promoting autonomy.
    • Play together. In addition to their ABCs and 123s, preschool children are learning and developing life skills that will shape who they grow into as adults.  One of these building blocks is learning to play well with others and accepting one another’s differences. Camp is a great place for kids to interact with each other.
    • Get adequate sleep and proper nutrition. Your child will do their best if they get to sleep early and eat a healthy breakfast each day before school. A daily diet of junk food is not compatible with learning. It can cause listlessness and hyperactivity, which can impair a child’s ability to learn. Skipping breakfast, especially, is a detriment to a child’s education.
    • Continue year-long education. Routine provides structure, which is often lacking during the summer months when children all too quickly become detached from the lessons they learned throughout the school year.  Maintaining a schedule throughout the summer supports an environment that is less of a contrast to the classroom and provides a healthy balance between building skills, play and rest. An easy way for parents to keep their kids learning throughout the summer is by signing them up for camp.
    • Monitor screen-time. While there are quite a few educational and engaging mobile apps and games to play on TV today, balance the tech time with “climb a tree” time.  Curious exploration, social interaction and play should be on the daily to-do list.
Play helps a child learn to solve problems, promotes flexibility and motivation, teaches regulation of emotions and builds resilience and confidence. It is also essential to the development of the child’s brain, forming the basis of healthy cognitive function and mastery of the child’s physical world.
If you take just a moment to reflect on your own childhood you will most likely recall days playing hide-and-seek, kick-the-can, or just riding bikes to the local park. Now think about what your child will remember back to when they are an adult. From the camp or school program you choose to the activities you provide at home, see each decision as an opportunity to enrich your child’s life and excite their motivation to play and explore their own interests. In honor of National Backyard Games Week, here are 50 ways to play in your own backyard! 

May 23, 2013 at 8:30 pm 5 comments

Chipper Adventure: May Day and New Born Islands

Happy May Day! May 1st marks the start of new beginnings and Spring Birth. Many celebrate this day with fresh flowers, bon fires, and feasting. No matter the season though, nature is constantly growing and expanding. One of the greatest phenomenon’s in life is seeing new life come forth. Here’s one group of scientists amazing experience:
In 2009, a yacht was traveling in the South Pacific, not far from the Tonga Islands, when the crew came across a weird sight. Look at these photos and try to imagine the thrill of experiencing this phenomenon.
No! This is not a beach.
It’s volcanic stones floating on the water.


And, while WE were watching,

a plume of black ash, a HUGE CLOUD.







Photos courtesy Jesse Allen NASA Earth Observatory
An amazing discovery! The “beach-like” raft of lightweight, frothy volcanic rock floating on the ocean surface are known as “pumice.” Pumice rafts are not an everyday occurrence, but they have been observed before. In 1986, a pumice raft of unknown origin caused engine trouble for a Dutch vessel in the South China Sea. Biologists have also proposed pumice rafts as a way to explain how plants and animals spread from island to island in marine environments. Learn more about this forming island, now known as Hunga Tonga or “Hunga Ha’apai,” here.

May 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Events: Salmon Spawning Season

With a new year comes new life! Salmon spawning season has officially begun and grizzly bears, bald eagles, and sport fisherman couldn’t be more excited. Salmon are not just tasty to eat though. They are important to our Eco-system and very unique aquatic animals. Salmon (derived from the latin term salmo which means leaper) have one of the most interesting life cycles of any animal on earth!

sockeye-salmonBorn in a fresh water stream and then migrating into the ocean to live in salt water, they migrate for thousands of miles before returning to their natal stream to spawn (or lay eggs). This behavior is called anadromous, and salmon are not the only fish that are born in fresh water and spend the majority of their lives in salt water. Sturgeon, trout, and many other fish do the same thing. In South American Rivers, sharks are also anadromous.

teaching kids about salmon

So what makes the salmon special then? Pacific salmon are unique in that spawning is the last act of their life cycle. One of the most remarkable things about salmon is how they manage to find their natal stream after spending years in the ocean migrating for thousands of miles. Some studies have indicated that smell is a factor that enables a salmon to hone into the stream it was born in. Other studies indicate that the brain of the salmon is sensitive to the magnetic field of the earth and that this may be a factor in the homing instinct. Regardless of the mechanism that enables a salmon to do this, their ability to find the origin of their birth after migrating thousands of miles from home is truly a remarkable feat.

Salmon undergo a physical transformation during their transition from the saltwater environment back to the freshwater home of their birth. This transition affects the appearance of the fish very radically. Not only do they stop feeding, but they also undergo a color and shape change. The male salmon typically forms a curved mouth (called a kype) with large canine like teeth. The males of some species form a hump on their back during their transition. The female salmon do not undergo such a radical shape change, but do undergo significant color changes.

During the spawning migration up river, the male of the species takes the role of protector and attempts to gain the favor of a suitable female. To the fisherman, this means that the male fish are more likely to be aggressive and strike a lure or bait that intrudes his territory. Females will also strike lures and baits, and we can only presume that this is due to a similar protective trait, or an instinct to continue feeding.

Once a dominant male and female fish have paired up for mating, the female begins to clean a well-oxygenated gravel bed by scouring it with her tail in sweeping motions. The female will select an area in the stream bed that has an upwelling of water through the gravel. A spawning bed, called a redd, can be approximately 2 to 10 feet long and 1 to 6 feet wide, depending on the size of the fish.

It should be noted that by the time fish are ready to spawn, their eating quality has severely degraded. Salmon flesh that was once red, is now be white and mushy. In every state, it is illegal to disturb spawning fish. The best eating fish are those fresh out of salt water and not the fish that are ready to propagate the species.

Once the first redd is finished, the male and female align themselves next to one another for the actual spawning ritual. Their bodies quivering next to one another, the female releases her eggs at the same time that the male releases milt. Fertilization occurs in the water as the eggs drift down into the gravel.

After the eggs have settled, the female swims upstream and sweeps the river bottom with her tail to cover the nest of eggs with clean gravel. The female will then proceed to dig another redd at a nearby location and the male will accompany her to protect the area. Learn more about these amazing creatures in the video below and see live salmon runs at Spawn USA.

Meet Sally the Salmon Sally the Salmon

Join Sally as she adventures from fresh water to salt water and back again to teach Chipper about the life of a salmon, science and nature. It’s a magical journey through streams, rivers, and up fish ladders to the sea. Chipper and Sally help grow little ambassadors of nature into future stewards of the environment.

Part of the award-winning series, Let’s Go Chipper!™ Into the Great Outdoors, Sally the Salmon is an eco-educational adventure inspiring respect for nature in young children. For teachers the story is correlated meeting national academic standards in science, social skills, and arts & literature.

Kids listen and watch as Chipper, the squirrel along with Paisley, and Rusty, go below nature’s surface to explore the sea. The playful lessons include learning about habitats, salmon and underwater life, recycling, environmentalism, and the importance of keeping our waterways clean. Let’s Go Chipper this spawning season!

January 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm 1 comment

Chipper Tips: Top 10 Reasons to Vote

Let's Go Chipper

Today is election day! Many of you are probably sick and tired, if not a bit over whelmed, by the bombardment of political news and ads. Others may be so excited and apart of the wave of enthusiasm! Either way, Chipper encourages you to get out and vote today!

Why, you may ask? Well, we should take advantage of our right to vote since many brave men and women lost their lives gaining and keeping this right. People in other places of the world continue to fight and bleed for the basic right to have some say in you and your children’s future.

Lead by example! Teach your child that their voice and opinions matter.  Show them that voting contributes to the greater good. They will become responsible citizens if you show them how. Still unconvinced? Here are some top 10 reasons to get involved and VOTE!

Top 10 Reasons to Register and Vote 10.  It’s your money. The county commissioners, governor, state officials, legislators, president and members of Congress you vote for will decide how much of our wealth to invest in public services and how to fairly share the tax burden.

9.  It’s your children’s education. You elect local and state school board members who set public education policy and budgets that will affect how well prepared your children and grandchildren will be for the future. Decisions by our legislators, governor, members of Congress and president also affect the public schools– and the quality and cost of higher education as well.

8.  It’s your job. Congress, the president, the governor and your legislators influence what job training is available, minimum wage, pay equity, fairness in hiring, health insurance through your employer, job and pension security, and workplace safety.

7.  It’s your health care. Actions by the governor, legislature and Congress as well as their decisions on Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance laws determine your access to health care.

6.  They’re your highways. Nevada’s population and traffic are growing rapidly. Your county commissioners, legislators, governor and members of Congress decide what highways are needed, what alternatives to highways such as public transit to support, and how to pay the bill.

5.  It’s your Social Security. The president and your members of Congress decide how much payroll tax you pay, cost of living increases and benefit schedules for your Social Security pension, and what Medicare services you receive and share payment for.

4.  You live in the United States. Your county, state and national elected officials set standards, enforcement strategies and budgets. They plan and zone where roads and industries will be built and how public lands will be used –decisions that can determine how and where you live and work.

3.  It’s your neighborhood. The elected officials and judges you vote to retain make daily decisions about crime prevention, laws and law enforcement, safe and affordable homes, traffic patterns, where to put schools, parks and recreation.

2.  They’re our children. We do our best to keep them healthy, fed, safe, educated and cared for. The officials you elect set policies that affect all Nevada families in pursuing their goals and dreams.

1.  It’s your Constitutional Republic. Make it work. Register and Vote.

Top 10 Reasons Why Young People Should Vote

10. You get a cool sticker afterward that says, “I Voted!”

9. Local elections like school board and city council races really do have an impact on your daily life.

8. If you don’t vote, you’re not allowed to celebrate the Fourth of July. Honest.

7. Young people have the most to gain and lose in any election because they have to live with the consequences longer than anyone else.

6. If you vote and an adult you know doesn’t, you can tease them about it forever.

5. With the Internet, it takes about a minute to get all the registration and voter information for your state and county.

4. At the polling location, you might get to finally meet that cute guy or girl you always see in your neighborhood. Plus, they’ll be instantly impressed by your devotion to civic duty.

3. Every political issue and policy affects you whether you know it or not. If you don’t vote, you’re putting control of your world into the hands of someone else…and you have no idea where those hands have been.

2. The feeling of power you get after voting is a great rush.

1.      Election Day is the one day each year when everyone in the U.S. is EQUAL. Your vote counts just as much as anyone else’s does!

Top 10 Lame Excuses Not To Vote

10. My dog ate my registration card.

Reruns of the Simpsons are on TV.

Martin Sheen of “West Wing” is not running. (Well, maybe that should be a good reason…)

I forgot to register to vote.

You went the last time and there was no free food.

I don’t know who is running.

I don’t have a ride.

I am too busy.

You feel guilty when the person you voted against loses.

1. My vote won’t make a difference.

10 Ways to Cast Your Vote if You’re Under 18
If you’re old enough to vote, by all means, vote! If you’re not, here’s a list of other things you can do to get involved in a campaign.

10. Listen to a candidate speak.
They might end up representing you, so check them out.

9. Ask questions.
If you want information from a candidate, ask for it. Contact their official campaign headquarters. Most have websites with contact information.

8.  Surf the Web.
Go to the internet and surf.  Almost every candidate has a statement on the issues of their campaign.

7.  Volunteer at your local polling center.
On the day of elections volunteers are needed to help people at the voting booths. Why not step in to lend a hand?

6.  Write a letter to the editor.
Voice your concerns about an issue or sing the praises of your favorite candidate to your school or local newspaper.

5.  Go behind the curtain.
If you’re old enough, vote — if not, go with your parents or a friend or teacher, just to see how it’s done and take some of the mystery out of the process.

4.  Run for office.
We don’t necessarily mean running for an actual government position, but you could try class president, art club secretary or school board student representative — the more you learn about elections, the better prepared you will be to vote.

3.  E-vote.
Groups like KidsVotingUSA have set up mock elections, so that even if you aren’t old enough to actually vote, you can participate and follow the races. Go to:

2.  Register other folks.
Even if you’re not old enough to register to vote, you can still work in your high school or community to help others who are not yet registered.

1.  Become one with a leaflet.
By that we mean you can volunteer with a campaign. If you really like what a candidate stands for, offer to help him or her out. They may need help passing out leaflets or answering phones at their campaign headquarters.

November 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Adventures: Miwok Trail Nature Exploration

Celebrate Take it Outside Week with Chipper! THIS WEEK, October 14-20, and every third week of every October marks a time to celebrate the natural world and encourage educators, families and caregivers to make time outdoors an important part of young children’s daily lives. Let’s Go Chipper with Head Start Body Start and get into the great outdoors this week!

Miwok trail with kids

Ms. pollack enlightening us about Laurel Trees

Last week we had a Chipper Adventure with Ms. Janet Pollack from the Neil Cummins Elementary School in Corte Madera, CA. Ms. Pollack teaches 3rd Grade and was the science specialist at her school for 12 years. This is her third year using JASON, a non-profit organization that connects students to real science and exploration to inspire and motivate them to study and pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. She often incorporates nature in the classroom and taught her current 3rd grade class all about the Miwoks, Native Americans who once lived along the coast that is now Marin, last week.

Using reeds for boats and making rope

Ms. Pollack teaching the kids about the uses of reeds!

The kids had a ton of fun learning about the local flora and fauna while walking along the Miwok Trail.  Chipper made sure to teach everyone this phrase before they headed outside: Tail on the Trail and Leave No Trace! The class explored all their senses as they familiarized themselves with the Laurel trees and how Bay nuts smell and taste just like pepper! While studying the Miwok’s environment, the children searched for acorns and learned to track and hunt deer just like the first indigenous peoples did. During hands-on workshop, everyone sang some Miwok Songs and learned one can make rope–or small boats–using reeds! They also created hand made pump drills, designed the same way it’s been used for hundreds of years, and practiced how to use them.

finding acorns


Taking the classroom outside makes learning so much fun! Nature is so important to a child’s mental, physical and spiritual development and “pushing our kids out the door may be the best way to save the planet.”- David Suzuki

Watch our video of the days events and get inspired:

Let’s Go Chipper and take the class outside!

October 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Tips: How to Keep Children Busy At the Grocery Store!

Taking children to the grocery store can sometimes be a necessary but frustrating task since isn’t usually on a your little one’s list of favorite activities. Aisles filled with goodies that mom won’t add to the cart is quite a tease. Here are some ways you can create our own activities to occupy your tots that help them build important learning skills while allowing us to get our errand done. Let’s Get Chipper on your next shopping trip and avoid the supermarket stress with these strategies!

  • Involve your little one in putting together the grocery list. Aside from learning what she might want to eat this week, it will get her talking which helps increase her vocabulary.
  • Keep your child busy at the grocery store by taking along books, crayons and markers, or small handheld toys. Allow your child to sit in the cart, if he is still small enough, and entertain himself with a few activities so that you can get the groceries you need without hassle. If you are going to a store in which toys or books cannot be taken (in case you’re worried the grocery store staff might think you stole them), try taking along plain scratch paper and a pen for your child to draw. Tell your child to draw something neat he sees in the grocery store. This gives your child a fun drawing activity and gets him a little excited to be in the grocery store because you’ll have him looking for something in the store to draw. Depending on your child age, ask your tot to help you figure out what letter the item starts and ends with. These pre-reading skills will be beneficial as your he begins sounding out words!
  • Bring your child food and something to drink to keep him busy in the grocery store. Many children get hungry and thirsty in the grocery store and unable to sit still because this makes them antsy. Giving your child something to snack on will keep him busy while you get the groceries you need and keeps him from getting cranky from having an empty belly. To keep your child even busier while you grocery shop, bring along colorful snacks such as fruit snacks, colorful cereal pieces, or animal crackers. If you’re concerned that the grocery store staff will think you took the food, bring the snack in a plastic Tupperware container.

  • If your child is a bit older and learning to read, give him the grocery list to keep him busy while you shop. Having your child take on a role while in the grocery store will keep him busy and out of trouble. Ask your child to cross off each item from the list as you get it. This not only keeps him busy in the grocery store, it also helps to teach him his letters and encourages better reading.
  • Ask your child to be your helper and get grocery items for you. Children love to be helpful and giving them a job to do promotes their self-worth and confidence. Have your child pick up each item as you name it off. Let him put it in the cart and move onto the next grocery item until you are finished grocery shopping. If there are hard items to get that are high up or a little heavy, lift your child up to them or each take a side of the item and put it in the grocery cart. You can even make a game of it and see how fast you can get all the groceries.
  • Help your wee one learn the concept of comparison with produce items. Hold up two tomatoes and ask him which is heavier, which is bigger, which is round, etc.
  • Ask you your child to help you sort the items in the cart. Group by color, by type of food or by size. By switching it up each visit, it will continue to be a new activity for your tot, while teaching valuable grouping skills.
  • Have your child be in charge of pushing the cart while you grocery shop. Allowing your child to drive the cart can be a fun activity for him that keeps him busy at the same time. However, this could be a difficult feat since some children may want to go super fast with the grocery cart, run into things, or find it hard to push the grocery cart straight and around people. If this is the case, simply let your child push the front of the grocery cart while you grab onto the back and help him steer. That way, your child gets to be a big help, and you get to make sure no one gets injured by your child, the speed racer.
  • Consider teaching them how to save money by comparing prices and using coupons in the grocery store if they are a bit older. Ask your little ones to grab two of an item off of the shelf or ask her how many of an object are on another one. In addition to helping them learn their numbers, the exercise will help them understand the concept of quantity.
  • Lastly, if you still can’t seem to manage to make the trip a fun learning experience and your child still gets out of control, such as with a temper tantrum, you might have to cut your shopping visit short. Always be considerate of other people and leave the store if necessary.

Now Let’s Go Chipper to the grocery store!

September 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

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