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Archive for February, 2008

READING RAINBOW Stories

LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow, PBS Any “Reading Rainbow” fans out there? The wonderful PBS kids show about great children’s books is hosting its annual “Young Authors and Illustrators Contest.” If you’ve got a budding writer or artist at home, check it out. For information on Bay Area entries in particular, click here. Some 900 Bay Area kids entered the contest last year – each got a certificate signed by host LeVar Burton (pictured, left), and winners partied at KQED-TV. Pretty cool.

Speaking of books, don’t forget to tune in this Sunday, when the Childhood Matters radio show tackles the topic of “Reading with Your Child” – how, why and what. 9 a.m. 98.1 KISS-FM and 105.1 KOCN-FM. Listen live or download the podcast afterward.

Posted on Friday, February 29th, 2008
Under: Books, TV | No Comments »

SCHOOL NEWS: “Thesis Buddies,” Bluster & Cell Phones

Pencil pushing (Margaret Spengler, MCT Direct) Education headlines you may have missed this week… We’ll start with the “wha-?!?” items, and then segue into slapped-forehead terrain.

If you’re a Princeton Man (or Woman), you may have something new to add to your resume: senior slave. Gawker is reporting that Princeton’s new residential college, Whitman, has a brand spanking new “Thesis Buddy” program. Seniors are assigned two underclassmen “buddies” to do their laundry, fetch snacks, run errands and provide additional, er, academic support during the thesis-writing crunch. (Read the dean’s description here.) You know, back in the day that was called “fagging” (yes, it was, open your history books and look up “hazing at Oxford”) and it was considered a form of extortion and servitude, but hey, this is quite, quite different. Oxford’s 19th century “thesis buddies” didn’t have to pay $40,000 a year for the privilege.

Brooklyn middle schools are trying a new incentive: Earn an A, get a cell phone. The 2,500 Samsung flip-phones they’ve handed out come with 130 free minutes. Do your homework, earn more minutes. (Oh puh-leeze. We won’t write essays for anything less than an iPhone.)
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Posted on Friday, February 29th, 2008
Under: Schools | No Comments »

FLU SHOT: Kids of all ages need one

Kids cold ILLUS.jpgAs someone who’s watching her family battle the flu, a federal panel’s advisory has come a little too late to help. At least for this year. On Wednesday, an advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended annual flu shots for all children 6 months to 18 years old. Previously, only children 5 and under were on the recommended list. (To read more about the panel’s recommendations, see today’s story in the Times.)

The CDC’s recommendation will prompt more insurance companies to cover these shots. Plus, with more children receiving them, the likelihood of passing the flu from schoolchildren to adults decreases. And from personal experience, that can only be a good thing.

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Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Baby Loves Disco
Here’s a round-up of Bay Area family fun…
1. Baby Loves Disco turns local nightclubs into toddler-parent dance joints, complete with tunes, healthy snacks and mirror balls – and it’s all happening this weekend at Aura in Pleasanton. Spring dates in the South Bay and San Francisco too. ($15)

2. Berkeley Rep hosts “Art Explosion,” a family workshop that combines storytelling, music, art and movement, this Sunday. Free.

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Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Under: Fab Five, Family Outings | No Comments »

MATT & RONA Dish on Teen Drivers

Calm drivers ILLUS.jpg If you’ve got a teen nearing driving age, you know the feeling … the white knuckles, the cold sweats… and that’s just the parents. The kid’s a little freaked out too. But our favorite parenting expert, Rona Renner, and her now-grown son Matt were on “View from the Bay” the other day to share their wisdom and practical “driver training” survival tips.

Part of the parental angst and emotion, says Rona, is because “it’s a rite of passage. You’re letting go. You’re saying, ‘I trust you enough to go behind the wheel.’”

It’s a frightening process for teens too, says Matt, particularly when parents freak out mid-drive. Stay calm, he says, don’t yell, and go easy on the “fake brake.” Your kid sees you frantically stomping the carpet on the passenger side of the car and he’ll get panicky too.
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Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Under: Teens | No Comments »

GILBERT & SULLIVAN Do Preschool

Sandra Boynton illustration Are you a Sandra Boynton fan too? We’ve always been ridiculously enchanted by her sweet penguins and elephants. (Our fave is “The Going to Bed Book” – pictured left – what’s yours?)

And it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones who are bananas for Boynton. The New York Times ran a wonderful story about her last week. And we’ve since discovered an entire YouTube subgenre inspired by her songs.
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Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Under: Other | No Comments »

BATHROOM READING: Caption Contest

By Kim Foster, Detroit Free Press (MCT Direct)
We’re having such fun with your responses to the “this photo needs a caption very, very badly” game, we can’t help ourselves – we’re doing it again. And with a photo like this one, who can blame us? Usual rules apply: click “comments” to enter your caption, deadline is this weekend, and the cleverest caption-writer gets a prize. We’re thinking… bathroom reading material. (By the way, if you’ve got a funny photo you’d like to share, send it on over!)

And now for last week’s winner:
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Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Under: Contest | No Comments »

KILLER COUCHES & Other Parental Fears

Killer couch (ill. by David Terrill, MCT Direct) As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, a new study by the environmental group Friends of the Earth has found worrisome levels of toxic fire retardants in household furniture. Their study is dubbed “Killer Couches” – a bit of hyperbole that makes us instantly wary, because most legitimate scientific research papers have stupefyingly dull titles, like “Pervasive Halogenated Chemicals: Study on the Prevalence of Bioaccumulative Toxins in Domestic Divans.” “Killer Couches” sounds suspiciously like a B-movie from the ’50s. Still, the information may be worth mulling.
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Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

BREAKFAST with Penguins

Penguins on vacation (photo by Joan Koele on StockXchng)
The Monterey Bay Aquarium penguins have been on vacation (OK, that’s not really them in the photo, but we couldn’t resist), and the aquarium is hosting a ”Breakfast with the Penguins” fest to welcome the flippered, tuxedoed guys back. Want a ticket? Enter the aquarium sweepstakes! Get early entry to the aquarium, a meet-and-greet with the penguins, and a breakfast buffet that they swear includes more than anchovies and seaweed. Then swing by the kid-friendly, interactive aquarium Splash Zone, which re-opens March 17.

Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

CHILD GRUNTER booted from tennis club

Tennis ILLUS.jpgA 9-year-old was banned from an Australian tennis club for grunting too loudly. It seems Lauryn Edwards took her love of Russian star Maria Sharapova (a famous grunter) a little too far, according to a Herald Sun report. An opposing player complained that the “excessive” noise was distracting, so Mt. Carmel Tennis Club wanted a guarantee that Lauryn would play silently from now on.

Her father’s reply: “What do you want me to do? Put Band-Aids over her mouth?” Next, we’ll be banning all “Hut-huts” from football and “Hey batter-batters” from baseball. We wouldn’t want to put opposing players at a disadvantage.

Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »