Nature’s Curiosities – Sensitive Plants Make For Curious Kids

Sensitive plant pic: Let your children explore nature in the house with these sensitive plants and seeds.

A comment was left to a post made earlier this week about exposing your children to plants, animals and the joys of exploring nature. The commenter directed me to TickleMePlant.com, a site that sells Sensitive Plant (or touch-me-not) seeds for parents and kids to grow together in the home year round.

What’s so special about these plants? The leaves react to your child’s touch. Touch the leaves and they will fold together for a time and eventually reopen.

I personally remember these plants from when I was a child on a family trip to the west indies. They blew me away and made enough of an impact that I can remember them vividly even today.

You can find more information about these plants on the TickleMePlant.com website, or on Wikipedia

Use eBay? If So There Are Huge Holiday Discounts To Be Had

There’s currently a promotion going on between Microsoft and eBay (as well as other stores) for those of you resident in the United States. When I checked yesterday the promotion was offering 30% cashback on purchases up to a max of $200 per purchase (as I recall).

With the Holidays just around the corner – don’t kid yourselves, if you want to ensure good deals for the holidays you’d better start looking around soon – and the economy in pretty miserable shape a 30% discount is going to be hard to ignore as you look for gifts for under the tree, festivus pole, etc. If you live in the United States and have access to this promotion consider yourself (and your children) lucky!

The way it works is you have to search on www.Live.com The results page for a product search will include results accompanied by a coin icon and discount-related text. Clicking on those results will provide you with a discount on the target shop if the purchase is made within a given window.

Enough of my babble, here are the links to more information. Note, that if the discounts are low when you check, try again another day as I’ve seen them range as high as 30% for purchases on eBay.

Microsoft Cashback How It Works page
Microsoft Cashback Terms and Conditions
List of Participating Stores
eBay Terms and Conditions

If It Rains This Weekend Soup’s On

Squash soup photo: Let the kids help you make these recipes from bread & honey blog so they appreciate the benefits of healthy eating.

I just stumbled across what looks like a very promising blog called Bread & Honey which offers a number of very appealing recipes that I’m planning to try in coming weeks. The squash-related soups and snacks in particular will make it to our table, this I promise you.

Warm squash soup and grilled cheese sandwiches… mmmmmm… bring the rain.

The Problem With The World Today Is That We Don’t Let Kids Be Kids

Jack-o-lantern photo: Don't buy age inappropriate halloween costumes for your children. Say no by keeping the wallet hidden.

It’s pretty sad that I stumbled across this article today, and even sadder that it’s newsworthy enough to post. Unfortunately it’s an obvious problem that only seems to be getting worse, not better.

Halloween brings it to our attention, but this issue pressures children everyday and deserves ongoing consideration.

Article: Sexy Halloween costumes a bad fit for young girls: advocates

CBC Video: May take a moment to load

And I thought it was bad worrying about such things when I was in highschool. I can’t imagine the pressure and stress a young child must experience if these are the kinds of messages they’re presented with.

Last Chance For Halloween Costumes!

Mask picture: Its almost halloween and you haven't got a costume. Have a look at Etsy for your needs and those of your kids.

Just did a quick cruise of Etsy and decided to post a few of the halloween costumes I came across for those procrastinators among you living close enough for a pre-October 31 delivery :)

Kid’s Jester Costume

Adult Crimson Bauta Mask

Adult Costume Horns

Adult Red Venetian Jester Mask

Kid’s Superhero Costume

Halloween Underachiever Temporary Tattoo

Appreciating Nature Starts In The Home

Caterpillar photo: Stimulate a love of nature in your children. Plants and animals will bring a love of nature and a love of learning.

I grew up with a great deal more freedom than the average child these days. We lived in a quiet neighbourhood, had plenty of yard both front and back and were a short bike ride from farms and the country in almost any direction. We had creeks, streams and even a large river less than a 20 minute bike ride away and a number of woods perfect for exploring. To top it all off my grandparents ran a sizeable farm in Ontario that gave me extensive exposure to animals, crops and gardening.

These days even when similar amenities are nearby very few children are given a long enough leash to explore them. Further, with both parents in the workplace in many cases, they aren’t given the same educational guidance to go along with their regular exploration.

In my mind this is a huge shame. While today I work in technology my love of nature remains very strong. I still remember details about bugs, plants and animals that I learned from my parents and grandparents many, many years ago.

So what’s a parent to do? I have to admit I don’t have the answer. The extent to which you let your child explore their surroundings is a very personal decision and one affected by the specifics of your surrounding. That said there are ways to foster an interest in nature around the house. I’ve gathered a few links below to serve as ideas to get started:

Indoor Plant Options:
Watts Library Plants Series
Globus Space-Age Plant Habitat, Plantarium Garden Lab
Grow Your Own Carnivorous Creations Terrarium
TickleMe Plant Greenhouse
DIY Lily Pad Kit

Animals:
Fascinations ANTW2 Antworks Illuminated
Marineland Eclipse Hex 5 Aquarium Kit
Exo Terra Terrarium – Small

Nothing replaces unhurried outdoor experience in nature, but for those cold / rainy winter days, or for those living in locations without nearby parks, streams and woods this kind of information may stimulate a curiosity in the outdoors and science for kids who might not otherwise get exposure.

Protecting Children Online. How To Keep Your Kids Safe On The Internet

This post was inspired by a post over at ParentHacks today. They provide a link to a pdf guide providing best practices for ensuring your children’s safety.

I figured I could dig up a few other resources to round out your evening reading. Remember, your kids have grown up online and no matter how web-savvy you think you are chances are you’re a novice compared to junior.

Microsoft provides a number of resources geared toward keeping your kids safe online. These resources touch on topics like the importance of secure passwords, family contracts governing online use, using shared (public) computers safely and avoiding online predators among other topics.

The FBI provides a parent’s guide to internet safety that should serve as a crash course for you before you reach out to your children.

The Family Online Safety Institute which I believe is part of the ICRA provides links to a number of different resources for parents looking to understand the risks online and to educate and protect their children from online risks. Of the options above this one looks like a real resource and worth a bookmark (in the event you don’t choose to just bookmark this site… after all I’ll be posting more like these :)

Parents Will Love This. Kids Not So Much. It Seems That Some US School Buses Are Scheduled To Get Seatbelts

This courtesy of Autoblog.
It seems that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided that buses under a certain weight will have to be fitted with seatbelts to – get this – protect our children.

The article goes on to present the reasoning why this hasn’t happened in the past and quite frankly its a disgusting read as they present the dollar sum that was deemed too high to protect children on their way to school. This in a country where that sum is less than the amount a group of 5 bankers alotted themselves as bonuses before declaring their firm bankrupt.

Hmm… protect children on the way to school or reward crooks? I can’t believe it took this long.