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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

10 Unique and Fun Writing Prompts for Kids to Celebrate NaNoWriMo!

Photo by David Kessler (Flickr)

Started in 1999, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) gives writers the encouragement to pen 50,000 words during the month of November. I admire the novelists who participate in NaNoWriMo, and this year, I decided to get my girls involved. Here are ten unique and fun writing prompts we can use to help our kids celebrate NaNoWriMo, whether or not they're up for the challenge of trying to write a full novel.

A talking cat and dog visit a farm. What do they see, think, experience, and say?

My girls often imagine what animals would say if they could talk. Now, they can put their imaginative thoughts onto paper with a prompt that also encourages them to consider animal behavior and develop empathy.

What would your day be like if you were a snowflake?

Our kids can tap into their creativity and explore science, geography, and weather as they complete this adventurous and fun writing prompt.

Write a story, poem, or song about three random objects you see in the room right now.

It's easy to connect related items like pizza, a plate, and cheese, but our kids get to think outside of the box when they connect random objects like paper, shoes, and a trumpet. In addition to creativity, this prompt helps kids explore different types of writing styles, since they can write a story, poem, or song about their chosen objects.

What would you do if you could become invisible whenever you wanted?

Our kids can explore their interests, values, and imagination as they reply to this writing prompt. As a twist, we could challenge kids to write about how other people would respond to their ability to become invisible.

If you could do anything you wanted for an entire day, what would you do and why?

Sometimes, when my girls feel discouraged, sad, or upset, I ask them to think about their dream day. They have fun thinking about all of their favorite things, and in no time, they feel better. This prompt also helps my girls examine the interests that make them unique.

Write an ad for your favorite food, book, or game.

When writing an ad, our kids practice summarizing and persuading. Writing ads also helps our kids recognize the elements of sales pitches and become more discerning shoppers.

Pretend you're the king or queen of an underwater world and write about your day.

Our kids can research ocean life and learn more about the animals and plants that live in the water when they plan their day as an underwater ruler. As a bonus, we can use this prompt to help our kids discern what kind of leader they would want to be and what values they appreciate in the teachers, parents, coaches, and leaders in their life.

Rewrite the ending of your favorite movie. What would you change and why?

My girls each have a favorite movie they can recite by heart. I like this prompt because it challenges them to rethink the ending and choose a different path for their favorite characters as they tell a story. It also invites "what/if" conversations that help them think through consequences of actions, an important life skill.

What would you think, feel, and experience if you looked up and saw ice pops raining from the sky?

In addition to creativity, our kids can express their imaginations and think about their feelings when they face unexpected circumstances. This exercise also expands their writing talents and their emotional expression.

Write a letter to your future self to read in ten years.

Despite their biological age, my girls often show wisdom beyond their years. Writing a letter to their future selves gives our kids an opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, and dreams, and it's good letter-writing practice.

Our kids need to know how to write. Let's encourage them to develop this skill with these ten writing prompts. As a bonus, they can celebrate NaNoWriMo and gather a greater appreciation for writing. What other prompts would you suggest?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Friday, November 2, 2018

10 Tips for Preparing Your Child to Hike Their First Mountain!

Photo by Vasile Cotovanu (Flickr)

After months of prep, my girls and I are finally ready for a big adventure. We're planning our first mountain hike! We're all excited about reaching this milestone, but we've had to work really hard. I used these ten tips to prepare my girls to reach their first mountain summit successfully and happily.

Build Your Endurance

I know we can't just wake up one day and easily walk to the top of a mountain. Instead, we have to build endurance. We did that by walking every day until we successfully completed several day hikes. I now know that my girls are ready to persevere during our mountain hike.

Choose an Entertaining Trail

My girls typically get more enjoyment from hikes that feature lots of scenery. They want to enjoy the journey and see waterfalls, streams, and wildlife on the way to their destination. For this reason, I let them research possible mountain trails and choose the one that will be the most entertaining.

Dress in Layers

Temperatures can drop quickly as we reach higher altitudes, so we plan to dress in layers. With non-cotton layers close to our skin and water-resistant outer layers, we'll stay dry and warm. I also insist that my girls try on all of their hiking clothes before our adventure to make sure everything fits and feels comfortable.

Break in Your Hiking Shoes

We know that our hiking boots can make or break our mountain adventure. That's why we picked out shoes that feature sturdy soles and ankle support. Also, we wore them hiking several times to prevent blisters and other discomforts when we hit the mountain.

Pack Healthy, Nutritious Snacks

Hiking is hard work! To keep up our energy, we will pack trail mix, dried fruit, and granola. As a bonus, these snacks are easy to carry.

Carry Enough Water

Our bodies need about one liter of water for every two hours of hiking. My girls and I already use hydration packs, and we'll each carry flexible water bottles so we can stay hydrated throughout our adventure.

Take the Right Pack

During our day hikes, I make my girls carry a pack that's the right size for their body height. They only carry 10 percent of their body weight, and we evenly distribute those items so all of the weight's not at the top, bottom, or one of the sides. I also ensure that my girls each have food and protective gear in their bags in case we get separated.

Protect Yourself in Any Weather

Even though I check the weather forecast multiple times before each hike, I pack enough protection for any weather. It's especially common for the weather to change rapidly on a mountain, so my girls know that we'll pack water-repellent clothing, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, gloves, and a lightweight jacket for protection.

Stay Motivated

Hiking a mountain can be very different and harder than hiking a flat trail. My girls have built up their endurance, but I'll also bring several games and activities so my girls stay motivated to push through hard hills or rough terrain. We might look for different colors, identify bird calls, or practice walking like animals as we reach the summit and have fun.

Prepare for Anything

An unexpected storm, wrong turn, or medical event can affect the outcome of any hike, but it's especially important to be prepared while climbing a mountain. We picked out safety gear like a compass, map, whistle, and first aid kit, and I taught my girls how to use each item just in case.

Before my girls and I tackle our first mountain hike, we want to make sure we're prepared. So far, we've implemented these tips to ensure we remain happy as we succeed on our first mountain hiking adventure. What other training or preparation ideas do you suggest?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart