Positive Parenting: Megaskill 9


Common sense is not so common. A reason children may not be using common sense is that it is not a sense we are born with. It is built through experience & practice.

Unlike a subject such as reading or math, common sense has no curriculum. The best we can do is to find areas in which common sense is needed & then figure out ways to give children practice acquiring it.

When you have common sense, you try to see more than one point of view. When you have common sense, you have perspective.


The Careful Eye–ages 4-9

Look around the room & ask children to name everything they see. This activity builds observation skills.

Put several objects on a table. Ask youngsters to look hard & then close their eyes. Remove one or two of the objects. Let children name the things you took away. Turn this game around & ask your children to play it on you.


Memory Stretching–ages 4-9

To encourage information gathering, try questions like these:

Does your back door swing in or out?

Do you put your right or left sock on first?

Who’s the slowest eater in your house?

What did you have for breakfast? For dinner last night? Go back meal after meal to see how far you can remember.

Ask your children to make up questions for you to try to answer.


Guessing–ages 4-9

Ask “guessing” questions & let children ask them of you. How wide is this room? How long is the driveway? Get out the yardstick & check these guesses.

Guess how much different things weigh. A typewriter? A book? Mother? Brother? Put them on the scale & check.

These activities help children make judgements based on what they know to be facts or guesses.


Checking–ages 7-12

Checking is common sense practice, & it can be taught in a straightforward way with a series of questions.

Have we checked to see, for example, that:

There’s gas in the car before starting out on a trip?

There are no cracks in the eggs that we buy at the supermarket?

The seams are tightly sewn in clothes we’re planning to buy?

There are no cars coming before we start across the street–even if the light is green?

We can get children in the habit of doing these checks. With all the checking in the World, there will still be plenty of surprises, but some of the everyday, unpleasant ones can be avoided this way.

Show youngsters the good side of a wormy apple. Ask, “Is this a good apple? Can you eat all of it?” Then turn the apple around. It shows children they have to know both sides of the question. It’s a trick with a valuable lesson.


Using Clues–ages 4-8

Begin by saying, “I’m thinking of something–an object–that is in this very room.” Then give hints, one at a time. Tell about the object’s size, colour, or use. Example: If you are thinking of a saucer, you could say, “It’s the size of a big pancake,” “It’s blue & white,” & “It is used under a cup.” After each clue, let your child try to guess the object.


Asking Questions–ages 9-12

Common Sense also means seeing things from other points of view, putting ourselves as best we can in other people’s shoes.

Read the following scene with your children. Before reading the bank of possible answers, think of what you might answer. Ask for your children’s answers & the reasons why they picked them.

The boy next door. Leah was only nine, but she really liked Michael, the boy across the street. The boy’s family had been away for a year in South America. In the month before their return Leah had crossed off each day on the calendar. She told that to her friend Margo. Finally the big day arrived. There they were. Leah & Michael said hello shyly. Margo was there, too, & what do you think she said?

  1. Nothing.
  2. “Boy, did Leah miss you!”
  3. “Leah’s been counting the days.”


How Time Flies–any age

Give children some common sense about time. Draw a large circle. Mark off this circle into twenty-four equal parts, one for each hour of the day. Pick any day. Start by shading in the hours spent in sleep, then the hours spent at school or on the job. What’s left? Time alone or with friends? Time spent in travel? Time spent on homework or chores? Time watching the TV? Time for meals? Time for hobbies?

Take your time circles & see what you would change if you could. What’s your ideal day?

See what little changes you can make to bring your current days more in line with your ideal ones.


Money Common Sense–ages 4-6

Giving children practice with money is important. I have this attitude about wasting money: I don’t like it.

To teach children how to make change, put pennies, nickels, dimes & quarters (or the equivalents in your own currency) in different sections of an ice cube tray or an empty egg carton. Hand children a quarter & let them give you that amount back in different coins. Use this with other combinations. (Be sure to wash hands after touching the money.)

Gather together some household bills. List each service & the amount owed. Put the name of the bill on the left side of the paper. Put the cost on the right side.

Fold the paper so that the cost side is hidden. Ask your children to predict the amount owed for each bill. Write down the guesses next to the items. Then unfold the paper to show the actual costs.


Eat Well for Less–ages 4-9

Help children practice math by planning nutritious family meals that cost less. Use newspaper grocery ads.

Make up a menu of meals for two days, with your child taking charge of the choices for one meal.                Judge with your child the amount of food needed. Total the prices for the planned meal. Divide by the number of people who will be eating. This gives the cost of the meal per person. Together check your cupboards & refrigerator before going to the store.


Clothes for Less–ages 10-12

Pretend you each have $250 to spend on clothes. Pretend you have absolutely nothing to wear. Make up a complete winter wardrobe from top to bottom. Use newspapers & catalogues. Compare “purchases”. How well did you do?

Talk about the advantage of buying clothes & other items out of season.

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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

“Your children are not your children . They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself……You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”         Khalil Gibran

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 8


We know team players when we work with them:

They don’t always have to get the credit.

They have spirit, & they share it with others.

They laugh with others, not at them.

They pitch in & make sacrifices.

They are helpful, not helpless.

Build a child’s ability to work with others, as part of a team, cooperating to achieve a common purpose.

An uneasy balance exists between individualism & group work in America, especially in the schools. Students are expected to perform & to be graded as individuals, competing rather than cooperating with each other.              The school as an institution is basically just not a hospitable place for teamwork.

All children need ways to show that they can accomplish. Activities at home, even chores, can help. They provide a sense of getting things done, & they help children feel more needed, more important in the life of the family.

There is something special about being in the same place, doing a job together. Start by having them do jobs right with you, next to you. This isn’t just to keep an eye on them; it’s to build the spirit & the sense of teaming, to see ourselves accomplishing a task together.

My friend Ruth remembers bringing her children up on the roof with her & her husband, & together they tackled the job of repairing roof shingles. The children passed the nails; they held the ladder; they felt part of the team.

This same spirit prevails when families bake cookies together or read aloud to each other or change a tire together or shovel snow together or rake leaves together. Children may dislike housework chores but find them more agreeable when we are all in the same room together, one doing the dusting, another doing the polishing or sweeping. They love to rake leaves, but not alone.

It does take more time & patience to teach children how to work, to show them a job step by step, to encourage them, & then to step back & let them take over. It’s easier to do the work for them.         But as with much of parenting, efforts when children are young are an investment in the future.


Real Work, Not Make-Work–ages 4-6

Set attainable goals with your child. Start with easy tasks & work up to harder ones. Example: A four-year-old can bring in the paper every day & wipe the kitchen table.

Turn jobs into games. Set the same task for you & your child. Race each other to see who wipes the table or retrieves the newspaper faster. Chances are, your child will win, on the up & up.

Show children how to do the work–but do not redo their work. Example: The first time a child uses a vacuum, show how to do it & what to pick up.


Divide & Conquer–ages 7-9

Pick a job that has several parts. A good example is preparing a meal. What do you do first? What do you do second? Your list might look like this:

Plan the meal.

Shop for groceries.

Prepare the food.

Set the table

Clean up afterward.

Ask everyone to choose from the list one job to do.


Organising Household Chores–ages 10-12

Together make a list of all the jobs that need to be done around the house. You might separate them into weekly jobs & daily jobs.

Weekly Jobs: Doing laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn.

Daily Jobs: Cooking dinner, making beds, taking out garbage, feeding pets.

Decide together when jobs will be done & who will do them. Write down names next to the jobs. Family members can switch with each other later. Try to avoid labeling work as “girl’s” or “boy’s”.


Let Me Help You!: For older children, tell the story or show the film “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In this classic Jimmy Stewart sacrifices for his family, stays home from college, & manages to keep open a small bank to help poor people get homes. With the help of an angel named Clarence, he learns that he has indeed lived a wonderful life.


What Do We Think?–ages 7-9

Help children practice finding out what others think. Take a poll at home about household products. Should we buy more of this? If yes, why? If no, why not? What could the family buy instead of this product?


What’s Your Opinion?–ages 10-12

Choose one rule that causes family arguments. Ask your child’s opinion of the rule. If it’s about bedtime, that opinion might be, “Having a bedtime is a bad rule. Kids should go to bed whenever they want.” Ask your child to give at least two reasons for this opinion.

Now ask your child to give two arguments for the other side. One might be, “Kids need sleep to keep awake in school.”


Down the Drain & Out the Window–any age

Children may be wasting electricity & water without even knowing that they cost money. For this activity you need some utility bills.

Take a house electricity tour. Check whether lights, radios, or televisions have been left on. Talk with your children about ways to save on utility bills, such as turning off the air conditioner when nobody is home or lowering the heat at night when people are sleeping.

Take a house water tour. Think of all the ways you use water–for dishes, for bathing, for cooking. Then talk about ways you can conserve water.

Look at the bills in the next few months to see the results. Use a set of bills you & your youngster can follow.


Shopping Around–ages 7-12

This activity helps children learn how to compare prices in order to shop carefully for an item they want. You need newspaper ads for new products, classified ads for used items.

Ask children to select an item to “buy” from a newspaper ad & from a classified ad. This might be a bicycle or a television set. Together mark the ads that sound like the best buys. Talk about the items & urge the “consumers” to discuss the ads with other members of the family. Which do they consider the best buys?



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Sunbird Annual Day Graduation 2017

Dear parents, friends and well wishers

Thank you for another year of opportunity for us to serve you. It was a year of growth for Sunbird.

On March 4th, Sunbird parents and team got a show worth remembering! All the months of preparation for the event paid off in big ways. Everyone was delighted at the bright, bold and happy performers.

Thank you, dear teachers for all your hard work in the conception and execution of this day! Your creativity is always well appreciated!

Enjoy the pictures with us!  – one more thing: Sunbird will be open throughout the summer for exciting camps! 




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Outdoor fun Indoors and Outdoors

To our dear parents

Thank you for another great year!! Enjoy the pictures of one of our last field trips to Uncle Dan’s gym. He is a gymnast from Romania who has been associated with Sunbird for a long time. He was impressed at how flexible Sunbird children are.

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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”              Helen Keller

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Gardening fruits

Dear parents and friends

We want to thank our teachers and students for their faithfulness in watering, weeding and keeping the urban garden we had started a year ago. You may have been the recipient of some of the fruit like spinach, methi etc. Recently we harvested even cauliflower and eggplants. Enjoy some pics of the harvest!

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 7


Are you worried about your child’s ability to care about others, to show affection, to be thoughtful?

“Don’t be so selfish.”

“You’ve got to care  about other people.”

Help your child practice caring & having consideration, being interested in others, listening to & learning from them.

I, I, I. Me, Me, Me. These aren’t musical notes. They’re the sounds children make–before they get tuned into You, You, You, & Us, Us, Us. Care is especially needed today.


Family Notes–ages 4-6

Tell your child that each day for three days, you will send each other notes.

Each note will be a special message that will say something nice. The “Something nice” will be something true that one of you has noticed about the other. It might be, “You have a nice smile” or “Your dinner last night was very good” or “I like the way you cooked the chicken.” Let children who do not yet write dictate their messages to you. Children enjoy figuring out nice things to say. Decide on a place to exchange daily notes.


How Does It Feel?–ages 4-8

Start by helping young children describe someone else’s appearance. Ask your child to describe how a certain person–a friend or a teacher–looks. Use drawings.

Ask “how do they feel” questions. Examples: “Jane has just won a race. How does she feel?” “Bill has just fallen down. How does he feel?” “What might each of these friends do, based on how they feel?”

Children will believe you really do understand when you share some “emotional” memories of your own.

Make greeting cards. Decide who needs a greeting card. Does someone need cheering up? Is a friend having a birthday? Do you know a senior citizen who is living alone? Do you have new neighbors who have just moved in?


Let family members “rate” each other. The object is to think positively & to avoid put-downs. What you hope to build is more of an “I care about how you feel” atmosphere at home. Ask:

“How well do I listen?”

“How well do I help around the house?”

“Do I ever make you feel sad? How?”

“Do I make you feel happy? How?”

Think of at least one thing you can do easily that would make your family happy. A kiss, a cookie, a flower, an encouraging word, can give a big, quick lift. Children need to know this so that they can form the habit of making other people feel good.


About Ourselves–any age

Finish these sentences separately & compare answers.

I am happy when__________.

I am afraid of__________.

I am sad when__________.

It’s funny when__________.

My favourite things include__________.

When I am alone, I__________.

I really care about__________.


Our Block–ages 4-6

Draw a neighborhood map together. In the middle of the paper, draw your own home. Draw with a free hand. Don’t worry about exact distances between places. Fill in street names & telephone numbers for places & neighbors.


People Scavenger Hunt–any age

Together go on a people scavenger hunt in your memory. Do you know anyone who speaks another language? Has been in a play? Has a relative who is more than ninety years old?

Think about someone you saw recently who is different. Examples: A street person carrying old bundles, a person in a wheelchair, a blind person.


Who Can Help Me?–any age

Make two columns on a paper. At the top of the left column write: HELP NEEDED FOR. At the top of the right column, write: WHO CAN HELP? Post the paper. Those who can help will put down their names & time they will help.       The idea is to get children in the habit of using skills to help one another.


Heroes Among Us–any age

Cut out newspaper articles about heroic acts by ordinary individuals. Examples: Someone rescues a person from a fire; a neighbor stops a robbery; a youngster saves a child from being hit by a car.

Think together about one or two caring, unselfish people, famous or not, whom you admire. What do you like about them? Are there ways to become more like them?


The Gift of Time–any age

Talk about gifts that people love to receive but that don’t cost much money, if any. Think about making gifts at home. What materials are needed to bake cookies, to sew a potholder etc.

Try to think of gifts that aren’t “things”. You might share a special skill in order to help someone.    For children, it might be: “I will play ball with my younger brother for one hour.” “I will make my sister’s bed for three days.”

Some of the best things between parent & child are still free! And one of the best & most surprising things between brothers & sisters is the caring they can show toward each other.

When Brian was nine, illness forced him to be bed-ridden for six months. Every day, his sister, Eve, age seven, would come bouncing in from school, ready for some outdoor play. But first she would go in to see Brian & ask, “Want to have my day?” Then she would launch into funny vignettes about classmates & teachers & special events. They would laugh a lot. It was a good time for both of them–the giver & the receiver.

Where had this little girl learned this secret for sharing her day? It was what she saw at home. Both of her parents worked. When they got home, they each told a story from their day, usually a funny one. She listened & she learned.



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Christmas Sunbird 2016

Dear Parents

Thank you for your patience.We faced a snag with uploading the pictures. Just a little recap: Sunbird had a fantastic Christmas 2016, with parents participating along with the children. The video coverage is 30 minutes long and anyone who wants it can bring a USB.

We were able to upload some pictures of the fun. Please enjoy them.


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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

Parents who live lives of integrity bring great blessing to their children.

‘Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.’                                           Billy Graham  

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 6


“It’s not enough to start–you have to finish.”

“Even when you feel like quitting, don’t.”

“Keep at it; you’ll get it.”

There will always be others who are more talented than we are, who are better looking, who have more education. Even with these benefits, they still need perseverance in order to accomplish & to create. Help children get into the habit of following through & finishing.

Perseverance is the difference between those who try & those who succeed.

We seem to accept the fact that our children have short attention spans. But we should emphasize building our children’s level & length of attention & their ability to concentrate over a period of time.

“I know you’ll make it.”

“You’re doing a great job.”

There are experiences that by their very nature teach perseverance. They can’t be done in a rush because they demand a level of detail & a passage of time.

Organise family photos in chronological order. What happened first? Second?     Attach the pictures in an album with captions (explanations) that children can write.

Find all the important telephone numbers that would be useful to have in one place.           Help your child alphabetise this list. Double-check this sheet. Then enter the names & numbers in the family telephone book.

Talk with children about changes in their weight & height as they grow older.        Keep a family weekly weight check chart.

Learning to Work & Wait:

Time is a big element in perseverance. Children can practice getting beyond the need for immediate gratification, showing that they are willing to work & wait for results.

Activities that call upon children to wait are growing plants, watching their weight, learning a new skill, & preserving their health.

Everyone enjoys watching seeds sprout & come up through the earth. When they don’t, we can start again. The important point is that this activity helps children get practice in finishing a project they start. You need two or three packets of seeds, small pots or milk cartons cut down, a ruler, &, depending on the season & your household space, a sunny windowsill or outdoor garden.

Buy seeds or use seeds you have saved. Empty a few on the table beside each packet. Ask your children to look at the seeds & examine their size & color. Feel how hard they are.–Don’t let them eat the seeds. Talk about the differences. Ask children to fill each pot with about two inches of soil. Plant a few seeds in each. Place the pots on a sunny windowsill. Together read the directions on the seed packet. Talk about what you have to do to be sure the seeds grow.          Water the seeds as the directions say. Then, day by day, watch for the seeds to begin to sprout. Seeds grow slowly. It will take about ten days to see them.


Good & Good for You–ages 4-9

This activity helps young children get into the habit of eating healthy foods. Nutritious snack foods include carrot sticks & raisins, bananas rolled in chopped peanuts, celery stuffed with peanut butter, tomato or cucumber slices topped with cheese, raw vegetables with cheese dip, raisins & nut mixes etc.

Set aside part of a refrigerator shelf for children to use for these special snack foods. In this way children can make their own healthy snacks.

Check family weights. Who’s the heaviest? The lightest? Try recording weight changes in a week’s time. This is good math practice, too.


Exercise Plan–any age

Plan & carry out a family exercise program. List one or two exercises each person can do regularly. Make up a plan for a week-long, practical exercise routine.

What we ask our children to do is what we must be willing to do.

When children hang up their clothes or put away the dishes that’s school-work. School achievement depends on a child’s ability to see a job through to completion.

Children can get into the habit of not finishing what they start.                I am not convinced that we always have to finish what we start, but we have to learn to finish many things. There should be some jobs that children know they have to complete.

Children need to learn that things don’t happen all at once, & sometimes not even very quickly. Reaching a goal may take time & long days of effort & continuing work, but it’s worth it!


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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

“There is in every child at every stage anew miracle of vigorous unfolding.”

                                                                                                                                                                       Erik Erikson

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Kaikondrahalli lake excursion

In November, the children went to an interesting bird and nature watch at Kaikonreahalli lake. They observed Kingfisher birds, Cranes, Little and Big Egrets, butterflies and other interesting creepy crawlers. They enjoyed the viewing as they had just completed the Theme birds and insects. Enjoy the pics.

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 5


“What a good idea!” “You’re always thinking of something new.” Praise your child’s initiative.

Initiative starts with a good idea, but the idea is not enough. You have to do something to make things happen. Even after you hit a home run, you still have to run around the bases.

You don’t have to go outside your home to give your child a world of experiences that build interests. I tried science in the kitchen with my young children. Let me tell you, they were not the only ones learning. We watched water come to a boil. We timed how long it took to make macaroni soft. We defrosted ice cubes in the sun & in shade. We put wooden & metal spoons into hot water & then touched them, sometimes with a burning surprise. And we talked about what we were learning.

Busy fathers may think that to make up for lost time with the kids, they need to sacrifice, to do activities like going to museums or the zoo or a show. Not so. There really is great educational value in activities such as going with children to the bank & to the grocery store…or even down to the basement.


Machines: Look & Listen–ages 4-9

Use the house itself. How does it work? What are all those pipes for? Don’t forget those plumbing pipes. Kitchens make noises. Listen & name them–the refrigerator’s hum, the stove’s purr, the fan’s whoosh.

Look at a bicycle. Peek beneath the hood of the family car. Can you name the parts?

Take a good look at all the appliances at home. You might want to tackle the bigger question of where all this electricity comes from in the first place. When travelling past a power plant or a dam, you might mention that little old toaster at home.


Machines: Please touch–ages 4-9

Oh, the joy of taking things apart & maybe even putting them together again. How do flashlights work? Find out what happens when one battery is taken away or put in upside down. The beauty of flashlights is they can be made to work so easily.

If you have a small, broken machine, such as a clock or pencil sharpener, & you don’t care whether it works again, try this wonderful activity: Put the machine & some useful tools, such as a screwdriver, on a table. Allow your child to take the object apart. Stand by in case you’re needed, but do let your child try to put it back together without your help.


Water, Water Everywhere–ages 4-9

Put water into an ice tray & set it in the freezer. How long does it take to freeze? Try this with different levels of water in different sections of the tray.

Put a few ice cubes on the table. How long do they take to melt? Why are they melting? Put them in different places around the room. Do they melt faster in some places than in others?

Float an egg in both salt & fresh water. Which water holds the egg higher? Salt water is more buoyant.

Evaporation: Put some water in an open dish in a sunny place. Let your child make a mark to show the water level. Use another dish with an equal amount of water, & put this one in the shade. Which one dries first?


Hot & Cold–ages 4-9

To check on the temperature around you, use a house-&-garden thermometer. What happens when the thermometer is in the refrigerator? In the freezer? Atop the radiator? In the sun?


Light & Shadow–ages 4-9

Use a strong light bulb indoors. Try some shadow play on a dark background.

Use a mirror to catch light from the sun. Then move the mirror, throwing the light in different places around the room.

Put a teaspoon in a glass of water that is two-thirds full. Looking at it sideways, children see the “disconnected” parts of the spoon.


Plants & How they grow–ages 4-9

Using aluminum foil, cover the leaves on one side of a sun-loving plant. Keep this covering on for a week. What do the leaves look like when you take off the foil?


Let’s Get Organised: There are mornings when you wake up & you just know it’s a day to get organised. Eliminate that mess you’ve been avoiding:


Nuts & Bolts, Pins & Needles–ages 4-6

Organise the toolbox, the jewelry box, the dressers, sewing boxes, bookcase, the kitchen cupboard or refrigerator, the family linen closet or a closet in your child’s room. First talk about a good way to organise the area.


Gather & Go–ages 7-9

Teach children how to collect & organise materials. Start a project, big or little: A puppet stage, a dog house, a party, baking cookies. Talk with children about what they will need. (Young children will need your advice.)

List what you have to purchase & what is already at home. Then, with your child, collect the essentials before you start the project.


The Family Calendar–any age

Get a plain calendar with large squares for each day. Talk about the days, weeks, & months spread out before you. Start filling in the squares with special days, such as birthdays, upcoming events & appointments.

Let your child decorate the calendar. Use the calendar for generating children’s suggestions; for example, list special foods children want or ideas for places to go on family outings.


Organising for Children

Ask your children which of these ideas they’d like to try first.

Provide some kind of work space, no matter how small, for each child. This can vary from a lapboard that children use while they sit on the bed to a piece of furniture to a dropleaf shelf that is attached to the wall, if apartment regulations allow.

Try the idea of a small piece of colorful rug for a young child’s work area on the floor. This helps cut down on the tendency for children to covet the same work space, even in big rooms.

To make communal work space for young children doing artwork, put a heavy plastic tablecloth over the dining room table & an old shower curtain or newspaper beneath.

Give children a place to put their possessions. This should be an “untouchable” place. No one is to disturb these things. The children’s end of this bargain is that they have to put the things away neatly. This place could be a box or drawer that fits under a bed, or a shelf above it.

Provide pegs so that children can hang up their own clothes. Also, make sure that shelves are reachable so that children are able to put away toys when they’re finished with them.

Use what’s in the apartment. Put a piece of wood on top of a radiator (except in winter), & you have a shelf. Place a large sheet of wood or Masonite over a bathtub, & you have a good size work area. And use wall space. Hang pegboards to hold carpentry tools & toys.


Junk Day–any age

Give your child paper bags & these instructions: “Today is junk day. Go through your closet/drawers/bedroom & take out all the junk or give-aways that you want to get rid of. I pay for junk!”


Offering Without Being Asked–ages 7-12

Ask children to choose one job that they’re often asked to do: Taking out the garbage, cleaning their room, washing clothes etc. Suggest that for two days they do this task before someone asks them to do it. Talk about it. Did they get the task done before someone reminded them? Did it make them feel good? Did they offer to help others? How did they feel?


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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

On hand development: “The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.”  Jacob Bronowski

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