By Shannon Cannon

      Shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center towers in September 2001, I bought a couple of rocks. I thought about sending them to the President. Not because they were spectacular rocks or even wanted, for that matter. These rocks were special because they represented a nation, full of children wanting to help children who were without a nation. Some of our neighborhood kids, bringing to mind a Tom Sawyer story, knocked on our door with a wagonload of rocks and a Sharpie marker. They had drawn a face on each dusty rock and were offering them for the low, low price of 25 cents. They explained that they would split the money and each send a dollar to the White House for the children in Afghanistan.

      Now, I had heard that some were criticizing the President's money-raising effort as propaganda or a gimmick, trying to promote the cause of war. You can call it what you want, but for several years now children all over our country have been learning that this world is bigger than the United States and that even a child can forget himself, and make a difference. And I think they are.

      And now, totally off the subject, here are some activities for M week:

      • Make macaroni necklaces or bracelets by stringing macaroni onto a string. Or glue macaroni onto construction paper to make simple pictures.

      • Have some fun with magnets. Get a strong magnet and several other objects, and then have the children guess which of the objects will stick to a magnet and which will not. You can talk about attracting and repelling. Then test your hypothesis by trying one object at a time to see if they attract or repel. For fun, have them guess how many paper clips will stick to one magnet and then try it.

      • Draw a map of a familiar area, (the town, their room, your house, etc.) and help the children find where they are on the map. Then follow the map to find a hidden treasure; maybe M&M's.

      • For snacks, make marshmallow stick figures with mini-marshmallows and toothpicks. If the older kids are bored, this is a great activity for them to try as well. We ended up with architectural structures the size of China and the little ones had to hide their marshmallows, but everyone had a blast.

      • Help the children make up menus of their favorite foods or snacks. Have them draw a picture of each item or find a picture of it in a magazine and then glue it onto the menu. Ask them how much each dish should cost and write it next to the picture. You could also make up funny names for each item being served, like boiled brains (spaghetti) or slimy eyeballs (grapes). The boys especially will get a kick out of this.

      • When a warm day comes up, make some mud (or come borrow some of ours), then take off your shoes and squish the mud through your toes. Try stirring up some mud pies or even making your own mud sculptures. When the kids wake up from their naps, have them join you.

      • Talk about the Egyptian mummies and show the children some pictures. Wrap each other up in toilet paper and pretend to be mummies and have races walking like a mummy. Or divide up in teams and have races to see which team can wrap up their mummy the fastest. You can find some interesting facts about mummies at www.neferchichi.com/mummies.html.

      • Make some maracas by filling toilet paper tubes with dry beans or macaroni and taping the ends VERY securely, then dance to some Mexican music while playing them.

      Whether you are using these activities for preschool or not, try the mummy activity with your kids for Halloween. And have fun playing in the mud. I swear it's therapeutic.


Few things in life are more fun and rewarding than curling up on the couch with your kids and a good book. If you truly want your kids to learn to read well, then READ TO THEM EVERY DAY! There is no better way to teach your kids that reading is fun and interesting.
Click here to see a list of ALL the books we have read to our children.

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