'Ask the Learning Advisor '
What to do in the long days of winter
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Q: I'm dreading winter
vacation. Last year, my children spent most of their time in front
of the television -- when they weren't fighting with each other.
What can I do to make this year different?
Maybe Laura Ingalls Wilder's family stayed cheerful through "The
Long Winter," but today most families end up pretty much like yours.
If you don't want to follow last year's pattern, you'll need to
start making some plans.
Save the calendar of events printed
in your local newspapers. In most communities, December is filled
with activities for the whole family -- and many of them are free.
Some of the things your family likes to do in the summer are even
more special in the winter. Some zoos, for example, have special
winter tours. Try to find a mix of indoor and outdoor activities.
Although winter vacation gives your
children a break from school, don't let it be a break from learning
too. You are your children's first and best teacher, so take
advantage of your time together during the holidays.
Tuesday, Dec. 21, was this year's
winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Now the days start to
grow longer. For centuries, people have been celebrating the winter
solstice. It's the basis of many modern winter holiday traditions.
Here are some activities to help
your children learn and strengthen family bonds at the same time:
your children find the times of sunrise and sunset in the
newspaper. For one or two weeks, record them on a double bar
the national weather map
to compare the winter weather and temperatures in states in
various parts of the country.
[to top of second column in
List words like "equator,"
"hemisphere," "celestial" and "orbit." Have your children put
these in alphabetical order, then look up their definitions.
solstice stories. Share
how your ancestors celebrated yuletide -- winter, religious
holidays and New Year's. Research myths and customs connected with
the sun and winter.
art. Have your children
draw pictures of their favorite winter things and activities.
And be sure to set aside some time
each day for reading. Ask your librarian for suggestions -- but
don't forget about "The Long Winter!"
* * *
For more information about helping
children learn or to submit your own question to The Learning
Advisor, go to
http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive
a prompt answer by e-mail.
© Copyright 2004, The Parent
Life Sentence, No Parole
If we tried to invent the
cruelest punishment for dogs, we probably couldn't come up
with anything worse than "solitary confinement" on a chain or
in a kennel.
Dogs are pack animals who
crave the companionship of others. Scratches behind the ears,
games of fetch, or even just walks around the block mean the
world to them. Curling up at your feet while you watch TV is
their idea of heaven.
Many dogs left to fend for
themselves at the end of a chain fall prey to attacks by other
animals or cruel people, and many others are injured or hanged
or choke as a result of getting entangled or caught in their
If you have a backyard dog,
please, bring him or her inside. They don't want much--just
public service announcement from Lincoln Daily News and