Nepal needs our help…

Nepal needs our help…

The damage is still being assessed after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, and death tolls continue to rise. This region is in desperate need of help right. Relief workers are facing challenges with knowing where to go: Most roads and buildings don’t exist on a map. But that’s a situation that’s changing, hour by hour, as thousands of volunteers around the world build a detailed digital atlas of the earthquake zone. Volunteers use aerial images from satellites to mark open spaces where helicopters or planes might land with supplies, highlight streets between towns and villages, and outline buildings that aid groups can use to guess where victims might be. Using OpenStreetMap technology—known as the “Wikipedia of maps”—they build continuously updated maps that can be used online or downloaded into navigation devices. Any mapping that people can contribute helps. If you need to know how to do it go here. Start mapping.

Nepal will need continued help in the weeks and months to come. In times of disaster, we often see the best of humanity as the entire world comes together to offer aid. Unfortunately, we can also see the worst as opportunists seize on the good nature of others to scam money. Her is a list of reputable organizations and people that you can support to help Nepal.



From the time the earthquake hit till the time Jay Poudyal started this campaign,  He has visited several affected areas in and around Kathmandu.  He has also collected stories which he has be sharing here. “The most need I see are for the aftermath of this earthquake which is  rebuilding and helping people recover from loss of property and loved ones. The fund collected will be used to distribute supplies to the people who are directly affected over a period of time. These will range from water, food, medicines, blankets.” Help Nepal

AJWS Earthquake Emergency Relief Fund will ensure that thousands of people affected by this earthquake receive the support they desperately need. AJWS has been involved in disaster response in the developing world for many years. An emergency response team from the AmeriCares India office in Mumbai is headed to the impact zone and relief workers are preparing shipments of medical aid and relief supplies for survivors. You can support their efforts in Nepal. In Nepal, nearly 1 million children require humanitarian assistance, and UNICEF is on the ground working to provide critical aid to children and families. You can make a donation towards Nepal earthquake relief.

Make every day Earth Day!

Make every day Earth Day!

Today April 22, 2015 is Earth Day! Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has been a great reminder to celebrate the Earth, nature, and more natural living, however you don’t have to wait for Earth Day to start. Make a plan daily to do something to celebrate the Earth’s biodiversity and help towards protecting our amazing planet!

As parents we can set an example for our children. Children learn about strong character when parents and other adults in their daily lives set a good example through their own behavior and actions. Going Green and giving back to the environment starts at home.

If you are looking for ways to go Green today and everyday here are a list of ideas:


When you don’t recycle, it goes into the trash, and get buried. It stays there forever, basically.

Recycling and Reusing More Plastics:
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces approximately 1,600 pounds of trash per year. Too much trash going into landfills contains recyclable products that should be going into the recycle bin! Earth Day provides the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with the following simple steps for reusing and recycling plastics, helping to conserve resources and protect the environment for future generations.

Find out which plastics are accepted for recycling in your area and where they can be taken. Though recycling varies throughout the country, most community programs collect plastic bottles, and many grocery and retail chains offer bins for recycling used plastic bags.

Bottles: Today, more than 80 percent of U.S. households have access to a recycling program, and the vast majority of them collect plastic bottles. For recycling purposes, a bottle is any container with a neck or an opening that’s smaller than its base. Include the following wherever plastic bottles are recycled:

Milk jugs
Beverage bottles (e.g., water, soft drinks, juice and beer)
Bottles from shampoo, toiletries, laundry detergent and other household cleaners
Salad dressing, cooking oil and condiment bottles
Food jars, such as peanut butter and mayonnaise

Bags: Many grocery and retail stores now offer plastic bag drop-off programs that allow consumers to return their used bags and product wraps to be recycled at collection areas located at the front entrance or near the store checkout. All clean bags labeled #2 (HDPE) or #4 (LLDPE) are recyclable, including:

Grocery bags
Retail bags (remove hard plastic or string handles)
Plastic newspaper bags
Dry cleaning bags (remove paper and hangers)
Bread bags (with crumbs shaken out)
You can also include plastic wraps from products such as paper towels, bathroom paper, napkins and diapers wherever plastic bags are collected for recycling

Visit for a list of stores that offer plastic bag recycling in your state. (Click on the “Consumers” tab.)

Bridge the second generation gap. It’s important to remember that recycled plastics go on to become second generation products. Bottles are used to make hundreds of everyday items, ranging from fleece jackets and carpeting to detergent bottles and lumber for outdoor decking. Plastic bags can also be made into many products, including new bags, durable backyard decks, fencing, railing, park benches, picnic tables, and shopping carts.


Make the Green Power Switch:

Global warming and climate change are huge threats to mankind. We’ve made remarkable progress since then in protecting human health and safeguarding the natural environment. Your commitment to renewable energy through your Green Power Switch purchase helps us continue this progress. Everyone can battle these with little gestures that bring about big changes for a better future. Switching to renewable energy is considered a prerequisite to protecting our planet. Switch to green power energy today to save the earth and save money.

Eat outside:

In this day and age, we eat in front of the tv or on a short break from the computer. We are plugged in all day, all night, and even at meal times.Take a break from all that. Have a picnic, even if it’s in the local park. Start them young and build that habit when they don’t know any better.

Eat less meat:

Go meatless on Mondays … or Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays. Industrial meat and dairy operations are incredibly energy-intensive, from the production of feed to the operation of factories and slaughterhouses, to the processing and shipping. The Environmental Working Group estimates that if everyone in the United States cut out meat one day a week, the greenhouse gas emissions reductions would be like cutting out 91 billion miles of driving.

Learn more about the environment:

Earth Day is a good time to make a commitment to learning more about the environment and how you can help to protect it. Read articles to get up to date on the current issues affecting the environment, like pollution, water shortages, and climate change. Or, learn about a region you’ve never considered before, like the Arctic, the deserts, or the rain forests. Not sure where to start? Check out your local news sources for information about environmental issues in your own backyard.
Understand how climate change works, and what you can do about it.
If you live in a city, look into urban environmental issues like contaminated drinking water and energy conservation.
If you live near a body of water, do research to find out whether it’s healthy or in need of help.
Learn more about fracking, which is affecting many communities in the United States.
Find out which species native to your area are under threat of extinction.

This Earth Day, remember: Helping protect the environment is something we can do everyday. Our earth should be protected so its precious resources can be available to us for many years to come. It is never too early to start teaching children the importance of keeping our planet clean and learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. With a little guidance and supervision, kids can get creative helping and celebrating the earth. Just because they are children doesn’t mean they can’t help make a difference. After all, little steps can lead to big changes.

Building Literacy with Crosswords for kids

Building Literacy with Crosswords for kids

Crosswords for kids help your child to learn about the meaning of words and how to use them in sentences. To solve a crossword puzzle, your child needs to search for alternative words, evaluate word choices and differentiate between homophones (words which sound the same but are spelled differently: i.e. pear and pair). These are all useful skills which help to enhance your child’s vocabulary and reinforce difficult spellings. If your child is struggling with a word, they can turn to a dictionary for help, thereby helping to develop their dictionary skills.

Here are some excellent on-line crosswords for kids created by grade level so that your child can practice spelling words appropriate for their age. I also love these homophone crosswords for kids.

There are plenty of websites which enable you to create your own crosswords for kids. I particularly like this crossword maker at The Teachers Corner.

Recently I decided to make up a crossword to help my children practice difficult spellings. Using lists of words commonly misspelled by primary children (for example, the words marked with an asterisk in this list), I chose twenty words which my children also have difficulty spelling correctly. The words I chose were:

  • aunt, bear, beautiful, caught, different, enough, fourth, friend, heard, little, name, people, pretty, school, should, straight, theirs, view, wear, white.

Before attempting the crossword, however, I wanted to give my children a chance to become familiar with the spellings of these words. For this purpose, I created a word search.

Word searches for Kids

Children can solve word search puzzles without paying any particular attention to spelling by just mechanically looking for one letter after another. So if you want to use a word search puzzle as a learning mechanism, it is important to sit with your child while they are doing it and help them to take notice of the spelling patterns of the words they are looking for.

First I created this word search for kids which you can download here or click on the image below.



For this exercise, we started by looking at the word list and grouping the words according to similar attributes or spelling patterns.

First my children identified all the words with double letters (different, little, pretty, school). They started looking for these words first since the double letters made them easier to spot in the grid. Then they looked for words with common vowel letters:

  • “ea”: bear, beautiful, heard, wear
  • “ou”: enough, fourth, should
  • “ie”: friend, view
  • “au”: aunt, caught

Finally they looked for the words which didn’t fit with any pattern: name, people, straight, theirs and while.

As my children looked for each word, I made sure they sounded it out and when they found the word they said the word again while tracing the letters with their fingers.

If you want to make your own word search puzzle, you can use this word search maker.

Crosswords for Kids

Now that my children were a bit more familiar with the spelling of these tricky words, it was time for the crossword. I created this crossword for kids which you can download here or click on the image below.


I then asked my children to try to solve the crossword puzzle, reminding them that the answers were all words which they had just found in the word search puzzle. When they struggled to spell a word, I encouraged them to work it out using one of the following strategies:

    • I asked them whether they remembered how we had grouped the word in the word search. For example, when struggling to spell little, it helped to remember that we had grouped it with different, pretty and school because it has a double letter.


    • We used the Alphabetic Code Chart from Phonics International which lists the phonic sounds with many of their different spelling alternatives. For example, when my son was unsure how to spell the \air\ sound in wear, we looked at the chart and saw that he could choose from -air, -are, -ear or -ere. This helped him work out the correct spelling.


  • If the above strategies didn’t work we used the Look-Cover-Write method for memorizing word spellings. My child looked at the word, taking care to notice difficult parts such as double letters, silent letters or unusual vowel combinations. Then we covered the word up and they wrote it on the crossword from memory.

As you can see, crosswords can be a great way to fit in lots of learning moments!