10 Things You Must Know When Traveling with Children

Children and traveling

Traveling with Kids? Be Prepared!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

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Getting ready to go to Grandma’s for the holidays?  Heading out for a long car ride? Plane ride? Don’t stress. Just be prepared.

It’s amazing that our parents were able to take us on trips without a zillion electronic gadgets.  No Ipods, DVD players, hand held games, or cell phones. Well, it’s a new world.  We need to make sure that everyone is occupied if it’s going to be a pleasant trip.

Whether you’re taking a GrandVacation with the grandparents or simply going on a long car ride to visit Aunt Patti in Mobile, be prepared with:

(1) Location games to play: I-spy, Padiddle (pointing out a car with one headlight), counting games, the alphabet game (saying destinations by going through the alphabet, A my name is Alice…), looking for specific letters on license plates, locating one car from every states.  The number of games is endless.  Brainstorm these games in advance so you’re not trying to remember them while on the road.

(2) Communication games to play: The car is one of the best places to talk to your children and teens.  The side by side nature of travel makes talking less uncomfortable.  You can simply tell stories and ask questions but you can also play games that inspire communication like  Finish the sentence (If I had a million dollars I would…) and Everyone answers (Name one thing that made you laugh today, name one thing you’re worried about).

(3) Sleepy, bored campers must be comfortable: Have someone who gets sick in the car? Tired on planes? Make sure they have a comfy blanket, pillow, and their favorite stuffed toy, if they need it.  Go over exactly what needs to be packed and make sure the children check everything off before they leave. This is a great time for children to learn how to pack their own suitcase (even if you look everything over) for the trip. We want them to have what they need! Fussy, crabby, sleep-deprived teens or children are not fun to be around!  Even if it’s something extra for them to carry (get portable sizes), be sure they have what they need to sleep it off. Other things to pack in your carry on bag here.

(4) Songs to Sing: Many children love to sing in the car. You might think that you can go with the old standbys like 99 bottles but after you get about 4 measures in you’ll see that it wasn’t the best choice.  Be prepared with short songs that your children like to sing like “wheels on the bus,” “It’s a hard knock life,” “The Circle Game,” or “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.”  You can even print out the words so that one of the adults can lead the singing and actually know the words that are supposed to be sung.

(5) Mechanical back-up: If you’re going to be in the car, trailer, or plane for over8-10 hours, you may want to have a portable DVD player available as a reward for children who’ve been sitting still all day.  Get a movie that all your children can enjoy.  You can give them earphones so that they can listen while you get some moments of peace and quiet.  You can also bring along Ipods, hand held games, and leap frog systems.  Make sure that you don’t bring loud games.  They’ll drive you crazy.

(6) Snacks! Troops get hungry: Make sure you have healthy snacks like carrot sticks, celery sticks, orange segments, and raisins ready to go.  You can also bring along other snacks like crackers, cookies, and fruit roll-ups.  Also ensure that you have juice boxes and water. No trip is fun when people are hungry or thirsty.

(7) Wipes! People get messy: Children who eat in the car or on the plane get messy.  Bring along wipes. tissues, and a sense of humor.

(8) Maps to know where you’re heading: Make sure your children know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing so that they get excited and mentally prepared. You also need maps to ensure that you know where you’re going, the locations of favorite kid friendly restaurants, sites you might want to see, and places where you can meet friends who you haven’t seen in a long time.  Stops give the children and teens time to stretch their legs and break up the day if you’re driving int he car.  If you’re flying, maps are fun ways to learn about the places where you’re going as well as the places you’re flying over!

(9) Labels so things don’t get lost: Make sure that you label your suitcases well.  Everyone has a black suitcase, so if you have the option, get another color.  Label special toys and blankets so that if they get lost there is a chance they’ll come back to you.

(10) Stranger danger and ground rules: We don’t want our children and teens to be frightened when we go away but we do want them to be smart.  Go over what you expect and talk to them about staying safe while in an airport, rest stop, or other place away from home.  Call a family meeting and talk about the different rules we need to follow, buddy systems you need to have, and things to expect.  Getting it all out in the open before you leave with ease the way for everyone.

In the end, it’s just important to have a good time– so leave the stress at home and enjoy! It’s time to make memories!

Happy Holidays everyone!

NOTE: Would you please vote for Dr. Robyn’s Blog for best Parenting Blog?  It only takes a moment! Thank you!!!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

September 11: Time For Gratitude

On this day, September 11th,  it’s hard to not feel reflective.

I remember when I was about 4 years old. I was with my grandmother (an amazing little blond-haired woman that everyone—I mean everyone–called “Nanny”). We were in the front of the grocery store and a news crew was there. They stopped us and asked Nanny “where were you when Kennedy was assassinated?” My Nanny recalled where she was and what she was doing. That day comes to mind because I believe that I might be walking with my grandchild one day—and someone will stop me and ask where I was on September 11th 2001. It’s just one of those days that forever more, will be etched in the memories of millions of people.

Today, in honor of those who died, it seems the best thing to do is to show respect by being grateful for what we have and what others have done for us. We must teach our children everyday, and especially on days like today, that we are indeed fortunate in so many ways. We must be thankful. We must go out of our way to express gratitude. Today of all days, even if we feel a little awkward, it’s the time to make a point of showing appreciation for the blessings that have touched our lives.

How can we teach our children gratitude?

(1) Model it: When someone does something for you, expand on the typical thank-you. Allow your children to see that saying thank-you is accompanied with a smile, a thank-you card, or other sincere recognition of gratitude. The more they see it, the more they’ll do it.

(2) Make a Gratitude List: At the dinner table or before bed, ask your family why they are grateful. Write down the answers in a family gratitude journal or use it to help form a family bucket list. Not only is this a nice way to bring the discussion of gratitude to the forefront, it’ll be fun to look back over the years and see how the “objects of gratitude” have changed with age and maturity. Today, of all days, we can be grateful for our safety, for our troops, and for our loved ones.

(3) Role Play: Use stories to teach your children what to do when someone goes out of their way to help you. Ask how each person in the story must feel when they hear words of gratitude expressed. You can also tell stories in which the receiver does not thank the giver. How do you think that made the giver feel? What do you think might happen next time? Lastly, why not role play what your child would say if s/he met a soldier or a service worker who is helping to keep us safe while we go about our day?

(4) Point it out: Did Grandma come over for last minute baby-sitting? Did your neighbor Charlie come by to fix the sink at 9pm? Point out to your children how nice it was for a family member or friend to take time out of their day to help out the family. Today, point out how others are still showing gratitude for those who helped them on 9/11. You are passing on knowledge that things do not magically get fixed but rather, they take time, knowledge, and skill on the part of various people. Then show them how you follow up with a gesture of gratitude!

(5) Purge and Abstain: Sometimes, we have to teach our children to give items or time away to charity. Being the “giver” can be very fulfilling and can help a lot of people. Still, many people who lost mothers and fathers on 9/11 are in need. By the same token, “going without” something can also show children how grateful they are to have certain privileges and possessions. Going without TV or computer access for a week or walking rather than driving to an in-town destination can help children remember to be grateful for their blessings.

(6) Notice it: Be sure to reinforce your child’s gesture of gratitude when you see it. For example, if your child says, “Thanks for driving me to practice,” say “You’re welcome! I appreciate you saying that—it means a great deal to me” instead of “Of course I drove you” or “How else would you get here?”

(7) Talk about people who are less fortunate: Whether you’re pointing out that some families have less or your discussing those families who’ve had to deal with loss, you’re helping your children to understand how to count their blessings. In the face of 9/11, it’s vital that your children are taught (in an age-appropriate way) that others are feeling sad or suffering today because of what happened 7 years ago.

Hug your children today a little tighter. Let them know how much you appreciate them. On days like today, it’s so important to stop the daily grind to remember how truly lucky we really are.

Please share; Where were you when the tragedies of 9/11 happened? What are you grateful for today?

We appreciate all of you.

Fun Spring Activities for Children: All in one place!


It may still feel like winter for some of us but spring is actually here. That means Spring holidays like Easter and Passover as well as playing outside, long walks, bike riding, and picnics.

What are some great activities for children to do to celebrate the coming of spring and some of the spring holidays?

(1) In the Kitchen with the Kids: On days that don’t seem all that Spring-like, how about some baking and cooking?

Bread animals:

Turtle-Shaped Bread: Put down the play dough and grab a hold of the real thing! Use the recipe from Family Fun or try it with store-bought dough to make it easy.

Easy animal bread: Love the idea but not all the work? Bake the breads in an animal mold and just turn it out when baked through.

Teddy Bear or Rabbit-Shaped Bread: For each bear, form a flattened oval for the body. Add a flattened ball for the head. To connect the parts, use a small amount of water or egg white applied with your fingers. Add two balls to the head for ears to make a bear or use long ovals for the rabbit’s ears and a triangle to form the face. Get the full idea from this site.

Bunny Cupcakes: Great for celebrating Easter, Spring, or even Mother’s Day!

Little white bunny-face cupcakes: These cute cupcakes will remind you of Peter Cottontail!

Bunny Cupcakes with Oreo Ears and an M&M nose: The whole thing will surely taste delicious from top to bottom!

Molded mini bunny cupcakes: (Pictured above) It doesn’t get much easier than this—and using easy icing in a tube makes decorating simple for the kids!

Spring Crafts: With so many colors for inspiration, why not do some crafts with the kids?

Butterfly mobile: These beautifully vibrant butterflies from Kaboose are a great way to welcome spring! Suspend them from the ceiling with fishing line, or make several and attach to a paper plate mobile.

Paper flowers: We all remember making paper flowers when we were little. Check out this site which provides both the “how to” and a sheet on what each type of flower means. Or this site which provides the classic technique from when we were young.

 Egg Carton Animals: Caterpillars, lady bugs, and spiders, oh my! Decorate egg cartons to make all kinds of animals and creatures from bugs to camels!

Wooden Spoon Bouquet: Paint and transform your old wooden spoons into a work of art to display on any sunny—or dreary day!

Flowered T-Shirt Pillow: This comfortable and bright idea can be used for Passover as this site recommends or just for fun to celebrate spring!


f. <!–[endif]–>Build a birdhouse or bird-feeder: Building a birdhouse with your children can be used to teach about different kinds of birds while having a wonderful time! Here’s a video of a Dad making a birdfeeder with his son—but Moms, Dads, or grandparents can do this with their kids!

(3) <!–[endif]–> Outside Activities: Many children have been stuck inside over the cool months. Time to get outside and take advantage of the fresh air and the wide-open spaces!

<!–[if !supportLists]–>a. <!–[endif]–>Outside Spring Games: Everything from tag to Frisbee to chalk and pavement games are right here

<!–[if !supportLists]–>b. <!–[endif]–>Garden Activities: These activities help your children learn about the garden while doing something fun and entertaining. Everything from painting flower pots to learning how to plant a sunny flower garden to growing a cucumber in a bottle!

<!–[if !supportLists]–>c. <!–[endif]–>Jumprope: Blue bells, cockle shell. easy ivy over! Revive the jumprope rhymes from when you were little and get to jumping!

<!–[if !supportLists]–>(4) <!–[endif]–>Character-Based Activities: Through Powerful Words, we are always looking for ways to help others. Spring is a great time to get outside and do some community service with the children. Here are just a few:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>a. <!–[endif]–>Take shelter dogs for a walk: Plenty of shelters rely on the kindness of volunteers to help walk and care for the pets. Through this experience as well as other service opportunities, children learn gratitude, empathy, kindness, and citizenship. What a great way to enjoy the weather and do something great for mankind…well, dog-kind! Find out more through your local shelter or read more here.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>b. <!–[endif]–>Adopt a grandparent: There are many eager, caring, bright senior men and women out there who would love to celebrate spring with you. Perhaps they love to garden or do crafts! Perhaps they love to take a walk or eat bunny cupcakes! Our older citizens can teach children about longevity, perspective, respect, open-mindedness, patience, and discipline. Share your time and they will certainly share a lifetime of wisdom and humor.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>c. <!–[endif]–>Special Olympics: While these events happen year-round, spring is a great time to volunteer. When children help others who have persevered through challenges, they do not only have a terrific experience, they learn what indomitable spirit looks like.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>d. <!–[endif]–>Habitat for Humanity: The Youth Programs department of Habitat for Humanity was founded with the mission to capture the imagination, energy and hope of young people worldwide, ages five to 25, in order to productively and responsibly involve them as leaders in the work of Habitat.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>e. <!–[endif]–>Here are some other ideas!


Happy spring and Happy Holidays!


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Honoring Mr. Rogers: National Sweater Day is March 20th!

Won’t you wear your sweater?

Mr. Rogers always reminds me of a kinder, gentler time when children didn’t have 300 channels of everything from cartoons to candid sex and violence to choose from at 9am. It didn’t promote exaggerated stereotypes, rude language or “pimped-out rides” and any mention of “your crib” really meant, well, your crib– probably during one of Mr. Rogers’ heartfelt talks about transitioning into your “big-boy” or “big-girl” bed. Mr. Rogers was one of the first to really encourage all of us to be better people and knew that starting character-based discussions about respect and open-mindedness needed to start early.

So, in honor of simpler times and the day that would have been Mr. Rogers’ 80th birthday, “won’t you wear your sweater?”

Do you have a Mr. Rogers story? Share it!

Here’s to you, Mr. Rogers!


Having Fun with Children on St. Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to just be fun for the Irish! Any child can have fun with St. Patty’s Day activities as a symbol of the coming of spring and the fresh color of green!

Part of teaching children to be open-minded and accepting of others is teaching them about different holidays celebrated around the world.

With such a great response to the Leap Year post, here’s a few easy answers about St. Patrick’s Day for kids.

Who was St. Patrick?

According to the Christian faith, St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland. He spent 6 years in captivity. St. Patrick escaped and began 15 years of religious training and finally became a priest. He is believed to have died on March 17, 460 AD. (Read more about St. Patrick).

What is the history of St. Patrick’s Day?

While St. Patrick came from Ireland, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place on March 17, 1792 when the English Military marched through New York City. Now, many people of different backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day—from the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, and Russia. Recently, Ireland started putting on parades, concerts, theater productions, and fireworks as part of their St. Patrick’s Day festival in order to drive more people to visit Ireland and see what it has to offer. Close to a million people came to Ireland for St. Patty’s Day last year.

Why do some people wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?

The color green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day because it is the color of Ireland, the season of spring, and the color of a shamrock.

What kinds of St. Patrick’s Day activities can children do?

Not Irish? Not Christian? Not religious? Any child can celebrate St. Patty’s Day as a symbol of spring!

Decorate a Paper Shamrock: Cut out a shamrock and have the children decorate it with paints, feathers, crayons, tissue paper, and green glitter. (Read more like this)

Make an Irish Headband: Have fun with green construction paper, twisted pipe-cleaners, and shamrocks! (Read more about this)

Design a Shamrock Wreath: Cut out a bunch of Shamrocks and make a wreath! (Read more about this)

Pick a Pepper and Paint: On St. Patty’s Day, peppers aren’t just for eating—they’re for making shamrock prints! (Read more about this)

Some other crafty resources here and here


Have a fun day!




Teaching Children about “The Ides of March”

On March 15th many people say, “Beware the Ides of March!”
–Drawing from Jupiter Images

After the highly trafficked Leap Year post (especially from many of you educators and home-schooling parents), I figured I’d post a little something on The Ides of March. We know your children are asking “what is the Ides of March?” You’ll have all the answers ready to the following questions:

(1) What is the Ides of March?

(2) What does Beware the Ides of March mean?

(3) Where does the saying “Beware the Ides of March” come from?

(4) How do people use the expression “Beware the Ides of March” today?

(5) What is a proverb?

(6) What is a superstition?

What is “The Ideas of March?” The Romans called March 15th “The Ides of March.” Originally, the “ideas” referred to the full moon.

What does “Beware the Ides of March” mean? It means, be aware of impending danger.

Where did the saying come from? The saying, “Beware the Ides of March” came from William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. In the play, a soothsayer says “Beware the Ideas of March” to Julius Caesar to warn him that this was to be his assassination day.

Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44BC by Roman Senators who were concerned that he had too much power. Rome was a Republic and these Roman Senators did not want anyone to disrupt what they had built. However, after Julius Caesar’s assassination, Rome was saddened by his death. The senators were banished and the republic was never restored to its previous glory.

How do people use the expression now? “Beware the Ides of March” is now a proverb, superstition and a phrase that warns of impending danger and unfortunate events.

What’s a proverb? A proverb is a saying that contains advice or accepted truth. They are passed down through generations. Common proverbs are; “Look before you leap,” “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

What’s a superstition? A superstition is a belief that a particular thing, event or circumstance holds some kind of significance that something going to happen (bad or good) even though it’s not based on knowledge or reason. This belief can be based on fear, ignorance, trust in magic, coincidence, or a prior experience with a similar situation. Some common superstitions are; breaking a mirror can cause bad luck, finding a 4-leaf clover can bring good luck, stepping on a crack in the sidewalk can “break your mother’s back” or cause bad luck, the number 13 can bring you bad luck, and finding a string on your person means your going to get a letter.

Activities related to the Ides of March:

(1) Dust off the play, Julius Caesar, and act them out!

(2) Find out if any local theaters are performing Julius Caesar and take your older school-age children.

(3) Make an art project out of a proverb or superstition. For example, cut our of draw pictures from a magazine and make a collage (i.e. black cats, the number 13, salt shaker). You can draw a line down the center of the collage and put good luck superstitions on one side (i.e. find a penny, salt over your shoulder) and bad luck superstitions (break a mirror, steeping on sidewalk cracks) on the other.

(4) Make a list of superstitions and proverbs with your students or children. Then have them categorize these superstitions and proverbs into categories as suggested by the following website. What are the similarities and the differences? Where did these superstitions come from anyway?

(5) Talk about when you have all had “good-luck” or “bad luck.” What puts the odds in one’s favor for good luck or bad luck? Does attitude, gratitude, and goal-setting make a difference?

As a Powerful Parent or Educator who works with the Powerful Words Character System, we know that strong character and a positive attitude does indeed make a difference! We need to remind our children that it’s all how you look at a situation– superstitions make us feel “out of control” while positive thinking, strong character and goal-setting makes us feel “in-control.” Perhaps this is the best lesson you can teach a child on the Ides of March.

Have a fun day!


Teaching Children about Leap Year 2008


We love Leap Year because it gives us just one more day to go to our favorite activities and one more day to use our POWerful Words! No matter what kind of POWerful Words school your child attends– have your child impress his/her instructors or teachers by saying; “I’m so glad it’s a Leap Year because it gives me another day to learn from you!”

Teaching Children about Leap Year 2008

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Parents have been asking about how to teach their children about leap year– so here are the answers to some of your child’s most frequently asked questions:

What is a leap year?

A leap year is a year that has a longer February than normal. In a leap year, February has 29 days in it instead of 28.

Why do we need a leap year?

Leap year began in order to align the earth’s rotation around the sun with our seasons. It takes approximately 365.2422 days for the earth to travel around the sun in one year. We know that a typical year has 365 days in it—but as you can see from the number 365.2422, a year is not exactly 365 days! So, in order to get “lined up”, almost every four years, we give one extra day to account for the additional time the earth takes to travel around the sun.

Trivia question: How long is 365.2444 days?

Answer: 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds

When is Leap Year?

This year, 2008, is a Leap Year. It occurs every 4 years (with some exceptions every few hundred years). It’s celebrated on February 29th– a day that only occurs in a Leap Year.

How do you calculate a Leap Year?

How do you calculate a leap year? According to the Gregorian calendar, there are 3 rules to calculate if it is leap year or not a leap year.

Rule 1: Leap year is divisible by 4

Rule 2: Exception to Rule 1, any year divisible by 100 such as 1900 or 1800

Rule 3: Exception to Rule 2, any year divisible by 400 is a leap year such as 2000

Fun for the Kids:

How many leap years old am I?

How many leap years old is Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad?

How many leap years old is my school?

Did you know? Leap Year Traditions

In Ireland, every February 29th, women were allowed to ask for a man in marriage. A man was fined if he refused the proposal.

Leap Year has been the traditional time that women can propose marriage. In many of today’s cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Society doesn’t look down on such women. However, that hasn’t always been the case. When the rules of courtship were stricter, women were only allowed to pop the question on one day every four years. That day was February 29th.” Read more about it.

Leap Year Activities for Kids

Making a leap year frog out of a paper plate:

Pin the Crown on the Frog Prince :

Musical Lilly Pads:

Frog Hunt and other Frog Games:

Make a Frog Bean Bag

Paper Frog Puppet alternative:

Frog CupCakes

Cullin’s Video on leap year for young children:

Have a POWerful Extra Leap Year Day!