10 Art activities to color your summer!

By: BTC Admin

With the heat slowly simmering as the last day of school draws near, be ready with summer projects to keep your little ones from saying, “I’m bored!” Here’s ten to get you started. (Links can be found at the bottom of the photos, which are also credited to their respective sites.)

1.Shibori tie-dying

The age-old technique of tie-dying is a must-try for kids of any age and is a perfect way of wearing coordinates with the family without looking too bland. Graphic designer, art teacher, and mom-of-three Bar Rucci of the Art Bar Blog shows us (through quite a number of photos, no less) that no matter how you tie the shirts, beautiful patterns will appear!


2.Water Wall

Looking to introduce an engineering project for the kiddos while keeping cool in the summer? Zoe Toft of playingbythebook.net/ reviews children’s book by trade and passion and this project is just one example. “Water Wall” was inspired by “Rain Rain Rivers by Uri Shulevitz,” which ostensibly echoes Toft’s favorite line in the book: “…jumping over pieces of sky in the gutter.” Now that’s enough reason to get your power tools ready and prep a wall for the kids and together, you can attach used water bottles, cans, and pails to pour H2O in. You can even add dye to the water to add vibrancy to your already cool project.


3.Squishy water bombs

This one is a starter project to do for toddlers and can be used in that inflatable pool at the backyard. You can teach color-names as you let your kids choose which sponges they like most! A guest post in Positively Splendid, this project is by Allison from House of Hepworths at Blissdom and worth the time than buying plastic toys for the tots.

sponge water bomshttp://www.positivelysplendid.com/sponge-water-bombs-ssg-idea-8/?+PositivelySplendid+

4.Ice cream is just another canvas

The craving for ice cream can’t be passed out as just another treat, especially in the summer. Buy vanilla ice cream…then some (or more) food coloring, sprinkles, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and nuts and start painting on that cold treat. Yes, paint on it.

ice cream paint.jpghttp://tinkerlab.com/painting-on-ice-cream/

5.Melt-in-the-heat crayons

As another school year ends, your pile of broken-up, left-over crayons can add up yet again. As you collect (yet again) innumerable shells from your many beach adventures this summer, bring on the heat, this time from the oven. This tutorial will have you toasting up those shells and letting those seemingly useless crayons melt on them. This will definitely turn any kid into a Picasso!

melted crayon shells.jpghttp://www.funathomewithkids.com/2014/05/melted-crayon-sea-shells.html

6.Flower necklace

Emily of livingwellmom.com knows that women always love creating pretty stuff and this playful craft shows it. A little project for daughter-and-mom bonding, this craft is sure to color your days and give you the perfect accessory to wear to the beach or to any fairy-princess party.


7.Spin Art Project

Take ordinary rocks and turn them into art with this tutorial! Meri Cherry (yes, that’s her real name) puts to good use her old salad spinners and created this tongue-in-cheek art pieces. With paint and several spins, you can churn amazing creations. You can even give these out to relatives on their next visit!


8.Weave in the Rainbow

This one can be made by older kids as it requires a rather complex weaving technique but the result is nothing short of childhood magic. This project is called the Punch Art Rainbow where kids ‘punch’ yarns in with a skewer on a Styrofoam board. This creates a pop-out pattern that’s almost 3D!


9.Frog baseball hat

Made not just to protect your child’s head and face but to also put smiles on the faces of everyone who sees it. But don’t let the refreshing green color & silly frog smiles limit you and your child to just that! Owls, cats, and dogs can be made by tweaking this project a bit. Amanda Formaro, the author of “The Mania Series,” five craft books made for kids, says she has one for herself, donning it as a ladybug hat.


10.Newspaper Kites

Then, when all the glue, glitter, and fuzzy wires are used up, you can always go back to good, ol’ newspaper kites. Have the kids gather branches and twigs from your neighborhood so use can put to fun use the stacks of newspaper inside your home. Don’t worry about perfecting the stick-frame and the edges of your newspaper kite. After all, summer only lasts for a while…now take that kite and fly it with them.



‘Glitter jars’, breathing spaces, and what grade schoolers have to say about anger

By: BTC Admin

In the Citizens of the World Charter School in Mars Vista, California, children are being taught about anger-management–that is, the physiological reason why we get angry and the psychological and sociological effects of this emotion.

True to its mission in bringing visual content that impacts society, Wavecrest Films gathered elementary school kids who are enrolled in social-emotional learning and coaching in mindfulness classes to speak not just about anger but how to handle it and how emotions are neither bad nor good. (Link to the video is at the bottom of the article.)

Your brain on anger and what to do with it

A little girl from the video says our brains are like a jar of glitter that when we’re angry, it’s like shaking up that jar. “If you shook up the jar, and the glitter went everywhere, that would be how your mind looks. And it’s spinning around, and then you don’t have any time to think,” she observes wisely.

In this stem, we could all benefit from the tongue-in-cheek metaphor: our brain (i. e. our emotions, logic, bodily sensations) gets mixed up that we do not think straight and we may say and do things we normally won’t do if we’re not angry. But we need to remind ourselves that it is still our brain; we own it and we also own our words, actions, feelings, and thoughts. We can still take agency over ourselves and up to a certain point, what happens after we’re angry.

What’s your brain on anger? A jar of glitter, according to a 6-year-old, apparently.

Now when your ‘jar’ gets shaken up, these kids have a few reminders to help us calm down and think straight again:

  1. Take the time out. “First, you find a place where you can be alone, then you find some way to relax and calm down.” It is the best option to take a step back and physically (if you can) take yourself away from the situation that caused you anger. It is better to delay making any decision than making one while your whole body is hyped up and your brain’s hay-wired.
  1. Breathe. “When I need to calm down, I take deep breaths.” When we get angry, we take in shallow breaths, limiting the oxygen we take in, thus making it harder to think straight. Buddhist monks, psychologists, ER nurses and even Jedi master Yoda subscribe to it: Just breathe.
  1. Stop and think before you act. “My brain slows down, and then I feel calmer, and then I’m ready to speak to that person.” Only when we have come to the space where we have brought under our control our bodies and minds can we speak and act. This rule must not only apply in the playground but in all areas of our lives, in all ages. So many misunderstandings and heartbreaks can be mitigated if only we paused when we are angry.

Long-term actions and routines are essential to put a grasp on our emotional state but at the height of our humanity, simple steps are heroic enough. If we stop and allow our bodies to vent the anger through breathing first, we can make the world of difference than charging on with the reins out of our hands. And it helps that these kids aren’t taught that to for one to keep emotions in check, a person must never feel angry. We are permitted (in fact, expected) to feel angry and to experience a host of other emotions, but that there are productive ways to deal with how we are feeling.


So, next time you’re angry, try to remember these wide-eyed kids: find your space and allow yourself to breathe.





The essential lesson on why grit and passion haul kids for long-term success

By: BTC Admin
“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” -Angela Lee Duckworth

In a world where instant is always demanded, an old ideology is being overlooked nowadays: Character. Which points to what is presently being developed under the current of education called grit. Added to grit is resilience, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. These personal qualities, often referred to as noncognitive skills or character strengths, have taken the right turn at the corner; researchers in education and learning have begun to study this set of personal qualities.

Now, passion have been in the vocabulary of anyone, whether in education or otherwise, when talking about a desire that envelopes the whole persona of the speaker. Passion and the character strengths mentioned above, in particular, grit, are pairing up to turn children and adolescents to success stories through defying obstacles in their way.

But the problem is that grit and passion are immeasurable and intangible, thus capturing these into translatable data is the main challenge faced by proponents of the studies correlating to these ideals. Quite because of this reason also, teaching grit and passion is not like teaching Math or Speech or History. These academic subjects have standard and set rules whereas becoming gritty and passionate do not present itself like a syllabus. But these seem to make a big difference in the academic success of children, especially low-income children.

Scholars have yet to find a reliable way to teach kids to be grittier or more resilient. Quite the irony, educators who are the best teachers to give out lessons about grit and passion to their students often “teach” these capacities without even knowing it—indeed, they often do so without ever saying a word about them in the classroom.

What is emerging is a new idea: that qualities like grit and resilience are not formed through the traditional mechanics of “teaching”; instead, a growing number of researchers now believe, they are shaped by several specific environmental forces, both in the classroom and in the home, sometimes in subtle and intricate ways.

The grime of grit and passion for the long haul

In contrast to the behaviorist theory that was prevalent in the 70’s to the 80’s, which is essentially the linear punishment and reward system, a body of thought emerged called self-determination theory by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, two professors at the University of Rochester. This is to be the root of what we know today as character strengths.

Deci and Ryan argued that we are mostly motivated not by the material consequences of our actions but by the inherent enjoyment and meaning that those actions bring us, a phenomenon called intrinsic motivation. They identified three key human needs—our need for competence, our need for autonomy, and our need for relatedness, meaning personal connection—and they posited that intrinsic motivation can be sustained only when we feel that those needs are being satisfied.

These three human needs, if fulfilled, provide a healthy arena where grit can be taught, which students will need if they are to be in the long-haul of where their passion will take them. When teachers are able to create an environment that fosters competence, autonomy, and relatedness, Deci and Ryan say, students are much more likely to feel motivated to do that hard work.


There is no clear-cut way to teach grit and passion but incremental lessons on resiliency count as an effective method to integrate the lessons of character strengths into the everyday academic work. According to studies at Northwestern University by economist C. Kirabo Jackson, who has begun investigating how to measure educators’ effectiveness, creating an environment that motivates students to start making better decisions—to show up to class, to persevere longer at difficult tasks, and to deal more resiliently with the countless small-scale setbacks and frustrations that make up the typical student’s school day—proved that although grit can’t be taught like arithmetic or reading, it does not mean it can’t be learned. Such students’ decisions improved their lives in meaningful ways. Did the students learn new skills that enabled them to behave differently? Maybe. Or maybe what we are choosing to call “skills” in this case are really just new ways of thinking about the world or about themselves—a new set of attitudes or beliefs that somehow unleash a new way of behaving.

In the end, grit and passion must stem from within. Camille A. Farrington, a former inner-city high-school teacher who now works at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, published a report titled “Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners.” The report was in many ways a reaction to the recent push among educators to identify, assess, and teach noncognitive skills. While Farrington agreed with the growing consensus that a student’s ability to persevere in school was important, she was skeptical of the idea that perseverance could be taught in the same way that we teach math, reading, or history. “There is little evidence that working directly on changing students’ grit or perseverance would be an effective lever for improving their academic performance,” Farrington and her colleagues wrote. “While some students are more likely to persist in tasks or exhibit self-discipline than others, all students are more likely to demonstrate perseverance if the school or classroom context helps them develop positive mindsets and effective learning strategies.”

They went on to identify a phenomenon they called academic perseverance—the tendency to maintain positive academic behaviors despite setbacks. What distinguishes students with academic perseverance, they wrote, is their resilient attitude toward failure. These students continue to work hard in a class even after failing a few tests; when they are stumped or confused by complex material, they look for new ways to master it rather than simply giving up. Academic perseverance, in Farrington’s formulation, shares certain qualities with noncognitive capacities such as grit and self-control and delay of gratification.

In essence, what Farrington found was this: If you are a teacher, you may never be able to get your students to be gritty, in the sense of developing some essential character trait called grit. But you can probably make them act gritty—to behave in gritty ways in your classroom. And those behaviors will help produce the academic outcomes that you (and your students and society at large) are hoping for.

The environment stated above is the most conducive atmosphere in developing academic perseverance, alongside character strengths, but it isn’t fool-proof in teaching grit and passion. A student’s attitude, self-perception, and mental representations, produced by countless environmental forces, are strong elements if a student can learn the traits for a successful life. Teachers and administrators talk about character—their term for noncognitive skills. The central premise is that character is built not through lectures or direct instruction from teachers but through the experience of persevering as students confront challenging academic work.


“Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology: Collection: Volumes 1 & 2” edited by Paul A M Van Lange, Arie W Kruglanski, E Tory Higgins

“Teaching Adolescents To Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance” by Camille Farrington, The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research

The Summer Lists of stuff to do & how to avoid the boo-boo

By: BTC Admin


Like any household with school age children in them, the count down to the big event, AKA summer, has begun. It is the “Are we there yet?” as these kiddos stretch on the final lap of school days. And as much as enthusiasm is concerned, they do not lack any, but we’ve all been there: boredom soon strikes and the same hyped-up mini-versions of you are trudging on with the sweltering heat. So, before the first day of summer even nears, here are two lists that can be more than useful than putting up your fridge door.


Stuff to do this summer:

  1. Plant a tree/plant/fruit/veggie – Start a mini-garden, it does not have to be a whole backyard. Nothing is more fulfilling than watching plants spring to life and planting, caring, and watching them grow teach lessons no other methods can.
  1. Hit the beach (to clean up!) – So you swam, surfed, and patted down sand castles; what else can you do? Why not start a clean-up drive at your nearest beach? It is a fun form of paying it forward and gathering families and friends because it is always–ALWAYS–the beach we go to for picnics or walks, summer time or not and it wouldn’t hurt to do our bit in taking care of it, right? And the best time to do it is at dawn; your kids might even meet the local fishermen and learn the trade of fishing.child-538029_960_720
  1. Learn to play an instrument – Whether they have never even touched a piano key or is the next Mozart, children are bound to reap heaps of benefit in learning an instrument. Need proof? Check out this video from TED-Ed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0JKCYZ8hng
  1. Learn to dance something local – To bring up culturally-adept kids, you must engage them. And most kids enjoy moving, so why not try learning a local dance from where you’re from or even from a region near you? Aside from learning history, fitness is included in the curriculum. “Sayaw ed Tapew na Bangko” from the the Pangasinan region, are you up for it?
  1. Learn a new language/dialect – A hyperpolyglot is just a fancy name for  a person who speaks many languages, but then, that same person who speaks multiple languages has the edge according to studies:  http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17101370. So ditch the common words this summer and let your kids explore a new one (or two); their brains will thank them for it.
  1. Venture out in pursuit of one of the four elements: wind, fire, water, earth (modify activities according to children’s age). This could also be the perfect time to trade in the pavement to the dirt road and meet friends and relatives in the province.
FIRE: Volcano, pandayan/balisong making; bakery or any traditional cooking method
WIND: zip-lining, paragliding, kite flying
WATER: beach, falls,a new pool, or even the rain
EARTH: climb a mountian, go nature-tripping, cave exploring, camp out
  1. Learn to juggle for brain power –  Juggling can actually benefit your brain, according to studies. And learning something unusual always excites the neurons in your brains making new connections: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/learn-how-to-juggle-and-improve-your-brains-power.html. The clown make-up is optional.
  1. Play their fave video game with them – Word of warning: Do not try to be cool especailly in this area where you come in speaking in modern (or worse, your time’s) gaming terms. Summer activities are about doing it with them.
  1. Accomplish a reading/movie list – Ask what your child wants then insert in a few books or films you think they’d benefit from.
  1. Do a DIY together – Again, the aim is spending time with them, so whether you crochet a hat, paint a shirt, or make another pencil holder with that empty snack can, you do it for love; they will only be school kids for so long.


Things to watch out for and tips on a safer summer:

  1. Sunburn – With the coming heat, you can never put on too much sunscreen
  1. Insect bites – Why not plant (see #1 on first list) citronella to ward off those pesky mosquitoes?
  1. The not-so unlikely cough, cold, & flu – Not because the cold weather is over means you can escape these bumming illnesses. Up your kids immunity all the time by keeping a routine of taking supplements, eating healthy, and drinking enough water.
  1. Accidents – It is beyond useful to know first-aid. You can go to your local medical service provider and ask for the schedule of seminars from the Philippine Red Cross on how to execute proper first aid to children and adults, too.
  1. Accomplish the numbers of pertinent services and aides (police, fire department, hospitals) – Having fun does not mean negligence. You can use this time to teach children the importance of alertness towards unlikely events and who to call for help when trouble comes.