Thursday, March 15, 2012

A New Book: Piggybanks to Paychecks

One of the most important things a parent can teach a child is how to handle and save money. The author of this new book is a friend of mine, who will give you wonderful tips on presenting money 101 to your youngsters. Please meet Angie Mohr, CA, CMA, with this introduction to her new book, "Piggybanks to Paychecks."

Advertising's Impact on Kids

“Mom, you should get X brand of dishwashing detergent.  It works five times better than other brands.”

Do you ever have those types of conversations at your house?  When my kids were small, they knew every ad on all the kids’ television channels.  They could recite them verbatim and sing the jingles.  It didn’t seem to matter whether the commercial was touting toys or...dishwasher detergent.  They had them all memorized.  When they began watching television shows on non-children-oriented channels, I started to get questions about what depression and erectile dysfunction were. Why is it that kids pay attention to ads, often above paying attention to there parents?

1) Small children often don’t understand what a commercial is.

While it’s clear to adults that commercials are paid for by companies to flog a product, young kids frequently mistake them for part of the show they’re watching.  They don’t understand the difference between programming and paid programming.  This gives ads credibility with kids that ads often don’t deserve.  Kids think that, if it’s on television, it must be true.

2) Ads are relentless.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids are exposed to over 40,000 advertisements on television alone.  And that’s just ad spots.  Now, companies are paying to have product placement in the shows themselves, so now kids see their favorite characters and actors favoring one brand over another which subtlety affects their brand perceptions.  Ads are also becoming more common on the internet, on electronic reading devices, in schools, and even in church.  Kids are literally bombarded with sales pitches from the time they wake up in the morning until the time they go to bed.  No wonder they become walking, talking billboards as soon as they’re able to talk.

3) Ads sell lifestyle.

Advertisers have become very adept at not only selling a product or service, but selling a better life.  This happens in ads aimed at both kids and adults.  Buy X brand of disinfectant spray and your family will be relaxed and happy.  Buy Y brand of jeans and you’ll have more friends and school and be more popular.  Adults have a difficult enough time fighting off these embedded perceptions.  Kids don’t stand a chance.  If they’re led to believe that having an mp3 player makes them cool, it’s hard for parents to break that perception.

So, what’s the answer?  Never allowing your kids to watch television, listen to the radio, pick up a magazine, or go online?  Of course not- in fact, that only makes them less ad-savvy.  The more you teach your kids to be wise, if not outright cynical, consumers of advertising, the better they will be able to filter out the noise in the future.

For more tips and information on teaching your kids money smarts, join me on my March book blog tour here:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Make Music Fun: Enhancing Kid's Songs with Art

Children are natural musicians and will express themselves in a variety of creative ways when given the opportunity. Props can enhance movement and enjoyment of the song. These items can also aid in making children less inhibited. Story props can help provide an understanding of the context of a song using masks and clothing accessories. If the changes of tempo, mood, and dynamics are to be emphasized, try using musical instruments, scarves, and streamers. Even artwork such as painting and drawing provide an outlet for expression and enjoyment of a song.
Below are a few ideas to enhance popular childhood songs:

One Elephant

One elephant went out to play,
All on a spider's web one day,
He had such enormous fun,
He called for another elephant to come.
Make an Elephant Mask as a Prop: Use a paper plate, color or paint it gray. Attach a set of construction paper floppy ears and an accordion pleated trunk. Draw facial features and attach a wooden craft stick to the back to hold the mask over the child's face.

On Top Of Spaghetti

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table,
And onto the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

Make Pasta People: Provide different shapes of uncooked pasta to the children. Have fun creating pasta people gluing the shapes together onto construction paper. Give your "pasta people" special names like Rotini Ralph or Zachary Ziti.

When The Saints Come Marching In

Oh, when the saints go marching in,
Oh, when the saints go marching in.
I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

Create a Homemade Kazoo: Decorate a cardboard tube (toilet roll) with colorful markers and stickers. Cover one end with waxed paper, held in place with a rubber band. Hum loudly into the open end to make sounds. March around the room singing this adapted song.

Oh, when we play our made kazoo,
Oh, when we play our made kazoo,
We want to hum in that rhythm,
When we play our made kazoo!

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.

A "Me-Mask" is Fun to Make: Making a "me-mask" is fun for all ages, as well as, teaching facial features to young children. It teaches individuality, as everyone's mask can be different. Take a wire clothes hanger and bend it into a diamond shape. Stretch a leg from nylon pantyhose over the wire frame, knotting the bottom to secure it. Now, with felt pieces, yarn and puffy paint markers, create a face similar to your own. It's a great mask to see through - and no fear factor as children can see each other through the mask.

Old MacDonald Had A Band (Adapted Traditional Song)

Old MacDonald had a band, ei ei o,
And in his band he had a ______, ei ei o.
With a shake, shake here and a shake, shake there,
Here a shake, there a shake, everywhere a shake, shake.
Old MacDonald had a band, ei ei o.

Make Popcorn Maracas: You will need one 35mm film container, one Popsicle stick and uncooked popcorn kernels for each child. Slit a hole into the container lid and insert the wooden stick. Fill the canister halfway with kernels. Put the top back on (glue will help to keep the top on securely) and shake, shake, shake!

Finding creative ways to enhance children's songs will help youngsters with listening, memory and motor skills. Your children will love the experience!

**First printed on
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling