Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fools History and Help

April Fool's Day will be here shortly and there are many silly pranks to be done, some family friendly ideas are found here at Fujimini Island . But for parents and teachers hoping to teach a bit about the holiday, here's some help:

The first recorded April Fools' Day prank was pulled in 1627 by a madcap Irishman named Edmund O'Neely. The founding prankster's brother, Timothy, had been down on his luck, so O'Neely decided to cheer him up with some old-fashioned springtime shenanigans.

He coaxed Timothy to go on a carriage ride in the countryside and asked his brother if he wouldn't mind driving since Edmund's sore wrist was acting up. Timmy grabbed the reins, urged the horses to giddy up and was promptly catapulted off his seat because wily Edmund had unhitched the horses from the buggy.

Delighted, Edmund shouted out, "Cheerio, April fool!" Once Timothy recovered from his stunning fall, both men belly-laughed until their sides ached and told the tale thereafter at all family gatherings.

Helping Your Kids Take the Joke

Try to remember that most jokes are good-natured attempts at being funny. Sometimes, we take the cheapest route to funny, and usually that takes the form of taking a shot at someone. If the shot's aimed at you, try to remember that person is just trying to be funny - it's probably about him more than about you.

Jokes are about just trying to have fun. Instead of getting mad about it, you can even laugh along and join in, and even add your own joke about that person, or even continue the joke on yourself (you look like an excellent sport, and as a bonus, others think you are very confident when you do so). But only do it for fun, not as a form of revenge on the instigator.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Parents want Safe Apps for Their Kids

Around the world kids are playing either on their own or on their parents' mobile devices.  Children of all ages use smartphones, iPods and iPads to play such games as "Angry Birds" and "Zombie Farm."   But parents are worried about the content.  How do we know what's safe for our children to be reading and playing?

There are thousands of parent-screened videos and games organized in kid-friendly age-appropriate playlists.  It's a great idea to sit down with your child and help them browse and find fun games to play together or games they can play alone later with your permission.  The iTunes app store best seller Weet Woo offers the following advice as a resource for us:

For children aged 3 to 5, parents should find nursery rhymes, phonics, spelling, and fairy tales.
For older children aged 6 to 8, there are fun educational videos such as the Science Kid, touring China, or seeing Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo
And for kids ages 9 and up, shows such as Bill Nye the Science Guy, learn about Thomas Edison, or go back in time with Dinosaurs!

ONCEKids' iPad app is a fun game for younger children called  Fuji Scene   The children's game has the user select one of six backgrounds to create a customized scene. The scenes will contain characters which can be dragged and dropped into the creation. The animal characters are colored pandas, bunnies, penguins, hamsters, and other sea animals. The user can then add favorite foods and toys and props to the scene. All the items are Asian inspired. The user can than use dialogue boxes to give the characters some text. The creation can have a banner heading and be e-mail, sent to photos or sent to the ONCEKids site to be highlighted in a gallery. The user can restart at any point.

If you'd like to read more about Fuji Scene, click here.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Helping Your Child Understand the Japanese Tsunami and Earthquake

Most kids are inquisitive.  With the Japanese tsunami news coverage all over television, your kids may be asking you what a tsunami is.  So here are some helpful hints of what to say:

Eileen Wacker, CEO of ONCEKids, has been affected by the recent tsunami and earthquake in Japan.  As both a parent and a professional who has spent significant time in Asia, the events have created a very personal reaction. She reflects on the horrific situation and courageous efforts currently underway, "I am very saddened by the continued struggle of the Japanese people to overcome the obstacles created by the earthquake and its aftermath. Footage of the tsunami was difficult to watch. I saw a video clip of a couple in their early 80s. They were finishing cleaning up what was left of their home so they could go and help their neighbors and others. We will give to the Red Cross to make sure people have minimum needs met. We're rooting for you Japan!"
Flag of the Red Cross.
A tsunami (pronounced soo-nahm-ee) is a series of huge waves that happen after an undersea disturbance, such as an earthquake or volcano eruption. (Tsunami is from the Japanese word for harbor wave.) The waves travel in all directions from the area of disturbance, much like the ripples that happen after throwing a rock. The waves may travel in the open sea as fast as 450 miles per hour. As the big waves approach shallow waters along the coast they grow to a great height and smash into the shore. They can be as high as 100 feet. They can cause a lot of destruction on the shore. They are sometimes mistakenly called “tidal waves,” but tsunami have nothing to do with the tides.

For elementary school-age children (ages five to 10), parents should start with the basics by explaining that two natural disasters struck Japan.

Connect cause to effect
After understanding the disasters your child might just question them. Kids this age have a hard time connecting cause and effect. So, the next step is to explain the results of a quake and tsunami, such as what can happen to people when buildings and houses collapse, or when a massive wall of water sweeps away homes, cars and ships.

Personalize the information
Once your child grasps the big picture, parents need to personalize the information by explaining how the quake and tsunami affected people's lives. Parents can say something like, "When the earthquake and tsunami happened, homes, schools and buildings fell down and were washed away. Lots of people died -- including people's moms, dads, brothers and sisters." School-age kids will personalize this information and relate it to their own life. 

Provide reassurance
Now that your child grasps the basics, your role is to provide reassurance that he/she is safe and does not have to worry about an earthquake or tsunami occurring at home.  Explain that we have safe buildings, our country is well-prepared in case of emergencies, and talk about the availability of fresh water and food.

Also remind your child that mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, etc. love him/her and are here to keep him/her safe. If your child expresses concern about the kids in Japan, explain that there are nice adults who have gathered from all over the world to help. 

Be honest without saying too much
It's easy to get carried away and say more than a school-age child needs to know.  Parents should be open to questions without providing too much information that could become scary or overwhelming. Avoid watching news coverage or surfing the Internet with potentially graphic images while children are present. "Wait until after bedtime to turn on CNN.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a Family

Saint Patrick’s Day is a chance for the world to celebrate Irish culture and heritage. Whether you're Irish or not, Saint Patrick’s Day is a wonderful excuse to make some crafts, cook up an Irish recipe with your parents, or learn Irish history.

So take some time this week and plan a fun activity to involve your entire family.  Below are some of our favorite ideas.  

Patrick’s Day? The color green, of course! Green shamrocks, green punch, green sprinkles on cookies, green everything! This color game will not only reinforce your child’s recognition of things that are green, but also gives her reading and listening skills a work out.

What You Need:
  • Green construction paper
  • Heart shaped craft punch
  • Glue
  • Jumbo index or flash cards, approximately 4” x 6"
  • Black marker
What to Do:
  1. Use the heart punch to make 80 hearts from the green construction paper. You will make 20 cards, each with a shamrock that is comprised of four hearts.
  2. On 20 of the green hearts, write the name of an object that is widely known as green, such as grass, pickle, or tree.
  3. On 60 of the green hearts, write the name of an object that is not typically green, such as cloud, mailbox, or dog.
  4. Each card will have four hearts on it; one with a green object written on it and three with non-green objects on it. Glue all of the hearts onto the index cards in a shamrock shape.
  5. Challenge your child to see if she can identify the color of each object, just by seeing and hearing the word.
  6. Point to the number at the top of each card and explain that there are either one, two, or three out of the four objects that are green and that she is to guess which ones they are. Rotate the card in a circular pattern as you read each word out loud, to make it easier for your child to read them.
  7. If she can’t remember all four objects, make sure to repeat them for her before she ventures a guess.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

How To Help Victims of the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

ONCEKids and CEO Eileen Wacker have spent years in Asia learning, appreciating and loving the people, culture and rich history of the land.  We wish to extend our thoughts and prayers to friends, family and loved ones involved in today's horrific earthquake and tsunami.
What can you do to help the people of Japan whose country has been devastated by a tsunami resulting from one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded? 
President Obama this morning released a statement sending his "deepest condolences" and promising support to the stricken country. "The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial," the president said.
Many organizations and funds have mobilized to provide relief to those affected by the disaster:
The Red Cross has already launched efforts in Japan. Visit or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.
International Medical Corps is responding to the health needs of the disaster's victims.  To donate or learn about other ways you can contribute to their medical response, visit Also, text MED to 80888 from any mobile phone to give $10.
The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund was launched at to garner funds for relief organizations helping victims and has already raised thousands, particularly from concerned Twitter users around the world

For any who have loved ones abroad, Google has stepped up to help. Along with a tsunami alert posted on their front page, they've launched the Person Finder to help connect people that may have been displaced due to the disaster. Google has also launched a crisis response page filled with local resources and emergency information.

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