Boy’s Lone Salute On the Beaches of Normandy a Lesson for Us All

In June 2014, an 11 year-old boy visited Normandy, France for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. During his visit, he spent four days at the American Cemetery teaching visitors about three paratroopers who were buried there. He did so as part of his own personal project he called “Project Vigil”.

When it came time for the official D-Day celebration, the local authorities did not allow the boy to enter the cemetery in his WWII replica uniform. Instead of being discouraged, he took his American flag to Omaha Beach. There he planted it in the sand.

As he reflected on the events of that day and the brave soldiers who met their fate that day, he was so moved that he raised his hand in salute. Although he struggled to hold the flag steady in the whipping wind, his gaze and salute never wavered.

For over an hour he stood fast in tribute. After a time, he began to draw a crowd. The crowd grew and people began to take pictures with the saluting boy and his American flag. Before long a veteran came and firmly returned the boy’s salute. After a time, a trumpeter from the D-Day 70 Memorial Wind Band joined him on the beach and played a moving rendition of taps.

This patriotic boy did a wonderful thing, and his moving and heartfelt act is an inspiring lesson for other children. His parents or whoever is responsible for teaching him both respect and honor have also done a wonderful thing. As a parent myself, I am humbled by what they have done. Going forward, I will use this as a lesson to teach my children how respect, honor, and history go hand in hand.

You can watch this moving and heartfelt video here:

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Remember Those Who Served

Memorial Day weekend is viewed by many as the start of the summer holiday, but it’s about more than just bar-b-ques, potato salad, and marshmallows by the fire. There is a serious and sober meaning behind the holiday, and it is important that we teach it to our children.

Memorial Day was originally started on May 30th, 1868, by Union General John A. Logan. He declared that day as a day to decorate and remember the graves of Civil War soldiers. In 1950, the President issued a proclamation calling on Americans to observe Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace. In 1971, President Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday, and it is known as an occasion to honor the men and women who died in all wars. In other words, it is a day to “Remember Those Who Served”.

"Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day" by Remember - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_Day.JPG#/media/File:Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_Day.JPG

“Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day” by Remember – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_Day.JPG#/media/File:Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_Day.JPG

You may or may not know a veteran yourself, but there are ways that your family can honor the men and women who served in your community:

  • Thank a veteran
  • Fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until noon.
  • Visit a monument dedicated soldiers, sailors or marines.
  • Join a parade
  • Put flowers or flags on the graves of men and women who served in the military.
  • At 3 pm, participate in the National Moment of Remembrance
  • Teach others about the true meaning of memorial day
  • Visit a veterans facility and just take a moment to visit and thank the people you see there.

There are many ways that you can honor veterans and celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day.

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Seven Priorities For Wilderness Survival Every Adventurous Kid Should Know

Teach your children the seven priorities of survival.

Teach your children the seven priorities of survival.

If you are the parent of a boy scout, you are probably familiar with the seven priorities for wilderness survival.  The Boys Scouts of America requires that scouts attempting to earn their Wilderness Survival Merit Badge know and understand these priorities.  The priorities are easy to understand, are built on common sense, and can easily be taught to young people whether they are boy scouts or not.  Listed in order of importance, these priorities are:  keep a positive mental attitude, first aid, shelter, fire, signaling, water & food.

Keep a Positive Mental Attitude:  If they panic and lose control, they are likely to make the situation worse.  The best thing to do is to adopt the S.T.O.P. rule.  Stop, think, observe, plan.  Explain this concept to your children as it is a good one and can be used during any crisis situation.

First aid:  If anyone in the group is critically injured, first aid becomes the next priority.  Teaching children basic first aid is a crucial wilderness survival skill.  Topics to cover would be minor health issues including insect bites, blisters, dehydration, hypothermia, cuts, scrapes, and bruises.  You can also cover larger health problems such as broken bones and snake bites.  The Red Cross is an excellent resource for first aid training.  JM Cremp’s also sells a waterproof Pocket Guide to First Aid that is an excellent addition to any backpack.

Shelter:  The third priority is to find or create shelter.  The ability to protect yourself from the elements is crucial in any survival situation regardless of the weather.  The next time you are out with your children, ask them how they would find or build shelter.  What materials would they use?  How would they build it?  You can learn more about finding shelter in the book Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters.

Fire:  The ability to build a fire in a survival situation is critical.  Fire provides warmth, can cook food, purify water, can be used as a signal device, and will most definitely boost morale.   Show your kids how to build a proper fire in the woods and you will teach them a skill that will last a lifetime.

Signaling:  The most effective tools for signaling are a signal whistle and a small mirror.  Teach them that three blows on the whistle means “help”.  The mirror can be used to signal aircraft, helicopters, or people far away.

Water:  A human being can survive approximately three days without water. Teach your children how to find a clean water source, how to purify water, and how to draw moisture from the ground.  The book, Essential Survival Skills, is an excellent resource for all of the topics discussed here including how to procure safe drinking water.

Food:  People can go several weeks without food in survival conditions.  Knowing what plants to eat in the wilderness requires some more extensive training.  The book, The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants is an excellent learning resource.  Also, if you are a family that hunts and fishes, use that hunting and fishing time to discuss procuring food in a survival situation.

As always, JM Cremp’s is an excellent resource for survival gear for kids and adults of all ages.

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Mother’s Day Coupons – a Special Project for Mom in 4 Easy Steps

Moms LOVE when their kids take a moment out of their day to do something nice for them.  Even if they just put their own plate in the dishwasher us mothers tend to get very excited.  Imagine how thrilled we’d be with a book of “Just for You Mom” Coupons?  It’s an easy project for the kids to do for Mom, Grandma or any special person in their life.  (Oh, if you’re a mom reading this, then maybe you should show this post to dad and say “hint hint”.)

Here’s how easy it is:

1.  Be creative about what the coupons are for. Some ideas include: free dish-washing, free hug, free laundry-doing, free kitchen clean-up, free massage, free hair styling, free gardening-for-an-afternoon, etc. You could also offer to cook certain meals for a specified time, or to bake treats.

Step 1 - How to Make Mother's Day Coupons

 

2.  Gather about 3-4 different paper colors. They can be white or colored (pink, yellow, purple, red, etc).  Cut them into equal sizes.

Step 2. How to Make Mother's Day Coupons

 

3.  Write out your coupons and decorate them.  You can color them, add glitter, stickers, or leave them plain if you’d like.

Step 3. How to Make Mother's Day Coupons

4.  Staple your coupons together in the form of a coupon book or place them in an envelope.  They are now ready to give to Mom, Grandma, or anyone you love!

Step 4. How to Make Mother's Day Coupons

 

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikiHow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Mother’s Day Coupons. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

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What Kind of Wild Animals Live Near You? Go Animal Track Hunting Today!

Spring is the perfect time of year for outdoor exploring and animal track hunting.  The lack of vegetation in the woods combined with the mud of the season help to reveal animal tracks that are easily hidden the rest of the year.  Taking your kids on an “animal track hunt” is a great family adventure, and it’s the perfect way to get everyone outside.

Go animal track hunting!

What kind of animals live near your house?

You can use your detective skills and the downloadable and printable sheet in this post to help identify the animals you find tracks for.  The same instructions are posted below if you’d rather not print them.  (Download and print the attached animal track and plaster mold guide here.)

Here’s what you will need:

  • A one- or two-pound bag or box of plaster of Paris. This is a powder that looks like flour. You can buy plaster of Paris at the hardware store. It is not of expensive.
  • A mixing bowl – a small plastic container such as Tupperware or a plastic cereal bowl. Actually you can use anything that will hold one or two cups of water without leaking, but plastic is reusable and easier to clean. You will be mixing the plaster with water, so it is also better to have something shallow and wide rather than something tall and narrow.
  • A bottle of water.  A 16-ounce plastic soda bottle works great.
  • An old tablespoon.
  • A 2-liter soda bottle cut into 2 inch sections.
  • A few sheets of newspaper to wrap the track cast.
  • A bag or knapsack to put all of this stuff in.
  • Oh yeah, old shoes and clothes that you can get muddy in.

Let the detective work begin:

Look for tracks on wet ground and soft mud. The best place to look is where animals go to get water. The bank of a creek, stream, river, pond, or lake is a great place to start. Sandbars are good places, too. The edges of mud puddles shouldn’t be overlooked.

How to make a plaster cast:

Once you have found a good clean track that you want to keep, gently clear away any debris around the track. Remove any leaves, small stones or twigs without disturbing the track.  Place one soda bottle ring around the track so that the track is centered, and press it about 1/2 inch into the ground. This makes a sturdy circular wall that will keep the plaster from running out.

Mix up some plaster:

Follow the directions that came with the plaster.

If you don’t have instructions, here is how we do it in the field: carefully begin sprinkling some of the plaster into the water. When the plaster looks like the top of a volcano and is about 1/2 inch taller than the water, stop. (See the drawing. It’s worth a thousand words.) Let it sit for a minute or two so that the plaster absorbs some of the water.

When the plaster looks like the top of a volcano and is about 1/2 inch taller than the water, stop.  Let it sit for a minute or two so that the plaster absorbs some of the water.

When the plaster looks like the top of a volcano and is about 1/2 inch taller than the water, stop. Let it sit for a minute or two so that the plaster absorbs some of the water.

Next, begin slowly (slowly is the magic word) stirring the plaster and water with your spoon until it is creamy like pancake batter. Here is another hint: you don’t want to get air bubbles into the plaster mix. They take away some of the detail of the track. Don’t whip the mix. Just stir it gently until it is evenly mixed and has no lumps.

Gently tap the bottom of your mixing bowl on a rock or a fallen tree trunk to remove any air bubbles. As you tap you will see bubbles come to the top. Aren’t you glad you didn’t whip the plaster? Keep tapping until the bubbles stop coming up.

Now you are ready to pour the plaster into the circle you made earlier. Do not pour the plaster directly on the track. It might ruin it. Instead, pour to the side of the track and let it run into the track. Fill the circle to the top.

This plaster thing you have just made is called a cast. It needs to harden for at least 30 minutes. An hour is better. Even after an hour, the cast will still be soft and will easily break if handled roughly. This is a good time to look for more tracks. Can you find any bird tracks? How about snail tracks?

When the time is up, it is time to remove the cast. Start removing the mud 4 or 5 inches outside of the cast. Next dig away the mud below the cast. Carefully lift up the cast. If there is any resistance, stop. Dig out some more mud. Do not try to pry the cast out with a spoon or a stick. It will crack. Lift it out gently with your hands.

Wrap the cast in newspaper to protect it on the trip home. It is still very fragile. It will be for about two more days. When plaster is drying it feels warm to the touch. The cast will be ready to clean after it feels cool to the touch.  Clean it by carefully brushing away any dirt and debris.

Then you can paint it if you like.

Next, you’ll need to identify your tracks.  Download and print the attached animal track and plaster mold guide and take it with you in the field, or use the photos below to help identify your tracks. If you’d rather skip the do-it-yourself way, there is a ready made Wildlife Animal Track Mold Kit made just for you.  Also, if you’d like a more in-depth identification guide, check out The Tracker’s Field Guide.  It’s loaded with valuable information and identification techniques perfect for beginners and advanced trackers alike.

Common Tracks

Common Tracks 2

 

Common Tracks 3

 

Common Tracks 4

 

Common Tracks 5

 

Common Tracks 6

 

Common Tracks 7

*NOTE – The attached printable pdf and the instructions in this article are part of the public domain and are courtesy of the USGS.  They can be found at http://education.usgs.gov/kids/tracks.html.

 

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Tonka Trucks – Making Dreams Come Alive for Over 60 Years

Are you a truck lover?  Does your heart beat a little faster at the sight of four-wheel drive machine?  It’s ok, mine does too.  For us truck fanatics, our love of trucks didn’t start when we got our driver’s license.  It started when we were kids playing on the floor, making engine sounds, and pushing around a mighty Tonka Truck that was almost as big as we were.

Tonka Trucks

Tonka Trucks allow kids to be heroes and to dream big.

What’s so special about a Tonka Truck?  It isn’t just their construction (although they can last for generations), it isn’t only their realistic design, and it isn’t just their true-to-life detailing.  Tonka trucks are so beloved because they allow boys and girls to dream and to dream big. When a six-year old is playing with a Tonka firetruck, he’s not just playing with his truck.  At that moment, he’s a heroic fireman rescuing strangers from a burning building.  When you see a toddler pushing around a bulldozer, he’s not just pushing it.  He’s in that truck, pushing dirt and building himself a racetrack.  A little boy pushing a tractor in the driveway is, at that moment, a farmer in charge of the biggest farm in the midwest.

The reason that Tonka trucks are still popular after 60 plus years is because they allow children to become heroes, dream big, and to create their own grand adventures.  Whether it’s a Tow Truck, a Tonka Dump Truck, or a Steel Bulldozer – your child or grandchild is sure to get years of dream building and epic adventures out of their Tonka Truck.

 

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Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt

Round up the whole family for an Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt!

Round up the whole family for an Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt!

After the Easter Baskets are found and dinner is consumed, you may want to plan an activity to help burn off some of that excess sugar.  An Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt is the perfect way to get the kids focused on an activity that will get them moving and keep them occupied – at least for a little while!

Download your printable copy of the Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt here:

_______ Easter Basket

_______ Stuffed Animal

_______ Chocolate Egg

_______ Cross

_______ Easter Basket Grass

_______ Red Jelly Bean

_______ Easter Bunny

_______ Flower

_______ Lamb

_______ Plastic Easter Egg

_______ Real Easter Egg

_______ Easter Hat

_______ Baby Chick (Can be candy, toy or real)

_______ Easter Card

_______ Easter Decoration

_______ Chocolate Easter Bunny

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