My Smart Hands Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:49:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 147572316 Top 9 tracks for your go-to graduation playlist Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:49:50 +0000 June means one thing for parents and kids – school’s out for summer! For some children, it might mean the end of a particular chapter in school: graduation. Weren’t they babies and toddlers just yesterday? We’ve got you covered with a playlist for this momentous occasion. Whether you’re planning a graduation party for children and adults or need some car tunes for driving your kids off to college, the following songs are sure to please both younger and older listeners, with a few hot summer tracks and some great retro hits. Enjoy the playlist – hopefully it helps you in getting ready for the adventure of graduation and what comes next!

MGMT – “Kids”

  • Sometimes you have to remember the past to get ready for the future

Shawn Mendes featuring Khalid – “Youth”

  • A powerful song that’s already a huge hit for the summer

Sara Bareilles – “Brave”

  • A pump up tune for attacking the future

Fun. featuring Janelle Monae – “We Are Young”

  • A real celebration of being young even while you’re forced to grow up

The Beatles – “In My Life”

  • A good one to reminisce to

Alphaville – “Forever Young”

  • One for the adults in the room, and an inspiration to the younger folks as well

Simple Minds – “Don’t You Forget About Me”

  • A great song to dedicate to your friends

Natasha Beddingfield – “Unwritten”

  • One chapter may be over, but the rest is still unwritten

Vitamin C – “Graduation Song”

  • The song that gets pride of place in any period of change and moving on, especially graduating

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5 reasons your child will benefit from a nature walk Sat, 02 Jun 2018 17:09:58 +0000 Now that the weather is finally nicer outside, the world of activities to do with your children suddenly opens up to spending a lot more time outdoors!  Not only is it great for you, as parents/teachers/adults to get outside, it’s even more beneficial for children to spend as much time outside in the fresh air as they can. Here’s why you should take your kids on a nature walk soon and often!

Exercise is good, no matter how you do it.

Perhaps it might be too much to go on a huge hike with your child or ask them to sprint a marathon, but walking is great for them. Always be sure to be prepared before you go outside – that means a hat, sunscreen, bug spray, a water bottle and appropriate clothing for the weather. Bring your pet or the rest of your family and jet off exploring on a walk around your local area. If your child is up to it and wants to try something new, it’s perfect bike riding weather outside. Helmets on first, and proper training wheels if they need them, then they’re on their way!

You might meet a new friend.

If you’re out and about for a walk in your local neighbourhood or park, you might run into another child that you know and an impromptu play date might happen. Alternatively, you might run into some new animal friends! If you are out for a walk in a forest or grassy area, you’ll no doubt run into all kinds of bugs, like lady bugs and maybe even a butterfly or two. If you’re in an area close to a pond or other body of water, you might meet a new froggy friend! Seeing these creatures allows your child to learn more about them, where they live, what they eat and what kind of weather they like. It’s so important that children learn to be kind to animals and treat them as they would want to be treated themselves. Not to mention, outdoor animals can be pretty neat to see up close, like this frog!

See environmentalism in action.

A sad reality might be that you will see a lot of garbage and debris on your nature walk. Don’t worry though, this is an excellent opportunity for your child to learn about recycling and proper garbage disposal. All parks and open areas should have garbage and recycling bins and your child can take the chance to learn about taking care of the world they live in, not only for themselves but for everyone around them. Your child can be a good global citizen by becoming an environmentalist at any age!

Walking it off actually works.

Even at young ages, children deal with a lot of stress, and depending on their age, they might not have the proper tools or techniques to deal with the range of strong emotions they are asked to deal with every day at school and at home. Taking a walk can aid your child in clearing their head and relaxing before being encouraged to talk through whatever the problem may be. Taking a walk with your child is a low-risk alternative to your child dealing with their emotion in any other unhealthy way, like getting mad at a sibling or parent or holding their emotions inside. Fresh air and a little exercise might be helpful in a lot of these scenarios.

Curiosity is key.

Always encourage your child to ask you lots of questions on your nature hike! Ask them to use all their senses to discover the world surrounding them. You can fill them in with tidbits about what kind of trees and plants they’re seeing and how the weather works. This gives children the chance to open themselves up to self-discovery as well, because the more they know about the world around them, the more then can learn about their place in the world and how they want to treat nature around them.

When in doubt for an activity to do with your kids, opt for the educational and healthy option of taking a nature walk! It’s an accessible way to bond with your children and get them away from their screens, which is an added advantage![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row] ]]> 0 3363 Encouraging your child to get out of their comfort zone Sat, 26 May 2018 22:01:34 +0000

If you all follow my channels on Facebook and Instagram, you got to see a few snapshots of the amazing trip my son and I recently took to Mexico. You also got to see how amazingly brave my son was in doing two activities completely out of his comfort zone – cliff diving and zip lining! I was totally blown away by his ability to try something new and he ended up having an absolute blast. It’s so rewarding to see children be unafraid to try new things.

Encourage your child to pick up a new after school or weekend activity.

If your child is already very much into ballet class on Saturdays, ask if they would like to change it up by signing up for karate lessons. Maybe they want to switch from art class to joining a soccer team, or vice versa. If your child leans toward sports extracurriculars, why not ask them if they want to take a language class. Giving your children more variety in their activities can only give them the advantage of having a wide range of interests and skills. If they don’t like the activity, they don’t have to keep doing it, but at least they can say they tried. Playing with other children in new activities will also be helpful for your kids to expand their group of friends and meet people who might be interested in different things.

Ask your child if they feel comfortable trying the next level up of an activity.

If you’re at a pool with a water slide or a diving board, and there are higher and lower slides or diving boards, ask your child if they would like to try the higher of the two. If they feel safe trying the “big kid” option, why not let them, keeping in mind minimum height safety requirements. Another example is when your child rides their bike. Ask them to let you know when they feel ready to take off the training wheels. It may not be the same time that you would want them to try riding with only two wheels, but if your child falls down and turns out to not be ready, you can just put the training wheels back on. Always wear a helmet!

Try an extreme activity with your child.

If you or your child is feeling particularly adventurous, why not go straight to the top – literally. Let your child try tackling an obstacle course or a tree-top ropes course. You could even join in if either of you is feeling nervous about the possibility of getting so high up or doing such a nerve-wracking activity. These activities are an exercise in trust and keeping safety practices in mind as much as anything else. If your child already loves riding their bike, why not try mountain biking next? It will give them the chance to grow in their skills and confidence. Allowing your children to continue to push their boundaries will broaden their horizons throughout the rest of their lives.

You definitely don’t have to hop on a plane to Mexico to give your child the opportunity to take a risk and try something new. It’s also important to know that you don’t need to have a particularly outspoken or outgoing child to help them try new things. This can be beneficial for all children, no matter how sociable they may be. Every child should be unafraid to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!

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Last minute tips for Victoria Day PA day activities Sun, 20 May 2018 19:07:31 +0000 With another hectic Mother’s Day behind you and the family, how did the Victoria Day long weekend creep up so quickly? No one would blame you for not having planned a weekend get away far in advance, what with the ice storm that came to Toronto last month, and the wind storm a few weeks ago, and hey, wasn’t it just Easter?

For tomorrow’s PA day, why not spend the day at home spending quality time with your kids?  Before they get any ideas about being on the Ipad all day, check out our list of Victoria Day PA day activities. Leave the family dog on the couch, and get your kids off of it! These 3 easy, cost-effective activities can be put together in almost no time at all with items you already have around the house. You don’t even have to leave your kitchen. These fun ideas will give you and your kids lots of opportunities to try to create new things, together!

  1. Get cooking!

What child doesn’t love pizza? And with the healthy variations you can try these days – Gluten-free flour for dough! Cauliflower crust! Hummus instead of tomato sauce! –  pizza making has never been easier and more nutritious for your kids. Not to mention how easy it is for kids to make their own pizzas. Using either dough or a pita, kids can spread the sauce of their choice and add whatever toppings they like! With a parent’s help using the oven, kids can be eating their own home-made healthy treat in minutes.

Giving children the opportunity to start learning their way around the kitchen is beneficial for their educational growth as well as their hunger! They will feel a sense of pride at having made their own meal, and better still, they can make more pizzas to keep in the fridge for a later time if they get hungry again or if they want to make more for the rest of the family.

  1. Get crafting!

While you’re waiting for your pizzas to cook in the oven, and since you’re in the kitchen already, find some paint of any colour you like and an old t-shirt. Things are about to get crafty. Pick your kitchen food of choice: it can be anything from an apple to a pepper to corn on the cob. Cut the item in half, dip it in the paint, and start stamping on the shirt! You can create all kinds of unique designs or use different colours for some variety. What a unique way to make fashion, giving your child a sense of accomplishment that they turned an every day item like an old shirt into something completely new and exciting. It’s also always a good lesson to show your kids that household items can have lots of different uses, so long as you have a creative mind to imagine them!

  1. Get quizzing!

What month is Canada Day in? July!

You’ve had your pizza (and it was delicious) and the paint on your shirt is drying off. So what now? Why not do a little exercising of your kids’ minds with a few fun trivia questions. These don’t have to be anything too strenuous – questions like ‘What month is Canada Day in?’ and ‘What is the first name of the prime minister?’ can be used to be educational and fun at the same time. Here’s a fun twist to an otherwise simple game of question and answer: have your child spell out the answer to the question using whatever items they can find in the kitchen in a game we like to call “Word Find.” As quick as they can after they figure out the answer to your question (or riddle even), have them look in their surroundings to see what would be the best utensils or items to most accurately spell out the answer!

If you have more than one child staying at home with you, this can be made into a time-racing competition, if you like. This will force the child to not only stretch their brains to think of the correct answers, but also ask their brains to work outside the box and in different directions to portray the answers in a new way.

Bonus: Get walking!

If you’re ready to get out of the kitchen after these three activities, remember the doggy you left on the couch while you were running around the house on your PA day. Why not take him or her for a walk? And even if you don’t have a pet, going for a walk (weather depending) would be a great way to cap off a PA day spent at home with your children. If you want to try to make the walk educational, see if you can ask your child to remember how to make their way home from wherever your walk leads you in the neighbourhood. Safety comes first, and knowing what your house looks like and how to get home on their own if they ever need to is a wise idea to make sure your children are always prepared.

No matter what, enjoy the extra time you have with your children. Hopefully, they learn something new and you got some great bonding time in before they return to school on Tuesday!

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Mother’s Day craft: 3 design ideas for DIY potted plants Tue, 08 May 2018 02:54:37 +0000 With just one week to go until Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 13, time is ticking to come up with a unique gift idea that the special woman in your life can treasure all year round. Flowers are beautiful, but waiting in line on the day to get fresh flowers at the store will be tedious. And only for the flowers to wither away anyhow. For the same price as a large bouquet of flowers, you could make your mom a garden that will last much longer. And what better way to brighten up your mom’s day – and brighten up the house – than with a beautiful plant? Better yet, get on board with the latest trend in shrubbery and pot your own succulent for your hardworking mom.

Here’s how you get started. 

First, pick your succulent and get the soil. 

So what are succulents exactly? They’re extremely small, drought-resistant plants that have water-storing stems or leaves and over 25 plant families have succulents within them. There are lots of different kinds of succulents, including a jade plant, a zebra plant, and – you guessed it – some varieties of cacti.

For your Mother’s Day potted succulent plant, we recommend using an aloe vera plant. They’re inexpensive, easy to find, and best of all, useful for medicinal purposes. They can even grow to over 3 feet! Find yours at a Home Depot or Sheridan Nurseries. You can get your soil from there as well, you won’t need a lot. Now you’re ready to start planting!

Then, find the pot to fit your plant.

Pots are, again, easy to find at your local craft store or dollar store and won’t break the bank either. While you’re there, you can also pick up the materials to decorate your flower pot for your mom. You can use paint, stencils, stickers, or whatever tickles your fancy in the aisles of the store!

Here are three creative ideas for decorating your pot and making it extra special before you gift it to your mom on Mother’s Day.

1. Use stencils for simple designs.

This is probably the simplest way to decorate your pot. Pick a stencil with a design you like and pick your mom’s favourite colour to paint over the stencil. You can even try your hand at using a stencil with the words from a meaningful quote for your succulent pot. The result is an elegant home for your plant!

2. Freehand draw or paint on your pot.

If you’re feeling creative, grab a paint brush and get to work! You can use as many or as few colours as you like to express yourself. You can stick to linear geometric shapes or try drawing a flower or plant on your pot. Maybe you want to try painting something special to your mom, like a building from her favourite city, something from her favourite sport or hobby, or a picture from her favourite book.

3. Create cool effects with paint. 

Think outside the box and use paint to create cool designs on your pot, like the one on the left that is supposed to represent the Milky Way. Maybe you want to try picking a design from your mom’s favourite pillow, blanket, or tablecloth that has special meaning for her and try recreating that design on the pot. Fun tip: use a glaze to go over your design on the pot after you’re finished to make it look glossy.

Once your pot is decorated the way you want, put in the soil and the succulent and remember to tell your mom the care instructions on how often to water your plant. Better still, make it part of your present to help her keep the plant alive and water it yourself!

Remember to write a message to your mom somewhere on your finished product, like a quick note at the very bottom of the pot before you put in your succulent plant, like “Happy Mother’s Day 2018!”


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Practice reading ASL names | Learn fingerspelling Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:18:35 +0000

In this video, we are going to practice reading ASL finger-spelled names. It’s one thing to know your alphabet, but it’s another thing to read it. In this lesson, I focus on 3-letter names. See if you can follow along and read what I’m signing. Please let me know if you find this type of video useful and any other suggestions you have.


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ASL Family Signs | Viewer Q&A Wed, 04 Apr 2018 13:04:16 +0000 Learn how to sign different ASL family signs, including how to spell these words:

  • Family
  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Son
  • Daughter
  • Grandma
  • Grandpa
  • Godmother
  • Godfather
  • Godparents
  • In-laws
  • Half-brother
  • Half-sister
  • Adopt

If you have any questions leave them in the comment section!

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Sign Language is NOT Universal Wed, 07 Mar 2018 15:35:25 +0000 Today I’m showing you the difference between ‘Sunday’ and ‘Awesome.’ Many people have asked me to demonstrate the difference between these two words, so I thought my first video back in the new year should be one that a lot of people have been asking for. The difference between ‘Sunday’ and ‘Awesome’ gives me the chance to talk about why sign language is NOT universal, and how people might understand the same signs in 2 totally different ways. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section!

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We Hit 100,000 Subscribers! Thank you! Wed, 21 Feb 2018 14:14:26 +0000 Watch as my kids and I wait out the follower number count to reach the BIG 100,000 subscribers! Our excitement in this video says it all – check it out. And if you haven’t already subscribed, you can do that here:

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ASL Sign Differences Part 2 | American Sign Language Signs Wed, 31 Jan 2018 14:26:20 +0000 Here is part two from last week’s viewer question and answer about telling the difference between signs that look the same but are different words. Check it out above!

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