Leading My Son and His Friends on a Scavenger Hunt Hike through the Creek, in Search of “Toxic Rocks” to Defeat the Villain, Red Rover

Last month my 3rd grader son and I left from the Cub Scout orientation meeting broken-hearted. I myself was in Cub Scouts for 4 years back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was a major part of my childhood.

But it’s not set up the same way anymore. At the meeting, the adults were ultimately informed that if we wanted our sons to be in Scouts, we would be volunteering to be the actual leaders.

In a household where both parents work full-time, I knew that it would be unwise to commit so much of my time to what would ultimately be a part-time job that would indirectly pay other people’s salaries, in the likeness of a multilevel marketing pyramid scheme.

So I decided to start my own group; for all the boys whose parents couldn’t commit to the actual organization.

I set up a “scavenger hunt hike” at a nearby park with a creek. Once all the boys arrived, along with a few younger sisters, a villain who called himself Red Rover popped out of the bushes.

He explained that his great-grandfather originally own the land, but instead of being able to inherit the land, it was given to the city as a public park.

Therefore, Red Rover hid 8 “toxic rocks” along the creek, which would dry up all the water if the boys couldn’t find them all within the following hour.

Here’s a video of that event:

As I expected, all 8 toxic rocks were found within the hour. Therefore, Red Rover returned from the bushes, in an attempt to take them back from me.

This led to a low-budget Marvel style fist fight between Red Rover and me.

Here’s the video for that part:

The boys (and their sisters) enjoyed playing on the park afterwards, as my wife had brought some snacks for the kids to enjoy as well.

And some might call this a major coincidence, but my friend Ben showed up after the scavenger hunt hike rough-house with the boys.

It was a plan that came together!

Now that the launch went well, I am excited to plan the next event…

Dear Holly: It’s Always Dress-Up Time!

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Whether it’s borrowing your brother’s superhero gear or dressing up as Peppa Pig, thanks to the accessories that came with your kitchen set last Christmas… you love to dress up!

At your school when I pick you up in the afternoons, I love to sneak up on you, as I see you playing in the Snow White dress from their dress-up wardrobe.

So now I’m starting to wonder, is Halloween really going to be that big of a deal to you here in a few weeks? It’s already as if everyday is Halloween!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Teaching Your Sister to Sword Fight, Who is Half Your Size and a Third of Your Age

8 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

A few weeks ago, you spent your allowance money on some swords and shields at the Dollar Store.

Well, this past weekend, your 3 year-old sister was as eager as you were to practice sword fighting with you.

So the living room become the arena, where a brave little girl who is half your size and a third of your age showed no fear as she begin sword fighting her brother.

You were wearing a dragon mask; meaning that your sister was fighting the dragon!

To her, this is simply normal. So I guess your allowance money is well spend that week!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Found a Way Around My Rules About Coming Downstairs Too Early in the Morning

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Our system has been working pretty well since I initiated it earlier in the summer:

You can’t come downstairs in the mornings when you wake up, until the old cell phone alarm goes off first.

This structure has successfully got you out of the habit of waking up at 5:08 AM; before anyone else.

But I do think it’s funny what you did one day this past week…

I had just gotten out of the shower, about to make my breakfast smoothie, when I heard your brother shout, “Holly! Quit being a creepy doll!”

Apparently, you woke up earlier than you knew you were supposed to that morning, and decided to camp out on the very bottom stair- so that you technically were not downstairs.

That is quite clever. As your brother, you accidentally scared him, as he was not expecting to see a little girl facing up at him as he made his way downstairs as it was still dark outside.

I like that is hilarious!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Making a 3D Drawing of Your Blue Fangs Funko Pop Vinyl Figure

8 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

I love to see the pride you have in choosing how to spend your allowance money each week. In the past week since you bought your Blue Fangs Funko Pop Vinyl Figure, you have since been creating art based on the character.

You spent the weekend working very hard to perfect a drawing of Blue Fangs; then you carefully crafted a castle for the creature to stand in front of, as his domain.

Then you cut out of drawing and glued it over the background, to make a 3D picture.

I love to see you use your artistic skills!

Love,

Daddy

Fun Ways To Teach Your Children Phonics 

As a parent, you’re responsible for teaching your kids a lot of things. The knowledge you instill to them can contribute to the quality of life they’ll have in the future. The more they know, the easier it’ll be for them to manage challenges and attain success.

One of the most essential things a parent is expected to teach their children is phonics. This is an important branch of linguistics that can help children spell, read, and communicate.

Because of the importance of phonics, parents like you should exert time and effort in teaching your children about it. This is especially true if your children are already going to school.

Here are some ways to teach your children phonics:

  1. Hunt For Letters

Teaching your children phonics is actually easy. Aside from having the free range of coming up with your own activities, you’ll have access to several online sources, such as The Happy Learner.

If you’re looking for an easy and cheap way of teaching your child phonics, start by looking for old magazines and catalogs. Pick a letter and let your children find this letter in the magazine and catalog. This activity will allow your children to develop their comprehension skills while making it easy for them to associate the appearance of the letter to its sounds.

If you want to take this activity up a notch, grab a pair of scissors and cut out the letters that your children spotted in these printed materials. Create a collage in a piece of cardboard and use these as flashcards for all the letters in the alphabet. If the cardboard you’re using has still space, cut out images that visually represent the letter, as well.

  1. Alphabet Ball

Children usually spend their time in front of a gadget. They’ll spend long hours playing with a tablet, laptop, or smartphone. While technology allows your children to be occupied and occasionally learn several things, going overboard can also have adverse effects to their development.

Spending too much time on a gadget can lead to eye strain and poor physical health. The solution? Invite your children to go outdoors and play alphabet ball. Alphabet ball is a physical activity aimed to teach your children phonics.

The game starts once an adult yells a letter, and the child is expected to respond and associate the letter with a word. If the adult mentioned the letter “A”, the child can respond with an apple or astronaut. After the child successfully does this, the adult will pass the ball to the child, and it’s now the child’s turn to yell out a letter. The adult then responds by providing a word that starts with the letter the child mentioned, and so on.

You can add more fun to the activity by kicking the ball or playing tag with other children.

  1. Create An Alphabet Book Through A Picture-Taking Activity

If your children already know how to use a camera or smartphone, let their creativity shine by letting them play a phonics adventure. This activity can be done anywhere – whether you’re inside the home, in your garden, or shopping for groceries.

Hand the camera to your child and instruct them to take pictures of items that start from letters A to Z. Give them the freedom to take any picture they want, regardless of how weird it can be. Once your child has collected enough pictures to cover the entire alphabet, print the pictures and compile them into an album. Or if you have the time and interest, place the pictures in a scrapbook.

You can choose to repeat this activity with your children, given that you’re doing it in another location. The compilation you’ll produce from these pictures can be an indicator of the progress your children made in learning phonics.

  1. Mystery Bags

Children naturally love surprises. They’ll be motivated to fulfill tasks if the prize involves a surprise. When teaching your children phonics, let them play Mystery Bags. This game will require you to use at least three bags and different objects around the house.

Start by hiding different items that start with the same letter in each of these bags. If you want your children to learn more about the letter C, you can place a candy, cup, and clip inside the bags. Let your children name each item and guess the mystery letter that’s common among these objects.

Don’t Forget To Have Fun!

The key to successfully teaching your children phonics is to disguise it as play. Instead of being too uptight with your sessions, change your routine regularly, and allow your children to have fun. Ask if there are certain toys or games they want to do and incorporate phonics into it.

Aside from teaching your children phonics, you can also utilize these activities as a way to bond more with your children!

Dear Holly: The Cousins’ Homemade Playhouse in the Living Room

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Holly,

This past Labor Day Weekend, I feel that the major theme for you, your brother, and cousins was to make houses in the living room and then hang out in them; like an ongoing slumber party.

Apparently, there was even a farmer’s market where produce and animals were sold.

Granted, within a few hours, the house of pillows and play tents would inevitably get destroyed, only to be rebuilt each time.

The four of you had your own community and culture in which the adults were largely unaware of.

I have a feeling you all will rebuild your house the next time we are in town.

Love,

Daddy