Love and Logic: Back to the Future

We watched Back to the Future on my birthday because… well, do I really need a reason?

The plot gave me an idea for a simple game: Child travels back in time and she has to convince Mom and Daddy to make the right decisions so that she can be born.  In the movie, Marty has to convince his mom and dad to get together before he disappears from the family photo.  So, I wrote down Child’s name (3 letters, though your child’s name may be longer) and made the 5 cards below.  The aim was to try and get the card with the date of Child’s birth before all of the letters in her name got erased.

Example timeline cards

November 1997:

Daddy starts working in the jungle. 


Daddy decides to work in his uncle’s garage

October 2001:

Mom comes to Ecuador. 


Mom is thinking of accepting a job in India

January 2002:

Mom decides to go to the jungle on vacation.         


Mom goes to the beach

December 2007:

Daddy and Mom decide to get married.


Daddy and Mom break up.

June 2012:

Child is born

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World on the Weekend: Thailand


I visited Thailand in 2000, literally spending New Year’s Eve there at the turn of this century.  Though I spent most of my time doing a course for English teachers in Bangkok, I did take the opportunity to travel around when I had the time.  Some parts of the country were as noisy and polluted as any other modern-day country.  Other parts were truly breath-taking, National Geographic-style images burned into my brain.  I saw young monks in their orange robes walking through the streets with their traditional begging bowls, I watched elephants nonchalantly stroll down city streets, I ate fragrant curries of every kind, I witnessed poverty and squalor, I visited the notorious Pat Pong area and stayed in a hostel on the Khao San Road, and I learned to navigate the colorful local markets of both the day- and nighttime variety.  



Bangkok and Chiang Mai are famous for their night markets.  Essentially the system works because the markets have too many vendors during the day, so some people began to sell at night to avoid competition and overcrowding.  It didn’t really work and now the night markets are every bit as bustling as the daytime ones.

To organise your own night market, wait until after dinner or until the sun goes down.  Then get a few bits and pieces to sell: toys, books, fruit, DVDs, whatever you have.  Put a price tag on each item.  Hand out some play money and take turns being sellers and buyers.


The fun of a proper Thai meal is to do it correctly.  Sit on the floor.  Everyone has a bowl of sticky rice.  Eat with the right hand only, though you may use a spoon if you wish.  Central dishes such as coconut shrimp, stir fried vegetables in peanut sauce, Thai dressing for green salad with cucumber, pad Thai can be placed in the middle with spoons so that everyone serves themselves.


Thais have fun traditional children’s games. The “One legged rabbit game” (Gradai Kha Dee-o) involves one of you hopping around on one foot trying to chase the others .

(khi ma kan kluai) is essentially a hobby horse made of a banana leaf, but go ahead and make one however you want. 


Floating candle boats are sweet: make paper boats and place small lit tea candles in them.  Float them in water in the bathtub.

You can make a “sky lantern” with candles (look here for instructions: ) .  Making the frame out of wooden sticks is a good lesson in 3D geometry.  The science has to do with how heat from the candle makes the lantern rise.


Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease which attacks people in most tropical countries.  It’s worth learning about, and there are many websites and excellent YouTube videos explaining the cause, preventions and treatments.

Dance and Math

The 1000 hands dance is a stunning visual display which you can watch here:  The activity consists of lining your family up in front of a mirror in height order and attempting to replicate the dance.  This is a challenging exercise in symmetry, and harder than it looks!


We had a very nice Thai dinner and did the market activity afterwards.  Child loves playing market, and very much enjoyed the one we did for Ancient Rome, so this was fun.  This time we practiced using an abacus to add up the sales totals.  The night-time atmosphere made it more exciting.

While we had dinner, we watched spectacular videos of the 1000 hands dance, and then tried our own which was fun.

We learned a lot about malaria, which is useful since Child and Daddy spend a lot of time in the Amazon rainforest.  We learned that malarial mosquitoes tend to thrive more in towns and villages where there is stagnant water collecting in old tires and containers, but less so where there is moving water like in jungle rivers.  Still, long pants and sleeves along with a good repellent are essential for protection.

We tried to make the “sky lantern” which, for some reason, refused to float.  I think our kebab sticks ended up being too heavy.  Building the frame was a great STEM project, aided by Daddy and his hot glue gun. It was a nice evening and we went outside to try to make it float.  Though it failed, the lantern certainly was pretty to look at.   

The boats worked better: candle stubs in walnut shells float nicely.   

Love and Logic: Cancer

A family member recently succumbed to cancer of the esophagus.  Child had many questions about his life and his death which I answered as best I could.  She seemed to have some very specific concerns: the first being the fact that he was so young when he died, specifically, he was the same age as Child’s father.  Child wanted to be reassured that her father would not get cancer and wanted to know the causes.  Then she wanted to know what happens inside the body when one gets cancer.  This comes partly from a concern about our dog who also has cancer.  Finally, she wanted to know about cures.  Child already understands how the different elements of the immune system react to harmful viruses and bacteria; but the immune system doesn’t respond to cancer because it spreads through cell division.

This game is meant to explain the biological aspects of cancer: how it blocks healthy cells and how chemotherapy kills off both cancerous and healthy cells.  It is not a precise or detailed simulation, but it is enough to give a child the basic idea of what sort of a disease it is.

To play, you will need a pencil, a hundred board (such as the one below), a set of cards numbered 1-100 (shuffled), and “cells” cards such as the ones below.

The game is co-operative, though you may take turns to draw and play.

To play:

Shuffle the “cells” cards and draw one.

  • If it says “healthy cells”: draw two number cards and draw Xs on every number between the two numbers.  For example, if you draw 63 and 71, draw Xs on 63, 64, 65…71.  However, if any of the numbers already contains a cancer cell, you write no Xs, and lose your turn.  If your healñthy cell was laid down before you draw the cancer cell, then only the cell with the number corresponding to the cancer cell is transformed from X to O.
  • If it says “cancer cells”: draw 10 number cards and make Os on the corresponding squares.
  • If it says “chemotherapy”: draw a number card and erase any Xs or Os on all of the numbers from 1 to the number drawn.

Keep playing until the board is complete.  If the healthy cells outnumber the cancer cells, you win.

“Cells” cards:

Healthy cells Cancer cells Healthy cells
Cancer cells Healthy cells Cancer cells
Healthy cells Chemotherapy Healthy cells

Hundred board:

91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100
81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90
71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

In memory of Shane Bailey


World on the Weekend: Japan

Japan is a country, which, like many ancient Asian kingdoms, sealed itself off from the rest of the world for long periods of time, ironically following these with periods of violent expansion and conquest.  In modern history, the Second World War concluded a period of horrific regional domination with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, forcing their unconditional surrender.  Having risen from the ashes in its own unique way, Japan is now a huge producer and innovator of cars and technology which have impacted societies around the world in unprecedented ways.   

The culture has unique iconic elements familiar even to outsiders: samurai, ninjas, geishas, karate, sushi.  More recently, Japanese manga, anime, J-pop and video games have flooded the youth culture market.  There is a great deal from both the ancient Japan and the modern that will no doubt fascinate your child.


Art, cuisine

For this day, center the following projects around the idea that you’re preparing to have a Japanese tea ceremony.  Note that it isn’t entirely necessary to get all the details correct: the point is the idea of mindfulness and appreciation of beauty.

Start by painting your faces in the style of traditional Kabuki theatrical masks.  There are many websites you can look to for inspiration such as this Pinterest page:  

Ikebana is the traditional art of flower arrangement.  The idea isn’t to take a crash course, but rather to take real, or even home-made paper flowers and place them harmoniously and artistically in a vase.

Calligraphy: you can make basic calligraphy-looking strokes using a small flat paintbrush.  Teach your child to write their name kanji-style using only straight lines without turning their wrists.  Make placemats for each member of the family.

Origami creatures are a lovely addition to any place setting.  Don’t go out and buy expensive speciality paper, any square piece of paper will do (plain printing paper is good, newspaper and construction paper are respectively too thin and too thick…don’t ask me how I know.)  Find instructions for basic beginner’s figures to try.  This will be a challenge for a young child’s dexterity, so exercise patience.

Prepare green tea and, if you wish, a Japanese treat such as mochi.  The recipe we used can be found here:  However, be careful: eat small bites and chew slowly to avoid choking ( )

Place a picnic blanket on the floor, prepare the place settings and sit down cross-legged to enjoy your ceremony.

Physical education

If your child hasn’t done any martial arts, karate is an interesting place to start.  Find videos teaching a few basic steps of karate.  Also, Geronimo Stilton in The Karate Mouse (note, the author is officially listed as Geronimo Stilton, though I’m sure there may have been humans who helped)makes for a surprisingly informative read.


The Japanese don’t have a history of mathematics in quite the way the Ancient Greeks or the Maya did.  However, one idea I liked was that monks would often leave elaborate math puzzles on temple walls for other monks to try and resolve.  Naturally, these math puzzles were also esthetically beautiful.  This gave me the idea of “stealth” math which I developed into the following game: instead of a boring old math book, you can turn a math lesson into a series of Ninja missions.  Depending on your child’s age and abilities, you can have them run around the house collecting a series of numbers or envelopes with math puzzles.  The challenge, of course, is that ninjas need to move without anyone hearing or seeing them, so this shouldn’t be a noisy game.  Give your child a simplified, hand-drawn map of your house or apartment with Xs to show where the math puzzles are.  Your child is then tasked with planning when and how to get into each room without anyone knowing and solve each puzzle.  After solving it, they have to leave it in its original place for you to sneak around and correct afterwards.  You can leave comments or even stickers in the envelopes.  This game can take all day as you both have to wait until no-one is looking before you sneak off.

The games of Go and Sudoku also practice strategy and math.


As a teenager, I used to quite enjoy Sailor Moon, though Dragon Ball Z might have greater appeal for boys.  No doubt your family will find their own favorite anime series.


Japanese cuisine is rich and varied.  Depending on your cooking skills, you can find recipes ranging between easy and nearly impossible.  Don’t overdo the wasabi.


The tea ceremony was great, because a lot of the fun of an event is the planning.  The idea actually came from an experience we had when my mother came for a visit: my mother had brought Barbie and Ken dolls from Canada and we spent an entire day planning their wedding, including decorating the house, baking a cake and writing invitations to all of the other dolls.  The wedding itself lasted about 15 minutes after all that, but it felt like a day well spent and we had lovely memories.  I thought it might be nice to repeat the experience by spending the better part of the day preparing for the tea ceremony.  My mother had already returned to Canada but Child’s Father joined us for the ceremony. 

We had fun painting our faces, and Child insisted on doing her own, so we sat like a pair of theatre stars side by side in front of a mirror.  I helped her with some of the more intricate flower designs.  We practiced calligraphy, but at the time Child was deeply resentful of any attempt to teach her to read and write, so we didn’t linger on that part.  Origami, too, was a failure.  I, myself, can only make a frog well, and Child got frustrated trying to make her own and just wanted to watch me. So, I made a couple of frogs and we moved on.  Ikebana was fun because we cut out flower petals out of different coloured paper and glued them into some nice flower arrangements.  Most flowers have a Fibonacci number of petals (5,8,13, 21) so we got to review that idea.  Later that afternoon on our walk, we counted flower petals on flowers rowing by the side of the road and found Fibonacci numbers every time.

Then I got to relax while Daddy was karate sensei (teacher).  He taught her to count to ten in Japanese while practicing the moves.  We had already read the Geronimo Stilton book over the previous week, and Child was interested in the karate lesson.  Then again, she likes anything involving sanctioned kicking.

The math game, as described above, did take all day.  But, truth be told, Child is the noisiest ninja ever and it took great acting on my part to pretend not to notice her stomping and crashing about.  She got most of the math right, though, and loved the stickers she got for correct answers.

We both hate Sudoku and I didn’t have time to learn Go. 

For dinner we had a simple teriyaki vegetable stir fry with rice which was quite nice.

Additional note:  Last time we were in an airport, Child loudly (and rather embarrassingly) announced that the lady in line behind us must be Chinese because of her face.  The lady leaned forward and kindly explained that she was Japanese.  Child unhesitatingly placed her hands together, bowed and said “Konichiwa”! 

World on the Weekend: Turkey


Turkey is and always has been a cultural center at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and North Africa.  Its heritage includes historical and modern influences from the Mongolians, Greeks, Ottomans, Central Asians, South Asians, the Islamic nations and the West, among others.

I spent 2000-2001 teaching in Istanbul, living and working on the Asian side of the Bosporus.  Because the language school I worked at offered classes 7 days a week, half of the teachers worked weekends, but got Mondays and Tuesdays off.  We decided to call them “History Tuesdays” and used the days to explore museums, palaces, markets, churches, mosques and other sites of interest around the city.  My favorite part was crossing the Bosporus itself by ferry and making sure to order a freshly grilled fish sandwich from the people on the boats near the shores.  I also enjoyed my frequent visits to the Princes’ Islands, so named because apparently the sultans would imprison brothers and unwanted sons there to prevent having their throne usurped.


Literature and film

One of the most beloved characters in Turkish folklore is the wise fool Nasruddin.  You can find some of the witty tales about him online or on YouTube. 

Indeed, most of the classic Hollywood and Disney-style ideas of the exotic Middle East such as genies, flying carpets, snake charmers and such were originally inspired by Turkish folktales, which in turn are a medley of tales from Arabian, Indian and North African cultures.  Therefore, it would be acceptable if you were to watch Aladdin, though technically the story takes place in an unnamed Arab country as per the 1001 Arabian Nights tale form which it originated.


Belly-dancing is an excellent exercise for toning the tummy, and is reputed to provide benefits for the female reproductive system, particularly the muscles of the uterus involved in childbearing and menstruation. 

Though it could be argued that the outfits and the dance itself are overly sexualised for a child, I thought it was fun to do in our living room, just us with no-one else watching.  It brought back fond memories of Tarkan, who was famous in Turkey at around the same time as Ricky Martin, and for the same sort of snake-hipped dance tunes as well, which just goes to show how much Latin American and Middle Eastern music have in common.  Shakira was the most famous to exploit both her Lebanese and Colombian ancestry, as you can see in this video for “Ojos Asi” (  

To be clear, Turkish music does not, for the most part have these rhythms, and has a different “sound” altogether, as different as American country music might be from rock and roll in the west.   However, on buses and in general in public restaurants and bars, you’re far more likely to hear Arab-style music than traditional Turkish.  

Note: Tarkan’s greatest hit, if you’re interested was called “Simarik” which translates to “Kiss kiss” and you can find it here:

Math and art

Turkish carpets and kilim (small rugs for prayer or decoration) are world famous for their exquisite design and delicate weaving.  Weaving itself is a difficult art form to master for small hands.  You can buy weaving kits, but I just taped several lengths of yarn across the top and sides of a piece of wood and taught my daughter the simplest in-and-out style.

Islamic religion forbids the use of the human face and body in art, so rather than portrait or narrative paintings in the European style, Islamic cultures created lovely mosaics out of geometric shapes and patterns.  Additionally, certain texts such as the Koran are traditionally decorated with what is known as “illumination art” which are decorative geometric shapes around a text.  These two aspects of Turkish art can be used to teach children about shapes, and particularly tessellations, which is the way certain shapes or combinations of shapes can fit together: squares, triangles and hexagons tesselate, for instance (as you can most likely see on tiles surfaces such as bathroom walls or tiled floors) whereas circles do not.

Backgammon is an old Turkish game and not difficult for a child to learn.  It can help with basic addition practice as well as strategic thinking.


Shawarma is always good, though Turkish cuisine extends far beyond that.  Look up recipes, and have fun exploring.  Don’t forget to finish it off with a nice Turkish coffee (for the grownups!)


The Nasruddin stories were pleasantly silly and we enjoyed the tricks he played.  You can find some cartoon versions on YouTube as well as written versions online.  One involved Naruddin selling his house to a rich man with the proviso that he could maintain ownership of a hook on the living room wall.  The next day, he walked into the house and hung his coat on the hook, and over subsequent days, he took ever more advantage of the ridiculous situation until eventually, when he tied his cow on a leash to the hook, the rich man agreed to pay Nasruddin to take the house back.

The film “Aladdin” is, of course, a general favorite in our family; specifically the cartoon version starring the master of comedic monologue, Robin Williams. 

Unsurprisingly, Child adored belly dancing, and even managed to tie her t-shirt up to her waist to expose her midriff.  As I say, at home, that’s fine.  Nowhere else.  And, if you’re curious, yes, I have explained to her in no uncertain terms that bad men hurt little girls if they go out dressed as grownup ladies.  This isn’t victim-blaming, to my mind, it’s fact.

The art projects were surprisingly interesting.  Child doesn’t enjoy art much, but she likes manipulating paper as we did to weave the placemats, and she liked cutting out and gluing on the geometric shapes.  She enjoyed spotting examples of tessellation over the next few days as well.

She liked backgammon and we still play it frequently.

She still doesn’t like Middle Eastern food, and shawarma was no exception.

Love and Logic: Adjacents

Sometimes small numbers are harder than big numbers.  That’s because kids don’t necessarily learn math in a linear fashion.  Child can easily tell if I try to cheat her out of $20 when I owe her $750 in Monopoly rent, but still stumbles over 8+1.

To remedy this, I came up with a simple game I call “Adjacents”.  Each player gets four cards, of which they need to make adjacent pairs.  The game is short and each round will not take longer than 3-4 minutes, though you can play several rounds.

For example: 4+3 and 2+6 make adjacent pairs (4+3=7 and 2+6=8; 7 and 8 are adjacent numbers).

To play:

Deal four cards to each player, which they spread face up before them in any order.  They take turns to draw from the deck and discard one of their so that they always have four cards until one player has two adjacent pairs.

Added challenge:

The cards are dealt face down in a row.  Players may peek at the two outside cards once, and they may obviously look at the cards they draw before placing them face down.  This way, players have to remember what they have and mentally check the math.

World on the Weekend: Germany

Child requested to learn about Germany, but she specifically noted that she did not want to learn anything more about the Holocaust “until I’m older”.   So she knew about that.

What she didn’t know was that in the twentieth century, Germany accomplished, to greater or lesser acclaim depending on whom you ask, the incredible challenge of reunifying what had become two incredibly different worlds split symbolically and physically by the Berlin Wall.

History, geography, political science

How does one explain the horrors of Communist East Germany to a child? 

I had already explained the original idea of communism by explaining how Israeli kibbutzim worked where everyone worked according to their ability and received according to their needs.  In fact, that is exactly what a family unit is.

However, communism as it was practiced by the Stasi was terrifying and repressive and the only way to explain that was to describe the extreme measures to which people would go to cross the wall.

First, though, it’s worth explaining the wall.  Dr Seuss wrote a rather charmingly horrifying book called “The Butter Battle Book” in which two adjacent villages go to war over which side to butter their bread.  A wall between them goes up, and each side sends an envoy with an increasingly powerful weapons.  The book ends with all inhabitants hiding underground while the two soldiers stand on opposite sides of the wall ready to drop the final bomb.  Although the book received some criticism for portraying the two sides as morally equivalent, as a story of a pointless game of dangerous brinkmanship, it is excellent. It was made into a lovely animated short film as well.

The real story is even harder to believe.  It began over a dispute as to whether the East German guards at Checkpoint Charlie had the right to demand that an American diplomat by the name of Allan Lightner show his documentation.  International agreement said he didn’t have to, but the low-level guard wasn’t taking any chances.  Pretty soon, both sides had tanks lined up.  The problem was, the tanks on the East German side were completely black with no markings.  Without being able to identify the tanks as either of East German or Soviet origin, the Americans were afraid to move.  As it happens, a US lieutenant and his adjutant drove across in a jeep (still agreed upon as a tentatively legal move) and somehow managed to sneak into one of the black tanks and discovered a Russian language newspaper.  This information was sent through a backchannel between the president’s brother, R.F.K. and a Soviet diplomat (there was no direct line of communication between the two superpowers, hard as that is to believe) and allowed both sides to diffuse tensions. 

This story can lead to interesting discussions with your child on how to resolve disputes on the playground. 

Music and dance

After a morning of heavy political discussion, put on your tutus and dance the afternoon away to Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and Wagner.

Stories and math

If your child is unfamiliar with Grimm’s fairy talks, remedy that with perennial favourites such as Cinderella, The Goose Girl, Rumplestiltskin, The Frog Prince and others. 

For the story of Hansel and Gretel, make a cardboard cookie house.  Take a cardboard box and cut it into a doll’s house, or use a doll’s house you have.  Draw and cut out cookie and candy cane shapes to stick on.  Draw patterns on the cookies and candies, or draw 2 and 4 way symmetrical patterns on the cookies.


Black Forest cake is always a nice treat.


We enjoyed reading and watching «The Butter Battle Book» and we learned a lot about the different ways people tried to cross the wall.  We even went outside and tried to find ways to scale our own garden wall, minus, of course, the threat of being shot at.

Dancing is always fun.  We listened to the different pieces of music and tried to decide how it made us feel: happy, sad, angry, excited.  Then we danced out those emotions.

The Hansel and Gretel house took the better part of the afternoon.  It was fun coloring the candy shapes, and of course we added things like sequins and glitter.  Our doll’s house looked simply fabulous!

Love and Logic: Hundred Board Sillies

Hundred boards are an excellent way to help children develop number sense.  In this game, they have to work out where a given number might be.

Write the numbers 1-100 on cards and have your child arrange them on the floor.  Hide a surprise under each number: a coin, a candy, a card with silly instructions such as “hop on one foot” or “kiss mom”.

Write two sets of the numbers 0-9 on cards and put them in a bag or shuffle them in a deck. 

The first player draws two numbers and arranges them as they choose, so for example, if you draw a 2 and an 8, you can have 28 or 82.  Find the number and see what’s underneath!  Play to an agreed-upon stopping point, or play until you’ve finished the whole board.

Love and Logic: Time

One simple DIY game is to make or find 4 dice-sized cubes out of paper or wood.  On one die, write the numbers 1-6 and on the second, 6-12: these will represent the hours.  One the remaining two dice, write 00, 05, 10, 15, 20 etc.  If you have two players, each player takes one “hour” die and one “minute” die. 

Choose a time at random, draw it on an analog clock, and see if a single player can make the time or if they need to work together to do it.  If the player does it alone, they get the point; if they do it together, they both get the point.  End the game when someone reaches 12 points.

Daddy Daddy and Child Child

World on the Weekend: Switzerland

Switzerland is positioned right at the crossroads of four distinct languages and cultural regions: French, German, Italian and Romansh.  Though it is geographically at the heart of Europe, it maintained a neutral stance during the two world wars of the 20th century.  The two main focusses I’ve chosen here are on the natural world, particularly the Alps as described in «Heidi», and the concept of the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention saying, in essence, that everyone has the right to medical attention.


Language arts

“Heidi” by Johanna Spyri, is a classic piece of children’s literature focussed as much on the wild beauty of the Alps as the lives of the characters.  You can also watch the 1937 version of the movie starring Shirley Temple, and compare the two. 


You can make paper clocks and practice telling the time (homeschooled kids, and those with a less rigid schedule may have trouble with this!).  For young children, this is an excellent opportunity to practice skip counting by 5s as well.

An interesting way to realise the difference between AM and PM and how this doesn’t necessarily correspond to the times when we are awake and asleep is the following: Divide the room into two sections, an «AM» and a «PM». Have the child do stretching movements to show awake times and contracting or shrinking movements to show sleeping. Then say, for example, «3AM»: The child must move to the «AM» side, but perform a shrinking movement. «3PM» would meaning standing on the other side, the «PM» side and doing growing and stretching movements. They can also act out what they do at the given time of day.

Another good math activity is to compare the heights of mountains. You can use cards like these:

  Mount Everest 8848m Nepal / China     K2 8611m Pakistan / China     Annapurna 8091m Nepal
  Cotopaxi 5897m Ecuador         Cayambe 5790m Ecuador   Reventador 3562m Ecuador
  Pichincha 4784m Ecuador         Kilimanjaro 5895m Tanzania   Matterhorn 4478m Switzerland / Italy  
  Mont Blanc 4807m France  Italy/  Switzerland     Mount Fuji 3776m Japan   Olympus 2918m Greece

Deal the cards out evenly between players. Everyone chooses one of their cards and places it face up in the middle simultaneously. The player with the highest mountain wins that round.


It isn’t difficult to make your own muesli.  Get some rolled oats and add dried nuts and fruit, shaved coconut, chocolate chips and even a few pieces of chopped fresh fruit like apples.  Put it in the over for 10 minutes and enjoy. 

Heidi drinks goat’s milk out of a small bowl; the bowl is what makes it fun, but feel free to use any milk you prefer.


Try this strategy game about the Red Cross and Geneva convention:

You will need a checker board, 5 dice, 20 soldiers in 2 colours and 1 soldier in a third color with Red Cross flag.  A toy car with a red cross drawn on it will serve as an ambulance (you’ll have to make the wheee-oo wheee-oo! sound yourself).

To play: Player 1 and player 2 each put their ten soldiers on opposite sides of a checkerboard but only on the white squares.  The aim is to get all your soldiers to the other side first OR to get one soldier there by exact count.  Soldiers can jump.  Roll 5 dice each turn and decide who to move.  If you land on a black square or the same square as opponent you are injured.  You can save the injured only when you roll a 6, at which point the “nurse” comes with the ambulance (wheee-oo wheee-oo!) and the “soldiers” can keep playing form where they were.


“Heidi”: book vs movie.  It is interesting that in the book, Clara, the “invalid” (as they called the disabled in those days) gained the strength she needed to walk from being in the mountains, whereas in the movie, it was only thanks to Heidi’s help.  Also, in the movie, the adults discovered the aptly named Fraulein Rottenmeier was the evil woman who hurt the children, whereas in the book, no adult ever seemed to realize what she was doing.

Telling time is still a challenge, perhaps because, unlike most people, Child’s life is rarely ruled by the clock.  She enjoyed practicing counting by 5s and she knows how to say things like «it’s four twenty», but it’s difficult to know if she understands that it’s about two hours before dinner. 

The mountain game seems simple enough, but it involves comparing large numbers so the child must remember how to read starting from the largest number on the left.

Muesli-making was a short, but creative experience.  I put out a baking tray and a number of small bowls of things to mix in.  She suggested oats, raisins, shaved chocolate, shaved coconut, chopped apples, dried cranberries and a few other things. We filled each bowl with the item, then put everything onto the baking tray, swirled it all around (carefully) with our hands and baked it.  We measured 10 minutes by the clock for more time telling practice. The final game was the first time I had designed my own strategy game for her.  It was meant to help her think about even and odd numbers.  Her favorite part of course was making the «wheee-oo wheee-oo!» sounds every time the «ambulance» came to help the wounded soldiers.  She concentrated very hard and seemed to enjoy it