Christmas is here and I am trying to avoid cramming last minute shopping for gifts. I would like the gifts to have long term meaning for me and my family. Aaand since I encourage my family to live a better lifestyle-I am always looking for gifts that will lead us to resiliency . Here are some cool ideas for both parents and kids. Please note I have not tried out all of these, but they are some ideas I am considering for my own family.
For the kids:
- $$ A subscription to kid activities that will entertain and educate them. Some products that come to mind are Kiwicrate.com and Mystembox.com. Both these sites provide you with a kit that teaches you about science and technology.
- $$ Select apps that will educate your kids. We have Toca Builders and Minecraft-both allow my son to create in a 3D world. I plan to supplement this and increase my sons spatial skills
- $$ Ebooks-these are great for bedtime stories and road trips. Be selective and find stories that inspire critical thinking and problem solving.
- $$ Legos are always good as it helps kids imagine and build. However, sometimes their excitement for these have already worn out and you might need to raise the bar to the next one-which just might mean….
- $$ Robot kits-be age appropriate or you will be dealing with a few tantrums. There are options as to how complex the kit is. Some start from the smallest pieces (like Lego EV3 robots) and some have bigger pre-assembled parts. Most kits allow some type of programming, and all kits come with instructions(Hooray!)
- $$ A martial arts class that will focus on character building, respect and discipline. Some parents are wary of martial arts class for kids because of potential damage to their softer bones, but there are options. Most kids are interested in martial arts at an early age-mostly from movies and cartoons. It would be good to channel that interest into something productive. They may make friends and learn respect and discipline.
- $$ BB gun-if you feel comfortable and if your kids are old enough you might consider a bb gun. Use this to teach them about gun safety and respect for the tool. It will encourage being in the outdoors and teach the value and results of practicing. If your kids are younger, consider lower powered bb guns (check the “feet per second” or “fps” on the box) If your kids are younger still, maybe a Nerf gun is appropriate
- $$ Books are also a great option and some focus on topics that promote resilience. You will need to be selective to find the right book. Most sites provide book reviews to help you. Perhaps you can find books that help deal with frustrations, facing challenges or learning new things.
For the lady of the house:
- $$ Martial arts classes – We have been planning on my wife getting martial arts classes, this way she can start it in January after the holidays (this works for the man of the house too. I am mainly listing it here because I’ve had some already and my wife is next in line to get some training.) She was always hesitant to this until we went to an all woman’s starter self defense class. The sensei was very informative and gave actionable ideas which got her interested.
- $$$ If we had the money we would get her CCW permit-then again this is not restricted to Christmas. This for us is really more of a budget issue than it is a timing issue.
- $$$ Bike, running shoes or exercise gadgets (a Fitbit)to get her started on her exercise routine. Sometimes people are looking to start new things and need a push, an excuse or inspiration.
- $$ My wife likes to knit and sew, a gift card to one of her favorite hobby stores is a good idea. It puts her in the creative mood and it always comes back to the home. The idea is to nurture a productive hobby. I find that this is sometimes better (and easier) than getting her an actual item from that store-unless I really know what she is looking for.
- $$ An online class-there are month long classes and there are mini-classes. The price range varies, but there are classes for just about anything. You can find some cool classes on sites like Skillshare, Smallfarmacademy.com or if you have a profession she is already interested in you can check those out also.
- $$ A dutch oven might be a good idea if the lady loves to cook. It lets you experiment with a whole new set of recipes and later on is an alternative way to cook without your oven.
- $$ to $$$ Gardening supplies for spring-never too early to plan for that spring garden. These can be tools, seeds, trees or even a bird bath to encourage habitat.
- $$ An indoor herb planter-it skips the slow stage of starting up an herb garden but lets you jump right in to learning to use and appreciate the herbs you have. Stick to some herbs you know you are likely to use.
For the man of the house(I will try to not go crazy on my wish list):
- $$$ Additional firearms training (this works for the lady of the house too)
- $$ Gardening supplies for spring. In my case, this would be an irrigation system, but this varies. Mom has her list and so do I.
- $$ Credits for audiobooks for learning new things-Audiobooks have been a great source of learning for me. I like books, but due to time restraints I have moved to audiobooks which allow me to listen to them during my daily commute.
- $$ Outdoor cooking gear – a camping stove and propane tank. This doesn’t need to be the latest charbroil high end grill+smoker combo. But if you don’t have an alternative way to cook other than an indoor stove, this might be a great add to your home. It brings everyone out of the house and sparks a time to bond over a meal. (Obviously using this will need to wait til the weather gets warmer) This is also a great backup if your house relies on electricity for cooking. In the event of a blackout, you will be able to save the food in your fridge and still stick to your diet.
- $$ Powertools! I almost forgot but this is always a good option if the husband is inclined to building. Sometimes, the tools are just fun to use that it gives you an excuse to try to build something.
- $$$ A First aid class (basic or advanced). Everyone should know CPR and ways to treat wounds. Usually the schedule for this needs to be worked out, but with some planning it an be done. A budget to build your own kit is also useful.
- $$$ A good self defense knife-having a knife is a given in my opinion. It gives you options in a defensive situation. Hopefully you will never need to use it, but if you ever do it should be reliable.
- $$ A small utility knife-sometimes your self defense knife is just not worth cutting up packaging and gummying it up with tape. A utility knife can be one that fits into your keychain or can be a neck knife.
- $$ Bread maker – if the man likes to cook, perhaps a bread maker is a good option. It reduces the mess and makes baking bread a bit more convenient.
I am giving away free activity sheets for homeschoolers who are interested in teaching their kids about:
These are aimed at kids from 4 to 7 yo. These will be in pdf format for you to print and do the exercise with.
I want to know if there is a desire in the homeschool community to teach on these subjects. If the demand is there, I will gladly provide free materials for 8 weeks (1 per week) to folks who help me validate this business. I do ask for help by giving me some feedback. These are things I really hope to teach to my kids, and perhaps other parents could use some teaching materials on the subject! If there is not a lot of demand/response I will still email you the first set of worksheets for your use. This survey does not capture emails, so I will reach out separately later on for the download link to the worksheets.
Please email me suggestions and questions at resilientdadblog @ gmail dot com.
This last weekend was my son’s first foray into 3D. One of my concerns about the changes in the future is how everything will be available in a 3D digital environment. With the growth of 3D printers and virtual reality, I feel it is not too early for my son to try out some 3D software and kind of get his mind to understand how the process works. As with most things software related, one of the key things is to understand how the software communicates and if I can get him to understand some of that, it should make things tons easier.
We started with a fairly easy program called Sketchup. It allows you to draw basic shapes then “pull” them into a 3D figure by giving the 2D shape a height. The software was created by Google maybe 6 years ago and has since been bought by Trimble. It is available for free (there is also an upgraded version for a small price). You can find it here.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what to do to get started:
- Download it and install it
- Start the software by clicking on Sketchup 2016 (it has this icon)
- Select a template-maybe pick english units so your stuff is in feet & inches
- When you get to the workspace/screen to draw on, press “R” for rectangle.
- Draw rectangle
- Press “P” for pull. Hover on the rectangle (it should be gray/dark blue) Then click on the rectangle and drag your mouse to a height you want.
- Play with this command for a bit. draw rectangles on that block you just did, and repeat the pull command (“P”)
A little background about my son. He likes Legos, building blocks, puzzles. He likes putting things together. He’s kind of grown tired of his Legos too so we need to switch him onto some new constructive and educational toy. He has an app called Toca Builders on the Ipad. This app is pretty fun, you control a bunch of goofy robots, each having their own capabilities, and you can build your mini city. My point is that my son is interested in assembling things, either in his imagination or tactile.
So back to Sketchup. Before I showed it to him, I spent a few minutes to draw something that resembled a building. Something easy and blocky and put in some things to manipulate easily so he can play with it.
I then asked him to check out what I did. I did not show him any commands other than the “pull” command which lets you stretch things out from a surface. I had a box drawn on a wall, and using the pull command we pushed it back so it became a recess on the wall and became a window. We messed around a bit. We pulled a similar box from the wall and created a volume that seemed like a bridge. It did not have to be a bridge, he was using his imagination. All I did was give him a scale of what structure I drew.
With the orbit command-or by holding down the mouse wheel, I spun the model about so he can see the other sides of the building. It helped him understand that this was an environment he can manipulate.
Seeing that you can do something cool gets kids really interested. The imagination jumps immediately to what the possibilities are. Obviously I need to keep them balanced and make sure they are not frustrated when he learns he cannot make that super cool metropolis model this morning.
So I put a mouse on (gave him some basic instructions on left click, scrolling and pushing down the wheel) and showed him some hot keys. Also showed him the tools so he can relate the icons to the functions. I then guided him to do some basic things:
- Press “R”
- Draw a rectangle
- Keep drawing on the surface plane (the ground, it is colored gray on the screen)
- I pointed out how the cursor shows you 3 lines that correspond to the 3D environment on the software. These are red, green and blue. Blue means you are giving an object dimension/height
- Press “P” and hover on the rectangle-it will highlight, meaning it is ready to be manipulated
- Drag the highlighted rectangle upwards to give it height
From there we just kept repeating the process. We did a bunch more boxes and buildings. We can tweak them later, right now it is more of a muscle memory on the mouse and making the tools/hot keys familiar. There was no pressure to get it right, the goal was just to experiment. Obviously do this when you have time to slow down and not be hurried to get results. This is a creative process and will need experimentation.
Here is a quick video about some basic tools