Christmas Activities to do in Massachusetts

With Christmas fast approaching, the window of opportunity to do holiday-related activities narrow with each passing day. If given the chance to explore Massachusetts, would you be willing to drive to different locations throughout the state to celebrate each area’s festivities? If so, you’ve got many options awaiting you this holiday season. Here are five Christmas activities to do in Massachusetts:

  1. Attend the Festival of the Trees and Snow Village. Located in Wellesley, this annual event is well worth the drive it takes to get there to attend it. Visitors vote on trees with raffle tickets to bring one of the beautifully decorated objects home with them. There are horse-drawn carriages and opportunities to visit with Santa, too.
  2. Go to the Blink! Light and Sound Show in Boston. With over 350,000 lights and musical entertainment nightly for five weeks, this Christmas celebration held in Faneuil Hall Marketplace is worth checking out. Free to enjoy and offering new performance every half hour starting at 4:30 PM, it’s on experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
  3. Celebrate the holidays at Eustis Estate in Milton. If you want to know what it was like to live during the Victorian era, you can take a trip back in time with this incredible Christmas display. Located in the historic Eustis Estate, the location offers new activities for visitors to enjoy each day of the month of December.
  4. See Stockbridge’s Main Street painted in real life. Fans of Norman Rockwell don’t want to miss the opportunity to see the city’s historic downtown area being painted in real time the way the artist would depict it himself. Located in Stockbridge, this opportunity comes with many other activities that are held in the city throughout the month.
  5. Attend a Glassblowers’ Christmas at Sandwich Glass Museum. See all the beautiful glass ornaments that were created for the event. Local and national artists are represented at the exhibit. The event is not free but is well worth the cost of admission.

Spend the holidays doing the things you love to do most with the people you love most in an area of the country that makes you feel good. Massachusetts is full of wonderful winter activities to do with family and friends. Explore your options by identifying the types of Christmas activities you want to take part of in the state. You’ll be thrilled about the experiences you had and the memories you created by doing so.


Cereal Packaging and Racial Sensitivity

Earlier this week, Kellogg’s was called out publicly and loudly for an illustration on the back of a box of Corn Pops, a popular children’s cereal. Saladin Ahmed, a decorated writer and illustrator for Marvel, tweeted a picture of the offending illustration, which depicts a busy mall scene crowded with anthropomorphized corn puffs carrying on activities in the mall. Ahmed notes in his tweet that all the corn puffs are the standard yellow color of the cereal itself, except for one significantly browner corn puff…who was working as a janitor.

Ahmed tweeted his picture at Kellogg’s and asked them, “why is literally the only brown corn pop on the whole cereal box the janitor? this is teaching kids racism.” Imaginably, a lot of discourse ensued about depictions of people of color in media, oversensitivity, and what should be done (or not be done) in response.

Kellogg’s quickly responded to Ahmed apologizing for the oversight and noting that it was immediately ceasing production of the illustration. In all likelihood, Kellogg’s didn’t intend to cause such a stir regarding what it perceived to be an silly and benign depiction of a mall populated with personified cereal bits. Regardless of the reason, the company failed to consider the impact and repercussions of its creative decisions.  

Nowadays, anyone can land in the hot seat over an intentionally hurtful stance or an oblivious remark that could be taken derogatorily by a member of a protected or minority group. Especially in industries that market items towards children, minor missteps can have major reverberations in the psychological development of minors and youths, who are still learning about social cues and their place in the world.

Snack foods have already been through the wringer and still continue to face regular criticism for its marketing of barely-healthful foods to children or deceptive marketing about how healthful a food really is. Creative designers and food scientists have collaborated throughout the years to rework problematic branding or realign their ingredients to better serve the needs of growing toddlers and elementary school kids.

Still, the biggest and best answer for the snack food packaging and marketing world is to employ a diverse group of editors and staff members to catch oversights before they go public. Naturally, the life experiences of every member of your staff will differ depending on their upbringing and other immutable factors that comprise their personality. As such, it’s important to tap into all available resources to ensure that your product design takes into account experiences that you may not have been through.

Kellogg’s handled this potential catastrophe with class, dignity, and goodwill, and others who find themselves in similar situations should follow suite.

Study Habits for a New School Year

The honeymoon phase of going back to school is over. All the fun of having a new class schedule, fresh supplies, and clothing for the fall is wearing thin, and instead, the regular grueling hours of listening to lectures followed by hours and hours of homework, study guides, and projects. Students often exhibit myopia and find themselves studying for tests, quizzes, and grades; however, the adults in their lives know that the purpose of learning is for life-long benefit, not a mark on a paper. If you want to encourage your child to learn and absorb, not to memorize and forget, here are some quality study habits you can instill.

2 David Ariagno Study Habits

Noise or no noise? Every single child has a different “ideal” study space. For some, it’s a completely silent room with little to no decor so that they can zero-in all their attention to the task at hand. Other students like music and colors to keep them energized throughout the stretch of studying. There’s no wrong way to study, but each student needs to figure out (perhaps by trial and error) their ideal noise level and tolerance of distractions.

Audio, Visual, or Tactile Learner? In addition to finding out the level of activity that will distract them, students also need to determine the best way for them to take information in so that it sticks and is easily accessible in their memories both for an examination and for general reference throughout their lives. Some students need visuals, including diagrams and physical models. Others need to hear information over and over, as in an audiobook, podcast, or YouTube tutorial. Still another group needs to touch and interact with what they’re learning, either by rewriting notes multiple times over or by otherwise providing themselves with sensory ways to remember the material.

Organize organize organize: Again, there’s no “right” way to organize, but a disorganized student is one who will constantly lose important papers, forget deadlines, and thus have less cognitive capacity for learning. Help your student to keep assignments, notes, and old graded tests in some semblance of an order. It may not make sense to you, but you student needs to have an order and a pattern to making everything fit.

Work till you’re Stuck: It’s easy as a parent or tutor to come rushing to the aid of a child who cries, “I can’t figure it out!” Rather than jump to the rescue, though, encourage your student to try something — anything — and to work until they can’t anymore. Sometimes, an issue will unravel quickly and fall into the student’s lap if they only get started. Other times, they’ll try something and run into a dead end. Trial and error is a crucial step in the process of deeper learning and will make the concepts stick longer in your student’s memory.

Back to School Essentials for 2017

It’s August, meaning that the start of school is just around the corner. Mailboxes are overstuffed with waxy promotional mailers advertising deals on staplers and chapsticks, and kids are scrambling to get in all the playing and relaxing they’ve neglected to schedule. For this year’s back to school shopping trips, you’ll want to keep an eye out for more than just crayons and glue. Today’s students have some additional needs that you need to shop around.

A Smaller Backpack | Study after study has demonstrated that students do irreparable damage to their shoulders, necks, and backs when they carry too many books at once. To reduce the stress on young joints and muscles, buy your child or teen a smaller backpack. That way, they’ll be forced to reduce the sheer number of pounds on their backs. They may find the practice of picking and choosing books tedious and annoying, but their future selves will thank you.

Trendy Lunch Box | Although they’ve long since gone out of style, teens are more likely to eat a full, healthful lunch if they have a say in what goes into it. Whether they’re picky or weight-conscious, your teen needs to be properly fueled to be focused and successful throughout the school day. You can find some really nifty lunch boxes online that take advantage of scientific advances and modern design to make carrying a lunchbox a fashion statement.

Chargers Galore | It’s a digital world out there, from all the devices to all those devices’ accompanying devices, like Bluetooth headphones and wireless mice. You wouldn’t want your child or teen stranded without a functioning phone, tablet, or laptop, or dead accouterments. Pick up a few extra cables while you’re out shopping, as well as an additional wall brick or two.
Planners | Today’s school children are wildly over scheduled as it is, but you can help them get into the habit of planning for what’s ahead, from tests to sports practice to time with friends. Sometimes, a good old fashioned paper planner is just what the doctor ordered. But, if you have a particularly tech-savvy child, you could opt for a more connected option. Slice planners, for example, connect your paper planner with your smartphone or connected device to seamlessly integrate the digital and physical experiences of keeping track of a schedule.David Ariagno Back to School

Great History Podcasts for your Summer Road Trips

If you and your family plan on driving to visit a vacation destination or relatives while your children are out of school, you don’t want drive time to be wasted to mindless ipad scrolling or unbearable bickering. Instead, get your kids interested in an audio drama brought to you by way of a podcast, free on itunes or other apps. Your children will finish the drive informed, entertained, and most of all, not fighting with each other. Here are some of the best history podcasts for your summer driving pleasure.

Presidents are People, Too: Alexis Coe and her co host Elliott Kalan review the presidents of the United States of America in ways you’ve never seen before: as actual regular people. The two historical comedians delve into the lives of who the presidents were when they weren’t on the clock — if you were William Howard Taft, you were in the tub, or if you were Jimmy Carter, you were on the family peanut farm. Between the expertise of the history professors they interview and the hilarious commentary from the hosts, it’s definitely a hit for the whole family.

Revisionist History: Straight from the desk of acclaimed writer and researcher Malcolm Gladwell comes his long-anticipated podcast, Revisionist History. Gladwell has made a career on weaving together stories and research that the average person may not put together. Who would have thought that going to a better college would decrease someone’s chances of finishing with a STEM degree? Gladwell rekindles the old magic to bring a brand new season of his brilliant and fascinating research to eager listeners worldwide.

Presidential: Even though the United States has been a country for nearly 300 years at this point, there are some job responsibilities for the president that haven’t changed since day one. The Washington Post runs through each person who has served as president and traces their run for office from the day they announced they were running to the day the were sworn in. Well researched and always informative, this podcast is perfect for learning about the long and winding road to the presidency.
More Perfect: The creators of the Golden podcast Radiolab present their first spin off series More Perfect, which details the twisted sticky history of the US Supreme Court from its inception to how early rulings impacted today’s most controversial rulings. The role of the court, it’s own frailties, and the loopholes in the justice system tend to be glossed over at best in civics classes, so these exciting and suspenseful episodes will reopen history to you and your family.

Summertime Studying

If you have high school aged children, you know how valuable the summer is to getting ahead on SAT preparation, college essays, and staying on top of school work. You don’t want to lose these valuable months before all the burdens of high school, extracurriculars, and life in general return. After you’ve bought all the prep books and done the research, you now have to make sure your child puts the pedal to the metal. Here’s some tips:

Set aside regularly scheduled study time. Your child and all your child’s friends are out of school, and plans pop up and fall apart very quickly. Make sure your child has on the calendar regularly scheduled blocks of time when the phone is off and the focus is a textbook or admissions essay. Some people are known to set reminders on their phones and settle into a coffee shop or library to help direct their focus on their work and not the plans they may be missing or updating their snap story. Humans are creatures of habit, so help your child make a habit out of study time.

Read and read and read some more. Nothing helps expand a vocabulary, sharpen critical thinking, and improve writing like reading. Help your child find books, newspapers, or magazines that appeal to personal interests and make them readily available during downtime at home and car rides. Some even choose to keep a stack of books or magazines in the restroom so as not to waste a single moment! If your child is more auditory, you can also encourage listening to books on CDs or podcasts.

Provide Incentives. The part of the brain that handles forethought and consequence doesn’t fully develop until age 26, so telling students to study for the sake of their future selves may be a tough sell. However, as the old adage of economics reminds us, people respond to incentives. Trips to Dairy Queen, relief from chores, and sometimes even small amounts of cash may give your child that extra incentive to stick to studying for the allotted time.

Teach Kids Entrepreneurship Tip Four: Encourage Creativity

Your child will likely want to try something out of the box here or there. Maybe they want to take up a new sport, petition for a rule change, wear something out of the ordinary, or otherwise try to “disrupt” the market. You as the parent have to encourage thinking outside the box and let your child know that it’s okay if they gave something their best shot and it still fails. You can try to steer the child into revisiting their aforementioned goals and strategic plan, but in the end, give them the freedom and support to try something new and different.

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Teach Kids Entrepreneurship Tip Three: Personal Branding

It’s becoming more and more important for people entering the workforce to be able to sell themselves and their ideas to potential employers or investors. As your kids have to start applying to summer camps, honors programs, or even college, guide them through thought experiments that will help articulate what sets them apart from their peers, from their quantifiable skills to their hobbies to their personality traits to their life experiences. As they write their “elevator pitch,” they’ll get a handle on how to market themselves, “sell” an idea, and get people interested in what they have to say.

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Teach Kids Entrepreneurship Tip Two: Basic Financial Literacy

There’s been a huge outcry from young adults about how they are clueless to savings, budgeting, and other tasks related to personal finances, and these issues could easily translate into business problems if these people wind up owning a company someday. If you want to prepare your child for life after mom and dad don’t control the purse strings anymore, make sure your child understands the basics of the economy, different forms of savings, and the importance of living within one’s means.

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Teach Kids Entrepreneurship Tip One: Set Goals

The very first step of any plan is to set a goal and define what “success” will look like. In the adult business world, we call this “strategic planning,” and this process takes anywhere from weeks to months. You can help your children start to think about planning while they’re still young. Consider, for example, studying for finals. You can ask your child what the goal is (passing, I would assume) and how they can track their progress to make sure they’re on the trajectory to meeting that goal. For many young business, the inability to see a plan to get from here to there or the myopia that prevents them from seeing that they’ve fallen off the path has lead to countless failures. If you can help your child become comfortable with the idea of setting a goal, planning to reach that goal, and staying on task, your child will be light years ahead of their peers. david ariagno entrepreneurship one