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These pages report-they do not endorse or recommend-trends and fads.

Get On the Ball
Ergonomics isn't only a term you hear in the work world. Helping kids sit, play, and move in a healthier manner is a growing concern and a growing industry. WittFitt, a Wisconsin-based company, outfits classrooms with stability balls (rather than chairs) for kids to sit on, improving posture and strengthening muscles. Other attempts to help kids improve their body mass index, posture, and overall health include classrooms where kids walk on a treadmill or simply stand rather than sit in chairs.

Paint a Personality
One of the cooler things we've seen recently is Koko's Paint by Number Kit ( Capitalizing on today's relationship-focused families, this easy and inexpensive tool lets people send or email a family snapshot and then receive a color-coded canvas and customized paints. Families can't get enough of this unique innovation (and it's food for thought on ways to personalize your ministry or honor a volunteer).

All the Best Schools-For a Fee
Parents dissatisfied with the state of public schools are increasingly looking at private schools, but many don't know where to start when choosing one.

Enter the educational consultant, a new breed of "school scientist" who can help kids and parents choose a private school that's a good fit, and then counsel them through the admissions process, interviews, and insider knowledge necessary to get them a closer look from administrators. For their trouble, educational consultants can earn $2,500 per child.

"I see everyone from the rich and famous to those who are middle-income who say, 'My kids are the most important thing, so I'm going to spend the money,' " says educational consultant Adam Goldberg in U.S. News & World Report.

After the Recalls
The fallout from massive toy recalls in 2007 (25 million toys were recalled) is still making waves. Consider some of the interesting results we're hearing about.

• Christmas Curtailed-
A spate of cautionary articles and guides followed the recalls, warning parents shopping for 2007 Christmas to "know their poisons" and "avoid anything that seems dangerous-because it probably is."

• Parents Perturbed- reported the trend of parents hosting "China-Free" birthday parties where invitations disinvited China-made gifts. China supplies 80 percent of the globe's toys, and products made elsewhere became instant bestsellers. Parents especially shelled out bucks for toys with "China-Free" stickers.

• Corporations Crunched-
Toy companies worldwide feel intensified pressure to transparently ensure how they're managing safety concerns-from design to delivery.
Toy designer Gary Weber told Fast Company magazine, "With safety now so much in the forefront...often the real challenge is, How do I make this toy so it's still fun?"

Return to Simpler Times
Many were surprised by the runaway success of the best-selling-but-outmoded book, The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden. The book is an old-fashioned collection of classic activities and advice for boys that extols the virtues of the Swiss Army knife and chivalry. The book, which offers dated nuggets of advice such as how to impress a girl (try lifting something heavy), has spent the better part of a year on the best-seller list.

On the heels of the Boys' success came the equally old-fashioned The Daring Book for Girls-a likeminded, prim guide for girls by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. Girls debuted at #4 on the best-seller list-three notches above Boys.

Fast Facts
3 Hours per week 6-year-olds spend playing video and PC games. (BusinessWeek magazine)
52 Percent of Americans who have a close relative who abuses alcohol. (Seventeen magazine)
31 Number of abortions for every 100 live births globally in 2003, the most recent available statistics by year. (
4 out of 5 Number of adults who say they'd rather eat out than spend free time cooking and cleaning up. (Entrepreneur magazine)
22 times Increased likelihood of children living in families with annual income of $15,000 or less to be abused than those living in families with annual incomes of $30,000 or more. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
8,000 to 10,000 Number of people, many of whom are children, treated each year in the U.S. for injuries from falling furniture such as dressers and TVs. (CBS News)
74 Number of Ohio first-graders who were suspended in 2006 for "unwelcome sexual conduct"-up from 52 in 2005. (Newsweek magazine)
25 Percent of all school kids without supervised activity between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on school days. (Time magazine)
74 pounds Average weight of kids age 6 to 11 in 2002-up from 65 pounds in 1963. (USA Today)

"There is a serious new divide between single, less educated parents and married, richer ones...Marriage, or the lack of it, is the best single predictor of poverty, greater even than race or unemployment."
-Mortimer B. Zuckerman in U.S. News & World Report

"You can't lowball euphoria, as shared by thousands of shrieking preadolescents and at least a smattering of their chaperones. It's an ear-piercing roar familiar to anyone who remembers boy bands, Beatlemania, or bobby-soxers-only the critical difference here is that the din is for a fellow girl, one still part of her 6-to-14 target demo."
-Chris Willman in Entertainment Weekly, reviewing a Miley Cyrus concert

On these pages, you'll find music, movies, and news clips you can use to help older kids think through current events from a Christian perspective.

Natasha Bedingfield

The Scoop: This English singer and songwriter began her career with the Christian group The DNA Algorithm and has written and recorded numerous songs for Hillsong London Church and Hillsong Music Australia. Her latest album, Pocketful of Sunshine, has a variety of music styles and songs about her life. 
Bedingfield is a strong supporter of humanitarian causes, including Global Angels, Stop the Traffik, and Bono's (Red) Campaign.

Our Take:
Bedingfield takes pride in her "Christian girl" image and refuses to be something she's not just to sell records. Her lyrics are positive and clean, appropriate for a young audience.

Family Force 5
The Scoop: This Christian crunk (hip-hop/rap) rock group has a party reputation, playing in venues from churches to Vans Warped Tour. Their music has been praised and disparaged by critics-Christian and non-Christian-for not having obvious Christian content.
"Jesus didn't just preach to the church," says the vocalist. "He talked to everybody. We want to make sure we're saying our stuff to everybody."

Our Take:
The group's lyrics aren't blatantly Christian, but most songs are obviously faith-based. Family Force 5 is a good influence in a musical genre not typically appropriate for young listeners.

The Scoop: Nominated for four Academy Awards, Juno is a PG-13 comedy your preteens will be talking about. This quirky movie details Juno's teen pregnancy and her decision to find a loving home for her child. Lauded by critics for its positive take on Juno's parents, her boyfriend, and her emotional  but intelligent journey through pregnancy and adoption, the buzz around this movie is growing daily.

Our Take:
Juno's huge popularity stems from its unconventional look at teen pregnancy. Juno makes a positive decision, but the film's profanity, suggestive scenes, and mature themes are unsuitable for preteens.

Dungeon Explorer: Warriors of Ancient Arts
The Scoop: Players of this new Nintendo DS game discover the lost fighting arts of Westoria Kingdom, a land of monstrous soldiers ruled by a demon lord. Players battle to restore the kingdom by choosing from hundreds of weapons, armor, and equipment, and they can team with friends via a Wi-Fi connection.

Our Take:
This role-play game engages players in a battle of good and evil, but the war against dark creatures with mystical and supernatural powers underlines the occult themes in the game. This game includes violence, even though rated E-10+.

One Piece: Unlimited Adventure
The Scoop:
This game is based on the manga and anime series that follows the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates called One Piece. Players watch a long introduction about how the Straw Hat Pirates were stranded on an uncharted island. From there, players maneuver through various obstacles to rescue crew members and battle different attacks as they try to survive.

Our Take:
This adventure game is based more on battle than role-play. While mild in nature, it's rated T for Teen due to references to alcohol and mild language which may not be suitable for younger players.

The Scoop:
Disney Channel's first original movie for 2008 follows three uncool high school students who've had their share of embarrassing situations. So they invent a time machine to help other kids avoid embarrassment by going back in time to step in. However, they soon learn that everything they do in the past has present-time consequences.

Our Take:
One of today's most notable preteen stars, Jason Dolley (That's So Raven and Cory in the House), carries this movie. Fans of Disney's Original Movies won't be disappointed, and adults can use it to open discussions about behavioral consequences.

Reel Time: Hairspray
Film Cues
Start Time: 1:05:30
Start Cue: Tracy walks into the Gag Shop
End Time: 1:07:50
End Cue: Tracy shakes a key
Theme: Prejudice
You'll need treats and a Bible.

Form two groups: Kids wearing tennis shoes and kids wearing other shoes. Do several things that show favor to one group-for example, give one group treats and make the other sit facing the wall.

Afterward, ask: How did it feel to be in the favored group? How did it feel to be in the other group? Have you ever experienced prejudice? Explain. What types of differences are most prejudices based on?

Say: It's easy to form opinions about people before we know them. Let's watch this clip from Hairspray. When Tracy realizes the TV show she dances on won't allow African-Americans, she has to decide if she'll stand up for what's right or sit back and let injustice happen.

Watch the clip. Say: People discriminated against Tracy because of her weight, so she knew how prejudice felt. She decided to stand up for what's right, even though it could cost her something she valued-her spot on the dance show.

Read aloud James 2:1-10. Ask: What kinds of prejudices do you see in your every-day lives? Why do you think prejudice is so common? How can we show everyone they're valuable and loved by God?

Have the two groups form a circle and close in prayer, asking for God's help to love everyone without prejudice. Then give everyone a treat!

News to Use   Use this news article to lead older kids in the following discussion.

Pregnant Teen Role Model?

Nickelodeon's Zoey 101 star, Jamie Lynn Spears, recently announced she's pregnant at age 16. Jamie Lynn says the pregnancy was a shock, and she says she doesn't advocate premarital sex.

"I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait," Spears says. "But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in."

Now parents are trying to decide how to approach the popular teen star's pregnancy with their preteens.

"It's almost like a betrayal, this is something that won't be looked on lightly by those parents," says Ian Drew, executive editor for Us Weekly magazine.

But others say that despite Spears' lapse in moral judgment, she's still a role model because of her decision to have the baby rather than abort it.

"I'm so proud of her for stepping up and being courageous and taking responsibility for her choices," says Lisa Welchel, former Facts of Life star and author of several Christian books. "And I believe she's being a good role model-a good role model in that situation-to choose to have the baby. And I'm supportive of her in that situation."
• • •

What makes a good role model? Do you think Spears' decision to have premarital sex should be forgiven in the public view? in God's view? Why or why not? Does her decision to keep the baby qualify her as a good role model? Explain. If she'd decided to have an abortion-what kind of role model would she be then? Explain. Do you think Spears' pregnancy is important for kids to discuss with their parents? Why or why not? What kind of role model does God want us to follow?

Related Scriptures: John 8:1-11; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:1-3

These pages report-they do not endorse or recommend-trends and fads.

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