story · teaching thoughts

Old Friends, New Friends

As your child prepares for the new school year, it is a time to talk about friendships. Many children need reassurance that they will have friends in school. Often we tell them that they will know the children in their class, but that isn’t always true. There will be times they do not know anyone or only someone they didn’t really see as a friend before.

Prepare your child to meet new friends. We need to remind children that even if they have old friends in the class, it is a time to meet new friends too. Time to expand their friendship circle.

Here is a Kid President talking about making new friends.

Help your child brainstorm ways to interact with new friends. What can they say? What can they share? Listen to these children discuss how to make friends.

Remind your child that they need to branch out and meet children who are different than themselves. Helping your child see that the things that make you different are the things that make you special. Show your child the things that make them unique and different.

family activity · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Who is in your circle?

Today we will listen to the story The Circles All Around Us by Brad Montague. In this story, a young child draws a circle around their shoes, a place for just one. They then realize that there is more to the world than just one. They create a larger circle for their family a caring circle. But, is that enough? No! The child begins to realize that when you let people into your circle you find friends and others who care. You begin to accept not only people who are the same, but also people who are different.

We all need to step back and look at who we let in our circles. Is your circle small or large? Is there enough room for more, or do you need to expand?

As you begin your next journey in school, it is a great opportunity to expand your circle. Let in someone who is different from you, and appreciate the differences. It can be someone who is younger or older. It can be boys and girls. It can be someone who has hair, eyes and skin that looks different than yours. It can be someone who needs extra support to learn and grow. Or someone who just needs another friend.

Who is in your circle? And, how can you help not only expand your circle of caring, but others as well?

Parents… children need this modeled to them. They need to see you being kind to others. They need to see that you accept people who are the same AND those who are different. They hear your words and see your actions. Do you treat the cashier, the wait staff and others with kindness, acceptance and understanding? Do you speak of children of all races, religions, and abilities as people who are capable of loving, growing and learning? Do you appreciate what makes people different? Your child is our future… model for them a way to live in the world with caring and compassion for all…. different is beautiful. Different is special. Different is what makes the world a wonderful place to live!

art · teaching thoughts

What is that??

Often times our children draw pictures that are not recognizable. This is a stage in the development, but adults you have a role to play in this… think about the wording of what you say to your child. Instead of asking what is that? Which implies you can’t tell what they are drawing instead state “Can you tell me about your art work?” This way your child can explain what they made in their own terms.

Often times when children are working on art, they are working through the process of art and not working to create a product. This is totally normal, acceptable and important! Children enjoy the process of art. They enjoy combining colors, working with textures, and the process of putting the materials together. While some children will always create something specific, it is important to understand that it is not always the reason they are creating.

When adults put on the child the need to have something specific they are creating or designing then the child may loose the process in creating an adult determined product. Now do not get me wrong, there are times when you want a child to create a product or specific image and that is ok too. But, when given the freedom to create anything they want, do not assume that it is something specific.

So.. to avoid the ummm what did they make problem… ask them about their process. Can you describe what you are creating? I love that you combined these two colors together, what are you going to try next? I see that you are collaging papers together in your project can I get you any other materials? Can you tell me about your project?

teaching thoughts

First day

It’s time to get ready to go back to school. This is such a fun and exciting time. Everything is new… new clothes, new backpack, new school supplies. Some children get over excited about all this new and change. But, remember that not all children deal with change well. There are some children who will struggle with this change. They need extra reassurance about what is to come.

Families need to support their child through this change. One big way is for the adults to keep their own emotions level. As an early childhood teacher, and mother of 2 boys, I can tell you that children will adjust to going to school. They will be ok after you drop them off. How you as a parent deal with your own emotions of that first day will impact your child.

So, what do we need to do? Talk! Talk about what your child will do the first day. How will they get to school? What will they do next? Help them learn the name of their teacher(s). Practice greetings. Practice asking for help. Practice sitting and waiting. Practice raising their hand. Practice walking in a line.

And as a parent, practice saying good-bye. Practice keeping in the tears. Practice being the cheerleader and saying it is going to be fun and you will be ok. Then be ready to let go. Walk outside, get in your car and then you can have your emotional moment. It’s ok to feel sad, to see your little one growing up before your eyes. To feel nervous for your child. To wonder if they will find a friend. Will the teacher “get” my child? Will they remember to eat lunch and use their manners? This is all part of growing up. It’s part of seeing your child grow into the independent individual that will shape their future. It is one more step… and it is ok.

I promise you… your child will be ok. The teacher will help your child adjust. The teacher will calm the fears and dry the tears. Your child will be ok.

teaching thoughts

Where to start

Is your little one getting ready for preK or kindergarten? Maybe they are heading off to first grade? Oftentimes I get asked, what do I need to do to get my child ready for school. There is so much to that question. Are you asking about academically, socially or just in general? Here are some thoughts for you about getting ready to go to school/back to school.

Starting a few weeks before, switch their bedtime and wake up time to the hours you need for school. It will take some adjusting to get off the summer schedule and if you start ahead of time, you will thank yourself for it the first few weeks of school. Sleep is key to a productive school day and year. Children ages 5-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep. Determine what time your child needs to go to bed based on what time they need to get up in the morning.

Practice self-help skills that your child will need to perform during the school day. This includes buttoning and zipping pants, opening and closing zip lock bags, opening juice boxes etc. Before the weather gets cooler, begin practicing putting on and zipping jackets. Children in kindergarten and first grade should be working on mastering shoe tying as well. The more your child can do independently the more successful he/she will feel during the school day.

Begin working on school related skills: using scissors, squeezing glue bottles to use just a dot (dot, dot not a lot), opening markers/glue sticks/glue bottles and putting papers into folders. Also begin working on using writing tools such as pencils, crayons and markers.

As adults, we often do things for our children because it is faster and we can “do it correctly”. But, when we slow down and give children the gift of time, we allow them to develop independence. When getting ready to leave, take a few extra moments and have your child put on their own shoes, jackets and other items. Encourage your child to help pack their lunch and snacks. Take the time to demonstrate and talk through zippers, shoe tying and other skills. While some children are not ready for these fine motor skills, most can master them with a bit of support and patience!

math · story

Hummingbirds

I have a hummingbird feeder outside my kitchen window. Have you ever seen a hummingbird? They are really small compared to most other birds. Let’s listen to the story Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey by Robert Burleigh.

Check out this live stream of hummingbirds visiting feeders in CA.

Check out All Things Animal TV’s Hummingbird video for more information about hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds are 3-4 inches in length with a wingspan of only 4-4.5 inches in length. Today let’s do some measuring! Can you find items in your house are that are longer, shorter and the same length as a hummingbird? You can use a ruler or a post-it note which is typically about 3″ square.

art · STEAM · story

Corn

Today let’s learn about another tasty summer crop… corn! Do you like to eat corn on the cob? Here is a story about some squirrels who really like corn on the cob, but their friend the rabbit does not. Let’s listen to Bob & Rob & Corn on the Cob by Todd McQueen.

Have you ever seen a corn field? This video show what it looks like to watch the field grow up from planting the seeds to picking the corn off the stalk.

What is your favorite way to eat corn? Corn the cob, popcorn, corn chowder, corn tortilla, corn chips? Ask your family and friends and make a graph to show the results of your poll.

Draw, paint or tear paper to make a corn cob.

Here are a few fun option for painting corn:

  • paint yellow paint onto bubble wrap and then place the bubble wrap onto your sheet of paper. the bubbles will paint the dots onto your paper
  • put yellow paint into a bowl or shallow dish and paint with your finger or with a q-tip
  • use a Lego Duplo block with yellow paint. put the paint on a paper plate and dip the Duplo’s nubs into the paint and use that to paint.

Cut green or brown paper to be the husk. You could even trace your hands and cut them out as the husk.

art · math · STEAM · story

Watermelon Wishes

Today’s story is Watermelon Wishes by Lisa Moser. Charlie and his grandfather plant some watermelon seeds in the spring. Charlie hopes they grow a wishing watermelon. Grandpap wonders what a wishing watermelon is and what wish Charlie will make. Charlie and Grandpap enjoy summer as they watch the watermelon vine grow and grow. Listen and find out if Charlie and his Grandpap find the wishing watermelon and if Charlie’s wish comes true.

What would you wish for if you had a wishing watermelon? Create a watermelon slice out of paper or draw a watermelon with crayons. Maybe you want to make a playdough watermelon or even one out of Lego bricks. Get creative! Don’t forget to put in the black seeds. Those are the seeds you need to plant a watermelon plant.

For my example, I cut a piece of red paper into a quarter-circle, but you could choose to do a whole circle, oval or a semi-circle… depends on what you want your slice to look like!. Then I cut a green sheet of paper slightly bigger to represent the skin, you could add a white layer too for the watermelon rind. I glued the two together at the top so that I could open them up and write in my wish. Then I drew on the seeds. You could cut pieces of black paper to glue on as the seeds.

If you want to add a bit more science… you could label the parts of the watermelon. Draw the life cycle of a watermelon. Or even plant your own!

Want to add some math? Count the seeds in a slice of watermelon. Estimate how many seeds in all the slices you have or in the whole watermelon. Create a watermelon graph: Do you like to eat watermelon? You could create a chart or graph collecting data to find out who in your family and/or friends likes to eat watermelon. Do more people like watermelon or not?

art · story

August 2nd- Crayons

August 2nd is National Coloring Book Day. Today is a great day to learn about crayons. First, let’s listen to the story The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebow, who reads the story on this youtube link. This is the story of Edwin Binney who invented Crayola Crayons.

Ever wonder what you can do with your broken crayons? Here is one option… recycled crayons that are donated to children’s hospitals. Watch here for the video or check out the Crayon Initiative for more information.

Now get out your crayons and have fun! Color in a coloring book. Color on a sheet of paper. Melt your crayons into new crayons. Draw a card. Draw a picture.

Just enjoy the colors of life.