Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Recycled Robots

Grade Levels: PreK through 1st Grade

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary) 

Description: You will be designing and making your own robot out of recycled materials (soda cans, food cans, water bottles, boxes, etc.). The purpose of this activity is to show children what can be recycled, how recycled materials can be used in a new way, and create an interest in recycling.  

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Assorted recycled materials (soda cans, food cans, water bottles, boxes, bottle caps, etc.) 
  • Glue (glue sticks or school glue) 
  • Tape (duct tape, masking tape, and/or scotch tape)
  • Scissors  
  • Googly eyes (optional)

“Recycle Bottles and Cans AD (HDR)” by kingdesmond1337 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What should I do? 

  1. Ask the child what he/she knows about recycling. Ask questions such as: 1) What does  recycling mean to you?, 2) Where have you seen recycling happening?, 3) What kinds of things get recycled?, and 4) How does recycling help our community?   
  2. Give the child some recycled materials. Collect some recyclable items and share them with the child. It would be helpful to have at least one box and four cans. A wide assortment is best to promote creativity on this project.
  3. Discuss what kinds of items get recycled. Review what goes into a recycling bin in your community. Ask the child about this phrase: “reduce, reuse, recycle.” 
  4. Talk about robots. Explain that robots are machines that people design to do certain jobs or tasks. They are controlled by computers. Discuss robots that the child may have seen on television or in books. 
  5. Design a recycled robot. Ask the child to design and build a robot using recycled materials. Explain that this will just be an image of a robot. It will not be connected to a computer and programmed like a real robot. 
  6. Ask questions. Ask questions about the child’s robot. For example: 1) What’s the robot’s name?, 2) What would you like your robot to be able to do?, and 3) How can you change your robot to make it even better? 
  7. Share the robot. Encourage the child to share the robot with other family members or friends. 
  8. Encourage recycling. Show the child more examples of what can be recycled. Consider going around the house to collect more recyclables. Compliment the child’s creative work and remind him/her that recycling can help protect our community by reducing pollution and helping to save energy. 

Tags: 

Art

Creative Thinking

Inventive Thinking

Engineering

Parent-Led Activity

Developer:

Jessica Jones

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 03/16/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Celebrating International Women’s Month with Children

International Women’s Day (March 8) “is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.” Thus, it’s not surprising that we not only have an International Women’s Day, but March is also International Women’s Month as one day is just not enough to celebrate all the accomplishments of women.  This celebratory day and month give us the opportunity to remind our children  — regardless of their gender — that women are important and that women deserve to be recognized. Moreover, women deserve equal rights and equal pay for equal work. 

There are many ways that you can celebrate International Women’s Month with your children. Author and activist, Charise Rohm Nulsen, share The Ultimate List of International Women’s Day Activities to Do With Kids. She includes “everything from themed food to activities, books, TV shows, movies, and online resources.” 

Another way to celebrate with our children is to consider and discuss all the ways that women have contributed to our society and our world. One good resource is the PBS Website titled Iconic Women To Celebrate Women’s History Month.

Additional resources can be found on the International Women’s Day Website. As this website asserts, we are all invited to challenge ourselves to forge a gender-equal world, to celebrate the achievements of women, to raise awareness against bias, and to take action for equality.

Tags: 

Current Events

Social Studies

Ages:

3-5 years, Preschool

5-6 years, Kindergarten

6-8 years, Primary 

9-11 years, Elementary

11-14 years, Middle Schools

14-18 years, High School

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA
Credit:
ConnectionSpot.org on 03/24/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Teaching Your Child About Black History

For too long, Black History has been ignored and erased. While studying this important topic shouldn’t be contained to just one month, it does provide us with the opportunity to teach ourselves and our children about the many accomplishments and contributions that African Americans have made. Below are some valuable resources to assist you.  There are too many to review in just one day so we recommend exploring them throughout this month and beyond. 

To learn more about how Carter G. Woodson, also known as the “Father of Black History,” and the founder of  Black History Week (which later was expanded to Black History Month), see This Is How February Became Black History Month.

While Carter Woodson is one important figure, there are many more to explore.  PBS for Kids assures us that it’s never too early to begin Celebrating Black Leaders especially with young children.  Videos about Black leaders can be a great way to introduce these historical figures.  Nefertiti Autsin of PBS also gives suggestions for Teaching Children About Black History by providing a list of books celebrating Black culture and offering suggestions for exploring Black history through art

Black Artist: Jacob Lawrence 

Sangine Corrielus, for Parade Magazine, describes How To Talk To Your Kids About Black History Month—And 25 Ways To Honor It. Specifically, she shares several resources such as a list of activities that you can do with your kids including: 1) visiting a museum (For Virtual Options See: Can’t Travel? These Places Are Bringing Black History to You), 2) writing letters to a favorite historical person (See: Famous African Americans and Important Black Women in American History), or 3) creating an “I have a dream” mobile that depicts what the world would be like without racism, to name a few.  She also shares a great website for the Conscious Kid, an organization that aims to promote healthy racial identity development for children and youth.

Amanda Williams suggests that you Celebrate Black History Month by Educating Your Kids & Yourself. Williams provides several steps to accomplish this by: 1) explaining why Black History is important, 2) reading up on diversity, 3) watching history together, 4) inviting kids to listen to inspiring Black musical artists, 5) teaching kids about Black icons, and 6) exploring additional sites such as: 

The National Museum of African American History & Culture

National Archives

The 1619 Project

African American Museum in Philadelphia

Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum

11 surprising Black History Facts to Teach your Kids

Elizabeth Cecil @ Pixabay

Whether you are celebrating your own heritage or not, it is important for you and your family to have a better understanding of our shared history. In summary, African American history is American history. To learn more, you don’t have to do it all, just start small, and pick an activity or idea that you and your child will enjoy most. 

Tags: 

  • Current events
  • Difficult conversations
  • Race
  • Racism
  • Social studies

Grade Levels: Pre-K through High School

Age Levels: Choose from this list. Delete those that do NOT apply. 

  • Pre-K 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 02/17/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Family Resources

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Recognizing a Leader 

MLK’s day of recognition was this week. It was made a holiday in 1983 under President Reagan to recognize his leadership during the civil rights movement and honor his life since his assassination in 1968. It is important for children to learn about MLK and his life. This video, titled: The Man Who Changed America  by Scholastic News, described him, his life, and his work (Note: This film is particularly aimed at Grades 3-5).

Martin Luther King , Jr. was a Baptist Minister and social justice advocate. Yet, according to Millner writing for Scholastic News, Kids are Missing a Crucial Piece of History related to MLK. It is important as PBS author, Lindsey Pruett-Hornbaker, shares that we focus on Honoring the True Meaning of Martin Luther King Day.

How to Discuss Hopes and Dreams

His famous words “I have a dream” are reiterated in many schools at this time of year. However, do we talk about them at home? How can we address this pertinent subject with our children? What can we do to recognize the surmountable importance of these words and help the words resonate with them? 

This recognition matters more today than ever before, as we see the ongoing struggle for racial equality.  Murphy  outlines several things you can do with children to celebrate this great man in her blog titled: How to Explain Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to Kids Including:

  1. Read a Book (See: PBS for Parents: Books for Martin Luther King Day )
  2. Watch a Film (e.g.,  MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech)
  3. Discuss Hopes and Dreams (See below)
  4. Volunteer (See: Americorps MLK Day )
  5. Do an Art Project (See: Creative Child: Ten Martin Luther King Day Crafts and Fifteen MLK Art Projects Kids Can Do)
  6. Attend an Event in Person or Virtually (See:  The King Center: King Holiday)

As you consider all the ideas discussed here, we hope you can take some time this week to reflect on your own hopes and dreams for a brighter future. 

Grade Levels: K-12 

Age Levels: 

  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Tags: 

  • Art, Current Events, Difficult Conversations, Problem-Solving, Race, Racism, Writing

Developer:

Lauren McNeely and Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 01/18/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Talking with kids about violence in the Capitol

The attack on Washington, DC has challenged families once again to consider how to discuss a difficult topic with their children. There are many resources and articles out there that can help. 

Key Takeaways from the National Education Association’s article titled Talking to Kids About the Attack on the Capitol include: 

  1. Violence at the U.S. Capitol is an attack on our country and on our democratic institutions.
  2. Most children are aware of more than we realize. 
  3. Continuing that discussion is critically important in this moment.

Caroline Norr, Editor for Common Sense Media, outlines Explaining the News to Our Kids and recommends that you consider the child’s age as a key to how to discuss current events with your child. She also suggests:

  • assure kids that they are safe
  • limit news intake
  • remember your own actions and responses
  • consider taking some positive action to help (if possible)
  • talk, talk, talk with your kids about the situation
  • check-in with your kids, asking questions and listening
  • let kids express themselves

Dr. Neha Chaudhary, double board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, provides Ten Tips for Talking with Kids About the Attack on the U.S. Capitol, including: 1) give your child space to talk, 2) limit media exposure based on the age of your child,3) reassure them they are safe, 4) be transparent and honest, 5) talk about bad actions not bad people, 6) highlight the helpers, 7) name your feelings, 8) keep you own feelings in check, 9) teach healthy coping skills, and 10) use this as a springboard for other tough conversations. 

Dr. Karen Aronian, former New York City teacher, discusses several useful ideas and shares helpful resources in her video titled: How to Talk with Kids About the Assault on the Capitol. Citing reputable sources, some of her suggestions include:

  1. Partner with the schools and teachers.
  2. Help children name their feelings.
  3. Discuss what civil discourse means and model it.
  4. Model what we are going to do to bring it forward.
  5. Be careful with language and actions in the home.
  6. Drawings are a great way for children to process what they are going through.
  7. Don’t make assumptions about what kids know. Ask them broad questions to help you learn what they do know (Child Mind Institute).
  8. Make time to talk, review safety procedures, and maintain a normal routine (National Association for School Psychologists).
  9. Listen and check-in.
  10. Don’t deliver too much information. 
  11. Limit media-don’t have television and radio constantly on play.
  12. Monitor, filter sources and think about what you are sharing with them.
  13. Deliver factual information.
  14. Check-in with kids on a regular basis.

These are but a few of the useful resources out there and one thing we can recommend is to trust yourself and your child to get through this difficult time together. We will work hard to continue to support you and your family, too.

Developer

Beth Powers

Tags

Current Events, Difficult Conversations, Social-Emotional Learning

Ages

Birth – 36 months (Infant-Toddler)

3-5 years (Preschool)

5-6 years (Kindergarten)

6-8 years (Primary)

9-11 years (Elementary)

11-14 years (Middle School)

14-18 years (High School)

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 01/13/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

New Year, New Opportunities

New Years is a time of reflecting on the past year and planning for the new one. Most of us are ready to put last year behind us and have high hopes for the coming year. One way that we can enter the new year in a thoughtful way is to create a resolution or set an intention. 

A resolution is a solid, concrete course of action with a firm, determined outcome. An intention is a course of action that guides your choices and behavior. Deborah Demander Reno states “resolutions are typically rigid and well defined, intentions are flexible and malleable with changing circumstances.” In her blog titled Resolutions and Intentions: Three Simple Steps to Change Your Life, Reno describes simple but profound ways that adults can set their own resolutions and intentions. She also helps us to understand the difference between resolutions and intentions. 

Lexi Walters White describes how to help children set a goal – in other words, a resolution – for the new year. Her post titled How to help your child set a New Years Goal- And Stick with it! describes simple steps to set an effective goal with your child, including 1) making resolutions can help children to positively change their behavior, 2) good resolutions involve making a reasonable and achievable goal, and 3) regular check-ins and progress charts can support kids to stay on track. She suggests an effective resolution using the SMART goal method. 

SSpecific
MMeasurable
AAttainable
RResults-oriented & Relevant
TTime-Bound

For example, a child might say, “I want to be the most popular kid in school.” But a more effective goal would be, “I will make more friends this year twice a month,” or “I will invite a friend over after school.” White also offers suggestions for academic and athletic resolutions. Moreover, she shares that even if your child doesn’t achieve the goal fully, they will be working on self-reflection, self-advocacy, self-awareness, problem-solving, self-control, and self-esteem

Dr. Dustine Rey, an educational psychologist, and parent states: “designing clear intentions for you and as a family can have a powerful impact on motivation, optimism, connection, and self-worth.” Her post titled Designing New Years Intentions with Children includes simple steps to set intentions for a new year as a family. She suggests that you, as a family, first discuss favorite moments as a family such as a dinner time or walking to the school bus. Then you can discuss emotions that are relevant to these moments such as joy or happiness. Next, you set a resolution with your child. For example, we will express what we are grateful for before bedtime, or we will be more kind to each person in our family. Finally, you help your child to draw a picture or create a piece of art that depicts your intentions. Then you can display the artwork in a prominent place in your home to help remind you and your child of your special intention.

Whether you decide to make a resolution or set an intention with your child, both offer great opportunities to start this new year off in a positive way. Happy New Year!

Age(s): 

PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

5-6 yrs (kindergarten)

6 to 8 (Primary)

9 to 11 Years (Elementary)

11 to 14 Years (Middle School)

14-18 years (High School)

Tags: 

Social-Emotional Learning 

Developer:

Beth Powers 

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 01/05/2021

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Be Kind Reconnect

It’s busy times for families. There are parent conferences underway at schools. It’s the hectic election time and we are bombarded with lots of negative messaging through all media channels. We are in the midst of a beautiful autumn season, but not able to fully enjoy harvest get-togethers due to social distancing guidelines. We thought now would be a good time to reconnect you to one of our activity posts called, Be Kind. This simple activity might be an enjoyable way to spend time together with your children and do something nice for a neighbor, friend, teacher, or relative. With the abundance of fresh apples on these crisp days, it’s also a great way share the harvest with those you care about. Be kind, be safe, and be healthy!

Listen to a Story – Solve a Problem

Grade Level: Pre-K to Grade 1

Description: After listening to a story about kindness, children will talk about the story and then solve a hands-on design problem related to it. Children will use simple at-home materials to create their solution to the problem.

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Assorted art and craft supplies (e.g., paper, crayons or markers, glue, tape)
  • Miscellaneous recyclable materials (e.g., colorful shopping bags, cardboard, empty plastic containers, toilet paper tubes)
  • Simple office supplies (e.g., rubber bands, paper clips, stapler)
  • One piece of whole fruit (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or vegetable (i.e., tomato, cucumber, zucchini) or flower “gift” per child [see design challenge in step 3]

What should I do?

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Be Kind, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill. Children will learn how to show kindness to others by seeing the many ways that it is demonstrated in the story.
  2. Talk about the story. Share examples of how kindness can be shown in your family or community. Help the children recognize how they have shown kindness. Can they think of times when someone didn’t show kindness? How did it make them feel?
  3. Present the children with the following problem. Modify it as desired to better connect to your family, friends, or neighbors. Change the gift item to whatever you have available (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or some flowers or a vegetable from your garden. If the child is capable of making a decision, offer several options and let him/her pick. For example, “What do you think Mrs. Diaz might like better — an apple or a banana or a flower?”
Making gifts for others is a way to show kindness. I know a friend who really likes apples. She is sick. How can we hang an apple on her doorknob to let her know we care about her?
  1. Provide the children with assorted materials to design their solutions. They should creatively design a new product, not simply use an existing object as is (e.g., put the apple in a shopping bag or a flower in a vase). Encourage them to modify the materials they have to make a special gift. Having to think about how to hang it on a doorknob offers a unique engineering challenge that requires some additional problem-solving.
  2. Pose questions as the children solve the problem. Help them to think through the problem and come up with their best working solution. For example:
    • How can you attach it to the doorknob?
    • What would make the part stronger?
    • Is it the right size for the fruit, vegetable, or flower being used as a gift? Is it too big or too small? How can you fix that?
    • How will she know who put it there?

Deliver the gift to the friend when finished. Try to hang it on his/her doorknob. If it doesn’t work as intended, ask the child to modify the design or consider an alternative place to put it. Discuss how it felt to show kindness to another person.

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

The Calm Spot

Dad/child photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels “a fort!” by ryochiji is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Summary: All children and adults need a space, a place where they can be quiet and calm. These spaces help children handle their feelings, reduce stress level, problem solve, think, and possibly create. You can create simple “quiet spaces” using items in your home (blankets, pillows, etc.). Yogapeutics provides several ideas for creating such a space. It is important to encourage your children to take the lead and/or participate in helping to create this space because it will not only help them be interested in the space but also have ownership of the process. If you live in a house with a lot of people, meaning that you don’t have a great deal of extra space, then you might use a closet, a quiet corner, or even consider making a fort out of a table or chair. 

Questions: Some questions you might want to ask your child.

  • Are there smells that make you feel good (lotions, aromatherapy, spices, etc.)?
  • Are there things you can touch that calm you down (a soft blanket or pillow)?
  • Are their toys that calm you down (fidget spinner, playdough, etc.)?

Age(s): 3-Adult

Tags: 

Health and Wellness

Social-Emotional Learning

Developer:

Beth Powers

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/5/2020

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Managing Zoom and Computer Burnout

Introduction

Learning and socializing digitally has become our new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this format is convenient and may be our best solution, for now, Zoom and other screen-based formats can cause “burnout.” We all like staying connected but we also need to learn ways to cope with the stress on our eyes, brains, and psyches. The articles listed below describe symptoms of burnout: headaches, temper tantrums, lethargy, and even depression. Simple ways to cope include: 1) taking a break, 2) going for a brief walk, and 3) squeezing a squishy ball. By all accounts, Zoom fatigue is real and it’s important to give yourself and your child/children a break. Remember, self-care is paramount right now, and the pandemic has not only provided a greater need to teach kids about this, but it has created an opportunity to lead by example.

Articles

If you are interested in reading an article about what Zoom Fatigue is and how to cope with it:

Zoom Fatigue is Real and Our Kids are Feeling It

Zoom Fatigue is Real, Here’s How to Deal With It

Kids are so Over Zoom and What to do About It

4 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged on Zoom and How to Avoid Zoom Fatigue

VIDEOS

Tags: 

COVID-19, Technology, Social-emotional Learning, Health & Wellness

Age Levels: 

  • Pre-K 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Developer:

Beth Powers

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 09/30/2020

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Back to School: What Families Need to Know

Checklists and Guides for Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers

Summary: 

As the school year gets underway, debates rage on about the best learning environment during the pandemic (i.e., virtually, in person, or a mix of both). We are all facing uncertainties. While there are no easy answers, the best way we can face this future is by being informed and asking good questions. There are a few resources out there.  First, UNICEF published resources on a site titled: What will a return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic look like?: What parents need to know about school reopening in the age of coronavirus. This site addresses questions and topics including 1) When and how will schools be reopened?; 2) Is it safe for my child to go back to school?; 3) What precautions should the school be taking to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading?; 4) What questions should I be asking my child’s teacher or school administrator?; 5) What should I do if my child has fallen behind?; and 6) What should I do if my child is struggling to get back into “school mode?”.

Likewise, the CDC has compiled a group of checklists and resources, titled Back to School Planning: Checklists to Guide Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers to help you navigate this complex time. This helpful resource addresses multiple scenarios including face-to-face instruction and virtual-online schooling. Special circumstances are also addressed such as supporting children with special needs and dealing with stress and anxiety. Additional resources are included. 

Both Unicef and the CDC are reputable sources that can help put your mind at ease! So, take some time, check them out, and remember that you’re not alone.

Age(s): 

Birth to 36 Months (Infant-Toddler)

PreK 3-5 Years (Preschool)

5 to 6 Years (Kindergarten)

6 to 8 (Primary)

9 to 11 Years (Elementary)

11 to 14 Years (Middle School)

14-18 years (High School)

Tags: 

Back to School

Health and Wellness

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 08/26/2020