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

National Thoughtfulness Day

Grade Levels: PreK through  Primary  Grades

Age Levels: 

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

National Thoughtfulness Day

August 28th is National Thoughtfulness Day and we thought this would be a perfect day to share with our readers as our kids head back to school.  Teaching kids to be thoughtful towards others is an important social skill, but there are other benefits as well.  For example, when we show thoughtfulness, it boosts our mood (consequently increasing happiness and decreasing depression), it can increase our feelings of self-worth, and it can strengthen our connections with others.  While some of our compassion may be innate, it is important that we model thoughtfulness and give children opportunities to practice thoughtful acts.  Below are some ideas for being thoughtful towards others as well as some books we recommend about thoughtfulness.

Acts of Thoughtfulness:

1.       Write a note to someone letting them know why you appreciate them. 

2.       Draw pictures or cards and drop them off for residents at a local nursing home.

3.       Make Thursdays “Thoughtful Thursdays” to set up a weekly practice of thoughtfulness.

4.       Make small handmade gifts for neighbors and leave them as a surprise at their door (my daughters used to love picking flowers and making a bouquet for our elderly neighbors).

5.       Compliment five people in one day.

6.       Read Megan Sheakoski’s list of 100 Acts of Kindness for Kids on her blog Coffee Cups and Crayons for lots of other great ideas.

Books: 

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

One of my favorite books about being thoughtful towards others is Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson.  I love this book as it shows a child’s missed opportunity to be thoughtful to another student in her class.  The ending really makes us think about how our actions can influence others.  The book is best for children in elementary school.

Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes

Another great book about a thoughtful act of a stranger is Lost and Found Cat, a true story about a family fleeing Iraq with their beloved cat.  This book is also best for children in elementary school.

Here is a Random House Kids interview with the author Amy and her story of finding Kunkush the cat.

Kindness is My Superpower by Alecia Ortego

Kindness is My Superpower is a book about being thoughtful that is geared towards younger children (Preschool-Elementary age).  The book presents kindness examples in a fun rhyming format. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead

Let’s go out and teach our children to change the world!

Tags: 

  • Reading
  • Parent-led activity
  • Difficult conversations (The Lost and Found Cat book is about a refugee family fleeing their country)

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 08/25/2021 

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) Activities Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)

Beach Fun at Home

Some of my favorite summertime memories include spending time with my family at the beach.  However, when it’s not possible to get to the beach, we have some ideas for creating a “Beach Staycation” to bring the beach to you!

Craft: Sand Art

With just paper, a glue bottle, and a little sand, you can make some beautiful sand art.  Start by having your kids draw designs with the glue on a piece of paper. Once the design is done, pour sand over the glue and paper. Make sure the sand covers all the glued areas.  Next, dump the excess sand off the paper (you may want to do this outside or over a plastic container or newspaper to minimize the mess. In addition, if there is a lot of glue, you may want to wait until it has dried a little to avoid the glue dripping). When the excess sand is removed, you have a beautiful sand picture.  See this easy to follow youtube video by Shezcraft for a visual demonstration.  For older kids, you could have them use different colored sand for a more detailed design.

Activity: Sand and Water Sensory Bin

Summertime calls for play with sand and water. Making an ocean themed sensory bin is a great way to bring the ocean to you.  The Fun for Learning website has a gorgeous, easy to make, sand and water sensory box that allows kids to play in both sand and water at the same time.  All you need is a large plastic container, sand, blue dye, a few shells (rocks will also work), and some small ocean themed toys.  Take a look at their website for instructions and pictures of their beautiful end product. When you see the pictures of the possible creations, you will want to join in the play!

Snacks:  Sand Pudding & Ocean Jello Cups

My kids love making sand pudding.  It’s a simple and fun snack that definitely makes you feel like you are at the beach.  All you need is a sand bucket & shovel, vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers, and some ocean themed candy.  The Three Snackateers have a great easy to follow Sand Pudding recipe with some creative ocean themed toppings. My girls have decorated the top with Sweedish Fish, Gummy Sharks, or Teddy Grahams swimming in lifesaver “floaties” or lounging on towels made of fruit roll-up-by-the-yard. 

Ocean Jello Cups are another big hit in our house and are also easy to make with just a few simple ingredients including blue jello, whipped cream, and Swedish fish. The Tip Toe Fairy has a fun “fishing” design that I’m sure kids will love.

If you are doing a staycation at home or just looking for some summer fun, we hope you enjoy these ideas!

Grade Levels: Preschool-Elementary School 

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

  • Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)
  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)

Tags: 

Art, Culinary, Food, Parent-Led, Sensory Learning

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 08/04/2021

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

Eric Carle & The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle, the famous author and illustrator of children’s books, passed away May 23rd, 2021, at the age of 91 thus we wanted to honor his contributions by providing a little history about Mr. Carle and some activities related to his most popular book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.   

Eric Carle was known for his simple yet engaging writing style and his colorful illustrations. His unique collage-style artwork was strongly influenced by modern and abstract artists he was introduced to while in school at a time when such artwork was forbidden (he was living in Germany during World War II). To see an example of this style and how Mr. Carle produces his illustrations, watch this video clip of Mr. Rogers visiting Eric Carle’s art studio. Older children may also enjoy this brief history of his life in the United States and Germany and how his love of art developed.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar:

Eric Carle’s most famous book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar; click here to watch an animated version of the book or listen to Eric Carle read the book here.

Crafts:

After reading the book, have your child engage in a Very Hungry Caterpillar inspired craft. 

Caterpillar Craft: You can have your child make a caterpillar out of an egg carton (supplies needed:  egg carton, scissors, pipe cleaners, and markers or paints) or clothespin (supplies needed:  clothespin, green paint or marker, one red pompom, and a few green pompoms, glue, and a magnetic strip if you want to make it into a magnet).

Butterfly Craft: You can also have your child make a butterfly. Eric Carle often used tissue paper when making his illustrations so a great project would be to make Tissue Paper Butterflies using a clothespin (supplies needed:  tissue paper, clothespin, pipe cleaner, googly eyes, and paint if desired) or pipe cleaners (supplies needed:  tissue paper, pipe cleaner, scissors, pencil and possibly a ruler). 

Physical Activity:

Cosmic Kids Yoga Adventure developed a fun yoga class for kids relating to the Very Hungry Caterpillar book. The 20-minute class walks kids through easy and engaging yoga poses that act out each step of the caterpillar’s journey.

More Eric Carle Books:

Below are additional links to some of Eric Carle’s other famous books.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? (By Bill Martin Jr.; Illustrations by Eric Carle)

The Very Busy Spider

Do You Want to Be My Friend?

The Grouchy Ladybug

The Very Lonely Firefly

The Very Quiet Cricket

Description: Eric Carle Books and activities 

Age Levels: 

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

Tags: 

Reading

Arts & Crafts

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA
Credit:
ConnectionSpot.org on 6/9/2021

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

Understanding and Expressing Emotions Part 2: Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation involves our ability to manage feelings and actions. Having the ability to regulate our emotions is an important skill for children as it is associated with being able to develop and maintain friendships as well as good mental health and stress management. Last month we introduced the first step in “self regulation” and that was recognizing and being able to label our feelings. The next step is to learn how to manage our feelings. Below are some books and activities that can help teach children strategies for managing emotions.

START HERE: For a good overview of what Emotional Regulation is and why it’s so important, see the article written by Parenting for the Brain. This is a great starting point. Other resources to start off with include Part 1 in our Understanding and Expressing Emotion series as well as our previous blog on Anger Management

BOOKS:  

The books below not only introduce children to the various ways we feel but also how to manage these feelings in appropriate ways.

Books about Worry and Anxiety:

David and the Worry Beast by Ann Marie Guanci 

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes 

Books about Anger:

When Sophie Gets Angry by Molly Bang

Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang

Books about Sadness:

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld 

Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner

ACTIVITIES:

Watch a great video that teaches children to breathe through an engaging story: Lori Lite’s Sea Otter Cove.  This pairs well with the books above on worrying.

Ryan’s World video presents easy to follow instructions for making a volcano as a fun activity to pair with the books above on anger.  Supplies needed include: food coloring, empty plastic soda bottle, vinegar, and baking soda.

This is an entertaining video about a little squirrel who is feeling sad and what he does that makes him feel better. 

Tags: 

Social-Emotional Development

Grade Levels: Preschool through Primary

Age Levels: 

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

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 05/19/2021

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

UnderStanding & EXPRESSING Emotions Part 1

As children’s language develops, so does their awareness of emotions they may feel themselves and see in others. However, it can sometimes be hard for kids to express their feelings. Learning to express and manage emotions is an important skill that we call “emotional regulation.”  Research tells us that the ability to regulate our emotions is paired with making friends, better mental health and the ability to deal with stress, so we definitely want to help our kids learn skills that will foster emotional regulation. The first step to emotional regulation is understanding our emotions, so let’s start there (next month we will learn about expressing our emotions in Part 2). Below are some resources for teaching children about the various emotions we may feel.

START HERE: For a good overview of how to help your child learn to express emotions, see this article from Penn State.  

BOOKS are great ways for children to learn about emotions. Below are some of our favorites that cover a variety of emotions:

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Feelings by Aliki

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss 

Today I feel Silly: And Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis

ACTIVITES:

Below are some activities that you can pair with the books above.

Emotional Eggs:  Make faces on plastic easter eggs that express various emotions and talk to your kids about each emotion as you make the eggs.  For example, as you make a sad egg, you can say “How does our face look when we feel sad? Does our face smile or frown? How do we draw a frown?”  See this video for one example that uses markers. The picture below shows another variation of the activity using stickers instead of markers.  

Image by Pixabay Anncapictures

Emotional Charades:  Take turns acting out various emotions while others guess the emotion.  Children’s Play in Action has a short video giving instructions for and describing the value of this game.

VIDEOS:

Inside Out: Guessing the Feelings is a video of short clips from Inside out where you can watch each clip with your child and then guess the feeling being expressed.  At the end of each clip, it will stop and tell you the feeling as well.

PBS Kids Talk About Feelings and Emotions is a video in which children and parents describe feelings and why it’s important to express them. 

Sesame Street: Name that Emotion! Is a fun Sesame Street in which Murray has his friends guess the emotions of contestants.  

Emotions StoryBot Song by Netflix Jr. is a fun song about emotions. 

Next month we will provide additional books and activities about how to handle specific emotions in Part 2 of this Emotion Series. 

Tags: 

Social-Emotional Development

Grade Levels: Preschool through Primary

Age Levels: 

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

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 04/28/2021

Categories
6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

St. Patrick’s Day Fun

St. Patrick’s Day is such a fun day to celebrate with children of all ages.  Some of my fondest memories are from when my daughters were preschoolers, as it is such a magical age.  Below are ideas for bringing some extra magic to your home on St. Patrick’s Day.

Book:

How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace describes a leprechaun’s journey through various houses as he encounters leprechaun traps.  Reading this book is a great introduction to the activity below.

Activity:

After reading How to Catch a Leprechaun, have your child make a leprechaun trap. The Big Bins Little Hands blog offers STEM focused ideas for easy-to-make leprechaun traps using materials from around the house (such as LEGOs(R), cotton balls, toilet paper rolls, and pipe cleaners).

Snack:  

Rainbow Fruit Tray

 Photo credit:  CafeMom Studios

This is one of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day snacks to make. It’s easy, it’s healthy, and has been a big hit in my daughters’ classrooms each year.  To make it healthier, you can replace the marshmallows and Rolos (or chocolate gold coins) with little bowls of yogurt dip.  You can also replace the fruits pictured with your children’s favorite fruits (additional colorful fruits include green grapes, raspberries, bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew melon) or introduce your child to less common fruits (e.g. mango, papaya, guava, kiwi)…the options are endless!  See CafeMom Studios’ video for a quick demonstration.   

Grade Levels: PreK through Elementary. 

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)

Tags: 

Art

STEM

Reading

Creative Thinking

Food

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 03/17/21

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

Teaching Your Child About Anger

Images credit: Pixabay TheDigitalArtist and  Open Clip-Art Vectors

Learning to express and manage anger is an important skill for children. This can be particularly challenging for young children as they often have difficulty expressing themselves due to their emerging language and limited vocabulary.  Below are some excellent resources for teaching children about anger and strategies for calming themselves down when feeling angry.

BOOK:  When Sophie Gets Angry by Molly Bang, is a book about a young child struggling to manage her anger. The analogy of anger being like a volcano can help children put a visual representation to what it feels like inside their bodies when feeling angry. 

SONGS and VIDEOS: PBS has a wonderful Daniel Tiger on Mad Feelings Learning Kit filled with resources for learning about anger and anger management. Daniel Tiger has some great songs and videos about how to manage mad feelings.  In addition, it provides lessons for how to talk to children about their feelings of anger.

Sticks Learns How to Deal with Anger is another short video that provides additional strategies for anger management in a child friendly manner.

Finally, Sesame Street offers a wonderful video and song that teaches children how to belly breathe as a way to calm down when feeling angry. 

We want children to learn that anger is an emotion that we all feel but that it is important to learn strategies for how to express and manage our anger in appropriate ways.

Tags: 

Social-Emotional Development

Grade Levels: Preschool through Primary

Age Levels: 

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

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons LicenseAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 02/24/2021

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) Activities Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)

Indoor Snow Day

Grade Levels: Toddler-Kindergarten 

Age Levels: Birth-36 months (infant/toddler); PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool); 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)

Description:  Winter is coming which means many of us will have our first snow day of the season soon.  While many kids love to play outside in the snow, others prefer the warmth of their home so we are going to share some ways to enjoy the snow without getting cold!  For example, if you have a water table, why not fill it with snow and allow your child to play with the snow inside.  Add toys to create a winter wonderland or make up a plate of small items to make mini snowmen.  Raisins or small candies make great eyes; mini carrots or candy corn can be used for the nose; licorice, Twizzlers, or fruit roll-ups make great scarfs; and celery, pretzel sticks, or twigs from outside can be used for the arms.  You can also paint snow with watercolors! This could even become a science experiment as kids mix the colors to make new colors.  For more details and other activities, visit the Parenting with Principle website that offers 15 snow day crafts and activities to do with your young kids inside or visit the  CBC parents website that offers some additional sensory snow activities. 

If your child doesn’t like the feel of snow, how about making some snowy snacks such as snow cream or maple taffy.  Emmamadeinjapan offers a “how-to” video for making snow cream (or see  Happy Hooligans for written instructions.  Maple taffy is another delicious treat (see CBS kids for a fun demonstration and then visit  Martha Stewart for instructions).

Finally, there is no better activity on a cold winter day than snuggling up to read with your child.  A wonderful classic snow day book is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  Head to your local library to check out this book or watch a beautifully animated version provided by the EJK foundation here.

What materials do I need?

Activities:

  • Indoor snowman:  snow, a cookie sheet to hold the snow, materials for eyes (such as raisins, m&ms), nose (i.e. carrots, candy corn), scarf (yarn, Twizzlers, fruit rollups), arms (celery, twigs, pretzel sticks), or toys from around the house such as Mr. Potato Head parts to use on the snowman
  • Snow paint: snow, paint brushes,  water colors
  • Snow Table:  snow, something to place the snow in such as a sand or water table, a plastic container, a casserole dish, or a cookie sheet, toys for pretend play

Snowy Snacks:

  • Maple taffy: snow, maple syrup
  • Snow cream (ice cream): snow, vanilla, 10 ounces sweetened condensed milk

Tags: 

  • Art
  • Science
  • Creative Thinking
  • Culinary
  • Sensory 

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 12/15/2020

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) PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

The Giving Tree

December is often associated with gift-giving and one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is an understanding of the importance of kindness.  There are many types of kindness activities popping up on the web right now such as an acts of kindness advent calendar or a Hanukkah kindness calendar.  

Another way to help children engage in kindness this month is to make a “Giving Tree.” PBS provides simple instructions for making such a tree.  One way to set up this activity is to write out various acts of kindness on paper leaves and put them on a tree (this can be a tree made of paper, twigs in a vase, or a little tree from a craft store).  Then, each day you have your kids pick a leaf off the tree and engage in the act sometime that day.  If you would rather encourage random acts of kindness, you can have the kids do spontaneous acts and write them down on the paper leaf after the act has been completed and put the leaves on the tree.  If you don’t want to cut out leaves, Mommy Snippets provides some creative ideas for other ways to hang the acts of kindness on a tree.  This year, my daughters bought a little $5 tree from a craft store and are writing their acts on plastic ornaments from a dollar store, but in years past we have cut out various shapes (leaves, hearts, flowers) and various “trees” (twigs in a vase, twigs taped to our door, and a paper cut out of a tree).  I find this activity brings happiness to us all.  We hope for the same happiness for your family as you share in the giving of kindness this season.  

Associated Book:  For those of you who would like to read Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” with this activity, there is an animated version on YouTube.

After reading the book, pose questions to your child to connect the book to this activity: “Have you ever done something for someone just to make them happy?”  “What are some things people have done for you to make you happy?”  “What kinds of things can we do for others to make them happy?”  You can direct this question towards family members, teachers, service providers, and even the child.  

Grade Levels: PreK through High School 

Age Levels: 

  • Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)
  • PreK 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)

Tags: 

Art, Social-Emotional Learning

Developer:  Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 12/09/2020 

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

Fall Treat: Chocolate Caramel Turkey Legs

Here is a simple and delicious Fall treat for upcoming holidays that can easily be made by preschoolers (with your assistance) to high schoolers. Based on the recipe and instructions from Taste of Home, all you need is: 

  • 20 honey wheat braided pretzel twists
  • 3 oz melting chocolate  (we used the Bakers Dipping Chocolate because it comes in a microwavable container for easy melting and clean up)
  • 40 caramels 
  • Wax or parchment paper

Instructions: 

  1. Put the caramels in the microwave for a few seconds (10-15 secs, just until they are easy to mold). 
  2. Then wrap two softened caramels around the top of the pretzel rod shaping it to look like a turkey leg (my daughter- a caramel lover- used three caramels but when we ate the finished product, we realized the extra caramel wasn’t necessary- two definitely give you a good bit of caramel).  
  3. Next, dip the caramel wrapped pretzel rod into the melted chocolate until the caramel is coated and place it on parchment or wax paper. 
  4.  Let the chocolate on the  “turkey legs” dry (if you are in a hurry, you can throw them into the refrigerator but make sure to take them out before serving as the refrigerated caramel will be too hard to eat).

These were a huge hit in our house- they were so delicious!  I loved how easy they were to make and how easy clean-up was by using the microwavable melting chocolate.  

Grade Levels: PreK through High School

Age Levels: PreK 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)

Tags: 

Culinary, Parent-Led

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 11/15/2020