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 

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)

Falling in Love with Nature

It’s Fall, my favorite time of year- the crisp air, the changing leaves, walking through pumpkin patches… it is a great time to be outside.  Did you know that research suggests that spending time outside has significant psychological and physical health benefits?  But even more than just being outside, some studies show that spending time in nature has the greatest benefits (See Jill Suttie’s article on Why Trees Can Make you Happier). The Japanese have a term for this: “Shinrin Yoku” which means “taking in the forest” or “forest bathing”.  What’s great about this activity, is that it doesn’t require anything except for you to find a place where you can be surrounded by trees.  Nothing else. It is really that simple!  Spending time in nature and immersing your senses in the surrounding environment can lead to a decrease in stress and an increase in happiness.  It’s such a simple activity that the whole family can enjoy.  If you have active kids, you can take a walk in the woods and search for different colored Fall leaves around you.  For quieter kids (or a solo trip for you), you don’t have to move at all- you can find a quiet spot to sit and take in the beauty around you.  So get out there and reap the health benefits of hanging out with the trees.

Tags: 

Health & Wellness

Social-emotional learning

Grade Levels: Pre-K through High School

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

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

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/28/2020

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)

The Importance of Play During Stress

Play is important for children (and adults!) of all ages.  Play helps children develop skills that prepare them for life.  When they play outdoor games, they are often working on their motor skills.  When they play make believe, they are enhancing their imagination and creativity.  When they play with construction sets and blocks, they are working on their problem solving skills and even emerging math skills.  But did you know that play is also important for our social and emotional health?  Engaging in play can reduce stress, allow children to work through difficult experiences, foster friendships, and increase happiness.  This is particularly important during stressful times such as the pandemic.  The International Play Association wrote a great article about the importance of play during times of crisis that talks about the benefits of play and gives parents helpful hints for how to play with their children during these difficult times.  Click here for the article: The Importance of Playing in Crisis.

Tags: 

Art

Creative thinking 

Health & Wellness

Problem-Solving

Social-emotional learning

Grade Levels: Pre-K through High School

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

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

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/28/2020

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

I-Spy Game

This video provides easy instructions for engaging in a DIY I-Spy activity using materials you have around the house. You can fill the bottle with various items allowing you to tailor the activity to your child’s interests or learning goals (such as teaching colors or categories). You can make this an activity for the whole family by having older children make the game for their younger siblings.

Grade Level:  Pre-K- 4

Age Level:

  • Pre-K 3-5 years (preschool)
  • 5-6 years (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 years (primary)
  • 9-11 years (elementary)

Tags:  

  • Parent Led
  • Independent Play
  • Sensory Learning

Developer:  Karena Rush 

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 09/30/2020

Categories
Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Homemade Aromatherapy Playdough Recipe

Making aromatherapy playdough can be a soothing activity enjoyed by parents and children.  Using calming essential oils such as lavender paired with the stress relief that comes with squishing playdough, parents and children can enjoy a relaxing activity together. No essential oils?  No problem!  The Stay at Home Educator offers an easy recipe with materials that are likely readily available in your home (or experiment on your own with spices and other fragrant items you have in the house).

For video instructions (with a slightly different recipe) click here:  HGTV 

Grade Level: Pre-K

Tags: Art, Sensory

Developer:  Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020