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)

Remember Grace

As I began writing this blog post, I am reminded of Grace. If there is anything I need right now it is that!  

As an educator (especially this year), things are more overwhelming than ever. I was on a virtual team meeting call with my school district to review our plans for the beginning of the school year. By the time it ended, almost an hour and a half later, I was crying. What did I get myself into? What is my next step? What will the parents think? What if I can’t do this? 

As parents/guardians/educators or whatever role you are playing in a child’s life right now, you may feel the same way as me. OVERWHELMED. The questions are piling up and anxiety could send you on a trip to the ER if you aren’t careful. 

What I am asking of you, is that you give yourself Grace. This means giving yourself time, patience, and room for mistakes. It means allowing yourself to be imperfect, to cry if you need to, and to take time for yourself.  Take one minute and breathe. You can do this.

We are all only human after all. And as the saying goes, “We are all in this together”.

Developer Lauren McNeely

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 09/16/2020

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

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

STEM at Home

Visit Pitsco STEM@Home to access some free hands-on STEM activities that you can do with children and adolescents at home (grades K-9). There are also links to numerous resources available on their blog to help you and your children better understand the science behind everyday things such as tortilla chips, cheese, and bicycles. If you are looking to purchase STEM-focused kits, this is a good source for that as well. 

Grade Levels: K-9

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: 

Engineering 

Mathematics

Parent-Led Activity

Problem-Solving

Science

STEM

Technology 

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

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 Fall approaches, debates rage on about how children will return to school (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

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)

Yoga with Kids

It’s hard to imagine a better way to help children cope with stress, settle their minds, and find their inner peace than to guide them through a yoga experience. Check out Adriene’s Yoga with Kids video. Younger children can engage in a few of the exercises and older children should have no problem completing the full 32-minute program. Parents will enjoy joining in to do it with their children, too. 

The nice thing about yoga is that it doesn’t require a lot of extra “stuff.” Just find a quiet space, clear your mind, and grab a towel or mat. Adriene will guide you through the rest.

Need more yoga ideas? Be sure to check out Adriene’s web site and her YouTube channel which already has more than 6 million followers. 

More Helpful Hints from Beth – A Trained Yoga Instructor: Yoga should never hurt. Although you can get a workout and you can engage in challenging poses, you should make sure that you and your child are doing yoga safely. The most important thing to remember is to breathe! Most teachers recommend that you do yoga without socks or shoes on because bare feet and hands help maintain stability. Also, remember that even a little yoga can do A LOT of good for you and your child. Don’t forget to have fun! 

Grade Level: PreK – 12

Age Level: Ages 3-18

Tags: 

Independent Activity

Parent Led Activity

Social-Emotional Learning

Health  & Wellness

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

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

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

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

Cups & Sticks Challenge

A Structural Design Challenge

Description: With a few simple materials, children can engage in various structural design activities that will challenge their problem-solving skills, promote persistence, and foster creativity.

What tools and materials do I need?

  •  Lots of paper or plastic cups (all the same size, 3-5 oz. are best)
  •  Lots of sticks (such as craft sticks, popsicle sticks, or coffee stirrers)
  • 1 small block such as a toy block, piece of wood, Lego(R) piece, or small container/lid
  • Measurement tool (e.g., ruler or length of string or thread)
  • Small objects that could be placed in a cup to serve as weights (e.g., beads, pieces of candy, paper clips, marbles, pennies)

What should I do?

  1. Assemble the materials on a table or the floor where the child/children can easily work.
  2. Explain the initial problem.

Design & build a tall, sturdy tower. You can use only the cups and sticks provided. You cannot change the shape or size of the cups and sticks. Cups should not be nested together either. 

  1. Pose questions or make comments when the child reaches a stumbling block and cannot seem to move forward. For example:

○      Why do you suppose it keeps falling down?

○      How can you make it more stable?

○      What other stacking pattern can you try?

○      How can you make it even taller?

  1. Measure the height of the tower with a ruler if you have one. If you don’t, use a length of string or thread to assess the height. Compare various solutions and heights.
  2. If the child is still showing interest, increase the challenge.

Design & build the tallest tower you can using only the cups and sticks provided. This time, your tower needs to balance on top of the object provided (i.e., toy block, piece of wood, Lego(R) piece, or small container/lid.) Remember that you cannot change the shape or size of the cups and sticks. Cups should not be nested either.

6. See picture to the left for example. This tower is balancing on a small toy block of wood. You can use any object as a base for the tower to balance upon. 

7.     Again, use questioning to help encourage the child to be persistent in solving the problem. Point out that most new inventions have many failures before the best solution is found.

8.     Try adding weights. Ask the child to put some small objects (e.g., beads, pennies, paper clips) on top of the tower. How many can it hold before it collapses?

  1. Discuss the problem and solutions.
    • Why was it harder to build the structure when it had to balance on a small object?
    • Compare how your body feels when you balance on one leg versus two legs. What can you do to keep better balance when you are on one foot? Try applying that idea to your structure.
    • Which problem was easier to solve and why?
    • Were the sticks more helpful in one problem than the other? Why?
    • Why do people think about balance when designing structures?

Grade Level: Pre-K – 4

Age Level:

PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

5-6 yrs (kindergarten)

6-8 yrs (primary)

9-11 yrs (elementary)

Tags: 

Creative Thinking

Engineering

Independent Activity

Mathematics

Parent-Led Activity

Problem-Solving

Science

STEM

Student Success Skills

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

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

Rainbow Walk/Scavenger Hunt

Description:  The Rainbow Walk or Scavenger Hunt allows you to get outdoors and work on color identification skills. Bring your child on a walk to search for items that represent each of the colors of the rainbow.  There are many variations of this activity and it can be altered based on your child’s age, interests, or learning objectives.  You might want to start with watching this video that describes how rainbows develop (good for Pre-K) or this video for older children (elementary age).

Below are some of the possible variations of this activity.

  1. For taking a rainbow walk, you can ask the child to identify items for each color of the rainbow.  Such as asking the child to first look for red items, then orange, etc.  Or you could develop a worksheet that has each color listed and then ask the child to place a check in the box every time they find an item for a specific color.  If the child is older, you could ask them to write the item down next to the correct color.

Materials Needed:

  • A piece of paper with the colors listed
  • A pen or pencil
  1. For items that can be brought home: 

Find one item for each color of the rainbow, bring the items home, and have the child order the items based on the colors of the rainbow.  

Materials Needed:

  • Bag to hold the collected items
  1. For items that can’t be brought home: 
    1. Have your child stop and draw a picture of each item in a notebook or on a piece of paper as they go along.

OR

  1. Have your child take a picture of various items. At home,  print the pictures out and have the child place the pictures into the shape of a rainbow.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper and something to write with (pen or pencil)
  • OR Camera (and a computer/printer if you would like to print the pictures out)
  1. Can’t go outside?  
    1. Have your child search your house or apartment for different colored objects

OR

  1. Have your child think of different colored foods and make a rainbow snack (listen to this song by the Swingset Mamas for inspiration)

Materials Needed:

  • Foods that represent different colors of the rainbow such as strawberries, apples, banana, lemons, limes, yellow squash, peppers (red, green and yellow),  celery, carrots, lettuce, blueberries, grapes (green and red), watermelon, cheese, fruit punch, jello, juices (orange, grape, tomato) 
  1. Bringing along older kids (1st grade +)?

You can have your older children do this as a science project.  Once home, they can identify the various flowers, leaves, or other items they have found in nature.

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
  • Color Identification
  • Science

Developer:  Karena Rush 

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

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

Talking with Children about Race and Racism

In the wake of racial disparities that were underscored by COVID and the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans, families from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are grappling with how to discuss race and racism with their children. These topics are not easy to tackle. Some parents and caregivers have no choice but to discuss race in order to protect their children from racism. Others want to talk with their children to try to engender a sense of equity and fairness. These topics are complex and of course, may vary based on your own racial identity and life experiences. Although there is not a one-size-fits-all way to address such conversations, there are some high-quality resources that can help you engage with your kids. For example, PBS Kids helps you to consider How to Talk Honestly with Children about Racism. Sesame Street Workshop and NPR have a blog series titled Parenting: Difficult Conversations. In this series, they present a blog, Talking Race with Young Children. Writer Jessica Grose, suggests talking about racism with kids early and often and The Bump Blog shares this List of Children’s Books on Race and Antiracism.

Grade Level: Pre-K – Grade 5

Age Levels:

  • Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)
  • Pre-K 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)

Tags: 

  • Current Events
  • Race, Racism
  • Social-Emotional Learning
  • Pre-K, Primary

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

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

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

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)

PBS Learning Media

Visit PBS Learning Media to gain access to abundant resources to support your children from preschool through high school. The site is easily searchable by grade level or subject. You will find amazing videos, interactive lessons, and printable activities on every topic imaginable from social-emotional development, school subjects (i.e., English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies), World Languages, and more. Help your children expand their knowledge and motivate them to learn more through these curated resources available through the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). (NOTE: This review  pertains to the web site as a whole, not individual content posted there.)

Grade Level: Pre-K through Grade 12

Age Level: Ages 3-18

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

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

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

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)

How to Talk to your child about Covid-19

This is a challenging time for children as they try to navigate the changes in their lives brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Below are some resources that parents may find helpful including a resource designed for parents of children with autism to help their child adjust to changes and new routines.

Articles

If you are interested in reading an article about how to talk to your child or adolescent about COVID-19, click on one of the articles below:

Coronavirus (COVID-19):  How to Talk to Your Child Dr. Jennifer Shroff Pendley with KidsHealth-Nemours (en español

Sesame Street:  Caring for Eachother COVID Resources

Sesame Street and Autism:  Coping with COVID-19: A “For-Now” Normal

Videos

For Parents: You can also watch a series of brief videos on helping children adjust to COVID-19 developed by the Child Mind Institute.  A good place to start is with a video  that discusses how to talk to children about information regarding COVID-19 in a way that is appropriate for their age. 

For Children: Sesame Street is providing useful videos for young children including a video about practicing social distancing and another video about doing a virtual dance party with friends.  

PBS also has helpful videos about COVID for young children Pre K-3rd grade

For elementary school-age children, the BrainPop video that describes COVID-19 can be helpful.

Books
If you would like to read a book to your child about COVID click on one of the books below:
The Unwanted Stranger provided by Pangea Publishing
Or
Together, We Can! by Kerrie RH Farkas