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
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 Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Computer Science Week

December 7 through December 13 is Computer Science Week, and it’s also when the Hour of Code global movement is held. We are saturated with on-demand content, and it’s important our children are not just technology tourists. We want to encourage our children to create, innovate, and problem-solve with technology. 

The purpose of Computer Science Week and the Hour of Code is for children to learn new skills, open doors to new possibilities, and enjoy the experiences. Increasing everyone’s access to coding skills and resources helps to break down barriers and stereotypes associated with computer technology.

The Connection Spot Team wanted to share coding activities for both “plugged-in” and “unplugged” experiences without screens to engage our children. 

Code.Org – Coding activities are broken down by grade-level for families. There are also “unplugged” activities to complete your child to take a break from screen time. 

CS Unplugged – Coding activities without using devices.

STEM Education Guide – A fantastic resource for unplugged activities. 

Coding provides an opportunity to foster a love of learning with your child. Both you and your child can learn how the devices work that we use every day. Be sure to share in the comments about your favorite activities for coding. 

Age(s): 

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: 

Coding

Developer:

Kevin Bower

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 11/25/2020

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)

Expressing Gratitude

Our current climate is challenging for families as the Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc worldwide during this holiday season. Focusing on seeing beyond our challenges and concentrating on what we are grateful for is often at the forefront during November. This time of year ignites our passion for gratitude and encourages us to give to others. 

Relationships and a focus on providing resources to our community is the bedrock of the Connection Spot Team. We are grateful to have the opportunity to share activities and resources on our site to support, enrich, and empower the Connection Spot community. Expressing gratitude is an important character trait to develop for all ages. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives and take time to show appreciation and return kindness. Thus, we wanted to share activities and resources for our Connection Spot community on gratitude.  

Reading books about gratitude or making connections to gratitude is a fantastic way to connect younger children to the concept. Check out this post from Mindfulamazing with titles and discussion ideas.

Encourage your child to write, type, or video record a thank you note to share with someone special. Your child could thank a teacher, coach, family member, neighbor, or the postal worker delivering packages to your door.

Older children may be interested in researching and learning more about gratitude. The Greater Good gratitude site is an excellent place to begin the research. Your child could share their findings with the family through Zoom or Google Meet or share it on social media to foster more discussion about gratitude. For a homeschool project, they could create a presentation on their findings on the benefits of gratitude. 

Natural Beach Living has a fun idea to engage in a gratitude scavenger hunt, which is perfect for socially distanced fun. Team up with your family at home to complete the challenges, or compete with extended family through Zoom. GooseChase is a scavenger hunt app your family can download to participate. 

The website, Positive Psychology, also has 13 gratitude exercises and activities.  Parents will find some of these exercises geared towards themselves while others geared towards their kids. 

The simplicity of gratitude and expressing thanks disguises its immense influence. How are you fostering a culture of gratitude and expressing thanks? Comment here or on one of social media sites.

Age(s): 

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: 

Health and Wellness

Social Emotional Learning

Developer:

Kevin Bower

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA
Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 11/25/2020

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
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)

PBIS World- Managing Child Behavioral Problems

At a loss with your child’s behavior? 

We all see it, or it has happened to you! You are at the grocery store and you look down the aisle. A child is screaming at the top of their lungs. They are grabbing items off the shelves or throwing items in the cart while the adult is frantically picking the items up and trying to correct the behavior without drawing too much attention. Embarrassment, exhaustion, and anxiety is written all over this situation. What do you do?

Don’t worry, we are here to help guide you in the right direction. PBISworld.com is an excellent resource to help get you started with identifying your child’s behaviors and how to address them. While this resource is typically used by educators, parents and caregivers would also find this site to be helpful. This site doesn’t provide hard fast rules to solve your problems. However, PBIS (positive behavior interventions and supports) allows parents, caregivers, and educators to identify, implement, and evaluate responses to a child’s behavior. Interventions are addressed in 3 Tiers. These interventions show different ways to implement and produce behavior changes for your child.  As you move through this site, it guides you, the parent and/or caregiver, through the different levels of these interventions depending on the severity of that behavior.  This site covers a wide variety of behaviors including defiance, negative attitude, sadness/depression, poor coping skills and many more. Remember, while these interventions and strategies are a great place to start, you know your child better than anyone. Evaluate your personal situation and adjust these strategies to fit your culture and child’s temperament. If the intervention doesn’t feel right or you need further assistance by a professional please seek out those options. Check out the get started page PBIS World- Getting Started to help ease your anxiety and get your child back on track to success! 

Tags: 

Social-Emotional Learning, Student Success Skills 

Grade Levels: K-12 

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 12-18 (Secondary)

Developer:

Lauren McNeely 

Credit: 

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/21/2020

Creative Commons License

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