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)

Get Caught Reading

When you think about reading, what comes to your mind? For some, reading may bring back memories from their caregiver or teacher reading aloud to them. Others may think about curling up with a good book during a rainy day. Maybe thinking about reading triggers memories or trips to the library or talking about a good book with a friend over coffee.

Since 1999, the Association of American Publishers has established May as Get Caught Reading Month. Whether it’s reading for pleasure or staying up-to-date with the latest news, reading has immeasurable benefits. Reading aloud to children helps them learn how to use language to make sense of the world. Technology has also changed how materials are consumed with a transition to a digital focus. No matter what medium you choose to read, the Connection Spot team wants to encourage our readers to Get Caught Reading!

Share the resources and information below with your friends to listen to books or learn about new books for your child. We also encourage you to share pictures of you reading or your favorite books and stories!

Get Caught Reading – Activities for all ages!

Storyline Online – A fantastic resource that features celebrities reading aloud stories. Each book also has a supplemental curriculum to engage your child beyond the read aloud.

KidLit TV – KidLit TV is the place to discover great children’s books and connect with the people who create them. Explore crafts, book trailers, and more!

Librarian to Librarian – Podcasts about books for kids and teens. 

Milkin’s Book Talks – Listen to book talks to find new books for your child to read or to read with them. 

The Indianapolis Library – 100+ free video read alouds!

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: 

Reading

Read-Aloud

English Language Arts

Developer:

Kevin Bower

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 05/12/2021

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
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)

World Read-Aloud Day

Happy World Read Aloud Day! Today, Wednesday, February 3, 2021, is the twelfth annual World Read Aloud Day. Started in 2010 by LitWorld, World Read aloud day celebrates the power of reading aloud to stimulate your child’s imagination and foster a love for learning. The Connection Spot Team encourages families to read aloud every day with their children, but today is a day to celebrate the incredible power of reading aloud. 

Reading aloud is a significant activity a family can do with their children. It builds essential foundational skills, introduces vocabulary, models expressive reading, and helps children develop a love of reading for pleasure. Even after your child learns how to read, reading aloud to your child and with your child is a fun family activity to take you to another world. Listed below are read aloud resources to help your child develop a lifelong relationship with reading. 

Storyline Online: Storyline Online® streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Each book includes a supplemental curriculum developed by a credentialed elementary educator to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners.

TogetheREAD: A free resource from The Source for Learning provides monthly themes to give you ideas for having fun together as you build stronger readers. TogetheREAD includes suggested questions for you to talk about before, during, and after reading. Also, you’ll find ideas for free or low-cost family activities for everyone.

LitWorld.org: The official site of World Read Aloud Day includes activities and resources for reading aloud. 

Scholastic: View Scholastic’s collection of 100 best read-aloud books. Sort the books by age and visit the Read2MeTonight section for more resources. 

Celebrate World Read Aloud Day with your child by reading a book, or encourage your child to read to you. Share in the comments below your favorite book to read aloud or a book that was read to you. 

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)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Tags: 

  • Read-Aloud
  • Reading
  • Listening

Developer:

Kevin Bower

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 02/03/2021

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) 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 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) 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