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) Family Resources

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Recognizing a Leader 

MLK’s day of recognition was this week. It was made a holiday in 1983 under President Reagan to recognize his leadership during the civil rights movement and honor his life since his assassination in 1968. It is important for children to learn about MLK and his life. This video, titled: The Man Who Changed America  by Scholastic News, described him, his life, and his work (Note: This film is particularly aimed at Grades 3-5).

Martin Luther King , Jr. was a Baptist Minister and social justice advocate. Yet, according to Millner writing for Scholastic News, Kids are Missing a Crucial Piece of History related to MLK. It is important as PBS author, Lindsey Pruett-Hornbaker, shares that we focus on Honoring the True Meaning of Martin Luther King Day.

How to Discuss Hopes and Dreams

His famous words “I have a dream” are reiterated in many schools at this time of year. However, do we talk about them at home? How can we address this pertinent subject with our children? What can we do to recognize the surmountable importance of these words and help the words resonate with them? 

This recognition matters more today than ever before, as we see the ongoing struggle for racial equality.  Murphy  outlines several things you can do with children to celebrate this great man in her blog titled: How to Explain Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to Kids Including:

  1. Read a Book (See: PBS for Parents: Books for Martin Luther King Day )
  2. Watch a Film (e.g.,  MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech)
  3. Discuss Hopes and Dreams (See below)
  4. Volunteer (See: Americorps MLK Day )
  5. Do an Art Project (See: Creative Child: Ten Martin Luther King Day Crafts and Fifteen MLK Art Projects Kids Can Do)
  6. Attend an Event in Person or Virtually (See:  The King Center: King Holiday)

As you consider all the ideas discussed here, we hope you can take some time this week to reflect on your own hopes and dreams for a brighter future. 

Grade Levels: K-12 

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: 

  • Art, Current Events, Difficult Conversations, Problem-Solving, Race, Racism, Writing

Developer:

Lauren McNeely and Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 01/18/2021

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
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) 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

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)

Managing Zoom and Computer Burnout

Introduction

Learning and socializing digitally has become our new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this format is convenient and may be our best solution, for now, Zoom and other screen-based formats can cause “burnout.” We all like staying connected but we also need to learn ways to cope with the stress on our eyes, brains, and psyches. The articles listed below describe symptoms of burnout: headaches, temper tantrums, lethargy, and even depression. Simple ways to cope include: 1) taking a break, 2) going for a brief walk, and 3) squeezing a squishy ball. By all accounts, Zoom fatigue is real and it’s important to give yourself and your child/children a break. Remember, self-care is paramount right now, and the pandemic has not only provided a greater need to teach kids about this, but it has created an opportunity to lead by example.

Articles

If you are interested in reading an article about what Zoom Fatigue is and how to cope with it:

Zoom Fatigue is Real and Our Kids are Feeling It

Zoom Fatigue is Real, Here’s How to Deal With It

Kids are so Over Zoom and What to do About It

4 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged on Zoom and How to Avoid Zoom Fatigue

VIDEOS

Tags: 

COVID-19, Technology, Social-emotional Learning, Health & Wellness

Age Levels: 

  • 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:

Beth Powers

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 09/30/2020

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