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)

Make Someone’s Day

Create and send pick-me-up cards to people who
need support

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)

Description: Write letters or make homemade cards to send to people in need of support to show that you care. A few links to organizations that provide key information and addresses to send your cards/letters are suggested here. Please note that there are likely other organizations in your local community as well. 

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Paper — any kind, but construction paper and plain white paper are best
  • Coloring utensils such as crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  • Pen or pencil 
  • Envelopes – any kind (business size, letter size, mismatched card envelopes, etc.) 
  • Postage (if necessary)

What should I do? 

  1. Identify an organization that collects letters or cards for people in need of support. Three of these organizations are listed below. However, you can do additional searches online or consider seeking sources in your local community (e.g., nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals). 
  2. Find out what parameters there are for sending cards and letters to this organization for distribution. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the organization carefully. Some are very specific about what to do and what not to do. For example, you should not be saying things like “Get Well” or “Feel Better Soon” because many patients have chronic or terminal illnesses. It’s also important to omit personal information (e.g., last name, contact information) and avoid using crafty items that easily fall off (e.g., glitter).
  3. Use your artistic and writing skills to create meaningful letters or cards that fit the organization’s focus and that you think will make someone’s day better. Many of the websites provide some examples to help you out. However, use your creativity to create something special that the recipient will appreciate. The pictures shown on this activity are unique card designs created by a student that were sent to some of the organizations listed.
  4. Enclose your cards/letters in an envelope, address the envelope, and mail them. If there is just one piece of paper in the envelope, you can probably put one first-class stamp on the envelope. Otherwise, you will want to take your envelope(s) to the post office so they can be weighed and proper postage applied.
  5. Feel good about helping others. When you make other people happy, you’ll feel better yourself. There are many people struggling with health issues, depression, loneliness, and other life events. You can make a difference by showing that you care through this simple, but important, activity. Consider inviting some friends over to have a letter-writing or card-making get together! 

Tags: 

  • Art
  • Creative Thinking
  • Parent-Led Activity
  • Social-Emotional Learning
  • Writing

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

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
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
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Be Kind Reconnect

It’s busy times for families. There are parent conferences underway at schools. It’s the hectic election time and we are bombarded with lots of negative messaging through all media channels. We are in the midst of a beautiful autumn season, but not able to fully enjoy harvest get-togethers due to social distancing guidelines. We thought now would be a good time to reconnect you to one of our activity posts called, Be Kind. This simple activity might be an enjoyable way to spend time together with your children and do something nice for a neighbor, friend, teacher, or relative. With the abundance of fresh apples on these crisp days, it’s also a great way share the harvest with those you care about. Be kind, be safe, and be healthy!

Listen to a Story – Solve a Problem

Grade Level: Pre-K to Grade 1

Description: After listening to a story about kindness, children will talk about the story and then solve a hands-on design problem related to it. Children will use simple at-home materials to create their solution to the problem.

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Assorted art and craft supplies (e.g., paper, crayons or markers, glue, tape)
  • Miscellaneous recyclable materials (e.g., colorful shopping bags, cardboard, empty plastic containers, toilet paper tubes)
  • Simple office supplies (e.g., rubber bands, paper clips, stapler)
  • One piece of whole fruit (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or vegetable (i.e., tomato, cucumber, zucchini) or flower “gift” per child [see design challenge in step 3]

What should I do?

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Be Kind, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill. Children will learn how to show kindness to others by seeing the many ways that it is demonstrated in the story.
  2. Talk about the story. Share examples of how kindness can be shown in your family or community. Help the children recognize how they have shown kindness. Can they think of times when someone didn’t show kindness? How did it make them feel?
  3. Present the children with the following problem. Modify it as desired to better connect to your family, friends, or neighbors. Change the gift item to whatever you have available (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or some flowers or a vegetable from your garden. If the child is capable of making a decision, offer several options and let him/her pick. For example, “What do you think Mrs. Diaz might like better — an apple or a banana or a flower?”
Making gifts for others is a way to show kindness. I know a friend who really likes apples. She is sick. How can we hang an apple on her doorknob to let her know we care about her?
  1. Provide the children with assorted materials to design their solutions. They should creatively design a new product, not simply use an existing object as is (e.g., put the apple in a shopping bag or a flower in a vase). Encourage them to modify the materials they have to make a special gift. Having to think about how to hang it on a doorknob offers a unique engineering challenge that requires some additional problem-solving.
  2. Pose questions as the children solve the problem. Help them to think through the problem and come up with their best working solution. For example:
    • How can you attach it to the doorknob?
    • What would make the part stronger?
    • Is it the right size for the fruit, vegetable, or flower being used as a gift? Is it too big or too small? How can you fix that?
    • How will she know who put it there?

Deliver the gift to the friend when finished. Try to hang it on his/her doorknob. If it doesn’t work as intended, ask the child to modify the design or consider an alternative place to put it. Discuss how it felt to show kindness to another person.

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
PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Peep and the Big Wide World Activities

Visit Peep Family Science to learn about this free at-home science program for families of preschool children. Watch the introductory 3-minute video to see concrete examples of what is available and how it is used. Then download the four free apps to help you work with your children to do hands-on science experiments to explore ramps, colors, sounds, and shadows. PEEP Family Science is available in English and Spanish, too. 

Every app begins with a short parent video to give you tips on how to engage your child in the activities. Each of the four themes (apps) includes a variety of 10-15 minute activities that are easy to do at home with simple materials. More short cartoons intended for young children are included to promote their interest and engagement in each of the topics. For example, here are some of our favorites in each app:

  • Colors App: A Peep of a Different Color (Video) and Color Hunt (Activity)
  • Ramps App: Marble Mover (Video) and Ramps and Turns (Activity)
  • Shadows App: Bringing Spring (Video) and Shadow Puppets (Activity)
  • Sounds App: Chirp, Chirp, Tweet, Tweet, Chirp (Video) and Making Maracas (Activity)

Grade Level: Pre-K

Tags: 

Art

Critical Thinking Skills

Curiosity

Engineering

Listening

Parent Led

Problem-Solving

Science

STEM

Vocabulary

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

Categories
Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Homemade Aromatherapy Playdough Recipe

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

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

Grade Level: Pre-K

Tags: Art, Sensory

Developer:  Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

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
Activities Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Peep and the Big Wide World

Visit Peep and the Big Wide World to learn about this free at-home science program for families of preschool children. This program is produced by WGBH and 9 Story Entertainment in association with TVOntario. It’s high-quality educational programming for your children. Choose the parent link at the top of the page and you’ll have access to helpful videos and activities related to this program. Be sure to watch the 30-second introductory video called, Encouraging Curiosity. This web site is available in English and Spanish. 

Grade Level: Pre-K

Tags: 

Art

Critical Thinking Skills

Curiosity

Engineering

Listening

Parent Led

Problem-Solving

Science

STEM

Vocabulary

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020