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)

Celebrating Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

What is AAPI Heritage month? 

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month – a celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans which was established in 1978. AAPI is a rather broad term that includes all of the Asian Continent and Pacific Islands (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia). 

Why Is It Important?

Not only is this month of celebration important due to the significant contributions of AAPI’s but also due to the hate crimes against AAPI’s in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

engage your family in AAPI Heritage this yeaR & EVERY YEAR.

  1. Visit the  Asian Pacific Heritage website. There you can learn more about Asian Pacific Heritage.
  2. Watch: Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with PBS Kids (You may need to subscribe to this).
  3. Watch Read Alouds: AAPI Read Alouds
  4. Consider the 8 Ways to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month including:
  1. Get out a Globe, or use Google Earth, and explore Asia and the Pacific Islands
  2. Explore AAPI Heritage Sites
  3. See Children’s Books that feature Asian Authors, Artists, and Characters: 9 Books to Asian American Pacific Islander Month; 20 Books for Young Readers To Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month & Year-Round; Celebrating Asian Pacific American History and Culture; and Asian Americans.
  4. Explore AAPI museums and exhibits: a) Asian Art Museum From Home; and Smithsonian Art Museum From Home
  5. Try a variety of healthy AAPI recipes with your kids
  6. Get creative by exploring AAPI art and music with your children 

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: 

  • Current events
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Health and wellness
  • Science
  • Social-emotional learning

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 05/26/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Earth Day is Everyone’s Day

April 22nd is an important day for the planet. This is the day that people all over the world focus on the importance of protecting our planet. Earth Day is a reminder to all of us that we have a responsibility to take care of our precious home and ensure a safe and clean living environment for today and in the future.

Earth Day originated in the United States in 1970 as a way to promote environmental awareness. It has grown every year since then and officially went global in 1990. Today, Earth Day is a worldwide movement that involves more than 1 billion people in 192 countries. 

Earth Day is everyone’s day because everyone lives on Earth.
Every single person in every corner of the world depends on this planet and the resources it provides. We need every individual to understand the challenges and to be empowered to support our Earth home through collective actions that result in positive change. 

engage your family in Earth Day this yeaR & EVERY YEAR.

  1. Visit the EarthDay.org web site. There you can learn more about global efforts to improve our planet. Be sure to check out their Take Action link for suggestions on what you can do at home to help. 
  2. Watch the This is Why We Celebrate Earth Day video (grades 3-12) or the Let’s Celebrate Earth Day video (Pre-K-3rd) for a quick overview of this important event and to get inspired to celebrate Earth Day. 
  3. Pick up trash. Turn a family outing to a local park or a neighborhood walk into a clean-up activity. Show your children how to safely gather trash and discard it properly. 
  4. Examine your home recycling efforts. Teach children what items can be recycled and how to sort and discard them appropriately. Delegate recycling jobs to children and teens who are old enough to take on these responsibilities. 
  5. Do crafts with your children using recycled materials. See Imagine it. Make It!, Recycled Robots, and Let’s Invent for starters. 
  6. Focus on water conservation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a typical family of four in the United States uses about 400 gallons of water in ONE day! Learn more about ways to save water at the EPA’s WaterSense for Kids site. 
  7. Teach your children how they can save energy at home by turning off lights and devices when not in use. Discuss the benefits of turning down the thermostat in winter and wearing an extra layer instead. 
  8. Read a book with your children that focuses on nature or environmental issues. For young children, there are lots of read-aloud books available online such as Earth Day Every Day by Lisa Bullard and We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. 
  9. Explore programs offered by state parks or nature-focused organizations in your area. Many communities have free or low-cost programs to promote environmental awareness and appreciation. Try searching environmental education programs near me on the web. 
  10. Promote an appreciation for living things and the wonders of our planet by spending time outdoors with your children – young and old. Take a nature hike. Observe insects, trees, or flowers closely. Track how many types of birds you can find together. Start a rock collection. Plant a garden or flower pot. Go on a picnic. Simply enjoy nature!

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: 

  • Current events
  • Environment
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Health and wellness
  • Science
  • Social-emotional learning

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 04/20/2021

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) 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)

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

Remember Grace

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

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

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

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

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

Developer Lauren McNeely

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 09/16/2020

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Back to School: What Families Need to Know

Checklists and Guides for Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers

Summary: 

As Fall approaches, debates rage on about how children will return to school (i.e., virtually, in person, or a mix of both). We are all facing uncertainties. While there are no easy answers, the best way we can face this future is by being informed and asking good questions. There are a few resources out there.  First, UNICEF published resources on a site titled: What will a return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic look like?: What parents need to know about school reopening in the age of coronavirus. This site addresses questions and topics including 1) When and how will schools be reopened?; 2) Is it safe for my child to go back to school?; 3) What precautions should the school be taking to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading?; 4) What questions should I be asking my child’s teacher or school administrator?; 5) What should I do if my child has fallen behind?; and 6) What should I do if my child is struggling to get back into “school mode?”.

Likewise, the CDC has compiled a group of checklists and resources, titled Back to School Planning: Checklists to Guide Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers to help you navigate this complex time. This helpful resource addresses multiple scenarios including face-to-face instruction and virtual-online schooling. Special circumstances are also addressed such as supporting children with special needs and dealing with stress and anxiety. Additional resources are included. 

Both Unicef and the CDC are reputable sources that can help put your mind at ease! So, take some time, check them out, and remember that you’re not alone.

Age(s): 

Birth to 36 Months (Infant-Toddler)

PreK 3-5 Years (Preschool)

5 to 6 Years (Kindergarten)

6 to 8 (Primary)

9 to 11 Years (Elementary)

11 to 14 Years (Middle School)

14-18 years (High School)

Tags: 

Back to School

Health and Wellness

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 08/26/2020

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Yoga with Kids

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

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

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

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

Grade Level: PreK – 12

Age Level: Ages 3-18

Tags: 

Independent Activity

Parent Led Activity

Social-Emotional Learning

Health  & Wellness

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

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

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

Categories
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