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) 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
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) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Falling in Love with Nature

It’s Fall, my favorite time of year- the crisp air, the changing leaves, walking through pumpkin patches… it is a great time to be outside.  Did you know that research suggests that spending time outside has significant psychological and physical health benefits?  But even more than just being outside, some studies show that spending time in nature has the greatest benefits (See Jill Suttie’s article on Why Trees Can Make you Happier). The Japanese have a term for this: “Shinrin Yoku” which means “taking in the forest” or “forest bathing”.  What’s great about this activity, is that it doesn’t require anything except for you to find a place where you can be surrounded by trees.  Nothing else. It is really that simple!  Spending time in nature and immersing your senses in the surrounding environment can lead to a decrease in stress and an increase in happiness.  It’s such a simple activity that the whole family can enjoy.  If you have active kids, you can take a walk in the woods and search for different colored Fall leaves around you.  For quieter kids (or a solo trip for you), you don’t have to move at all- you can find a quiet spot to sit and take in the beauty around you.  So get out there and reap the health benefits of hanging out with the trees.

Tags: 

Health & Wellness

Social-emotional learning

Grade Levels: Pre-K through High School

Age Levels: Choose from this list. Delete those that do NOT apply. 

  • Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)
  • Pre-K 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/28/2020

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

The Importance of Play During Stress

Play is important for children (and adults!) of all ages.  Play helps children develop skills that prepare them for life.  When they play outdoor games, they are often working on their motor skills.  When they play make believe, they are enhancing their imagination and creativity.  When they play with construction sets and blocks, they are working on their problem solving skills and even emerging math skills.  But did you know that play is also important for our social and emotional health?  Engaging in play can reduce stress, allow children to work through difficult experiences, foster friendships, and increase happiness.  This is particularly important during stressful times such as the pandemic.  The International Play Association wrote a great article about the importance of play during times of crisis that talks about the benefits of play and gives parents helpful hints for how to play with their children during these difficult times.  Click here for the article: The Importance of Playing in Crisis.

Tags: 

Art

Creative thinking 

Health & Wellness

Problem-Solving

Social-emotional learning

Grade Levels: Pre-K through High School

Age Levels: Choose from this list. Delete those that do NOT apply. 

  • Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)
  • Pre-K 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/28/2020

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

PBIS World- Managing Child Behavioral Problems

At a loss with your child’s behavior? 

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

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

Tags: 

Social-Emotional Learning, Student Success Skills 

Grade Levels: K-12 

Age Levels: 

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

Developer:

Lauren McNeely 

Credit: 

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/21/2020

Creative Commons License

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

The Calm Spot

Dad/child photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels “a fort!” by ryochiji is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Summary: All children and adults need a space, a place where they can be quiet and calm. These spaces help children handle their feelings, reduce stress level, problem solve, think, and possibly create. You can create simple “quiet spaces” using items in your home (blankets, pillows, etc.). Yogapeutics provides several ideas for creating such a space. It is important to encourage your children to take the lead and/or participate in helping to create this space because it will not only help them be interested in the space but also have ownership of the process. If you live in a house with a lot of people, meaning that you don’t have a great deal of extra space, then you might use a closet, a quiet corner, or even consider making a fort out of a table or chair. 

Questions: Some questions you might want to ask your child.

  • Are there smells that make you feel good (lotions, aromatherapy, spices, etc.)?
  • Are there things you can touch that calm you down (a soft blanket or pillow)?
  • Are their toys that calm you down (fidget spinner, playdough, etc.)?

Age(s): 3-Adult

Tags: 

Health and Wellness

Social-Emotional Learning

Developer:

Beth Powers

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/5/2020

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
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Talking with Children about Race and Racism

In the wake of racial disparities that were underscored by COVID and the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans, families from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are grappling with how to discuss race and racism with their children. These topics are not easy to tackle. Some parents and caregivers have no choice but to discuss race in order to protect their children from racism. Others want to talk with their children to try to engender a sense of equity and fairness. These topics are complex and of course, may vary based on your own racial identity and life experiences. Although there is not a one-size-fits-all way to address such conversations, there are some high-quality resources that can help you engage with your kids. For example, PBS Kids helps you to consider How to Talk Honestly with Children about Racism. Sesame Street Workshop and NPR have a blog series titled Parenting: Difficult Conversations. In this series, they present a blog, Talking Race with Young Children. Writer Jessica Grose, suggests talking about racism with kids early and often and The Bump Blog shares this List of Children’s Books on Race and Antiracism.

Grade Level: Pre-K – Grade 5

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)

Tags: 

  • Current Events
  • Race, Racism
  • Social-Emotional Learning
  • Pre-K, Primary

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons LicenseAttribution-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