Monday, January 31, 2011

Creating With Your Kids

I ran across this post on a blog I read. I think it is a great reminder of the power of creating with your kids. As a mom, I know that breaking out the paints, glitter, glue, and craft supplies is an anxiety attack waiting to happen. Sometimes, I just have to let go of my expectations for a clean house and just have fun with my kids. I don't consider myself the most artistic person, but my kids love it when we work on an art project together.

Today, in kindergarten, we created a few valentine cards.  Yep, it's a mess, but there is joy in creating!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

From Tears to Joy

I've shared with many of you before, that my daughter is a "glass half empty" kind on girl. For example, it had been raining for days on end and the gloominess was really getting to me. All of a sudden, we woke up on a Saturday and the skies had cleared. The gleaming sunshine, was like a gift wrapped with a bright yellow bow. As we were running errands that day, I started talking about how good the sun felt and how happy I was that it had stopped raining. My daughter immediately started fussing and whining because the sun was to bright. Who complains about it being too sunny???

I recently finished reading Raising Happiness, learning a few new tricks to helping kids find joy in their lives. In chapter 4, the author talks about research that shows 40% of our happiness comes from the activities we choose to participate in.  I immediately thought of my daughter.  Even though she is a "glass half empty" kind of girl, when she swims or does gymnastics, she NEVER STOPS SMILING.  She's happy when she feels like she is successful.

I feel like my kids have a pretty good life. We don't spoil them, by any means, but they have enough toys, food, games, activities, and special outings with mom and dad. My husband and I are really happy people. There is a lot of laughter in our house. Our kids are pretty well behaved and rarely will we raise our voices. (I said rarely, not never.) It's a happy life. So why would my sweet little kindergartner be such a grump all of the time? Yesterday, we were driving in the car, when out of the blue she started crying uncontrollably. As she was sobbing, she was complaining that her brother has more playdates than she does. Where did this come from? We weren't even talking about playdates! I pointed out that if one of them has a friend over, we usually call a friend for the other child. I also pointed out that she had been invited to her first sleep over and her brother hadn't had any sleep overs yet this year. It was no use. Still, tears.

Then, I turned to an activity we did in the classroom.  Our counselor, Mrs. Babin, shared a relaxation CD with me.

We've been using this CD, and the very short relaxation activities, to help us calm our bodies and get ready for our work time.  One of my favorite activities is the Cloud of Calmness.  We listened to the directions, closed our eyes, and created mental images of our clouds of calmness.  At the very end,  kids were asked to think of something they were really good at and picture themselves doing that activity.  I love the way this encourages positive thinking.  Later in the day, we shared the things we felt good about during our class meeting.  Kids said they were good swimming, running, riding bikes, gymnastics, coloring, and many other activities.  I was thrilled to see their smiles as they shared. 

So, back to the car ride with my daughter.  She was crying because she never get to have playdates.  At that point, I told the kids about the activity we did during the day.  I told my kids that it made me wonder what they felt they were really good at.  My son said he was a good listener in school, good at math, and good at organizing.  (Yes, he really is good at organizing.  He's the only 9 year old I know with hanging file folders to organize his completed homework.)  My daughter said she is good at playing, eating, and running.  I pointed out a few other things they are really good at.  I told my daughter that she is the only kindergartner I know who can pass the swim test at the YMCA, with the ability to swim the length of the pool without stopping.  I told her that her gymnastics coach said that she does an absolutely perfect cartwheel.  I shared with them that my son is really good at sports and so well behaved that the teachers and coaches argue over who gets to have him. 

Pointing out the wonderful things our kids do is a confidence boost.  Suddenly, my daughters tears turned to stories of passing the swim test for the first time and great days at gymnastics.  There is was... joy.  Give it a try!  Ask your child to think of three things they are good at.  Then, add a few things you think they are good at too.  I guarantee it will bring a smile, a story, or simply a happy kindergartner.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kindergarten Readiness E-Book

*** To download a free copy of this ebook, click on the BUY IT NOW link, on the right side of my blog.  Don't worry, it really is free.  The button just says BUY IT NOW.***

Over the past few months I've been researching and thinking about kindergarten readiness.  If you know a family with an incoming kindergartener, please forward this blog post to them.  The ebook is free and simple to download.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kindergarten Snowmen

We have been making snowmen during our art time and they are turning out so adorable! I know many parents are not able to get in to see our displays, so I'll be posting pictures during the week. The collage above includes a few cute little guys. More to come later.

Art time, in kindergarten, is one of my favorite times of the day. I know that families are busy and getting the paints out after a long day at work isn't always what parents want to do. A kindergarten classroom is a great place to be messy, creative, and have fun. It is also a wonderful time for developing small motor skills. In one of our snowman projects, we tore circles from white paper to create snowballs. Tearing paper really works some different muscles in our fingers and hands. It was challenging for some kids, but everyone did well. The painted snowmen are fairly small and require careful work.

I know the messy stuff may not always come out at home, but think about the projects your kids can do at your house. It might not be painting or Moon Sand, but making books, invisible markers, beaded bracelets, and projects with scissors and glue are always fun to do at home. If you are not familiar with the Family Fun website, it has great ideas for projects to do at home.

Happy crafting!
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Melting.....

One of my favorite things to do with my kids is bake cookies.  When I'm home, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  My kids love helping me! Cooking with kids is an amazing opportunity to share the task of food preparation and enjoy the process.  Allowing your child to cook enhances self esteem and children will experience success in the kitchen. Our little chefs will gain practical knowledge of cooking basics and food preparation. Beginning with the importance of washing hands before handling food and ending with enjoying their own creation, children will gain knowledge and independence.

Now that the snow is melting, you might want to try these melty snowman cookies with your kids.

I made plain round sugar cookies. If you don't bake often, I'm sure those slice and bake cookies would be fine too. There is nothing better than homemade sugar cookies. If you need a great recipe, click here for my favorite sugar cookies.

The thing I loved best about these melting snowmen is that they are supposed to look melty and messy. Messy is perfect for my kids.

After adding some sloppy frosting, it was time for marshmallows. We put some marshmallows on a plate and microwaved them for about 50 seconds. When they were all puffy and smooshy, we sprayed a little Pam Cooking Spray on our fingers and plunked the marshmallows onto the cookies. The Halloween sprinkles came in handy and became eyes, buttons, and a nose.

Super cute and super easy! It's so nice to make cookies that I'm not stressing about decorating perfectly. Quick, easy, cute, and kid friendly... can't ask for much more than that!

Happy baking!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Much of our work centered around appreciation today.

This is Talking Bear.  He spends class meeting time with us each day.  Today, we talked about things we appreciated over our break.  We shared gifts we were given, fun trips, and great experiences with our families.  We passed Talking Bear around the circle and shared all of the wonderful things we appreciated.  It was truly heart warming to hear the kids express their gratitude.

We spent some time writing about things we appreciated.

Many kids even chose to write thank you cards during our center time.

Kids wrote cards for teachers, friends, and family.

The thing that surprised me most was that kids were so very appreciative of their experiences.  More than toys and presents, kids talked about how much their families meant to them and how they appreciated the things they did together.  From decorating the tree to baking cookies, it is evident that your kids love spending time with you. 
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