Do you need something to keep the kids engaged while you finish Thanksgiving meal prep?

 Now that I am an adult, I see how much preparation and planning goes into Thanksgiving Day.  Children are oblivious...as they should be! I'm here to help you make the morning a little less stressful for you, too!

Growing up, I LOVED watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  When I had my own children, I was a little shocked at how uninterested they were in the parade on television.  What?!!  If we are home, I still turn it on and tell my children to wait for the Big Guy in Red at the end.  

Let's be honest, kids want to move and do things.  This printable will give your children something to do while they watch the parade.  They can use the printable to draw their own parade balloon.

If you have party balloons and construction paper on hand, pull those out! Invite your children to actually make the balloon. 

You can also have your children go on a scavenger hunt from the couch!  These are always a hit for my children.  And it will give them something to do, while you finish baking that pie.


If you still have some more cooking to do, turn on the dog show and see if your kiddos can find these dogs:


I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!







5 Teeth Brushing Songs




 


We have several favorite songs we sing at the center.  One of them is Raffi's "Brush Your Teeth."  I saw these adorable dentist sets on some instagram pages I follow for the Dollar Tree.  It wasn't until this week, that I finally scored a few sets!  




I love to incorporate props into circle time.  I thought the children could literally brush the teeth while we sang the songs.  I think I will swap out the plastic brush for real toothbrushes, in order to make this activity more authentic.  Just know that the kiddos may naturally put the toothbrushes in their own mouths.  You may want to write each child's name on their own brush.

Here are the best songs about brushing your teeth:

1. Raffi's "Brush Your Teeth"



2. Super Simple Monster's "Brush Your Teeth Song"



3. Disney Junior's "Brush to the Beat"


4. Koo Koo Kangaroo's "Brush Yo' Teeth"


5. Jim Gill's "Hands are for Clapping"

Okay.  I know this one is not JUST about teeth, but it has a pretty catchy part about teeth are for brushing :)





4 Ways You Can Build Pre-Reading Skills in Young Children

 4 Ways You Can Build Pre-Reading Skills in Young Children

1. Read to your children every day!

Reading to your babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners is the single most important activity you can do to build their pre-reading skills. 

So if you get NOTHING else from this post, get this: Go curl up with your kiddos and a great book!

If you read to your child for 20 minutes each day, your child will hear 1,800,000 words each year. If you only spend 1 minute reading, that means the child is only hearing 8,000 words each year. That is a HUGE difference.

Do you have a wiggly toddler who doesn't like to sit on your lap to listen to a story?

That is perfectly fine! I had a couple of those in my house, too. You can read to your child wherever they are! They will still hear all of this rich vocabulary!
  • Read to your child while they are in their high chair eating a snack.
  • Read to your child while they are taking a bath.
  • Listen to audiobooks in the car.

2. Let your babies and toddlers play with books.


Children need opportunities to hold and manipulate books. They need opportunities to open and close covers. They need to learn how to turn pages. Knowing how to "orient a book" is an important pre-reading skill. Children learn which side is up and the direction your turn the pages.

Of course board books are a great option, but I also love these indestructible books.

Does your child have trouble turning one page at a time?

You can hack your book by adding foam stickers to the pages. This creates space between the pages, making it easier for little fingers to access.


3. Call attention to words by pointing to them as you read.

Pointing to the words as you ready children helps them build print concept awareness.
  • This shows that we read the words and not the pictures.
  • This shows that we read from top to bottom.
  • This shows that we read from left to right.
  • This shows that each word is separate.

4. Give in and read the book again :)

All children do this. They beg for you to read and reread their favorite books. They may even ask you to read it again before you even say “the end.”
This helps your child understand the structure of the book better. It helps them to retell the story or recall facts. Multiple exposures to the same book helps your child build their vocabulary.


My oldest daughter wore out this book: “Raindrop Plop!” I don’t even know why she loved it so much. I think I still have it memorized.






How to stop saying NO to your children

 Do you feel like a broken record?

No, put that down.

No, out of your mouth.

No running.

No hitting.

No screaming.



For many children hearing NO is a behavioral trigger.  This means that not only do adults have to try to stop the original misbehavior (the one they were saying NO to), but now adults have to help calm a child who is now having a meltdown or being defiant.

Think about it....do you like being told NO?  I know I sure don't!

How do we stop saying "NO?" What can we do instead?

Change the Environment:

Look at your space.  What can you move or take out to prevent the misbehavior?  

Can you remove all the small Legos that your child puts in her mouth?  
Can you put up your breakable decorations? 
Can you arrange your furniture to prevent runways?
Is there a toy that your child ALWAYS takes away from a sibling?  Can you get another?

Remember it is much easier to change the child's environment versus changing the child.


Write down why you are saying no:

Once you know what you are saying NO to, you will have  starting point for change.  
Write these on a piece of paper.  Type them into the notes section on your phone as you say them.  

Write down positive alternatives:

What are positive alternatives?  They are directives that tell the child what you want them TO DO. They are written in a positive manner.  

For example: 
"Nice touches" instead of "No hitting"
"Walking feet" instead of "No running"
"Use your inside voice" instead of "No screaming"
"Hands down" instead of "No!  Do not pull her hair!"





Super Easy Valentine Heart Sensory Table Invitation: Dollar Tree Materials

 


Valentine's Day is almost here!  Add these easy Dollar Tree Materials to your sensory table for an open-ended play invitation.



Materials: 

Pink table scatter hearts
Red table scatter hearts
Foam conversation heart stickers
Red felt hearts
Pink felt hearts
Plastic tongs
Cardboard heart box

I also included the lid from a popcorn tin and 2 heart cake pans.

Sensory table invitations are so easy!  

All you do is present the materials and see what children do with them!




Brickston was very interested in counting out the hearts and making arrays.  He also sorted by color.  



Go here to see the video!



How Much Time Should You Devote to Playing with your Children?

 


I have been asked this question several times, so I thought I would make a video about it!  You can watch it by going to this link or watching below.  

We all know that I am an advocate for play!

But that also does not mean that you have to be the sole entertainer for your child.  When I visited the preschool classrooms in Reggio Emilia, I was a little shocked at how little the teachers played WITH the children.  The children were definitely engaged in very sophisticated play.  But they were engaged in play with other children. That is what we want, right?  Social skills is one of the greatest benefits of preschool and play.  The teachers in that setting were acting as the facilitators.  

Did children need items or materials for their play?  The teachers were there to make it happen.  

It is okay for children to be bored. 

Boredom creates the necessity for creativity.  Boredom is a good thing.  Often children ask us, as parents, to play with them because they are bored.  We can help children create a list of things they like to play.  The next time they come to us and say they are bored, we can have them choose something from their list. 

Play with other children is more important than play with an adult.

I know in our world right now, playdates are not happening as frequently.  You may not have access to preschool, either.  But if you are able to arrange for play with similar aged peers, do it!  Playing with other children gives your child the opportunity to practice important social emotional skills.  When you are playing Barbies with your child, you may not insist that YOU get to be the mom or you are "not playing anymore." The friend next door may do this.  And it presents a wonderful opportunity for children to problem solve and fix social conflicts on their own.  

You can't quit cold turkey.

If you have been devoting entire days to playing Calico Critters with your child, you won't be able to stop overnight.  Instead the next time you play, find ways to exit and re-enter the play episode.  
Start with small increments at first.  Just take 2 minutes away, and then check back in.  Over time you can increase the time you step out of play.

Exiting during car play:

Take a car and tell the child "I have to drive to the next town to pick up some materials.  I'll be back in a few minutes."

You can even set a timer for the child if they are anxious about you leaving.  When the timer goes off, drive your car back over to check in.

If the child is having trouble sustaining play, give them an item to EXTEND the play episode.  Give the child a toilet paper roll and ask them what they could use it for.  The child may decide to use it as a tunnel.  They may pretend it is a tree.  The options are endless, but let them do the thinking. 

Journal it!

At first it may seem like you are not making any progress getting your child to play with peers or play independently.  Stay the course!  I encourage you to jot down some notes about how your child is doing.  I think over time you will begin to see the progress!




Among Us in Real Life

 Do your children play Among Us? 

Be honest, did you even know what the game is? I didn't for the longest time.  It is an game app that seems to be all the rage right now.  My middle schooler is playing it, but so is my kindergartener.  The premise is to prepare your spaceship to launch by completing tasks.  But among the crew is an imposter who goes around killing the crewmates.  I know it sounds dark.  It reminds me of that winking game we used to play at slumber parties.  Remember you all sat in a circle, if you got winked at...you fell backwards.




Well, all of that to say my children created their very own Among Us game to play in real life.  The cool kids call this IRL.  

I honestly have no idea on the REAL Among Us rules, but this is how my children had us play.  It was so much fun.  Encourage your kids to put down the device and play IRL with you.

What you need: 

-Slip of paper for each player. All the slips should say 'crewmate' except one.  The one should say imposter.



-List of tasks that each person must complete
-Tasks set up around the house
The kids set up random things like: Pick up all the trash, push in all the chairs, memory matching game, etc.



-Flashlight (this is optional, but added to fun to play in the dark).





How to play: 

1. Give everyone a list of which number of tasks they must complete.
2. Have everyone draw a slip of paper.  No one can tell who the imposter is.  
3. Begin completing the tasks around the house.
4. The imposter slowly and quietly taps crewmates.  The crewmate who is tapped has to lay down where they are tapped. 

5. When crewmates suspect the imposter, they can say "I call a meeting!" and everyone meets up in the kitchen.  The crewmate states the case and everyone votes.  If they are right, and vote for the imposter...the game is over!
6. OR the game is over when the imposter gets everyone.