Friday, August 7, 2015

Head to the Park for Gross Motor Fun

Playgrounds go with kids like roads go with cars — they were made for them! Just as with free play, playing on playgrounds is a lot more than rambunctious fun, though. Kids gain social skills through figuring out how to interact with and share space with other kids. They develop resilience through mastering new skills. Add a playground to kids’ play, and the benefits of play get even more physical. 
Just take a look around the typical playground for a fun way to help kids grow and develop through play:
  • Slide. Kids have to climb up to the slide, building coordination and developing strength in their arms and legs. Then they get increased vestibular involvement sliding down the slide.
  • Swings. Swinging enhances the vestibular system and builds core strength holding onto the swing. The swings help relax an overstimulated child since they have a calming effect.
  • Sand pit. Playing with sand helps with sensory integration and fine motor skills as kids dig and pile and grab the sand. It also improves balance when kids walk on the uneven terrain. Sand pits that have construction-style diggers help kids develop upper body strength and coordination while digging.
  • Monkey bars. Hanging from bars strengthens hands and fingers, which helps with handwriting skills. Any grasping activity is useful — from the pretend steering wheels atop some play structures to raising and lowering something on a rope.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gold Stretchy Putty

This has many names when you are looking around Pinterest and Google and various "mommy blogs". We call it stretchy putty at our house because it really isn't very slimy, and we have made slime that was slimy.  My 8 year old daughter made this mostly by herself. I helped pour the liquid starch because it was a large bottle.

To make this fun sensory play stuff you'll need:

  • 1 5oz bottle of clear Elmer's glue
  • 2 Tbs gold glitter or gold liquid water color or gold glitter glue (you can also use food coloring)
  • 8 Tbs liquid starch
(you can use any color, really, we just happened to have gold at home)

pour all the glue into a bowl and add the glitter/glitter glue/liquid water color and mix. Add 2Tbs liquid startch and mix well. Add 4 Tbs liquid starch and mix well. Add the last 2Tbs liquid starch and knead. This will be a bit stringy at first which can be fun to play with. But the more you knead it the firmer it will become. I think we kneaded for about 5 minutes or so. You can form it into a ball and then set it on the table and watch it "melt" into a puddle. I made some for school as well and the kids thought it was the best stuff. Even my little guy who really hates getting things on his hands and won't touch most wet or slimy things, loved this. 

Why We Need to Get Outside More

Now that the weather is nice again and it's easier to get outside we need to take our kids out and help them (and ourselves) re-connect with nature. Parks and playgrounds are wonderful, hiking the trials at the county and state parks is lots of fun, even just playing your backyard. Here is a good article explaining why it is so important for us to get our kids and ourselves outside more. I've read books on this topic before and I happen to agree with the idea that all of us are becoming more and more disconnected with the natural world around us. Nature Deficit Disorder is now an official diagnosis in the DSMV-V. Wow, I guess this is not something just a hand-full of isolated people believe in anymore.

Yes, I see the irony in the fact that while they and I are supporting the idea to unplug from our technology and get outside the magazine is completely digital. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kids are People: A Radical Idea

I am a big fan of the Toca Boca apps for the iPad and Android devices. They let children explore parts of life that they don't normally get to, and they are so open ended that kids can be creative and not be told what to do. I like Legos for the same reason. Toca Boca has started writing articles for adults, parents and teachers and any other adult who cares to read them. I really liked this article and wanted to share it with you. I try very hard to adhere to the ideas in this article both as a mom and as a teacher. Granted there are times when things need to be done the way an adult says so but there's no reason we can't give our children as much control over their lives and how they do things as possible. It's something I tell all the families I work with, give your child choices, let them have control when ever possible and you will find that there are less and less negative behaviors. One of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes is "A person is a person, no matter how small".

Now, I will admit that the more I've read about this idea of "Childism" the more I think, that like most things, some people have taken it a bit to far (for my comfort and taste).  And so here is where I step up onto my soap box for a little bit....

In theory I guess this is good but we do tell cars not to hit kids. We also tell kids to watch for cars. No one is perfect and everyone gets distracted. Seems to me it should be an equal responsibility. As an adult I still look for cars, because there is going to be that one time that I don't and neither did the driver look for pedestrians. This is not victim blaming in my mind. That would be more like saying that you must have done something to deserve getting hit by your parent, or that the girl who got raped was asking for it by wearing something skimpy. 
Here is another one that irks me. If we don't tell kids not to accept candy from strangers then we are irresponsible as parents. I trust my daughter to know right from wrong, to not accept rides and other things from people she doesn't know, and to tell me and my husband about things that are happening that are not right. I don't trust all the adults out there to leave my daughter alone. Let's face it, this needs to be done on BOTH sides or it won't matter at all.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Local Activities Right In Your In-Box

Follow the link to find Macaroni Kid. 

The weekly newsletter of Farmington-Lakeville-Apple Valley activities to entertain, stimulate and exhaust your kids.

This is a website that lists family friendly activities going on in and around our area. You can sign up for their email alerts so that you don't have to remember to go to the website once a week and see what is going on. They'll tell you if the activity or event is free or what it costs. They also highlight museums around the area every so often. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How do you encourage communication with your child?

I know, I said I was going to get better and posting more often. I've had a lot of evals lately so they have to take priority. :)

Here is a great article with 17 different ideas for you to try when working on communication with your child. This article is from the Friendship Circle, a resource for families with children who have special needs. They have lots of good things on their site, you should check them out. 

17 Ways to Encourage Communication With Your Special Needs Child.

You might like this one too:
23 Ways to Communicate With a Non-Verbal Child

I was just talking to a parent about communication and non-verbal children. One thing I mentioned was that kids may not have words but I haven't met one yet who isn't trying to tell you something. They use eye gaze, pointing, grunting, pulling you by the hand, body language, pauses, jabbering, gestures, and so many more. 

We just have to teach ourselves to tune into what they are telling us. The more we respond to their non-verbal communication the more they begin to understand that they are getting their point across and start to associate that with words. Usually kids don't talk because they don't need to, physically can't, or just don't see the point.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holidays - Full of Fun or Fear?

This?   or


As parents we take our kids to the malls and stand in long lines to see if maybe this year we can get that cute photo of our little one sitting on Santa's knee. So many kids are scared to death of Santa. Think about it, here is they very large man with a very furry face, you have no idea who he is but your mom hands you over to him. So not only has she blithely given you to some stranger, he gets right in your face and says "Ho ho ho". I think I'd be a bit scared too. 

Here's another scenario:  We get in the car with the rest of our family and are off to see our relatives. Of course as very little children, we don't really understand what that means. We get to a house we've never been to before (remember that we have short memories at this young age) and there are HUNDREDS of people that we don't know (ok, maybe not hundreds but remember that we are very small and they are very very tall). And our parents wonder why we want to hide in the closet or under the table or behind them in the chair. It can be so very overwhelming.

I recieved a link in my email to an article written by Linda Acredolo, Ph.D. Co-founder, the Baby Signs® Program and Professor Emeritus, UC Davis. It has some pretty good advice and ideas for us as parents to help our kids make it through the holiday season with everyone's sanity still intact.