Cooking Challenge

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We had a cooking class in 8th grade where I remember feeling quite proud of a recipe in which we rolled up a crescent roll around chocolate chips and baked it!  I found a package of crescent rolls in our fridge, so a challenge presented itself!  The kiddos are always asking “can we make a recipe?” and then filling bowls with pepper and salt and flour and cocoa powder and many other miscellaneous items and asking me to bake it…  I love giving them that independence to explore mixing and pouring, but I also want them to make something that we can actually take out of the oven, eat, and have them feel successful.

So, I presented them with a challenge.  They had to make two roll-ups that we could eat for a meal, and two that we could eat for a dessert.  They could use anything they could find to roll in their crescent, and then we would bake them and share them.

Of course, they dug out the candy!  The “dessert” roll-ups were filled with starbursts, tootsie rolls, swedish fish, and a cookie.  But they were a bit more thoughtful about the “meal” roll-ups, in the end, stuffing them with bologna, raisins, cereal, and creamed corn!

We baked them for 12 minutes, and overall the kids gave great reviews! They were able to make something they felt proud of while still using their own creativity for the recipe!  Top votes for the creamed corn “meal” roll-up and the cookie “dessert roll-up.

**One tip** – the starburst melted and overflowed their roll, burning and sticking to the pan, so you might want to avoid this type of ingredient 😉

 

 

Categories: Home from School

Extra Time for CHORES :)

We are really hot and cold with our chore chart and holding kiddos accountable for household responsibilities, so decided that this is the perfect time to get back on our chore game!  We made it simple with our white board, listing the chores and days of the week.  The kids are responsible for putting their G or C in the box after they accomplish the task.  At the end of the week, we add all of their letters up and they get a small, but motivating, stipend!

Chores may seem tedious for kids, but there are so many great benefits, so its worth the groans and eye rolls!  Plus, once they realize that they can earn money, they get a bit more motivated!

So why chores?

Self-regulation

Picking chores that offer opportunities for heavy work can meet two objectives!  1. getting the chores done and 2. self-regulation.  By using the muscles and joints in our bodies, our brain gets comforting information about where the body is in space helping us to feel more grounded.  Think about how good you feel after you clean the house!  This is partially because the act of scrubbing, pushing, and lifting is grounding for your body!  Here are some chores that will provide the most heavy work for kiddos:

Carrying laundry

Vacuuming

Picking up toys, heavy ones!

Sweeping, especially on hands on knees

Putting away groceries – carrying heavy bags, sorting cans

Washing windows

Cleaning anything on hands and knees – dusting, washing tabletop/counters, scrubbing floors

Feeling proud of the clean table – scrubbing on hands and knees for some heavy work!

Self-Esteem

Doesn’t it feel good when you finish cleaning?!  All that scrubbing and tidying not only helps us to feel regulated, but it also gives us a sense of pride.  After the kiddos straighten up their rooms, they most often come out so thrilled for us to see.  They feel so proud when we ask them to help with sweeping the floor and commend them for a good job, or notice them clearing their bowls from the table after breakfast and thank them.  Making a chore chart provides them with reminders of items they can do around the house, which then allows us to offer more positive praise!  Especially now, being in the house, this is a simple way for us to help them to continue feeling good and confident.

Life Skills

Chores will help your children to become more independent.  One day, they will be adults, and isn’t it our job to help them to be functional adults?!  So getting them to pitch in with dishes, laundry, and tidying now will help them to develop skills they will need throughout their life.  Of course it is important to think about what types of chores are age appropriate.

 

 

Theme Week!

As the days are dragging and all blending together, we decided we needed something to make each day special.  We made a list of possible theme days and then picked some favorites for our first theme week.  We posted on social media and shared with friends and family so others could join in and we could all feel more connected!  It was really successful;, the kids grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, school friends, and family friends all got involved.  We got pictures texted or posted to social media throughout the day, helping us feel like we are all in this together!  It made the days pass by more quickly with more laughs and focus on the plan for the day, rather than the uncertainty of the week/month/or more…

Here is how our week went:

Monday –  Favorite Color

 

Tuesday – Sports Team Pride

Wednesday – Crazy Hair

Thursday – Prom with Fancy Dinner

This was definitely our favorite theme day! – from dancing to some real classics 😉 from when we graduated from high school, to letting the kiddos drink tea from our china cups, to dressing up and taking typical prom photos.  The whole evening was a blast!

Friday – was supposed to be dress like your favorite character/animal, but we had so much fun at prom, Friday turned into pajama day!  And we feel like that is okay.  There is no pressure to actually follow through with these as long as each day feels special!

So what themes might you come up with?  We have another week planned and so far we are thinking – career day, dress like your favorite book character, twin day… Let me know what you come up with and how your theme days go!

 

 

Categories: Home from School

Keep It Up!!

As I continue to think of activities that can be done at home with little to no equipment, I remembered one of our favorites that we haven’t played in a while – Keep it Up.  I think that we have been avoiding it for a while because of our giant puppy likes to destroy balloons!  We can only play when he is super passed out.

 

This is a very simple activity that is great for practicing hand-eye coordination.  It can be played inside or out, solo or with other family members.  All you need is a balloon or a light ball to strike into the air.  Once the ball is tossed into the air, the goal is to keep it from hitting the floor.  For us, we count the amount of times we can hit the balloon before it falls.  This way, we create a high score for ourselves, something to try and beat every time we play!

Categories: Uncategorized

Trick Tuesday – Three Pile Card Trick

Our family loves to play cards, and since we are missing that family connection right now, we thought it would be exciting to learn a card trick each week and perform it over Duo or Zoom!  I remembered doing a card trick when I was younger with piles so I searched around YouTube and ended up finding this!  It wasn’t the trick I was looking for, but it is actually easier, and G and C picked it up very quickly!

For this trick, you need 21 cards.

Call up your audience members through your favorite face-to-face app and show them the fronts and backs of the cards, then shuffle.  Once they agree you have shuffled enough, select one card and show it to them with out looking.  Say “this is your card”.

Now one at a time place the cards face up in three rows.

Point to each row and ask if their card is in that row.  Whichever row they tell you, pick that pile up second, so that pile is sandwiched between the other two.

Repeat this two more times.

Now, as you lay the cards into piles for the fourth time, their card will be the eleventh card!  Every time!  So when you get to the eleventh card, say this is your card!  And they will be amazed!!

Categories: Home from School

Geography – US States

Our kids have always been interested in all of the different U.S. states.  On our last family vacation to Florida, we counted how many different license plates we saw.  Every time we saw a new one, Jessica and I would talk a little about that state and recall if we had ever been there.  We spotted 30 different states on one trip!  I thought it might be fun to look up some state facts while we checked out flags and colored in our own.  This is something that we can revisit occasionally, as we only got through Alabama, Alaska, and Arizona.  I think that G could have done more, but C is REALLY into taking his time with the small details of his artwork.

This page has all of the state flags, available to print at home: https://usa-facts-for-kids.com/state-flag-coloring-pages/

I found this page to have the best set of facts for each state: https://www.coolkidfacts.com/united-states-facts/

 

 

Categories: Home from School

Pillow Sandwich

You can see from our posts lately, that we have been taking advantage of this time at home for some fun family activities.  But as fun as it has been, it has still been stressful and emotional for the kids given the fear and uncertainty.  We have seen some quick changes in mood and stronger emotions over the past month.  My go-to for regulation is always DEEP PRESSURE, you can learn more about why HERE.

So today when emotions were very high, I broke out my favorite trick – the PILLOW SANDWICH!

First, I put one pillow down – for the bread.  Then have the kiddo lay on top.

Next I give some joint compressions, by pushing and pulling at fingers, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles, and pushing down lightly on shoulders and head.  If you are not comfortable or sure how to give joint compressions, you can give a nice massage to provide the deep pressure.

Now we talk about toppings!  What does your kiddo want on their sandwich – mayo, mustard, bologna, tomatoes, cheese, etc.  Let them pick.  Today we actually went for an ice cream sandwich!  So instead of bread – we used cookies, then G was chocolate ice cream, and we added peanut butter cups and hot fudge!  She sure sounded delicious!

Then I topped her off with the last cookie, and squished the sandwich together.  First with pressure from hands, and with permission, more pressure.

And then of course, I tried to eat her, and it had us both laughing and quickly forgetting about what it was that was so upsetting in the first place.

C came in and joined the sandwich fun, and they came up with some pretty creative sandwiches!

Yes C is in that sandwich!

After we finished, G asked if we could do this again tomorrow!  So definitely sandwich success!

Let me know how it works for you, and what toppings your family comes up with.

 

 

Glow Bath Party

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I have been saving glow sticks for a long time to do a glow bath with the kids!  They put their bathing suits/shorts on so they could sit/stand in the tub last evening and we had a blast!  I filled the tub with warm water and bubbles and we put the glow sticks at the bottom.  They were amazed to see how much it glowed.  We splashed around a bit and put on some music to dance and shake the glow sticks.  It was a great sensory experience to feel the warm water and watch the rhythmic movement and glow of the sticks.

We then started to play some games in the bath with the glow sticks.  We encouraged them to come up with some games and they were very creative!

Ring Pass – we each held one stick and saw how quickly we could pass a glow bracelet around our circle without dropping it

Ring Toss – we tossed a bracelet in the air and tried to catch it with our stick

Fishing – we put the bracelets at the bottom of the tub and used our glow sticks to try to pick them up

Everyone dried off and changed into pj’s for some more glow game!

Grab the Bracelet – all but one of us had on a glow bracelet.  We played a tag game where the person who was not wearing a bracelet had to chase the others and steal their bracelet.  This ended up being really fun and had us on the floor laughing!

Glow Hide and Seek – we kept the lights off in the house and played dark hide and seek.  The glow bracelet was the clue to finding someone.  This was a bit more challenging and the kids did turn on the lights to find us, but it was fun and slowed us down a bit after Grab the Bracelet

We had so much fun that we went on amazon and bought more glow sticks for next time!

(affiliate link)

See what fun glow games you can come up with as a family!

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

 

 

Teaching Kids Why Breathing Works!

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For Day 3 of Coping Skills, we focused on learning why the breaths are so important and actually work.

I gave them a simple image of the brain that highlighted the important parts (for today): the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.

I explained how the amygdala decides what to do with any new information coming into the brain.  I gave some examples, such as if the information coming in is that your hand is on a hot stove, the amygdala would quickly alert your brain and you would remove your hand.  In this example, the amygdala does not talk to the prefrontal cortex – it makes a quick decision to keep you safe.

In another example, the information coming in is that you see a box of cookies sitting on the counter.  In this example, your amygdala would share this information with the prefrontal cortex.  The prefrontal cortex is the decision making center of your brain.  So in this situation, the prefrontal cortex would help you come up with the best plan – like asking a parent for a cookie!

When we are under stress, the amygdala, reacts quickly – sending us into fight, fright, or freeze, instead of talking to our prefrontal cortex to problem solve.  When we deep breathe, we help the amygdala to calm down and make the best decision.

We talked about some examples recently where if we stopped and breathed, we might have been able to help our amygdala make a better decision.  Not naming names 😉 but recently one kiddo got upset while playing a game and threw a game piece across the room.  This individual now understand that if he or she took a deep breath in that moment, perhaps his or her prefrontal cortex could have helped to make a better decision. O also gave an example of how he might go into “flight” if he hears the Zombies 2 Soundtrack for the fifth time in a row.  (Some other parents may be experiencing something like this right around now…)

    

I had the kids draw pictures and name their amygdala and prefrontal cortex.  This way they could visualize themselves calming their amygdala so it can talk with the prefrontal cortex.  This was very cute!  And now, we have been able to give them cues and ask them how “amygdalette” or “head and the heart” are feeling and if they are able to talk to “fluffy” and “ten”.  These cues have helped to diffuse a few minor incidents here!

Hope it helps for you too!

 

 

Categories: Home from School

Breathing Practice

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There has been a lot of stress here in this household with the fear of the coronavirus and the uncertainty of how long we will be quarantined, so G has requested a coping skills curriculum.  Day One, we reviewed all of our favorite breathing exercises.

Here are our top 8:

You can download these breathing cards for free HERE

We practiced each of these and then shared which were our favorite.  We talked about what would be a safe space in the house for each of them to use to calm down.  They each picked a spot, G her room, C the recycling closet 😉  I had them go to their space to practice their favorite breath.

To make it more individualized, for our Day Two curriculum, I folded a piece of paper into 4’s and had them draw their top breaths they remembered from the day before. I was really happy to see that they did remember them and could show me how to do them.

Here is C, breathing in deeply with his hands on his stomach to fill his “balloon”

As they remembered their favorites, I had them draw a picture for each.

Then the cut them out and taped them up in their safe space!

I hope some of these breaths might work for your kiddos!  This is an important time to help them feel safe and calm and breathing might just be that tool!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Home from School