Category: 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

Creating Our Own Jump Rope!

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In browsing the internet for plans, I came across a STEAM challenge for PE:

Blowing Off S.T.E.A.M. in Physical Education: Make Your Own Jump Rope

It looked really fun, so we borrowed the idea.  I tweaked it a little bit to make sense for them, here is how it went:

We challenged the kids to practice jump roping for the next thirty days in a row.  The only problem is that we don’t have a rope and need to build one from scratch!  They could gather any material (except for an actual jump rope!) from around the house to use.  We asked them to come up with an amount of time that seemed reasonable to gather the items.  They decided that ten minutes sounded good! We told them to think about the length, weight, and feel of the handles.

C came back with a handful of elastics while G returned with a lot of paper, pillow stuffing, and tape.  Her idea was to roll up all of the paper and attach each piece with tape.  She worked hard at attaching the rolled papers, but wasn’t having much success.  She realized that this would create a straight line of paper with no flexibility.  She then took the elastics and tried putting them together.  It was cool because she just learned how to make elastic bracelets, so she used the same method.  We quickly realized that we didn’t have nearly enough elastics to make a rope big enough!  C was pretty checked out at this point… it didn’t really hold his attention. Looking back, if we had given him specific materials and just told him to build on his own, we think it would have been better for him.  G was really into it though!  She remained optimistic as we thought of other things we could use.

 

Her new thought: fabric!! Luckily, J has an entire closet of fabric, so G grabbed a big bag of scraps and thought it out.  (We asked her what she might suggest to families that do not have a big closet of fabric, and she thought they could use old clothes or towels) Initially, she wanted to glue them together, but realized that tying them was a better idea.  She picked flexible fabric, tied it together, and used elastics to attach pillow filling for comfortable handles.  She tried her rope, and realized it wasn’t heavy enough.  She picked more fabric, this one was thicker, and she attached it to the middle.  In the end, the rope worked perfectly, and she had fun trying it out! It was great to see her brainstorm and problem solve.  It was also nice to see her continue to work after failing on her first attempts! 

Fun Family Game!

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I had plans to run a really fun pin knockdown game this spring.  I figured we could adjust the game to  play it at home!

In the gym, we were going to use hula hoops, and bowling pins.  We don’t have these at home, so we improvised.  We used painters tape and 2 liter bottles instead. There are two teams, you could adjust based on the amount of people you have interested in playing.  Since there are four of us at home, it made for an easy 2v2 match up.  It’s structured much like corn-hole.

Using painters tape, I made a square scoring zone for each team.  The sides of the square were 22 inches, which I think I will make a little bigger next time.  The squares were about 15-20 feet apart from each other.  In the center of each square we had an empty 2 liter bottle.  From there, we tested out different balls to roll/throw at the empty bottles.  To begin the game, you stand next to your partner.  The first person rolling/throwing attempts to knock down the empty bottle on the other side.  You have to stay behind the front of the box on your teams side. After the attempt is made, a member from the opposing team takes a turn and you continue to alternate.

Scoring:

1 point if you knock down the bottle

2 points if you are able to knock down the bottle and have the ball remain in the box

 

We played until one team was able to make 11 points, having to win by 2.  The scoring can always be adjusted.

We had a variety of ball options, including a softer yarn ball, a spike ball, and a larger nubby ball (ones that come from arcade grabs).

Jessica and I favored the yarn ball and the kids usually used the larger one.  J & C took game 1 while C and I won game 2.  We all had a blast playing!! This will be one that we play often during our time at home.

 

 

 

Science with G – Lava Lamp

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Got some alka-seltzer tabs hanging around?  There are so many experiments that you can do with them.  And Alka-seltzer actually has a page on their website for experiments – https://www.alkaseltzer.com/science-experiments

Here is our first of many experiments with alka-seltzer (this one is not listed on their website)

The Lava Lamp

Materials needed – water, cooking oil (we used vegetable), food coloring, alka-seltzer tab  (this project could still be cool without the alka-seltzer)

We filled our bottle about 1/4 full of water

Then added vegetable oil, almost to the top.  Just leave some room for food coloring and the reaction to occur (so it doesn’t overflow)

Next put in about 10 drops of food coloring.  Wait for the food coloring to settle through to the oil and into the water at the bottom.

Here is a great opportunity to talk about water and oil.  Ask questions about why do you think they do not mix?  Do you think water or oil is heavier?  What do you think would happen if we shook the bottle?  You can even have them record their predictions!

Now, that the food coloring has settled, comes the fun!  Add the alka-seltzer tab and watch in amazement!

We played with the bottle for the whole day, letting is settle then adding in more food coloring or alka-seltzer.  It was fun to make predictions and see what happened.  We definitely overflowed the bottle when we added two alka-seltzer tabs at once 🙂

If you do not have alka-seltzer.  Let them have fun shaking up the bottle and turning the bottle on its side to see what happens!

 

 

 

 

Girl Scout Cookie Taste Test!

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We love taste tests here in our household, and with G completing her first year as a Girl Scout,she wanted to order one box of each to improve her entrepreneur skills!  Secretly, I was excited about having one of each box in the house, 1. of course, because they are delicious, but 2. because I thought this would make for an excellent taste taste!  This was their first time trying most of the cookies!

So we printed out our taste test chart – this gives an opportunity to practice mindful eating by really focusing on all the tastes and texture of each piece.  Then they get to right down their guess and rate each item they ate.  You can download my taste test chart for free HERE.

I lined up all of our choices, no Samoas 🙁 those are my favorite!

Then I cut each in half and had them close their eyes, as they tasted.

They each filled out a sheet, talking about tastes and textures, then looking at the form to help make their best guess.  The ratings went a little crazy, starting at 1 – 10, and ending with some cookies at 1,000,000,000!

Then they got to pick their favorite to have in the end.

C selected the Toffee-tastic, which ended up being my favorite too!  And G after much deliberating decided on the Trefoil.

If you want to try another taste test – here is another idea

Happy Tasting!  If you try this, comment and share and let us know how it went!

Categories: Home from School

Physical Education Ideas!

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