Parent with Purpose this Holiday Season

Make Halloween a learning, interactive time for kids.

pumpkinFor those of our reader families that celebrate Halloween, we wish you a safe evening filled with lots of yummy treats, fun tricks, cute kiddos in costumes, amazing pictures and happy memories!

We are so excited to announce

That our newest little one has emerged at 8lbs 5 oz and 19 3/4 inches long
 and has already fluttered his way into our hearts!

Butterfly kisses, giggles, and fun
The JOY of having another one has just begun!!!

Can't wait to share more about pregnancy and babies in the upcoming months!

Waiting for a New Sibling to Come Home: After School Express

We are so very excited here at The Educators' Spin On It!  Someone very special has arrived!  We'll have to wait for Amanda to share more details with you once she's ready but I thought I'd share I was the lucky one to stay home with Amanda's little ones while she went off to the hospital to have a baby!

Here's the question...  What do you do at home while you're waiting for a baby to arive?  We found some fun things to do that I thought you might find useful as you may have siblings waiting with family members to bring home their newest sibling. 

Keep routine as normal as possible. 
It's already the most exciting thing that ever happened in their lives, keeping their routine familiar will help them maintain calmness.  Before your anticipated due date, write up a daily schedule of what your children do each day.  That way no matter who's with your children while you're at the hospital they'll know what to do. 

Talk about their own birth stories
It's important for them to know where they were born and what cute stories you have associated with their birth.  A simple activity before baby arrives is to write a book together about when they arrived.  Then while they are asking quesions at home they can read their own stories and probably answer a lot of their own questions.   

Look at baby albums together
Older siblings can begin to have worries about what the new baby will look like.  Truthfully I think it's because they want to know if the baby it will look like them.  It's fun to pull out their own baby albums to see how they looked when they were first born.  It's important to point out that we all look very different from when we were first born.  Keep them out on the table the first few weeks the baby is home so that they feel just as special as the new baby. 

Make something for Mommy at the hospital
Create a special picture or card for mommy to hang up in the hospital room.  Since Owls seem to be the theme for Amanda's baby.  The kids created special owl family pictures. 

Visit the baby
Once you get the call it's time to pack up and go visit the new baby!  Have a special outfit set aside for this day that they've selected with you.  It's a visual cue for them to know it's time and the baby is here.  Plus that means you've already prepped for those adorable first shots of the baby and their siblings.  It was so much fun to get the call and tell them the baby had arrived! 

Sibling Gift at the Hospital
Have a special gift for your baby's siblings at the hospital.  It makes a special memory for them to take home and remember their visit with and to also know that you still love them very much.  Books can be a good gift since it will also keep them occupied at home while they are waiting for the baby to arrive. 

Create an easy Transition Home
Leaving the hospital can be one of the most difficult things for small children.  They just don't understand why Mommy and Daddy and new baby can't come home yet.  Prepping them before you go in is a good tip.  A simple we're going to see the baby for a little bit and then we'll leave so the baby and mommy can rest and then we'll be back to pick them up soon or have dinner with them soon.  Then once you arrive at home I used some pictures I had taken at the hosptial and I video to help them feel like we brought baby home too on our minds.  They even said goodnight to the baby on the screen as they went to bed. I assured them we'd be back in the morning to visit the baby again!  Prebought snacks or sibling gifts can be a good thing to take home in the car that Mommy packs. 

Make something for Baby at  Home
We created a special Name Banner for the baby once we found out his name.  We cut up triangles and then glued letters onto the triangles.  Then we hung it up together. They had so much fun making it together and it really made them excited about his name.  We alos created a dot stamp with the letter in his name to hang on his door. 


Reading Books about Welcoming a New Baby
Anytime you can read about what's happening in your child's own life it's a great way to help them understand what's going on.  It gives them a chance to discuss any concerns they may have and also introduce concepts they have not thought about. 

Talk about expectations and safety rules
It's important for children to hear what's expected of them around the new baby and have them talk about it with parents and also those moments before baby arrives home.  Make a simple book with your child about expectations and illustrate it together 

Most importantly give them time to play and be a kid
Having baby and baby items available for role playing will help them with many of the feelings that are going through their thoughts.  Even a train sets, doll houses are ways to role play what's happening.  Just having time to go outside on in the yard is important too. 


Soon enough before you know it it will be time for the baby to arrive at home!  Many thanks to Amanda's family for allowing me to be a part of such a special time in your life!  
Click below for More Tips for Sibling Connections to new Baby during Pregnancy


Now you know what we've been up to after school this week!  We'd love to hear what you've been up to. Don't forget to visit Last Week's Afterschool Roundup of our Favorite Fall Activities.

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Posts (Ages 5 and up) about your learning week after school including, crafts, activities, playtime and adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives after their day at school or on the weekend! When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board or Feature on our After School party next week!

Link up your afterschool activities! We'd love to see them!

Halloween Playdate (or party) for Toddlers

Have you ever left a toddler playdate at someones house and thought - WOW, that was a ton of fun!  We had a great time, my child had a chance to socialize AND learn! Take a peek at these Fun Halloween Crafts for Toddlers 

Halloween Activities for Toddlers 

Well, I just did and it was really something worth sharing with all of you!  I honestly canNOT claim any of it as my own!  The hostess did most of the AMAZING decorations and learning stations while other moms brought snacks, activities and games.  Me (9 months pregnant at the time) brought some snacks to add.  Yes - we all must not be on our A game all the time!!!  But let me tell you, this mommy did an amazing job of making our playdate so successful!

So what made it such a great playdate?

The Positive Roles of a Mother in Law: Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose

We have all heard the saying "monster-in-law". The derogatory phrase used to refer to a mother-in-law who happens to be a monster. I feel terrible for anyone out there who has a monster-in-law, it sounds awful. I, on the other hand, am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful mother-in-law, a woman I admire and more importantly that my children adore.

The role of a grandparent can be so important in a child's life. There is something about a grandparent's unconditional love that can truly help build a child's self esteem.  There are few things I enjoy more than watching my girls excitedly await the arrival of their Grandma Lou. The moments before she walks through our door  are filled with giggles of anticipation. Once Grandma Lou is in the house it's all about my girls sharing every little story, about every little thing that has been happening in their lives...Grandma Lou just sits back and listens. She is genuinely interested in what they have to say. These are the moments they will always remember. As they grow, they will always remember how present their Grandma was in their lives.
Grandma Lou tries to make it to every one of their performances; school, dance, soccer, whatever. And if she can't make it, she always follows up with a phone call to see how the event went. Her presence is so important to my girls. I suppose that is one of lessons that their relationship with their grandmother teaches them...the importance of being present. It is one thing to live your life day in and day out, but if you are truly present with those around you, they will know that they are loved. 
What I have learned from Grandma Lou is that children need a positive influence and a positive voice in their lives. Her positivity shines through. While life has not always been easy for Grandma Lou, she has faced many challenges, she has always remained positive. When I think of all the difficulties and challenges that my girls will face as they grow up, I hope that I can hold on to this lesson from their grandmother.  

My daughters are so very fortunate to have a fabulous woman in their lives. I am very fortunate as well. My mother passed away 3 years ago and Grandma Lou has become a welcomed guiding light in my life. My only wish is that my girls will take the valuable lessons their grandmother is teaching them into their own lives and someday become amazing grandmothers as well. 
In my "previous life" I was a mental health my current life I'm a stay-at-home mom with 2 beautifully adventurous kids. I share everything that lands on our kitchen counter over on my blog, Kitchen Counter Chronicles. Swing by and learn how we are greening their lives; what we are crafting; what we are cooking and what we are reading. While you will often find the girls and I inside the kitchen, you will also find us out getting our hands dirty, exploring and learning outdoors. I also tweet at @kcchronicles and can be found on Facebook and Pinterest.

Kim's "Spin On It"
We were so excited that Jenn from Kitchen Counter Chronicles emailed us her Snapshot. We know her best from joining up with her each month in our Around the World in 12 Dishes. and we are both a part of the Kid Blogger Network.  This past months we've enjoyed her Outdoor Pumpkins and Leaves Blog Hop and her Halloween Books and Activities. 

Thank you so much Jenn for sharing about your Mother in Law, Grandma Lou on our Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose.  It's so much fun to see how your children interact and engage with her.  You can see how much they love and cherish each other and how you value her as an important role model in your own life.  What a treasure she is to your family!  Grandparents truly are a blessing in our lives and it's often times something we forget to stop and say thank you to them for all that they do for our children and for us.
As I always say to Amanda without my inlaws I wouldn't have my husband and I am so thankful for that.  I am grateful each day for who they are and for bringing him into this world so that I could be so very blessed with my husband and my children.  It's sad but true, as my son reaches 20 this year, soon enough I need to start taking notes of what a good mother in law does for my future daughter in law and grandchildren.... OH MY did I just say that out loud ????
Want to share your own Snapshot? 

More resources for Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose
Giving One on One Attention to Children from Toddler Approved 
Importance of Male Readers from Learn with Play at Home
Importance of Everyday Moments from Familia&Seoul 

We would love to feature you in a future blog post and inspire the word to be better parents! E-mailing us your snapshot of parenting with purpose gives us permission to share your story with others with hopes that it may inspire =) If you do not want us to share your awesome parenting moment with others, but want to tell us, just let us know in your e-mail and we will read it, but not share it!

Kid Friendly Resources about Breast Cancer Awareness

We invite you to join us today as kid bloggers join together to GO PINK for breast cancer support.  We're sharing on our blogs various ways that you can help to support research for the cure.  We're sharing simple ways we can support each other as we fight breast cancer with our friends and family members.  We participated in Small Hands Creating HOPE ProjectMama Smiles opened up this project to benefit the American Cancer Society.  If you donate $15 you also get a free ebook full of kid friendly crafts. 

Websites for Information for Talking to Kids About Breast Cancer

Our Favorite Fall Activities from After School Express


Here are our top picks from our weekly After School Blog Hop. We want to share with you the adorable Fall & Halloween Themed ideas we've been collecting to do after school.  It's hard to believe it's just over a week left before Halloween and lots of projects to choose from. Here are some of our favorites that have been shared on our After School Linky this Fall.  We’d love to hear what you’re working on afterschool too! Come join us!

Fire Safety at Tot School 22 Months

October is Fire Safety Month!  It's never to young to begin to teach your child fire safety, plus I think fire trucks and all cars with sirens are one of the first things a child recognizes and gets excited about when they see them from their car seats.  We took the opportunity to schedule a tour at our local fire station.  It's important for children to see what a fire fighter looks like  in uniform so they know they are our friends.  The crew at our station did a terrific job making it a kid friendly experience to show our little two year old that they are helpers and real people.  They even got down on the floor to let the children touch his jacket, boots and hat.  Our brand new fire fighter was just about to sing with the kids when the call went out and within 1 minute they were gone and off to keep someone safe. 

Monday Music: FireTruck Songs

Here are a few firefighter songs that we sang this week as we drove our cardboard firetrucks around the house. 

Hurry Hurry Drive the Firetruck Hurry, hurry drive that fire truck,
Hurry hurry drive that fire truck,
Hurry hurry drive that fire truck,
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding
(other verses -- hurry, hurry, turn the corner, climb the ladder, squirt the hoses, and then end with slowly, slowly back to the fire house)

The Wheels on the Firetruck
{Use the siren, ladder, seat belts, and so on with everything on the firetruck } 

More Fire Fighter Songs


Tuesday Science: Temperature

This week we spent time focusing on the words hot and cold.  We did have a few pumpkin candles lit and talked about no touching and how they are hot. 

Wednesday Math: Fire Truck Shapes

We counted firetrucks as we painted them and also talked about the shapes we were using to paint our fire trucks.  We worked on identifying rectangles and circles throughout the week. 

Thursday Art Exploration: Create your Own Fire Safety City

We had so much fun creating our own  firetrucks to drive on the roads.  My 22 month old is pretty interested in using the glue stick so they was a fun activity for her and glueing down all the roads and yellow lines.  Once we were done with that we used a rectangle and red paint to create the truck.  Then we used black paint and a circle stamp for the wheels.  We used to types of circles for fun.  Then I cut a ladder out from foam and used that to stamp the ladders. 

My 6 year old came up with the idea for adding the buildings and fire. We quickly grabbed some scrap paper and cut out rectangles to glue down and a few squares for windows. Then we found orange tissue paper to glue on. You could have easily painted them too but since my is really interested in the glue stick we did more glueing.  This turned out to be a fun sibling activity since they would both do it at their own levels too. 

Friday Field Trip: Fire Station 

I was simply impressed with how quickly my 22 month old was able to grasp the concept of a firetruck and even starting saying the word before the end of the day.  Of course it still needs more practice but she most certainly knows what she is saying every time she sees one.  Makes me feel a little more comfortable that if something were to ever happen she knows that it's a helpful truck and helpful people there to help us. 


Resources for Fire Safety

Here's what's on our Bookshelf this Week: Fire Safety Books

Here's what in our Toy Box this week: Fire Safety Toys

I haven't shown this video of Elmo to my youngest daughter yet but with my older one when she was around 3 really enjoyed it and learned from it.  It addresses the issues of fear with Elmo and Maria does a great job of walking him through things for him to understand. 

Sesame Street - Elmo Visits the Firehouse

We shared a special cookie treat with our firefighters when we went for a visit.  We attached this Bear with a Fire Hat note too.  We can't thank them enough for all the do for our families.  Hope you have a great time learning about Fire Safety with your little one! 
Tot School
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Teaching Children About Hunger and Giving: Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose

Elementary school students made these cards for individuals living at nursing homes. We have also made cards for Veterans.
Even though Halloween is still about two weeks away, if you have been to basically any store lately, you know the holiday season is already in full swing. I have started seeing Facebook posts about Christmas gift ideas for the kiddos and Pinterest filling up with holiday recipes and decor.

The season can get pretty busy pretty fast and we, especially parents, can get caught up in the holiday photos, school parties, outings (the haunted house, the pumpkin patch, the hayride and the corresponding photo ops) -- not to mention having the perfect gifts under the tree and decorations around the house. Sometimes all of the activity can lead us to miss out on one of the most joyous aspects of the season, which is the spirit of giving, not presents-under-the-tree/stockings-stuffed-to-the-hilt giving, but the true spirit of giving, in which we stop and give of ourselves -- time, not just items -- to those that truly are in need.

In most communities, the holiday season means there are more people in need. Cooler (I live in Southern California) or flat out cold (in most other places) temperatures mean heating costs are at their peek and homeless shelters are packed. Organizations serving those in need are stretched to capacity. For far too many (16 million children in the United States) having any meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas is an uncertainty, much less having a bountiful meal that leaves you in a food coma as we always called it at my house -- the same goes for having presents under the tree (if there is a tree).

I do not mean to paint a dismal/grim picture and get everyone depressed. Rather, I want to encourage you to embrace -- as a family -- the true spirit of giving, and the joy that comes from stepping outside of oneself to serve others. Slow down and enjoy this season with your loved ones, and consider taking a little time together to see who in your community needs a helping hand, a smile, a warm blanket, a bag of food.

Last month, I joined with bloggers and individuals around the world to do something to help end hunger during Hunger Action Month through an effort we collectively decided to call Moms Fighting Hunger.

What we all discovered was that not only was this work important, but it was also, at times, fun, and always, rewarding. We learned that our families enjoyed and valued the activities we did to serve others. This is what the season is truly all about: being together, giving of ourselves, and spreading joy.

Not sure where to start? For ideas, such as breakfast bags for homeless shelters, hosting a hunger hero playdate/party, feeding through reading campaigns, food pantry scavenger hunts and more, check out this Blog Hop post of activities from Hunger Action Month. You can also find all of our posts and activities (and more) on my Be the Change pinboard and can learn about hunger through the Moms Fighting Hunger Facebook Community, where we would love for you to share what you are doing. Here are some other helpful posts:
Perhaps this is already part of your Holiday season. If not, I hope we have inspired you to start something new as a family.

Jennifer is a mom of two, as well as an independent filmmaker who has taught filmmaking to youth and has run after-school programs through her company Generation Arts. She writes about her experiences with Wild Thing and Caterpillar at The Good Long Road with an emphasis on mindfulness, imagination, and creative activities related to her toddler’s favorite children’s books.

Kim's "Spin On It"
We are so very excited to have Jennifer, author of the The Good Long Road,  sharing with us on our Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose. We were so impressed with how she helped to organize Mom Fighting Hunger in September. Here's a post of a recent project that Jennifer and her family recently volunteered at.  We recently shared our own experience of students dealing with hunger issues in the classrooms.  The idea of creating a card for a program is one of the easiet ways to encourage children to think of others.    The simpliest things can make the difference someone's life more than you can imagine. Even a simple thank you to community members around you is a great start.   We hope you're able to get involved in some of the local programs withint your community or child's school.  For more ideas you can visit our Community Outreach Board.  We would love to hear how you are reaching out to your community this holiday season AND throughout the year.

Looking for more Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose?

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