Top 40 Valentine's Day Books

Top 40 Valentine's Day Books featured at The Educators' Spin On It

Looking for a special way to celebrate Valentine's Day with your children?
Give a Book! 

Here are some of our favorite Valentine's Day books to add to your child's library. 

Top 40 Valentine's Day Books for Kids 

Using Play to Parent Through Stress: Snapshot of Parenting with Purpose

I'm delighted to be able to guest post in this fantastic series. Here is a snapshot of how we try to use play to parent through stress, tantrums, anxiety and big emotions.

Jake is a very sensitive little soul and usually any negative sensitivities come out with banshee like cries and shouts, which quite honestly make me want to smother myself with a pillow! The pitch is just that shatters my sanity and topped off with an enormous volume I'm often left feeling like I'm rocking in a corner... I'm not, of course. I'm often frantically (well it feels like it anyway) trying to solve the problem, kiss it better and make it all go away... failing that, I shout back slowly because it feels like the only way to get through to him [-its not],  and occasionally failing, I'll walk away reluctantly to recuperate for a moment or two before going back with a better plan.
My better plan is usually to cuddle and play. This is not fail safe by any means, but the power of distraction and the wonder of being silly very often gets us both through tricky situations, and increasingly brings us out the other side closer together. I am really interested in and intrigued by play and creative arts therapy, and I think this and my [pre SAHM] work with children with special needs and autism informs my parenting greatly. I learned a lot working quite intensively with an autistic boy who self harmed as his only way of dealing with sensory processing, emotions and disturbances. I learned techniques and methods to help move through the intense feelings and behaviours, to encourage relaxation, and to help communication when language is often obscured or suppressed.
Of course, as a parent I regularly forget that I even have these very useful tools and my own emotions and deep love for my children cloud my thinking. But when I am able to see through the haze a bit I use some play ideas to help ease stress, tame tantrums and work through emotions.
  • Tickling - breaks the tension and allows us to move past the issue - it also brings us physically close together, leads to a cuddle, and lets us connect. This doesn't always work though, have to be careful with sensory issues and him not wanting to be touched. 
  • Throwing a ball - or rolling a ball while we talk - this has only just started to work at 3 and a bit years, too much to think about when he was younger, but the repetition of the action is relaxing, it helps encourage taking turns in conversation, and is a distraction from the initial problem allowing us to step back and work through it. 
  • Using silly voices - breaks the tension, allows conversation to start, and defers the emotion to 'pretend' characters, which may allow a more open response.
  • Singing - I sing silly songs all the time; I just use any tune and sing things like, "Jakey's being a grumpy pants, Jakey's being a grumpy pants, Jakey's being a grumpy pants, I wish he'd tell me why... Jakey's being a grumpy pants [repeat] ... but I still love him lots!" or something like that ;) Jake normally laughs and comes out of his mood. This one combines well with tickles. 
  • Put him in the bath - gently, I might add ;) this one works quite well when Jake's over tired and heading towards bedtime anyway, but I have done it at other times. The water is warm and therapeutic, the change of environment can break the tantrum/upset and allow conversation, and water provides many opportunities for sensory and imaginative play and relaxation. 

For more ideas on this topic check out my very popular 15 Play Ideas to Help Children Calm Down on Creative Playhouse, and Creative Ways to Connect with Your Kids on Mummyology.

Katherine has a background in special education, early years childcare, and has a BA and MA in the creative and performing arts. She writes at Creative Playhouse about her creative play activities Mummyology on parenting  and is a stay at home mum to Jake (3.5) and Poppy (1 year). 

Kim's "Spin On It"

I must confess that Katherine's Parenting with Purpose Guest Post arrived in my inbox on the an evening for me when I truly needed to read it and put it into action.  I hope it will inspire you to do the same.  

That day I had a very frustrating afternoon with both of my girls, yes afternoons can be a little hectic around here with a tired 6  year old with 2nd grade math homework and a 2 year old wanting big sister's full attention.  The older is my sensitive strong willed one and my younger one is well just a strong willed younger version of her sister. They are both VERY different from their always calm older brother.  Every child is different!  I really was trying to come up with a plan for what I can do differently so our afternoon together would go more smoothly each day. And not quite as many outbursts or time outs.    

These simple tips of using PLAY to handle stress is fundamental in childhood.  The next day I made a better plan of things that the girls to incorporate together to work well through play.  They had some free play in the backyard with the playground, I added a few extra toys of interest to get them working together.  We set aside time for making a painting together with water colors, perfect for varying ages.  I made a point of setting up an afternoon play station with a few handpicked toys each day while big sister did her homework.  Afterwards we had a little dance party together.  We even had a bath early before dinner so that we were happy and ready for a great evening when daddy came home from work.  

WHAT a difference those simple steps made in our afternoons. Sometimes planning for opportunities for play can be the best tool for dealing with stress & tantrums with children. It's normal for child to have tantrums and big emotions when they are young.  It's our job as parents to give them the tools and words for how to react to those feelings.   

Thank you so much Katherine for sharing your Snapshot of how you're handling an issue that happens in everyday life with many children with positive parenting ideas ! I encourage you to check out some other inspiring posts by her on Mummyoly and Creative Playhouse.  Here's are some of my favorites that she's shared.  

Amanda's "Spin On It"
I second that this is a strategy came at a time when I needed to be reminded of it.  The kids and I are feeling the stress of life this week as their grandparents left after living with us for ten weeks, the dog gets sick, the three year old has night terrors and growing pains and the list goes on and on.  But we all have our lists don't we? Some stresses are bigger than others, but we all have them in our lives and this post is such a great reminder of what we, as parents, can do to help support our children's emotional health.  Because sometimes, I tend to forget these important little things during stressful situations, I wrote the word PLAY in big letters on a 3x5 notecard and taped it to my microwave for the week.  I am hoping this little memory trigger will help me remember to use my silly voice, play a game of chase or snuggle with my kids more!

For more Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose {Click HERE}

To share your own parenting story of you or someone in your life who you think you caught Parenting with Purpose we invite you to email us and SHARE!  

Kindness Challenge: Create a Love Books Package

We are excited to be spending 4 weeks participating in Toddler Approved’s 100 Acts of Kindness Project!.  We were thrilled when Kristina asked us if I wanted to give the second challenge!  You may have noticed that at The Educators' Spin On It we LOVE BOOKS!  So we thought it might be fun to include them in our challenge this week!
Week 2 Challenge: Show Kindness by Giving a Book!

This week we are challenging you to perform an act of kindness that helps children learn to read and to love books!  This act can be as simple as giving a book to a friend, leaving a book,  or donating books.  We encourage you to take part in the International Book Giving Day on February 14.  
For our Act of Kindness Challenge we want you to create a LOVE BOOKS Package for a special friend.  It’s so simple to do!  

Here’s How to Send a Love Books Package
  • Pick a book
  • Create an activity or a few to go with the book
  • Put it into an envelope
  • Mail or Give your book package away!

We choose a book that we received at Chick Fil A, LOVE that they give books with their kids meals.  Since we ordered  two kids meals, we received two books.  We didn’t need the second book so instead of exchanging it for Ice cream, my daughters and I decided we could send the book to a friend as a Act of Kindness.  You can usually find budget friendly books at Target’s Dollar Spot, Dollar Tree or Walmart and Scholastic for just a $1 or $2.  

Once we selected the book we needed to come up with some ideas to go along with the book that our friend would enjoy creating.  Franklin Says I Love You is about how Franklin finds ways to tell his mother he loves her.  We came up with a few activities to show love in our house.  

Create Heart Flowers
First we created flowers out of hearts with card stock and attached to straws.  Then we used a toilet paper roll and covered it with scrapbook paper.  

Create a Heart Garland
Then we used the same paper to trace and create Large Hearts to string a Heart Garland.  We included a string so that you can hang it up.

Stamp with Hearts
Then we use additional large hearts to decorate using Stamps that we created from foam stickers and recycled lids.  My 2 year old also joined the fun by gluing on hearts onto her large heart.  

Make a Card
Last we create a special card to say “I LOVE YOU” using the paper that we left over from all of our Heart Projects. 

For just a few dollars we gave a book and created a centerpiece, wall decorations, and a card for a special friend as our Act of Kindness!  We can’t wait for our special friend to receive their LOVE BOOKS Package.  For more ideas for LOVE BOOKS Packages check out our LOVE BOOKS Exchanges

We can’t wait to hear about what you do this week!

If you share about it on your website we encourage you to share on our LOVE BOOKS page  {A page created for parents and teachers as a resource for books and activities} Plus stop by Toddler Approved and share with her how you and your family completed this Act of Kindness, plus enter a Book Giveaway

Don't forget to print your own Poster to share about International Book Giving Day!
We can't wait to see how you decide to give a book! 

Did you see our Chat with Megan from Coffee Cups and Crayons and Lauren from Tutus and Tea Parties about Acts of Kindness with Kids?  Check it out!  

We encourage you to visit Toddler Approved for more ideas on the 100 Acts of Kindness Project and the rest of the weekly challenges! She has two giveawasy from Usbourne Books that you'll want to enter to win!  And remember, no act is too small!

FYI Scholastic is having the ONE DOLLAR BOOK SALE NOW!  

How to Host an After School Playdate

Parents - I know that we are all recouping from the holiday season. I know that my house is just now feeling back to normal with all the holiday decorations.  Many places around the globe have snow on the ground and we are beginning to get cabin fever.  Winter is a great time on the year to host an after school playdate for your kids and their friends. It can be a great pick-me-up to reconnect with friends while learning and having fun! Who says kids can only learn and have fun at school?   Yes, we know everyone is super busy, that is why if you have the opportunity to host - your friends parents will be oh so happy!!!

Unplug and Enjoy Quiet Time: Snapshot of Parenting with Purpose

I love it when my grandchildren come over to visit. But they often want to turn on the television or play on my computer. I offer them other things to do and it helps us all relax and enjoy each other’s company.

We live in a fast-paced world bombarded by stimulation. It’s so easy and tempting to turn on the television or an electronic game to keep a child occupied. But what if YOU need some peace and quiet? Establish a quiet time as a routine or scheduled time and it will help everyone in your family.

You may be thinking that you’d love to have some down time but how in the world do you get an active preschooler to remain quiet and alone? With young children who have given up napping, you need to start them with five to ten minutes of quiet time. Tell your child that they don’t have to take a nap, but they now have a chance to play quietly on their bed or in their room. They may need a timer so they can understand that the time is short. Very gradually, increase the time to 30 or 45 minutes. This time must be established as a routine or part of your schedule.

You may need to begin the quiet time with your child. Read books and put on soothing music. Leave your child with their favorite books and toys. If they come out of their room before the time has ended, quietly led them back to their room and assure them that the timer will go off soon.

Eventually, children will develop a habit of wanting some alone time as they recognize and learn the benefits, such as being able to: 
  •     Relax, become calm and learn patience,
  •     Develop problem-solving skills,
  •     Use their creativity and imagination,
  •     Develop independence,
  •     Reflect and absorb what they are experiencing, seeing, feeling, learning, and
  •     Appreciate siblings more.
Giving your child some quiet time offers them opportunities to explore, expand, and extend activities. And possibly the greatest benefit of all, is that you will have some quiet time to focus inward and become the mother you want to be. You deserve, and need, some alone time, too. 

Kim's "Spin On It"
Thank you so much Susan for sharing the important of taking time for Quiet Time with your children and grandchildren.  Some great parenting tips that Susan has shared on her site are Caught Being Good Moms Need Me Time, Building Self Esteeem, and Random Acts of Kindess Jar. We encourage you to stop by her site and tell her went sent you! 

Quiet adults we need it and as children we need it. Children need quiet time to become creative. When we're overloaded and they're overloaded everything gets out of balance. Unplugging our lives also helps to encourage more natural play and exploration.

We all know it's so easy as a grandparent watching your grandchildren to just let them turn on the TV or play a Video Game because you know they'll enjoy it.  However over an extended time with you you'll find it will be a much more pleasant visit and time together if you're unplugged.  Most importantly they'll remember their time spent with you and the fun things they did. 
Amanda's "Spin On It"
These are all great reasons why it is important to take time to be unplugged!  Although we do not own a T.V., the kids are not always enjoying quiet time.   I find that my kids NEED the quiet time just as much as I do.  Every day after school, my 6 year old snuggles up in the chair next to my bed with a book and reads for almost an hour.  On the days that she doesn't have this quiet time, she really struggles to maintian her composure until bedtime.  My 3 year old is similar in this way too.  Lately, I have trying to do a better job modeling ME taking quiet times to reflect, write, read, and build with the kids.
Looking for a few Ideas for  Quiet Time Activities?
Establishing Quiet Time from Toddler Approved
Quiet Time Activities from All Our Days
10 Sanity Saving Activities for Quiet Time from Inner Child Fun
Q is for Quiet Play Activities from Childhood 101
Calming Activities for Kids from Kids Activities Blog

For more info on the importance of limited screen time please read our post about Screen Free Week

Email us and share your own Parenting Success Story!
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David McPhail Inspired Activities {Virtual Book Club for Kids Blog Hop}

Using Books to Inspired Acts of Kindness featured Weezer Changes the World by David McPhail

We're so excited to share with the our selection for the David McPhail Virtual Book Club for Kids.  We've selected Weezer Changes the World!  It's a book about a very special dog who was very ordinary until one day something extraordinary happens and the world is never the same afterwords.  

Weezer Changes the World by David M. McPhail

If you haven't read the story, here is Reese Witherspoon reading it at the Whitehouse.  In the book the people promise to make Cards, Letters to Others, Feed the Hungry, Care for the Sick, Keep Air Clean and Keep Water Clean, and Be Kind to Others. All simple ways that we can change the world for a better place. 

What promises would you make to Weezer?

Using Books to Inspired Acts of Kindness featured Weezer Changes the World by David McPhail

We created our own Earth by using Watercolors.  Then we came up with ways that we can change the world personally.  Our hope is to add more and more as the month goes by.  Here's a printable worksheet to write your goals on. 

Using Books to Inspired Acts of Kindness featured Weezer Changes the World by David McPhail

Once we created the goals we typed them up together on the computer and then attached them to clouds as dreams.  We were talking about Martin Luther King Jr, here are a few other activities about him. We talked about his dream too and the way that we treat others.  We decided to discuss various Random Acts of Kindness that we could share with others. 

Using Books to Inspired Acts of Kindness featured Weezer Changes the World by David McPhail

Using Books to Inspired Acts of Kindness featured Weezer Changes the World by David McPhail

 Need Inspiration?  Check out these Pinterest Boards and Follow

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday today, we are excited to announce that we're joining the the third annual 100 Acts of Kindness Project! hosted by Toddler Approved
It's starts today and will last until Feburary 14th. 

How can you participate?

  1. Accept the challenge to accomplish 100 acts of kindness with your families or students over the next four weeks (Jan 21-Feb 14).
  2. Comment to let us know that you are joining us!
  3. Create a way to record your acts of kindness. You can find several ideas here from last year.
  4. Participate in each simple weekly challenge. We will give you one each Monday for four weeks. Come back to this landing page each Monday to find out your challenge for the week. The challenge images below will take you to each blog when you click on them starting on January 21st. Here's Week 1's Challange from Coffee Cups and Crayons.  Next week we will be issuing the challange on Monday, January 28.
  5. Join us in celebrating with a Kindness Celebration on Valentine's Day, Feb 14th!
Everyone is invited to join in this kindness celebration! We can all do small things to make our homes, families, communities, schools, and workplaces just a little bit better.

So, will you join us?

Now here's the fun part.  David McPhail has inspired so many with his books.  It's your turn to share what you and your child created with this books.  It's our Monthly Virtual Book Club featuring David McPhail.  Please add your links to any David McPhail inspired posts to the blog hop linky below.
There are a few rules for this blog hop that we ask you to follow, so make sure to read them:
  1. Link up only posts inspired by David McPhail that share children's book inspired crafts, activities, recipes, etc. Any other posts will be deleted.
  2. Visit other blog posts on the linky and comment on or share the ones you love!
  3. Add our Virtual Book Club button to your post if you'd like.
Here's the button you can grab if you are participating!

Activities for Learning About Martin Luther King Jr

Have you discussed with your child Dr. Martin Luther King Jr?  Here are some hand picked activities to help you share with your child his influence on the world with age appropriate resources.  

Activities for Teaching Kids about Martin Luther King Jr. featured at The Educators' Spin On It

Activities About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

I realized that I needed to find some last minute ideas for my own daughter so I thought I'd share with you what I found.  Just type in the words Martin Luther King Jr. on Pinterest or online and you will see a reflection on how much one man can change the world.  In schools all over teachers are talking to children about him and the importance of peace, equality and standing up for what's right.  Each age level will do it in different ways and at varying levels of content.   

Winter Fun with Friends

Once January hits for some reason we are always looking to have friends over for a playdate afterschool.  Just gets a little quite in Winter I suppose.  Here's a few Winter Themed Activities that are easy to plan and fun for the kids

Winter Activity Ideas with Friends

Learning about Emotions: Tot School {24 months}

Let's face it our Toddlers at this stage in life are full of emotions that they just don't quite understand just yet let alone verbalize.  My daughter is 24 months and she just started using the word sad and happy which has helped us quite a bit in communicating her wants and needs.  

Our focus this week was Emotions for Tot School.


Here are a few books we read during Tot School  Baby Faces, My Many Colored Days, and Today I Feel Silly.   

We used a child safe mirror and emotions poster as a station during the week.  We had so much fun looking in the mirror together trying to make different faces.  Hopefully I can snap some photos of her with each emotion soon and create this Emotions Game from our Love Books Swap this summer. 

Monday Music:
We had a lot of fun signing If You're Happy And You Know It.  However we changed it up a little bit and added sad and mad.  We practiced changing our faces to the emotions. 

Tuesday Science:
We focused on textures and the way that things feel and they make us feel.  Our weather has been so nice that I pulled out the water table and added various objects in there for her to play with.  We talked about smooth and rough and hard and soft as she explored the objects. 

Wednesday Math:
Since we were working on emotions we counted faces for our counting and sorting activities.  Here's a link to the faces we used. 

Thursday Art: 
She practiced drawing faces on a special template with expo markers that could erase.  Here's a link to use for blank head outlines. 
I also made a bigger version with shaving cream on it to create a face on it. 
The last thing she did was create a collage out of faces from a reused Baby Magazine. 

Friday Field Trip:  
This week we took at trip to our local science musuem and explored their discovery room.  We also had a special treat of visiting Amanda's house for a Snow Themed playdate which you will hear more about on Sunday for After School Express
Toys of the Week:
Puzzles, Stacking Blocks, Little People House and Bus and Baby Dolls

These were to toys we focused on using throughout the week.  I'm trying to set aside specific toys each week to role model with her and we bring the holiday toys in and take out some of the toys she's outgrowing. 

Hope your learning week was as delightful as ours!  If you want to connect with other tot-schooling families, we will be linking up with the tot-school at 1+1+1=1

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