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.
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!
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!
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!!!
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,
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.
Quiet time...as 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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
Accept the challenge to accomplish 100 acts of kindness with your
families or students over the next four weeks (Jan 21-Feb 14).
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.
Join us in celebrating with a Kindness Celebration on Valentine's Day,
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
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:
Link up only posts inspired by David
McPhail that share children's book inspired crafts, activities, recipes, etc.
Any other posts will be deleted.
Visit other blog posts on the linky and comment on
or share the ones you love!
Add our Virtual Book Club button to your post if
button you can grab if you are participating!
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 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 Pinterestor 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.
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
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.
There are bound to be snow days in the months ahead. Though children will be ecstatic about having the day off from school, you may be left scrambling to keep your children entertained. With a little creativity, however, a snow day (or week) can be a great opportunity to spend some quality time together and create fun memories.
Here are some ideas for avoiding cabin fever on a snow day:
I wish we had enough money to take our children to Greece, but let's be honest with 3 kids, one in college and the others 2 and 6 years old add to that a Hardworking Dad and a Stay at Home Mom we'll probably never get the chance to afford that trip. So we decided on the next best thing... we packed up our bags and headed to a local town that is known for it's Greek Culture. We took a trip to Tarpon Springs, Florida.
We discovered this adorable town full of delicious restaurants and a working sponge dock that attracts tourists from all over. I was so surprised when we got out of the car the air was filled with the smell of homemade soap. Quite a special smell right next to the sea. I've always wanted to learn how to make my own soap, a dear friend Vanessa at The Crafty Gemini always shares the best ideas she has a tutorial on how to make your own soap , even a video!.
While we were there we had to stop at a local Restaurant that everyone recommends called Hella's. It did not disappoint it was so much fun with our girls! With a beautifully designed Greek interior, Greek music and food that was amazing! Our trip was not complete without a stop at the Bakery when we were done. We bought a small box of Baklava. We encourage you check out your area and see if you have any Greek Communities or Restaurants, exploring them with children can be a tiny mini vacation and exposure to world culture. We have quite found memories of trips over the years to San Francisco and Detroit and local restaurants and communities we discovered there.
Once we arrived at home, I asked my daughter which was her favorite from the trip and Baklava was the first thing that came out of her mouth. We decided to try our own attempt at making it. First we gathered our ingredients together after printing off the recipes from All Recipes. Then we watched a video of how to make it. Videos for how to make Baklava Greek Food About What's This Food Baklava Recipe
It's simple process that truthfully my 6 year old was able to do most of the tasks herself. It's such a confidence boost to as she creates her own dishes. Plus the whole time she's reading and practicing math with measurements, LOVE IT. The steps were simple... dough, butter,dough butter, then nuts, and again dough, Butter, just follow the recipe. She even used the mixer to chop the nuts and I removed them so she would avoid the sharp edges. I had three adult jobs to lay down the dough sheets, cut the diagonal lines to form the pieces and cook & pour the syrup with her assistance.
While it was baking we mixed together sugar, honey and vanilla to make the syrup that you pour over the pastry once it's cooked. You can see from the image above she couldn't wait to pour the syrup over the baklava, it smelled so good! This turned out to be a big hit at our house and was absolutely delicious.
Truthfully I can't wait to explore making more Greek Recipes with her. We love making our own hummus together, again she helps with the blender. The next one we want to try is this recipe for Feta and Spinach Couscous Patties. What Greek dish is your favorite?
Around the World in 12 Dishes
We started our journey the same way Phileas Fogg did in London, UK, and now are arriving in Athens, capital of Greece!Check out where we've traveled so far on our Cooking Around the World.
The world is such a wonderfully diverse and colorful place. Our children see maps, flags and books. They see postcards and maybe they see films about the world.. but let's really bring it to life through food! Taste and smell don't often get explored, we think this would be wonderfully fun and interesting for you and your children. Not only is it an exciting and different way to learn about cultures, but cooking with children brings a host of benefits - from numeracy to science. How can you beat that?
Print your passport: Click here to download, comes with space for a photo of the child with the dish. Here is a little cover for it if you wish :)
Color a placemat: Once colored/painted or whatever other way you want to do this, you can laminate it or put it between clear contact paper to use it over and over. Great conversation piece for you and your kids. Click here to download it.
Make a craft: you can make a country related craft with the kids [optional!]
Fun fact: Santa Claus is Greek. St Nicholas was a rich Greek that used to donate his money to the poor.
Share with us: Our Greek challenge starts on January 13th and will remain open for a year, so attach a link to your blog to enter the linky party or go to the comment section and post a photo together with what you did together with your child(ren).
Pinterest: We will add your photos to a "Around the World in 12 Dishes" Pinterest Boards (one for the dishes, one for the crafts) you will be a great source of inspiration for everyone :)
Are you a blogger? Let your fans know about the challenge and grab our cute lil’ button to share it on your blog.
If you do this, we’d LOVE to see a photo of it. Email it to us or post it on our Facebook page.
Please link up your Greek dish and/or craft in our linky below, we would love to see it!