PB 14:14 – Day 14 – Rhyme – PLUS…PPBF – Cowpoke

Woot! Woot!

And how about a Hip Hip Hooray!

It’s Day 14 of Christie Wild’s PB 14:14 Challenge. http://christiewrightwild.blogspot.com/2015/02/day-14-how-big-is-million-patterns.html

 And, it’s also Perfect Picture Book Friday. http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2015/02/perfect-picture-book-friday-finding.html

Life can’t get much better!

I’ve been trying to polish a particular picture book manuscript…it’s about a boy who wants to be a cowboy…and it’s in rhyme. Complicated rhyme. Which is hard to do. I’m so reluctant to change it up – into prose or free verse – because, as you know if you are a writer, it’s difficult to ‘kill our darlings’… that is, get rid of something we love or have gotten attached to.

And then I found this book in a library discard pile – a totally fun romp of simple rhyme and active verbs and awesome illustrations – all about a little cowpoke who joins a cattle drive.

So I will be rethinking my own manuscript – and offering this charming picture book as an example of the top ten element of rhyme.

cowpokes Continue reading

Five Simple Steps for a Healthier School Year


 Your child is going to school.  As a parent, what can you do to make it the healthiest year ever?

Perhaps your child is a preschooler and will be attending a daycare or nursery school.  Maybe your child is already in elementary school.  Here are five simple steps that may keep your child from getting sick.

  1. Wash hands often: everyone should have their own towel…perhaps a different color for each member of the family.  This helps colds from spreading like wild-fires!
  2. Dress appropriately: when it is cold, children should be dressed warmly, with hats or hoods on their heads…no ifs, ands or buts!
  3. Get enough sleep: young children need LOTS of sleep so set up bedtime routines and stick to them.  Our body renews and cells regenerate during sleep.  Did you know that children between the ages of 2 and 5 need 11-14 hours of sleep?  For more information about sleep and young children, you can go to: http://www.sleepforkids.org/html/sheet.html.
  4. Make every meal and snack count:  a good breakfast is a MUST and snacks can provide additional important nutrition, especially for picky eaters.  For more ideas on healthy meal planning for the whole family, you can visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/habits.html
  5. Keep a sick child home: I know it is difficult, especially when parents work…but your child will get better sooner and the teacher and the other children in the class will thank you.  With these tips, your children may stay healthy this school year and you won’t have to keep them home.

On September 24th, the Show-Me-How with Miss Vivian program will be at Family Christian Store, 7165 North Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO.  There will be one presentation from 12 to 12:45pm.  I’ll be reading Johnny Lion’s Bad Day to the parents and children and then we will all make Paper Plate Lions.  This program is appropriate for children from two to seven years old.  In addition, there will be a flyer for parents to take home about staying healthy this school year.  I hope we will have a good turn-out…please spread the word and tweet this and post to Facebook…maybe some of your followers are local to Colorado Springs.

SAVE THE DATE

STAYING HEALTHY

THIS SCHOOL YEAR!

SHOW-ME-HOW STORY-TIME PROGRAM

Saturday, September 24, 2011

12 to 12:45pm

Family Christian Store: 7165 N. Academy

719-598-1500 to RSVP

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: Have a Healthier School Year

Vivian Kirkfield is a local author, former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her parenting program and award-winning activity book for ages 2-7, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, has helped thousands of parents build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a stronger parent-child connection.

For more information: 719-237-3111 or vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com

Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian Travels to Chicago

Downtown from the lakefront, Chicago, IL, USA

Frank Sinatra sang songs about many of the cities that he loved…New York – San Francisco – Chicago.

After a fantastic long weekend in Chicago, I’ll have to echo some of his words (written by Sammy Kahn and Jimmy Van Heusen):

Chicago is one town

That won’t let you down

It’s my kind of town.

I arrived on Friday morning and spent the day relaxing with my son and daughter-in-law at their home.  Visiting with them is like going to a spa…they LOVE to cook “healthy” and every morning they start the day with a bowl of fresh fruit…mangoes, papayas, bananas, apples, peaches…drizzled with a little honey.  For lunch each day, my son made a huge vegetable salad bowl for each of us…cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, mushrooms…all topped with some capers and a splash of aged blueberry balsamic   vinegar.

My book event, Starting School Jitters Be Gone, on Saturday at Lollie, a children’s boutique in Evanston, just 20 minutes north of downtown Chicago, was so much fun!  This shop is an amazing place…filled with many handmade and locally designed clothes and accessories, as well as other unique items for infants, toddlers and children.  The owner is knowledgeable, helpful and a really lovely lady…I know if I lived in the Chicago area, I’d stop in there for any new baby gifts I needed, as well as for birthday and Christmas presents for any little ones on my list.

Of course, Mother Nature had her own plans for 11am, the time the first presentation was to start.  The skies over the entire Chicago area darkened, and the heavens poured forth a torrential rainstorm, accompanied by huge claps of thunder and crackling flashes of lightening. 

Inside Lollie, however, everything was bright and cheery.  A group of young children listened attentively as I read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  As the story about Chester unfolded, the children heard how the little raccoon, anxious about his first day of kindergarten, learned a secret from his mother that helped him overcome his fear and go to school with eager anticipation. 

After the story reached its happy conclusion, I showed the children a sample of the craft project and explained how we would all be making “Kissing Handprints”…deciding who we loved and who loved us and then drawing in the features for each person (or pet or stuffed animal) on each finger.

Parents and children clustered around the craft table and we proceeded to draw an outline of each child’s hands.  The hum of happy children, busily engaged in a constructive activity with their parents, is definitely music to my ears.  “This finger is going to be my mommy” said one little girl.  “And those are my dogs” she added.

The storm had ended by the time the second presentation was over.  My son and daughter-in-law, who had brought me and had assisted during the program, helped me pack everything up.  I’m looking forward to my next trip to Chicago…Lollie’s owner has invited me to come back to do another program, whenever I’m in town.  Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is available at the shop for those of you who are in the Chicago area.

The next few days were filled with family visits, an afternoon at the beach – unbelievable to have a REAL sandy beach with what looks and smells like the ocean (it’s really Lake Michigan) right across the street from the downtown area of a major city – and an architectural river boat cruise.  It was difficult to leave…I’m already looking at my calendar to see when my next jaunt to Chicago will be.

My next post will be a review of a children’s book, A Reel Cool Summer, written by Martha Rodriguez.  We connected online and she loved my book and did a great review of it.  I brought her book on my trip and was able to share it with my great-niece and great-nephew…they absolutely loved it and were totally engaged in the story…so  in my next post, it will be my turn to tell everyone why they need to run out and get a copy of Ms. Rodriguez’ fun-filled book for children ages 6-9.

Photo credit: Thanks to JCrocker for the Chicago skyline pic.

Is Your Child Ready for Preschool?

Preschool

Image via Wikipedia

 

I speak with parents of preschoolers all the time. 

One of the questions that I hear very frequently is, “I want to send my child to preschool.  How do I know if he (or she) is ready?”

There are several key indicators we can look at that will help us answer that question.  You need to observe your child to see:

1.    How well does he interact with others?

If you feel your child has not had enough opportunities to interact with others then:

START SMALL: arrange play-dates with neighbor children of a similar age and attend library story programs.  The summer before our youngest son was going to start kindergarten, we enrolled him in a three week nature class that was held every morning at a local nature center.  He had not attended preschool or daycare and we wanted to give him a chance to be in a “classroom” setting.  This worked out very well and he adjusted to kindergarten very well.

2.     Has she been away from you?

If your child has not been away from you at all then

START SMALL: arrange to leave your child with a trusted friend or relative for an hour or so (take a walk around the block or a bubble bath) and enroll her in a library story hour or other local program where she will have other adults who are in charge.

3.     How well does he transition from snack to play to story to craft to quiet time?

If your child has not had any experience with this or does not transition well then

START SMALL: during the day, let your child know you will be turning off the TV at the next commercial…tell him it will be naptime after the last page of the book is finished…find opportunities to have your child transition from one activity to another.

4.     Can your child’s speech be understood?

Your child should be able to speak in simple sentences of three to five words and be able to describe an activity or event that recently happened.  If you think there is a problem, then speak with your pediatrician.  If there isn’t a problem, perhaps your child hasn’t had enough opportunity to verbalize.

START SMALL: Give your child opportunities to express himself…when reading a picture book, have your child tell you what is happening on the page and then let your child retell the story to you from the pictures…at the store, encourage your child to describe what he sees.  It is so important for us to listen to our children…they really have a lot to tell us.

5.     Does your child follow directions?

If your child does not seem able to follow directions then

START SMALL: give your preschooler easy tasks to do…put the plates on the dinner table, help fold the clean towels…when cleaning up the toys, ask your child to put the blue blocks away first or tell her to pick up the book and put it on the couch.

There are two other factors that may have an impact on whether your child is ready for preschool: potty training and age.

Many preschools require students to be potty-trained or almost there.  Your preschooler should also be able to put on and take off her shoes and coat, zip up her pants and wash her hands.  These are some of the early life-skills your child needs to learn…please be patient…it takes time and practice to grow up and master these tasks.

Regarding age, educators define preschool as the two years before kindergarten.  The age minimum differs in preschools…some want the child to be three by December of that academic year, while others will accept two year olds.

Whatever your decision is about sending your child to preschool, spending time with your child will result in life-long benefits…building self-esteem, developing pre-literacy skills and strengthening the parent-child bond.   If you visit my website and buy a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, you will be getting a unique activity book/parenting resource/memory book that will provide you with picture book summaries, easy crafts and healthful recipes…even an hour-by-hour schedule that will simplify your day.   Using Show Me How will definitely help you achieve your child’s school readiness goals.  We offer your money back if you are not satisfied with the contents and the results and the book is on sale now for 50% off the cover price…only $22.50 per copy.

Kids Are Heroes, Too! How Can We Help?

Kids Reach For Confetti

The catastrophic events in Japan occur…and we read about a young child who donates her allowance to help the victims.

A village in Africa is without clean drinking water…and we hear about a child who collects money so that a well can be dug to provide fresh water for children he has never seen.

Children often amaze us with their acts of selflessness.  Sometimes, they seem to see the bigger picture and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish what needs to be done.

I recently discovered a wonderful organization that focuses on recognizing these wonderful children and encouraging others to become involved in their communities and in causes that they believe in.

According to the Kids Are Heroes founder, Gabe O’Neill:

“Kids Are Heroes is a non-profit that empowers, encourages and inspires children to become leaders through volunteerism and community involvement.  We do this by showcasing and supporting children who are making a difference through their selfless acts of giving.

We teach children to follow their passions at an early age.  This will instinctively stay with them throughout their entire lives.

Kids are indeed heroes and each has the power to change the world.

To see how kids are making a huge impact and to see how YOU can become a hero, click on

Meet the Heroes

and then click on the Meet the Heroes tab.

Our kids are digging wells in Africa, helping orphans in India and building homes in Haiti.

They are recycling and cleaning up their neighborhoods, helping their local animal shelters and making life better for their neighbors.

And guess what?  They are ALL just like YOU!”

Kids Are Heroes is a grassroots effort…if you believe that it is important to encourage young children to contribute to the community and to the world while they reach out and help others, please visit the Kids Are Heroes website, find out more about this fantastic organization and help build the Kids Are Heroes Day Wall.  Show Me How’s brick is already there!  

I already donate a portion of Show Me How book sales to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and to www.Bessthebookbus.org, a family/children’s mobile literacy outreach program.  When I wrote the book, I intended to find three organizations that were child-centered in the areas of health, literacy and the environment.  I’ve been missing the third…and I believe I have found it in Kids Are Heroes!

As parents, we are responsible for helping our children become good citizens of the world.  Encouraging your child to take part in community service events, such as cleaning up a local park or play area, is one way.  Listening to your child’s ideas is another…children often have wonderful suggestions on how to make life better for others.  Kids Are Heroes was founded by Gabe O’Neill because his daughter, MaryMargaret wanted to help animals.

One of the cornerstones of Positive Parental Participation is listening to your children with respectful attention.  All too often when we are busy, we push young ones aside because we feel we have more important things to do.   After you read some of the stories of the child-heroes, you may change your mind.

Spend some quality time with your children today!  If you are looking for great activities to do with them, pick up a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  Click on this link to my website and you will be able to purchase a signed copy at 50% off the cover price.  For only $22.50, you will have a tremendous resource of 100’s of easy craft projects and simple recipes and picture book summaries and parenting tips.   And if you want to buy two copies, each is only $20.  This is a value-packed book and a great gift idea for a parent, preschool or kindergarten teacher, nanny, babysitter, grandparent, daycare provider or early childhood education student.

“I wish Show Me How had existed when my children were young.”

–        Suzanne Williams, author of Princess Power series and over 30 other books

“What a lovely book! Parents will find inspiration in this delightful guide to planning activities.”

–        Katharine Holabird, author of the Angelina Ballerina series

“A valuable, timely and timeless book…it’s sure to be a family favorite.”

–        Sheila Glazov, author of What Color Is Your Brain

“Show Me How offers us a great tool to help our children become people of kindness.”

–        Mary Newquist, Assistant Principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School, Selma, TX

“This book is an incredible resource for families wishing to foster their children’s sense of self-worth.”

–        Dr. Jodi Harap, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Chicago, IL

“SMH Is a well-planned learning tool full of engaging, educational and family-oriented activities.”

–        Peggy Hicks, MA, Special Education Teacher, Colorado Springs, CO

 

The summer has just begun…don’t let another day go by without this award-winning book by your side.

Year-Round School: Has Its Time Come?

 

I was thinking about what my next blog would be when I received a comment from Kat at education.com which sparked today’s post.

In my post on Is it Too Early to Begin Planning for the New School Year?, I referenced an article from Education.com.  Kat was kind enough to respond to that and she mentioned a great and FREE program that will help kids have fun learning this summer.  Here is her comment:

“Hi Vivian:  Thanks for sharing our computers in preschools article!  I also thought I’d let you know about our Summer Activities Challenge.  For parents who want to help their kids have fun learning this summer (in part to help get ready for the next school year) it’s a great (and free!) program.  Parents can sign up here: http://www.education.com/activities-challenge/.   Then they just need to complete at least 5 Education.com activities before the end of July and they’ll receive a personalized Certificate of Achievement and be entered to win some great prizes including a $500 Back to School Splurge.  Hope you and some of your readers will join us!”

As parents, we are always on the lookout for stuff to do with our kids…so check it out…this should be fun!

It made me think about the Summer Reading Programs at our local library back in Connecticut when our children were young…they really looked forward to participating and reading as many books as they could…how proud they each were with the certificate they received at the end of the summer!  I know that the Pikes Peak Library here in Colorado Springs also has summer reading programs Library Summer Reading Program: One World, Many Stories…what a great (and FREE) on-going activity for this summer!

Two months of summer vacation is an old remnant from the days when most people were farmers and their children were needed to help during the late spring and summer…planting, harvesting and weeding.  But these days, most people do NOT need their children home for two months during the summer…in fact, there are many reasons why this is an out-dated mode of planning a school year. 

  • School-readiness is often lost during the summer vacation…children get out of the habit of the school routine and all that implies…proper bedtime, early rising, good breakfast, getting things needed in the morning laid out the night before.
  • Studies show that children (and adults) forget much of what they learn if it is not used on a regular basis.
  • Everyone needs time off and a break in the routine…but two months is much too much.

I know that the idea of year-round school is one that has been talked about for decades…and there are some private schools that may adhere to it.  But most public schools still operate on the old schedule we all remember from our school days. 

What are your thoughts on year-round school?  Please share!

I also wanted to share some GOOD NEWS!  I’m partnering with the Family Christian Bookstore in Colorado Springs and will be doing a FREE Back-to-School program for parents and their preschoolers (ages 2-5+…kindergarteners and first graders are more than welcome) on Saturday, August 6th from 11am to 2pm.  We’ll be reading a story that addresses the topic of school anxiety and then doing a simple craft project that the children will be able to take home.  Parents will be able to pick up a couple of free flyers with additional activity ideas and simple tips to help insure a smooth transition from home to school.  In addition, any parent who fills out the entry form will be entered to win a gift package of preschool craft supplies. 

Please, please spread the word about this FREE and FUN-FILLED event for parents and children.  The manager of the bookstore told me that “author” events are not usually well-attended, but I know this is a topic of great importance and relevance to parents of preschoolers…also for parents whose children are starting a NEW school or starting daycare or nursery school for the first time.  If you are local to Colorado Springs, please stop in to say hello!  If parents show an interest, I plan to do a monthly program with different topics and stories and crafts each month…the manager of the Family Christian Bookstore has already given me the go-ahead.

Finding activities to do with our kids, especially during the long summer when they are home, can be a challenge.  I’ve continued my Jump-Into-Summer Sale on my website where you can pick up a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking for 50% off the cover price.  Buy online securely with PayPal or send a check or money order to me and you will have a treasure-trove of picture book story suggestions and summaries, parenting tips, easy eco-friendly craft projects and simple child-friendly healthful recipes all geared towards LEARNING, BUILDING A POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE and HAVING FUN!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Colorado Springs PBS Kids Fun Fest at Acacia Park

Hundreds of happy children and their parents turned out for the Southern Colorado Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest on Saturday, June 11th at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs. 

With music and entertainment on the bandstand and Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George in costume, Acacia Park came alive.  It was also the official opening of the Uncle Wilbur Fountain that many children enjoy during the hot summer days.

I was thrilled to be partnering with PBS and even before the event got underway, early visitors stopped by to check out the SHOW ME HOW table.  Almost 70 parents filled out an entry for the free craft supply kit…and the winner is…Dawn!!!  I’ll be emailing her today to let her know she is the lucky winner!

Many of the participants at the Fun Fest offered activities for the children…at the Show Me How! table, we were crafting Curious George paper plate faces and Clifford the Big Red Dog headbands with doggy ears.  Easy enough for a very young child to do and so much fun…using inexpensive materials that parents already have around the house…paper, crayons or markers, a paper plate, scissors and glue.  Hundreds of happy children walked away proudly wearing their Clifford headbands and waving their Curious George paper plate faces.

It was amazing to see how much the children enjoyed these simple art activities.  Even though my book is geared for children ages 2 to 5, many of the older children sat down and eagerly began decorating their headbands or paper plate faces.  Just because the headband was for Clifford the Big Red Dog didn’t mean that the children had to color it red.  In fact, there were many rainbow headbands and others with detailed designs.  One child decided that his Curious George paper plate face needed to be a frog instead of a monkey and so he used green markers to color it in.  Hurray for the uniqueness of every child!!!!

I was so happy to see the parents participating with their children because that’s what Show Me How!  Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is all about!  The book is a road map for parents and teachers…open it to any page and you will find a picture book suggestion with summary and a simple craft project and an easy recipe.

Are you overwhelmed and tired at the end of the day?  I know I was when my children were small.  I would have loved to have a resource like Show Me How!  In fact, that’s why I wrote the book, because I realized that many parents have so much on their plate these days, they often don’t have the time or the energy to plan fun-filled educational self-esteem-building activities for their little ones.

Please head over to my website where you can purchase a copy of this amazing award-winning book for only $22.50…that’s a 50% saving off the cover price!  You can’t get much for under $25 these days when it comes to gifts and Father’s Day is right around the corner.   Chris Singer @bookdads is doing a tribute to fathers and I did a guest post  on his blog.  You’ll have fresh ideas for the whole summer and beyond!  And here’s a BONUS:  if you purchase a copy from my website during the next 14 days, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free craft supply kit for your preschooler…safety scissors, glue stick, construction paper, and more!

I’d also like to remind anyone who is local to the Colorado Springs/Monument Colorado area that next Saturday, June 18th from 11am to 2pm there will be a town-wide festival for children called the Summer Soul-Stice.  I’ll be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore, crafting with children.  There was an announcement in the Denver Post and other local papers about it…so I’m hoping there will be a big turnout!  Please stop by and say hello.