To Write Or Not To Write: Letters To My Kids

Should You Write to Your Kids?

In honor of Father’s Day (which is next Sunday, June 16), I was asked to contribute to Bob Brody’s Letters to My Kids blog.

Bob is passionate about encouraging parents to write letters to their kids to share family stories…this helps kids gain a sense of self-worth and a stronger parent-child bond.

Here is the link for the Father’s Day post: http://letterstomykidsdotorg.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/fathers-day-guest-columnist-vivian-kirkfield-never-enough-but-always-plenty/

I also participated on Bob’s blog for Mother’s Day and wrote a letter to my children about my own mother: http://letterstomykidsdotorg.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/guest-columnist-vivian-kirkfield-the-grandmother-you-hardly-knew/

When and what should parents write letters to their kids?

  • On holidays or special occasions
  • Anytime
  • To share your own childhood experiences
  • To share things that happened when they were very young
  • To relate interesting family stories
  • To say I’m sorry
  • To congratulate them on an accomplishment or goal reached

Many years ago, when my children were very young and they wanted to give me a gift for a birthday or other special time, I would tell them, “Write me a love letter!” Those letters and cards that they made themselves are still tucked away carefully and treasured by me. When your children give you a gift like that, it will outlast any box of candy, bouquet of flowers or trinket they might find at the store.

Helping Kids with Loss: After Charlotte’s Mom Died Review

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children.

A couple of quick notes first:

1.      Remember that tomorrow is June 16th – Save The Bookstores Day.  Did you read Tara Lazar’s great post about this: http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/support-save-the-bookstores-day-on-june-16th/Unfortunately, I have to work on Saturday, but on Sunday, I’ll be at one of the Indie bookstores here in Colorado Springs, Poor Richards.  They are one of the local bookstores that has copies of Show Me How for sale…if you haven’t seen the amazing review Kirsten did, please click over to her blog, Creating Curious Kids.  Keeping children occupied with fun-filled educational self-esteem building activities is a wonderful way to spend the summer!  Do you know some parents who would appreciate a book that provides hundreds of quick and easy activities that use stuff they probably have around the house?  Please keep Show Me How in mind.

2.      Sunday is a very special day as well…June 17th is Father’s Day!  There are so many wonderful fathers and father figures out there…this day is for all of you!  I have to make a special shout-out to my son-in-law who is an amazing hands-on dad…not only does he play ball and take walks with his son, he also never misses being part of the daily bedtime routine, reading stories and overseeing the brushing of teeth.  When my daughter has to travel for business, Erik never falters and is mom and dad at those times.  I’m also very proud of my son who has twins who are almost seven.  From the time they were born, he has shared in EVERY moment…feeding, changing diapers, singing them to sleep…now they all ice-skate and play chess together.

My pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is in honor of those dads who really step up to the plate.

 

 After Charlotte’s Mom Died

Written by Cornelia Spelman

Illustrated by Judith Friedman

Publisher: Albert Whitman Co (1996)

Ages: 5 and up

Themes:

Grief/loss, family, emotions

Synopsis:  

When five-year old Charlotte’s mother dies in a car accident, the little girl has many feelings she is not comfortable expressing to her dad, even though she loves him very much.  She worries about going to sleep because an aunt told her that dying was like going to sleep.  She is angry and sad and scared, although on the outside, she still looks the same.  After an incident at school alerts her father to the fact that Charlotte is not dealing well with the death of her mother, he decides to go with Charlotte to see a therapist.  The therapist helps them to talk about how they feel and they realize that although they will continue to feel sad about the death of Charlotte’s mother, they can find happiness in life.

Why do I like this book

The death of a close loved one is always difficult…to lose one’s mother at a very young age is earthshattering!  This book tenderly addresses this issue…the illustrations are soft, the message of the text is comforting and empowering.  I especially love the caring and practical advice the author gives to parents and other child caregivers in the book’s foreward:

  • listen carefully to the child
  • acknowledge his fears and feelings without judging
  • offer assurances that there will always be people to love him and care for him
  • offer hope for future happiness

Related Activities:

Memories of special people, places and experiences are extremely important for all of us.  Help your child start a box of treasured mementos now!  The boxes in the pictures below were actually made as Valentine’s Day mailboxes by the people I work with, so each of these boxes has a slit for Valentine’s Day cards to be inserted into…your child’s treasure box won’t have the slit.  I was so impressed with the effort and creativity of these adults, I wanted to share some of the boxes with all of you.

 

Treasure Box Shoe Box

You will need: One shoe box with lid, paper to cover the box (construction paper, gift wrap, shelf paper), scissors, and glue or tape.

1.      Cut the paper your child has selected to cover the box.  You will need two pieces, one for the box and one for the lid.  Important tip: if you use painting paper, your child can decorate it with vegetable prints, sponge painting or pictures cut from magazines or greeting cards.

2.      Carefully fit the paper around the outside of the shoebox and glue or tape in place.  Do the same with the lid.

3.      Make a label to put on the box, for example: EMILY’S TREASURED MEMENTOS or JOSH’S BOX OF MEMORIES.

My box had pictures of my family, all around the sides.  That might be a nice idea for a child using pictures of family and friends.

A great  pirate treasure chest here at FreeKidsCrafts.com

Some more treasure chest ideas here.

Great website to help kids dealing with death at kidshealth.org.

Some helpful tips for talking with children about the death of a parent at FamilyHealth.com.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

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.