2012 Positive Parental Participation Reading Challenge Comment Page for February

English: Children working on the phonogram mov...

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It’s hard to believe that January is already behind us.

Thanks to everyone who participated last month and left comments and told us about the books they were reading with their children.

I’ve got to get ready for two school programs…in the morning, I’ll be at Freedom Elementary, reading Oliver Button is a Sissy.  What a great story that encourages kids to be true to themselves!

In the afternoon, I’ll be at Buena Vista Montessori, reading one of my very own picture book stories, The Balloon Man.  Life sometimes puts obstacles in our way and we need to be prepared with creative solutions…this is a story that helps children think outside the box.

I’ll be using Random.org to pick the winner of the picture book…to be announced in the Perfect Picture Book Friday post.

Anyone who wants to join in the Reading Challenge for February, please use this post leave your commnets and books read.

Reading and Crafting Fun with Kids

I’ve been smiling a lot these days.

During the past few weeks, the Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian program has traveled to several local kindergartens and libraries.

Back in November, the children at Edison Elementary enjoyed hearing Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis.  Young children are often reluctant or unable to express their feelings.  Reading a story like this one gives them the opportunity to talk about what might be bothering them.  In Chapter Four, I Am Really Mad Right Now, my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, gives parents and teachers over a dozen picture book titles with summaries and a related quick and easy craft project and matching child-friendly cooking activity for each.

After the kindergarteners had a chance to talk about the feelings of the main character in the story and their own feelings, I showed them the fun craft we would be making.  The children were excited to work on the smiling/frowning paper plate.  We punched a hole in the top and pushed a piece of yarn through so they would be able to hang it up on the door to their room…anyone entering will know how they are feeling…another wonderful opportunity for parents to engage  their children in a discussion about emotions.

I was thrilled to receive a bunch of letters and pictures from Ms. Gustafson’s class, thanking me for sharing the story and craft activity with them. 

This past week, I visited with the kindergarteners at Fremont Elementary.  Again I was met with smiling children, eager to hear The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  Ms. Vassar’s class was excited to hear about the little raccoon who didn’t want to leave his mother to go to school until she shares a special secret with him. 

 

Young children can relate to this story very well…many of them are anxious about leaving home to go to school or daycare.  Again, picture books can be a wonderful vehicle for calming a child’s fears or helping him realize that others feel just the way he does. 

 

After the story was over, the children made Kissing Hand pictures.   Tracing the outline of their hands onto a piece of paper, I encouraged the children to think about who they love and who loves them.  Each finger represented someone important in their lives. 

Then, on Saturday, I read the same picture book at the Penrose Library’s 10:30am Story-time.  Many of the children attending were only three and four years old, but they still loved hearing the story and looking at the beautiful illustrations.  Very young children are developing important pre-literacy skills when parents read to them.  Knowing how to hold a book, turning the pages from front to back, reading the pictures from left to right, observing and pointing out things they see in the pictures…these are all important skills they MUST learn before they can read themselves. 

Because the holidays are fast approaching, I changed the craft that accompanied the story and we made Kissing Hand Ornaments.  Each child received a handprint, cut from cardstock paper that was white on one side and glittery color on the other.  Using the white side, the children and their parents drew faces of family members on the fingers.  The handprints had a hole punched at the top and a piece of yarn strung through so they can be hung from the Christmas tree, if desired.

It only takes 15 minutes to read a picture book story.  It only takes 15 minutes to do a simple craft project.  Such a little amount of time…but it has such a great impact.   “If you want to be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.” 

I implore parents: please do this with your young children.  Go to the library.  Get out a few picture books.  Read them with your children.  Get some paper and crayons and draw with your children.  Staple several pages together and let them make their own “book” and have them tell you the story they have drawn.

The book I wrote last year is a perfect addition to your home library…with 100 classic picture book recommendations; you only have to flip through the table of contents to find the perfect book to read to your child.  When you open to that page, you will find the story summary, a tip on why that particular book is helpful to read to your child, a quick and easy craft project and a child-friendly healthful recipe…all laid out for you in a simple, easy-to-use format.  Most of the crafts use only paper, crayons or markers…some also need a glue stick, pair of scissors and pictures cut from magazines or catalogs.  Most of the recipes are low-fat, low sugar and high fiber…many are even no-cook, like fresh orange juice made from squeezing oranges and peanut butter balls made from peanut butter, honey and dry milk. 

I wish I had had this book when my children were growing up…everything in one place…no guesswork involved when it comes to planning activities for young children. 

If you order the book NOW, you will be able to start the New Year off right.

Don’t delay…at $24.95, it makes the perfect gift for yourself or anyone you know who has young children.  It even makes a great baby shower gift…unique and priceless…with great parenting tips on building a child’s self-esteem and creating a life-long parent-child bond.

And we all want that…don’t we?  Please visit the Show Me How website now and order a copy today!

Literacy Program for Parents and Children: Parents’ Night at Trailblazer School

Cover of "Yes We Can!"

Cover of Yes We Can!

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting a program for the parents and children of Trailblazer Elementary School in Colorado Springs’ District 11.

The president of the El Paso PTA, the head of the PTA at Trailblazer, the principal of Trailblazer and the director of one of the local preschools were also on hand to hear about how a picture book is worth a thousand words.

How is a picture book worth a thousand words?  Why should we read picture books to our young children?

  • Children love them and children who learn to love books grow up to be good readers.
  • Listening to and looking at picture books helps young children develop the skills they will need to be ready to read.
  • The messages in picture books can help young children deal with many of the challenges they encounter in their early years.
  • Studies show that children who are read to at an early age are more successful in school.
  • Reading with your child strengthens the parent-child connection.

After talking a minute or two about the importance of picture books and reading to young children, I read, Yes We Can! by Sam McBratney.  The parents and children enjoyed the story about the three animal friends who play together and make a big pile of leaves.  However, when they stop to rest, they begin to make fun of each other and they all become sad and grumpy.  At the suggestion of one of their moms, they each show what they can do best…and all the friends agree that Little Roo is the best jumper, Country Mouse is the best tail-catcher and Quacker Duck is the best puddle-floater.  The little animals end the day happy with themselves and each other. 

As I turned the pages for the second time, the children were eager to answer the questions I asked about the story they had just listened to.  They agreed that no one likes to be made fun of and that it can make us sad or mad when others laugh at us.

Showing the children the sample craft I had made, I explained that we were going to make double-sided faces on the piece of white cardstock I had cut in the shape of a leaf.  On one side, each child drew a happy/glad/excited face and on the other side, a sad/mad/angry one.  We punched a hole in the top of each and looped a piece of yarn through the hole, so it could be hung on the doorknob of their room.  When they are feeling happy, they will put the smiling side showing.  When they are feeling sad, they will turn the frowning side over.  What a wonderful opportunity for parents to initiate a discussion about why the child is feeling sad or mad!  One of the components of building self-esteem is being able to express one’s feelings, whether positive or negative.

 

The children were excited to take home their art project and the parents were able to pick up a flyer on helpful hints and simple steps to making reading to children fun for everyone.  I also provided a flyer of sample activities from my Show Me How! book.  One of the parents recognized the book as one she had taken from the library and she bought two copies…one to use with her own children and one to give to a family member who also has young children.

Developing strong literacy skills is critically important and this program makes it quick and easy!

Reading a picture book only takes about 15 minutes! 

Doing a simple craft project only takes about 15 minutes!

Preparing an easy recipe only takes about 15 minutes!

Parents don’t have to do all three in one day.

CREATE THE MAGIC!

UNLEASH THE SMILES!

With Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, you have 100 picture books already summarized, 100 simple crafts already planned and 100 easy recipes that will be fun to make and eat!  That is an entire year of fun-filled, educational, self-esteem-building activities right at your fingertips.  The holidays are coming and the price is right…only $19.95…more than 50% off the cover price.  Click here and go to my website where you can purchase a copy of the book safely with PayPal or by check or money order. 

SAVE THE DATE

I also want to remind anyone local to Colorado Springs…the Festival of Trees event, sponsored by the Ecumenical Social Ministries, is coming up this weekend.  FESTIVE FAMILY FUN DAYS will take place on Saturday, November 19 from 9am to 5pm and on Sunday, November 20 from 10am to 3pm at the DoubleTree Hotel near the World Arena at 1775 E Cheyenne Mountain Blvd in Colorado Springs.  There will be entertainment, crafting and other activities for children, Santa will be there and dozens of vendors selling wonderful items (many of them handmade and unique) perfect for holiday gift-giving.  Admission is $5 per person…children under 12 get in for FREE!

Show Me How will have a table in the main ballroom, amidst beautifully decorated trees…and there will be a gift for EVERY child who stops by the table as well as free handouts for the adults.  I’m also sponsoring a raffle to help raise money for the Ecumenical Social Ministries.  Stop by my table, fill out an entry form, put $1 or more in the jar, and you will have a chance to win one of two huge stuffed bears.  All raffle proceeds will be donated to the Ecumenical Social Ministries.  If you have questions about the event, please call 719-228-6781 (Ecumenical Social Ministries) or contact the DoubleTree Hotel.

I hope you will stop by and say hello if you come to the event!

Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian

 

Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

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The sun was shining brightly as I walked into Howbert Elementary School yesterday morning.  Ms. Tindell’s kindergarten was buzzing with activity and the children were excited about the special story they had been promised.

Kindergarteners are an amazing breed of children…shy, friendly, talkative, quiet, happy, sad, easy to please, hard to satisfy…sometimes all of those in just one hour!

Some of the children had heard Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus before.  One child said he had a copy at his house.  All were eager to hear the story about a little tiger that can’t read, write, draw, eat neatly or talk.  When Leo’s father asks when his son will learn to do these things, Leo’s mother tells him to have patience. 

 

A dozen hands shot up when I asked if anyone knew the definition of the word “patience”.   Here are some of the answers they gave me…“When you have to wait for something.”, “If you can’t go out to play right now and have to wait for later.”, “Being patient.”

When the story was over, I asked the children if they remembered what Leo had learned and again, I was impressed with how attentively they had listened to the story.

Then I showed the children my sample of the daisy chain craft project we would be making and I explained how we would be decorating each strip of construction paper before we used a glue stick to form them into links of the chain.  It is really amazing to watch young children when you give them arts and crafts supplies!  There were strips with hearts, flowers, letters, dots, stripes…each child’s chain was a unique expression of his own creativity!

 

It was time for me to go to the kindergarten next door for the second presentation and while the children got their coats on to go outside for recess, I said goodbye to them…several rushed up to give me a special hug and tell me how much they loved the story and craft project.  There’s no need to ask why I love doing the Show-Me-How Story-time program!

After the second presentation, I still had one more task…a very pleasant one!  Observing the second story and craft program was a student from Coronado High School who had requested an interview with me as part of a job shadow program.  This wonderful young lady has hopes of becoming a children’s book illustrator and had many questions to ask me: how do you start to write and illustrate a book, what tools do you use, how long does it take, where and how do you get your book published?  I had brought along a copy of the original mock-up I did of The Balloon Man, a picture book for toddlers and preschoolers that teaches colors.

 

I also brought the professional illustrations that were done for the book by my talented daughter-in-law.  I know the Coronado High School student enjoyed reading the rhyming text and seeing how the illustrations helped bring the book to life.

 

Some of the advice I gave her: follow your dream, keep a portfolio of your best work, check online for blogs or websites of other picture book illustrators…many of them are extremely generous and I know she will find a wealth of valuable information on them.

By the way, there’s a new review of Show Me How! by Jenny of MyLittleMe.  This is the book I use for all of my school and library programs…open it up and you have the picture book summary, parenting tip and space to record your child’s highlights on the left side…and the EASY eco-friendly craft activity and QUICK child-friendly healthful recipe on the right side. Check out the review to find out why this book is a MUST-HAVE for parents, grandparents, preschool and kindergarten teachers, daycare providers, babysitters and nannies…virtually anyone who is involved in the care of children ages 2-7.  Pick up several copies at the 50% off price…ONLY $19.95 on my website or you can purchase it on Amazon.  Make it a unique holiday gift…I’ll be happy to sign and personally inscribe each brand-new copy!

 

Looking for a book that creates childhood magic?  This is it!” – Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD: Clinical Director and Family Therapist

Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian Travels to New Hampshire

For me, the greatest joy in the world is to be with those I love doing what I love.

So you can imagine how joyful I was this past week, spending time in New Hampshire with my daughter and her family…and visiting Toll House Preschool in Merrimack, NH where I read a picture book story and did a simple craft with my grandson’s class of three and four-year olds.

The children were seated on the floor in their story circle and as soon as Jeremy caught sight of me, he jumped up and cried, “You came to my school…you really came!”  The teacher welcomed me and ushered me to her story chair.  “What’s your name?” asked one of the children.  “I’m Miss Vivian” I answered, smiling down at their eager faces.  “I traveled here on an airplane so that I could read you a special story.”

The children sat, listening attentively, as I read Yes I Can by Sam McBratney.  They loved hearing about the three animal friends who are having fun in the autumn leaves.  When the three friends begin to argue and make fun of each other, Little Roo’s mother comes over and encourages each one to show what they do best.  Little Roo jumps VERY high, Country Mouse catches his tail and Quacker Duck floats on a puddle.  The friends compliment each other…they are learning to give respect and value their own and others qualities and strengths.

When the story was over, we talked about the different talents that each animal had and we all got up and jumped like Little Roo, turned round and round chasing our “tails” like Country Mouse and pretended we were swimming in a puddle like Quaker Duck.  This activity helped the children get a little exercise after sitting so quietly for the story.  It’s important to provide a good balance of activities for young children…if we try to keep them sitting too long, they will get restless.

The next activity for this preschool class was “centers” where the children can choose painting, clay, etc.  This was the perfect time for some of the children to work on the simple leaf family craft project I had planned.  Using leaves of different sizes and shapes, each child picked a few leaves to trace on the page.  Each shape became a member of their family as they added hair and features and colored them in.

As the children worked on their project, they told me about their families and their pets.  I’m always amazed at how verbal young children are…especially when they are relaxed and at ease…which seems to happen all the time when children are engaged in arts and crafts activities.  Parents can use this time as they participate with their children to listen and learn what is on their children’s minds. 

  

I’m sure the next time I return to New Hampshire, I’ll have the opportunity to visit with the children at Toll House Preschool again.  The teacher told me she had never seen them sit so attentively for a story before.  Although I believe in the policy of “No Rules…Just Read”, I also know that there are certain things we can do when we read a picture book to young children that will help make the experience more enjoyable and rewarding for both parent and child. 

1.    Find a comfortable place to read…child on your lap in a comfy chair or sitting side-by-side on the couch.

2.    Make sure your child can see the pictures as you read the story.

3.    Allow your child to point out things on each page and talk about them.

4.    When the story is finished, encourage your child to retell the story as you turn the pages again.

These are some of the tips I give in my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  In addition to lots of story suggestions, you’ll find a matching craft and also a cooking activity for each recommended picture book.

 

PLEASE DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY THE SIZE OF THE BOOK!  Don’t think of it as a BIG BOOK…IT’S A BOOK WITH BIG IDEAS!  Every parent and teacher who uses it says it makes planning and doing activities QUICK AND EASY!

“Kirkfield lays out a brilliant and simple program with activities that will inspire parents and teachers.”  – Diana Loomans, best-selling author of The Lovables in the Kingdom of Self-Esteem and many other books

It’s available in the original print version with lots of lined spaces on every other page for recording your child’s memorable moments.

It’s also available on Amazon’s Kindle for those of you who don’t like a bunch of books taking up space in your home.

The gift-giving holidays are quickly approaching…there’s an online special on my website that can’t be beat…it would make the perfect present for any parent, grandparent, daycare provider, nanny, babysitter, nursery or preschool or kindergarten teacher.

To see the latest review of Show Me How by Lea, a homeschooling mom, please click here.

Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian Travels to New Hampshire

What an awesome time to be traveling to New England.

I’ll be flying to New Hampshire tomorrow and I can’t wait to gaze out the window of the plane, down at the magnificient fall folliage…scarlets, magentas, golds…the tree-tops will look like a bejewled crown of a Russian tsarina. 

My grandson will be celebrating his third birthday and I am looking forward to taking long walks with him down to the pond where we love to select the perfect pebbles and toss them in.  Of course, there will be plenty of opportunity to use the Show-Me-How program…I know Jeremy will be thrilled to read lots of picture books, do simple craft projects and work together in the kitchen, preparing easy healthful recipes.

I’m also excited about this trip because I will be bringing the Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian program to the Tollhouse Preschool in Merrimack, NH.  I’ll be reading Yes We Can by Sam McBratney to the three year old preschool group and doing a leaf tracing craft project with them.  I’m coming prepared with a bag full of leaves…but I’m sure there will be plenty available on the school grounds.

Why is it so important to read to young children?  Reading to young children:

  • Builds self-esteem
  • Develops pre-literacy skills
  • Stengthens the parent-child connection
  • Allows them to relate their experiences to those in the story
  • Provides wonderful opportunities for parent-child discussions

The craft and cooking activities included in my book help extend this learning experience.  What a wonderful gift to give any parent or teacher of young children!  Please visit my website for online specials.

“Looking for a book that creates childhood magic?  This is it!

 – Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD: Clinical Director and Family Therapist

“This is a timely and timeless book that every parent and teacher will love.  It encourages children in an engaging, creative and fun format.”

Sheila Glazov: Author of What Color is Your Brain? and Princess Shayna’s Invisible Visible Gift

Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest: That’s Where Miss Vivian Will Be!

Mrs. Laura Bush poses with children and Cliffo...

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Last week was my last Show-Me-How Story-time presentation for this school year.

I wasn’t sure if I would have anything to tell you about in the upcoming weeks on Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian.

But I guess I had nothing to be concerned about. 🙂

Yesterday I met with the head of the District 11 Volunteer Program to go over our plans for the Show-Me-How Story-time presentations for the new school year (which will be here before we know it considering how quickly time is passing).

The response from teachers has been overwhelmingly positive…I know I will be even busier come August and September as the flyer with four new stories and crafts is distributed to all of the kindergarten and Pre-K teachers in District 11 schools.  We decided that these picture books will focus on end of summer and fall themes and I am excited to look through Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking to choose four classic picture books and appropriate craft projects that will be enjoyed by all of the children.

We also discussed my connecting with the PTA to offer them presentations for parents and teachers…Positive Parental Participation is a powerful approach that builds a child’s self-esteem and creates a life-long parent-child bond.  I hope to be involved in school book fairs this coming year as well.

When I got home from the meeting, I went online and noticed that there is going to be an awesome local event next month, sponsored by Rocky Mountain PBS Kids and Pikes Peak Parent.  The Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest will take place at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs on Saturday, June 11 from 10am – 2pm.

I called PBS and was able to secure a spot for SHOW ME HOW!  I’ll be reading and crafting with children (WHAT FUN!) and look forward to being a part of this fun-filled day.  Here’s a copy of the information from PBS Kids’ Facebook Page:

Join us for the Southern Colorado Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest – a fantastic FREE festival for kids and families. (Also, the opening day of the Uncle Wilber Fountain)

Meet Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog; splash in Uncle Wilber Fountain; enjoy live entertainment throughout the day under the band shell; and visit over 20 booths to learn, engage and have fun!

Participants include:

Show Me How! Vivian Kirkfield
Falcon Landing Dental Group
Pikes Peak Library District
Pikes Peak YMCA, Downtown Branch
Girl Scouts of Colorado
Care and Share Food Bank
Imagination Celebration
Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
Manitou Art Theatre
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Chick-fil-A of Colorado Springs
Western Museum of Mining and Industry
Barnes & Noble
Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale
Marmalade at Smokebrush
Sports Climbing Center of Colorado Springs
FutureSelf
Al Kaly Shriners
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region
Phonics Phantasy Tree House
Mr. E and the Magic of Kyle Groves
Wee Bee and the Smilez
Wells Fargo Bank
And more!

Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest is sponsored by Sylvan Learning Center (2340 Vickers Drive), PikesPeakParent.com, Whole Foods Market and the Friends of the Uncle Wilber Fountain.

They are anticipating a wonderful audience for this opening-of-the-summer-season event…I hope parents who are local (Colorado Springs, Denver, Pueblo and surrounding towns) will come out to participate with their children!  It will be a great place for preschool teachers and daycare providers to get fresh ideas as well.


Also,the week after the Fun Fest, on June 18th, I’ll be in Monument, CO participating in the Summer Soul-stice town-wide crafting event for children.  If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by at the Covered Treasures Bookstore from 11am – 1pm.  I’ll be doing several craft activities with all of the children who come by.  What a lovely way to spend a summer day in Monument.

What’s happening in your local area in the next few months?  With gas prices expanding and budgets shrinking, parents and other caregivers of young children really need to be inventive in order to provide great activities that keep kids busy, happy and constructively engaged.  Simple arts and crafts activities are a low-cost perennial favorite and whipping up child-friendly recipes with your children in the kitchen is fun and costs nothing…you have to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner anyway.  For hundreds of super easy and economical ideas, please check out my book.  New special offer will be posted this weekend!