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.

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

Image via Wikipedia

They say you can’t go back.

What do you think?

I remember walking into P.S. 199 as a student teacher.  I had attended this elementary school as a ten-year old sixth grader…now I was 20 years old and a senior in college, pursuing my early childhood education degree.  How small the double wooden entrance doors looked now!  How tiny the seats in the classroom seemed!

It didn’t seem to be the same school that I had stored away in my memory banks.

Since January, I’ve been presenting the SHOW-ME-HOW Story-time Reading and Crafting Program to District 11 kindergartens and Pre-K’s.  It is really great to be back in the classroom, interacting with students and teachers and parents.

But today’s kindergartens don’t seem to be the same as those stored away in my memory banks.

Why do I say that?

  • When I was teaching kindergarten (back in the 60’s and 70’s), the children learned through play and there was very little “formal” instruction.  In today’s kindergartens, I see a lot of “formal” teaching of reading and writing…not just the ABC’s.
  • When I was teaching, kindergarten was a preparation for first grade.  In today’s kindergartens, there seems to be an expectation that the children will be reading and writing by the time they enter first grade.
  • When I was teaching kindergarten, we understood that children mature in their own unique ways…while it is true that some 4½ year olds are quite capable of learning to read and write (I had several who came to kindergarten already reading and writing and speaking several languages), it is also true that many children have not yet developed the fine motor skills necessary for holding the pencil and mapping out the letters.  With reading, we have the same situation…some children have the eye-brain coordination, but some need just a little more time to physically mature.
  • In my opinion, the only advantage to “pushing” these little ones to read and write is that, if there are problems such as visual impairment or learning disorders, they may be discovered at this earlier age and intervention can be arranged.  However, the down side is that we are already labeling these young children…and often these labels stick, even if it was just a maturity issue that was the cause.
  • Almost every kindergarten teacher I have visited with has mentioned the lack of time to READ picture books to the children.  Arts and crafts are also an area that is pushed to the back burner.  Now, all of you know how passionate I am about reading to young children…and how much I believe in the importance of encouraging children to express themselves in arts and crafts activities.  I realize that the curriculum and standards are mandated by the state…teachers don’t really have control over those things and are held accountable for the levels of learning their students achieve.
  • The almost frantic pace I observed in some of the kindergartens was even stressful for me…imagine how it must be for five-year olds!  They change activities (and rooms) as if someone is surfing channels on the TV with a remote control.  Perhaps they are used to it…having been exposed to the constant mini-bytes that are prevalent even on the educational TV channels.  Again, I undertand that most of kindergarten teachers would probably prefer to go back to a “kinder, gentler” type of classroom.  Don’t get me wrong…I do believe in routines and schedules for young children…I think they thrive when they know what the plan is…I just wish it was a less hectic plan.  I know it used to be in the kindergartens stored in my memory banks.

What do you think?  Do you have a child in kindergarten?  Are you a kindergarten teacher?  Do you agree that the kindergarten of today is the new first grade?  And, do you think this is a postive or negative change?

THREE IMPORTANT REMINDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TODAY, APRIL 9th, is the LAST day you can purchase SHOW ME HOW! at 50% off the cover price on my website: http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com.  Parents, grandparents, teachers and daycare providers of preschoolers…please don’t delay…this unique resource is a shortcut to providing educational fun-filled self-esteem building acitivities for your children.  MOTHER’S DAY is just around the corner…what a wonderful gift this would make, even for an expectant mom!  And this is also the last day to enter to win the collection of craft supplies for your preschooler…purchase a book or fill out the contact form on my website or leave a comment on my blog about why you would like to win the prize. 

TOMORROW: Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm, talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book.  For more details, please go to www.coveredtreasures.com or call 719-481-2665.  The Book Fair (from 12:30-4pm) is for the benefit of the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.  If you are local to Monument, Colorado Springs or Denver, please head on over to say hello and do your part to support early childhood education!

Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour.  For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html

Healthy Habit Thursday: The Importance of Vitamins!

Fruit on display at La Boqueria market in Barc...

Image via Wikipedia

I can still remember the ENORMOUS vitamin pill my sister and I had to take every morning.  It was all but impossible to swallow…and often left us feeling that it was still stuck in our throats, long after breakfast was over.

These days, children have chewable vitamins with fruity flavors, shaped like favorite cartoon characters.

But the underlying premise is still the same…supplementing your daily diet with vitamins and minerals is probably a smart move…especially these days when the nutritional value of processed foods is questionable.

So why are vitamins important and how does each one help?

Today’s post will concentrate on Vitamin B…a complex vitamin made up of eight essential nutrients.  And then, every Thursday in the month of April, we’ll take a look at various other vitamins.

The B-complex vitamins are essential for life and good health.  They help make and regulate our genes, produce energy, regulate blood sugar, enhance mood and cognitive abilities and maintain cardiovascular health.  Since the 1940’s, they’ve been known as anti-stress vitamins because they help strengthen our resistance to the physical and mental consequences of chronic stress.

Eight B vitamins make up this family of essential nutrients.

  • Vitamin B1: Also known as thiamin, this vitamin helps cells produce the right amounts of energy and gives you the power to get through day-to-day life.  If you consume large amounts of sugars and simple carbohydrates like pizza, breads, pastas, bagels and cereals, your supply of B1 will be depleted.
  • Vitamin B2: Also known as riboflavin, this vitamin is at the heart of energy production and thought to be helpful to decrease the frequency of migraine headaches.
  • Vitamin B3: Also known as niacin, this vitamin helps cells produce an enzyme that repairs DNA damage from toxins and it also can significantly lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine and pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, this vitamin works together with other elements to promote a variety of chemical reactions involved in the production of serotonin and other mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.  It’s been used in studies to decrease PMS symptoms and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Vitamin B12: Low levels of this vitamin can accelerate aging and the risk of cancer and may mimic symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Folic Acid: This vitamin is the main contributor to making new DNA which is needed to make new cells for growth and healing.  Studies show that this vitamin can enhance the benefits of anti-depressant drugs and cut hearing loss in middle-age and older people.
  • Biotin: This vitamin activates some of the genes involved in metabolizing blood sugar, protein and fat…it’s especially important for people with pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes.  It also can help lower triglycerides and it improves nail health.
  • Choline: This vitamin is found in all cell membranes where it helps communicate external information to the cell nucleus.  It is needed for normal brain development and function.

This is a photo from my recent trip to visit my daughter and her family.  2 1/2 year-old Jeremy had a wonderful time whisking the eggs and mashing the bananas (both GREAT sources of Vitamin B) for the banana muffins we made.  As parents, we are responsible for providing healthful foods for our children…and ourselves.   Do you find yourself dragging before the day is half over?  Maybe you need to eat some foods rich in B vitamins.

1.     Dark leafy green vegetables

2.     Fresh fruits

3.     Fresh dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese

4.     Meat

Two important tips to remember:

  • Most processed foods these days are “enriched” with vitamin B…but we should all strive to eat foods that are naturally rich in B.
  • The nutritional value of a food can decline when frozen, overcooked or combined with various additives.

If you are looking for some simple child-friendly healthful recipes…please visit my website where you can purchase a copy of SHOW ME HOW, a unique resource for parents and teachers of preschoolers that provides 100 cooking activities your child will LOVE to help with…most take just 15 minutes to prepare and will contribute to your child’s positive self-image.  The half-price sale continues until April 9th…so please don’t miss out if you were thinking of getting a copy.  You can also enter to win a selection of craft supplies for your preschooler.

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian and find out how much fun I had this morning at Edison School!  And don’t forget about the Book Blog Tour for Max the Dog.  You can click on my sidebar to find out more.