Is It Too Early To Begin Planning For The New School Year?

Group of children in a primary school in ParisImage via Wikipedia

I know that summer has just begun.  Many of us are thinking of poolside parties and frozen pops and Fourth of July parades.

But if your child is starting school in August, or if there were problems adjusting to the classroom routine last year, it’s not too early to think about how you can insure a smooth transition from home to school.  This holds true for older children as well as for those of preschool age.

What can parents do during the summer to prepare for the new school year?

1.    Have an upbeat, matter-of-fact, positive attitude about school.

2.    If your child has not been there yet, arrange for a visit before school starts.

3.    Connect with parents of other children in the class and have play dates with your child’s classmates…children feel more at ease when they see friendly faces in the classroom.

4.    If you don’t have a routine in place for bedtime and getting-ready-for-the-day-in-the-morning time, put them in place now.  Make it a habit to discuss plans for the next day in the evening and lay out clothes and anything else needed the night before.  When school starts, your child will be used to getting things ready and you won’t have that last minute rush in the morning to find the missing shoe or backpack.  Regarding bedtime, please make sure you are allowing plenty of time for your child to get ready (brush teeth, wash, lay out clothes and necessary items, story-time, etc.) and still be getting to bed at a reasonable hour.  I know that it is tempting to let young children stay up later, especially in the summer, but when school starts, it will be a difficult habit to break…and young children need more than 10 hours of sleep at night.

5.    Make sure your child is eating a good breakfast in the morning…when school starts, this will be even more important.  And what is a good breakfast?  My younger son loved pizza for breakfast.  Some children might prefer eggs and toast, cereal with fruit and milk, French toast and bacon or pancakes with fruit toppings.  How about peanut butter and banana on whole wheat bread for a highly nutritious breakfast?

Do you have some super breakfast menus that your children love?  Please share!  We all need fresh ideas.

Many times, children who are fussy eaters become better eaters when you let them help out in the kitchen.  If you are looking for some easy child-friendly recipes, Show Me How! has one hundred of them and teams each cooking activity with a picture book suggestion and an easy eco-friendly arts and crafts project.  Head on over to my website to take advantage of the Jump Into Summer Special…50% off the cover price.  The book makes a great gift for any parent, grandparent, expectant parent, babysitter, nanny, daycare provider, preschool teacher…and there is an additional discount if you buy two copies…only $20 per copy!  You will be getting two copies for less than the cover price of one!  And, if you order by June 30th, we are including a bonus sheet of self-stick gold stars that can be used on goal charts and more! 

Studies show that the quality time you spend with your young children now has a positive impact on their school performance in later years.  This is a great opportunity to get a wonderful resource you can use on a daily basis, year after year.  Show Me Howis an award-winning book endorsed by parents, teachers and national organizations such as the JDRF.  To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.  This is a book that makes it easy and fun to be in your children’s lives today!  It is the ONLY book you will need to buy to plan educational, self-esteem building activities for your preschoolers.  Don’t put it off until tomorrow!

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.

Making Memories With Your Children: Summer Craft Activities

Some chicken, pork and corn in the barbeque

Image via Wikipedia

I was in Chicago last weekend for Mother’s Day with my son and daughter-in-law.  I also had an opportunity to visit with my sister and her sons and their families.

One evening, we all got together at a fantastic BBQ, hosted by my nephew and his wife.  We all had a great time…the food was not only delicious, but healthful as well…kudos to Dave and Rebecca!

After dinner, we sat down to look at the old photo albums my sister had brought.  As we turned the pages and my son and his cousin (both in their 30’s) exclaimed over each picture, I realized how important the pictures were…they reminded these grown men of the children they had been and the activities they had been involved in when they were young.

Summer is just around the corner…I know many parents are wondering how they will fill the long hot days with their children.

Of course, there are various solutions to this problem:

  • Put them in some kind of day camp…might be costly.
  • Sit them in front of the TV…how many cartoons do you really want them to watch?
  • Send them to someone else’s house…don’t you want to be the one they get their values and information from?

What is my solution to the problem of young children home for the summer?

READING…CRAFTING…COOKING!

Young children are always eager to hear a good picture book story.


Young children love arts and crafts.


Young children enjoy helping in the kitchen.


If you buy a copy of my book that is FILLED with picture book suggestions and summaries, easy arts and crafts activities and simple healthful recipes, you will be prepared for the long hot summer days ahead.

For starters, here’s a great idea that comes from Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  It will help capture those memories for your child as you create a photo album together.


AN ALBUM OF ME

You will need: A small blank photo album, a selection of photos of your child at different stages of his or her life, self-stick labels and a fine point marker.

1.    With your child, go through some of the pictures that you have of him from birth to the present…and let him choose several to include in his own album.  Make copies if you want to keep the originals in the family album.

2.    Help your child insert each photo and then write a description (with his input) on a label or small strip of paper and press or glue it on the bottom of each page.

3.    Listen to your child while he turns the pages of his album and tells you the story of his life.

4.    Important tip: keep a camera handy…you never know when a photo opportunity arises.

Activities like this help:

  • build your child’s self-esteem!
  • develop pre-reading skills!
  • create a life-long parent-child bond!
  • keep your child busy in a constructive positive fun-filled way that will be fun for you also!

Start planning your summer activities now…with this amazing short-cut for busy parents and teachers!

And please stop by tomorrow for Cinema Sunday: My Picks of Great Flicks.

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

What’s In Your Child’s Bookcase Wordy Wednesday: World Read-Aloud Day Special

A bookcase filled with books.

Image via Wikipedia

Today is World Read-Aloud Day!

Please, please, read to your child!

If you don’t have any children of your own, please read to someone else’s children!

If there are no young children around, please read aloud to an older child!  There is no age limit on enjoying being read to.   As our children were growing up, we had family read-aloud nights…I remember when we were reading the “Narnia” series…sometimes my husband or I would read the chapter to our three children and sometimes our oldest son (about 11 or 12 at the time) would read to all of us.

You can even read out loud to yourself!

Do you have unused or unwanted books lying around?  Why not find a worthy organization and donate them…there are many people around the world who would love to have books, but can’t afford them.

The story suggestion for today is a classic from 1932, ANGUS LOST, by Marjorie Flack.  It’s a lovely picture book to read aloud…charming illustrations help your child follow the adventures of the little dog who has more adventures than he had planned on.

ANGUS LOST

Written and illustrated by Marjorie Flack

Angus, a little terrier, is bored with his home and yard and decides to see what the world is like.  After several scary adventures, Angus wants very much to go home, but he cannot find his way.  He spends the night hiding in a cave, trembling in fear the entire time.  In the morning, he hears the familiar sound of the milkman’s horse and wagon and he eagerly follows them from house to house, as the milkman makes his deliveries.  Finally, Angus recognizes his very own yard and is relieved to be home at last.

Many young children worry about getting lost or separated from those they love and, although we want to encourage curiosity and independence in our children, we are responsible for keeping them safe from harm.  This story is a wonderful opportunity to talk about a plan of action in case you are separated while shopping. 

One of the best things about reading aloud is that it opens the window for discussion about many issues that may worry your child. 

For a wonderful collection of summaries of 100 picture books every young child should hear, please visit my website.  SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING is now on sale for half-price PLUS FREE shipping!

In honor of World Read-Aloud Day, we’ve extended the sale price for one more month!  And we’ve added a BONUS!  One lucky person will also get a CRAFTY EASTER BASKET for their preschooler, filled with essential items for the craft projects…safety scissors, non-toxic glue, construction paper and MUCH MORE!   If you purchase a book, you will be automatically entered…if you are not ready to buy a copy, you can enter, no purchase necessary, by filling out the contact form on my website and telling me how you would use the craft supplies with your child.  If the response is good, I’m thinking of putting together a prize package that includes child-sized kitchen implements.

Please stop by tomorrow for Healthy Habit Thursday.

Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?

it's not for zombies

Image by psiaki via Flickr

I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers set aside a day to encourage others to “follow” their blog…sign up to receive notifications of their posts, “like” them on facebook, “follow” them on Twitter.

I’m thrilled that there are people reading my posts…actually over 3000 page views since I started this blog at the end of this past summer!

It’s not so much a vanity issue…but more that the posts that I write may be helping others…or at least putting a smile on their faces. 🙂

I had lunch yesterday with a dear friend, who is also an author.  She is also a former journalist and reporter and is always giving me wonderful ideas for promoting my book.

Since the first of this year, I’ve been visiting our local District 11 schools here in Colorado Springs, implementing the SHOW ME HOW Story-time Program in the Pre-K’s and kindergartens.  Every Thursday morning, I read a picture book story and then do rhythms and a craft project (from my book) with a classroom full of eager smiling children.  What a blast!

I’m happy to say that the program has been really well-received…in fact, the head of the volunteer program for District 11 warned me that teachers are already putting in their reservations to have me do presentations for the new school year in August and September!

So, I thought that perhaps on Fridays, I could share my experiences in the schools.  And also let everyone know where I will be the next week.  My author friend suggested, “Where’s Miss Vivian?”

I had to cancel yesterday’s scheduled presentation because of a dentist appointment…but it turns out that it was a good thing I did because I wouldn’t have wanted to expose the children to my cold.

Last week, on February 24th, I was at Columbia school.  The children loved hearing about KATY AND THE BIG SNOW by Virginia Lee Burton.  After giving the children a chance to discuss the story, we formed a circle and went through the motions of Katy, the crawler-tractor, as she plowed the streets of the town of Geoppolis.  The craft project of creating a snow-cleared road way picture captured the enthusiasm of the children to such an extent that they wanted to stay and work on their project after the allotted time and were sad to put down their art materials because it was time for recess!  Having to encourage young children to stop drawing and pasting in order to go outside to play…wow…that’s a new one!

As the children lined up, one of the little boys looked up at me and said, “Miss Vivian, I really like you!”  Another child piped up, “This was the BEST time EVER!”

What was it that the children were so enthusiastic about?

When we spend time with our children, joyfully interacting with them, we build their self-esteem.  They understand that we value them if we give them some of our time.

How can parents shape their children’s future?

Just 15 minutes a day…read a picture book story with your child.

Just 15 minutes a day…do a simple craft project with your child.

Just 15 minutes a day…prepare an easy recipe with your child.

Where can you find all of these activities, laid out in a simple, easy-to-use format?

Hop over to my website and grab a copy of SHOW ME HOW!  BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING…now on sale for half-price with FREE shipping until March 9th.  I guarantee it will be the best $22.50 you have ever spent…and I’m offering a 365-day money-back refund if you don’t agree!

Next week, I’ll be at Taylor school, doing two back-to-back story/craft presentations.

Image of Katy, the crawler-tractor by psiaki via flicker.

The Day I Almost Changed My Mind About Becoming a Teacher

National Museum

Image via Wikipedia

In May of 1967, I had graduated from college with a bachelor’s in early childhood education, completed my student teaching requirements, and passed the New York City teacher’s licensing exam.  I was fortunate that the principal, of the school where I had done my student teaching had created a new kindergarten class for me that would start in the upcoming school year.  I was excited and thrilled that my life-long goal of becoming a kindergarten teacher was finally going to be realized.  In addition, I was to be married at the end of the summer, right before school started!

So, when the principal asked me if I would do some substitute teaching in June, during the last month of school, I jumped at the opportunity.  I would be getting classroom experience as a “real” teacher…and I would be earning some extra money that would certainly be useful for two newly-weds.

The first call came one early morning in the first week in June.  I would be taking over a second grade.  As I parked my car (parking cars on city streets near schools is a whole other blog post topic) and walked into the school, my heart beat quickly…a little with nervous excitement and a little with happiness at embarking on this new journey.

Many schools divide each grade level into homogeneous classes…that is, most of the students in each class are at a similar learning level.  The 2nd grade students in the class I was assigned to were so smart and self-motivated …they almost didn’t need a teacher. 

I walked into the room…the children filed in a few at a time…smiling at me…taking their seats.  When everyone was seated, I introduced myself.  From that moment on, the day was an absolute dream.  The children knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing in each subject…and they did it…with very little direction from me.  At the end of the day, I was convinced I was a natural…destined to be the best teacher ever!

When the phone rang the next morning, I answered it with a smile.   “I’ll be right there.”  This time I entered the classroom with confidence.  I had been assigned to a fourth grade…even better, I thought. 

Two boys walked in, pushing each other.  Another was shooting spit balls out of a straw.

And it was all downhill from that moment on. 

At one point, I sent one of the girls to the chalkboard with a basin of water to clean it off…one of the boys grabbed the basin and upended it over her head.  Books were purposely dropped on the floor while another child was reading out loud.  One girl began crying that her pigtails had been pulled by the boy sitting behind her.  No one had done their homework…no one knew what lesson they had been studying.  Very few had their books…and those that did were using them to hit any classmate within reach.

They were out of control…and I felt helpless to control them.

By the end of the day, I was almost In tears…convinced that I had been mistaken about my career choice.

When the phone rang the next morning, I ignored it.  During the night, I had given a lot of thought to my experience.  I decided that the money was not as important as the destruction of my hopes and dreams.  I knew where I belonged…in early childhood classes.  It was what I had prepared myself for and I wanted to be able to look forward to the new school year with eager anticipation. 

I did go on to teach kindergarten and Head Start for many years…and I can honestly say that I LOVED every minute of it…from the lesson plans, to the story readings…from the field trips with two lines of boys and girls holding hands, gazing in awe at the museum exhibit or the animals in the zoo to snack time with milk and cookies. 

I have so many fond memories of my teaching days…and I am thrilled to be able to be back in the classroom again.  My SHOW ME HOW Story-Time Program for the local Pre-K and kindergarten students has enabled me to share the picture book stories and craft projects recommended in my new book.  I was also able to share with the parents who attended the presentation on Thursday the importance of reading to young children, talking with them and participating with them positively. 

If you have young children and need some story suggestions, great eco-friendly craft projects and easy-peasy healthy cooking activities, why not grab a copy. Head on over to my website where we’ve slashed the price to $22.50…that’s 50% of the cover price.  It will be the best gift you could give to yourself and your preschooler.