How to Stay Healthy This Winter Plus Giveaway

Batten down the hatches…we’re in for a cold spell!

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But that doesn’t mean we have to all get colds, right? Most kids are returning to school which exposes them, and everyone in their homes, to lots of illnesses. In addition, homes and schools in the northern hemisphere crank up the heat which creates indoor conditions which dry out throats and noses which make us more susceptible to viruses and colds. I didn’t know that…did you?

Check out what WebMD has to say about the need to improve indoor humidity during the winter months: http://www.webmd.com/women/home-health-and-safety-9/dry-indoor-air

So other than that, what can a parent or teacher do to help kids stay healthy?

Here are five simple steps:

  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. Another good idea is to keep a basket of small washcloths near the sink…instead of reaching for the big bath towel to dry a little pair of hands, there will be less laundry with these smaller ones.
  2. Dress appropriately: when it is cold, children should be dressed warmly, with hats or hoods on their heads.
  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.  Breakfast doesn’t have to be a bowl of cereal. One of my sons loved having left over pizza or lasagna for breakfast. 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. If your child has to stay home, a board game, some picture books and a pad of paper and box of crayons will help pass the time.

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These are simple steps…but they really work!! How you keep your family healthy? Please share in the comments. Someone will win a set of washcloths and someone else will win some fun packs of tissues.

Top ALA Picture Books Make Great Holiday Gifts for Kids

The gift-giving holidays are almost here. The stores, online catalogs and media are all trying to get you to spend your money – but what does a young child really need or want?

jeremy checking out his new easel

If you want to know the truth – not much! Paper and crayons or markers, some clay or play dough, safety scissors, glue, picture books – and you, of course!

On Friday, I usually review a picture book, but this is a great time of year to check out some of the top picture books of 2014 (all are on the American Library Association’s Notable Books list)…you might want to pick up a couple to put under the tree. I reviewed two of them this year – if you click the links, you’ll also find the craft activity instructions that accompanied each post.

A Big Guy Took My Ball written and illustrated by Mo Willems

Ball written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan

Bully written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Exclamation Mark written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild written and illustrated by Peter Brown

Nino Wrestles the World written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales Continue reading

PPBF: One Big Pair of Underwear – Sharing is Fun

I know you don’t want to hear this, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas won’t be far behind! It’s a busy time for everyone, especially parents of young children.

Keeping the stress level down is definitely a challenge. One of the most important things is for moms and dads to have good communication with each other so they are on the same page about activities and gifts – present a united front for the kids – things go much more smoothly if you do.

Whether you’ve got one child or several, sharing is almost always an issue. Young kids can be very possessive about their things. Sharing is a learned skill…most kids don’t come by it naturally. Reading today’s Perfect Picture Book with your children would be a great opportunity to talk about sharing.

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ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR

Written by Laura Gehl

Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Publisher: Beach Lane Books (2014)

Ages: 2-8

Themes: Sharing, counting, animals

 

Opening Lines:

“One big pair of underwear, Two brown bears who hate to share. One bear wears the underwear. One bear cries, “That isn’t fair!”

Synopsis:

From Booklist: “The word underwear is enough to make kids erupt in giggles. But when two bears contemplate sharing one pair of underwear, youngsters will be rolling in the aisles. Add rhymes, tongue twisters, and alliteration into the mix, and you’ll find spirited entertainment in this picture-book introduction to basic concepts. A joy to read aloud with digitally colored pencil illustrations that are full of charm and humor.”
Why I like this book:

  • Great read-aloud
  • Hilariously funny…just the word underwear is enough to get kids laughing!
  • Great rhyming counting book

 

How a parent can use this book: Continue reading

Sunday Post: Sentimental Value…Easter Craft for Kids

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge…today’s theme is SENTIMENTAL VALUE.

Sentimental value definition: value placed on something because of its emotional associations rather than its monetary worth.

Easter Crafts for Kids

What has the greatest sentimental value for me?

 People!

My family!

My children and grandchildren!

CHILDREN ARE PRICELESS! And pricey!

Did you know that it costs over $200,000 to raise a child to age 18?

But some of the most important things you can give your kids are free!

1.     Give them your time – participate with them in activities that are fun.

2.     Give them your attention – listen to them when they talk to you.

3.     Give them your respect – ask for their opinions and thoughts.

4.     Give them your love – show them and tell them EVERY day.

5.     Give them boundaries – set expectations and consequences.

Your return on investment will be well worth it!

Spending time with kids can be fun for everyone. If you have young children ages 2-8, my book is a great resource. Join hundreds of other parents and teachers who use the ideas in the book every day. It makes a great baby shower gift…the baby will quickly outgrow those little sleepers, but will never outgrow the benefits of positive parental participation!  Click this link to find out more about it!www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

What are some things you do with your kids?

With Easter just around the corner, how about crafting a paper plate bunny? Arts and crafts activities build self-esteem, develop stronger literacy skills, increase coordination and encourage creative expression and imagination.

PAPER PLATE EASTER BUNNY

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photo courtesy all kids network

You will need: Paper plate, cotton balls, glue, construction paper in white and pink, pipe cleaners, scissors.

1.    Young kids will especially love plunking cotton balls all over the bunny’s face…use a glue stick for less mess.

2.    The picture shows pipe cleaners for whiskers and mouth…as well as a pom-pom pink nose…but you can substitute pieces of construction paper.

Step-by-step instructions at: Paper Plate Easter Bunny Craft

 

There’s lots of fun over at Jake’s Sunday Post.

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http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/

 

Sunday Post: Focused Attention…Does Your Child Get Yours?

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is FOCUSED ATTENTION.

01-ural-owl-670Photo by Sven Zarek for National Geographic

Birds do it!

 bumblebee from Malou

Photo by Malou of the Netherlands

Bees do it!

Jeremy cleaning house with vacuum

Even precious little kids do it!

Have you ever watched young children coloring a picture? Head close to the page, crayon gripped in their fingers, tongue clenched between their lips…they are focusing every fiber of their attention on what they are doing.

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Observe your children next time they are learning a new task or playing ball or dancing…you will see how their entire body is involved.

Do you give your children YOUR focused attention when you are reading a story with them or participating in some activity or just listening to them tell you about something that happened at school?

So often, parents are busy and listen with ‘half an ear’.

320925_10151303564318046_1899968953_n All dressed up in her Easter finery…Carrie at age 3.

I remember, years ago, when our daughter was about 6 years-old. She had come home from school and her father, who was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper, asked her how her day had gone. Carrie began telling him what she had done in school. After a minute or so, she stopped. “Daddy” she complained. “Listen to me!” “I am listening to you” replied her father. “No, Daddy!” our pig-tailed poppet responded as she pulled the newspaper away from him. “You have to look me in the eye when I talk to you!”

Five Tips for Great Parent-Child Interaction

1.     Give your child your focused attention

2.     Maintain a positive up-beat attitude

3.     Choose an activity that is age-appropriate for your child

4.     Communication is a two-way street…TALK AND LISTEN

5.     Have FUN!

If you need a book that will give you and your young children many positive, age-appropriate quick and easy activities, please buy a copy of my award-winning parent-teacher resource, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

And, if you didn’t see the video of Ray Bethell, grand world-champion multiple kite-flyer, you MUST watch this: http://youtu.be/E69flRylQRo  His performance is a perfect example of FOCUSED ATTENTION.

You will be entertained for five minutes…and inspired for the rest of your life!

time after time, positive parental participation

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?

http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/

  1. http://imagesoftheheart.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/sunday-post-focused-attention/
  2. http://wp.me/p2d9xu-ly
  3. http://artifactsandfictions.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/focused-attention/
  4. http://piecesofstarlight.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/sunday-post-focus-on-little-yellow-plane/
  5. http://playamart.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/the-rain-stopped-get-outside-now/
  6. http://ohmsweetohmdotme.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/sunday-post-focused-attention/
  7. https://campanulladellaanna.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/sunday-post-theme-focused-attention/

Holiday Parenting Tip: “It’s OK NOT to Share”

parenting, sharing, preschoolers

I have been blogging about two years now.  I started because I wanted to share my passion for using picture books to help young children build self-esteem.   I also wanted to spread the word about my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking”, and make it available to parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and others who work with kids.

It’s been an exciting journey…and a satisfying one.  I’ve connected with the most fantastic people all over the world.  I’ll even be meeting one of them in person next May in Singapore when I participate at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content.  I’ve also exchanged books with many authors and have enjoyed reading and reviewing their works.

Today I am thrilled to be spotlighting “It’s OK NOT to Share…and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids”, written by Heather Shumaker.

Heather is a journalist…so she knows how to write.  Heather researched dozens of child psychologists, educators and other experts and she is a mom herself…so she knows what she is talking about. 

This book provides a no-nonsense commonsense approach to parents…a definite breath of fresh air.  As you read this book, you will begin to feel the stress of parenting melt away…and the joy returning!

In Section I, she talks about “Reviving Free Play”…do you know that many preschools and kindergartens are curtailing play time so there is more opportunity for sitting the kids down with dittos and computers to learn to read and write?  But taking away free play has the opposite effect and the long-term results show that young children would benefit more from playing with blocks.

The other day, I did a post on the top ten toys for young kids.  Heather encourages parents and teachers to ‘Welcome Free Play’ with this list:

1.     Make literacy joyful: read with them, sing with them, do finger-plays, let kids fall in love with words now…and reading will follow after.

2.     Go outside: walk in the woods or the neighborhood, play with balls, sand and water.

3.     Choose open-ended toys that promote imagination: blocks, play-dough, non-branded stuffed animals and dolls, cardboard boxes, dress-up clothes, bells. (Our lists for this are almost identical!)

4.     Offer space: kids need room to play…move or remove furniture if necessary.

5.     Cut structured activities: kick a ball around with your child, make up your own games…when I visited my grandson, we took a big ball and walked over to the tennis court (which has a high fence all around it and a gate that locks…no worries about balls rolling into traffic) and played kick the ball and run after it for an hour.  When we needed to take a break from running, we walked around the inner perimeter of the court and observed bugs, leaves and puddles…taking time to jump in some of those, just for fun!

6.     Look for a play-based preschool: look for schools where at least ¾ of the time is devoted to free play and play-time in at least one to two hour blocks of time.

7.     Slow down: both you and your child will be happier and less stressed.

free play, outdoor activities for kids

In Section II, Heather explains that “It’s OK Not to Share.”  If you have younger siblings, I’m sure you will remember having to give up a toy to a brother or sister because they clamored for it and your mom told you, “Give it to your sister…she’s just a baby.”  Does that encourage love between siblings?  NO!  Does it help the younger one learn to respect others? NO!  Does it teach patience? NO!

In Section V, the author spotlights “Creativity, Persistence and Empty Praise”.  At workshops and school programs, one of the things I share with parents is that they can encourage their children by allowing them to create art as they see it, not as the parent thinks it should look.  As Heather says, “Art doesn’t have to be pretty.”   According to Heather, “Showering kids with praise is NOT the same as building healthy self-confidence.”  Acknowledging what the child has done, instead of saying things like “Good job or very pretty or that’s nice”, is much better for their inner self-worth.  With so much focus on bullying and how we need to stop it in schools and playgrounds, we must pay attention to this advice…helping children develop a positive self-image and true self-esteem is crucial!

Each of the eight sections of the book is CHOCKFUL of real-life scenarios involving kids and adults.  Perhaps you’ll see yourself in some of the examples…I know I did.  However, the author does not make us feel badly…she provides simple tips, techniques and examples that will help us engage in meaningful interaction with our children, creating balance and harmony for the entire family.

You can find copies of this book for sale on Amazon (what an amazing holiday gift for any parent or teacher), or go to the author’s website where you can find many other purchasing options and learn how to connect with her.  The book was a joy to read and I will be passing my copy along to my daughter who has a four-year old son…I know she will love it.

Don’t forget that Wednesday is the Halloweensie Contest on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog…I’ll be posting my Halloween Picture Book story…in 100 words or less…I’ll include the link to the page where you will be able to read all of the other entries.  There are so many amazingly talented writers and illustrators out there…it will be great fun!