Friday, May 29, 2015

If You Only Remember One Thing...

A teacher hopes it's this:
Remember to breathe!

Breathe deeply, hold your breath a second and then breathe out all the way.  Repeat.

Deep breathing relaxes you.  It heals your body and mind.  It fights illness, even serious illness.  It keeps you alert and helps you sleep.  It feels good.

Of course, a teacher hopes you remember how good it feels to learn, laugh, share, grow, empathize, achieve, discover and cultivate your specific gifts--and capture it all in a Keepsake Box.

And...remember to breathe.

Monday, May 25, 2015

End of the School Year Motivational Cube

The end of the school year needs a punctuation mark!
 A reflection, a summing up, and inspiration to keep going till next year!

If kids want, they can leave the top open and put their treasures inside.

Or, they can use it as a desktop motivational guide in those last few days of the year.

It will remind them of their favorite things…

Things they learned…


And deep breathing, when all they want to do is bounce off walls and begin summer…

[Sigh and smile]

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Memorial Day for Kids

Memorial Day is a thoughtful time to honor American heroes.

How can young children observe this day? 

Kids can realize that Americans are safer because our soldiers will
protect them anywhere in the world.   And that, sadly, some of
those soldiers will give their lives fighting to help us.

Kids can go to a Memorial Day parade, or watch one on TV.  Or go
to a Memorial Day event such as boarding an aircraft carrier and
meeting active soldiers.

They can visit a veteran at a Veteran’s hospital or nursing home,
and take homemade food or cookies, a book to read, or a
homemade card.

By all means, have a picnic or barbeque with the family.  And
remind kids that Memorial Day is also a day to reflect on the heroes
who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can be free to enjoy the day.

If you'd like more ideas on how to use your Memorial Day Craft Box, they are here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Stop and Smell the Roses with Kids

It's spring!  Did you stop and smell the roses?

Yes, especially during high-stakes test week.

Did you take 2 minutes to pass through nature, notice something beautiful, smell a blossom, and inhale deeply?

Did you take your children with you, and teach them how to stop and smell the roses?

In a week of man-made testing verbiage...

...did you, like Walt Whitman, look up in perfect silence at the stars...or petals?

Why Kids Play Police

It's Police Week.

How many kids want to be a police officer, even if it's only for a moment?

They want to protect--knowing firsthand how important it is to feel protected.  They want to feel powerful, knowing how powerless they are at their age.

They want to enforce right and wrong, and stop bad guys with confidence, swagger and cool.  They could defeat bad guys all day long.

And, no small matter, they make police hats look good--and they know it.  They give fresh life to the term "fashion police."

They love my Musical Police game, marching around the room to a march, rap or pop tune.  When the music stops--every few seconds--they halt, raise their badges, and say "Stop!  You're under arrest!"  So simple but kids get a thrill out of it.

I wonder how many of them will grow up to live the dream?

Meanwhile, the photo-real police hat, police puppets, mini-book and musical police keeps them enthralled.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Test Prep for Kindergarten Reading

It’s crunch time, test time.  Can your kids read level E books?  That’s the new benchmark for kindergarten (in New York City) and it keeps rising.

When kids read, I remind them:

  • Look at the picture first.  Take your time.  Think about what’s happening.
  • Read the sight words you know.
  • Sound out words you don’t know.  Try the short vowel sound, and if it doesn’t make sense, try the long vowel sound.
  • Skip the vowel if you’re not sure what vowel sound to use.  Sometimes you can figure out the word that way.
  • Read small chunks of words, and then join them together to say a longer word.

Sight words are the golden key to reading fluency.  Dolch or Fry, all the sight word lists are good.  If kids know the top 25 sight words, and then learn the top 100 sight words, they know most of the words on a book page. 

I like to teach the easiest words first—the 2-letter sight words, then 3-letter sight words. 

I also teach sight words all year.  As we read I point them out.  “We know that word; it's _____.”

Of course, reading is not enough.  Kids have to comprehend, too—and answer questions about the book. 

  • Who are the main characters?
  • What are they like?  (Kind?  Friendly?  Brave?  Mean?) 
  • How do you know?  How can you tell?  How does the author show you?  How does the illustrator show you?
  • What is their favorite thing to do?
  • How do they feel about each other, or about what is happening?  How do you know?
  • What was the character’s problem?
  • How did she solve the problem?
  • What do you think she was thinking?
  • What was the most important part of the story?  Why?
  • Can you predict what will happen next?
  • Did this part of the story remind you of anything?
Reading a lot of level books and answering questions will make children at ease with the process.  I start with easier texts, like level C books…
...and level D books:
Ideally, kids should be so comfortable with reading and comprehending that taking a reading test is just like taking a walk in the park.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Butterfly Masks

Butterfly masks are cool, beautiful, dreamy, fierce and fabulous!

It’s not only because we watched 5 tiny threads become 5 plump caterpillars, and then 5 nut-shaped chrysalids.

And not because we’re holding our breath till the chrysalids crack open.

 Butterfly Mask or Craft

We just wanna wear butterfly masks.  And maybe dance, leap and fly to our favorite music…or music that’s altogether foreign, like Chopin.

 Butterfly Mask or Craft

Then our own souls’ chrysalids will have cracked open.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Phone Skills for Kids

Phone skills are a must for every child over 3. 

Every 3-year-old should know how to dial 911 in an emergency.  If the worst thing happens and a caregiver needs help, kids are sometimes the first—and only—responders.

When to call 911?  What to say?   How to unlock a phone?  What’s the difference between end and send?  Quick—what’s your home phone?  Your kid needs to know.

Let’s move along to conversation skills.  What conversation skills?  They’re drowned out by the silent roar of Candy Crush and texting.  I know, speaking and listening are common core skills.  But more importantly, they’re truly golden in a networking world.
That’s why I created a phone kit, to teach kids about phone basics: symbols, emergencies, etiquette, and conversation starters.  The pièce de résistance is a template for a 3D phone craft, so kids can make a dream phone for fun and inspiration.  

Kids never tire of talking on the phone, whether it’s real or fake.  So by all means, let’s give them the cutest little fake phone south of Santa...and teach them how to talk with purpose.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mother's Day Unwind

Mother's Day is a day to unwind, among other things.
I know, you can't unwind completely.  Mothers are always on.  There's never a moment your kids disappear from your mind.  Loving them, cleaning, clothing, cooking, washing, shopping, shepherding, guiding, reading, hugging, listening...

It's all about the love.

A perfect Mother's Day would be a balance of loving your children and loving your self.  Ideally, you'd avoid dreaded chores.  Fun chores are OK, though, especially with your kids.

In a perfect day, you'd get outdoors and appreciate your babies in the big beautiful world.  In fact, you'd get your whole family in on the action--as long as it's not stressful.

And finally, you'd take a little time for yourself--to unwind, see the big picture, and appreciate your life.  If your kids want to join you in meditation, all the better.  You're teaching them coping skills they'll thank you for, forever.

If you'd like to try a child-friendly meditation pack, these Counting Songs are a great aid to unwinding.  The MP3s feature a soothing voice counting over relaxing music with a meditative beat.  I call it my Insomnia Pack, or my Attention Deficit Hypnosis Pack.  And now I have a new name for it: Mother's Day Unwinding Pack.

I hope you have a wonderful, loving Mother's Day!