February 2011 archive

One Activity Can Go A Long Way

I know some of you are ready for more easy ABC activities that you can do with your little ones to really reinforce their knowledge of letter names and letter-sounds.

Well, today’s activity IS going to be a great game for practicing those skills, but it is also going to be a great game to practice lots of other skills to!

Take a mini chalkboard, mini whiteboard, or even a paper and pencil with a great eraser.  You basically just want any materials that you can use to wipe off what you have written/drawn.  A white board would probably be the easiest to clean.

Today’s game is all about writing or drawing a letter or picture and using different prompts to get your child to erase the letter or picture you are referring to.  You can play this game focusing on a lot of the skills that we have talked about in previous reading posts.  Here are some examples of different ways to play, depending on what “step” your child is on.

 I got my whiteboard at WalMart 🙂

Practice rhyming:

Draw simple pictures on a whiteboard, and ask your child to wipe off a picture that rhymes with _______.  Example: “I drew a fish, a cat, and a rose. Erase the picture that rhymes with NOSE ” (rose).

Practice listening for segmented words:

Draw simple pictures on a whiteboard, and ask your child to wipe off a picture that has these sounds  /_/-_____.  Example:“I drew a fish, a cat, and a rose.  Erase the picture that has all the sounds /r/ – ose” by saying just the first sound and the rest of the word.

Or, if this skill comes easily, have your child “Erase the picture that has the sounds /r/-/ō/ /s/” by saying all the sounds in the word.

Practice letter recognition:

Write random letters on a whiteboard, and ask your child to wipe off a letter that you name.  Example: “I am going to write some letters on the board, can you erase the letter ‘P’?” You can even put it to a tune like “The Farmer and the Dell” and sing “Erase the letter ‘P’ Erase the letter ‘P’ Which letter do you know to be the letter ‘P’?”

Practice Letter-sound relationships:

Write random letters on a whiteboard, and ask your child to wipe off a letter starts with a certain sound like /p/.  Example: “I am going to write letters on the board, can you erase the letter that makes the sound /p/?”

Or to erase the picture that starts with the same sound as /r/abbit (rose).

Practice upper-lower case matching:

Write letter sets (upper and lower) on a whiteboard, and ask your child to wipe off the pairs of matching letters that you name.  Example:”I am writing mommy and baby letters on the board, can you erase the “Bb” family?” –Remember that “baby “b” fits inside of momma “B’’s belly.


GiveAway Guidelines!-closed 3-4-11

From Casey:

“Win a CUSTOM, PERSONALIZED BEHAVIOR CHART from Kidspired Creations, courtesy of The Mommy Teacher! Deadline: March 4th!

Behavior charts are a great visual reminder to use when disciplining your child. The Mommy Teacher gives tips on how to use a behavior chart effectively and why, like in a classroom, it is helpful to use at home. Kidspired Creations will be giving away a CUSTOM, PERSONALIZED behavior chart to one lucky parent (or teacher)! That parent will be able to help design his/her own behavior chart to match his/her decor, personalized with the kids’ names AND his/her house consequences.

There are 2 ways to enter (by doing BOTH you can get a DOUBLE ENTRY!):

1. Visit TheMommyTeacher.com and LEAVE A COMMENT on her post about the giveaway.

2. Visit Kidspired Creations at http://www.facebook.com/kidspiredcreations and “LIKE” the page. Then LEAVE A COMMENT on the KC facebook page.

(It would be really fun if your comments included a little “Mommy Tip” to share with other Mommies!) But the comment can also be as simple as “i like this idea.”

DEADLINE MARCH 4TH! A WINNER will be chosen on March 5th… so start commenting!!!

You may also visit the Kidspired Creations Etsy Shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/kidspiredcreations.”

Behavior Chart

These posts on behavior may be lengthy, and may seem taxing at first, but I have a feeling that if you bite the bullet and get into the habit of consistently following a plan of action, you will be glad you did.

If you made some “house rules” yesterday, you now need a way to follow up with them.  So, after talking about and setting the rules, a great thing to talk about with your child is what will happen if they do/don’t make these good choices. 

It is important to sequence consequences from light to heavy because that way each child knows the weight of their choices.  So you might give a verbal warning first, “You may not jump on mommy’s couches.  This is your warning.  If you jump from couch to couch again, you will go to time out.” If the behavior happens again you follow through and issue the time out (one minute for each year old).  If there is a third offense, inform the child that he/she is losing a privilege (and again, follow through) because he/she is choosing to disobey.  Finally, if there is a fourth offense, bedtime time out.  

Not only is it good to have these consequences but it is great to give young children a visual reminder of what offense they are on.  A behavior chart is a great way to do that.   It is a measurable, illustrated way of reminding your child of their consequences.  You don’t want a bunch of empty claims… I assure you.  If you learn to keep up with a behavior chart don’t forget that you are not just observing their negative behaviors.  You are giving them opportunities to move UP the ladder to.  If you observe your child demonstrating obedience, move their marker up to the top and encourage them that you are noticing him/her trying to be the best he can be.

Here is a picture of Casey’s behavior chart.  She personalized it for James because he loves space, but the great news is…it is her business!!! She can personalize one for you too!!! 

This is the consequence sequence Casey follows as well:

“1st offense, warning
2nd offense, time out (1 minute per year)
3rd offense, toy time out (loses privilege, or whatever toy he is playing with)
4th offense, room time out on his bed
(hitting or purposefully hurting someone, goes immediately to his bed)”

“The Toy Time Out box, painted by my 3 year old, is VERY necessary in our house. He gets the toy taken away until the next day. Then the next day I make him recall why it got taken away.”

Rule-Making To Prevent Rule-Breaking

Yesterday we talked about teaching your children about good choices, especially when we are following up with inappropriate behavior because we need to teach our kids alternate ways to conduct themselves.

Well, today we are going to brush up on some facts that will prevent SOME of the behaviors that you consider inappropriate. 

In a classroom, teachers always have rules posted on the wall.  We talk about rules before group time, small group, recess, lunch, and just about every time of the day, every day!  Teachers are CONSTANTLY setting expectations for children and warning children about what will happen if those expectations aren’t met. 

Casey and I were just talking yesterday about the times she goes into grocery stores with her little boys.  Beforehand, in the car, she might tell them “When we go into the grocery store, you need to stick by me, and use an inside voice.  You may ask me for __ things that you want, but mommy will make the choice that is best and you need to have a good attitude.”  Wow!  Right there the child knows what is expected….even before entering a daily errand!  Then she might say “If you are not making those good choices, then _________(fill in the blank with a consequence)” BAM!  They even know what consequence to expect if they do not stick to the guidelines she set. 

As a mommy, daddy, or caregiver, we have a big responsibility…that is, whether or not we set our kids up for success or failure.  House rules are a great way to set expectations and hopefully teach our children how he/she can be the best they can be! 

So, let’s talk house rules.  It’s time to make and display the house rules…I feel a writing activity coming on!

Get out your materials (whatever you want to use) and gather your child/children for a little meeting.  When making the rules, ask your child what rules are important for a safe, happy home, and ask them leading questions to build your list of rules.  Including your kids in the rule-making is one great way to make clear boundaries because it gives the children ownership of the rules they help to make.  Also, talk about what kinds of things happen if we act the opposite of those rules.   However you do it, EXPLAINING and GIVING EXAMPLES for the rules are imperative.

Any way your family chooses to write the rules will be special, you might use pictures to remind them what that rule says, or you might let them draw a picture for each rule, or not use any pictures at all. 

Here is an example of Casey’s House Rules:

This is a great visual reminder of expectations you have for your children, and tomorrow I will be writing about a way to follow up with these rules in a meaningful way through another visual reminder.

Casey adds: “Rules are a GOOD thing to have around the house and kids need to understand WHY they are good: to keep us safe, to remind us to be respectful, to teach us how to behave as good citizens. That being said, it is necessary for rules to be worded in a POSITIVE way. For example, instead of saying “No running” rephrase the rule to say “Please walk.” This helps children to understand that rules are not meant as a punishment, but as a way we can all cooperate and play safely.”


Teaching Good Choices

I’ve talked to a lot of friends lately who want to learn more about teaching their child how to manage their feelings, manners, and social skills.

As a teacher, building on children’s emotional development is somewhat like clockwork because you have a bird’s eye view of the behavior and have the resources to teach about the behavior. Whereas, as a parent, you have been so entwined with these emotions since your child was born, that it is hard to see beyond what you know about them and you often try to “fix” your child’s behaviors.

Well, the good news is that you can TEACH your child positive behaviors and encourage your child to PRACTICE these interactions and eventually you may not have to focus as much on their “misbehavior.”

Some of my “tricks” include REINFORCEMENT (a lot of repetition), REFERENCE (referring to characters in books that the child does want to be like/doesn’t want to be like), ROLE PLAY (allow your child to act out behaviors through characters they become), and CONSISTENCY (choose methods for teaching and consequences that work and stick to them).

I cannot cover the whole spectrum of teaching positive behaviors in one post, but I will introduce some things that I find effective in most circumstances.

As a first example, when I observe that a child is acting out on their anger, I have them go sit at a designated table/desk where I will meet them shortly after they cool down a bit. At this table I keep a basket of books and dolls/puppets under the table (not to be a play table but a table to work out emotions). This can otherwise be referred to as the “PEACE Table,” where you will HELP your child resolve and learn from these issues. When I bring children to this space I might say something like “I see that you do not have control of your feelings and you need time to get control. I will be back in ____minutes, (a minute for every year old) so we can talk about it and solve this problem.”  **Casey suggests not starting the timer until the tantrum has settled because children can’t cognitively reflect and process their behavior or consequence until the mood swing has subsided.

If you are not at home, take their hand (as early as possible), and walk them over to any private area, out of the environment where they lost control.

I will make sure to tell the child that it is not bad to be angry but that it is NOT okay to act on it. I will give them examples by taking out a doll/puppet/g.i.joe. “This is Jack, and his toy was taken away from him. How do you think he feels? (mad). Yes, mad, and that is okay but what if jack hits the table because he is mad? Is that going to help him get his toy back? No, what is something that he can do to earn his toy back?” This starts to get your child to think about alternative behaviors to solve their problems. Then I would act out a similar situation WITH my child, and then I would have my child reenact the situation of their anger from earlier and talk about what went wrong and have them reenact what happened with a different ending to the story.

Children WANT to learn alternative behaviors! Most of their behaviors are instinct or habit. I am not encouraging you to stop issuing discipline and consequences…not at ALL. I am just giving you ideas of how you can start TEACHING positive behaviors in addition to discipline.

Additionally, reading books that discuss feelings, pose problems that need resolution, and identify children with different characters is a GREAT way to model inappropriate and appropriate behaviors.

So, here are some ideas of books that you can read so that when you are at the peace table you might either close with one of the books, OR refer the child to one of the characters in the book and how that character dealt with their similar problem. Go to your local library or thrift store and see if you can find any of them!

Summarize longer books for children with shorter attention spans 🙂

Hope this helps!!!!

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