Fun Scientific and Beneficial Experiences Provided by Nature for Kids

kidinnature

Last Saturday, my family and I were scheduled to take a day trip to a farm but the forecast called for rain. I decided an alternative trip would be a nature walk near our home. My son was so excited because he could wear his rain boots and splash in puddles! He experienced this and so much more!

While we were walking, I thought about the benefits of being in nature. Here is what I found…

Hands-on Science Lesson

One day, we watched the cartoon, Sid the Science Kid, and learned about the four life cycle stages of a frog. The first stage is the tiny frog eggs laid by a female frog. Then the eggs turn into tadpoles. The tadpoles start to develop front and back legs which is the froglet stage. The last stage is the adult frog, which is when the tail leaves and he is ready to live on land.

During our nature walks, we experienced two stages of this life cycle. We saw masses of tadpoles swimming in a pond.  My husband was able to catch tadpoles with a net and we observed them. My son was brave enough to touch the tadpoles and comment on their slimy skin.

About two weeks later, the tadpoles turned into hopping little frogs. We caught about 8 frogs to examine them for a brief moment before we let them go. It was an amazing sight.

Physical Activity

On our way to the nature trail, we saw squirrels and birds. As soon as my son saw them, he chased the animals and burned off tons of energy. Once we saw puddles, I switched his shoes from sneakers to rain boots and he jumped in the middle of them. His hands sloshed in the water as he examined the colors and depth. On the trail we detected rocks embedded in the ground and we dug them out. My son threw the rocks in the water and watched the circular ripples form. The walk itself was a great physical exercise for the body.

Social

We saw other families with children walking their dogs and runners. We greeted each other and sometimes had mini conversations. My son ran behind some of the runners and wanted us to join him. There were two older boys, riding their bikes, who saw us looking down and wanted to know what we were searching for. We told them we were catching frogs and saw turtles in the pond. They joined us by catching little frogs which allowed us more observational opportunities.

Use of tools

Whenever we go on a nature walk, I take scientific tools to provide a better experience. My son or I will carry kid size binoculars around our necks to observe squirrels and birds in trees. We also use it to watch turtles on branches in the pond. I keep a magnifying glass in my bag to closely view bugs, frogs, rocks, plants, flowers, pinecones, and leaves. As mentioned before, my husband will catch bugs and frogs in a net and put them in a jar for my son to examine. The most important tool, in my opinion, are hands. My son used his hands to touch and feel the treasures he found in nature. He was able to communicate whether the item was smooth, bumpy, slimy, rough, etc.

Cost

Taking a walk outside your home and being exposed to nature is free. Most parks with nature trails are complimentary also.  Take advantage of the natural lessons that God has provided. You can’t beat a day full of adventure at no cost!

I knew our trip was successful when my son said “That was a fun day!”

Happy Exploring!

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Teaching Young Kids to Use their Words

miles mad book

The book, When Miles Got Mad by Sam Kurtzman-Counter and Abbie Schiller, is a great book that teaches kids to use their words to express their feelings. It also uses an image, a red monster, to represent anger and rage. The red monster makes a connection to what a child feels when angry feelings overwhelm them.

In this story, Miles is mad at his younger brother for breaking his model airplane. Miles screams at his brother and scares him. The red monster appears and gets bigger as Miles becomes enraged. The red monster talks to Miles and helps him manage his anger. This book addresses other themes such as empathy, self-control, keeping hands to self, and problem solving.

How I applied it…

My child was frustrated because he could not figure out how to maneuver a toy. With each failed attempt, I could see that he was becoming more and more frustrated. I told him I could see the red monster getting bigger. This reminded my son to use his words to ask me for help or to take a break and try again another time.

My son reminded me about the red monster when I was mad as well. I felt my voice rising as I became irritated. When I thought about the red monster, I immediately lowered my tone.

This book is great for kids and adults. Add it to your book collection.

Other ways to apply it….

  1. Have kids create characters for other feelings.
    • For example, a blue bear for sadness and a green snake for jealously.
  2. Have students write their own stories for how to deal with these feelings.
  3. Ensure students include their characters within the story.

Happy Learning!

One Way I Sparked my Son’s Interest in Geography

what on your plate

We live in a very diverse area near people from various countries. I love talking to our neighbors about their culture, food, language, and upbringing. My son loves to eat and always wants to know how food will benefit him. For example, he knows that chicken and eggs will help him build muscle. When I saw the book, What’s On Your Plate? Exploring the World of Food by Whitney Stewart, I thought he would be interested in reading it.

This book highlights countries such as Mexico, Ethiopia, China, and Greece, and gives the reader information on their locations, foods frequently eaten, and recipes. The enticing food pictures in this book will make you hungry.

My son connected with this book instantly. First, he learned that he eats similar foods to people all over the world. Moroccans eat grapes and oranges which are two of his favorite foods. He eats rice, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese like the Italians.

As we were reading the book, we had the globe beside us. We stopped on each page, identified the country, its food, and located it on the globe. I saw my son perk up because he saw these countries were located far away in various continents, yet one similarity was food.

Read this book with your child and learn about food all over the world!

Other ways to make connections with this book…

  • Make the recipes in the book
  • Eat Ethnic foods – Go to an Indian, Ethiopian, or Mexican Restaurant
  • Talk to people from other countries and compare what you have learned in this book.

 

Happy Exploring!

Spark Children’s Interest in Geography at an Early Age

Kids and globe

When I was in high school, I took a Geography class. I did not like this class at all. At the time, I didn’t understand why I had to learn about other countries. I remember studying for this class was difficult because the subject did not interest me.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I wanted to learn about the world outside of the United States.  It was a time that enabled me to interact and live with people from all over the world. My first time on an airplane was during my college years. I went to Dominican Republic for a Community Service Project. After this trip, I traveled to Costa Rica, England, and Ireland for service and study abroad opportunities.  It was these experiences that made me want to go back in time and study Geography again. Through my travel, I developed relationships with people across the world.

So how do you spark a child’s interest in Geography?

YOU MAKE A CONNECTION! Specifically, make a connection that coincides with the child’s interest.

Below are fun ways to create connections between your children/students and the world! You will need a map or globe for the activities below…

For the child who loves animals

My son loves animals. We learn about how and where various animals live around the world. We’ve been able to learn about the continents through his love of animals. Make it fun and search for where the 10 fastest animals in the world live!

For the child who loves sports

You and your child can explore Unusual Sports played around the world.  For example, toe wrestling is played in Britain. In this game, competitors intertwine their toes and try to pin their opponents’ foot down. Find out which continent has the most unusual sports!

For the child who wants to be a Princess

You and the child can meet Princesses from around the world. Search for Princesses in Belgium, Germany, England, Monaco, and Liechtenstein. Have your child choose their favorite princess!

For the child who has friends from other countries or cultures

Locate on a globe or map where your child’s friends and their families were born. Find out about their culture, food, land features, and language. Try cooking the country’s food with your family.

 

Next week’s post will be about how my son and I learned another fun lesson in Geography.

Stay Tuned!

What your Toddler/Preschooler Should Know in Case they are Lost

lost boy

Recently I was talking with another mom about preventing our toddlers/preschoolers from getting lost in crowded places. As parents, we like to take our children to festivals, museums, aquariums, amusement parks etc. These places have many people in close proximity of one another and children are at a greater risk of getting lost.

The other mom and I discussed strategies we’ve seen other parents use such as keeping the child in the stroller or using the child leash backpacks. I shared what has worked for me in the past thus far.

Name Tag Stickers

I write, with a bold marker, “If lost, please call my mommy’s cell phone at…”  on a name tag sticker. Then I place the name tag sticker on my son’s back so he won’t take it off.

Some parents make this permanent by writing their phone numbers inside the child’s shoe or shoe string.

Teaching Children Phone numbers

My son also knows the home address and our individual (my husband and I) cell phone numbers. I taught him this information by creating catchy songs and chants. We sing and shout the songs/chants around the house so it is engrained in his brain. I have also written this information on the dry erase board hanging near our dining table. By viewing this information every day, my son can internalize it subconsciously.

Teach Your Child Your Birth Name

If your child is lost, it will be difficult to distinguish his/her voice if multiple children are shouting “Mommy!” Therefore, my husband and I ensured our son knows our birth names. He finds it fascinating that we have names other than mommy and daddy. He also knows how to spell our names just in case someone can’t understand him. Again, we taught him this through songs, repetition, and writing it on our dry erase board.

Child ID Card

Another strategy is to have an ID card made for your child. My son received his first ID card at 2 years old at a festival. The County Sherriff office had a booth set up where they made Child ID cards instantly. The cards contained the child’s age, photo, thumbprint, weight, date of birth, race, gender, hair and eye color, and issue date. On the back, it gives tips on what to do if your child is lost.

The Sheriff Office recommends the card be updated yearly for children two and over. For children two and under, the card should be updated every six months due to changes in appearance as they grow.

If your child is lost, the ID card provides documentation containing the child’s information, arming law enforcement with facts to immediately start a search.

Call your local Sherriff Office to inquire about Child ID cards.

 

Just Teach your Child what to do and Role Pay

Let’s not forget the old fashion way of looking your child in the eye and firmly giving them direction. This includes telling the child to…

  1. Walk beside mommy and daddy
  2. Hold your hand in crowded places
  3. Once you arrive somewhere, identify staff who can help your child
    • Identify something distinct about the staff such as…
      • Similar color uniform
      • Name tag
    • Once you’ve taught your child what to do, role play with them!

Tell us your tips in the comments!

Be safe and have fun!

Fun Activities that Teach Kids about Indoor Air Pollution

indoor pollution pic

Indoor air pollution can cause sneezing, scratchy throats, headaches, and watery eyes. One solution to this problem is plants, which decreases indoor air pollution within a room. Certain plants make the air healthier to breathe.

I was watching the cartoon, Cyberchase- Indoor Air Pollution Episode, with my son and learned these facts. This cartoon episode features Norm, the Gnome, explaining how new paint and furniture can cause air pollution. View Norm’s explanation in this video. 

We also learned more plants are needed for a larger room. Larger rooms carry more air pollution; therefore, more plants are needed to purify the air. How do you determine the number of plants needed for a room? The cartoon characters counted tiles in a room to answer this question.  Watch this video to see how it’s done. (select How Many Plants Per Room?)

How could you determine the number of plants needed if you don’t have tiles in a room? The answer is estimation. Watch how the characters estimate a room size, using previous knowledge. (select Estimating Room Size).

You can apply this within your classroom or at home.

How we applied this lesson in our home…

  1. Compiled a list of air purifying plants.
    • It is best to compare various lists.
  2. Research how to care for the plants you choose
    • Read books
    • Watch YouTube videos
    • Ask the plant experts at the store where you made your purchase
  3. Used estimation to determine the number of plants needed.
  4. Purchased the plants and materials to care for them.
  5. Care for the plants.

My family and I enjoy caring for the plants and the benefits of air purification. I have experienced a difference of air quality in our home. Try it out!

Happy Indoor Gardening!

Bringing Fun to Language Arts for Kids!

Dictionary book

My son and I recently read the book, The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra. This is a fun, interactive, and flashy book about parts of speech, literacy, and language arts.

This book addresses topics such as actions verbs, homophones, palindromes, onomatopoeias, contractions, etc.

The Action verb page has various words like somersault, jump, glide and ricochet. Each word is written and drawn to portray their action. For example, the word Ricochet appears to be a character that is rebounding off the edge of the page. The word Jump is a character leaping in the air.

This book has influenced some of the games my son and I play around the house. Below are a few….

Action Verb – Ricochet

Bounce a soft ball off the wall and try to catch it.

 

Onomatopoeia – Bang

Tap a box with your hands and create various rhythms.

 

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious(Yes, this 34-letter word is in the book)

Listen to the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious by Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews

 

Antonyms – Big and Little

Draw a picture of a big and small animal

 

Try reading this book with your students or children and create activities that bring language arts to life!

Have fun learning!

 

Little Kids, Big Words – Why Not?

geniuses booi

One day I was skimming the New Children’s Book list at my local library, and I saw the book, Big Words for Little Geniuses by Susan and James PattersonAt first, I thought this book would be too advanced for my toddler. However, I decided to give it a try.

When I brought the book home, I opened it and saw these words…

“Why should your little genius’s first word be cat when it can be catawampus? Start your child off with an early love of reading with these big words that are wonderfully FUN to say!”

Anytime fun and learning are connected, I get excited! This book is colorful and introduces kids to big words in alphabetical order.

The first word was ARACHIBUTYROPHOBIA!!!! This word means a fear of peanut butter sticking to the top of your mouth.  I became discouraged and thought to myself, “How am I going to teach my son these huge words?”

I decided it was best to learn the words together. My plan was to read the book in small increments and  tackle three words at a time. We used YouTube videos to research and learn the words’ pronunciations. The book provided the word’s definition and vibrant images for further understanding.

It became a great learning and bonding experience for my son and me. He learned how to pronounce all the words in the book. We also try to use the words as we are talking. They are really fun to say.

Watch this video of my son pronouncing the words and reading.

If you work with a group of kids, get this book (from your local library, online, or bookstore) and try the activity below…

  1. Divide students into groups of four.
  2. Use the first word, which is Arachibutyrophobia, and read the definition and correct pronunciation to students.
  3. Instruct each group to create a comedy show centered around the words.
  4. The comedy show should contain the following…
    • Humor
    • Word’s definition
    • Word’s correct pronunciation
  5. Have students perform the comedy show to the class.
  6. Next week use the B word which is Bibliomania.
  7. If you want to create a challenge, have students incorporate multiple words from this book in their show.

Have fun learning!

Bringing Life to Numbers for Kids

100 days

Every night before bedtime, my son and I read about four books. He loves books about the alphabet and numbers. I wanted to expose my son to the numbers, 1-100, and began searching for books that would fulfill this task. The book called Emily’s First 100 Days of School by Rosemary Wells was the answer to my request.

This book is about a bunny named Emily who is starting school. Emily tells the reader about her first 100 days of school through short stories. Below is the short story associated with Emily’s 17th day of school.

“Miss Cribbage reads aloud Dick and the Donkey. I follow along and read seventeen words all by myself. “Wow!” says Miss Cribbage.”

This book keeps my son’s attention. It takes about 25 minutes to complete all the stories from 1 -100. My son likes to stop at certain numbers to make comments or observe the colorful pictures!

This book has encouraged my son to create other stories with numbers. He will take two Munchkin Bath Numbers; for example, six and two, and tell a story about 62. I interact with my son during the stories by adding to the plot.

You can do a similar activity with your students. Below is how to execute it:

  1. Divide students into small groups.
  2. Assign each group a number.
  3. Groups are to create a piece of art that is connected to their assigned number.
    • Song
    • Poem
    • Story
    • Dance
    • Sculpture
    • New Exercise Move
    • Other ideas
  4. Optional: Choose a theme for the stories
  5. Have students choose how they want to present their artwork to the class.
  6. Make this a weekly activity until all numbers from 1-100 are covered.

Have fun creating!

 

Unintentional, But My Toddler Started Reading at 21 Months – Here’s How

corban reading

While I was three months pregnant, I had lunch with a former co-worker, Cyndi. Cyndi just viewed a PBS special where Dr. Ben Carson discussed Brain Health. In this video (at 8:30), Dr. Carson says a baby’s brain continues to develop once he/she is born. The more a baby learns, the more the brain’s dendrites are making connections.

Babies who experience interaction with caregivers through song, cuddling, playing, and talking, develop connections in the brain faster and better. By the time a child is three years old, their brain has reached 90% of its growth.

I thought PLAY would be the best way to interact with my son and boost his brain development. I never imagined this concept would lead to him reading at 21 months!

Please note: I did the activities below with my son as a full-time working mom.

I used In-Depth learning to teach my son. In-Depth learning is being exposed to a concept in various ways. I concentrated on teaching my son through three of the five senses which were sight, touch, and hearing. Dr. Ben Carson addresses In-Depth learning in his book Think Big.

Below are examples of what my son and I did….

SING

I sung constantly to my son. It became something that soothed him. I sung when he woke up in the middle of the night, in the car, while feeding and changing him, etc. Songs helped him learn language. It also helped him learn the alphabet and phonetics. I made up songs about the alphabet, phonetics, and words that began with certain letters.

Read

I love going to the library with my son because of the programs, toys, puzzles, and books. Before leaving the library, I always checked out at least 15 children books. One of the books had to be about the alphabet. There are zillions of books about the ABC’s. My son was able to see the same words I sung in songs within these books.

PLAY, PLAY, PLAY

I enjoyed coming home from work to play with my son. It seemed like a break from sitting and looking at a computer all day. We played with toys such as playdoh and alphabet blocks. Before my son talked, we molded the playdoh into letters. We drew pictures on the storm door with window markers in alphabetical order. For example, we drew an apple for A and banana for B. On our way to the playground in the evenings and weekends, we identified letters on car license plates and signs.

Talk

Talking is a great way to increase a child’s focus. We discussed stories we read in books. We also made up stories about the alphabet, animals, etc. Whenever we were in the grocery store, I identified foods and the letter they started with. I conversed with my son on various topics.

Technology

Once my son could identify letters, I let him watch cartoons that featured the alphabet, phonetics, and words. Leapfrog has a great series of educational cartoons. We also listened to toddler radio and hip-hop educational CDs in the car.

Put it Together

Once my son knew the phonetics, I taught him how to blend letter sounds to read words.  Many words, including site words, were becoming familiar to him through exposure to books, children museums, the library, YouTube videos, cartoons, and anywhere we went. He heard words through our conversations, songs, radio, and television. His brain started making connections and then he started reading. He has also developed a true love of reading.

Similar concepts were also used to teach my son to

  • write
  • count
  • identify colors
  • Spanish words
  • tell time

Happy PLAYFUL In-Depth Learning!