story · teaching thoughts

End of the Day and Social Emotional Learning

As we move into summer, the sun stays longer. It gets harder and harder to settle in each night. So much excitement and fun to remember. This story takes settling for bedtime and turns it into a lullaby based on the memories of the day. A Lullaby of Summer Things by Natalie Ziarnik.

Often times summer means less structure and routines. Children thrive off routines and this is especially evident at bedtime. But, now they stay up a bit later and have a harder time settling down. Instead of throwing routines out the window. Take a bit of time to revamp the bedtime routines.

Think about ways to add in items such as reflecting up on the fun of the day. What fun things did you do that you want to do again? What is something you learned today? What is something that made you smile? What is something you struggled to accomplish? How will you work on that skill tomorrow? What are you looking forward to doing tomorrow?

Taking the time to reflect on the emotions of the day will help your child settle down as well as work on those social emotional skills that are so important to develop. We want children to see growth and progress. Discussing things that went well, things that didn’t go so well and the next steps for both are key.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

Children are growing in all areas of life. One critical area of development is social emotional. As adults we need to guild children in developing healthy social emotional skills. It is the interactions we have with the children as well as the interactions your child views between yourself and other adults that is the guiding light of social emotional growth. Children need positive yet constructive words. They need you to talk about what they are doing that is going well. “I noticed that you worked really hard on your art project today. What did you think about the final result?” Notice I praised the effort and then allowed the child to reflect on the result. Often times adults praise the result and not the effort. And this can backfire if they child was not proud of the the end product, but that is what made their adult happy.

“You have really worked hard this week on learning to swim across the pool. What is your next swimming challenge?” Again the focus is on the work and effort. This allows the child to feel pride in accomplishing a goal and challenges them to set another goal.

“I noticed you were upset when you were trying to pump the swing. It’s ok to get frustrated, I was proud to see you keep trying. What can we do tomorrow to work on this skill?” Again you are focused on the skill, you acknowledged and accepted the emotions and then moved onto what can we do next? The last statement allows the child to ask for help, or not. They may need you to watch and give suggestions. The key is the child is determining the next step.

Remember that empty threats, empty promises and empty praise is not constructive. Children need to be guided to discover the best way to grow. They need to hear what they can do to move forward in their learning. Children learn what they see, they are watching and listening. Children need to see your pride, but they also need to see that they have room to grow in all things. Praise effort. Praise persistence. Offer alternatives. Discuss ideas. LISTEN to what they have to say.

family activity · story

Pigeon Needs a Bath

This week we will read stories about bath time! Today’s story is Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems. I really like this fun reading of the story. Joel Waggoner really shows the children how to become involved in the story. He reads the story twice, once showing him as part of the story and the second time, having your child help act out parts of the book.

Acting out stories is a fun and imaginative way to connect to the text. This can be done with a new story and helps the children focus on the story listening for the key words they need to say along, or act out. It can be done with a familiar story by having your child fill in the words and phrases as they come up in the text. Acting out stories is a great way to get up and move. It is also a great way to practice social skills such as taking turns and the ebb and flow of conversations.

Reading stories to children multiple times might seem like a chore, but it is really important in their understanding of the story. When you read stories multiple times the children are able to pick up on the words and phrases used by the author. Rereading books builds vocabulary, comprehension and a love of literature… and more! When your child begins to learn to read on their own, teachers encourage multiple readings of a book to build fluency, and to help retain facts and information about the content of the story. When children begin to read independently they are focused on the one word they are reading, and often miss the whole of the story, but when they read the same book over and over they become more fluent and start to recall the details.

So today, listen to Pigeon Needs a Bath and act along with Joel Waggoner. Then later pick out a favorite book and have your child choose the words and actions to add the story they are reading along with you.

story · topic

Families

This week, I decided we would learn about families. The concept of family is one that children understand, but they only relate it to the image of their own family. We need to help children see that all types of families exist and the glue that holds all families together is love.

First let’s read a story. Today’s story is Families by Shelly Rotner

Now have your child draw a “My Family” picture. Help your child label the members of the family they included in their picture. (make sure to use your “people crayons”). The story states that all families are different. What makes your family special? What do you like to do together? What are some of your favorite memories?

story · topic

Going Green

Today, listen to the story Mrs. Fox’s Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli. Mrs. Fox challenges her students to think of ways to use less stuff (recycle), use less energy and use less water. The students then begin looking at the way they use things in their own homes and lives and figure out ways to live a greener life.

How can you live a greener life? Remember to turn off water, electricity and recycle. Those are easy ones. What about the use less stuff part? That is harder. In the story they have a toy swap. Helping your child learn to donate toys and clothes to charities is one thing you can do. Look into your local Buy Nothing Project and give and receive items is another.

Today is a good day to have your child go through all their toys and determine which ones they want to keep and which ones they can either give to a charity or other means of giving away in leu of putting them in the trash.

story · topic · writing

Earth

Today we will listen to Todd Parr read his book The Earth Book. This book talks about the things that you can do to help the earth… and why! Remember a big part of what we need to do in taking care of the earth is taking care of the natural resources we learned about yesterday. Children look to take care of things. Today use the format of Todd Parr’s book to write about what you do to take care of the earth and why! It is important to talk about the whys with children. We want them to understand the reason we reduce, reuse and recycle. Just learning the words and doing the actions is great, but understanding the need to preserve and protect will motivate your child to continue these actions beyond Earth Day, this week, this month, this year, their childhood…

family activity · STEAM · topic

Natural Resources

April 22nd is Earth Day. This is day to celebrate the natural resources we find on the earth and how we can help take care of them. Today let’s look at what natural resources are and how we use them. Start by watching this video about natural resources.

Have your child brainstorm a list of natural resources you use every day. Think about what you can do to help protect and preserve these resources. Did you include air, water, soil, trees/plants, animals? Did you think about the fuels we use for our vehicles, to warm our houses and more?

Have your child draw a picture or two of things (s)he can do to help preserve and protect our natural resources. There are many simple things that your child can do even without your financial support, picking up trash, recycling, turning off electricity and water. As a family you can plant trees and plants, create a composting pile, use public transportation/bikes and walking to use your own vehicle less, and so much more.

art · story

Hats!

Today is Read Across America Day! March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and today is a day to celebrate how much his literature has helped children develop a love of learning.

I decided to focus on the Cat in the Hat’s hat! First, let’s read the story Who’s Hat is This? by Sharon Katz Cooper. This story shares many hats that are worn for different careers.

Now… let’s draw a hat that is easy to recognize… the Cat in the Hat’s hat! Follow along with Art for Kids Hub as they draw this famous hat! Or, make your own out of paper or markers or whatever creative materials you want! I made mine out of Lego.

Today is a great day to read. The best way to help your child to learn to read… is to read to your child!

art · story · topic

Jazz on a Saturday Night

Today we will read the story Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon. I have to say that I not only enjoyed this story, but the teacher who is sharing this book extends the learning to explain a bit about the musicians in the story.

The first activity today is to listen to Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Mood. While you listen to this song, draw. Drawing to music is a great way to express feelings. There is no right or wrong way to draw to music and just as Thelonious Monk believed in adding dissonance to his music, encourage your child to add things that look a bit “off” to their art. When I draw to music, I tend to just like to draw in the abstract, but many children find inspiration to more true to life drawings.

Next, listen to Eboni Ramm and the band explore the various types of jazz combining the story Kayla and Eli Discover Jazz by Steven Earl and samples of the types of music. (click here for the link to SC Jazz Festival’s exploration of this story and music). While listening to this story and music, do not sit and watch the video, get up and move! Listen to the different styles of jazz. How can you move your body to match the different jazz styles? Some music types might make you want to move your whole body and others just your head, toes or fingers. There is not a right way… the goal is to move. Which type of jazz did you like best? Did you like the jazz that gets you moving a lot or the ones that make you just want to sway?

family activity · story · topic

Scat Singers

Yesterday we looked a little bit at Jazz music. This musical expression is a lot of fun for children. Today let’s look at Scat! First listen to this clip of Louis Armstrong singing Dinah. You will notice that Armstrong uses scat to create the music with out words. Let’s read the story When Louis Armstrong Taught me Scat by Muriel Harris Weinstein.

Want to hear a bit more scat? Here are Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington in It Don’t Mean a Thing. Want to learn more about this amazing singer? Let’s listen to the story Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney or Little People Big Dreams Ella Fitzgerald by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara.

Scat is a singers opportunity to express sounds beyond the words. They play with sounds and phonemes. Phonemes is the sounds that make up words. Children need to play with phonemes and learn to manipulate the sounds letters make on their own and blended together before they try to read the written word.

Today spend some time dancing and singing. Listen to more Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald songs, or find other scat singers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin or many more. Listen to the sounds they make with their voices and how it impacts the feel of the song.

Listen to this song by Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme, notice that there are few actual words, but there is feeling, there is rhythm. Can you use your voice to sound like instruments? Can you express feelings with out words?

Now let’s get moving! Jazz music is all about movement. Can you move your body to match the musical feeling? Make yourself big when the tone goes up and smaller when the tone goes down. Move fast when the beat is fast and move slow when the beat slows down. Play copy me: I move you move and see if you and your child can create some jazzy moves to go along with the beat. Get up and feel the music!

STEAM · story · topic

Groundhogs

Tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day. This occurs on the 2nd of February every year. This holiday started in the 1800s! That’s a long time to think a groundhog is a good weather forecaster.

It is said that if the groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow he will be scared and go back into his burrow. This means 6 more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow… an early spring.

Ok first of all this seems totally backwards to me… if the sun is shining bright won’t the groundhog want to stay out in the sun and enjoy the weather? If he does not see his shadow that means it is cloudy and possibly raining or snowing. But, I didn’t make up the tradition, I just share it with you!

First let’s listen to the story The Night Before Groundhog’s Day by Natasha Wing, since tonight is the night before Groundhog’s Day.

Want to learn some more? Watch SciShow kid’s video Fun Facts about Groundhogs to learn a bit more about groundhogs!

Today is a great day to make some predictions! Do you think the groundhog will see his shadow tomorrow? Why, what clues bring you to this prediction? Will the Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction be the same as your backyard?