Friday, October 14, 2016

Get Your Munchkins Moving

It's a rainy day, you're stuck inside so you decide to do some deep cleaning. Things are going great and you are filling super accomplished. Then it happens. Your kids start screaming, throwing toys, and pestering every living thing in the house. On a typical day you send your crazy munchkins outside to burn off some of that energy. But alas, that is not an option today. What do you do?!



Watch this video to see the 5 things I do to get those munchkins moving and gain back my sanity.





Monday, October 10, 2016

Does Your Munchkin LOVE Cars?

When I was teaching preschool one of my favorite students was Jose. He was full of life, excited to try new things, and would proudly walk into my classroom every day to tell me all sorts of stories. He especially loved to tell me about cars that he would see.  He could sit and tell me all kinds of stories about cars, his family, and food, but he really hated it when I told him that we had to start our work. Jose was a brilliant story teller but he struggled tremendously with colors, shapes, and letters. It really crushed me to see him lose that excitement when it came time to work. He knew that he didn’t know the answers to the questions I was asking him. I desperately started trying many different strategies to help him have that “aha!” moment. But much to Jose’s and my dismay, nothing was working. Then I finally realized what I needed to use to get through to Jose. Cars!

Unfortunately, this realization did not solve my problem right away. I knew the answer to how to reach him was through cars, but I was really struggling to find an efficient way to do so. I tried using one of those car road rugs and adding papers that had the colors, shapes, or letters on it, but I found that the rug took up too much space and since I usually worked in small groups having one rug did not allow an easy way for me to differentiate for the individual students in the group. Next, I tried building roads with blocks. This was fun to have the kids help me with but once again it just took up too much space. As a teacher I felt like a complete failure. My job was to be able to help my students understand concepts but here I was not having a clue as to how I could help this student.

The answer finally came to me in an unexpected way. Part of my job included attending professional development every few months. Most of the time I struggled to find ideas in these trainings to apply in my classroom. But on this particular day I was given the idea for a perfect solution to my predicament. One of my fellow teachers showed us how she turned a simple file folder into a car map. The file folder car map was small, cheap, and easily customizable. This was it! I realized I could make one of these maps for each student in my group, which mean that Jose could have his very own map with exactly the things he needed to work on. This car map helped me and Jose tremendously. Today I want to share with you this brilliant idea.

Supplies:
·         File folder
·         Black paper
·         Glue/tape
·         Packing tape
·         Pictures for destinations (people, letters, words, colors, shapes, etc.)
·         White crayon or chalk

Instructions:
1.      Cut black paper into strips to make roads.
2.      Draw white lines onto strips to make them look like roads.
3.      Attach roads to the file folder.
4.      Cover file folder in packing tape. This helps the road to remain durable. If you are lucky enough to have a laminator, use that instead.
5.      Create destinations for your munchkin’s car. Use your computer or just pen and paper. Ideas for destinations: colors, shapes, faces of family members or friends, words, names, numbers. Adapt for your munchkins needs.
6.      Tape the destinations onto the map.
7.      Get cars and play with them! Tell them where to drive to or hold up an image and have them drive to the match.

This road map helped me reach Jose in a way that I wasn’t able to before. He was able to see that learning was fun! Whenever he was able to master a concept I could take off the pictures and put new ones on. Within a few weeks I am proud to report that Jose learned all of his colors and shapes. By the end of the year he was able to recognize all of the capital and lower case letters.


This car map helped Jose and many other students while I was teaching. Now I am using it with my son. We are currently working on the names of the people he sees most often. In the future we will use colors and shapes, letters, words, and numbers. In the end the success came because I was able to use what Jose loved the most, cars.



Friday, September 30, 2016

Why You NEED to Read to Your Kids

Ever have the problem of getting your child to enjoy reading? Statistics show that the older children get, the more likely they are to not enjoy reading. It is a common problem many parents face but did you know that there is a simple thing you can do to fix that? The answer is… read WITH them.

When children are in Kindergarten almost all of them will say that they are interested in books and reading. By the time kids are in 4th grade only half of them will report that they are interested in books and reading. This continues to drop as they get older. Why is there such a huge drop in interest as kids get older? The answer might surprise you. It is because parents stop reading with their children as they learn to read. So Steph, you’re telling me that my child loses interest in reading because I no longer read with them? Yup! You can keep your child’s interest in reading simply by continuing to read with them. It’s true!

When you read books with your children you:
·         Grow language and comprehension skills
·         Build bonds and show your child you love and value them
·         Get to explore new topics, people, places, and beliefs together
·         Have the opportunity to talk about difficult topics
·         Get to be silly and fun
·         Keep the love of learning alive

Start reading with your child when they are newborns and continue as they grow. Don’t ever stop! Some of my favorite books to read with my munchkins are:
Elephant and Piggie
Giraffes Can't Dance
I'm a Dirty Dinosaur
Oh the Thinks You Can Think
Stephanie's Ponytail
Harry Potter
Ramona
Peter Pan




A Wrinkle in Time

I am Jack





















Finding time to read together can be difficult sometimes but I promise that it will be worth it. Find books that you both enjoy and set up a time every week to snuggle up and read together. Trust me, it will all be worth it and your munchkin will thank you when they are older.

What books are you going to read with your munchkins this week?










Friday, September 23, 2016

The SECRET to Timeouts!


Time out is a classic behavior technique that many parents follow. But did you know that you are probably doing it wrong? Watch this video to learn what you are doing wrong and how you can fix it. I promise that if you follow my simple steps you will create a more loving and peaceful environment in your home. Try it out and let me know how it goes!


Friday, September 16, 2016

FREE Outside Family Activities

Recently a friend of mine requested that I do a post about family friendly, free, outside activities. So today I am giving you my top 5 favorites.



*Note: Some of these places are specific for Salt Lake County. Just remember that you can find similar locations wherever you live.


  1. Parks
My personal favorite parks have lots of climbing structures and provide a challenge for my munchkins. I also like ones that are large and have big grassy areas. If you are in the Salt Lake Valley I suggest going to Sierra Newbold Memorial Park and Evergreen Park. Sierra Newbold is next to a splash pad, basketball court, tennis court, baseball field, and grassy areas. It really has everything. It is my personal favorite public park.
Sierra Newbold Memorial Park in West Jordan
Evergreen Park is surrounded by lots of mature trees. It is the perfect place to go for a picnic. The playground there has a fun pumpkin carriage to play in. The park is next to Millcreek Library and community center.
Evergreen Park in Millcreek
2. Nature walks and hikes

Make your walk exciting and engaging by playing games along the way. Search for certain plants or animals. Take a break during your walk and lie down to look at the clouds. Bring a squirt bottle full of water along and let your munchkin spray ants or plants (this is a very effective way to keep little ones entertained). Collect leaves, pine cones, and other nature items to bring home and make a fun picture.

Bell Canyon Reservoir. 30-45 minute hike in Sandy, UT

Jordan River Parkway

3. Scavenger hunts

This doesn't even require gas! Sit down as a family and create your list of items to find. It could be anything from plants, colors, places, or animals. If you are having a hard time creating your own list just do a Google search for scavenger hunt lists. The best part of this activity? It can be completely tailored to your families skill levels.

4. Flashlight tag

Stay up a little later one night to look at the stars and play a fun game. The only things you need are flashlights. Have one person be it and if they shine the light on you, you are then it. You could also play hide and seek with the flashlights as well. Playing outside at night is a fun activity for the whole family. It is a different way to play the games your children play during the day.

5. Community events

Take advantage of the free events your community puts together! It is a great way to meet new people, do new things, and have fun all at the same time. Most communities will have some event for every holiday. Libraries also have many free events. If you live in Salt Lake County or close to it you can go here to lots of free events.


Being a mom to two littles and having a husband who is in school has helped me realize that there are all sorts of fun activities that you can do as a family that don't cost a penny. This week I encourage you to do something exciting outside with your family! If you would like more ideas or need help finding events by you, comment below or send an email to guidingyourmunchkins@gmail.com







Friday, September 9, 2016

How to PLAY WITH your Baby like a Rockstar!


When we first had our son, my husband had all sorts of questions for me. One question he asked was, "How do I play with him? I don't know what to do!" This really surprised me because it was something that I just thought everyone knew. I was really confused as to why he didn't understand how to play with our baby. He wanted to play with him but legitimately did not know what to do with a newborn. After talking with other parents I realized that this is something that many parents struggle with. 

I promise, playing with a newborn is not as scary as you may think!

It really is easy and simple to do once you know some tricks to help you become a newborn playing ROCK STAR! 

When playing with a baby from birth to 3 months all you need to remember is E.A.R.

Expressive

Be very expressive with your face when you are playing with your newborn. I know this can sometimes be difficult because they don't always respond to your expressions. But trust me, this makes a huge difference! Give them smiles, make silly, faces, be dramatic. They will be more interested in looking at you when you are giving them something fun to look at.

Activities

Guess what? Babies get bored too! Give them some stimulation by giving them things to do. This could be as simple as looking at trees and plants or pictures. Show them black and white pictures, allow them to feel different textures, make noises (not too loud or it will scare them and over stimulate). Move toys back and forth slowly for them to track. Set up a mirror during tummy time to allow them to see their reflection. Read books to them!

Here are some of my favorites for babies.

Toys
Animals

Play Mat










Textured Fish







Mirror














Books

Lots of textures
4 small black and white books








Relaxed

 If you are tense and worried while playing with your baby, they will feel that. Take a minute to relax before playing. This should be an enjoyable time for both of you! When you are tense you are more likely to get flustered with your baby and miss an opportunity to bond with them.

I promise that if you follow these 3 simple steps you will be confident in your ability to play with your newborn. So, now I want to know what other things do you do to play with your newborn?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Story Time Extension: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

This week I am going to be sharing with you how to extend learning from story time.


One of my little munchkin’s favorite songs is ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spider’. We even have a book about it by Rosemary Wells. You can find this same story here

Since Spencer loves this book so much I have found myself reading the book and singing the song frequently with him. When I was teaching preschool one way that we would extend learning and story time was to make a hands on activity related to the book. I decided to do that with this beloved song and book.

Before we begin, let me tell you that this is probably the easiest craft I have ever made. You all know that I am a big believer that you don’t need lots of supplies, money, time, or skills to teach your child. This story time extension proves that. It seriously took me less than 5 minutes to make and you can find all the needed supplies in your closet.

 Supplies:
  • 2 pipe cleaners cut into fourths (making 8 small pieces)
  • Empty paper towel tube
  • Cotton ball or pom pom
  •  Blue and yellow marker
  • Yarn
  • Stapler

1.     Wrap cut pipe cleaners around ball to form 8 legs



2.     Color raindrops and a sun onto the tube


3.     Tie yarn onto spider


4.     Staple yarn to tube

That’s it! So simple but yet has a lot of benefits. This story time extension provides hands on learning, helps to reinforce vocabulary, and gets your munchkin involved in the story. I made this myself but it really could be done completely by your preschooler.

I did this activity with Spencer and he LOVED it! By giving him something to hold and interact with as we sang helped him to understand the concept of up and down. If you guide your preschooler through the creating process of this activity they will get the added benefit of cutting, coloring, and wrapping. All of which are excellent ways to build fine motor skills as well as eye hand coordination.

Give this a try and tell me how it goes.
Let me know what your munchkin’s favorite stories are and I will work on story time extensions for those books as well!