How can we hear our children better?

Today I'm going to listen with my mind eyes and fingers when my child speaks

 

 

My son sometimes has trouble saying words.

As he tells his story, asks his question he gets stuck saying a word. Enough so now that we are seeking help. But this is not why I’m writing this today. It’s what I’ve noticed that’s happened because of him stopping on the initial sound of the particular word and the impact on me.

I stop and pay attention to him.

I notice we all do it much more. Somewhere along the line we’ve gotten very used to as a family carrying on doing while someone is talking to us. But when this son talks and gets stuck we’re all stopping too.

Instead of all those thoughts running through my head, I can’t talk for the rest of the family, I try and put them aside and look at him.

Instead of looking for the next thing I should be doing my eyes try to stay focused on him.

Instead of continuing to hold, do, tap, press, scoop, smooth, write, I try to put it down.

We’re working on whole body listening with our boys and now we must remember to listen fully ourselves.

What’s your mind, eyes and fingers doing when your child is talking to you?

I know it’s not always possible. It can be more possible than it is though right?

Where I do this for one I’m going to try and do it for more of the family. I’m going to have a not so secret quest. Well not secret because you know but secret from my family. I’m going to try ( really hard) to listen fully- eyes, mind and hands. I’m not going to say when but I’m picking a day.

You pick a time period and go!

Connect with your kids with that smile as they finish sharing their precious message.

 

Colour matching and colour sorting activity

The LO loves letters, counting and cars. He’ll line cars up all day; count everywhere and draw letters into everything. Colours are a different matter.

Not sure if he truly knows his colours as he’s a big prankster. He loves to call an apple and orange. Just because he knows someone will smile and laugh at him. I love his sense of humor. It’s a little troublesome though to know if he actually knows his colours. I don’t think he really does; well maybe one or two colours but not the basics.

Does it bother us?

Not really. We know that our children develop at different stages. It would help him though to know his colours and so here we are trying to have some fun with it to expose him to more colour activities.

Using some coloured lollipop sticks and mini clothes pegs, we coloured, we quickly assembled a game.

I left the sticks and the mini clothes pegs altogether on the table. As he came in from riding his bike he was curious, calm and alert. Immediately he started matching the yellow lollipop stick and the clothes pegs.  Yes a result!. Then he started lining them all up ( sound familiar) and finally started making letters.

After a bit of play like this we played together.I’d deliberately chosen lots of one colour ( Yellow) , one of one colour (Red) and a few of another (Blue) to make the colour difference really obvious and hopefully cut down on the guessing.

Why the mini clothes pegs?

I can hear you all asking. No it wasn’t to stump and frustrate those little fingers. I wanted to do this activity together and we had to work together to create the plane. I could ask for his and he would give.

Here’s the most important part, as he gave me the lollipop stick or the clothes peg I held it a few seconds more and got him to look at me and repeat the colour name.

We have all versions of yellow from wellow, ellow, lellow and more and apart from the usual development path it’s part of his speech work is to slow down, focus on the speaker and repeat.

This activity gave that opportunity. For other children and him later on, we’ll use the normal sized pegs and this would be more of an independent colour matching activity.

Once we assembled our planes…….Brrrmmmmmm. Lined them up. We were off flying high!

We’re looking for more fun colour sorting or matching activities. Share one of your favourites in the comments.

 

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10 fun places to read aloud with the kids

10 fun places to read aloud with the kids

Cuddled up on the sofa is our best place to read aloud together. But as they get more wriggly and jiggly we’ve discovered some other fun places to read aloud.

  1. Bathroom– got to love the echo and the chance to ham up your story telling. Whether clothed and bringing in chairs or a bathtime treat.

Bathtime

    • Local park– sitting on the rug surrounded by openness and a good book. Beware you’ll attract new curious listeners.
    • [Read more…]

Setting up a play story to start a conversation

 

  • Toilet roll or bandage
  • Soft toy
  • Doctor kit ( optional)

Preparation: Carefully wrap up your soft toy so they look injured. Leave in an obvious place.

Set the scene using your surprised and concerned voice. ( Now’s the time to overact!)

We played out a scene of looking after our stuffed animal. Through lots of questioning we got to change bandages, lie down and sleep. Our toy also had a few cuddles and lots of blankets. We got him a drink and he ate a pretend cake.

By setting up the scene and the LO arriving upon it. Plus the surprise in my voice lead us to have quite time of play.

Setting up scenarios to start a conversation and begin the conversation about complex ideas like emotions are really important with children. They get a chance to try different ideas not just from the media and they’ve seen but they have the chance to adapt ideas and bend the rules.

Getting in there with them as they pretend play to encourage their play without dominating may take some time to master. But is well worth it.

[Read more…]

Preparing a place of choice

Apples and Oranges

During the toddler and preschool years the word, “No!” becomes a very powerful word. It derails the happy atmosphere, stops a quick exit on errands, means we scoop our little one off the floor in that shop and march out. They want an input. They want a choice.

As a parent you can allow for extra time for the No! We get all forceful and insistent. Neither of these work well overtime. Even we as parents need to practise what to do when we get that No. It’s hard to play with a child that insists on having things their way or you having it totally your way. Personal, social and emotional development is a crucial aspect of play. We need to be able to get along and well. This is the first of a two-part series.
{Image Credit}

Practice when you are calm and have a script

Think about what you will say when they are shouting and yelling at you. Replay times when you saw this or experienced this and work out what you could do differently and try it out.

Getting down to their level; looking them in the eye and smile. The smile is for you to calm down however brief. Watch how other people  de-escalate their children and try it out.

Identify 2-3 activities at home to regularly give choices

Practise choice activities at home. Choose choices that you are happy with either option. Keep them simple. Children have very few choices so  having the red counter or the blue counter when playing the board game may seem trivial to us but they don’t see it that way.

Choices like; clothes, food, activity, play.

  • Scrambled eggs or cereal?
  • Blue jeans or green trousers with Bob on the side?
  • Pretend food or Dolls?

What’s your number one struggle with your under 5?

Collage and sculpture inspirations

Collage and Sculpture

 

On a recent visit to an Art Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic. I was delighted to come up against these wonderful collages or sculpture by Shalom Tomas Neuman.
Love how everyday toys, electronic items are used to create really zany pictures.

You can see more about the work here,
Collage a

Art at home does not’ have to be about pen, crayons and paper. Hope you’re inspired from your environment too.

What art work have you taken your little ones to see that you would recommend?

 

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Family night and dinnertime play activities- June

Dinner time and play isn’t the first thing that comes to mind with children.

But it’s the one time where we can all connect together with a focus in mind. If you’ve ever struggled with getting a conversation going you’ll know how hard it is to find open ended questions after you’ve spent a good while getting everything ready for the meal. Commonly, we are so exhausted from it all.

This is the sixth monthly edition of the Dinnight play activities. To find out more about check out the other free monthly downloads.

Photo credit

 

 

Download June here

Family night and dinnertime play activities- May

Dinner time and play isn’t the first thing that comes to mind with children.

But it’s the one time where we can all connect together with a focus in mind. If you’ve ever struggled with getting a conversation going you’ll know how hard it is to find open ended questions after you’ve spent a good while getting everything ready for the meal. Commonly, we are so exhausted from it all.

This is the fifth monthly edition of the Dinnight  play activities. To find out more about check out the other free monthly downloads.

Photo credit

 

 

Download May here

25 Rainy day activities for kids

It’s raining; it’s pouring.
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed and bumped his head,
And he couldn’t get up in the morning

This was the song I could hear being sung early morning on Sunday. Yes! I had planned some outdoor activities and No. I hadn’t remembered to check the weather forecast. Otherwise I would have known it did say showers all day. Lying in bed I had moments before the children would bound in to tell me the news. I could tell from their song that plans would have to change. What do you do when you find yourself with a rainy day and children?

When you’re surprised by a rainy day it’s just the hardest thing to think about how you’ll get through the day. You’re a little sad and they certainly are too so moods often reflect the overcast day from the get go. I started making a list of activities to do for rainy days to overcome that sinking feeling and offering alternative solutions pretty quickly seems to keep everyone from slipping into a despondent mood. Nothing is worse than moody children who when given choices are too fed up to make them Nothing is good enough.
Making this list helped us keep upbeat.

We are in for a lot more rainy days in the future.

1. Water races on the window

Choose a raindrop both of you really quickly. See which one rolls down the window the fastest.

2. Playing in the bath

Bath time is not always about getting clean in our family. It’s a good opportunity for play. Without the pressure of getting clean and getting into bed- your imagination can really get going. There are the usual traditional bath toys but don’t forget foam for your latest masterpiece and making stories with stickies.

3. Sink and water play

Photo credit: unclebo

Along the same lines as No.2 Bathtime play. When you have time you can have fun with Sink and Water play. Oftentimes, this type of play is an activity they do while we are in the kitchen. So they are “helping” us. It’s a quick activity that ends because dinner is done or you have to leave for an errand. Think of all the things you can do with sink and water play when you have oodles of time. Raid the utensils, blocks, cars. Clean them, wash the dolls hair; colour the water or scent the water. Let both your minds enjoy the creativity that comes with a large sink of water and ample time and a houseful of versatile equipment.

4. Post it note ABC

What to do with the no running rule during a wet day? We try to discourage running in and out of the doors mostly because we have little people of all sizes around. Usually the worst accidents are excited brothers knocking over another brother. But on a wet day there has to be a way to get rid of this excess energy. I’m all for energetic games and running activities but when we all know that’s what’s happening. Post it note ABC works on various levels. We’ve just introduced sound ABC as the MO is learning his sounds using the Jolly phonics program. I must admit it does make us smile seeing them running around the house saying, “MMMMMmmm.” and rubbing their tummy. We like competition but this game is easily changed to collaboration with each child told to bring a different letter. ( Mine actually help each other)

5. Shaving cream

6. Tracing finger on track

Glue doesn’t take long to dry. This is activity can be small scale or on a large scale as well as being totally resuable. Squeezing the glue and concentrating on getting a line or zig zag take plenty of concentration. What child doesn’t like squeezing glue. Here is a legitimate reason for them to squeeze glue while getting in some muscle work and fine motor pracitse. Sssh don’t tell them.

7. Create a sensory tub

Photo credit: Counting Coconuts | Photo credit: No Time for Flashcards | Photo credit: Little Coqui

We have a lot of fun with our sensory tubs at home. They are super easy to make from things you can easily find around the home. This creative

8. Bake

Whether it is the instant cookie dough you have frozen for the friends who pop by or you are a from scratch baker, the smell of baking does wonders for the mood and the belly. If you can keep the staples in your house then this instant mood lifter will cheer everyone up on a damp and dreary day.

9. Make hot chocolate

Learn to make Italian hot chocolate Learn to make Mexican Hot Chocolate

Cocoa powder and warmed milk whipped. Let the kids add the mini marshmallows or squirty cream. Plus a few sprinkles. The start of your very own Hot chocolate menu. Yes it is easier to buy the ready made hot chocolate that you just add water or milk. But making this simple drink from scratch and having the chance to make a signature hot chocolate drink always gets the boys in our house excited with new ideas. Hot chocolate is made so differently around the world. Spice up your hot chocolate by choosing a new style.

10. Combine all the puzzles in a big heap and make them all.

I’ve talked about our love of puzzles and how we love to get them all out and spend an afternoon fitting them altogether. It’s not as easy now with an active toddler but it’s something we’re trying to encourage him to do as well. This activity has benefits all around. Firstly the children love the mess and chaos of 15 or more puzzles in a massive heap on the floor. They also love the challenge of finding the puzzle and working on several at a time. There’s also the competition that naturally happens and that you can have puzzles that are toddler puzzles up to 50 piece puzzles.

The children can really choose which puzzles to work on. We tend to have music in the background but an audio book works just as well or a podcast. The big bonus I’ve found is that doing this regularly means we find out they have lost X number of puzzle pieces but they also are aware of the lost pieces scattered around the house. We end up with a parade of puzzles which we move through making our very own puzzle gallery. Before each one is destroyed and put back.

11. Make a boxasaurus

Photo credit: Michelle | Wee Folk Art Publisher

Dip into your junk box and find those boxes from the shed or attic you have been saving and have fun making something big. You’ve got the time!

12. Write a story & 13 Tell a story

 

Photo credit: Childhood 101 | Photo credit: Frugal Family Fun | Photo credit: nurturestore

14: Act out a story with props and puppets

15: Cornflour /paint/gloop

Photo credit: muminthemadhouse

16: I’m bored Jar

Make a jar of activities.

17. Create thumbprint pictures

These are such fun.

Photo credit: The artful parent

18. Listen to audio stories and make your own

With smartphones, and computers it’s really easy to say your own stories or make your own.

Watch and listen to http://www.smories.com/

 

19. Get out the Manipulatives and create something that combines 2 or more elements

 

20. Just let them play by themselves

It’s one of those times when they can just………………play by themselves.

21. Cutting paper

That big pile of Sunday papers or recyling comes in really handy here.

22. Recycling art

 

23: Puddle jumping

Photo credit: One little room

If you can beat the weather then go out in it.

24. Go out and spot rain soaked spiderwebs

25. Get crafty and find a Play Activity

Photo credit: NannaX3

Search for activities

What do you do on a raining day?

Family night and dinnertime play activities- April

What’s family dinner like in your home? Probably pretty busy. Anytime for play activities?

Family meal times can be a really chaotic time of day with the bewitching hour close by/ clubs and activities/ and the general hustle and bustle of preparing a meal with children underfoot. By the time we make it to the table we’re all a little frazzled. Once we start eating we try a conversation and get mixed results.

 

Dinner time is a great time to connect and feel that family bond. We’ve had a lot of success with Dinner games and now were extending the fun.

Extending the fun

During the meal we try the conversation starters to get to know our children. Then move onto family night activities.

At the end of each month I’ll be sharing a download full of activities to try over the month for dinner conversation and together family activities.

Photo credit

Download April here


Contents

Since we’re at dinner I thought I would continue the theme………………….

Appetizer: Conversation starters during dinner

4-6 questions to promote conversation with your under 5s plus space to add your own.

First course: Recommended family game or activity

Games we recommend that encourage team work, participation, conversation and appeals to various ages.

Second course: Book recommendation

These books work really well read aloud or working together as a family.

Salad course: Podcast recommendation

Podcasts for kids or parents to enjoy

Dessert: Music

Start their musical appreciation with some carefully thought out musical journeys.

Cheese course: find some excellent play activities to do for the month.

How?

Combine them in one night and have a playful family’dinnight’ or try different parts over the month.

Photo credit

Happy family ‘dinnight’!

Download April here

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