Aldersgate Preschool


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Calming Work

Calming work?  That sounds like an oxymoron.  I bet you can relate though if you think of some instances that you’ve actually experienced the calm that follows hard work; after a day in the yard bending, pulling and digging, after doing a heavy exercise and weight lifting work-out, after a long day of swimming and pool play.

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We’ve been learning a lot about “heavy work” as it is called in the world of special needs.  Therapists have used strategies that include heavy work (we like to call it calming work) while working with kids that have sensory issues, hyperactivity, problems with focus and attention to name just a few.  We, at Aldersgate Preschool, feel all children benefit from some of these calming work activities.

With winter weather and the increased activity level of children cooped up inside we could all use the benefits of calming work.  These articles explain it much better than I can.  They also have wonderful lists of activity ideas.  I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to read them.

(Click on the photos to link to the articles.)

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I’ve been trying to think of additional activities that would use items you might have in the home and would adapt to inside play.  Here are just a few of those ideas:

  • Allow your child to lift any hand weights you might have in the home.  For safety be sure they use two hands on each weight.  Can they lift it up to their chest?  How many times?
  • Play moving man.  Fill a laundry basket full of heavy things – perhaps some heavy books?  Have your child load the basket with the books, push them to the end of the hallway and then unload them.  To encourage this play, pretend you are filling a library or bookstore and you need a delivery.
  • Create an exercise track through your home.  Use some of the ideas listed in the articles above.  A quick look at google images will provide some visual for things like push-ups against a wall, etc.
  • Try some yoga.  Cosmic kids yoga has a variety of different yoga videos.  Check out this Star Wars episode version here.  There is a Frozen yoga video as well.
  • Tug of War is a fun game.  Try this sitting down with a neck scarf.
  • Drag a friend (or a parent.)  Have someone sit on the end of a blanket.  Next, have your child try to pull the person around by holding the other end of the blanket.
  • Push chairs – perhaps they could all be put into a line to form a train or bus.
  • Crab walk with a stuffed animal sitting on your belly.
  • With your child laying face down on the floor, lay a bean bag (or something with a little bit of weight to it) on their back.  Now have them lift up onto their knees and crawl around without letting it fall.
  • Push a dad over.  (ha, ha) Have an adult stand with his (or her) legs apart.  The child then tries to push them over – or at least move their legs.


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Cute Puppies

Over Christmas break Ms. Laura and Ms. Shellie both got new puppies. Welcome Opal (an eight week boxer and border collie mix) and Claude ( an eight month border collie and retriever mix).

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As you may know, we got a new puppy at our house last Christmas. Rudy is now a 1-year-old cavapoo (king Charles spaniel and poodle mix).  So I could speak with first-hand knowledge about the year of puppyhood!

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We’ve been talking puppy training and I realized how many similarities there are to raising young children.  (I hope that doesn’t offend anyone.  :/)  Here are some areas that may ring true for you too.

They want to know you are in control.

Have you ever been in charge of something that you weren’t truly comfortable with or you didn’t exactly know what you were doing?  You probably went through the motions but were on edge.  You also may not have handled changes, etc. with as much grace as you typically do.  Pups (and kids) are the same way.  While it may seem strict, no fun, and/or demanding to make your requests as true statements, it truly helps others know what is expected.  “It’s time for bed” rather than “Are you ready for bed?” Your voice will also dictate how secure others feel with having you in control.  A clear (authoritative – while not angry) voice will present yourself as the one “who’s got this!”

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency is a key ingredient.

If you ask for a behavior once, you need to expect the same behavior every future time.  Actually, you can probably relate to this too.  It is so much more pleasant (and comfortable) to work under a boss that sets clear expectations and is consistent with those.

Offer an appropriate option for inappropriate behaviors.

Puppies love to (and need to) chew on things.  All three of us with new pups have a plethora of toys available for alternative chewing, chasing, etc.

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I recently talked with a mom about this very thing.  Her two boys were wanting to climb on furniture and wrestle with each other.  Instead of totally banning the behaviors we talked about more acceptable ways they could meet these needs.  Perhaps a pile of couch cushions would work for climbing and tumbling.  Wrestling can only be done in the family room when the furniture is safely pushed back, etc.  If there is a behavior you are repeatedly correcting then I suggest you think about an alternative you can live with.

Give your attention.

Many professionals talk about the need for exercise and attention for your pets to behave their best.  This is also the same for your kids.  Giving your child intentional time for play and attention will often lead to them being able to play more successfully on their own.  With my own kids I would even call attention to the fact that I was playing with them, “I love playing games with you.”

They need to play outside.

We’ve talked about this before but there is something innately beneficial about playing outside.  This feeds our basic nature.  EVERYONE benefits from lots of outside play and exploration.

Another similarity is that these strategies won’t prevent every misbehavior.

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But hopefully they will help with most situations.  🙂


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God’s Love is Deep and Wide

We are open on Martin Luther King to provide some consistency for our children after having just missed a couple of weeks for the Christmas break.  It gives us the opportunity to talk about some of the important ideas that Martin Luther King taught. Most importantly . . .

God loves everyone!

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We noticed that the paint swatch with a variety of different values of the color.  They look different but they are still the same – green.

We also looked at the apples.  They are kind of different colors but when we cut them open they are the same inside.

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Ms. Kim and Ms. Cyndi look very different on the outside but we are very similar on the inside.

We both love kids.

We both like music and like to sing.

We both feel sad or happy sometimes.

We both love our families.

(Please disregard my crazy facial expressions.  Talking and speaking dramatically helps keeps children’s attention and helps them understand the message.  LOL)

Our scripture for today talks about God’s love.

I pray that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love.  Ephesians 3:18

Another way to say this is God’s love is deep and wide.

We saw a short video that showed Niagra falls, a waterfall “fountain” that is deep and wide.  God’s love is even deeper and wider than that.  God’s love falls over EVERYONE!

Of course we sang the song Deep and Wide.

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We didn’t watch this video but it would be a great way to follow up the ideas from the day.

VIDEO HERE

We always invite our families to join us for the Devotion Worships.  This little guy loved having his whole family join him.  We loved having those alumni kids with us!

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What can we do now???

Winter weather means lots of time inside.  Winter weather also often means kids are looking for something else to do . . . for their sanity and yours.  I was thinking about some things we do at preschool that could be carried over to home.
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Shaving Cream:

This works great directly on a table surface but can also be done on a cookie sheet or large tray.  Add blocks to build using the cream as the mortar.  Try drawing things and having your child copy or have them draw something and you try to figure out what it is.  Look around the room and try to make patterns you find; zig zag, polka-dots, stripes, plaid?

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Blocks:

Hopefully this is a staple in your play every day.  I suggest you change the typical block play up a little.  Have contests to see how high you can stack the blocks without them toppling over.  Work on building something together – each taking turns to add to the structure.  Can you make a row of tall blocks standing up and knock them over like a domino tumble?  Sometimes just finding a new way to use an old toy can spur some different creative play.  Try adding some “loose parts” to your block play.  You can read previous post about that

HERE.

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Sensory Table:

No, you most likely don’t have a sensory table.  But you do probably have some plastic tubs, perhaps even those large low tubs – like the ones that go under the bed.  Fillers for this could include pom pom balls, beans, coffee beans, sand, etc.  Small tubs, plastic animals, small vehicles, kitchen utensils all work well with this play.  Play eye spy with the items in the tub.  Water and ice (and snow if it’s available) also make great sensory play.  You can add small bits of food coloring and salt to the play to see how that changes things.  I wrote a post a couple of winters ago about how my grand-kids and I played with the snow inside.  You can find that

HERE. 

This will most likely appeal to younger children the most but as you can see from the post link above, older kids will love finding new ways to explore with the materials you have.

HERE’S

another link to a previous article about sensory play.

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Balloons:

Winter is a great time for balloon play inside the home.  The dry air makes it perfect for investigating static electricity.  Give the balloon a quick rub on you your shirt and then watch it attract your hair or even stick to your shirt.  Use a timer to see how long the balloon stays attached.  Play some games with the balloons.  Count how many times you can tap the balloon into the air.  Try walking with the balloon between your legs.  Hold the neck end of the balloon between the pointer finger and thumb of one hand.  Use the other hand to pull the tied part back and then release to watch the balloon rocket forward.  Don’t forget to blow some up and watch them fly randomly around the room as the air rushes out.  (Of course, close supervision is always crucial any time children play with balloons.)

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Roads and Towns:

Long days indoors are a perfect opportunity to do a long-term project.  A favorite around here (and I remember this with my kids) is building a “town.”  In the photo you see a town rug, street signs, etc.  You don’t need these to have the same kind of fun.  Perhaps without them is even more fun and fulfilling as children make many of the elements.  Use masking tape to mark off roads, small boxes can become the buildings of the town. I remember once helping my grand-kids make a road from Grammy’s to their home outside Wichita.  Along the road we added landmarks they see during the drive.  We even included the truck junk yard.  This was fun to figure out how to do but basically we ended up piling a bunch of vehicles in an area and writing the words “Junk Yard” on a paper sign.  Your children may want to include places that are easily recognizable such as McDonalds.  This is using environmental print in a practical play experience.  If you can, leave this for a day or two.  The play will most likely change and evolve each time they come back to it.

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Light Tables:

Again, you most likely don’t have a light table in your home.  You do, however, have windows.  Many homes have sliding glass doors which are perfect.  You can have your children look around for items in the house that are translucent.  Set a small table in front of the window for them to play.  The light (and change of typical play scenery) will bring new interest.  You can also tape large sheets of paper on the window.  Using washable markers to draw on the paper will again have fabulous effect with the light shining through.  If you happen to have any clear contact paper this can be taped to the window with the sticky side facing you.  Q-tips and other small items can be added to create patterns, etc.

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Playdough:

A new batch of playdough can provide hours of fun.  You can read about why it’s important, how to extend the play and even a great recipe

HERE.


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Candy Cane Fun

There’s something about the red and white swirl of a candy cane.  It’s a happy spot in any Christmas decoration.  It’s a yummy treat in any tummy.  Today I am sharing a few fun ideas for incorporating candy canes even more into your Christmas celebration.  PLEASE don’t feel like you have to do any or certainly not all of these things.  The last thing I want to do is add to the business of the season.  I offer a wide variety of ideas so that one may speak to you as a little something fun to add to you day.

(Click on each photo below to go to the full blog post about these ideas.)

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A snack of bananas and strawberries can add just a little something to an everyday activity.

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Crafts are always fun.  Hopefully you have some of these supplies on hand.

You can also make some fun candy cane art using finger prints, paint daubbers, stickers, little pieces of paper, or even coloring sections.  This practice with patterning is an important math and pre-reading skill as well.

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This next idea supports early writing and literacy.  After you make these cute little place card holders you can help your child write the names of everyone that will be at dinner.  These people are important to your child so there is often extra interest in writing their names.

Another literacy activity would be tracing around the candy cane and using that as the J when writing the name Jesus.

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Candy canes can provide some easy science opportunities.  Just watching them dissolve is fun but check out the link to learn about alternative ways to investigate.

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Finally, candy canes can be used as a family connection activity.  Tie or tape the name of each family member (or even include extended family names) around each candy cane.  Place them in a container and each evening pull one out.  Every person takes a moment to say why they love that person.  Follow this with a short prayer of thanks for that special person.  I’ve been looking for a sweet activity for our family this Christmas dinner.  I think we may just be doing this one.

I hope you are taking advantage of those everyday moments such as reading stories, snuggling in front of a fire and singing songs in the car to enjoy this Christmas season.  Hopefully this provides opportunities for other simple activities to enjoy as well.  Enjoy!

 

 


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Christmas Gift Ideas 2016

It is definitely that time of year again.  Time for shopping.  Each year I’ve put together a list of ideas for Christmas gifts that we recommend for little ones.  This year I am going to reference back to those (we still love them!) and link to a blog that I follow.

Our toy recommendations are:

From Christmas 2015

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From 2014

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We love Lakeshore Learning.  This post includes some of our favorites from there.

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Books make great gifts too.  Here are a couple of posts about books we like.

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Not Just Cute is one of our favorite blogs.  You’ve probably noticed many of my quotes in the weekly emails are by Amanda Morgan, the writer of this blog.  She has a great post about books for children of all ages here.

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Here is her list of best toys for encouraging imagination:

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Of course we offer all this with the full realization that toys and gifts are not what make Christmas.  We are starting to learn our Christmas songs for the Christmas Worship on the 10th and I love hearing from the children about Jesus and all that he has done for us.  It is so wonderful to recognize Jesus’ birth every year with our Christmas celebrations.  This book is a great one for talking about the real reason for Christmas.

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