Friday, January 29, 2016

5 Reasons Why Play is Purposeful

Many times, as adults we may not always remember how necessary play is for children including teenagers.  There is a purpose for play.  Here are 5 reasons why children and teens play:

1.  To develop social skills and interact with adults and peers.
2.  To explore objects - touch, hear, taste, see and learn from objects.
3.  To be creative and develop imagination skills.
4.  To develop motor skills so that hands can manipulate objects and children can move throughout their environment.
5.  To learn cognitive skills - cause and effect, motion analysis, number correspondence and more!

Need game ideas for your family?  Check out the Growing Play game collection.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

5 Tips to Help Children With Pretend Play

Many children love to play pretend and create elaborate imaginative settings and characters.  Some children may need a little extra help to expand their make believe play skills.  Here are 5 simple tips to help your child or student develop pretend play scenarios:

1.  Ask questions about what the children are playing?  This will encourage the children to effectively communicate about what they are pretending.  In addition, it gives you an peek inside a young child's thought processes. 

2.  Participate in the play.  Once the child has explained the scenario join in at their level - sit on the floor or small chair and get into "character" ie restaurant customer, patient, pet owner, etc.  

3.  Role model pretend play.  Once you are in "character" display appropriate behavior and conversation related to the theme.  Pretend to eat the play food, talk on a play telephone or check the next patient.  This allows the child to observe other play scripts to add to their scenarios.

4.  Offer suggestions if needed.  If a child seems stuck on advancing the scenario offer some suggestions of how they could expand the pretend play.  Maybe suggest different characters or different ways to use objects.  Remember to just suggest not force changing the scenario.  Sometimes children have an extensive play script in their minds. Follow their lead whenever able.

5.  Provide ample time and different environments for pretend play.  With children, pretend play can take place over hours, days and even weeks.  My daughter and I have been playing that we are orphans for weeks.  A few months ago, she was the school teacher and I was the student. Vary the environment, playing pretend outdoors brings a whole new experience.  Read here about 5 Outdoor Imagination Activities.

Need visual prompts or suggestions for pretend play?  Check out the most popular pretend packet - Doctor and Hospital.  The Hospital and Doctor packet includes 22 forms and signs to play pretend hospital and doctor.  Included are waiting room signs, check in desk, insurance cards, appointment 
cards, emergency forms, plan of care, nursery forms and more!  Kids of all ages will love this packet to take playing pretend a step further.  FIND OUT MORE.

Reference:  Marna Winter & Heidi Hollingsworth (2015) Promoting Pretend Play in the
Preschool Years: Teacher Practices and Strategies for Involving Families, Childhood Education,
91:3, 182-189, DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2015.1047309

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Let's Play Make Believe Poster

Ever need to spark some ideas for pretend play?  Print out this poster to hang in your playroom, early childhood center or preschool.  You can download it here

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

10 Things Our Youngest Children Get Away With

Funny, how as time goes by, my parenting rules seem to all fall by the wayside.  I am the youngest of seven children and have heard my whole life from my older siblings how my parents let me get away with everything.  Now that I am the mother of six, I completely get it! Here are 10 things I let our youngest children get away with:

1.  Stay up past 7:00 pm.  When our oldest 4 were little they were all in bed by 7 pm sharp!  My husband and I would blissfully head downstairs to watch television in peace.  Now, I am lucky if I get the youngest in bed by 9:00 pm.  Life is so hectic in the afternoons here by the time dinner is cleaned up, homework is done and baths are complete and we can start reading it already way past 7:00pm.  

2.  Wear whatever they want.  If you can dress yourself, you can wear it.  I was still dressing my older two daughters up until first grade.  That is pathetic on my part.  Now, my 5 year old has been dressing herself for years.  I just have to work on training the one year old!

3.  Drink juice boxes.  My older four children only had juice boxes as a treat or the occasional picnic. Now, if you can grab a juice box by yourself at dinner time it works for me. One less spill and one less glass I have to pour.  Thankfully, they don't choose them too often.  

4. Quit a peewee sports team.  We used to say to the older kids once they signed up for something they had to finish. They were part of a team, the team needed them, blah blah blah....  Ok, I get that in high school but at 5 years old?  The "team" will probably not care that you may not be there to pick grass or dig in the dirt while you wait for the ball to come to you.  

5.  Play with food and water if you are occupied.  My oldest children sat in high chairs where I spoon fed them until they were way too old.  When they started to make a mess I would wipe it up right away.  Occasionally, they were allowed to play with their food when I was in the  mood to clean it up.  Now, I feel like every meal is a sensory exploration of food while my youngest eats.  He could probably use a bath after each meal.  But if it means he will sit for a few minutes in the high chair while I get the lunches made or the dishes done it works for me.  I just rinse him off in the sink, change his clothes if necessary and go about our business.

6.  Sleep in our bed.  This one is laughable!!!!  Our oldest never came in our bed.  I didn't even nurse in the bed.  I sat up in the chair morning, noon and night.  That went by the wayside with each child.  By the 5th and 6th child, they never slept in a crib until close to 6 months old.  If it meant I could sleep, I didn't care where they slept.  No one is in the bed now and the youngest is 20 months so we have come full circle.

7.  Act like a lunatic during meal time.  My oldest children ate dinner all at the same time and in a somewhat organized fashion.  Now my youngest will climb up and want to eat at the big table with the older kids - fine by me just eat.  He runs back and forth on a bench we use in the dining room while he eats one bite at a time - fine by me I didn't have to get up for a few minutes.  One time he was eating ketchup from a mini cup at McDonalds and I had no clue.  Once I realized, I did take it away but we still crack up about it, I was sitting right next to him.  

8.  Giving in to screaming.  Oh boy am I guilty of this one.  Our youngest is a screamer.  He is a late talker so I understand why he screams but I should ignore it more often.  That being said, ear piercing screams are painful and super annoying so if giving in to you makes it stop, I do it.  There is a time and place to work on this and I have to choose my battles.  Shopping at Target is not one of those places where I want to pick a battle - so go ahead and eat a baby food pouch while we shop.  I will just warn them at the check-out that he licked it all over before they touch it.

9.  Do things one more time after I just said "only one more time".  I get side tracked easily from the older children who need my help so I tell the toddler "only one more time" only to let him to do it probably 100 more times because I need to help with homework, sign a paper or cook dinner.

10.  Eat lollipops at age one.  I think my oldest daughter was three years old before she ate a lollipop!  The last two definitely had lollipops as babies.  Of course, I watch them very closely with it but we have many events that the older children have to attend and the babies need something to keep them occupied for 30 minutes during an award ceremony, basketball game or a long car ride (and I do not want the baby to fall asleep).  Someone is always watching them with the lollipop so that is guilt free but the fact that we never brush those baby teeth afterwards....whoopsie!

What are you guilty of letting your youngest get away with? 

Need to occupy your little ones?  Check out Toddler Book Pages.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Baby and Toddler Book Pages - Engaging for Baby and Easier to Hold

Baby Toddler Book Pages are a digital download of 10 entertaining and educational pages for baby. This set includes the following 10 themes: baby, dogs, cats, toys, animals, farm, trucks, outdoors and 2 color identification pages.

You can print the pages on cardstock paper and laminate. If you don't want to print the pages, let your baby/toddler look and read the picture pages on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

If you want to print the pages smaller, open up the file and set your printer to print multiple pages at once. For example, if you want 4 pages to a regular size piece of paper, hit FILE - PRINT - MULTIPLE - SELECT 2 or 4 pages per sheet. 

Point and show the pictures to your toddler saying the name of each object, describing the picture or reading the word. You can laminate the pages, punch holes and put on a key ring or let the baby have just one page at a time (easier to hold).

Print as many times as you like for your personal use. Print a set for yourself and make one for a friend. The baby toddler pages make a GREAT gift!

Remember this is a digital download with instant delivery. You will receive an email immediately following payment and you will be able to download the book pages.

Only $2.99.  To purchase the Baby Toddler Book Pages ADD TO CART below.

Friday, January 22, 2016

What Looks Like More Fun?

What do you think looks like more fun?  Choice A or choice B?  Question #2 is what do you think your children will remember when they get older?  Choice A or choice B?

I find it sad when I see children all circled around a smartphone or even worse every child just staring at their own cell phone.  Kids, including teenagers, should be socializing with each other and playing. Play should not constitute of only sharing funny videos or apps.  

Don't get me wrong - there is a place for technology in children's lives.  My concern is the overuse of technology while children are developing play skills, social skills and motor skills.  

I want my children to look back on their childhood and remember all the fun they had outdoors, camping, playing cards, board games, hiking, swimming, fishing, sledding, and exploring.  They may also remember watching movies together, playing Family Feud on the iPad, videoing crazy skits they created or geocaching. Technology does have a place in play development but it needs to be used wisely.  

Looking for a fun game to play when you turn off the electronics?  Check out Set the Record - download it right away and start playing! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Waiting Games - 20 Games to Pass the Time

Waiting Games is a 22 page download of twenty games to play while on a road trip, waiting for an appointment or sitting around a campfire.  This collection of activities encourages children to develop self-regulation, creativity and communication skills while they wait. 

This packet includes games such as 60 Seconds, Reverse 20 Questions, Let's Debate, Outside the Box and more! 

This is an electronic document so immediately following payment you will receive an email with the link to download the book.  You can print it and toss it in the car so you have something to rely on during those times when the kids start to get antsy.  If you don't want to print it, just save the PDF to your smartphone or tablet and take it with you to reference wherever you are.

Download a free sample page - I Spy Memory Lane

To order Waiting Games for $3.99 click on the ADD TO CART button. You will receive an email with a link immediately following payment to download the book.  

Waiting Game - I Spy Memory Lane

This is currently one of our favorite go to games while on a road trip or waiting at a restaurant.  Here is how you play:

This is a twist on the classic waiting game.  Instead of spying something in the room you will spy something from memory.

For example, you will describe an item that you spy in your mind’s eye from your kitchen, a bedroom, your backyard, etc.  For example, you might say “I spy with my little eye something hanging on the wall in our kitchen”.  Everyone then guesses objects that are hanging on your kitchen wall.  If no one guesses it, give an additional clue ie “I spy with my little eye something blue that is hanging on the wall in our kitchen”.  Continue play until someone guesses the object.

Try describing other objects from a favorite book, play or movie that everyone is familiar with.

Want more games to play while you wait?  

Waiting Games is a download of 20 games to play while you are on a road trip, waiting at the doctor's office or restaurant or sitting around the campfire.  The games do not require any equipment just creativity and imagination.
Find out more here or ADD TO CART below to receive your download via email immediately after payment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grow From the Inside

Here is some motivational wall art to print for your family room, kitchen, office or playroom. Everyone can use a reminder to grow from the inside!  Download your Grow from the Inside poster here. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Screen Time in Adolescents and Depression

A recent research article in Preventive Medicine reviewed data on 435 adolescents over a period of 12 years to determine if there is an association between screen time in adolescents and depressive symptoms in young adulthood.  Data and information was collected on television viewing, computer use and total screen time for the adolescents.  The results indicated the following:

1.  prolonged TV or screen viewing, but not computer use, was related to more depression symptoms in young adulthood.
2.   no significant associations were observed between adolescent computer use and depressive symptoms in young adulthood.

The researchers concluded that limiting screen time, particularly television viewing, during adolescence may be important for preventing depression in young adulthood.

Reference:  Anders Grøntved et al. A prospective study of screen time in adolescence and depression symptoms in young adulthood.  Preventive Medicine. Volume 81, December 2015, Pages 108–113

In can be hard to keep adolescents and teens occupied during down time when they are home.  Set the Record is a super fun game for all ages that only requires stuff you have around the house.  It can be played with one or more players.  We have played this game with different groups of teens and they always ask to play it again.  FIND OUT MORE about Set the Record.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Can You Set the Record?

The Set the Record download is a collection of 25 different finger testing, singing and physical activity challenges.  Pick a challenge and see who can set the record for the fastest, longest, most, shortest and tallest skills! Write down the top scores to keep track of who holds the records for each challenge.  Print as full size pages or smaller cards for travel size. You will need some household items to complete the challenges such as paper, pencils, coins, etc.  Download a free challenge page and try to be the fastest.    Set the Record is also available as a card set.

Only $1.99.  Add to the shopping cart and check out.  You will receive an email with a link to download the games immediately!

Check out all the other Family Game Night Ideas!

Monday, January 11, 2016

What Are Your Child's Strengths?

Children are so overscheduled and busy these days that I think sometimes it results in a lack of children reaching their potential in different areas.  I don't mean being the next professional athlete or singing superstar.  I just mean slowing down and taking the time to develop a well rounded child.  As a basketball coach of young children, I am frequently having conversations with parents suggesting other leisure activities for children.  There is no point in practicing/playing basketball hours and hours per week leaving no time for other activities or unstructured free time.  When we do this, our children suffer.  It does not allow them time to develop other talents/skills.  

Need some help in determining and finding positive attributes and talents in your children?  Start off by finishing some of these statements with your child.  Not only will answering these questions help guide you to where your child shines it may even help your teenager pick a career path as they get older.   

1.  My child is best at…
2.  My child has an amazing ability to…
3.  My child is frequently recognized for…
4.  My child smiles when…
5.  My child is happiest when…
6.  My child participates the most when…
7.  When free time is available my child....
8.  My child is highly interested in…
9.  My child is highly motivated by…
10.  My child takes pride in his/her work when…

Here is a game to play to help remind your child about their positive qualities.  Create a list of different qualities such as patient, calm, cooperative, etc. or use the Positive Affirmation cards below. Choose a quality or flip a card.  Discuss with your child examples of when they have shown each specific quality.  You will see that with certain qualities you will have many examples for your child indicating a strength in that area.  

Positive Affirmation Posters and Cards for Children is an electronic book of 25 positive affirmation posters (8.5" x 11") and smaller cards of the posters (4.25" x 2.75").  Empower children to realize all of their talents.  Positive affirmations help children to believe in themselves.  The posters include simple text, animal pictures that compliment the text and colorful backgrounds.  Hang them up around the house or classroom and provide the child with the small cards to carry around to reinforce the concept.  The poster titles include:
I am strong.
I am unique.
I am kind.
I am helpful.
I am proud of myself.
I am talented.
I am calm.        
I am patient.
I am cooperative.
I am relaxed.  
... and 15 more!

Remember this is an electronic book.  To purchase the download for $5.99 of Positive Affirmation and Cards for Children click on the ADD TO CART button.  Following payment you will receive an email with a link to download the book.  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

City Hunt and Find Puzzle

Need something for the older kids to do to keep them busy for a few minutes while waiting, riding in the car or just plain bored?  Here is a challenging puzzle to practice visual perceptual skills.  Print the City Hunt and Find puzzle from Growing Play.  

Need more game ideas?  Check out Category Games.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Collect Moments Not Things

We are returning from an unbelievably awesome vacation in Florida.  You know what made it so awesome?  We did nothing but go to the beach everyday.  Beach combing in the early morning, then swimming, lunch on the sand and more swimming.  I have to admit it was one of the best vacations of my life.  We all just enjoyed each other's company with practically no bickering.  Doesn't get any better than that!

Definitely makes me realize we need to collect moments not things.  Time goes by too fast!

More to come about our 24 hour road trip to Florida with 6 kids.