Cold! Frigid! Freezing! No matter how you put it, if you live in the Midwest, you can probably add more words to this list. If you live in the Midwest, you are probably thinking are we EVER going to make it out of this cold weather funk! As I look at the forecast, I feel there is no end in sight and if I believe the groundhog six weeks of winter are here to stay.
So….What can you do with your child or families to beat this weather?!
- Family Game/Movie Night
- Create a bowling alley in your home. Get the whole family involved encouraging children to create the pins. Children can decorate paper towel tubes, milk jugs, or pop bottles.
- Create an obstacle course in your house. Children can help set it up and the children can practice running, jumping, climbing over, under, tiptoeing or walking heel to toe.
- Visit the local store’s craft department. Many local stores have picture frames, puzzles, wooden blocks, trinkets that can be painted and given as gifts.
- Cook/Bake! Bake a batch of cookies and take it to the local police and fire department. Make pizza for dinner that evening.
- Take up a hobby!
- Bring the winter weather in! Put snow in your tub. Put younger children in snow pants and put them in. Older children can build just bending in the tub.
- Become crafty with materials in your home! Use a highlighter to find letters or words in old newspapers. Cut up old magazines, papers, and find materials around the house to make collages.
- In your area or neighboring areas visit the library, museum, or discovery centers!
- Make play dough.
No-Cook Play Clay
¼ cup salt
1 cup flour
¼ cup water
Mix the salt and flour in a bowl. Add water and food coloring. Knead dough to make a clay consistency. Note: This dough doesn’t last as long as the cooked recipe.
Oatmeal Play Dough
1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 cups oatmeal
Mix everything together in a large bowl. Then knead for a few minutes. This play dough has a nice lumpy texture.
Homemade Silly Putty
2 cups white school glue
1 cup liquid starch
Mix together and set aside until dry. Store in an airtight container.
Long Lasting Play dough
Gathering Materials from kitchen: pitcher, spoon, measuring cups, tablespoon, teaspoon
2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 tablespoon oil
Mix and cook
What are your favorite things to do during the Winter Season?
One of the most common questions I have from parents during conferences is the topic of guidance. Often times, I share with families various techniques and ways for families to adopt these new techniques at home. I not only use these techniques with families and in my classroom, but I also use these same techniques at home. I have the pleasure of being a mom to a one and a half-year old. As my daughter started nearing her first birthday I knew I wanted to use all of the techniques I had learned over my teaching career with her. One of the most important ideas I knew I wanted to recreate at home was a cozy area.
When a child is older we encourage the child to be a part of setting this whole process up as much as possible. I began to reflect about how could my daughter be a part of this process at such a young age. I completely believe that I am building her a foundation for self-regulation and understanding of her own feelings, but also knew that I would have to present the materials and techniques in a different manner than I would with older children. I began the process of creating a cozy area at home by purchasing frames that she could paint on that wood. She decorated four frames. Two frames have sign language (we are teaching her sign language) stop and help. The other two have two house rules we made. We then added soft items to the area including a large stuffed animal, a small pillow, and a large pillow covered in a soft blanket. Beside the pictures are emotion faces. When an incident occurs, we point out the emotion and sign the emotion word as well. Under all of this is a basket with feelings books , two stuffed animals, and my daughters “blankie”.
As we began to set up the area we added a few items at a time so that our daughter could explore each of the items before it was all ready. We then did a lot of teaching about the items as they were added. We also did some role-playing as well. Once it was officially set up we began to use it. Any time our daughter was upset we would offer the opportunity to go into that area to as we call it “calm your body”. We continued this for several weeks and she would start to use it even when she was scared of loud sounds. We have now had our area up for about four months. She uses it often and also encourages her stuffed animals and me and my husband to use it as well. When she comes out from calming her body we ask her if she is ready sometimes she will say no and returning by herself to her cozy area. When she is ready she returns and we talk about whatever the reason that sent her to the cozy area. We might be talking about scary noises, feeling over excited, feeling mad, and/or sad. Below are pictures of ours cozy area.
If you have created a cozy area at home, tell us about it. What worked? Didn’t work? What questions do you have?
One of the options to help children who are feeling over stimulated, sad, angry, or just need some quiet time is a cozy area. In our classroom, the cozy area is tucked under the stairs of our classroom loft. The children can bring a blanket or stuffed animal here if they need that to help calm their bodies. The area is in an area which is in a spot that does not have a lot of traffic. The area is protected by staff and other children for children to have the opportunity to have this time. Often times, when I am having a long day/week, I set time aside for myself to relax. This may be taking time for me by reading a book, taking a warm shower/bath, or going to bed early. This space is designed for children to be able to take time for themselves as an adult would and relax and/or calm before returning to their room and peers.
In my classroom (a three, four, and five-year old room), we use a tool called ECERS-R which stands for the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale-Revised. The rating scale is composed of 43 parts and two of the 43 parts is a discussion about space and private areas for children. The section labeled “space for privacy” reads that a “high quality program would have more than one space” available for children. Spaces for privacy include areas where children have the opportunity to work alone or with one other person. In our classroom, we have spaces like this around the room including the computer, the provocation (a table designed to spark children’s interest about an item and sketching, scientific inquiry, and conversations can occur) table, the reading area, and a large adult sized chair by the children’s cubbies. These are all spaces our children can gravitate to if they need some time to themselves or with only one other friend. According to ECERS-R, “the soft furnishings in the cozy area must allow a child to completely escape the hardness of a typical early childhood classroom.” Our cozy area is equipped with a bean bag, stuffed animals that are nearby, a chart developed by Dr. Becky Bailey which offers children an opportunity to identify their emotions and which technique they will use to calm their bodies, and books nearby if a child needs those to calm their body.
As new children come to our room, we model and teach about the areas available to the children. Children who have been in our program before also teach the new children how to use the areas as well as checking on them as they begin to feel better.
Do you have one in your classroom? If so, what is in this area and how do the children use it?
Stay tuned as I will share how to make a cozy area at home next time I blog!
Until next time,