What to do during spring break?

 

With spring break quickly approaching you may be starting to wonder, “What are we going to do for a whole week?”  Spring break can be complicated to plan for because of the weather.  It may be too cold, wet, or muddy for outdoor activities but not cold enough for the outdoor adventures that winter offers.  The following is a spring mix so you have a plan when the kids say, “I’m bored.”

1. Get in the kitchen

Kids love to get in the kitchen and help cook, so let them! Not only will they be more apt to try what you make together, but they also can learn valuable life lessons about feeding themselves.  For younger kids, try making fun and healthy snacks that look like animals or other interesting shape (check out Pinterest).  For older children, have them select a recipe, make a grocery list, and practice measuring and following directions to create a meal.  Perhaps it will be a new favorite and you can call upon your young chef in the future!

2. Start the gardening

It might not be warm enough to start planting, but it’s certainly warm enough to start planning. If you garden with your kids, spring break is a great time to start thinking about and planning your garden. Have the kids help by plotting this year’s garden on paper, making lists of supplies you need (compost, mulch, seeds, plants, etc.). And if it is warm enough, then get out there and start prepping the garden for planting.  Try planting a few seeds in ice cream cones.  When they sprout, they look cute and can be transferred into the garden, cone and all.

3. Scavenger hunt

Whether it’s raining, snowing or sunny, it’s always a good time for a scavenger hunt.  Make a list of things for your kids to locate indoors or outside (a green leaf, something for measuring, etc.) and send them to find them all.  Older children can search for items by texture, shape, or location.  If items are too big to be collected, try a digital scavenger hunt and take pictures to capture items.

4. Have an art show

Do your kids love to draw, paint and create? Then plan a spring break art show. Give your kids all the supplies they need to make collages, paintings or sculptures. At the end of the week, invite friends and family over to view their creations or take pictures and upload them into a digital scrap book.

5. Pick up a kit

Sand art, soap, candy, airplanes, Rainbow Loom…there is a kit available for every interest area.  Find one to tap into your child’s creativity and help them sequence it from beginning to end.  Broken crayons?  Melt them into new shapes!

6. Break out the board games

Who doesn’t love a good game now and again? Break out the Scrabble board, Apples to Apples, Monopoly or whatever games your family loves and have a fun afternoon of game play. Want to make it a weeklong activity? Plan a tournament among your family members and play games each day until there is one final winner.

7. Volunteer

Soup kitchens, nursing homes and other organizations are always looking for help. See if they might need a few good kids to help out over spring break. The experience will be good for your kids — and help the community too.  No time to organize a formal volunteer experience?  How about a quick neighborhood clean-up!  Spring often reveals all of winter’s lost and forgotten items (yes, garbage).  Fill a bag and make your neighborhood new again.

8. Hit the library

All year long, kids have to read school-assigned books. Over spring break, let them read whatever they want. Take them to the library and let them choose a book or books to entertain them while they are off from school.  Also check for special events and the story time schedule for younger book worms.

9. Check parks and recreation

Some towns have special spring break camps for kids. See if yours does and consider signing your kids up. Who knows, they might be able to spend the week improving their soccer skills or learning to play instruments.

10. Get organized and do some spring cleaning!

Make organizing and cleaning fun.  Let your child pick out new storage bins in their favorite colors and then get started.  Perhaps a special reward if they can fill a bag of toys or clothes to be donated?  Need more ideas?  Spray bottles are fun…how about some window washing?  Finding unmatched socks under the bed…use them as dusters.  Dirty floors…that can be fixed with some ice skating on cleaning cloths.  Everybody helps!

 

Cell Phone Etiquette?

The use of a cell phone is an integral part of our daily routine, but it’s slowly changing the way people communicate.  We can check emails, make phone calls, send pictures, etc. all in a matter of seconds, but fail sometimes to be present in the moment.   Have you ever sat in a crowded room and observed the number of individuals with their heads bent down looking at their phones possibly getting a neck cramp?  Teaching cell phone etiquette may be an opportunity to slow down for a minute and reconnect with your child at the end of the day.  I came across this article that suggests ideas to teach cell phone etiquette for teenagers, but thought we all may benefit from the suggestions.  I really liked the “no-call zones”.   Establishing “no-call zones” with your family will indirectly become a language learning opportunity.  Below are some questions to ask your family:

  • When should we have our “no-call zone”? Dinner?  Weekend? Car rides?
  • Why should we have our “no-call zone”?
  • How do you feel if somebody’s is talking on the phone, but doesn’t answer your question?
  • What should we do if we break the “no-call zone”?
  • Make a list of the pros and cons of our “no-call zone”.
  • What happens if our “no-call zone” rule is broken?

Check out the article below to learn more about cell phone etiquette.      http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Teach_Your_Kids_Cell_Phone/

Ready for Kindergarten?

Do you have a child heading to kindergarten in the fall?  Now is the time to assure he or she is ready!  Your child may be excited or have many questions.  Addressing these questions, supporting academic readiness, and providing emotional support will ease the transition and build a foundation that will foster a love for learning.  The following are some general skills students are expected to have upon entering kindergarten, according to the Illinois Early Learning Project:

  • Hold and use a pencil, crayons, and scissors.
  • Speak well enough for others to understand what she is saying.
  • Say her full name and how she gets to and from school.
  • Handle self-care tasks such as hanging up her coat, going to the toilet, and washing her hands.
  • Get along with most children and adults and respect others’ property and rights.
  • Work alone and with others.
  • Sit and listen for about 15 minutes.
  • Remember and carry out two or three directions.
  • Finish a task he/she starts.
  • Follow rules and be willing to take turns.

For more specific guidelines, check out this kindergarten readiness indicators assessment. http://www.recognitionandresponse.org/images/downloads/transition/school_readiness/3_checklist.pdf

These are skills that should be practiced and embedded into everyday routines.  If you don’t have consistent routines, now is the time!  It will be important that your child can follow daily routines with an increasing level of independence.  Encourage your child to become more independent by offering opportunities and slowly increasing expectations.

In addition, your child will have to meet health and safety requirements including a physical and updated vaccinations, as well as completion of a preschool screening.  Contact your local school district for specifics.