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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Strategies for Developing Cooperative Children

There are lots of ways to develop cooperation in children.  Here are a few that I have found that work for my family.  Maybe they can work for your family too!

1.  Give Your Child Choices:
Allow children to make choices throughout the day.  The key is to offer a) real choices and b) choices where either option is o.k. with you.  For example:  If you want your child to eat vegetables you can ask:  Would you like to have carrots or cucumbers?  There really isn't a choice if you ask:  Do you want to eat your vegetables or go to time-out?

2.  Build Intrinsic Value for Positive Behavior:
External motivators have a time and place.  Every parent (at least every parent I know) uses bribery every now and then.  And that's ok.  But, I think it will serve your child better in the long run if you connect feelings to behavior.  For example:  "Child" do you see your brother crying?  He feels sad because you hit him.  How does it make you feel when you see your brother crying?

3.  Connect your Child to Something Greater than Himself:  I think its human nature to place ourselves at the center of our lives.  Even though I Love Jesus with my whole heart, I have to remind myself to place HIM in the center.  Children also need a connection to something greater than themselves.  For Example:  "Child" you know what the right thing to do is in this situation.  We love Jesus so we do the right thing even when we don't want to. (I would probably follow up with:  How did it make you feel to do the right thing?)  You can also connect your child to your family - You're a (family name) and (family name) does the right thing.

4.  Acknowledge your Child's Feelings:  Little people have BIG feelings.   A lot of times they just want to have their feelings recognized.  They often don't even need them validated.  Kids are quick to move on if they think they've been heard.  For example:  As the child comes screaming and crying to mom - Mom can simply ask:  Why are you crying?  Or, Are you sad?  What happened?  Do you feel better now?  Most of the time, the child will be better in seconds. :)

5.  Practice Self-Control:  Explain to your child the definition of self-control.  (Not doing something when you really want to do it).  Practice self-control when everyone is in a really good easy-going mood. For example:  I like to practice when we're walking into a store, library, playland etc...  I explain to my children that I know that they want to run, but we are going to walk and hold hands in order to practice our self-control.  I give lots of praise when they do a good job.

6.  Develop Gratitude:  I think the happiest people are ones that are thankful for what they have.  I think its important to develop this trait in children. 1.  So, I try to state out loud all day long things that I am thankful for.  For example:  When I walk out of the store and the sun is shining I would say:  I am so thankful for the sun.  It feels so good on my face.  Or if it is raining, I might say:  I am so thankful I have tennis shoes and wore them today.  Now I can run really fast to the car and not get too wet.  2.  Have your children state a few things they are thankful for each night.  We do this when we say our prayers.

7.  Make Children Aware of the Consequences for their Behavior:  If a person knows what the consequence is for a certain behavior he may choose to behave differently.  For example:  "Child" do you understand that if you continue to cry at the store we are going to have leave the store to take a nap?  Or, do you understand that if you both continue to fight over that toy I am going to take it away?  Or, do you understand that if you don't wear your helmet I am going to take all the "wheels" away for the rest of the day?  Repeat until the child responds with "yes".

This list is just a beginning.  There are a lot of ways to help your children learn to willingly cooperate with you and the rest of the world.  What strategies do you use?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kids Crown

Kids LOVE to wear crowns.  Big Guy was helping me come up with craft activities for Vacation Bible School.  We decided to make our own version of a Kingdom Rock crown.

This is what we did:

  1. I cut a thick length of construction paper to use as the front of the crown.
  2. I put dots all over the front of the crown using tacky glue. (tacky glue doesn't run like regular school glue)
  3. Big Guy (Little Guy could do it too but he was sleeping) put sequins and little puff balls on the dots of glue.
  4. We turned the paper over and used masking tape to attach three chenille stems and two widths of paper to the back of it.
  5. Big Guy attached hearts to the chenille stems. (hearts were hole punched)
  6. We wrapped the crown around his head and stapled the two widths together to fit his head.
This was a super simple craft.  You could use any materials on hand to make the crown. We might use this craft for the pre-schoolers at VBS.

Spelling Words

We're always trying to find fun ways to learn.  Big Guy LOVES to play games. We created this game from items we already had in the house to help him with our goal of learning to read!

This is what we did:

  1. We have the game "BANANAGRAMS".  It was given to our family as a Christmas present but I think its available at any game store for about $15.00.
  2. We separated the letters into like piles.
  3. We had a deck of cards with pictures and letters.  I think we picked it up at the Dollar Spot at Target.
  4. We choose a card, look at the picture, sound out each letter, and READ the card.
  5. We race to spell the word!
  6. The first person to spell the word gets to keep the card.
Its a super simple game but a great way to practice letters and reading.  It keeps the process fun instead of memorization.  Have fun!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Here Birdie Birdie Birdie!

We made homes for the birds! 

This is what we did:

  1.   We found these cute little bird houses at JoAnn's for $1.00 each.
  2. We painted them using acrylic paint.  (It was on clearance and super goopy - bummer)
  3. We hung them in a tree for the birds.
This was a fun little activity.  They've been hanging in the tree for about a month.  I was worried that the acrylic paint would wash off the bird houses but it hasn't.  The paint did wash off the boys!  yeah!
I'm glad I took this picture.  I haven't seen any actual birds living in the house.  But, looking at the picture, I think a wasp nest is forming in the orange one!  I'll have to ask my husband to investigate!  I checked it out myself!  Its not a wasp nest.  Its just frayed string!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Scavenger Hunt

The boys were fighting and it wasn't even 7 a.m.  How was I going to make it through the day???  AAAHHHH!  Then the answer came:  We are going outside for an ABC scavenger hunt.  The boys LOVED it!  We've had a great day since the big hunt!

This is what we did:


  1. The boys "waited" in the garage while I hid the letters in the yard.
  2. I hid some in difficult places (hard to reach or hard to spot) and some in simple places.
  3. The boys ran around the house finding the letters.
  4. After they found one, they had to place it in the correct spot on the driveway (chalk letters), say the name of the letter and then look for the next one.
The letters are made of foam.  I found mine at a thrift store.  We've many  simple games using them.  If you find them somewhere for cheap - buy them!

The boys were so excited about this game.  They could hardly wait for me to hide the letters. Actually, they didn't wait!  They found the letters in the front yard while I was still hiding them in the backyard.  Have fun!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Melted Crayon Drawing

My boys LOVE our Crayon Maker.  I despise the thing!  I hate getting it out, I hate supervising it, and I hate cleaning it up.  Yet, they still ask to use it (often).  I can't  pinpoint why my hatred for the thing exists ...but it does.  Today, was one of those days when the boys and their neighbor buddy asked to get it out. I couldn't muster up enough positive energy to let them try it so instead we tested a crayon painting tutorial we found on Pinterest:  crayon painting.

This is what we did:

  1. The boys drew outlines of shapes on a large sheet of white card stock paper.
  2. I covered our griddle in aluminum foil and turned the heat setting on warm.
  3. We peeled the paper off the crayons.
  4. The boys colored in their drawings.
The crayons melt as they are used.  It gives the project a different feel from a simple drawing on white paper.  The boys worked for about 45 minutes.  The griddle does get warm so I supervised closely.  Using card stock paper prevented it from getting too hot.  They could touch the paper without getting burned.  But, if they left their hands/fingers on it too long, the potential to be burned existed.  Watch your kiddos carefully if you choose to try out this project!  Little Guy didn't get to participate in this one!  Big Guy and his Neighbor Buddy gave this project 2 out of 3 stars!  I think older kids could be very creative with this project to create beautiful pictures.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bird Hand Print

Even though we haven't had a true spring, the Robins have arrived and provided inspiration for our bird hand print!  The boys LOVED getting their hands painted!

This is what we did:

  1. Using washable paint, I painted the boys hands with brown and orange paint.
  2. They pressed their hands firmly onto white paper.
  3. Big Guy drew beaks with an orange marker and a black marker for an eye.
  4. I outlined a tree in pencil and Big Guy took liberties while painting it in with brown paint! :)
  5. I painted the boys' fingertips with green paint and they added leaves to the tree branches!
We think its cute! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Game to Help Kindergartners Identify Numbers 1-30 "OOPS"

Last week, Big Guy attended "Kindergarten Round-Up".  He's so excited to go to school next year but it makes Momma a little sad.  Wow!  They grow up so fast.  Tear.  Anyway, the teachers sent us home with a card game called "OOPS".  The purpose is to help children learn to identify numbers 1-30.  Big Guy thinks the game is fun.  I lost the original instructions (Oh, well) so I'll share the directions we made up!

This is how we play:

  1. You need a deck of cards with numbers 1-30 and 3 cards that say "OOPS".
  2. Spread the cards out on a table face down.
  3. Take turns choosing a card.
  4. If you are able to correctly identify the number on the card you get to keep it. (We usually get two attempts).
  5. If you aren't able to identify the number, you must put it back on the table face down.
  6. If you draw an "OOPS" card you must return one of the cards from your save pile facedown on the table.
  7. The first person to correctly identify 5 numbers and put them in numerical order is the "Winner".
Have fun playing!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Birthday Party Idea for Nine Year Old Girl

It's All About 9! was the birthday party theme. 

It's All About NINE!!! 

It was hard to come up with a themed party for our daughter turning nine years old.  So, we created our own theme; It's All About Nine!  My daughter LOVED it and I think that her friends did too!

Here is what we did:
My daughter invited nine friends to our house for the party. The party began at 5 p.m. and ended at 9 p.m.!  It seems like a long party, but we kept the girls busy and had very little downtime.  To showcase the theme and get all of the attendees involves, we created an activity punch board using cardboard, wrapping paper, tissue paper, nine plastic cups, and balloons.  We placed slips of paper; each with an "It's All About Nine" activity into each cup (you can find those activities below).  We tried to mix low energy, quiet activities and high energy and loud activities.  I saw the punch board idea in a Family Fun Magazine.  Here is how I created ours:   I traced the round open side of the cup onto the cardboard nine times and cut out the circles using a blade.  I then attached wrapping paper to the cardboard (to look pretty) and cut out the holes.  Put the slips of paper with the activities into each cup and placed tissue paper around the cups (secured the ends with masking tape) and then carefully placed the cups into the holes in the cardboard.  The top of the cup was flush with the cardboard. The bottom of the cup sticks out the back.  I used additional cardboard to make sides so that you couldn't see the cups sticking out.  I also used nine balloons to "jazz" up the board a bit.  For the party, each friend got to punch through the tissue paper and pull out a slip of paper with the "All About Nine" activity.  They LOVED punching through the tissue paper and reading aloud the activity!   Because we didn't know the order of the activities, all nine activities were ready to go.  I used a seperate room so that I could lay-out everything to grab and go.  

Here are the "All About Nine" Activities:

Nine Second No Smile:  Can you hold a straight face?  How about now?  Form a circle facing each other.  Put a sticker on your nose and try not to smile for nine seconds.  My husband and I did silly actions as only parents can do to "help" the girls laugh.  

Nine Object Stack:  Each person receives nine objects (we used edible items--lots of candy items and a water bottle).  Can you stack 'em and keep 'em steady for nine seconds?  Keep trying!  You have nine minutes. I had the nine items pre-packaged and ready to go for each girl.

Dressed to the Nines:  Are you ready for a photo shoot?  Dress to impress with the gear provided.  Smile and pose for the camera!  We gathered all of our dress-up clothes and added enormous eye glasses for fun.  We also had two empty picture frames that the girls could pose with (super trendy right now).  It was so funny and so fun to watch them be so silly!

Nine Color Nail Polish Necklace:  one of my favorite activities from this blog!!!  Check it out! Who has heard of a nine year old girl that doesn't like nail polish?  Not me.  All the fun, but very little mess when using the nail polish as an art project.  Metal washers, nine colors of nail polish, colored twine, toothpicks, and a paper plate to keep the mess contained. 

Goofy Nine Pin:  Like bowling and Angry Birds combined.  We used nine huge outdoor bowling pins and placed them up and down and all around--hitting one should make some of the others tumble over too.  My husband made an alley out of laminated flooring!  The girls used a soft ball to knock down the pins!  We didn't keep score.  It was just for fun!

Nine Foot Geyser:  An outdoor science experiment.  What happens when you add a sleeve of Mentos to a 2-liter bottle of diet cola...  A nine foot geyser!  We also had each girl try their own mini version with 12 oz bottles and Mentos.  This experiment doesn't last long, but the "oohs" and "aahs" we heard made it worth the investment!

Drop Nine Art:  Draw, drop nine, let dry and wear it!  Using permanent markers in a variety of colors, we had each girl draw a picture on a white t-shirt.  I put the t-shirt around a large plastic bucket and used a rubber band to keep the t-shirt tight so it would be easier to draw.  The girls then sprinkled nine caps full of rubbing alcohol into their t-shirt and watched the colors blend.  It was really fun, but the FUMES were strong.  We did this activity outside!  Our original idea was to have the girls draw on a small piece of cotton fabric and use nine drops of rubbing alcohol and them frame it.  But our daughter wanted t-shirts, so that's what we did.

Letter "N" Nine Object Scavenger Hunt:  Can you fin these items in the house?  Here are the items we used:
1.  Notebook
2.  Nail Polish Remover
3.  Neck Tie
4.  Nutter Butters (cookies)
5.  Nancy Drew Book, The Secret Of the Old Clock (our daughter's favorite)
6.  Nutella
7.  Nets for catching butterflies
8.  Nerds, the candy
9.  Number Nine in our daughter's favorite color-blue!

Nine Page Story:  Everyone gets to write and illustrate a page in this Nine Page Story.  It began with Once upon a time...

PAGE ONE:  Once upon a time there was a nine- year-old named_______________________.  She had ___________________hair and __________________

 eyes.  She liked to ______________ and __________________________.  She decided to go for a ___________________ over to a friend’s house.
She said “Hi” to her friend named ___________________________, “Let’s do something fun!”  So they decided to ___________________________________ and ____________________________________________.  They had a good time!  They decided to invite another friend.  And off they went!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Crazy Q-Tip Flowers

The boys LOVED making our crazy Q-tip flowers.  They look cooler in "real life" than they do in the pictures.  Regardless, the boys had fun and its always interesting to try out something new.

This is what we did:

  1. I purchased a pack of Styrofoam balls at JoAnn's.  (pack of 12)
  2. I broke a bunch of q-tips in half.
  3. The boys dipped the ends of the q-tips in washable paint.
  4. The boys pushed the q-tips into the balls.
  5. Little Guy used the q-tips to paint the Styrofoam first.
  6. I pushed the end of floral wire in the styrofoam for a stem.
  7. We put water beads into a vase to add more color and then put our "flowers" in the vase.
Fun.  Its worth a try.