Each night before bedtime, my son and I say a prayer. In every prayer we are thanking God for our many blessings such as a home, food, toys, water etc. As a parent, I try to instill in my son gratitude, appreciation, and gratefulness for his many blessings.
I do remind him that there are people in this world who don’t have homes, toys, and clean water. The first time I explained this to him, he was in disbelief. This led to discussions about people who are homeless and suffer from poverty.
One day he was drinking water after being outside playing. He thanked the Lord for ‘good clean water.’ I told him it is great to be thankful because there are some people who don’t have clean water. We talked about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan after their water source was changed. This change contaminated the water, which led to elevated blood lead levels in the city’s children. It also caused hair loss, itchy skin, and skin rashes.
Let’s Put on the Thinking Cap
Whenever my son, Cory, hears about a problem, he thinks and asks questions about solutions. After doing research, we learned that Earth is covered with 70 percent water. Almost all of Earth’s water is salty in the oceans and we can’t drink it. Only about three percent of the water is drinkable fresh water. Most of this drinkable water is frozen in the Arctic and in Antarctica. Therefore, only about 1 percent of the world’s water is available to drink.
Possible Solution, Maybe
Cory wanted to explore how we could turn saltwater into freshwater to drink. He thought this will provide clean water to Flint, Michigan.
We talked about the three properties of water, which are liquid, solid, and gas. We learned how a liquid turns into a gas and solid. Afterwards, Cory asked we could turn gas into liquid. We started doing some research and found the Saltwater to Freshwater Experiment.
This experiment answered his questions about turning gas to water and finding a POSSIBLE SOLUTION to provide freshwater to those who don’t have it.
I will show you how we did this in our kitchen.
Let’s Get Started
A glass bowl
Put water in a glass
Pour salt in the glass of water
Mix the water and salt
Pour the water in a pot
Put a glass bowl in the middle of the pot
Boil the water and put the lid upside down on the pot
Observe what happens
You will see water dripping in the glass bowl
Turn your stove off and wait until the pot cools
Take the glass out of the pot and let the water cool
Watch the video below to see how condensation makes water.
One day my son was playing with dice from a Monopoly game and play foam numbers. All of a sudden I hear him say, “Mommy, I made up a game!”
When I hear the word “GAME,” I get excited. I think games are the best way to learn because they incorporate the three basic learning styles: Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic learning.
I sat on the floor with him and he gave me directions for the game. After playing the game with him, I realized it would be perfect to help kids with number recognition. Since we had a great time playing the game, I would like to share it with you.
Learning to tie shoe laces is a life skill that most people conquer as a kid. When my dad taught me to tie my shoes, I knew that was a big accomplishment. I remember purposefully untying my shoe in school, so my classmates could see my new skills.
As parents, we all have to teach our children this skill. I expected to teach my son around the age of five or six. However, due to his curiosity, I started introducing the concept to him as a two and a half year old.
Answering a Request
One morning, my son saw me tie my shoes and asked if he could do it. Instead of saying, “You will learn once you get older,” I showed him the first three steps in shoe tying. I held the two strings up, positioned them to make the letter x, put one string under the other, and pulled them both to make an initial tie.
We practiced this for a week until he finally knew these initial steps. Whenever I needed to tie my shoes, unless I was in a hurry, he would do those initial shoe tying steps for me. Then I became inconsistent in teaching him the remaining steps until two years later.
My son has a pen pal, named DJ, who lives in another state. They write letters to each other regularly. DJ’s mother texted me one day to ask if my son, Cory, can tie his shoes. I told her that he can do the initial three steps.
A Little Motivation
This text provided motivation to teach my son to tie his shoes fully. However, I needed to know if he was ready. He told me he was ready to learn.
I decided to use a creative learning method called Chain Linking to teach my son this skill in its entirety. Chain Linking is associating information with pictures and a story. In other words, I made up a fun story to describe the steps in tying shoes. Chain Linking created a desire in my son wanting to practice tying his shoes.
Also I did not use the two bunny ears methodthat many parents use. I decided to teach my son the way my father taught me as a first grader.
Below is the Chain Linking story we used when Cory first learned to tie his shoes, called the Kingdom’s Shoe Tying Boy. You will also see a video of him tying his shoes while I am telling the story.
Once there was a boy who lived in a huge kingdom. He was the only one that could tie shoes. He was paid a lot of money to tie the king’s shoes. The boy took the king’s shoelaces and made the number 11. Then he made the letter X, put one string under the other, and pulled them. Next he made a loop and took the other string and choked his thumb. The boy pulled the string through the big hole, grabbed it, and he pulled!
Below are some questions many parents have about kids learning to tie their shoes.
What age should a child be able to tie their shoe?
Most kids learn to tie their shoes at the age of five. This is when many kids start kindergarten and need to know how to dress and undress themselves independently. I personally did not learn until the first grade as a six-year-old. In kindergarten, I remember wearing shoes with velcro straps.
How do you tie laces for beginners?
I personally did not use a “beginners shoe tying” method to teach my son to tie shoe laces. We just took each step one at a time. Before practicing, we set a limit for the number of times my son would practice. For example, one day we said he would try three times. Most times, he wanted to try more than that. However, he knew he could stop at the number we set.
We used the steps featured in the video you saw above to learn.
How do you tie shoelaces so they don’t come undone?
I taught my son to double knot his shoelace. Once he ties his shoes, he takes the two loops or bunny ears and make an additional knot. This works well for us.
About a year ago, my son and I went outside and played in the snow. We took our snow sled and joined the other kids in the neighborhood to slide down the hill. Afterwards, we had a fun snow ball fight, made snow angels, and created snow mountains. We had a blast!
A couple days later, the sun melted the snow. We were happy to see the sun but a little disappointed because we could not have fun in the snow. Spring was making itself known in our city.
We didn’t want to let go of the fun we had with snow, so we decided to make our own. My son and I did this activity a little over a year ago and I forgot about it.
It wasn’t until my best friend, Donna, asked me if we had ever made our own snow. I told her “yes” but forgot to share it with others through this blog.
I live in an area where we get snow every year. However, Donna’s children hardly see snow, so this was the perfect activity for them.
About two days later, Donna sent me pictures of her son and daughter making snow. She said this activity kept them busy for two hours!!!!
Making your own snow is a great hands-on activity for kids. I will show you how below. All you need is two ingredients that you most likely have in your home.
Let’s Get Started
White Conditioner (some people use shaving cream as an alternative)
Container or Pan to make and play with snow
Action Figures (optional)
Cookie Cutter (optional)
Start mixing 1/2 cup of conditioner and 3 cups or baking soda.
We did not measure when we did this activity.
We kept adding more baking soda and conditioner until we got the consistency we liked
Make play time more fun by doing pretend play with action figures in the snow
Donna gave her kids cookie cutters to make various shapes in the snow.
Have your kids create artwork in the snow with sticks from outside.
Below are pictures of the fun our kids had making snow!
As parents, one of the first life skills we teach our children is to clean up. Whenone has a clean environment, they tend to think and feel better. Ensuring that a child cleans up after playing can be a challenge for some parents and kids. Therefore, I have created six games that will make clean up time fun for toddlers.
Let’s Get Started!
Create an “Eat Monster” with bags or bins. Let your child pretend the bags or bins are eating toys or whatever needs to be cleaned up. Below is how we played…
Make a mouth out of the opening of a box or bag you would like the toys to go.
Pretend the box or bag is hungry and wants to eat the toys.
If you have a bag, use your hand to open and close the opening with your hands.
If you have a bin with a lid, move the lid up and down to represent the monster’s mouth.
While your child is picking up the toys, the monster should say, “I AM HUNGRY AND I NEED TOYS TO EAT!”
Your child will hurry to put the toys in the monster’s month.
They will most likely have fun and laugh during this activity.
Create a Slide
If you have toys that belong in a bag or bin, get curled paper, newspaper, cardboard (folded), or poster card and place it in the bag or bin.
If you have a bigger bag or bin, it would be better to use newspaper, cardboard, or poster board.
Have your child put the toys at the top of the bag or bin and slide it down the paper, newspaper, cardboard, or poster board.
Race Against the Count or Clock
Tell your child they have a certain amount of time to clean up. Challenge them to beat the clock!
Tell your child they have 55 seconds to clean up their blocks
Count to 55 and see if your child has beaten the clock or the count.
Count in different languages if you are teaching your child to be bilingual.
If you see your child struggling to complete the task, count a little slower to give them a better chance to win.
You may also help your child clean up, so both of you are racing against the count or clock.
Race Against Each Other
Most of us want our houses or rooms to be neat and tidy, why not make it a friendly competition?
Start the race by grabbing a toy.
Tell your child to say, “Ready, set, go!”
Both of you will hurry to clean up the room.
The person who cleans up their area first, wins!
Many times while cleaning up, we have certain bins, bags, or places we want toys to go. Why not expose or reinforce sorting during this activity?
While your child is putting toys in certain places, identify what is similar about those items.
Toys that encourage creativity are a big part of childhood. My son used them to play, problem solve, build, and even to learn to read and write. However, not all toys are equal. There are some that will encourage your child to use their creativity and others that are limited in this area.
Toys where children are required to push a button are called closed-ended toys. They are fun but limit the child’s creativity and problem solving skills. A toy that plays a song after a child pushes a button teaches them cause and effect. This type of play is simple and straightforward.
However, if a child plays with blocks, they can build a tower, ramp, road, house, etc. It can also be used as an instrument or put together to formulate letters and numbers. Blocks can also be incorporated in pretend play. For instance, my son and I built a hospital and did a role play where he was the doctor and his stuffed animals were the patients.
Creativity and imagination are important in children’s lives because it will help them grow socially, intellectually, physically, and emotionally. It also aids them in expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I have observed children planning and conversing with each other on how they will play with open-ended toys such as puppets and Play-Doh.
I have also noticed that open-ended toys are cost-effective. We tend to keep these toys for longer periods of times because they grow with the child. When my son was younger, he made simple towers with blocks. Now that he is older, his towers are taller and more complex.
So, if you want to encourage your child to be creative and keep them busy in a positive way, try these toys below.
One day my son, Cory, watched the Youtube personality, Ryan. He saw Ryan and his mom do the elephant toothpaste experiment. After watching, he said, “Mom, I want to do that!” So I watched the video with Cory and immediately started to write down the materials and directions.
We had everything needed for the experiment except dry active yeast. I purchased the yeast from Amazon because I figured Cory would want to do this repeatedly. The next day, the yeast came and we immediately started to make the elephant toothpaste.
The first time we did the experiment, we saw an explosion but the cup we used was too big. We decided to use a smaller cup because we wanted the chemical action to overflow out of the cup. The second time was “epic” according to my son.
I will show you how we did the experiment below. Your child will want to do this repeatedly so get ready.
Let’s Get Started!
½ cup of Hydrogen Peroxide
1 squirt of Dawn dish soap
5 drops of food coloring
15 ml of warm water
.25 oz Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast (1 packet)
Goggles to protect eyes
Gloves to protect hands
Tell your child that they will create a fun foam explosion called Elephant Toothpaste.
Put on goggles and gloves
Put hydrogen peroxide in one of the cups
Add five drops of food coloring in the cup
Put a squirt of dish soap in the cup
In a different cup pour 15 ml of water.
Add the active dry yeast packet to the water and mix.
Pour the water and yeast mixture in the cup with the hydrogen peroxide mixture
Last week I told you about the Addition Bowling Game for Kids that my son, Cory, created. This game involved using Cory’s bowling play set to practice addition. You may also use paper cups if you don’t have a bowling play set. This activity allowed my son to review adding one and two digit numbers.
Cory created a second spin-off game that allowed him to practice adding three-digit numbers as well. I was impressed in the effort and thought he put into this game. I will show you how to play below…
In our household, we have something called “Creative Time.” This is when my son chooses an activity or a game he and I can play. This is my time to follow his lead in whatever creative project he wants to do.
This time, he pulled out his bowling game and said, “Let’s play!”
While playing the game we incorporated addition so my son could practice his math skills. If your child is not doing addition yet, use this game to practice counting and number recognition. Like all games we play, we had a blast!
Teaching children to ride a bike without training wheels is a milestone that most parents experience. It can be a daunting task for both the parent and child initially. However, once the child learns this skill, they receive some degree of freedom. The freedom to transport themselves from one place to another on a bike involves independence.
I love being outside and watching the neighborhood kids ride their bikes in groups. The kids seem so carefree.
When my son was two months old, I took him for a walk in the baby ergo. After five minutes, he was fast asleep. I could not help but observe the neighborhood kids riding their bikes while communicating to each other about their next destination.
I often thought my son, Cory, would learn to ride a bike without training wheels at seven or eight.
When my son was two-years-old, I saw my neighbor outside with her three-year-old son. He was riding a peculiar bike that I’d never seen before. It was a bike with no petals. I asked my neighbor about the bike and she said it was a balance bike. She said it is supposed to help children learn balance, which is the same skill needed to ride a bike without training wheels.
After our conversation, I immediately did a search on the Internet and found what she told me to be true. I hopped on Amazon, after speaking with my hubby, and ordered my son a balance bike with 12-inch wheels and a helmet.
When it arrived, my husband put it together. Then we went outside and took Cory, who was two-years-old at the time, to ride the bike for the first time.
How do you teach a kid to ride a bike?
Cory used his little feet to slowly walk the bike forward. Within a month and a half, he was able to balance himself on the bike. In the evenings, he would ride his bike while I told familiar stories such as The Three Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.
Below is a video of Cory riding the balance bike at two-years-old.
Below is a video of Cory balancing on the bike at three-years-old.
Cory spent the next year riding the balance bike, scooter, and occasionally his tricycle. He rode the tricycle, which was a gift from a family member, less than five times because he favored the balance bike and scooter.
My next thought was to get him a bike with training wheels. I figured this would help him learn to petal a bike with no training wheels. Again, he rode that bike less than three times because he liked the balance bike and scooter better.
Then my friend and her husband, Katy and Antonio, gave me the answer to my son’s next step in learning to ride a bike with no training wheels. My son went to Katy’s and Antonio’s house for a playdate with their children. I saw their six-year-old son riding a bike with no training wheels and I asked about their process in teaching him.
As they were observing Cory ride up and down the street on their daughter’s balance bike, Antonio said “Look at his balance, you don’t need a bike with training wheels.” He told me to get a small bike with no training wheels and use it to teach him how to petal. With the balance bike, Cory had already conquered the hard part which is learning to balance.
The next week I went to our local bike shop and traded in the training wheel bike (with 16-inch wheels) for a bike with no trains wheels (with 12-inch wheels).
How do you teach a kid to pedal?
I did three things to teach my son to petal. One was to have him observe other kids petaling. We observed kids in the neighborhood and watched YouTube Videos of children petaling their bike.
The second action was to lie on my back and show him the bicycling petal motion in the air. After demonstrating the move, Cory imitated me. He laughed and had fun while petaling in the air.
The final step was to practice on the bike. While he rode the bike, I was holding on the back while saying “Push, push, petal petal” in a rhythmic way.
A Little Bit at a Time
I used the concept ofshaping to teach my son to ride the bike. At first we practiced 15 seconds and the next time we increased it to 30 seconds. We gradually added on time each day we practiced. Within a week my son, at four-years-old, was riding a bike with no training wheels. He was so proud of himself!
Watch this video of Cory riding a bike with no training wheels.
We have now upgraded to a bike with 16-inch wheels. Cory is whipping through the streets and I am getting my work out in by running behind him.
Watch this video of Cory riding the 16 inch wheel bike. We forgot his helmet and started riding back home to get it.
Many parents have the following question: What age should a child be able to ride a bike without training wheels?
The answer to this question depends on the child. My son learned as a four-years-old. However, I have seen children learn as early as three and as late as teenagers. I think children are more motivated to learn when they see other kids riding their bikes.
I decided to teach my son to ride a bike because he balanced himself well on the balance bike. It was a natural progression to riding a bike with no training wheels.
Observe your child and decide when is the best time to learn. Have fun with this process!