The Best Toys for Young Boys Who Love to Build and Create

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The Best Toys for Boys Who Love to Build and Create

I love toys where children can use their imagination to build and create various objects. These types of toys exercise children’s brains by teaching early math skills and spatial awareness.

Below are imaginative toys that my son loves!

These toys occupy his time, provide fun educational opportunities, and bring out his inner engineering skills.

Let’s get started!

 

1. Magnetic Tiles

This is such a versatile STEM toy. My son has built letters, numbers, rocket ships, ferris wheels, towers, and cars with this toy. It has an instruction book to teach you how to build various objects. It is a great way for kids to use their creativity and engineering skills!

 

We built a rocket ship!

 

This is the letter B!

 

 

2. Learning Resources Gears

Gears are a great STEM toy that encourages kids to sort, group, count, construct, design and solve problems. My son has built homes and traps for his action figures with this toy. He also likes to build letters and numbers with the gears and widgets.

 

This is the letter T!

 

This is the letter P!

 

 

3. Legos DUPLO Town Truck & Tracked    Excavator

 

 

This is a great toy for children who love cars, trucks, and construction vehicles. Whenever we pass by a construction site, my son can name all the vehicles because of the books we have read and hands-on learning provided with these Legos. We have also created stories around the characters and vehicles to incorporate literacy. The package says it’s for children ages 2-5 but my 7-year-old cousin played with these and had a great time!

 

Multiples of 3 Lego City!

 

4. Sum Blox

 

This amazing toy taught my son how to add numbers 1-10. The “height of each number corresponds to its value.” For example, the “1-block” is the shortest number and the “10-block” is the tallest number. If you stack the 5-block on top of another 5-block, then they will equal the same height as the 10-block. Your child will learn that 5+5=10 by building creative structures such as walls, towers, bridges, etc. These blocks are a bit pricy but worth it, in my opinion.

5+5=10

 

He created a tower for his cars to go through!

 

5. Wikki Stix

 

My son and I love this simple yet fun toy. It keeps his attention through church services and in waiting rooms. Wikki Stix allows your child to create any object they want. They come in fun colors and require no mess. Boredom is NOT an issue when it comes to this toy.

wikki stix 2
Making a football

 

wikki stix
All done!

6. Flexi Rods

 

This is not exactly a toy but a hair product. I had unused flexi rods in my closet and gave them to my son to play. He played with these for 45 minutes! These rods twist and turn in to various shapes and objects. My son likes to create letters and numbers with them. My pediatrician said it strengthens his hands and is a great fidgeting toy.

 

He built these letters and put them on my computer.

 

7. Automoblox

 

I discovered these during a playdate. Your child can take these cars apart and rebuild them. It teaches kids to problem solve, color recognition, and coordination. When my son and I are racing the cars, sometimes I will take one apart and pretend he is a mechanic. His job is to rebuild the car so we can race again. He loves this game!

corban cars
Building the car!

 

corban car 2
Put the car together with success!

8. Steam Dinosaur Toys

This is a great toy for kids who like dinosaurs. Children can take the dinosaurs apart and rebuild them using kid-sized screwdrivers. It develops hand-eye coordination, puzzle solving skills, and patience. The dinosaurs have wheels on the bottom so you can slide them on the floor and race them.

Triceratops is being taken apart.

 

A race is about to happen between two dinosaurs!

 

9. Snap Circuits Jr.

This toy is recommended for children ages 8 and up; however, my three-year-son and I love building with it. This kit allows you and your child to build working models of a photo sensor, flashing light, and adjustable-volume sirens. Your child should have a basic knowledge of letters, numbers, and putting together puzzles in order to maneuver this toy.  Parental supervision is needed if your child is under 8. I advise you to learn how the circuits work then present it to your child.

 

Starting to build an electric light and switch.

 

Success!

 

He just built the flying saucer!

 

10. Bristol Blocks

My son received this toy for his birthday. He has built cars, airplanes, robots, letters and more with these blocks. They have built his hand strength and eye coordination. He has learned how various geometrical shapes can be connected to make a masterpiece. Our favorite activity is to build something and make up a story around what was created.

He likes building letters! Here is letter E!

Please tell us which toy your children like! All of these are a hit in our household!

Don’t forget to sign up for our FREE course on How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Also, download our FREE Printable Holiday Card so your children can showcase their artwork to family and friends this Holiday Season!

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4 Fun and Thoughtful Holiday Activities for Kids

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4 holiday activities

It is a great time to do fun and thoughtful holiday activities with kids! I love this season because it is so full of life, joy, and love! It is also a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, spend time with family, and to give thanks for our presence here on earth. What I love most of all about the holidays is GIVING to others!!

Yes, the act of giving makes others feel good but it benefits the giver as well. It boosts “neurochemical drivers of happiness” and helps to normalize levels of serotonin which promotes feelings of comfort and well-being. I wanted my son to give and experience these feelings.

Therefore, we have done the following activities below to share and receive the pleasant feelings of holiday giving!

Paint Rocks and Give as Gifts

Last Christmas, when my son was two years old, I encouraged him to give gifts to family members. We chose to find big rocks in nature and paint them. We packaged them in colorful wrapping paper and gave them away.

My son was so excited that he could give gifts! He asked me 5 consecutive days before Christmas if it was time to give the rocks away. His rocks from last year are currently displayed in my family’s homes and he is proud. This is a simple yet fun project.

Materials Needed

  1. Place Newspaper on table for easy clean-up.
  2. Pour soap and water in plastic container to make soapy water.
  3. Clean rocks with soapy water and toothbrush.
  4. Empty soapy water and put clear water in container to rinse rocks.
  5. You can also run water over rocks to rinse them.
  6. Pour water in cup for cleaning paint brushes of previous color.
  7. Put napkins in paper plate #1 to dry paint brushes.
  8. Pour small sections of various color paints on paper plate # 2.
  9. Place rock on table with newspaper or magazine paper.
  10. Let your child be creative and paint the rock.

 

soapy water and rocks
Washing rocks in soapy water!

 

washing rocks
Rinsing the rocks in water!

 

paint set up
Setting up our supplies!

 

painting rocks
He likes mixing the paint.

 

rocks
Finished product!

 

Count Money and Buy a Gift

When I was young, it was my job to take my parents’ loose coins and put them in a money jar. Every year, about three weeks before Christmas, I would put the pennies in wrappers. Afterwards, we took a trip to the bank to exchange the coins for dollars. I took this money and bought gifts for my mom, dad, and older brother.

There are so many lessons learned within this activity such as: counting, money recognition, sorting and the purpose of banks. Another skill I learned was awareness of others. A child may buy his dad green socks because it is his favorite color or mom a cup because she loves drinking tea in the morning.

Materials Needed

 

  1. Have the child gather loose coins and put into money jar.
  2. Count coins and sort into money wrappers using the Nadex Sort and Wrap Set.
  3. Take coins to the bank or credit union and exchange for cash.
    • If you don’t have enough coins to fill wrappers, then check with your local bank about the loose coin conversion policy.
    • Some banks and credit unions convert coins into cash for customers only.
    • Some grocery stores have coin machines but will charge a fee.
    • Check out this article for more ways to convert coin into cash.                                                                                                                
  1. Brainstorm with child what family members or friends they will purchase gifts for.
  2. Have the child list the person’s interest and favorites.
  3. Make a tentative list of gifts for each member or friend.
  4. Your list may change once you go shopping.
  5. Go shopping.
  6. Help the child the wrap gifts.
  7. Watch their faces light up when family members or friends open their gift!

 

money roll 2
Inputting Coin Wrapper in Nadex Coin and Wrap Set.

 

money roll 3
Inserting the coins

 

money roll
Coin Wrapping is complete!

 

Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Race Car Ornaments 

  • Please note that you can make other items such as hearts and rainbows.

This is a simple project to make with kids. There are two cars in the kit. Kids will enjoy the experience of decorating their cars with colorful stickers. This activity also helps with spatial awareness, creativity, and focusing. This would be a great gift for children to give to  family members.

 

Materials Needed

  1. Follow directions in the Kit for the best results.
car activity 1
Just getting started

 

car activity 2
One car is complete and another left to go!

Create Your Own Christmas Cards Artwork

Instead of buying birthday cards for family members and friends, my son likes to make his own. The personal touch of a handmade card from a child is priceless. The time and effort it takes to create a masterpiece for a loved one fills their soul with joy. The person knows the child took time to make something especially for them. So why not have this same experience during the Holidays?

My son has started to make his Holiday cards already. It is a symbol of appreciation for the person’s role in his life. Your child can create their own masterpiece and present it to family and friends. They can use crayons, stickers, markers, glitter and whatever their minds come up with to decorate this card!

Happy Holidays to You!Here is the Masterpiece I Created for You!

 

holiday card 4
Creating a Masterpiece on the Holiday Card.

 

Finished Product!

 

Complete the Form Below to Download Holiday Card!

Below are details about the card…

  • Downloadable 5 x 7in postcard
  • Child can create artwork in the white rectangular space
  • Ability to type in white rectangular space with computer
  • Plenty of room for child to create artwork
  • Child can deliver or mail postcard to recipient

 

Please print and cut the postcard on 100lb card stock paper for best results.

Before you download, please know:

  • Simply Outrageous Youth Printables are for Personal Use Only
  • You may not modify, re-sell, redistribute, or claim the design as your own.
  • Please do not remove the credits/watermarks.

I hope you try some of the ideas given here. My son and I had fun doing these hands-on projects! A bonus is we learned a lot in the process!

Tell me about your holiday projects. I want to know as I am always learning!

Don’t forget to Sign Up for our FREE Course of How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Happy Creating and Learning!

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4 Simple and Fun Pumpkin Activities for Kids

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

Pumpkin activities

Every fall, I ask myself what are simple, fun, and educational pumpkin activities to do with my son.  We attend fall festivals in our county and get at least 4 pumpkins annually. This year, I was looking for activities that DID NOT require me to purchase more craft supplies from the store. I wanted to use items that we had on hand.

Below is what we did and had a blast!

Paint The Pumpkin

Materials Needed

 

  1. Put Newspapers or cloth on table for easy clean-up
  2. Put water in cup to clean paint brushes.
  3. Put napkins in paper plate #1 to clean and dry paint brushes.
  4. Put small sections of various color paints on paper plate # 2.
  5. Place pumpkin on table with newspaper/magazine paper or cloth.
  6. Let your child be creative and paint the pumpkin.

 

paint set up
This is our set up before starting to paint.

 

Pick, Count, and Cook Pumpkin Seeds

Materials Needed

 

  1. Place pumpkin on cutting board or pan in front of child.
  2. Give the child a spoon and have them scoop out the seeds.
  3. If they are having difficulty using the spoon, have them use their hands.
  4. Instruct child to put seeds in bowl.
  5. Have the child count the seeds while scooping.
  6. Another option is for the child to count the seeds at the end of the activity.
  7. Roast the pumpkin seeds for a great snack!

 

Scooping pumpkin seeds with spoon!

 

Make Pumpkin Soup with Rice

Materials Needed

  1. Follow our Pumpkin Soup with Rice Recipe.
  2. Have fun eating it with your family!

 

Access Our Pumpkin Soup with Rice Recipe

at the bottom of this post!

 

Have a Science Lesson and Learn about Decomposition

Materials Needed (please note this activity came from Sid the Science Kid Season 1 Episode 6 called Mushy Banana)

  1. Once the painted pumpkin has started to decay put it in a large plastic bag or container.
  2. Let the pumpkin decompose until it changes colors.
  3. Put plastic gloves on the child before touching pumpkin.
  4. Stay close to the child to ensure they don’t put the pumpkin in their mouth.
  5. Have the child feel the pumpkin and compare it to a fresh pumpkin.
  6. Have the child take a closer look by using their magnifying glass.
  7. Ask the child the following questions…
  • How is the pumpkin different from the fresh pumpkin?
  • How does it smell?
  • What colors do you see?
  • How does it feel?
  1. Put Pumpkin in the compost when complete.

 

He is analyzing a decayed pumpkin!

 

We cut the pumpkin in quarters and now he examines the decayed flesh.

Don’t forget to sign up for our FREE course on How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Get the password for the library with Creamy Pumpkin Soup with Rice Recipe by completing this form. Once you press the GET ACCESS NOW button, we will send you an email with the password. Then go to SOY Resource Library and enter the password.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Introduce Multiplication to Kids in a Fun Way

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HOW TO INTRODUCE

How to Introduce Multiplication to Kids in a Fun Way

The short story of Why I would Expose my Three-Year Old Son to Multiplication

In order to introduce multiplication to kids, you have to make it fun! My son was playing with numbers in our math set and saw the times tables sign(x). He held up the x and wanted to know what it meant. I challenged myself to explain it in a manner he could understand and I succeeded!!

A Great Children’s Book to Introduce Multiplication to Kids

About three weeks later, I went to the library and saw in the children’s section the title, 3 x 4 a Toon Book by Ivan Brunetti. I thought this comic book would be an excellent tool to further explain how multiplication works to my son.

*Bonus Tip

Go to the bottom of this post to Access 2 Hands-On Art Activities that will Explain Multiplication

The author provides colorful pictures, diverse characters, and a great storyline to introduce multiplication.

A Brief Summary

It is about a teacher who gives his students a homework assignment of drawing 12 things but in sets. A few students raise their hands and ask the teacher about various options to completing their homework. For example, one student asks, “Can I draw 3 sets of 4?”, the teacher replies, “It’s up to you!”

The story goes on to show the reader the process that each student executes to complete their homework assignment. One student likes baseball, so he draws three of each item: baseball, gloves, bats, and hats.

There is one student that needs more time to process her homework assignment. Her mom, dad, and even little brother are there to help her undertake this project. She comes up with a great idea at the end; however, you will have to read the book in order to find out what it is!

Tips for Parents and Teachers

At the end of the book, you will find tips for parents and teachers on How to Read Comics with Kids. The author explains how kids are naturally drawn to the detailed pictures in comics, which makes them want to read the words!

Read this book and provide your child with an entertaining explanation to the importance of multiplication!

What are other ways to teach multiplication tables to children?

One common way is to have children study their times tables a certain amount of time each day. This is how I learned. However, there are creative ways through play that children can learn as well.

  1. Build a number city of multiples with Legos.
    • My son saw a YOUTUBE video about counting by 3s. We built the following numbers with legos: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 24,
    • We created a role play where his toy elephant’s mission was to destroy the city.
    • Every time elephant knocked down and destroyed a number, my son had to build the number up.
    • This role play provided familiarity with multiples of three.
    • Plus, my son was the city’s hero because he kept building the numbers up.
    • He did not realize he was learning while doing this activity.
multiples of 3 lego city
Multiples of  3 Lego City! Pictured here is 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15.
  1. Songs– Many people know the words to a lot of songs not because someone taught them but through hearing it repeatedly. Use this same concept with learning multiplication.

How do you learn your time tables quickly?

A great way to learn time tables quickly is through tricks. Here are some examples of tricks below…

  1. Multiples of 10 – just add a 0 to the number
    • 3 x 10 = 30 (Add 0 to 3 to make 30)
    • 4 x 10 = 40 (Add 0 to 4 to make 40)
  2.  Multiples of 11 – (double the number for number 1-9)
    • 3 x 11 = 33 (write the number 3 twice)
    • 5 x 11 = 55 (write the number 5 twice)
  3. Multiplies of 9 – (use your fingers)

Multiplication is a concept we use often in life; additionally, it is great to learn it in a fun way! Tell me how you introduce multiplication in a fun way to your child or students.

Happy Learning!

Don’t forget to Sign Up for our FREE Course of How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Get the password for the library with 2 Hands-On Art Activities That Will Explain Multiplication by completing this form. Once you press the GET ACCESS NOW button, we will send you an email with the password. Then go to SOY Resource Library and enter the password.

 

 

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How to Explain Multiplication to a Preschooler Using Pictures

HOW I EXPLAINED MULTIPLICATIONS-2

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

Some may ask “Why would you explain multiplication to a preschooler?” I will tell you why. One day my son was playing with a math set that included numbers and symbols such as the plus, minus, equal and division signs. He likes to put the numbers in ascending and descending order. While playing, he held up the X (the multiplication sign) and asked “What is this?”

When my son asks a question, I usually challenge myself to answer it so he can understand. This time, after hearing the question, I was lost for words. I started to tell him that it’s a multiplication sign and he will learn about it once he gets older. Before uttering these words, I thought a picture would be the best way to explain this concept.

*Bonus Tip

Go to the Bottom of this Post to Get Access to A Fun Game, Using Action Figures and Stuffed Animals, That Will Explain Multiplication to Young Kids

 

Here was my process for answering the question, “What is multiplication?”

I cut a big piece of craft paper  and taped it to the wall. Then we found crayons and started our quick lesson.

Please note: In order to use this explanation, ensure your child is familiar with their numbers, counting, and shapes.

With the crayon, I wrote the problem 2×3 =. Then I asked my son to duplicate the problem using the numbers and symbols in his math set. He took the 2, 3, x, and equal sign and made the problem on the floor.

Afterwards, I told him the first number(2), tells us to draw two circles on the paper. The second number (3), tell us how many dots to put in each circle.

Then I instructed him to do the following…

  1. Draw two big circles on the paper.
  2. Put three dots in each circle.
  3. Count all the dots.
  4. You have your answer!

multiplication

Eventually he learned that multiplication is adding a number to itself a certain amount of times. So, 2×3 is the same thing as 3 +3 = 6.

We kept going over various examples, until he was able to create a problem and complete it independently. I also explained that it works inversely. You can draw three circles and put two dots in each to solve the problem. This shows that 2+2+2 = 6.

He was excited to learn something new and I was proud in my ability to explain this concept to my preschooler!

Corban multiplication
My son solving the problem 8×2 =

 

He loves writing on his V-Tech Easel.

 

corban multiplication 2
He is writing the correct answer 16.

When should kids learn multiplication?

Telling a three-year-old how multiplication works may seem too early. However, my child asked a question and I was determined to answer it. Better yet, he understood the concept through art!

Normally, children start learning multiplication in the 2nd or 3rd grades. I remember learning it in the 3rd grade. However, younger children can learn how multiplication works if you explain it to them in a way they understand.

Complete the form below and get started with this fun game.

Have Fun Learning!

Don’t forget to Sign Up for our Free Course on How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Get the password for the library with A Fun Game, Using Action Figures and Stuffed Animals, That Will Explain Multiplication to Young Kids by completing this form. Once you press the GET ACCESS NOW button, we will send you an email with the password. Then go to SOY Resource Library and enter the password.

 

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How to Teach Alphabet Recognition in a Fun Way!

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HOW TO TEACH ALPHABET RECOGNITION IN A FUN WAY

How to Teach Alphabet Recognition in a Fun Way

Some parents have concerns about teaching their child alphabet recognition. The big question is, “Where do I start with teaching my child the alphabet?” I’ve heard some parents say, “My child will not sit long enough to learn it.” Others are laid back and depend on their child’s teacher to handle this task.

Then I’ve talked to teachers who are able to teach their whole class alphabet recognition with no problem. Other teachers find it difficult to teach when they have many children in their class on different levels. These are the teachers who find it helpful if parents work with their child at home in addition to school.

I understand, as a mother, this can be an overwhelming task because it is one of the first concepts children will learn. As a result of hearing from parents and teachers, I decided to teach my child the alphabet in a fun and relaxing manner.

Many parents have the following questions about learning the alphabet…

When should a child recognize letters of the alphabet?

It is important to look at your local school district’s kindergarten program of studies. Our school district teaches kindergarteners to identify and name the upper-and-lower case letters of the alphabet. If you have a child that needs more time with alphabet recognition, then they may fall behind in class if you don’t work with them at home. I think it is safe for them to know it before starting kindergarten.

My son learned the alphabet at 18 months through play. I didn’t expect him to learn them until the age of three or four. When you teach it through fun learning methods, the child will want to learn more and more about the alphabet.

Should you teach letter names or sounds first?

Many people have different philosophies about whether to teach letter names or sounds first. I did it simultaneously. When my son was an infant, I would sing the Alphabet song to him with the sounds included. We played with soft alphabet blocks and I would identify the letter and the sounds associated with them. I also played songs, with a catchy beat, in the car with letter identification and phonics.

What are the steps to teach phonics?

Using play, songs, and books is a great way to teach phonics. Anytime my son and I read an alphabet book or played with an alphabet toy, we identified the letters and sounds (long and short sounds). Various books, songs, and toys that interest him were chosen to expose my son to the alphabet. I never wanted him to get bored with learning the alphabet using only one method. When a child is exposed to the alphabet and their sounds in various fun ways and methods, the learning becomes inevitable.

Once my son knew all the phonics, I showed him how to use them to sound out words like cat or pot. I also read books to him and played with puzzles and word games that included those same words for diverse repetition. Then I got him magnetic letters and asked him if he could spell words like bag or nut. When I said the words, I would slowly enunciate each letter sound so he could successfully spell it.

How do you teach the alphabet?

Before exposing my child to the alphabet, I did research on how to teach children through wholesome and playful learning. I applied my findings during playtime with my child and found that this teaching method works! Worksheets or flashcards were not used to initially teach my son alphabet recognition. They were incorporated after he knew them.

I used fun learning methods to teach the alphabet. This includes singing, dancing, painting, and using toys such as play doh to form the letters of the alphabet. There are so many ways to make it fun. I want to share with you what I have learned and experienced through a FREE Mini Course on How To Teach Alphabet Recognition in a Fun Way!

You may have a child that knows the alphabet, phonics, and is able to read. This FREE course is also for you. The principles taught in the course can be applied to almost ANY NEW CONCEPT you want your child to learn.

This method was used to teach my son…

  • Basic Social and Hygiene Skills
  • Life Skills
  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Write
  • Read
  • Tell Time
  • The Planets and their functions
  • Alphabet and Numbers in Spanish
  • Addition and Subtraction

I could go on but you get the picture.

This course provides the following…

  • Over 100 Tips, Activities, and Resources
  • Tips for the Child who loses Interest in Learning the Alphabet
  • How to Tailor lessons to your child’s pace
  • How to change your mind set about learning and teaching
  • The three basic learning styles in children
  • How to determine your child’s learning style
  • How to expose children to new concepts aligned with their learning style
  • How children with certain learning styles tend to communicate
  • The toys/activities children with certain learning styles tend to favor
  • How to make learning fun and playful for children
  • How to determine the best time to teach your child
  • How to execute Fun In-Depth Learning
  • How to use the 5 senses to teach your child
  • How to combine In-depth learning and learning styles during play
  • How to incorporate digital media in your child’s learning
  • How to teach a child with more than one learning style
  • How to Structure your Day
  • How to progress to teaching your child the phonics
  • How to track your child’s progress
  • Daily thought-provoking assignments to hold you accountable

 

HOW DOES THIS MINI-COURSE WORK?

Just sign up for the FREE mini-course with the form at the bottom of this post. You will receive  DAILY emails for 16 days with useful information, tips, tools, and an assignment.

You will receive your first email shortly after joining! Remember, it’s free!

YOU CAN DO THIS! I am here to help and guide you. The daily emails serve as positive reminders to encourage you to take small action steps.

I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you. Please share your progress with me as well!

Have Fun Learning!

 

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Read Aloud Strategies – How to Make Books Come Alive for Kids

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READING ALOUD STRATEGIES-2

Reading aloud to my son is a sacred time within our household. I usually read before nap and bed time. It seems to create a serene atmosphere before rest. Then there are times when reading makes us animated! These types of stories may include characters experiencing adventures where they are running, jumping or kicking and on their way to solve a big problem!

My goal is to read so my son feels like he is in the story. I have learned that there is an art to reading aloud.  Below is what I have found…

*Bonus Tip

Go to the bottom of this post to get access to the 10 Types of Books to Choose When Reading Aloud to Kids

Pick Books that Interest Them (or you think would interest them)

I try to pick books that my son can relate to or find interesting. I gravitate toward books with characters that look like him. Also books about cars, racing, sports, nature, animals, numbers, alphabet, and space spark his curiosity. Interacting and observing him assists me in finding books he will connect to. One day,  he asked me how water comes into our home. This led me to getting a book about how the home works. Try to get books that answer your child’s questions to further their understanding of a topic.

Better yet, Let Them Choose their Own Books

It is so much easier for my son to pick books out for himself. I usually take him to the library or the local book store and let him skim the book titles until he finds what he wants. Sometimes, he goes in the library knowing what he wants and is on a mission to find it. We find the books by inputting keywords in the computerized catalogue. When we sit down to read, the first book he usually chooses is the one he just found!

Voice Changes for Different Characters

Changing your voice for different characters is very entertaining for children. It can also be fun for the parent!  If I am reading a male character, I will lower my tone. If I am reading a character that is a monster, then my voice gets raspy.  Be creative and have fun practicing various character voices!

Emphasize Emotions and Actions

We read lots books with animal characters and I usually make their sounds or physical gestures that represent them. Also, if there is a quiet section in the book, then I lower my voice to set the mood. When there is an onomatopoeia like the word “Pop” and “Boom,” I get very loud and will hit my hand on the floor to make the sound.

Ask Kids about their Predictions

During reading time, I ask my son what he thinks will happen. This gets him engaged in the story. He also wants to know if his prediction is correct.

Listen to Audio Books

While riding in the car, my son and I will listen to audio books. The narrators are highly skilled in their changing voices and emphasizing emotions and actions. Listen to these books and you will learn a lot!

Another Bonus Tip

Here is video of a speech therapist, Adrienne, on How to Get Toddlers to Sit and Read With You. I have learned a lot from her as well!

Make reading interesting to your child and most of all, have fun with it!

Happy Reading!

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Leadership for Kids – What They Learn When You Allow Them to Lead

LEADERSHIP FOR KIDS

Many parents want to raise children who are leaders. A child does not necessarily have to be Class President or Captain of a Sports team to be a leader. Sometimes leadership can be demonstrated in the child who chooses not to engage in gossip. In my opinion, children who are their authentic selves despite what others think are leaders.

I figure one way for a child to be a leader is through practice. It is also helpful when a parent creates a leadership environment within the home.

Check out the 5 Ways to Create a Leadership Environment for Kids at the bottom of this post!

At first, the age of five sounded like a good time to introduce the concept. However, most toddlers, start to show leadership skills around two when they know what they want to play with and explore. My decision was to meet my child where he was and start letting him lead me at the age of two. Of course, this was practiced in safe and controlled environments.

As soon as I take my son outside to play, he is the leader. He chooses whether he wants to walk or ride his scooter or bike. Once we get outside, he can choose to go left toward the blacktop where we play ball, blow bubbles, and draw with sidewalk chalk. In the right direction, there is a playground, nature trail, and grassy area for play. Wherever he goes I will follow him. He often looks back to ensure that I am behind him and then chuckles to himself.

Another time my son leads is when we play “Marching Band”. My friends gave him a Paw Patrol- Music Set which includes a tambourine, drum, Chinese drum, Clapper, and Castanets. We play the musical instruments to various songs while marching and dancing around the house. Along with choosing the type of music we listen to, my little one is the marching band leader. He may lead me dancing in the basement, kitchen, or living room.

Your children can learn a lot when you let them lead sometimes. Below is what I found…

Confidence and Trust

Letting a child lead gives them confidence because they are experiencing your trust. You are trusting in their ability to lead the way, make decisions, and communicate. As a parent, you give them credibility and are showing respect.  They feel you are buying in to them and their choice of activity. They also feel that they are worthy to be leading you, an adult.

Use of Knowledge

In most cases, in order to led someone, you must have prior knowledge of the subject. In order to lead you on a walk around the neighborhood, a child must be familiar with their surroundings. Once knowledge is established, they can apply it to provide a better experience. For example, if a child is leading you toward a concrete play area, they may bring side walk chalk or  a ball to make playtime fun.

Asking questions

In contrast, some kids may choose to lead even if they don’t have prior knowledge. Leaders who are not knowledgeable about a subject may surround themselves with experts in that field. Part of leadership is knowing when these opportunities arise. Children are excellent at detecting this! You are your child’s expert. You may build Legos with your child and they are leading you in building something that is familiar to them. What happens when they are building something for the first time? They either figure it out or they may ask for your help.

When to Lead

It is important to establish where your children can lead. For example, you probably don’t want your children leading in the grocery store or in an office building. Being a good follower makes a good leader. Your child follows you in the grocery store so one day they will independently go themselves or lead someone else while shopping. Being a follower is where the child will gain prior knowledge to guide or mentor others.  Knowing when to lead helps the child with boundaries and to apply a new skill to help someone in the future.

As a parent, be a good follower occasionally. In doing so, your child may discover their interests, purpose, and passions!

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5 Ways to Create a Leadership Environment for Kids

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Fun Scientific and Beneficial Experiences Provided by Nature for Kids

kidinnature

Last Saturday, my family and I were scheduled to take a day trip to a farm but the forecast called for rain. I decided an alternative trip would be a nature walk near our home. My son was so excited because he could wear his rain boots and splash in puddles! He experienced this and so much more!

While we were walking, I thought about the benefits of being in nature. Here is what I found…

Hands-on Science Lesson

One day, we watched the cartoon, Sid the Science Kid, and learned about the four life cycle stages of a frog. The first stage is the tiny frog eggs laid by a female frog. Then the eggs turn into tadpoles. The tadpoles start to develop front and back legs which is the froglet stage. The last stage is the adult frog, which is when the tail leaves and he is ready to live on land.

During our nature walks, we experienced two stages of this life cycle. We saw masses of tadpoles swimming in a pond.  My husband was able to catch tadpoles with a net and we observed them. My son was brave enough to touch the tadpoles and comment on their slimy skin.

About two weeks later, the tadpoles turned into hopping little frogs. We caught about 8 frogs to examine them for a brief moment before we let them go. It was an amazing sight.

Physical Activity

On our way to the nature trail, we saw squirrels and birds. As soon as my son saw them, he chased the animals and burned off tons of energy. Once we saw puddles, I switched his shoes from sneakers to rain boots and he jumped in the middle of them. His hands sloshed in the water as he examined the colors and depth. On the trail we detected rocks embedded in the ground and we dug them out. My son threw the rocks in the water and watched the circular ripples form. The walk itself was a great physical exercise for the body.

Social

We saw other families with children walking their dogs and runners. We greeted each other and sometimes had mini conversations. My son ran behind some of the runners and wanted us to join him. There were two older boys, riding their bikes, who saw us looking down and wanted to know what we were searching for. We told them we were catching frogs and saw turtles in the pond. They joined us by catching little frogs which allowed us more observational opportunities.

Use of tools

Whenever we go on a nature walk, I take scientific tools to provide a better experience. My son or I will carry kid size binoculars around our necks to observe squirrels and birds in trees. We also use it to watch turtles on branches in the pond. I keep a magnifying glass in my bag to closely view bugs, frogs, rocks, plants, flowers, pinecones, and leaves. As mentioned before, my husband will catch bugs and frogs in a net and put them in a jar for my son to examine. The most important tool, in my opinion, are hands. My son used his hands to touch and feel the treasures he found in nature. He was able to communicate whether the item was smooth, bumpy, slimy, rough, etc.

Cost

Taking a walk outside your home and being exposed to nature is free. Most parks with nature trails are complimentary also.  Take advantage of the natural lessons that God has provided. You can’t beat a day full of adventure at no cost!

I knew our trip was successful when my son said “That was a fun day!”

Happy Exploring!

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One Way I Sparked my Son’s Interest in Geography

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what on your plate

We live in a very diverse area near people from various countries. I love talking to our neighbors about their culture, food, language, and upbringing. My son loves to eat and always wants to know how food will benefit him. For example, he knows that chicken and eggs will help him build muscle. When I saw the book, What’s On Your Plate? Exploring the World of Food by Whitney Stewart, I thought he would be interested in reading it.

This book highlights countries such as Mexico, Ethiopia, China, and Greece, and gives the reader information on their locations, foods frequently eaten, and recipes. The enticing food pictures in this book will make you hungry.

My son connected with this book instantly. First, he learned that he eats similar foods to people all over the world. Moroccans eat grapes and oranges which are two of his favorite foods. He eats rice, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese like the Italians.

As we were reading the book, we had the globe beside us. We stopped on each page, identified the country, its food, and located it on the globe. I saw my son perk up because he saw these countries were located far away in various continents, yet one similarity was food.

Read this book with your child and learn about food all over the world!

Other ways to make connections with this book…

  • Make the recipes in the book
  • Eat Ethnic foods – Go to an Indian, Ethiopian, or Mexican Restaurant
  • Talk to people from other countries and compare what you have learned in this book.

Happy Exploring!

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