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Archive for August, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, the moon will cover the sun, causing rapid temperature drops throughout the United States. This is known as a total solar eclipse. You can complete a simple craft with your children to help explain what the solar eclipse is and how it will look.

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Items that you will need:

  • Two sheets of black construction paper
  • One sheet of yellow construction paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Directions

Guide your child in cutting out a large circle from the yellow sheet of paper and glue it to one of the black sheets. Next, take the second black sheet of paper and cut out a circle slightly smaller than you cut from the yellow sheet. Slide the black circle across the yellow circle to show the different phases of the eclipse. Once you are done discussing the phases, glue the black circle to the center of the yellow circle so that just the edges of yellow are showing. This representation is a great way to explain to your children how the solar eclipse will look.

While completing this craft, discuss with your child why solar eclipses happen and how often they occur.

Five Benefits of Imaginative Play

Imaginative play benefits the growth of the cerebellum. This part of the brain is “responsible for key cognitive functions such as attention, language processing, sensing musical rhythms, and more” (Brown & Vaughan, 2009, p. 34). Here are five other benefits of imaginative play for children.

1. Play fosters the development of imagination. Imaginative play encourages children to be anything they want to be. This anything-goes thinking allows them to come up with ideas that they might not think about in a more structured environment.

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2. It encourages the development of problem-solving skills. Problem solving requires the ability to think creatively. Imaginative play involves experimenting with different activities, such as building with blocks or sculpting with modeling clay (White, 2015). Engaging in these playful activities helps children become more creative, which gives them the ability to solve different problems (Roskos & Christie, 2000).

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3. Play allows a child to fail without consequences. For example, when children play house, they imagine themselves as parents or spouses. They learn from those scenarios without dealing with negative consequences. Imaginative play, in other words, gives children the freedom to fail and try again without feeling defeated (Lillemyr, 2009).  

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4. It encourages social-emotional development. When pretending to be, say, a mother or a father, the child must imagine being in that person’s shoes. As a result, the child learns to interact and think about things as a parent, which helps the child become empathetic and practice language that is more in a parent’s vocabulary than a child’s.

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5. It helps children unwind. Unstructured imaginative play gives children the opportunity to be in their own world for a while without worrying about anything except playing and having fun.

 

References

Brown, S., & Vaughan, C. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York, NY: Avery.

Lillemyr, O. F. (2009). Taking play seriously: Children and play in early childhood education—An exciting challenge. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Roskos, K. A., & Christie, J. F. (2000). Play and literacy in early childhood: Research from multiple perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

White, R. E. (2015). The power of play: A research summary on play and learning. Retrieved from http://www.childrensmuseums.org/images/MCMResearchSummary.pdf

Bean and Cheese Tacos

Looking for a quick and easy dinner idea? Please adults and children alike with these bean and cheese tacos!

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Ingredients

  • 15-oz can of pinto beans, rinsed
  • 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup mild salsa
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce
  • Taco shells (hard or soft)
  • Low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Combine beans and salsa in a microwave-safe bowl, then heat 1 to 2 minutes or until hot. Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Spoon the bean mixture into each taco shell, top with lettuce and cheese.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

How to Create a Story with Your Child

Many parents read stories to their children. But have you ever created a story with your child? Crafting a story with your child helps boost creativity, literacy and critical thinking skills. It is also a great opportunity to bond with your child, and it’s a lot of fun. Here are the four steps to creating a story.

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  1. Create two or three characters. Make a character checklist with your child to flesh out the characters. Are your characters boys or girls? What kinds of food do they like? How old are they? What do they do well? What do they not do well? Where do they live? How do they know each other? This is a good starting point for coming up with interesting characters, but feel free to give your characters additional attributes.
  2. Give them something to do. All characters should want something, even if it’s just to get ice cream. Once you figure out what your characters want, have them try to obtain it.
  3. Put obstacles in their way. If your characters want ice cream, for example, and are trying to get to the ice cream parlor or supermarket, put obstacles in their way. The obstacle, in this case, could be the simple problem of not knowing the way to the ice cream parlor or supermarket. Stories come from the characters having to overcome challenges to achieve their objectives.
  4. Write the story down. If your child isn’t old enough to write the story down, write it down for him. You could even paste those pages in a scrapbook, turning your story into a keepsake.