Jan 24, 2018

Online Activities for Kids Stuck Inside During Winter

Image Source: Pixabay

Jenny Wise--Guest Blogger has written an article about how to keep children active, while inside, during the winter season.

Most kids love when winter arrives. They dream of snow days, hot cocoa, and getting presents during the holiday season. However, that fades quickly for children, leaving them feeling trapped inside the house thanks to the bad weather. Who wants to play outside when it’s freezing, grey, and dreary?

You can help your children by directing them to some fun and educational online activities. While they need some supervision at first, your kids can find ways to learn, get exercise, and feel better about the winter days.

Staying Inside Causes Problems

These days, lots of children love watching TV and playing video games. Does that mean staying inside most of the winter is something they love? Time Magazine explains being stuck in the house can get to everyone, children included. Everyone needs sunlight. It helps our bodies produce vitamin D, but it also keeps our internal clock on time and helps avoid depression. Adults and kids alike can get seasonal affective disorder by spending too much time indoors.

In fact, staying inside under artificial lights has been linked to an increased chance of obesity, diabetes, and depression. With less time spent outdoors, there’s usually less time spent exercising as well. This can make obesity and depression even worse, as a child’s body needs regular physical activity.

Get Some Exercise

By adding some exercise to your children’s winter schedule, you can help combat the problems of inactivity. No, you cannot expect to play baseball or football inside the home! But thanks to online videos, your kids have many ways to get the exercise they need during winter.

Love To Know shows there are videos online specifically made for children of all ages. Young kids can have some silly fun moving around to weird music, while elementary-age children can do more traditional workouts such as aerobics and strength training. Middle and high school students can use the same online exercise videos as adults, but they can also focus on learning how to dance. This can help them socially and boost their self-esteem while burning off some energy.

Some children need a little motivation to use those online videos for exercise. In these cases, it helps to set a goal your kids want to achieve. Maybe you have a child that really wants a new bike, so you can create an exercise log based on those videos. Each time they work out, they earn some credit towards that new bike. The key is to involve your children in setting the goals, as this is supposed to motivate them.

You can also help their motivation by scheduling the videos at the same time each day. As your kids continue to exercise, they start to turn this into a habit that can carry through the rest of the year.

Learn Something New

Exercise is very important during winter, as it can help fight depression. However, there are only so many exercises your children can do. That’s why you should also use winter as a time to learn something new. Keeping their minds sharp helps them feel better about themselves.

This is when you can turn staying inside the house to your advantage. There are many websites that offer direct learning, educational games, and fun experiments. For example, Earth Science Jr. has a great page listing activities kids can do at home that builds their creativity and learning. Building challenges with Legos, creating their own mazes, and even playing Jenga can help your kids beat the winter blues.

You can also teach your kids many math concepts with stuff you have around the house. Home Advisor lists many websites with math-based lessons for kids in Kindergarten through high school, such as using cans to learn about geometry and cooking to learn about ratios. Even just going through the household budget on the computer can be a great learning experience.

Make Winter Fun & Active

There’s no reason your kids have to feel trapped in the house this winter. You can make it fun and active by looking online. Get your kids moving with some exercise videos and use online lessons to discover math concepts in everyday life around your home. If your kids are happy this winter, that means you will be as well. 

Jan 16, 2018

Feelings Preschool Theme

This article has great ideas, and make sure to visit my Pinterest Board for even more!

Feelings are an important topic for preschoolers. Young children are in the beginning stages of learning and understanding what they are feeling and labelling those emotions. All children have a right to feel how they are feeling, but the crucial message to send preschoolers is how to best deal with those emotions.

A great motto to have in an early childhood setting is:

All of our feelings are okay, but it is just not okay
to hurt our friends,
or the things around us

Ask Children What They Know About Feelings

To begin a theme on feelings, first ask the children at a circle environment what they know about feelings. Ask the children if they can label some emotions, and give them an opportunity to explain times when they were having some feelings. Young children surprisingly have a pretty good grasp on the topic. Find a poster with different faces of emotions or use magazines to search for faces with different feelings on them, cut and paste them onto index cards. Flash cards are also available. Show the pictures and ask children to try and guess what the person is feeling. This activity aids children in labelling emotions.

Circle time is a good opportunity to talk to children about best ways of dealing with their emotions. Ask the group, "If I was feeling angry, would it be okay for me to kick the wall? Would it be okay for me to hit my mom?" Then provide children with different ways for them to get the anger out, such as kicking a ball, painting a picture, having a quiet time in your room, talking it out and so on. In addition, using puppets to act out scenes for dealing with feelings is an effective tool for communication with young children.

 Books About Feelings

Books are always a wonderful way to communicate a topic with children. Here are some books on feelings:

 •Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberely and Anne Miranda [LB Kids, 1997]
•The Feelings Book by Todd Parr [LB Kids, 2005]
•My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss [Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1998]

Arts and Crafts for a Feelings Theme

Have the children make a feelings "clock." Provide the class with paper plates and pictures of happy, sad, mad and scared to paste on the positions of 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00. In the middle, connect an arrow with a brass fastener that allows the arrow to move. The children can decorate the plate beforehand as well. When the feelings wheel is dry, the children can then use it to show others how they are feeling by putting the arrow to the appropriate face. Follow the link on the picture below to pbs.kids for a free template.

Make feeling sticks/puppets. Similar to above, the children can use their faces to let others know how they are feeling.

Painting to music is a great way for children to express their feelings. Actually, all forms of painting, such as finger painting, are a great outlet for children to work through emotions and delve into their creativity. After their masterpieces are done, ask children to talk about it and then record their words on the paper.

 Make a happy collage. Provide children with pictures of happy faces found online, in magazines, on stickers, wrapping paper and so forth. Allow them to freely create their own masterpieces. Put out other collage material to finish the project.

Feelings Songs

Of course we all know "If You're Happy and You Know It", but another fun song to sing for a feelings theme is "I've Got a Happy Feeling"
To the tune of I've Got Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart
I have a happy feeling here in my heart, here in my heart, here in my heart.
I have a happy feeling here in my heart, here in my heart to stay
I have a happy feeling here in my feet....
I have a happy feeling here in my hands

Final Thoughts

Feelings are a part of all of our lives. But some emotions such as anger, jealousy, sadness, shyness and so on are more difficult to maneuver through. Preschoolers can begin to learn through discussion, materials and adult modeling, some effective ways to work through their feelings.

Further reading:

Jan 10, 2018

Online ECE Workshops with Circle of Ideas

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