The Growth and Giggles Blog

Ideas for helping parents and their preschoolers.

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Kirby & Christen

Kirby & Christen

  For more about Kirby, read here.
  For more about Christen, read here.
Meeting Learning Challenges Head On Does your gene pool have learning challenges in the mix: ADD/ADHD/autism/dyslexia? Studies of children diagnosed with autism show that early intervention has helped to the point that the autism was undetectable. There are also early intervention techniques for physical challenges. Almost any problem that presents itself in childhood can be helped if we work with the child in fun and helpful ways. Involving as many senses as possible in the learning process including physical activities is a key factor. If the body can move while learning, by the time a child is school-age the brain will have made all kinds of new connections. Maria Montessori, the first female doctor in 19th century Italy, saw children labelled "mentally retarded" and believed they could learn. She broke everything down into small components and taught using the body through doing activities that laid the groundwork for math, language, and all other learning. After Montessori...
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Growing Families: Avoiding Sibling Rivalry Working toward avoiding sibling rivalry is really teaching a life skill. As your family grows, there are ways to prepare older children for the arrival of the newest addition and to get them through the toddler years when baby becomes a little explorer. It is important to be truthful when preparing the older sibling for the arrival of a younger sibling. Try to avoid saying something that would be confusing like, "the baby will be so much fun to play with!" The baby won't be playing with anyone for a while. More helpful things to say might be, "We will need to be gentle with the baby's tiny little hands. I could use your help at bathtime. Would you like to wash her feet?" When baby comes, teach the older child how to hold the baby explaining how to support the head. Sit with them and read a story together.  The older...
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Finding Focus: Ways to Increase Attention Span The development of the ability for delayed gratification can be done from an early age. Increasing one's attention span will eventually affect many aspects of life from saving money to controlling a temper or facing temptation to do the wrong thing. It is important to start at the beginning. The fact is the younger the age, the shorter the attention span. Infants have needs that should be met immediately. They need to know that their needs will be taken care of and this is exactly where they should be at developmentally. Toddlers have enough ability to wait with distraction or accept help to accomplish the thing for which they're waiting. Preschoolers can be stretched to increase their ability to wait with some help. If you're curious where your child's attention span is at, try this little test... Place a raisin or M&M under a cup making sure your child sees what...
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Posted by on in Parenting
Travelling with Littles Travelling with children can be a special time, even on a road trip! The kids have the potential to triple their vocabulary on a week-long car trip if that's what is chosen to work on. Relationships among family members can improve with interactive car games. Whether infant, toddler, or early elementary, littles can have fun and leap ahead in cognitive development and fine motor skills while en route to your holiday destination. While technology is a very handy tool to have when travelling, make sure your children are not on their devices the whole travel time. Pack a backpack/travel bag per child that they may fill with their travel treasures. Elementary age children can usually make independent choices on what to leave and what is important to bring. This may include dolls (with add-ins of ribbons, pieces of fabric, etc.) that would be useful for making up stories so be sure...
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Posted by on in Learning Games
Complex Hoops In our final hoop installment, we'll look at how to use hoops to teach more complex ideas while keeping it user-friendly for children. Preschoolers cannot think with adult logic but they can grasp more intellectually by using tangible objects, for example using hoops to learn sorting.  When using hoops to teach sorting make sure only two varieties (colors/shapes) are being used. For a 2 year old, place the hoops on the ground next to each other and present a group of circles and squares that can be sorted into the hoop for circles and the hoop for squares. The same could be done with two colors. In general, most two year olds can grasp this concept. For three year olds, it is always best to start with two varieites. If this is easy, move to three options to sort and so on with four varieties of color/shape, etc. When the child...
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Posted by on in Learning Games
Making and Using HOOPS: Part 2 How to Use a Hoop: Place the hoop on the floor, one for each person (including parents), and take turns telling each other how many body parts to put into your hoop. Be creative: elbow and knee, bottom and two hands, etc….any two body parts. This aids in learning inside/outside and number of parts. (Parents/grandparents: only do what you can safely do. If you have any concerns, check with your doctor.) Kukla is a Turkish game most commonly played by making an O in the dirt and piling up rocks in the center. This can also be played indoors with a hoop and homemade bowling pins or a pile of blocks inside the hoop. Once the pile is set, use bean bags or rolled up socks (socks are one of the safest indoor balls) to throw and knock it down. If anything is knocked down, everyone yells in unison “Kukla!” We...
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Posted by on in Physical Development
Making & Using HOOPS: Part 1 Ways to Make a Hoop: Buy a hula hoop. Garden hose: Make different sizes on your own using and old garden hose. Cut in preferred lengths, bend it, buy dowels to connect the ends (take a small piece of hose to the store as a sample so the dowel will fit exactly). The dowel should be cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces. Stick both ends of the hose tubing into the wooden dowel until stuck together, then tape over that seam with clear or duct tape (hint: if children can see the seam, they may want to take it the tape off).  Coat hanger: Stretch out a wire coat hanger using pliers, leaving the twisted part intact. Cut off the hook and turn down the stump. Make the remaining part of the hanger into a hoop then tape over the sharp twisted part. Clear tubing: Buy clear, plastic tubing from a hardware...
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Posted by on in Learning Games
Math Fun Today’s activities will be toward benefiting pre-reading and pre-math skills. We will get the body and senses involved. It is important to remember to set up everything so there will be minimal clean-up afterwards. (For instance, on top of an old shower curtain or sheet.)   Finger Painting with Shaving Cream Find a dark surface (for example, table, play table cloth). Spread out shaving cream. (Don’t do this activity if the child will put it in their mouth. Warn them not to. It’s gross!) Have them draw the number in the shaving cream with their finger. If you are doing “Number of the Day!” have them make that number a few times. Then have them turn it into a picture. Have them make that number of dots. Turn it into a picture. Turn it into that number of lines, or squiggles, etc., and then into a picture. As long as they...
Tagged in: learning games Math
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2 Quick Ideas to Help with Balance & Leg Strength 1. Put pieces of masking tape (approximately the length of the child's foot) : one piece for hopping and two side-by-side pieces for jumping along a path. Wherever you put the two pieces, direct your child to "Jump!" and when they get to the single piece of tape remind them to "Hop." This course can be as long or short as you like, indoor or outdoor, from the kitchen table to the bathroom to brush teeth after a meal, etc. This activity is growing muscles in your child's body, teaching the ability to balance (especially when hopping), and learning to follow directions is a benefit as well. 2. There is also the option of doing one long straight tape line on the floor (or yarn/ribbon/rope could work as well) in order to give the child a pretend tightrope or balance beam. Walk forward and backward, put on some music and do...
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Posted by on in Parenting
Magic Listening Mist Materials:      Spray Bottle (the more whimsical, the better) Water + drop of mint oil or mouthwash   Anytime children need to be focused and giving attention one can whip out some Magic Listening Mist! This is a simple tool, easy to make, and very easy to apply. As used by some kindergarten teachers, spraying a little scented mist into the air at the appropriate time can be a way of triggering little imaginations and therefore producing more attention. Beware of overuse or use when not needed as some of the magic slips away under these circumstances. However, when instructions are being given for the next task at hand, this little item can be very useful. Notice the scent added to the water? We often do things with the other senses while leaving out smell. It is very powerful and another gateway to the brain! The aroma of mint can...
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Posted by on in Learning Games

Today we bring you "Playing With A Purpose" which is a video series made by Kirby Worthington and her colleagues. In this series you will be able to learn a variety of educational toys that are homemade and free as they come from recyclable materials. Enjoy and stay tuned for more to come!...
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