Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day to remember the more than one million men and women who lost their lives while serving the United States.

This holiday may be difficult for younger children who do not understand the concept of death or for children that are sensitive to the topic. Be sure to celebrate on your child’s emotional level.

If you have any ancestors or family members who died in service, today is a great day to tell your children about them.

Paint Poppies

Traditionally, red poppies were worn on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving their nation.

Paint green stems on a piece of paper. Clamp two clothespins over two pompoms. Dip one pompom in red paint and then paint dots at the top of your stem. Dip the second pompom in black paint and use it to paint a single black dot at the center of each poppy.

Flag Etiquette

Until noon on Memorial Day, the American flag is displayed at half-mast in memory of the men and women who lost their lives. At noon, the flag is then raised to full-staff. This symbolizes that the living will continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.

If you have a flag, make sure to follow proper flag etiquette and explain the symbolism to your children. If you do not have a flag, find pictures of the flag at half-mast and full-staff to explain Memorial Day flag etiquette.

Moment of Remembrance

At 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, a National Moment of Remembrance is observed. Everyone is asked to take a moment of silence or listen to Taps. While your younger children will probably not understand the concept of a moment of silence, you can take the opportunity to say a short prayer for the lives lost and/or play Taps for your children to listen to.

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Rainy Day T.V. Alternatives

It is a rainy day and you just don’t feel like leaving the house. You don’t want to put on ANOTHER television episode and you keep hearing choruses of “Mommy! Play with me! I’m Bored!”

Here is a list of eleven types of activities to entertain your toddler (and most are so minimal effort on your part that you can do them when you are sick, tired, or pregnant)!

Sensory Boxes

I admit that I have minimized the use of sensory boxes with the Champ because he loves to make a mess, but these are great for indoor learning. Add a “base” such as rice, pasta, oats, flour, beans, sand, or cotton. Then add small toys and objects to match your box “theme” (ex. Toy animals for a farm theme, toy bugs for a bug theme, shells for a beach theme , toy dinosaurs and rocks for an archaeologist theme). Spoons, small shovels, small measuring cups, and tongs are great for kids to use to play with the box.

Busy Bags

Busy bags are activities that are stored in a bag for ready to go learning and fun. They are more portable than sensory boxes, and are usually less messy. Most of the Free Printables that I offer on Tuesdays are perfect to put in a Ziploc bag and offer as a busy bag. You can also search “Busy Bag Ideas” on Pinterest.

Board Games

Kids love playing games with their parents. Some of our favorite games for young kids are Don’t Spill the Beans, Cootie, Zingo, and Candy Land.

Arts and Crafts

Painting, coloring, playing with play dough, stringing beads, or tearing up paper and gluing it into shapes are all great free form art activities. Craft projects are also great for rainy days.

Flashcard Relay

Grab any set of flashcards and create your own active game. For word cards, I will ask the Champ to identify the object on the flashcard. If he gets it right, he can race a lap around the room. For our color concept cards, he has to find something in the room that matches the color on the card. With number concept cards, I will ask him to clap or hop the number of times shown on the card.

Indoor Bowling

Grab a ball and any set of objects that can serve as bowling pins. You can use blocks, pvc pipes, toy animals, etc. Or buy a plastic indoor bowling set. I love this game because I can sit in one spot with the Rookie while the Champ sets up the pins. The Rookie can even “bowl” with his big brother.

Blocks and Other Creative Toys

Mega Blocks, Duplo Blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs, or Kindergarten blocks are all great for building. You can also play with other creative toys, such as toy tool sets, kitchen sets, trains, or dress up sets.

Books

Rainy days are a great time to cuddle up on the couch with a great book. To make reading even more fun for your child, build a fort out of sheets and read in your secret hide away.

The Number Game

We love playing the Number Game to get our wiggles out. I call out a number and an action (e.g. Flap your arms 8 times). The Champ then performs the task. Other action examples include: run a lap around the room, hop like a frog, spin around, pat your back, give mom a kiss/hug, clap, pat your head, touch your toes, etc.

Create a Story

Make up your own story. We take turns saying a sentence until we are giggling over our silly creation. Bonus points if you dress up and act out a play.

Dance Party

When all else fails, turn on some tunes and have a dance party!

Distracted Parenting

If you have been to the playground, you know “that kid.” He is the one running around wild and crazy while his parent is on the cell phone or talking to the mommy group completely oblivious. Or, perhaps at times, you have been “that parent.”

I know there have been times that I get lost in conversation with a friend, only to find out that my son decided stick fighting with a baby would be a good idea. Even at home, I hear shouts of “play with me” or “look at me, Mommy.”

Unintentional childhood injuries are up 10% from 2007 to 2012 according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Most likely, this increase is due to the increased disengagement of parents due to cell phone usage.

However, distracted parenting has been around long before the days of media. We can get engrossed in even seemingly good things, such as reading books, crocheting a blanket, talking to a friend, filling out paperwork at the doctor’s office, or playing with another child.

It is important to note that we cannot always give our children our full attention. But, we do need to be intentional with our time with our kids. Here are a few strategies to employ with your use of media.

Be a Role Model

Kids learn from us. Model the media behavior that you would like to see in your child. Choose high-quality content and set limits on your use of media. By having these boundaries in place, you will be more engaged with your child and both of you will have less “screen time.”

Use Media Together

Engage in media usage with your kids. Pick out a good family film and discuss the central themes and characters afterwards. Play a game with your child and discuss the strategy behind it. Check out the “Families can talk about…” section on Common Sense Media for conversation ideas.

Put Down the Phone

Play with your kids without a screen! Go outside and kick or throw a ball around. Throw on some music and have a dance party. Pull out a board game. Read a book to your child. The most important thing you can do for your kids is to spend some quality time with them every day.

Let Them Talk and LISTEN

Give each of your children a few special minutes each day to talk one-on-one with you. This can be over breakfast, before bedtime, or any other moment during the day. I like to lay with the Champ on the floor and talk about his day while looking up at the ceiling. Most of the time, our talks are about “nothing much,” but they are important to his self-confidence.

Free Printable: Number Concept Matching Cards

Number Concept Match

Count EVERYTHING! That is one of my favorite pieces of advice to give to moms of young children.

Print these number concept cards on card stock. Cut out each individual square. Then they can be used in multiple ways:

Number Recognition: Have your child identify the numbers 1-20.

Number Counting: Have your child count the number of objects on the card.

Number Concepts: Have your child match the number to the card with the matching number of objects.

Number Order: Have your child arrange the numbers (or objects) in order from 1-20.

Download my Free Number Concept Match cards.

Apps For Young Children

Choosing high quality entertainment media is difficult. Just because something is called educational does not mean that it is high-quality. Look for apps and games that are not passive in nature. You can make the experience more meaningful by playing with your child and engaging them in conversation before, during, and after. I love Common Sense Media reviews. Check out the “Families can talk about…” sections that give suggestions to make the most of media time.

Here are a few places to start when looking for good apps for your younger children.

Bible for Kids

Bible for Kids is a fun and interactive storybook Bible for children. The app allows you to download over 40 Bible stories for free. The app reads the story out loud to your child and then allows them to interact with illustrations, search for hidden objects, and answer questions about the story. Available on iTunesAmazon, and Google Play Store.

Starfall.com

Starfall.com is a free site dedicated to young students that are both learning how to use the computer and learning to read. The site has poor graphics; however, it is very interactive. Starfall also offers a free app called Starfall ABCs. Available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play Store.

My PlayHome

My PlayHome is an interactive roleplaying game that allows your child to create a dollhouse family and interact with them. As your child plays the game, talk to him as he explores the dollhouse. Make connections between situations in the game and real world scenarios. Available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play Store.

This is My Story
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This is My Story allows children to use simple sight words to fill in the blanks and create basic stories such as “The cat played with the kite.” The app then reads finished stories out loud. After you get the hang of playing the app, teach your child to make up their own silly stories in real life! Available on iTunes.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends- First Words
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We love Eric Carle at our house and The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends-First Words contains many of his illustrations. The app introduces common words in five different languages. Available on iTunes.

Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars

Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars is set up like a car play mat. Kids can play different cars and act out different community helper roles as they play in the town. Play the game with your child and talk to him about different vehicles and jobs in your community. Available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play Store.

Drive About: Number Neighborhood
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Drive About: Number Neighborhood is a set of nine games that feature math skills for preschool students. After playing the game, talk to your children about numbers and shapes in the real world. Available on iTunes.

Free Printable: Word Cards

Word Card Game

Clothes pins are a great tool for Preschool and Kindergarten!

This activity works great for developing letter recognition, word recognition, and fine motor skills.

Simply print off these word cards on card stock (you can even print them double sided to save paper). Cut out the cards and laminate. Write letters on clothes pins.

Then have your child match the clothes pins to the letters by pinning them onto the card.

To save on clothes pins, you may only want to have enough for your child to pin on one card at a time. To do this, write out the entire alphabet except Q and U. Duplicate O, G, Y, and L because they appear twice on the same card. This method calls for 28 clothes pins.

If you would like for your child to put clothes pins on every card at the same time, write the following letters: A (10), B (1), C(2), D (1), E (7), F (1), G (5), H (1), I (4) J (1), K (1), L (4), M (1), N (8), O (13), P (2), R (6), S (2), T (6), V (1), W (3), X (1), Y (4), and Z (1). This method calls for 86 clothes pins.

Download my Free Word Card Game!