Posts Tagged With: kids

DIY Holidays: 2 Sweet Ornaments to Make With Kids!

image

The 1st ornament is a “make your own necklace” kit and the 2nd is a sweet keepsake of hand-written-well-wishes for a loved one (in our case, Grandma 🙂 )

image

Both of our holiday ornaments are made with clear, empty bulb ornaments that we purchased from a craft store for 50 cents each.

image

The well-wishes ornament was made simply by using an old scrap of Christmas paper.  Any paper will work!

image

We cut the wrapping paper into strips.

image

Write sweet, personal messages on the strips (use at least 2 per ornament) and gently feed them into the bulb.  Pop the top on and add a little tag. Captain’s tag reads “Well-wishes for Grandma”. Her little messages on the strips of paper are very dear. One wish was to “come and visit me a whole bunch!” These are so incredibly easy to make, and each one can be quite personalized.

image

The 2nd ornament is a “make your own necklace” kit for a friend of Captain’s. She filled the bulb with an assortment of beads, then we added some lengths of cord, and little ends, so that her buddy can make a couple of necklaces. Add a festive little tag and you’ve got a sweet gift for a craft-lover. (We cut out a small paper round and added some edging with a red fine point Sharpie).

image

We were inspired by Heather at Green Eggs and Goats. She and her daughter filled a bulb with lovely feathers!

Today is a perfect day for doing some crafting here at The Cabin. The snow is falling again, and after playing outside, it feels so good to be indoors getting ready for the holidays.

Do you have any ideas for filling the clear bulbs? We would love to hear about them here on Kartwheels. Have a most wonderful day….

Cheers! Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Writing Practice, Art & Imagination: Create Your Own Superhero!

photo-4

Princess Halina, Animal Rescuer, has super-powers, a secret cabin, blue hair and her motto is: “Be yourself: everyone else is already taken”…

Here is a simple way to get the imagination rolling, get some writing practice done, and draw and color/paint your very own special superhero. I was surprised at how Captain reacted to this simple prompt: “Create a superhero character. Draw, label, or write about what powers that person has, or can do.” Basically, she thought about it for about a minute before she started spewing out a list of exciting possibilities. I sat on the opposite side of the counter from her, with a paper and pencil ready, and made notes as quickly as possible. She really enjoyed that I was “her assistant note-taker” and felt free to just brainstorm. It was really fun! Afterward, she sketched her character in pencil and then colored her in with markers. She wanted to copy the notes in pen, as she was sure she wouldn’t need to erase a single thing. She was right! We did this activity a couple of days ago, and she is still talking about it and adding to the story. Princess Halina, Animal Rescuer, seems to have empowered her creator and I can’t wait to see where it goes! *On a side note, I believe that an adult offering to just be an “assistant” or “note-taker” for early writers is very valuable. They feel special, and the freedom to just go with their ideas without having to fiddle with handwriting is priceless!

Here is part one of Captain’s Superhero Description:

“My Superhero, Princess Halina, is a girl who saves animals. She wears a yellow dress and crown, and sometimes a yellow cape. Her super powers are to read minds (but only when wearing her yellow cape, dress and crown), shoot lights out of her fingers (to blow things up), and she can make a light so bright that nobody can see except her, when she is wearing her goggles (which magically appear). She also has another secret, secret power that nobody knows about yet…

Princess Halina has a secret cabin where she can hide animals when she’s helping them, and to keep them safe from creepy people who want to steal them. She needs a lot of powers to defeat the bad guys. Ten people have already told Princess Halina “Be yourself: everyone else is already taken” and she really knows it!”

I also feel that creating a superhero can help kids work out some of their fears about things like “bad guys” and “creepy people”. Incidentally, the quote above is from Oscar Wilde and was our family “quote of the week” last week. It was sweet that she incorporated it into her creation.

This one gets a gold star for simplicity and fun. I hope you’ll try it with your own kids, and we would love to hear about it here on Kartwheels.

Powerful, blue-haired thoughts to all,

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

DIY: Make a Rockin’ Backyard Tipi For Kids!

IMG_7298

Captain, or “Princess Akeezia” as she calls herself, may never stop playing in her $3 backyard tipi! 

IMG_7280

What you need:  5 or 6 heavy bamboo stakes (6 to 8 foot length), a heavy-duty rubber band, and something to cover the tipi (piece of fabric, burlap, or a sheet)

I cannot recommend tipi-making enough!  What a fun and inexpensive way to provide your child with endless hours of entertainment and play (not to mention being a hero for it!). We bought our 6′ heavy bamboo stakes at an orchard supply store for less than 50 cents apiece. We will be going back for some 8 foot pieces as well!  Simply gather them and secure at one end with a heavy-duty rubber band and, voila!, you’ve got the frame.  Wrap it in fabric (we used a brown sheet, but wouldn’t a piece of fabric that could be painted be fun?!) and that’s pretty much it. We set the tipi up inside and then promptly took it outside for obvious reasons. The bamboo stakes are weather-proof, and a tipi can easily be constructed and left outside all summer. They don’t take up much room, and can transform even a small space into a wonderful imaginative world.

** Note:  I tried to find the bamboo stakes at the local home stores but couldn’t find them long enough.  You may have to call around to orchard, or farm supply stores to find big enough stakes.

IMG_7281

Secure with rubber band

IMG_7290

Dad wrapping the outside of the shelter.  The tipi is STURDY!

IMG_7297

Princess Akeezia

IMG_7283

Trying to knock the tipi down but realizing it is quite sturdy 🙂

We would love to hear about family tipi-building here at Kartwheels!  We hope your summer is a beautiful one, and three cheers for all of the kids out there; their imaginations, their beautiful hearts and minds, and their need for FUN..

Cheers!  Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Social Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

DIY: Mom & Me Journal!

IMG_5057

In the photo, Captain and I are BOTH inside my shirt..

Here is our version of the “Mom & Me” journal!  Basically, it is a composition notebook with a label on the front for you and your child to write notes, letters, share pictures, etc. I made this one morning, wrote a note inside inviting Captain to share notes with me, anytime we feel like it, and left it on her bed. She was thrilled and sat in bed for a long time with a pencil, drawing pictures and writing notes. We have had it for about 6 months already and both love it. Sometimes we forget about it and a lot of time passes before one of us adds something to it, and that is just perfect. There is no pressure to do anything but tell each other little things…  She has written notes to ask me to make her favorite dinner, which I love! There are so many “I love you’s” and pictures of our dogs. It is also surprising how some honest, hard to talk about, things can come up. There is something safe for kids to be able to write down some feelings and ideas that they have a hard time saying in person. They KNOW their mom (or Dad) will see it, but don’t have to talk about it, just yet.

I think this notebook idea could be adapted to boys simply by changing the colors and making it suit their personality more. It would be really easy to make a “Dad & Me” notebook as well! Because it is a solid book, clearly marked, it doesn’t get lost in all of the other paper and notes that seem to fly around our cabin!  I am especially looking forward to reading it again one day when Captain is all grown up. What a wonderful keepsake! I got the idea from Mama Jenn on her blog, and she got the idea from another, who got the idea from another…

I do hope you try this.  It is fun and pretty special.

Here’s to good memories (and notes that state that a certain someone would rather NOT clean up her room, complete with little, drawn, grumpy faces… love it!)

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Positive Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Great Day to Hug a Rock!

IMG_2099

Good thoughts for a beautiful weekend to all!

Categories: Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Plan an Exciting Treasure Hunt For Kids to Find The Mysterious Black Cat’s Eye Diamond!

IMG_6663

Care to excite your kids into hunting for treasure? This is a perfect family activity for summertime! I would like to share our method for cooking up some delight for Captain. This activity takes a bit of planning, but is well worth the efforts! Burn the edges of some paper, create some clues, and find a cool treasure to hunt for (how about THE BLACK CAT’S EYE DIAMOND?), and your kids will be busy little pirates and full of imagination for an entire week 🙂

IMG_6654

Here is a giant, glass jewel that I purchased at Michael’s Craft Store for $4.99.  It is big, heavy, and very sparkly. You can use this idea, or find another treasure that would excite your kid/s. I tried to find this online to leave a link here, but they only sell them in the stores. They are usually on rack at the end of an aisle, near the flower vases. They also come in pink, red, blue, green and clear. I like the black one with iridescent colors in it and named it “The Black Cat’s Eye Diamond”. If there are multiple kids then perhaps some smaller jewels, coins, or something like that…

Method:

You will create 7 “main clues” that will be left for the child to discover when they wake up each morning, and 6 “hints” as to what the treasure is. The “main” clues will guide them to a location, preferable outside somewhere, where they will discover the “hint” in the form of a little puzzle or clue as to what they are searching for. The main clues can be written on any paper, but a kind of tan paper give it a bit more of an “antique” look. Burn the edges of the main clues with a lighter (you may find yourself burning paper in the night after everyone is asleep 🙂 The main clues can rhyme, or not. We also threw in a little math and some word scrambles. Our clues can be seen here below. They probably won’t make sense to everyone else, as they are custom to our kid, but she was delighted:

IMG_6664 IMG_6665

IMG_6666 IMG_6667

Once your child figures out the main clue that you left them in the morning, they will race right off to find the treasure hint. Basically, on a little piece of paper, I left a fun clue as to what the treasure is, and for the last treasure-hint-clue, I told her what it was:

IMG_6669

Every morning Captain raced right to the counter to find her main clue! She talked about it all week and was really into it. On day six, when she discovered the scramble clue that mentions The Black Cat’s Eye Diamond, she was almost too excited to sleep….

IMG_6668 IMG_6671

For the 7th day main clue, guide them to the place where “X” marks the spot.  Basically I dug a hole and buried the jewel in a burlap sack that was tightened with twine into a bundle.  (Kids love little realistic details, and when she uncovered a dirty ball of burlap, she gasped.) I covered the treasure with two sticks shaped into an “X”.

IMG_3399

She found the “X” and started digging…

IMG_3400

It’s in here!

IMG_3402

It’s real!  The Black Cat’s Eye Diamond is REAL!

IMG_3405

Showing Dad her treasure.

Friends, I can’t tell you enough how worth this activity is!  Coming up with some clues and hints wasn’t difficult, and it was fun to see my kid’s imagination go crazy and her patience grow. Most fun activities are over in a day, but this one stretches over a week, and I was surprised how patient she was. She seemed to like that there was no quick end to it.  I also recommend writing up your clues ahead of time. I left the first clue for her on a whim, and then would find myself trying to whip something together at night for the next day 🙂 My husband and I had some sweet time together burning paper in the night, when I finally caught up with myself and got the rest done for the week…

If you decide to plan a treasure hunt for your kids, I would LOVE to hear about it.  What treasure would you use?  What would you name it?

Until then, happy adventuring. Remember being a kid during the summertime? These days of magic end so quickly. I try to remember to scoop them up, close to my heart. Some day I will wish that I could plant jewels in the ground and go treasure hunting with my sparkling child.

Here’s to the good ‘ole days of now!  Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Captain: “Mom, take my picture! I just drew on my face with markers and became a lion!” Me: You look great, but did you use permanent markers?” Captain: “I don’t know. Let’s find out!”

IMG_5866

A happy Saturday to all from Sequoia National Forest!

Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

For Balance, Tricks and FUN: Slacklining Rocks!

IMG_4608

If you have two suitable trees, springtime is awesome for setting up a slackline for the kids (and big people too!)  It is simple to do, and we couldn’t believe the difference in muscle tone our kiddo had after about a week of playing on this one.  Balance, coordination, and self-esteem are all stimulated in a beautiful way with a slackline.  We had a roll of sturdy, nylon rope that we had gotten at a discount tool place (Harbor Freight Tools in CA) for about 8 bucks.  We strung one line between 2 trees (it is recommended that they be at least 8″ in diameter) and held Captain’s hand as she would wobble across.  It dawned on us that she needed a second line up above her, to hang onto so she could play independently, and voila!, she was ripping across it, bouncing and jumping all by herself. The first few nights after playing on it with the 2nd line she did complain that her sides and legs were hurting, and we realized it was because she was using so many muscles in her legs and torso, neck, arms, well everything.  It is truly great exercise and fun, fun fun!

I recommend reading this bit from Wikipedia, if you don’t have another source to look at.  They share a lot of of info and ideas and also recommend using a wider strap instead of the rope, as it is easier to walk on and you can build up to doing more tricks etc.  For now, we had the rope on hand and are going to stick with it, but we will probably graduate up to a strap when she is ready to play around without holding the upper rope.  This is great for body and soul!!

Slacklining is a practice in balance that typically uses nylon or polyester webbing tensioned between two anchor points. Many people suggest slacklining is distinct from tightrope walking in that the line is not held rigidly taut (although it is still under some tension); it is instead dynamic, stretching and bouncing like a long and narrow trampoline. The line’s tension can be adjusted to suit the user and different types of webbing can be used to achieve a variety of feats. The line itself is usually flat, due to the nature of webbing, thus keeping the slacker’s footing from rolling as would be the case with an ordinary rope. The dynamic nature of the line allows for tricks and stunts.”

Without a lot of research, it looks like slackline kits start at about 45 bucks. Like I said, we may go for the better strap at some point, but for now, it’s a DIY-with-what’s-around thing, and it is working great!  If you don’t have the trees available, it would be worth finding a friend or neighbor who does.  It is fantastic!

Spring is in the air and getting outside is what it’s all about!

Cheers!  Karen

IMG_3851

Categories: Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dr. Laura Markham: How Loving Guidance Raises a Better Behaved Child

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kids… gotta love them and can’t strangle ’em!

I want to share with you an wonderful thing I discovered last year.  It is called “Aha! Parenting” with Dr. Laura Markham.  At the time I thought I was having trouble dealing with my 4 year old daughter’s behavior, but what I was really having trouble with was my own reaction to her behavior. My wonderful friend, Annabell, shared with me the link to AHA! and I started receiving their weekly emails.  It changed my life, and that of my husband as well.  As soon as we implemented these simple things, that already reflected many of own beliefs, things changed a lot. Empathetic parenting really works! 

For example, the other night when it was time to get ready for bed, Captain was fired up and resistant.  When she saw the toothbrush she started screaming at me that I was bugging her and that she wasn’t going to brush and, quite suddenly, she smashed right into me and hit me in the stomach.  I was totally surprised and she even shocked herself and started screaming even more and crying at the same time.  Honestly, my very first thought upon being socked in the tummy was WTF?  But, I took a deep breath and put my hand on her shoulder.  She screamed again and pulled away.  I made her look into my eyes by getting down to her level, and as soon as she did she relaxed into a flop into my arms saying “I’m so sorry mom!!” First, I empathized.  I said “Honey, I know how tired you are feeling and it’s hard to get ready for bed sometimes.”  She nodded, sniffling.  Then I said “It hurts to be whammed in the tummy like you just did and we just aren’t a family that hits”.  She nodded and said “I really didn’t mean to Mom, I’m sorry if I hurt you”.  She then checked my tummy to see if it was okay and we brushed her teeth and were off to bed.

There are so many positive parenting helps and hints on Dr. Laura’s webpage.  I highly recommend signing up for her newsletter because when I receive mine each week, it somehow always seems to apply, and gentle reminders are fantastic for parents like me!  Here is the Positive Parenting page, with links, and I hope you read on.  Thanks for listening.

Good thoughts, Karen

Why Positive Parenting?

Why Positive Parenting? Because it works, from toddlers to teens.  Positive parenting raises a child who WANTS to behave.

Strict Parenting raises angry kids who lose interest in pleasing their parents.Permissive parenting raises unhappy kids who test their parents. In both cases, the child resists the parent’s guidance and doesn’t internalize self discipline.

Positive parenting — sometimes called positive discipline, gentle guidance, or loving guidance — is simply guidance that keeps our kids on the right path, offered in a positive way that resists any temptation to be punitive. Studies show that’s what helps kids learn consideration and responsibility, and makes for happier kids and parents.

“Children misbehave when they feel discouraged or powerless.  When you use discipline methods that overpower them or make them feel bad about themselves, you lower their self-esteem. It doesn’t make sense to punish a child who is already feeling badly about herself and heap more discouragement on top of her.” — Kathryn J. Kvols

Why Spanking Is Bad Parenting

When most people think of discipline, they think of physical punishment. Fear is a time honored and potent motivator, right? It certainly nips problem behavior in the bud.

But research confirms what intuition should tell us, which is that physical force teaches children all the wrong lessons. Children who are spanked learn that might makes right, that hitting is justified in some circumstances (such as when you are bigger), and that people who supposedly love you may hurt you.

Not surprisingly, study after study shows that children who are physically disciplined are more aggressive toward other children, more rebellious as teenagers, and more prone to depression and violent acting out as adults.

“But then how do kids learn lessons?”

Kids who are physically disciplined are actually less likely to learn lessons, because, as anyone who has ever been harshly punished can attest, they become obsessed with fantasies of self-justification and revenge rather than considering how to control themselves to prevent future misbehavior. Instead of becoming motivated to change and avoid the misbehavior in the future, they become motivated to avoid more punishment – not at all the same thing.

As a result, kids who are physically disciplined are not only more likely to repeat problem behavior than other kids, but are more likely to exhibit increasingly worse behavior, including deception.  If you’re still considering physical discipline, please read the section called Should You Spank Your Child?  If not, you’re probably wondering what does work.

Positive Parenting is the Most Effective Discipline to Stop Behavior Problems

“So what kind of discipline does a conscientious, compassionate parent use to coax good behavior out of immature little humans who are still developing the ability to control themselves — and are completely capable of driving you crazy?”

Every parent grapples with this issue. Discipline is one of the most googled words for parents. And even parents who refrain from physical force usually assume that discipline means some form of punishment, because our culture’s view of human nature assumes that humans must be punished so they will learn not to repeat transgressions.

But the word “discipline” has nothing to do with punishment. The root of “discipline” is “disciple,” from the verb “to teach.”

“Ok, so the question, of course, is what kind of discipline is most conducive to learning?”

Photo: Soulful

And, presumably, the ultimate goal of that learning is self-discipline, so the lesson doesn’t have to be repeated. So what helps kids stop themselves from acting in ways they know they shouldn’t? What gets them to start desirable behavior, and keep doing it?

Let’s start with the child acting in undesirable ways. When a child misbehaves, there are three possible explanations:

  • He doesn’t know what is expected of him
  • He does know but can’t control himself
  • He does know but doesn’t care.

If he doesn’t know, teaching is clearly in order: “HOT! The stove is hot!” or “We have to wait our turn for the slide.” But most teaching of this kind is modeled, as you thank Aunt Jane for inviting you, or wait for the light to turn green before you cross. Kids learn what is desirable behavior from watching you, or their classmates.

“What frustrates me is when my kids DO know the behavior is unacceptable but do it anyway!”

If he does know but can’t control himself, we need to help him learn to manage himself. But how?

Most discipline takes the attitude that children learn to control themselves by developing more motivation and stronger “consciences.”

But we all know that “doing the right thing” and overriding our “lesser” impulses doesn’t result from admonishing ourselves to do better, or from making new and improved resolutions. If that were sufficient, we’d all have perfectly balanced diets and fit bodies.

The secret of managing our impulses is becoming aware of and motivated by competing impulses. “I’d like to eat this entire pint of ice cream, but my cholesterol level and waistline are more important to me,” or, for your son, “I really want to skip my homework so I can play outside, but I don’t want to face my teacher without it.”

More challenging, of course, are crimes of passion: “This colleague is really attractive, but my marriage is too important to me,” or, for your son, “I really want to hit my sister over the head when she teases me like that, but Mom would be really mad.”

Eventually, we hope, he will move from his concern over losing Mom’s love to awareness of what he wants in his connection with his sister: “I’m really annoyed at my sister right now, but I know that when she’s not being obnoxious I do love her and I don’t really want to hurt her.”

Obviously, all this takes considerable maturity, which kids need our help to develop. It takes practice. Kids get this practice naturally as life deals them upsets and we help them handle them.

The key is providing our children with the experience of relationships where compassion trumps anger. When the body is flushed with the hormones of “fight or flight,” it’s hard for anyone to make wise decisions or to choose positively between competing priorities.

Helping children toward this level of emotional insight and self discipline doesn’t happen in the heat of emotion, whether the emotion is related to the original transgression (“But she was teasing me!”), or created by our punishing response(“I’ll teach you to hit your sister! Take that!”). Instead, we need to reduce the amount of time our child spends in the overcharged physical states of anger and fear, and give him an opportunity to calm down and reflect.

Once kids are calm, we can work with them to strengthen that positive motivation and help them to recognize and control their emotions, so they can manage the opposing impulse.

When It’s Not a Behavior Problem, It’s a Relationship Problem

“But what if the child does know that the misbehavior is off limits, but doesn’t have the competing impulse to control himself?”

This was our third possibility, right?  He does know what’s expected of him, but doesn’t care.

The misbehavior in this case is a symptom of a much greater problem. The competing impulse to control himself should come from his relationship with us.Children only learn to behave and manage themselves because we want them to, and because they want to please us. If he doesn’t care that he’s upsetting us with his misbehavior, it means our relationship with him needs strengthening.  Of course kids need our guidance, but if the relationship isn’t strong enough to support that guidance, then our primary focus needs to be on repairing the relationship.

Eventually, of course, kids reap the rewards of good behavior – good grades, self-esteem, approval from peers – and it begins to come naturally. It becomes part of their self image, and they automatically act to preserve that self-image. But this positive way of being always starts with their desire to please us.

Photo: MMarsolais

On the beach recently, I saw a two year old knocking down sand castles. He took such immense pleasure in this activity that it made me want to try it myself. When his mother saw what he was doing and came running, he looked chagrined, and allowed her to lead him reluctantly away. His desire to be loved by her was already slightly stronger than his desire to knock down sand castles.

Why don’t all of us run down the beach knocking down sand castles? Because we’ve discovered that it’s more rewarding to be loved.

Ultimately, love is the only leverage we have with our children. Even if they worked, fear and “Because I say so!” only last for as long as they can be physically enforced.

Every parent knows how fast children grow; fear works for a very short time if it works at all. Love, on the other hand, becomes a more effective motivator over time. And it raises kids who WANT to behave.

10 Tips to Put Positive Parenting into Practice in Your Home

Categories: Positive Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.