'The Dot' - Read and Rise September 2021

  International Dot Day is coming up on September 15th so I thought it was the perfect time to share this book with you all! "The Dot&...

 


International Dot Day is coming up on September 15th so I thought it was the perfect time to share this book with you all! "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds tells the story of Vashti, a little girl who is convinced she can NOT draw! So her teacher prompts her to simply draw a dot, and then sign it. Vashti, encouraged by her successful first dot, continues to create dots - small dots, large dots, colorful dots...until she has many pieces of art to display at the school art show. A little boy is in awe of her talent and wishes he could be as great of an artist but says he "can't draw a straight line with a ruler." So Vashti extends her newfound confidence to the little boy and prompts him to draw a line on a piece of paper...and then sign it.

I think the message of "The Dot" is fantastic! For one, it reminds readers that when it comes to matters of creativity and artistic expression, there's no one right way to do it. Your art is yours and it doesn't have to look like your sibling's or classmate's or teacher's. 

Additionally, I think "The Dot" sends a message that extends far beyond art. And that is, when learning something new, start small. Vashti was frustrated because she felt like she couldn't draw. But maybe she was just expecting too much. All of us will feel like failures if we start out trying to paint like Van Gogh or skateboard like Tony Hawk! So Vashti's teacher helped her start small so she could build her confidence. After one dot, Vashti experimented with size and single colors and blending colors and even negative space! The strategy of starting small can be applied to almost anything you're trying to learn like cooking or writing or riding a bike. 

I've actually been working on practicing this myself because my head always gets filled with so many grand ideas and I had a tendency to try to go big and then fail because I never learned how to do it small. But it can be frustrating to start small because it takes longer. And by the time I've worked up to the first big idea, I've had 73 other grand ideas! But I've been trying to remind myself to keep at it and take it slow because 1 successful idea is still better than 73 partially completed failed ideas. And just maybe, that 1 successful idea will help me accomplish some of those other ideas more quickly in the future... 

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'I Like Me' - Read and Rise September 2021

  I think the book, "I Like Me" by Nancy Carlson is a great one for back to school time. There are going to be so many kids back t...

 


I think the book, "I Like Me" by Nancy Carlson is a great one for back to school time. There are going to be so many kids back together in one place, all with different personalities, strengths, weaknesses, physical traits, etc, and it's always great to pause and reflect on what we like best about ourselves - even if it's different from our friends or classmates!

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Read and Rise Global Explorers 2021 - Saint Lucia

  We're finishing our global summer vacation on the small island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean Sea. Saint Lucia may be less than 650 m...

 

We're finishing our global summer vacation on the small island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean Sea. Saint Lucia may be less than 650 miles from Venezuela in South America, but all the Caribbean Islands are officially part of North America. The original inhabitants of this island were Caribs, but it was a French colony, then a British colony, and finally Saint Lucia achieved independence in 1979. Because of all the colonization, the culture and language of Saint Lucia are now an interesting blend of Carib, French, and English.

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Sensory Bin 101

  Sensory bins can be super fun for kids and lead to prolonged independent play (which means a bit of relaxation time for moms and dads!). B...

 


Sensory bins can be super fun for kids and lead to prolonged independent play (which means a bit of relaxation time for moms and dads!). But they can also cause giant messes and lead to huge headaches. So I've put together a list of tips to help you have the former experience rather than the latter.

Tip 1:
Create some sensory bin rules. Just remember, the fewer rules, the better. Our one main rule is, try your best to keep the sensory materials in the bin. Accidental spills happen, but I've let them know from day 1 that pouring the filler onto the floor, table, anywhere outside the bin is not ok. Aside from that, different bins may have special rules. For example, when I set out the two bins pictured above, I told Squidgy that the toys can wander from bin to bin, but the rice and moon sand have to stay in their own bins.

Sometimes snack time becomes sensory play time for little ones...

Tip 2:
Plan to play with or right next to your child at least the first few times (it'll be longer if you're doing this with a toddler). This way you can model proper use of the bin and offer gentle reminders of the rules. Once they are able to play with few reminders, you can move away and just stay in the area. Definitely stay close by if they are young and still might put things in their mouths or noses. Regardless of how well they normally play or how old they are, you should always stay in the room for the most part, because sometimes play gets a little extra creative and you want to catch it before it gets out of control. 

A dish bin with water on a crate with some cups and bottles is a great sensory activity for little ones


Tip 3:
Babies who are able to sit up can use sensory bins! However, there are 2 important things to remember. Babies will not be capable of keeping the sensory materials inside the bin so expect mess. I often gave Lil C and Squidgy bowls while they were sitting in the high chair - the tray helped catch the spills and I could put towels under the chair to catch spills. The second thing to remember is: babies should not be given any materials that are unsafe to put in their mouths. My favorite sensory material for babies is plain old water! You can add a little food coloring to make it more visually appealing but they can scoop, stir, pour, and splash without you worrying about them ingesting something dangerous.



Tip 4:
I prefer to stick with non-toxic fillers such as water, beans, rice, oats, pasta, and flour so I don't worry if a little ends up in their mouths or they lick it or something. I also don't like using food for play and crafts (because there are people who don't have access to enough food...), so when I get food fillers for sensory bins, I keep them in large zip-top bags and try to reuse them as long as possible. 



Tip 5:
Smaller is better. I used to try to fill large bins with materials because it seemed more fun and somehow I thought a bigger bin would contain the mess better. But bigger bins just mean more filler. Last year I got a stack of plastic shoeboxes and I've been using those ever since. The smaller bins also allow me to make separate bins for Lil C and Squidgy so they don't argue or make two bins with different materials to use in the same play session (whatever you put in one bin WILL get mixed together). I can also put the smaller bins inside a larger under-bed storage bin so a lot of the accidental spills end up in there and the kids have a place to put their toys/tools when they don't want them in the bin. Finally, I can put the lid on the shoebox and put it in the closet to play with another day! 

Tip 6:
Have fun! Messes can always be cleaned up (and little ones can help wipe, sweep, or vacuum up spills!) but your kids will only be young once so let them play - and if you want get your hands in on the fun too!