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Gifts of Summer

Gifts of Summer

Jul 23, 2014

By Katie Helms The summer season is represented in the Chinese Five Elements tradition by the color red, the element of fire and the sound of laughter. When I develop lessons for the summertime they are full of sorting, partnership, connecting, and awareness. As we design games in small groups, we build connections with each other and find ways to partner with our buddies. We take turns being the leader of the play we engage in. In our play, we develop empathy and joyful awareness of each other. One kind of energy we see in summer mimics the dancing quickness of flames. Another way that summer shows in our daily lives is in the slower more subtle and intimate or protected interactions akin to the embers of a fire. When we sit together with a trusted adult and explore simple materials, we use our sense of touch to learn about the world. We can connect deeply with children by witnessing their play with sensitive hearts. Dramatic play games that began indoors in the fall, blossom into a new fullness when we take them outside. This is a good time of year for dancing activities and Original Play. One job of the teacher in a summertime classroom is to help children build bridges between themselves and their peers. The best way that I know to help folks understand the spirit of summer is to remind them to connect to the spirit of play within themselves. Children are excellent stewards of the fire element, when we open to the energetic of fire, we open ourselves to joy and passion, to intimacy and lightness of being.   Katie Helms is an artist and a teacher living near Baltimore, MD. She offers adult and child workshops several times a year and is available to travel should you be interested in a group class outside of the Baltimore area. Her blog can be found at www.radlabs.wordpress.com and she can be reached at this email address. Share this:RedditPinterestFacebookLinkedInTumblrTwitterGoogleEmailLike this:Like...

Stress Free Summer: 10 Games You Can Play Anywhere (Without Supplies)

Stress Free Summer: 10 Games You Can Play Anywhere (Without Supplies)

Jul 9, 2014

Summer=road trips. Even if you are not traveling across country, chances are you are spending a great portion of time in the car, waiting in line, on an airplane, or in some other vast space where children get antsy. Even restaurant wait-times seem longer this time of year! Keep behavior on track by engaging kids in these simple, do-anywhere-at-any-time, games: 1. Who Am I? It’s like 20 Questions, but with a twist. Pick a category (i.e: fruit) and offer clues, “I’m red, grow on trees, and can be put into pie. What am I?” An apple!  Even little ones can enjoy the game, with simple clues. Give challenging, historical or scientific clues to older children for a more complicated version! 2.  Copy Cat Pick one person to be the “leader” and have them start doing something (like patting their head). Everyone else has to copy that person. For littles, you can simply take turns being the “leader.”  My girls love watching me copy them! For older children, or larger groups, you can send one person (the guesser) out of the room (or have them close their eyes) while a  leader is selected. Have the group then begin the copy-cat activities (hand clapping, nose itching, etc.).  The object is for the guesser to guess who is the leader. Maybe the driver shouldn’t participate in this if you are all in the car.. 3. Easy Charades Take turns acting out an animal (or just doing sounds if you are seated).  The other players guess what you are!  Even little kids can “moo” or “quack.”  This is a great game to stimulate imagination, and get the body and movement involved. Don’t be afraid to go all out.  Demonstrate a really great chicken and watch your children crack up! 4. Would You Rather Give scenarios and have everyone say what they would rather choose–“Would you rather eat a bug or a snake?”  “Would you rather swim with sharks or electric eels?” Make the scenarios as outlandish as you’d like. Take turns making up questions. 5. Pass the Alphabet You may have seen a version of this game on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Based on an improv game, this...

5 Ways to Use the Rain and Keep Kids Busy

5 Ways to Use the Rain and Keep Kids Busy

Jul 2, 2014

Everyone loves a great rainy “day-in” every now and again, but what happens when it rains, and rains, and rains?  Stir-crazy kids, that’s what! After a few days of being cooped up in the house, everyone is ready to burn off some energy and have a change of scenery. Here are a few suggestions you can call on next time the sky opens up* and lets you have it: 1. Camp Outside.  Why save backyard camping for the sun?  As long as there is no thunder or lightning, you can have the kids camp outside! Set up a tent, fill it with snacks, books, coloring books, and games.  It is fun to listen to the rain, especially when it is so close! Give it a shot.   2. Water Sports. Who cares if you get wet (as long as you’ve planned for it).  Have everyone put on their bathing suits and get outside.  Put down a slip-and-slide and play in the rain. Blow bubbles, toss water balloons, try rain-jump-rope or rain-hula-hooping!  Regular outdoor activities get a boost of excitement when they are played in the rain.   3. Rain Painting. Have nature do some of the work!  In anticipation of a light to medium storm, have your children crush up dollar store watercolors into a powder. You can use powdered tempera paint, but  I like giving the kids something extra to do by crushing the paint in my mortar and pestal. Have them sprinkle the different colors on a think piece of construction paper (or watercolor paper) and carefully place the paper in the rain. Let the rain turn the watercolor into a painting.  You can try the same concept with water-soluble crayons or watercolor pencils. For a unique spin on this project, try tissue paper patterns.  Have the kids rip up pieces of colorful tissue paper and arrange them on a sheet of thick paper.  Take the paper out in the rain and allow it to get nice and rained-on! Bring it indoors, and when the paper is completely dry, remove the tissue paper, and reveal the intricate transfer of color the rain has left! Here are some sites that have documented the...

10 “Off the Beaten Path” Family Adventures in Tampa Bay

10 “Off the Beaten Path” Family Adventures in Tampa Bay

Jun 23, 2014

School is out! This is a transition time for anyone that has children. Children are less structured, at home longer, and staying up later!!  How can we make the summer enjoyable for everyone? Let the WLBPA lend a hand. We want to help you balance your time with family and your continuing responsibilities at home and work. This week, the WLBPA wanted to cover some unique day-trip ideas (that are really cheap)! When you run out of ideas at home, or want to get out of the heat, give one of these places a visit.  Share this with your friends and carpool!   Henry B. Plant Museum I loved this museum as a little girl.  Exploring the Victorian/Edwardian period, this museum will transport you back in time.  Exploring the past of Tampa’s railroad heyday, the museum, originally the Tampa Hotel, was one of the most splendid destinations in its era. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $7 for students and $5 for children 4 – 12 years.  Spend the day in another time and then explore Curtis Hixon Waterfront park and downtown Tampa.   Explorations V Located in Lakeland, this museum is a 5-senses journey through three floors of kid-powered exhibits! Members & Children Under 2 are FREE, children and adults are $7.00, Seniors (65+), Military Families & Teacher Families (ID required) are $3.50.  There is also  10% off for AAA members.   American Victory Mariners Memorial & Museum Ship The world-class SS American Victory was built in only 55 days. Having served in WWII, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the ship went through a $2.5 million restoration in June 1985. The ship now resides in the Channelside District in downtown Tampa. Currently, the SS American Victory is only one of 3 fully-functioning ships in the country. Explore this real Victory Ship which is free for members, $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65+, $5 for veterans, $5 for children 4-12, and free for children 3 and under.  Check out their site for special events.   Cracker Country Cracker Country is Tampa’s only living history museum, located on the Florida State Fairgrounds. The historically furnished buildings recreate the lifestyles of the past, and costumed interpreters portray daily living...

Stress-Free Summer: 30+ FREE Online Tools for Kids

Stress-Free Summer: 30+ FREE Online Tools for Kids

Jun 16, 2014

  School is out! This is a transition time for anyone that has children. Children are less structured, at home longer, and staying up later!!  How can we make the summer enjoyable for everyone? Let the WLBPA lend a hand. We want to help you balance your time with family and your continuing responsibilities at home and work. Embrace the technology!! Whatever your thoughts might be on kids using technology, it is here to stay. Rather…it is here to continue growing…rapidly. A picture circulated on my Facebook feed showing a group of children at a restaurant, all quietly using an electronic tool with headphones, sitting and waiting for their food. I was a little shocked at the back-lash I saw in the comments section.  People were outraged that the family wasn’t enjoying the time “together” by interacting face-to-face. Honestly, I have no idea what this family looks like while out to dinner on a regular basis or how they interact with each other in life. What I can say is…WHATEVER WORKS! (If memory serves, there was a debate circulating not long ago about barring children from certain restaurants.) That said, we wanted to compile a list of the best FREE sites for kids. Whether you are at a restaurant, looking to boost learning over the summer, trying to teach your children to become comfortable with technology and proper internet use, or just need a moment of peace, you should find something here.  These sites are educational, safe, and FREEEEEE: Prongo (pre-K through middle school) Childtopia (pre-K to 6) FunSchool (pre-K through Grade 6) Karooba (Grades 3 and up) Funbrain (Grades K through 8) Discovery.com’s Games (Grades 3 and up) Sheppard Software (All Ages) National Geographic Channel’s Games Site (Grades 3 and up) PrimaryGames (Grades K through 6) Educational Games on NobelPrize.org (Grades 6 and up + Higher Ed) Power My Learning (Grades K-12 and based on common core) Learning Games For Kids (Grades 1-8) QuizHub (Grades K-12 and iPad compatible) Orsinal PBS Kids Go (PreK-6) Knowledge Adventure Games (Grades K-12) Room Recess (Grades K-5) Play Kids Games (Grades K-8) FitBrains (all ages) ABCya (Grades K-5) Starfall (Grades Pre-K-5) Sesame Street (Grades Pre-K-5) CSI Web Adventures (Middle and up) Arcademics (Grades 1-5) The Problems Site (Grades 5 and up) History.com...

Stress-Free Summer: Get Organized

Stress-Free Summer: Get Organized

Jun 9, 2014

School is out! This is a transition time for anyone that has children. Children are less structured, at home longer, and staying up later!!  How can we make the summer enjoyable for everyone? Let the WLBPA lend a hand. We want to help you balance your time with family and your continuing responsibilities at home and work. Week One: Get Organized If you are staying home with your children, you will need an organized plan of attack.  If you are working outside the home, you will need an organized plan of attack!  There’s no way around it… Finding affordable summer care is difficult, often has inconvenient hours, and can make life miserable for parents and children alike.  There are a ton of activities out there, a million resources, many ways you and your children can whittle away the hours.  If you are anything like me, the options can seem overwhelming.  I feel like there is nothing and everything to do all at once. Today, I wanted to recommend a few organizational systems to help minimize stress, keep activities clear and easy to find, and balance those feelings of being overwhelmed. 1. Google Plus Calendar My friend Carrie had a great idea.  She makes a calendar online, invites people to join, and started her own mini-summer camp.  It’s not structured, but it is a great way to keep in touch with friends and other parents’ activities.  If everyone fills in a few ideas for the summer weeks, before you know it, you have a full calendar of choices!  You can add dates you will be out of town or otherwise unavailable. Everyone is free to join an activity and add their ideas. 2. Printable Organizer The Peaceful Mom gives you a ton of free, printable templates for planning (and goal setting too).  Choose one that works for you and use it to schedule activities. 3. Blog/Website Calendar If you are lucky to live in Tampa Bay, you have great online resources like What’s Doing Tampa Bay who have done the work for you.  They provide a calendar of events filled with “things to do” for your family (for free or super cheap). Look up local blogs...

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