In Search of Calm

Mindful Motherhood by Cassandra Vieten

Planting Seeds by Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve written before of my discovery of mindfulness in a Library Journal review assignment of the book Mindful Motherhood.  Before I read that book, I never thought about my tendency to daydream or worry as anything I could (or should) change.   It was just me.  The idea that my thoughts and tendencies were not me–that I merely contain themwas revolutionary (to put it mildly), and I am always looking for ways to share that with my daughter.  Enter Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Frankly, I waited forever on a library list for this book, and now that I’ve seen it, I just may have to purchase a copy for our family library.  I did the “Mind in a Jar” exercise with Ladybug as a way of illustrating that we contain our thoughts and feelings.

We started with a jar of water. What do you think about when you wake up in the morning? Sprinkle in a bit of rice.

Soon the jar was full of the thoughts and feelings of the day, which we stirred up.  When we stopped stirring, the water slowed and eventually stopped.   As the rice settled, we talked about our thoughts settling with our breath.  Ladybug was attentive to the activity, but she seemed to know where I was going already.  It wasn’t revolutionary to think about being in charge of your thoughts or using deep cleansing breaths to keep calm or clear your mind.  There was a teeny-tiny part of me that was disappointed.  I wanted to blow her mind with this news that was so huge for me.  But I think it’s probably a good thing that this wasn’t news to my four-year-old.

I think it’s time to take it to the next level.  Next up: Pebble Meditation.

You can read more about the book in this review from First the Egg.

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Picture Book Preschool Link Round Up

For this month’s Picture Book Preschool post, I thought I’d highlight some of the cool activities I’ve seen around the web and the picture books I’d pair with them.

Here goes:

What are some of your favorite activities for preschoolers?  Have you found any books that complement the activity?

See more posts for Parents & Educators here or follow my Kids Activities & Education Board on Pinterest for more preschool fun.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links. A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog. Thanks for your support!

Playing Games (Ready for Kindergarten)

As promised, this month’s Ready for Kindergarten theme is “Games.”  What’s so great about games?

  • Board games and card games teach social skills like following rules and taking turns.
  • Guessing games and riddles help kids make connections and think creatively.
  • Many games reinforce concepts like color recognition, counting etc.

Playing hopscotch at the MN Children’s Museum’s Our World exhibit

I feel a tiny bit hypocritical writing this post because I… well, I’m probably never going to pull Candy Land (possibly the only kids’ game we own) out unless my daughter really wants to play.  Are there adults who really relish kids’ games the way I love kids’ books?  Perhaps.  But I will admit that my interest in child oriented entertainment does not really extend to board games.

I do, however, play lots of silly games as I ride the bus with my daughter or wait in lines.  I Spy and Rhyme Time are great ways to pass the time, teach skills, and sometimes amuse people sitting near us on the bus. :)

My favorite game to play with my preschooler is “What if?”  I usually start with a random question–say, What if we were tiny like the Littles?–and we speculate together on how our lives would be affected by the situation in the question.  I like the think that this game stimulates her creativity and helps her look at the world with different eyes.  Perhaps when she grows up to be an innovative thinker, she will point to the What if? game as her inspiration for her life’s work of inventing or creating.

And just because I can’t help bringing books into everything, I’ve started a list on my wiki for picture books that are guessing games or interactive in some way.  Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments of this post.  I’ll be sure to add them to my list!

What kind of games do you play with your kids?  Do you play with skills or school readiness in mind? 

See more posts for Parents & Educators here or follow my Kids Activities & Education Board on Pinterest for more preschool fun.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links. A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog. Thanks for your support!

Number Fun (Ready for Kindergarten)

It’s only fair that numbers get their day since last month’s Ready for Kindergarten theme was Language Fun.  We have had numbers and math on the brain lately in our Picture Book Preschool activities:

  • Getting Past 10 – Counting books that go from 1 to 10 are everywhere, but finding books that go to 20 is a bit harder.
  • Simple Addition – Features a few books that introduce addition.
  • Exploring Relative Size – We counted all sorts of things as we compared sizes.

For more number fun for preschoolers, here are some things I found around Pinterest:

What are some of your favorite number related activities to do with preschoolers or kinders?

Next month’s theme is “Games,” so stay tuned!

See more posts for Parents & Educators here or follow my Kids Activities & Education Board on Pinterest for more preschool fun.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links. A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog. Thanks for your support!

Exploring Relative Size (Picture Book Preschool)

Whether you are a big kid or a little kid doesn’t really depend on your age or size.  It depends on who you compare yourself to.

With Emily Jenkins’ Small, Medium, Large as a jumping off point, we explored relative sizes in a way that included a vocabulary lesson, math skills, and art.  First a bit about the book: Jenkins and Bogacki’s collaboration brings odd little creatures–Ladybug decided that they were dogs, but they might be mice–of various sizes together as they compare their sizes as they generally illustrate the concept of S, M, L, and XL.  We follow “small” down to “minuscule” and “large” to “colossal” to the delight of my little word girl.The one-upsmanship  makes the book fun for little listeners when it otherwise might be a bit too “educational.”  The gatefold with the little creatures stacked up to equal one very large creature is pretty cool too.

I thought it might be fun for my girl to see how she compares to various things, and what better way to do that than to make a life-size drawing of herself? :)

And measure it:

Then compare:

7 of her own feet, 10 of her hands, a bunch of cars, and 42 paperclips.

My only regret is that we didn’t manage to get to the Walker Art Center’s Lifelike exhibit before it ended.  If you happen to be in New Orleans, San Diego, or Austin, you might be able to make that happen.  It’s great for kids!  You could re-create the scenes to explore scale like little girl in this post on the Walker Education blog.

See my Parents & Educators page for more Picture Book Preschool posts.
Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links.   A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog.  Thanks for your support!  (Book Reviewed from library copy.)

Language Fun (Ready for Kindergarten)

My girl is a word girl.  If you know my husband and me, it probably isn’t a huge surprise that our daughter might have a particular interest in language.  So the Ready for Kindergarten theme for March–Language Fun–was mostly just business as usual for us.

  • Sounds & Letters – Alphabet books are fun, so why not make your own?   Ours is in progress… Meanwhile, we like to read The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra and LMNO Peas by Keith Baker.

Our alphabet book in progress

  • Words – My daughter fell in love with Fancy Nancy from the moment she pulled the book off the library shelf.  It’s pink and girly in all the ways that catch her eye, but the best part (in my opinion) is Nancy’s “fancy” vocabulary.  It’s where Ladybug learned that “stupendous” is a fancy word for “great” and “parfait” is a fancy word for “sundae.”   It’s one of the few overtly girly picture books I’ve read that I don’t mind in the slightest. We’ve also liked Dashing Dog by Margaret Mahy and We’re All in the Same Boat by Zachary Shapiro for the inherent vocabulary lesson within.

Reading Fancy Nancy

How do you explore language with your preschooler? Any books or activities that you have enjoyed?  I’d love to hear from parents or educators about what has worked for them!

See more posts for Parents & Educators here or follow my Kids Activities & Education Board on Pinterest for more preschool fun.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links.   A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog.  Thanks for your support!

Seeing Symmetry (Picture Book Preschool)

I cheated on this month’s Picture Book Preschool post.  For one thing it’s a week late, but the bigger thing is that Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy is hardly a preschool level book.  It actually says on the copyright page that it is based on 4th grade education standards for geometry. No, I’m not trying to say that my four-year-old is doing geometry on a 4th grade level.  I just thought that she would get a kick out the the idea of symmetry.  So we read the first couple of pages, looked at the illustrations, and skipped to the activities at the end of the book.

Here is Ladybug working on her “symmetree”:

And the result:

More experiments in symmetry:

We also found some examples of symmetry around the house:

For  more fun with symmetry:

See more Picture Book Preschool posts here or follow my Kids Activities & Education Board on Pinterest for more preschool fun.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links.   A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog.  Thanks for your support!  (Book Reviewed from library copy.)