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 them—was 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.
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.
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?
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:
7 of her own feet, 10 of her hands, a bunch of cars, and 42 paperclips.
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.
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 Boatby Zachary Shapiro for the inherent vocabulary lesson within.
Wordplay, etc. – Dr. Seuss is, of course, the master of wordplay, but don’t forget some more recent picture books that use rhyme, rhythm, and more to make for a fun read-aloud. I have a few great suggestions in this post I contributed to Books in Bloom, but we especially like everything by Karen Beaumont. :)
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!
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: