How bubbles, balloons, blocks, and boxes can provide hours of fun!

Are you looking for indoor and outdoor ideas to keep you your child busy and active? We’re here to help!

Movement and play help young children develop coordination, strength, overall health, and school readiness. Exploring through movement and play is how little ones learn about the world; each stage of development comes with new and exciting opportunities for learning!

Hot summer weather can make it a challenge to keep little ones engaged and active without resorting to screens. We understand that it’s tempting to simply turn on the TV or the iPad instead of encouraging activities that will stimulate the brain and the body in the ways a young child needs. But we hope these simple activities will help you and your child have fun, stay active, and burn off some energy!

1. Have fun chasing balloons and bubbles!

 

Going outside with balloons and bubbles is a fun, simple, and inexpensive way to keep your young child occupied. There are so many great brain building and body-strengthening activities that balloons and bubbles can provide!

Because children can’t predict where the balloons and bubbles will go, chasing them are a great way for kids to develop gross motor skills (and burn up lots of energy!)

Kids can chase bubbles and try to pop as many as possible. While chasing them, children have to run, jump, zigzag and move in ways that require sudden shifts in balance and weight. The same is true when throwing and trying to catch or kick balloons. You can also set up a game of balloon volleyball in the yard.

* Be sure to keep a close eye when children are playing with balloons as popped balloon pieces can be a choking hazard

 Thanks to Aging With Flair, LLC for these ideas!

2. Block play

Source: www.blockfest.org

Blocks are a wonderful activity for young children for many reasons!

  • Blocks can include wooden blocks, plastic blocks, Duplos, or Legos. (Remove any extra small blocks or Lego pieces that could be choking hazards.) 
  • Blocks develop fine motor skills in fingers and hands as children learn to pick up and stack the blocks.
  • Blocks build a child’s imagination as they imagine objects to build and learn to create from that mental picture.
  • Blocks are useful for sorting objects into groups by size, shape, and color. Children can make patterns with blocks, count them, and compare them. In this way, blocks help children develop important early math skills!

For lots of ideas on block play, visit www.blockfest.org and follow them on Facebook.

3. Boxes

Empty boxes can keep a child occupied for hours!

  • Several boxes are fun to build with or to stack and knock down.
  • Boxes are great for making an obstacle course, for climbing in and out of, for jumping over, or filling up with items around the house.
  • Children can turn a large box into a house, truck, or rocket ship!
  • Provide crayons or washable markers so they can get creative with their boxes.

We hope these ideas provide fresh ideas for play during these challenging days. Know that when you put away the screens and encourage your child to engage with the real world around them, you are building a powerful brain, preparing them for school and for life! 

 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are helping their young children "Explore Through Movement and Play" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

You may also enjoy:

15 Screen-Free Indoor Activities to Keep a Young Child Busy

7 Simple Ideas for Exploring through Movement and Play (and why your child's brain needs it!) 

The Basics of Exploring through Movement and Play with Your Baby and Toddler

10 Everyday Ways Your Child Can Explore Through Movement and Play (even when it’s hot outside) 


How everyday conversation can help your prepare your child for math!

The Basics are 5 fun, simple, and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! The third Basic has to do with math and you may be thinking: “But I’m not a math person!”

Never fear. Basic #3, Count, Group, and Compare, is already part of your daily life with your baby or toddler. You just don’t realize it. Think about the words you use each day as you talk with your child:

Your diaper bag is heavy.  //  Let's go up the stairs.  //  Eat three more bites and you can get down from the table.

In everyday ways, you are already nurturing an understanding of basic math concepts!

Becoming good at math begins long before a child enters school. Even infants are wired to learn simple math ideas, including small numbers, patterns, and making comparisons. YOU have all that you need to prepare your child to be a problem solver. One of the easiest ways to build math skills is to use “math language” as you go through your daily routines.

Here are 3 simple ways to begin:

1. Count out loud. Children can count strings of numbers before they understand what numbers mean. Toddlers and young children LOVE to count. Seize their enthusiasm by making counting part of your everyday life.

- If you’re walking to the mailbox, “Let’s count as we walk!”

- As you push her on the swing, count in rhythm with each push.

- When you snap his onesie or pajamas, count with each snap.

 2. Connect numbers to groups of things. This begins to teach them that numbers represent things, that "3" (for example) stands for 3 blocks. Here are simple ways to help your child connect numbers to groups of things.

- As you’re getting groceries, “How many apples am I getting? 1-2-3. 3 apples!”

- When it's bedtime, “Go get two books and we can read them.”

- If your baby is eating in her high chair, “Let’s count your Cheerios. 1-2-3-4.” Then group them into a cluster a 4.

- When you’re changing your baby’s diaper or putting on his socks, “Let’s count your toes! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.”

 3. Talk about size, distance, and shapes. This helps children learn important concepts about measurement, space, and shape. Being mindful of these concepts will help you talk to your child in ways that are intentional, but still simple.

- When you're loading groceries into the car, “This bag is heavy! Can you hold it and feel how heavy it is?”

- As you’re walking outside, “Wow, that is a big leaf! Can you find a smaller leaf?”

- To talk about concepts like distance, “We have a long walk to the park, don’t we? Is the walk to the mailbox long or short?”

- Begin pointing out shapes wherever you go and your child will begin to do the same. “The tires on our car are a circle. Do you see something that’s a circle?”

There are countless ways to use math language throughout your day. You don’t have to set aside extra time or buy fancy educational toys. By including your child in everyday activities, talking about the things you see, touch, and do, you are building a valuable foundation for math!

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #3, "Count, Group, and Compare," in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


Keep calm and connect with your child: simple ways to change the way you communicate (even in the midst of conflict)

Talking with your child from the very beginning is one of the most important things you can do to build a healthy brain and emotional security.

Children learn language from the moment they are born through relationships with their caregivers. Day by day, babies learn that sounds have meaning. Every time you talk, sing, or point to what you are talking about, you provide clues to the meaning of what you are saying and create strong relational connection. This is why “Talking, Singing and Pointing” is one of The Basics: 5 fun, simple, powerful ways every child can get a great start in life! 

But it's not just the quantity of words spoken to your child that matters. The quality of the words you speak make a huge difference in your child's confidence, security, and connection to you. It's important to use more positive words than negative words, which can be challenging with young children who are prone to meltdowns and pushing your buttons. 

We've rounded up five resources that provide practical tips and phrases as you practice speaking words that build connection and love, even in the midst of conflict and defiance. 

1. Say This To Your Kids Instead (from KCBI FM)

What you say to your little ones means A LOT. There is no doubt frustration happens so, maybe this list of suggestions can help. Read more

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2. Say this, not that. A parent's guide. (from Imperfect Parent)

Are you tired of being ignored? Feeling frustrated that your kids respond to you with grunts and “I don’t know?”

Sometimes, the way we phrase things can make a big difference. It’s not always easy to remember what to say or how to say it, especially when your child is in the middle of a meltdown.

So, here’s a quick reference guide for parents. Read more

 

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3. How to talk to kids so they RESPOND! (from Teach Through Love)

Would you like to know how to talk to kids using peaceful conflict resolution strategies to ease tension, or calm aggressive behavior in your children?

Often, we can be triggered by our own unresolved traumas - big and small - and this can make it extremely challenging to remain compassionate as we confront our kid's BIG, explosive emotions. (Read more)

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4. 7 phrases to try instead of saying 'no'  (from motherly)

We have a small challenge for you: count the number of times you say "no" on a given day. Your baby pulls the cat's fur, your toddler throws a ball at her brother, your child whines for a cookie before dinner—the temptation to say no is almost irresistible. It rolls off the tongue. It feels like the easiest way to get your point across.

But what if there was an even better way to communicate your message? What if you could choose words that connect you to your kids and make you feel more confident and effective? You can, mama. Read more

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5. 50 Ways to Encourage a Child (from TeachThought)

There are many ways to encourage a child, but for students of any age, honest, authentic, and persistent messages from adults that have credibility in their eyes are among the most powerful. Read more

 

Here are some additional resources that can help you on your journey: 

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are Talking, Singing and Pointing with their little ones.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!

 


How "The Basics" Support Resilience in Children

We imagine childhood as a carefree time of innocence, play, and curiosity. Sadly, far too many children are accumulating one negative experience after another. The effects show up in their brains, their bodies, and their behavior.

Professionals in mental health, education, and healthcare now recognize the affect of "Adverse Childhood Experiences" (ACEs) on brain function, mental health, physical health, and behavior. The more ACEs a child has, the more at risk they are for developmental disorders, adult diseases, and negative socio-economic realities.

As we care for our own children and serve children and families in our community, it’s important to understand the challenges that many parents, caregivers, and young children face. While the reality of ACEs is deeply discouraging and overwhelming, there are hopeful solutions within our reach! Both science and personal stories testify to the power of resilience in overcoming many of the effects of ACEs.

What's the #1 way we can support resilience in children? The answer may surprise you. Relationships.

In a 2018 interview, Oprah Winfrey asked Dr. Bruce Harry, a leading researcher on ACEs: “What’s the difference between a really bad childhood and being able to overcome that, and a traumatic childhood and someone not being able to overcome that?” Relationships. “If you have the opportunity to be connected to people in positive ways,” says Dr. Henry, “that can buffer some of those effects.”

Relationships bring us to The Basics--5 fun, simple, powerful ways that every family can give every child a great start in life. We love The Basics because they are simple and for everyone. But The Basics are also powerful because they are rooted in relationships. And relationships provide the love, support, and connection every child needs to help combat the effects of stress, whether it’s the stress of daily life or experiences that are traumatic.

Here are just some of the ways each one of The Basics can help support resilience in children:

1. Maximize Love, Manage Stress: This is the first and most important Basic for a reason. Children thrive when their world seems loving, safe, and predictable. With all that’s going on in the world right now, life can feel anything but loving, safe, and predictable, not only for our children but for those of who care for them.

Young children are greatly affected by the stress of their parents and caregivers. Even babies can sense the stress of a parent. Additionally, a parent who is depressed may not be interacting with their baby as much, which means that important brain development isn’t taking place like it should.

Caring for others begins with caring for you! It’s okay not to be okay. And if you’re not okay, it’s so important to find healthy ways to cope with stress and find mental health as you also care for your child. Not doing so can have a lasting effect on a young child's brain, body, and emotions. If you know of a parent who's struggling, reach out to provide support. You can be an important lifeline for a parent who needs it!

Learn more about Basic #1: Maximize Love, Manage Stress:

 

2. Talk, Sing, and Point:

Talking, singing, and pointing with your child from the moment they’re born is so important for healthy brain development. But it’s also vital for healthy connection! Conversation creates lasting bonds. It helps your child know that the ideas and feelings they express are safe with you and valued by you.

Our words matter. They have power. Not just for healthy language development, but for emotional development. Words are an incredible way to communicate how much you love and value your child--how special they are to you. Be purposeful with your words and use them in ways that build up your child. Focus on using more words that are positive, loving, and affirming instead of negative, harsh, and scolding.

Learn more about Basic #2: Talk, Sing, and Point:

 

3. Count, Group, and Compare

You may be wondering, “What does math have to do with resilience and a child feeling loved?” Again, all of The Basics happens within the context of relationships. As you walk down the street and find shapes, as you count the apples you buy at the grocery store, as you let your child help measure and cook in the kitchen—you are connecting with your child, bonding with them, helping them feel valued because you’re including them in daily life.

Learn more about Basic #3: Count, Group, and Compare.

 

4. Explore Through Movement and Play

Not only is play important for building a healthy body; it’s another positive experience that helps buffer the effects of stress and trauma. This is true for children but also for adults.

Curiosity, exploration, and moving our bodies build muscles, relieve stress, and fuel the brain with “happiness chemicals" like serotonin and endorphins. 

Learn more about Basic #4:

 

5. Read and Discuss Stories

Reading for just 10 minutes a day has huge impacts on a young child’s developing brain and also creates positive experiences and lasting memories.

Snuggling up with your child is an opportunity to bond. It helps your child feel safe, loved, and secure. Reading exposes them to language and helps them become more curious, imaginative, and compassionate.

Learn more about Basic #5:

 

The #1 thing you can do to promote resilience in children is to provide a loving, supportive relationship. And that’s the beauty of The Basics. You practice them in the context of relationship.

Yes, these tips and principles will build strong and healthy brains that are ready for school and ready for life. But more important than that, The Basics reinforce healthy connections between young children and the adults who care for them.

Brains develop best when a child feels loved.

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The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for an overview of The Basics. 
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

 


Let's be honest: reading to little ones can be challenging. Here are 6 simple ways you can enjoy it!

Perhaps you already know that it’s never too early to begin reading to your child, that you can begin reading to them from the moment they’re born. Since 80% of a child’s brain development happens during the first three years of life, it’s important that parents and caregivers begin as early as possible!

But this message of reading to babies and very young children may seem impractical. After all, babies can’t yet understand the meaning of words or comprehend a story. Toddlers often can’t sit still from the first page of a book to the last. Young children interrupt, ask lots of questions, and are easily distracted.

Maybe you’ve tried read-aloud time and you don’t think you have the patience for it. We understand. Read-aloud time may feel more like a chore than a cherished moment. That's why we want to provide real-life tips for real parents with real kids (yes, the ones who squirm and interrupt and are easily distracted.)

If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: Give your child a happy, positive experience with books! Here are 6 ways to make read-aloud time a happy time:

1. Let them experience what a book is.

Everything is brand new to a baby! You are the first one who introduces your child to everything about a book. They see that books open and that pages turn. They hear words as you turn the pages. Their eyes learn to focus on pictures. They learn that books are to be held and touched. Books provide valuable sensory experiences for children and you get to be the first one who provides these important experiences. 

2. You don’t need to read the words. Point to the pictures and talk about what you see.

This is an especially good way of experiencing books with infants and young toddlers. You don’t need to read the words on the pages. Instead, simply describe what is happening in the pictures. Talk about the colors, shapes, and what the characters are doing. Point to the page when you do this. Your baby simply loves the sound of your voice and taking in the pictures they see. They also love being close to you.

3. You don’t need to finish a book.

When the focus is on reading every word and finishing every page, a young child may become bored and you may become frustrated. You don’t want them to associate books with boredom and frustration.

If you sense that your child is becoming restless, if he wants to skip ahead or move on to another activity, that’s okay! As they get older, they will be able to engage with a book for longer stretches of time. Each child is different. Don’t compare your two-year-old's attention span to another child the same age. Just a few minutes with a book matters more than you realize.

4. Read the books they love, even if it’s the same books over and over (and over) again.

Children love repetition and it’s actually good for their brain development. Repetition helps with vocabulary, word recognition, pattern, rhythm, word fluency, comprehension, and confidence. Read more about this here: Why Reading the Same Book Repeatedly Is Good for Kids (Even If It Drives You Nuts)

Keep introducing new books here and there, but know that it’s okay if you’ve read Goodnight Moon 387 times. : )

5. Read with expression!

There are so many ways to do this. Let your voice reflect what’s going on in the story. Use a different voice for different characters. Speak in a squeaky voice, a whisper voice, or a loud voice. Young children are full of joy, enthusiasm, and curiosity! They love it when the grown-ups in their lives get on their level and have fun.

6. Think of read-aloud moments as a time of to “Maximize Love and Manage Stress.” (Basic #1)

One of the best things about reading to your child is the love they feel during these special moments! Parents, these moments can be special and therapeutic for you too. Pausing for just 5-15 minutes from the stress and distractions of daily life to snuggle and read with a child can be exactly what you need in the midst of a busy or challenging day. 

Moms, Dads, and Caregivers—you got this! When your goal is to keep read-aloud time positive for your child and for you, when you remember that it’s just fine to keep it simple and short and snuggly, you’re more likely to make read-aloud time a daily habit.

All of those 5-15 minute reading times sure do add up over the early years! The more we read with young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and to do well in school.

For more ideas, visit the "Read and Discuss Stories" page at www.palmettobasics.org.

You may also enjoy these posts:

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #5, "Read and Discuss Stories" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

 


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