Blocks–Building More Than You Realize!

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Picture this–You’ve just bought your child a great new toy. It’s fun, it’s colorful, and it’s supposed to be great for their development! You are so excited to pull it out and start the fun! But the next thing you know your child is playing with the empty box it came in and having the time of his life. Does this experience sound familiar?

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this type of story from parents! Children are curious beings and can make toys out of just about anything. Because of this some of our favorite toys to suggest to parents are a simple set of wooden blocks.

While playing with blocks, children learn all about counting, equality, addition, subtraction, planning, patterns, volume, classification, area and measurement. When parents engage with their child in block play it also provides teaching moments for social skills, language and exploration.

Check out these activity ideas to add some variety to your family’s block play:

  • Make your own blocks: Using standard size boxes (milk cartons, capri sun, etc.) you can make blocks by covering them with sturdy wrapping paper or contact paper. Allow your child to guide the activity and discuss the sizes as you create the blocks.
  • Create your home: Have your child look at the neighborhood and your home. Help them build a structure like your home. Make sure you take pictures and show off your child’s work whenever friends or family are around.
  • Knock ’Em Down: Margarine tubs are best for this. Children stack them up, then with flourish, knock them down. Of course, everyone applauds. Then you do it all over again. Kids love it!
  • Ramp It: Create a variety of ramps with blocks. Roll a small ball down the ramps. Which incline makes the ball roll slower? Faster?
  • Making Patterns: Provide blocks of different shapes or colors. Create a pattern for children to repeat, such as square, rectangle, square, rectangle or red, blue, red, blue. Ask children to create new patterns for you to repeat.
  • Visit Discovery Gateway’s Block Party Exhibit: Children can build amazing structures from floor to ceiling with the giant blue blocks, connecting parts into the gallery walls, and transforming the space with power of their imaginations.
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Lily Edmondson plays in the new Imagination Playground Block Party at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City, Thursday October 1, 2015.

Help Me Grow Utah has hundreds of age appropriate activity ideas for parents at no cost! You can learn more by calling 801-691-5322 or visiting helpmegrowutah.org

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Celebrate the Week of the Young Child!

Childhood is a celebration every day, but did you know that once a year we actually have a whole week dedicated to it? April 10 – 16 has been declared by the National Association for the Education of Young Children as the Week of the Young Child. During this week especially parents and families can make a special effort to celebrate the youngsters that surround us!

Here are a few ideas from the National Association for the Education of Young Children to make the most of this special week!

Music Monday!

Through music, children develop math, language, and literacy skills – All while having fun and being active! Find the beat to connect music, movement, and math. Practice clapping, drumming, or stomping to the beat of the music while counting.

Taco Tuesday 

Cooking together connects math with literacy skills, science, and more. Measure your ingredients while making your tacos! Ask children if they’d like the same or different amounts of each ingredient.

Work Together Wednesday 

When children build together they explore math and science concepts and develop their social and early literacy skills. Practice organizing blocks by size! Try building a block tower with large blocks on the bottom and little blocks on top!

Artsy Thursday

Children develop creativity, social skills and fine motor skills with open-ended art projects where they can make choices, use their imaginations, and create with their hands. Bring art outdoors! Offer dark and light paper, chalk and pastels, and suggest children create their own versions of the day and night sky!

Family Friday

Engaging and celebrating families is at the heart of supporting our youngest learners. Have a Family Friday breakfast, where you and your children can prepare and share breakfast treats while sharing memories!

Source: https://www.naeyc.org/woyc

To celebrate the Week of the Young Child Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, Help Me Grow Utah, and other community partners are having an April Baby Shower! Bring your youngest learners and enjoy fun and interactive party activities including a ball pit, sensory wall and crawl, hand-print art, and giant bubbles! Join us at Discovery Gateway April 14, from 12pm to 4pm. Free admission for children ages 0-36 months.

Building Brains With Books!

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah by Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

 “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” — Jim Trelease

Some of the simplest toys can bring the greatest growth. At Help Me Grow Utah, some of our favorite toys are books, balls, and blocks. Today we’re going to talk all about books! Books build communication, problem solving, and imagination skills. These are vital skills that your child needs for school readiness and life!

There are a lot of fun activities parents can do to make reading with children more fun! Here are a few examples:

  • Go on a reading campout. Build a tent in your living room or backyard. Ask your child to bring his or her favorite books and stuffed animals. Grab some flashlights and read together.
  • Find a recipe online or in a cookbook. Read the recipe out loud together and follow the instructions to cook something delicious.
  • Have a reading scavenger hunt. Choose a letter of the alphabet and talk about the sounds it makes. Go on a walk around your house, neighborhood, or children’s museum and find as many things as you can that start with that letter.
  • Make your own book. Using photographs and your child’s drawings, make a picture book together. Write the words to the story and then read your book together.
  • Put on a puppet show. Choose one of your child’s favorite books and read it together. Then make puppets out of socks or brown lunch bags. Act out the story for family or friends.

Help Me Grow Utah has hundreds of age appropriate activity ideas for parents at no cost! You can learn more by calling 801-691-5322.

Your Child’s Development Starts Before Birth!

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah by Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

We are always using the term early childhood, but when does early childhood really start? Here at Help Me Grow Utah we are hoping to expand our realm of early childhood! Because of that we’ve made some big changes in the past month! Not only have we updated our marketing with a new look, but we have also expanded our services to include prenatal families. We could not be more excited to help families connect to information and resources during this incredible time!

Why do we feel like pregnancy is such an important time to support families? Because so many incredible things are happening during those nine months!

Baby

During pregnancy your baby is developing all of the physical components he will need to function in the world. There’s a lot that happens in between the single cell they start as and the newborn baby you take home! We can help you understand how your baby’s brain and body are developing throughout your pregnancy and what you can do to support that development.

Mom

As a mom your body is going to go through incredible changes! Some you may be familiar with and some may seem a little off the wall. For example, did you know that during pregnancy your sense of smell increases? Along with the physical changes you will experience there are a lot of emotional changes during and after pregnancy. We want to help you understand all of these changes and to know that you are not alone!

Your Growing Family

Whether it’s your first pregnancy, or your last, having a baby will bring big changes to your life! It can be helpful to talk about how your bundle of joy will affect your home, family, and work life. Did you know there are also a lot of great ways you and your family can start bonding with baby before she is born! Help Me Grow is ready to help you through the exciting times and the scary, to help get you the answers and community connections you need for your family.

Starting your baby’s development off right from the very start is one of the best things you can do for your child’s development! A healthy pregnancy prepares you and your child for the exciting journey of childhood. If you or someone you know is interested in receiving more support along the way, call us at 801-691-5322 or visit http://bit.ly/ConnectWithHMG to talk to a trained Care Coordinator.

2016: Collect Moments this Year

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah by Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

As we all know the start of the New Year generally means new goals, new experiences, and a new sense of determination. For me and my family, it’s also a time to reflect on the past year and dream big for the year to come. We love to reminisce about the happy times, talk about how much we’ve grown because of the hard times, and smile at all the times that brought laughter to our lives.

We do a lot of fun and memorable things as a family, but sometimes they can get lost in the bustle of everyday life if we don’t record them. One of my personal goals this year is to record and focus on the good experiences I’ll have throughout the year.

I decided to create a memory jar to collect memories throughout the year. One of the reasons I chose this method is because it’s something my family and I can easily do together and it’s as easy as writing just a few sentences (great for all of us non-journal writers out there)! I found the instructions for the jar we made here

On our slips of paper, we decided we wanted to record things like

  • Memories that make us smile or laugh
  • Fun things we did as a family
  • Experiences that we learn from
  • Life lessons that others teach us
  • Things that we accomplish, big or small

Doing something like this is a great way to get your children involved in keeping the history of your family. Make sure you help them record things that are important to them. I’m sure they will begin to love putting memories into the jar as much as they will love reading them at the end of the year!

Have any of you tried a memory jar before or something similar? How did it work for your family? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Time & Love

A friend recently asked me, “Tell me the most important thing I need to know about raising children in the next 15 seconds.” The question caught me off guard and I ended up responding with this, “Well, your child will start learning the moment they are born and the best way they learn is through play. Oh and you can never spoil your child with too much love!” My friend then responded, “Hmmm, time and love, I can do that!” Our conversation soon turned to other things and we carried on our merry way, but since then I have thought often of his question.

I am a firm believer that one of the most important gifts you can give your child truly is your time and your unconditional love. In the long run those two things will make more difference than anything else, and it’s those things that your child will remember.

With the holiday season upon us, I think we can all agree that no matter what you celebrate there is a definite feeling of love and family togetherness in the air. As a community we tend to be more kind, more patient, and have more feelings of gratitude for the people around us.

This time of year provides us with a chance to let those pleasant feelings spill into our family relationships. Take time this month to spend quality time with each of your family members, especially your children! Don’t hesitate to tell and show those around you that you love them. These really are some of the best gifts and you can give them all year long.

Happy Holidays!

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Checking in on Development

Early childhood is a critical time in your child’s development. There are a lot of exciting things happening from birth to age 5! The skills your child builds during those years form the foundation they will build on for the rest of their life. Nearly every aspect of your child’s adult life begins in those early years, so it’s important to give them a great start! The World Health Organization has said “The early child period is considered to be the most important developmental phase throughout the lifespan…What happens to the child in the early years is critical for the child’s developmental trajectory and lifecourse.”

As a parent you are your child’s nurturer and you will guide them through these exciting developmental times. It’s easiest to do this when you feel you have all the tools you need, one of these tools is knowing what milestones to expect as your child develops.

I want to share with you a simple tool that you can use right now to check in on your child’s development, and the best part is it’s as easy as playing with your child. Help Me Grow Utah offers parents access to a developmental screening for children 0-5, at no cost. This is a simple questionnaire that you can fill out to see how your child is doing across all areas of development! You can use this screening to highlight your child’s strengths, discover new activities they are ready for, and to see what skills they may need practice with. After submitting the screening Help Me Grow will talk over the results with you and provide age appropriate activities to continue your child’s progression. Click here to fill out a developmental screening today! http://bit.ly/HelpMeGrowASQ

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison